target markets

Brand Expansion, Diversified Marketing & Business Growth

20130509-105832.jpg

Angry Birds Are Everywhere!

It seems like everywhere you look “Angry Birds” is popping up as another product. Two years ago we saw plushies and various children’s toys enter the market, then shortly afterwards gummy candies begin popping up on super market shelves. Now we are finding their own brand of cola cropping up.

This begs the question, is this smart marketing?

One can argue that if they are selling and turning profit, then yes indeed it is. Yet one has to be careful, diversifying and attempting to place your brand into new market regions can be a risky proposition with long-lasting repercussions.

Take these “Angry Birds” for instance. Is the same demographic that the games, plush toys, candies and t-shirts appeal to, the same that would look at drinking this cola?

Probably yes and this could be a safe and smart choice.  However that is not always the case.

If one intends on entering a new market region with their brand, products or services, then they MUST do their research. History is full of examples of brands that tried – and failed – at creating new sources of profit. One needs to be aware of all of the variables that can affect their success and sometimes those variables are just about impossible to prep for.

There is always a certain level of risk when seeking new target markets to aim for. By doing the homework and paying attention, that risk can be greatly reduced. Whether you are a small business or a large corporation, seeking new markets is a key to growth. Searching out people who can benefit from your products & services, or adapting existing products & services to meet a new markets needs always merits investigation.

But remember doing it haphazardly could cost you big.

We will leave you with few examples of diversified marketing failures from the giants who should have known better:

  • Turner Broadcasting. Their attempt at Guerrilla Marketing quickly became a fiasco when their novelty glowing signs were mistaken for terrorist threats.
  • Coca-Cola. Everyone in the industry is familiar with the 1980’s “New Coke” failure.
  • Gap. Had a quick two day stint with a new logo before realizing it just wasn’t cool.
  • Netflix. Tried to hit two rival markets at once… oops!

Okanagan Small Business Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

Advertisements

The Delicate Art Of Engaging Customers

Branding is all powerful, in an ever changing world the ability to brand is hinging more and more on the ability to engage customers. Social Media is one primary means of doing this, but what do you do when a customer engages you with tough questions or questionable attitude?

FIRST: The Foreshadowing.

My wife and I had a wonderful Mother’s Day Sunday this past weekend. I muddled through making her breakfast, we attempted a hike up Rose Swanson Mountain here in Armstrong and more or less enjoyed the bright Okanagan sunshine. Nearing the end of the day we were feeling relaxed and more than a little lethargic. The thing with Armstrong is that it is tiny and tiny towns often lack many of the amenities of big cities – including family restaurants open past five o’clock. There are a few nice pubs, but they frown on bringing in an 18 month old so we decided we would simply order some take-out and eat on the patio at home. We placed our order at the local pub and then went to the park to chill until it was ready. I ordered the biggest sloppiest burger available, while my wife settled on the Greek Wrap (carefully described in the menu as being loaded with Greek vegetables). When we got our food home, we discovered that, aside from the normal tomato, lettuce and black olives, the “Greek” wrap was made up of shredded carrots, radishes and purple cabbage. We are not culinary snobs by any stretch, but we were a little dumbfounded by their definition of “Greek” Vegetables. A quick search of vegetable origins found the following information:

  • Radishes – Originate in China.
  • Carrots – Originate in Afhganistan (along with Parsnips).
  • Cabbage – Originate in either Sweden & Poland (or both).

Now yes, I get that the Greeks we a singular golden culture, and that their empire did indeed stretch across europe under the reign of Alexander the Great. I was not, however, aware that carrots and radishes were considered “Greek”. I laughed a little as I thought of a couple of quips I could post to their Facebook page (if they had a Facebook page). That lead me to think about how they might respond, which in turn lead me to think about how I would respond if I were them. One thing lead to another and now we have this blog.

Second: The Crux – Customer Engagement

Actual customer engagement tests your brand promises.

