Vantage Blog

blog date arrow
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. ..

blog date arrow
08
Jul
2016

6 Principles of Persuasion - how you can influence people to buy!

I recently reacquainted myself with the work of Robert Cialdini, Professor of Psychology and Marketing, Arizona State University. He has spent 30 years studying the ways people are influenced and has identified six key principles of persuasion.


Cialdini believes that most people can’t explain why they made a particular decision. But once you can understand the underlying factors your ability to influence decisions and get more positive responses can really have a large impact on the effectiveness of your sales and marketing activities. It also can have real value when coaching others.

The six principles are:

  1. Reciprocation: At a basic level when you do something for someone else they will feel indebted. For marketers, Cialdini says: “The implication is you have to go first. Give something...". There's a logic behind when in a restaurant you often will be given a chocolate or biscuit when presented with the bill - they are effectively prompting reciprocation at the point of the meal where tipping is encouraged!

  2. Social Proof: “Laugh tracks on comedy shows exist for this very reason,” Cialdini says. Whilst often annoying (especially if patently not funny!) they do impact viewers impression of what they are watching. A number of studies have shown this factor in play in social media. Sharing and liking products and services has a significant impact on purchase intention for both the 'liker' and their followers.

  3. Commitment & Consistency: People generally like to stay true to their word, or their actions. If we agree to a course of action or proposition - either in action or words - we're likely to follow through. For sales people getting potential customers to make a series of small "yeses" as part of the sales process leverages this principle so as to get the desired end outcome.

  4. Likability: There is no doubt that we prefer working with people we like and this can play a valuable role in a sales and marketing context. Cialdini's research indicates that in fact being physically attractive, or similar in some way to the person selling to you, impacts our decision process. The challenge for marketers is to how best to position and market products so they connect with their target audience's values and preferences - making what they sell attractive and connected is key.

  5. Authority. We all remember the ads with the faux laboratory. White coats on every actor! What the marketer is trying to do is ascribe some authority on their product. It may work (for some) but I think the authority needs to be genuine. The question is how best to utilise authority and legitimacy in the context of the product, and the proof points customers need to help them buy. In many markets generating real reviews and testimonials from legitimate, recognised authorities can help persuade prospects to respond or make purchases.

  6. Scarcity sells: "Only 10 left", " Offer end June 30". FOMO i.e. fear of missing out, has become even more prevalent since Cialdini undertook his seminal research. We appear to be wired to being more concerned about losing something (we didn't have) than gaining it. One way to create scarcity is to be genuinely unique - to have a point of difference. Click here to read more about the one question you need to be able to answer.
So when next crafting a marketing campaign or sales strategy think about how you can best apply some of Cialdini's principles to impact persuasion.

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing

This article is linked to James' Google+ profile







I recently reacquainted myself with the work of Robert Cialdini, Professor of Psychology and Marketing, Arizona State University. He has spent 30 years studying the ways people are influenced and has identified six key principles of persuasion. ..

blog date arrow
21
Nov
2015

Marketing - Function or Force?

When working with organisations looking to review or refine their business strategy I ask them about their approach to market and their competitive advantage. Why do I start there? Because marketing strategy is not something the marketing team should solely focus on – it is an outcome of and is central to developing a business strategy.


Successful businesses, in my view, have marketing strategy front and centre; driving every decision they make. The ‘why, how and what’ they do. Simply put the overall value proposition. It is from this point that strategic decisions around how you structure and operate the business should be made.

Marketing strategy and business strategy are not two separate activities – they work together – informing and impacting both inputs and outputs to your business model.

Viewed from that perspective marketing should not just be responsible for flogging products!

There was a time that marketing was seen as the department (if indeed you needed a marketing department at all) charged with promoting an organisations goods and services – more a communications team in reality.

Today marketing should be core to how an organisation orients itself to serving the needs of the market – in effect becoming market led.

So what is a market(ing) led organisation?

Firstly, it is one that has a very clear view of who they serve – the core customer segments. And a deep understanding of their needs and how they will deliver solutions to meet those needs.

Secondly they can clearly articulate their competitive advantage - why a customer will purchase their goods/services over the competition? Is it because you offer something unique? Perhaps it is a specialized approach to service? Or maybe the ability to excel at what I call the product surround? Whatever it is you need to know it, be able to deliver it and it must be of real value to your customers.

