Archive for: June, 2023

It’s Time to Maximize Marketing Opportunities Or Could it Be Bad News For Ad Agencies?

Jun 06 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

Bad news sell newspapers – well whoop de do for newspapers! It certainly doesn’t do the rest of us any favours. The UK’s red tops struggle to find a front page headline unless Amy Winehouse slaps someone or a Big Brother contestant farts on air unless there’s a sensational crime to write about. Failing that it’s a case of let’s follow the broadsheets and create gloom and doom in the UK by reporting on every last snippet of bad news from the high street.

This desire to sell newspapers regardless of the messages sent out by the news articles creates further gloom and despondency in the high street which spreads throughout the land to create a massive downturn and a countywide malaise. And what for? Just to sell newspapers? That may not be entirely true but it is not without some credence and it is a fact in the UK that bad news will rise to the top of the pile to be reported before good.

Look at this example: the source is the BBC News website and you might think that the headline is from last week – but no, it is in “mid-boom” on 24 May 2005 and the article reads:-

Profits and sales tumble at M&S

Marks & Spencer saw its profits fall by almost a fifth last year and has admitted that the outlook for the business remains “challenging”.

The retailer’s annual pre-tax pre-exceptional profits fell 19% to £618.5m… Chief executive Stuart Rose said conditions were tough but insisted the company was “on track”. “Clearly it is tough. The economic climate has turned out to be tougher than we forecast but we are on track.”

But as it turned out, M&S definitely was on track and in May 2006 posted profits of £751.4m which was a 35% rise on 2005. In 2007 M&S posted profits of £965.2m which was 28.5% up on profits in 2006. Pre-tax profits for the year to 29 March 2008 were £1,007m and sales rose to £9 billion.

This was the first time in 11 years that M&S profits had topped the £1 billion mark. You might think, “Well that’s great news for M&S” but what was the headline?

This is from the Times Online May 21 2008:

Marks & Spencer profits reach £1bn but there may be trouble ahead amid downturn

In the Telegraph 3 July 2008-07-10 Marks & Spencer shares tumble as retailer issued profit alert Chairman Sir Stuart Rose said that in the past few weeks “consumer confidence levels have deteriorated markedly and market conditions have become more challenging.”

Retail analysts will downgrade forecasts on the back of the profits warning. In a flash note to clients Nick Bubb, retail analyst at Palli International, cut his pre-tax profit forecasts for the current year from £850m to £800m “at best”.

How about if the headline had read: Forecasts say that M&S will make over £2,000,000 profit a day this year Or M&S profit forecast for 2009 is £244,000,000 better than the last time it said that the economic climate was tough in 2006!

What I am getting at is that if you want to look at things in a pessimistic light then just read the papers and then panic. However, things are not all gloom and doom and we can interpret so many facts and figures in a more positive way. No matter how dark the outlook is being painted by the newspapers and other news media, there are always opportunities to do well if you are willing to look for them and to make the most of those opportunities when they present themselves.

I work in an industry that is closely allied to advertising and marketing and it is at times such as these that the industry feels the pinch. Corporate budgets are cut and the first in line for the chop is often the advertising budget which is absolutely crazy. Still, I would hate to see newspaper headlines that read: Agency Closures due to forecasts of reduced profits and would much rather see: Agencies bring client success despite forecasts (not much of a headline but it might make the trade press). However, in order to achieve client success agencies will have to work harder to make their sales and marketing campaigns stand out and get noticed.

One area in great need of improvement in effort is direct marketing. I am still receiving letters form credit card companies, insurance companies and so on that have not changed one iota in style for years. And yet if there is a squeeze on, shouldn’t these direct mail pieces be screaming at me rather than offering the same old lame format that is unquestionably heading straight for the bin.

For years, one company has been spreading the message that companies should try harder to make their marketing efforts really work. Maximize your opportunities by ensuring that your marketing efforts really do hit home. That company is Whitney Woods, specialists in promotional products which are based on cardboard engineering techniques and a UK market leader in interactive marketing products and pop up mailers. This company’s product range offers different ways in which to beef up a direct marketing campaign in order to give it maximum effect and increase the chances of the campaign becoming a great success.

