Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Four Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Beginning Any Marketing Campaign
by Whitney Hahn

So you've come to the conclusion that you need to market your service or product. Great! Proper marketing can lead to great rewards. Improper marketing, however, can waste a ton of money.

How do you avoid the pitfalls? Proper planning.

Some people get so excited about the ad, commercial or flyer that they don't really think through the whole conversion process. It's not enough to have people notice your marketing; you want them to act on it in very specific ways. Not planning the whole life cycle of your marketing is a bit like planning the wedding, but not the marriage. The day after all the excitement is over, you may be left with nothing more than a headache and a big bill.

But you can avoid lots of wasted time and effort by asking (and answering) these four questions. It's a list of questions we go over with all of our new clients and many have felt it has brought great focus and accountability to the decisions they were making. Don't let this short list fool you. Knowing the answers to these questions clarifies your business and marketing goals to you AND your prospects.

1. What are the benefit(s) to your customers of doing business with you over going to another provider or not doing anything at all?

This is sometimes called your "Unique Selling Proposition” (USP) and clearly defines what you have going on. Notice it asks about benefits, not features, and they are very different animals. Features are like technical spec sheets. Benefits answer the questions, "So what? What's in it for me?"

If you were picking a spouse, you might describe their features as tall, dark and handsome. But the benefits are really what sells them to you - they make you laugh, feel secure, feel important and loved and so on.

For example, I could talk to you all day about our 3CCD cameras and how many terrabytes of storage space we have and what whiz-bang software we used to edit with and your eyes would quickly roll into the back of your head. But, I if talk to you about a fun, collaborative working relationship where we coach you through the entire process and suggests ways to enhance your overall marketing goals through video, then we might have a conversation.

Determine what makes working with you unique and how it benefits a prospect. If you can do that, they are far more likely to become clients.

2. What business are you in?

Now, don't say "I'm in the widget business." This is really asking about your position or identity in the marketplace and how your services make the user's life better. These goes hand in hand with the benefits list.

If I say that I am in the video production business, I haven't done a thing to differentiate myself from the competition or tell a prospect how I can help them solve a problem. However, if I say that we help entrepreneurs establish themselves as experts in their fields while generating passive income though DVD sales, then I've given prospects a very specific example of how working with me could benefit them and make their life better.

Give this one some thought. Of all the questions on the list, this one usually takes the most time to answer with clarity. It is time well spent.

3. What is your target market? (age, sex, geography, income, etc.)

Asking this question helps you avoid disconnects between your message and your Audience by putting their "face" clearly in your mind. As you prepare your campaign, you will have a thousand decisions to make - everything from written copy to musical underscores - and you will need to keep the prospects in mind. Don't jam a lot of words into a small space if you are trying to reach seniors. Don't use country music in the background if you are aiming at a young, urban demographic.

Remember, when you go fishing, you don't have to like the bait, the fish do.

Knowing as much as you can about your target demographic will also help you make decisions on where and in what way your message should be heard. Your favorite stream is not going to be effective if there are no "fish" there.

4. What action do you want a prospect to take as a result of seeing your marketing message?

I know what you are thinking. "Buy my product, silly." Yes and no. That would be like bumping into someone on the street and then asking them to move in. While that would be great in business, most of us don't work that way. Chances are there will be a least one more step between hearing/seeing your message and making a purchase from you.

So, to follow the dating analogy, the prospect might decide to have coffee with you (visit your website and opt-in for your VIP coupon list), then visit later for a sandwich (stop by your store to get more information or consult with you), then ask their friends what they think of you... you get the idea.

This question gets you to think about, plan for and implement that series of "dates" so that you can build a relationship and make the sale. People would much rather buy from friends than strangers.

There they are - the four questions that can make the difference between running an ad campaign and creating a marketing magnet. Please enjoy responsibly!

Whitney Hahn is the business manager and director of Digital Bard Video. Web. Marketing. in Frederick, MD. She is a Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach and uses her skills to bring more value to her client's projects. Whitney may be reached at 240-566-5931 or by emailing whitney@digitalbard.com.

Source: http://www.PopularArticles.com/article238870.html

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Do we really need Ivy League champions to manage our businesses in Kuwait?

It amuses me when I read about how companies in Kuwait are looking specifically for certain type of candidates to fill certain positions. Candidates that have graduated out of prestigious Ivy league schools. Some of you might ask me why?

Simply because I don't see any improvements in the way business is done in Kuwait on the whole. There are no seemingly noticeable improvements in the way these businesses are run and more importantly, there is no improvement in service! Why then do these companies insist on hiring candidates that have graduated out the Harvards, Stanfords, Oxfords, Enseads and IIMs of the world? Do they really plan on utilizing the talents of these individuals or is it just a way for CEOs to brag...

"I've got 3 Harvard graduates in my BD team"

"That's nothing, I've got 2 guys from Stanford, a guy from Wharton and 4 from IIM."

