I know that you must have been told that marketing is all about gimmicks, tricks or tactics. That it is all about being smart, right?
The moment you begin to see marketing as simply being smart with your target customers using all forms of gimmicks, tricks or tactics to cajole them into buying, then you’ve got it all wrong.
And just so you know, the fact that some companies get away with this form of marketing doesn’t validate it in anyway.
As a matter of fact, it’s the quickest way to devalue your brand and lose the trust of potential customers. It’s a short term solution to a long term problem.
The 3 Levels Of Market Engagement
Gimmicks, tricks and tactics are quick fix approaches to marketing. They may get you the attention of the market, but they can never get you their affection. It’s one thing to be known [attention] is another to be liked [affection] and a whole different thing to be trusted [conviction]. These are the 3 levels of market engagement; each describes the kind of relationship a brand has with her target audience.
Using gimmicks, tricks and tactics alone will only get you to the first level –attention. Which simply means the market knows you, they are aware your brand, product, service or company exists. It doesn’t mean they like you, or trust you or will even buy from you. Being known alone doesn’t guarantee sales. Making the sale is more complicated than that, forget all you’ve been told –sales is NEVER made in an instant!
Customers follow a certain buying process before making a purchase decision, I have written about this before, read more here. However irrational or emotional this buying process takes is irrelevant, what matters is that a buying process occurs before the purchase decision is eventually made.
This is why relying on only gimmicks, tricks or tactics alone is not enough to influence a purchase decision. Marketing is all about INFLUENCE, nothing more, nothing less. It is a game that is played not in the market as many erroneously believe, but rather it is a game played in the MIND –the mind of your target customers!
What many entrepreneurs often overlook is the fact that buying is a DECISION and one that solely rests in the hand of the target customer to make. And when decisions are involved, you can only fool people once, twice or thrice at most. Before long, your gimmicks, tricks and tactics will become a trail that you leave behind and the market starts to avoid you like plague.
Why? Because decisions are personal and emotional, people don’t want to feel cajoled or manipulated. People want to own their decisions and this is why they resent gimmicks, tricks or tactics. No wonder they say salesmen are slimy, because of the gimmicks, tricks or tactics they employ to make the sale by all means. But if your marketing is done right, selling will be less slimy.
The Kind Of Marketing That Works
To get past attention and win the affection and conviction of the market, you need to seek to influence rather than manipulate your target customers. I know what you may be thinking; influence is NOT the same as manipulating.
Manipulation is negative and influence is positive. Manipulation seeks to take advantage of her victim such that he/she will unknowingly act based on false information. While influence seeks to empower such that he/she will knowingly act based on authentic information.
The key difference between influence and manipulation is this; authenticity –are you equipping your target market with authentic information that enables them make the right buying decisions? Are you honestly doing all the best you can to help them solve their problems? Are you making promises you can keep or just saying whatever it takes to make the sale?
Decisions, be it a buying decision or any other form of decision is based on available information. People make up their minds based on what they know per time. If as a marketer, the information you provide to your target audience is false or incomplete and they base their buying decision on this information, then you are manipulating rather than influencing them.
The moment you deny a person the right to know what they ought to know in order to make a decision, then you’ve manipulated them. Manipulation is about using people rather than leading them. Your task as an entrepreneur is to lead your target audience rather than using them. Business is all about win-win relationships; it’s hinged on mutual benefits.
And here’s how to create that win-win relationship that will influence your target market to make the right buying decisions;
1. Begin With Why?
Market The IDEA And Not The Product!
Influence just like marketing is a mind game; the head [reason] and the heart [emotion] must buy in first before the body will follow. You can’t get the hand or leg to move to buy until you have first gotten the head and heart to believe in what you are selling. This is why great companies and great leaders always begin with why?
Beginning with the ‘why’ is how you get your target market to believe in your brand, company, product/service. If marketing is all about influence, influence is all about making people believe in you, your cause, vision, mission or idea. Creating and communicating a shared belief based on certain core values is the foundation of marketing that works.
It involves selling people your idea first before you sell them your product/service. It’s how you get them to connect first with the brand both emotionally and logically long before they make a buying decision. To get people to buy from you, get them to buy–into you, your cause, vision, mission, purpose, message or idea.
The mistake many marketers make is that they begin their marketing with the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. They start by telling the market what their product is and how it works; “our product/service is the best in the market because it has this and that features and this is how it works, so buy from us”.
Going back to the 3 levels of market engagement I mentioned above; attention, affection and conviction, beginning with the ‘why’ is how you win the affection [emotional buy-in] and conviction [logical buy-in] of the market. People will not only get to know your brand, they will like and trust it because it portrays certain values they strongly believe in.
Think about brands like Apple, Google, Virgin, Harley Davidson, Nike, Starbucks, MTV, Oprah, or Disney; they all portray certain core values that resonate with their target market. These core values are what creates a sense of shared belief in the mind of the customer. When it’s time to make a purchase decision, they rely on this shared belief to guide them in making the right choice.