The company’s range can be turned to all kinds of advertising, marketing and promotional applications and UK agencies should consider these ideas before making plans for future promotions. It will certainly give air to some new ideas and perhaps make the difference between success and failure in what are supposedly difficult times for the industry.

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Direct Linking

Jun 05 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

People often get this misconception about making money online. Most of us think that in order to make money, we have to have our own site or if we don’t have one, we obviously need to put up a page. But then Direct Linking was born. In this article, you will learn how the truth about Direct Linking, how it works and every bit of information that you should know as an internet marketer.

Many people have made a lot of money with Direct Linking. But just like any other thing, it also has its Pro’s and Con’s. Let’s start with the positive side of the idea. One good thing about Direct Linking is the fact that it is very easy to set up. You would need no super knowledge about how to set up the page because it’s all basic and simple. Next, it’s also easy to track and you do not need any website to put one up. It’s also good for testing new products and its super fast to get started. If you are on this floor yet, Direct Linking is a good option to go for. But if you want something serious, you should pay attention to the other side of the idea which are the disadvantages.

One sad thing about Direct Linking is the fact that you have no control over your visitors. You’re like under the spell of the page and that’s how you’ll always going to be for as long as you stick with it. It also has a bad quality score which results to higher cost. There are no chances for you to pre sell and you’re always at the mercy of the merchant. You cannot build a business or list. What’s even worse is that some search engines and merchants do not allow it. If you are into this, do not expect your page to rank well because it will not rank well in search engines and most of all, it cannot fit to different market.

A type of direct linking is called the Raw Link and a good example for this is one of the pages that you can find on ClickBank or you may opt for CPA Networks.

There are easy ways to use Cloak A Link. One is by Sub Domain Redirect where you can find on your control panel, another one is Use A Code or the so called PHP code mentioned above that works for ClickBank, affiliate networks and any redirect. You may also use Standard Redirect which is a flash redirect, java redirector or an HTML redirect which are very easy to do.

Now one good advice that you should take is to build a business, provide value and make more money. Try to think of ways that you can make more value with your landing page, give more tips, advice and find obscure keywords that could work for your market. The best thing that you can do is to find a very popular search term and give people what they’re looking for.

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Are You Making These Two Massive Marketing Mistakes?

Jun 04 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

At first, understanding marketing can seem as confusing and confounding as trying to understand the opposite sex. What you think will work produces no response. What you like may not be what your target market actually wants. There’s a marketing style that elite, wealthy entrepreneurs use…but the sad truth is, most other entrepreneurs aren’t in on the secret (and they suffer financially because of it). But I’m going to let you in on the secret and show you how to avoid two painful, embarrassing and common marketing mistakes.

Massive Mistake #1 – Features Marketing
This is the most common mistake for beginning marketers. Instead of selling results, the Features Marketer tries to sell their PROCESS. Look at most life coach websites. What do you see? “Find your core values”, “Inspiring You To Find Your Spirit”, “Welcome and Discover”.

The only people who care about these marketing messages are other life coaches! It’s like a bunch of computer geeks standing around the vending machine talking their techno-babble waiting for their Twinkie to pop out.

Here’s the deal…nobody else cares about the methods you use to do what you do. Your process of working is only exciting to you and others in your industry – not to your target market. Your target market only cares about the RESULTS you can produce. So stop trying to convert us into your world. In marketing at least, it’s not about you – it’s about what your target market most wants.

If you sold drill bits and made this first massive mistake here’s how you might try to sell me on your product…”These New Drill Bits are made of Tungsten Carbide. The over all length is 1.50″. The shanks have a diameter of .1250. Want to buy it?”

Bottom Line Solution: Stop telling us what your product is. Tell us what it does – the end result we’ll receive when we use your product or service.

Massive Mistake #2 – Madison Avenue Marketing
On the other extreme of the scale is being so hip and cool with your marketing that you end up leaving the audience going, “Huh?” Think of car ads that you never remember the car company. Think of sheik perfume ads that don’t show a perfume bottle. They are high concept, abstract and confusing.

While this is the realm of big companies with lots of money to waste (um…I mean “invest”), many entrepreneurs try to play the same pointless game. If you’re just launching your business and most of your energy is hair-splitting about what color your logo should be…you’re trapped by Massive Mistake #2.