Customer Service, for many businesses, is the front line for brand image. It is where Brand promises are put to the test and in many cases it is the first “real” engagement that customers are going to have with any business brand. This can be where many large businesses lose out, but where small business can excel. The larger the company, the more people represent it and the more difficult it can be to maintain a consistent Brand message. Disconnects can occur between employees of the same department (IE Customer Service Reps answering differently to the same question) They can also occur between departments (IE Sales making promised that After Sales cannot deliver on). Larger companies tend to source out their service departments. As such there is less of a personal stake in the response and care offered. The service reps are often underpaid, understaffed, under trained and under the gun to respond according to pre-scripted operating procedures. Lack of knowledge and lack of flexibility in your service department is a big problem. Answers need to be quick, thorough and above all RELEVANT. When I call in I do not want to hold for twenty minutes listening to commercials promoting your outstanding service – that makes me bitter and sarcastic. I do not want to speak to a rep who knows less about the product than I do and I want to be able to understand what the rep is saying. Lastly I do not need a blanket response, or corporate run-around… I want an answer to my problem, my SPECIFIC problem. If you want to build a strong brand, build a strong service department. This is where small business has some advantages – there is a personal stake and a more direct line with the people to whom the business (and customers) matter. It is more consistent and more urgent. I call to a local small business and I am likely to get a response from someone who believes I matter. I am not just a drop in the bucket for those who can count their clients on their hands, and often know them by name. Engage me and I will be a customer for life. I still send my business to the little guys for that reason. I have relationships with these people, with their businesses – relationships built on previous service, honesty and faith, relationships that surpass the bottom dollar. Engaged customers are willing to overlook the occasional blunder or hiccup. They are willing to work WITH you and once engaged they will follow your brand the distance – and that is what branding is all about.

Third: Customer Engagement 2.0

Social Media acts as a magnifying glass for this engagement. For many customers it is easier to post to Facebook or Twitter then to call in. It is also quicker than the traditional means of email or snail mail, which means more emotion is included in the message and less time can be taken in structuring a response. Let’s go back to the story of the Greek wrap that wasn’t Greek. Hypothetically, let’s say that I posted to their Facebook page “Hey _____ Pub, I ordered a Greek wrap, not a Inter-European/Asian wrap – Carrots & Radishes are not Greek!” How would you respond? How would you expect a business to respond? Am I kidding around with this statement?, am I being belligerent?, am I being a troll? and how can you be sure? How do you engage the customer in a situation like this? Do it wrong and it will cost you. Do it correctly and it will promote you. Social Media requires fun, amiable, personable, creative, quick and professional direction. Those representing your business need to love people and dance on coals. The term “Social Media Ninja” is about as cliche as “Social Media Guru”, but Ninja fits the bill – keep watch, be quick, adapt and engage. Social Media is not just for big business, many small businesses are beginning to utilize it and the I’ll leave you with this nifty example of someone trolling Taco Bell, and Taco Bell’s subsequent response.

How you engage customer via Social Media Channels can drastically impact your brand.

Notice that they engaged not only the sender, but their entire audience, by not only going along with the joke, but coming out on top. They even utilized hash tags to further both the joke and their commanding statement. In this case context was made evident by the name of the sender (Men’s Humor) and the hashtag. It is not always so clear, and misinterpreting it can be costly. But, as this example shows, doing it right can have amazing results.

Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing Services Contact us for a free consultation.

Determining The Right Goals For Your Marketing & Branding Campaign

When determining your market goals you need to weigh your strengths & weaknesses against what matters most to your customer (their interests). Using a series of Measurements and Delineations, business of all sizes can systematically filter down to the root areas of Strength, Weakness & Customer Interest.

DISCLAIMER: The concept put forward in this infographic can be a complex One. We have not touched on all aspects of this model in detail, but have attempted to paint the concept with a rather broad brush. This particular example shows a delineation of “Brand Strengths” however when using this system you would want to include areas of “Brand Weakness” as well as “Customer Interests” (areas that matter most to the customer).The concept behind it is not new, we have simply adjusted and applied some colour to it. If you have questions or comments please touch base with us!

Once More Into The Fray:

In Marketing, as in Manufacturing, success is marked by results. Results are determined by measurement, and to measure one needs a target. When developing a Marketing campaign/strategy one must know which results matter and set their target appropriately. By doing so one ensures a direction, and measurable results.

