Some Things NEVER Change

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I just read where Apple has become a largely iPhone company.

In 2012 Q1, the iPhone generated 58% of Apple’s revenue.  58%!!!

A mere 5 years ago, Apple didn’t even have the iPhone, much less the enviable position in the cell-phone marketplace it now commands.

So I guess the blog title isn’t quite correct, eh?  Some things DO change.  But wait . . .

What Made This Possible?  
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, in a related story, talked about why Apple would remain a ‘top choice’ even though some cell-phone carrier subsidies may be reduced in the future:
“. . . our focus is on making . . . a phone that delivers an off-the-charts user experience that customers want. At the end of the day, I think that carriers . . . want to provide what their customers want to buy.”

An ‘OFF THE CHARTS USER EXPERIENCE’
Ironically, while the MODE of Apple’s revenues has changed to reflect it’s huge success with the iPhone, the BASIS of what makes Apple so successful has NOT changed.

As Cook pointed out, Apple’s ‘secret sauce’ is to create such a compelling and exquisite experience for people who buy and use Apple products that, all things being equal, there’s really no basis for comparison with an Apple product.

There’s a lesson there . . . I hope you see it.  More importantly, I hope you APPLY it!

KEY POINT:
Understanding what your client wants . . . and providing it in an elegant and compelling manner . . . generates an experience that produces repeat sales, increasing revenues, more profit-ability and growing brand loyalty.   

1] Strategy BEFORE Tactics

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Apologies if this graphic is ‘too big’, but the key point behind today’s post deserves it!

The 7 Steps Have Been Updated!
Yesterday, I mentioned that the book: Duct Tape Marketing (the worlds most practical small business marketing guide) has been changed to reflect the evolution of marketing as a ‘mission critical’ business function.

There’s been a shift away from marketing that interrupts and toward marketing that attracts.  Some refer to this as ‘inbound vs. outbound’ marketing or ‘prospect-initiated’ vs. ‘seller-initiated’ marketing.  Why?  In a word, “Google”.  As Wayne Gretsky once said, “I go to where the puck is going to be . . . not where is is now”.  Similarly, marketers want to be found by prospects when they (prospects) are ready to buy (or, are seriously looking for information to help them do so in the fairly near future).

STEP 1:  Strategy Before Tactics
The ‘old’ Step 1  was “Narrow Your Focus”.  The idea behind that is still sound — find your ‘ideal client / market / niche’ and go for it.  The idea was that by not seeking to be all things to all people, you’d stand out or differentiate yourself to the people you most want as clients.

The ‘new’ Step 1 is “Strategy Before Tactics’.  Now, in addition to defining your Ideal Client and market, you also want to be really clear about why your firm would be seen — by your Ideal Client — as a ‘preferred provider’ of your problem-solving expertise.  We call that ‘differentiation’ and part of that is clarifying your ‘Message’ so you’ll stand out to your Ideal Client.

As the above graphic shows, this combination of aligning both your Mission / Message with your Market is the basis of your Strategy.

Strategy is the FILTER for Your Possible Tactics
Once you have a laser-tight clarity about:

1.  WHO you want to attract / sell and
2.  WHY / HOW you can stand out to your Ideal Client

you have found your Strategy!

Tactics Without Strategy . . . Is a Problem . . . for You
Using any Tactic without the benefit of a coherent Strategy, is like trying to build a house without a blueprint.  Your workers may show up and they can hammer wood and nails all day long but . . . in the end, it may not look like what you want nor will it serve the purpose you had in mind.

It’s easy to just pick a(ny) tactic . . . and ‘go to town’ with it. Business people do it every day!  But without a strategy to help you decide if it will support your long-term business goals, you may be spending more time and money than you like and getting less ROI for that than you want.  (Ouch!)

Your Marketing Strategy . . . Helps You Decide What’s Relevant
. . . and, what is not.  Once you have your Strategy defined, USE IT — as a filter to see which marketing tactics will ALIGN with your goals and SUPPORT you in achieving the success in your business you desire.

If any tactic — and they’re all intrinsically good at some level — is going to support you and your success, then you should consider using it.  If it won’t, don’t. Simple.

KEY POINT:
Effective marketing reflects an ALIGNMENT of the DECISIONS you make (Strategy — WHO / WHY) and the ACTIONS you take (Tactics — WHAT / WHEN / WHERE / HOW) to market your services.  And THAT . . . is why we say, “Strategy BEFORE Tactics” at Duct Tape Marketing.  

Tomorrow, another change in the 7 Steps . . . and, why!

