The 4 P’s & C’s of Marketing

This blog post takes me back to my university days. Expanding on the P’s with the C’s of marketing and branding was a great addition to my marketing strategy skill set. The 4 P’s of marketing – Product, Price, Place and Promotion – are well known, however the addition of the 4 C’s – Consumers, Costs, Convenience and Communication –  can help to build a more robust marketing strategy.

4marketingPsandCs

Products & Consumers 

Consumers have needs and wants which products (or services) should provide. Learning what a target audience wants or finds value in will help you to develop a product that will be successful in the market place. Conduct a market place gap analysis to see if there is an opportunity for your product.

Price & Cost 

The price must be justified by the market place and by your profitability margin. You need to consider the indirect costs that your target audience must pay to use your product or service. If you rely strictly on price to compete you are vulnerable to competition – in the long term.

Place & Convenience

If it’s not convenient it doesn’t matter where you place the product. This depends on your target market’s preference and can range from the internet to a catalogue or a phone call.

Promotion & Communication

Promotion can be considered to be more of a marketing campaign or medium, where as communication can require a value exchange between the buyer and seller. It’s about providing value. Content marketing or an innocent can usually align promotion and communication as long as it provides value. Be creative and you can make your marketing engaging.

Strategizing Your Promotional Marketing Mix

In business or marketing strategy, you have probably heard of the “4 P’s” of marketing (Product, Price, Place and Promotion). The promotional aspect can also be described as the “Promotional Mix” and it determines what actions to take to reach your target audience. If you find yourself asking “How do I know what works?” the answer begins with your target audience. This blog post will help you to strategize your marketing plan and I’ve even included estimated costs.

Marketing Tactics

  1. Business Name

Your business and brand name is crucial to your success. ($1,000 – $8,000)

  1. Logo

Your logo should represent your company and your brand. This is a must-have and quality does count. An affordable solution is 99Designs. If design and creativity isn’t your strong suit then you should invest in an engaging logo. ($500 – $10,000)

  1. Slogan

This may be optional, but this short description can explain your unique value proposition to the market. ($500 – $5,000)

  1. Website

Developing a website can be almost free (e.g. from WordPress or another free online template) or a substantial investment. It all depends on your ability to build a website, develop a strategy, content, etc. It will cost less if you can write it yourself and supply the photography, but if you don’t want to build a website, you should hire someone who does. You can also save money by being involved in the planning and content selection. ($5,000 – $50,000)

  1. Content Marketing Schedule

Unless you’re ready to draft a content marketing plan you should probably enlist some help. Providing valuable content will help move your targets through a track-able process.

  1. Email Marketing

This will help you provide value and disseminate you content. Free templates can be set up with any number of online eNewsletter programs. ($50  – $20,000)

  1. Social Media

Set up your social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) and ensure they are consistent with your branding and messaging. You should be able to do this yourself, but make sure you’re on the right networks – correctly.

  1. Blogging

Writing a blog is free and easy to do once you’ve planned your content strategy. Creating a blog will help you keep your website content fresh.

  1. Signage

Signage will let the market place know that you exist and help people easily you’re your location(s). ($500 – $50,000+)

  1. Directories and Classified Ads

Whether online or in a newspaper, these should be a cost-effective method to list your company in it’s target industry. People searching for specific items can locate your ad by category. ($25+/each)

  1. Community Newsletters

If your goal is to reach a specific community, than community papers may provide you with a cost-effective tactic, however readership varies. ($50 – $500/ad/size)

  1. Outdoor Advertising

This tactic will increase your local presence. Outdoor advertising covers a variety of media, including lawn signs, bus benches (0 – $200/month), shopping mall signs, billboards and building sponsorships. ($5,000 – $50,000+)

  1. Videos

Videos are an extremely important, especially within your content marketing strategy. They can be used in a variety of mediums including both digital and traditional marketing tactics.  ($2,000  – $50,000)

  1. Search Engine Optimization (and Outsourced Content Creation)

Your company and it’s digital assets need to rank highly. Enlisting the services of an expert will save you time, which will allow you to get back to business. ($1,000 – $5,000/month)

  1. Radio

This brand awareness tactic will increase your presence with commuter traffic, especially in rural communities. ($3,000 – $10,000/month)

  1. Television (TV)

Advertising on local (or national) television can greatly increase your brand awareness and increase recognition. (Estimate $1,000 – $10,000/month + production – you need a solid 30 second spot)

  1. Newspapers

Newspaper (local or national) can help build local, immediate attention and over a period of time can increase brand visibility. ($2,000+/month – depending on ad size)

  1. Promotional Products

These are branded items that you send (or give) away to gain (and retain) attention. In Calgary I recommend Level2, however there any many choices in every city.