Thirdly a market led organisation is one that understands that its competitive advantage underpins the marketing strategy and overall operations. The products that will best deliver value to your customers are the starting point. Then you can make decisions around such things as how you position yourself in the market; your approach to service; your core processes, standards and systems; the values your team works by; indeed how and where you fund your growth. These are all key strategic decisions driven by clarity around your marketing strategy. They will be the drivers of how successfully you deliver your value proposition.

Finally market led businesses recognise that the marketing function of today is well placed to gather valuable insights into customer needs, desires and behaviour. Importantly it becomes a strategic engine equipped to use this data to develop and refine a more meaningful strategy. A driver and source of innovation in a changing market.

Marketing should not only have a seat at the strategic table but be a core driver (even a force for good!) driving and shaping your future success.

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing
This article is linked to James' Google+ profile


When working with organisations looking to review or refine their business strategy I ask them about their approach to market and their competitive advantage. Why do I start there? Because marketing strategy is not something the marketing team should solely focus on – it is an outcome of and is central to developing a business strategy. ..

blog date arrow
12
May
2015

How will these 5 Global Megatrends Trends impact your business?

Simon McKeon, the CSIRO Chair, recently spoke about five megatrends impacting the world over the next few decades. 

The five megatrends he spoke about were
  1. The aging population
  2. The economic shift from east to west
  3. Declining biodiversity
  4. Technological connectivity, and
  5. The rising demand for experiences over goods

These megatrends are great reference points for every organisation to consider in its strategic planning. They can help stretch your thinking beyond the challenges and demands of today.

The question to ask is - how well placed is your organisation to leverage and/or de-risk your future based on these megatrends?

From a business perspective here are some thought starters:

The aging population - In McKeon’s view the trend with the biggest relevance to Australia is the change in demographics given our fast aging population. We are clearly seeing some sectors – health, aged care, housing – already tailoring offers to make the most of this shift. It’s worth considering how could you target this increasing segment? Are there variations or new versions of your products or services that could better meet their needs?

Also, how are you delivering today to an older segment? At a very tactical level I do wonder about some marketers who insist on 8 point font in their material for products that clearly are targeted at the over 50’s! Is this the result of Gen Y’s marketing to themselves (in error)?

The economic shift from east to west – Being situated in the same time zone and proximity to Asia is clearly a big opportunity and challenge both economically and socially. If not already exposed to this shift the first stage for most organisations, in my view, is to start by gaining greater cultural awareness, not jumping to ‘what can I sell’. Whilst that is the end game, just as in any type of market segmentation, the first phase is to understand the needs and drivers of the segment. Yes it’s a huge opportunity but what segments or groups are you going to be able to best target and why would they value your offer? The road to the east is already littered by failures large and small – more haste, less speed!

Declining biodiversity – Clearly this a broad societal challenge that we all as individuals need to consider. If you would like to know more about how an organisation I am involved with – Greening Australia - is working in practical ways to reverse this trend click here.

Nevertheless there are biodiversity and environmental issues all organisations need to be clear on in terms of their sustainability and footprint, now and into the future. And of course there are niche commercial opportunities to deliver value to organisations that are at the pointy end of having to manage and adjust to this challenge.

Technological connectivity

– The key outcome of increasing technological connectivity, is in my view, the digital disruption to many business models. Deloitte have developed a really useful model (Big Bang, Short Fuse) that classifies many industries on impact and timeframe. Click here to read more.


Digital disruption is the area many businesses ignore when in fact they just need to look back only ten years to see the impact. No longer do ‘rivers of gold’ flow from print media classified advertising. Book retailing is now dominated by online ordering or digital downloads. A good way to think about this is to look at each part of the value chain your business operates in and challenge yourself – how would you respond if it was digitally redesigned. What could you do now to innovate or protect your position? Who are the potential new players that could disrupt your industry – and what would you do about it?

The rising demand for experiences over goods – Clearly this is in part a response to the to the tussle around work – life balance and the desire for greater connectedness – with environment and with loved ones. Great examples include the adventure tourism boom, including historically based walking expeditions, culinary tours and festivals; high end activities such the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb; and bespoke gift experiences as packaged by Red Balloon.