Each business sets different goals based on products or services offered, brand strengths, target markets and resources. To achieve the greatest success a company must do the research, discern the priorities and set their targets appropriately.

One business may see value in Niche Marketing to specialized customers via Customer Service Strengths, while another may see more value in Mass Marketing via Product Integrity. The key to effective Marketing Strategies is to know what goal is right for your company.

That is where the use of the “Delineate & Measure” model is so key. It uses very bare bones concepts taken from Six Sigma, Kaizen and Lean Manufacturing and applies them to Marketing & Branding to accurately discern Brand Strengths, Weaknesses and Key Areas of Gain for Marketing Campaigns. These “High Gain” areas are considered “Low Hanging Fruit”.

Low Hanging Fruit? A practical name taken straight from Six Sigma. It refers to the areas of quickest, most immediate gain.

The concept here is to take all of your research, customer feedback, polls, demographics etc. and measure against them in order to delineate or “filter” downwards to discern three things:

  1. Your root strengths and competencies (Your Branding should be based on these).
  2. Your weaknesses and areas for improvement.
  3. The areas that matter most to your customers.

By isolating highly specific areas of strength, weakness and customer interest, one can determine the areas that make the most sense to “exploit” (dirty word) for quickest, largest immediate gains.

In other words once you have these three areas isolated, compare your existing Strengths with Existing Customer Needs to determine which areas you can succeed in most immediately. BAM! Low Hanging Fruit (or areas of most immediate gain).

Your Customers Needs should play the primary role when developing your goals. It is the only way to ensure the best bang for your buck. To further illustrate here is an example of proper prioritizing that I read while doing some introductory Six Sigma Studies:

A local pizza franchise was experiencing terrible sales in their first quarter. As a part of their Marketing Campaign they began to offer a variety of new ingredients: exotic meats, Asian vegetables and gourmet cheeses. They advertised as necessary but sales were still dismal. As it turned out they lost money attempting to keep and circulate all of their new inventory – the result of the new ingredients.

Shortly thereafter, and entirely by chance, they begin discussing their issues with a Six Sigma Brown Belt. He asked them how they had determined their strategy of diversifying their menu, to which they answered that they were keeping with the trends of several of their national competitors. He then asked them what their customer research had indicated, they replied that they had only done some preliminary polls, but had spent most of the budget on the advertising for the new ingredients.

It was recommended that they poll their customer base and then determine how the resulting feedback played into their own root areas of strength and weakness. The feedback indicated that two primary frustrations for customers were late deliveries and burnt bottoms on their crusts.

The took a look at root causes for these concerns and determined that two of their weaknesses as a business, were employee phone training and dated ovens. They implemented training for the staff answering phones, to ensure accurate and detailed directions for their delivery drivers, then – at a fraction of the cost of the previous advertising campaign – they installed new ovens to reduce burnt crusts.

The results were outstanding in the fourth quarter, as word of mouth circulated and happy customers provided repeat business the struggling chain turned themselves around and we soon leading the local market. They established Brand Integrity with far less resources and far more result then their previous Marketing campaigns.

The concept is simple. Use the Delineate & Measure System to find your strengths, find your weaknesses and find what matters to the people purchasing your products and services, then use these areas to determine the “Low Hanging Fruit”.

Targeting the “Low Hanging Fruit” provides the gains that will fuel your climb upwards to the next “High Gain” area. They will also provide the growth required to improve areas of weakness, thereby increasing the number of “High Gain” areas available.

This is one method we use when sitting down with customers to discuss what direction to take their campaign. What is great about it, is it’s flexibility. It can be applied to Marketing Goals regardless of the business or industry. It can also be applied to determine Brand Strengths when developing Company Branding Strategy.

We developed the above infographic as a highly undressed depiction of how to utilize the system. The fields in the infographic were populated with filler info based on different strengths or areas that various companies may possess. Effective use of the system requires far more depth, description and research than is depicted in the infographic. This particular example only shows a delineation of Brand Strengths, when using this system it would include areas of Brand Weakness as well as Customer Needs.

