Advertising and Marketing Programs for Small and Medium Business

Small and medium sized enterprises typically have very different requirements and capabilities to engage their target audience through Advertising and Marketing programs.  Typically, most of these firms are limited by a heavy constraint in budget and cannot rollout the kind of marketing campaigns as MNCs do. Immediate returns on investment becomes crucial in considering not only the success of the advertising and marketing programs, but also a question of survival for small and medium businesses.

Here are few things your business may benefit from while planning on such a program. Give some thought to them.

  1. Have you selected your target audience? What is your estimated penetration (both maximum and minimum) of the total size of the target consumer segment? What is their estimated consumption pattern. What scope is there in repeated consumption and at what rate?
  2. Have you decided the marketing mix for your program? If not, you should read our article on the The 4 P’s of Marketing – The Marketing Mix strategies as a starter. If you are providing a service, do go through this article on services marketing.
  3. How do you differentiate with your advertising from that of your competitors? What incremental value do you provide to your customer segment? What is the comparative pricing scenario with your competitors and substitute products/services?
  4. Have you done any market research to find out the gaps in the needs of the target segment? Have you designed your product based on the needs of the target segment? A market research is a good risk mitigation strategy, and in very helpful, especially for small businesses, and needs to be done in house.
  5. Have you decided the budget and target returns on that expenditure on the marketing program? Is the estimated expenditure clearly demarked under multiple over heads? Do the estimated returns stand in accordance to your estimated penetration level post program implementation (point 1).
  6. Have you chosen the mediums such that there is a connect between the targeted segment while they are using the medium? Using a medium like Facebook while you are promoting an online dating website may work wonders, but if you use the same for a B2B (industrial) product or even a B2C product like local food joints/products, the same will not work.
  7. Have you thought of the implementation plans such that the intent to purchase may be converted to actual purchases? Many websites showcase items which the consumer gets interested about, but ultimately sale conversion doesn’t happen since the payment/check out options are not easily available on the website.
  8. What kind of strategy do you want to use? Would you prefer a PUSH strategy rather than a PULL strategy? Is your strategy sustainable and scalable in the long run, if you have similar plans. A PUSH strategy by increasing incentives at the point of sales (maybe at the shops/retail outlets) may work best if the target segment is local or the consumption point is locality specific. Expenditures on branding may not be necessary in that case since brand loyalty does not have incremental benefits.
  9. Is your strategy imitable? Can your competitors do what you are doing, better, and beat you at your game? Are you utilizing any capability/resource which is essentially core to your business and which your competitors may not have access to? Have you thought of customer retention services post sales?
  10. Last but not the least, is your marketing strategy in sync with the social and legal framework within which your business is expected to function. Have you checked out the legal requirements.

We hope that these simple guidelines help you to develop a great successful marketing and advertising program for your business. Do write to us if you want any suggestions.

Digital Marketing – Theories, Strategies and Frameworks

Digital Marketing is basically promotion of brands using all forms of digital advertising mediums to reach the target segment. This now includes Radio, mobile, Internet, Television, social media marketing and other less popular forms of digital media.

Continue reading “Digital Marketing – Theories, Strategies and Frameworks”

Marketing Mix – The 4 P’s of Social Marketing

Social marketing was “born” as a discipline in the 1970s, with the increasing need to “sell” ideas, attitudes and behaviors, a paradigmatic shift from the need to market products only. Kotler and Andreasen define social marketing as “differing from other areas of marketing only with respect to the objectives of the marketer and his or her organization. The focus is on creating and sustaining demand for the product and service by market modification or even creation.

Social marketing seeks to influence social behaviors not to benefit the marketer, but to benefit the target audience and the general society, so as to create and/or modify the entire target market structure partially or entirely.  This technique has been used extensively in international health or social awareness programs, especially for contraceptives, oral rehydration therapy (ORT) and AIDS. Today it is being used with more frequency for raising awareness in diverse topics as drug abuse, socio-psychological disorders, potentially life threatening sexually transmitted diseases and organ donation.

The 4 Ps of Marketing or better known as the Marketing Mix are as follows:

Product
The social marketing “product” is not necessarily a physical offering. The products can range from intangible to actual physical products, so services (nursing, human rights violation), practices (AIDS awareness or breastfeeding) and finally, more intangible ideas (e.g., environmental protection). Since to have a viable “product”, the target segment must first perceive a genuine problem or a need, and that the product or service being marketed is a good solution for that problem. The role of research here is to discover the consumers’ perceptions of the problem and the product, and to determine which are the more important perceved factors regarding the same.

