A variety of business information to help add insight. Hopefully you find a nugget or two that add value to your marketing. Check out our website at www.duplicatesink.com and www.marketsmartprogram.com
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Friday, January 29, 2016
Brand Awareness: Becoming Another Kleenex
Brand awareness, of course, is the extent to which a name, label, logo, catch phrase, jingle, or another identifier that is associated with a brand, a specific product, or a company is easily recognized by customers. Brand awareness may be old news, but the Internet has taken the concept to new heights, becoming far more measurable and quantifiable as part of an overall marketing strategy.
There are many examples of successful brand awareness implementation. It has always been primarily produced by effective advertising. The most dramatically successful advertising campaign is the one where your product becomes synonymous with the product category. For many years now, a facial tissue has been called a Kleenex regardless of what actual brand was used. This is the same result we see when some people refer to any sport-utility vehicle as a Jeep and any cola drink as a Coke.
The objective in advertising or any brand awareness marketing endeavor is not simply to get your product name or image in front of the consumer. It is to get the image into the mind of that consumer, so when the buying customer wants a product, he or she wants your product before that of any competitors. Repetitious advertising creates a memory trace that remains and is reinforced with every additional occurrence. Think of mayonnaise, hot dogs, ketchup, beer, and coffee. The odds are pretty good that in each case you thought of a specific brand. It is no coincidence that the biggest selling brands are also among those most heavily advertised in various media.
While a successful advertising campaign can create solid brand awareness, a limiting or cessation of advertising can erase the gains in a remarkably short time. Forty years ago, a steel wool soap pad was known as a Brillo Pad. Today, SOS brand is the big seller. Brillo sometimes doesn't even get any shelf space, and we must ask when was the last time you saw an ad for Brillo scouring pads? The manufacturer failed to maintain the brand awareness level they had established. A massive advertising campaign by the manufacturers of SOS soap pads was the driving force that changed the landscape.
Advertising remains key to this process, and today the most critical medium for reaching the customer is the Internet. No other medium offers such widespread advantages in both reach and monitoring capacity. With the Internet, you can track how many times your ad has been viewed and how many times it has been clicked on.
Furthermore, social media and blogging have opened up new avenues for tracking your brand's impact. Programs exist that can tell you how many times your brand has been searched for by a search engine. Others can reveal how many times it has been mentioned in a blog anywhere on the World Wide Web. These "mentions" can be even more critical to brand awareness than page views or clicks because each one may represent an impartial testimony to your product. Even negative discussion tends to reinforce brand awareness. The old saying applies: There is no such thing as bad publicity.
Establish it, reinforce it, and nurture it. Brand awareness can make the difference for you in becoming another brand like Kleenex.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Sensitivity to People's Needs
Naturally, these relationships should be as positive as possible. To do this effectively, you need to be sensitive to the needs and desires of the individual. Never forget that your customers are, first and foremost, individuals with personal needs.
In years past, some companies dealt only sporadically, if at all, with this issue, trusting fully in their products to supply what the customer needed. But, the relative success and failure of many such businesses have proven this outmoded attitude to be counter-productive.
Indeed, an entire industry has grown up around the concept of customer relationship management (CRM). Today, software is available from many sources. This software can make it far easier to manage all customer contacts, enhancing the relationship to the utmost, producing greater sales through better communication. However, it still comes down to the one-on-one relationship and your awareness in general, as well as specific customer needs.
As has always been the case, a successful appreciation for the needs of your customers is driven by sensitivity--treating people as people rather than simply as customers. Since a business' customer contacts are most frequently engaged in by employees rather than management, a company's employees and their training are of paramount importance in achieving better customer interaction.
A company is in a far better position for growth when its employees are made aware that their overall performance will be judged by their customer interaction--the levels of satisfaction those clients have achieved. After all, customer satisfaction is the most effective means of achieving customer retention, a far more efficient way to increase sales than continually reaching out only for new customers.
One key element in developing satisfied customers is to ensure that they deal with satisfied employees who present a positive picture of the company. A satisfied employee is a valuable tool. This is especially true when your employees are dealing with customer complaints. When a customer is most upset about something is when your employee's "soft skills" are the most critical. Soft skills involve the ability to address customer complaints with politeness and de-escalation of the client's emotional responses.