2. Put The Customer First
The Key To Influence Is Putting The Other Person First.
It was the great Dale Carnegie that first wrote in his classic; ‘how to win friends and influence people’ that being genuinely interested in people is one sure of influencing them. Nothing can be truer. When it comes to influence, you simply can’t afford to be self-centered. I have often emphasized this; customers don’t care about your brand, company, product/service until they know how much you care about them first.
They want to know how much you know about them, how much you know about their situation, aspirations, needs, wants, problems, challenges, expectations and many more. They want to know that you care about them first and not about how much you can get from them. They want to be at the centre of your marketing. They want everything you do as a company to revolve around them!
How do you pull this off?
- Get to know everything you can about your target customers [situation, aspirations, needs, wants, problems, challenges, expectations and many more] through research and personal observations.
- Backed with the knowledge of your target customers, create a big picture [vision, idea, USP, message, brand story] of a preferable future.
- Backed with the knowledge of your target customers, create a product/service or a combination of products/services that will serve as solutions/answers to their needs and wants.
- In all your marketing, consistently communicate why it is very important for you as a brand/company to help make the big picture a reality in their life/business.
- Describe how this big picture is going be made a reality through the combination of products/services you offer as a company.
Touch people’s heart before asking for what’s in their hand.
There are so many boring brands out there that don’t do anything inspiring; they just go about business as usual. One great way to influence the market is to inspire it; do something above the norm, do something that wows the market. Do something that makes a difference.
What do consumers do when they are inspired by a company? Trust me, there is an ROI –return on investment for inspiring the market. According to Forbes Amerca’s 25 most inspiring company, a survey conducted revealed this;
“The survey found that 81% of respondents say they would recommend the company to friends and family. Seventy-eight percent would be loyal to that company, and another 72% would share their experience with others. More than half (55%) reported they would spend more on a company that inspires them.”
In what ways have you been influencing your target market?
What is the big idea, the ‘why’ behind your brand, company, product or service?
Do you always put your customers first? What practical steps do you take to ensure the customer always comes first in your business?
Is your company inspiring? If yes, in what way or ways are you inspiring the market?
Join the conversation, share your comments below. Can’t wait to hear from you, thanks!
The term e-Commerce basically means; business done over the internet. Could be buying, could be selling or a combination of both; could be a product, could be a service or a combination of both.
It’s anything that involves using the internet or web as a business medium. In other words, e-Commerce refers to internet-based companies.
This model of business was popularized by American entrepreneurs between 1997–2001 when several e-commerce businesses were being launched; this era was popularly tagged the “DOT-com boom”.
All forms of companies sprang up with e-commerce ideas; anything and everything that was done in the real world suddenly had their online versions.
History Always Repeats Itself
Fast forward to today, 12 years later, Africa is on the e-Commerce spotlight. Suddenly, the whole world is focusing on Africa and her teeming population as the next potential market for e-Commerce. Foreign investors and venture developers are flooding the continent launching the clones [imitations] of successful e-Commerce sites in America.
And because my country Nigeria is one of Africa’s most populated nations, it has suddenly become the ideal market for several e-Commerce startups like; Kaymu, Jumia, Hellofood, DealDey, Konga, EasyAppetite, SunGlasses, Vconnect, and many others. It’s now obvious we are experiencing our own DOT-com boom in Nigeria!
Being a typical entrepreneur, I couldn’t help but spot these opportunities and in this post, I would like to share one with you; how you can own a shop online FREE and start an online retail business. Don’t know about you, but I see money to be made; I see a huge business opportunity; I see a new generation of entrepreneurs –the internet entrepreneurs who would take hold of this huge opportunity and translate it into a thriving business venture.
With this growing trend comes a huge business opportunity that only a handful of Nigerians are taking advantage of. Just think about it again; over 60 million Nigerians are online and counting. These are people with problems, needs, wants, aspirations and most importantly buying power!
How To Startup Your e-Commerce Business
The traditional cost of developing an e-Commerce site is so large that most small businesses are unable to afford one. And then follows the cost of successfully marketing the existence of such site, which is also quite expensive. So what’s your best option?
Own a shop online!
There are a couple of e-Commerce sites that now serve as online marketplaces where buying and selling is done between individual buyers and sellers or corporate buyers and sellers. The popular ones are what is known as classified sites, popularized by craigslist.
Other popular examples are Alibaba, DHgate and many others. These online marketplaces are designed to showcase your goods like you would normally do in a physical store. They have huge marketing budgets that allows them reach as many people both online and offline.
A typical example and the pioneer of such online marketplaces is eBay –the world’s largest online marketplace. The success story of several eBay merchants/sellers who turned millionaires as a result of trading on the eBay platform is enough proof that owning a shop online works. eBay has its branches in so many countries worldwide, but not yet in Nigeria.
