Posts tagged ‘David Ducic’

Mr. Bean vs. Martha Stewart

mr_bean_martha_stewart

Mr. Bean vs. Martha Stewart
or Don’t Try Marketing Without A Net

I always admired how Michael Jordan made the game of basketball look so easy. No one could stop him, and he seemed to score at will. He’s only an inch taller than me (I’m 6’5”), so if he can do it, why can’t I? How hard can it be?

How dumb can I be?

Obviously, MJ lived life on a different plane of existence on the basketball court. Because he was so fundamentally sound, and so fully committed to being the best, he made a very difficult skill set look effortless. Similarly, marketing may look like it’s easy to do, but people who try it realize it’s a lot harder than they thought. Here’s a true story that nicely demonstrates this point.

I recently worked with a client who had launched a new software product and wanted to use an upcoming trade show to create a “wow” idea that would draw people into his booth. The software product is intended to automate and standardize classroom instruction for school teachers. His initial thought was to develop a creative concept highlighting how to do it wrong vs. how to do it right, then show how his product facilitates doing it the right way. Not a bad idea in theory, but following through on his idea would have been tantamount to career suicide for him. Here’s the concept in a nutshell:

  • The unorganized planner (the kind of person that did not use the new software) was like Mr. Bean, who is constantly scattered, manic, and ultimate ineffective.
  • The organized planner (presumably the kind of person that did use the company’s new software) was like Martha Stewart, who is considered highly organized, always in control, and extremely effective.
  • Drive home this concept by hiring a Martha Stewart impersonator and have her deliver the company’s presentation in full Stewart-esque persona.

Taking into consideration that 3/4 of the client’s audience is female, and that this very evolved audience would consider it an insult to equate their professional responsibilities with domestic matters like baking and crafts, my client was driving towards the end of the cliff and continuing to step on the gas pedal. He needed a dose of reality, and thankfully he was receptive enough to scrap his idea entirely and allowed me to develop a different concept. The idea we went with was a huge success, and helped the company exceed the pre-determined trade show ROI.

The lesson to learn with this story is that marketing is actually pretty hard, and it’s definitely in your best interests to utilize a marketing professional. We marketers can see things from the customer’s perspective, and our experiences help us to determine the differences between boring, interesting, and downright nutty. Just like Jordan, we can hit those clutch 3-pointers at the buzzer.

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May 27, 2009 at 1:25 am Leave a comment

Success is not defined as the absence of failure

Recessions can bring out the best in people. I know many successful entrepreneurs that started their businesses during recessions, and they said it’s the best decision they ever made. Some have developed companies that generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Admittedly, though, a lot of those people say their companies are surviving, but not thriving. Many will chalk it up to the economy, or changes in the marketplace, or the cost of raw materials, or increased competition. Some of these factors may be true, but after consulting for several of them I realize that there are reasons why they haven’t achieved the level of success they wanted. Here are some of those reasons:

  1. Not knowing your limitations. We cannot know everything, nor can we do everything. Realize that you have a well-honed set of core skills, and focus your efforts to take advantage of them. Here’s an analogy that all you baseball fans will instantly understand: have you ever seen a National League pitcher try to swing a bat? It’s one of the more painful sights you’ll ever see, because it’s beyond the pitcher’s limitations. Let your batters do the batting for you while you focus on your pitching.
  2. Not understanding the difference between market sizing and market segmentation. In other words, don’t bite off more than you can chew. You can read all about this from my previous blog entry on the subject. Business is hard enough without trying to conquer the whole world all at once.
  3. Not seeking help from experts. Whether it’s a marketing company like Aximum Marketing, or a full-time employee, recognizing the need for a particular skill that your company doesn’t have is not a sign of weakness or ignorance. Not only can experts give great advice and a different point of view, but they can free you to do what you do best. Again, whether you buy a piece of equipment, or office space, or specialized experts, they will all maximize your return on investment.
  4. Not avoiding the temptation to act in haste. It’s easy to get ‘happy feet’ when you’re not achieving the results you want. However, it will be best to fully think it through before pulling the trigger. Having fellow experts (see #3 above) can act as sounding boards, enabling you to make better decisions.
  5. Not understanding that marketing is an investment, rather than a cost. “I can’t afford to spend money on marketing right now.” If I had a nickel for every time I heard this, I’d have a boatload of nickels. I’ve spoken to many clients who initially look at marketing as a cost, but after I help them focus on their goals and run some numbers with them, they soon realize that all quality marketing activities have an expected, measurable, positive ROI. If you could invest $100 on marketing activities, and receive $1,000 in revenue, how much would you be willing to invest? Every penny you can get your hands on? That’s the beauty of an investment.

