Customer-Content Fit: A Framework for Producing Content That Attracts Customers

Customer-Content Fit: A Framework for Producing Content That Attracts Customers

We recently worked with a company that is looking to attract engineering and IT executives at enterprise companies. They’re selling highly technical development services to them.

These target customers are essentially, executives. They make important decisions for huge websites like “What backend architecture should we use?” and “Is our tech stack preventing us from hiring top talent?”. They get paid a lot. They manage huge teams. They are important, busy people.

The company’s existing blog posts, though, had titles like:

  • 21 useful javascript tips and tricks…
  • 7 things to stop doing with jquery
  • 10 bootstrap alternatives

Do you see the problem? No IT executive is looking for jquery tips. They are not coding in their job. They haven’t written code for years.

This is not an isolated problem.

For example:

A high end, UI/UX design firm said some of their previous content included things like a “website launch checklist”. The only problem is that their ideal contracts are $100,000+ from multi-million dollar companies with a serious digital presence. Their management teams don’t need to learn how to launch a website.

A B2B SaaS company we worked with had a solution to help enterprise CMOs at medium to enterprise companies get more testimonials. Their existing content included tips about how surveying customers is “important”. The problem? Their target customers came to them because they knew customer feedback was important, they just needed help getting more. They don’t need to be told that testimonials are important.

If you’re the marketing executive or founder, this misalignment problem is mentally and emotionally exhausting. You’re working your tail off producing content month after month. From ideating, to writing, to graphics, to promotion- it’s all a lot of work. So when the management team asks you “How many customers are we generating from our content marketing efforts?”, it can feel like you want to throw something at a wall.

It’s infuriating. We’ve been there.

Introducing “Content-Customer Fit”

We’ve seen this problem so often, across so many industries, that we’ve decided we need to formalize this issue.

We’re calling this concept: Content-Customer Fit.

The above examples are from companies that haven’t achieved content-customer fit. They have content. Their content may be really good, but that’s irrelevant. The problem is that isn’t written for their customers.

So they don’t have a fit.

We define a “working” content operation as driving useful leads or sales for the business

And without content-customer fit, their content marketing operation isn’t going to “work”, which we define as driving useful leads or sales for the business. We don’t even care if it gets traffic or not. One of the examples above is from a blog that got less than 1000 visitors, another gets over 200,000 a month. It doesn’t matter, in both cases, the company decided to work with us because the blog wasn’t producing enough (or sometimes, any) useful leads.

That’s why content-customer fit is so important.

This term is, of course, a nod to “product-market fit”, which, I’m sure you’ve heard a million times. To pause and give credit where it’s due, according to Wikipedia “product-market fit” was defined or popularized by some combination of Marc Andreessen, Sean Ellis, and Steve Blank. In other words, some highly accomplished startup folks have endorsed (or created) it.

There are clear analogies between customer-content fit and product-market fit:

Customer content fit vs product market fit

So, let’s discuss the 3rd item, how to achieve content-customer fit. Then we’ll look at a before and after example.

Curious about having us do content marketing for your business? You can learn more hereIf you’d like to learn the content marketing strategy that we share here, we also teach our content marketing process in our course and community.

Step 1 to Achieving Content-Customer Fit: Extensive Customer Research

Steve Blank, one of the “product-market fit” gurus according to Wikipedia has this famous line:

Get out of the building.

He means startup founders need to start by talking to customers, a lot, over and over, before they start building.

That’s exactly how we approach achieving content-customer fit for ourselves and our clients.

content strategy

Step 1.1: Getting the right people in the room

Marketers typically don’t have direct contact with customers.

When we start working with a company, the first thing we do is an intensive user research session. It’s typically a half day at their office.

The session is conducted with way more than the marketing team. We usually bring in C-level staff, someone from the sales development team, account executive team (if there’s a sales org), customer support/account management team (if there is one), and any other employees that have direct contact with, or extensive knowledge of, the customer.

The reason is simple, marketers often don’t have direct contact with customers (sorry, but we’re finding that to be true), so we don’t want filtered or “best guess” info, we want it straight from the people who talk to customers every day.

Content marketers are one level removed from customers

Step 1.2: Identify the best customer, not just any customer

Then we’ll pull up the company CRM for quantitative data analysis and sort by 3 key metrics:

  • Account Value – the price the customer pays the company
  • Sales Cycle – how long it took an account to close
  • Retention- how long the customer has been with the company

For service businesses, we’ll also ask the account managers which companies were the most enjoyable to work with.

We’re looking to figure out who the absolute best, most ideal, if-you-could-wave-a-magic-wand customers are for this company.

On the quantitative side, from CRM data, we begin to understand which companies have a high contract value, had a short sales cycle and have stayed with the company a long time. A customer that checks all 3 boxes is typically a great fit. We prioritize those companies.

Then on the qualitative side, we get evidence from the stakeholders about their views on their customers. We ask questions like this to these different stakeholders:

Account management/ customer success

  • Which of your customers see a ton of value in the product or service that you offer?
  • Which are the customers that you’ve never had any issues with?
  • Which of your customers do you think are the best fit for the company?

Sales

  • Which of the accounts that you closed in the last 6 months to a year were the easiest to close, and why?
  • Which accounts had a huge pain point that your company solved for?
  • What were those pain points?

Marketing

  • Which leads had the highest chance to convert to an opportunity?

We get into a lot more detail and the conversations go in different directions depending on the company, but you get the idea.

Step 1.3: Consolidate and Analyze the Data

Then after going through this exercise, we compile the list of companies and do demographic research to figure out who the buyer in these companies were, and what similarities they share.

For example:

  • Did the buyers have similar titles?
  • Did the companies that came up multiple times have similar revenue ranges? Employee counts?
  • What industries were these companies in?

At this point we have a pretty damn good understanding of who. That is, who are the company’s best customers. We often start with a long list of potential customers, and narrow it down to a small example list of ideal customers.

Best Customer research

We are now are at a key milestone: We have the foundation to create a content strategy that is designed to target a specific group of ideal customers — not just any customer. These are customers that are easier to convert, fun to work with, pay the most, and churn the least.

But, we can’t start creating content yet. We have one absolutely critical step left.

Step 1.4: Learn everything about these ideal customers’ pain points

After we’ve narrowed down a massive list of any random customer that may give us money down to the very best, we then try to learn everything we can about these companies/people that purchased.

For example:

  • What were the problems the company was facing prior to them working with you?
  • How were those problems solved once they started working with you?
  • What other problems/challenges do these people face in their roles outside of the problem your company solves for them?
  • What publications do these people read? Who do they look up to in your industry?

Usually, the company we’re working with doesn’t know how their customers would answer these questions. (In particular, the last question.)  So getting answers to these questions usually requires ongoing customer research on our part: emails, surveys, looking at customers service chats, talking to more people at the company.

We also have a much longer list of questions, above is just an example set. Some more questions are discussed in this user research surveying article, and with clients we create a bunch more, custom, questions.

Overall, this is a crucial step and the techniques are varied. I’m glossing over this in this article for sake of space but we go through it in detail in our course and with our clients. This step requires some creativity, and in previous articles we’ve harshly (but, in my opinion, correctly) just said:

“You’re a marketer. This is your job. Figure out how to get it done.”

After this step we’ve now figured out who the absolute best, most ideal customers are based off of real data instead of a marketers’ hunch (so our content strategy becomes focused instead of scattershot).

Now we can finally move on to content creation.

(This is analogous to a startup founder doing enough customer research to release their MVP in their quest for product-market fit.)

Creating Content That Attracts Customers

It’s kind of neat that once you do all of the user research steps above, ideating on content is not that complicated.

Think about it:

  • You’ve narrowed the full customer list down to a subset based on actual data. Most companies just write for anyone in their general field
  • You’ve talked to multiple stakeholders in the company to make sure your reasoning and conclusions are sound. Most employees work in silos.
  • You’ve then started uncovering pain points by actually talking to real customers. Most marketers just assume.

So now you just create content pieces that address the actual pain points you’ve uncovered for these ideal customers.

In terms of making the content good, we’ve talked about that at length in several places (the curious reader can find even more in the content strategy section of our top content page):

The best way to see all of this put into action is through an example.

If you’re finding this post valuable, you’ll love our course. We go in even more depth about how to conduct user research and identify high converting blog topics. We also cover writing great blog posts, driving traffic to them, and more. Learn more about our course here.

A Change In Strategy Based off of this Approach

We gave a workshop to the VC firm FundersClub back in December and were lucky enough to have their VC partners as well as some of their portfolio companies in the room.

workshop fundersclub wide 1000

Giving a workshop at Fundersclub in front of VCs and founders.

For those that aren’t familiar with Fundersclub, they’ve funded over 200 startups with names you might recognize such as: Instacart, Coinbase, Teespring, LeadGenius, RankScience, etc. They typically fund early investments in the Seed and Series A rounds.

We ran through the best customer exercise with them and determined that the best companies for them to fund were:

  • Serial Founders
  • Had participated in the top incubators (YC, 500 Startups, Techstars, etc.)
  • Had previously raised a seed or angel round of funding
  • Showed significant traction (we defined what those metrics were in the session)

This is a simplified version of the best customer exercise for confidentiality reasons, but you’ll still get the learnings from the profile above. In short the criteria is what you’d expect any VC firm to want.

But when we looked at the content they were producing, we saw pieces like this, which we argued is mirage content:

fundersclub miragecontent

On the surface it looks like it would be a great article. It’s a checklist for companies trying to raise their series A round of funding. Knowing that Fundersclub invests in early stage companies, you’d think this would be a great article for their target audience.

But…

When we scrolled through this blog article, we noticed the advice given in the article didn’t match the audience who they identified as their best customers.

For example: these were some of the bullet points in the article.fundersclub series a checklist

If you scroll up to their best customer — someone who is a serial founder and came out of a well known incubator — it’s clear that they know these basics about how to raise series A, they know series A rounds “usually involve institutional venture investors”, they know they need to present their financials, they know they need to practice their presentation, etc.

In fact, when we asked the Founders in the room (who were already funded) if this piece would be valuable to them, they all said no.

Fortunately, this exercise changed the direction of their content marketing strategy and Fundersclub has produced a ton of great pieces that are extremely valuable to their target audience.

Here are some examples:

fundersclub specific content

This post shares advice from technical founder who figured out how to sell inside of their company. This is a common challenge for technical Founders: how to also become a sales leader in the early stages in your company. It also uses an interview from someone experienced in the space, not just a content marketer Googling around and summarizing info.

Here’s another great article that directly targets something on a Founder’s mind that’s in their target market:

fundersclub keeping engineers happy

For tech startups, hiring engineers and keeping them happy is something that’s always top of mind. They interviewed Founders and Academics to produce this piece on how to keep engineers happy.

They also have a series of posts with opinions from experts which range from insightful to opinionated. These posts, by nature of being fueled by an expert’s opinion, avoid the pitfall of the “Series A” checklist where it’s clear the blog is out of sync with the needs of the reader.

Grow and Convert Canvas 2 key

Your Turn: Do you have an example of getting customer-content fit right (or wrong)?

It would be fun to get a discussion going about more examples of getting customer-content fit right or wrong.

Please share an example in the comments. If you don’t want to link to it, you can just describe it. It can be obvious or it can be subtle. It can be something you worked on or something that’s just driving you crazy.

Regardless of what it is, showing many different examples will help everyone see how customer-content fit can come in different shades and degrees across many different verticals.

Want to produce content for your business that has customer-content fit?

  • Our Agency – You can learn more about having us run your content marketing here.
  • Our Content Marketing Course – Individuals looking to learn these skills and become better marketers, consultants, or business owners can join our private course, taught via case studies, here.

Author:

Grow and Convert

 

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      You are here Home Sales and Marketing Feature Why Social Media Is Key to Your Pipeline

      You are here Home Sales and Marketing Feature Why Social Media Is Key to Your Pipeline

      You know all too well that being a real estate agent is about more than just open houses and closing tables. Most real estate agents have to fill many different roles in order to have a successful business.

      Heather Elias, founder of the Loco Real Estate Team at Century 21 Redwood Realty, says the importance of marketing is one piece of the puzzle that’s often overlooked by agents, especially when it comes to the day-to-day work of making new connections with consumers.

      “I don’t think enough agents run their business like a business,” she says. “They don’t think about how much outreach they need to do on a week-to-week basis or stick to it. It’s a lot of work.”

      Of course, these days one of the key ways agents can make new connections with buyers and sellers is with social media. But many real estate professionals aren’t using these tools to their highest potential.

      Why Agents Should Use Social Media

      The Pew Research Center estimates that around seven in ten Americans use social media to connect with others, and many see it as part of their daily routine. As more and more people become active on social media with greater frequency, the number of opportunities for real estate agents to make new connections grows exponentially.

      “Second only to personal referrals, social media brings my highest number of connections with new buyers and sellers,” says Melanie Voss, CRS, with Farm & Ranch Realty in Colby, Kan.

      Elias combined her background in public relations and marketing with her real estate business when she started using social media. She says social media offers new ways for agents to connect with consumers.

      “Instead of having to go to a cocktail party or PTA meeting, or volunteering in your community to be able to meet people, there are ways to connect with like-minded individuals using social media, and that will grow your business,” she says.

      Besides the obvious advantage of bringing in more buyers and sellers, real estate agents can use social media in other ways, too. Voss uses social networks as a way to demonstrate her expertise in real estate by sharing tips, data, and trends impacting property sales in her area.

      “I enjoy the opportunity it gives me to engage with people of all ages and areas,” Voss says. “It also helps empower my buyers and sellers with market information.”