Fortunately, there is an eBay clone now in Nigeria and it’s currently the largest online marketplace for buying and selling the smart way –it’s called Kaymu. The parent company; Rocket Internet is known worldwide as the leading e-Commerce incubators and have successfully started over 100 clones of successful internet-based ventures worldwide. As a matter of fact, the eBay clone they started in Germany did so well that eBay couldn’t help but buy it over!
I have previously written about two of their e-Commerce startups in Nigeria, Jumia and Hellofood. Being an entrepreneur and serving a community of unusual entrepreneurs, none of the previous two offers a solid business opportunity like this one.
To show you how big Kaymu is, even Jumia has a shop on Kaymu. Recognizing this business opportunity, I decided to give it a shot last two weeks and opened up the online version of my boutique business on Kaymu. Guess what? I sold 3 shoes within the first week I listed them on Kaymu auctions!
Here’s How Kaymu Works For Sellers/Merchants
- A seller lists an item [new or old] on Kaymu for FREE, almost anything from smart phones to laptop accessories, books to rare coins, etc.
- The seller chooses to accept only bids for the item [an auction-type listing] or to offer the “Fixed price” option, which allows buyers to purchase the item right away at a fixed price.
- In an online auction, the bidding opens at a price the seller specifies and remains on Kaymu for a certain number of days. Buyers then place bids on the item. When the listing ends, the buyer with the highest bid wins and gets the item.
- In a “Fixed price” listing, the first buyer willing to pay the seller’s price gets the item.
- Arrange with the buyer a suitable delivery option such as; shipping, physical pickup or payment on delivery = sales!
Here’s How To Own A Shop Online FREE Using Kaymu
There are 2 options you can start from depending on your preference.
First, if you are a retailer who already buys and sells offline through a physical shop, Kaymu is simply your online shop to showcase what you are selling already offline. If you fall into this category, Click here to sign up for a FREE online shop
That’s what I did with my boutique business since I already own a physical store where I sell unisex clothing for male, female and kids.
Second, if you don’t own a shop offline and would like to take advantage of this opportunity by selling other people’s goods online through the Kaymu platform, follow the steps below.
- Click here to sign up for a FREE online shop
- Decide any product [new or fairly used] of your choice that you would like to sell on your online shop
- Look for a company [manufacturer], store or seller around you who would like to increase their sales [trust me, everyone does]
- Introduce yourself as an internet marketer who can help them sell more via the internet through your online shop
- Negotiate a discount on the product[s] so that you can make a profit selling them on your online shop
- Take clear pictures of the product[s] with a phone or camera to display on your online shop
- Head over to your online shop and list the product[s], the pictures and their prices so potential buyers can contact you directly via email or phone
- Arrange with the buyer a suitable delivery option such as; shipping, physical pickup or payment on delivery = sales!
Head over to Kaymu and click on the register link to claim your shop online, FREE!
This opportunity is also useful for readers from other parts of the world, thanks to eBay. You can adopt the tips in this unusual article to ebay. And if you are interested in the Nigerian market, shoot me a mail and we can discuss more on how to make this happen!
In my work with entrepreneurs, especially small business owners in my country Nigeria, one re-occurring theme is their approach towards marketing. Each time I’m in a consulting or strategy session with a client and I ask the question; “how do you get clients?”
I hear almost the same answer; “through referrals”. So out of curiosity, I ask a second question; “you mean from satisfied customers?” And then I get a surprising answer; “not really, from my family and friends who know about my business.”
Every time I get these responses, I no longer wonder why they are complaining about low or no sales. I no longer wonder why their business is not growing as fast as they wish it to.
You cannot expect to grow your business, especially in terms of revenue/sales if you simply expect your family and friends to do the marketing for you. As a matter of fact, you are not yet in business until you make a sale from a total stranger!
Two Kinds Of Word-Of-Mouth Marketing
This is a passive mindset towards marketing, popularly known as “man-know-man” marketing. It basically means a form of marketing based on networking or existing relationships or one’s circle of friends or connections. The underlying philosophy is this; sales are determined by the caliber of people in your network or the caliber of people you know.
Every time you depend on your connection, network or existing relationship with someone you know to make the sale, then you are not yet fully in business. The people within your existing network and the people they know are too small a target market to sustain your business. Are your family and friends and their friends of friends the only potential customers out there?
This kind of Word-Of-Mouth Marketing revolves around one idea; testimonials. What are testimonials? Testimonials are personal recommendations or favourable comments from customers who have bought your products/services and were satisfied enough to spread the word to their network. This is the essence of word-of-mouth marketing; testimonials.
To grow your business, you need a sustainable marketing strategy that will allow you to make sales from outside your network. Why? Because until you do, the real power of referral marketing will never be at work for you!
Word-Of-Mouth Marketing Defined
As you must have been told, this is perhaps the best form of marketing, right? When without much personal efforts on your own part, the news about your business, products or services just seem to spread and eventually leads to more sales, right?
There is a big difference between referrals coming from customers than those coming from your network. Sales made through referrals from satisfied customers carry more credibility because it comes from a third party; people who know, like and trust your brand. While sales made through your existing relationships carry less credibility because it comes from a second party; people who know, like and trust you.
