Monthly Archives: October 2009

Quick Thought

nomorebagfeesAre you risking long-term growth for a short-term gain?

Companies are taking different approaches to bolstering revenue in these tight economic times: some are providing deep discounts and in turn hurting their profits and brands, while others are charging more to help offset a loss in customers.

The question becomes – what is the long-term effect of these strategies?

Some recent examples:

All major airlines – Delta, American, United, and others – are charging for checked luggage on top of fuel surcharges to make up for years of mismanagement, high fuel costs and a deep recession.

Bank of America recently announced plans to charge annual fees for credit card holders who pay off their balances every month, essentially asking their fiscally responsible customers to pay for the losses from those less so.

Unlike past recessions, the Economist has stated this recession will permanently change our consumption habits. What will be the long-term cost to companies like Bank of America or Delta when they start to lose customers because of their short-term greed?

Before you think of adding an extra fee, think about the true return on investment and whether it’s truly worth it.

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The Power Of Being Passive In Social Media

imagesTo me, marketing through social media falls into two camps: Active and Passive.

Active is when a company disseminates information through channels like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs.

Passive is about spending time listening to what consumers are saying about your company, your products, your competitors and your industry via social media.

In their efforts toward active social media marketing, companies post press releases on Facebook, put commercials on YouTube and talk about how great their service is on their company blog.

The greatest challenge, however, is making sure you have a large enough audience to warrant implementing a social media marketing plan. Spending hours on your company’s Facebook page to market to 75 “fans” is not a good use of your time.

Creating a strong passive social media strategy, on the other hand, can provide you endless insight into your audience and help you develop a more strategic active strategy.

Tools like Tweefind, Technorati, BlogSearch, plus searching YouTube and Facebook, can help you find out what is being said about your company in social media.

Passive strategy is also monitoring your competition. Techrigy and Vitrue can provide you a picture of what your competition is doing in social media.

This type of social media monitoring will bring you closer to the consumer.  You see trends being created, identify problem areas and monitor consumer reaction to product changes.

This information allows you to improve your products and will drive your active strategy when, for example, you respond to consumers to help educate them on why you may do certain things.

Passive social media marketing in action:

A client of mine manufactured clay poker chips, so we monitored blogs, forums, etc. and found out people liked the chips, but didn’t like the powdery residue on the chips.  The powder was there to protect the chips during shipping and went away after playing with the chips a few times.  Upon our recommendation, they began including a note in the poker chip case explaining the residue and those comments went away.

If your company wants to develop a social media strategy, start with a passive strategy first.  Figure out what is being said and who’s saying it.  Once you have that knowledge your active strategy will be more compelling and successful.

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Never Contradict Your Brand

jm-fat-burneAs an exercise boot camp instructor, my guilty pleasure is NBC’s The Biggest Loser.  I appreciate the no-nonsense approach to weight loss:

  • Burn More Calories Than You Consume
  • Make Good Food Choices and Eat In Small Portions

So I was surprised to find Jillian Michaels – an extremely tough-minded trainer who thrives on reminding her trainees that there are no shortcuts to weight loss – lending her name to sell fat burning and weight loss supplements.
Doing so not only contradicts her brand; it also contradicts the Biggest Loser brand. Not surprising, as companies often contradict their brands.
For years The Home Depot swore it would never have sale prices because they always offered the lowest price.  Even before the economic downturn, they began offering sale prices instead of sticking with brand position as the lowest price provider.
Comcast promotes increased efficiency with the speed of their Internet service.  You can hear this promotional message at least 25 times as you sit on hold waiting to talk with a customer service rep.
A former client of mine wanted to be known for operational efficiency, but regularly invoiced their customers incorrectly.
Your brand is the combination of many things:

  • The customer experience with every touch point with your company
  • Marketing
  • Office/retail space
  • Packaging
  • Customer reviews
  • Web Site/Social Media presence
  • Invoicing
  • On-Hold Time/Messages
  • Guarantees/Return Policies

When managing your brand you need to evaluate your entire operation to make sure your message is communicated consistently. Any contradiction can begin to erode your brand without you even knowing.

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Don’t Get Lost In The Words

1191600_lost_in_wordsToo many times great ideas go undiscovered because they are not communicated well.

Think about your web site.  Are you so worried about search engine optimization and loading your content with key words that your company’s point of difference is lost in the words?

I spend a lot of time with clients helping them hone their unique point of difference, only to watch it get lost when they try to communicate it through their web site, blogs, brochures and other forms of communications.

So how do you ensure your ideas are communicated in a way that makes them stand out?

  1. Edit – a good idea should be able to stand on its own, so keep copy simple and direct
  2. Share – have uninvolved parties who will give you honest feedback read your communications to make sure your point is expressed well
  3. Hand-Off – if you are not a strong writer, find someone who is and have them write or at least edit your content

SHAMELESS PLUG:

In an effort to help clients enhance their communications tools, I have expanded M is for Marketing’s services to include editing and writing services.  I call the service Idea Assurance – helping ensure your idea is communicated as you intended.

We are having a new service special in which we will edit 10 pages of web copy for $475.

Clear, concise communication is as important as the idea itself.  Take your time when writing; it will help position your company more effectively.

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Happy Birthday

birthday-cakeJust a quick update to thank you for your ongoing support as Don’t Stop Marketing.  Market Smarter. celebrates its first birthday.

As I have done every Tuesday for the past year, I will continue to provide you with tools and tips to help you market smarter and grow your business.

If you would like me to cover a specific topic, please comment to this post and let me know.

Thanks again for your support and I look forward to helping you in the future.

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