      Which Social Media Networks Should Agents Use?

      Although social media has been around for many years (Facebook was founded in 2004!), the way it’s used and how it impacts people’s lives are always changing.

      “It’s grown and changed as more of our consumer base is using it, and the way people use it has changed,” Elias says. For example, Elias used to depend much more on Twitter to connect with people, but now she sees more opportunities on Facebook and Instagram. The popularity of these platforms is reflected in the data, too. Pew estimates that today, some 68 percent of U.S. adults use Facebook, with 74 percent of those users logging in at least once per day. Though the overall audience for Instagram is smaller, they use the image-driven site at nearly the same frequency.

      Voss is reacting to similar trends in her market. “The popular social media trends are fluid and changing. I use what seems to fit the people in my area of Kansas and what I’m comfortable with,” she says.

      Elias stresses that it’s important to know where your audience is spending time online. Examine both what’s popular in your geographic area and which platforms are most successful with the niches you want to serve, since they may be different depending on where you’re situated.

      “Every agent needs to look at where their consumers are located. Find your audience and then go to them,” Elias says. “It’s not up to the agent to decide. You have to go where they are.”

      The fact is, you can’t be everywhere online, and quality over quantity is an important factor to consider. “An updated, active profile on one or two sites is better than poor engagement everywhere,” Voss says.

      The Bottom Line

      Being active on social media is key for any business to connect with new people and strengthen bonds with existing contacts. It’s a free way to market your business, build personal connections, and share resources that will help buyers and sellers get to know you before picking up the phone.

      “With social media, contacting me is easy,” Voss says. “If you don’t have my cellphone number at your fingertips, you just search a social media site and my number is on every post and picture. That’s why I use social media.”

      Author:

      REALTOR® Magazine

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        Complete Guide to Content Creation For Real Estate Agents

        Complete Guide to Content Creation For Real Estate Agents

        the complete content guide for realtors 2020

        Website conversion rates in 2020 are expected to be nearly several times higher for real estate sites with a content strategy than those without one. So if you want to get a lot more traffic, you NEED to invest in a solid content marketing approach.

        If you had the opportunity to drive thousands of qualified leads to your website for free, would you take it?

        “Of course I would!”, you may be saying. “Why would I ever say no to that?” 

        And yet, every single real estate agent has the opportunity to do just that: drive thousands of qualified leads to their website for literally zero (or nearly zero) dollars.

        How is that possible? Is anyone even doing that? And if they are, what’s the catch?

        content is king

        Bringing tons of new traffic to your website with content marketing

        First, let’s get one thing out of the way. While content creation can be done for very little money, or even for free, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a cost. The main cost of a content marketing strategy is time. You need to be willing, able, and disciplined enough to keep producing quality content regularly.

        But does content marketing work?

        Yes! Or course it does. In fact, most of America’s top producing agents, such as Ryan SerhantEgypt Sherrod, and Pat Hiban have a strong content marketing strategy. And a big part of their success is their content marketing strategy.

        In fact, agents’ websites that have an active content strategy have significantly more traffic and attract far more leads than those that don’t.

        The reason why a content marketing strategy works in real estate is quite simple. The real estate process is complex, and home buyers and sellers have many questions about it.

        And like the rest of us, one of the first places they will go for an answer is Google.

        So if you were to anticipate and understand the kinds of questions buyers and sellers often have, you can create content which answers those questions. 

        This content can then be search-engine-optimized (SEO’d) so that it ranks as highly as possible on a search engine such as Google. That way there’s a greater chance that YOUR content will be the one that answers those buyers and sellers’ questions.

        How does answering those questions through your content benefit you?

        Because, if YOU are the person who solves their problem, you’ll prove your real estate expertise, and you’re more likely to be the person they go to whenever they have more real estate questions. And eventually, when they need real estate services, they will have a greater incentive to go to YOU, not someone else.

        Makes sense, right?

        So now that we know WHY content marketing is SO important, let’s take a look at the content creation process, which content you should be making, and how you should be delivering that content. 

        What’s the content creation process?

        The content creation process has 3 main steps:

        1. Find a problem that lots of home buyers and sellers have.
        2. Create a piece of content that provides a solution to those problems
        3. Get this piece of content in front of those home buyers and/or sellers

        It’s really that straightforward. Everything else is just details. 

        What Problems Do Buyers and Sellers Want To Solve?

        Specifically, homeowners want to know how to:

        • Increase their home’s value
        • How to sell their home faster
        • How to choose the right real estate agent
        • Make the right decisions as a homeowner

        Home sellers want to know:

        • How to get the best price for a home
        • How to get a mortgage with the best possible terms
        • How to choose the right real estate agent
        • Deciding whether to buy or rent a home

        Of course, these are just a few examples. But the general rule is that both buyers and sellers have questions that are directly related to their financial, homeownership, and lifestyle interests.

        Try this; take out a pen and pad of paper. Remember all of the worries, misconceptions, or problems you’ve run into with homeowners during the listing process. 

        Next, think about your real estate niche. Where do you have knowledge that no other agent does? In what ways can you demonstrate your experience and expertise that no one else can?

        Not specific enough? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We have several articles based on blogging ideas you can use as a guide. 72 Rock Real Estate Blogging Ideas With Examples

        5 Strategies for Endless Real Estate Blog Ideas with Google News

        Top 50 COVID-19 Real Estate Blog Ideas

        What Content Is Best For Real Estate?

        There are dozens of content types out there, and as time goes by, new ones will emerge. 

        But 3 of the most effective ones for real estate are:

        1. Blogs/Articles
        2. Infographics
        3. Videos

        blog articles

        1. Blogs/Articles

        Blog posts and articles are one of the most popular content types out there. In fact, WordPress reports that 70 million new blog posts are created each month on WordPress alone. 

        While this number may seem intimidating and make you feel that you have ZERO chance of getting your stuff read, here are some reassuring facts.

        First of all, the internet has an insatiable appetite for content. The supply of content may be high, but the demand is even larger.

        Second, the majority of new content is not well written and is poorly optimized for search engines. But worst of all, most of the content doesn’t offer nearly enough value to keep the reader coming back for more.

        In other words, it’s ABSOLUTELY possible for your content to find an audience, especially if your content is catered to your specific local demographic.

        Best Practices For Blogs/Articles

        The fastest way to become a good writer is by studying experts and emulating them. We don’t mean outright plagiarism, but rather paying attention to how they structure their thoughts.

        Here’s the process I use:
        1. Create an outline for your article – Before you even write a single paragraph, figure out the main arguments you wish to make. What do you want your readers to take away from your article? Then, arrange your arguments into a logical order, and fit them into your blog format.
        2. Use a time tested template for your articles – Remember the 5 paragraph essay from high school? There’s a reason why our English teachers insisted so much on teaching us how to write a 5 paragraph essay (besides torturing us). That’s because this format is very efficient and effective in presenting compelling arguments that answer a single question.Do you want to prove why it’s better in the long-run to get an adjustable rate mortgage than a fixed one? Introduce the problem in the first paragraph, present three arguments on paragraphs 2, 3, and 4, and summarize your arguments on paragraph 5.
        3. Do your research – Find facts and quotes from experts and authoritative figures that back up your arguments.
        4. Write your article’s first draft – Remember that your first draft is just that, a first draft. It’s something that you will work on and polish as you go along.
        5. Once your first draft is done, go back to it, and polish your article – Break up the text blocks. Never write more than 5 sentences in a single paragraph when publishing online. Further, break up the article by using images, videos and charts that supplement your arguments.
        6. Sleep on the article – Re-read it after stepping away for a few days. Make changes as necessary.
        7. Before you publish your article – Ask a friend or co-worker to read over your article, and give you their 2 cents on it. Then, take their suggestions, and use them to put together your final draft.
        8. Publish your final draft – Track your article’s success, and use what you learned to improve your future articles.

        Best Books For Improving Your Writing Skills

        There are tons of books out there to teach you how to improve your writing skills. But instead of overwhelming you with a massive list, here are my top 3.

        While learning and studying how to write is extremely important, the best way to improve your writing skills is to actually write. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. Your writing muscles will not develop if you don’t use them.

        infographics

        2. Infographics

        Infographics are the holy grail of shareable content. 

        Why? 

        Because infographics are easy to share on social media, they can be embedded in your articles, and they can direct more traffic to your website.

        If someone likes your infographics, they can share it, link to it, or insert it into a blog post or webpage, and you’ll reap the benefits of more traffic and visibility to your website. What’s not to like?

        Best Practices For Infographics

        Infographics are essentially a mix of quick-facts, edutainment, and statistics. It’s important to focus on the following.

        • Beautiful Design – It’s all about presentation. A good and appealing design will draw more attention and will encourage your audience to share it.
        • Valuable and Meaningful Statistics – Infographics can display a large amount of valuable information in a condensed package. Make sure you quote your statistics from authoritative sites, and you present them in an interesting way.
        • Branding – Make it clear that your real estate company was the one that created the infographic.

        Here’s a complete guide to infographics if you want to read more. You may also want to check out these 15 amazing photo resources. They will come in handy when it comes to making your infographic.

        Where To Share Your Infographics

        The power of infographics comes from their shareability. Which social media should you share it in? 

        • Pinterest– Pinterest is all about image sharing. That’s why it’s the perfect place to share your infographics.
        • Facebook – Though its appeal continues to wane, Facebook is still the king of social media, especially among Gen-Xers and older social media users.
        • LinkedIn – LinkedIn is geared towards business relationships. But if you have an informative infographic that is well researched and has a formal-ish tone, it’s perfectly fine to share it on LinkedIn.
        • Instagram – Instagram is quite popular among millennials and younger demographics. If they are part of your target demographic, it’s a good idea to share your infographics there.

        video content

        3. Videos

        Video is currently the king of content. Video combines visuals and audio in a way that writing simply cannot compete.

        And in today’s busy world, people want to consume their content quickly; they want the cliff notes. That’s why you see all of those “one secret” and “quick fix” type ads out there. Speed is what people want. Take advantage of that desire with quick, punchy videos.

        Best Practices For Videos

        When it comes to video, many beginners think that the higher the production values, the better the video will be. But that’s an overly simplistic view.

        The most important thing for a video to be good is the value of its content. Marketing gurus such as Neil Patel, Gary V. and even Tom Ferry use the simple format of “a guy talking in front of a camera” to great effect. And to do that, you don’t need a movie studio. All you need is your smartphone, and a good script.

        As long as you’re providing lots of value, your viewers will remain engaged and will come back for more.

        Having said that, quality DOES matter. If you can afford to have great production values, by all means, do it. Video is a visual medium, so the better your visuals, the better your final product and the higher value that will be attributed to it.

        Here’s The Process We Use At AgentFire:

        1. Determine the core message of the video
        2. Create a storyboard to summarize your points and information
        3. Decide how you want to be perceived by your audience (demeanor)
        4. Keep filming until you get it right

        A 5-minute video may take you up to a few hours to film if you have no experience on camera. But the more you do it, the better you’ll get and the faster the entire production process will be.

        If you have no public speaking experience, try joining Toastmasters.

        storytelling

        Use Storytelling

        “You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.” ― Erin Morgenstern

        In order to reach your audience of homeowners, you need to be human. “You need to bleed”, as best selling author and serial entrepreneur James Altucher would say.

        The same thing is true for your writing. In order for your readers to trust you, they need to feel like they know you personally and understand where your arguments are coming from. 

        Storytelling is as human as opposable thumbs. In fact, there’s research that suggests that our brains are naturally wired for storytelling. So if you accompany your knowledge with storytelling, it builds a way for people to remember you and what you taught them.

        Is your blog article answering a question or a problem? Start the article by immersing readers in the story of WHY you decided to write it. 

        Did you have a client that had a hard time deciding whether to buy or rent a home? Tell your audience how that client’s experience motivated you to answer that question.

        Are your clients concerned about selling their homes in the current economy? Use that story as a jumping-off point, and explain the pros and cons of selling a home right now.

        As you integrate more and more storytelling techniques into your content, you will naturally keep your eyes and ears open for more storytelling in the future.

        However, don’t forget that storytelling is another tool in your toolkit. If you’re answering a simple question, it may be better to get right to the answer and not go into an epic journey of self-discovery. You need to respect your reader’s time too.

        Find your brand – Why are you REALLY in real estate? What motivates you to keep going even in difficult times? What’s your big why?

        What causes do you believe in, and how do you contribute to your community?

        What does your brand stand for? Why do your clients trust you?

        You can help people by being funny and bringing a smile to their day. Or giving them actionable advice so they can solve their problems. It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as your voice is uniquely yours.

        Here comes the fun part.

        tools for increased productivity

        Tools for Real Estate Content Creation

        You’ve got the right ideas. Now you want to get cracking. Are there any tools out there to help you create your real estate content more effectively? Absolutely!

        But first, make sure you’re in the right environment for creating content.

        It’s hard to be productive if you’re surrounded by distractions. I recommend using these tools while listening to classical music. If you don’t like classical music, you can listen to whatever motivates you, as long as it doesn’t have spoken lyrics.

        Productivity reaches new heights with the help of Mozart and Chopin!

        Distraction-Free Writing 

        There are hundreds of writing tools that promise you a distraction-free environment. One of the best ones out there in my opinion is iA.

        This app is available for Mac, PC, Android, and iPhone. It offers a distraction-free environment similar to having a white sheet of paper in front of you, allowing you to make all formatting choices easily directly from your keyboard.

        However, it’s not always possible to be completely free from the internet, especially if you’re referencing articles, or need to quote authoritative sources.

        In that case, you may want to use an app such as Freedom. Freedom lets you selectively block certain websites for a specific amount of time, block certain apps, block the entire internet, and schedule writing time.

        evernote

        Evernote

        As mentioned in a recent article, Evernote is probably the best taking tool available right now. It works on pretty much any device, letting you access your notes and to-do lists from anywhere. but you can also attach PDFs, receipts, images, entire websites, record voice notes, and so much more.

        If you want a tool that can help you brainstorm, write, and pick-up from anywhere on any device, Evernote is an especially good tool if you’re like me and have ideas at random times.

        Just open your phone and write a note for later, and it’ll be saved on your computer too.

        scrivener

        Scrivener

        For those who like to write a little more than 500 words. Scrivener helps you set writing goals and stick to them.

        Beyond a word processor, Scrivener is a writing platform made with writers in mind. 

        I know a few people who have written full-fledged books with the help of Scrivener. It’s got a cool system that allows you to build out a structure for your writing.

        pomodoneapp

        PomoDoneApp

        Several of us here at AgentFire have integrated the Pomodoro Technique into our daily workload. This technique breaks down your workload into productivity chunks (called Pomodoros), followed by a short break.

        This technique is amazing at helping you keep your mental focus, and boost your overall creativity and productivity. 

        And one of the best tools to use the Pomodoro Technique is PomoDoneApp

        Tools For Content Research

        We get it. You’re spending precious hours to create your content and want to have an idea of how successful it will be. Thankfully we’ve got content research tools. You can use the following to determine the popularity of articles by how many shares they’re getting.

        buzzsumo

        BuzzSumo

        BuzzSumo is pretty much a standard when it comes to content ideas research. It allows you to search for real estate content and see what is getting the most shares. You can break down the results by Date, Country, Content-Type and social networks. 

        So if you focus on Facebook, you can determine what is performing the best there instead of everywhere.

        Note: You have a limited amount of searches before you have to pay for premium.

        ahrefs

        Ahrefs

        Ahrefs is our content idea and keyword research tool of choice. It takes some time to get used to it and use it effectively. But once you figure out how to use it, it will become an essential tool in your content marketing toolset.

        Though Ahrefs is often considered a competitor to BuzzSumo, it has a number of tools not found on BuzzSumo. These tools are more geared towards SEO and can provide you with all the data you need to find high-performing keywords and blog ideas with high demand.

        How to Write Killer Headlines

        Regardless of the kind of content you create, you need to make sure that you spend enough time coming up with a great, attention-grabbing headline.

        Why?

        Because your headline is the first thing people see. It’s what convinces them to click on it, or move one. So what is it that convinces a person to click on YOUR article’s headline instead of your competitors’?

        It all has to do with an emotional response, including some of these:

        • Intrigue – The headline promises such a compelling narrative, and ends in a such a cliffhanger, that the person can’t help but click on it to get some mental resolution.
        • Excitement – The headline promises something of value to the reader. 
        • Amusement – The headline makes the reader laugh, and provides some levity.
        • Shock – The headline is something so out of the ordinary, and possibly even negative, that it must be seen to be believed
        • Anger – The reader’s sense of justice, morality, or preconceived notions are so challenged, that they must read the article to prove it wrong.

        Use one or more of the above emotions to leverage higher opening rates and shareability for your real estate content. 

        If your content doesn’t sound interesting or incite an emotion within the person you’re trying to reach, you probably won’t reach them at all. That’s why we use these tools ourselves. (Just be careful with anger…)

        headline analyzer

        AMI Headline Analyzer

        Using this tool I was able to generate 560 shares on one of the very first articles I wrote for my own corporate blog. In short, it can be an effective tool when combined with high-quality content and promotion.

        Keep in mind that 89% of content is never shared more 100 times. (And for 560 shares I put exactly ZERO dollars into promotion, just manual labor).

        a/b testing

        A/B Testing

        A/B testing is one of the best marketing tools out there. It’s simplicity itself: you send out 2 versions of the same piece of content (such as an email, an ad, etc.) and see which one performs better.

        Then, you take what you learned about the better performing piece of content, and use it to do a new A/B test. Rinse and repeat.

        This strategy is used all the time by new media companies such as Buzzfeed, which regardless of your opinion about them, they are WIZARDS when it comes to coming up with eye-catching, clickbaity article headings.

        Before they promote their new content, they create segmented email lists to try different variations of the same title. This allows them to see what title will get them the most shares.

        Sometimes the results are dramatic. The exact same article can get 10x more shares with a different, high-performing title. Use your email provider (we use MailChimp) to A/B test your titles before going live.

        Use A Time Tested Copywriting Formula

        There’s a common idea that all of the uninitiated have about the pros (it doesn’t matter what field): the masterpieces they produce are the product of a peerless mind that can turn a blank canvas into a piece of art.

        But that’s simply NOT the truth. Those masterpieces are built on a foundation of time tested principles, best practices, shortcuts, and good ol’ experience

        The same can be said about the best copywriters in the business. They NEVER write an article, a piece of ad copy, or a headline from scratch. They use effective formulas that deliver consistent results, and then tweak them based on their intuition and experience.

        When you’re writing a headline, don’t fix what isn’t broken. Use a copywriting formula. We have an article covering 4 copywriting formulas that all real estate professionals should use starting today.

        In Conclusion

        Real estate agents just like you are driving thousands of homeowners from their community to their blogs and Youtube to see their content. These views, shares, and likes can be worth thousands or millions of dollars of properties a year when combined with your other marketing and promotion efforts.

        What are the problems you can solve with your specific real estate knowledge? Provide information, answer questions, and do it with your own unique voice. Put in the work to determine what homeowners in your area are really looking for. Create, optimize your content, and then promote the heck out of what you create.

        There’s going to be a lot of trial and error. Building your reputation won’t come overnight. But with the right content, promotion, and course-correction, you’ll be lightyears ahead of other real estate agents’ marketing content.

        Use this information and all of the tools at your disposal. We know you want your content to give you a voice.

        With the right strategy, it’ll be more like speaking through a megaphone.

        Author:

        Agentfire

        Nelson Cuesta

        Founder & CEO

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            The Secret to Becoming a Market Leader

            The Secret to Becoming a Market Leader

             

            Summary.   

            Winning companies aren’t led by customers.  They target the customers they want, they then do as much as they can to satisfy those customers’ needs, and they don’t let themselves get distracted.

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            The best-kept secret about strategy is that you are in control. You get to choose the game you want to play and how you might win it. Further, you can choose to lead on a variety of dimensions – market share, innovation, product quality, or customer service. You can tip the odds of success in your favor with these decisions.

            If shoes were your business, for example, is your market “shoe retailing”? Or is it the retailing of “high-priced, custom-made women’s leather sandals”? Your answer will determine your chances of becoming a market leader. You may have no chance of dominating the shoe market in general, but you may become a market leader in your niche. So why not forget about school shoes, sneakers, and slippers and focus on the part of the market that interests you the most?

            Choose Your Marketspace

            FCB Group, which now describes itself as “Australia’s leading workplace relations specialists,” was faced with the need to define its market during the early stages of its existence. It began in 1995 as a mediocre employment services firm. Years into its existence the partners realized that the firm was never going to become a market leader by spreading itself thinly over a wide range of expertise and an even bigger range of customers. They had to bite the bullet and clearly define the firm’s market.

            FCB zeroed in on the medium-sized enterprise with “complex employment structures” in three industries – logistics, retail, and manufacturing of fast-moving consumer goods. They reasoned that clients in this category lacked the required in-house legal expertise to successfully deal with legal issues, while still being big enough to create them.

            The partners decided that FCB Group would become these clients’ outsourced legal department in human resources. Its early mantra was “timely access to a quality response.” And it worked. They chose their market, focused on it, and reinvigorated the business. Today FCB is the market leader in its niche.

            This realization can be like an epiphany. After a recent online strategy workshop, I asked participants for feedback on which of my five sessions they found the most beneficial. The CEO of an IT contracting firm told me, “Defining your market and focusing on your target customer. We’ve let ourselves be led around by big clients. We haven’t built the business,” he said. “After the session finished, I immediately got on the phone to my two senior managers and told them we have to sort this out. We’ve been mucking around with this issue for years.”

            Of course, you must be very thoughtful about how you select a focus. Defining your market requires an assessment of both client needs and your business’s capabilities. You need to find a market demand large enough to support your business’s growth.

            Go Deep to Dominate

            Narrowing your view of “the market” allows you to go deep and dominate. By focusing you can meet more of your customer’s specific needs.

            Take the German manufacturer of dishwashers, Winterhalter, as an example. It explains its awakening thus: “We analyzed the entire market for commercial dishwashers and found that our world market share was well below 5%. We were an insignificant follower. This prompted us to completely realign our strategy. We tailored our services to serve hotels and restaurants exclusively.”

            In doing so the company decided to go deep ensuring that the end-result for its customers is close to perfect. Instead of chasing fickle trends in the domestic retail market, the executive team pivoted to present their chosen market with new services, including state-of-the-art water treatment devices, effective detergents and rinse aids, and close-to-the-customer service.

            FCB Group has also gone deep to build the customer experience using technology and a subscription model. Over the last ten years FCB Group has progressively “technologically enabled” its routine work. This move has allowed its professionals to concentrate on providing high-level, in-depth expert advice and systems to support it. One example of this is enableHR. It’s a cloud-based technology that provides a centralized employee records system with standard contracts for the employment of staff and contractors. It also houses best-practice guides on work health and safety procedures. One client, Solotel, runs 19 hotels and restaurants with 1,200 employees.

            This move has been coupled with a subscription model that builds a close and on-going relationship with clients. The firm found that many of its clients struggled with costs – specifically the hourly rates of lawyers. They regarded them as “really expensive.” So, the Group introduced a monthly fee based on the number of employees, contractors, and volunteers a client had. EnableHR, for example, has over 11,000 subscribers. FCB uses its close relationship with its market to anticipate needs for products and services. In other words, it proactively leads the market, rather than reacting to it.

            Gather the Courage

            The CEO of the IT contracting firm I mentioned said that “we lacked the courage to make the necessary decisions.” This trepidation holds entrepreneurs and CEOs back from making a commitment to focus. Instead, they play it safe by trying to be all things to all customers. Mediocrity and average returns become the result – at best.

            Remember what Steve Jobs, once CEO of Apple and its co-founder, said: “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do. That’s true for companies, and it’s true for products.”   So, think differently about your “market.” Doing so will boost your chances of success and of becoming a market leader.

            Harvard Business Publishing
             
            • Graham Kenny, CEO of Strategic Factors, is a recognized expert in strategy and performance measurement who helps managers, executives, and boards create successful organizations in the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors. You can connect to or follow him on LinkedIn.

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              The Strange Thing That Happens In Your Brain When You Hear a Good Story — And How to Use It to Your Advantage

              The Strange Thing That Happens In Your Brain When You Hear a Good Story -- And How to Use It to Your Advantage

              In the classic tale, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick, a group of sailors were “zagging” off the coast of South America in 1821 when they came across something ghastly.

              They were in a whaling ship named the Dauphin, under the command of a captain named Zimri Coffin. One day on the horizon a small boat popped into view in the middle of the ocean. Here’s an account of what the Dauphin crew saw:

              Under Coffin’s watchful eye, the helmsman brought the ship as close as possible to the derelict craft. Even though their momentum quickly swept them past it, the brief seconds during which the ship loomed over the open boat presented a sight that would stay with the crew the rest of their lives …

              First they saw bone — human bones — littering the thwarts and floorboards, as if the whaleboat were the seagoing lair of a ferocious man-eating beast.

              Then they saw the two men.

              They were curled up in opposite ends of the boat, their skin covered with sores, their eyes bulging from the hollows of their skulls, their beards caked with salt and blood. They were sucking the marrow from the bones of their dead shipmates.

              Quick! Think about how you read that. How did your actual physical surroundings feel as you pictured the salt-caked beards of the cannibal shipmates? Did someone in the room with you happen to cough while you read this? Do you recall any background noises outside? Any trucks or sirens?

              Chances are your brain pulled you fully into the story. Your imagination filled in the scene, and your present circumstances and surroundings faded into the background of your consciousness. This is what Jonathan Gottschall, who shares this anecdote in his wonderful book The Storytelling Animal, calls “the witchery of story.” It’s what our brains have been biologically programmed to do.

              We’re hardwired to be pulled into good stories. Think about the last time you watched a movie or read a book and were suddenly snapped back to reality by a loud noise in the room. You hadn’t realized that you’d lost most awareness of your surroundings. You didn’t notice when the line between reality and the story world inside your brain began to fade. That process — which we go through every night while we sleep — is a survival mechanism that helps us do a better job of storing information in our memory.

              We also know the areas of your brain that light up when you hear or see a story:

              Something surprising happens when information comes from a story rather than just simple facts: More of our brains light up. When we hear a story, the neural activity increases fivefold, like a switchboard has suddenly illuminated the city of our mind.

              Scientists have a saying: “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” When more of your brain is at work at a given point of time, the chances that your brain will remember the work it did increases exponentially.

              Pretend, for example, you are in high school health class, and your teacher is giving a slideshow presentation. The first slide features a chart filled with stats on how many people die or are ruined every year from drug use. The teacher says, “Drugs are dangerous.”

              In this moment, the areas of your brain responsible for language processing and comprehension will be working to absorb this information.

