The Marketing Boutique

If you’ve recently bought Company A and decided to change the name of Company A, you are probably in the middle of a rebrand. It sounds simple enough, updating all sales collateral to the new brand image, developing the right message and launching a new website that merges Company A with your company. Read More

Brand Engagement Formula

The brand engagement formula is not only about social media. And, it is more than brand awareness. Brand engagement is the process of forming an emotional or rational attachment between your consumer and your brand.

Why is brand engagement critical? Brand engagement and sales go hand-in-hand, where one can’t exist without the other. As a result, more companies invest in strategies that drive brand engagement to supercharge their marketing campaigns and win more sales.

Creating a brand engagement is a 3-step formula.

3-Step Brand Engagement Formula

  1. Create great customer experiences
  2. Add customer value
  3. Boost engagement with partnerships

Brand Engagement Formula: Create Customer Value

For B2C companies, creating great customer experiences include giveaways, test-drives, product demos, in-store experiences — customers are looking for new and exciting ways to engage with a brand.

However, it can be difficult to design these same experiences for B2B, but not impossible. Consider upgrading your customer support department with 24-hour support service, toll-free number and online training resources. You may want to include an onboarding plan and an after-service follow-up call to determine if the project was successful.

If you’re unsure where to start, look at your competitors to see what they are offering and where you can differentiate from the competition.

This approach helps to define your company’s position in your industry and at the same time, create messages and relevant customer experiences programs. Brand engagement includes the ability to define the qualities and attributes of your brands, how your brand delivers on its promise, clear brand messaging and targeted communications to the right target market.

Add Customer Value

Understanding the values and vision of our clients is fundamental in creating a genuinely engaging brand experience for their products or services. However, this also means that you may need to develop a single brand attribute to draw in their target audience.

As today’s brand builders, we want to create a genuinely authentic customer experience with your brand.

An authentic brand consists of being anchored in honesty in their message and can meet their brand promise.

The conventional approach to brand building is changing and evolving. With social media, online shopping, and social community groups, traditional B2B companies are starting to understand that one can not manufacture (no pun intended!) a set of static brand messages that can expand organically with today’s new online buying journey. Instead, B2B companies need to not only deliver the products and services that are of value to today’s consumer, but they also have to give brand messages that are honest and transparent.

Brand Engagement Formula Starts With the Client

  • Define the benefit(s) or feature(s) of your product or service that are important to your customer base;
  • Select the benefit or feature that will give you the competitive advantage
  • List the intended brand emotion your customer will get from your product or service

The Internet has changed the brand development environment. How they will interact with your brand and where they’ll find your brand is now online and with diverse mediums. Many, if not all of us will start our buying journey online. As a result, your customers want to know your brand on a personal level.

So, how can you create and maintain brand relevance in today’s fast-changing world?

  • Look to create new categories or develop value-add to your current product offering.
  • Change the brand message; sometimes the product is still great, but the brand message is out-dated
  • Change up how you promote your product or service; you may need to offer something free, try Facebook advertising or host a webinar to showcase that your brand is relevant.

Brand Engagement Formula: Boost Engagement with Partnerships

Partnerships also drive engagement. As a B2B company this could be as simple as attending a trade show and hosting a presentation while you’re at the show. The convergence of two well-established brand heavyweights can generate more sales leads and move prospects through the sales cycle faster.

If your brand could speak, what would its brand message say to your targeted audience? Is the message relevant and competitively different from the competition? How do you know? Start with a market analysis, such as:

  1. Competitive analysis.
  2. Industry trend review.
  3. Target audience purchasing behaviour, attitudes and biases of product or service
  4. Supplier Influence
  5. And other factors that will have an impact on your brand.

So, does your brand matter? Yes! And, it matters to your employees, your customers, and your bottom line. Surveying your customer base, the market, and your employees, can identify the level of brand engagement that exists today and can identify key action items to increase brand engagement across these key populations.

