Is your business stuck in a rut? Are your competitors getting ahead of you? Are you spending all of your time working “in” your business and none working “on” your business? If you answered yes to any of these questions, now is the time to innovate!
Innovation for business comes in many forms. Whether the product, the packaging or the marketing, there is always an opportunity to innovate.
Product Innovation: The one thing that the leading product innovators have in common is that they provide a solution to a problem. In some cases, even before the customer realises they have the problem. Take for example the “walkman”. Long before the Internet, the clever team at Sony created a device that enabled you to carry your music with you for the first time. Before this, many people did not know they needed to carry music with them but the company recognised this as an opportunity to show people the problem they had – not being able to listen to music while on the move, and provided a solution. Over 150 million units were sold. A very successful product innovation!
Packaging Innovation: There are numerous examples of this in our everyday lives like individual portion sized packaging for food and drinks. One of our favourites however, is “Garden In A Bag”. As apartment living increased the ability to grow herbs in your own backyard became more challenging. With a little innovation, the team from Garden In a Bag came up with a fantastic solution. A paper bag, filled with seeds and nutritious soil, to have your own fresh herbs growing on a window sill or small balcony with minimal fuss. You simply cut the top, add water and wait for it to sprout within 7-10 days!
Marketing Innovation: For this one we are going to come back to those clever people at Sony. When the Sony Walkman was launched, the company took the unusual move of inviting journalists to a park, fitting them each with a walkman and having them learn about the product through experience. As the journalists walked around the park, they were instructed to view the product in use in various places including watching a couple ride a tandem bike, each listening to their Sony Walkman.
So, our key tips for innovation are:
- Look at how your product can overcome a challenge for your customer to make their lives easier
- Be creative with your packaging to see how you can make it simpler for your customers to consume your product
- Market through experience. Look at ways to engage your target market as part of your marketing activity.
We are talking all things innovation on our Facebook page. Come on over and join the conversation!
Every day I have the privilege of working with some amazing business owners and operators who are passionate and dedicated to succeeding. While they operate in a range of industries and offer varying products and services, the issues they face in relation to marketing are often the same.
The most common challenge by far is finding the right balance of marketing to provide a steady (and growing) income. When quiet, many businesses often panic and spend a lot of money on the first opportunity that comes to hand or the marketing they like to do. When busy, marketing often slips by the way-side as they are “too busy”.
To be effective and balanced when marketing, planning and an understanding of your target market is crucial. Here are our top five tips for keeping your marketing activities in balance.
- Seasonality and purchase lead-time: Every business I have worked with has operated within a seasonal chart. It might not be evident at first, but on closer inspection, customers buy certain products and services at certain times of the year/month/week or day. Furthermore, they have a certain period of time that they will research their products prior to making the purchase.
- Plan it! If you have a plan, you are more likely to make it happen. Proactive marketing enables you to look at the whole picture – your business objectives; products and services you offer; who your customer is and where they like to make their purchases. If you can put a plan together that considers all of these things you will always get a better result than if you throw money into something that is really just a knee jerk reaction to a quiet day/week or month!
- Make Time: I sometimes wish there was a BAS statement equivalent required by government to review your marketing.. Why? Because then it would not be left to last on the to do list. Marketing is an important part of the business operations mix. If you find you do not have time, then call in the marketing support team. Just make it happen!
- Be consistent! It is very easy when we work with something day in day out to become tired or bored and want to change things up… Don’t! Being clear with customers about who you are and what you offer is imperative to business success. It is fine to introduce new products and services to meet your clients’ demands, but ensure that they are communicated in a way that maintains your brand integrity and personality.
- Measure It! We are constantly amazed at how many businesses are not measuring their marketing activities. Not only will measuring each activity give you insights into the success of your marketing, but you can also gain a greater level of understanding on your clients purchasing behaviour preferences including method of communication, purchase lead times, preferred products and more!
If you are struggling to balance your marketing with the other demands of your business, give us a call today.
May is Mentoring Month on the Marketing Directions Facebook page and I have spent a lot of time thinking about the whole process of Mentoring. Last month I wrote a blog about how to get the most out of your mentoring sessions, both for the Mentor and the Mentee. This month I want to take a step back and look at how we choose a Mentor/Mentee that best suits our needs.
In researching this piece, I asked a number of people whom they would choose to have as Mentor if they could select anyone and why. For me the choice was easy, Richard Branson. Why? I believe him to be a true leader, an out of the box thinker, a progressive human being and of course a guru when it comes to marketing. Here are a few other people’s responses
Sharyn, Hairdresser: “Trevor Sorbie as he is the best in his field”
Chris, Medical Doctor: “John Murtagh is a leader and an educator”
Antoinette, Business Development: “Anita Roddick , a woman with amazing spirit starting a business with ethics and respect of animals when many weren’t while mothering two small children… She always managed to travel and manage a highly successful business and dedicate a lot of time and money to wonderful causes. “
Leah, Identity Creator/Entrepreneur: “I find women in business inspiring, and in particular those that have defined their own success against adversity like Oprah”
David, Entrepreneur and OT: “Dan Kennedy- one of the greatest copy writers of all time, Doyen information marketer and mister accountability. This is a hold nothing back kind of guy that really would fire a rocket under ones touche to get stuff done and done well.”