              Now say the teacher takes a different approach. She puts up a slide with a photograph of a handsome teenager. “This is Johnny,” she says. “He was a good kid, but he had a lot of family problems that made it hard to be happy some days. He was quiet and got picked on a lot. So he started hanging out with some of the other picked on kids. One day, one of them offered him drugs. He started doing lots of drugs to make himself feel better. Ten years later, he looked like this — ” cut to a photograph of a sickly looking mid-20s young man with missing teeth. And then, the teacher gives the same message as the first: “Drugs are dangerous.”

              During this lecture, all sorts of areas of your brain will be active. Areas that help you imagine what Johnny’s life is like. How he feels. How you might feel some of the same things.

              Unsurprisingly, the second kind of presentation — the story — is a lot more memorable. Students who see that presentation are going to be more likely to think about Johnny next time someone offers them drugs. No matter what choice they make, they are more likely to remember the message that drugs are dangerous.

              Do you see where we’re going? When we get information through stories, we engage more neurons. As a result, the story is wired into our memory much more reliably.

              Imagine how this could change your next presentation.

              Stories Generate Empathy at the Chemical Level

              A few years ago, scientists packed a bunch of people into a movie theater to see exactly how stories work on our brains. They put helmets on the participants’ heads, strapped on monitors to measure their heart rate and breathing, and taped perspiration trackers onto their bodies. The participants looked around nervously, laughed as they made small talk, and fiddled with their helmet straps.

              And then a James Bond movie began.

              As the movie played, the scientists closely monitored the audience’s physiological reaction. When James Bond found himself in stressful situations — like hanging from a cliff or fighting a bad guy — the audience’s pulses raced. They sweated. Their attention focused.

              And something else interesting happened: At the same time, their brains synthesized a neurochemical called oxytocin.

              Oxytocin sends us a signal that we should care about someone. In prehistoric times, this was useful for figuring out if a person that was approaching you was safe. Were they a friend, or were they going to club you on the head and steal your woolly mammoth steak? Through oxytocin, our brains helped us identify tribe members whom we should help survive. Because that would help us survive, too.

              Our heart rates rise when James Bond is in danger because our brains have decided that he — this familiar character — is part of our tribe. We generate oxytocin when we see him, which makes us empathize with his story when we watch it. And, circularly, the more of his story we experience, the more oxytocin our brain secretes.

              That means that we’re not just watching James Bond. We’re putting ourselves in his shoes. At the deepest physiological level, it means that we really care.

              Oxytocin levels can actually predict how much empathy people will have for someone else.

              Stories Bring Us Together

              It’s hard to learn someone’s story and not feel connected to them. The oxytocin we get from stories helps us care, whether we like it or not.

              This is basically the premise of the film The Breakfast Club. A group of misfits is forced to come together for detention one Saturday. After sitting miserably for a while — hating each other — they start to share stories about their personal lives, their parents, and, of course, their dreams. Over the course of the movie, they form a bond. When they leave detention and go back to their different worlds, they remain closer than before. They aren’t necessarily going to be best friends, but they now understand and respect one another. You can imagine them standing up for one another against a bully or becoming close friends after high school, when the artificial boundaries of their cliques start to disintegrate.

              But even more interesting, we don’t even need to share our own stories to build a relationship with someone. Sharing almost any story makes a difference. In a 2011 research study in New Zealand published in the Journal of Teaching and Teacher Education, researchers put kids from different racial and economic backgrounds together for a series of story time activities. The scientists found that even when the kids weren’t sharing their own stories — when they were simply reading storybooks — they developed empathy for one another. They felt more connected. And as they grew up, they were less racist and classist than other kids.

              Storytelling, the researchers concluded, “fostered empathy, compassion, tolerance and respect for difference.”

              This is why it makes sense that people still go on dates to the movies. On the surface, a movie is a terrible date. Both people experience the movie separately. It’s a parallel activity that doesn’t involve interacting with your date at all. And yet, it becomes a shared experience. Because your brain is wired to remember experiencing the movie’s story more deeply and vividly than other experiences, that story becomes subconsciously more meaningful to you — even if the movie was bad. And the fact that you and your date experienced the same story together actually brings you closer.

              This is another way storytelling played a part in how we survived as a human species. When we were first building civilization, we grouped up in tribes. We had this magnificent brain, but we had to protect it against saber-toothed tigers and poisonous berries and thousands of other things that could kill us at any moment. We had to work together to survive. We had to hunt together, gather food together, make shelter together, and pass on lessons that we learned so that our descendants would survive, too.

              But how could we do that, when we didn’t have a written language to record what we’d learned, how we’d survived? The answer, of course, was stories.

              Evolutionary biologists say that the human brain developed the ability to tell stories — to imagine them and to dream them — around the same time as our ability to speak. Storytelling was an essential piece of the development and endurance of language.

              And so we would gather as tribes at the end of our workday. We would take the wide world of stimuli from our time hunting and gathering and building. And we would package it all into stories — the stories that helped us remember and care.

              Author:

              Hubspot

               

              Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow

               

               

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              Five ‘Customer Marketing’ Tactics to Boost Retention and Reduce Churn

              Five 'Customer Marketing' Tactics to Boost Retention and Reduce Churn

              B2B marketing is about generating leads, fueling pipeline, and growing revenue. A prospective buyer enters the funnel, learns about your business, and eventually becomes a lead before being passed off to the sales team to be converted into a customer.

              Prospect, lead, sale; repeat. The cycle goes on.

              Growing new business is essential, but a well-rounded marketing strategy will also need to engage customers after the deal has closed. That’s especially true for B2B software companies, many of which follow a subscription-based business model that relies on customer relationships to maintain growth.

              Acquiring a new customer can be up to 5x more expensive than retaining one, the data shows. That’s why building a customer marketing strategy is vital to fueling long-term relationships for retention growth. Plus, there’s additional revenue potential in cross-selling and upselling.

              Let’s explore the benefits of that approach and dive into effective tactics you can use to kickstart your efforts.

              What is customer marketing?

              Customer marketing targets the post-purchase phase of the funnel with the goal of increasing customer retention and growing loyalty.

              The idea is that it’s much easier to keep a current customer happy than it is to convince a new prospect to buy.

              Customer marketing programs help to grow customer advocacy and build long-lasting relationships.

              What are the benefits of customer marketing?

              From customer success to implementation and sales, many areas of a business can benefit from customer-centric marketing support.

              Provide better customer service

              Not all of your customers are going to be happy ones, which is why businesses have customer service teams. As a marketer, you may not be personally fielding service requests, but you can still play a big role in improving customer service functions.

              One of the simplest ways you can do so is to regularly monitor your company’s social media channels and online presence. People frequently take to social media to share both positive and negative experiences with companies. Engaging directly with your customers online to address their concerns or to thank them for their kindness is a quick way to show them that you value their feedback.

              Enable your sales team to upsell and cross-sell

              Cross-selling and upselling contain massive revenue potential. The two tactics are similar, and the terms are often used interchangeably by mistake, so let’s define them:

              • Upselling refers to the practice of selling an enhanced or upgraded version of the purchased product to a customer, thus increasing the buyer’s overall spend.
              • Cross-selling is the sales technique of selling a related product or service to a current customer.

              Create targeted marketing materials that highlight new product features or offerings and educate customers on the added value of those features or products. That could be as simple as filming an informational webinar or as complex as building out a separate microsite to highlight the new offering.

              Encourage your sales team to use those materials during the renewal process to fuel both upselling and cross-selling.

              Reduce customer churn

              A high churn rate can be catastrophic for a business. Closing new deals is great, but if you’re not able to keep your customers long-term you’re dealing a blow to revenue and growth goals.

              A critical function of customer marketing is to foster engagement and loyalty among your customer base. The more programs you have in place to regularly interact with your customers, the better position you will be in to gauge their overall satisfaction with your business and prevent churn.

              Use these five easy-to-implement customer marketing tactics

              1. Create personalized onboarding materials

              The period after a customer first signs on is critical to establishing a foundation for a long-lasting relationship.

              A simple way to make your new customers feel appreciated is to personalize onboarding materials that are easy to replicate for each new customer. It can be as simple as a custom slide deck featuring the customer’s logo or a small welcome gift that shows your appreciation.

              2. Feature customers in case studies and testimonials

              Your happiest customers are your best advocates. Featuring testimonials alongside long-form case studies on your website is a powerful way to both engage with your customers and create content to help the sales team close more deals.

              It may feel daunting to ask your customers to participate in a case study or to leave a testimonial, but as long as you plan ahead and respect everyone’s time, your customers should be more than willing to lend their voice.

              3. Launch a referral program

              referral program is a form of word-of-mouth marketing that gives your customers an incentive to share your offering with their peers. Referral programs are a popular marketing tactic among B2C companies, but they can be just as effective for a B2B audience if executed correctly.

              For B2B organizations, the buying process is typically much longer than it is for consumers, so it’s important to keep in mind that referrals aren’t going to get you hundreds of customers overnight. However, a referral program can generate qualified leads, especially if you offer a free trial or discount for new customers.

              4. Create a customer-focused webinar

              Webinars are a useful tool for creating customer-centric content. They can be interactive or simply educational, depending on your intent.

              You can approach webinar creation in various ways:

              • Product-based webinar: Educate customers on updates to your product or service and share tips on how to use them.
              • Case study webinar: Highlight a recent customer success story.
              • Q&A or round table discussion: Take a comarketing opportunity to partner with a customer and another business to discuss a certain topic related to your industry.

              5. Use third-party review platforms

              In the same way consumers seek out reviews prior to booking a hotel reservation, B2B buyers conduct online research and expect to see social proof before making a purchasing decision. The research happens before the buyer even speaks to a member of your sales team, so use the voice of your customers and put a proper review strategy in place.

              Encourage your customers to leave reviews on third-party directories to share their honest opinions. Buyers seek out reviews on third-party platforms because they’re considered less biased than the case studies and testimonials on your own site.

              Your customers will be happy to know their feedback is valued, and their reviews will help your business look better online.

              * * *

              Customer retention doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of the marketing team: It’s a group effort that requires every team to work together to ensure all customer-facing processes are streamlined to provide a world-class customer experience.

              That said, it’s critical for marketers in particular to look at the funnel through a customer-centric lens and pay more attention to the post-purchase phase. Doing so will ensure that your customers are armed with the resources they need to be successful and to sign on the dotted line—year after year.


              ABOUT THE AUTHOR

               MARKETINGPROFS LLC

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              Izabelle Hundrev is a content writer at Directive, a performance marketing agency specializing in organic and paid search services for software brands.

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              5 Marketing Management Theories That Every Serious Marketer Should Know

              5 Marketing Management Theories That Every Serious Marketer Should Know

              Marketing models and theories marketers should understand

              The better we understand the theory, the better our decision-making becomes, without even having to think about it.

              Marketing is the psychology behind selling more products or services.

               

              By understanding more about consumption and the thought processes behind it for customers, the better we can please them. The more we understand about how businesses work, the more we can improve the processes. The more chances of success!

              This article explores five theories and models that all business owners and marketers should understand.

              The 80/20 rule

              The 80/20 rule suggests that 80% of sales come from 20% of customers.

              This theory dates to 1896, conceived by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, to explain wealth distribution when he noticed that 80% of Italy’s land was owned by approximately 20% of the country’s total population. It is thought that his initial observation was that 20% of the pea pods in his garden produced 80% of the peas!

              “The Pareto Principle, which is sometimes called the 80/20 rule, states that a small proportion (e.g., 20 percent) of products in a market often generate a large proportion (e.g., 80 percent) of sales.” (Brynjolfsson, Hu & Simester, 2011).

              The Pareto Principle

              In the 1940s, Joseph M. Juran developed Pareto’s principle for use in strategic business management, naming it after Pareto — the Pareto Principle.

              The underlying belief that the relationship between inputs and outputs is imbalanced and unequal, and for many phenomena, 80% of the output, consequences or effects are produced by 20% of the input or causes.

              Representation of the Lorenz curve and the Concept of the 80–20 Rule (Dunford, 2014)

              The pareto principle – the 80/20 rule

              The rule transcends disciplines. It has since been applied for numerous purposes across the business, including in sales, marketing, economics, management and even computer sciences. 20% of athletes win 80% of the time, 20% of patients consume 80% of healthcare resources, and 20% of society holds 80% of the world’s wealth.

              When applied to business, the underlying assumption is that 80% of the outcomes or results come from 20% of the effort. Other variations of this rule in a business context are:

              • 80% of profits or revenue come from 20% of customers
              • 80% of product sales from 20% of products
              • 80% of sales from 20% of advertising
              • 80% of customer complaints from 20% of customers
              • 80% of sales from 20% of the sales team

              However, this ‘rule’ is an observation, rather than a law or science. The two numbers don’t have to add to 100% — it is only used as a rule of thumb. It could be 80–20, 90–10, or even 90–20.

              What we learn from this principle is to focus your efforts by working harder on the things that matter. That 20% of activities that provide 80% of results. The small stuff does not need to be sweated if it does change the overall result.

              “It helps to realize that often the majority of results comes from a minority of inputs.” (Dunford, Su, and Tamang, 2014)

              Individuals and businesses should focus most of their time and energy on accomplishing the tasks with the largest return on investment. They can do this through recognising how and where results are achieved. Similarly, the focus with sales should be on developing strong relationships with the best and most profitable clients.


              The Expectancy Disconfirmation Theory

              Expectation confirmation theory is a popular model used in services marketing for measuring customer satisfaction, introduced by Richard L. Oliver in 1977.

              “An individual’s expectations are (1) confirmed when a product performs as expected, (2) negatively disconfirmed when the product performs more poorly than expected, and (3) positively disconfirmed when the product performs better than expected.” (Churchill & Surprenant, 1982)

              The performance of a product or service is compared or measured against the customer’s expectations. Those expectations (or desire) of performance (or experience) are subjective to everyone, based on their prior knowledge of that product.

