Tag Archive for Marketing

How marketing Initiatives Sharpen Your Organisation

Advertising is a facet of marketing and separate from other marketing concepts. Although most individuals use these terms interchangeably, it is important to remember that these business terminologies actually have specific distinctions that using one term in lieu of the other is like calling apples “oranges” or vice versa. Doing so is misguided or ill-informed.

So what exactly differentiates advertising from other marketing activity? To put it simply, while advertising can be mostly concerned with branding or imaging, other marketing is geared toward directly tapping target clients for the purpose of sales generation. Advertising can be about making a good first impression. Other marketing, on the other hand, is fueled by an organisation’s desire to do business.

 

In these times of economic flux, it is not always easy for organisations, especially smaller ones, to sustain both advertising and other marketing efforts. Marketing often requires major investment, and is apparently counterproductive to cost-reduction initiatives, which most businesses are keen on nowadays. With this said, it is crucial for organisations to prioritise, with objectivity and a sense of practicality. Zeroing in on business development with limited funds call for creativity and persistence—these are competencies essential to marketing. Arguably, marketing should be favoured as opposed to just advertising, at least during times when both cannot be sustained financially.

Here are ways to strengthen marketing efforts:

  • Get to know your market:

Sales simply mean having people to pay willingly for whatever you are offering. For these potential customers to even entertain shelling out their hard earned money in exchange for your product or service, they must, first and foremost find your offer/s personally relevant. Producing market-specific or market-relevant products or services is the first step to business development. This can be done by accomplishing thorough market research that will not only create an exhaustive profile of your target market, but also, reveal their specific wants and needs.

  • Employ multi-media marketing:

Customers access information from all types of media; from television to laptops to mobile devices. The options run the gamut. For your business development efforts to be noticed by prospective customers, it is best that you keep up with their communication proclivities. It is not enough to sustain marketing efforts via email marketing when employment of social networks can be just as competitive and results-driven.

  • Referral:

Although this can be considered as a traditional marketing approach, it is never obsolete. Referral marketing is a reliable means for a business development driven organisation to actually reach its target customers. There are many strategies inherent to this approach, including Pay for Performance, Incentive-Centred Referrals, and the likes. Moreover, make sure to reward, or at least show some appreciation toward failed referrals. A simple thank you email or note will do and this does not require monetary investment.

  • Networking:

One way to ensure that business development is on full-throttle is to engage every team member in the initiative. This means that everyone should be in-the-know with regards to current marketing efforts, and are equipped with at least the basic sales competencies, so as when they are out doing business or personal functions, they can efficiently take on even unexpected sales opportunities.

 

Text by Nicholas Hill, a modern thought leader and international Trainer of strategic leadership skills and management training.

Managing Director & Principal Trainer for The Hill Consultancy Ltd.

@nicholashill

The Power of Persuasion

This guest post is written by Dr. Robert B. Cialdini and Steve Martin for the December 2006 edition of the Training Journal. In this article they explain how L&D professionals can persuade key decision-makers of the importance of training.

Dr. Robert B. Cialdini is President of INFLUENCE AT WORK (IAW), Arizona State University Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University and New York Times Bestselling Business Author.

He is best known for his popular book onpersuasion and marketing which is called “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”. The book has been translated into twenty-six languages and has been listed on the New York Times Business Best Seller List. In writing the book, he spent three years going “undercover” applying for jobs to observe real-life situations of persuasion.

Steve Martin is the Director of Influence At Work (UK) and a business colleague of Professor Claldini.

Article republished with kind permission of Training Journal.

One of the primary roles of learning and development professionals is to research, develop, deliver and evaluate various forms of skills and knowledge training programmes in the organisations for which they work. While these roles can often be challenging, what can often be even more challenging is persuading stakeholders and decision-makers of the value of training and development. This is equally true of internal training professionals as it is of external providers.

If the ability to influence and persuade others is such a critical business skill for training and development professionals, what do we know about how the influence process works? All of us will almost certainly know people who have that apparently inborn ability to influence others. Those lucky few, who appear able to very skilfully and elegantly engage others, sway the opinions of those that are undecided and persuade their colleagues and co-workers to see their point of view. What can be frustrating about these born persuaders, though, is that they are often unable to explain how they have come to possess such an important and essential business skill. They may consider their ability to influence and persuade others to be a skill they have been born with, while we stand back in admiration and witness them practising their art, often frustrated at the fact that they can get others to say yes to their requests when we can’t, even when sometimes we are asking for the same thing!

The problem with viewing influence as a skill with which we are born is that it makes it difficult for those who have it to explain and pass down their skills to others. Artists generally are better at doing than explaining. But if we consider influence as a science, something else happens: something much more empowering and efficient.

For more than 35 years now, my social scientist colleagues and I have been researching the science behind how people are persuaded. In fact, there is now some five decades-worth of recorded scientific study into social influence and persuasion, and the results are clear: there is a science behind how we are persuaded. There are universal laws that guide how we are influenced, and these scientific laws can be learned in much the same way we can learn other scientific principles. No longer do we have to trust to hope that the approach we take will be effective. No more do we have to adopt a trial and error approach when we want to convince another. By understanding the scientific principles of influence which appeal to just a handful of deep-rooted human needs, we can be assured that our requests, our proposals, our presentations and training can be significantly more persuasive and influential.