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Conducting a competitive analysis is probably one of the most important reports you should spend time doing for your business. It’s time well spent in knowing your competition.

Why you should know your competition

The main reason is that clients now have quick access to your competitors’ perceived or actual product/service benefits. The second reason is that you may be promoting a specific product feature or an internal human factor like customer service as your key brand differentiation – which, depending on how competitive your industry is, could not be enough to make the sale.

The third reason is that the consumer has changed. We’ve changed. We want choices, and we’ll search online to get them. Even a new advertising or social media campaign can change your customers’ minds, and they move to your competition.

Online tracking makes it easier to know your competition

On the upside of things, as someone in marketing, it has gotten easier to read the competition thanks to the Internet. Granted, you may not know about an upcoming advertising campaign from your competition, but what competitor tracking will do is help you understand the current industry environment. But you’ll need to know what you are looking at to build a marketing plan, and it starts by creating a competitive analysis spreadsheet.

How to analyze and report

What you are looking for is the ability to understand what’s next. You should be asking questions such as, “what will be your competitor’s next move? What type of skill set do they have that I’ll need that will help my company grow?

Take your time to develop these questions as it will in the analysis phase.

The next area to track is how you compare against your direct competitors based on actual product features and clients’ perceptions of your product and your competition. Ideally, create an excel with a list of products and services your competition has and compare with your company’s offering. Look for gaps.

You can discover competitive gaps and opportunities from products, marketing or sales, brand strength, client perceptions and other staff, like finance or operations.

Below are the major factors you should be tracking either weekly, monthly or daily depending on your industry.  These factors include financial stability, type of clients, marketing investment, staffing, product and service offering and brand positioning and messaging.

Competitive analysis includes the following:
  1. Who are your direct and indirect competitors
  2. Understand the threat of substitution
  3. What is the ease of market entry
  4. Supplier Power
  5. Buyer Power
RESEARCH PROCESS

At the start, create an excel template listing the top 5 to 10 factors, benefits and features your customers believe to be important and are factors for your company’s success.

You’ll need to set at least 10 hours a week to stay on top of your competitive reporting; it comes with a lot of reading competitor’s annual reports, press releases, product brochures, patent applications and much, much more!

Also, you’ll need to travel to trade shows, check out how the competition presents their brand, attend all seminars and speak with the trade show organizers – the good ones will have a vibe on the industry’s outlook based on exhibitors and attendees comments, attendance and promotional programs.

LOOK IN / LOOK OUT TO UNDERSTAND YOUR COMPETITOR

I like doing a competitive analysis. It allows me to understand clearly my company’s position in the industry, as well as my company’s strengths and weakness. During a competitive analysis, you need to remove any bias. You need to think analytical because you won’t be doing your company any favours by listing brand strengths that are still not developed. Also, brand strengths need to be relevant since you’ll be using these strengths to create a truly unique brand message that is relevant to your target market.

REAL BENEFITS IN COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS?

Yes! It will help you formulate the marketing strategy, discover opportunities in new markets or product development and create a unique brand message that will help you stand apart from your competitors.

DEALING WITH UNKNOWNS

My biggest frustration is when I read posts that insist that you can know your competitor’s marketing strategy by reading a press release. By the time you’ve read the press release, it’s too late. You are in reactive move.

However, you can find out a lot from a public company from their annual shareholder report, especially in which product saw growth, which markets they are focusing on and why they’ve spent so much money. Here is a list on how to track your competition:

  1. Subscribe to their newsletter
  2. Speak with your salespeople
  3. Speak with your client/customers
  4. Track lost sales and find out why they chose to go with the competition.
  5. Understand your market trends and political environment
  6. Be curious, don’t accept the status quo.
  7. Visit trade shows, speak with the competition.
  8. Follow them on social media.
  9. Visit their website – often.
  10. Write up a monthly report. It will help to see changes before it comes to a full-blown problem.
SALES FORECASTING

The second area is sales forecasting. There are two types of sales forecasting, a) when you’ve just launched a business and need to know your cash flow and b) when you’ve been in business for a few years and need to know how much sales you need to stay profitable.