The level of interest a customer has in your business comes from their personal experience with your products/services and that carries more weight in the eyes of a potential buyer than your relational ties. When customers buy from you and enjoy a favourable experience as a result of using your products/services, the value of your brand increases.
To a large extent, they aren’t personally interested in you as much as they are interested in your brand –products/services you offer and their benefits. It is this positive experience that they talk about to their own family and friends or existing networks that compels these people to buy from you too. They are buying with an expectation in mind; to enjoy the same favourable experience as their friend or family member did.
Let me share my experience.
During the profitable days of cyber café business in Nigeria, we were able to grow our business primarily through word-of-mouth marketing. Satisfied customers simply invited their friends to come check us out and they in turn invited their friends. In the end, our customer base grew from 0 – 1700 registered browsers as a result of word-of-mouth marketing.
Out of these people, less than 10% of them did we personally know or had any previous relationship with. They were complete strangers who heard about the cyber café from their network of friends and not our own network of friends.
As a result, the power of third party endorsement was at work. They came with certain expectations based on their friends’ testimonials and those expectations were met because we had systems in place to ensure the same brand experience for every customer.
How To Create Active And NOT Passive Referrals
The right and most effective approach to creating a sustainable word-of-mouth marketing system is through testimonials. Use the following 5 questions below to gather testimonials from your satisfied customers as recommended by small business marketing guru, John Jantsch.
Why did you hire us/buy from us in the first place? (Here you are looking for clues to what helped them decide to buy, what build trust, what resonated in your marketing and sales processes.)
What’s one thing we do that you love the most? (Stick to one thing and help them get as specific as possible)
What’s one thing we do that others don’t? (Again one thing – this may sound a lot like the second question, but what you are really trying to do here is get some industry comparison going – you might get some stories of how others have failed them in the past and there offer some interesting opportunities.)
If you were to refer us what would you say? (This is your chance to have them describe what you do best as though they were telling a friend. This point of view can be very powerful and this answer might actually turn into a testimonial. In many cases that’s precisely what I’ve done with answers to this question.)
Can you tell me about three other companies that you love? (This question does a couple of things. It allows you to better understand what they think best of class looks like and why and it helps you build a list of potential strategic partners. Think about it, your shared client thinks you both rock!)
How has word-of-mouth marketing benefitted your business?
Who are the majority of referrals you have; active or passive?
What particular actions or steps did you take to implement a sustainable word-of-mouth marketing system for your business?
Share your comments below, can’t wait to hear from you!
Advertisement doesn’t create brands, entrepreneurs do!
The concept of branding is often not clear to so many entrepreneurs despite the popularity of the concept.
Your logo, color and brand name must remind your target audience of something special, different, and exciting about your company, product/service.
This something special, different and exciting doesn’t just happen, they are deliberately created by entrepreneurs based on certain core values that they’ve built the brand around. Without these set of values, there is no brand.
In other words, brands are built on values!
What is a brand?
The answer is simply this;
“A brand is a product/service, company or individual that is SIGNIFICANT –different [unique] + making a difference [useful].”
Meaning, a brand portrays two key elements that qualify it as a brand;
1] Uniqueness –here’s what makes us different from all the others [product/service differentiation]
2] Usefulness –here’s what you benefit because of our uniqueness [customer/market satisfaction]
You can’t be different [uniqueness] for being different sake, your being different must make a difference [usefulness]. The market/customers don’t care about your uniqueness unless it offers them some usefulness in return. Your core values must be qualities the market also values.
Why Create A Brand?
Simple; to give a company, product/service an edge over the competition.
The days of monopoly are long gone. Hardly will you find a company, product/service being the only player in the market; there will always be one or more close substitutes also contending for the customer’s purse.
Creating a brand around a company, product/service is what gives it a fighting chance in the marketplace. If companies, products/services are left un-branded, the market has no other choice than to reduce everything to a commodity and base their selection criteria on price alone.
And you know what they; “if price alone is the only key differentiator between you and the competition, then you are both racing down to the bottom!”
There’s got to be more to a product/service than the price of the product/service. Branding is what helps you create that something ‘more’ for your company, product/service. That something ‘more’ is what the market searches for while making their purchase decision.
Brand Positioning Strategy
I met with Jeremy Hodara, the Managing Director for Rocket Internet Africa and France, and he asked me what 3 things will I be doing for the company that they currently weren’t doing?
My answer could be summed up pretty simply as;
“help transform Jumia from an eCommerce start-up into a SIGNIFICANT company –a brand that is different [unique] and making a difference [useful].”
And below were the 3 specific things I would do;
- Help Jumia clearly define their “big picture” [purpose, cause, mission] for existence other than the obvious — naira and kobo, dollars and cents [money]. This means the specific change or difference they wanted to make in Nigeria and in the lives of Nigerians through their eCommerce site www.Jumia.com.ng
- Help Jumia communicate this “big picture” by crafting a powerful tagline to replace their current one and telling compelling stories via social media that will resonate with their target audience. This means using contents rather than just advertisement to sell by educating the market and creating a know, like and trust relationship with their target audience.