Modern Life and Information Overload

In order to better understand how learning and development professionals can become more effective influencers, it is important to firstly consider a phenomenon that pervades every corner of our society – we call it information overload. We live in a world today where we are quite literally inundated with information, facts and data. Often this information is presented to us as an attempt to change our behaviour, to influence and persuade us in some way. Whether it is advertisements for new motor cars, emails, brochures from a conference organiser informing us of an HR seminar we should attend or colleagues seeking our support on projects, every one of us is increasingly overwhelmed with information and requests for our attention.

When faced with this plethora of information how do we decide what to do with it?

Wouldn’t it be marvellous if we were like computers, able to absorb all the relevant information we receive, rationally process it and arrive at informed decisions about the best course of action? However, people are anything but computers. They are people who, every day of their lives, are inundated with an ever-increasing amount of information and data.

It is currently estimated that the average UK citizen is exposed to up to 1,700 advertising messages every day, and that number is increasing.

One might expect that, faced with access to this sea of information, we make more rational and better-informed decisions. But the surprising fact is that we often do not. Ironically, there is simply too much information for us to deal with and, therefore, in order to deal with this information overload, we use decision shortcuts or rules of thumb to help us to make choices.

This phenomenon affects us in learning and development. It is simply not enough just to have the best training workshop or proposal anymore. It is the proposals that are presented in the most persuasive way that will often win the day. In the same way that consumers will often use decision shortcuts to make decisions, those of us looking to have influence within our organisations can utilise these same shortcuts to make our communications more persuasive and influential. Understanding these shortcuts and using them in an effective and ethical way can provide tools to create more compelling messages and more effective attempts at persuasion, and can build mutually-rewarding and long-lasting relationships with colleagues and customers. There is another advantage, too: understanding these shortcuts will make us more individually persuasive, with potential benefits in both our professional and personal lives.

In this article, we seek to present these decision shortcuts – the six universal principles of influence – by explaining each of them and then, in turn, providing some insights into how L&D professionals can use them in a responsible and ethical way to become more influential while building mutually-rewarding, long-term relationships with those with whom they interact.

“There is now some five decades-worth of recorded scientific study into social influence and persuasion, and the results are clear: there is a science behind how we are persuaded”

Principle 1 – Reciprocity: The good old give and take

Application for L&D professionals
Give to other first what you want to receive back

The principle of reciprocity says: ‘We are obliged to give back to others the forms of behaviour that we have received from them.’ It is a principle that pervades all societies and cultures. We intuitively know how this works in our personal lives: if a friend invites us to their house for dinner or remembers our birthday with a card, we are obliged to return the favour. We know only too well that we should say yes to those we owe but what we may not know, and what social scientific research has found, is that reciprocation also works effectively outside of our everyday contacts and networks. This means that we can use this principle of persuasion to develop networks and access to decision makers and sponsors who we need to influence.

Scientific research goes on to tell us that the gifts we give are more likely to be effective when they are viewed as meaningful, tailored to an individual and unexpected. Ultimately, though, gift-giving is one of the cruder applications of this principle of persuasion. A more sophisticated approach which would confer genuine advantages to L&D professionals, who are attempting to improve relationships and co-operative working in the office, would be to display the behaviours they desire in others first. The same holds true for sharing information and resources: if you lend a hand to a colleague or manager of another team when they need help, you will significantly increase your chances of getting support from them when you need it. Research shows that your odds of future support improve even further if, after your colleague or client has thanked you for your help, you say something like: ‘I’m glad to help you as I know you’re the sort of person who would help me if I ever need support.’

Principle 2 – Scarcity: We want more of what we can have less of

Application for L&D professionals
Highlight unique features of your proposals and point out what others stand to lose

Judging by the results of many years of research, few would disagree with the principle of scarcity, which suggests that people typically associate greater value with things that are rare, dwindling in availability, or difficult to acquire. Notwithstanding the scientific research, there are many everyday examples that also support this claim. In recent years, many parents have gone to great lengths to purchase the most popular Christmas toy that happens to be out of stock in all the stores. In the UK, the petrol shortage in the summer of 2000 resulted in some extraordinary behaviour as people scrambled to acquire limited fuel and, in October 2003, the notion of losing something caused many thousands of people to stop their cars and block a major motorway just to see the final take-off of the Concorde, a sight, we would point out, that had been a familiar one every single day for the last 30 years or so. What makes the Concorde such an apt example of the power of this principle is the fact that, immediately after British Airways announced in February 2003 that it would be stopping Concorde flights, the sale of seats when through the roof. Ironic, then, that the reason that BA cited for stopping the flights was that it was no longer economically viable with reports that, on certain flights, there were more cabin crew than paying customers.