I believe branding is important…but ONLY after you’re very clear on the benefits and results of what you offer…AND you have a proven track record to back up your claims. Trying to prove you’re an important expert with cool graphics is weak and inauthentic. If you want to impress your prospects give them a clean, clear offer they can’t refuse and back it up with plenty of testimonials and case studies.

Again, this marketing style is all about you – not your target market.

Here’s how you’d market a drill bit if you’re making Massive Mistake #2: On a big, expensive billboard put a large black dot on a white background. Underneath the ominous spot put the word “HOLE”. Then in the far right corner, in super small writing, put your website.

(Wow that’s so cool. I think I’ll rush home and look at that site up. I wish I was as clever as the genius who thought that up!)

Bottom Line Solution: Stop worrying about font, color and design. Give us an offer that solves our immediate problem in clear, plain English.

The Ultimate “Sweet Spot” Solution – Direct Response Marketing
Direct response marketing is about building relationships with your prospects by providing tons of value that solves their immediate problems. It’s all about THEM and what THEY want – it’s not about you.

It’s about tangible benefits and a story that I can relate to emotionally.

Benefits are the end results people can expect when they use your product or service. Story is how you get your prospects excited emotionally about the results they can expect.

As a direct response marketer you wouldn’t sell the drill bit (who needs another piece of metal around the house?)…you would sell the HOLE! But unlike the Madison Avenue style, you talk in plain English about the bottom line result. If I’m selling a 1/8 inch drill bit it might go something like this:

“This easy-to-use drill bit makes a nice, clean hole. It’s the perfect hole-size for hanging pictures on the wall. Imagine how warm and cozy your home could be with photos of your loved ones decorating your walls.”

If you want holes to hang pictures you response will be, “Great! That’s what I want. Where do I buy it?” Why? Because I’m telling you what you want to hear. And I’m painting a picture through story that has you imagining the benefits of a drill bit so you sell yourself on the product.

Use the 80/20 Rule In Your Marketing Style
Don’t get me wrong – selling your features and having a great brand are important too…just not as important as having a clear offer that produces tangible results.

As a general rule, focus 10% of your marketing message on features and 10% on your branding. The remaining 80% of your marketing presentation should use direct response marketing principles because it gets you the best, fastest and easiest results.

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Market Intelligence – An Introduction

Jun 03 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

What is Market intelligence?

First things first! Many organisations see market intelligence as a cost rather than an investment and hence the bitter fact that so much remains to be done on market intelligence when it comes to strategizing one’s marketing & sales plan.

I strongly advocate continuous investment in MI, as this article will show, the value you get and benefits that accrue far outweigh your costs incurred. It also proves beyond doubt that MI is indeed an investment rather than cost.

I define MI as a systematic way of consistently gathering data, through various sources, on all factors that impact in some way or the other how you do business and then analysing this data into meaningful information which helps relevant personnel make effective strategies that increases profitable sales.

MI comprises of tracking your competitors-both direct and indirect, new entrants, new expectations/needs of customers, new trends/technology development, government legislation and changes, new emerging markets, suppliers business practices and nowadays technological development, especially analytic software.

And now coming to the important core of this article…

How does MI help?

Benefits of MI

How to obtain MI? etc.

1. Benchmark yourself:

When you gather MI data and convert it into meaningful data through analysis (I have repeated many times so as to emphasise – data… analysis… information) it gives a clearer picture of where your organisation stands with respect to others in your playing area. This usually spurs organisations on to sprint and try catching up with the leader. On the other hand it enables the leader to know the exact lead over others and try to increase it to safer distance.

Getting to know their strengths and weaknesses enables your organisation to learn from their strengths whilst exploiting their weaknesses.

Learn new ideas, methods or systems that others have successfully implemented and used to beat you up with. This also brings home the ideas, systems or methods that are unique to your organisation, yet enabling action plan to keep this USP’s longer with you.

Become aware of new areas, applications and industry sectors where your products can be introduced.

Develop new suppliers or adopt new practices for better leveraging your purchasing activity.

Helps business planning and forecasting become more focussed and realistic.

2. Internal HR benefits:

My experience with most of my clients has been that data when effectively analysed in to meaningful information brings about a transformation in people. Especially marketing, sales and related back-office personnel, by reducing complacent attitude and increasing disciplined approach, better team-play, increased awareness of live and let live attitude, since try however you can you cannot wish the others out of your way. And last but not the least, makes everyone continuously strive to improve.

