Times are tough.
It’s enough to contemplate giving up… or simply to cut back. However, before doing so consider for a moment the following philosophy:
“A man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops a clock to save time.”
Now is not the time to be driven to save money and time.
The emphasis should be on making money and making the time to do so.
Two appealing attributes of on-line and social media advertising and marketing are that they are inexpensive and can establish exposure to mass, often untargeted, audiences. Complementary on-line transactions can be convenient, prompt and often, cost-saving.
Sadly, too often, the outcome is a false economy.
Just as the economy and business are being subjected to substantial and strategic structural change, the shape, nature, channels and content may well need refinement.
It’s time to upgrade and up-date the entire integrated communications strategy. For some those decisions will be tough, but not for those who do upgrade and up-date times will be good, if not, outstanding.
Here are four fundamental and essential steps:
- Don’t …automatically seek to improve existing and past practices.At best, the outcome will be incremental.
- Do …start from the beginning.Fresh perspectives do identify exciting opportunities.
- Do …introduce “new” into the lexicon, orientation and offers.
- Do …be consistent, persistent and disciplined.Collectively, these disciplines will optimise impact and output.
Each phase will take time and each phase has the potential to make you more money.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND DIGITAL PRESENCE STIFLING CREATIVITY AND ORIGINALITY
To be ranked in the top echelon of social media and among SEOs (Search Engine Optimisers) companies, brands, products and services need to comply and to conform.
Being part of the norm is the one way that algorithms, which recognise nominated key words and that determine the ranking on the internet, conclude overall absolute and comparative rankings and, therefore, placement.
Originality, creativity and “daring to be different” are the losers.
So too are consumers and clients. There is increasing recognition that marketing, selling, promotion and broader communications are being commoditised in the social media and digital worlds. Boring.
Another conspicuous consequence is the inappropriate and confusing use of certain key words. Algorithms recognise words, but they cannot and do not comprehend meanings, nor do they respect contexts, nuances and reference points.
OPENING THE DOOR
A key role for social media and online presence is to “drive” prospective customers to websites, premises or doorways. This reflects a very fundamental shift in the nature of “window shopping”: a majority of people now do it on-line.
However, it is important to note two pertinent features of the current marketplace:
- Many “on-line visitors” are not qualified prospects.They represent the trend to mass non-discriminatory volume.
- Some 65% of purchase processes which are commenced on-line are abandoned on-line.“Abandoned shopping trolleys” proliferate cyberspace.Where are those trolley-boys when you need them?
DEVELOPING THE SALE
Transition from an unqualified, but connected “suspect” who has entered your digital realm to a better qualified “prospect” can be, and often is expedited by creative, original and different graphics, merchandising, packaging and word usage.
What is lacking in many instances is a lack of an integration between the key words and the graphics.
CLOSING THE SALE
Nothing original here. Someone or something needs to effect closure of the sale.
The human quotient remains the most effective, efficient, perceptive and flexible means to recognise opportunities to increase the scope of the transaction, and the optimal timing of concluding the deal.
By necessity and nature, social media and digital marketing processes are pre-structured. That assumes the designer is aware of all contributing factors. That is an unreasonable stretch.
Once again, the principle that technology and social media should complement, not replace human beings is highlighted and reinforced.
Nothing is more creative, original and different than people. Moreover, it is they, not algorithms that recognise, respond to and enjoy that which is creative, original and different.
DIGITAL ERA SERVICE EXCELLENCE
Technology and innovation are all around us.
However, it’s what’s inside that counts.
The digital era is a dynamic and challenging marketing place.
Technology, particularly on-line applications, can and do intercede in the relationships, contacts and communications between service providers and customers, clients and prospects.
However, some things are constant.
First and foremost, technology should exist as part of a service culture.
In recent times we have conducted and facilitated interactive workshops with a diverse range of private and public sector businesses, networks and associations on the refocusing, refining and up-dating of service cultures.
The resultant outcomes, driven by the participants have been outstanding.
Morale has improved, pride in the company, products and service has increased, individual and collective performance standards have rapidly grown and greater overall stability has been achieved.
Sharing the latest research findings in delivering, sustaining, reinforcing and complementing service excellence in the digital era has resonated with managers, staff members, professionals, consultants and business owners. It has been a step up for many from their previous endeavours and initiatives.