Let's face it, Kuwait is a small country. As much as I don't like Dubai, if someone told me they were looking for these kind of people, I'd believe it. Simply because, financial/real estate crisis or not, you can see the big developments in the emirate. You can see that they have a penchant for hiring talented people and getting the best out of them. You see old and new companies taking risks, building brands and engaging customers. You see new projects on the horizon all the time; the world's tallest, fattest, shortest, widest, coolest....arrgh!! The point is, we see developments taking place every now and then. So the need for these people is almost autonomously justified.

This is more than I can say for their counterparts in Kuwait. Apart from a handful of companies here, I can't seem to fathom the idea that a fresh Kellogg or IIM grad can do a better job at managing a brand in Kuwait than a guy with hardcore experience. Business ideas lack creativity, overall treatment of employees is below par with the rest of the world and again, customer service in Kuwait is appalling. How then are these companies utilizing the talents of these people positively? Do we see any developments on the horizon?

Personally, I think instead of hiring these "Ivy league champions", companies would do better if they just spent their money on training their customer service staff on better (or should I daresay - basic) customer service ideologies; that would be money well spent! Which once again brings me to my question, why hire ONLY graduates from these colleges when you've got talented people waiting for opportunities?

Frankly, I think it's a scam to make their companies look good to the outside world. I know there will be a few naysayers that want to diss this blogpost thinking quality people equals quality output. I'd almost agree with that except for the fact that: it only takes a good mechanic to fix a car, not an automobile engineer!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

How about a 4sim?

I had stopped posting about tech stuff since I figured there are a ton of other people that seem to know more about tech stuff that I do. Besides, we’d be talking about the same thing anyway so what’s the point right? This post however isn’t about the technology. Well at least not entirely. It’s about the preposterousness (I think that’s a word) and the absurdity of the idea. Read on.

Have you ever seen guys with more than 2 mobile phones? I have. In fact I know someone with 4 mobile phones although he doesn’t carry more than 2 phones at a time. One of the numbers is always carried while he picks and chooses which of the remaining three he’ll carry with him. Of course, he’s got a Blackberry, an iPhone, a Samsung and another one I can’t seem to remember. The only reason I remember so much is because I was fascinated with this guy’s obsession of being so “in touch” with his network that he had to get 4 phones. I was also curious about his sanity. My guess is he needs just one phone and the others are to keep track of his girlfriends/mistresses! Or maybe they’re for different business? Bah….who knows!!!

Eiher way, enter – Dody, a Chinese mobile manufacturer that has taken into accounts dweebs like this guy and made a phone just for the likes of him. Here’s a phone that has slots for 4 SIM chips and what’s even better, the e-flyer attached says you can use them all at once! (If you can't view the flyer, visit: http://www.dody.mobi/ )
What will the come up with next? Seriously, this isn’t a rhetorical question. What WILL they come up with next?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

STOP getting ripped off by Kuwaiti Mobile Phone companies!!!

For years now we have been getting swindled by mobile phone operators in Kuwait. We paid the heftiest charges among all the countries in the Middle East despite having more than one operator for the most part of 10 years. Coverage was at best average which in my book is very appalling considering the size of Kuwait and the straightforward topography. After a decade of paying for incoming calls, the arrival of VIVA saw the rest of the bunch allow incoming calls for free.

We thought this was the start of something new; a price war between the cell phone companies that would ultimately benefit the subscribers. But after a year for some reason there seems to be no fairness OR logic in the various promotions or schemes announced by either of these companies. To be honest, I don't count VIVA in this because they haven't been in the market long enough for me to commend or berate them. SO it's between Zain and Wataniya that we need to choose from. Which is the devil and which si the deep blue sea?

How does logic come into effect when their marketing team plans their strategy? I say this because I am a marketer myself and before I revise pricing, the first thing I would look at is the company's existing subscribers. How do they fit in the new pricing scheme? How will they benefit from it? I've had an eGo subscription for almost 2 years now and I bought the line when there was no special offer or anything of that sort on neither the device nor the subscription. On top of that, I paid a hefty amount for the device itself. After two years of being a loyal subscriber, I find out that they're doing promotions for new subscribers where they get a free device if they subscribe for one year. When I asked one of their customer services reps if I would get a special price on a new device and a reduction in my rate (since the new rates are KD 1.5 less than what I’m paying) the answer I got was a firm “I’m sorry sit but I can’t do that. It’s against the rule. You have to pay full price for the new device.”

Bastards! I would like to know who the freaking hell designs their promotion campaigs and who plans their marketing strategy. It’s insanely and cruelly absurd! Cell phone companies in the rest of the world reward you for being a long term customer and give you stuff either at discounted prices or for FREE. Here, I am being charged as though I am a newbie. Why would I want to stay a loyal customer? Are the mobile companies going to make any concessions that make sense in future or are they going to continue ripping us off?

