Tag Archives: target audience

When Did You Last Talk With Your Audience?

In last week’s Atlanta Business Chronicle, Ken Bernhardt discussed the changing role of the Chief Marketing Officer – from one who just focuses on marketing, to one who should serve as a strategic adviser to the CEO.

The key to achieving the strategic adviser role is getting closer to the consumer.

Bernhardt goes on to discuss the role of research in gaining that consumer insight even in product development, yet “approximately half of companies surveyed use research in the product development process”.

When was the last time you spoke with your audience? Reaching consumers is now easier than ever with social networking tools like blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.

Monitoring what they say about your products and services can provide great insight on how to position your services or develop new products.  It allows you to have an ongoing pulse on your market.

Sometimes more formal research is needed beyond monitoring consumer feedback. An investment in research can easily pay for itself by allowing your company to better focus resources on things consumers want or marketing your product more effectively.  And with online research tools, market research is more cost effective than ever.

If you can do only one thing to better market your business, talking with your audience should be that one thing.

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RedBox Succeeds With Blue Ocean

RedBox KioskFirst came Blockbuster movie rentals and its counterparts.

Then, as videos gave way to DVDs, Netflix reinvented movie rental with its monthly subscription service.  Its pitch was simple: DVDs delivered right to your door with no late fees.

Now, Netflix and others are evolving that model and delivering movies right to your computer or TV.

So how can a company succeed by making people drive to pick up their DVDs again?

RedBox has found a way, by finding Blue Ocean – a new way of thinking –  among the crowded Red Ocean movie rental industry.

In this case, RedBox knew there was an opportunity in DVD rentals outside of what the biggest players were doing today. The key was finding a competitive position that would meet an unmet need.

So RedBox started using Blue Ocean thinking for DVD rentals, just like Netflix did a few years ago.

RedBox is a series of self-serve kiosks located at very convenient locations like grocery stores, drug stores, etc.  You can grab a movie after you do your regular shopping.  A RedBox rental costs $1 – with no late fees – and you can return your DVD at any RedBox location.

RedBox took this Blue Ocean approach and changed the game based on some key consumer insights.

  1. Consumers don’t want to wait for their movie in the mail. Movies are as close as the nearest RedBox, located in the places people already frequent (so they seem even more convenient).
  2. Consumers don’t want to pay subscription fees. RedBox lets you rent on your own terms and timeline.
  3. Consumers don’t like late fees (confirming Netflix’s experience).

As an added bonus, RedBox lets you reserve your favorite movies at the most convenient location through their website.

RedBox results:  147% growth last year; 105% growth the year prior.

Now is a great time to think about your business and determine what you can do differently from your competition.  Costs to implement any changes are lower than they’ve been in years and the manpower and mindpower is available.

What Blue Ocean thinking can you apply to recreate your industry?

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The next hot thing in marketing

listeningIn the latest issue of Fortune magazine, prominent people talked about the best advice they ever received. Lauren Zalaznick, President, Women & Lifestyle Entertainment Networks, NBC Universal, stated the best advice she ever received was to listen.

Great advice – probably the best for anyone in marketing. And with today’s social media tools, it is now easier than ever.

Twitter:  Peter Shankman (twitter.com/skydiver) tweeted about the great service, but poor wi-fi, at a hotel he was staying at.  Someone at that hotel was monitoring Twitter and immediately had the problem resolved.

Facebook: Totino’s Pizza has 47 fan groups on Facebook where people talk about their favorite pizza, best toppings to add to a pizza and products they don’t like.  Think about how much the Totino’s product team could learn about their evangelists without paying a dime for formal research.

Rating Sites like Yelp, Kudzu, City Search: Ratings sites allow people to post what they like and don’t like about your company.  If you aren’t getting five-star ratings, do you know why?  Looking at your customer reviews will let you know what you are doing well and where you need improvement.

Blogs & YouTube: People are passionate.  And now they have the tools to express their passion through words and video.  What are bloggers writing about your company?  Have people posted videos about your service?  Remember the YouTube video where a Comcast service tech fell asleep on the couch while waiting on the phone for Comcast technical support?

Every day I am asked how to use social media for marketing.  My response? Listen to your audience.

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How To Ruin A Good Idea

Broken IdeaYesterday I heard a radio spot promoting a child safety event by a company selling child location devices.

The spot invited parents and children to a dinner for the children to get fingerprinted and to hear tips on child safety.

As a father of two young boys, this sounded like a great event to attend; anything to help ensure the safety of our children.

