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We’re usually so busy trying to get started in marketing that we tend to forget that once we start, we need to continue. What happens if we don’t?
Today’s guest blogger, Aruna Inalsingh (http://www.animarketingservice.com/) provides some insight into marketing, measurements and meltdowns of the corporate variety. Aruna is President and Found of Ani Marketing Services Ani Marketing Service, and has years of experience providing strategic marketing solutions for a wide range of companies, products, and services, starting their new programs and improving their existing ones.
“As a career marketer, one of the most common client requests is for a direct correlation between marketing investments and business revenues. The reality is that it is indeed hard to quantify direct success from marketing programs. Although with digital media, it’s getting easier, as you can track the number of followers, visitors, clicks, and online sales– especially if you don’t have any brick and mortar stores. Furthermore, it is true that marketing takes time, resources, and/or money – ask Walmart’s CFO, Charles Holley!
That being said, here’s a story we like to tell about the value of marketing, which is exemplary of scientific proofs where you cannot prove if something is true, but you can prove if something is not true:
Seiko Watches was founded in 1881. They were a strong believer in marketing, and with an ongoing commitment to invest in company promotion, within a short amount of time they developed a solid reputation for affordable and reliable watches. Seiko had a monopoly on this market until 1930, when Citizen Watches was established. Citizen wanted to be the Pepsi to the Coca-Cola, if you will. Citizen proceeded to invest as much money in marketing, if not more than Seiko, to achieve a similar brand recognition (and revenue stream). It never happened … until 2008. The global financial crisis in 2008 hit everyone hard. Seiko and Citizen had to make strategic decisions. Seiko decided its brand was strong enough to temporarily sustain itself with a skeletal marketing staff, and Citizens decided to maintain as much of its marketing program as possible, in context of its diminishing budget. In 2010, when Seiko was ready to re-invest in its marketing program, initial research showed that the consumer market thought Seiko had gone out of business and therefore had turned to Citizen as the market leader. It took 2 years of marketing withdrawal to ruin the 127 year old Seiko watch dynasty. Today Citizen has a similar brand and market value to Seiko.”
These days you’re really lucky if you get two. This is a humorous approach to the magical solutions to the business problems so many clients want and have convinced themselves actually exist (these clients want all three of the big circles). Clients who are desperate for new business and don’t want to wait. Clients who are not business savvy. There are plenty of service providers out there who cater to the magical solutions (mind you, they don’t get results, they just cater).
I’m not one of them.
I was just interviewed by a potential client who has a service business. She wanted half a dozen new clients in two months or less. Someone told her she could achieve this through hiring a resource to fix or improve the SEO on her website. And maybe moving the website over to WordPress which has a fairly impressive (and free) SEO scheme that comes with websites and blogs that are created there. The client was all set to click her heels and say “there’s no place like home.”
Then she met me. And I presented reality. Uh oh. Reality like SEO is part of a larger strategy to get attention. A strategy which might include blogging, being published and referenced online, doing your own social networking. Next I explained that moving your existing website over to WordPress is not a simple migration process. Sure, you have all the templates, but I explained you still needed to have a designer work on it for you and you need a strategy of how to present your information in the new format (with many more choices of options). Reality like there’s no magic bullet. And no designer on earth makes Dorothy shoes. And that maybe, just maybe, her goals were a tad unrealistic.
She really didn’t want to hear this. Oh she was polite alright but I knew what she was thinking – she couldn’t hide her disbelief that she couldn’t just push one button and make it all happen.
How to separate the magical wishers from the business
So knowing this, I moved on to the deal closer or breaker items that I use to weed out shoppers who want a magical solution as opposed to the real business world which I operate in. I said I would send along my standard contract (where the client agrees to provide me with the information I need to do my job and also agrees to pay me and I agree to do my job within the time frame and estimate I provide).
And I also said I would charge for my estimate. It takes time and strategic thinking to figure out how to solve the problem so you can estimate each item that will need to be done – this is called work product. The estimate is part of the solution (or roadmap) to the project. So I’m working to create the estimate but I also know if I give the person an estimate for free, then I’ve done the hard work of figuring out how to get the results they need. They can then take my estimate and hire someone else (without a strategic brain) to execute it. This is the second reason I charge for my estimates – to avoid this situation.
A day later, I got a very nice thank you note and was told the prospect wanted to interview lots of other people. I have likewise replied very politely and wished them the best.
