Friday, August 29, 2014
Is It Possible to Succeed in an Over-Saturated Industry?
Determine what unique qualities you have to offer
Think back to why you got involved in your industry. Chances are there was something about this particular business that piqued your interest -- some aspect about it that made you know you could succeed. Perhaps you saw some unique ability or talent in yourself that you knew others couldn't match. Uncovering that ability and finding ways to market it are the first steps to building your niche.
As consumers, we're increasingly aware of all the options available to us to buy products from just about any vendor anywhere. While this can make it daunting as a business owner to think about just how much competition we have online, it also makes it easier to find a specific niche to fill.
Your niche might consist of just a few thousand people around the world. Before the Internet, it would have been impossible to reach those people and have a productive business. With the Internet, however, you can now market to your specific niche and build a successful company.
Develop personal relationships online and in person
Personal relationships are more critical now than ever before. Customers expect to be able to speak with you, ask any questions they have, and receive specific answers quickly. While many companies have begun to realize this important truth, many are still lagging behind. Taking the time to develop this kind of relationship with customers can help you stand out against the competition. It can also help nurture customer loyalty, which will provide added stability as your company grows.
As you're building relationships, make sure you're also nurturing contacts within your community. Sponsor local groups, charities, and events. This is a great way to connect with people on a personal level and encourage them to try your company. Such connections help to build brand awareness and recognition in the community. That way, when people are ready to make a purchase, they'll be more likely to turn to you because of your constant presence and overall standing in the community.
Use every tool at your disposal
You have a number of tools at your disposal for getting the word out about your company. When you're competing in a tight industry, you need to take advantage of them all. As you're designing your logo and marketing materials, use color psychology to create the best possible impression on potential customers.
You can also use the modern tools of website design to your advantage. Track your visitors and find out where they're coming from and why they are or aren't making purchases. The better you understand your customers' actions, the more you can do to improve your marketing and services to reach them.
It's not easy to find your way to success when it seems as though there's already a business to address any problem out there. Take advantage of the above techniques, and it just might be possible to be successful in an already saturated industry. Contact us today if you're interested in learning more about how our marketing techniques can help you get ahead.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Performing Regular 'Checkups' on Your Marketing Campaigns
Even as a child grows older, however, regular checkups remain important. Schools will require them for sports teams. Camps and similar activities want records that show the child is up-to-date on their shots. And parents don't want to wait for something to go wrong before bringing their child to the doctor.
As a business owner, you should think of your marketing campaigns like a child. Just as a child needs regular checkups, your company's marketing will benefit from regular 'checkups,' too, even if nothing is actually wrong.
Why are checkups so important?
Yearly physicals can help doctors and parents stay on top of a child's overall health, even if everything seems to be going well. Doctors can address minor annoyances that might not seem to warrant visits themselves, while also watching for potentially unnoticed signs of problems. This kind of preventive care allows doctors to keep their patients in better health.
It works the same way with your marketing campaigns. When things are going well, it's easy to put off running diagnostics and doing checkups. However, even if a campaign is bringing in customers, regular checkups are still important. Breaking down the campaign piece by piece and examining it can help you find potential weak spots where customers are slipping through the cracks, so you can repair those rough spots and improve your conversion rates.
Diagnostics and regular checkups can also provide a warning if something is about to go wrong. For example, if you find during your examination that most of your customers are coming through a particular channel, you can devote the time and energy necessary to make sure that channel continues running smoothly, while also investigating what might be holding up the others channels you've been targeting.
What should you look at?
At a child's physical, the doctor will listen to the heart and lungs, examine the nose, throat, and ears, and perhaps administer shots. A marketing campaign checkup should also look at the bare bones of the process. This includes looking at where customers are coming from and where they are being lost. Start by breaking down the sales funnel and determining who is leaving at each stage. See if any aspects of your marketing campaigns are attracting so few customers that they've become a waste of money. Determine if they can be improved or if they should just be scrapped.
Research what competitors are doing and try to improve even the strongest aspects of your campaigns. Survey customers to see what they wish could be improved about the process.