Determining The Right Goals For Your Marketing & Branding Campaign

When determining your market goals you need to weigh your strengths & weaknesses against what matters most to your customer (their interests). Using a series of Measurements and Delineations, business of all sizes can systematically filter down to the root areas of Strength, Weakness & Customer Interest.

DISCLAIMER: The concept put forward in this infographic can be a complex One. We have not touched on all aspects of this model in detail, but have attempted to paint the concept with a rather broad brush. This particular example shows a delineation of “Brand Strengths” however when using this system you would want to include areas of “Brand Weakness” as well as “Customer Interests” (areas that matter most to the customer). The concept behind it is not new, we have simply adjusted and applied some colour to it. If you have questions or comments please touch base with us!

Once More Into The Fray:

In Marketing, as in Manufacturing, success is marked by results. Results are determined by measurement, and to measure one needs a target. When developing a Marketing campaign/strategy one must know which results matter and set their target appropriately. By doing so one ensures a direction, and measurable results.

Each business sets different goals based on products or services offered, brand strengths, target markets and resources. To achieve the greatest success a company must do the research, discern the priorities and set their targets appropriately.

One business may see value in Niche Marketing to specialized customers via Customer Service Strengths, while another may see more value in Mass Marketing via Product Integrity. The key to effective Marketing Strategies is to know what goal is right for your company.

That is where the use of the “Delineate & Measure” model is so key. It uses very bare bones concepts taken from Six Sigma, Kaizen and Lean Manufacturing and applies them to Marketing & Branding to accurately discern Brand Strengths, Weaknesses and Key Areas of Gain for Marketing Campaigns. These “High Gain” areas are considered “Low Hanging Fruit”.

Low Hanging Fruit? A practical name taken straight from Six Sigma. It refers to the areas of quickest, most immediate gain.

The concept here is to take all of your research, customer feedback, polls, demographics etc. and measure against them in order to delineate or “filter” downwards to discern three things:

  1. Your root strengths and competencies (Your Branding should be based on these).
  2. Your weaknesses and areas for improvement.
  3. The areas that matter most to your customers.

By isolating highly specific areas of strength, weakness and customer interest, one can determine the areas that make the most sense to “exploit” (dirty word) for quickest, largest immediate gains.

In other words once you have these three areas isolated, compare your existing Strengths with Existing Customer Needs to determine which areas you can succeed in most immediately. BAM! Low Hanging Fruit (or areas of most immediate gain).

Your Customers Needs should play the primary role when developing your goals. It is the only way to ensure the best bang for your buck. To further illustrate here is an example of proper prioritizing that I read while doing some introductory Six Sigma Studies:

A local pizza franchise was experiencing terrible sales in their first quarter. As a part of their Marketing Campaign they began to offer a variety of new ingredients: exotic meats, Asian vegetables and gourmet cheeses. They advertised as necessary but sales were still dismal. As it turned out they lost money attempting to keep and circulate all of their new inventory – the result of the new ingredients.

Shortly thereafter, and entirely by chance, they begin discussing their issues with a Six Sigma Brown Belt. He asked them how they had determined their strategy of diversifying their menu, to which they answered that they were keeping with the trends of several of their national competitors. He then asked them what their customer research had indicated, they replied that they had only done some preliminary polls, but had spent most of the budget on the advertising for the new ingredients.

It was recommended that they poll their customer base and then determine how the resulting feedback played into their own root areas of strength and weakness. The feedback indicated that two primary frustrations for customers were late deliveries and burnt bottoms on their crusts.

The took a look at root causes for these concerns and determined that two of their weaknesses as a business, were employee phone training and dated ovens. They implemented training for the staff answering phones, to ensure accurate and detailed directions for their delivery drivers, then – at a fraction of the cost of the previous advertising campaign – they installed new ovens to reduce burnt crusts.

The results were outstanding in the fourth quarter, as word of mouth circulated and happy customers provided repeat business the struggling chain turned themselves around and we soon leading the local market. They established Brand Integrity with far less resources and far more result then their previous Marketing campaigns.

The concept is simple. Use the Delineate & Measure System to find your strengths, find your weaknesses and find what matters to the people purchasing your products and services, then use these areas to determine the “Low Hanging Fruit”.

