1/3 the Product for 1/2 the Price!

A Value Proposition? 1/3 the product for 1/2 the price. You might almost be interested in the offer, until the mathematics settle into your brain. As a consumer, you’re certainly interested in receiving more product for less money, but not the other way around. Getting less for more isn’t a winning offer. Or is it? I’ve been reading lately about the latest in the string of marketing buzzwords for 2016, customer experience or CX for short. What’s it all about? Here’s a definition from SAS, the business analytics and data company: Customer experience is defined as your customers’ perceptions – both conscious and subconscious – of their relationship with your brand resulting from all their interactions with your brand during the customer life cycle. As you might expect, CX is trending with large companies, who are busily exploring customer perception at every step in the buyer journey and naturally gathering data they can use (both to influence and improve). Gathering data isn’t much use if you don’t act on it, and the big firms are moving merrily ahead with that, too.  Here’s what they’re doing, according to a Harvard Business Review article: Organizationally, adopting a journey-centric approach allows companies to move from siloed functions and top-down innovation to cross-functional processes and empowered, bottom-up innovation. Most companies keep their functional alignments intact and add cross-functional working teams and processes to drive change. To that end, many companies we have studied set up a central change leadership team with an executive-level head to steer the design and implementation and to ensure that the organization can break away from functional biases that have historically blocked change. Did you get all of that? Translated into English, it means that they appoint a committee and a leader to make changes that will improve customer perceptions. Closer to Home I’m convinced that at least one of our local grocery stores has been dabbling in this voodoo, potentially with an ulterior motive. I have to admit that the experience is pleasant enough. The aisles are wide, the store is spotless, the employees are very friendly, and they send me recipes by email every week. There’s no doubt that they’re tracking the data, because I also get digital coupons for products I buy. In contrast, their competitor’s store is less appealing, and I’m pretty sure that some of their checkout staff are on prison work release. Here’s...
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Reality Check

This article was originally published in our Weekly Idea newsletter. If you haven’t already subscribed, the newsletter brings at least one new idea to you by email (almost) every week. Here’s the subscription link. “I don’t have time to talk. We’ll have to make this quick. I need a website, but I don’t have time for it.” The first three sentences set the stage for the rest of the very brief conversation. The Background This wasn’t a cold call; the printing company owner had requested the conversation. He has a website, but doesn’t like it. He’s using one of the turnkey printer platforms and the boilerplate content hasn’t been changed since he originally took the website live a few years ago. What the printer would like is to magically create a consumer-oriented e-commerce site that will bring in lots of sales. He needs it to be created cheap, because he doesn’t have a budget for a new website, and he doesn’t really want to be involved in the process. Fast forward a couple of days. One of my online friends sent me a very interesting article that was full of small business statistics. Here are a few excerpts: Between 50% and 55% of small business owners don’t have a website. 26% have a social media presence. 49% of sites fail to comply with basic usability principles, and 50% of online sales are lost because visitors can’t find content. 93.3% of small business websites aren’t responsive/mobile compatible. 8 of 10 entrepreneurs fail with their first business venture within one year. Another fast forward. Last week, I took a straw poll at a workshop for startups. Of the 12 people present, only 3 had an active website. Only one of the three stated that they were actively updating the site and using it successfully to generate leads and new business. You’ve heard this week’s idea before, but it’s important: Your website is the center of your marketing universe. If you don’t have a working website, for all practical terms, your business is invisible. According to Forrester Research, 74% of business buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase. Other studies show that 60% or more of the “buyer journey” takes place online, before a call is placed to a company. If you’re not providing the information buyers need to make a decision online, it’s likely...
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Marketing Without Money

Sometimes, talking with small business owners is a real trip. Beautiful wife and I ate lunch at a favorite downtown restaurant a few days ago and the owner stopped by the table to chat. He’s an accomplished conversationalist. It’s possible that his loquacious tendencies might be irritating to a customer who just wanted a quiet meal, but for us, it was entertainment. He told me about business. They’ve been open for a year and he’s seeing monthly comparisons for the first time. There’s been some growth. It could be better, but he’s optimistic. I asked what he was doing to market the restaurant. “Not much,” was the response, “We play around with Facebook, but I really can’t spend on advertising.” “What do you think about the bread?” he asked, and the focus of the conversation changed. His face lit up and with some excitement he began telling me about how he had figured out how to use a warming oven to make the bread he used for his Po-Boys just like New Orleans. We laughed with him and had to admit that the bread was really pretty close to the real thing. Unintentional Marketing? The restaurant was packed, and it’s always full when we go there. The owner isn’t paying for advertising, but his marketing is working. The funny thing is he doesn’t think he’s doing anything at all. He is. He’s using a great marketing tactic. It’s called enthusiasm. The owner’s enthusiasm is obvious and contagious. All of the employees are infected, and the “user experience” at the restaurant is excellent. I found out later that the kind of enthusiastic engagement we encountered at the restaurant carries over to the Facebook page the owner is “playing with.” He has nearly 1700 fans on his page, and some great reviews (4.8 out of 5 stars). It’s an inspirational story. While I can make a strong argument for the need to budget something for marketing even (especially) when cash is tight, it’s nearly impossible for startup small businesses to “buy” enough marketing to ensure success. For most local businesses, enthusiasm, engagement, and word of mouth make a much bigger impact than what they spend. Short on money? Create some enthusiasm and see where it takes you. 3 More Low Cost Marketing Ideas Enthusiasm and engagement are critically important to the kinds of bootstrap marketing initiatives that startup businesses need to...
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