Renee Prejean-Motanky

Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

Twelve Things We Think We Know About Marketing…but don’t

In marketing, Public Relations on June 15, 2009 at 3:25 am
Ultimate Marketing System from Duct Tape Marketing
Image by ducttapemarketingvia Flickr

Marketing is one of those practices that looks easy from the outside… kind of like tightrope walking.   To anyone who hasn’t done it successfully, it is viewed through a lens of myths rather than by the reality.  And these are the myths that impede effective marketing.

1.  We know what business we’re in

Maybe in the past, but not today!  Today we’re in the marketing business (practicing whatever it is we do to for our customers.

2.  Marketing is Marketing.  What works for marketing products, works for marketing services.

Though there may be a hundred folks behind the manufacture of a widget, the only connection between that widget and the consumer is the widget.  If your product is a professional service then your connection to the consumer is the individual who provides the service.  There’s a big difference in marketing services and products.

3.  The marketing director can do it.

The marketing director, depending on his/her training, might be able to create a great marketing campaign for a product that could motivate people to try it, but consultants are never hired because of marketing programs.  The marketing director can lend support by doing the things that afford a professional the context and opportunity to sell a prospective client.

4.  Marketing is selling.

Too many make this mistake.  Marketing is the PROCESS  that utilizes a broad spectrum of tools to position, educate and sell a product or service to prospective customers.  Sales is the result of the marketing process.

5.  We need a brochure and a newsletter.

A brochure is good only if you don’t expect it to do your selling for you and only if it truly makes you stand out from all the others out there.  It’s a small (and can be very expensive) tool in a total marketing program.  The same is true for a newsletter–but add to that; you only need it if you have something valuable to say to its readers. 

6.  PR is free advertising

It is not! You do pay for advertising while you don’t pay for PR… but there is a difference between the two.  As an advertiser you can pretty much say what you want (as long as it’s the truth) and it’s possible to use”edgy”, eye-dazzlingly techniques to grab attention because you’re paying for the space, but PR must comply with numerous standards that you don’t get to determine because you’re not paying for it.  PR requires subtlety. It’s purpose is to educate your consumer.  Then someone else tells your story in their words! 

7.  Our budget for marketing should be a percentage of sales

That formula only works for products… for more reasons that I can list here.  It doesn’t work for professional servicesfor almost as many reasons.  But one important reason is that the nature of professional service firm marketing is such that return on investment occurs over a much longer time frame.  What does work is to budget by the project.

8.  Be nice to the media

You don’t have to be nice to anyone you feel is dishonest, has questionable integrity or ability.  Fortunately most media aren’t like that, but don’t be naive.  Understand that life and the press are not always fair!  So watch what you say and know that nothing is ever “off the record.”

9.  Quality is a good marketing tool

One of the key definitions of professionalism is quality performance and service.  Not to supply quality service is a tool for self destruction.  Quality is never a good marketing tool — you get no credit for it.  If you’re a professional, it should be a given.  Assume quality as a basic concept and it will pay off in client relationships and repeat business.

10.  Reputation sells

While a good reputation is a plus, no one buys a service or profession based on reputation alone.  Remember also that reputation is fragile… like a bicyle, as long as yo keep peddling it keeps moving, but the minute you stop… kablam!  Down you go.  You have to keep peddling.

11.  Image matters

Image may be the original marketing myth!  Only reality matters.  If you want to change the perception of your firm, change your firm — the perception will follow.

12.  Marketing is a science

While the rules of marketing are predicated on a large body of experience ( like science), that same experience tells us that marketing is ultmately an art form and that the rules can be thoughtfully broken.  Marketing is taking basic tools and techniques and exercising them artfully. 

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In Communications, Integrated Marketing Strategy, marketing on June 4, 2009 at 3:30 am

Comm Planning ModelCreating and delivering compelling communications in a world inundated with messages is one of the biggest challenges confronting organizations today.  Now, more than ever, it is crucial to break through the clutter to deliver your message and project your image.  The key is reaching your target audience with a cogent, engaging set of communication tools that accurately reflect your brand identity and your position in the marketplace.  In short, your message must get through.  In today’s marketing environment, it is imperative to engage in effective communications  with your customers if your brand is to enjoy a future of relevance and growth.