So imagine my surprise when I heard that registration for the event started at 6 pm, with dinner and presentation beginning at 7, likely ending past my kids’ bedtimes. Noble cause, but not enough to miss the coveted bedtime window.

Great idea, lousy execution.

It is critical to think about your target audience at every stage of an idea.

Something as simple as the time you start your event could make a difference.

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Your Audience Has Changed, Have You?

The Economist published an article discussing the impact the recession will have on people’s purchasing habits.

Typically we, as consumers, have short memories and as soon as things improve we go back to our free-spending ways. This time however, the article goes on to discuss, that this recession will have a longer lasting effect.

We can already see this in gas consumption as usage remains down even though the $2 average cost per gallon is 50% less than it was a year ago.

People are eating at home more.

People are saving more – in fact the saving rate in January ’09 reached a 15 year high of 5% compared to .1% the year prior.

Since the audience is adapting to this new economic reality, how have you adapted your message, pricing strategy, and brand to best meet the needs of the market?

Notice I use the word adapted and not changed.

I also hesitate to use the words discounting or rebates as they can negatively impact your brand long-term and your audience’s buying habits.  Just look at the big retailers at Christmas time – everyone waits for the big sale because they know it is coming and being known solely for discounts can devastate profits as well as your brand value.

Adapting your brand allows you to highlight how you are meeting today’s needs in a responsible and helpful manner.

For example:

  • Highlight the things that make your product unique and/or superior to the competition
  • Talk with your audience about the value your products or services provide
  • Help your audience save money in the short-term and over the long-haul
  • Reward them for their loyalty
  • Thank them for being a referral source
  • Discuss how you have been adding value to their lives for years

Target has done a nice job of this adaptation with their “redefining” campaign promoting the new movie night, the new girl’s night out, etc. while touting what makes Target unique – an inexpensive way to remain stylish.

The key is not taking things for granted or assuming things will return to normal.  That may have been the case in past recessions, but the severity of this one is predicted to make a significant change in people’s habits.

It’s your job to make sure your brand knows how to adapt.

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When Personal Service Forgets To Be Personal

visa-black-card“Dear Mr. Abend,  It is my pleasure to invite you to apply for the exclusive [Visa] Black Card.  Limited to only 1% of U.S. residents, Black Card members are ensured the highest caliber of personal service.”

So after reading more and more about personal service, helping me with my “business, travel and leisure needs” and being someone who “demands only the best of what life has to offer”, I was disappointed that they sent me a blank application.

I guess Visa doesn’t know me well enough to personalize the application for the $495 card, yet my free (insert generic bank) credit card does.

I have written about making sure your brand experience is consistent from seeing an ad to receiving an invoice.  This is a lesson Visa could certainly use.

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Filed under Brand Position

Jumping The Marketing Shark

I was driving to a client yesterday when I saw a billboard for Asian Pearl restaurant.  What caught my eye was this “asian” restaurant was promoting its Chinese, Japanese, American and Mexican buffets.

I think we have finally jumped the shark by trying to be everything to everyone.

Think about Asian Pearl.  If I want Mexican food, would I really go to a place that also serves Chinese?  And what are the chances that I am going to want a burrito, dim sum, sushi and a burger at the same sitting?

I come across companies doing the same thing all of the time.  Companies want to tell the world all of the things that make them great because they fear alienating anyone and missing out on a potential sale – especially in today’s economy.  Unfortunately, in communicating everything to everyone, you often speak to no one.

For example, Company A and Company B both sell pest control.

Company A talks about its customer service, efficacy, training, experience, number of locations, various services, and courteous technicians.

Company B gets rid of your bugs, guaranteed.

If you have a pest control problem, which message are you most likely to remember?

Now ask yourself, is your messaging as concise as Company B?

  • Look at your current communications, what is the key point you are trying to make?  If you are unsure, you can’t ask your audience to be able to discern it.
  • Is your message targeted to  a specific audience or does it answer a specific need?
  • Does your message provide differentiation from your competitors?
  • Do you have a message that is unique, even if for a smaller, targeted audience?

Sometimes this last point is the most important.  Will your business be more successful getting a small percentage of a large audience, or a large percentage of a small audience? (We will discuss this further in future postings).

That said, maybe I am looking at the Asian Pearl billboard the wrong way.  They could be targeting the small percentage of the population who can never decide what they want to eat and thus want a choice – unless they want Italian.

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Filed under Messaging