Yearly physicals are important for monitoring and improving the health of all children, and regular checkups are important for your marketing campaigns, too. Regularly get out your data, sit down with the marketing team, and break down campaigns step by step. Yes, such checkups will require time, but they can help make your campaigns more efficient, improve conversion rates, and help your company grow.
Friday, August 22, 2014
Learning the Unique Language of Marketing Can Be Similar to Learning a Foreign Tongue
Did you just walk into a conference room on a business trip to a foreign country, or did you walk into a marketing conference center?
For those who are new to the world of marketing, especially online marketing, either scenario might seem realistic.
How is being thrown into the marketing world similar to landing in a new country?
When a person first moves to the United States without knowing English, the language gap can feel insurmountable. Basic tasks, including banking, buying groceries, or even returning other people's greetings while walking down the street, can become extremely difficult (if not impossible). Many of those who don't know English when they first arrive spend a considerable amount of time and energy studying the language. In doing so, they begin to make sense of the sounds they're hearing, including what the new vocabulary means and how to use the words. As their language skills improve, new residents find their confidence rise as well. Suddenly, when they walk into a room buzzing with chatter, what once seemed like overwhelming noise now begins to make sense to them.
Similarly, marketing comes with its own defined principles and vocabulary that those who are unfamiliar with the industry might find confusing. There are a range of rules that tell people how to use and be successful with the various platforms, along with industry-specific (and even platform-specific) vocabulary that doesn't make sense anywhere else. As the newcomer becomes more familiar with the language and nuances of the marketing world, they also find the chatter in the room starting to make sense.
How succeed in learning a new language
Whether studying the language of marketing or a new foreign tongue, there are some constant principles for mastering the new form of speech.
1. Practice, practice, practice
Anyone who has ever learned a new language will tell you how critical it is to practice. Reading all the lesson books in the world will mean nothing if you don't put those lessons into practice every chance you get. This might mean talking to yourself while making breakfast, but whatever the case, practice those vocabulary words.
2. Immerse yourself
Immersion is always the best way to learn a new language. For foreign languages, this might mean seeking out a few people who speak the new language, or even moving to a country where it's spoken. For marketing, it might mean a steady diet of marketing blogs, webinars, and similar primary sources for instruction.
3. See if you can find a tutor
Sometimes, a tutor can make all the difference in the success of a language learner. A tutor can help you pinpoint your language weaknesses and practice them with you. In marketing, a tutor can help you become well versed in a variety of marketing platforms and their uses faster and easier than trying to go it alone.
Learning a new language is a difficult proposition, whether you are trying to master marketing speech or a foreign tongue. Both have specific vocabularies, along with rules that govern how the language is used. Keeping these ideas in mind can help you learn the new language and become increasingly successful in the world of marketing. If you're interested in getting acquainted with the 'language' of marketing and want to learn more about how to reach customers, contact us today.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
What the Cola Wars Can Teach About Marketing
Do you think you would be able to tell the difference? Do you think you would actually pick the flavor you usually drink (in other words, if you usually drink Coke, would you actually select that one as your favorite)?
Shockingly, many people don't. A number of different experiments have shown that many people are unable to correctly identify which cola is which. Even more surprisingly, in double blind taste tests, Pepsi often wins. It was this phenomenon that led to Pepsi steadily encroaching upon Coca-Cola's lead in the market in the 1970s and 1980s. In an effort to win back customers, Coca-Cola introduced the debacle that was New Coke. The new formula was quickly rejected by consumers, and the company worked to gain back the trust of their loyal customers.
Coca-Cola managed to transition out of their problematic campaign and back to their original formula, but this left them in an interesting position. They still used the original formula, which customers said they wanted, but this formula was the one that often lost to Pepsi in taste tests. In the twenty years since this fiasco, Coca-Cola still manages to lead the market and has been holding steady.
According to what many people view as the unwritten rules of marketing, this should not be happening. Coke has two major points working against it.
- Coke's formula is often deemed inferior by the consumer base in taste tests.