Price
“Price” refers to what the consumer must do or pay (in terms of financial, physical effort time or any other resource) in order to obtain the social marketing product or service. This cost may be financial (Dollars/Pounds), or it may instead require the consumer to give up intangible sources of value, such as time, effort, or to risk embarrassment and social ostracism. Just like product marketing, if the costs outweigh the benefits for an individual, the perceived value of the offering will be low and it will be unlikely to be adopted, but if the benefits are perceived as greater than their costs, chances of trial and adoption of the product is much greater.

Place
“Place” describes the methodology the product or service reaches the target segment. Think about where and when the audience will perform the behavior or access the new or adapted product/service. How can you make it convenient and pleasant so as to increase chances of adoption? Also think about training your sales team – the people that will take your program to the audience. By training the team on the details of the activities and habits of the target segment, as well as their experience and dissatisfaction with the existing delivery system, better adoption may be achieved.

Promotion
Use of extensive market research is necessary to determine the communication channels that will best reach your audience for easy adoption of the products or services. It becomes crucial to understand which advertising or public relations media would play a greater role (e.g., radio, newspaper, postcard racks) since that WILL VARY depending on the product/service and also on the target segment.

Few other marketing mix  ( The 8 P’s of Marketing)

There are four other P’s which along with the previously mentioned 4 P’s are often necessary considerations while marketing of ideas and lifestyle.

Public: Marketers would have different audiences that their program has to address in order to accelerate adoption of the products and ideas. “Public” could be both the external and internal groups. External groups would include the target audience, policymakers, and gatekeepers, while the internal groups would comprise of the sale team trained for the implementation of the program.

Partnership: Lifestyle and Social issues are often so ingrained into the consumer that change becomes a real challenge. Teaming up with organizations in the community helps to be effective. Organizations with similar goals to your campaign, not necessarily the same goals, need to be identified and collaborated with. Co-creation of market even with a competitor is sometimes necessary.

Policy: Social marketing campaigns could do well in stimulating individual behavior change, but for sustainability, environmental change is necessary. Thus policy changes from the government is often important and so is pitching your product and/or service to the policy makers crucial for the sustainability of your campaign.

Purse: Most social marketing campaigns operate through funds provided by sources such as NGOs, foundations, governmental grants, private donations and CSR funds. This adds another dimension to the strategy development and sustainability of campaigns, namely, planning the funding process well in advance in different stages of the program.

These are the factors a marketer should keep in mind while marketing ideas or lifestyle changes.

By the way, did you read our article on the 7 P’s of Services Marketing?

Do let us know if you have any questions.

Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid – Marketing Strategies

Economically speaking, the “Bottom of the Pyramid” is the largest and also the poorest socio-economic class of people across economies. This consumer segment consists of 2.5 billion people who live on less than 2.50 dollar per day. The phrase “bottom of the pyramid” is used in particular by people developing new models of doing business that deliberately target that demographic, often using new technology. This segment of consumers have also been referred to as the “Base of the Pyramid” or more commonly the “BoP”.  This consumer segment has drawn the attention of the biggest marketing firms due to the sheer earning potentials from volumes of sales with low margins.

The consumers at the bottom of the pyramid have a very distinct buying behavior as opposed to the other consumers. While the rest of the consumer segment derive value from products through 3 sources, namely attribute based satisfaction, consequence based satisfaction and finally, goal based satisfaction,  it is our belief that the consumers at the BoP derive value / satisfaction mostly from the innermost ring or the first level/source of satisfaction. Because of their spending ability, this class of consumers tend to be very conscious about the core benefits obtained from the purchase of any product or services.The probability is high for success of products which fulfill the attributes of the lower bases of the consumer need model provided below.

While every the most profitable consumer segment in current economic times is the youth within the age gap of 20 – 30, commonly called the twenty sumthing, the sheer volume of possible purchases in this consumer segment has become a focus for marketers. While every product offers benefits to its consumers not only from its core attributes, but also from its fringe attributes (benefits from outer levels), this class predominantly derives maximum satisfaction from the core attributes of products only. Product extensions and ego-based attributes have little impact on the consumption and buying behavior of this consumer segment, who would in fact, perceive the extra benefits as being something, they are having to shell out quite a bit extra, even if the marketing firm does not charge for them. While “extras” in the product marketing mix may consist of other value adding product extensions, care needs to be taken while deciding on the basket of goods for such consumers. Thus the probability is high for success of products which fulfill the attributes of the lower bases of the consumer need model provided below, namely which fulfill the physiological need and the security needs the most.

