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In most industries, it can be said with confidence that there is a certain type of customer that requires special effort due to their deep knowledge of your industry or their discerning taste. This customer knows a great deal about the applications of your product, his needs and the needs of his community, and the details regarding your products and those of your competitors. In order to market to such a knowledgeable, discerning customer, basic marketing techniques will not be enough to grab their attention and win them over to your product. In some cases, this customer will know more than not only your lead marketer, but also your product manager and others in your organization about the needs of the market into which you are trying to sell. This type of customer requires a very special approach based on facts, knowledge, and information that is highly interesting and specific to the customer. Marketing brochures with information in bullet points and beautiful colors will offer no great appeal, but high quality, detailed information will.

Why is the marketing technique of providing high-quality, detailed information specific to the industry and customer needs far and above that which is specific to your product so effective with this customer type? The reason, simply, is that this customer clearly cares deeply about the matter at hand, or about the problem to which your product provides a solution, and therefore has an implicit trust for a an individual—and a company—that has taken the time to acquire deep knowledge on the subject at hand and/or seems to treat it with a passion equal to that of the customer. The flip-side of the coin is that the highly discerning or knowledgeable customer is not likely to take your seriously if you appear not to know very much about his needs. You are a knowledgeable company, so show yourself off as one!

How do you create and information-rich, interesting, and useful information limb to your marketing strategy, and how do you leverage it? Let’s look at a specific example. Let’s say you market a luxury transportation solution to for horses. Your customer is perhaps the owner or care taker of a prize competitive horse. The customer will have an extremely in-depth level of knowledge as to the needs of his horse, as well as a passion for meeting those needs. If you meet that customer’s passion and provide information beyond what is already available to him, you will gain his trust and begin to build a strong relationship. Providing rich, informative materials regarding general horse care, comfort, and other equipment will accomplish a few key marketing goals for you:

  • Build trust
  • Build the impression that your company has the expertise to provide the BEST solutions
  • Keep the discerning customer on your web page, in your showroom, or wherever the info provided resides
  • Keep the customer coming back to you
  • Differentiate yourself from the competition
  • Set yourself up as an industry expert
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As business people who dream of owning and operating a personal business, it is essential for us to create a written plan of action. Having a management action plan gives a road-map to the desired success ahead. Setting short and long term goals are a good way to help you stay focused when the path of entrepreneurship becomes overwhelming. Some other things to consider when creating a plan of action include location, target market, a competitive market analysis, vision and goals, mission statement, start-up and operating costs; profit and loss cost analysis, insurance and business license fees, advertising allocation, as well as any additional help will be needed, by way of employees or outside marketing consulting. All of these areas of consideration are only some of the components that go into creating any good business plan. Putting your business ideas in writing, along with specific facts and figures can take some time and effort and compiling components of a solid business plan is an often arduous process. Some business owners make the mistake of rushing into business dealings without putting anything in writing and avoid developing a clear and conscientious plan however; a prudent business person will make the investment to do so. Most entrepreneurs find that their businesses plans provide an invaluable tool for doing business and lend a greater sense of clarity as to what can be anticipated on the road that lies ahead. While you may want to seek advice during the often laborious process of compiling your business plan, it is not a good idea to have someone else write it for you. Since your business plan will be a reflection of your goals, aspirations and dreams for the future, it is something very personal. Most business owners have found that their Mission Statement is the most valuable component to their business plan. It establishes a clear picture of your intention and can later provide you with a great tool for training employees so they are able to see the bigger picture. A good mission statement can also be modified and used in much of your advertising and business dealings in the future. Further, written documentation that illustrates your intention of proposed business may also be useful if you intend to seek additional start-up capital from a financial institution.

If you are not sure how to obtain information needed to create other portions of your business plan, say a good competitive market analysis for example, your local Chamber of Commerce (COC) is a good place to start. The COC is an organization that helps local business owners by providing them with a wide array of information pertaining to the business dealings within their community and can offer you with some valuable information useful for you when writing your business plan. However; while the public information provided by the COC may help you with gathering general information you will need to for your competitive analysis, information may be limited and will require creativity in putting it all together. Further, if you need help with writing your business plan, as most everyone does, you will likely spend a lot of time on the Internet searching for examples of existing plans or even paying for services to companies who assert great success with ‘helping people just like you.’ While some great information and services may be found over the Internet, questions and concerns may not be answered completely as you attempt to tailor your plan to be a true reflection of your company. One of the most valuable ways many people have found in creating a business plan is to take a college course. If higher education is not within your means, consider a community college, which is much more affordable.

