Category Archives: Branding & Marketing

B2B Woes…

I’m speaking at a local event this week and it has forced me to research my chosen topic, even though I have spent the last 20 years in the industry. B2B marketing is a special animal and anyone that has engaged in it will tell you it’s a much more difficult and complex type of marketing than the more traditional B2C.

I belong to gr0ups and associations that tailor to marketers, but we B2B folks seem to be the ones swept into the corner…that is until we’re needed to land a multi-billion dollar sale! See, B2B marketers typically work with larger product scopes or even project-based sales. These types of sales can take months or years to complete (In that time a consumer product could run its entire life-cycle!) and demand that we “cater” to a variety of targets and decision makers. My contention is that B2B marketers don’t sell a prospect but rather entice those prospects to “commit” to a channel partner or particular rep. Our job as B2B marketers is to position ourselves as the spouse and not this week’s date!

I’m amazed at all the research around B2B that simply reinforces the fact that it is more challenging, without any roadmaps drawn for success. I’ll focus this week on both I think; we need to understand the differences between the two, but we also need to concoct some recipes for achievement!


Another New Year…

OK, here we are again at the beginning of another new year. Every 12 months it’s the same for me, I make some resolutions…some are kept; some are not (OK, most are not!). But this year is different! Yes, I hear you pessimists in the background mumbling about the same lame excuse and justification…but really, 2012 is different.

How so? I’m making an entire list of resolutions…here we go!

  1. I will update my blog regularly. I now have a book out there and people may actually want to read periodic ramblings from my demented brain.
  2. I will get back in the gym. Actually, never left of my own accord; surgery last October put me down for a few months.
  3. I will read a book a week. Not all that hard unless my ADHD is kickin’ in.
  4. I will keep my email inbox clean. Nothing pisses me off more than 200 emails left unread in my inbox. But of course my procrastination leads to the overflow…which in turn pisses me off even more!
  5. I will tweet. ’nuff said.
  6. I will live within my budget. Fat chance, but I’m putting it in writing anyway.
  7. I will cleanse my Facebook friends list, and put more thought into who I let in.
  8. I will drive my econobox car more and leave the Earth-destroying SUV in the garage (notice I’m not selling the damn thing…baby steps)
  9. I will read my daily message from a spiritual source. No clever line here…still wary of personal Armageddon.
  10. I will begin another book. It’s long overdue.

So, there we have it, not one but 10 full resolutions. My goal is to stick to as many as possible – how’s that for non-committal?

Have a happy, safe and productive 2012…we’ll see you back here soon!

J


Back in the Fold

OK, it’s been a while since we visited each other here. My excuse – well, I’ve been traveling the world promoting solar power and all its virtues!  My new “day” job has me hopping all over the country and SE Asia and we’re doing some wonderful things.

Now, my background for those who don’t know me personally (and what a shame if you don’t!) is not only marketing, but electronics technology also. Most notably, working within the photovoltaic industry. “Photo – Vol – what” ? I hear you say? It’s not as geeky as it sounds. Photo = light, like what comes from the sun. Voltaic = Volts or electricity. So, sun-generated electricity…see, that wasn’t so hard. We’ve been bringing clean power to villages in Malaysia and some Government installations around the globe. Much more to do and many more places for me to see; but I promise to keep you in the loop!

Anyway, that along with my new book collaboration – The Good Book of Business, has been keeping me quite busy.  I’ll be writing more about the GBOB as the weeks progress and we get closer to publishing the book (very soon, I promise!). OK, out for now…the sun’s shining somewhere!


If it Weren’t for Bad Luck…

 

Have I ever told you the story about my uncle Erving? You know – the one who won the NY lottery back in 1986 only to get hit by a taxi on the way to cash in his winning ticket. Uncle Erving survived but the ticket was dislodged from him during the impact and never located; he died penniless and angry just a few years later.

Or the one about my cousin Derek, when under severe marital stress committed adultery (the only time in his life, mind you) only to contract a severe case of syphilis, lose his mind and spend the rest of his days locked in a state asylum?

Seems my family has a history of falling victim to incredible circumstances. Like my great aunt Heather, who fell for a circus entertainer when she was just 17 years old and ran off from home during the Great Depression. A year after her leaving, Philo her high-school sweetheart, invents the television and becomes rich beyond his wildest dreams. Great Aunt Heather? She was stuck with a hairy strongman until their untimely deaths during a freak train derailment in northern Idaho.

No, my family has not been on the fast-track to fortune or success and has certainly seen its share of heartache and disappointment. I’m not sure about my future, but I can tell you I will be staying in today, avoiding women, the circus and any temptation to hit it rich on a Mega Millions ticket. Oh yeah, did I also mention it is April 1st!  Happy April Fools  🙂


March Mad Money!

I did some quick calculating and the end number was astounding…wait for it – ’til the end of this piece. We marketers dream about the day when we will commission the Holy Grail of commercials…the Super Bowl spot. However, a little digging finds another event that far eclipses the NFL’s championship game.

The Super Bowl ads ran about twice the rate compared to the NCAA tourney this year – $3M per 30 seconds as opposed to $1.5M for March Madness; however the concentration and shear number of games lends to a much bigger jackpot. The NCAA tourney games run at a rate of 33% advertising. Every one minute of commercials buys you – the viewer, two minutes of basketball action.

Multiply the per-minute cost ($3M) by the number of games (67) and the number of commercial minutes per game (40 – very conservative!) and you get – $ 8,040,000,000! Yeah that’s eight billion…with a “B”! By comparison the Super Bowl brings in around $300M. Madness alright…Mad Money!