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The Tools of Marketing Aren’t The Strategy

In marketing on June 3, 2009 at 2:23 am
Dave's Bike Tools
Image by bre pettis via Flickr

The curse, and challenge, of marketing is that it’s at the apex of competition, which depends for its success on being ahead of the curve.  Competing requires attracting your target audience’s attention, generating excitement, reinforcing credibility and, if you’re selling professional services, building a context and an opportunity for selling.

And your message has to stand out from all the other messages out there…to resonate in some way that your target audience can’t ignore.  So we have to use  tools to start a meaningful dialogue and listen to what potential clients/customers tell us.  Then create a winning strategy and use the right tools to execute it.

Part of the problem is that we all have the same marketing tools available to us.  We all have access to the media, can utilize PR, direct mailadvertising, the Internet and so forth.  And most of us are fairly proficient at using most of these tools. 

But if we all have the same tools, what makes us different from each other?

The answer?  Two things:

  1. the strategic use of these tools and, more important,
  2. the artful use of them.  

We use tools to paint a picture  and that’s what matters because that’s what will (or will not) be remembered!  Similar to painters, for marketers, the genius lies in the final picture, not the tools used to create it.

It’s important to understand that the tools aren’t the strategy–they’re simply the tools!  And creating the marketing strategy begins with understanding the market (who) and moves through a series of steps (how, what, why, where)  to craft a position and artfully execute it.

The more original and the more accurate a solution is at addressing the needs and interests of the target market, the more successful the program.  

 Seth Godinsaid in one of his recent blogs (and I agree); “Marketing is both Science and Art.”  He made such an excellent point.


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Targeting Afro-American Consumers: don’t over/underestimate the differences

In Communications, marketing on June 3, 2009 at 1:15 am
Advertising on Times Square, New York City
Image via Wikipedia

Marketers and advertisers have for some time been aware that recognizing ethnic and cultural differences when designing a marketing plan for products or services that might be useful to the black community can be valuable. 

Recognizing and acknowledging ethnic and cultural differences, and crafting targeted messages to acknowledge their uniqueness as consumers can lead to new opportunities. The Afro-American market exerts an enormous influence on American culture. The increasing purchasing power of the community, coupled with its rapid growth and visibility, only make this market more valuable and attractive.  According to a study by Packaged Facts, “African-American buying power is expected to exceed $1.1 trillion in 2012.”   The U.S. Census predicts that the single-race African-American population will reach 61.4 million by 2050. 

If your company is considering marketing to Afro-Americans here are 10 distinct factors to consider when designing your marketing plan:

