Three Things To Emphasise When Marketing

When it comes to marketing your business, it’s likely you’ve spent a lot of time coming up with all the things you want people to know about your business. You’ve taken time to determine who would benefit most from your business, and how you can reach out to them. What most matters, is what you are reaching out to them with. Continue reading “Three Things To Emphasise When Marketing”

Is your organization ready for agile marketing?

Continue reading “Is your organization ready for agile marketing?”

Top Six Business Communication Tips for Successful Press Releases

Digital media marketing is an incredible way for any business to reach its potential clients and showcase new products or services to preexisting customers. It is also a great way to pass information about any disputes or scandals facing a company.

Press releases are not limited to TV and video recordings on YouTube but they can also be sent as text to the audience. FinemanPR.com continually offers advice on crisis management with communication being the most important aspect of crisis management and digital marketing. This means that whichever medium of communication you use, the message has to get out and be articulately detailed. Continue reading “Top Six Business Communication Tips for Successful Press Releases”

Benefits of Social Media Marketing

In an independent survey conducted by Business Fundas, where we sent a questionnaire to our 20,000+ strong twitter followers consisting mainly of social media marketers, we tried to find the perceived benefits of social media marketing. The responses of the questionnaire were analyzed for understanding the perceived benefits of social media marketing and the responses of the same are demonstrated in the diagram below.

The survey was administered through not only our twitter followers but also to numerous followers and subscribers of our mailing list and finally 534 responses were collected on our questionnaire, all of who are marketing experts on social media websites and have their own online marketing venture.

The responses clearly portray the perceived benefits of social media marketing campaigns by the marketers.

From our personal analysis, it appears that today, social media marketing can become even more fruitful to reach out markets for small businesses targeting social consumers and probably investments on marketing through social networks like Facebook are more likely to generate better results. Also targeted advertisements in search engine (since that is where most consumers first turn to for information query) are also more likely to impact sales conversion figures.

However, bigger firms are more likely to benefit from greater brand awareness, greater brand recall and greater brand association from investments in social media marketing. So purely from a Branding Exercise,  social media marketing makes sense to larger consumer focused service providers or product marketers.

By the way, did you read our article on how to attain success in Social Media Viral Marketing?

How to Deliver Happiness toYour Customers This Christmas

The festive season is a notoriously busy period for the retail sector. As birds start calling, maids begin milking and lords commence their leaping, the whole world it seems is (im)patiently waiting on the jolly fat man in an ill-fitting red suit to put in an appearance and deliver the gifts they pretend to like. Continue reading “How to Deliver Happiness toYour Customers This Christmas”

How to Market Your Business Cheaply

If you have just started a business, you will no doubt be eager to expand your client base and spread the word about what you do and how you do it. However, it can be hard to do this without having any funds to spend on a marketing campaign. Conversely, it can almost be financially riskier for a business not to market themselves. The good news is that there are literally hundreds of cost-effective ideas you can use to increase your revenue. Continue reading “How to Market Your Business Cheaply”

Customer Surveys As Business Growth Tools

In order to improve the quality of the services that are offered, you need to listen to your customers. The truth is that feedback can help out so much more than you may be tempted to believe at first glance. The problem is that many business managers out there do not actually use customer surveys in a proper way. Continue reading “Customer Surveys As Business Growth Tools”

The price of an airline ticket

Ever wondered what makes up the price of an airline ticket? It is not exactly rocket science though it becomes pretty difficult to understand the nuances of fluctuations. Airlines are one of the hottest services industry. So what causes these changes? We are about to explain. Continue reading “The price of an airline ticket”

Signage That Drives Business

Every business has a sign over the top of the door that announces who they are to the world. The most basic reason for that sign is to allow a customer to locate them and know who they are. While that is all that may be needed for super-sized box store chains like Walmart or Target, most businesses do not enjoy that level of brand awareness that allows for a name to tell the whole story. For the rest of the retail and service industry world, the sign is needed to promote themselves, their products, and provide information to encourage the customers to come in. Continue reading “Signage That Drives Business”

Going The Extra Mile: Customer Service Essentials

 Given the technological advancements of the past decade – in particular the internet – customers now have a staggeringly vast choice in terms of the products and services they consume. Each year, countless new companies emerge on the scene, each trying to undercut the prices of those who’ve come before them. Undeniably, in a buyer’s market, perceived value for money is paramount. But what else marks the distinction between businesses that succeed and businesses that don’t? Without at doubt, customer service or “the buying experience” have a massive part to play as well. Here are some essential areas to focus on. Continue reading “Going The Extra Mile: Customer Service Essentials”

Online Shopping in India – Market Research Report

In recent times, online shopping in India has really caught on the fancy of a large segment of the demographic population despite the digital divide. Indeed, the convenience factor, lowered prices and accessibility to resources has driven this habit, more than anything else in India. Baggout has conducted a survey recently and the results are shared in this Infographic. Continue reading “Online Shopping in India – Market Research Report”

7 Ps of Services Marketing – Framework Limitations

The 7 Ps of services marketing is indeed a popular framework used by marketing professionals to design the critical dimensions of the strategic blueprint while marketing a service. The services marketing mix is dominated by the 7 Ps of marketing namely Product, Price,  Place, Promotion, People, Process and Physical evidence. In fact, the 7 P framework is one of the most popular framework for deciding a marketing strategy for services in domains like banking, information technology enabled services or hospitality and tourism, right from strategy formulation to actual implementation.