              Performance becomes the mediator for satisfaction. The evaluated performance or experience influenced by previous experiences with that brand and consumers without prior expectations base their satisfaction judgements solely on the performance of the product.

              The resultant difference between expectations and performance the basis for the disconfirmation of expectation (or desire) and can be positive or negative. Negative disconfirmation meaning the customer is left dissatisfied.

              The theory has been applied across multiple fields to gain a better understanding of customer’s expectations and requirements, such as marketing and consumer behaviour, tourism, psychology, information technology, and the airline industry.

              The expectancy disconfirmation theory involves four primary variables: expectations, perceived performance, disconfirmation of beliefs, and satisfaction.

              The original expectancy disconfirmation model (Oliver, 1980)

               

              Expectations

              Consumers associate certain attributes or characteristics with a brand which is anticipated by that person. These expectations form the basis of comparison judgement — directly influence both perceptions of performance and disconfirmation of beliefs, and indirectly influence their post-purchase evaluations and feelings.

              Expectations of a brand, product or service can be based on aspects such as feedback from friends and family, online reviews, marketing materialsalespeople, and previous consumption experiences.

              “First, customers have an initial expectation according to their previous experience with using a specific product or service. Second, new customers that don’t have a first-hand experience about performance of product or services.” (Elkhani, & Bakri, 2012)

              Perceived Performance

              After consumption, the consumer forms perceptions of the performance of a product, service or experience. These perceptions are influenced by their pre-purchase expectations, then influencing the disconfirmation judgement.

               

              Aspects that performance is based on will be subjective depending on the product, service or experience — for example, for a mobile phone, one performance factor is how long the battery lasts.

              Perceived performance can also indirectly influence customer satisfaction.

              Disconfirmation

              The judgments or evaluations that a person makes regarding a product, service or experience is called the disconfirmation of beliefs. These are made in comparison to the consumer’s original expectations.

              If it outperforms expectations, the disconfirmation is positive. If it underperforms, the disconfirmation is negative. Thus, increasing or decreasing post-purchase satisfaction.

              Disconfirmation mediates the relationship between performance and satisfaction.

              Satisfaction

              Post-purchase satisfaction is the extent of how pleased, contented or unhappy a person is after consumption.

              The consumer’s disconfirmation of the perceived performance directly influences their satisfaction, satisfaction also indirectly influenced by both expectations and perceived performance through the mediating effects of disconfirmation.

              How satisfied or dissatisfied a consumer has influenced their post-purchase behaviour. This includes their attitude towards the brand, their loyalty and whether they repeat purchase, and their word of mouth intent. If people are happy, they are more likely to purchase again and tell friends about their positive experience.


              The Product Life Cycle

              The lifecycle of a product is the length of time it is on the market. Beginning when it is introduced into the market and lasting until it is taken off the shelves.

              When a product is introduced to the market if successful, demand increases. Then, as new products enter the market and become successful, they push more dated ones from the market, replacing them.

              This concept is commonly used in marketing management, helping inform the decision-making of business, such as pricing, when to increase spending on advertising, expand to new markets, redesign packaging and cost-cutting.

              This life cycle has four or five stages, depending on the source. The original model used four — market development, growth, maturity, and decline.

              Other versions have added a fifth, introduction, which is the second phase.

              Where a product is in its life cycle impacts how it is marketed. New products have more informational marketing, whilst mature products have marketing which differentiates it from the alternatives.

              Large manufacturers often have products each in various stages of the product life cycle at any given time.

              Each stage has unique costs, opportunities and risks and individual products have different lengths of time when they remain at any of the life cycle stages.

              The Product Lifecycle (Levitt, 1965)

               

              Stage 1 — Market Development & Introduction

              When a new product is brought to market, typically there will be some research and development behind it, to make sure it is fit for market and proven demand for it.

              Before launched into the market, costs accumulate with no sales. It could take years and a large investment of capital to develop and test some products.

              Next comes the introduction to the market, where the goal is to build awareness of the product.

              Marketing costs here are high. To reach out to potential customers, substantial investment in advertising is made. Marketing focuses on making consumers aware of the product and its benefits.

              Pricing can sometimes be higher to recover costs associated with product development.

              “Unit sales are low in introduction, because few consumers are aware of the new good (or service). With consumer recognition and acceptance, unit sales begin to increase… the start of the growth stage. …As more competitors enter the industry and the market becomes smaller… Unit sales reach a plateau, and the product is in the maturity stage.” (Rink, & Swan 1979)

              Stage 2 — Growth

              If a product launch is successful and customers accept the product, it enters the market growth phase as demand increases. The size of the total market inflates, sometimes called the ‘Take-off Stage’, as the company aims to increase market share. Production, distribution and availability are expanded.

              If innovation on a product is high and there’s little competition, pricing can remain high. Marketing is aimed at a broad audience as demand and profits are both increasing.

              Stage 3 — Maturity

              As demand and sales levels off, a product enters the market maturity stage. Sales are the highest at this phase and the costs of production decline as manufacturing becomes more efficient. Marketing costs are also reduced.

              As more options become available to customers, as competition increases.

              Firms may look at updated product features to stay ahead of competitors and maintain market share. Prices also tend to decline to stay competitive.

              Stage 4 — Decline

              When products start to lose their appeal with consumers and sales reduce, they enter the market decline phase. Market share is lost, often because of increased competition as new products enter the market, with other firms trying to emulate their success. These can be more suited towards customer needs with the advancement in technology for example or lower prices.

              Firms can choose to discontinue the product and remove it from the market, find new product uses to position it differently in the market, or perhaps by exporting the product into new markets.

              In any case, the firm by now should be into the research and development phase for their next product.


              Porter’s Five Forces

              To help better understand and assess the competitiveness of an industry, Porter’s Five Forces model is commonly used.

              “According to Porter (1980), the collective strength of the forces determines the ultimate profit potential in the industry.” (Dobbs, 2014)

              Michael E. Porter from the Harvard Business School created the model in 1979. He believed that by understanding the level of competitive intensity of an industry, it will identify the attractiveness of entering that market.

              Porter’s 5 Forces (1979)

               

              Attractive markets have few competitors or there might be a gap in the market that a business can target with strategic positioning.

              Emphasising the importance of identifying imperfect markets offering more opportunities that are profitable, the model provides useful information to direct a businesses’ strategic approach and marketing.

              If they are an existing firm and want to a better understanding of the current market, they can analyse their current position and plan their future direction by aligning it with their strengths and addressing their weaknesses. If a new business or entering a new industry, they can highlight how they are most likely to succeed.

              “…Account for long-term variances in the economic returns of one industry versus another… distilling the complex micro-economic literature into five explanatory or causal variables to explain superior and inferior performance.” (Grundy, 2006)

              Applying ‘systems thinking’, the model simplifies several complicated microeconomic theories into just five components that impact a market’s long-term profitability:

              • The bargaining power of the buyers
              • The threat of new entrants
              • Competitive rivalry
              • Threat of substitution
              • Supplier power

              Competitive rivalry is the central box of the model, a function of the other four forces. The importance of negotiating power and bargaining arrangements is identified — this focus on external factors more prominent than in other market analysis theories such as a SWOT analysis.

              Buyer Power

              In certain marketplaces, buyers have more power and can apply pressure on companies to lower prices. If competition is high and the customer has many choices, they have a higher power. Buyers can also join to have a stronger influence on changing the behaviour of a firm. For example, for ethical reasons consumers might boycott a brand.

              The Threat of New Entrants

              What is the likelihood of new entries in the market? If an industry is perceived as attractive, increased competition is highly likely.

              If too many new entrants enter that market, its potential profitability will decline. If a marketplace has few but immensely powerful players in it, they will try and make it as difficult as possible for new companies to enter that market. Other barriers to entering that market also need to be considered to do exit barriers. Entry barriers include government policies, patents and technology.

              Competitive Rivalry

              The current competition within the marketplace is obviously an important consideration. Understanding competitive rivalry uncovers how many competitors there are and how much they spend on marketing, what competitive advantages they have (if any), the level of continuous innovation and any differences in quality between players.

              Threat of Substitution

              Customers might be able to choose to substitute a product or service with another. Not to a competitor’s product from the same market — but instead, switching product categories altogether. For example, a person might stop purchasing fast food and instead purchase pre-made frozen healthy meals. The more substitute items there are, the more likely customers are to be drawn to an alternative product.

              Supplier Power

              Firms must research and consider different alternatives for supply in the market. Raw materials for example can vary a great deal in terms of price, quality and whether. Have the right supplier is critical. How much power does that supplier have? How many competitors do they have? Will their price be consistent or are they likely to increase it? The fewer suppliers there are, the more power they have. The cost of switching suppliers and the ease of distribution is also a consideration.


              The Ansoff Matrix

              A popular framework for decision-making about growth and expansion strategies is the Ansoff Matrix. Developed by H. Igor Ansoff, it was first published in the Harvard Business Review in 1957.

              His perspective was that firm must continuously grow and change to create a competitive advantage.

              “Growth is essential to run a business for profit and, to study the growth, Ansoff Matrix is a planning technique used for deliberate judgment about firm growth through product and market extension networks.” (Hussain, Khattak, Rizwan, & Latif, 2013)

              By analysing their market through the four components of the matrix: market penetration, market development, product development and diversification; firms identify strategic alternatives to accomplish their growth objectives.

              The Ansoff Matrix (1957)

               

              Also referred to as the Product/Market Expansion Grid, the Ansoff Matrix also helps businesses to better understand the risks of different growth strategies.

              Of the four strategies, market penetration hosts less risk and diversification the most risk.

              Market Penetration

              Increasing the sales of existing products to an existing market is a market penetration strategy. Firms aim to increase their market share, which can be achieved in the following ways:

              • Prices are decreased to attract new customers
              • Promotion and distribution increased
              • A competitor in the same marketplace is acquired

              Often brands new to a marketplace engage a market penetration strategy through offering lower introductory prices.

              Product Development

              The focus of the next strategy is on developing and introducing new products to existing markets. This involves extensive research and development by a firm to expand on its product range. The strategy is usually used if a firm has a strong understanding of their current market, giving them the ability to meet the needs of the existing market by providing innovative solutions.

              Characteristics of product development include:

              • Investing in R&D to develop new products to cater to the existing market
              • Acquiring a competitor’s product and merging resources to create a new product that better meets the need of the existing market
              • Forming strategic partnerships with other firms to gain access to each partner’s distribution channels or brand

              An example of this BMW and other premium automobile manufacturers adding an electric sports car model to their fleet of vehicles, to compete in the electric sports car market with Tesla and increasing consumer demand for electric vehicles.

              Market Development

              Entering a new market with existing products is called a market development strategy. This could be by expanding into new geographic areas, either domestically or internationally, or focusing on new customer segments (groups of buyers with similar needs).

              If a company holds a competitive advantage with a certain technology, for example, it can be easily transferred into another marketplace where similar consumer behaviour characteristics with their own market, should mean it is a profitable strategy.

              For example, often companies in New Zealand will expand into neighbouring Australia if they are highly successful. Australia and New Zealand share similar consumer behaviour across many segments, meaning the product or service can remain virtually unchanged.

              Diversification

              Using the introduction of new products as a strategy to enter a new market is called diversification. This is the riskiest strategy in the Ansoff Matrix, as both market and product development are required. But it also offers the most potential for profitability, by accessing consumer spending in a market they previously had no access to.

              There are two types of diversification: related diversification and unrelated diversification.

              Related diversification means there is an overlap between a business and the new product or market. For example, a company that produces plastic lunchboxes might start producing plastic bumpers for automobiles.

              Unrelated diversification is where there is no overlap between the core business and the new product or market. For example, if that same company producing plastic lunchboxes was to start manufacturing steel framing for construction.


              Summary

              That is the conclusion of the five theories & models that all marketers and business owners should understand.

              That was a fair bit of information, I hope you can digest it all and learnt something that will benefit you and/or your business.

              Marketers and business owners, in general, should always be looking for opportunities to increase their understanding of how customers think and how business works.

              The better we understand the theory, the better our decision-making becomes, without even having to think about it.

              Marketing is the psychology behind selling more products or services.

               

              By understanding more about consumption and the thought processes behind it for customers, the better we can please them. The more we understand about how businesses work, the more we can improve the processes. The more chances of success!

              This article explores five theories and models that all business owners and marketers should understand.


              The 80/20 rule

              The 80/20 rule suggests that 80% of sales come from 20% of customers.

              This theory dates to 1896, conceived by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, to explain wealth distribution when he noticed that 80% of Italy’s land was owned by approximately 20% of the country’s total population. It is thought that his initial observation was that 20% of the pea pods in his garden produced 80% of the peas!

              “The Pareto Principle, which is sometimes called the 80/20 rule, states that a small proportion (e.g., 20 percent) of products in a market often generate a large proportion (e.g., 80 percent) of sales.” (Brynjolfsson, Hu & Simester, 2011).

              The Pareto Principle

              In the 1940s, Joseph M. Juran developed Pareto’s principle for use in strategic business management, naming it after Pareto — the Pareto Principle.

              The underlying belief that the relationship between inputs and outputs is imbalanced and unequal, and for many phenomena, 80% of the output, consequences or effects are produced by 20% of the input or causes.

              Representation of the Lorenz curve and the Concept of the 80–20 Rule (Dunford, 2014)

               

              The rule transcends disciplines. It has since been applied for numerous purposes across the business, including in sales, marketing, economics, management and even computer sciences. 20% of athletes win 80% of the time, 20% of patients consume 80% of healthcare resources, and 20% of society holds 80% of the world’s wealth.

