Betterment…Is A Strategy July 12, 2013Posted by David Dirks in business strategy, marketing, Marketing Buzz, Sales Strategy/Tactics, Sales Tactics.
Tags: business strategy, David Dirks, differentiation, market differentiation, market strategy, marketing, marketing strategy, sales strategy, small business strategy, strategy
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Why do people buy your products or services? Are they forced to buy them out of necessity? Do you have a monopoly? Probably not. But understanding why people buy – and it’s often not on price – is one key to business longevity.
If you sell products or services that can easily be obtained elsewhere, why should they buy from you? Think about yourself as a consumer for moment. When you make a purchase – are you making it to contribute to a life of mediocrity? No. We buy things because of one basic reason: betterment. I buy milk as a staple but the place I buy my milk is the place that offers me the best tasting milk at a fair price. I don’t buy my milk anywhere else because I feel the milk I buy there is better for me and my family.
Betterment. It’s a word…a noun to be exact. Websters defines it as “becoming better” and “an improvement that adds value to property…” Consider yourself “property” as a consumer.
As a business owner, your job is to convince the rest of the world (or at least your wedge of it) that your product or service offers someone a way to better themselves…their lives…their families. In a world where everything seems like a commodity, your edge is communicating how your company delivers on improving something in the life of your customer and, most importantly, your prospective customers. The success of your business model depends on it.
That said, if betterment was easy to define, everyone would be doing it but few are – just look around you. Most business owners are stuck on price or try to differentiate based on product or service features or benefits.
Apple has long been a master at parlaying great technology and wrapping it around betterment. Apple marketing and sales messaging is almost centrally focused on how Apple products enhance or better a life. And they are able to deliver on that promise to (if you are a pc head, you don’t get this but we’re ok with that).
If you follow a blog, perhaps this one – you have the expectation that spending time here will better your life or business in some way, shape or form. Otherwise, you wouldn’t spend you time on any blog that didn’t offer and deliver on that. The most popular blogs are followed because people get something out of them (entertainment value, economic value, etc.) that they can’t find easily elsewhere.
The first step on the path of a message of betterment is to translate what your product or service does to get a customer there. The destination is betterment. For example, a landscaper cuts the grass and makes the property look great each week. Where’s the betterment? How about the time it frees you from having to do it and spend more time on things you want to do instead – like spending more time with family. By making your property look like an estate, you feel that your property and the quality of your life are enhanced (as opposed to looking at tall grass and weeds).
In other words, a betterment message is thinking of your product beyond the standard features and benefits it offers. How does it translate – tangibly or intangibly – into a path to making some aspects of a customers life better?
The second step is making sure all of your marketing and sales messaging is zeroed in on the elements of betterment…clearly…concisely…and consistently. You have to be able to draw a picture in the mind of the customer so they don’t need an algorithm to figure out why your product is the one they should buy. They should “get” betterment.
Never easy to do but clearly worth the investment of time and effort to get there. Betterment – it’s a strategy.
Community Marketing: Fact vs. Fiction April 12, 2013Posted by David Dirks in Community Marketing.
Tags: business marketing, business strategy, community advertising, community marketing, David E Dirks, dirks on strategy, marketing, marketing strategy
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One underutilized area of marketing is where a business supports one or a few local community events and/or organizations. I say it’s underutilized primarily because most businesses I know are often not quite sure how to relate support with business needs. Then there’s the issue of why it’s good business to support local organizations and what are the best ways to support them. Here’s my list of ‘fact vs. fiction’ when it comes to what I call community marketing:
- Community marketing can be strategically important to a small businesses. Sure, you can ignore the world around you but smart businesses who support community events and organizations reap the benefits of establishing additional good will and brand equity within the community. Helping non-profit organizations in a real and genuine way raises your stature and your businesses stature in your community.
- Focusing on the “giving” part means that the business benefits to you take care of themselves and accrue in different ways. Most people can see through a person and/or business that’s clearly providing community support in the interest of only getting more business for themselves. Be selfless in this case.