Once you complete your business plan, it will likely be something you will be proud of for years to come. Remember to continue to set short and long term goals once you are in business to help you work your plan and achieve success.

Reference: Marketing > Marketing Local Services: Tips and Special Considerations

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Some of the marketing services currently available over the Internet today can be found on Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Go Daddy and a variety of other search engines. If you do not want to pay for these services and desire to create a presence on the Web you may want to consider some social sites to do some advertizing for you. Some of these alternatives for less costly, or free, Internet marketing can be found on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Meetup.com and Gmail – just to name a few.

Using these less expensive alternatives may not get you to the top of the Google page however; these social networking services are also being fished daily for key-words found within the text contained on the pages generated on each of them. Further, the people who use these alternatives have found a way to create leads and generate interest that has proved to be an invaluable part of doing business.

The following is a breakdown of some of the services you can expect to find of each of the aforementioned sites:

  • LinkedIn will allow you to create a personal and/or professional profile where you may include who you are, where you are located and a detailed description of the services your company – provides.
  • Facebook provides the user with a personal profile as well as an option to generate a business profile within their existing account. It is easy to toggle between your two pages and share your business profile with all of your Facebook friends and gives them an opportunity to click a ‘Like’ button at the top of your profile. Clicking on the ‘Like’ option generates another post to your friends Newsfeed whereby all of your friends’ contacts are then also able to click to view your business page instantly.
  • Gmail provides a free email service as well as a chat option that several companies use for sales meetings as well as to train employees all over the globe. One business owner shared with me recently that she “found the people that don’t do well in the beginning are the ones that don’t use the Gmail chat option.”
  • Twitter allows users to create a public account that gives the option to post your page to Google for free. Utilizing the status message on Twitter also gives your friends and ‘followers’ updates to what may be happening with you or your business instantly.
  • YouTube is a free viral service that has been used by people to express their more creative side. Creating a professional business video and posting it to YouTube is a great way to educate the public at large about the services your company provides and to generate interest and leads that will inevitably grow your business.
  • Meetup.com is unique in that it allows people to search for events taking place within their local community. Posting an event on this site can greatly benefit a business owner, or someone looking to generate leads and is well worth taking the ten minutes to sign up and post your event to their site.

Additionally, if you are looking for an inexpensive way to promote your business, Vista Print provides a wide array of creative services that business owners can use to market themselves at very little cost. The first 250 business cards ordered through VistaPrint are free.

While there seems to be a plethora of information and services available on the World Wide Web, the Internet, as a vehicle of marketing and doing business, is still in its infancy stages of what can be created and accomplished. As Walt Disney said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

References:

Geoffrey Kutnick, Marketing Director, Rudeluv Designs & Marketing, RD&M,; Lecture; 26, July 2011

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Marketing returns are an important consideration to any business or corporation. Investing the time and monies into marketing requires a lot of trust and communication with other people; some of whom work behind the scenes and you may never meet face to face. If you want to take your business marketing into your own hands, do not hire a marketing team – join one.

Marketing, referral or networking groups facilitate the meeting of fellow, local business owners in your area and generally meet once a week. For every area of location, each referral network in a community generally has several chapters to choose from. Each chapter provides an exclusive membership to one person within their field of business. This means, that if you are a general contractor, you will be the only general contractor in the group or chapter; or if you are an optometrist, you will be the only optometrist in the group and so on. If another like business owner already holds a chair within that chapter another local chapter is easy to find.

The benefit of being the only business owner in your field within the group is so that the other members will refer the people they meet and know only to you. Setting aside time once a week to meet with fellow business owners in your community can prove to be an invaluable investment to the future growth of your business. These meetings are held in the early morning and are structured to meet the individual needs and vision of every person within the group. At every meeting you will be given the opportunity to share who you are, what you do, where you are located and the kind of referral you are looking for. You are encouraged to bring business cards and / or flyers to each meeting so the other members of the group have something to pass along when they refer you to their friends, family and other contacts. During each meeting you will also be given forum to give and receive referrals with the other members of the group. Getting to know local business people in your area and relying on word of mouth are two of the most cost effective ways you can market your business. The challenge for some in these marketing groups is weekly attendance. However; since your participation within the chapter is exclusive to one person of your profession, you are holding a position in the group that could be attended by someone else who may be a more consistent source of referrals for the other participants who do show up every week.

There is a nominal fee to join, an annual due and a fee for to cover the cost of your breakfast every week. However; most participants of these groups have found great success using this referral system of marketing and enjoy the opportunity to help grow each other’s businesses. Two of the most successful referral marketing teams are Business Network Inc. (BNI) and Team Referral Network (TEAM).