  1. Direct Mail

Targeted, local direct mail can be effective if there is a valuable offer or create that stands out. This can also be applied to eNewsletters or digital marketing. ($0.5 – $3/ household is consistent depending on the creative you are mailing)

  1. Digital

There are many new online advertising channels to consider. Start with Search Engine Marketing (SEM), which is essentially your online search traffic that should relate to your company, product or service. Then look at display advertising, which is the online version of billboard advertising, layered in with retargeted and behaviour ads. Next think about social media advertising (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). If you’re confused by the above let me know and I can help. While marketing budgets may vary they are also affordable and track-able. ($25/day+)

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

A CRM system, emails and phone calls will help you manage current relationships, increase referrals and attract new prospects to be clients. If you don’t have a sales process or strategy you will not generate new business. ($25/month+)

  1. Recommendations, Success Stories and Celebrity Endorsements

Some of these are free or earned and others are not – however all will help you increase credibility within your market place. Always be aware of the risk.

Build Your Promotional Marketing Mix

Choose your promotional marketing tactic based on your target audience. This includes the volume, type, and geography of the target customers you are trying to reach. Depending on your marketing strategy (or objectives), choose the method that is the most direct and provides the most value. Your target prospects need to engage with your market for it to be a success. Forecast and plan your marketing budgets to ensure that you allow enough budget to carry your campaign throughout completion. Don’t be afraid to take a chance. Just be sure to measure the results of your marketing.

Top 5 Marketing Questions Your Business Should Be Asking

Nowadays, everyone is trying to manage a business and brand that sticks. Businesses and marketers are very busy with multiple channels, campaigns, metrics, projects, and deadlines. To stay competitive, business and marketers should be asking themselves these 5 questions.

  1. Who are your target audiences or personas?

This is Marketing 101, but you’d be surprised how easy forgetting about this fundamental question is. Approaching every project thinking first and foremost about your audience should be second nature. This would also be why your company exists. You’ve missed the market if you’re not targeting or providing value to a specific target or persona.

If you’re just getting started, establishing audience personas will take some due diligence and a fair amount of market research (try your CRM or client files). But it’s well worth the effort if your campaigns are to have the most impact.

  1. When is the right time to provide value?

After creating target personas you need to understand their job details and where they spend their time looking for information. When you identify your audiences’ primary job responsibilities you can zero in on the various pain points they face daily. With that knowledge, you can tailor your message to fit what your audience needs.

Also, your target audience will inevitably spend time looking for new information and consuming content. You need to know where this so you can provide informative and quality content. That is where your brand’s message also needs to be.

  1. What is keeping your audience up at night?

Even if we don’t want to, we all take our work home with us from time to time. These concerns can offer insight into how to reach different customers. While this may not be easy, by doing some strategic research, you can learn a lot about your audience’s needs. This will help you to provide valuable content and deliverables to your personas.

  1. What will make you stand out from the crowd?

The marketing market is saturated. This is why you need to see a piece of marketing a few times before it resonates. People experience a steady flow of content from multiple sources: emails, social media posts, traditional advertising, and many other channels. Keep it short, sweet and simple. This is how your message will stand out.

Keep your audience’s attention by having a clear, focused message about the solutions you can provide that will address their pain points. Be sure you provide value and consider offering an incentive.

  1. What action do you want your audience to take?

The call to action (CTA) is could be considered to be the most important part of any marketing message that your audience receives. Use 1, maybe 2, CTAs at a time. If you have multiple CTAs, your audience will likely become distracted and confused and less likely to convert. Make sure the CTA is easily visible and engaging follows through with the action it presents.

You Chose That Name? Avoid These 5 Naming Mistakes

Naming your company, product or service, either new or old, is a great opportunity. If you get it right it could put it on the “map”, increase awareness, and spark buzz from the marketplace. However, if you get it wrong it may make you invisible, mis-represented or non-existent. Naming is a mix between an art and a substance but these 5 tips should help.

  1. Don’t be (or want to be) like everyone else

Avoid this curse of human nature. While you may see something successful in the marketplace, such as a well-known brand/product, I would encourage you to be inventive and avoid the need to duplicate. Strong names and brands have been built, which is how you should approach your naming process. This is an opportunity to establish and build a strong name/brand while differentiating you from your competition.

  1. Remember what’s important to your target audience

Before you start naming, make sure you’ve reviewed and refined your brand positioning so you know exactly what your target audience is looking for and wanting (even if they might not know it yet). As discussed in tip 1, you should also position yourself as distinctive. Avoid how you want to be positioned or perceived rather position yourself as what your target market is expected.