The idea that you can track your competitive and help you with your sales forecast is naïve. It will only help you understand how much work, like marketing, promotion, sales, and product development you need to do if you plan on entering ‘their territory.’

Or, it will help you determine whether you should enter their landscape, or not and go somewhere else.

NOTE: As much I appreciate the importance of a monthly competitive analysis report, I also know that things can happen quickly. You get a big client win, or overnight a competitor enters your niche market, or there a new product introduction that caught you by surprise and changes the market space. It happens. No matter how much competitive tracking you are doing. It what makes the business so exciting.

Need more? Check out The Business Toolkit.

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As an entrepreneur, you just want to go, jump in and start selling your products and services.

I can totally relate. You are confident, excited and convinced that your product or service is the next big thing. And, so you get busy. You’re busy doing the daily tasks and administrative work in addition to selling and serving your clients.

While you’re going along with your day, your spidey senses are tingling, telling you that you are probably missing a large chunk of potential sales. And, that’s where taking the time to plan out your market, developing a marketing plan would help your company grow.

I’m not talking about the traditional 5-year marketing plan that took months to develop. Today’s marketing plans are nimble documents that are regularly updated. Let’s look closer at the five important reasons why taking the time to create a marketing plan is important:

1. The Power of Writing Down Your Goals and Objectives

A study conducted by the Dominican University, California did a study on goal-setting with 267 participants. The study revealed that 42 percent were more likely to achieve their goals just by writing them down. Successful bloggers also write down their goals as well as their yearly content marketing objectives.

Once you have written goals and objectives, you need to ask yourself this question, “How will I get there?” As a result, this will force you to create an actionable marketing plan, expand on how to execute these goals and develop a clear sense of direction.

2. Taking The Time to Plan Out Your Strategy

The lesson here is an essential competitive strategy decision-making factor is – not so fast. Don’t be so quick to decide on which direction your company show take, take your time and don’t be so sure you know what you’re doing, even if you are a 30-year veteran in the industry. You are still a new entrepreneur.

Planning out your marketing strategy will make you see the BIG PICTURE and how it all comes together with this goal and that objective?

3. Competitive Insight

Don’t let this fall behind. In fact, competitive insight should be conducted monthly.

Keeping pace, knowing and understanding your competition will help your brand positioning, create better promotional programs and develop content that is more engaging with your prospective and current customers.

Of course, when the competition is undergoing a significant change or creating an innovative product, this group stays quite, but with weekly reporting, attending trade shows, listening to your salespeople and clients you can reduce the impact of any important industry and competition changes. You’ll be less reactive. However, most people don’t understand how to use competitive insight. You’ll probably create a list of product features and then develop a sales pitch on what makes your product better. Instead, use the competitive insight for Change, Understand, Predict, and Plan (CUPP®) and not as an information search-and-distribute function.

4. Know Your Marketing Tactics

Quite simply, there are just too many companies “doing” for the sake of doing but not fully understanding what’s involved in making a marketing tactic successful or even useful. It’s there, it’s popular, everyone is writing about it and claiming success, so will I do it too.

But, is it?

If you own a wellness spa company, do you have enough content and manpower to start-up a monthly newsletter? What about the cosmetic manufacturer, do you understand what’s involved in purchasing a list? Should you even buy a list? Or, the most popular one, “we need to go to that trade show” and the only preplanning they do is fill out the forms. Investing in the wrong marketing tactics or not understanding how a tactic works are costly mistakes, financially as well as in your brand reputation.

5. Historical Review

As your fiscal year approaches, you have the excellent opportunity to review what you have accomplished and what didn’t work out because you took the time to write down your marketing plan. By creating your marketing plan at the same time as your fiscal year, it creates a good habit as well as allows you the time to clean out time wasters, crystalize your brand vision and stay focused on what needs to happen in the following year for your company to grow and be profitable.