  1. Leave Stereotypes at the Door– A stable family and a solid education were quoted by Afro-American consumers as most important to social standing according to a recent GMI Poll.  Clothes, jewelry and cars were all ranked at the bottom of the list.
  2. Ask Yourself: What’s Black About it?  – Does this advertising depict something Afro-Americans can relate to or identify with, minus stereotypical images?   Does the ad depict something unique that Afro-Americans can relate to or identify with (minus stereotypical images?) It is essential for marketers to understand those subtle differences, so they can craft the right message for the right audience.
  3. Look Beyond the English Language  – The rapid growth of the Hispanic & Latino market has led to decreasing marketing dollars being spent on targeting Afro-Americans.  The absence of a language barrier has become a major rationalization for reduced spending, generic messaging and inadequate market research when attempting to gain awareness, loyalty and purchasing power from Afro-Americans. Too many advertisers and marketers assume Afro-Americans will respond to any message simply because it is delivered in English.
  4. Recognize the Value of the Afro-American Influence– The ability to generate significant influence beyond their own market segmentis truly a distinct quality of Afro-Americans.  As a group, Afro-Americans have been, and continue to be, one of the primary trendsetters of society.  Marketers who consciously establish a relationship with this lucrative yet undeserved market will reap significant long-term rewards from a loyal, influential customer base.  Afro-Americans exert a powerful influence on fashion, music, slang, sports, language and the overall perception of what is cool around the world.  The key is to understand the Afro-Americans as trendsetters and leveraging the value of that influencing power, is an essential step to tailoring ore effective advertising.   Blacks aren’t just more likely than the mainstream to be among the first to set new trends, they also want to be identified as cutting-edge. According to What’s Black About It,34% of Afro-Americans are likely to keep up with changes in trends and fashions (compared with 25% of Caucasians) and 71% say it is important to keep up with the latest technology products and services (compared with 65% of Caucasians.)
  5. Understand Afro-American Living –Most Afro-Americans live, worship and socialize with each other and many do so by choice.  The desire to live black also means that many Afro-Americans read Afro-American newspapers and magazines, visit Afro-American Websites and listen to Afro-American radio programs.  A one-size-fits-all marketing approach signals many Afro-Americans that their lifestyle requires no particular understanding or consideration of their culture or distinct social history.  Some advertisers argue that targeted efforts merely separate consumers and support stereotypes.  The key is to target without stereotyping.
  6. Acknowledge Afro-American Cultural Heritage: you’re not an insider – Most Afro-Americans agree that the opinion of society matters.  So when in public, they conduct themselves in such a way as to avoid reinforcing negative stereotypes.  Many Afro-Americans feel that certain situations, stories and expressions shouldn’t be shared outside of their community.  Culturally sensitive, positive and relevant appeals that celebrate the culture rather than reinforce stereotypes are more likely to gain the attention and loyalty of Afro-Americans. 
  7. Build Loyalty Over Time– As with any ethnic group, building brand loyalty takes time, but when Afro-Americans listen to a well-targeted message and then buy, they do it in larger numbers than the general population.
  8. Understand Your Own Internal Challenges  – Many marketers are still confused about multicultural marketing. A recent study conducted for Heidrick & Struggles reports that although 84% of marketers agree that multicultural marketing is critical to their business, nearly 40% say they don’t know how much minority groups contribute to their bottom lines. 
  9. Understand Differences Within the Afro-American Community – Differences in values from class to class are the same among Afro-Americans as they are in the general market.  Aspirational messaging of success, education, career and family can all be used to make products and services appealing for Afro-Americans.  It is essential for marketers to understand those subtle differences, so they can craft the right message for the right audience.
  10. Leverage Online Research– Like any success story, marketing to Afro-Americans should start with diligent market research.  One way to do this is online.   Publication eMarketerexpects Afro-American Internet users in the U.S. to total 21.7 million in 2010.  According to a new report from The Media Audit, 40.6 % of Afro-Americans now shop online compared to 27.1% five years ago.
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The More You Know..The More You Grow!

In Business Development, marketing on June 2, 2009 at 6:10 pm
Limits to Growth
Image via Wikipedia

Common sense, right?  But despite an uncertain economy and warnings about future shortfalls in Social Security funding, today’s young adults aren’t stepping up to save for retirement.  A recent report from a Chicago research company, Mintel, reveals that over two-thirds (69 percent!) of Generation Y (age 14 to 31) workers who can participate in a tax-deferred 401(k) retirement savings plan just aren’t doing it.

Interestingly, financial advisers aren’t focused on Gen Y. The same research firm found that this group makes up only 5 percent of financial advisors’ client base.  “Advisers still primarily target wealthier older adults,” says Susan Menke, a senior research analyst at Mintel.  “With less disposable income, Gen Y isn’t seen as a lucrative clientele.

Meanwhile financial advisers are missing the opportunity to catch young adults now and keep them as they grow older and richer.”  They’ve completely missed the boat on an opportunity for growth!

Short-sightedness such as this often gets in the way of business growth.  Many of us find it difficult to emerge from patterns that keep us from stepping outside of the box to create  solutions that will actually stimulate earning.  

While the economy has certainly presented challenges for many business owners, I firmly believe that an unwavering focus on growth and business marketing can make all of the difference.  Companies committed to growing their business when the economy is unfavorable by thinking outside of the box will be stronger when the economy bounces back. 

Business leaders know they won’t achieve the success they desire tomorrow if they neglect important business marketing efforts today.  While competitors are, most likely, cutting back many businesses seize the opportunity  to go after their business.  All it takes is an ability to think outside of your traditional parameters. 

Some businesses soar.  Some crash. Others merely survive.  The sooner you set your sights on growing your business, the better!  That is what will make all of the difference.

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