So powerful is the concept of loss that researchers from the University of California found that householders were 350 per cent more likely to carry out energy efficient measures in their home when they were told how much money they would continue to lose if they didn’t, rather than how much money they would gain if they did.

The same phenomenon can be used by training professionals to make their proposals and presentations more persuasive. According to a study in the Journal of Organizational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes, potential losses figure far more heavily in managers’ decision-making than gains. L&D professionals who respectfully and honestly point out what managers or clients stand to lose if they fail to consider their proposals, or the unique attributes that they could miss out on, will find themselves benefiting from a very powerful way of presenting information.

“It is currently estimated that the average UK citizen is exposed to up to 1,700 advertising messages every day, and that number is increasing”

Principle 3 – Authority: People defer to experts

Application for L&D professionals
Present your expertise; don’t assume that it is self-evident

Few of us fail to recognise the power of expert endorsement. After all, it is a neat and efficient way to decide on the right course of action. Why, in our overloaded lives, should we go to the trouble of finding out all the information ourselves when there are experts who have already done it for us and on whose wisdom and knowledge we can rely? When we are ill, we seek the advice of our doctor; when deciding what toothpaste to purchase, we may pick a brand that has been recommended by the British Dental Association. Training professionals can increase their authority by seeking accreditation to a recognised professional body or institute. Since it makes good sense to defer to authorities, it also makes sense for L&D professionals to establish their expertise when communicating with groups, whether these groups are decision makers or participants in workshops.

So what makes someone an authority? Research shows that the most persuasive authority is a credible one, and credible authorities possess both expertise and trust-worthiness. One way that L&D professionals can be seen as having expertise is to have that expertise introduced by someone else, especially someone who is also seen as an authority in their own right.

But how often do we fail to get around to arranging this or, worse still, introduce ourselves and our expertise? We would be well advised to avoid this trap and to seek the power of an introduction. Even when we are unable to secure a personal introduction, sending a letter or email in advance of a meeting or workshop, which includes information about your expertise, training, qualifications and experience, is a very powerful and persuasive thing to do and infinitely more effective that doing it yourself at the start of a session, when you are more likely to come across as big-headed or full of yourself.

Surprisingly, L&D professionals will often assume that others recognise and appreciate their experience when, in fact, the opposite is the case. One suggestion would be to develop a two-line biography of yourself, setting out your key achievements, experience and qualifications, to give to someone prior to being introduced to a group. We think you will be pleasantly surprised when you see the reaction of your audience.

Principle 4 – Consistency: We align ourselves to previously puhlic-declared commitments

Application for L&D professionals
Make commitments actionable, public and voluntary

Have you ever in your professional life come across individuals who appear to support you or give the impression that they are willing to commit to your ideas or proposals, only at a later date to back down or retreat from what you thought was a genuine commitment?

Our principle of consistency suggests that people feel strong pressure to be consistent within their own words and actions. Making a commitment ties a person’s sense of self to a particular course of action. However, just gaining a commitment is often not enough. In order to cement a commitment and persuade the individual to act on it, there are three things that also need to be present. These are that the person owns the commitment, he has an action associated with the commitment and that he is willing to make that commitment jteMi.

Negotiating initial voluntary commitments and making them effortful and action-based as well as public is a powerful way to change and influence behaviours. In one study, people spent significantly less time in the shower following a work-out in the gym when they were first asked if they supported and would sign up to a ‘use water responsibly’ campaign. Training professionals can use similar strategies to encourage people to make commitments to practise new skills the and apply them to their job roles. Asking people to imagine how they will apply a new skill or piece of information and getting them to write such an action down and share it with a colleague can be a very effective change process.

Principle 5 – Social Proof: People follow the lead of many, similar others

Application for L&D professionals
Use peer power and testimonials wherever possible

Suppose that, this year, you decide to take an evening class, perhaps to learn a new language or skill that you have promised yourself. How do you choose the best way to achieve your goal? Do you join a local college or night school, take up an interactive internet course or perhaps investigate that audio language programme that you heard a friend at work talk about? Most likely, you’ll look outside of yourself and to others around you for at least part of the answer. The principle of social proof says that, when we are uncertain and we are attempting to make the right decisions, we will often look to the behaviour of others around us for direction about what choices to make. This is compounded when those around us are similar to us in terms of age, education, social standing and experience.

Social psychologists refer to what people commonly do in a given situation as a descriptive norm. Descriptive norms typically provide people with useful information about which courses of action to take if you hear your colleagues at work raving about a restaurant, chances are you might be influenced to try out the restaurant too. Looking to see what other people are doing is a quick and easy tool for making decisions in uncertain circumstances. Indeed, social proof has the greatest persuasive power when the ‘right’ choice in a given situation is somewhat ambiguous. For example, organisations trying to decide on a new training and development initiative could be persuaded to take the plunge if they are first offered information about the success achieved by other organisations of a similar size and in a similar industry.

Training professionals can become significantly more influential and persuasive, not by using their own powers of persuasion, but by using the testimonials and recommendations of others that are similar to their targets.