However, one needs to be aware of the limitations of this framework while applying it in a business context. So in this article, we will discuss some of the major limitations of this services marketing framework.

One of the major drawbacks of the 7 P framework is that it does not address issues related to productivity in terms of both quantity and quality of service delivery. In integral services management, improving productivity during service is a requisite in overall cost management; but quality, as defined by the customer, is essential for a service to differentiate itself from other providers. These two deliverables are essentially opposite to each other in terms of goals. A firm would want to pursue a strategy involving cost minimization but still quality maximization. Hence a strategy that manages trade-off between such conflicting goals is needed to be optimized.

Similarly, another major important issue is managing the core competencies embedded within a firm. Services are essentially intangible in nature, by its very definition. Processes like service delivery address only a small part of the larger cake. Drawing from the resource based view, the organizational competencies are not matched through this framework, which is one of the building pillars of developing strategic frameworks which are external in nature. The viewing of internal resources in silos is somewhat a barrier for this framework, if used to develop an actionable strategy.

Another limitation of this framework is that it does not provide a mapping between the pricing strategies that needs to be followed, vis-a-vis the productivized version of the service. That mapping is often one of the most important drivers that can create or break the adoption of a service. A mapping of pricing to the critical dimensions (features) of the productivized service draws its theories from the pricing of services, which are often done in silos, since dimensions cannot be identified which are in unision but not over-lapping to the main delivery. Over-lapping dimensions create a perception of fluctuating utility among the consumers, and since these are intangible, the overall valuation of the importance and value of a service, gets impacted in a major way.

Understanding the limitations of any theoretical framework before applying it to practical scenarios is crucial for the success of the strategic plan. Please let us know, what you feel about this article. By the way, did you read about the 8 Ps of marketing, the new age marketing mix?

Marketing Theory – CCDVTP

CCDVTP stands for “create, communicate, deliver the value to the target market at a profit”, a term that has been popularised by Philip Kotler. It is being considered as an emerging lingo amongst marketing professionals ever since it was coined. This has caught the attention since it connects three ideals that are often existing in silos in marketing organizations. This has been identified as the value chain in marketing, among the other important marketing theories and today, surprisingly has become a buzzword in many interviews for marketing and sales jobs.

Creating value is synchronized with product management, whether the product or service is tangible or intangible. The product is what is the core of value creation, for your customers and also for your firm. Product life cycle management is thus one of the crucial activities in product management. Today, services and products need to be managed so as to deliver quality value consistently. There are many frameworks which enable the product management team create consistencies across delivery of the same. However, creating the best product or service offering will result in no value for the producer, unless the same can be communicated. This is where branding exercises are conducted.

Communicating the value of a product or service is branding and brand management. A highly valued product or service which a producer company may perceive, must also be conceived by the user as having similar value or more. Otherwise the whole exercise of creation of the offering through proper product management strategies, falls flat. Branding enables a firm to rely on the pull strategy rather than on the push strategy, and it has been observed that firms generate higher profitability from the pull strategy than from the push strategy.

Delivering value is synchronous with customer management. Value is generated at the point of consumption of any offering, be it a product or a service. Customer value management is the process by which this value may be tapped successfully to create value for the firm. This is the process by which the results of all the effort taken in creation of value is actually realized by the firm and directly affects the top-line of the firm’s financials. It has been seen that through proper customer management, customer satisfaction increases substantially which in turn reduces churn rate and increases revenue from increasing customer satisfaction.

So what do you think of this new mantra in marketing? We would love to know your thoughts.

SEO Tips for Google Panda Update

Most of the webmasters and digital marketing professionals struggle to understand the nuances of Digital Marketing and Search Engine Optimization, especially when it comes to understanding the theory with a deeper perspective than is presented in most blogs and online forums.One of the burning issues that has hit the Web-Masters is how to tackle the Google Panda, after it was released in late 2011. SEO tactics deployed by most web-masters have seemingly failed and many reliable and white hat sites are drastically getting downgraded ever since the Google Panda was introduced.

Google Panda was introduced to weed out “content farms” and low quality sites which strive to make a living by producing low quality content. New dimensions that has been added in Google Panda are that it analyzes websites based on an self-learning AI algorithm, which looks for similarities between websites people found to be high quality and low quality, based on surfing behavior. There is also a high probability that there is an increased usage of Image Analysis  with Text Analysis to identify original content. There is also a higher importance to content recency based on content type. Also, which sites and which articles connect to you from which sites, matter a lot.

Google Panda has been criticized by renowned web-masters since many a time renowned websites had “scraped” content and yet the original lesser known site was penalized. Also, it appeared to impact an entire site’s ranking or specific section, rather than just the individual pages on a site. Also it adversely impacted sites where most of the traffic came from “ever popular” content but were of smaller scale (e.g. Websites with niche content, Personal blogs).