Amazon’s Kindle Fire is a Smart Move

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Amazon’s new Kindle ‘Fire’ — is a brilliant marketing decision
Sure, the pricing is absurd.  Absurdly good.  For consumers.  Some believe Amazon’s losing money on every tablet they sell.  So the brilliance isn’t because of the extremely good price.

Kindle is playing on its strengths, not competing on its weaknesses
The tablet computer market is crowded.  Over-crowded.  So another tablet is not a smart idea.  Neither is creating an alternative to Apple’s iPad.  Kindle Fire makes neither mistake.

Kindle Fire is both unique AND beneficial
Kindle’s Fire is different and better than Android tablets that are both supported — and limited by — Google.  Amazon’s Kindle Fire is supported by Amazon’s version of Android and its own content — a far more extensive resource.  Also, Kindle is not seeking to woo a wide market like Apple is doing with the iPad.  Instead, Amazon is targeting its significant base of loyal Amazon customers who are seeking a convenient way to access Amazon’s content.

The Kindle Fire is also not as elegant as an iPad.  It doesn’t have to be.  it just has to provide access to Amazon’s extensive content.  Just as when Coca-Cola gave it’s vending machines away for free — because Coke™ made its money by refilling their machines. Brilliant!

KEY POINT:
“Never bring a knife to a gunfight” — Amazon is defining it’s own ‘Fire’ power and will likely be a winner because of it. 

Mission, Mission . . . On The Wall

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I’ve recently found a very cool site — fab.com. Fab is the brainchild of Jason Goldberg. I posted about him earlier in the week.

 

Clarity of Vision = Focus = Power
In marketing, it’s important to know what you stand for . . . as it helps you to stand out by standing up for something specific. Jason, as CEO and Founder of FAB.com has done this beautifully, IMHO.

FAB’s Focus . . . Design and Customer Experience
As you read the ‘Mission Statement’, it’s pretty clear that two terms come clearly to mind . . . DESIGN and CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.  This tight focus makes it easy for FAB’s management to make decisions — decisions that align with the audience of people who are FAB’s target market — people who appreciate both outstanding design as well as a good bargain.

KEY POINT:
Mission . . . drives how you operate and how you’re perceived by your target market

Beating the ‘Big Boys’ on Your Own Terms

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A recent post on LinkedIn prompted me to reply.  The question was prompted by a company asking, “How can I compete with the ‘Big Boys’ in my business?”  The business in question is ‘home remodeling’ and yes, there are all kinds of players in that field — from newbies to seasoned pros who’ve been in ‘the biz’ since they were born (or, so it seems!)

ASK . . . And Ye Shall Receive (Great Marketing Insight!)
I suggested the person survey his clients and learn what his ‘ideal client’ wants from a remodeler and then use those insights to make sure he’s operating in such a way that he’s seen as ‘more’ attractive on those qualities than his competitors — big or small.

A Practical Example of Managing Impressions to Cement Perceptions
One of my clients, a siding and windows company learned (by surveying his clients) that ‘appearances’ affect which firm a prospect is likely to hire. As a result, he pays for his crews to have a clean uniform and a truck wash EVERY day! Why?

Because it’s what his target market members want from a firm they’ll hire to replace their siding and windows. When this firm does work in someone’s home, they also wear surgical booties over their shoes, too. Why? They are managing the IMPRESSIONS they make on a client. That helps the client form a PERCEPTION about the firm that, “All things being equal, THIS firm is ‘better”. Seems to be working as his market share has been growing . . . at the expense of other firms in the same geographical area and business.

KEY POINT:
Manage the EXPERIENCE . . . Cement the PERCEPTION . . . Beat the COMPETITION!

Know Thy Prospect?

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Ever wondered what your prospect wants?

Ever get someone something ‘less than’ what they wanted for a holiday gift?

Was it because you simply did not take the time to learn what mattered to them? Regardless, once you blew it, you blew it.

Gift Giving for Your Prospects? (no, it’s not what you think!)
I’m not pitching anything.  But I will suggest that you give a very powerful and deeply appreciated ‘gift’ — your commitment to care enough to learn what matters to your prospective client.

We all have hopes and fears and dreams and . . . well, you get the idea.  Your prospects are people who have been frustrated at getting their dreams to become reality, their fears to go away and their hopes to have a chance in you-know-what of actually happening.

“Givers Get” — Ivan Meisner, Founder of BNI
Ivan’s advice to networkers is very true for you, too.  IF . . . you give a prospect your considered attention and sincere interest in learning what will make them happy, you’re likely to make a sale to make that happen.

Bonus Question:  “Why do you think I chose the image for this post?”  Do you really know . . . me?