  1. Be simple

Basically, don’t say everything. A good name (or brand) is an entry point. You create interest by intriguing your audience not by telling them everything. You can capture their attention and then provide information after, through packaging, advertising, website, social media etc.

  1. Avoid trends

Create a name or brand that will last longer than the recent trend, such as dropped letters, juxtaposed concepts, slang or “trendy” acronyms. Select a name that you’ll be able to present with pride for longer than a few years (or trend).

  1. Check your grammar

Don’t lose perspective and be mindful of spelling, grammatical and pronunciation issues. Also, consider how your name is interpreted in the media as well as in other countries, languages, etc. Be sure to take your time and review your choices.

A brand, product or service name is extremely important to creating awareness and engaging your target audience. This is an opportunity – don’t waste it.

Selecting the Right (or Best) Marketing Budget

The timeless question. “How much should I spend, when I want to market, advertise or promote my new….?”

Ultimately, it all comes down to planning and budget. You have to plan, segment and execute with strategies that will not only achieve you objectives, but align with your budget.

Here are a few tips for navigating that elusive marketing budget:

1. Marketing Math
Do you know what your budget is?

New companies: For companies that have been in business for 1 to 5 years, I’d suggest using 12% to 20% of your gross revenue or projected revenue on marketing. If you’re under a year old, you still need to build and develop your business and clout before spending budget on marketing.

Established companies: For those companies that have been in business more than five years and have some market share/brand equity, we suggest allocating between 6 and 12 percent of your gross revenue or projected revenue.

While this may seem like a lot, remember new and emerging brands are looking to capture new market share and develop brand recognition with an audience that doesn’t know who you are. Once the brand is established and a portion of the market is brand-conscious you can reallocate funds accordingly.

2. “I need to grow my brand to make money, but I have no money to help do that.”

Branding isn’t easy and you’ll make some mistakes along the way. This is why it’s very important to build and fund this strategy accordingly. Just like any large project, it will take time, effort and money. Really, when is the last time you built something free that has endurance? It’s also important to make sure your dollars are spent wisely and tied tightly to specific deliverables. Don’t waste money building the wrong thing. Aim to set objectives and execute on the right tactics the first time.

3. The Marketing “Must Haves”
You need these, it’s as simple as that. The marketing mix (and spend) may differ, but you should plan for all of these.

  • Branding
  • Website
  • Content
  • Social media
  • Events
  • Public Awareness
  • Local Advertising

Advocacy Strategies

Advocacy is an important tool for brands to leverage and build strategies around.  Companies should strive to mobilize their customers, employees, and influencers, and turn them into highly productive and powerful brand advocates. These advocates can influence and support your established sales and marketing channels.

Here are 3 reasons why advocacy strategies are a critical channel to build.

1.       Credibility and Trust

Consumers trust their fellow consumers and what they say. While your brand should still communicate your products and services, advocates can help consumers learn information quickly and they will help build your credibility and transparency.

2.       Influence and Powerful Voice

 Advocates can reach potential buyers and partners quickly and easily. Advocates can do many things on a brand’s behalf including referring friends, writing testimonials, forwarding content, and sharing new products and promotions.

3.       Advocates Extend your Sales Force 

Advocates know when friends and acquaintances in their networks are available or “in the market.” This is information that brands don’t have. More importantly, the more people that are talking about and marketing your products or services will help increase your chances of success. Your social brand advocates can even drive results that are better than you than traditional methods.

Your potential brand advocates, customers, influencers, and employees, are an invaluable source of market and sales support. Business leaders can identify and mobilize their advocates to help increase brand awareness, generate high-quality leads and increase customer engagement. Companies need to create strategies and tactics set up to generate, track, and manage brand advocacy.

12 Questions to Inspire your Marketing and Content Creation

Implement these 12 tips when you need fresh marketing and content ideas:

  1. What needs do my customers have?
  2. What are the common pain points of my customers?
  3. How do we add value to our customers?
  4. What service or product examples could be highlighted with case studies or testimonials?
  5. What is currently innovative or trendy?
  6. What makes us different and stand out from our competition?
  7. How can we create a connection with our customers?
  8. Why customers like us and what keeps them coming back?
  9. What company news, information or behind the scenes moments will people find interesting?
  10. How can we maintain and strengthen relationships with our existing customers?
  11. How can we communicate our brand and our values?
  12. What common questions do customers ask us?

7 Ingredients for a Valuable Brand

You know your favorite bands. What makes them memorable or valuable? How does using their products or services make you feel? Did they build an emotional connection to make you loyal? Every company should strive to create a compelling brand even before they concentrate on making a sale. Here are 7 key points to consider when creating a brand that people connect with emotionally.

1.       Clarity

Be clear on how users will benefit from your company and its products and services. Use compelling and interesting language and tell them what’s in it for them.