So what does that leave you? If you are a web-master, you are probably worrying how to ensure that all the effort you have put in to develop your website does not go down the drain.While age old SEO tactics like getting good quality back-links still do the trick, it is important to realize that there are some basic differences which needs to be addressed, if you want to ensure that your web-site is recognized by Google Panda as a high quality site.

So we have brought out few pointers on what not to do, if you are attempting to optimize your website based on the guide-lines from Google Panda.

  1. Never keep a high percentage of duplicate content. This might apply both to a page or a complete site. So content that you may have on headers or footers, if they are repeated across pages, should never increase more than 25% of the content across all the pages.High percentage of boilerplate content (similar static content) is a strict negative pointer from Google Panda.
  2. A low amount of original content on a page or site is always bad. It is a good practice to ensure when you make a post, you should have more that at least 300 words in every post. Semantic analysis is done by Search Engines nowdays, which can actually trace the quality of content that you may have posted in your article, which is new from your older articles or novel from other content in other web-sites.
  3. A high percentage of pages with a low amount of original content will drastically downgrade your SERP rank. So it is important to ensure, that you create a post only when you have substantial content to make a new post. The age old thought that you should post frequently irrespective of the post content is way dead. It has been attacked by Search Engines besides Google, to weed out content farms.
  4. A high amount of inappropriate adverts, especially in the beginning of the page, showcases the focus of the web-page is only revenue. Hence Panda will recognize that page and a site as being a Content Farm.
  5. If the page content and page title tags do not match for the search queries a page does well for, it will be taken as an attempt to play around with key-words. Text snippets will be analyzed through Symantec Analyzers to ensure there is high consistency between the meta tags and content.
  6. Unnatural language on a page including over-optimization of SEO will be harshly penalized. Google is increasingly becoming efficient to recognize Black Hat SEO tactics.
  7. High bounce rate from a particular web-page or web-site or even low visit time on pages or site, less than 30 seconds, will be recognized as a low content web-page or website. Also low percentage of users returning to a site, without search, will be an indicator that the site has low quality content where visitors do not return. These are strong indicators of the content quality and quantity in a website.
  8. Low click-through percentage from Google’s results pages (for page or site) as and when it appears in Google Search will ensure that the page ranks even lower for consecutive searches, for the search criteria.
  9. Low or no quality inbound links to a page or site (by count or percentage) is always bad. However, low quality backlinks is judged by the relevance of the web-page where it is linked to, by analyzing the text snippets of the mentioned paragraph. If a page is mentioned where it won’t have substantial semantic linkage to the content, it may get penalized.
  10. Low or no mentions or links to a page or site in social media and from other sites is also bad. It is of critical importance that new people share your content. Typically, most SEO professionals link up with a group to promote their content by exchanging votes/shares. Over time, the same group of professionals share the links and posts of a site get shared by the same group, and within the same group. The search engines today can track the sharing pattern through web-mining and this is a serious negative pointer for a web-sites. Sharing or mentions across pages or new profiles is the new mantra for success. Even if you hit Digg’s first page by exchanging votes, you are likely to be recognized by Google Panda as a Link Farm.

I hope you enjoyed going through these guidelines on how to protect your web-site from Google Panda downgrades. Do let me know if you have any queries. You could also check out few of the good service providers for web marketing. Also, check out the free ebook “Advanced Guide to Digital Marketing” for more details on digital marketing, the theories and advanced concepts.

Digital Marketing Presentation

Digital Marketing is the promotion of an offering using all forms of digital advertising media to reach the target segment. Today, theoretically, these channels of promotion include Radio, mobile, Internet, Television, social media marketing and other less popular forms of digital media. However, when speaking in a generalized manner, digital marketing is synchronously connected with marketing using the web or internet.

Most of us strive to understand the nuances of Digital Marketing, especially when it comes to understanding the theory with a deeper perspective than is presented in most blogs and online forums. This presentation / ppt is for all those who are searching for a crisp yet highly informative presentation/ebook on digital marketing.

Check out this ebook/presentation on the theory behind digital marketing and search engine optimization. Advanced Guide to Digital Marketing

DOWNLOAD THIS PRESENTATION NOW TO UNDERSTAND THE MANAGEMENT THEORIES BEHIND DIGITAL MARKETING.

In this presentation, the main focus is on 6 different sub-topics in digital marketing

  1. Theoretical frameworks which affect digital marketing strategy development
  2. Digital branding theories and frameworks
  3. Digital Marketing Research, the roadmap for success
  4. Optimizing through Web Analytics
  5. Promotions and Advertising Channels
  6. Finally the eye of the Apple: SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION. Here we discuss in details about how it is done, the best practices, what’s done and what’s not done, and so much more..

Here’s a sneak peek to the slide of contents for all those who are still deliberating whether to download this ebook  or presentation.

Do let me know how this presentation may be improved upon. Your feedback is very valuable to me. Do refer this ebook to your friends and link back to this page, if you benefited from this ebook. Also, subscribe via email to this blog, to get more business management lectures and updates.