- Help Jumia differentiate itself from her closest competition —www.konga.com This means identifying a Unique Selling Proposition [USP] or benefit relevant to their target audience that will clearly justify and communicate her #1 position in the market. Claiming the #1 position is cool, but not clearly communicating what makes you #1 is just not cool.
To be #1 means you are better than the competition at something specific; so leaving that piece of info out is so funny. When you make a claim, justify the claim; the market wants to know, what makes you #1? This could either be price, quality, inventory, delivery time, service, or any combination of other benefits that will resonate with the target audience and achievable by the company.
By doing all these, Jumia would have transcended her current status of being another product/service in a category [the #1 eCommerce site in Nigeria] to becoming a powerful brand of a sub-category [the #1 USP, eCommerce site in Nigeria known for something SIGNIFICANT!]
The Anatomy Of Branding: Brand Development Strategy
All products/services belong to a category. A category is the generic description or title given to a particular kind of product/service. It’s like the compound/group name given to products/services that serve the same purpose.
For example; a drink is a category for any liquid that can be swallowed, a soft drink is a category for any drink that is non-alcoholic, a juice is a category for any drink that is made out of fruits, a syrup is a category for any drink that is medicinal, a malt is a category for any non-alcoholic drink made out of barley, a beer is a category for any alcoholic drink that is fermented, etc.
An automobile is a category for anything that can be mechanically driven and used for transportation, a car is a category for any automobile that contains not more than five persons, a bus is a category for any automobile that contains more than five persons, a tractor is a category for any automobile that is used for farming, a lorry is a category for any automobile that is used for carrying heavy goods, etc.
A building is a category for any physical structure for accommodating people and things, a house is a category for any residential building, an office is a category for any commercial building, a school is a category for any academic building, a church is a category for any building where Christians worship, a prison is a category for any building where criminals resides, etc.
A computer is a category for any electronic device for processing information, a mainframe is a category for any high-performance computer that is used for processing large scale information, a desktop is a category for any personal computer that is not mobile, a laptop is a category for any portable personal computer that is mobile, a tablet is a category for any portable personal computer that is handheld, etc.
So what Makes A Brand Different From A Product/Service?
All products/services must have and belongs to a category. Categories help the human mind to arrange products/services into related groups for easy comprehension and recollection. Without categories products/services will just be floating around aimlessly inside our minds making it difficult for us to remember what each product/service is used for. Categories are to products/services what industries are to companies.
A Brand on the other hand, is a sub-category within a category. Brands originates from categories no doubt, but they are called brands because they have certain peculiar traits, attributes, characteristics, qualities, benefits or values that differentiates –set them apart– from other products/services in the same category.
In other words, a brand is a differentiated product/service within a new or existing category. The key word here is differentiated.
For example; in the building category, a duplex is a brand, so is a bungalow, a skyscraper, a castle and other differentiated kind of buildings.
In the drink category, coca cola became a brand by differentiating the soft drink category to create a sub-category of non-alcoholic drink known as cola. Red Bull did the same to create a sub-category known as energy drinks.
In the computer category, Dell differentiated the personal computer category to create a customized personal computer sub-category; Apple did the same with their Macintosh to create an all-in-one personal computer sub-category and did it again with iPad to create the tablet computer sub-category.
Without differentiation, there is no brand. Differentiating a product/service category is how brands are born. Differentiation is the key factor that converts an ordinary product/service [commodity] into an extraordinary product/service [brand].
Differentiation is what creates a sub-category for a particular product/service within an existing category of other similar products/services.
The origin of branding is differentiation. This is what is popularly known as USP –Unique Selling Point/Proposition. Any product/service that lacks this is merely a commodity and never a brand regardless of how much they spend on advertisement!
Branding Your Advertisement
Perhaps the most common mistake or misconception of branding is confusing it with advertisement.
Many marketers feel they have a brand so long as they can advertise their products/services. So the common practice is to create a product/service, give it a brand name and spend a lot of money advertising it to the target market.
The underlying assumption behind this thinking is this; advertisement helps our product/service known. In other words, advertisement creates market awareness for products/services.
No doubt about this!
That’s exactly the role of advertisement; to create market awareness about the existence of a particular product/service. In other words, advertisement makes you known. But the big question very few marketers stop to ask is this; known for what?
Yes advertisement creates product/service awareness but does it create product/service uniqueness and usefulness where there’s none? Absolutely not. No matter how far and wide advertisement makes a company, product/service known, if there is no brand, then you are being known for nothing!
Advertisement doesn’t create a brand where there’s none no matter how popular the company, product/service is. Advertisement is like a mirror; it will only project what exists. If a brand exists in a particular product/service because of its key differentiating features/benefits, advertisement will amplify that brand’s uniqueness and usefulness.