At some point I’m sure you’ve been on each side of this relationship. No matter what side of the equation you find yourself on, make sure you don’t succumb to the magical thinking mindset.
So what is the difference between brand marking and markETing?
In the past, branding was initially a way of marking or identifying a brand as in marking a rancher’s cattle with a branding iron. As time went on, logos were developed to mark and establish an identity for companies, products and services. More recently in our digitized world, brand managers must bring an ET — Extra-Terrestrial or more likely, an Essential Technology element to their branding. Bringing a more advanced brand marking to their brand markETing.
In the past few years, many customers have felt more of a divide between what they want and what brands offer. Brands that have a vision of what the customer really wants make the most of what their customers value and enjoy. In addition, the customer is increasingly aware of their involvement in product development in their role as “prosumer.” We see an increase in the desire for personalization from and customization of products, services and experiences.
To satisfy their new brand expectations, customers are moving rapidly to shopping with online retailers. Retailer brands will have to explore more UC, Unified Communications, that include retail pop-up stores and departments similar to Amazon.com and kiosks for brand offers similar to Groupon.com. UC strategies will be created that involve real voice (as opposed to electronic menus) responses to customers’ demands for personal attention and customization.
Strong brands that fulfilled customer expectations in the past may diminish, as many consumers are no longer loyal to brands they perceive as category leaders. As always, Brand Managers have to create strategies that convert consumers into customers. The hard work is now in creating an innovative presentation of relevant and much desired brand attributes for the most effective brand positioning. Some brands are creating differences that are being told through their brand story. A compelling brand story and the brand’s history can be delivered to better sell the brand’s positioning assets, differences, and superiority.
So we find content and technology merging in new ways. Consumers may now depend on apps that provide applications to personally bring to mind brand differences and values. These can be inspired by knowledge of their singular profiles and their current desires. And right up there in ET brand positioning is the brand manager’s awareness of their customers who are not really engaged. Previous paradigms for customer-engagement may no longer be effective and customer experiences, CX, that are no longer current in today’s retail marketing, will need to adjust and innovate like never before!
Next, brands will rely more and more on VOC (Voice of customer), innovative interactions with customers and encourage buying recommended by their friends via social media. Successful brands will acquire more knowledge about operations involved in a consumer-run world. As we have mentioned previously, PDA’s/mobiles employed by consumers will dramatically increase. Consumers will be scanning their own screens to connect with a brand, and perhaps, influence their buying. A brand will need to unify all of its messaging and specifically its advertising that is designed for the mobile customer. This may include new screen-oriented techniques for these new retail venues. Google made over $20 billion in ad revenues this year, more than all U.S. print media combined!
We suggest the oft-quoted phrase: “The Future is NOW” — might apply.
What do you think?
Arthur & Peggy Winters co-teach SXB 200 Brand Marketing Communications for Image & Meaning and SXR 050 Intro to Branding: The Art of Customer Bonding.
There’s a new book, that just came out, called “Significant Business Results… Ten sales secrets that your competitors know and use!” The author is Franne McNeal, a serial entrepreneur, business coach, the youngest person ever to be awarded a training contract with the City of Pittsburgh among other things such as restructuring, training and development at such places as PNC Financial Services, and SmithKline Beecham. She’s a certified Kauffman Foundation FastTrac facilitator, and Adjunct Faculty for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative. She started her first business while still a student at Princeton University. I occasionally facilitate with Franne and she is an amazing force.
So why should you care about Franne’s credentials and book? Well, creating your product is only part of the story of a successful entrepreneur. You then have to get it out the door (or to shameless plug the first chapter in my book, “Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing” – “ If I build it, they will come”.. I guarantee NOT if you don’t market, which goes hand-in-hand with sales). Franne tells you how to accomplish this in 10 steps – with exercises and examples sprinkled throughout the book at just the moments you need them to help you get to the next step. Her 10 chapters give you an idea of what you will learn when you read the book (and grow your business if you practice them):
1- Define Your Target Market
2- Create a Powerful Offer
3- Use Testimonials for Social Proof
4- Generate Unlimited Leads
5- Create Immediate Sales
6- Use Scripts to Increase Sales
7- Create Repeat Business
8- Double your Referrals
9- Reverse Risk to Increase Sales
10- Create Added Value
It’s a great book for your armamentarium – even if you know most of the topics covered, it’s always good to have a refresher.
