Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

One thing at a time

June 10th, 2013 No comments

A few hours from now, Apple will be hosting a keynote speech at their 2013 developer’s conference. Apple hasn’t released much for quite some time and is often the case around these events, rumors have begun to swirl like tornado in the plains. There’s a lot riding on this presentation because it’s finally time to start seeing if a post-Steve Jobs Apple can still make a big splash.

And that’s a big dilemma. The market, from Wall Street to main street is expecting products and announcements from new operating systems and user-interfaces for both desktop and mobile to new iPads, cheap iPhones, new ultra-thin portables and a power user MacPro.

If Jobs we’re still in charge I would confidently predict what Apple will do this afternoon: they’d release just one (maybe two) of those things (probably a MacPro, and maybe MacBook Air). They’d talk about software and keep things nuts and bolts for developers, letting the interface changes stay locked away for a while longer, while focusing on one or two products at a time.

Wall Street would punish them for not being innovating enough, but the media would focus on those products and the market would have enough time to digest the news and run out and buy whatever it is they want before the next bit of news is released.

With the stock price off more that 25% from previous highs and people grumbling about the lack of entirely new product spaces, CEO Tim Cook may feel compelled to placate and release news on all of these fronts.

If your small business is ever the power house of development that Apple can be, resist this temptation. There’s nothing in it for you. No matter how exciting and innovating each product is, only one of them is going to get the limelight, and worse, you might not be able to choose which one that is. It’s a waste of marketing effort and money, even if expectations are high.

As for Apple, I’m really hoping they resist the unusually high temptation to show it all, but if I had to bet, I’d say it’s going to be a big show. Too bad.

Categories: Business Tags: , ,

Will the real customer stand up?

July 7th, 2011 No comments

Who is your customer? It’s not as obvious as it might seem. In many businesses, the real customer might not be the person your company is thinking about, but it should be. Simply put, regardless of who drives your business, you’re real customer is the entity who decides to pay you for your products and services. Let’s look at some examples:

Are you a Google customer? If you’re like the majority of us and you only use their services such as search, mail, and maps, then not really. Google’s customers are the people who buy AdWords, and search placements. Without you and me, Google might not have much of a business, but without advertisers, they’d have even less.

Are you looking for new opportunities with Monster’s job boards? Monster has to spend some of its resources making sure you find value in their site; but you’re a volunteer product, not the customer. This is true for all sorts of recruitment firms and the source of many a misunderstanding between recruiters and job seekers. ‘This guy doesn’t seem to be working for me…’ is a common complaint, but frankly, you shouldn’t expect them to. The job seeker typically doesn’t pay anything for the privilege of someone finding a job for her. Monster and other recruiters work for the businesses for whom they find candidates. They’re marketing message must reflect this.

During the start-up phase of a company developing a web-based application to optimize how we buy things, the company constantly had to remind itself who the real customers were (stores) and not be distracted by all the positive feedback they got from people who planned on using the application (individual users). Like many businesses today, exactly who your customer is might not be so obvious because you must get a group of people excited about your product and then leverage that interest and enthusiasm with someone who will pay you.

In an earlier article we discussed the importance of letting people know what you can do for them. Of course, it’s impossible to get the right message if you haven’t even identified who your customer is. Hopefully, you’re well ahead of this game, but given a little thought and you might even be surprised.

Categories: Business Tags: , , ,

Ask not what your business can do…

July 6th, 2011 No comments

In his inaugural address John F. Kennedy famously turned a common question around: “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” [Surely good advice today, with both sides of political spectrum explaining what they will do to create jobs and opportunity for waiting citizens, who wonder, not what they should do to create a better nation, but which elected officials will do so for them.] Answering the right question is often critical to success.

It seems logical, after all. “Let me introduce myself,” is a pretty natural way to open a conversation. The majority of company presentation slides start out this way with often one, two, or more slides explaining “who we are.” ‘We’ve got to explain how great our technology or experience is, don’t we? That’s our selling feature!’ Unfortunately, no, it isn’t. Your selling feature is not about what your business can do, but what you business can do for the customer.

I worked with a firm that had an exciting, innovative technology and they are rightfully proud of it. Initialy, the company presentation started out explaining that they were a well-funded organization with patented technology, and then took a few brief moments to explain this innovative technology before showing examples of how it might be used. Sounds reasonable, but the audience never seemed to be listening. And why should they? What’s in it for them?

We turned around their presentation, describing instead typical problems customers might have encountered that the technology could address. Presenters could ask questions about which of these seemed the most appropriate and tailor the rest of the presentation to fit the customer’s specific interests. Armed with this new information, success stories illustrating different applications and results how a customer might save money, or avoid costly maintenance. Suddenly the audience is interested, and they start asking questions about how this technology works. Doesn’t that seem a more logical, to tell them about your products, after they’re convinced that it might do them some good?

Websites often suffer from the same problem. Instead of focusing on how products and solutions might benefit the customer, we have pages describing how our companies and products are different, better than the competition. (Eye On Technology suffers a bit from this, but that’s what this blog is supposed to do–show our benefits.) Customers have little patience to learn about why you’re important when they haven’t figured out why they shouldn’t just click another link. You have very little time to answer this question before they’re gone—don’t waste it.

Advertising is so last millenium

May 11th, 2011 No comments

Typically, small technology firms are founded by incredibly talented engineers-turned-entrepreneurs. They have the vision to develop a product that people will need and they’ve been successful enough finding customers, otherwise, they wouldn’t have gotten as far as they have. While they’re not marketing people, they are smart enough to have an idea how to get the word out about their products. If they’ve tried advertising, or worse, engaged an advertising company or consultant, there is a good chance they’ve been turned off.

“My customers find me by word-of-mouth, I don’t need to advertise.”

Well, for many businesses that is absolutely true. The problem many advertising companies and marketing firms have is when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. There are excellent companies out there with experience in print advertising, web marketing, or search engine optimization. When faced with your company’s needs, they figure what’s worked for other clients should work for you. Since most companies offering to help small businesses with their advertising needs know, well, advertising, that’s what they recommend and often it ends up  leaving that smart entrepreneur wondering why she engaged a consultant in the first place.

In fact, for some businesses, advertising in leading journals and industry publications works, and for some it doesn’t. If word-of-mouth is working for you, what are you doing to get more word-of-mouth? If you think trade-shows are too expensive, are you considering other ways of using them?

Have you thought of motivating people to spread the word? Do you have a vehicle for them to do so? Maybe they can comment on your company blog, or present a paper at a trade conference? Print advertising and web banners may not be the best thing for your business, but that doesn’t mean you should sit back and wait for people to hear about you. Eye On Technology can work with you to identify the best channel to communicate with your customers and then develop the tools to do it. If you don’t have the time to edit a blog, we can be a resource. Whether it’s downloadable PDFs on your website or a simple content management system customized for each prospect, these modern tools provide value long after your customers have turned the page past your last, expensive, print ad.

There’s no question that, for some companies, print advertising is a critical part of their business. It might even play a part in your business now or in the future. Just don’t complain if the one-size-fits-all solution you get from some advertising firms and market consultants didn’t make you look as good as you thought.