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Marketing Challenges are Universal

When I travel and meet business people in different countries, I see the same fundamental marketing challenges. easyjet.a319.arp I see that universal truths of human nature and business transcend borders, culture, language and industry. Here are the recommendations I make to business people in response to two marketing challenges I often hear:
1. “Consumers don’t want to take a chance on a product they don’t understand”. Recommendation – Since most consumers prefer to follow others rather than educate themselves, customer stories should lead your marketing communications. Address consumers’ questions and concerns through a positive customer story.

2. “I don’t want to spend more money on advertising or other promotion, but I need to get more customers”.  Recommendation – Your paid outreach is not bringing a good return because it is not strategic. Clarify your market position, message your value proposition, identify buying decision factors, and share customer stories.  — Darren Ballegeer

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Hispanic Marketing Truths…and Assumptions

Assumptions are often costly, and we have heard many assumptions about Hispanic marketing and have seen many marketing tools and programs based on such assumptions. Here are some Hispanic marketing truths that we have recognized through our experience – truths meant to be a helpful response to the incorrect assumptions about the growing, complex, and lucrative Hispanic market.

1.    The Hispanic consumer market is segmented into many different target markets by the usual demographic indicators AND by language and family status (from immigrant to 3rd, 4th, generation, etc.).
2.    Communication in Spanish is mostly a preference, not a necessity. Never assume that communicating in Spanish means you are reaching only those people who lack English.
3.    Most of the Hispanic market is also part of the general market. Most Hispanics are consuming and responding to marketing information in both languages, but communicating to Hispanics in Spanish is demonstrating that your business is speaking to them specifically.
4.    Culturally-relevant marketing messages in English are increasingly being used in Spanish language media.
5.    Marketing messages translated from English for the Hispanic market is a common and costly mistake. Getting real results from your Hispanic communications means doing some planning and messaging.
Understanding and respecting the preferences, habits, and emotional triggers of the top Hispanic market segments is necessary to realize sales and organizational goals.  — Elena Miramar and Darren Ballegeer

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Marketing lessons from an old-school tire ad

Marketing tools that have an old-school theme can be cool and effective. Marketing that is truly old-school (outdated) provides lessons in how not to attract customers. I recently provided feedback on an ad from a national auto service chain that was a perfect example of outdated marketing that many retail businesses are still burning money with. Beyond a positioning and messaging strategy, here was my feedback to simply optimize an ad they were already committed to:

  1. Remove or revise the coupons. If there is no proven marketing strategy behind any promotional offer, don´t use it simply because the company and industry has been doing it forever.
  2. Add pricing info for the most commonly needed service or product. Regardless of how competitive your prices are, include some pricing info to help facilitate the target´s decision making.
  3. Add a customer endorsement, which is one of the oldest yet most effective and underutilized marketing tactics.
  4. Add the human element (with photos). Especially important in a service business.
Categories: Uncategorized

Don’t hide the value of your content marketing

September 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Many good companies distribute ’low pressure’ sales communications in an attempt to engage prospects and move them along the sales cycle. Such content marketing, though, is too often led with a fluffy intro designed to prove to the prospect that the company is offering them some value (vs. just trying to sell). The value is often there, but the key is to put it upfront. Don’t be shy about the real topic or your expertise. Don’t hide relevant customer stories in an email or other tool. Whatever is important and interesting for the prospect is what you should lead with (info about your company or you does not qualify!). Then summarize the lesson or recommendation, ideally in a way that the prospect can action…and whether or not your product is part of that action.  – Darren Ballegeer

Categories: Uncategorized

How to vet any expert (Part 1)

I believe that a key part of being a savvy manager or business owner is knowing which experts or consultants to believe – there are many of us out there vying for your attention and budgets. My previous post about the article in Forbes is a perfect example of a consultant making a self-serving case for a certain truth. Before you make any business decisions based on anyone’s truths or advice:

  1. Consider the source. Does the person who states that widgets are the only solution, sell widgets? Does their advice lead only to what they are selling or are they providing an integrative vision, a holistic view that brings maximum results for minimal expense AND increases your understanding of their area of expertise?
  2. Know that experts love to make big statements. The real truth on any topic is never as attention-getting as a dramatic statement designed to promote an expert’s personal brand.
  3. Think and question. There is usually some truth in anything an expert says, but you need to question them about their recommendations and past results.