- You have to spend money to support community-based organizations. Yes but often they want your time as a volunteer to sit on a board or committee…they really could use your brainpower but the money helps too. Perhaps you support them by lending them some manpower from your business for an event. Whatever it is, it isn’t just about supporting with direct dollars.
- Buying ads in community-based events will drive business. No, it won’t. You have better chance of winning the Powerball. Why? First, ads in community-event flyers have a life expectancy of about 10 seconds. Don’t believe me? Where do you think these printed booklets often go? On someones coffee table? On their fridge? Taped onto a wall? In their purse? No, most are left on the floor or table on the night of the event. Secondly, it takes more than one ad impression to get people to respond to your ad. In fact, it takes at least 3 impressions to get anyone to notice you at all. So you think that one 5 x 5 ad in the community flyer is going to drive your business? Make the phones ring? Rookie mistake. The real reason you buy ads in community events is TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT AND PROVIDE THEM WITH A SOURCE OF FUNDING. That’s it.
- Advertising in community based publications is branding. No, it’s not – at least not like Nike. You’re not Nike and spending a few hundred dollars per year to maybe $2k or $3k won’t make you a household name either. Why? Again, because the life expectancy of most community publications is minute and the amount of people who actually bother to look at the ads is even less. If advertising is your focus for branding or business development, you’re focusing on the wrong thing. Instead, build your business brand by building strong and positive relationships as you network through the community.
- You should never expect any business resulting from your involvement in a community-based organization. Wrong. The difference is that you should never hold your support for any community-based organization hostage to your demand to drive business in your direction. People will see through your real motives and your reputation will be tainted as such.
Want to know how the real community players (I mean that as professional business people who are genuine in their support) get more business? They network. They development genuine professional relationships with other business people. People like to support other people who have like-minded interests. You can get more business by being a consistent and genuine supporter of community organizations if you focus on helping the organization and leveraging the relationships of the people you meet along the way.
Learning point: If you want to meet other successful business owners and other key community influencers, working to help better community-based organizations is where you will find them. Just look at the boards of some of your community organizations? Whose on them? Losers? I think not.
Supporting community-based organizations can be a very smart investment of both time and money if you are genuine and really committed to helping them.
Seth Godin Gets It September 27, 2012Posted by David Dirks in business strategy, Sales Strategy/Tactics, Strategy.
Tags: business growth, business strategy, David Dirks, marketing, revenue, revenue growth, sales, sales strategy, Seth Godin
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As I write this post, I’m sitting in a classroom here at the Googleplex in NYC. Just heard Seth Godin (sethgodin.com) and as he was speaking, I wrote down several things (in paraphrase) that stuck with me. This is all in the context of how we become more successful in our business to help other businesses succeed:
What story are you telling?
Are you trusted?
The more you specialize, the more likely you are to solve problems.
What is your brand promise?
Are you selling scarcity or abundance?
Get it? Think about it.
Congratulations. You’ve been promoted. December 20, 2011Posted by David Dirks in marketing, Strategy.
Tags: advertising, advertising strategy, dirks on strategy, marketing, marketing strategy, sales, sales strategy
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The title of my post today is not mine really. It’s from an ad that really caught my attention. As I go through my daily reading routine, I am intent on finding information that suits my interests, needs, or wants at the time. Of course, I scan the ads and am rarely stopped by them. However, this ad drew me in. Here’s the rest of the copy of this ad:
You’re now the boss of your own life. That’s right, today you officially become your own Chief Life Officer. At Lincoln Financial, we’re here to help all Chief Life Officers take charge no matter where you are in life. So here’s to long weekends and longer retirements, 14-year-olds and 401(k)s, and to passing on wisdom and opportunities. Of course, this job doesn’t require you to punch any clock, or fill out any time sheets, because life isn’t just about what you make, but what you make of it. And while your boardroom is more likely filled with family photos than mahogany, we’d be honored to join your inner circle to help you make important decisions with confidence. After all, the future success of any organization comes down to the one making decisions today. Let Lincoln Financial help you take charge.
