Find Your Marketing Edge

Why should someone choose your company over your competitors? If you answered because your company is the “Best”, can you explain why? If not, then keep reading!

Current economic conditions are causing consumers to cut their spending, which means everyday purchase decisions are highly influenced by price. This makes it difficult for businesses that offer high quality products and superior service but are not known as the “value” or “low-price leaders”.

So how do you influence new customers and increase market share when competing with the “blue light specials” and “every day low prices”? You need to strategically develop a compelling competitive differentiator, a.k.a. a Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

A USP is a well defined trait that sets your company (or product) apart from your competition. This factor is crucial to your survival and placement in the market. Your competitive differentiator/USP should be a clear concise brand statement that is the essence of what you are selling. It should be integrated within everything that you do.

A good example of a company that differentiated themselves from their competitors is Domino’s Pizza. They selectively targeted a central group of customers, working parents. These moms and dads often come home late and are too mentally and physically tired to prepare a meal for their family. So Domino’s cleverly positioned their brand as the fast or free meal with this USP: "Pizza delivered in 30 minutes or it's free." They did not have to lower their price rather they focused on a consumer benefit “time” and simply offered a money-back guarantee if they failed to deliver as promised.

At The Weinstein Organization we follow these six steps to develop a USP, and determine what a particular client’s edge is in their marketplace:

1. Examine company attributes, natural resources and human personnel.

2. Identify core strengths, industry player differentiators and performance gaps.

3. Look for something that is “unique” and not easy for competitors to imitate.

4. Consider what factors would benefit and persuade a potential customer.

5. Determine how best to position advantages to obtain high perceived value.

6. Repeatedly promote and integrate into all marketing communications.

When your USP is recognizable in the marketplace and reinforced in your marketing, you will acquire a competitive differentiation that can boost your sales, re-position your brand, and enable you to dominate your market category.


Marketing Trends and Opportunities in 2011

We are now a full year into the second decade of the 21st century, and most would agree that the marketing industry—and consumer behavior—is vastly different than 10 years ago. But many of the evolutions of the last decade are now maturing, and becoming structures of the “new normal”.

Just as nobody could imagine social networking, search, and on-line media dominating the conversation, it’s hard to predict what we will be writing about 10 years from now. However, there are some things we see coming in 2011 that will affect our business and create new marketing opportunities. Here are some of the significant trends we predict will have an impact on marketing:

1. Email Marketing Goes Social

In espionage the M.O. is to always “follow the money”, but in marketing we need to “follow the audience”. According to Marketing Sherpa 90% of consumers now turn to social networks, user review sites, and on-line forums to learn more about the products and services that they are considering purchasing. That’s not a threat to marketing—it’s an implicit invitation to become a part of the conversation.

We’ve found great success in the integration of email marketing and social network sharing because it mimics the natural human behavior of word of mouth. And nothing is a better endorsement these days than Facebook’s “like” icon next to someone’s posting of an email offer they received.

2. Search, Expanded and Re-Defined

Yahoo, Google, and Bing in the US, as well as China’s Baidu and Russia’s Yandex, rule the world when it comes to search engines. And Search Engine Marketing is an essential part of any modern, comprehensive marketing strategy. But now Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn all offer their own unique forms of search based on how someone uses them.

Consumers search their social networks for answers because they are viewed as trustworthy and local. More than 30% of consumers poll their Facebook friends for information on everything from clothes to cars to contractors, and typically compare this information to what they find on a search engine. You can enter a product category in the YouTube search bar and find instructional videos, commercials, and testimonials in the form of user-generated content for virtually everything. This signals that marketers need to make sure they continue promoting themselves consistently on multiple platforms. It’s not enough to make sure that your web site is optimized to rise to the first page of a Google search anymore. It’s also vital to rise to the top of peoples’ minds, and that can best be achieved with media integration.

For more traditional media like direct mail, print, TV and out-of-home, we view on-line media as reliable and effective partners in extending our clients’ presence to portals where this kind of “personal search” activity exists.

3. Personalization—The Un-Mass Marketing

One-to-one marketing has come of age, and consumers are responding. What was once the domain of Direct Mail and Email, personalization is now everywhere, and it is much more than just a matter of addressing your audience by name. Websites, social networks, and smart phones are configured to serve targeted ads based on a user’s behavior. Using information such as referring URLs, search terms, click-thrus, and geo-location marketers can offer advertising messages that are tailored to the individual.

And while this does fan the flames of privacy issues and fears that big-brother is watching, consumers by and large don’t consider relevant marketing messages to be “spam”. The key to success in personalization is in differentiating your customer as well as the product or service you are offering. Nobody wants to be thought of as part of a mass audience, so we’re using techniques that are more like the conversations between salespeople and customers in a store.

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The Marketing Industry is going through a revolution comparable to the “Creative Revolution” of the 1960s. With a plethora of new technology that opens the door to new ways of communicating, this is a very exciting time. We can only imagine what this newsletter will report on in 2021, but until then there’s lot’s of innovating to do.


Ode to Server and a Happy Thanksgiving

We have much to be thankful for. Our staff, clients, vendors, friends and family, and extra long weekends on national holidays.

On this Thanksgiving Day we give thanks to the one who never stops working.

The one who can launch a 1.2 million-email campaign, update a Facebook status, and tweet about it all at the same time.

While directing phone calls and internet communications data over miles of circuitry.

The one who makes it possible for us to go home and sleep at night (well, maybe not the folks in IT).

Doing the heroic work of many, in total anonymity.

Sitting in a cramped, cold, windowless office. Usually with the lights off.

So while we digest our well-earned Thanksgiving harvest, let us think of

the one who keeps on at it, even while the office is "closed for the holiday".

