Category Archives: Marketing Strategy

Who are your customers? Finding out will improve your marketing

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As a business owner or marketing manager, one of the most vital things you should ask yourself is “Who are my customers?”

Knowing who you are talking to can define what you say and do as a business, and how you say it and do it. In this blog post, we're going to put ourselves in the shoes of a marketing manager for an airline.

Customers fly for a variety of reasons. We can use these reasons as a potential basis for segmentation, i.e. dividing our customers and potential customers into groups.

Most airlines operate a segmented service: first class, business class and economy class for example. This segmentation is based essentially on price: the more customers are prepared to pay, the more comfortable they can be. However, this does not really tell us enough about our customers and the opportunities for differentiation – i.e. how we can make ourselves different from our competitors.

Segmentation allows us to identify specific groups of customers for whom we can recommend specific positioning for our business, and so achieve some differentiation. Let's assume that our airline operates largely in a consumer market, although its business customers could be B2B. Segmentation variables available are:

1. Profile variables – these are variables in the way that individuals live their lives. The main attraction for us is that they are tangible.
- Demographic variables include measurable data on age, gender and family life cycle (e.g. families with young children, retired couples).
- Socio-economic variables include data on individuals' occupations, education and income.
- Geographic variables include data on consumers' location and geo-demographics (the demographics and socio-economic data on a particular area).

2. Behavioural variables – these are variables in the way that consumers behave when buying or using your product or service.
- Benefits sought are the reasons why an individual purchases your product or service.
- Usage is how the consumer uses your product or service.
- Purchase occasion is the type of occasion on which a purchase is made.

3. Psychographic variables – these are the variables in the attitudes, interests, personality and lifestyle characteristics that might reflect in buying behaviours and choices.

In the case of air travel, benefits sought would provide an insightful segmentation. For example:
CORE PRODUCT:
Fly to correct destination
Safety
EXPECTED:
Good customer service
Reasonable level of comfort
AUGMENTED*:
Entertainment
Baggage
Catering
Pre-booked seats
Priority and late boarding
First class lounge
Fully flat seats
Frequent flyer programmes

* Many of the augmented services are available as standard on certain airlines, but not on budget airlines.

The important features of the augmented benefits are that:
- They provide the opportunity to differentiate your airline from others.
- If they value these benefits, customers will be prepared to pay a premium price for them.
- BUT over time, these services become expected and may lose their power to differentiate and command a premium price.

As a result of this, the airline must continue to come up with new service offers in order to distinguish themselves from the competition – for example spa treatments in the first class lounge, business centres with free wi-fi and refreshments.

Your organisation or small business may not have the huge budgets of airlines, but tips can still be taken from this example. What are your customer segments? How can you offer something different from your competitors, that your customer segment(s) will value?

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New year, new marketing plan: 10 ways to revamp your marketing for the new decade

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New year new marketing plan

It’s a new year and a new decade, so now's the time to reflect on the successes or challenges you faced in 2019, and think about what you want your business to accomplish in 2020.

Like many areas of your business, it's a good time to take a look at your marketing. To help you revamp your marketing strategy in 2020, we've put together 10 helpful tips to get you started:

1. Establish a budget
When creating your marketing budget, you need to be focused on your customers. Where are they, and how do you find them? Start by looking back on last year’s marketing costs and create a realistic budget. Methods of marketing are rapidly evolving, so your budget should have some room for changes you might need to make in the new year.

2. Consider your target market
You may have plenty of customers coming through your door or visiting your website every day, but are these the customers you really want to reach? Do you know who your target market really is? You can’t focus on revamping your marketing plan until you know who you really want to target. Have a look at the value of your current customers – should you be sticking with them or looking elsewhere?

3. Consider your strengths
Say you run a restaurant. Do you serve the best pasta in town? Offer the friendliest service? Run a great mid-week offer? These are the things you should to focus on in your advertising. When you know your strengths, you can use them in your marketing materials.

4. Create a realistic schedule
One of the key parts of staying on track with marketing is establishing a realistic schedule that works. Just like any new year's resolution, it's better to make it achievable. Planning your upcoming year will help you stay focused on your goals.

5. Update your logo
Your logo is one of the first things potential customers see. Does it communicate your brand well? If you think your logo still fits, there’s no need to change it – but if the font or graphics seem at odds with the personality of your business, consider getting a new one. And do it properly: hire a professional designer!

6. Review your website
Is your current site easy to navigate? Has it been updated in the past few years? Does it feature an accurate menu and easy-to-find contact info? Has it been optimised for mobile devices? If the answer to any of these questions is no, consider revamping your site.

7. Create valuable website content
People assign more credibility to sites that show they have been recently updated or reviewed – and it's also great for SEO. When a website is updated regularly, Google sees it as an active site and therefore ranks it more highly in search results pages. Have a look at what you say on your website, and make sure it's regularly updated and reflects your brand well.

