It’s time to change

The plus side of the current virus crisis is that it allows companies to think if what they are doing is the best way to do business. Many are finding the way to reduce cost and find their ways to come back. Some companies didn’t do well before and now could hide their issues behind the virus pandemic.

Changing business model is a big deal and wouldn’t happen often. If you are a sales-driven organisation, it’s likely that you have been struggling for a while. You probably are in a discount game and in a cost cutting mode for a while. These 2 words are a clear signal that you have to change. And, there is no better time than using this crisis to change. This is because you are about to have another cost cutting exercise.

I am a firm believer that demand creation should be done with marketing. This is because the focus can be placed on solving customer’s problems and on building up brand for a longer term. Putting sales in front of the business model means the focus is ‘right now’. And, it doesn’t matter if a solution is right for customers or not.

It’s time for companies to put customers in front of their business model. And, the way to do it is to have an infinite mindset with marketing thoughts. As Steve Jobs once said – “Marketing is to create demand, sales to fulfil it”.


Nike has done it again

You got to love this. Nike just launched a new slogan/campaign to promote social distancing. They are very good at coming up with inspiring slogans that trigger action. Within an hour, several of the big-name athletes the company sponsors had posted the ad on their respective social media channels.

This time, the slogan says “If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance,” the ad reads. “Play inside, play for the world.” 


What is microcopy?

It is a simple concept that is so powerful. It could turn users into customers and customers into friends. It’s a great branding exercise.

Microcopy has been widely used in tech space. It is small and tiny bits of copy that guide users (or customers) through product experience. What brands could do is to use the concept in, for example, packaging, or as a note in customer journey.

Imagine you enter into a hotel room, open a bedroom and see a short note suggesting activities you could do in the area. Or, you open a bottle of wine and see a word “good luck” under a cap.

The concept is nicely wrapped around by this sentence – Words are giant so keep them small.


Marketing as service

I believe that everything is marketing. The era that has marketing department as an independent unit has ended a few years ago. Marketing should be at the top of the tower with customer service, customer experience, sales, even human resources underneath.

Let start by asking this question – why do we do marketing? We do marketing because we want to offer solutions to customer’s problems. We also do marketing to make a difference to someone’s life. The process is we tell customers that our product could be a solution to your problem. Customers buy the product and we want them to have the best experience. We then service them with the hope that they will stay and recommend our product/solution to their friends. When something goes wrong, they contact our customer care team. We solve their problems and delight them. They rave about us and their friends see it.

There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.

Sam Walton, founder of Walmart stores

Take social media as an example. It’s very hard to draw the line between social media marketing and social media service. Customers will bring up issue regardless of channels. You might post a new campaign on Facebook with an expectation for it to go viral to get more sales. But, your existing customers might see the post and share their frustration.

To be successful, marketing needs to be on the top of the tower. No offence.

Happy customers are your biggest advocates and can become your most successful sales team.

Lisa Masiello, Founder & President, TECHmarc Labs, Inc


Your product is not for everyone

Do you believe in the above statement – your product is not for everyone? If you do, how do you market your product? If you are using one of the mass marketing tactics, you are trying to sell the product to everyone. It would be quite expensive, wouldn’t it?

The competition out there is super fierce. Every industry is super crowded. The easiest marketing tactic for us all is to compete on price. Discounts are everywhere. I remember that I was excited to see a 70% OFF campaign 10 years ago. Now, it’s pretty normal to see something like half price or 70% OFF. It’s not normal anymore.

How to compete then. Enter a concept introduced by Seth Godin – “the Minimum Viable Audience”. Your product is not for everyone. You are not selling a universal remote control. You are solving a specific problem for a specific group of customers. You just need to ensure that 1) that group is big enough to sustain your business, and 2) you are clear on the uniqueness of your product on how it could change your customer’s life.

The good news is all customers want the same things. They want one of these – they want to become healthier, happier, wealthier, less stressed, and to increase their social status. Being remarkable in delivering something that achieves one or more of the above outcomes, you will be very successful.