After Christmas Blues…

I’ve been anxious this past week and I’m just starting to define why. Leading up to Christmas (like, two months prior!) I’m consumed with what to get everyone on my list. I’m canvassing the Internet and the local stores doing research on everything from a laser parking assistant (trust me, it’s a real product) to the cleverest Hallmark card I can find. All of this frantic activity stops on the morning of the 25th. Even with all the moaning and griping I do about shopping, I find that I miss the hustle of it all after the holiday.

I’m sure I’m not the only one suffering the blues here; retailers must be going insane. After the rush to return the ugly sweaters and the imitation iPods, there’s not a lot of activity until we all go looking for Valentines’ cards, jewlery and over-priced chocolates. What is the solution? I’m not sure, but what if we developed (and marketed) gifts that have some immediate recurring revenue? The Wii and Blu-Ray players are a start, but even then the initial gift usually comes with a bevy of games and asssorted DVDs.

Retailers and e-tailers need to be thinking about how to bring those shoppers back shortly after the holidays; maybe it’s holding customer events in the store (e-vents online) that begin to build a community among the shoppers. Gaming contests, chefs teaching us how to properly use those new Ginsu knives or a class on getting the most out of our iPads. As marketers, we must keep the momentum going after the holidays or we’ll all be singing the blues this winter.


Cyber This!

 

Well, is the recession finally starting to let up on us a bit? Maybe, if you look at, and take into account the sales numbers for this past Monday. To be more specific, online sales on what we now call Cyber Monday.  According to ClickZ we reached a billion dollars in sales online Monday for the very first time. I’m taking this as good news on a few fronts.

First, consumer spending is up this holiday season – way up; up 9% Friday, 16% on Monday; and that 16% equals well over $100M over last year’s figures. Next, retailers are capitalizing on online shoppers as Cyber Monday blew away Black Friday, $1.028B to $648M. Now, 2/3 of a million is nothing to sneeze at but topping a billion online is significant.

Lastly, consumers are spending more per capita. The average sale was $114 online versus $102 last year; up a full 12%. I’m encouraged by this news and I hope you are also. I mean really, when was the last time we had any increases in sales figures, let alone double-digit gains. Let’s hope this a sign of a strong 2011 to come!


Black Friday + Cyber Monday = $$$

OK, did you get caught up in the moment? Still full from your turkey dinner and in a daze from watching 47 football games in a row? Were you one of the many millions that filed into the streets last Friday searching for those bargains and deals? I can say I was not, not because I don’t like to shop…I can spend money with the best of them. But rather because I’m doing most of my shopping online this year. That means today I’ve been quite the Internet bargain hunter.

Black Friday is a marketer’s dream come true. What a concept (latched upon by marketers only a few years ago) of one day of the year to get a head start on your Christmas shopping. The term originated in Philadelphia in the mid-60s and became more of a national phenomenon a decade or so later. But not until the early part of this millennium did we marketers really get hooked into the possibilities here.  

Now, what used to be considered  the busiest shopping day of the year is that and much more. Black Friday deals now last the weekend or longer. Plus, we now have Cyber-Monday – the opportunity to buy more stuff at the speed of our keyboards, all from the comfort of home (or maybe the office!). Both days now positioned as “Must do” shopping events.

Big winners Friday were not much of a surprise; Walmart, Target, Best Buy and of course, Toys R Us.  Who will win today’s contest? I would think a few of the brick and mortars above will do well as they all have good Web presences. Tune in later this week for a look back at Cyber Monday!


Know your customers during the holidays – or “the Santas of Segmentation”

Have you ever heard of Icebreaker? Not the ships that pound throught the Artic blazing the way for lesser sailing vessels, but the outdoor clothing company from New Zealand. No? Well, me either until I read a recent case study on MarketingProfs.com .  This company has relatively low brand awareness in the United States, somewhere around 25,000 subscribers to their catalogs, but still pulled off a wildly successful campaign last holiday season.

Seems the smart folks in their marketing department set out to segment those 25,000 U.S. prospects. Now, I know the marketers in the crowd are already forming groups in their heads – Males 18-35, females 41 and up, blah blah blah! But Icebreaker decided to segment not by demographic, but by gift-giving habits…f-ing brilliant!!

They had segments like “it’s hot” for those who give cutting edge gifts, “Black Friday” for the deal finders, “Gift Guide” for the person who has trouble figuring out what to get everyone (this would be me). All in all Icebreaker had 11 separate gift-giving segments! So, each subscriber was “touched” many times, sales soared and the one’s who received the gifts were now aware of Icebreaker. Ho, ho, ho –  it’s off to the bank we go!


Yeah, but she has a great personality…

What do great brands have in common? Market awareness? A loyal following? Strong product or service image? Yes, yes and yes. But there’s more. Think of Apple, Scion or Abercrombie & Fitch; don’t those brands stand above in some way. Isn’t the bond between them and their customers stronger than most? How come?  Personality.

Yes, these brands, and virtually all powerful brands, have a certain aura about them. Just like humans, these brands carry an essence that people latch on to. Ever been to a party and there’s that one person who has everyone rolling on the floor laughing or is a captivating story-teller? A crowd grows around them as they weave a tale or tell a joke. We are drawn to people (and products) that make us feel good, intrigue us or enlighten us.

So, back to the brands. Apple is the slick techie who’s cool and knows it.  A&F is the stylish one who always is in vogue. Scion is the rebel but with a hidden sensible side. All personalities that people are drawn to; so much that we’ll wait in line outside the store to buy the latest Mac, iPad or Pod!

What does your brand say about you? What do your customers say about you? Are you enlightening, educative or fun? Think about those traits that would draw customers to you and play them up!