Likewise, if a brand doesn’t exist in a particular product/service because it lacks key differentiating features/benefits, advertisement will amplify that product’s/service’s weakness.
Branding is what creates the content [uniqueness + usefulness] for your advertisement. So when the content is missing from your advertisement, then your advertisement is meaningless. It won’t have any significant impact on the target audience. Content is how you brand your advertisement.
If your advertisement is all about asking people to buy, then it lacks content. It is not branded. Your content is your big picture, your story, your core values, your cause; the change you created that company, product/service to make happen.
Great brands don’t sell through their advertisement, they tell compelling stories that creates and emotional and logical connection with the target audience. Coca cola will never ask you to buy coke in their ads; they tell compelling stories about happiness. Apple will never sell you an iPod, iPhone, iPad or even a Mackintosh in their ads; they tell compelling stories about being different and making a difference.
Advertisement will not create for a product/service what the entrepreneur never intended or embedded into the product/service. Again, advertisement doesn’t create brands, entrepreneurs do!
The Branding Test
A brand is only a brand because it is representing or associated with something SIGNIFICANT –unique and useful in the mind of the target audience. In other words, it is the specific tangible features and benefits of a company, product/service that confers on it the title of a brand.
A company, product/service that simply describes a category or proclaiming anything generic is not a brand. Brands are specific, tangible, meaningful, unique and useful.
Here is a simple test for you to know if a company, product/service is a brand or not. Simply write this question down and try to answer it for the brand;
“What is _____________? [Insert product/service or company name]”
The answer you get will be one of two things; either a category name/generic description or a USP –unique selling point/specific description. If your answer is a category name or describing something generic, then there is no brand. But if your answer is a USP or describing something specific, then there is a brand.
For example; “what is naijapreneur?”
a] A website/blog
b] A Business and Entrepreneurship website/blog
c] A website/blog for unusual entrepreneurs
d] A website/blog about changing the world and profiting from purpose
The second way of conducting the branding test is to write out the product/service or company name first with an ‘equal to’ sign in front of it and a question mark sign at the end.
For example; “naijapreneur = ?”
a] A website/blog
b] A business and entrepreneurship website/blog
c] A website/blog for unusual entrepreneurs
d] A website/blog about changing the world and profiting from purpose
Over To You!
Since this is a test, I will be looking forward to your answers in the comment section below. Also, in the comment section, write down the branding test question for your company, product/service as I have just explained above and provide an answer yourself.
The success of your business depends on several contending factors; perhaps top on the list besides product development is marketing. You must have heard the famous saying that the best mouse trap in the market may not always be the fastest selling mouse trap. Why? Because the market needs to buy from you first to know whether you are the best mouse trap or not and before they can buy from you, they need to know you exist.
Many entrepreneurs fall prey to the best mouse trap illusion; your product/service can be the best ever, but it won’t sell itself until you find a way to get the word out. The aspect of marketing that deals with getting the word out is called promotion. Without this critical element of promotion in your marketing strategy, it doesn’t matter how extraordinary your product/service may be, if the market doesn’t know about it, it will definitely fail.
Business Promotion Strategies
In this unusual article, I want to share some ideas on how you can get noticed in the market by implementing some promotional strategies. There are several promotional strategies available to businesses, such as;
Branded Free Gifts:
Everybody loves a freebie especially items they can use to gain knowledge or improve their lives. This is popularly known as business promo items like pens, t-shirts, jotters, lapel pins, greeting cards, artisan balm, etc. These can be used to create powerful brand awareness for your products/services. The benefit of using branded free gifts is the “no resistance” effect it has on your target customers. Since it’s a free gift, your target customers would not hesitate to collect it and use it and by so doing, they are spreading the word about the existence of your product/service.
PR as it’s popularly called is a strategy for proactively shaping the public’s perception about your company, product and services. The dictionary defines it as the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by an organization or a famous person. The objective of PR is to help companies, organizations or people to enhance their reputations. It involves communicating with the media and through the media [newspaper, TV, Radio] to present your brand in the most favorable way possible.
- Press releases,
- Organizing public events,
- Charitable donations,
- CSR initiatives,
This is simply the creation of valuable FREE information on the internet through your website in order to build up your target audience’s interest and desire about your business, products/services. In other words, blogging is Content Marketing. Information regardless of the format in which it is presented; written, video, audio or picture is content. And when content is being shared for FREE on any particular subject matter to any particular target audience for any reason whatsoever over the internet, this is called Blogging.
Here are THREE things blogging can do for you
1) GLOBAL EXPOSURE
The world is now flat, no longer round or spherical thanks to the emergence of IT. In a flat world, the playing field of business has been leveled allowing individuals the rare opportunity to now build Global Microbrands [mini-multinationals] through which they can competitively produce and sell their goods/services worldwide.
Blogging is the platform through which this Global Microbrands reach out to their target audiences worldwide. Meaning, if you own a blog, you are positioned for a global impact regardless of the industry you operate in.