Preparing your expenses and sales receipts for filing your taxes can be a nightmare. Do you have your company related papers filed in a shoe box? Or, are you organized and enter your information in bookkeeping software like QuickBooks or Peachtree?
Whatever your preferred method of filing your information is, you have to assemble it for the tax preparer or accountant. What do you have to give him? Here is a list of the documentation:
1. Receipts for the purchase of equipment. These are your assets, and assets are depreciated over time. Various types of equipment have different rates of depreciation. Your accountant will know what those rates are, and he will be able to calculate your depreciation expense. Additionally, certain purchases of capital equipment will give you a tax credit. So it is worthwhile to have your accountant review this information.
2. Payroll information is important. Providing a summary of Social Security and Medicare taxes, health benefits, if any, Federal, state and city taxes for each employee and the Treasury payments made are necessary to ascertain your payroll expenses for the year. Any payments made to independent contractors should be reported on Form 1099.
3. Any draws that you have taken from the business and any estimated taxes you have paid will assist the accountant in preparing your tax liability.
4. You will need to give the accountant a list of accounts receivable that have remained outstanding at the end of 2012. He may ask you about the probability of collection of these accounts and may want to indicate whether these are probable or noncollectable leading to a bad debt expense. He may also want to know whether you have “earned” the revenue you have collected in the year. This refers to the Matching Principle in accounting – if you haven’t earned the revenues but have collected it, you will have an accrual on moneys collected but not earned.
5. In this vein, you will also need to give the accountant a list of those accounts payable that you have not paid at the end of the year. The numbers in 4 and 5 will have an impact on your Working Capital.
6. It will be necessary to also keep an eye on your inventory. How frequently do you replenish your inventory? Inventory Turnover is critical to learning whether you will need to reduce the selling price or if you will have a write-off of obsolete inventory.
7. If you have entered into any contracts with vendors or suppliers and independent contractors it would be wise to provide the accountant with a copy of those contracts so that he can see any anticipated revenues or costs associated with them.
8. Before providing you with the completed tax returns, the accountant will want to review them with you before finalization to make sure that he has included everything. Take this conference seriously. He should offer you advice on the conduct of your operation and indicate whether you need to do more to mitigate your tax liability or improve the way you are running your business.
By the way, if you are using a software package and your accountant uses the same program, you can provide him with a download of your files so that he can manipulate the information as he needs to. This will save him a lot of time in preparing your information.
If I build it they will come.
This is the title of the first chapter in my book, “Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.” The chapter basically deals with the idea that if you aren’t sitting around waiting for the latest “thing” (fashion, technology, gismo, app etc) to walk through your door and land in your lap, then chances are about 100% that no one else is either.
Here’s a variation on this theme that’s dedicated to fundraising and a key aspect to fundraising that a lot of entrepreneurs and startup businesses fail to recognize. Or if they recognize it, the concept is so foreign to them that they can’t even get their minds around it. And that’s the issue of scaling. When you build your business and business plan, if you are planning to raise money, then building it is not enough. The money won’t come. Why not? Because most startups and entrepreneurs don’t recognize the value of scaling their company –the value to them but more importantly the value to the investor.
Often the first question an investor will ask is ‘how fast can I get a return on my investment?’ And they don’t mean dollar-for-dollar. They mean $10 for every dollar. If you don’t show them plans to scale the company, then you can’t answer that question. If you can’t give a map (or better yet a spread sheet showing the exact details like timeframe, expenses, projections to profitability, personnel and equipment being brought on), then you’re probably in a lot of trouble. If I’m investing in your company, why would I want to give you money unless I’m going to see the company grow (“scale”) and give me multiple times back my investment. If you’re a one or two person shop determined to keep it that way, then that just isn’t going to happen. Those kind of companies are called “lifestyle” companies, where the entrepreneur is making a success just for themselves. Big difference (see http://thinktraffic.net/startup-vs-lifestyle-business) . You may get investors, but it’s that much more difficult. You are more likely going to be eligible for a bank loan than investment.
Some issues around scaling, such as when is the right time to scale and do you scale out or deep are discussed by Geri Stengel in her Ventureneer blog (http://ventureneer.com/vblog/business-plan-nonprofit-growth-planning-scale). Don’t let the fact that Geri deals with non-profits scare you off – these tips work for profit companies as well. Other tips can be found on CNN’s blog “Pop Quiz: Is Your Business Scalable?” (http://www.inc.com/karl-and-bill/pop-quiz-is-your-business-scalable.html) .