These groups always have a positive atmosphere and are a source of encouragement to any local business owner; they are proof that marketing your own business can be fun! If you are curious about joining a marketing group, I would recommend checking out TEAM, as the first two breakfasts are free to newcomers.

References:

TEAM Referral Network: Together Everyone Achieves More., “Don’t Hire a Sales Team,.. Join One!”
Web, 28 July 2011.

BNI Local Business – Global Network., BNI Home Page;; Web, 29 July 2011 <http://www.bni.com/>

 

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As business people who dream of owning and operating a personal business, it is essential for us to create a written plan of action. Having a management action plan gives a road-map to the desired success ahead. Setting short and long term goals are a good way to help you stay focused when the path of entrepreneurship becomes overwhelming. Some other things to consider when creating a plan of action include location, target market, a competitive market analysis, vision and goals, mission statement, start-up and operating costs; profit and loss cost analysis, insurance and business license fees, advertising allocation, as well as any additional help will be needed, by way of employees or outside marketing consulting. All of these areas of consideration are only some of the components that go into creating any good business plan. Putting your business ideas in writing, along with specific facts and figures can take some time and effort and compiling components of a solid business plan is an often arduous process. Some business owners make the mistake of rushing into business dealings without putting anything in writing and avoid developing a clear and conscientious plan however; a prudent business person will make the investment to do so. Most entrepreneurs find that their businesses plans provide an invaluable tool for doing business and lend a greater sense of clarity as to what can be anticipated on the road that lies ahead. While you may want to seek advice during the often laborious process of compiling your business plan, it is not a good idea to have someone else write it for you. Since your business plan will be a reflection of your goals, aspirations and dreams for the future, it is something very personal. Most business owners have found that their Mission Statement is the most valuable component to their business plan. It establishes a clear picture of your intention and can later provide you with a great tool for training employees so they are able to see the bigger picture. A good mission statement can also be modified and used in much of your advertising and business dealings in the future. Further, written documentation that illustrates your intention of proposed business may also be useful if you intend to seek additional start-up capital from a financial institution.

If you are not sure how to obtain information needed to create other portions of your business plan, say a good competitive market analysis for example, your local Chamber of Commerce (COC) is a good place to start. The COC is an organization that helps local business owners by providing them with a wide array of information pertaining to the business dealings within their community and can offer you with some valuable information useful for you when writing your business plan. However; while the public information provided by the COC may help you with gathering general information you will need to for your competitive analysis, information may be limited and will require creativity in putting it all together. Further, if you need help with writing your business plan, as most everyone does, you will likely spend a lot of time on the Internet searching for examples of existing plans or even paying for services to companies who assert great success with ‘helping people just like you.’ While some great information and services may be found over the Internet, questions and concerns may not be answered completely as you attempt to tailor your plan to be a true reflection of your company. One of the most valuable ways many people have found in creating a business plan is to take a college course. If higher education is not within your means, consider a community college, which is much more affordable.

Once you complete your business plan, it will likely be something you will be proud of for years to come. Remember to continue to set short and long term goals once you are in business to help you work your plan and achieve success.

Also see : Business Development > Marketing Using Customer Testimonials

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When seeking to operate a thriving business, undoubtedly, the marketing aspect is an essential part of keeping any successful business in operation for the long haul. Many companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to analyze Return on Investment (ROI) for their efforts in marketing and to determine which avenues of marketing will be most beneficial to their overall success and longevity while maximizing their allocation funds for marketing. However; some very successful businesses survive quite well on very little or no marketing at all. While this is a unique situation and does not work for everybody, it is worth exploring. How do these companies stay in business, much less become successful?

Motivational speaker Tony Robbins asserts in his ‘Personal Power Program’ that “success leaves clues.” One successful business owner who has shown marked success over time is a man named Stew Leonard. Stew began his dairy and food store in Norwalk, Connecticut in 1969, along with 7 employees and built a financial empire. With current annual sales of approximately $300 million and some 2,000 employees, Stew Leonard’s ‘Stew’s’ is still going strong. Stew’s is the world’s largest dairy and food store; it is also the Guinness Book of World Records “greatest sales per unit area of any single food store in the United States.” When Stew was asked where he got all the good ideas he answered, “We learn from our customers. We’ll try any new ides – no matter how harebrained the idea sounds.” Customer comment boxes are located conveniently throughout the store and are emptied and read at the end of each closing day. Stew’s willingness to do things unconventionally and mindfulness to always listen to the customer are the primary and fundamental ways he markets his business. At the entrance of each of the Stew’s locations there is a slab of granite with a saying inscribed that reads: Rule 1: The Customer is Always Right! Rule 2: If the Customer is Ever Wrong, Reread Rule 1. Stew’s determination to stay connected to his customers is what has driven his business to great success. Furthermore, each employee understands Stews vision and that “customer service cannot be a sometimes thing. It must be earned and re-earned every day.”