8. Be mobile-friendly
Mobile internet use is growing and growing (something we first wrote about way back in July 2013). This year, it’s important to make sure you're producing content that’s web-friendly, and ensure your website is optimised for mobile (if you haven’t already). This will help you reach more of your audience and let customers know that you take your digital marketing seriously.

9. Review your advertising tactics
Look at the channels you use for your advertising. Do you use Google AdWords, email marketing, press adverts, social media advertising, or something else? Are these methods bringing in the customers you want? Think about where your ideal customer is and what channels they'll actually see - and be most receptive to.

10. Have a fresh look at your social media presence
Social media is no longer an option…it’s a necessity. It's also one of the most direct and effective ways you can promote your business. Even if you’re already actively using social media, evaluate your activity and see if you’re doing all that you can. Are you using your Facebook page effectively? Are you responding quickly to customers on Twitter? This is also a good time to think about whether you need to be active on so many platforms. For example, if your customers don't use Twitter, stick to Facebook. Your time will be better spent and you'll have more time to engage. A content calendar is a fantastic way of scheduling in your activity.

So in summary...
Marketing is basically about listening to your audience, and telling them why they would benefit from using your product or service. Making a few tweaks to your plan can help refine and target your marketing, and put you on the right track for a successful 2020.

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Who are my customers? Using market segmentation can help you find out

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Customer segmentation

OK, so this may sound like a dry, academic topic. But using market segmentation needn't be difficult, and can help any business – large or small – define who their customers are. Once you know who your customers are, you can then take steps to shape your offering to meet their needs.

A segment of the market is basically a group of people that share similar characteristics.

You can follow four rules for creating useful segments. Your segments should be:

1. Measurable
We should know where it is, how big it is, and exactly how it differs from the market at large and other segments in particular.

2. Accessible
You need to be able to access the segment with your marketing communications.

3. Substantial
It has to be big enough to be worth your while.

4. Homogeneous
The members of the segment must act in the same way, and respond in the same way to marketing messages they receive.

So the next question is – what criteria should you use for segmentation?

This depends on your business, but here are some suggestions:


1. Geographical markets

By country
By region
By county
By town
By postcode
Or even by street

2. Demographic factors
By age
By gender
By family life stage (e.g. whether they have children)
By income
By occupation
By education

3. Social factors
By social class (although this is becoming less useful)
By lifestyle
By personality

4. Benefits sought
For example, if you are a toothpaste manufacturer, why are your customers buying your product? Is it for dental health, social reasons (fresh breath), or appearance (tooth whitening)?

 

The list above is based on a business-to-consumer business. A B2B organisation could use slightly different criteria, such as type of customer, end uses, common buying factors, and buyer size and geography.

Segmentation isn't necessarily a precise exercise, but it should be able to help you target your marketing efforts more effectively. It can help define the focus of your company, increase your competitiveness, retain your customers, improve your communication… and ultimately increase your profitability.

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Features vs Benefits: How to think like your customers

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Features vs benefits

Why do people buy a product or a service? They do it for the benefit it offers them.

As the seller, your mission is to answer the question, “What's in it for them?”

Approach your marketing efforts from your customer's perspective. Next time you write content for your website, send an email campaign or update your social media accounts, stop and think – why should customers buy from me? What benefits am I offering them?

There's a difference between the features of what you're selling, and the benefits.

Feature = what the product is, or what it has;
Benefit = what the product does for the customer.

Here are some examples of features vs benefits:

1st generation Apple iPod
Feature = 5GB hard drive storage
Benefit = 1,000 songs in your pocket

Rachel's Organic Greek Yoghurt
Feature = nutritious and tasty
Benefit = makes you feel healthier and more satisfied

Kleenex Balsam Tissues
Feature = thick and soft
Benefit = soothes your nose and helps you through a cold

Nurofen Plus Tablets
Feature = contains active ingredients Ibuprofen and Codeine Phosphate
Benefit = one dose relieves your headache and gets you through the day

Both features and benefits are equally important when you're writing your marketing copy and campaigns, but it will be the benefits that give you the best advantages for converting customers.

Try making a list of your product’s features and write benefits for each. Do this again for different potential customers, even ones you may not have considered before. You may find a new way of looking at your product that helps you better connect with people.

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How to create a simple yet effective marketing plan

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Simple yet effective marketing plan

It’s a well-known fact that a business plan is vital. However, many people don’t realise that a marketing plan is just as important.

A marketing plan is a strategic document outlining your objectives. It spells out all the tactics you’ll use to achieve your goals. It’s your plan of action, and unless you’re using it to help gain funding, it doesn’t have to be lengthy: bullet points will do.

Here are the elements you should include in your marketing plan:

1. SITUATION ANALYSIS
This is a snapshot of your current situation. It can be broken down into these sub-sections:
• Definition of your company and its products or services
• Your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
• How the benefits you provide set you apart from your competition (also known as your Unique Selling Proposition or USP)

2. TARGET CUSTOMERS
Create a simple description of your target customer. This is known as a Customer Persona. You can describe the person in terms of demographics - age, gender, family, income, location - as well as lifestyle or social factors. Is your customer traditional or modern? Are they leaders or followers? Introverted or extroverted? How often do they purchase what you’re selling? You'll probably have a number of different customer types; create personas for each of them.

