Focusing on Standing Out

June 30, 2008

movies 300x225 Focusing on Standing OutCorporations that cater to the every day consumer are always looking for business-smart ways to stand out and become more noticeable. They may choose to do this by offering a product or service that is so amazing that it creates a consumer buzz. Or, maybe they choose to stand out by offering massive savings on their product or service just to get new customers and keep the old ones. Whichever route they choose, the end goal is to make their name a possible household name for consumers. They want to be sure to stand out.

Think about this: Have you ever asked for a “Coke” in a restaurant instead of asking for a soft drink? Or maybe your kids have asked for “Corn Flakes” before when they really want a bowl of cereal. Name recognition like this is what most companies dream of having happen with their merchandise. They want to have you come to their product when you think of the name. They want to stand out.

In this age of Internet-savvy consumers, there is still competition for customer dollars when it comes to Internet search engines, keywords and rankings. Everyone wants to get to the stop, stay at the top and have consumers refer to them over and over again when it comes to their product or service. Creating a consumer buzz about a company’s merchandise takes careful planning, strategic marketing and perhaps even an outstanding product, although not always. However, in some instances, the product alone is not necessarily what attracts the consumer. Rather, in some cases it is the choices that are offered to consumers that keep them coming back for more. Wondering what and how? When consumers are presented with choices on how they can spend their consumer dollars, they feel more in control, more open. They like deciding which way to spend their dollars on broader choices rather than being given a couple of choices and then told which way to spend.

The buzz that companies want to create with consumers is getting them to talk about their experiences and to share those experiences with someone else. Most companies have achieved that goal when it comes to certain aspects of their company. Take for instance the movie rental company, Netflix. Netflix offers their customers multiple choices on a myriad of available movies to choose from for their viewing preferences. Netflix boasts a library of over 100,000 movies in stock. All genres are available for most every consumer’s taste and style choices. It is conceivable that almost every type of customer can be satisfied with the movies made available through Netflix. Compare this freedom of choice to the traditional brick-and-mortar companies like Lou’s Movie Rental or the Movie Gallery and you will notice a marked difference. You will see that these chain movie houses offer incredibly limited choices that can send customers leaving the store shaking their head in disappointment, or worst, settling for any available movie on the shelf. The business model that Netflix has and the way that they market to the public is what has made them so instantly famous and almost a household name. Also, don’t forget the added convenience that Netflix offers by bringing your selected movies right to your front door. That also makes it very hard to compete with them in customer satisfaction.

Customers that seek specific products want to be able to find what they need without feeling overwhelmed or frustrated. Limited choices can do this and can help businesses to lose customers. Companies like Netflix and those that cater to the every day consumer are diligent in their efforts to offer choices, and varied choices, to the consumer and keep their dollars coming back. Instead of the customer settling, they have control over their decision. Netflix and those that follow that type of business model are strong in consumer relations and can look forward to profitable relationships. When large corporations make their services readily available to the average consumer, they are establishing a solid customer base that spawns loyalty, faithfulness and the coveted word-of-mouth advertising that so many companies simply dream about.

What’s On The Minds of CEOs (Part 2)

June 27, 2008

This post will outline two more CEOs surveys –

  • PricewaterhouseCoopers’(PWC) “11th Annual Global CEO Survey”
  • The Center For Creative Leadership’s “Ten Trends”


ceopwc1 Whats On The Minds of CEOs (Part 2)

In an increasingly connected world, what differentiates the business that thrives from that which merely survives? Our 11th Annual Global CEO Survey explores the impact of global connectivity on the sources of growth and risk, the way in which companies work and their relations with their stakeholders.

Read more

7 Steps of Advertising Success Drive Word-of-Mouth Marketing

June 27, 2008

I’ve been talking over the past week about emotional involvement in brands and how that type of connection to a brand can lead to deep customer loyalty.  What comes from customer loyalty aside from repeat purchases?  Typically, loyal customers are also very vocal about the brands they love and generate a great deal of free word-of-mouth advertising for those brands.  word of mouth marketing 7 Steps of Advertising Success Drive Word of Mouth Marketing

Earlier this week I wrote about the 3 S’s of Customer Loyalty and how to create an emotional involvement to your brand by focusing on those 3 S’s.  Today, I’d like to share my 7 Steps of Advertising Success to show you how your advertising efforts can lead prospective and existing customers down the path to loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing.  In other words, with each tactic executed as part of your overall branding and marketing plans, you’re moving people through the 7 Steps of Advertising Success as follows: Read more

Primark — The Ethical Debate

June 26, 2008

Wile E Coyote, the famous Warner Brothers’ cartoon character, always managed to get himself stuffed full of cactus spines whenever he tried to catch Roadrunner.