It is also critical to review your goals frequently so you can course correct them as you move on. If you are a solo-entrepreneur or work as part of a team in health and wellness, a strong review process will help you stay on track with your big picture goals while you dive deep into implementing the tactics on a day-to-day basis.

Resources:

[Updated: July 2016]

I read an article today from Sanjeev Patel, from Aura Wellness Center on “The Problem with Teaching Yoga Fitness Classes”. Now stay with me on this post, it will relate to marketing…

Sanjeev highlights how yoga has changed in North America, due in part for the “need for speed” attitude that is mainstream in North America. He notes that instead of yoga being about mindfulness, it is changing to meet the needs of people who expect results – pronto. Sanjeev asks the question to yoga instructors, “Which way will you go?”

This got me thinking, can a single yoga instructor solve this problem? Or, should the yoga industry take back the word yoga? How do we solve this brand identity problem?

Brand Identity – How To Best Enter A New Market

It’s the nature of North America, in particular for the US – we see something that popular with the opportunity for growth and what do we do? We take it, own it and try to make money out of it. Even if this means we blend yoga with Zumba and call it Yoga Intense, Power Yoga or Yoga Dance, you get the idea.

However, entering a new market, in any market does mean that your product, image, message and sometimes even ingredients will change. It has too. Lucky are the products that don’t have to change, for example, a car is still a car in any market. For others, like the yoga industry is in a crisis. People are taking it and liquefying the product to the point that it may become unrecognizable.

Protect Your Product, Control The Brand

The main problem is that we keep calling these exercises Yoga when it fact these are not yoga at all. Because yoga took a long time to become mainstream and as a result the slow, grass movement created a fragmented market, making it hard to control ‘true yoga’.

When a product that is exported via a single distribution will help to protect your brand. Apple product is a perfect example where we can only buy these products as their retail stores or on the Apple site. Not only are you creating better control over their brand but also price leadership.

The “yoga” product is harder to control since it is not a physical product, then we have an increase in Yoga Teaching Centers in North America, all adding to this challenge. But there is a way…keep on reading.

Trade Mark or Brand the Industry or Product

While we all hope to have this problem, a brand that is too popular to control, this does present a second problem – an industry or product that becomes diluted due to its popularity. The industry or product is being crushed or in business terms, cannibalized by its own financial success.

This presents an opportunity… trademark yoga, making all the others irrelevant.

Take the case study of Parmigiano-Reggiano – the greatest cheese in the world, by the way.

But I digress.

Many years ago, Parmigiano became very popular, to the point where we even had Kraft Parmigiano Cheese in a shaker tube, sold on the shelf. It wasn’t even required to be put in the fridge!! And, yet they got away with selling it as ‘Parmigiano’. Now you know you have a brand problem when Kraft is selling ethnic foods as ethnic and people believing it’s the same product as the imported Parmigiano-Reggiano.

What did Italy do?

They trademarked, branded and added the word, “Reggiano” to their product. Today, if you buy any other Parmigiano without having it state, Parmigiano-Reggiano, it is not Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Yoga associations or perhaps India should do the same thing. Brand Yoga with Yoga-Saraswati or something like that.

Protect Your Brand | Stay Consistent With All Your Sales Channels

We all need to make money. Now that’s out of the way, let’s take a step back and look at all the recent popular online promotional programs, specifically those list building programs. I’m all in favour of building your email list but not at the expense of selling your brand or expertise.

This is the same for yoga teachers, who want to increase the number of students and as a result, we blend and create a new yoga class to hopefully attract the people who like to beat themselves silly to get fit and hopefully will find Power Yoga really interesting.

I think the question that should be asked is, “How will you protect your industry?”

Cecilia

Article: The Problem With Teaching Yoga Fitness Classes.