Marketing: The Key Differentiator

Josh Anderson of One-Into-Many is our guest blogger this week.  He offers a great summary of our Equinox Focus topic “Reconceptualizing Your Business.”   Josh is also a founding member of the Advantage Consortium.

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Everyone is fighting to differentiate themselves in the market. A market that has become commodity oriented. They are asking for more value at a less cost. None of us like competing in this environment. Something needs to change.

Ok, so you know you have to think about and do business differently.  But what does that mean?

As you peel back the layers and begin to understand your core value, a level of excitement rushes in.  Suddenly people in your organization get a sense of vigor as the focus starts becoming clear.  The question is does anyone else care about your value?

So we are challenged to find the market for our value and then to described that value in their terms.  The natural instinct is to error on the side of not saying words that might dissuade a potential buyer.  Stories and messaging end up being broad and encompassing of many potential customers for fear of losing even one good selling opportunity.

This thinking is having disastrous effects as companies move from the information age to the conceptual age.  As they move from local competitors to worldwide competitors, their story and messaging is lost and ignored. Their efforts are left for dead.  The common fix?  Get better at sales

How’s that working for you?

Conceptual Age businesses put the marketing discipline front and center.  It becomes the foundation from which they build all relationships with suppliers and customers.  It becomes the core system they test and measure continuously.  Marketing efforts become focused and speak directly to a very narrow segment of the market…a market that is controlled with virtually no competition.

So what does doing business differently mean?  It means using marketing to produce results that are unthinkable today.

Welcome to the conceptual age.

How Does Video Play a Role in Building Brand Awareness?

Our current economic climate and the rapidly changing marketing communications environment have ushered in a mind spinning array of challenges to businesses that want to build their brand awareness.

Statistics show that a key tool to help build brand awareness is video on the web. Indeed, according to numbers released this year:

-  76% of online video consumers watch professionally produced clips regularly (Interpublic Group’s Magna).

-  The number of online shoppers who watch retail product videos before buying a product grew 40% from January 2008 to January 2009 (comScore).

-  Google reports that videos are 53 times more likely than text pages to appear on the first page of search results.

Compelling numbers, aren’t they?  

So, if you’re a business owner wanting to build your brand, you can set yourself apart from the pack by creating professional HD video to market, sell, educate and engage your customer.  Brand Awareness means capturing the eyes and ears of your audience…and those eyes and ears are watching and listening to video online

Passion Plus Purpose Equals Profits

Our guest blog post comes from Maria Ross, founder and Chief Marketing Strategist at Red Slice.  Maria is also be our guest presenter at our Equinox Focus Event on September 22:  “Building Customer Loyalty to Drive Revenues”. 

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A fundamental advantage that small business owners have when it comes to brand is that they are so close to their customers. Usually, they started the business because of a personal passion or because they themselves felt a need and strived to fulfill it in the market. DRY Soda, a natural soda company, started out when the founder tried to find healthy, natural yet sophisticated beverages to have at a nice restaurant or a cocktail party.  Baby Legs, which provides signature stylish leg warmers for babies and toddlers, was founded by a young mom who needed to expose her baby’s diaper rash to fresh air while still keeping her daughter warm. These leg warmers protected her from the elements, made diaper changing and potty training easier, and protected her soft knees while crawling.

I had the amazing opportunity to facilitate a brand workshop for a tech company who is trying to clarify their messaging, build brand recognition and generally change the game in their industry. Exciting stuff. We clarified and gained consensus on what business they are truly in, who their ideal customers are, and what persona the company can authentically present to the world.  But all of this was just ‘business speak’.

Finally, in the early afternoon, I tossed my papers aside and challenged the CEO and others, “Let’s back up a second: What is the mission of this company? What greater impact do you hope your software and solutions have on the world?” The CEO didn’t even need a moment to think before articulating his passion about helping match candidates to employers, which leads to more jobs and thriving businesses, which leads to healthy economies – but on a personal level, finding the right job enables people to “send their kids to college” and make their lives’ dream come true.

The room came alive. Everyone from the CFO to the HR Director to the sales directors gave their own spin on this mission and what gets them out of bed in the morning. I pointed out, “See how the energy in this room just changed? This is the spark that will separate you from the pack, inspire businesses to partner with you, inspire talented employees to work for you, attract customers to do business with you. This is the essence of what you guys are all about.”

If you create an authentic brand in pursuit of a higher purpose, you can connect to people as ‘people’ – not just employees, customers or partners. And this will gain you loyalty, attraction and revenue beyond your wildest dreams. It doesn’t matter if you are a ‘solopreneur’ or a 10,000 person company. And only if this mission is authentically lived out through everything your company says and does will it be embraced and believed – you cannot simply ‘slap a coat of brand paint’ on your business with the transparent singular goal of more profits.  If you start with the right intentions and a true passion that is executed clearly and consistently, trust me: the money will follow.