Principle 6 – Liking: People like those who like them

Application for L&D professionals
Look for and present genuine similarities and praise

Put simply, the principle of liking says that people prefer to say yes to, and comply with, the requests of those they like.

So what characteristics influence people’s liking for others? Social scientists point towards three specific elements of liking: similarity, praise and co-operation. We’ll take them in turn.

Firstly, people tend to like others who are similar to them. For example, a training specialist wishing to persuade people to adopt a new approach to a work assignment might point out certain areas of similarity that they share with their audience (like them, they used to use a similar approach but, upon investigation, they have found a new, more time-efficient method that they probably wouldn’t want to lose out on).

Secondly, people will tend to like, and therefore be more persuaded by, those who pay them compliments and give them praise. There is strong evidence to suggest that people are extremely receptive to the requests of others immediately after they have received a compliment. In fact, recent research points to the fact that people are more likely to respond positively to a request immediately after the person making the request has paid them a compliment.

Thirdly, we like people who co-operate with us towards mutual goals. Attempts to influence others that involve joint working or partnerships are often more successful than those that do not.

Conclusion: The power of persuasion

Application for L&D professionals
With power comes responsibility — always be honest and ethical

We have sought to provide not only interesting and scientifically- validated evidence of how L&D professionals can increase the chance of people being persuaded by their recommendations and presentations, but also some practical applications for the use of these principles (see figure 1 below).

There are some additional points we would like to make regarding the use of the principles we have described. Firstly, although these principles are conceptually distinct, you are likely to be most effective at fostering influence and persuasion when using several of these principles at once. For example, consider how one might influence a new manager in an organisation. Perhaps one could first point out how a number of other managers, who happen to be of a similar age and in similar circumstances, have benefited from working with you. One may then go on to compliment the manager and offer some new personalised information or data that helps him in his new role. By doing this, the L&D professional creates a powerful communication that, in this example, utilises three of the social influence principles we have presented, namely social proof, liking and reciprocity.

“Research shows that the most persuasive authority is a credible one, and credible authorities possess both expertise and trustworthiness”

Secondly, it should be clear that, although people use these mental shortcuts when making decisions, it doesn’t mean that people consciously use them. It is not the case, for example, that someone will say to himself: ‘Well, I’ve done this for so long now my sense of commitment dictates that I continue!’ Nonetheless, whether or not the operation of the principles of persuasion is consciously recognised, the existing evidence indicates that they will still be influential.

Thirdly, because information is sometimes highly relevant to their goals, people may consequently be motivated (although not always able) to process deeply the content of these messages. Indeed, the effectiveness of a message will depend upon a combination of the substance of the message and the way that message is delivered. Thus, the principles we have discussed are not an alternative to providing people with substantive information but more a vehicle for ensuring those important messages are communicated in a persuasive way.

And finally, and most importantly, we should realise that the reason people use these shortcuts is because. in most circumstances, they tend to steer them in the right direction. It is not the case that people are being stupid or making mistakes when they use these mental heuristics to guide their choices. They are often merely overwhelmed with information and know subconsciously that these shortcuts have served them well in the past. It is for this reason that we would only encourage the honest and ethical use of these powerful principles of persuasion. In modern business we are all, after all, looking to foster long term and prosperous working relationships.

 

Our special thanks to the Training Journal, Dr. Robert B. Cialdini and Steve Martin for sharing this article with us.

Understanding Post Purchase Behaviour Consumption

Dr. Brian Monger, CEO of MAANZ International has written an interesting article about understanding the aspects of the post purchase behaviour of consumers. Mr. Monger  shares his knowledge with us! Follow Brian on Twitter.

Consumption represents consumers’ usage of the purchased product. Although this definition is simple, understanding consumption is much more complex. Indeed, there are a number of different ways to think about consumption. Let’s start with consumption behaviour itself.

User and non-user are terms often used to distinguish between those who consume the product and those who do not. The number of people who fall into the user and non-user categories is important for businesses to know for a couple of reasons. Knowing the number of current users in a product category is one indicator of the market’s attractiveness to the firm.

An understanding of consumption behaviour requires more than simply distinguishing between those who consume and those who don’t. Indeed, consumption behaviour can be characterised along a number of important dimensions discussed below

When Does Consumption Occur?

One fundamental component of consumption behaviour is when usage occurs. In many cases, purchase and consumption go hand in hand. That is, in making the purchase, we have committed ourselves to consumption. Buying tickets for a concert or sporting event, eating at a restaurant and taking your car to the local car wash fall into this category At other times, purchases are made without knowing precisely when consumption will occur. Food items bought at the supermarket sit on a shelf or in the refrigerator until you decide to consume them.

When consumption decisions are made independently of prior purchase decisions (such as when you are choosing something from your pantry), it may be worthwhile for a firm to consider putting some of its efforts into”. encouraging consumption rather than focusing exclusively on encouraging purchase.

The time of day at which usage occurs is another component of understanding the ‘when’ of consumption behaviour. Food consumption depends very heavily on the time of day.