Targeting the “Low Hanging Fruit” provides the gains that will fuel your climb upwards to the next “High Gain” area. They will also provide the growth required to improve areas of weakness, thereby increasing the number of “High Gain” areas available.

This is one method we use when sitting down with customers to discuss what direction to take their campaign. What is great about it, is its flexibility. It can be applied to Marketing Goals regardless of the business or industry. It can also be applied to determine Brand Strengths when developing Company Branding Strategy.

We developed the above infographic as a highly undressed depiction of how to utilize the system. The fields in the infographic were populated with filler info based on different strengths or areas that various companies may possess. Effective use of the system requires far more depth, description and research than is depicted in the infographic. This particular example only shows a delineation of Brand Strengths, when using this system it would include areas of Brand Weakness as well as Customer Needs.

Tips To Landing A Good Social Media Operator

If you have been following the blog at all, you will realize that we have been touching on Social Media… a lot. It is a valuable resource and it pays to explore it. Our last blog touched the many “Social Media Specialists” out there. This is a more in-depth – point-form set of tips to help you find the Specialist you need.

Tips: How To Land A Good Social Media Operator.


Let’s do away with two misconceptions right away. First, “IT trained” does not a Social Media Specialist make. Social Media is a main dish of Marketing and PR with a little side of Techie. Second, a Facebook profile courtesy of the neighbor boy is going to get you nowhere.

There are a lot (A LOT) of self-proclaimed Social Media Guru’s out there. We have mentioned before that just about anyone can claim Social Media proficiency and the fact is that sites like Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon and Pinterest have become such an intrinsic part of everyday society that people may indeed consider themselves “in the know”.

What they don’t know is that Social Media Marketing encapsulates far more than just a profile and a series of updates. Karriann Graf put it best stating “A Social Media Manager is a marketer first and is now specializing in this new online marketing avenue”.

Simply put that means that knowing Social Media is not enough to be able to use it for Marketing. One needs to have a grasp on branding strategies, target markets, demographic measurements, public relations and all of the other wonderful concepts behind sturdy marketing.

Below we attempt to outline some concepts you can look into, to ensure you are getting a legitimate expert in the field of Social Media Marketing.

1. “I Designed My Bands Facebook Page”

Cool. Not enough though. Social Media Marketing requires someone who knows marketing. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean being able to jot a MBA or BSc behind your email signature. What it does mean is that you have the ability to communicate with people in a manner that breeds trust and faith – without annoying the bejeebus out of them.

Important to note is that, while Social Media Marketing is about “Marketing” it does break from several traditional Marketing methods and competencies. As such there are also a few old school Marketing Execs out there who do not get it.

2. Do they personally use Social Media?

We Devour Social Media Like It Is Gourmet.

A good question. I recently read a great article on the need to personally use Social Media on a regular basis,

in order to utilize its marketing potential. The fact is that the best Social Media Specialists will be the ones who are passionate about it. The ones who use it regularly are going to be the ones most proficient and enthusiastic about maintaining it.Besides, as my wife points out, Facebook is continually updating and changing (and frustrating some users). You need someone who is on top of this stuff.

Does your specialist maintain a blog or a Twitter profile? How excited does he get about the new sites and platforms?

Those who are using it most will utilize it best.

3. Do They Believe In Social Media?

This may seem like common sense but to be an effective Social Media Specialist you need to believe in it as a tool that is not just a flash in the pan. There has been a lot of debate, specifically in the formative years, as to whether Social Media was something long-term or not. To effectively utilize it you need to be sold on the idea that it is here to stay and then form your strategies and goals as such.

4. Stay Up Late & Stay Up To Date.

Social Media Specialists will know what is trending. They will know what the new exciting site or tool is. If they are the first ones to mention it to you, that can be a good sign.

A good Social Media Specialist is out reading Blogs, following Tweets and “Stumbling” upon the newest things. They are taking time to keep appraised of what is out there because it is their passion and their job. At the time of this writing, “Pinterest” is a big up and comer and Linkedin is growing. Next month this could all be stale news.

Books exist to be found (thank you Amazon.com), Blogs and other sharing sites like Mashable.com, SocialMediaToday.com are readily available 24/7. Your Specialist needs to be up to date or your Marketing may already be stale.