Someone please make sense of this for me?!?!?!?!?!?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Calling all you Authority Abusers: do you think you're better than the rest of us?

Thanks to my job, I get to meet a lot of people in influential positions in Kuwait and although that is not always a good thing I can cope with it most of the time. However the one thing that annoys the living crap out of me is people who abuse their authority and more specifically, people who THINK they have authority.

Have you ever worked or dealt with people at the British or American Embassies in Kuwait? I mean local recruits, mainly counter staff or lower level staff that aren’t British or American in any way; mainly Lebanese, Egyptians, Syrians, Indians, Pilipino etc.? These people think just because they work for the Embassy, they’re as good as the people of that country. Now I’m not saying the British or Americans are better than the rest of us lot, but sadly this is how people in this part of the world think. And this is exactly how these ignoramuses think as well. To make matters worse, these people are rude, arrogant and condescending and thoroughly unprofessional!

Just to educate the rest of you folk who don’t know this; most lower level embassy jobs are cut and dry and as easy as pie….or maybe easier! It’s mainly filling & checking forms, accepting applications, filing, placing orders for supplies, talkling to people that call for information (that is mostly read from a book of ready answers because the nit-wits don't know to handle exceptions) releasing purchase orders etc. You don’t even need to be a brain surgeon’s ass-wipe to get those things done! The nerve of some of those people, pretending that they are more important (and busier) than the ambassadors themselves?

The funny thing is I know some real Brits and Americans that work at these embassies and they’re not even half as arrogant as their wannabe colleagues. Maybe the embassies in question need to evaluate their positions on this. Or perhaps they’re happy with employing morons because they accept to work for less? Damn shame!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Would you "Crowdsource"?

For those of you who are not in the know, I work as the Head of Sales & Marketing at a leading ground handling services provider. In a bid to infuse some new energy into our brand, I was doing some research on creating a strong branding image to sort of…clean house and re-create our brand vision; something that is not often done in this part of the world. While I was doing my research, I chanced upon a whole new concept called “Crowdsourcing”, an idea based on a company outsourcing tasks usually performed by an employee or a supplier/agency to a group of people or a community that do not have a direct vested interest in the company. The outsourcing is usually done over the web and the company uses the collaborative results or finding to reach its objective.

This is the latest trend that companies in North America and Europe are following for their marketing needs although it can be used for much more than marketing requirements/problem solving. How it works is: the company broadcasts the problem on to a group of problem solvers or “the crowd” though a medium (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc.). The crowd then sends in its version of solutions. In some advanced online communities the crowd may sort through the solutions, finding the better ones and submitting them to the company. The best solutions are then registered as property of the company and the winners get a reward from the company.

The concept itself existed as early as the 40s and 50s but presumably, the internet and web technologies do make it a whole lot imaginable …and cheaper!

Although I don’t completely agree with this ideology, I think it is new, it’s innovative and does end up bringing new ideas to the table. After all, once you’ve worked in a company for a few years you tend to get a bit stale in your thinking process and a group of people that don’t work for your company may actually have better dieas than you sometimes. That doesn’t make them better than you, it just means their minds are fresher than yours in this regard. Perhaps you can use this opportunity to take a vacation!?!?!?!

The bad side of crowdsourcing is the informality and lack of precedures. More importantly lack of monetery motivation for the people involved or "the crowd". Additionally, competitors can plant their own people in these communities to give wrong feedback and ruin the program and in some cases the reputation of your company.

Either way, it is an interesting concept and I just thought I’d share it with you guys! What do you think?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Will we ever live as ONE!

The other day I was thinking about how different countries have different defence, military and development programs that it can benefit from. Some countries even go to the extent of setting up bases and platforms in other countries or territories to get the upper hand on their neighbours and rivals. Then I chanced upon watching an episode of “V” a TV show that airs on MBC Action that revolves around a species of aliens that have come to earth from a galaxy far far away. They claim to want to live in peace with the people of earth and exchange knowledge and technology etc.but it turns out they lied and just want to conquer earth. It’s a remake of a popular 80s TV mini series that I watched as a kid. However, the plot of the storyline isn’t the point here. The point is in one of the episodes, their commander or leader tells the people of Earth that from where she comes from, there are no countries and everyone on their planet acts in the interest of the planet.

That got me thinking, when will we act like that? For centuries we have fought against one another. Different human configurations have always fought for supremacy and the reasons were manifold; racial, political, geographical and technological superiority. When, if ever, do you think will we ever begin to start thinking as citizens of the world instead of nationals of a particular country? When will we unite as one race? A race of humans! Do we have to wait for a few centuries before we start traveling in spaceships and have no more earth to conquer after the ravages of war? It is definitely something to think about. Either way, John Lennon surmises this best in his unforgettable song, Imagine. Here’s one verse for you to ponder upon!

Imagine there's no countries,

It isn't hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace