Un-marketing as the New Age Marketing Method?

There’s a lot of talk on un-marketing nowadays. New age marketers are advocating that companies try to not disrupt consumers with their interruptive marketing methods as done traditionally, but to build advocates one at a time. They are advocating that we go for trust building, word of mouth and a true solution partner. Trust is more important than pushing products and services.

Even when you setup an online website, take the road less travelled. Create one that has great content, and one that helps people with their problems. Seek first to help, and the profits will find you. Rope in experts and other fellow sufferers to share their solutions and testimonies. It will be a place where people help each other out, with you as the facilitator. Choose altruism rather than push products and services, and people will remember your sincerity and kindness.

Model some great online websites and blogs such as socialexaminer.com, manofthehouse.com and pioneerwomen.com. All these sites are not fixated on selling or pushing their products, but they use their great content to pull potential customers in first. Be relevant to the target audience, and they will keep coming back to your online offerings.

What are the critical elements of your website or online presence? Bold take home messages. A good forum for the readers to discuss issues on. No sales angles. Be really relevant and educational. Be easy to read and visually appealing (check our flickr.com for free pics). Use short sentences, good links externally and internally, relevant quotations, pictures, videos and discussion questions to generate lasting interests among your readers.

Use ‘How to’ articles liberally with lists and solutions to your readers’ problems.

Understanding Culture for Better Marketing

I just finished reading the book ‘The Culture Code’ by Clotaire Rapaille. A very interesting look at how our subconscious and social programming determine how we perceive things and events in life, and how whole cultures are shaped by these perceptions.

According to Clotaire, emotions are key to learning, and the keys to imprinting interpretations into our minds. We may not notice it, but a lot of our interpretations were shaped when we were young, on how our parents perceive certain matters, and how the society you live in shape your social programming.

In focus groups, there have been much controversy on whether consumers are really speaking the real truth, or do they answer based on what is expected of them. Do they even know why they like or dislike certain things and can articulate their opinions accurately?

According to the book, it’s not the content of what respondents say, it’s the relationship between respondents and the products. What role does the products play in their lives, and what is the relationship between the users and the products? How do the products make them feel, and how do the products affect their sense of identity?

Here are some findings that the author has discovered in the country of America. He found that sex = violence, health = movement/activities, doctors = hero, nurses = mothers, youth = mask (such as with lifting, botox, and anti-aging creams), money = proof of winning, shopping = reconnecting with life (material and social aspects), luxury = military stripes = money.

One brand that has made use of this finding is Pantene. As Pantene’s brand equity is ‘Giving You Healthy Hair’, it always depicts moving hair to denote hair health and wellness.

Online Inbound Marketing Techniques

Website is pretty old school in today’s online marketing. It’s the basic entry requirements for online marketing. To win, you need to go beyond it. Populate your website with good, compelling content, blog and social media. Set up RSS and email subscription options for your website and blog.

Marketers nowadays face a more demanding environment. You have to double up as a publisher as well. You need to know how to publish good content to serve your products or services online. For blogs, give each article good titles and include mentions of famous companies or people. Search engines like these.

Be liberal with the comments from your readers. Do not moderate their comments too tightly, but allow auto publishing of comments. If you see negative comments, you can always go back and delete them later on. This promotes real time discussions on your topics.

Spread your blog articles wide across the online space through Digg and Stumbleupon. And with each of your articles, you should have a large call for action button for readers to response to your offers.

From time to time, monitor the effectiveness of your online marketing. Use Delicious.com to find out how many people bookmark your websites, use twitter.grader.com to assess your power and reach as a twitter user.

Word of Mouth Marketing Engine

Trying to outdo competition, especially bigger ones, with more ad spend is foolish. You will dry up your cash faster than you can say ‘Success!’. Think of guerrilla ways to beat them. Try to do things that are opposite to what they do. If they do more activities and events, underdo them with simplicity and clarity.

Use online marketing as a cost effective means of marketing. Have good contents for your online social media, blog and websites. Check what consumers dig with xrank in bing, oneriot and smartbriefs subscription.

For comprehensive content, try audio, video, blog, articles, expert interviews and newsletters. You can always translate the same content from one medium to another, so that you cross educate audiences who only access one type of media. Video, with today’s technology, is really easy to create. Use it to record testimonies from consumers, and the many ways to use your products optimally.

Subscribe to Wired inc, Entrepreneur, Businessweek and Fast Company. You can learn faster with up to date case studies and what similar businesses are doing.

You should also constantly update yourselves with what consumers are saying. Listen well, and the internet is a gift for modern marketers with its many discussion and comments from consumers. Use Google alerts, search.twitter.com, tweetbeep.com, boardtracker.com, backtype.com and socialmention.com to search for consumers’ discussions on your brands, products, services and company.

Points on Better Decision Making

Understand that humans tend to be overconfident of their own capabilities. Be humble, be cautious. And be brave anyway.

Be true to yourself. Don’t do things to impress others. In a study done on terminally ill patients, the need to impress others drastically reduce upon knowing the days are numbered. So spend your time wisely.

I was told by a friend that there are no right choices. There are only popular choices. The danger is in herd thinking. Stop, be aware, and think what is right in your own terms.

Offer steps to help your team or customers make the change. Tell them why they have to change, then give them exact practical steps on how to do this. If you don’t, whatever decisions you made will find it hard to be implemented.

Experiment with new ways of doing things. Open up new windows in your mind. You will never know certain things or truths exist until you try and experiment. Then learn and get feedback on all your experiments.

If you do the fundamentally right things, give it some time to work. Don’t abandon things after 2 or 3 months because they don’t show results fast enough. If you have strong conviction that something really works, give it more time.

How to Get More Ideas

Marketers thrive on getting creative and new ideas to boost their business. Instead of depending on Creative Agencies for ideas most of the time, as marketers, we know our products and services better, so we have the potential to come up with great marketing ideas ourselves.

Have fun. When you are stressed, you are unlikely to come up with many good ideas. Relax, kick back, take a break. Play like a child. Look at your problem from a child’s perspective. Imagine you are the product. What will you say?

Have many, many ideas. Then shortlist those worth executing. Test out all the shortlisted ideas, and some may work, some may not. Be like Edison, where 999 bad ideas pointed him in the direction of 1 great, life changing idea.

Be more observant. Look at products or challenges from all angles and perspectives. Observe keenly. Think hard about subject all the time. Have you noticed that when you want to buy a new car you start noticing and paying more attention to cars at the road, and everywhere else? Think hard, and the solution will pop out eventually.

A group of 2 to 4 people generates the most and best ideas. Too many, and you get herd mentality. Too few, not enough counter proposals and ideas.

Too much freedom leads to chaos. Limits tax imagination the most, and produce richest ideas. Caesar salad was invented as one chef was forced to make something out of the ingredients he had. Limits such as deadlines can stimulate the mind towards good ideas.

Broaden your perspectives. Look at other industries for ideas. Electromagnetism was birthed when electricity and magnetism, two different disciplines, were combined.

Ask better questions. Rephrase it. Come up with many different ways to ask the same question. Improving a product? Eliminate product deficiencies? Make product more likeable? All these questions lead to different answers.

Marketing that Sells

Creative image advertising is the trend nowadays, and more importantly, response advertising needs to take over. Let your ad have a call for action mechanism such as an offer or sample. With this, you can measure the number of responses and how well your ad performs. This is the sales part. You can also collect consumer information for future direct marketing.

You should target your competitors’ customers. Ask them to send in a competitor pack for a trial pack.

Ask for referrals. If a person refers 3 other friends to the brand, give her 20% discount.

Giving free samples in direct mail works very well. Try it. Also try coupons and see it it increases purchases for your brand.

Say you give samples online. Ask the consumer where she saw the ad for the sample redemption. This way you know which media channel gives you the best bang for the buck.

Testing your ad for sales impact in the market is much more effective than focus group interviews.

If your product is unique, high involvement, intangible and expensive, use more logic to persuade. If your product is low cost, tangible, low involvement and almost commoditized, use more of emotions to persuade.

Use price offs as last resorts. Frequent price offs erode your brand equity. The danger of coupons is that they are used more by your regular users, up to 60% of them. Only about 10% comes from true non or competitive users. The remaining 30% are apparently cheats.