2.       Exceptional Value

Every time you interact with your customers or prospects should provide them with exceptional value. Provide free resources or content marketing is a great example of this.

3.       Emotional Connection

This should be intentional and coordinated. Customers and prospects should know exactly how their experience with you should play out. This is because your company has been intentional about how it interacts with customers at every level.  Ultimately, you need to decide and execute on the type of emotional connection you want customers to resonate with your brand.

4.       Watch for Competition

Keeping an eye on the competition is important for any company. Not all competition is easy to find or keep tabs on. New competitors can pop up at any time – you have been warned. If you have created something brand new, you’ve got to look over your shoulder to protect your first to market advantage. Establishing a valuable brand at this point is critical. Also, be mindful of invisible competition resulting from customers who don’t trust a brand enough to commit to it. Using the proper messaging and communication tactics will help assure people you have what they need.

5.       Relevance

Market research and communication with your brand advocates can definitely assist with this. In addition to making sure your products or services are right for the times, you need to make sure you, your team and your brand continue to grow.

6.       Confidence

Confidence is a key element in success. It’s very important as a professional brand to demonstrate and exude a sense of control and power until it becomes really organic and integral (e.g. think Coca-Cola).

7.       Be Philanthropic

This is how you brand can demonstrate its personality and make a difference. Your brand can get involved in a charity/not-for-profit that compliments your business and brand. Dawn, Tide and Target are great examples of brands being philanthropic.

Ultimately, your brand reputation is all you’ve got – use it. 

Facebook Contests – Your 10 Tips to a Successful Contest

Who doesn’t like to win a contest? I’m pretty sure everyone likes to be a winner.

ImageWith a user base of 955 million monthly active users (June 2012), Facebook is the social platform where your contests can be very successful and provide ROI, if executed properly. Success with contests, just like any marketing efforts, it all depends on the planning and execution (consider 3 P’s: Planning, Prize and Promotion. Plan). Better yet, if you follow these 10 tips you will be right on track to running a successful Facebook contest.

1. Decide if you need a contest

This is always the best place to start when planning any marketing campaign. Evaluate your brand and market and the impact of an online contest. If you’re a B2B company that deals in a niche market, a Facebook contest might not help you gain a meaningful number of new clients. Granted it’s all about good execution and follow through.

2. Set contest goals

What do you want to achieve by running the contest? Do you want to increase brand exposure, launch a new product line, increase the number of likes for your page, build user engagement, gather user feedback or develop brand advocates? The bottom line: have specific goals and don’t run a contest just because you can.

3. Select a contest type

There are four basic types of contests you can run on Facebook: sweepstakes, essay, photo and video. Matching the type of contest with your target audience is very important. Video, photo and essay contests will give you lots of content for your page, but they also require more effort to enter. A sweepstakes contest is easy to enter and you can set it up so that you get a few key pieces of information from your customers.

4. Know Facebook’s contest policies and rules

Facebook has a lot of rules and regulations for contests run on the site. Facebook insists that contests explicitly state that Facebook is not sponsoring the giveaway. Violating any of Facebook’s rules will result in your contest, and possibly your page, being shut down, which you do not want.  

5. Have your private policy ready

Your private policy explains the intended use of the data you collect during the contest. If you plan to use the information outside of judging the contest, you need to mention that in the policy. As a result, your link to the privacy policy should be available on your contest app. Also, according to Facebook, you need to specify your own rules, terms and conditions and contest eligibility requirements.

6. Run your contest through a third-party app

There are lots of companies that provide contest support, but you will want to make sure the one you choose offers a 3 key features: flexibility, affordability and mobility.

7. Pick an awesome prize

Most importantly make sure you pick a prize that your target audience wants. You can always do a survey before the contest to help decide what the prize should be. The prize does not have to be very expensive, but the value of your prize should reflect the effort participants need to make to enter.

8. Keep it simple 

The simpler it is to enter your contest, the more people will get in. Your contest should be easy to find and easy to enter. Ask for less information such as the entrant’s name, age and email address.

9. Promote your contest

If you’re hosting a contest on Facebook, make it social and don’t just post details to your page. Post and send scheduled reminders about the contest through tweets, email newsletters and posts on your Facebook Timeline. You can also increase your promotional reach by using Facebook ads. Ensure your contest is well-integrated into all concurrent marketing channels.

10. Post-contest follow-up and results

Be sure utilizing the information collected after the contest is over and assess the responses and feedback of customers. The easiest way to do this is to organize the data into a spreadsheet and compare the responses. Also, make sure you follow-up with your audience – listening and re-engaging is very important to your brand and marketing strategy. Let the participants know that you value their suggestions as this will motivate and increase future customer interaction.