Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What are your customers saying…

How many times have you walked into Walmart and thought to yourself “It’s not going to be cheaper anywhere else”? We know from another post that everything isn’t actually cheaper in Wal-Mart, but they make us think this way through a 600 million dollar advertising budget. Walmart ideally wants their customers to cross-purchase, so those who buy only food, buy clothes and electronics as-well.

What are your customers saying about you? It’s likely you don’t have a 600 million dollar advertising budget to grow your business and you may not even have a $5000 advertising budget – so what can you do?

Figure out what you want to be known for. Do you want people to say “You will find no better key lime pie anywhere in the city” to their peers. Or do you want them to say “that business has so much personality and life – I enjoy shopping there”.

Be unique. For $5000 I can think of a number of ways a business ranging from restaurants to chiropractor clinics can spread their realm of influence. Will it be time consuming? Yes. Will it be worth it? Definitely.

Lastly – make sure you have a good story.

Get out there and find out what your customers are saying about you. If you don’t like it – then make a genuine commitment to change it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Packaging means everything

In any major city there are always street performers and there always will be – some good and some bad. There are street performers who have been doing the same act for 10 years and others who try something new ever few months. What we don’t see though is the constantly evolving act and performance. Street performers who do magic on the street may have been doing the same trick 10 years ago – but it never worked half as good as it does now. Why? Because over a 10 year period they have worked to improve the packaging of an otherwise average trick. Instead of a product they sell us on the story, the voice, and the performance. It’s so easy for street performers to try new stories and different avenues of execution to see what works. They are constantly testing the audience to see which reactions work best – and if for two days they aren’t getting much luck – they change it up~!

The great salesman re-evaluates and adapts after every pitch to see what works and what doesn’t. He’s still selling the same product but it’s his packaging that evolves. It’s the student running for president who goes from class to class – constantly changing and adapting his/her speech in hopes to gain votes. We might not like to admit it, but we’re sold on packaging. 

Companies seem to think that if their once or twice removed from the final sale (ie a manufacturer) that they seem to think their done. Packaging never rests. Anyone once, twice or a million times removed from the final sale should speak with those on the front lines and ask questions of them.

How can I improve my current story?

How can I make consumers love my product?

Does the packaging stand out on the shelf?

It’s obvious that this is what’s needed of people removed from the sale – but then why do so many companies get it wrong?  This is why there will always be so many great closet wine producers – who will never get the recognition they deserve – because their packaging sucks. 

Average products with great execution and packaging win.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Business games.

Video games are unanimous on every system: computer, console, phone and ipod. The phrase “Kids playing” makes us think of children playing video games just as it would bring soccer to mind.

Video games creators understand what drives consumer activity. Video games like Starcraft 2 and Battlefield 3 have entire leagues dedicated to them. Video game producers facilitate consumer zeal by offering weekly updates supported by ranking systems, achievements and medals. They build games to promote user generated content.

I believe in order to cater to the era of digital natives – companies need to understand and borrow ideas from video game developers. Foursquare has already done it with achievements and medals, facilitating any forward thinking restaurant owner. I believe restaurants, supermarkets and all small businesses can all borrow ideas from video games in order to drive consumer addiction – with or without platforms like foursquare. But once you start down this path – you can never falter, consumers will get bored.

Question of the day: Do you know of any companies that use achievements to drive consumers to them? 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Focus on the best

Someone once said to me, “Kyle, when you think of the strengths and weaknesses of your business, consider the strengths as things that won’t cost nearly as much money or time to do better.”

Think of the student that is terrible at math – studying 4 hours a day only to achieve below average results. When studying dance for 4 hours a day will turn them into one of the worlds most accomplished dancers. Where should they allocate their time?

It’s important to find partners that are different from you. Partners that are the ebony to your ivory, the accountant to your salesman, the eloquence to your analytical.

It’s important to focus on the best customers - the 20% that give you 80% of your business

Keep doing what your best at. In fact – do more of it. Learn more of it. And source the stuff your not good at to others who are. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What are you doing differently

One of the people I look up to in the marketing world is Seth Godin. He talks the talk, walks the walk and leads by example.

If you have the chance – take a moment and listen to him speak in the video below. He challenges the current framework of organizations and says a shift needs to happen, where marketers should be in charge of product creation and that they shouldn’t be afraid of saying a product isn’t good enough.