Advanced Guide to Digital Marketing

This week we have a special gift for all our email subscribers. You have special access to the “Advanced Guide to Digital Marketing” for free. To download your free copy, subscribe via email. The footer section of the newsletter contains the download link for the guide, which will boost your understanding of digital marketing. It is short and crisp, and will help you to deliver. It is a 32 page document which will provide enormous insight on how to brand your offering, how to do market research and how to optimize your web-site using SEO tactics to ensure greater visibility on web. In fact the SEO section has been designed to ensure you have a deeper understanding on how to deliver greater value to your business.

Do contact me if you face any problems while downloading the free E-Book. I will mail it to you personally. Also, feel free to get back to me if you have any query after reading the same.

Pricing models for Outsourcing and BPOs

Outsourcing in current times is more value adding exercise done to enhance competitive advantage by focusing on the areas of core competency rather than just a cost saving practice, as it used to be. Its role as a business-value-creator is established across the world in terms of long-term gains like increased customer satisfaction and decreased customer churn along with short term cost cutting. Along with changes in outsourcing objectives and practices, the pricing models also keep changing in the outsourcing industry.

A transaction based pricing model is based totally on the number of transactions. It draws theory from the concept of economics of scale from resource sharing and usage based pricing. In this pricing model the client typically pays the service provider for individual transactions or per unit of work performed by the resources deployed. In such a model, SMEs benefit drastically from resource sharing with overall lower cost of outsourcing. An average base level of transaction is defined in the SOW, the fluctuation from which impacts the per-transaction base level pricing, in this model.

Similarly, an FTE based pricing model is one where the client pays for the time & material invested directly by the service provider. Often in outsourcing contracts, this is further broken down into multiple categories dependent on the expertise of the resources deployed, complexity of tasks performed (which impacts turn-around time of task completion), degree of domain experience and onshore/offshore presence. Typically these are fully loaded costs with often standardized SOWs including factors like number and level of resources deployed; infrastructure and external dependencies bundled into the price points.

While another variation of pricing models that can under serious contemplation is the Risk/Reward sharing pricing models, where the benefits and the losses of the services outsourced are shared amongst the partners. This is a move towards greater collaboration between separate partners in a value chain. However, for such a pricing model to be really successful there has to be significant maturity in the process level which can then be mapped to quantifiable benefits. As of now, since the services rendered by BPOs/KPOs are yet to reach the required level of maturity, these pricing models are yet to be adopted as industry standards.

Next comes the big question: When to choose which pricing model? Typically transaction-based pricing models would be more suitable for Small or Medium sized organizations where transaction count would not be significantly high. In such organization, keeping a dedicated division (with active resources) would be more cost-intensive than sourcing it to third party service providers. Thus in such scenarios, a transaction based costing would be more beneficial. Similarly, if the transaction volume is on the higher side, a FTE based pricing model (and outsourcing SOW) would be more cost effective and thus more suitable for the organization. Also, if the transaction levels are subject to high degree of fluctuation, a transaction based model (and thus the SOW) is more suitable and beneficial for both the parties involved in the deal.
Do let us know if you have any feedback in this context.

Pricing of Telecommunication Network Services

Pricing is one of the key components of services marketing. Service providers like that of telecom service providers, often are at a major dilemma, how to price their offerings? What would be a sensitive price point for converting a potential target customer into an actual consumer? The divide between perceived value of  a service and its perceived cost would often vary across segments of customers for the same service offering.

So how should a pricing manager go about pricing network services?

Typically some of the more classical approaches in pricing Telecommunication Network Services are as follows:

  • Maximization of consumer surplus
  • Welfare maximization
  • Peak load pricing
  • Pareto optimal pricing
  • Ramsey prices
  • Cost based pricing

Here the objective of the pricing manager would be to set a pricing technique which depends on measurable parameters

  • Fully distributed cost pricing (preferred by regulator)
  • It may obscure the fact of inefficient technology
  • Over provisioning of infrastructure
  • Long run incremental cost approach
    • It may be costly to implement

    This pricing technique must ensure that if not at an individual service level, at least at a service bundle level, the price bundles post consumption must be profitable to the service provider.

    Another  major challenge for the pricing manager is how to apportion the cost when same resource produces two services (voice and video). This becomes extensively critical when a cost based pricing mechanism is used. It is important to note at this point that decisions, if not prudently taken, would turn a Business Unit of the service provider into a potential cost center without strategic deliverables. Cost apportionment is especially problematic and questionable in an industry marked by production not directly proportional to input materials (as all services are, where the intellectual capital matters a lot more than tangible artifacts).

    To take care of this challenge, one may approach this dilemma using the following approaches:

    • Subsidy free (very difficult to decide on the price)
    • Sustainable (Ramsey pricing)
    • Activity based costing : It is based on a hierarchy of four levels and is a refinement of FDC approach

    Another major issue is Pricing Services Bundles. Pricing is a major decision point in the adoption of service bundles, especially when the key differentiators are extremely intangible in nature. That again is another ball game. If you find that interesting, you can go through the following article of mine: A Model for Bundling Mobile Value Added Services using Neural Networks, 2012, International Journal of Applied Decision Sciences, Vol. 5, No. 1.

    Do get back to me if you have any queries.

     

     

    Services Process Mapping

    Typically services are characterized by the 7 Ps of services marketing namely Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Process and Physical evidence.

    One of the crucial success factors for a service to gather acceptance amongst its target market is that of a proper mapping of one of the crucial dimensions of the 7 Ps, namely the Process.