Calling all Chief Life Officers.
I don’t know about you but that call to “all Chief Life Officers” really appealed to me. Born at the tail end of the baby boom generation, I can appreciate the appeal to my deeply rooted “need to achieve”.
I’m sure if I was in the room at the time this ad campaign was conceived, I’m sure they were aiming for baby boomers just like me. Chief Life Officer…yup…that’s me (and many of my fellow baby boomers too).
Great strategy. Great ad.
The App in Brick & Mortar Retail Warfare May 8, 2011Posted by David Dirks in Solving Business Problems, Strategy.
Tags: business strategy, David Dirks, dirks on strategy, marketing, marketing strategy, strategy
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While online sales continue to grow at a healthy pace each year, they still only account for a fraction of total retail sales. Is brick & mortar retail on a march to eventual oblivion? Is there something to be said for the in-store buying experience? Is there any hope for traditional brick & mortar retailers in an increasingly online world?
Smart retailers have long learned to integrate their online strategy with their brick & mortar strategy. They use the websites to drive traffic into their stores using the flexibility and the quick cycle times it takes to implement new sales program on the web.
However, the real ringer for brick & mortar retailers is the rise of mobile applications. Mall owners are just now focusing their digital efforts on creating apps that can steer shoppers to their tenant stores. They are basically welding a Groupon-like strategy to the fast moving mobile application world.
Mall owner Simon Properties is currently offering the mobile app Shopkick in many of its malls. Shopkick offers special deals in tenant retailers, some of which are exclusive to Shopkick members. Simon is also considering just buying an mobile application company just to insure they always have access to cutting edge technology. It seems to make sense on a lot of fronts.
It just seems that mall owners, like many others, were slow to grasp the value of mobile applications in their business model but better late then never.
While many associate mobile apps with gaming and clever utility tools, its real value is in providing a more level playing field for brick & mortar retailers who are looking for an edge that drives foot traffic to their stores.
One interesting note about apps is that they are not searchable using engines like Google or Bing. Apps are close-ended and only use the internet to move data around. Not surprising that Google has been investing heavily in the application market (Android anyone?) knowing that increased use of applications cuts into their traditional world wide web search business.
The strategy direction for retailers, large and small, is in mobile applications. Small retailers who are able to utilize apps like Shopkick or develop their own apps will have the advantage over those who continue to ignore the opportunities within mobile applications.
Marketing & Positioning the “Second Look” September 30, 2010Posted by David Dirks in business strategy, marketing.
Tags: business strategy, David Dirks, differentiation, dirks on strategy, marketing, marketing strategy
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Talk about making lemonade from lemons, this is just pure marketing genius. Banks, under pressure to expand lending, especially to small businesses who’ve seen their lending resources just about dry up the recession, have created the ‘second look’ option. The second look option allows either the bank or the borrower to ask for another review of their loan request after the first time it is turned down.
Ok, let me see if I get this straight. I ask you for a business loan and you say ‘no’. Then, if I want, I can say, ‘hey, look a this loan request again, I think you made a mistake’. On the surface, it seems that this ‘second chance’ on a loan makes sense. I mean people who work in banks can perhaps overlook something or calculate a ratio wrong, or interpret an underwriting policy wrong, and on and on.
Of course, what borrower, after getting their loan request rejected, wouldn’t want to take a chance on another look from the bank? They might get lucky.
Of course, the banks are not stupid. They see the political pressure they are under to lend more and so they realize they can market this ‘second look’ and look like champs. Wait a minute. The bank reviews a loan, says ‘no’ and we should be grateful for the ‘second look’?
It just begs the question: Why didn’t you work to get my loan underwritten and reviewed right the first time? Why don’t you build the ‘second look’ into the ‘first look’ as a process?
Is the ‘second look’ just a substitute process for trying to get it right the first time? I believe so.