KEY POINT:
Hopes, fears and dreams . . . all make the world go round and . . . the deals go down! 

Moms Are Where The Money Is (DUH!)

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Is there value in targeting a ‘niche’ instead of ‘anyone and everyone’?

Well, if a 2008 college drop-out can start a firm that caters to ‘moms’ who want / need financial advice and last month raised $19 million to help it launch a round of new products, then . . . YES!  Yes, finding a niche seems like a damned good if not a great idea.

Started by Alexa von Tobel, LearnVest is an online site that caters to the unique needs of women to learn and practice financial principles for the good of their family and themselves.

Alexa’s choice of a well-defined, geographically-diverse and significantly-sized market segment is brilliant.  The fact that many companies and financial planners are not already targeting this rather significant group of household decision-makers is rather surprising!

Providing an easily accessed, women-centric version of financial education through a variety of highly interactive tutorials, checklists and other tools in a ‘cozy yet professional’ website seems to have been a smart way to differentiate LearnVest from the myriad groups of planners who all seem rather vanilla to most of us.

KEY POINT:
Finding a niche that needs what you offer and others aren’t = Ka-Ching!

WHAT and WHO . . . You Choose!

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Being crystal clear about WHAT your business does and WHO you serve is a key factor in your ability to attract the interest and response of people who could do business with you.

Typically, that’s not common in businesses.  Consider how often you meet someone who tells you what they do and you’re still clueless about what they do and whether you (or someone you know) might benefit from their services.

A business is in one of 4 ‘Clarity Categories’ based on the mission and market it serves.

ZORBA — this firm is completely unclear about what it does and who might care.  When Zorba The Greek’s new boss asked, “What do you do, Zorba?”  Zorba replied, “Hey Boss Man I have 2 hands and 2 feet.  They do whatever they like.  Who am I to choose?”.  Unfortunately, a ‘Zorba’ business is a muddled business and suffers because of it. (Hope you don’t see yourself in this cataegory!)

MISSIONARY — this firm has ‘seen the light’ and is really clear about why it exists — it’s mission is well defined.  Problem is, the firm’s leaders haven’t identified the groups of people who would most likely understand, value and embrace the firm’s mission or ‘beneficial difference’.  A ‘Missionary’ business feels good about why it exists but without clarity on the market segments it can serve profitably, it hurts financially.

Tomorrow . . . we’ll touch on the remaining two:  the Mercenary and the Marketeer

KEY POINT:
Clarity in your MISSION and MARKET . . . is a beautiful thing

Say It Loud, Say It Proud!

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“Don’t Hide Your Light Under a Bushel”
I loved this book.  No, I didn’t read it.  I just read the cover!  It’s ‘over-the-top’.  But that’s why I’m writing about it and not something else.

My friend, THIS . . . is great copy!  “Kick-Ass Recipes for Hungry Girls Who Want to Stop Cooking Crap (and Start Looking Hot!).  Telling like it is (or, you hope it will be) is very, very attractive, isn’t it?

Skinny Bitch and The Elevator Pitch
Nice rhyme.  But I digress . . . My point of this post is that, like a book cover, your ‘introductory comments’ AKA elevator pitch need to rise above the hum-drum and capture the attention of people you’re talking with.  If it’s benign and ‘vanilla-esque’ then you’ll likely not be noticed and that, in business, can be verrrry deadly!

So ‘Go For It’ . . . take a chance . . . on change.  Tell the world WHO you are by sharing WHAT you do and FOR WHOM.  And when you think you’ve got it . . . throw in 20% more ‘edginess’ . . . just to be sure your words will work.

KEY POINT:
Tell it like it is . . . Go BIG or Go Home

Simplicity . . . SELLS!

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Recently, social media anchors LinkedIn and facebook have made the news.

LinkedIn went public with an IPO and within a month is trading at about 66% of what it sold for on day one.  But no doubt LinkedIn is happy as are the many people who own a piece of the dream as they say.

Meanwhile, facebook’s BranchOut — a competitive online networking service, has not been idle, either.  Actually, it has.  For the past 10 months, it wasn’t really attracting new users.  But, in just 2 weeks, utilization has soared. From 200,000 to almost 1,000,000 users.

WHY?  Simple.  BranchOut changed it’s user experience. Dropped the irrelevant bells and whistles.  Stuck to it’s core function — simple, elegant, professional networking.  Made it easier to use.  Form followed function. Simple elegance.  Elegantly simple.  The marketplace followed.  Amazing how ‘getting it right’ often results in ‘getting it done’.

KEY POINT:
Simplicity . . . that’s functional and valuable . . . sells!