This brings to mind the movie, The Negotiator, where Samuel L. Jackson's character tells another negotiator, "Never say 'no' to a hostage taker." He then tricks the other guy into saying no several times, each time castigating him for his ineptitude. As humorous as this scene is, it also highlights the importance of a skillful use of words and an awareness for the needs of your counterpart in conversation. While your employee is not going to cause someone's death, she just might cause a lost sale. Making certain that every client conversation concludes with a positive perception can result not only in short term sales but also in a greater number of positive stories being shared among new potential customers.
With businesses becoming ever more international in scope, many organizations are increasingly investing in staff training to enhance cultural sensitivity. Cultural, political, religious, and linguistic differences do exist as potential barriers, and learning to navigate this new international landscape is an important ingredient for future growth.
Never underestimate the power of positive relationships. Sensitivity to customer needs is key to a better public perception of your business.
Monday, January 11, 2016
Data Security in 2016 and Beyond: What Your Business NEEDS To Be Prepared For
Passwords are Going Away
Simple passwords have long been considered by experts to be woefully inadequate as far as actual data security. This is especially true now that everything from bank account statements to medical records are being stored electronically. All it would take is someone with a little knowledge and the right hardware to guess even the most stringent of passwords, which is why the practice is poised to go away for good sooner rather than later. Many businesses are turning towards other options, like SSH-key authentication, which uses a security key in conjunction with encryption to increase the safety of information stored digitally.
With SSH-key authentication, all data is essentially scrambled via encryption algorithms both in transit and at rest. In order to "decode" that information and gain access to the data inside, a computer needs the appropriate SSH verification key. Without that key, even someone who had the password for an account would essentially find all of the data unreadable, which is why this is one security trend that is increasing in popularity and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Security as a Service
One of the main obstacles regarding maintaining security in the digital world has to do with the massive effort required on behalf of business owners. Maintaining security patches, upgrading and monitoring network-based security hardware and more can be a full-time job for an IT employee - if you have an IT employee to begin with. Instead of constantly engaging in the uphill battle of trying to maintain security on their own, many businesses are turning towards third-party security as a service for this very reason.
Under this type of situation, you would pay a third-party company to take over complete control of your network security infrastructure. They would be responsible for auditing, disaster recovery, real-time detection, maintaining security patches and more - giving you complete peace of mind as a business owner knowing that A) you are as protected as you can be against cyber threats and B) you don't have to devote a huge amount of time, money, and energy in order to get to that place.
Allowing employees to bring their own devices to work is increasingly common, but it is not without its disadvantages. If an employee accesses mission-critical information on their personal iPhone and then that device is stolen from them, the data they were accessing is potentially compromised. This is one of the many reasons why businesses are enacting strict device enforcement policies governing what types of personal devices can be used at work, what information can be accessed on them and what happens to that device if an employee suddenly becomes an ex-employee for whatever reason.
These are just a few of the important factors to consider about data security in 2016 and beyond. The Internet and technology, in general, brings with it a host of different benefits for businesses that can't be ignored, but there is a seedy underbelly to the proceedings as well if you're not careful. The key to cyber safety involves knowing what type of battle you're engaging with and making smart, actionable decisions in a proactive way.
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
The Evolution of Sales: How the Landscape Has Changed
A century's worth of knowledge about how to go about selling something has not been made obsolete, but it has experienced some competition. The old guard, presenting the "correct" path for sales taught new recruits the art of manipulation. Jeffrey Gitomer, Zig Zigler, Brian Tracy, Tom Hopkins, and many other authors on the subject have outlined a strategy for increasing sales on the basis of this manipulation. They have shown us a successful, proven model for sales. So, what has changed?
The mantra for the old school approach was to establish and maintain a sort of control over potential customers by answering questions with questions. Establish some common ground and build a rapport. Spend all the time you can, build value, and only then reveal the price. Once a value has been established, even a higher price will seem more acceptable. It must be said that this approach has achieved much success. And, in fact, there remains a place for it, depending on the medium used for conversation.
What the Internet and digital communication have done, however, is to change the speed of interactions to the point that available time has collapsed. These days, spending a lot of time has become counter-productive if the medium is the Internet, for example. Studies show that most web surfers, even when looking for a specific product, will spend very little time searching before making a decision, one way or the other.