- The company completely alienated much of its loyal consumer base when it introduced New Coke without adequate market research.
Yet somehow Coca-Cola remains ahead.
Understanding why this happened and what companies today can learn from it can help you revolutionize your advertising campaigns.
Coca-Cola's advertising works to develop a certain mentality in us. When we see the brand's familiar script logo, we connect to the company's rich history. We see small children walking up to drugstore counters to buy a Coke. We also connect with the company's familiar advertising icons (its polar bears, for example) that are often featured in various advertising campaigns. Of course, Coca-Cola's friendship ads help us feel connected to other Coke drinkers around the globe, as well.
The key here is the brand. Coca-Cola is now an iconic brand. It has become such a staple in our culture that in some regions, the word 'Coke' is used to mean any soft drink.
So what are you doing to develop your brand? Creating and maintaining a strong brand should be at the center of all your marketing. Customers make decisions based on the subconscious associations they develop between a company's brand and its intangibles, including its quality, reliability, and history. Successful marketing helps to encourage positive associations in consumers' minds.
Thinking about the entire customer experience
Taste tests often show that Pepsi is the preferred brand, especially considering it is slightly sweeter. While this might be better for short-term tastes, many people drink soft drinks in vast quantities. They don't just drink a sip or two. They drink large bottles. Given the entire customer experience, it's easier to see why the slightly sweeter brand seems to be less preferred in the long run.
Branding and considering the entire customer experience have both had an enormous impact on Coca-Cola's ability to hold onto its lead over Pepsi, despite taste tests and marketing troubles. When you keep these criteria in mind for your company, you'll also be able to boost your success. So grab a soft drink, sit down, and work with us to begin determining how you can better market your company.
Friday, August 15, 2014
Nurturing Leads from Every Angle
Understand who your customers are and where they are in their purchase journey. Then use that information appropriately.
A buyer's journey includes all the research and decision-making steps they take as they prepare to buy a product. Some customers are just starting out. They're looking for general information about their options and what factors they should be considering. Other buyers have narrowed down their search to just a few options and are looking to be convinced why one is superior to another. Still others are just about to make a purchase but just want to verify the product information. Understanding the buyer persona and where people are in the buying process will allow you to create targeted ads, messages, and content for customers at every step of the journey, increasing the odds they'll make a purchase.
Make sure your website makes it easy for customers to move through the buying process.
Your website should be designed to encourage people to move through the sales funnel, exciting them about your products and making them eager to complete the transaction. Personalization is a fantastic way to accomplish this. Have your website greet people by name, especially if they've visited before.
Use retargeting ads
Retargeting ads can be extremely helpful for bringing customers back to your website, especially if they've left items in your site's shopping cart. Customers have a tendency to visit pages while they're doing research, but then leave the page because they're not ready to make a purchase yet. Retargeting ads can help bring customers back to the page and remind them about your products and why they're superior. Even better, have your page remember the customer the next time they return. Remember what items they looked at or what they seemed interested in. Customers will appreciate the extra effort and the added ease in finding what they're looking for.
Make the most of social media
Keep an eye on social media for mentions of your company. This will alert you to customers considering your company or investigating your industry. You can then swoop in and make contact as they're beginning their search. Social media is also a great tool for remaining in contact with potential buyers and past buyers. Like people's status updates, retweet interesting things they have to say, and generally show interest in them. It will make them see you and your company more favorably, while also helping you remain in the forefront of their mind as they prepare to make a buying decision.
Nurturing leads is critical to persuading customers who are considering a purchase. While follow-up emails certainly play a role in bringing customers to the checkout button, they're not the only factor. Use some of the ideas above, and begin improving conversion rates quickly.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Hitting a Home Run in Business Starts with Your Reputation
Over the years, baseball has survived scandals and strikes that could have easily crippled it: the 1919 Chicago White Sox throwing the World Series; the strike-shortened 1994 season, when there was no World Series at all; the steroid scandals of more recent times. While the sport hasn't escaped completely unscathed, it does remain a popular pastime for many who enjoy playing and watching it throughout the summer and fall.