    Process mapping in services marketing is simply a sequential workflow diagram to display a clearer understanding of a series of sequential processes or series of parallel processes that takes place while a service gets delivered to the customer. Processes are important to deliver consistency in quality in a service. Services being intangible, processes become all the more crucial to ensure standards are met with.

    Relative to a services marketing strategy, mapping of service processes ensures that a quantifiable way is used to determine where and in what amount current resources are being allocated. Once a service delivery manager knows exactly how the current resources are being used, he can optimally allocate resources in the future. It also helps to uncover inefficiencies and non-value added activities.

    Service process mapping also helps move services process from a reactive to a proactive mode. Bottlenecks in service delivery may be identified and the exercise helps to ensure that quantifiable structured improvement in the service delivery may be achieved by the service provider.

    Service-Process-Mapping

    The above framework gives a step my step description of how services should be mapped to ensure consistency in service quality delivery, which plays a key role in fulfilling customer expectations and thus ensure customer satisfaction.

    The benefits of following a services mapping exercise are as follows:

    • Focuses the workforce on the customer’s perspective of the service process.
    • Ensures more reliable and consistent service delivery processes across all units.
    • Increases cross-functional communication.
    • Improves the start-to-finish project time.
    • Serves as an excellent training aid for new employees.
    • Uncovers inefficiencies and non-value added activities.
    • Identifies obstacles and bottlenecks that are hampering the service delivery.
    • Provides management with the scope to make structured improvements.

    I hope the details provided in this article would be sufficient to chalk out a mapping for the processes of a service, prior to delivery. Do let us know if you have any query.

    4 Cs of Marketing – The Marketing Mix

    R.F. Lauterborn (1993) proposed a 4 Cs classification to address the growing focus of marketing strategist on the consumer. While the 4 Ps framework for defining the marketing mix has been popular for decades, the four Cs have gained in terms of importance, considerably in recent times.

    The 4 Cs consists of CONSUMER, COST, CONVENIENCE and COMMUNICATION.

    4Cs_Marketing_Mix_L

    The roots of the 4 Cs of marketing can be traced back to the classical 4 Ps marketing mix. However, with the onset of database marketing, the focus has shifted in marketing from a consumer transactional view-point to a consumer relationship viewpoint (and very recently consumer engagement). However, the basic focal strategic issues remain unchanged at its very core.

    The details which a manager designing a marketing mix using the four Cs needs to focus on are as follows:

    • Clients / Consumer (customer) is the king. No longer can products be developed and pushed to the consumer in the hope of conversion of a purchase decision. Gone are those days when consumers had to buy products to satisfy needs for a simple lack of substitute. The market is over saturated with great products. Consumer behavior needs to be studied thoroughly from the product development phase itself. The attributes of any product should be almost built-to-order in current times, and substantial inputs should be taken from primary market research.
    • Pricing is crucial. The pricing strategies undertaken by any product development company should keep the perceived value of the product, to the consumer, in mind while deciding a pricing strategy.  Effort should be made to estimate a customer’s  tradeoffs  among  multiple attributes in a product so as to arrive at the perceived total value while  pricing  a  multi-attribute product.
    • Convenience of the service delivery or product purchase location is crucial. The place utility often is a differentiating factor in the success stories of many a promising product. It becomes extremely important especially if the product purchase is a low engagement decision making process, like that of purchase of day-to-day products.
    • Communication is crucial.  As opposed to the initial focus of brand promotion, communication of the brand personally so as create a brand awareness and brand cognition is extremely crucial for a sustainable pull strategy.  Every brand is perceived to have a personality. Communicating the same using proper communication channels becomes crucial for the success of any marketing campaign.

    4-Cs-Marketing

    While the focus of designing a marketing mix has shifted from the 4 Ps to the 4 Cs, it is extremely crucial to understand that the underlying core remains the same. The major shift has been due to a paradigm change of focus from the product or service design to understanding the customer. This is where a 4 Cs strategy scores over the 4 Ps or 7 Ps strategy.

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

    Services marketing strategy

    Typically marketing of services is done following the services marketing mix using the 7 Ps framework unlike the marketing of products for which the marketing mix involves the 4 Ps framework. Today, marketing has evolved over time into a discipline of its own. Over time marketing managers have realized the sustainability of pull marketing than the traditional approach of push marketing strategies.

    The initial movement in marketing strategies was from a direct marketing scenario to brand marketing. In direct marketing, the marketing managers typically had a role of sales managers and the most important strategic focus was to ensure a incentive structure for the sales force, both internal salesmen and external salesforce (dealers, retailers, distributors) such that the one-to-one marketing could be done at the point of sales. However, it was realized that if a fraction of the sales force deviated or moved to another firm, the entire customer segment was lost to the business. The face of the product or service was essentially the sales force. Now as services gained in importance, it was realized that the differentiation of services was even more difficult based on tangible features like that of a product. This was when brand marketing started getting its due importance, where a pull strategy was implemented so as to “pull” the customer to the product or service based on his perception of the quality of the same.