It is also a wonderful opportunity to clearly differentiate what you do today – how do you add a compelling ‘experience’ to the customer journey? It should have real resonance for retailers – providing a sense of theatre to the shopping experience is pretty limited in Australia but not so much overseas. Burberry’s flagship store in London is an amazing experience designed as a physical manifestation of its website with significant investment in technology, staging and audiovisual wizardry. They don’t want their customer to be ‘bored’ (their words) and orchestrate music and visuals to stimulate and entertain. What could you do to make your store more exciting and engaging? It sure could help put price in its place!


Finally it’s worth remembering Bill Gates’ view on the future…“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction”

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing.
This article is linked to James' Google+ profile
Simon McKeon, the CSIRO Chair, recently spoke about five megatrends impacting the world over the next few decades. 
 ..
blog date arrow
04
Jun
2014

The Yin and Yang of Business

“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation" Peter Drucker…really – why’s that?

Peter Drucker made this statement back in 1973 but it is just as relevant today.

Marketing and innovation are the two drivers of business that deliver customers, today and into the future. And of course without customers you have no business. Everything else flows from that simple starting point.


Customers must be front and centre

Production processes, sales and human resources are without doubt critical elements of any business model, but they are not the starting point. Understanding who your customer is and how you will satisfy them is the key. From there you are able to determine the appropriate production model or the type of resources that you will need in order to deliver. All aspects of your business model should be structured in such a way as to ensure that you are able to deliver value to your customer for an appropriate return.

Marketing – delivering value to your target market

The marketing function should define how you create, communicate and deliver this value to your target market. It aims to answer key questions around who are your customers, what are their needs and what product/service can you provide to satisfy those needs. How you will price. How you will deliver it to them. How you connect and engage are all critical elements.

Marketing really is everything you do to provide value to your customers today. It is how you provide and reinforce your point of difference and value proposition at each and every touch point. So you need to ask yourself - are you clear on your value proposition? Does it provide value? Does it engage and connect with customers?

Innovation – a practice of renewal

The innovation function, on the other hand, works to keep your business relevant into the future. We live in a dynamic environment where the rate of change is ever increasing. Changes in technology, increased levels of competition, concerns around the environment, and changes in how we communicate all have implications for the products and services that our customers need.

Innovation, at its core, is a practice of renewal. Changes - be it to a business process, to products themselves, to how we create and communicate – are all aimed at satisfying and exceeding customers’ needs and desires going forward?

Don’t let innovation be a blocker


Innovation has become an overworked and overused term. I attended a seminar recently where Gary Bertwistle , a thought leader in innovation and creativity, talked about innovation as a concept that can quite often become a blocker. Too many people speak the words but don’t know what to do next – in many instances confusing invention with innovation. His suggestion was to stop talking about innovation and focus on helping people and teams to “think differently” – the outcome will be creativity and new ideas.

Asking people, “what if” and “what else”, “imagine if” is a great way to take people out of the everyday and think beyond the constraints. Try it during your next strategy planning session – just don’t call it an innovation brainstorm!

Finding time to just think and not filling the diary is another key to unlocking creativity and innovation. Organisations such as Disney and Google mandate that their staff spend a certain number of hours each month working in a different department just observing. New ideas, suggestions, new ways of doing things can be the result of having people with a different perspective look at your operations.

Make innovation possible

Make sure you create the environment in which your staff can innovate or think differently. Too often we send mixed messages. We talk about creating an innovative culture but we are afraid about moving away from the tried and tested, and what we think our customers want rather than need. The mantra is to do things differently but we punish the risk takers for failure. Striking the right balance is critical in creating an environment where new ideas and practices can emerge and be trialed and tested.

Ensuring that marketing and innovation can occupy the central part of your business model, and the way you work, is critical if you want to stay ahead of the competition and attract and retain the right types of customers – today and into the future.


by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing.

This article is linked to James' Google+ profile

“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation" Peter Drucker…really – why’s that?

Peter Drucker made this statement back in 1973 but it is just as relevant today.

Marketing and innovation are the two drivers of business that deliver customers, today and into the future. And of course without customers you have no business. Everything else flows from that simple starting point. ..


Latest Blogs
 
Share This
 
Search the Blog
 
Subscribe to our Blog
 
Click here to subscribe to receive regular updates on business strategy & marketing.
OUR APPROACH
Our approach line
Vantage Strategy & Marketing helps leaders improve their business by cutting through the clutter.
We work collaboratively with our clients to develop clear strategy, achievable goals and actionable plans.