2) INCREASED PROFITABILITY
With a global exposure comes a global target audience to sell to. Thanks to Amazon, you can sell more goods worldwide now than any other time in human history.
What does this mean to you?
- Your books gets read the more globally.
- As a speaker you get more speaking invitations globally.
- As a consultant your expertise gets demanded globally.
- In short, whatever you represent and can do gets a global demand!
3) CREATIVITY BOOSTER
Perhaps of all the benefits of blogging this is my personal favourite. Blogging allows you to do more of what you were born to do. Because of the expectation of your readers, blogging helps you to grow as an expert since you have to constantly think up practical articles to share with them.
This not only makes you a better writer, it makes you a better thinker, a more knowledgeable expert and a solution provider/problem solver. All these are the ingredients of success.
Because you are closer to your target audience than ever before, you don’t have to go through the creation of products/services alone as you have been used to, now you simply involve them in the creation process as collaborators. Meaning, they tell you what they need you to make, how they want it to look, function and delivered, at what price they want it sold and will even offer to review the product/service for free.
This is certainly a motherload of feedback and market research has never been this easier!
Write a book:
This promotional strategy is very closely related to blogging, except that this is not free information and it’s not shared over the internet. Why write a book to promote your business? A book is the ultimate instrument for establishing your thought leadership, expertise or authority in any particular field. Today’s consumers and service buyers have been enlightened. They are looking for companies, products, and services that exhibit credibility, authority, expertise, reliability, substance, innovation, and value. They’re not fooled by your marketing slogans or gimmicks. They research everything by comparison shopping, collecting opinions, and sampling to know their options and exercise the best ones. In other words, a book is the best company profile or product/service brochure you can ever create for your business.
Own a website:
Your website is your office on the internet. It is the replica of your physical ‘brick and mortar’ office. The only difference is that one is physical and the other is digital. Both offices must exist to serve your target market. The world is no longer ONE as we used to know it, but has become TWO –a physical world called ‘offline’ and a digital world called ‘online’. As you draw visitors to your physical office by marketing your business offline, so it’s necessary to create a digital office online to capture your target market in that world too. If you aren’t marketing your business in both worlds, your business is heading for the rocks. Believe it or not, your target market are online and they are searching for what you sell. The big question is this; is your brand VISIBLE online? Can they easily locate your digital office [website] online?
Obiously, these are not the only promotional strategies available to businesses, the list is endless and often require a lot of creativity on your part as an entrepreneur. What I have done above is to help you spark up your creativity and remind you of the never ending importance of promotion in your business.
So, besides the ones I have shared above, what other promotional strategies have you adopted in ensuring that you get the word out about your business, products/services?
Kindly share your contributions in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments!
Who is Brian Clark?
- None of the above
The option you pick to the question above will determine the success or failure of your endeavours online.
Brian Clark is a smart ass unusual entrepreneur who leveraged on the power of blogging as a marketing tool to build a software and education business called; Copyblogger Media LLC.
So next time when you see Brian Clark churning out epic shit week after week, watch out. Don’t be deceived into thinking he’s a blogger or in the so called blogging business.
Far from it!
He’s an unusual entrepreneur who is building a global business empire online one blog post at a time.
You have been warned, real entrepreneurs build businesses NOT blogs!
The Blogging MYTH!
The blogosphere is perhaps the most saturated field of human endeavour. Everyone and anyone own a blog. And thanks to several online gurus, everyone and anyone wants to make money blogging.
Therein lies the biggest misconception ever online; blogging is a business.
I am no guru, but what I know, I know.
Can a tool ever become a business? Saying blogging is a business is like saying marketing is a business, is it?
To find out, let’s go back to the basics.
What is a business?
The term business describes any activity that involves the exchange of goods and services for money.
The underlying theme here is this; business is giving out something [goods or services] in order to get something [money]. Period.
So if blogging were a business as many so called internet gurus claim, then readers ought to pay bloggers every time they read their contents, right?
Following our definition of a business, blogging as a business would mean bloggers give out something [contents] to readers in order to get something [money] in return.
But is this the reality online?
Do you pay me for every unusual article you read on naijapreneur?
If readers paid bloggers for every content they consumed, bloggers would be mega-millionaires.
Think about it for a second. If for every unique visitor your content attracts, you get paid as low as one cent. Just imagine what power blogs like Mashable, Copyblogger, Techcrunch, Problogger would be making daily?
But then, is this what’s happening in the real world?
In the real world, real entrepreneurs publish epic contents for several months before they ever make a dime. And just so you know, they don’t get paid for blogging. They get paid for something else entirely, expertise.
SO WHAT ARE YOU DOING ONLINE: Building A Business OR Blogging?
You are blogging when you begin to think every blogger you meet is a potential customer.
You are blogging when the majority of your readers are fellow bloggers. Except you are in the blogging about blogging niche.
You are blogging when you begin to lash out aimlessly online trading comments on every blog imaginable.
You are blogging when you begin to measure the number of comments on your blog post.