Another successful company, that spends very little on advertising and marketing is Costco Wholesale, and yet somehow has become a household name. The founders of Costco also understand the importance of listening to their members. Each location has a customer comment box and the comments are handled on a daily basis. Customer comment cards are also read daily by the Regional Buying Office and suggestions for new products, as well as return of old products, are seriously taken into account. Phone calls to the members who have questions or concerns are also made by the warehouse and buying office staff. By keeping advertising costs low, Costco is better able to pass on savings to their members.

Both of the aforementioned businesses see the use of a Customer Comment Box as an essential part of their growth and success. It is also believed that if one person makes a suggestion or a comment, there is likely 10 to 20 other customers who will not take the time to say anything; they will simply take their business elsewhere. If a business owner loses sight of the customer, we begin lose everything.

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If you have recently become involved with a Multi Level Marketing or have been working with one for any length of time, you are familiar with the challenges that these types of sales structures involve. Initially, when you were approached, the venture most likely sounded exciting and a great way to make additional income or even secure your financial future. However, after writing out your list of one to two hundred personal contacts, as you were encouraged to do after you signed up, and you began to share with your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and even people you looked up from high school; you may have experience some unexpected resistance or blatant lack or support and most likely felt discouraged.

Most people are skeptical in our day and age, as they should be, and are further resistant when it comes to readily parting with their money especially if it is not buying something meaningful to them. You may have also encountered more resistance from people who are close to you than you had anticipated. After all, this is something good you are doing and promises to bring you good fortune; why are they not at least happy for you? Just because you are now here to share the good news with people, you cannot expect others to share your vision.

In an effort to avoid putting people off, make sure to have experiences and conversations with your friends where you do not initiate the topic or details of your business and find other things to talk about.
In knowing that you are still the same person as before you began this business, and have not become a zealot, they are more likely to be curious and open when the topic should arise. If they happen to ask you about your business dealings specifically, then they have opened the door. Further, do not trick them into meeting you for brunch whereby you plan to bring your business material to share with them. This method may prove to not only be unfruitful, but it may cause a silent dis-ease when it comes to spending time with them in the future.

After you have exhausted the leads found in your personal rolodex you will need to find ways to make other potential leads and contacts. As you make new contacts in your community, here are the Top Rules for Initiating Conversations about the MLM Service or Product You Are Offering:

#1 – Never, ever, ever lie when you are asked if what you are selling is “one of those pyramid or marketing a schemes.” It is often tempting to become defensive and not disclose the full nature of what you are a part of when questions of that nature are asked of you. However; a sense of humility and full disclosure is often the best way to be successful and keep your integrity intact. Further, if you are not honest about the multi-level nature of your new business and later the person that you denied it to happens to consider investing, they will know that you initially lied to them and it may very well not only lose you a sale, but you lose your credibility as well.

#2 – Be enthusiastic but avoid over talking your product and sharing long-winded details. While people may initially be curios and charmed by your excitement, being over-eager is also never a good way to ensure closure of a deal.

#3 – Be a good listener; quietly discover what the possible personal appeal your product could very well provide to someone just like them. People are more attracted to others who listen and feel appreciated. Each person is different and we all have internal factors that motivate us individually; finding out what a person’s dreams, hopes and goals are for the future is a good way to lay a foundation.

#4 – Be sincere. If you are looking at them as just a number, or by the money they can potentially generate under you they will know it. Most people can smell insincerity coming from over a mile away. Believing in the product you sell is essential to your personal success. Having a personal story to tell, with regard to the use of the product you are offering endears any potential customer to you and they are more likely to make the time to listen to your presentation or even tell others about you.

Once you have scheduled an appointment with the express intention of sharing more about your business; you can share all of the information and insurmountable amount of research your company has provided you with. Then, if the person appears indifferent to what you have to share, is full of excuses as to why they just don’t think it is right for them or even tells you out-right they are just not sold; try to take it in stride. Do not take it personally and moreover; never be too assertive as it is a huge turn-off.

If you are a person with dogged determination who also firmly believes that the product you are selling is a superior value and great benefit, yet are still having a rough time meeting your sales goals and desired financial success; consider others who have also met with great adversity when they too believed in the product they were selling. Colonel Sanders, for example, the famous entrepreneur, who created a financial empire with his simple chicken recipe, leaves a legacy of what your kind of determination can accomplish.

