Customers VS Consumers

You all know the difference between customers and consumers. I thought I do too but it wouldn’t hurt to get into a little detail.

Customers are the people who purchase your product. Consumers are the end users who use or consume your product.

It seems intuitive but who you target marketing efforts to. Not all cases that customers and consumers are the same person. A classic example is toy products where customers are parents and consumers are children.

A little detail could make a lot of difference.

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The role of creative designers

There is a creative designer at our company. She is amazing and I have been working with her for more than 10 years. She is super talented. Unfortunately, her skills and times are mostly used to create presentations for our executive team. I personally think it’s a huge opportunity cost. Her skills would be worth a lot of money if we could use those skills to drive marketing activities.

Design is important in marketing (every area really). The one thing I’ve never done is I never ask her (the designer) to share her input in our strategy. She would add different perspectives. A consistent design is a life-blood of how you want your brand to be remembered.

People know what a good design looks like when they see it. A good design is hard to quantify into $$ amounts. But, it does play a crucial role in our marketing efforts. Her skill shouldn’t be used to create presentations.

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Steve Jobs talked marketing

“Marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.”

Steve Jobs

And, we should listen.

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Who is Sara Blakely?

Do you know who Sara Blakely is? I didn’t until I came across this article – 10 Marketing Lessons From Sara Blakely. She is a founder of Spanx, Inc., an apparel company that focuses on pants and leggings. She introduced a footless pantyhose.

What are the 10 lessons we can learn from her? The article is a good read (and you should read as it takes only under 5 minutes). The key takeaways I got are the following:

  • Be unique. I like that she suggests that you should be able to tell yourself in 30 seconds how you or your product differ from others.
  • Failure is nothing more than just a signal to you that you are in the wrong path. Embrace it and try again.
  • Plan and setup goals. I do it every week. I list what I need to achieve each week and each month.
  • Think big. You may or may not achieve it but you should set a goal to achieve something bigger than yourself. Something that could change the world. Something that would help customers have a better life.

I summarise her points from 10 to 4. I think my next move would be starting up my own company. I have been working for other people for too long.

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Short-term and Long-term Dilemma

The biggest challenge in my career is how to balance between short-term and long-term to drive a sustainable performance.

The issue is to be sustainably profitable you need a group of true passionate customers who believe in your brand. To achieve this level, it requires a continuous, smart, strategic brand and ‘know your why’ investment. Many companies are always under a pressure to deliver a right-now performance. To deliver the right-now performance, we have to concentrate most if not all resources to short-term sales and marketing activities.

And, because you have to come up with new promotions all the time to sustain the short-term results, you wouldn’t have the time and the energy to invest in the longer-term future. Worse, the cost of doing business is getting more and more expensive because you have to target new customers all the time. It’s basically a death spiral. We would keep on doing it until it eventually ends.

If people at the top don’t understand this dilemma, it’s going to be hard to change.

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Telling your stories

I went to visit one of our hotels yesterday. It is a hotel that struggles in the past 5 years to compete in a crowded market. I was appointed to look after its market now. Challenging and exciting at the same time.

What surprised me the most is that this hotel has a lot of stories to tell. The problem is we don’t tell those stories to the world. We only told those stories to the team and partners, which is fine. But, in the intensely competitive world, we need to get the stories out there. We need the stories that will make the hotel unique. We need to tell the stories that give reasons for guests to choose us.

That’s my number 1 priority to help this hotel. Our team will update its website to have a section that allows us to share the hotel’s stories. We will then use social the spread those stories. After that we will encourage passionate guests to share stories.

It’s all about telling your stories.

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Audience-centric storytelling

Another buzz word I afraid – audience-centric storytelling (ACS). At its core, ACS is a story told from the perspective of a customer. It’s more compelling than brand storytelling because it blends both the power of storytelling and social proof.

We are all familiar with User-Generated Content (UGC). But, with ACS, we would be more specific about how a product could solve customer problems. It could be a blog post that use a real customer explaining his problem and how he uses a product to overcome it. Another effective form of ACS is a video review by customers.

The concept of ACS should be used on other channels too such as a company’s website, emails, social media (of course).

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Marketing for unattractive product

I don’t know how to write the headline of today’s post. There is an argument that marketing cannot make you rich if your product is not unique and competitive. I agree with this argument. I once read somewhere that advising is a tax you pay on your unattractive (or mediocre) product.

Having said that what if you, a marketer, don’t have a choice. It’s your job and you are not ready to move on. So, you get stuck with this mediocre product. I am in this situation. And, my solution is I apply 2 principles of marketing which are 1) no product is designed for everyone (search for the right target market), and 2) create a minimal viable audience.

Everyone has to adapt and everything has a life cycle. Every story has an ending moment. A restrictive product is difficult to market. It requires a great understanding from the top. But, I believe marketers can make a difference.

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The danger of working with averages

We all have heard and used this term a lot. I heard it is used in every meeting. We sometimes made decision using this term. That term is ‘average’. Calculating average is easy. You divide a total sum of terms with a number of terms.

The problem with averages is that outliers can completely throw off an entire data set, rendering the average figure entirely meaningless.

This phenomenon is known as “the power law” – a situation where a handful of extremes control the distribution, making the term average entirely useless.

If you have the data with skewed distribution, it’s better to use “median”. The Median is the number found at the exact middle of the set of values.

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What should PR 2.0 look like?

I am not a PR expert. But, I do have a strong opinion about the role of Public Relations’ in companies. It cannot be the same i.e. writing press releases and send them to journalists. It’s a reactive approach, waiting to be picked by the journalists. Worse, the PR team has no control on how the releases are presented to readers. That cannot be a good business.

The future of PR, or PR 2.0, would look like how Allison Stich, VP of PR at Marriott, described:

  • PR will shift from mass communication to interpersonal communication.
  • PR will shift from looking at PR as editorial space to reaching a consumer’s mental space to make a connection.
  • PR will appeal to a brand’s no. 1 loyal fan rather a lot of people.

I don’t believe a lot of people like to read a press release. I don’t think PR should be waited to be picked. Those PR people are talented writer. They should take a more proactive approach to present their work.

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