Knowing when consumption occurs can be especially important to marketers as different products can be used for night-time and daytime. Medications fall under this category and as well as cosmetic products such as moisturising creams.

Where does consumption occur?

In addition to ‘when’ consumption takes place, it is useful to understand ‘where’ consumption takes place. Beer sales are quite sensitive to whether consumption happens inside or outside the home. The majority of sales for domestic brews are generated by in-home consumption. In contrast, imported beers obtain the majority of their sales ‘on premise’ in bars and restaurants. Apparently, many believe that drinking imported beers projects a more favourable social image to those present during consumption.

How is the product consumed?

Different people may purchase the same product but consume it in different ways. Consider rice. Sometimes rice is used as an ingredient that is mixed with other food items (e.g. nasi goreng). Sometimes it is served by itself as a side dish. The particular brand of rice that is purchased often depends on how it will be used.

Understanding how the product is used may also lead to uncovering new business opportunities. Sometimes firms discover consumers using their products in new and innovative ways.

How much is consumed?

Although a group of consumers may share a common bond in terms of engaging in the same consumption behaviour (e.g., wine drinkers), they may differ substantially in the amount of consumption. Some may have only an occasional glass of wine; some may drink wine nearly every day but only at the dinner table; and some may drink it every day, all day long.

These differences in the amount of consumption provide one basis for segmenting the user market. This form of segmentation, called usage volume segmentation, typically divides users into one of three segments: heavy users, moderate users and light users. Heavy users are those exhibiting the highest levels of product consumption. Light users are those who consume rather small amounts of the product. Moderate users fall in between these two extremes. All else being equal, heavy users are typically a primary target market. In most cases, the profit potential gained from selling to a heavy user greatly exceeds that realised from moderate and light users.

Changing the amount of a product’s consumption is often an important business objective.

Those interested in consumer welfare often find themselves trying to change the amount of consumption. In recent years, substantial efforts have been undertaken to reduce the consumption of such things as cigarettes, illegal drugs and alcohol by underage drinkers.

How does it feel?

A critical characteristic of many consumption behaviours is the particular feelings experienced during consumption. How do you feel when you are eating your favourite lollies? The last time you visited a dentist, how did you feel? What (if any) feelings do you experience when pouring laundry detergent into the washing machine?

Feelings come in many different shapes and sizes. They can be positive (excitement, pleasure, relief, contentment); they can be negative (anger, boredom, guilt, regret). Sometimes they are overwhelming. More often they are experienced with much less intensity.

Most consumption behaviour is rather ordinary and experienced with little feeling. Pouring laundry detergent into the washing machine, taking vitamin pills and pumping petrol into a car are activities usually performed without much feeling.

Of course, even an ordinary consumption activity can evoke strong feelings when things go wrong. Negative feelings, such as disappointment and regret, perhaps even anger, may arise whenever the consumption experience fails to measure up to what was expected.

Typically, negative feelings during product usage are undesirable from both the customer’s and firm’s perspective. Although they may sometimes be an inherent part of the consumption experience (such as the nervousness and anxiety that accompanies getting a tooth removed), often they are the result of failing to deliver what the customer wants and expects. Feelings such as disappointment, regret, frustration and anger are clear indicators of a problem. Implementing corrective actions requires identifying the reasons for these negative feelings.

Depending on the nature of the consumption experience, firms may find it beneficial to position their products based on the feelings experienced during consumption. There are two basic approaches for positioning the product in terms of consumption feelings. One approach is to focus on the positive feelings that consumption provides.

Marketers use imagery to incite the desired emotional state. Many consumers feature emotional arousal as a primary benefit. Similarly, many consumers experience tremendous guilt when eating food, especially if the food is less than healthy.

 

Inbound Marketing Works: A Copywriter’s Success Story

Barry Feldman, owner of Feldman Creative, is Website Copywriter, Creative Director and Content Marketing Consultant. He helps clients create magnetic sites and inspires prospects to click around, stick around and trust the brands that deserve it.
 
Mr Feldman wrote a very interesting article about his experience of a succesful implementation of inbound marketing in his company Feldman Creative and he has shared it with us here. Thank you very much Barry!
 

“I want to tell you a little success story. I’d like to help you understand the strategy that made it work. Additionally, I’d like to help you understand why the same strategy can be the most effective marketing tactic your company will ever take. In the process, I also want to share some powerful proof points with you, actual numbers, numbers that indicate traditional media-based advertising is a money pit compared to the goldmine that is inbound marketing.

I just love the company featured in this story.

This is the story of a copywriting company. Okay, it’s about Feldman Creative, my company, and how I’ve managed to revive the demand for my services by using inbound, that is, Internet marketing principles.

First, a little back story… I’ve been a self-employed, freelance copywriter for 18 years. When I gave birth to Feldman Creative in 1995, my business boomed. I didn’t do all that much to make it happen either. I was in the right place, Silicon Valley, at the right time, when everybody and their grandmas were going online.