You are blogging when you begin to guest post on blogs where your target audiences don’t go.
The gap between blogging and building a business is what makes all the difference online.
Why Blogging Is NOT A Business!
The great management thinker, Peter Drucker was phenomenal in his observation of what the most important question in business is; “what is our business?”
I have been online, and I have seen many bloggers fail to answer that singular question.
What they seem to pay more attention to is blogging rather than building a business. The hard part is that many don’t even realize that they are making this mistake. Why? Because to them, blogging is a business!
But the reality shows otherwise; blogging is absolutely NOT a business.
I know a lot of you reading this now would be alarmed. And yes, it’s high time you are!
Let’s go over the fundamentals of business to really get the real picture of the above statement.
Building a business requires 4 key functions
- Value Creation [Product/Service]
- Value Estimation [Pricing]
- Value Communication [Marketing & Selling]
- Value Delivery [Distribution]
1. Value Creation:
A business must have a particular thing that it must offer to the market in order to attract the attention of the buyer. This particular thing is what we call product or service. The creation of this product/service is where a business begins.
Without this product/service there is no business. Why? Because people don’t buy anything, they buy something. And that something must meet a need or solve a problem for them. The ability of a product/service to meet the needs and solve the problems of people is what is referred to as value.
Value is what people pay for and why products/services sell. Without the value in them, they are as good as useless.
In other words, you are in business when you have created something of value and you remain in business by consistently creating value. Your ability to create value is the most important function of a business and the determinant of success in business. Your ability to make profit is hinged on your capacity to create value.
2. Value Estimation:
The second key function of business is pricing – the monetary estimation of the value you created. How much is the product/service you’ve created going to cost the customers who are in demand for it?
Remember, people pay for value, that is, what the particular product/service you have created is going to do for them. This is what value means, the inherent personal benefits of the products/service you created.
3. Value Communication:
You have a product/service; you’ve estimated the selling price, now it’s time to get the buyers attention.
This is where you spread the existence of your product/service. This is how you get those who may be interested in the value you have created to know about its existence. No matter how good your product/service is, no one will pay for it, if they have never heard of it.
Marketing is how they get to know about the value you created and how it can be of tremendous benefit to them.
At the heart of value communication is selling.
Marketing is about creating awareness and getting the buyers’ attention. Selling is about converting that attention into a business transaction.
Meaning, selling is about making the buyer a customer – someone who has given up his or her money in exchange for product/service you created.
Marketing and selling, make up the two key functions of the Value Communication phase of a business. This is where the business comes in contact with the potential buyer and what happens during this phase is what will determine whether the business will be successful or not.
4. Value Delivery:
After the sales comes the goods/service. That is, the particular product/service the customer paid for.
The value delivery function is about distribution. How does the buyer get what they have paid for? What medium do you use to transfer the product/service to the customer?
For some products/services, value is delivered immediately. But for others it takes a while for the product/service to be in the possession of the customer.
The Business Role Of Blogging
Blogging for business is simply a marketing tool.
Blogging for business falls into the value communication [marketing and selling] phase of building a business.
It’s an integral part of your internet marketing strategy. It is about promoting your business by using your contents to attract the attention of potential customers for your products/services. Without it, all your online marketing efforts will be futile. Why?
Simple; because the whole concept of the internet revolves around the dissemination of information. It is a technology that was invented to help people share information by connecting with one another.
Think about it, when you send or receive emails, what is the content of those emails? Information right? Ok. Let’s go deeper. What about when you update your facebook and twitter status, what are you sharing? Information right? Now to the very obvious one, when you visit Google, what are you looking for? Information right?
There you are, at the core of all that you do online whether it is sending and receiving email, chatting through yahoo messenger, Skype or on facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and even watching videos on YouTube, everything involves information. All your activities on the internet involves two major things; you are either giving [sharing, sending or creating] or getting [receiving, downloading or consuming] information.
Information is the foundation of on which your internet marketing efforts will be built. When people go online, they are not going to get to you by tuning to a TV channel or radio station or see your ad in a paper. No!
They are going to find you by searching for information. And guess what? Blogging is the most effective tool for creating and disseminating valuable information online in order to capture the attention of your target customers.
So your first task in using a blog to build a business is to clearly define what your business is or will be about [Value Creation].
Blogging is NOT their business as it might seem. Their business is providing informal education and tools required for successful blogging. Meaning, they sell expertise and resources on a subject which happens to be blogging.
All bloggers are not in this category and this is the tricky part and the origin of this whole misconception about blogging being a business.
You need to define your business and that begins with the problem [value] you are helping people solve.
So going back to the most important business question according to management guru Peter Drucker; what is your business?
This is the question you need to clearly answer before you begin blogging [marketing and selling].
Over To You
So what are you doing online; blogging or building a business?
Share your comments below. Thanks!
To learn more about how to use a blog to find, attract, convert and retain profitable customers, head over to differentiate online; the complete internet marketing solution for smart businesses!™