              When applied to business, the underlying assumption is that 80% of the outcomes or results come from 20% of the effort. Other variations of this rule in a business context are:

              • 80% of profits or revenue come from 20% of customers
              • 80% of product sales from 20% of products
              • 80% of sales from 20% of advertising
              • 80% of customer complaints from 20% of customers
              • 80% of sales from 20% of the sales team

              However, this ‘rule’ is an observation, rather than a law or science. The two numbers don’t have to add to 100% — it is only used as a rule of thumb. It could be 80–20, 90–10, or even 90–20.

              What we learn from this principle is to focus your efforts by working harder on the things that matter. That 20% of activities that provide 80% of results. The small stuff does not need to be sweated if it does change the overall result.

              “It helps to realize that often the majority of results comes from a minority of inputs.” (Dunford, Su, and Tamang, 2014)

              Individuals and businesses should focus most of their time and energy on accomplishing the tasks with the largest return on investment. They can do this through recognising how and where results are achieved. Similarly, the focus with sales should be on developing strong relationships with the best and most profitable clients.


              The Expectancy Disconfirmation Theory

              Expectation confirmation theory is a popular model used in services marketing for measuring customer satisfaction, introduced by Richard L. Oliver in 1977.

              “An individual’s expectations are (1) confirmed when a product performs as expected, (2) negatively disconfirmed when the product performs more poorly than expected, and (3) positively disconfirmed when the product performs better than expected.” (Churchill & Surprenant, 1982)

              The performance of a product or service is compared or measured against the customer’s expectations. Those expectations (or desire) of performance (or experience) are subjective to everyone, based on their prior knowledge of that product.

              Performance becomes the mediator for satisfaction. The evaluated performance or experience influenced by previous experiences with that brand and consumers without prior expectations base their satisfaction judgements solely on the performance of the product.

              The resultant difference between expectations and performance the basis for the disconfirmation of expectation (or desire) and can be positive or negative. Negative disconfirmation meaning the customer is left dissatisfied.

              The theory has been applied across multiple fields to gain a better understanding of customer’s expectations and requirements, such as marketing and consumer behaviour, tourism, psychology, information technology, and the airline industry.

              The expectancy disconfirmation theory involves four primary variables: expectations, perceived performance, disconfirmation of beliefs, and satisfaction.

              The original expectancy disconfirmation model (Oliver, 1980)

               

              Expectations

              Consumers associate certain attributes or characteristics with a brand which is anticipated by that person. These expectations form the basis of comparison judgement — directly influence both perceptions of performance and disconfirmation of beliefs, and indirectly influence their post-purchase evaluations and feelings.

              Expectations of a brand, product or service can be based on aspects such as feedback from friends and family, online reviews, marketing materialsalespeople, and previous consumption experiences.

              “First, customers have an initial expectation according to their previous experience with using a specific product or service. Second, new customers that don’t have a first-hand experience about performance of product or services.” (Elkhani, & Bakri, 2012)

              Perceived Performance

              After consumption, the consumer forms perceptions of the performance of a product, service or experience. These perceptions are influenced by their pre-purchase expectations, then influencing the disconfirmation judgement.

               

              Aspects that performance is based on will be subjective depending on the product, service or experience — for example, for a mobile phone, one performance factor is how long the battery lasts.

              Perceived performance can also indirectly influence customer satisfaction.

              Disconfirmation

              The judgments or evaluations that a person makes regarding a product, service or experience is called the disconfirmation of beliefs. These are made in comparison to the consumer’s original expectations.

              If it outperforms expectations, the disconfirmation is positive. If it underperforms, the disconfirmation is negative. Thus, increasing or decreasing post-purchase satisfaction.

              Disconfirmation mediates the relationship between performance and satisfaction.

              Satisfaction

              Post-purchase satisfaction is the extent of how pleased, contented or unhappy a person is after consumption.

              The consumer’s disconfirmation of the perceived performance directly influences their satisfaction, satisfaction also indirectly influenced by both expectations and perceived performance through the mediating effects of disconfirmation.

              How satisfied or dissatisfied a consumer has influenced their post-purchase behaviour. This includes their attitude towards the brand, their loyalty and whether they repeat purchase, and their word of mouth intent. If people are happy, they are more likely to purchase again and tell friends about their positive experience.


              The Product Life Cycle

              The lifecycle of a product is the length of time it is on the market. Beginning when it is introduced into the market and lasting until it is taken off the shelves.

              When a product is introduced to the market if successful, demand increases. Then, as new products enter the market and become successful, they push more dated ones from the market, replacing them.

              This concept is commonly used in marketing management, helping inform the decision-making of business, such as pricing, when to increase spending on advertising, expand to new markets, redesign packaging and cost-cutting.

              This life cycle has four or five stages, depending on the source. The original model used four — market development, growth, maturity, and decline.

              Other versions have added a fifth, introduction, which is the second phase.

              Where a product is in its life cycle impacts how it is marketed. New products have more informational marketing, whilst mature products have marketing which differentiates it from the alternatives.

              Large manufacturers often have products each in various stages of the product life cycle at any given time.

              Each stage has unique costs, opportunities and risks and individual products have different lengths of time when they remain at any of the life cycle stages.

              The Product Lifecycle (Levitt, 1965)

               

              Stage 1 — Market Development & Introduction

              When a new product is brought to market, typically there will be some research and development behind it, to make sure it is fit for market and proven demand for it.

              Before launched into the market, costs accumulate with no sales. It could take years and a large investment of capital to develop and test some products.

              Next comes the introduction to the market, where the goal is to build awareness of the product.

              Marketing costs here are high. To reach out to potential customers, substantial investment in advertising is made. Marketing focuses on making consumers aware of the product and its benefits.

              Pricing can sometimes be higher to recover costs associated with product development.

              “Unit sales are low in introduction, because few consumers are aware of the new good (or service). With consumer recognition and acceptance, unit sales begin to increase… the start of the growth stage. …As more competitors enter the industry and the market becomes smaller… Unit sales reach a plateau, and the product is in the maturity stage.” (Rink, & Swan 1979)

              Stage 2 — Growth

              If a product launch is successful and customers accept the product, it enters the market growth phase as demand increases. The size of the total market inflates, sometimes called the ‘Take-off Stage’, as the company aims to increase market share. Production, distribution and availability are expanded.

              If innovation on a product is high and there’s little competition, pricing can remain high. Marketing is aimed at a broad audience as demand and profits are both increasing.

              Stage 3 — Maturity

              As demand and sales levels off, a product enters the market maturity stage. Sales are the highest at this phase and the costs of production decline as manufacturing becomes more efficient. Marketing costs are also reduced.

              As more options become available to customers, as competition increases.

              Firms may look at updated product features to stay ahead of competitors and maintain market share. Prices also tend to decline to stay competitive.

              Stage 4 — Decline

              When products start to lose their appeal with consumers and sales reduce, they enter the market decline phase. Market share is lost, often because of increased competition as new products enter the market, with other firms trying to emulate their success. These can be more suited towards customer needs with the advancement in technology for example or lower prices.

              Firms can choose to discontinue the product and remove it from the market, find new product uses to position it differently in the market, or perhaps by exporting the product into new markets.

              In any case, the firm by now should be into the research and development phase for their next product.


              Porter’s Five Forces

              To help better understand and assess the competitiveness of an industry, Porter’s Five Forces model is commonly used.

              “According to Porter (1980), the collective strength of the forces determines the ultimate profit potential in the industry.” (Dobbs, 2014)

              Michael E. Porter from the Harvard Business School created the model in 1979. He believed that by understanding the level of competitive intensity of an industry, it will identify the attractiveness of entering that market.

              Porter’s 5 Forces (1979)

               

              Attractive markets have few competitors or there might be a gap in the market that a business can target with strategic positioning.

              Emphasising the importance of identifying imperfect markets offering more opportunities that are profitable, the model provides useful information to direct a businesses’ strategic approach and marketing.

              If they are an existing firm and want to a better understanding of the current market, they can analyse their current position and plan their future direction by aligning it with their strengths and addressing their weaknesses. If a new business or entering a new industry, they can highlight how they are most likely to succeed.

              “…Account for long-term variances in the economic returns of one industry versus another… distilling the complex micro-economic literature into five explanatory or causal variables to explain superior and inferior performance.” (Grundy, 2006)

              Applying ‘systems thinking’, the model simplifies several complicated microeconomic theories into just five components that impact a market’s long-term profitability:

              • The bargaining power of the buyers
              • The threat of new entrants
              • Competitive rivalry
              • Threat of substitution
              • Supplier power

              Competitive rivalry is the central box of the model, a function of the other four forces. The importance of negotiating power and bargaining arrangements is identified — this focus on external factors more prominent than in other market analysis theories such as a SWOT analysis.

              Buyer Power

              In certain marketplaces, buyers have more power and can apply pressure on companies to lower prices. If competition is high and the customer has many choices, they have a higher power. Buyers can also join to have a stronger influence on changing the behaviour of a firm. For example, for ethical reasons consumers might boycott a brand.

              The Threat of New Entrants

              What is the likelihood of new entries in the market? If an industry is perceived as attractive, increased competition is highly likely.

              If too many new entrants enter that market, its potential profitability will decline. If a marketplace has few but immensely powerful players in it, they will try and make it as difficult as possible for new companies to enter that market. Other barriers to entering that market also need to be considered to do exit barriers. Entry barriers include government policies, patents and technology.

              Competitive Rivalry

              The current competition within the marketplace is obviously an important consideration. Understanding competitive rivalry uncovers how many competitors there are and how much they spend on marketing, what competitive advantages they have (if any), the level of continuous innovation and any differences in quality between players.

              Threat of Substitution

              Customers might be able to choose to substitute a product or service with another. Not to a competitor’s product from the same market — but instead, switching product categories altogether. For example, a person might stop purchasing fast food and instead purchase pre-made frozen healthy meals. The more substitute items there are, the more likely customers are to be drawn to an alternative product.

              Supplier Power

              Firms must research and consider different alternatives for supply in the market. Raw materials for example can vary a great deal in terms of price, quality and whether. Have the right supplier is critical. How much power does that supplier have? How many competitors do they have? Will their price be consistent or are they likely to increase it? The fewer suppliers there are, the more power they have. The cost of switching suppliers and the ease of distribution is also a consideration.


              The Ansoff Matrix

              A popular framework for decision-making about growth and expansion strategies is the Ansoff Matrix. Developed by H. Igor Ansoff, it was first published in the Harvard Business Review in 1957.

              His perspective was that firm must continuously grow and change to create a competitive advantage.

              “Growth is essential to run a business for profit and, to study the growth, Ansoff Matrix is a planning technique used for deliberate judgment about firm growth through product and market extension networks.” (Hussain, Khattak, Rizwan, & Latif, 2013)

              By analysing their market through the four components of the matrix: market penetration, market development, product development and diversification; firms identify strategic alternatives to accomplish their growth objectives.

              The Ansoff Matrix (1957)

              The Ansoff matrix

              Also referred to as the Product/Market Expansion Grid, the Ansoff Matrix also helps businesses to better understand the risks of different growth strategies.

              Of the four strategies, market penetration hosts less risk and diversification the most risk.

              Market Penetration

              Increasing the sales of existing products to an existing market is a market penetration strategy. Firms aim to increase their market share, which can be achieved in the following ways:

              • Prices are decreased to attract new customers
              • Promotion and distribution increased
              • A competitor in the same marketplace is acquired

              Often brands new to a marketplace engage a market penetration strategy through offering lower introductory prices.

              Product Development

              The focus of the next strategy is on developing and introducing new products to existing markets. This involves extensive research and development by a firm to expand on its product range. The strategy is usually used if a firm has a strong understanding of their current market, giving them the ability to meet the needs of the existing market by providing innovative solutions.

              Characteristics of product development include:

              • Investing in R&D to develop new products to cater to the existing market
              • Acquiring a competitor’s product and merging resources to create a new product that better meets the need of the existing market
              • Forming strategic partnerships with other firms to gain access to each partner’s distribution channels or brand

              An example of this BMW and other premium automobile manufacturers adding an electric sports car model to their fleet of vehicles, to compete in the electric sports car market with Tesla and increasing consumer demand for electric vehicles.

              Market Development

              Entering a new market with existing products is called a market development strategy. This could be by expanding into new geographic areas, either domestically or internationally, or focusing on new customer segments (groups of buyers with similar needs).

              If a company holds a competitive advantage with a certain technology, for example, it can be easily transferred into another marketplace where similar consumer behaviour characteristics with their own market, should mean it is a profitable strategy.

              For example, often companies in New Zealand will expand into neighbouring Australia if they are highly successful. Australia and New Zealand share similar consumer behaviour across many segments, meaning the product or service can remain virtually unchanged.

              Diversification

              Using the introduction of new products as a strategy to enter a new market is called diversification. This is the riskiest strategy in the Ansoff Matrix, as both market and product development are required. But it also offers the most potential for profitability, by accessing consumer spending in a market they previously had no access to.

              There are two types of diversification: related diversification and unrelated diversification.

              Related diversification means there is an overlap between a business and the new product or market. For example, a company that produces plastic lunchboxes might start producing plastic bumpers for automobiles.

              Unrelated diversification is where there is no overlap between the core business and the new product or market. For example, if that same company producing plastic lunchboxes was to start manufacturing steel framing for construction.


              Summary

              That is the conclusion of the five theories & models that all marketers and business owners should understand.