Important tip to remember: “If I scale it, they WILL come.”
How to detect if your agency is lying was one of the topics of a recent iMedia post (http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/33398.asp). The telltale signs and circumstances are often different for large agencies and the large clients they serve than they are for a small startup. Money, time and expertise on the part of the entrepreneur are much more limited when hiring a vendor. So, while the list in the post is informative to read, you, as an entrepreneur and small business owner have to use additional skills and methods to choose an agency or vendor that will eliminate the environment for “lies” to exist in from the get-go.
The bottom line in choosing a vendor to work with is trust your gut. There are three parts to a good fit. If you feel the chemistry is right between you and the person or people you will be working with, that is 1/3 of the equation. The next 1/3 is that there is good and continuing communication between you and your vendor – neither party is doing all the talking and each person is building on what the other is saying (this is referred to as keeping the communication loop closed). The final 1/3 of the equation (and at this point if you’ve achieved the first 2/3, this will be a no-brainer) is that your vendor ceases to become a vendor and becomes a partner in that they are just as concerned as you are about your customers, your marketing, your success (yes I know I’m leaving out the part about references and experience in your industry but I think these three qualities often trump the others).
One of the nicest compliments ever paid to me was by Margaret Shumel (http://www.opex-ny.com/) when she was working at Pfizer. She said she liked working with me because I would talk her out of project ideas that I didn’t think would work – without regard for selling more services for myself. I’m in it for the long-term relationship not the quick sale. And you and your vendors should be in it for the same reason.
Written by Danielle Covington, FIT Hot Topics Intern.
Spring 2013′s ready to wear collections can been summed up as one thing, an utterly fabulous sugar shock! Labels such as Betsey Johnson, Alice & Olivia, Philosophy and more have blazed the runways with sweet looks sure to hit the spot. I’ve taken the liberty of matching up these sweet looks with their sugar filled soul mates to bring you a refreshing look at what will be coming up next season. Let’s see how some designers approached “Dressing Sweeter”.
Alice & Olivia
Alice & Olivia demonstrated a sassy sweet tooth for the spring season. This line is full of vibrant playful colors that bring 60’s glamor back with a vengeance.
One of A&O’s new looks capitalizes on the lush vibrant blue we’ve all come to know and love.
M&M’s come in an array of colors, but if willing to be bold you can make mouths water too.
Pop quiz! What’s the most precious jewel in the world…rock candy! Lemon to be exact. This vibrant canary yellow dress has a seductively sweet sass sure to make your lips pucker.
Red has always been a tempting color, but when paired up with cake and cream cheese frosting, you’ve got a timeless classic! Just to stay contemporary we’ve lessened the serving size to a mini skirt and perched it on top of a lollypop. Who needs your grandmother’s cake dome, you’re a sexy display all by yo bad self.
Black liquorish isn’t for the faint of heart!
Philosophy took a more angular modern approach to their line, lots of patterns and prints. The juxtaposition of color in this line is fairly reminiscent to the hard candy.
This lovely blue and tan combination hugs the body gently enough to show off a feminine figure but not restrict or over exaggerate it. The beautiful curve this outfit creates is reminiscent to that of ribbon candy. Neither are over powering nor understated.
Peppermint is as versatile as it is tasty. We use it all year round, then in December we change its shape to a cane with pinstripes and all of a sudden its everywhere you go! When I think of peppermint candy I think of freshness and holiday joy. ‘Tis the season, to be a hottie. But, then again every season is.
Zadig & Voltaire
This outfit by Zadig & Voltaire is no juicy contradiction
Betsy Johnson is known for producing fun and flirty lines, so it’s no surprise that she is featured as one of our sassy sweet designers.
This perfectly pink pastel looks light as air and fluffy just like one of my favorite sweets, cotton candy. Honestly it’s a wonderfully playful look that sends a delicate yet spunky message.
If you’re like me then you’ve got a sweet tooth that can’t be satisfied with just one confection. Well you and I don’t have to worry; Betsy Johnson has taken care of everything. Just go for the whole candy shop!
After you’ve gone through your fashion sugar shock, unwind with some Pepto-Bismol to ease the tummy ache.