Who even has the tortured indignity to aid and abet the publishing of this very blog entry.

We thank you, we raise our glasses to you in honor.

To the Server of The Weinstein Organization: we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanks indeed.


Know Your Audience

‎"We advertisers must take the world as we find it. Our business is to win people, not to make them over." - Claude C. Hopkins

Claude C. Hopkins is considered by many as the father of Direct Marketing, the “reason why” copy style, and marketing analytics. Over 120 years ago he ignited what is considered the true first “creative revolution”—long before Bill Bernbach, and Digital agencies—by positing that advertising was “salesmanship on paper”.

Hopkins believed that advertising agencies needed to absorb the culture and habits of their audience, learn their “language”, and communicate with them in a way that wins them over with familiarity. In the late 1800s this was revolutionary.

Today there is much debate as to the future of advertising and marketing. Will digital and social kill traditional media? Are we on the verge of another creative revolution? Is mass marketing over? We’ll leave that to the business pundits and industry watchers to sort out, but the fact remains that success in our business is dependent on a notion that transcends all media: know your audience.

In Hopkins’ time, magazine ads were considered “new media”. And they were—the idea of placing ads in magazines was considered lowbrow, because the publications were literary outlets, supported solely by subscribers and their interest in the content. So people like Hopkins (and Albert Lasker, J. Walter Thompson himself, and many others) turned their focus to the audience, and crafted their communication and style appropriately.

By focusing on the audience they were trying to reach, the new strategies for developing effective creative in magazine ads revealed themselves. Hopkins was a true believer in communication with context—magazine readers reacted differently to ads than newspaper readers because of context. In the early 20th century, selling soap in a magazine such as Harpers required a different approach than selling that same soap in handbills, circulars, outdoor signage, and especially newspapers. Knowing your audience and knowing why they read magazines, or newspapers, or neither, was key to taking a big idea and communicating it effectively.

The same is true today. At The Weinstein Organization we approach every project with our focus on the audience first. What we might do in a direct mail piece is not necessarily what we would do in an email campaign. The message may be the same, but the audience and the context are far different. And when you know your audience you will know what to say, how to say it, and when.

Marketing agencies that worry about so-called new media and its supposed “threat” to our industry are focusing on the wrong aspect of our business. It’s all about the audience, not the media. If you know your audience, you will know what to do regardless of the media. And it’s been that way for over 100 years.


Between "Mad Men" and Metrics, there is Chemistry

Much has been made of two phenomena that are having an enormous effect on the state of the Marketing and Advertising industry these days. One obvious force is the economy, or more specifically the "Great Recession". The other is the wildly popular AMC program "Mad Men". Along with the Digital/Social revolution of the past few years, the state of the economy and Mad Men are shaping the way our industry thinks about itself, and how it will continue to evolve moving forward in the 21st century. Here's how.

The economy is rather obvious. In a poor economy such as the one we are currently living through, ROI becomes more important than ever before. There is less tolerance for strategic and creative risk that can't pay itself off in the short-term. On both the agency side as well as the client side, metrics are looked at under a stronger magnifying glass than ever before. And rightly so. Although it is foolish to think that the performance of a marketing campaign has never been important, the stakes right now are just too high for anyone to take them for granted. Every client relationship, project, and new business pitch are all predicated on metrics--good or bad. But some may argue that this laser-focus on metrics, while responsible, is threatening to erode the very human aspect of people working together to solve business problems and achieve common goals. Metrics are being used as the overarching criteria in new business pitches almost to the exclusion of considering how well the two parties may work together. Yes, metrics are an essential business scorecard. But how do you score intangibles like innovation, desire, vision, and the comfort in knowing that if you are awake thinking about your business at 3 am then your agency probably is too?

Enter the influence of Mad Men. Most people in or connected to our industry are at least aware of this show, which reminds us on a weekly basis what the business was like in "the golden era of advertising", and its influence is beginning to enter the conversation. Recently while at a new business meeting, Mad Men was referenced by our potential client in a positive way as how we used to conduct business based on agency-client relationships. More eyeballs and ears, and less email. People used to meet in person more often, roll up their sleeves, and allow for a very real and visceral interaction between partners. Yes, technology has allowed for the marketing industry to grow beyond the borders of big cities, but technology may have also made our industry lazy when it comes to building and maintaining client relationships. A weekly status report sent via email is not an adequate replacement for visiting a factory, or attending a planning meeting, or even going out to dinner with our clients to understand them as people--and not just the names on an invoice. What do they worry about? What are they proud of? What are their dreams and aspirations for their company, and what do they want from us in terms of support and shared risk? You can't begin to understand your client's business until you get to know your client as a person.

There is a classic United Airlines commercial from 1990 called "Speech" (view it here) where a manager addresses the staff regarding the loss of an old client because they no longer conduct business face-to-face. His answer of course is to buy his staff airline tickets to go visit their clients and return to the business of providing personal service. It was as salient a message 20 years ago as it is today.

At The Weinstein Organization we have always believed that the key to a successful business relationship is forged through chemistry. Chemistry, or how we relate to one another, is a very powerful thing. Chemistry allows for honest dialog, and trust, and team building. Chemistry puts everyone on the same page so the metrics of a marketing campaign can be understood as the performance and collaboration between client and agency. Chemistry is more than client service; it is a bond much stronger than any contract. It is the reason people want to do business together.

Since we opened our doors in 1992, our business model has been to create work that is trackable and measurable (metrics), with a strong culture of client service (not quite Mad Men, but we like to do business in-person whenever possible). Having excellent chemistry with our clients is one reason why we don't need to work under a contract or by a long-term retainer arrangement. And it is chemistry that enables us to perform so we deliver excellent results for, and with, our clients.