You might have heard about this thing that came to be known as the “dot bomb explosion” (or implosion) in 2001. Many schemes and dreams died. The stock market descended, to put it mildly. Marketing budgets disappeared and many a marketing professional lost their jobs and began working on getting a real estate license or selling insurance. My business tanked, to put it mildly.

I rode out the storm the best I could and realized a minor comeback, but learned to live with a much smaller income, to put it mildly. I searched for clients, for new markets, for a job, for some kind of answer. Eventually, I invested a huge chunk of change and five frustrating years attempting to build another business, a franchise in the motor skill development field, that is, children’s gymnastics, dance and sports. Noble? Maybe. Profitable? No.

My efforts to market both of my businesses were unsuccessful, to put it mildly. How could I characterize those efforts in a few words? Advertising. Direct response. These are the things I was told to do. They also happen to be a couple of things I know how to do. In fact, as a veteran of the advertising and lead generation business, I was able to do more of it for less because I seldom had to pay for any kind of creative services. I was my own advertising agency. I did the writing, much of the design, and all of the media buying.

It didn’t work. Want to know why?

Advertising and direct response don’t work all that well.

What?! Did a 25-year veteran of advertising just shoot down his own business in a bold headline? Afraid so. Did I just write my company’s obit? No sir. I gave it a new life.

I haven’t stopped marketing. I stopped wasting my time and money. I pulled the plug on my attempts to interrupt people with salesy messages that don’t interest them. I turned my strategy outside-in. Outside-in? Yes ma’am, outside-in. I stopped trying to find customers and started doing everything I can to have customers find me. It worked.

Inbound marketing works.

What’s inbound marketing? HubSpot wrote the book on it, so we’ll go with their definition:

inbound marketing definitionI got this image as well as the “eat pie” image from a slideshow by HubSpot, which elegantly defines and makes the case for inbound marketing in an easy-to-understand presentation. Watch it here. Not now, please. After my story. (Okay, now’s okay too.)

Before you conclude this advertising veteran denounces traditional advertising media and wants you to believe every dime you put into it amounts to ten wasted cents, hear me out just a bit. I’m not saying radio, television and print advertising doesn’t help build your brand. I’m not saying you shouldn’t create brochures or send out mail. I’m saying:

  • It’s risky. You may or may not increase sales with it.
  • It’s expensive. You have to pay for your media and may wish you could have your money back.
  • Its ROI is low and getting lower all the time.

These aren’t opinions. They are realities.

When you rely solely on traditional advertising tactics you interrupt people with messages they are not looking for. If you fast forward through commercials, listen to commercial-free radio, throw out much of your mail, or have a spam filter in place, you know exactly what I mean.

Your customers welcome inbound marketing.

The marketing tactics I’m talking about, those we can now define as “inbound,” turns the equation outside-in and upside down. The customer comes to you. They want information, information you provide. They want help. So you help them. They’re searching for something, something you have. The customer comes from the outside, the web usually, by way of Google usually, into your domain.

How sweet is that?

It’s pretty sweet, my friend. The customer grants you permission to state your case. This is the very core of the concept of inbound marketing. So repeat after me: THE CUSTOMER GRANTS YOU PERMISSION TO STATE YOUR CASE. (Sorry about the shouting.)

If you do inbound marketing correctly, you connect with customers the way they want, by giving them what they want, where and when they want it. The sweet story gets even sweeter… You do all this in media that doesn’t have media costs! You do it with an SEO strategy that takes care of itself. Keywords are the new neon signs (nice one, HubSpot).

You do it with your website, blog, contributed articles, with Twitter, Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, Slideshare, Pinterest, YouTube, via email subscriptions, via RSS feeds. You do it with press releases, primers, e-books, seminars, slide shows. These tools, created by professionals and presented correctly, position you as an authority on whatever subject you’re an authority on.

It’s just a beautiful thing and I haven’t even got to the best part yet, the real cherry on top of the icing, on top of the addictively sweet cake.

The best part is you don’t have to sell. When the customer is ready to buy, they’ll buy. When you look at the infographic below be sure to make it to the final point. Notice how the leads-to-sales rate is way higher on inbound initiatives.

Now back to the Feldman Creative success story…

I’ve been doing these things for a year or more. I started right after reading the great book “Inbound Marketing.” Though I could live with you calling me a copywriter still, I have transformed into a website copywriter and online content marketing consultant. I’m also a certified inbound marketer (and have the cert to prove it). Yes, I write, as I always have. However, I don’t look for clients as I had prior to 2011. They find me. It doesn’t cost much money, but it does takes a lot time and requires a lot of learning, experimenting, and an ongoing commitment to refining strategy and content.

But it works. In the past 18 months the demand for business has shot up. I have taken on about 30 or more new clients. Traffic on my site is 5 – 10X what it used to be. A few days ago, after an article I wrote about the “call to action” was published on SocialMediaToday.com and LinkedIn Today and shared across the social mediasphere, traffic on my site spiked to an all-time high: about 400% above my previous best day.

