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Year End Marketing Checklist

Year End Marketing Checklist

The end of the year is fast-approaching. That should be a trigger to evaluate last year’s performance and begin (or finish) work on next year’s business and marketing plan. Getting to the heart of what worked and what didn’t is critical. Don’t leave it to a gut reaction of ‘last year was a good year’. Get to the details.

Heidi Cohen’s (www.HeidiCohen.com) marketing checklist for small business should help you do just that. Review the performance and trends in 7 criteria should give you a great summary of 2013 and provide a good foundation for 2014 planning.

  1. Revenues 
  2. Profit Margins
  3. Promotions
  4. Products
  5. Customer Base
  6. Expenses
  7. CompetitionStrategy

6 Steps to Getting Customers to Sit, Stay and Poop Outside

6 Steps to Getting Customers to Sit, Stay and Poop Outside

(Do You Need To Train Your Customers?)

barney

 

I am not suggesting that you tug a training collar to get customers’ attention.  Nor will I tell you to give them liver treats for paying attention to your messages.  But customers do need to be trained to understand what they can and can’t expect from you… and what you should know about them.

 

Living with dogs requires training (for both you and the dog).  I recently got a puppy and am learning some of the harsh realities of training.  At the ripe old age of 4 months, he was full of energy and didn’t understand the necessity of walking on a leash and pooping outside.  Training is the only way for both of us to reach a happy medium.

 

The core secret of training dogs:

1. Understand what they need
2. Be more exciting than everything else going on
3. Reward positive behavior
4. Use consistency to develop trust
5. Be just as tenacious about training as they are about not being trained.
6. Love them

 

Now think about it.  Is that any different that how you should relate to customers?

The secret of training customers:

1. Understand what they need

  • If you want people (or dogs) to do something, you’re going to have to get an understanding of what they need and then deliver to those needs.

2. Be more exciting than everything else that’s going on

  • Differentiate yourself from competition
  • Create some energy about your brand
  • Make yourself so interesting to them, they just have to pay attention to you

3. Reward positive behavior

  • Thank customers for you business.  Now thank them again.
  • Say thank you without trying to sell them something.  Sometimes, say thank you and GIVE them something.

4. Use consistency to develop trust

  • Make sure your customers can rely on you all the time.  Just because it’s the end of a crummy week doesn’t justify poor service.  Just because they’re annoying beyond belief doesn’t justify an obnoxious response.  
  • The only way your customers are going to know they can trust you is if you are consistently helpful, polite, considerate and prompt.  

5. Be just as tenacious about training as they are about not being trained.

  • Keep trying.  Don’t be one of those companies who says, “We tried that and it didn’t work.”  Try it again.  Tweak it.  Figure out what you’re doing wrong or not good enough and do it right, do it better, or just do it again. 

6. Love them

  • Some of you might think that loving your customers is a bit extreme.  It isn’t.  Your past, current and future customers are keeping your business alive.

 

Customers have a ‘leg up’ (pun intended) on dogs.  They (usually) don’t need any housebreaking.  On that note, I’ll leave you and take Barney for a walk.

Warning: Information Overload Kills

Warning: Information Overload Kills

Toxic MarketingBack in the 90’s when I was working in the photo business we talked about the digital tsunami.  It felt like a giant wave of technology that changed the way we communicate.  The growth of cable TV, the internet, mobile phones and digital imaging held a world of possibilities.  It was exciting.

And then, with social media, we were encouraged to be part of that giant communication network.  No longer were we mere content consumers, we were content providers.  And as the pace and volume of messages increased, meaning and veracity suffered.   Bottom line is that we’re sure getting a lot of information… but does it help or hinder our lives?

In fact, UC San Diego researchers estimate that global information consumption exceeds 9,570,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes (or 9.57 zettabytes) per year… if this information were a stack of books, it would measure 5.6 billion miles and would stretch from Earth to Neptune 20 times over.  Keep in mind that this information is from 2008. I can’t even imagine how high it is today.

In a recent article by Ron Imminik of Book Buzz, he questions “How to Cope in a World that’s Gone Beyond Information Overload“.

This volume of information is apparent every day, in our bulging inboxes, our enormous choice of TV channels and an endless list of results on Google.

It’s no longer information overload. It’s filter failure.

There is chaos on the information superhighway. We can’t see the wood from the trees. Facts do not exist any more, because every fact has an anti-fact on the web.

We create our own belief bubbles, our brains are mush and we are driven by what the smart phone tells us. It’s a cocktail for disaster. Or is it?

What comes next is up to us.  If we can’t filter or tune out or turn off, we’re doomed.  If we don’t have the will to sift through deep piles of pundits to find the truth, we’re toast.  If we continue to litter the airwaves with meaningless drivel, half truths and bold lies, we’re done.

Don’t succumb to a world where speed, wit and brevity are valued more than truth, justice and the American way.  Think before you tweet!

Photography: Exponential Growth of A Dying Industry.

