Monthly Marketing Mash-up: Retail, Infographics, and B2B

Since we aren’t doing a weekly marketing links round-up anymore, I’m going to try and put together interesting marketing stuff I find once in a while (as you can see from the title, I’m shooting for once a month).

So here goes.

I found this article about retailers tracking shoppers through their cellphones a little scary. Maybe it’s time to switch off your phone when you go shopping!

I have been reading up about infographics lately (even though you know I don’t like them) and liked this post on Marketing Land about what makes a great infographic. Especially Mike Volpe’s comment:

Great infographics have high information density. Unfortunately, most infographics these days are really just charts, but with more drawing on them. The best infographics convey a lot of information in a lot less space than it would take to write about the topic or have regular graphs of the data.

I loved this B2B Marketing Manifesto e-book, especially page 30:

Get a World View.

Before you can sell a product or service, you need to sell a world view…
Your world view is a compelling interpretation of the challenges and opportunities that your buyers face. It describes their past, present and future in a way that leads inevitably to your solution.
Your world view is the environment in which your marketing lives.
Everything you do and say must be consistent with it.
Your world view has to be built on reality. It’s a story that makes sense.

And while on B2B marketing, this article points out a disconnect between what buyers and marketers think sales should be doing.

Lessons From a Failed Startup

I don’t usually follow startup stories, but I was intrigued by this one. With so much going for them – an interesting idea, interest from partners, interest from users, some PR, even some funding – they still had to fold.

And then I read Flowtab’s own account of how it went down. I am hardly qualified to criticize (but of course, I’m going to do so anyway), but some things leaped out at me. And these aren’t particular to this company (I don’t mean to pile on), but attitudes and activities I have seen in other startups as well.

Careless erosion of goodwill

Goodwill isn’t a trendy buzzword, but let’s talk about it anyway. Here are some of the tactics this company tried out.

Flowtab was an app that let you order drinks at bars. The founders spent months building the app, launched it on iTunes, and it was the #1 featured app for one week. But there was no service to back up the app. There’s no mention of how many people downloaded the app, but it must have been a good number. Many startups would be thrilled at having their app featured by Apple. But this one squandered their opportunity by letting users download an app they couldn’t use. That’s like having a big store launch, inviting customers, and then not showing up to open the store. If a thousand customers came to your door, that’s not a success. The fact that you couldn’t serve them is a failure.

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Is Marketing for B2B Different from B2C?

Not much. Your marketing should be dictated by the preferences of your target customer segment anyway, and there is often less difference between marketing to small businesses and marketing to consumers than there is between marketing to small businesses and marketing to large businesses.

Is marketing less important for B2B?

One presumed difference between B2B and B2C is that B2B is driven more by sales and references, and B2C by advertising and marketing. But that difference is due more to the value of the product and the length of the sales cycle than to any inherent differences in marketing practice. For high-value products (like a large IT consulting contract), you have to hand-hold the customer through the process and (gently) nudging them towards the sale. Because a big amount of revenue hinges on every deal, there is a lot more resources spent on having each deal come through than it would if you were selling a SaaS product or an iPad app (even if they’re also business products).

But the differing value of products matters in B2C as well: if you’re selling apartments, reputation and word-of-mouth are critical: and you’d expect to have to nurture the customer and nudge her towards the sale.

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Common Marketing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

I wrote on YourStory about marketing mistakes I find myself making repeatedly and see most often in others as well.

Here are some ways to avoid making such mistakes:

  1. Study the data. Be careful you don’t misinterpret it, but make sure you’re looking at it and can figure out what it means. 
  2. Ask your customers. Make sure you’re talking to them and know what they really think, and not just what you think they think. But of course, they need to be the right customers.
  3. Talk to people who’ll ask you the hard questions: be it a partner, advisor, or a friend.
  4. Don’t lose sight of your vision. Don’t change something just because someone suggested it: see if it fits into your vision of your business.
  5. Measure your productivity. Are you spending time on the right things?
  6. Question yourself constantly. Why are you doing [something]? Are you making the right assumptions? Is there a better way of doing this?

Tell me: what are the mistakes you try hard not to make?

How to Pick Your Target Customer Segment

Over on Search Engine People, I explain how to pick a target customer segment that’s right for you. I answer questions like:

  • How do you start with a basic customer profile?
  • How should your target customer segment affect your marketing?
  • How do you learn enough about your audience to target your marketing better?

This post was inspired by several questions at recent workshops I’ve conducted, and I know this is a common challenge that all businesses have to deal with.

Read the post here, and tell me how you like it!