References:

“A Day in the Life of MLM Joey. – “How to Alienate Your Friends and Annoy People.” Web, 29
July 2011 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-eT-lZ1Jrw>

“Convert Your MLM Videos Into A Powerful List Builder & Online Sales Tool’ Web, 29 July 2011             <http://www.ilovemyhealth.com/>

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A Case Study in B2B Marketing

We as a profession use many expressions, explanations and metaphors to define what we mean when we describe our idea of an effective value proposition. Just some examples which I am accustomed to both hearing from other marketers and telling my own clients in answer to the question “What is a value proposition?”:

  • A statement that outlines the unique value you provide to your customers
  • A statement that aims to convince a prospect that he should choose your product or service over someone else’s
  • A statement of the specific benefits or results a customer can expect from using your product or service
  • A statement that differentiates your product or service from your competition
  • A statement that directly addresses a customer need or problem, and offers a solution
  • A statement that encompasses how your product or service does all of the above BETTER, FASTER, and/or CHEAPER.

These bullet points simply represent some different ways to express the point or the goal of a value proposition, or the definition of value proposition. Let’s look at a real proposed value proposition from a company that shall remain nameless.

“Our state-of-the-art thermal cyclers are the best choice for clear PCR runs every time.”

Right out of the gate, this attempted value proposition has some positive features that tackle the goals of a value proposition. First, it states what a thermal cycler does: PCR. Second, it addresses a problem that thermal cycler users face, which is “unclear” PCR runs. However, it falls short in some other ways. First of all, state-of-the-art is not a word that differentiates our thermal cycler manufacturer from any of their competitors nor does it give any specifics to why their equipment is better, faster, or more cost-effective than any other thermal cycler choice.

What can be done to improve this value proposition? Let’s cover what to do and what not to do. Do not make your value proposition into a list of features; for example, features like a motorized lid, interchangeable block models, or a certain plating metal on the chamber do not belong in the value proposition for a thermal cycler. Instead, the focus should be on what problems those features solve for the customer, or how those features benefit the customer’s process, such as the speed of a single PCR cycle, or the yield repeatability. Most importantly, this value proposition should impart to the customer the belief that whatever problems or struggles they have had with PCR machines in the past will be minimized or eliminated by the product you are advertising. Again, this involves knowing and understanding your customers’ problems and needs to such a degree that you can come up with solutions. Next, emphasize the speed and cost-effectiveness of your product. Instead of state-of-the-art, get specific with words like “fastest,” “most cost-effective,” etc.

So, here’s a stab at a more effective value proposition for our thermal cycler client:

“The BrandX thermal cycler, twice as fast as our previous model and extremely cost-effective, provides the most repeatable PCR results every time.”

How would you improve on this second iteration?

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Objective, Solutions-Based Consumer Motivation Value Proposition Example

Now that we have outlined a solid working idea of value propositions for marketing of consumer products or services that have subjective purchasing motivations, we now have one final corner of the buyer motivation triangle (B2B; B2C objective motivations; and B2C subjective motivations being the three sides of the triangle) to explore more in depth. A value proposition model that addresses consumer product marketing for products that have an objective, need-based or solutions-based purchasing motivation involves similar concepts and strategies, but again a few small tweaks have to be applied

In essence, this third side of the triangle can be thought of as a combination of the B2B and first B2C model (subjective motivations), leaning towards the former. Like in the first B2C model we discussed, your client is a consumer buying for themselves, so they are accountable only to themselves (and maybe family) in terms of purchasing decisions, which is not the case in B2B marketing. Conversely, your consumer does share something with the B2B purchaser in this case, which is the objective or utilitarian motivation for their purchase.

So, how to combine these two value proposition models to create a balance that fills the niche of value propositions for consumers with need-based buying motivations? There is certainly strategic and conceptual crossover in the value proposition models for the three sides of the buyer motivation triangle, but also some factors that are only applicable to each individual model.

Let’s look at a specific example. This one is contrived, I’ll admit, but it closely mimics attempted strategies I have seen for myself. Besides, I don’t want to run out of clients that will let me use their first attempts at marketing material online too early in the life of this blog, and we’re just getting started! Let’s say that you, as a marketer, were presented with the following as a top-level slogan/value proposition for a ceramic knife product:

“Looking for the best value in kitchen knives? Try our popular ceramic knives, new to the U.S. market!”