Photography: Exponential Growth of A Dying Industry.

marketing photography

 Ever heard the phrase “Grow or Die”?  Ever heard about an industry doing both.  It’s a fuzzy image.  Read on.  It’ll get clearer.

For the first time in a decade, sales of digital single lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) have fallen, following the trend of other standalone point-and-shoot cameras, which have long fallen prey to improving smartphone cameras.

You’re talking about a 10-15% decline [inDSLR shipments] all over the world. Which is kind of shocking because that market’s been growing double digits for almost ten years,” says Christopher Chute, market intelligence firm IDC’s research director of worldwide digital imaging. 

These folks must need a sharper lens,  improved resolution or less compression on their image because this is a bit misleading.   It’s true that camera sales are decreasing and DSLR sales are definitely down.  But it’s really not shocking.  And it’s not just because of smartphones.  Do you really think that someone’s going to replace their 18MP DSLR outfit with a smartphone camera?  Perhaps some of that downward sloping sales curve of DSLR’s is being taken up with sales of ILC’s (or Interchangeable Lens Cameras or those compact cameras with interchangeable lenses that don’t have a mirror).

Nonetheless, it is true that the camera business is in decline.  And we certainly know that smartphones are fulfilling the prophecy that “the best camera is the one you have with you”.  Perhaps the folks in the camera business need to think about why sales are down and bring to market the type of immediacy, connectivity and transportability that smartphone cameras offer.

The big story is that the photo business is alive and well…. but the camera business is definitely down with a flesh eating virus.  Years ago we could equate the photo business with the camera business.  But no longer.  While the photo industry continues their enchantment in using camera sales as the bell cow, they’re missing the bigger story living between the lines. Maybe it’s a depth of field thing.

The photo business has never been bigger, impacted more people, or been as much a part of day to day life as it is today.  Think about the sales of photo apps, online printing, at home printing, online photo sharing, photo reproduction on just about anything you might imagine.  The real story of the photo business is that it’s death is widely exaggerated.   In fact, the death of the photo business is just a big fat lie.  The business is changing and future success in this market depends on clearly identifying the market.  It is a business of imaging and not just cameras.  The important news is not that DSLR’s are declining.  The important news would be the reasons why.  The blockbuster news would the the development of new products that addressed those needs.  

That is how markets evolve.  Success is driven by those people and those companies who evolve with those markets.

Picture this:

Source: BuzzFeed & Pop Photo

Is Social Media Driven by the Cool Factor?

Is Social Media Driven by the Cool Factor?

Social Media Cool

In order for social media to work, plain ol’ people need to latch on to a story and spread it to a group of plain ol’ people… and then they spread that storyto their network of people…and so on and so on.  Many stories cease spreading early in the process.  But, some stories go on until the story has been relayed millions of times.  The mechanism is pretty simply.  The magic lies at the core.

The core question: Why do people want to spread these stories?

My answer:  They want to be cool, important, interesting and/or helpful.

 

Graham Robertson at Beloved Brands claims that most brand leaders don’t get social media.  They just don’t understand it. 

For generations, they talked AT the consumer, but now they have to talk WITH the consumer.  In the old school, Brand Leaders were trained to try to INTERRUPT the consumer in a busy part of their day and then YELL at them over and over again.  It was all about AWARENESS-PURCHASE-LOYALTY where Awareness leads to conversion to Purchase which then the brand experience leads to Loyalty.  The new school of marketing is all about LOYALTY-AWARENESS-PURCHASE where the most loyal users will be the ones driving Awareness and the influence of the conversion to purchase.  It’s no longer about yelling at strangers on TV.  Instead, you have to engage your most loyal consumers, and they become the medium for reaching new users as they WHISPER advice to their friends.

He goes on to say that the social media machine is fueled by loyal customers (aka ‘loved brands’).   While he makes some important points in this article, much of social media is fueled by people who aren’t customers at all!

We’ve all seen the rocket fuel of viral messaging where people want to be the carrier of interesting, weird, quirky, important, insightful, funny, runny news.  We, the plain ol’ people in the world, are driving social media.  We’re relatively simple creatures.  We want to be the experts, the fonts of knowledge, the pillars of support.  Some might say that social media helps us to meet the self-actualization level in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

More directly…social media is fueled by the fact that it’s cool to be cool.  

 

 

What Are People Saying?

Outspent and with mediocre brand imagery scores, Susan developed a strategic plan that focused on influencers across a broad range of target audiences. This plan maximized the impact of the marketing dollars and resulted in increased brand awareness, retailer placement and sales revenue.

J. RutherfordVice President, Corporate CommunicationsFujifilm Holdings

How We Can Help You.

We are marketing consultants based on Long Island, NY. Over the past 20 years, we've built fierce market leaders in a broad range of businesses - from tiny start-ups to global Fortune 500 companies.  Our experience spans multiple industries from consumer electronics to financial services and from food services to photo.  We're looking forward to talking to you to see how we can help take your business to the next level.