The main reason for all of these choices is that they have excelled in their respective fields. They have shown what can be done through actions. So here are my top three tips for accessing the right Mentor – be it for Marketing or other areas for your business.
- Actions speak louder than words – a cliché but it is true. Take a look at what the people have achieved either in their own business or with their clients. If possible, ask to speak to past clients.
- Compatibility – meet with your potential mentor prior to starting to determine if you are a good fit for one another. Discuss communication preferences and session expectations to ensure your goals are aligned with their style of mentoring
- Money – Money – Money – there are many mentors in many professions all claiming to be able to take your business to the next level. They all come with a range of price tags too. Be clear on what your mentoring sessions will cost you and what return you aim to achieve with the sessions.
This Thursday morning, I will be fortunate to see my ideal mentor speak live at a breakfast function. Am I excited? My gosh yes! I might just need to write all about it in a second blog post later this week!
At Marketing Directions we love to share our passion for marketing and the results it can achieve, hence we offer a Marketing Mentoring service. Like all training opportunities, whether a mentor or a mentee, it is vital you be prepared and ready for action. We adhere these five protocols to be the best mentors we can.
- We get the facts – we like to start with a questionnaire for our clients to gauge the needs of the client on both an individual and company level.
- We listen – our first session is all about engaging the client. With a series of probing questions out of the way, it is the client’s turn to really open up about who they are, what they hope to achieve and what challenges/opportunities they see in getting there.
- We provide structure – we find it imperative that we not only give our clients structure for their marketing, but also structure for the sessions themselves. Knowing what to expect allows mentees fully engage in the process.
- We set tasks – Ok so no one likes to feel like they are back in school doing homework but having something to work on is the best way to learn. It also shows both the Mentor and the Mentee what works best in the relationship and which skill sets can be improved.
- Feedback – we don’t like this, we love it. We give it and we take it because we all want to get better at what we are doing.
And our top three tips for Mentees (as provided by past clients)…
- Be Open – the more information you share, the greater insights your Mentor has into your business and your ability to make it exceptional.
- Ask Questions – we all come together with different experiences and therefore have a different way of viewing things. It is a cliché but a true one; there are no silly questions, just silly people who wont ask the questions.
- Give and take – do the tasks assigned to you. Be honest about the time taken and challenges to complete them. This will enable your Mentor to make the process easier for you to manage and improve your desire to complete it.
Want to know about our Marketing Mentoring program? Click here…
“Data is King and Content is Queen” Trudi Hollis
When running mentoring sessions, I often use the above expression above to emphasise the importance and need to interconnect the two areas of marketing I believe reap the best return on investment for small business.
In the first instance is the King. The King is all powerful. He holds all the cards – and the treasure. He is the master of the people, the owner of the database. He has all the lists, knows everyone and everything about everyone. The only problem is, knowing all the people in the land is no use if you don’t have something to share with them. This is where the Queen is of great use to her husband – in fact without her, the people of the land would think him a boring old sod who had nothing of interest to share.
(Stay with me)
So, when the Queen realises that farmers need new clothes and that the tailors are running out of food, she plants an idea. “Oh husband, why don’t you suggest to the farmers that they exchange some of their milk and barley for some clothes from the tailor”, the King can really come into his own, and seem like the knowledgeable leader he is supposed to be!
In my experience with both big and small business, there are two things that when combined, consistently deliver results. The first is the database. This is the list of clients that have transacted or shown a strong desire to transact with your business in the past. They know you, they trust you and are more likely to return and purchase once more. The second is the clear offer that brings them back. Be it value proposition or a specific product offer, this is the message that you send to this loyal following to encourage them to spend more.
So my royal decree for you
- If you have not already start collecting your current clients data (NAME: EMAIL: PHONE: PRODUCT/SERVICE PURCHASED OR ENQUIRED ON as a minimum)
- Start using this data to it’s ensure a return on investment with regular offer and reinforcement of the value you can provide them
According to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus
“The only thing that is constant is change”
Given the pace of our lives today you would think we all know this BUT when we have to live through it we often panic and stumble. Sometimes we pick ourselves up but other times we fall quite magnificently.
Marketing Directions recently undertook a very big change, we relocated from Geelong, Victoria to Brisbane, Queensland. Being planners, we had meticulous lists to tick off to ensure a smooth transition. Clients and suppliers have kindly awarded us a gold star and we believe it was because we had a solid communication strategy.
Whether you are relocating your business; changing your product or service offering or changing the look and feel of your business, it is important to communicate effectively to clients, staff and suppliers.
Here is our three step plan…
- Give plenty of notice – at least 1 month for all of the above scenarios. By keeping others informed you show how much you value you them and want to involve then in the process
- Explain how your change will impact and hopefully improve their experience
- Open the door for comments and feedback. Whether it be face to face, a phone call, a formal letter, follow up survey or all of these communications tools
Now, if this process does not deliver you the desired smooth transition, take comfort in these words from Deepak Chopra
“All great changes are preceded by chaos”