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How Reality Can Trump the 5 Rules of Market Leadership

How Reality Can Trump the 5 Rules of Market Leadership

brand liesThere are too many people walking around with the foolish conviction that they are the biggest and best in their market.  They believe they have all of the answers and that they set the guidelines for the rest of their market.   I steer clear of these folks.  They operate with a closed brain and an open mouth, yet feel they’ve uncovered the secrets of market leadership.  I will let you in on their secret.  With 5 rules and a mere 50 words, they’ve figured it all out.

Repeat these words consistently to everyone you speak with inside and outside your company:

  1. We are the number 1 leader in this market.
  2. We have more customers in the market than anyone else.
  3. We have higher customer loyalty vs. our competition.
  4. All of our competitors follow everything what we do

 

I’m not sure if their perception is their reality or if deranged or if their egos are too fragile to understand that they can’t possibly know everything about everything all of the time.  But, there are a ridiculous number of folks who believe that saying something makes it possible.  Saying it loudly and consistently to everyone makes it “true” (in their world).  Unfortunately, there are hordes of unthinking people who get swept up into it and believe those false “truths”.

I have one easy rule…one simple filter… to help separate truth from fiction:

  1.  Objectively measure all claims and prove it’s truth (or fiction)

 

Many people claiming leadership don’t actually have a clear definition of what constitutes their market nor do they have objective performance measurements of their claims.  That closed-brain, open-mouth strategy might actually enable them to gain some group.  But, within time, a ‘David’ will arise to challenge their self-claimed Goliath existence.  And then, without a firm grasp of reality, they’ll fall down.  Just remember that reality can be your best friend…. or the inescapable sword that bursts your balloon.

 

The Four Lies Ad Agencies Love to Tell You.

The Four Lies Ad Agencies Love to Tell You.

When I was a kid, my mom told my brother and me that she knew when we were lying because she could see “L’s” in our eyes. Like most moms, she had 360 degree laser vision and generally knew everything that was going on. But, it didn’t stop us kids from testing the situation. Before an inevitable confrontation, we’d anxiously ask each other, “Look in my eyes! Can you see the L’s?” We were more naïve than stupid and most of the time we got caught in our (very infrequent) lies.

In business, there are multitudinous layers of lying. And it’s something you need to understand in order to make the best decisions for your company.

This is a tough market and it’d make sense to look for a little bit of help. Is your business at an impasse? Do you know that you can do better but aren’t sure of where to turn? You need to shake things up, so where do you look? Most often, your choices will be an ad agency or a marketing firm/ consultancy. Beware the lies.

Lie #1: One size fits all

Keep in mind that one size doesn’t fit all. No one can be all things to all people all of the time. Figure out what you need before you jump in. If you believe you need to “look before you leap”, then your next step should be a marketing consultant who can help you map out a plan. If you’re willing to jump into that pool without knowing if it even has water, then go to an ad agency first. Marketing agencies/consultants and advertising agencies are your two primary choices.

Lie #2: We have your best interests in mind

Although they may claim to do similar things, they aren’t the same. And the easiest way to differentiate them is to think about how they make money. There are nice guys out there who will throw in a freebie everyone now and then. In the long run, checking the money path explains things pretty well. Some agencies may work on a retainer basis and get paid for a specified amount of time each month. But, their primary income for advertising and design agencies is from the projects they do for you. The more projects they do, the more money they make. The bigger the projects, the more money they make.
Marketing agencies or marketing consultants get paid for their time. When marketing consultancies are also selling SEO, website design or mobile marketing, they’ve crossed the line into selling more projects and bigger projects.

Lie #3: What’s good for me is good for you

Ad agencies may work on a range of projects – from TV advertising to web design and from online advertising to social media. Ad agencies often claim to offer strategic services, but most often (99.4% of the time) they don’t. They create strategies that will help them sell more o

f their services so they can make more money. You can be pretty sure that if you’re working with an ad agency who focuses on digital marketing (online ads, website development, etc.), they are not likely to propose that you pursue direct mail. Before you jump into anything, you should figure out the objectives and strategies that’ll work best for your company. For that reason, a marketing consultant might be the best first step.
Marketing consultants focus on creating strategies that work for your company, your industry, your situation. They offer a range of marketing services that can include, strategic planning, project management, coaching and/or interim staffing. Good consultants will partner with you, working to leverage the expertise and understanding you have in your company

Lie #4: We are experts on your company

Beware when you hear an agency or consultant tell you that they know your company better than you. While they should have new perspectives on how you can move your company forward, they should respect the fact that you are experts on your organization.
Alternatively, you have 2 big responsibilities. First, open your mind to new ideas. Second, don’t relinquish your power. I’ve seen customers follow an agency’s directions because they felt the agency was “an expert”. They didn’t feel the proposal fit their but claimed, “These guys are at the top of their game. We’d be silly not to trust them.” Not true. While you might need to take a small jump out of your comfort zone, you shouldn’t be abandoning your company history, your brand or your objectives.