In the meantime, the banks have brilliantly positioned the ‘second look’ in print ads as the white knight to help turn ‘no’ into a ‘yes’. It reminds me of the Champion lending ads of years ago: “When Your Bank Says No, Champion Says Yes”. Remember that gem? It built quite a lending empire on the backs of a lot of bank ‘no’.
What Ronald Reagan & Lady Gaga have in common March 10, 2010Posted by David Dirks in personal branding.
Tags: branding, David Dirks, dirks on strategy, marketing, personal branding, personal marketing
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Let me show you a series of photos:
What do these two have in common? They are both excellent examples of what we call today, personal branding. Of course, in President Reagan’s day, it wasn’t called personal branding. What’s significant about both Reagan and Gaga is what they were able to accomplish over a period of time in the context of how people perceived them.
Reagan was able to move from his branded position as ‘actor’ to his next phase of branding, Governor, and then of course to his last phase, President of the United States (much to his detractors shock and awe). Think about it. Reagan, as an example for the rest of us, demonstrated that it was within the realm of possibility to move from ‘Bedtime for Bonzo’ to the Oval Office. Reagan was able to change his position from what most people thought at the time was absolutely impossible (except for Reagan himself). Going from movies and TV to the most powerful man in the world an amazing example in personal branding.
In the same context, Lady Gaga started her singing career looking and acting much different than she looks now. Most people wouldn’t be able to recognize her from her earlier days to her latest branding phase of today. Whatever you think of Lady Gaga, she’s another excellent example of moving from one branding position to entirely another. Is it working? Well, she has real talent and I’m sure her bankers would attest to her marketing power in selling songs and concerts too.
A couple of my takeaways (you may certainly have your own too):
1. Personal branding is a long term process. It took both President Reagan and Lady Gaga many years to evolve their brands. Too often today, we’re led to believe that personal branding is simply a process of repositioning yourself in a few areas using a few tools and…zappo…the new you is born. Not so.
2. Both President Reagan and Lady Gaga prove that you can clearly move from what your personal brand means today to an entirely different personal brand. Personal branding can often look like a daunting task to those of us who are not used to looking at ourselves as an evolving personal brand.
3. Talent still counts. Both Reagan and Gaga had or have real, tangible talents and skills. There’s no substitute for mediocrity. No amount of work on a personal brand can overcome a lack of ability, talent, and skill. You have to have the goods to deliver the results.
Personal branding is not something new. It used to be called your ‘reputation’…what you stood for. It still does. But it’s not just a simple process snapping your finger and making it happen. It takes time to evolve a personal brand. The best news is that you can move your personal brand from wherever it is right now to another completely different but genuine brand position. Just not in one day.
Strategy: So You Want To Be A Rock Star? December 3, 2009Posted by David Dirks in Dirks On Strategy: Episodes.
Tags: David Dirks, dirks on strategy, marketing, marketing strategy, music business, Professor Louie, strategy, woodstock records
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DirksOnStrategy120209 <—-click here to for podcast
In business, there are many ways to gain valuable insights that can be applied to your business. For instance, you can undertake a deep and regular study of your competition to gain insights. You can also study trends within your area of expertise. One way I like to gain insights that can apply to a business is to study an entirely different business or industry. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do on today’s show.
Our topic today is the business of music. The music industry is well-known for it’s glamour and shine, but at it’s core, it’s a business and one of the toughest at that. Music trends come and go; musicians are here today and sometimes tomorrow’s forgotten hit. I think they call those the ‘one hit wonders’. How many bands do you know that were “hot” for a time and then never heard from again?
To help us understand and gain some insights on the music business, my guest for our show today is Professor Louie who is part owner of Woodstock Records.
In addition to being a record label executive, Professor Louie is also an active musician, his musical group Professor Louie & The Crowmatix on the Woodstock Records label, tour and perform songs from their eight CD’s playing at least 150 shows a year and are featured artists at premier Theatres, Clubs & Festivals in the US, Canada & Europe.