“Great Kid, Don’t Get Cocky” – Social Media is always changing and there is always something new to learn.

5. “…Don’t Get Cocky” – (Han Solo).

Social Media as a tool has not existed that long, likewise “Experts” in the field only have limited experience. The fact is that 2004-2005 was when Social Media Marketing first emerged as a buzz word. If you want to consider that the official time of inception, then the “experts” have seven to eight years experience max.

Consider how quickly everything changes. It started with Facebook and Myspace, sites that give you a profile and a platform. Now we have Social Bookmarking sites like Pinterest, Delicious and Stumbleupon.

The game is always evolving and the strategies need to evolve with it.

6. Forget Everything You Knew.

Ok so no one is going to know EVERYTHING about Social Media, but a Specialist is going to be continually learning and unlearning as required. We already discussed the need to stay appraised and up to date, but this may sometimes require “forgetting” what you knew. In other words, what works for one site and one target is not necessarily going to work for another.

There are basic principles that can be maintained, but you cannot very well emulate your Facebook strategy on Stumbleupon – it is simply impossible. In some instances learning the new stuff will mean letting go of the old.

An example of this is to look at the marketing strategies behind Billboards. Billboards still work, they are still valuable. You cannot, however, use “Billboard Principles” to succeed on Twitter. You need to let go of certain aspects and embrace the new ones.

7. Have A Thick Skin.

Seriously. In more traditional Marketing avenues it takes time for customers to fire their criticisms and feedback at you. By the time they have penned the letter, or found your toll-free service number they have cooled down. In Social Media it is instant. You take a wrong step, you provide a defective product and you will know. FAST.

I have experienced this difficulty. I worked with a specific Brand that had a good product and service department going for it. There was a great deal of pride in the Brand, so when a string of models were released and found to be defective the feedback came in hard and hit harder.

Social Media is a two way avenue, an area of communication. It is not a series of billboards, but a series of channels that allow your customers a voice and you need to be prepared.

This is where Marketing experience is not enough, your specialist needs experience in Customer Service – they need to absorb the blows and communicate/react appropriately – graciously.

If your Specialist cannot do this, if they take criticism personally it could very negatively impact communications with your customers. It could in fact kill your brand.

8. Have A Personality.

The TMS Ninja LOVES Memes!

Creative and out of the box content can make or break your Social Media efforts.

Your specialist should be personable, they should be creative, fun and humorous. Social Media Marketing has a heavy emphasis on “Engagement”. In other words your Specialist needs to know how to grab attention, start and maintain conversations, and draw customers in.Keep in mind that Social Media is an avenue which you use to draw your target markets to you. This is done through direct, creative, intriguing communication, which brings me to number 9.

9. Communication Is King.

Remember how we said “Social Media Marketing is a main dish of Marketing and PR with a little side of Techie”? The PR are part is very important. Your Specialist will be in charge of communicating via Social Media Channels, to your customers. It is very direct communication and can require quick reactions. Your Specialist needs to be well versed in communication and how it is altered by public perception. A good Social Media Specialist also needs to be a good Wordsmith.

10. Creativity & Consistency

A Specialist needs to be capable of developing profile content and communications that are out of the box and grab attention.

They should have a firm schedule laid out for updates and blasts.

The content they have developed should match all other company marketing content. This consistency is crucial, the message you are broadcasting needs to, harmonize with, and draw attention to your overall brand goals.

11. Stand Upright Boy!
This is a core principle that needs to apply to everything you do. Simply put it is doing the right thing regardless of whether it is popular or difficult. There are rules and guidelines to every avenue of marketing. Social Media is no exception.

Follow the guidelines, abide by the rules. If your marketing platforms cannot trust you, how are your consumers suppose to?

Call it Karma, call it “Reap what you sow” – but if you abandon integrity and trust, simply to purchase few followers or nail a quick sale, it will catch up with you.

Social media is a complex and versatile tool – if you know how to use it. Still not sure? Look into it further. Many blogs and sites exist for just that purpose – or contact us, we would be happy chat about what may work for you.

Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing Services – Contact us for a free consultation.