Customer Personas work just as well for B2B organisations, although you’ll need to adjust them slightly. Your target customers will be working within other businesses. You can define them based on their type of business, job title, size of business, location, estimated turnover, etc.

3. MARKETING OBJECTIVES
What do you want your marketing plan to achieve? For example, are you hoping for a 10% increase in sales per quarter?

Write down a short list of goals. Make them SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant/realistic and time-bound) so you’ll know when you’ve achieved them.

4. MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIES AND TACTICS
This is probably the most important part of your marketing plan. In this section you should detail the tactics you’ll use to reach your target customers from section 2, and achieve your objectives from section 3.

Strategies
Different strategies are suitable for different stages of the ‘customer journey’. For example, advertising and direct marketing are great for reaching cold prospects. Warm prospects - people who have already been exposed to your marketing message and perhaps even met you - will respond best to permission-based email, for example. Your hottest prospects are people who already know you, and are ready to buy. Generally, personal contact (whether face-to-face, by phone, or email) combined with good marketing will help complete the sale.

Tactics
In this section, summarise your marketing strategies above, then list the tactics you’ll use to reach your customers at different stages of the customer journey. For example, you might combine online and print advertising to reach cold prospects, but use email to contact your warm prospects.

To identify your ideal ‘marketing mix’, find out which media your target audience turns to for information on the type of product or service you sell. Are your target customers using social media? Do they read trade publications? Do they attend industry events? The marketing tactics you choose should reach people when they’ll be most receptive to your messages.

5. MARKETING BUDGET
A good rule of thumb is to set aside a percentage of projected annual sales for your marketing budget.

Tactics are available for even the smallest budgets. If you exceed the budget in your marketing plan, you can simply go back and adjust your tactics until you have a mix that’s affordable for you. The key is to never stop marketing.

6. REVIEW AND ADJUST
The final step in any plan is to monitor and evaluate progress. If you're not achieving the results you would like, go back a few stages in the plan and make any tweaks you feel are necessary.

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25 quick and dirty marketing tips for startups... and established businesses

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Quick-and-dirty-marketing-tips

Started a new business but not sure where to start with your marketing? This super-quick list should help you on your way.

1. Create customer ‘personas’ – small summaries of who your ideal customers are, and target your marketing efforts to them.

2. Listen to your customers.

3. Have a professional-looking logo and website (essential!).

4. Make sure your website is kept up to date, images are good quality and spelling is correct.

5. Write a blog and use it to share helpful information.

6. Write a guest blog post and/or submit posts to large websites.

7. Keep an ongoing list of marketing ideas.

8. Use social media.

9. Keep a database of email addresses. This can be as simple as a list in Excel. Make sure you are GDPR-aware!

10. Segment your database into customer types.

11. Send email newsletters.

12. If necessary, change the content of the newsletter depending on the customer type.

13. Give a discount or special offer, and promote it on your website, social media and email.

14. Ask customers for testimonials and referrals.

15. Sponsor a local event.

16. Get interviewed for a blog, magazine, newspaper etc.

17. Use SEO to drive traffic to your website (ask your web developer for help).

18. Make sure you’re listed on Google My Business.

19. Attend networking events – and remember they’re not all about selling your services.

20. Use business cards (yes, people still use them!).

21. Advertise using Google AdWords.

22. Advertise on social media.

23. Host an online workshop, webinar or deliver a free training session.

24. Write a press release – but it must contain an interesting story, NOT be a sales pitch.

25. Check out the competition to see what they’re doing right (and wrong).

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What are your marketing messages?

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What are your marketing messages

The first step in putting together a marketing communications plan for your business is to know who your customers are. That answers our first question:

1. Who should receive your marketing messages?

The next two questions are:

2. What should the messages say?
3. What image of my business do I want to project?

A message should reflect your company's mission statement (if you have one). It should reflect what your organisation does and believes, or talk about a particular product or service you offer.

A message or set of messages are the building blocks for all of your communications, e.g. adverts, press releases, website content, brochures, social media content, etc.

Some tips:
- Think about your audiences and carefully consider what you want them to think about you. Will your message make them take action?
- Make sure the messages are clear and concise – keep it simple and memorable.
- Don't forget the ‘why’, i.e. answer why your organisation does what it does.

You can then move on to the next few questions:

4. What's your budget?
5. How will the messages be delivered?
6. What actions do you want people to take after they've received the messages?
7. What 'control' methods will you use – i.e. how will you make sure that the messages don't get disrupted?
8. How will you summarise what was achieved, e.g. find out what return on investment was achieved?

After this you'll be in a great position to start making decisions about what types of marketing communications tools (website, paid advertising, social media etc) you need for your business.

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