Sales and marketing function

The context in this post is specific to my industry. I work in marketing and my goal is to change the way our product is marketed and sold. I believe our product is suitable to certain groups of people, but not for everyone. I also believe that we should create demand and build a brand. I have been testing and trying different inbound marketing approaches in the past 5-6 years, none of them is big enough to make a difference.

My mentor used to tell me, I cannot change the way the company is doing as long as our sales process is not changed. In my mind, I agreed with him but didn’t want to accept it. He said that 3-4 years ago. It has come to my realisation that I have to accept it.

The era that companies “sell” stuff to customers has long gone. The whole company must have the same understanding and act the same way. Marketing should lead sales. Marketing should create demand, not sales.


Different VS Remarkable

There was a blog post from Seth Godin and I really like. He talked about the difference between being different VS being remarkable. I have been pursuing a differentiation in my entire adult life until I read his blog.

According to Seth, ‘differentiation’ is selfish. It’s the act of the marketer with intense interest in his segment of the market. He just wants to market his interest to customers.

Being remarkable is not about the marketer. Remarkable is in the eye of consumers. The goal is to create something that people choose to talk about, something that could improve consumer’s lives, regardless of what competition is doing.

To me, remarkable is harder and is worth pursuing.


The most important asset for a company

I have been working in a corporate environment for more than 25 years. One of the most challenging aspect in my career is to find the right person to do a job. I made a few wrong hiring decisions along the way and they were miserable. What is the quality of the right person?

The answer is the best person for the job is the person who possesses the right balance of her skill sets, attitude, work ethic and how she puts work in her life. It’s easy to say but very difficult to find. If you can find the persons with these traits, believe me, please do everything you could to keep them with you. They are your greatest assets. They can make a big difference.

I hope that before I retire, I would have an opportunity to work in a company that treats staff well. If you already work in such company, you are very lucky. Do your best, give it all, and make a difference. Those companies are very, very rare to find. Most of them are hopeless.


New trend in SEO (2)

A few days ago, I wrote about a new trend in SEO which is Zero-click searches. It’s interesting because it’s a direction that Google is taking. Google wants to make it easy for users, but not necessarily easy for marketers.

The second interesting trend is more about the focus on contextual search. Google has developed technology that tries to interpret the intent behind how people search. They call it “BERT = Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers“. It is Google’s latest algorithm update. Its focus is to deliver results based on real search intent, considering context and natural language.

All marketers need to do is to publish high quality content that could actually answer customer’s questions. This will help with optimising for user intent and giving the most complete answer — which is what Google wants.

What happened to Holden (2)

I wrote about Holden yesterday. And, my mentor was kind enough to send his thoughts to me. We like to discuss and share ideas. Below is his input.

There were other reasons Holden was shut down.
1. It was unprofitable and when the Australian government finally stopped bailing it out, GM couldn’t continue. Shutting the plant was just step 1.
2 Holden was an Australian only brand. GM cars are branded internationally. Chevrolet is sold in many countries. I know in the UK it is called Vauxhall, but there are 65million people there versus 26 million in Australia. 
3. GM didn’t move with the times. SUVs captured a large slice of the market and GM didn’t launch one in Australia.
4. Asian manufactured cars have a bigger market share here and even bigger in New Zealand.
5. Government taxes are ridiculously high making cars much more expensive in Australia.
6. The much loved Ute, only existed in Australia. When the plant shut down, Aussies lost the car they loved the most and the market moved to light trucks like the Hilux. The GM version couldn’t compete.

So in summary, importing right hand drive cars and rebranding just for Australia didn’t make sense. Ford might still be okay as the branding is the same internationally.


What happened to the Holden brand?

I just saw the news about Holden (a car brand in Australia) will be retired by the end of 2020. When I came to Australia many years ago, I wish I could buy one of its cars. Holden was a huge brand 10+ years ago in Australia.

Then, in 2017, its plants in South Australia was shut down. I thought that was the starting point when Australians lost their love to this brand. While it’s a part of the US’s General Motor car company, having a local plant kind of made a relationship with the local people strong.

I am not a car expert but from reading a few articles, I feel like the following are the reasons why Holden faded.

  • Holden had a super ambitious growth plan from its legendary CEO. He planned to go internationally. His successors weren’t on the same page to make it work.
  • The Holden brand was not well-known when compared to Mercedes or even Hyundai. Holden management used these 2 brands (or makes) as a case to justify their expansion.
  • There were some tensions between the Holden management team in Australia and the GM team in the US.
  • Global financial crisis hit the US and GM had to go through a bailout process.
  • GM didn’t get what the Holden brand was about.
  • Customer’s tastes changed. They turned to more energy saving options.

I remember I stood at a Holden dealer looking at a second hand Holden Cruise. I really liked that car and wanted to buy this model. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the money to get one.


New trend in SEO

There have been a lot of changes in the world of Google search. Unfortunately most of the changes that Google made is to make things simpler for users. It means we, marketers, have to work harder and smarter.

One of the interesting trend in 2020 is “Zero-Cllick Searches”. It means most of the searches don’t end up getting clicked. This is because Google shows the answer to a search query directly on the SERP (search engine results page). It’s easier for users that they could get a quick snapshot of their answers without having to click to another (or other) websites. It of course makes marketers’ job more challenging.

Google plans to roll this out more and more to the search results.


Search and social

Do you know the differences between marketing with search and social? We all have to do both but understanding the differences would help manage your expectation. There is actually one major difference, only one.

I recently started using a Travel ad program from Expedia. I also promoted the same Ad through Facebook ad. The immediate result was different. The Travel ad generated far better results than the Facebook ad. There could be many explanations but the major difference is “customer’s intention”.

In search (i.e. Travel ad), customers have an ‘intention’ to do something. They were looking for a place to holiday. They did the search to fulfil their intentions. In social, customers don’t normally have intention or efforts to take purchasing action. They might like your photos or your offers. But, they are likely to save those offers for later days.

Social is more suitable for building up brands, spreading awareness, or introducing your product. As I said above, we need both. But, knowing the difference would help you manage your budget and your expectation.


When your fixed cost is high

It means you have inefficiency. It is as simple as that. There are only 3 options in this ‘high fixed cost’ situation.

  1. You improve your efficiency or increase your productivity. Where do those costs come from – too many staff, very high rental fee, etc? You may need to make a hard decision if necessary.
  2. You pass your cost to customers. You can only choose this option if you are in monopoly or oligopoly market i.e. no or only a few competitors in the market, which is very unlikely.
  3. You increase quantity sales. Assuming that your variable cost is not as high as your fixed cost, you should be ok.

In the end, if your fixed cost is high, option 1 is the most sustainable option.


Customers VS Consumers (continue)

I talked about the differences between customers and consumers the other day. My long term mentor saw the post and share his input with me. As it’s Friday, I would then like to share his thoughts with everyone. He is an expert in many things and retail marketing is one of them.

“In multi- national FMCG, Pharma etc, customers are the trade like Coles, Woolis, Target etc. Consumers are the individuals making the purchase decision. And users are the individuals consuming the product. So in your examples, a Toy might be bought in Target. Target is therefore the customer. The consumer is the purchaser (Mom, Dad, Friend, Uncle etc.) and the kid is the user. While companies use other terms, it is usually always the same 3 stage marketing process. Trade Marketing is a big and real department in FMCG. It involved category management, shelf planograms , merchandising and most importantly pricing and promotional pricing implementation. Consumer Marketing is focused on brand developing and creating demand. And in the case of kids as users, driving pester power is a key strategy. “

Great insight! Thank you so much.