Bridging the gap between the web and the real world part 5

What’s the right strategy for me?

Previously:
Bridging between the web and the real world
Bridging the gap between the web and the real world part 2
Bridging the gap between the web and the real world part 3
Bridging the gap between the web and the real world part 4

 

In defining a marketing strategy you will as a minimum need to:

  1. Define your USP and write it down.
  2. Define your target market
  3. Write down the benefits of your product/service to that market
  4. Position your product/service in comparison to it’s rivals so that it appeals to your market (2)
  5. Define the activities you will engage in to deliver your messages and monitor results e.g. networking, direct mail, telesales, events, etc
  6. Develop the messages that suit each method of delivery, drive home your USP, consolidate your positioning statement and motivate the required actions from your target market

Your USP, positioning statements, Elevator pitch and all that good stuff

Me (the business) has to be understood first and that is often where the exercise is rejected then the products come under the microscope.

Most networkers will tell you how important trust is in selling your products and services and this is the section that deals with that trust. Trust is not in a product, or service, but in a person or organisation delivering it and you simply can’t afford to ignore this aspect of your offering.

The simple and obvious questions 

What do I stand for? what do I want out? What am I prepared to give?  Where are my boundaries? Now you need to step it up a notch to look at yourself through your customer’s eyes.
What do they stand for? What does it mean to me? Is it an image that inspires me to deal with them? Are their changes that would improve this image and influence me to buy from them?

Now the money question
How good are my products? Who are they aimed at and why should they buy?
Now from a customer viewpoint

Do I use their products? Why? What would motivate me to start/stop, how do they compare to the opposition? And how does this influence me? Is there anything unique , or memorable about them?

It is rare that this exercise does not lead to a startling difference between the internal view and the customer viewpoint and there is always something to be learned, but be warned, the results must be consumed with a measure of common sense.
The idea of giving the customer what he wants is fallacy. The customer wants you broke and giving him products for free, even products he will never use. You have to talk to realistic customers of the kind you are able to sell to profitably. You have to ask the right questions carefully and explore the answers if in doubt.

Before you can establish a strategy for your marketing you need to be confident that you have  got your proposition right and you are projecting an appropriate image successfully. Without that you can spend a lot of cash and effort for very little return.

Unity of thought and action in all things is the key

Two messages that reinforce a strong influential theme is three times as powerful as one message. Two messages that contradict each other, even a little bit can be very damaging.

Messages in the marketing context mean every communication and action that says something to your customers.  If you deliver a day late without an apology, that sends a message even more effectively than an expensive TV advert only not the one you had intended. The lesson that needs to be learned here is Don’t over guild the lilly.

If you are not going to be able to deliver it consistently, drop it from all offers and don’t promise it. This is the commonest mistake in business and it is even more upsetting when you come to realise that the customer didn’t even rate it in his buying criteria, but now he’s upset because you promised and didn’t deliver.

E-commerce and the retail shop, email and the call-centre, networking and the marketing campaign

Have you ever dealt with an organisation, or a professional who managed to get these aspects of the business integrated even a little bit?  I certainly haven’t.

  • You buy something online, but you are not allowed to return it in the shopping mall.   
  • You see an advert 15 times in the course of an evening telling you how your bank value their customers, you call about your account and ten minutes later, with steam coming from your ears, you finally get through to a call centre person who is trained only in dealing with irate customers. Two minutes later you put the phone down in despair, no wiser.
  • You meet the boss at an event and tell him you need a big order and he is very pleased and very helpful. You call in a few days later to order and you are told, it will be two weeks now before we can deliver, if only you’d called in yesterday.
  • The call centre reminds you that your annual subscription is overdue, because they have never been told that you paid by direct debit last week

We both know that this list could go on for many pages and hopefully you are beginning to think of this in terms of conflicting messages and wasted effort. Fixing this type of thing should be at the top of every marketing strategy.

Don’t take a sledgehammer to crack a nut

The most difficult thing about developing a strategy for marketing can be to avoid starting at the beginning and making too big a job out of it.

If you are happy enough that you don’t have the problems highlighted above then in reading this you have done enough and you can get straight to the point.

 Billions are wasted every year developing strategies that are consigned to the bin by changes in events within the first year, so stick to the highest possible level and don’t get bogged down in detail.
If you want to spend a little more time at this stage then I would strongly advise a couple of workshops facilitated by an experienced external person. In particular PEST is a great way to avoid falling foul of Political, Environmental, Sociological and Technological drivers that render your plans useless.
SWOT is a powerful tool to help you define your Strengths and Weaknesses and to explore. Opportunities and Threats facing your business.   Done well with a good cross section of the team, these can be lively and informative short sessions that afford a chance to take stock and to improve management communication.

Defining your target market

Your target market is a segment or segments of the overall market that you believe is sufficiently large to deliver your targeted sales volume and offers you the best possible opportunity to make sales. Why waste time climbing for the high apples, get the easy ones.

When defining your market segments the best strategy will often be to understand;

 1. The jobs they want done as opposed to features they might want

2. How easily accessed they are
3. How profitable they are to your business.

e.g.  If you are a Lawyer who used to work in the city and now you are in practice, you have a Unique proposition in terms of your financial knowhow, you may be able to highlight a large group of potential clients who engage in financial dealings but are not big enough to retain a lawyer and you may find that there is an easy route to access them all through a particular association.  Provided this is sufficiently profitable for you, you have clearly defined your target market using my criteria.