Unfortunately, there is a serious lack of value-added information in this proposed value proposition. First, it does not do a few of the most important parts of what we strive to do with our B2B value proposition model, which is that:

  1. It does not address the customer need from the perspective of the customer’s problem, that is to say it does not tell the need-based buyer what need the product will fill or what problem it will solve, exactly.
  2. It does not differentiate itself specifically from other products that serve the same general purpose, for example traditional stainless steel knives.

Don’t forget though that we are still talking about an individual consumer that answers only to themselves, and therefore to their own values, in making purchasing decisions. Therefore, some of the factors your value proposition must take into account are the same as those in the first B2C value proposition model addressed here. The individual consumer might value the way something looks aesthetically in their kitchen, how it feel in his/her hand, that it will impress their neighbor, etc. Furthermore, the individual consumer is often looking for products with the maximum diversity of application, not just the optimal solution to one problem.

Now combine the need for a solutions-based value statement with some more subjective motivations and varying needs, and you should get something that is better suited for the solutions-driven, a.k.a. objective motivation B2C value propositions model:

“Always-sharp ceramic kitchen knives do the job of multiple specialized knives, perfect for cutting everything from bread loaves to tomatoes to raw carrots. They are ergonomically designed, have a sleek modern look, are economical, and will never become dull like metal knives.”

Longer, yes. Also more effective. Shorter slogan versions can easily be made out of this value proposition, but the full two sentences get the value across in a much more complete package.

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With B2C Realities/Consumer Motivations

As discussed, the motivations behind personal consumer decisions in B2C situations or consumer products marketing can be vastly different from the motivations behind business consumer decisions. This said, the strategy behind building a B2C value proposition requires a large adjustment in mindset from the point of view of the marketer. We must therefore redefine our value proposition model that was outlined in an earlier post and oriented towards B2B marketing to try to take into account some of the subjective factors that play much more into B2C business than they do into B2B business. How can we conceptualize value proposition in the B2C category? Let’s dissect the concepts of a B2B value proposition model and work out the differences:

  • A statement that outlines the unique value you provide to your customers—This still holds in B2C marketing, with the understanding that “value” is defined differently. We must therefore establish a different definition of value for B2C marketing,
  • A statement that aims to convince a prospect that he should choose your product or service over someone else’s—Still true in competitive consumer product marketing, e.g. one brand of laptop over another, but it does not hold across the board, because some individual consumer decisions come down to matters of taste or trendiness.
  • A statement of the specific benefits or results a customer can expect from using your product or service AND a statement that directly addresses a customer need or problem, and offers a solution—This particular consideration is not as cardinally important in B2C marketing, because consumer products are not necessarily solutions-driven. Unlike in the B2B environment, a vast number of consumer products do not offer a solution to a problem or challenge. Further discussion is necessary to distinguish when this applies, and I will so in my next post.
  • A statement that encompasses how your product or service does all of the above BETTER, FASTER, and/or CHEAPER—This conceptualization of value proposition has some distinct weaknesses in B2C marketing. Shoes and handbag marketing, for example, certainly does not follow this conceptualization. People pay magnitudes more for a handbag based on taste and trendiness, and often actually associate the added expense with a level of prestige.

Having identified the need to define “value” relative to the general consumer, we now have to take a crack at the definition. I will argue that the following is a functional definition of value in B2C marketing:

  • The worth and attractiveness of a product as defined in the user’s terms, achieved through a combination between filling a need and creating positive feelings or desire.

This definitions encompasses both objective value—such as things that save time and money—and subjective value—such as which blouse is cuter and which tie is most authoritative.

So, what do we need to add to our conceptualizations in order to make our ideas about value propositions relevant to B2C marketing? By consolidating some of the relevant concepts from B2B marketing and adding the concept of value as it applies in B2C marketing, we get something like the following:

  • B2C Value Proposition Definition: A statement that defines your product in terms of its strongest advantages as related to consumers’ objective and subjective perceptions of its value.
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Defining Value Propositions

In the exploration of various proposition models, we have now discussed value propositions and the differences between them as defined by the drive that catalyzes the customer’s interest and whether the customer is an individual or a business. Within each of these, there is another factor that can be very important in the effectiveness of your value proposition in motivating the potential customer to action (purchase): whether the customer seeks a product or tool to solve one very specific problem or do one very specific thing (single application), or whether the customer is looking for a product or tool that will help with many aspects of their needs (multiple applications). In general, it is true that single application paradigms are slightly more effective in B2B marketing, while multiple application paradigms are slightly more effective in B2C marketing. This generalization is by no means a hard and fast rule, but it can be a helpful starting point for strategizing.

