Vantage Blog

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02
Nov
2016

Time to break some rules...

Why is so much marketing bland and plain uninspiring? Are we trying to bore customers into buying? Lists of services masquerading as advertising. Images that make clip art look good. Websites that if you blanked out the logo would read exactly the same as all the others.


It seems to me that many businesses play by a set of unspoken category rules. Rules that restrict and contain, rather than excite and enthuse potential customers. 


If you are a services business you’d better list each and every one of your individual offerings – much like a restaurant does on its menu.  If you are a car company you’re more than likely to show shots of your pride and joy only in beautiful or rugged landscapes (sedan or 4WD respectively!).  Copy that sounds and looks the same.  Emails, proposals, business cards, newsletters and brochures all from a cookie cutter template. 


I am not arguing creativity for creativity’s sake.  Marketing needs to be targeted and relevant - and hopefully hit the sweet spot.  But with over 300 commercial messages bombarding customers every day sometimes you need to be really clever to make a memorable impression.  One that will engage and hopefully cause a reaction (like clicking through, picking up the phone or even buying!). 


Here’s a great example... 


SKF is a Swedish company selling such things as bearings, seals, and lubrication systems. 


Not very exciting right? Looks like they play by the category rules of using well lit product shots with reams of technical information (though obviously there is a place for that in the mix). 


Not much opportunity to stand out?



Well here’s what they sent to some of their customers on Valentine’s Day...


Certainly not playing by the rules! I can just imagine that even the most conservative of procurement managers cracking the faintest of smiles on receiving this post card. Connecting on an emotional level in a sea of sameness.

So are you playing by the category rules? If so time to break some and cut through the clutter.


by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing


This article is linked to James' Google+ profile



Why is so much marketing bland and plain uninspiring? Are we trying to bore customers into buying? Lists of services masquerading as advertising. Images that make clip art look good. Websites that if you blanked out the logo would read exactly the same as all the others. ..

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02
Jul
2012

What is marketing?

This is a conversation I often have with clients.  Many businesses take a really narrow view – ‘it’s what we put on our web, print on our brochures or broadcast via our ads’. Effectively what they push out in the hope it will hit their target customer and get them to respond.


Well, yes, that is a part of marketing but it’s not the whole or, I would argue, what truly matters.

If the objective is to positively impact how customers (both current and prospective) think and feel about you then viewing marketing in a traditional sense isn’t going to cut it.

An exercise I get clients to undertake is to map out their touch points or, put another way, the customer journey.  Where, when and how do customers interact – from the first time they hear about you, to the physical or online experience, right through to when they pay and beyond.  


What is the experience and what impression are they left with?  Does it reinforce the value proposition or detract?  Is it consistent (at a minimum) or does it truly excite and tell a story about your offer? It is the sum of these experiences that impacts your brand and its potential for growth. And if all touch points are working together then you will create momentum.  

Great marketing is all about momentum And, of course, everyone in the organisation can create momentum. At each point of the customer journey everyone has the potential to impact on the customer experience and thus the brand perception.

This means, therefore, that marketing delivery goes well beyond the marketing department.

So marketing is, in effect, what we all do each and every day…much more than a brochure or a website! James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing

This is a conversation I often have with clients.  Many businesses take a really narrow view – ‘it’s what we put on our web, print on our brochures or broadcast via our ads’. Effectively what they push out in the hope it will hit their target customer and get them to respond. ..

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25
May
2012

Challenging times - 3 simple business ideas

1.  Better Communication using YouTube
Whether it is internal communications, documenting processes or communicating updates to potential customers it can take hours to write up a written communication. Doing a video recording using a camcorder, Flipcam or even your iPhone however can take just minutes. You can then with a click of a button upload this video to YouTube and send out a link for the video to your target audience. If you wanted to be more creative and put intro slides and / or captions editing takes very little time.


 The important point is that the message you are seeking to communicate will get a lot more traction in video format versus written.

So next time you are about to write up a newsletter update to your customers how about use a YouTube video instead.  Here’s a few from Vantage

2.  Only worry about the things you can change
Business stress increases during volatile times. Ensure that regardless of the pressures around you in business at present that you focus your strategies / actions on aspects within your control.

We call this having an ‘internal locus of control’ where you take responsibility for change rather than pointing the finger at external factors.  

3.  Change hurts but...get used to it
The pace of change in business is rapidly increasing. A 2009 study by consulting group, Kotter International now show that 70% of internal change projects fail.

Combine these factors and the result is that many businesses are ‘change fatigued’ and not wanting to adapt.

Unfortunately there is no choice but to continuously evolve your business at present or risk being left behind.

Whilst any change is difficult ensuring your team are armed with a common planning methodology to manage the change, there is great communication from the top down on the direction the organization is heading and managers lead by example will help make it an easier process.

James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing Powered by Mindshop

1.  Better Communication using YouTube
Whether it is internal communications, documenting processes or communicating updates to potential customers it can take hours to write up a written communication. Doing a video recording using a camcorder, Flipcam or even your iPhone however can take just minutes. You can then with a click of a button upload this video to YouTube and send out a link for the video to your target audience. If you wanted to be more creative and put intro slides and / or captions editing takes very little time. ..

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26
Nov
2011

Like me, Link me, Follow me…but why?

I’m often asked (by professional services business leaders in particular) what do you think of all these online networks – like LinkedIn, Facebook  and Google+ - as ways to network with potential partners and customers?


My answer is simple – they are ends to a means not an objective in themselves. The one with the most connections won’t win – it will be the one with the RIGHT connections based on mutual value!

There is no doubt that online connections and interactions are important.  There is a lot of data (particularly in consumer marketing) that indicates liking a brand or seeking a recommendation creates a lift in response or engagement. Less data in B2B. However if your objective is to connect with people that share your interests and create a community of like minded people to further your mutual (business) interests then you need to think high tech AND high touch.

Many people seem to have a bias one way or the other.  Some are big on high tech connecting, whilst others focus on face to face networking.  The best place, in my experience, is in the middle where one links and informs the other.

Over 8o% of all information people receive is tactile and auditory – very hard to do that solely online, though video is increasingly playing a role in that regard.

Someone once told me that it takes up to 10 connections with a person for them to feel comfortable enough to do business with you in an ongoing manner.  The beauty of connecting online is that it shortens what may otherwise need to be a face to face interaction.

I have found that succesful businesses using social media utilise information sourced in that way to influence and impact how they interact face to face.  To a certain extent it can fast track and deepen the connection.  Interests, background, people they hang out with are all sources of information to enable a more meaningful interaction.

So how do you balance offline and online to make real connections that have impact in B2B marketing?  I have 3 key principles:
  1. Treat people as PEOPLE – it’s not B2B it’s person to person.  Jargon doesn't connect.
  2. Elicit an EMOTIONAL response – emotions are what connect us as humans.
  3. Be VISUAL, TACTILE or AUDITORY – get noticed and remembered. You need to cut through.

So how are you going to make real connections?

I’m often asked (by professional services business leaders in particular) what do you think of all these online networks – like LinkedIn, Facebook  and Google+ - as ways to network with potential partners and customers? ..


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