3. What data makes meaningful information?

Typically most organisations find answers of following questions very useful to have MI of substance.

a) Who are the other organisations directly competing for the same piece of pie? Surprisingly, due to lack of systematic and consistent MI efforts most organisations rely on field personnel discussions, hear-say, assumptions and what many experienced seniors proudly proclaim to be their “gut-feeling”. Ask for a written document and few have them – obviously the successful ones!

b) Who are the other organisations indirectly competing for the same piece of pie?

This is something that I have yet to fathom – Why many organisations, leave aside tracking, do not even recognise the existence and therefore the importance of indirect competitors. An example here would bring home the point clearly…

In the late 80′s most of the leading FMCG’s were experiencing stagnation in their top-line growth and were tempted to declare reaching market saturation until an Indian CEO of a MNC had this flash of an idea – the mom-and-pop stores known as kirana shops in India which were considered part of their supply chain were actually their toughest competitors. This is true especially in interior, moffusil and rural areas. The daily wage earning folks were unable to buy the big companies standard pack-sizes and hence bought in “loose quantities” as per their requirement and that too some cheap local brand which the kirana sourced from and vouched for! That this led to the launch of satchets is a different story altogether! The lesson here is – look for organisations that do not sell similar products but sell something that can replace or meets the need that you claim your product meets. A client of mine selling specialised lubricants to metal forming industries has cooking oil competing!

c) Do your competitors have a package concept which meets multiple needs of your target customers against a specific product/application you sell?

You need to focus on a value based stand-alone specialist approach here and avoid the cost and package argument.

d) What are the features and benefits your competition offers which are absent or not matching up in your products.

e) What way their services are more effective or beneficial to customers compared to yours? Services here mean from the way your organisation answers telephone calls or receives visitors in office to office decor and environment to the way your employees dress, present and communicate to the relationship your sales personnel build (yes, relationship can only be built over a period of time) with influencers to product packing to informative product literature to delivery methods and time to post-sales support to helping out in their times of distress (personal or official). Got it? The whole gamut of service possibilities includes gifting and meeting subtle needs many a times.

f) The pricing policies, payment terms and delivery system.

Whilst benefit/value-based selling against price point objections is the standard advice all give, it is really tough to practice and win orders, especially in a price-conscious market like India. Add to these the flexibility of paying you and how you deliver – direct from your factory – which means more time and transportation costs or through local dealer or warehouse – just-in-time delivery and local transportation.

g) Who are your competitors’ customers?

It is very important to track customers, especially the big accounts, of your competitors. This opens your eyes to new industry segments/applications, new geographical areas and of course the good old yet evergreen point – what is it that customers’ perceive to be more beneficial when buying from your competitor rather than from you? What do their customers say about them?

h) What are their marketing and promotional strategies?

What is the important benefit, feature or point which makes customers buy from them? How are their brochures, manuals and other literature, not just in terms of content and graphics but also style, layout, paper quality and presentation? Do you have your competitors’ literature – No! You are missing something. How do they advertise and where? Which are the exhibitions, seminars they participate or conduct? How many field sales personnel do they employ along with number of distributors/dealers/representatives? What kind of budgets do they have for these activities? How their website is and what kind of information/content have they put up? Have they listed their customers, important events, achievements or latest customers/order acquisition, the latest machine or capital good installed or new factory/branch opened or new distributor/dealer appointed? What do they say about themselves in public directories, yellow pages and industry-specific magazines – print as well as online? How do they project in advertisements – recruitment and others?

i) Who are their suppliers?

An important point many fail to recognise is the potential source of information that suppliers can be. Most organisations have tight norms in place for what they classify as critical or proprietary inputs but forget that even packing materials or may be the stationery or tea-vendor acquire important insights. Also, supplier information gives you an idea about the material costs, quality level and financial practices and strength of your competitors.

j) What is your competitors’ financial muscle?

Have you got your competitor’s final accounts for the last 3 years from the Registrar of Companies office or if it is publicly listed then from their website or stock exchanges? Better still is to buy a few shares in your personal or family member’s name. Compare important financial ratios with yours as also management discussion and analysis and other forward-looking statements made. Proprietary and partnership firms score over here.