It’s Time. Change the focus from the external to the internal. It will be good for business, relationships and profiles. Moreover, it will serve you right. If we can assist, do make contact.
IN THE KNOW
Some things never change.
Customers still expect, appreciate, value and are influenced by service providers who possess and utilise good product knowledge.
Access to, and referrals about on-line support staff and information about products and services are dismissed by, and offensive to, many prospective clients and customers.
Those in the know have a marked immediate competitive advantage, and possess the foundations to build favourable reputations and enjoy repeat and referral business.
It is simply neither efficient nor effective to centralise marketing and support functions. Indeed, product knowledge is fundamental to the selling and customer service functions.
These are the key findings of an extensive study conducted recently by Marketing Focus.
The time, money and resources invested in on-going product and services knowledge training are well rewarded, even in the digital era, in which the threat of sales leakage to on-line businesses looms large. People are simply reassured and encouraged by interactions with professionals whose knowledge ensures the best options are revealed, considered and evaluated. That leads to better, informed decisions being made, and ill-judged poor decisions – with their inevitable downside consequences – being avoided.
A marketing reality in the current marketplace is that purchase decisions are primarily delayed or avoided, not because of the difficulty of making the “right” decision, but rather, because of a fear of making the wrong decision.
Product knowledge can and does overcome many sales filters, impediments and barriers.
ARTICLE TEXT: EXECUTE – OR BE EXECUTED
A strategy is only as good as its execution.
Indeed, in war – and in the boxing ring – the best of strategies can be, and often are, forgotten once the first shot is fired or the first punch is landed.
Strategies must be formulated, documented and implemented within the framework of philosophies and detailed mission statements. They should be structured, and based on the best available intelligence.
Realistically, much of the intelligence is only unsubstantiated, and often fractured, incomplete information.
Therefore, many strategies are flawed, – often fatally.
Moreover, they need to be malleable.
A common deficiency is the lack of detailed scenario planning. Perhaps, that should be refined to read:
The process of identifying, isolating and analysing a range of probable, possible and unlikely scenarios enables the development of contingency plans.
Some people wish to see into the future. Others desire to live there.
The sobering reality is that we live, operate, plan and visualise in the here and now.
At best, we can anticipate, plan and prepare for the future, and ensure we have sufficient and appropriate resources available for deployment to enable us to fulfil our vision, strive towards our goals and to sustain our achievements and standards.
EXECUTE – OR BE EXECUTED
Proficient execution of strategies increases the prospect and scope for success. It does not, however, guarantee favoured outcomes. There are simply too many variables, some unforeseen.
Moreover, in the contemporary marketplace, circumstances and forces are in a constant state of flux. The very premises on which strategies are formulated, documented and implemented need to be progressively monitored, and most probably refined.
Variations in one strata of strategic plans necessitate change in others. Thus, the intent is to maintain consistency and compatibility between goals, objectives and targets.
However, care must be taken to avoid “paralysis by analysis”. Wars are only ever won when there are troops on the ground to claim and protect territory. Business is much the same. Presence is a fundamental influence in determining sales, profits, margins, market share, image and loyalty.
Many strategies fail because the orientation is attainment of specific goals. Astute strategies detail actions, risks and consequence beyond goals – because time is a key element in planning, marketing and business.
US. General George S Patton was a brilliant strategist in World War II. In 1944, his army was the first to reach the German homeland. His dictate to officers in the field was that he did not want to receive advice that they are holding territory. The strategy was centred on the need to, and imperative of, advancing.
Authority and responsibility were readily delegated. Officers responded accordingly in their execution of the directive.
It was a good strategy, well executed.
- Review, refine and recommit to the overriding philosophy.
- Determine, formulate and document a specific targeted and time-specific mission.
- Ensure scenario planning has been undertaken to identify, isolate and analyse probable, possible and unforeseen circumstances, forces and necessities.
- Script and structure an integrated strategic plan, detailing goals, objectives and targets.
- Ensure the strategy is understood and endorsed by all contributors.
- Execute the strategy in a timely fashion.
- Monitor progress; where necessary, refine and up-date the strategy, and above all, maintain momentum.
Barry Urquhart of Marketing Focus is a respected business strategist, consumer behaviour analyst, top selling author and conference keynote speaker.
M: 041 983 5555