Pricing strategies also play a major role for the success of marketing strategies in such a consumer segment. While place and promotion offer very meager sources of value or utility, a low pricing of products is often a mantra for easy acceptance on a new product introduction. Price premiums are not easily tolerable in this highly sensitive value-sensitive consumer segment. Thus it has been seen that companies rage low-price war to capture the market of this segment, and many success stories which have been glorified are that of Nirma cake soap, Tata Namak, and other brands which churned billions of dollar by targeting this segment.

Bringing home the Digits with Digital Signage

Digital signage is on a meteoric rise, both in Europe and the US. Originally utilized as branding and advertising on high streets, landmark sites and sports events, digital signage is now being utilized as a successful in-store marketing tool; revolutionizing retail and providing a whole new dimension to customers’ shopping experience.

Research in 2007 indicated that around 75 % of retail purchasing decisions were made in store, highlighting how underused digital signage was in relation to a marketing opportunity. Yet the Return on Investment (ROI) figures have been increasing every year, highlighting that there is still room for improvement for retailers keen to employ digital signage to its full potential. In 2009, a Digicom survey found that 78 percent of customers felt that in-store digital signage displays made a particular product more attractive than if it was advertised via standard print signage.

Current figures demonstrate that on average, digital signage solutions deliver an 18 percent increase in sales. This figure is substantial when, on average, only two in every 100 consumers make a purchase in an ordinary retail environment. It is not surprise then that in Europe, digital signage installations are set to rise by a whopping 144 percent over the next three years. According to a new survey by POPAI, this figure doesn’t look like slowing after 2013 either.
With this swift growth in mind many of the industry’s top protagonists will meet at the Next Generation Retail Europe event (hosted by GDS International) in March 2011 to discuss the importance and growing various types of digital signage. Among the high-profile retailers in attendance will be Giorgio Armani, Marks & Spencer,  McDonald’s, Tesco, Carrefour, Diesel, Edeka Zentrale, Sainsbury’s and Pearle Europe, who will each send key executives to the meeting to discuss digital screens, interactive kiosk technology and in-store broadcast networks among other discussion points.

“[Retailers have] learned a lot of lessons, says Mike Gatti, Executive Director of the Retail Advertising Marketing Association. “We’re seeing retailers are bringing their screens down to shelf level, they’re embedding them with a lot of products, and they’ve really tailored the messages a lot more so they are able to deliver the message quickly and a lot more effectively to the customer.”

Other issues within the digital signage realm include linking the necessary hardware, software and media players together to promote a continual, uninterrupted campaign, and sustainability, where companies can utilize solid-state players, which help its carbon footprint. All of this and more, will be discussed at the  Next Generation Retail Europe event next March.

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This Article is authored by Jake Mazan, who is a guest author at Business Fundas. He is a Senior Research Analyst cum Manager at NG-Online News.

The Most Profitable Consumer Segment

Today, the youth within the age gap of 20 – 30, commonly called the twentysumthing has become the most profitable segment for marketers. After all, this slice of the larger young adult market is nearly 38 million strong (and growing), spends more than $150 billion annually, is predisposed towards early adoption, and the bulk of its brand loyalties are still in a state of flux.   Outperform your competition and you’ll generate immediate gains to the bottom line while building lasting brand loyalties.  Miss the boat and you risk giving away a priceless competitive advantage.

TODAY’S TWENTYSOMETHINGS

To be successful, packaging must address the unique mindset and leading behavioral drivers of today’s young adults.  The market’s psyche is driven by several key factors:

Rapidly Evolving

Young adults are evolving at warp speed in language, lifestyle, usage, consideration set, and attitudes.  What’s cool today, may be passé tomorrow: brands can become obsolete faster than a speeding train.

Market Savvy

Today’s young adults are acutely aware that they are a highly desirable target market.  In a time when advertising has infiltrated pop culture, twentysomethings are well versed with the dynamics of marketing and sales: they’ve “been there, done that”.  Don’t be fooled… the market may look naïve, but it’s composed of highly experienced and enlightened consumers.