Don’t be afraid to write long copy ads. Resist your colleagues and friends who tell you that nobody reads long copy anymore. Interested consumers will want to know more about your product. Direct marketing tests by the likes of Ogilvy, Claudes and Caples have proven that long copy sells more. Do you trust actual results, or opinions?

When you do sampling, pls include product information in booklets and letters.

If you give gift premiums, ensure that the gift aligns with your brand’s image or benefit. Focus the marketing mainly on yr brand, not yr premiums! A good premium will also attract the right consumers for your brand, not one off consumers who are only interested in the premium.

Marketing & Promotion Ideas

People like their moments of fame and glory in this world. You can choose to honor someone publicly for their work, or you can shoot a TV commercial using people who have won a certain talent contest. He or she will be eligible to join the contest only if your products are bought, perhaps in a certain minimum quantity.

Help your key customers. If you want them to buy extra loads of your goods, then help them to run a coupon deal or promotion to sell off those stocks fast. Make it exclusive to them.

Be sincere in your CRM efforts. Don’t just sponsor a small concert. Go the extra mile, such as giving larger aids to society or education. Or be concerned for the environment, with 100% of your products using recyclable materials.

We have too many cards today, and too little benefits on them, such as discounts only on your merchandise. Partner with other organizations for more rewards to your card holders, such as resorts, airlines, theaters, sports equipment and so on.

If you run a contest, involve non contestants to increase your reach impact. E.g. you can engage them by allowing them to vote for the contestants.

If your brand is strong, offer your brand’s merchandise such as T-shirts, soft toys, bags, dolls and magazines. Your customers will help you advertise your brand when they sport your merchandise!

Don’t bore customers and retailers with run of the mill discounts, promotions and price offs. Do something sensational, such as breaking a world record. Have games and contests that go nationwide. The Subaru challenge in Asia is a good example. The contestant who can last the longest with his hand on the car wins a car, and this gets national radio and PR coverage yearly.

Tell, don’t sell. Advertise to get them curious and interested, then tell them about the wonders of your products, and how they are relevant to your customers.

Ways to be Persuasive

Instead of confusing your consumers, cut down the number of products you offer. When P&G cut down the number of products in Head and Shoulders from 26 to 15, sales increased by 10%.

When you are giving something for free to your customers, let them know that it is not exactly ‘free’, but that it have a value that you have just transferred to him.

When you use scare tactics on your customers by drumming up their problems, quickly follow up with clear solutions that they can take immediately.

Consumers prefer to stick to their original decisions, habits and commitments. So if you want them to switch to your products, ‘praise’ them that they probably made the right decision at ‘that’ time in the past. But now, there’s something better for them.

Sometimes it’s better to own up weaknesses or failures in your products. This increases trust from consumers, and let them know that you are aware and in control, rather then ‘seem’ to want to hide the problems.

If there are angry customers, repeat their complaints to show understanding. Praise them for the efforts, and smile.

Show them how your products are rare and very different actually from your competitors’.

Instead of showing consumers how they can gain from your products, show how they can ‘lose’ by not using your products. The law of risk aversion.

Show images that are more literal, or describe in words that are easily visualized by your target consumers.

Use taglines and rhymes to increase recall for your product’s benefits.

Create a sense of mystery and intrigue by giving your products fanciful names. Say for drinks: Tropical Rain Forest Cocktail, Laser Lemon Tequilla.

Depending on whether the local culture is individualistic or collectivist, write your ad to appeal to the individual or to the group.

Marketing for Small Business Owners

To really, really find out what consumers are thinking, read the ‘People’ magazine. This magazine can give you insights on what goes on in the mind of your potential customers. This is low cost, and sometimes can give you information beyond what you can get from mere focus groups.

Awareness and image advertising are not enough. You want sales. No point spending money to get people to know your company, but does not buy from you. 100% awareness and 0% sales will make you bankrupt soon. So go for direct ads that sell like a salesman’s pitch. Do not primarily focus on making your ad look pretty, but focus on clarity and a good selling message.

Here are some good starters for direct mail ads:
Do you know why…
People with acne skin find that…

State problem, stir up problem, give the solution, hopeful future, answer objections, make offer, call to action.

Send press release to journalists, but do 1 story in 1 page. Journalists are busy people, don’t overwhelm them.