              That was a fair bit of information, I hope you can digest it all and learnt something that will benefit you and/or your business.

              Marketers and business owners, in general, should always be looking for opportunities to increase their understanding of how customers think and how business works.

               

              Author:

              Business 2 Community

              author imageDaniel Hopper

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                  COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE MARKETING STRATEGIES

                  COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE MARKETING STRATEGIES

                  1 Commercial Real

                  It’s a good time to be in commercial real estate. In the third quarter of 2018, nearly three-quarters of commercial real estate agents closed a sale on a property, and the average transaction had a value of $1.8 million.

                  Looking forward to 2019, the vast majority of commercial real estate investors

                   (97 percent) plan on increasing their commitment to commercial properties.

                  Investors want commercial properties, and you’ve got those properties to sell to them. But how do you go about promoting and marketing your commercial real estate properties to best appeal to those investors?

                  You need a plan and strategy to get your properties out there and to make them appeal to buyers. Here’s how to do just that.

                  How to Create a Commercial Real Estate Marketing Plan

                  2 How to create

                  A real estate marketing plan lays out how you’ll go about marketing and advertising your commercial real estate business and any properties you have for sale or lease over the coming year. With a marketing plan, you define who you are, what your target and goals are, and what methods you’ll use to reach your audience and achieve your goals.

                  Two things are worth knowing about a marketing plan. First, like a business plan, a marketing plan isn’t set in stone. You can revisit it as the months or year goes on and revise it as your needs change. Second, a marketing plan isn’t something you can “wing.” It’s worth it to take the time to write down your plan. Doing so means you’re more likely to stick with it. Plus, when you have a written plan, you can always go back and reference it.

                  Ready to start putting together your plan? Here’s what you need to do.

                  1. Know Thyself

                  The first part of creating a marketing plan should be figuring out who you are and, most importantly, what makes your business unique. One way to figure out who you are is by working through a SWOT analysis.

                  SWOT is an acronym for “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.” To get a clear sense of who you are, you need to look at both the good and the bad:

                  • Strengths: Strengths are the things your business does well. You might have properties in your portfolio that are located in the most in-demand locations in your city. Or your company might have decades of experience and instant name recognition. You might have a team of real estate agents working for you who have years in the business and books full of loyal, repeat clients. If you have any resources or access to features that put you ahead of your competitors, you should include them in the strengths category.
                  • Weaknesses: A weakness is anything that keeps you from performing at your best. Maybe you have high turnover and are continually losing agents to competitors. It could be that you haven’t closed a sale in several months. Another weakness is being unsure of what your company is and what makes it unique compared to other commercial real estate companies or agents.
                  • Opportunities: If strengths are things your company already has that make it better than the competition, then opportunities are chances your company has to improve or become better than your competitors. An opportunity might be finding a commercial property to sell in an up-and-coming area, where there aren’t many other real estate agents or where there’s ample demand but fewer properties.
                  • Threats: Threats are factors that can put your business at risk or that can hurt your company. Zoning limitations can be a threat to a commercial real estate agency, as can an influx of other agents into an area.

                  In addition to a SWOT analysis, the “know thyself” section of your marketing plan should include the basics. How many agents are working for your company, or are you a sole proprietor? How long have you been in business? What’s your company’s mission or vision?

                  If you have a unique or exciting origin story, include it in this section.

                  2. Set Your Goals

                  The second step when putting together a marketing plan is to identify and set your goals for the months or year ahead. What do you hope to achieve?

                  The trick to setting goals is to make sure you’re creating goals that you can achieve. To do that, it helps to get SMART about goal setting.

                  SMART goals are the following:

                  • Specific: Specific goals have a clear endpoint and result. “Increase sales by 10 percent in the fourth quarter” is a specific goal. You know exactly what you are working toward.
                  • Measurable: It’s easy to get wishy-washy when it comes to goal setting, which is why it helps to have a goal you can track and measure. You can measure “increase sales by 10 percent” by looking at your sales figures from the previous quarter and comparing it to sales figures in the current quarter.
                  • Actionable: An actionable goal is one that you can actually do. To increase your sales, you can take steps to market your properties better and to find more leads and prospective buyers.
                  • Relevant: A relevant goal is one that makes sense for your company. It’s within the scope of your business and the realm of possibility.
                  • Time-bound: How can you know when you’ve achieved a goal or if you’ve failed to reach your target? You need to set a time limit. “In the fourth quarter” lets you know when you plan increasing sales and whether or not you ultimately reach that goal.

                  3. Identify Your Buyers

                  How you go about marketing your properties all depends on the type of buyer you’re trying to target. Commercial buyers are vastly different from residential buyers. They might have deeper pockets and might be more likely to pay cash for a property. The process of financing a commercial property tends to be more complicated than getting a mortgage on a home.

                  A person or company interested in commercial real estate might be more interested in how much income the property will generate while a residential buyer is going to want to know the value of the home in comparison to other houses around it.

                  Among commercial real estate buyers, different entities are looking for different things. You can’t convince a restauranteur to purchase office space, for example, and it’s unlikely an investor whose portfolio is strictly industrial properties will be interested in purchasing retail real estate. When you have a general idea of who your target buyers are, you can more easily fine-tune your marketing strategies later on.

                  4. Set a Budget

                  As they say, you need to spend money to make money. Marketing and advertising cost money. The key to making sure you’re spending money wisely and that you don’t end up hurting your bottom line is to set a budget.

                  One way to set a budget is to look at your anticipated revenue. If you’ve been selling commercial real estate for a while, you most likely have an idea of how much your company brings in each quarter. Try to keep your marketing budget below 12 percent of your expected revenue.

                  After you’ve put together a budget, if the figures are too high, it’s time to look at where you can make cuts or reduce expenses. For example, you might consider hiring an intern to handle social media marketing instead of working with a pricier agency. Or, you might choose to focus on the marketing tactics that have worked in the past, rather than trying something new.

                  5. Choose Your Tactics

                  The next step when creating a marketing plan is figuring out how you’ll get the message out there. In this day and age, you have multiple options when it comes to marketing tactics. You can use a combination of some or all of them to reach your buyers:

                  • Social media advertising
                  • Organic social media posts
                  • Video, photos and virtual tours
                  • Creating a website
                  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
                  • Print materials, such as brochures
                  • In-person events, such as agent meet-and-greets and open houses

                  Strategies for Commercial Real Estate Marketing

                  3 Strategies

                  After you’ve put together your marketing plan, it’s time to zero in on the specific strategies you’ll use to promote your properties and bring in buyers. The strategies you use are influenced by your plan and are also a way to carry out your plan and reach your goals.

                  When it comes to developing strategies, a mix of old and new marketing tactics is likely to produce the best results.

                  1. Create Buyer Personas

                  When you created your marketing, you identified the prospective buyers you’re going to reach. Now you want to find out as much as possible about those buyers. One way to do that is to create buyer personas, an inbound marketing tactic that tells you the who, what, where, why and how of your intended audience.

                  A buyer persona is usually a fictional representation of your target customer, but it is an accurate way to figure out the best way to approach them. When creating personas, you want to answer the following questions:

                  • Who is the buyer? Figure out what their interests are and what industries they work in. Consider whether they have purchased a commercial property before.
                  • What are their concerns or problems? You need to be able to ease their pain points and solve the problems they are having with your property. They might be a crafter in need of a new retail space, a commercial developer looking for a large tract of land on which to build a new shopping mall or the owner of a small business who’s looking for office space. Along with knowing what the buyer is after, it helps to understand the obstacles they face, such as zoning or financing issues.
                  • Where is the buyer? Consider whether your buyer is local, looking to relocate from another state or are in another country altogether.
                  • What are they interested in? What features or concepts will stand out to this particular buyer?
                  • Why would they work with you? Think back to the strengths you listed in your SWOT analysis to determine how your company can appeal to this persona in particular.
                  • How do you connect with them? Learn what social media platforms your buyers use. Are they tech-savvy or technophobic? You might have a better chance of connecting with them offline, at in-person events or through traditional mailers.

                  2. Put the Property’s Best Foot Forward

                  Whether you’re selling or leasing a restaurant, a massive office building or an industrial property, you want to show it off. Several real estate marketing tactics let you present your property to prospective buyers in an appealing way.

                  A marketing video lets a potential buyer “tour” the space from the comfort of their office or on a mobile device. They can get a sense of what it’s like to walk through the property without having to go through the hassle of scheduling a tour or appointment in person. If they like what they see, they’re more likely to take the next step and schedule a visit. With a video tour, buyers are less likely to be disappointed when they see the property in person.

                  Creating a 360-degree virtual tour of the property can also give potential buyers a “taste” of the building before they schedule an appointment to see it up close and in real life.

                  3. Get a Website

                  In the age of social media and online commercial real estate marketplaces, do you really need to take the time to build a separate website?

                  Yes, absolutely. It’s critical. You don’t own the content you post on social media or external websites. The owners of those sites end up with final say over what content stays and what they do with it. That might not seem like a big deal, but it can be if a site decides to take down your posts.

                  When you have a website, you have full control over it and final say over what gets posted and when.

                  The value of real estate website doesn’t only lie in ownership. It’s also an opportunity for you and your real estate company to present yourself to the world. You can show off your listings on the site and give visitors an idea of who you are and why your company exists. By letting people know who your company is and how it came to be, you can establish trust and start building relationships.

                  Here’s one more reason to have your own website — search engine optimization (SEO). People use search engines to find pretty much everything online. The odds are that someone is using an internet search to find their next commercial real estate investment. With a website and some SEO know-how, it’s very likely that the right person will find your site.

                  If you don’t know the first thing about creating a website, we can help. Our website design services will create a site that makes your company stand out.

                  4. Embrace Social Media

                  Social media platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Pinterest, are great ways to show off your listings and to get people interested in your properties. You have two options when it comes to using social media as part of your marketing strategy. You can pay to promote your posts or you can try to reach people organically, by creating and sharing posts on your preferred platforms.

                  Often, individuals and companies like to go the organic route at first. After all, why pay for something when you can do it for free? Although some people might see what you share and post, the trouble with organic reach is that it’s not very effective. No matter how many followers you have, it’s likely only a few of them see any individual post.

                  For that reason, people often get better results when they use the advertising features of their preferred social platforms. Although buying ads does cost money, it also has a few benefits, including the ability to target hyper-specific audiences.

                  That means you can take the information you gathered when identifying your target buyer and when putting together your buyer personas and plug it right into the social platform’s ad creator.

                  Whether you decide to focus on ads, organic reach or a mix of both, there are two things to keep in mind when using social media as a marketing tool.

                  First, keep the personal separate from the professional. Don’t use your personal Facebook or Instagram account to promote your real estate listings. Also, watch what you post on either account. Sometimes, people assume that they can post whatever they want on their personal profiles, even if those things are offensive or negative. But there’s always a chance that a buyer doing their due diligence will find your personal account and be less than impressed if they don’t like what they see.

                  Second, remember that social media shouldn’t be only about promotion. Your followers and potential customers will appreciate seeing useful and informative posts from you. If you find an interesting article about commercial real estate, go ahead and share it. The more value you provide to people, the more likely they are to turn to you when they’re looking for a property.

                  How Marketing in Commercial Real Estate Is Different Than Residential

                  4 How Marketing in Commercial

                  Although there are some overlap and similarities between commercial and residential real estate, there are also considerable differences. One key difference is the amount of emotional investment involved.

                  Residential buyers and sellers are likely to be more attached to a property. That’s one of the reasons why a carefully worded offer letter can cause a seller to choose a buyer who’s offering less money than another buyer. When marketing a residential property, an agent can play up the emotional resonance of it.

                  That’s not the case with commercial properties. Commercial buyers are much more likely to be interested in “just the facts.” They’re looking for a property that meets specific requirements and will help them maximize their income.

                  Work With Designblendz

                  5 Contact us

                  You want your properties to stand out from the rest, and you want to attract the highest quality investors, buyers or tenants. Designblendz can help. We can create a video or virtual tour of your property to help buyers feel like they are really there, and we can design and build your website for you. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you put your marketing plan into action.

                  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

                  Hi, we’re the Designblendz team! We blend overlapping design disciplines to raise the standard to design, visualize, and build virtual and physical environments.

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                    The Guide to Commercial Real Estate Marketing Success

                    The Guide to Commercial Real Estate Marketing Success

                    An effective and well-optimized commercial real estate marketing strategy is all you need to generate leads that have a high probability of becoming clients.

                    The commercial real estate industry is a very crowded marketplace—decision-makers have quite a bit coming at them on a daily basis.

                    There’s two ways to look at that…

                    In one scenario you might think, “it’s harder than ever to stand out amongst my competitors.”

                    Another way to think about it, though, is that when you do stick out from the rest of the pack, the rewards you reap will be much greater than ever before.

                    It’s an ever-evolving medium for an ever-evolving industry.

                    In this definitive guide to commercial real estate marketing, we dive into the most important aspects of creating a successful marketing plan—from finding and understanding your target market, to optimizing your content and campaigns to drive leads to conversion.

                    Commercial Real Estate Marketing

                    There are now more ways to reach your prospects than ever before.

                    So really, success is not beholden to a select few—it’s more so a matter of you finding out what the most successful strategy is for you and your business.

                    If you’re going to delve into the realm of commercial real estate marketing, it’s important to take a thoughtful approach and commit the time and resources needed to deliver a tremendous customer experience across all marketing mediums.

                    At every touch point, you want people to walk away thinking, “wow, that was helpful,” or “wow, what useful information,” and not just, “what are they trying to sell me?

                    There are many steps you need to take to get to that point.