Defining the benefits to your target market

 

If you remember, we focused on ” job done” as opposed to features when defining the target market, very simply this is because the benefit is that it allows your customer to get a job done.
This way there is less confusion over language and better defined offering in terms of language.

 

e.g. The tiler isn’t looking for a “better cutter”, but a “smoother cut”, or a “faster cut”

Don’t forget emotional drivers

Emotions play a large part in all purchases, even the very logical ones, but many purchases are dominated by emotion.  Cars are bought for the feeling they give the driver when he sits into it.
Homes are bought for what they say about the owner as much as anything else. The list goes on.

People are very swarm conscious and like to be hiding comfortably in a crowd doing what the crowd are doing. The underlying driver is fear of being singled out for r ridicule if they get it wrong, so people need a way out and they need social approval for their decisions.

You must identify these social drivers and write them down

Remember to record the constraints

It may be that only at certain times of year, or when certain conditions occur, will your customers make a buying decision, or that certain seasons are better.  Remember the low hanging fruit theory and record all of these constraints so you can use them to your benefit.

Define your positioning statements

Positioning statements are statements that help the customer understand your proposition by comparing it to the competition and by comparing it to other known things.
“The Venice of the North”.   “Accounting’s answer to Coca Cola”.  These are positioning statements.
They very simply and subtly say a great deal about what you think of your product, they are very easy to remember, because they follow the basic principal of how we remember things and if you can get the customer to accept this comparison, you will very powerfully and memorably define your product’s position in your customer’s mind.
Nothing in my view is more powerful in the marketing strategy than getting the positioning right and then driving it home consistently.

Plan the activity at a high level.

At a strategic level you don’t want times and dates etc, but you do want these key elements:

  1. Clarity about how and where you will deliver your messages for what outcome and how you will measure success.
  2. You should have a regular review strategy to make sure your strategy is working and to make adjustments when appropriate
  3. You should have clear targets in terms of sales, enquiries, list growth, share of voice, share of mind etc
  4. You should have a budget defined
  5. Divide your activities into Hunting and Farming (Hunting being the search for new contacts)

To help you decide on tactics, the best approach is to go back to your notes on target market and n particular the bit about accessibility. At that point you decided that this segment was accessible, how?
Who and what are their strongest influencers?
Where do they go? What do they read? Do they network? Can you get them to join a newsletter? are they in your database and reachable with certain types of media?

 

A simple chart like this one can help

  Offline Networking Online Networking PR Email Events Telesales SEM Website
London engineers £1 to £10m Meet senior  management at key engineering focused gatherings:
Institute of ..
Directors will stay in touch with opposite numbers and forge new relationships Monthly announcements on the following themes:
1
2
Quarterly newsletter with valuable key trends analysis Invite up to 50 key people for working lunches Add 200 names to the database of potential customers every month Target buyers of widget who is searching for “custom”
max budget

£n

Provide all the information buyers need

Track visitors from all electronic messaging.

Integrate this information with offline communications records

Target 10 Potentials 50 new relationships 20% improvement in share of mind. 15 enquiries monthly 40 new potentials 2400 new contacts 10 orders per month Traffic growth 10%
Repeat/New

7:4

London legal  practices £1m+ Meet senior  management at industry gatherings Minimal as they don’t do it much Occasional announcements  timed with ..   Working breakfasts  with short informative  training sessions   Target  all widget searches Use ecommerce to capture small orders.

 

Email key bridging pages to the mailing list monthly

Target 30 potentials              
Total sales forecast                
Cost                
ROI                

 

 

Develop the messages

 

1. Write out your USP

2. Write an elevator pitch that you can give to anyone in any circumstance and they will immediately “get it”.  Imagine being forced to still use it word for word in ten years.

Define the segments by name
Define the jobs they want done
Define the emotional drivers involved
Define their key influencers

Define each of the delivery methods you have proposed for this segment

For each of these individual segment/method instances, write out what action you want them to take and what would make them take it.

For each of the above, write out the message to be delivered
Write out an example of body copy.

The actual body copy can be created close to the event so that the language and mood of the time can be built into it.

e.g.

Segment1 Type Influencers Job done Emotional Action Message
email Peer group afraid of being left behind.
Competition  . sales people telling them we are no good.
Trade body wanting their business instead
Enter new markets.

Find new products

Mustn’t be seen to fail even a little.

 

Must feel comfortable with these new ideas.

 

We are afraid of not being up to the job

www Message1.doc
Networking enquire Message.doc
website enquire Message.doc
telephone Agree to a visit  

Message 2.doc

events Invite us to tender Message 3.doc

 

Direct mail Make an enquiry Message4.doc
Newsletter Visit the www

 

I expect it is much more evident what your message should be saying when you work form this chart and a good copywriter should be able to produce powerful collateral very quickly.
 What is especially good is that all your activity is now delivering consistent focused messages direct to receptive audiences and they can continue the conversation across the website, networking, events etc without any confusion. If you work a little on timing and language you can achieve a great deal from your new marketing strategy.

If you invest in some tools to help you coordinate all these communications it will make your job a great deal easier