Cynical

Having been touched by crime, AIDS, drugs, corporate downsizing, and an endless parade of political scandals, twentysomethings expect to be mugged by marketers.  (Sad, but true.)   Product claims are instantly interpreted as hype and greeted with intense skepticism.

Time Crunched

Packaging can, and should, help facilitate faster decision-making.  Young adults live in an accelerated culture where time is a precious commodity.  No matter what their age or socioeconomic status, they are struggling to balance work and leisure.   Products and services that deliver increased productivity or improved quality of life will be duly rewarded.

“Adventure Seeking”

With the advent of the Global Village, young adults are taking full advantage of what the world has to offer in music, food, culture, fashion, travel, ad infinitum.  They love to “adventure seek” and have the financial resources to do so.  Except for a few lucky brands, young adults typically brand surf from one product to the next.  As such, this audience is usually the first to adopt a new product, brand, or line extension.

Culturally Diverse

Today’s young adults are the most ethnically diverse group in American history.  Remember, folks, this is the “MTV Generation”.  A gangster rap video here, an alternative rock video there, Tommy Hilfiger in the inner city, FUBU in the suburbs have blurred the lines that once formally separated one ethnic group from another.  The implications on packaging strategy have yet to be fully understood.

Sophisticated (Sometimes)

The market is incredibly sophisticated across a variety of product categories, but by no means all.  The average young adult may be quite knowledgeable about high involvement categories such as fashion, electronics, music, computers, and entertainment.  In fact, in such categories, their role as Early Adopters and Influencers is nothing short of profound.  Conversely, peripheral categories (read: MOST product categories) are low involvement and, hence, call for split decision making.   “Um, I’ll take that… ah, THAT piece of gum please.”  Packaging can play an instrumental role in young adult purchasing because the market is NOT as sophisticated about most product categories as it would like you to believe.

Also, this segment is strongly categorized for having a very strong network value. Social networks play an important role in this segment.

If you do have a product for this segment, do ensure that you consider these factors while developing your marketing mix and designing your 4Ps or 7Ps as the case may be.

What is Customer Network Value

“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” – Jeff Bezos.

Customer Network Value is the Value generated from the network (Both social and professional) by the acquisition of new customers through word of mouth advertising.

Jeff Bezos, the founder, president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Amazon.com never said anything truer when it came to realize Customer Network Value. Typically it has been seen that for both B2B products and especially for B2C products, word of mouth proves to be a better media for advertising than most other media, and actually the returns on investments are that much higher.

Typically every customer has their own Customer Life-time Value (CLTV) to the firm. But very few managers realize that this is only a small fraction of the value that can be generated from a customer. The social and professional network provides another great source of value to the firm, potentially called the Customer Network Value.
Customers, on an average, through their network can potentially rope in, 2-5 times their own life time value (revenue), from their network, if they are satisfied. A satisfied customer, on an average, brings in 2.8 new customers to your firm, in the B2C segment, through word of mouth.

Not only by creating customer satisfaction, you are increasing his life tme value to the firm, by increasing customer loyalty, but also you will increase the customers network value and rope in new customers.

And all this extra network value for almost zero cost of acquisition. This is of prime importance in today’s business scenario since typically, cost of new customer acquisition is 5 times than to retain an old one. Although it is difficult to determine the exact origins of this value claim, the earliest sources that we can find attribute it to research conducted by the Technical Assistance Research Project (TARP) in Washington, D.C. in the late 1980s. Around the same time, other loyalty pundits claimed exactly the same findings as their own (for example, the Customer Service Institute, Consumer Connections Corp., and ITEM Group).

How ever big may be the multiplicity value, it boils down to one thing, Customer’s network value cannot be rejected in current times.

By the way, did you read our article on customer lifetime value estimation and management?

Customer Knowledge Management

Coined in 2002 by García-Murillo and Annabi, customer knowledge management is the newest thing in the series of customer value management (See customer life time value management & customer network value management). Gathering,  managing,  and  sharing  customer  knowledge  can be a highly valuable  competitive  tool that  companies  and scholars have not yet considered to the extent possible it can be done. Today, the insights of the customers should be used right from the very beginning from the product development stage to the final stages of the product life cycle. García-Murillo and Annabi (2002) gives a pretty comprehensive framework of knowledge management, across the entire continuum, that a firm needs to practice throughout the  value chain to deliver value for the potential customers.