Fortunately, most of us will never have to deal with issues as powerful as those that have hit baseball throughout its history. Even so, managing a company reputation in the digital area can be a very tough responsibility.
Customers can spread information, positive and negative, about your company instantaneously. While it might seem tempting to just bury your head in the sand and hope such criticism goes away, you can't afford to just ignore what is said about you online. Fortunately, the lessons from baseball tell us that people generally tend to overlook occasional slip-ups or poor experiences if the overall impression of the company is one of value.
The primary step in relationship management should always be to offer customers outstanding value and products. Here are three additional steps you can take to build and maintain an overall positive reputation.
- Become an important part of the local community.
Get in front of customers by sponsoring youth sports teams, having a table or booth at local fairs, or sponsoring charity sporting events. Show customers you care, and give them the chance to interact personally with employees to begin building relationships.
- Listen to customers online and in market research, and address complaints sincerely and quickly. This might mean offering to replace defective products, providing coupons or discounts after a poor customer service experience, and issuing refunds when necessary. That might sound like an expensive proposition, but earning a poor reputation online will cost you far more.
- Pay close and careful attention to the experience of your customers. Make it easy for customers to contact you and easy to find resolution to their problems when they do. Too often, customers get passed from person to person or find themselves dealing with frustrating automated systems that are little to no help. Customers want to know they're more than just an order number. Show them you care about their experience far after the sale.
Just as baseball has discovered over its long and storied history, managing a reputation can be a difficult proposition. But doing so is essential to the continued growth and viability of any organization. Reputation affects marketing success and whether or not people are interested in what you have to sell.
Fortunately, reputation is not always cut and dried. People are often willing to overlook particular problems in favor of value and an overall positive experience. Following the above advice should make it easy for your company to do just that.
Friday, August 8, 2014
Watch What You Say, Especially in Advertising.
The value of the first person
In general, customers respond better to marketing materials, especially websites, that use the first person. This might include buttons that say "create my account" instead of "open an account," or "start my free trial" instead of "start your free trial." Making this simple transition can provide a noticeable jump in conversion rates and higher click-throughs. Potential customers will spend more time on your website, learning about your company and what you have to offer. Even if they don't buy during their initial visit, they'll begin to feel familiar and connected with your brand, and therefore more likely to return to you when they are ready to buy.
Why do first person pronouns matter?
It all comes down to the power of psychology. Using first person pronouns helps potential customers feel as though they already "belong" -- that your company truly cares. That's something many companies struggle with when trying to reach customers online. It's much easier to develop close relationships when interacting with customers in person. However, switching to first-person pronouns on your website can help to produce this same kind of connection with customers whose only interactions with your brand take place online.
Making the switch
Effectively incorporating first person pronouns as a part of your call to action must be paired with quality marketing materials. You cannot simply switch your pronouns and expect to see a change if your copy still requires a considerable amount of work. Focus first on developing quality advertising, whether on your website, in social media, or on a traditional advertising platform. Once you have the ad itself set, rather than wrap up your message with a standard call to action, make the switch to the first person and prepare to be amazed at the influence such a simple change can have.
Developing a quality call to action can play an important part in finding new customers and encouraging those who see the advertisements to convert. Incorporating first-person pronouns in that call to action can have a profound effect on your bottom line. If you're interested in learning more about these different advertising techniques, give us a call today. We'd be happy to help you get started growing and finding new customers.
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
What Shakespeare Can Teach Us About Marketing
Becoming a master of words
Words are a major part of any marketing campaign. We all use words to reach our customers, to develop content that will interest them, and to explain why our products and services are superior. Shakespeare teaches us about the power words can have when they're carefully thought out and used appropriately. People still enjoy reading and watching his plays hundreds of years after they were first performed. That's because Shakespeare was a master at putting words together so they communicated the point to the audience and engaged them in the content.