    However, with services gaining prominence over time, it was realized that the very definition of services was evolving as more and more services were being focused on internet or info-tech based services where direct interaction with the customer was lost. While branding definitely ensured that the customers develop a brand association with the service, sometimes the nature of the service is such that the essence of the service is a transactional one. So brand marketing focus gradually started to shift towards customer engagement and the benefits of social networks started getting conceptualized. This paved the way for the next generation of marketing, namely marketing using social media.

    Since services cannot be differentiated purely based on features on offer, the major differentiation to create a brand association and thus customer engagement, is through tapping the social networks. In the internet economy, social networks are getting increasingly dominated by social media and thus marketing managers of even larger traditional “brick and sell” firms have started recognizing this fact and focusing their efforts on social media marketing.

    The 7 S framework for digital marketing started gaining in prominence for services marketing strategists. While the dynamics of a pure internet marketing strategy is slightly different, the essence of the same has been captured in more comprehensive frameworks on digital marketing, which have been derived purely through the theories based on economic rationality.

    Over time, it was realized that social media is perhaps the biggest tool today to lead a brand marketing strategy for many of the services and product categories, since in both cases, the target segment often uses the internet as a source of information (through websites or though the personal social network) while deciding on a service vendor. It is at the point of information search that social media marketing can create the largest impact and thus builds its reputation for having a high impact on “brand recall” at the “point of purchase”.

    Do let us know if you have any feedback regarding this article.

    Brand Personality Dimensions

    Brand personality refers to those human personality traits (sometimes developed cognitively) which are developed harmoniously with a brand, whether it is a product or a service. While branding a product or a service, especially if it is new, or is being launched in a new market, or is getting repositioned in a new or existing market, in depth understanding of all the dimensions of Brand Personality is of utmost importance to the product or service manager or the brand manager.

    Consumers often describe products or services offered as brands (more often than not in their sub-conscious level of comprehension or brand association) by using descriptors of certain common personality traits. Marketers attempt to use this consumer behavior to create or reinforce these perceptions through strategies involving brand positioning or unique re-positioning. Now successfully positioning (or re-positioning) a brand’s personality within a product category requires the application of multiple measurement models and frameworks. This is to ensure that the branding manager can successfully disentangle a brand’s unique personality traits from those generic traits that are common across all the other brands in a similar product or service category and also from amongst its substitutes.

    The dimensions of Brand Personality was initially proposed by Aaker (1997) in his famous brand personality framework consisting of 5 dimensions of every brand that impacts cognitive branding, brand association and brand recollection.  Again brand  association  appears  to  partially mediate the influence of the competence dimension of brand personality on brand attractiveness.

    The 5 main dimensions of brand personality are Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, Sophistication, Ruggedness. Consumers perceive sincere brands as being honest, not-exaggerating, truthful, and cheerful. Similarly consumers perceive exciting brands as being daring, adventurous, high spirited, imaginative, and somewhat with a sharp cutting edge (especially for certain technology gadgets like the Play Station). Consumers perceive Competence from product or service reliability, deliver-ability and from the success symbols from a brand. A brand that is perceived to be sophisticated is viewed as being charming and associated with a higher snob value and thus fit for the upper society, or to fulfill higher order needs from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Similarly rugged personality brands are perceived to have the features of being outdoorsy and tough.

    Generally speaking, brand  personality  is likely to be more difficult to imitate by competing brands and substitute products,  than more tangible product attributes or service level dimensions. So marketing practitioners have the advantage of using it more suitably to  achieve more  sustainable  advantages  (Ang  and  Lim  2006),  for  creating  product or service level  differentiation  and positioning, which in turn ensures a Pull strategy and is more sustainable in the long run. This also creates the highly sought after greater Brand Equity, something for which in current times, branding and advertising managers spend millions (if not billions) of dollars upon.

    Now, since high  brand  equity tends  to  occur when  consumers have  numerous  positive  and  strong associations, either in the conscious our sub-conscious level, related  to  the brand. Brand association, which  is defined as “anything  linked  in memory  to a brand” is one of  the major components of  brand equity, and is greatly affected by the brand personality dimensions. Brand association, not only results in high greater brand awareness but also creates greater brand recall and so has a distinctively positive correlation with brand equity since it can  represent brand quality and brand commitment. These in turn creates the initial platform for any product or service brand to harness the strength to pull consumers, i.e. implement a pull strategy.

    Now brand name recognition with strong brand association can  successfully developed through  a carefully planned and panned out  long-term marketing strategy, which involves activities like advertising,  public relations, customer need identification, pricing,  understanding evolving market dynamics and subsequent product or service offering modifications. No wonder today, multinational companies and business firms are investing millions and billions of dollars in advertising and other forms of marketing communications in order to create greater brand awareness and also greater brand association, so as to be able to implement a pull strategy.

    With time a more detailed brand personality structure evolved as managers attempted to understand the requirements of branding activities better through greater focus on consumer behavior.

    By the way, do you know about how to create a marketing plan in a structured manner?

    Also, Have you read our article on the Marketing Mix or the 4 Ps of Marketing?

    Customer Lifetime Value management

    Today “customer is the king” is the mantra for success for all marketing managers. But for actual decision making, the marketers (especially the relationship managers) are often poised with a simple challenge. They cannot meet the needs of of all the customers equally and satisfy them all.  So how should they prioritize how to satisfy the needs of the customer and by what means to select such customers?