The free resources I offer, two aces of my current content marketing strategy, are downloaded and viewed as much as 100 times per day. In addition to being a favorite amongst my site visitors, the ebook I’ve penned, “21 Pointers to Sharpen Your Website,” continues gaining popularity on SlideShare, Scribd, Squidoo and UpMarket. I’m starting to field offers to speak and getting interview requests. On most days, my community expands many times over with new Twitter followers, Facebook fans, LinkedIn connections, Google Plus associations, Pinterest pinners, and professional partners.

You could say things have got pretty crazy, but truth be told, it all makes perfect sense. People want to learn more about what I’ve become an expert in: how to use the Internet to reduce marketing spend and expand your business.  I did it. You can too. And I’d be absolutely delighted to show you how and then write your success story about inbound marketing”.

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Which sentence has made more effect on you when reading this article? We like “Your customers welcome inbound marketing”. What is your favorite?

We look forward to reading your lines.

7 tips for localizing your global brand campaign

 


Sunil Ramkali, Account Director at W in Sweden, presents 7 rules for the successful local implementation of centrally driven global pharma brand campaigns. Our member colleague in comvort, Sunil, shares here his extensive experience in the field.

With shrinking marketing budgets and the need to consolidate, can affiliates continue to ‘re-invent the wheel’ and develop local brand campaigns when global marketing has invested significant time and resources in developing a centrally driven ‘global’ brand campaign? It is critical that the global marketing team understands its relationship with local affiliates and is able to adapt its approach if consistent local implementation is the goal.

Increased understanding of the affiliate’s competitive landscape and future trends will go a long way in developing the global/affiliate relationship. However, this is not enough if we are to achieve consistent implementation of brand campaigns across key markets. Global marketers must also involve their affiliate counterparts early in the brand campaign development process. Following a few simple rules could help global marketers achieve consistent implementation of brand campaigns across markets.

1. Buy-in to the brand strategy is vital

A common mistake made by global marketing teams is to update or develop a new brand campaign without first revisiting the overall brand strategy, e.g. vision, mission and positioning statement (who, what and why). Global marketers need to make sure they don’t put the ‘cart before the horse’, i.e. buy-in to the overall brand strategy is essential before developing your brand campaign.

Consider a brand strategy review process with your affiliates before developing the brand campaign. This may take the form of a joint global/affiliate marketing workshop or a questionnaire to assess the understanding of the brand strategy: Is the strategy still relevant? Have we identified the key strategic issues for driving sales growth? Does our strategy address the changing competitive landscape?

Affiliate understanding of the brand strategy is critical, or you risk being defeated before you start. Once you have established that the brand strategy is endorsed and supported by your affiliates, consider internal marketing activities to ‘sell-in’ the brand strategy. It is important to minimize ‘strategic leakage’ within your organization. Therefore, aligning the whole organization to the brand strategy is critical before you begin to develop your brand campaign. Failure to minimize internal strategic leakage will be amplified at the prescriber, patient and payer level, resulting in ‘off strategy’ messaging and a fragmented brand.

2. Choose the right terminology

A brand campaign is not owned by the global marketing team, even if you are the ones who drive the project. A brand campaign should be owned by the whole organization and must be clearly understood by all internal stakeholders whose day-to-day work will be influenced by brand communications, e.g. the publication team responsible for reinforcing brand communications through peer-reviewed publications. Terms like ‘International’ or ‘Global’ should be avoided to prevent the perception that the brand campaign is owned by the global team. Consider terms like XXX Brand Campaign or Sales Campaign.

3. Set up a ‘core’ team of brand advocates

Before creating the brand campaign you should consider creating a forum where the global marketing team can listen to the needs of the affiliates and vice-versa. When establishing your brand campaign core team, ensure you involve the markets that will drive the majority of brand sales and/or will have a significant influence on other markets. Failure to have these markets on board will limit the commercial success of your brand, due to low adherence to the final brand campaign.

You should not underestimate the amount of customer insight and knowledge within the local sales teams. Make it the responsibility of the affiliate marketing members in the core team to liaise with their sales counterparts and to collect key customer insights.

The core team can use this customer insight in developing the draft sales story flow and supporting key selling messages. The draft sales story flow should be shared with all other affiliates for comments prior to testing. This approach will help to engage those affiliates who have not been part of the core process. It may also highlight any ‘show stoppers’ that may have been overlooked by the core team before finalizing sales materials for testing.

The core team is responsible for final ‘sign off’ of all core sales materials prior to marketing research. Achieving this level of engagement and ‘buy-in’ with affiliate marketing members of the core team will enable the global team to use them as spokespersons when launching the brand campaign to all affiliates. Don’t underestimate the power of peer-to- peer communications amongst affiliates!

4. Agree on the brand campaign objective/s

At an early stage in the brand campaign development process, reach agreement with the brand campaign core team/affiliates on the project objectives and how success will be measured. Consider adopting the SMART objective setting approach, i.e. ensure these objectives are S – specific, M – measurable, A – achievable, R – realistic and T – time-based.

