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.

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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.

7 Tips to Create (or Optimize) a Great LinkedIn Business Page

Simply put, LinkedIn is a professional social media platform that has been steadily growing in popularity and use, especially for search, business networking, hiring, referrals, leads and even financing. If you haven’t made a business LinkedIn business page, you’re missing out. If you have already have a business LinkedIn page for your business you should review it and optimize it.

Luckily you can probably use these recommendations on your other social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) as well. Here are 7 tips to help you create (or optimize) a great LinkedIn business page.

  1. Branding

Make sure your branding is aligned with your company and overall marketing strategy. If someone is discovering you first through your LinkedIn page, they should be able to know and understand what your company is about. Make sure your images are sized correctly, not distorted and speak to your target audience. Also, include links to your company website.

  1. Showcase your products & services

On the Products & Services page, testimonials and recommendations are highlighted prominently. This will have a direct impact on the number of Linked members who’ll end up visiting your website. Encourage customers to recommend your products and services here as well.

  1. Make your page engaging

Optimize your LinkedIn company page content so it speaks not only about what you company does, but also what your customers will be searching for. Include keywords or buzzwords and make sure that the content provides value to readers.

If your business operation spans multiple locations, you may want to list all of them. LinkedIn allows visitors’ location as a search criterion to narrow down results. You can add up to five different locations to your page. Also, consider including a short video (30 seconds) summarizing your company and it’s offerings. A well-made and appropriately branded video can encourage many to “follow” or engage with your company.

  1. Use advertisements to drive traffic (and page views)

The advertising options provided by LinkedIn are definitely worth checking out. InMail, Display Advertising and Sponsored Posts will help you build a large follower base effectively and affordably. The advertisement can be targeted by job title, location, and many other options.

  1. Use and measure analytics (a.k.a. Insights)

LinkedIn Insights will help you track the success of your page and improve it This includes impressions per post, user engagement, follower demographics, audience insights, etc. It also connects to promoting your page (#4) and will help you optimize your targeted posts and determine return-on-investment (ROI).

  1. Add LinkedIn buttons to your site and collateral

Social plugins are a great way to quickly share your content on various social media platforms. In addition to getting your content shared, you could also drive visitors from your website toward your LinkedIn business page. You can select recommend, follow, endorse, or share buttons on your site to drive traffic to your business page. Think about where you will place them on your website and choose the best one to achieve your objective. You should also place your LinkedIn logo (vector image) on your digital assets (website) as well as your marketing collateral (brochures, PowerPoints, business cards, etc.). That being said you should do this for all of your social networks.

  1. Update regularly and be social

Your objective is (or should be) to engage you audience and give your brand as much positive awareness as you can. Keep your page and audience updated regularly. Post information, comments, and tips on a regular basis. When you share information, keep in mind the professional demographic. You can even consider creating a LinkedIn group for your company (internal and/or external).

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

The Top 5 Ways to Use Social Media for Branding

A brand can help you (and your name) stand out from the crowd. There are many ways to brand and social media is one you should use. Your ability to use social media for branding will greatly depend on having a clear underlining fundamental understanding of social branding concepts.

Benefits of using Social Media for Branding:

  • Virtually Free
  • Wide Audience Base
  • Comprehensive Multimedia support
  • Massive untapped potential

 

1) Facebook Fan Page

Facebook Fan Pages are amongst the best social media tools for branding simply because it has amazing potential to build a great fan following for your business. There’s no other social network in the world with over 1.15 billion active users, 16 billion pieces of content, 11 million active pages and almost 60 million users becoming fans of Facebook Pages each day.

2) Twitter

What can 140 characters of text do to establish your brand? A lot! Twitter is a great brand for building a reputation. You can reach out to millions of prospect customers with a few twitter clicks. You can access twitter from your computer, your phone – from the twitter website or through any of the thousands apps available for twitter. Twitter allows you to start conversations with like-minded peers/ prospects, share valuable news and information, build your audience, stay connected with latest events and finally build and monitor your own brand and reputation.

3) LinkedIn

LinkedIn is known for its networking capabilities. It’s very important that you take advantage of that. Start by adding people you know to your network. Then, when you’ve built up a good-sized network, you can start to see people from your friends’ networks. It’s a great way to interact with and meet people who could be crucial to your industry or business.

LinkedIn allows you to participate in conversations, which gives you a great opportunity to be a voice for your industry and show how much of an expert you are. Join some groups that relate to your niche and get in on the conversation. This will also help you to network with people in your niche.

4) YouTube

Most customers like to see brands in action rather than go by word of mouth. YouTube offers a great way where you can show videos of how your brand works and how you’re superior than your competitors. Create your own branded channel on YouTube and see the world of difference that it makes to your online audience.

5) Blog

I love to read about a brand before I get associated with it. In today’s modern age, many consumers think alike and are keen to spend some time reading about brands before they commit to them. A blog is a great place to showcase your brand. Coupled with SEO and smart tags, blogs are a great way to establish your brand online. Blogs help spread brand-awareness as well as serve as a great medium to educate users about the details of a brand and business.

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.

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. 

5 Tips to Improve Your Email Marketing Campaign

Image

Email marketing is a very effective and popular tool to help promote your company, brand and everything associated. Here are 5 quick tips to quickly help improve your email marketing campaign.

1.  Use Consistent Fonts for Headlines & Paragraph Text

Simply put this is branding 101. Consistency is the ultimate key to your brand recognition and to its success. By using consistent font sizes and colors you can achieve a clean and professional look for your newsletters, while also making them easier to read. There should also be a noticeable size difference between article headlines and your text.

2.  Integrate your Marketing Campaigns

This will help increase your reach and drive results. Cross-promotion between your networks is essential. Utilize all your channels including Social Media, which can be easily integrated into your email marketing campaigns. Also, be sure to use URL’s to link your eNewsletters to valuable online content. Credibility is king and that makes content the queen.

3.  Include your Brand, Logo & Colors

All of your marketing, including your eNewsletters, should be consistent (tip #1) and this includes your brand and logo colors. Your eNewsletter’s colors should resemble your company and should always contain your logo. This step can help ensure that your recipients recognize your company as soon as they open the email. Don’t worry though, different colors can still be used, just use them sparingly.

4.  Use Images & Videos

As with all marketing endeavors (both on and off-line) photos and videos foster engagement and can help make your content go viral. Use them well.

5.  Watch the length

“How long should an email be?” It’s best to use your own discretion, but you should be mindful of the page fold (e.g. any content that you must scroll to read). Also, the longer the newsletter the greater the chance of your content not being read. If your emails and articles are ending up very lengthy, I recommend using a teaser or a lead-in with a read more link to a website (or a document). This can help you reduce the length of your eNewsletters and will also help you gauge engagement through click-through reports.

Want to know more than 5 tips? Ready to get started? Contact me at Marketing Directions for more information and for personalized assistance.