    The answer lies in the estimation of the customer’s lifetime value. Customer lifetime value ( CLV or CLTV ), or lifetime value (LTV), or lifetime customer value (LCV) is the net present value of the economic benefits (monetary returns in terms of cash flows) attributed to the relationship with a customer throughout his relationship with the company. The focus on customer lifetime value as a marketing metric is for placing a much greater emphasis on relationship marketing for improving customer service and long-term customer satisfaction, rather than on maximizing short-term sales.

    So then, comes the big question, how do one estimate the Customer Lifetime value? The answer is presented to you diagrammatically below, in a simplified manner.

    So what should be done to maximize the value from CLTV management? Let us discuss the same in this article step-wise.

    1. First estimate your customer lifetime value for your entire customer base. This would enable you to make an estimate of the total revenue that the customer is likely to provide you if he/she stays with you throughout the estimated life-cycle of the product.
    2. For each customer, estimate the possible churn probability at each stage and discount the CLTV value for each customer.
    3. Segment the customers based on the discounted CLTV value into high net-worth individual (HNI) customers, medium net-worth individual (MNI) customers and Low net-worth individual (LNI) customers
    4. Now, allocate your budget for marketing and relationship management likewise for each customer segment, to maximize the retentivity of every customer in the segment. Do remember that normally, every new customer acquisition is 5 times costlier than retaining an old customer, as had been found out through research. However, if the cost of retention of a singular customer (based on a case-to-case analysis) is more than the discounted CLTV, incentivising his churn is often a good strategy to optimize the negative effects of his network value and negative word of mouth viral effects.
    5. Always try to ensure a greater deal of attention for maximizing customer satisfaction. A fully satisfied customer is likely to provide 5 times more economic value to the firm than a customer with a mid-level satisfaction level. It is also important to remember that it is better to let a customer with low satisfaction level churn rather than attempting to retain him, since such a customer has a negative return to the firm, from the customer’s network ( remember Customer Network Value? )

    These are few of the necessary steps to ensure customer lifetime value maximization and optimal management of the same, through better resource allocation. Do let us know if you have any queries, we would be happy to resolve your problems.

    Pricing of Information Technology

    There are multiple approaches to pricing of information technology products and services.  Although pricing strategies differ based on whether the software or system is getting sold as a product or getting leased as a service, there are certain basic generic strategies for pricing the same. These strategies are being discussed in this article. Continue reading “Pricing of Information Technology”

    Product Life Cycle Management

    Product life cycle management (or PLC management) is the sequential formulation and implementation of strategies used by Marketing Professionals as a product goes through its life cycle. The conditions of the market in which a product gets sold changes over time and the issues that arises with the changes must be managed as the product moves through its succession of stages. Continue reading “Product Life Cycle Management”

    Marketing Plan – Blueprint for Marketing Strategy

    Today when so much investments are dependent on the outcome of a marketing plan, the same needs to be scrutinized very deeply so as to minimize the risks of non-performance. One such way is to ensure the proper implementation using a marketing strategy plan or a blue-print of implementation for your strategy. So what is a marketing strategy plan?

    Basically, it encompasses all the activities in details that needs to be done to ensure that a campaign is successful.

    • For a marketing plan to be successful, the primary importance is understanding whether its adherence to the main marketing mix (4 Ps) is done in a well planned manner. If your objective is to deliver a service, then the 7Ps of Services Marketing needs to be checked out for planned adherence.
    • If you are focusing on extensive usage of technology, are you having ample focus on how you are leveraging the usage of technology vis-a-vis the competencies within your team? Did you take care of the Basics of Digital Marketing Strategy?
    • Have you given the implementation a thought? Is there a structured sequential blueprint to your Marketing Plan which you are planning to operationalize?
    • What is the targeted returns you are expecting from your campaign? Do a cost vis-a-vis outcome-benefit break up for the entire blue-print stage wise. Does each stage commensurate the Expected Returns on Investments (ROI) figures?
    • Last, not the least, does it go hand in hand with the internal competencies of the team that will be implementing your strategy? A great strategy may fall flat without due importance given to the implementation and the competencies of the team.

    Do let us know if you need any clarification. Hope you enjoyed reading our articles. By the way, do check out PrintmeIt.com, they create wonderful flyers and brochures which you can you for your advertising campaigns.

    Did you read these related articles? They have drawn a lot of attention from readers of similar articles as this one and had been shared extensively in professional networks like LinkedIn.

    Jobs and Careers in Marketing

    Marketing Management is a discipline focused on the practical application of marketing techniques and the management of a firm’s marketing resources and activities for the purpose of creating a demand for the firm’s products for selling the same.

    The term “marketing” as it is known now, was coined in the early 1930s by the American Marketing Association presidential address. While manufacturing was then the focus in business, a subsequent need was recognized to sell what was getting manufactured more efficiently in existing markets. While marketing management as a discipline of research and application has seen waves of changes in key strategic inclination and focus, the core has somewhat remained unchanged.

    So what draws most of the marketing professionals to this discipline?