Ad agencies and marketing consultants can be invaluable partners for both big and small businesses. Like most other tools, they’re best used when you know how, when and why to use them.

Sierra, Nik Wallenda and How to Succeed in Social Media

Sierra, Nik Wallenda and How to Succeed in Social Media

Nik Wallenda Grand CanyonIn a recent client meeting, one of their summer interns was asked to join the meeting.

“Sierra has some great, fresh ideas about our marketing. She thinks we need to be on Facebook and Twitter.  And, I think we need to be on social media.”

 

Social Media isn’t a Strategy

Now, this is a company I was trying to bring into the world of blogging.  Not only were they in a highly competitive market where customer loyalty was low across the board, their website content was pretty static, un-engaging and un-supportive of a dynamic SEO strategy.  A blog seemed the perfect answer.

“Our customers aren’t interested enough in our services to read about them all the time.  We tried a Facebook page and it didn’t work out.”

I saw their old Facebook page.  There was no engagement.  In fact, there was no attempt at engagement.  It was a page of that infamous social media guilty pleasure of self-promotion.  Nonetheless, I saw an opportunity to leverage Sierra’s nudge to open the social media door. So, I asked Sierra what her goals would be for social media.  It was tough for her to mask her disdain when she answered.

“Goals?  What do you mean?  Don’t you realize how many people are on Facebook?”

No Strategic Plan

We Just Wanna Tweet.  We Don’t Need a Plan.

As it turned out, no one really had a plan for social media.  They just wanted to throw a few tweets and posts at the wall to see what might stick.  Whoa!!!  They  really didn’t care if anything stuck, they just wanted to toss a few things out there.

Social marketing without a plan is pretty close to crossing the Grand Canyon on a tightrope…without a net.  If you’re an undisputed pro (like Nik Wallenda), you may be OK.  If not, you’re screwed.

Social media is tough.  It’s a lot tougher, much more unproductive and a time sink without a plan.  A recent post by Heidi Cohen in Social Media Examiner outlines “How to Setup a Social Media Strategy”.

  1. Set goals
  2. Know your audience
  3. Define core topics
  4. Choose your media platforms
  5. Encourage engagement everywhere
  6. Create processes
  7. Measure results

I learned 2 lessons.

Don’t cross the Grand Canyon without a net.

Don’t attempt social media without a plan.

 

4 Ways to Guarantee Great Non-Marketing

4 Ways to Guarantee Great Non-Marketing

Non Marketing PerformanceWant to know how to make your marketing a last minute scramble? Want an almost certain guarantee of ineffective, inefficient, inconsistent marketing?  Well, you’re in luck.   Here are the four best practices for great non-marketers:

  1. Don’t focus on customers
  2. Don’t think about marketing
  3. Don’t care about competition
  4. Don’t consider  yesterday or tomorrow

Are you following the Four Don’ts and are you then surprised that you’re rushing around at the last minute to put together a new brochure, mailing, a new website or a new ad?  Kind of silly – don’t you think?

I recently read an interesting blog post  about the “..Frantic Scramble in Marketing” from Drew McLellan

 “…some of the challenges that business owners/leaders face when it comes to marketing, like:

  1. Marketing is not part of their daily routine — so they cycle. Go like crazy when things are slow and then do nothing when they’re flush. If the dry spell is too long, they go out of business.
  2. Chasing after new business and ignoring existing customers (spend time/money in the exact wrong way — it should be spent on employees, current customers and then prospects not the other way around).
  3. Marketing is too self centered/focused. Way too much me/we and not enough focus on the customers’ needs.
  4. Try to do too many different marketing tactics all at once and don’t do any of them for a long enough period of time or with enough depth. Better to do fewer but do them better.
  5. Business owners need an outside perspective. Why/how is their business different/unique? What is the value proposition that only they can offer? But they can’t figure it out on their own. It’s like trying to describe the outside of a bottle — if you are inside it. Can’t unknown what you know.”

“Are you suffering from any of those mistakes?  Are you so busy scrambling that you’re applying the same philosophy to your marketing? Create a marketing game plan and follow it.  Leave the scrambling to other aspects of running your business.”

The dangers of excluding marketing from the forefront of your business go beyond the last-minute dash to get marketing projects completed.  Without a marketing mindset, it is likely that your marketing will be less effective and less efficient.  In fact, it’s likely that your non-marketing will be downright ineffective and inefficient.  You’re likely to spend more money to get less.  If that’s your goal, then go for it.  If not, you need to start living the marketing life.

Best & Worst Times to Post on Social Media

It’s tough to get noticed on social media. Posting at the right time should be part of your strategy.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way, in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.   – Charles Dickens

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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.