What to do with all this data?

Compilation, sorting and storing for quick retrieval of data is very important.

Next is to tabulate similar information in to comparable form by way of tables, charts or reports.

Brain-storm and discuss with all relevant personnel to ensure a meaningful analysis covering all perspectives.

Make a list of these findings, observations and strategies.

Prepare an action plan that defines who does what, when, where, how and why.

Repeat this at least twice a year like a sacred ritual and see your business confidence, top and bottom-lines and customer base grow in line with your business plan and forecasts.

Before concluding, remember what you do as above are also being done, probably better, by your competition. Hence, put checks and balances in place and hope for the best, since like anti-virus software the best can only protect but may not be enough to save you when it really matters! Do unto others what you would like others to do unto you should be the guiding maxim to decide what is ethical and acceptable and what not to do.

Finally, a simple questionnaire is attached as a useful tool that should help anyone to do MI without missing out anything and of course systematically so as to simplify data… analysis… information.

Basic Questions for effective Market Intelligence

1. Who are our direct competitors?

2. What is their product range?

3. Which products from their range compete with ours?

4. Comparison between their and our product:

a. Features

b. Applications

c. Industry segment

d. Area

e. Literature

f. USP’s

g. Price

h. Market position

i. Market share

j. Suppliers

5. Comparison between their website and ours:

a. Colour combination

b. Layout

c. Menu and Content

d. Product presentation style

e. Downloads offered

f. Search engine rank (Google, Yahoo, Bing)

g. Latest news, acquisition and customer list available

6. Financial comparison:

a. Sales turnover

b. Gross profit (figures & ratio to Sales)

c. Net profit ( ———-” ——————-)

d. Sales & Marketing expenses as a ratio to Sales

e. Employee costs as ratio of Sales

f. Expenses on IT as a ratio to Sales

g. R & D expenses as a ratio to Sales & details, if available

h. Product-wise, area-wise and segment-wise details, if available

i. Excise, VAT, Customs and Income tax paid (figures & ratio to Sales)

j. Management analysis & risk perception, future plans and achievements in Directors report

7. Marketing & Selling strategies:

a. Product brochure presentation & key features

b. User manual features

c. Trouble shooting guide

d. Maintenance & preventive spares details

e. Quotation presentation

f. Payment terms & delivery methods and costs

g. Warranty details

h. After sales support system

i. Customer relationship building initiatives and methods

j. Advertisement channels and frequency

k. Exhibitions & seminars participation

l. Magazines/journals/directories/yellow pages/industry directory advertised

m. Supply chain model – direct selling, distributors, dealers, C&F

n. Logistics model – method. cost and time for delivery

8. Have any of your customers stopped buying from you and gone to competition? If yes, why. Similarly, have you acquired any customer of your competitor? If yes, what were the pain points and trouble-some issues?

9. What do their top customers say about them?

10. What do they say about themselves- literature, website, advertisement and articles?

11. Who are your indirect competitors?

a. Common application or customers use

b. Features comparison

c. Price comparison

d. Value-benefit analysis

e. Type of customers buying

f. Market share or volume

12. What are the checks and balances in place you have to protect your organisation?

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How To Market A Service Online – Direct Marketing Is Key To Your Success Online

Jun 02 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

Marketing any product or service online is similar to offline marketing in some respects but different in others. The goal is the same, to make a profit. A good education of marketing is necessary for both words; online I would say you need an education in direct marketing to be successful.

The benefit of direct marketing online is that you don’t need a retailer involved; you just market your products or services directly to your end user. Direct marketing is how most advertising online is done, most of the major players such as Yahoo and Google run direct marketing systems.

When you do a search online with Google or Yahoo, the ads you see on the right hand side of the page are direct marketing ads. They might not be called that but the idea is to have a “searcher” click on the ad, visit the site and perform an action such as buying something or putting in their email address.

Another effective and my favorite way to market product and services online is by using article marketing. You write short articles in your field of expertise and submit them to article directories; these directories will spread them all across the Internet. Your article will have a link to your website so that a reader can visit your website after they finish reading the articles.

Article marketing is free and only cost you your time to write the article. It is effective and you are sure your prospects are interested because they read your article to get to your website.

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