Success is most assuredly not defined as the absence of failure. We all work hard, and we deserve to maximize the reward for the effort we put forth. If you avoid the five pitfalls listed above (and I’m sure there are many others you can think of), you’ll unleash your potential and take your business to new heights, whether it’s a startup, a small business, or a multinational corporation. Aximum has some great success stories that illustrate this point very well, and we’ll be happy to help you thrive, too.

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May 26, 2009 at 1:42 am Leave a comment

How do you define a hot lead?

“If you ain’t dialin’, I ain’t smilin’.”

“Fill the pipeline and sort it out later.”

“All leads are good leads.”

We’ve heard them all before. Most people (and seemingly all of my past bosses) equate number of leads with quality of leads. Go to a trade show, have a giveaway contest in the booth, collect 3,000 leads, and consider the show an unparalleled success. Unfortunately, once the smoke clears and the afterglow of the show has passed, you soon realize that those 3,000 leads were nothing more than “trick or treaters” looking for a freebie to take back home. After spending six months chasing down all 3,000 leads, you discover that only 35 of them are actual revenue-generating customers, and only half of them are ready to make a purchase decision. In the end, you’ve spent $100,000 on a trade show that netted 12 customers and generated $150,000 in sales. Take into consideration all the efforts to get the booth ready, manning the booth, and time that the salespeople were out of the field, and suddenly you find yourself in a conversation with your manager about cutting back the number of shows your company attends next year.

The problem, of course, is not the show. Rather, it’s the way you pre-define prospects, leads, and customers. For every marketing program — whether it’s a trade show, advertising campaign, webinar, etc.— you need to have a game plan before, during, and after the event. You need to take the time to fully understand the customers, the needs of those customers, the sales process (see my “Lily pad” marketing entry for more info on nurturing a prospect into a customer), the messages that will resonate with customers in a differentiating manner, and the most effective medium with which to communicate. Complicated? Absolutely, but not on the rocket science level. Effective? Without a doubt.

I’ve helped many companies and clients with their lead generation needs (here’s a success story from my website), so if you’re looking for someone to help you, give me a shout.

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May 22, 2009 at 12:32 pm 5 comments

“Field of Dreams” marketing

Build it and they will come.

If only that were true.

Too often, marketing and product teams fall prey to what I call “Field of Dreams” marketing. Whether it’s a slick new website, or a shiny new product, or a fancy new advertising campaign, many companies will rely on their internal ‘tribal knowledge’ and fail to research, survey, measure, and test new marketing/sales/product ideas. There’s an assumption that, if there are enough people that believe in it, it will inevitably become successful. Even worse is the idea that so much time and money has been sunk into something that there’s no turning back. These thought processes can prove fatal for companies, especially during a recession, when cash is tight and customers are hard to find.

I have a dirty little secret to share: using good processes on the front end can actually help save you time and money on the back end. So how can you avoid stepping on the Field of Dreams? There are several things you can do to sidestep the pitfalls… let’s focus on the three examples above:

  • A slick new website – good websites are expensive, and if they aren’t done right they can actually act as a barrier to customer acquisition (for more on websites, read my entry “Your website is your strongest sales tool“). Ask your customers about your ideas to change the site. Develop a clear plan for what you want your site to accomplish. Hire an experienced expert.
  • A shiny new product – CEOs and VPs love to use their “instincts” to determine the next generation of products and services. Resist the temptation or the results can be disastrous. Use honest-to-goodness focus groups, advisory panels, and marketing research to complement the internal knowledge.
  • A fancy new advertising campaign – alas, marketing teams just love to develop new ideas for communicating to a company’s audience, but that can be dangerous if kept unchecked, leading to groupthink marketing or even worse (yes, that’s a real McDonalds ad). Remember your audience; if your communicating with software developers, for example, you wouldn’t want anything over-the-top or cheesy because they would resist it like the plague.

You get the idea. By applying best practices, like the Aximum Marketing Success Cycle, you can make sure your efforts are focused and on-target. Just keep your eye on the ball and you’ll be fine.

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May 18, 2009 at 4:07 am Leave a comment

Your website is your strongest sales tool

Aximum Marketing's home page

Quick… when someone is trying to find out about your company’s products and services, what’s the first thing they do? Grab the newspaper? Ask a friend? Pick up the phone?

Nope. Chances are they either Google you, or go directly to your website (which is basically the same thing, if you’re engaging in good Search Engine Optimization practices). Your website is without a doubt the most recognizable and most tangible manifestation of your company’s value. Is it sending the type of message and image that you want it to?

For those that have been reading my posts for a while, you know that I’m a marketing consultant. I focus my consultancy efforts on branding, messaging, lead generation, social networking, and public relations. I designed my website with a specific audience in mind, providing a clean, colorful, sharp, Web 2.0-ish experience. Can you imagine if my website, which is supposed to be a shining example of what I can provide prospective clients, looked like this (yikes!) instead of this? All my credibility would fly out the window, with good reason.