Creating plots people can relate to and want to read
Shakespeare wrote for an audience that lived hundreds of years ago. Their life experiences were vastly different than our own. Yet, somehow Shakespeare's writing appeals to us as much as it appealed to the people of his day. That's because Shakespeare developed plots that people could relate to on the most intimate levels. His writings involved timeless themes, such as love and jealousy, which are still alive today. Shakespeare completely understood his audience and was able to use the difficulties people face to attract audiences, engage them, and convince them that he sympathized. By building this relationship with the audience, Shakespeare was able to build a loyal following to his brand.
We, too, must answer these same challenge from our own audiences (customers) today. Consumers want to know that companies understand and address their struggles. This helps to build the critical relationship that leads to customer loyalty and improved brand awareness.
Using multiple resources to develop content
No one develops their content in a vacuum. It's estimated that of Shakespeare's many plays, only a couple were actually completely original and developed by Shakespeare himself. This means he was frequently drawing inspiration and ideas from other sources of content. He would use these sources of inspiration to help get his own creative juices flowing. He would develop and embellish on the plots, characters, and themes until the works were completely his own, but still had parts that were drawn from other classics.
As content creators and marketers, we must also be willing to draw upon the experience and expertise of others. The marketing world continues to change, and we must all stay on top of the new methods if we want to remain competitive.
Looking at the successful work of others to draw inspiration can offer help with building our own content, too. As we read and see what others do in their marketing campaigns, we gain a better understanding of what we want to write and discuss with potential customers. Content development has become an increasingly important part of marketing. Listening and reading what others have to say can help any marketer start to develop their own voice, the same way Shakespeare found inspiration for his writing.
When you set out to develop your marketing campaign, you'll likely spend a considerable amount of time reading modern marketing experts and trying to incorporate their wisdom into your own campaign. While these modern marketers will certainly impart a lot of wisdom, don't discount what the wordsmiths of the past, like Shakespeare, can teach you as well. If you're ready to jumpstart your marketing campaign, give us a call today.
Friday, August 1, 2014
Making Your Company Stand Out From the Crowd
Construct your advertising wisely
Customers see thousands of ads every day in just about every aspect of their lives. Whether browsing online, commuting, watching TV, or listening to the radio, customers find companies vying for their attention all the time. In this environment, it's easy to see how customers get in the habit of just tuning out all the noise. To be successful, you must find ways to overcome that tendency. So how do you do it?
- Design ads that look nothing like those of your competitors. If your ads bear too much resemblance to other ads on the market, they're much more likely to get overlooked.
- Make sure you integrate your ads across all campaigns. Once customers see so many ads, they tend to only glance at them. If your campaigns don't use the same colors and themes, customers will be less likely to put them together and pay attention to what they say. By integrating them, customers get a consistent message across all platforms, which will help them absorb the message.
- Use a logo that's visually appealing and represents your business well. Many companies, especially small businesses, tend to overlook the importance of their logos. However, logos tend to be one of the first things customers notice on advertising. A well-planned logo is excellent for branding. When the logo helps customers associate your business with your industry, they'll start to form strong associations with your brand.
Tell customers what makes you different
We've all heard how important it is to find a niche within your industry and use what makes you unique to appeal to customers, but you should also take this a step further. Identify what makes you different. That might be where your products are made (made in the USA?), how they are made (fair trade? natural preservatives?), or how they can help customers solve a problem in their lives (increase sales?). Use that difference as a key point in your advertising.
Get out in the community
Companies that get out and involved in their communities will find their brand recognition soar, with sales following closely behind. There are numerous ways you can get involved in your community. You might sponsor a local kids' sports team, a local charity run, or some similar event. You could set up a table at the yearly town picnic or sponsor a float in the town's Memorial Day parade. All of these techniques will help you raise awareness within your community and show how much you care about the people you serve. The result: a better reputation and more chances to develop relationships with potential customers.
Your company might be competing within an oversaturated industry, but that doesn't mean you have to be just another face in the crowd. Use the suggestions outlined above to get started building your own brand recognition and reputation. If you're ready to get started with a new marketing campaign, give us a call or drop us an email today. We'd be happy to help you reach more customers.
Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)