Approaching the issue of Primark’s use of child labour, and their consequent dropping of three Indian suppliers, is equally painful.

The story, for those unfamiliar with it, is as follows: the BBC Panorama programme did an episode focusing upon whether the ethical trading claims of Primark, an Ireland based clothing retailer, were as strong as they claimed.

The sharp end of the programme was the revelation that certain garments, sourced from Tamil Nadu in India, had been worked upon by children.

As part of the programme’s production the BBC approached Primark for their response. The business conducted its own investigation and concluded that three suppliers had broken its standard, dropping them with immediate effect.

Primark issued a Right To Reply statement, stating:

    “It is NOT acceptable for children to produce or work on garments … under any circumstances whatsoever.”

The suppliers in question regularly outsourced their garments to home based workers for the finishing sequin work. In one particular instance they outsourced to some refugees from Sri Lanka, in an attempt to help them gain a proper financial foothold.

The refugees, in order to make as much of this opportunity as possible, allowed their children to work on the garments. In extreme poverty, where there is no guaranteed employment or state education, there is little alternative.

Decisions Decisions
So to be clear, there was no forced child labour. No sweatshop conditions or kiddies being shoved down mine-shafts. In fact the organisation in question was trying to improve the lot of some of the poorest in its region.

Labour Behind the Label, a group which campaigns for better working conditions throughout the UK’s clothing supply chain, Labour criticised Primark’s action, saying:

“When companies respond in this way what they are really saying is that if workers speak out about their conditions they will lose their jobs.”

LBL goes on to contest that if Primark was genuinely interested in working conditions, it should do something to help alleviate the problems of poverty, not cut off those who are affected by it.

The Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI), of which Primark is a member, supports this position, stating unequivocally:

“If a company discovers that children are involved in making its products we expect them to … secure their urgent transition from work into good quality education.”

ETI go on to suggest that companies should get involved in programmes to provide that education where it is unavailable and improve their policies so that adults are paid enough to support the whole family.

So in the light of LBL’s observations it is difficult not to wonder whether Primark’s overriding concern in axing the three suppliers in question was to protect its brand and income, not advance ethical standards.

A More Painful Future
Primark’s situation was undoubtedly unenviable. Do you stick rigidly to the letter of the standard which you have adopted, or do you give yourself more flexibility to allow you to adhere to its spirit?

A business, according to the current definition, has to make money. However the principle has been established that the financial, environmental and social aspects of its operations ought to be considered with equal gravity.

So a businesses caught on the hook of a similar situation ought to look deep inside itself and ask whether it can improve the lot of those in greater need than its customers by relaxing some of its financial constraints.

This kind of painful dilemma is likely to arise more often as sustainability takes hold as the commonplace business practice.

The Primark picture is further muddied by allegations in the Indian Press that the situation was misrepresented by an NGO seeking to “garner foreign funds” for itself.

Whether true or not, this serves as a timely reminder that sustainability is not a pure area free of wrong, rather that we all need to beware of those who would turn it to their own particular advantage.

It would have been interesting to see Primark make a go of it, acknowledge that their supply chain had fallen below standard and then embark upon a programme to bring it back into line.

In the meantime, the space remains open for a business to take the principled road out of such a dilemma, attract customers’ spending and so prove to investors that ethical business practices truly are less risky.

Does Your Brand Matter?

June 26, 2008

Would anyone notice if your brand disappeared tomorrow?  Would anyone care?

Those are two questions that branding experts use in what’s often called the tombstone test.  By answering those questions, you’ll get a better idea of the importance of your brand in the marketplace. 

Is your brand easily replaceable in the minds of consumers?  Do customers feel a strong loyalty to your brand?  Try the tombstone test to learn the truth about your brand.

Think of it this way.  Would anyone notice if Coca-Cola disappeared tomorrow?  Undoubtedly, millions of people would notice.  Would anyone care if Coca-Cola disappeared tomorrow?  Certainly, millions of people would care, and they’d probably be very vocal about it.

Now try the same test with your brand.  If your own feelings about your brand are getting in the way of making an accurate assessment, then go out and speak to your customers directly.  Ask them if they would miss your brand or care if it disappeared.  You just might be surprised by what they tell you.  In fact, their responses might make you completely redefine your marketing strategy.

Another interesting approach to the tombstone test is to ask your customers the same questions about your competitors’ brands.  Compare the answers to those given for your brand, then look for opportunities or threats and modify your strategy to fill the gaps (or take advantage of them).

Remember, successful brands are those that people care about and would miss if they disappeared.  If you customers don’t care now, then it’s your job to make them care.

So does your brand matter?  If not, make it matter!

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