What relevance does this distinction between single application and multiple application motivation to purchase have to value propositions? If your potential customer has a motivation to purchase your product that falls into the single application category (specificity), your value proposition must focus entirely on why your product is best and different for accomplishing just that one thing. If, however, your potential customer has a motivation to purchase your product that falls into the multiple application category (diversity), you must devote at least some of your value proposition to promoting the diversity of applications, solutions, or benefits your product offers. More specifically, a goal of encouraging creativity in how your product can be applied is part of the value proposition model definition in cases where your potential customer’s drive to purchase is based on multiple uses, solutions, etc. that you offer.

Let’s look at two specific examples in order to more clearly illustrate how the diversity vs. specificity factor influences value proposition models. As an example of a single application value proposition, we will look at analyzers that are used by the oil and gasoline industry to quantify sulfur in oil in order to meet regulations that limit sulfur content in automotive fuel. As an example of a multiple application value proposition, we will refer back to ceramic kitchen knives.

The low sulfur analyzer customer needs a product to solve one particular problem in a way that increases efficiency and reduces cost. The value proposition used in marketing such a product, therefore, must focus entirely on how the product will help the customer meet their one goal in the most optimal fashion. For example:

“The TURBOLOW low sulfur analyzer provides fast, extremely accurate analysis of sulfur in petroleum products down to ppb levels. Results in seconds, not hours.”

The ceramic knife customer, on the other hand, is looking for a product that will solve multiple problems or replace multiple existing solutions. The value proposition used in marketing ceramic knives, therefore, must grab the customers imagination in terms of what sorts of sorts of things he can accomplish with the product, especially to replace multiple products he needs to use to accomplish those things currently. Specifically, the value proposition can include solutions to both the problems of too many knives in a kitchen with little storage space and of dull knives. It should also include a list of diverse product applications that will showcase the product’s diversity while also allowing the customer to imagine and extrapolate further uses:

“Always-sharp ceramic kitchen knives do the job of multiple specialized knives, perfect for cutting everything from bread loaves to raw potatoes, from twine to wood carving. They are ergonomically designed, compact, economical, and will never become dull like metal knives.”

Reference: Marketing > A Marketing Challenge: Marketing for an “Umbrella” Company

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I began in an earlier post to explore the various reasons why marketing can be thought of and directed as a company-wide responsibility and process. That conversation should include the essential cooperation between marketing and other departments in order to solicit, obtain, and analyze customer feedback. Marketing departments often seek customer feedback for themselves, and perhaps for their sales group, but that is as far as it usually goes. For example, marketing departments often collect feedback that is intended directly for their own use, exemplified by questions such as:

  • How did you hear about us?
  • Did the brochures/website/etc., answer your questions?
  • Why did you ultimately choose us?

The feedback that might be generated as a result of these questions can be used for direct analysis of the effectiveness of the marketing department’s campaigns, collateral, and value proposition. Another category where a marketing department might often collect customer feedback is regarding the sales process. These type of questions might be used to evaluate sales strategies, sales effectiveness, and the effectiveness of tools that marketing provides to its sales group. Such questions might look like this:

  • Did you get a response to your inquiry in a timely fashion?
  • Was the sales person knowledgeable?
  • Was it easy to understand what the product is/does?

While both of these feedback categories are highly valuable, there are some others that may be of interest to other departments. For example, product management might be interested in failure rates of certain components, complications encountered out-of-the-box, and general product and feature specific feedback. However, product management teams—and R&D, and business development—may not necessarily have the tools in place, the know-how, the channels, or the bandwidth to efficiently collect customer feedback in ways that are broad-reaching and representative. This is the expertise of the marketing group! The cooperation between marketing departments and other departments is essential in terms of getting full pictures of customer satisfaction, problems, and needs, of opening new markets, and of guiding product development. As marketing professionals, we are going to have the best systems and channels to obtain data that is essential for the self-evaluation and improvement of our entire company.

If that were not enough, the best part is that all such feedback is immediately relevant to marketing concerns. All this customer feedback, even if designed to be directly informative to another department, is extremely valuable to marketing professionals. It can all be repackaged in one way or another into marketing content that is “in the customer’s language.” Whether you ask to use direct customer quotes from feedback in marketing material, or whether you simply find ways to address the concerns that you found to be prevalent amongst your feedback sample, you end up with better customer-facing content. It’s a win-win!

This sort of feedback has specialized uses in web marketing as well, as any such collection of customer experience will help you better understand what key words your customers are using to describe their problems and your solutions and, simply put, key words are keywords.