Effective marketing

What is the difference between marketing and sales? The short answer is marketing creates demand, and sales fulfil it.

Another perspective of marketing is marketing is a function that offers remarkable solutions to customer’s problems. The goal of marketing in this case is to make a difference (in customer’s life). If we can achieve this, the sales function would take care of itself. But, it’s difficult.

What about effective marketing? Effective marketing requires repetition and consistency. It’s not enough to reach prospective buyers once. It takes repeated touch points and engagement to drive action. Research shows that it requires at least 6 touch points to motivate someone to take action.

In the end, our product is not for everyone. Build up your audience and be the best of your version to them.


Revenue management and marketing in hotels

I had an interesting discussion with one of my hotel colleagues yesterday about the role of revenue management and marketing in the hotel industry. There is a crossover between the 2 functions that causes confusion. And, people tend to forget that the revenue management function focuses solely on prices.

If we use the basic 4Ps in marketing as a context behind this discussion, revenue management plays on 1 P which is pricing. Any hotels that place major focus on this function (say 70%+), they cannot avoid competing in a discount game. The Online Travel Agents (OTAs) role makes it even difficult for hotels. This is because OTAs is like a big shopping centre that has all shops selling the same thing (in consumer’s mind). When there are too many choices and it’s not clear on product propositions, prices drop.

What the marketing role can do in this environment? A lot but it takes times. There are the other 3 Ps that marketing can focus on. Most importantly, the marketing function for hotels should provide the answer to this question – Why would customers/guests choose to stay at your hotel (not the hotel next door)? The right answer we look for is ‘value’. This is because value is a sum of what the hotel could offer to guess (prices, experience, service, etc.)

My point is it requires a 50:50 balance and partnership between these 2 functions for a long term success for hotels. Focusing too much on revenue management for a long period of time put hotels at risk of relying too much on OTAs and the discount game. Focusing to much on marketing put hotels at risk of missing a near-term revenue.


Why inbound marketing is so hard

To make it simple, let assume that there are only 2 marketing approaches, namely inbound and outbound marketing.

Outbound marketing is easy, cheap, and it is not really marketing. With this approach, you generate or buy leads (not demand), drop those leads to a call centre, call them, and sell something to them. It’s a volume game. The more you call, the more you sell. It’s pretty annoying to customers actually. it’s for lazy marketers or. for the marketers whose hands are tied.

Inbound marketing is much harder. Why? Unlike the wrong perceptions that inbound is just sending something out and people will call you, life is not that simple. If you are the only one that sell a product in the whole world, sending out messages and people call could work. If you sell drugs, inbound marketing wouldn’t too hard.

The reason why inbound marketing is hard is that inbound marketing is about delivering solutions and opportunities that have a positive impact on people and your business (source: Hubspot). It’s about building trust and brand by offering a solution that could make customer’s life better. You have to introduce yourself, go on dates for some time, before you can ask her to marry you.

Trying to do inbound marketing in a company that applies direct or outbound marketing is ever harder. It’s’ more expensive and you (marketer) are questioned about your ability.

It’s like when someone says social media is free. Best of luck everyone.


What Apple and Taylor Swift do well

I wrote about Taylor Swift’s smart marketing skill the other day. I also found that Apple or even Nike use a similar strategy in their marketing. They all put a serious focus on their true fans, their influencers.

Taylor flew to surprise one of her super fans on her bridal party. Of course, the content went viral. Apple partners with their fans by allowing them to get their hands on the product before the public. Apple also encourages their fans to use the products in creative ways. All of these went viral.

The era of selling stuff to people has gone. The role of marketers has changed. My role as a marketer has changed. It’s exciting and very challenging. My biggest challenge is how to turn a direct marketing approach to a brand marketing mentality. The direct marketing approach would never yield a successful inbound marketing. Unfortunately, not many people understand.


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.