Ultimately, it’s about trusting your own judgement. Be a savvy buyer of services and you will get a higher return on any size budget or expense. –- Darren Ballegeer

Categories: Uncategorized

Forbes article: ‘Online ads a waste’. Not so.

A recent article  on Forbes.com states companies are missing the mark with banner ads. First off, I can’t blame the author for trying to make his case – he is promoting his business, which is not advertising-related. Secondly, his conclusions are based on the assumption that companies use banner ads for branding – I think it’s clear that most companies use online ads for sales (lead generation), not branding. Most importantly, I believe that most advertising tactics and channels that don’t deliver a good ROI are ineffective because of their content, not because of the tool itself. Millions of ad dollars are wasted, but it’s due to poor messaging and content, and this is true online and offline. With strategic messaging, businesses can engage consumers, lead into a story, spark interest…even with a banner ad. – Darren Ballegeer

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More tuning before more channels

Twenty years ago Bruce Springsteen had a hit song, ‘57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)’. His lamenting the lack of quality content on TV directly relates to one of the most common marketing mistakes I see business owners make today – promoting their products/services through more channels without tuning/optimizing their marketing content. If your marketing messages and offers are not optimized, there is no reason to communicate them through additional channels…so before you start using mobile ads, blogs, video, Google+ or any other channel or tactic, make sure your content is compelling enough so that people won´t tune you out.  — Darren Ballegeer

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Is your marketing evolving with consumer behavior?

The current global economy is contributing to a change in consumer behavior that favors products and services that are environmentally friendly, healthy and authentic. I see this trend in tourism, food, clothing, and other areas. Business owners need to be aware of shifting consumer sensibilities and evolve their marketing communications (and products) to match. The best way to test shifting values of your target market is to ask them – email and website surveys, social media engagement, etc. In today’s engagement marketing environment, it´s easier than ever to learn about your targets’ values and preferences. The next step is to develop new marketing messages and content, and reposition your product offerings. — Darren Ballegeer

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Slow sales share common causes

“We can’t increase our sales and we can’t afford to compete on price anymore,” is essentially what I hear from many business owners and managers I consult with. Helping them understand how to boost sales and compete more strongly usually starts with discussing the marketing fundamentals that are represented below by the most common mistakes I see when reviewing business’ marketing tools and content. The good news is that applying some smart marketing fundamentals to any business’ market outreach is easier and less costly than most people imagine (though many marketing consultants and agencies want you to believe the opposite):

1. The advertising, brochures and other marketing and sales tools often fail to differentiate the product. They also fail to communicate competitive advantages, clear product benefits, or a clear target market. 2. A low-risk call-to-action for the prospect is usually missing. 3. Websites, even when attractive and informative, often fail in the same ways as advertising. Also, they are often not designed to convert a visitor to a sales lead or they fail to offer a compelling incentive for the visitor to take action.

Attention to these common but critical issues can transform your marketing tools and your sales results. A slow economy is the perfect time to make your marketing smarter and more productive, which should actually lower your total marketing budget.  — Darren Ballegeer

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The #1 Hispanic marketing truth

When I’m asked by business owners how they can get a bigger share of the Hispanic market, I usually answer with a question. When I’m asked about online marketing or social media, I respond with the same question: “Do you feel that your current communications are optimized?” I see too many advertising campaigns or other marketing efforts go to waste because the business owner has not yet gotten the basics right for their  general-market communications. So my recommendation is to optimize your marketing messages and content before you spend more money on advertising or time with social media or other tactics. With a market strategy and messages in place, you can then tune them for ethnic markets and choose the appropriate communication channels. So my #1 Hispanic marketing truth is really my #1 recommendation for any business or organization that is asking how can they attract more customers, donors, members, etc.  — Elena Miramar

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