This makes building value more difficult, and when transactions occur online, there is no face-to-face interaction and no rapport building. Digital customers have very little time for elaborate presentations building product value. Typically, they already have a price in mind and are most interested in your price for the sake of comparison.
Today, sales are being made with a rapidity that has never before been matched. For that to occur, some of the old ways have been relegated to other media, as the Internet has expanded to take over some of their space. Online sales are continuing to explode exponentially, so it is quite clear that new approaches are being validated.
To a certain extent, a person's approach is tailored to his or her personality. Some people are built for face-to-face interaction. Some can do without it. All sales become a contract and there is a personal comfort zone that must be attained even in the quickest of transactions. Serious shoppers who demand a greater depth of information do exist on the Internet, but the Internet can easily adapt for these shoppers by offering the information to those who demand it, while streamlining the sales process for those who do not.
There is really nothing inherently wrong with the old school approach to sales. There will always be a time and place for it in certain contexts. What the Internet has introduced to the process is flexibility. While there is no flesh-and-blood person speaking to the buyer, there is a wealth of information available if the buyer really desires it. As a result, website building has become something of an art form, so the needs of customers can be addressed as those needs emerge rather than in a pre-determined sales presentation.
It seems old school and new school can live together, after all.
Friday, January 1, 2016
Adaptation: The Happy Accident
This discovery only occurred because biologist Alexander Fleming took a vacation. Returning to find that his staph bacteria petri dishes were contaminated with an invasive fungus, he observed that the fungus had repelled and killed the bacteria. The age of antibiotics was born.
Dozens more examples demonstrate that the happy accident is one of the most valuable resources in human development. One of the earliest known examples occurred when, for better or worse, some Chinese experimenters looking for the elixir of eternal life accidentally discovered gun powder, instead.
In 1938, a du Pont chemist discovered that his experimental gas had escaped its container and that a strange slippery substance was left behind. Teflon was born. Much earlier, an English pharmacist withdrew a stirring rod from his chemicals only to notice a dried clump of hard material stuck to the end of it. In trying to scrape it off, it ignited and burst into flame. The strikable match was the result. Velcro was invented by a Swiss engineer intrigued by how burrs stuck to his dog's coat. The implantable heart pacemaker was stumbled upon when an assistant professor accidentally grabbed the wrong size resistor from a box.
These examples are only a few of the many wonderful discoveries that have graced the world by a scientific accident. Their value is immense, and the world has grown richer by their discovery only through the adaptability of those who discovered them. In many cases, something else was the target goal at the time. Their discovery was an unanticipated byproduct born of the flexibility of the discoverer.
In business, it pays hefty dividends to be flexible enough to adapt to new developments and to make use of unexpected benefits. As the maker of a fairly unsuccessful wallpaper cleaner, Kutol Products was near bankruptcy when children began using the product to form Christmas tree ornaments in arts and crafts projects. The entrepreneurs were clever enough to see this unexpected use as a gift, and the company was saved by the new marketing of the modified product as Play-Doh.
A similar story is told of the development of another novelty toy, Silly Putty. In 1943, a World War II rubber shortage prompted the government to commission research from General Electric chemists for the creation of an alternative. The resulting elastic compound was ineffective at replacing rubber, but it was intriguing nevertheless. Samples were circulated, but until an enterprising toy store entrepreneur named Ruth Fallgatter saw the stuff in 1949, no one had any use for it. Fallgatter saw some potential and hired copywriter Peter Hodgson to include the item in her seasonal catalogue. While it outsold everything else in the catalogue, for some reason she lost interest and abandoned the substance.
Hodgson, however, had a clearer vision of its potential and picked up the entrepreneurial torch, renaming the product Silly Putty. It took some time, but his ability to adapt paid off. A New York Times columnist mentioned it in a very positive light, after which sales topped $750,000 in the next three days.
Speaking of gummy substances, we have alluded to the 29-year-old William Wrigley who decided to offer free baking powder as an incentive to market his scouring soap. The idea was so good that the powder became more popular than the soap. So, he offered free chewing gum to market the powder, and the gum became more popular still. Thus was born the Wrigley chewing gum empire, from humble beginnings in soap and baking powder.
Like William Wrigley, Peter Hodgson, and the brighter minds at Play-Doh's Kutol Products, always remain alert to the potential for happy accidents and adapting to situations and possibilities.
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