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Subjective Consumer Motivations Value Proposition Example

Having a working concept of value propositions in B2C marketing, we are now well equipped to work out value propositions for specific cases. There is one subtlety left to consider, however. That subtlety has to do with whether we are trying to define a value proposition for a need-based consumer product, or one that is more a matter of taste or trend. How can we better define this difference? Let’s first agree that all consumer products lie on a spectrum somewhere between solutions-based or need-based products that fill an objective void, the ultimate example being toilet paper, and desire-based products that fill a purely subjective void, such as jewelry. A need-based product helps a customer solve a problem or meet a challenge. For example, cooking food is a necessity for most people. While some people do it purely for enjoyment, those that don’t often still do it out of necessity. Therefore, a frying pan or kitchen knife is an object that sits closer to toilet paper on the objective-subjective spectrum. A desire-based product can be defined as a product that has purely aesthetic or sentimental value. So, a charm bracelet or a Pillow Pet is an object that sits closer to the “subjective” end of the spectrum.

How does this spectrum between objective and subjective purchasing motivations influence value proposition? If your product or service is of the objective need type (non-luxury pens, refrigerators, mattresses), your concept of value proposition should more closely follow the B2B value proposition model as described here (see my previous post, as well as other related posts). If, however, your product or service is on the desire-based motivation end of the spectrum (collector’s teddy bears, fashion jewelry, entertainment), your value proposition model now has to take into account some of the following consumer motivations in addition to some of the B2B concepts described earlier:

  • Aesthetics
  • Ego
  • Prestige
  • Emotion/Sentiment
  • Trendiness
  • “Wow Factor”

While this is not an exhaustive list, it gives an idea of the range of factors that come into play in consumer product marketing. Let’s look at a specific real-life example of a professional B2B marketer’s effort to build a B2C product proposition after taking a position in a consumer product organization for the first time:

“Our Christmas window decals are self-sticking, mess-free, kid-friendly, and easy to peel off, making them the perfect holiday decoration for your home.”

Our marketer was surprised when web text prominently featuring this product description was turned down by her boss. I suggested that while the features she listed were valuable, customers looking to decorate their home for the holidays have primary concerns that go beyond the purely utilitarian. The consumers’ associations of peace, joy, and beauty with Christmas—and their desire for those things—must influence the way in which the value proposition is created. Here is her reworked version:

“Our bright, playful Christmas window decals are an easy way to bring the Christmas spirit into your home instantly! Self-sticking and kid-friendly, they spread Christmas joy to your family and passersby.”

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With so many new advances in technology and marketing, analysis of marketing to meet business objectives is not always cut and dry. While return on investment analysis allows a corporation to see their marketing budget hard at work, alone it is ineffective in illustrating the success of marketing efforts. Effectiveness of marketing tools and execution of sales are key elements that must be taken into account when evaluating performance. Strategic research and implementation are examples of key factors in a winning marketing campaign. Such unquantifiable investments do not get factored into ROI analysis and can be very misleading for corporations.

One of the major drawbacks of ROI analysis is that it can not pinpoint the reason for a financial failure, it can simply show in a quantitative language that goals were not met. ROI analysis can let a corporation know that its strategic goals, outlined by the expectations, were not met, while failing to show other objectives that were achieved in the process. For instance, ROI analysis might show that sales figures did not met expectations but may fail to show that there was an increase in foot traffic in shores. Such analysis will fail to show a corporation that their weakness may lie in product quality or the effectiveness of their sales force. It is not uncommon for corporations to get lost in the numbers that their marketing techniques generate. While prospects are critical to marketing success it crucial for a company to be able to nurture prospects into leads, and leads into sales and profits.  It is essential that corporations not lose site of focusing on generating quality leads and ensuring that their marketing target goals are met. To achieve maximum efficiency marketing goals must be kept as a corner stone of all marketing decisions but maintain a level of flexibility that will allow for change.

Optimizing marketing effectiveness is rarely a single step process. Marketing effectiveness incorporates corporate, competitive, consumer and exogenous factors. All four factors are critical in understanding and gauging the success of marketing techniques but are frequently not quantifiable in a way that can be incorporated into ROI analysis. It is important for corporations to analyze and examine each factor, and individual aspects of each factor, to see the impact or short comings of marketing techniques. By looking at each factor individually corporations will be able to come up with a more exact and strategic picture of their marketing campaigns.

Marketing BasicsROI is one of the best tools a company can use to analyze its marketing technique, but it is crucial that ROI analysis is not the single measure a corporation uses in its analysis of its marketing operations. Utilizing ROI analysis alone is in effect “throwing the baby out with the bath water.” At a time when corporations need to maximize their budgets and time to market can determine a corporations success it is more important than ever that companies do more strategic analysis of their marketing, and not rely simply on the quantitative results of ROI analysis.

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