    1. First, it is theoretically very easy. The technicalities are somewhat lesser than many other super-hyped fields like Finance or Technology
    2. A lot depends on the quick thinking of the marketer. Understanding and having a good business acumen is an added bonus.
    3. The careers and jobs are promising yet offer dynamic changes to every professional, suitable to satisfy a broad variety of needs. Not everyone is cut-out for every job. Understanding job requirements as a fit with one’s personality type is a must for the sustained growth of every professional.
    4. It offers choices for career shifts industry wise and role wise, must for every professional, if one faces a mid career crisis.
    5. Last, and most excitingly, it offers a track to reach the coveted “CEO” position in the organization. Most top executives have a background in marketing, if not all.

    So what roles do traditional marketing roles get you into?

    Jobs in marketing can vary a lot. However, besides traditional paths in sales and marketing, there are many other roles in marketing, a list of which is prepared below:

    1. Business Development in Information Technology and Services companies (like jobs in IBM, Google, Microsoft, Adobe, Amazon)
    2. Market Research institutions ( e.g. like jobs in AC Nielson, IMRB )
    3. Consumer goods manufacturing institutions in marketing, sales, branding, strategy (higher in the organization) like jobs in Unilever, Procter & Gamble or in jobs in the FMCG sector.
    4. Consumer durables manufacturing companies in marketing, sales, branding, strategy (higher in the organization) like jobs in Sony, Apple, Toshiba
    5. Product management and even in development in research labs (like jobs in 3M)
    6. Need recognition of markets yet to be created (like jobs in MR divisions in MNCs like Tata Group, 3M)
    7. Retail chain management (both marketing, sales and supply chain functions are sometimes merged) like jobs in Wallmart, K-Mart, Reliance Fresh.
    8. Social sector and NGOs. Even social marketing is a major concern in current fast paced societies.
    9. Internet marketing service professional: You may start marketing websites as a SEO expert.
    10. Affiliate marketing professional: Create your own chain of hierarchy and get the benefits of the sales from it. E.G. Make money from tweeting and making friends join you in the same using MyLikes

    I hope the choices helped you out in your search for a career in marketing. By the way, do you know about the top career choices trending globally now?  Choosing a career which won’t stagnate too soon is extremely crucial for sustainable professional growth.

    http://www.business-fundas.com/2010/100-fastest-growing-careers/

    The 8 Ps of Services Marketing

    Services are radically different from products and need to be marketed very differently. So the classical 4 P structure of the Marketing Mix needs to be modified suitably to incorporate the 8 Ps for services marketing, which was previously known as the 7 Ps only.

    Services can range from financial services provided by the banks to technology services provided by the IT company or hospitality services provided by hotels and restaurants or even a blog where an author provides a service (information presentation, interesting reading etc) to his audience. Services marketing are dominated by the 7 Ps of marketing namely Product, Price,  Place, Promotion, People, Process and Physical evidence.

    To know more in details about the classical 7 Ps of services marketing do visit our article on The 7 Ps of services marketing

    While everyone knows about the 7 Ps of services marketing, the 8th P of Services Marketing has emerged in research very recently. The 8th P is Productivity and Quality.

    In integral services management, improving productivity is a requisite in cost management; but quality, as defined by the customer, is essential for a service to differentiate itself from other providers.

    It has been recognized that overall profitability of a firm may be greatly impacted by focusing on not only at the top-line by improving sales but also focusing on the bottom-line by lowering over-all cost of delivering services. In services management, often the variable costs are a lot more than fixed costs, and so incremental costs, if managed properly can have a huge impact on productivity. So for services, a firm may greatly benefit through proper re-engineering of processes and remodeling the same if required to improve productivity at each stage.

    It has also been established in research that process improvements deliver better standardization and hence better quality in services. Quality perception is a crucial differentiating factor on services management and for long term sustainability of the same. Business Process Remodeling can lead to major process efficiency improvements which again can impact overall quality as is actually delivered by the firm and is also perceived by the customers / clientele .

    8-Ps

    Do let us know if you liked our article or if you have any questions.

    By the way, have you read our article on the 4 P’s on Social Marketing?

    Also did you read our article on the The 4 P’s of Marketing – The Marketing Mix strategies from which the 7 P Marketing Mix theory actually evolves?

    The Evolution of Marketing Management – The History & Future

    Marketing Management is a discipline focused on the practical application of marketing techniques and the management of a firm’s marketing resources and activities for the purpose of creating a demand for the firm’s products for selling the same.

    Traditionally, marketing management was partitioned into three silos, namely the 3 C’s, “Customer analysis”, “Company analysis” and “Competitor analysis” (so-called “3Cs” analysis). Over the years, it has evolved into an integrative five “Cs”: “Customer analysis”, “Company analysis”, “Collaborator analysis”, “Competitor analysis”, and “Analysis of the industry Context”.

    As the focus of marketing shifted from 3 Cs to 5Cs, so has the strategic intent of firms. It was recognized that a Pull strategy is way more sustainable than a Push strategy, and so has the models of integrative marketing management.

    Do let us know if you liked our article or if you have any questions.

    Have you read our article on the 4 P’s on Social Marketing?

    Also did you read our article on the 7 P’s of Services Marketing?

    These articles are highly popular posts in our educative blog.