Monday Marketing Mash-up: All About Pricing

Pricing’s something many of us struggle with, and is a really important part of marketing strategy. And it’s something I’ve been thinking about as we move closer to a paid plan for Markitty. So here are a few interesting posts that talk about how you should price your product.

Different kinds of greens in a market

Customers like options they can compare, even if they’re similar

Here’s why research or surveys usually don’t help you much:

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Weekly Reading: The Power of Focus

Marketing FunnelWe talk often about the power of focus here on the Markitty blog and in person. This blog post explains better than I ever could why this is even more important for small businesses.

If you want 1% of a market, you need to get everyone in that market to at least visit your website.

This ties in with the marketing funnel in our “measuring marketing” presentation. Start from the number of customers you want to meet your revenue targets and work backwards to the number of prospects you need to reach out to. You might be surprised.

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Improving Marketing: Session 3 of Online Marketing Workshop with POCC

The last of our three-session online marketing workshop with Pune OpenCoffee Club is on April 20. In this one, we will focus on using online marketing data to inform your business decisions. It will be an interactive session in which participants will share real-life challenges and the group will discuss solutions.

Group Discussion in Online Marketing Workshop

One of the groups in the last workshop in an energetic discussion

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Presentation: Defining Your Marketing Strategy

On Saturday, Nilesh and I conducted the first of a three-part marketing workshop with Pune Open Coffee Club. The first session was on defining your marketing strategy.

If you missed the session, here’s the presentation.

Want to work on the exercises in the presentation? Get the template here.

Our Best Posts of 2012

New Year fireworks

started this blog nearly two years ago, when I wanted a space to put down my thoughts about marketing. Better Marketing wasn’t a business then — it wasn’t even the blog name.

It’s this year, after we started as a business, that we actually started writing regularly — and this is the 60th post of the year.

We would like to end the year by spotlighting both our most popular posts — that is, the ones you readers liked best — as well as my favorite posts.

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5 Risks of Relying on Social Media Marketing

The recent brouhaha over Instragram’s policy changes brings into sharp relief the fact that marketing on social media entails a lot of dependence on the social media sites. Instagram’s users might not be in trouble right now, but do you remember the last cries of outrage over changes in Facebook’s policies?

Which brings me to the question: is it wise to focus your marketing efforts primarily on social media?

I’m not advocating ignoring social media (of course). But realize this: you don’t control Facebook or Twitter or Google Plus. Your most important content should be on your own site, whether it’s in the form of blog posts, FAQs, a photo gallery, or video tutorials.

Here are five reasons why.

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Marketing Reading, But Not Just for the Weekend

I couldn’t find any recent blog posts or articles I loved and wanted to share with you, so I thought I’d share my favorite marketing and business books.

Marketing books

I could only photograph three of the books, since the fourth’s lent out to our hacker

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Office Hours: Marketing For Startups

Two weeks ago, I spoke to the moderators of a local business community, Pune Open Coffee Club, and as a result of that discussion, Better Marketing started a new initiative:

Office Hours: Marketing For Startups

We’re offering free consulting services to start-ups in Pune. Every Thursday, we sit at a local cafe and meet at least one entrepreneur. We talk for a couple of hours about their business and help them map out a marketing strategy or suggest things they could improve.

We started last week and met two businesses – and we received so many inquiries that we’re booked up through December!

This is the process we are following:

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A Complete Guide to Content Marketing for Small Businesses

What is content marketing — and why should you care?

“Content Marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.”

Copyblogger

For small businesses, content marketing is an excellent way of getting visible, getting found online, getting people to like you, and ultimately, increasing your sales.

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Know Your Audience

This is the most important rule of content marketing marketing. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, how do you know what to say?

Every week, I hear from entrepreneurs who want to know how to reach their audience. Of course, the first question I ask in return is: “Who is your audience?”

You’d be surprised at how many falter while trying to answer this.

You define your target audience through a mix of primary research (asking your customers or friends who might become customers), secondary research (look online for details, especially at research reports — I find census reports particularly useful — and first person accounts such as on blogs and social media posts), and fit with your business (Who do you want to focus on? Whose problems are you solving the best?). Continue reading

Building Your Content Marketing Strategy

Before you start off with content marketing, you need to put together your content strategy. Your content strategy depends on various factors: the industry you are in, the audience you are targeting and your strengths (both as a business and as a content creator/manager).

As I wrote in this post on the Search Engine People blog, your content strategy should answer these questions:

  1. What are the objectives of your content marketing program?
  2. Who is your audience?
  3. What kind of topics will you cover?
  4. What forms of content will you use – text, video, pictures, podcasts?
  5. Where will you publish this content – on your website, your blog, on a popular industry blog, your social media pages, industry forums?
  6. How will you create this content?

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