Take a look at your current website and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is our website sending the right message to our future customers?
  • Was our target audience the main motivation for its current design?
  • When was the last time we redesigned our website? (Hint: if it’s been longer than 3 or 4 years, it’s time for a redesign.)
  • What is our website supposed to do: provide information, sell products, generate leads, develop communities, something else?
  • If I asked 10 prospects to assess our website, what would they say?

Make your website your strongest sales tool and it will make your life a whole lot easier. If you think it’s time to do something about it, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

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May 14, 2009 at 2:24 am 1 comment

Market sizing vs. market segmentation

tape-measure

Does size really matter?

Get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking, of course, about market sizing, a common and deceptively unproductive exercise. Let me explain… how many times have you heard someone say something like this:

“We’re looking at expanding our business into the Blah Blah industry because it’s currently a $78 Billion market and expected to grow 10% this year. If we could only get 0.04% of the new market, we could add another $3.12 Million to our revenue stream with almost no effort at all!

You’re currently nodding your head and saying, “yup, I’ve heard that before.” Or perhaps you’re saying, “yup, that’s me.

As you know, this approach can be very challenging for many reasons. By jumping into the big pool, you’re joining the countless competitors that are doing the same thing. This results in lots of companies chasing after the same dollars, with very little chance of getting them. In all reality, only the biggest companies in your industry have a chance of winning most of that business, and you’ll unfortunately spend a lot of time, money, and energy with little to show for it. Another disadvantage with this approach is that it’s very broad and unfocused, which means you’ll need to spread your resources very thinly across many different marketplaces, demographics, price points, and time frames.

To answer the question, “does size really matter?”, the answer is yes, to a degree. It’s the first half of a great solution to help you expand your business and increase your revenue. The second half of the solution is market segmentation, which will be your very best friend when it comes to new business development. Market segmentation makes the numbers derived from market sizing realistic, attainable and, above all, more focused on customers that play to your company’s strengths while reducing the amount of competition.

Let’s take the Blah Blah industry as an example. Suppose you did a little more research and determined that focusing on customers

  • in the southwest
  • that are female
  • between the ages of 24-40
  • with median incomes of $61,000
  • that like the color fuchsia

presents a current market of $46 Million, which is expected to grow 30% this year. Yes, this is way less than the $78 Billion mother lode, but there are only 3 competitors in this entire micro-market and one of them is probably going out of business this year. That means that you are competing with one other company for almost $14 Million worth of new business, and $60 Million in total. This approach allows you to ignore 99% percent of the overall market, most of the competitors, and a majority of the business development efforts, while providing over four times the revenue potential.

Ah, the magic of market segmentation, the less popular, often misunderstood, and regularly underutilized little brother of market sizing. If you do your homework and spend a little more time and resources on good market research, the results can be amazing. If you need some guidance with this, talk to us. We’d love to help you.

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May 10, 2009 at 11:55 pm 3 comments

Marketing Churn – what is it, and how to avoid it

churn

Ah, yes. The beauty of the ocean crashing upon the shoals, cascading across the water-beaten rocks in an awesome spectacle of raw, natural power. For eons, these rocks have borne the brunt of nature’s wrath in an unending tug-of-war between an unstoppable force and an immovable object, providing constant movement but no objective sign of progress.

Do your marketing efforts feel the exact same way?

If they do, you’re not alone. It’s all too common to have marketing teams engaging in tons of activity, constantly moving and working on stuff but providing no real signs of progress. We call this seemingly futile exercise “churn.” This is one of the main reasons why many people see marketing as an inefficient and unmeasurable activity, and it’s also a big reason why marketing budgets are so high. Not only is churn frustrating to management, but it’s also discouraging to your marketing team. And don’t even ask about how it affects your relationship with your customers.

What’s the best way to avoid churn? If a solid process is put in place on the front end, it’s easy to keep marketing activities more focused, more disciplined, and more tightly aligned with the overall goals of the company. At Aximum, we use a system called the “Marketing Success Cycle,” specifically designed to eliminate marketing churn:

  • Assess the current situation based on past communication activities, current needs, competition, and marketplace trends/factors
  • Report the findings in clear, unambiguous language, focusing on how to improve communication and increase revenue opportunities
  • Diagnose the best courses of action based on timelines, budget, and goals
  • Execute on the agreed-upon strategies and tactical components of the plan
  • Measure results, proactively report metrics, and compare actual results to goals, all with continuous improvement in mind

If your marketing team has a strategically-minded person at the helm, they can incorporate this process and achieve much better results. If you find yourself in need of a person like this, or you just need some help to take things to that next level, give us a call at 480-814-8838 or send us an email and we’ll be happy to speak with you about how to make your marketing activities churn-free.

Now go play in the surf. But be careful… those rocks can be slippery.

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May 8, 2009 at 8:47 am Leave a comment

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