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.
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.
It means you have inefficiency. It is as simple as that. There are only 3 options in this ‘high fixed cost’ situation.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Are they the same? Not really.
Online marketing focuses mostly on tactics. It’s a mix of direct marketing techniques e.g. SEO, SEM, social media advertising, etc. It’s easy to do and it’s easy to measure results. A lot of marketers do it (myself included) to drive short-term performances.
Marketing online, on the other hand, is an act of doing marketing – providing solutions to customers – in an electronic form. It starts with a good strategy – understanding the audience you serve and offering solutions to them. It’s harder. It’s time-consuming.
I get stuck in the ‘online marketing’ world now. It’s very hard to get out.
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.
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.
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.
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).