Having customer insights and managing the same through good processes and is important for getting  better and more timely design of new products and services; early warning of possible turbulence and competitive intelligence; customer commitment and loyalty; and deriving the maximum benefits from the synergy of collaboration. So how should one manage the insights customers may have effectively to draw the maximum value for the firm?

Today, a lot of informal knowledge lies in the knowledge portals available in the web.  There are so many blogs and online forums where there is a high level of potential customer engagement, through mutual exchanges of information and discussions. Knowledge management through the mining of such unstructured data is one of the surest way to capture the customer sentiments and knowledge. If the insights can be successfully incorporated into the processes while the firm is developing a product, it may be a sure gateway to success.

Today many companies are incorporating a higher degree of customer engagement activities in their relationship management strategies. It is being felt that active voice of a customer can have an effect beyond the customer’s lifetime value and the customer’s network value. The insights can be actually incorporated within the product finalization stage itself, so that the customer can be engaged and bound into a relationship, even before the product is formally launched into the market. Not only this tactic draws higher brand recognition, it paves the path for a higher relationship development of the firm with its customers. Gibbert et al. provides an excellent framework for managing the knowledge of customers through three focused strategies, namely, Prosumerism, Team based co-learning and mutual innovation.

  • Alvin Toffler (1980) first used the expression “prosumer” to denote that the customer could fill the dual roles of producer and consumer. The CKM process transforms the customer into a co-value creator, endowing them with new competencies and benefaction opportunities.  It liberates the customer from the platform of only past, accumulated knowledge by stimulating the knowledge within them for the co-production of value.
  • In team based co-learning, the inter-linkages with the customer base and their interactive joint learning with the customers require a higher level of engagement of the firm with the customers. Customer may be actively involved in the product refinement itself.
  • Mutual innovation is possible when the firm actually starts incentivising the potential customers for the mutual creation of value. This is often feasible only if custom made products are being manufactured, and less feasible for standardized products.

In all the three cases, it is evident that there is immense benefits that can be reaped if customer knowledge management can be done to co-create value with the customers. The insights of the customers can be of extreme significance to sustainably market a product throughout the product life cycle. Hopefully, in the future, a higher degree of customer engagement will be available while developing the product itself and throughout the PLC curve.

Coco-Cola Goes Crazy for Harris!

Now it’s not very often a fantastic TV ad has the opportunity to make a comeback and bless our screens for a second time, but fortunately Coco-Cola have decided to bring back the ‘Yeah yeah yeah, La la la’ TV ad featuring DJ Calvin Harris. What I love about this ad is how Mother, the creative agency, have injected some much happiness and colour into the creative. The slogan ‘Open Happiness’ fits brilliantly with the look and feel of the marketing activity. I can’t help but feel uplifted and carefree listening to the cheerful music and watching the bright scenery. I also like the cleverly designed machine! The ad is perfect for summer – which conveniently brings me on to their reason for bringing back the ad. So why?

Why bring the ad back?
Coco-Cola initially used the ad as part of their £50m European marketing plan in summer 2009.  After hitting our screens last year Coke have decided to use the ad to promote an on-pack summer promotion. The promotion claims to give away free gig tickets every hour during August 2010. Coco-Cola fans can also enter the hourly prize draw online via the Coke Zone website: www.cokezone.co.uk to win even more prizes! I love how Coco-Cola have been able to effectively reuse their ad material to strengthen their brand’s messages as well as capture a sense of history with the consumer, which they can share together. The new promotion is using a lot of online activity which is encouraging greater engagement with the brand too.

 Why not watch the ad for yourself and see what you think:

 

I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer !

‘Feel Good’ for summer!

Summer is here – let’s hear a BIG cheer!

Now whether you are getting ready for a cruise around the world, a trip to Paris or simply a few days away to the coast, Boots are keen to let all women know that they can lend a helping hand with the holiday packing process… whether it’s finding the right suncream, insect spray, fake tan, sunglasses etc etc etc Boots wants women all over the UK to ‘Feel Good’ this summer. Continue reading “‘Feel Good’ for summer!”

TV Idents becoming more inspiring…

For a long time TV channels have wanted to brand themselves apart from others using ‘idents’. Idents are the clips you see between programmes clearly branding the channel you are watching. The use of this method of branding has become ever more popular with different TV channels, due to the rise in the number of channels available to the viewer now (what with digital channels becoming a popular fixture in people’s lives). Continue reading “TV Idents becoming more inspiring…”