When formulating your objectives, make sure they are clear, concise and challenging, while being achievable. Within the core team continue to refine the objectives until everyone is happy that each objective meets the SMART criteria. It is critical at this early stage of the brand campaign development process that all stakeholders understand the objectives and their role in ensuring the objectives are delivered.

Again, use the right vocabulary when defining your objectives – use words like us, we and our, to communicate joint accountability and responsibility. What do we want this brand campaign to accomplish? How will the brand campaign help us achieve this? With whom do we want to accomplish this? How can we measure a successful brand campaign and by when? Will our objective lead to the desired results? When should we complete the objective?

5. Mandatory or optional: Finding the right balance

The brand campaign core team should also decide which elements of the brand campaign are mandatory and which are adaptable. This will ensure when the brand campaign is implemented by the affiliates, that there is complete agreement between global and affiliate marketing on what can and cannot be changed. There are two approaches for developing a brand campaign.

-       Standardization Develop the same brand campaign for multiple markets. Why: across markets customers share the same common values, beliefs, and needs; Outcome: consistent brand communication and branding, and avoids the need for additional activities/spend at a local level.

-       Adaptation Modify the brand campaign to reflect local market characteristics or customer needs. Why: Customers are not the same, their needs vary from market to market; Outcome: Improved fit between the brand and local customer needs.

In the standardization approach, the core key selling messages remain unaltered across markets, as these are driven by the brand positioning statement, i.e. who, what and why. However, if specific local market research supports an alternative approach, adaptation should be considered.

In the adaptation approach, core key selling messages may be altered and supplementary key selling messages implemented to address market specific needs. However, any changes must not compromise the who (target physician or patient), what (the brand) and why (reason to use) within the brand positioning statement. Branding components must remain unaltered, regardless of which approach is adopted, e.g. brand visual identity, logo type, font & colors.

In my experience a hybrid of the two approaches will increase the likelihood of consistent implementation of a brand campaign.

An example of a standard approach being adapted to local customer needs is the availability of Maharajaâ„¢ Macâ„¢ from McDonaldsâ„¢. Beef, the main ingredient in a hamburger, is not sold in India. The Maharaja Mac made of mutton (lamb) is available as an alternative. It may sound obvious, but this adaptation of a standardized strategy has enabled McDonalds to minimize fragmentation of its core strategy.

6. Involve affiliates during the testing process

Testing is a key part of the brand campaign development process and will help the global and affiliate brand teams identify if the brand sales story flow and key selling messages will resonate with potential prescribers. Even if the testing process has been thorough, the results may be challenged by affiliates if they have not been involved in the testing process. Therefore, it is important to involve affiliates at this stage of the development process.

The local affiliate should be involved in markets where the testing will take place. They should review the physician screening criteria to ensure the demographics and the profile of recruited physicians match those of target physicians in their market. When briefing the market research moderators on the sales materials and the brand, involve the core team and local affiliate/s. The affiliate should review the discussion guide/interview questionnaire and sales materials to be used in the testing to check translation, vocabulary, ‘tone of voice’ etc prior to testing.

Ask the affiliate marketing team to attend the market research and watch the interview process. Share insights after the interviews. Use affiliate sales representatives to communicate the new sales materials. It is important the sales representative does not know the customer/s involved in the testing process. Consider developing country-specific reports to highlight country-specific issues/opportunities (if budget allows).

7. Provide support materials for implementing the brand campaign

In order to minimize ‘strategic leakage’, the global brand team should develop a package of implementation materials to be used by affiliate marketing when briefing the sales teams. Such an approach will help to maximize resources, as it avoids the duplication of locally developed sales training/support materials.

As a bare minimum to support the core sales or detail aid, the global brand team should develop a sales aid implementation guide, which should include:

• A summary of the brand campaign development process

• Key customer insights from the testing process

• Guidance on which elements of the brand campaign process are standard and adaptable—sales story flow and key selling messages, data visuals, branding, etc

• Evidence to support the inclusion of each key selling message within the sales story flow: Why is it important? How should the key selling message be communicated? Potential objections to the key selling message and response from the sales representative

Other support materials that will help ensure consistent implementation of the brand campaign might include:

-       Sales aid script: a script to help the sales representative find the appropriate wording to communicate the brand sales story flow and key selling messages.

-       Objection handling guide/Q&A: potential objections to brand adoption and to the key selling messages will have been raised during the testing process. These should be noted and answers developed to overcome these objections.

-       Speaker slide set: this is simply a more scientific version of the sales materials/aid to communicate the brand sales story flow and key selling messages at scientific forums, such as advisory boards and symposia.

These simple steps may sound obvious, but with declining marketing budgets and an increasing workload for global marketers, these steps can sometimes be overlooked. Following these simple rules will help global marketers fit the square peg in the round hole or at least ‘shave the edges’. It may require you to adapt your working style or even your organizational approach when working with affiliates. Whichever it is, such changes will only help to develop your relationship with this key internal customer.

Thank you Sunil for sharing your experience! 

You can read the complete and orginal text on Eye for Pharma .