                    First, we’ll show you how you can find buyers and targeted property owners with Reonomy. Then, we’ll give you some tips for your website, social media, content, email, paid ads, and marketing analytics efforts.

                    Finding Buyers and Owners with Reonomy

                    Often times, you’ll likely use your marketing efforts to gather contact details for your prospects—through online signup forms, email outreach, and so on.

                    If you already have the contact details of prospects, you can also employ further marketing to continue engaging them and push them closer to becoming a client.

                    Reonomy’s search platform and detailed property owner contact information allow you to either forgo some of your planned marketing efforts, or find owners that you want to market to on the spot.

                    For instance, if you’re trying to sell a 50,000 square foot commercial office space, your target audience might be large corporate clients.

                    It wouldn’t make sense to create marketing materials targeted to residential real estate buyers if they aren’t in your target market.

                    That’s simply a waste of time. So why not weed those residential buyers out?

                    Understand Your Target Audience

                    In order to understand your ideal prospect, take a step back and ask yourself the following questions:

                    • Who am I currently selling to successfully?
                    • Where do these people currently buy similar products and services?
                    • What is my exact service area (geographically)?
                    • What is the average income, company, or property size that I want to sell to?
                    • Historically, what is the profile of my prospects that have converted?

                    Once you understand who your audience should be, you can begin to research the properties and property owners that fit within that audience.

                    And that’s where the Reonomy Platform comes into the equation.

                    Reonomy lets you search completely off-market to find ideal properties and owners based on very specific qualifications and signals of intent (for example, if an owner is likely to sell or refinance).

                    From large metros like LA and NYC, to tiny Opportunity Zones in Oakland, and on, you can build a marketing lead list in a matter of minutes.

                    You can find your target audience by running a filtered property search.

                    Run a Targeted Property Search

                    You can identify properties within your target market by searching geographically, by asset type, by sales and debt history, owner name, and more.

                    For the sake of example, let’s say you’re a commercial mortgage lender in Baltimore, MD.

                    Your institution specializes in multi-family property loans of a specific size (in terms of both number of units and mortgage amount).

                    Believe it or not, when using Reonomy, generating a list of multi-family properties in Baltimore in need of refinancing is quite simple.

                    Searching for Properties by Location

                    The first thing you can do is search within Baltimore.

                    By visiting the “Location” tab of Reonomy’s search platform, you can search for properties by state, city, county, zip code, street name, and exact street address.

                    In this case, enter Baltimore into the “City” search bar, along with any zip codes or street names that may apply (if you prefer).

                    Reonomy Property Search Baltimore

                    Searching for Properties by Asset Type

                    From there, you can add a filter for a specific asset type.

                    In this case, we’re searching for multi-family properties, which can be done in the “Asset Type” tab of the search page by adding a filter for “All Multi-family.”

                    Reonomy Baltimore Multifamily Property Search

                    In the “Building & Lot” tab of the search, page you can also add more layers of filtering, adding specifications for number of units, building and lot size, as well as other filters for property age, renovations, and zoning.

                    Reonomy Baltimore Multifamily Property Search by Building Size

                    Search for Properties by Sales and Debt History

                    Once you’ve searched for properties based on their physical characteristics, you can begin adding filters for specific sales and debt characteristics.

                    This is where you can build a list of property owners with specific intentions. If they’ve not sold in a long time, they might be willing to sell now. If they’ve recently purchased a property, they might need some renovations, and so on.

                    Reonomy let’s you search for properties based on their most recent sale price and sale date, as well as most recent mortgage amount and date, and lender.

                    Being able to search properties with such granular filters lets you find your target market and easily build lead lists to fuel your marketing and cold outreach campaigns.

                    From there, you can begin establishing your brand and building targeted marketing campaigns to win more business from commercial owners.

                    Tips for Commercial Real Estate Marketing Success

                    It’s likely that you have at least a few competitors serving your same target market, so you need to figure out what sets you apart from them.

                    Are you the low-cost competitor?

                    Do you provide tech-enabled solutions for your customers?

                    Maybe you only focus on ultra-high-end listings within your marketplace.

                    Perhaps you have access to off-market properties and your competitors don’t.

                    Whatever the case may be, you need to understand how you’re different from the rest.

                    Develop a logo, mission statement and/or company values that reflect your identity or brand.

                    At a minimum, you should have a strategy in place that includes a well-designed website, content marketing, social media, email, AdWords, and remarketing, all backed by the necessary tracking and analytics.

                    Your strategy should outline a path for integrating each of these components over time.

                    Website Design Tips

                    By some estimates, more than 80% begin their search for products and services online.

                    That means you need to create a highly responsive, engaging website.

                    Your website should be intuitive. People need to be able to find the information they’re looking for with the click of a button.

                    There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to learn about a product, service or company and having to navigate multiple pages to find what you need (or worse, NOT find what you need).

                    Here are the basics to consider when designing a new website:

                    Images

                    Be sure to feature professional images that highlight you, your company, products and services.

                    Invest in high-quality photos if you haven’t done so already.

                    But make sure they’re not too large, as slow webpage speeds can cause much higher rates of leaving visitors.

                    Description of Products/Services

                    Include targeted pages on your website that clearly describes the products or services you offer. Be sure to keep each page very benefit-focused.

                    Contact Information

                    This should be obvious, but it’s amazing how many websites fail to include their own basic contact information!

                    If people want to learn more about you, your products or services, they need to know how to contact you. Ultimately, that should be the biggest goal of actually having a website.

                    Embed a contact form, or at a minimum, simply give a contact name, phone number and email address for those looking to touch base offline.

                    Calls to Action

                    A “call to action” is one of the most critical aspects of a commercial real estate website.

                    When thoughtfully done, it can draw the contact information out of your website visitors—information that’s overwhelmingly beneficial when prospecting.

                    For instance, you could offer a free commercial property assessment for those who enter their name, address, email and phone number.

                    Or you could offer a market prospectus, that you make available for download after the visitor enters their contact information.

                    It’s important that the product or services you offer through the call to action are of high enough value to engage your audience.

                    See some great call-to-action examples here.

                    Search Engine Optimization

                    Start by doing research on the most often searched keywords relevant to your target market. Then create and publish content on your website that includes these keywords.

                    This makes your website what’s called “SEO-friendly.”

                    “SEO” stands for search engine optimization and in short, refers to your website’s likelihood of ranking high in website search results.

                    You could design the sleekest website of all time, but it won’t matter if people can’t find it!

                    Content Marketing Tips

                    Content marketing is no longer a buzzword – in fact, it can be the linchpin to an effective commercial real estate marketing strategy.

                    The Content Marketing Institute, an online resource for information on all-things content marketing related, describes content marketing as follows:

                    “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

                    Content marketing can take on many forms: custom webpages, blogs, podcasts, videos, data reports, and more.

                    The key here is providing highly valuable, narrowly-targeted content for your specific audience. You can share this content across all media, and in each case, the content you share should be optimized to be SEO-friendly.

                    Social Media Marketing Tips

                    Social media is a great way to connect with your target audience.

                    FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn and Snapchat are just a few platforms to learn.

                    But again, be sure to create a thoughtfulsharable social media strategy.

                    Which forums do your prospects engage with most?

                    If you’re targeting a younger crowd, you might focus your attention on Instagram or Snapchat.

                    If your audience is older, consider Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

                    But remember—even the most sophisticated, technical companies tend to have younger people manning their social media accounts—so don’t rule out other forms of media.

                    For instance, a company executive might not monitor his company’s Twitter account, but you might be able to connect with the company’s social media intern to set up an introduction to that executive.

                    One caveat to all social media marketing: be careful not to over-self-promote.

                    Social media should be used to share information about your own products and services, but it’s also a great way to share other thought leaders’ content and generally connect with those in the industry.

                    A second caveat to social media marketing: social media is often like getting a puppy dog. It’s fun and exciting at first, but the puppy dog eventually turns into a fully grown dog.

                    That fully grown dog needs to be loved, nurtured and cared for over time.

                    Commercial real estate professionals often launch social media strategies and then fail to follow through.

                    Social media is a major time commitment (if you want to be successful with it), so be selective with which platforms you decide to use.

                    Be sure you can post content consistently to remain relevant.

                    Reonomy Commercial Real Estate Marketing

                    Email Marketing Tips

                    As your email database of prospective and existing clients grows, consider launching an email marketing campaign.

                    Hyper-targeted campaigns can be a great touch point for keeping you top of mind with your target market.

                    Consider a monthly email that offers a discount on your product or services. Or every so often, send out an email blast that details your company’s recent successes or major transactions.

                    Another strategy is to cultivate market information or commercial real estate market trends that you can share with your target audience – this will help position you as a thought leader within your market niche.

                    Google Ad Tips for Real Estate

                    Ever wonder how Google makes money?

                    The search engine sells ads through their aptly named platform, Google Ads.

                    Google Ads is an advertising system that publishes paid, clickable ads based upon a user’s keyword search.

                    For instance, if you’re a hard money lender in the Miami area, you might want an ad for your company to show up when someone in Miami searches for “alternative forms of commercial real estate capital.”

                    Or if you’re a retail broker, you might want your ad to appear when someone searches for “retail space” in your target market.

                    Real Estate Remarketing

                    For commercial real estate professionals working within a limited budget, consider real estate remarketing.

                    Rather than advertising to the masses, real estate remarketing is a form of online advertising that only displays ads to people who have previously visited your website.

                    This is another great way to keep your company top-of-mind with people who are at least vaguely familiar with your brand, products or services.

                    Tips for Marketing Tracking and Analytics

                    How do you know whether your commercial real estate marketing strategy is effective? It’s all about data, data and more data!

                    There are several tools available to collect, monitor and analyze your marketing efforts.

                    Google Analytics is the most basic way to track your website and social media metrics.

                    CyfeSegment and ClickMeter are other tools that can help you track and analyze your CRE marketing efforts.

                    There are many benefits to tracking and analyzing this data. First, it tells you how far you’ve come.

                    If you analyze your performance before implementing your new strategy, you’ll be able to quantify your gains after implementing the strategy.

                    Second, you can determine which marketing strategies are having the greatest impact – in other words, which tools are helping to generate the most leads?

                    This allows you to target precious marketing resources most effectively.

                    Commercial Real Estate Public Relations

                    We’ve already mentioned the types of content that can help you become a thought-leader in the CRE industry, but why does that matter?

                    People like doing business with professionals—others that they know are credible.

                    Building relationships with external publications and businesses can serve as terrific forms of advertising.

                    CRE Publications

                    One of the easiest way to get in front of your target audience is by getting into their most-often read publications.

                    The easiest way to do this is by advertising in those publications—such as CCIM’s CIRE (Commercial Investment Real Estate) Magazine or NAIOP’s Development Magazine.

                    Better yet, try to get an article placed in those publications that reference your product or service.

                    An alternative strategy is to write a guest column or op-ed in one of those publications that highlights your expertise within your specific market niche.

                    Business Journals

                    Likewise, local business journals are a great way to market your knowledge, experience or services to a hyper-local audience.

                    One of our favorite techniques is to speak on an industry panel that the publication will likely feature—thereby getting your name in front of your target audience in an indirect but important fashion.

                    Sticking Out in a World of Marketing

                    As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into creating a successful commercial real estate marketing strategy. Start by creating a manageable strategy, and build upon that strategy over time.

                    It might be that you only focus on designing a highly-responsive, beautiful website at first. Then you might decide to test the waters with weekly blogging as part of your content marketing strategy.

                    When you’re ready, embark on a real estate social media marketing campaign that helps distribute that content to a broader audience.

                    In the end, what matters most is that you’re in-tune with your own needs and the needs of your target audience.

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                      The Ultimate Marketing Machine

                      The Ultimate Marketing Machine

                       
                      Artwork: Markus LinnenbrinkDIEDRITTEDIMENSION, 2011, JVA/Prison, Düsseldorf Rath, Germany

                      In the past decade, what marketers do to engage customers has changed almost beyond recognition. With the possible exception of information technology, we can’t think of another discipline that has evolved so quickly. Tools and strategies that were cutting-edge just a few years ago are fast becoming obsolete, and new approaches are appearing every day.

                      Yet in most companies the organizational structure of the marketing function hasn’t changed since the practice of brand management emerged, more than 40 years ago. Hidebound hierarchies from another era are still commonplace.

                      Marketers understand that their organizations need an overhaul, and many chief marketing officers are tearing up their org charts. But in our research and our work with hundreds of global marketing organizations, we’ve found that those CMOs are struggling with how to draw the new chart. What does the ideal structure look like? Our answer is that this is the wrong question. A simple blueprint does not exist.

                      Marketing leaders instead must ask, “What values and goals guide our brand strategy, what capabilities drive marketing excellence, and what structures and ways of working will support them?” Structure must follow strategy—not the other way around.

                      Former McDonald’s CMO Larry Light understood that principle when he became the chief brand officer of the InterContinental Hotels Group, where the marketing team was intent on reorganizing its operation. Light quickly focused the team on defining marketing’s purpose, its goals, and a process for achieving them. Once those had been clarified, a rational reorganization could occur.

                      To understand what separates the strategies and structures of superior marketing organizations from the rest, EffectiveBrands (now Millward Brown Vermeer)—in partnership with the Association of National Advertisers, the World Federation of Advertisers, Spencer Stuart, Forbes, MetrixLab, and Adobe—initiated Marketing2020, which to our knowledge is the most comprehensive marketing leadership study ever undertaken. Coauthor Keith Weed, the CMO of Unilever, is the chairman of the initiative’s advisory board. To date the study has included in-depth qualitative interviews with more than 350 CEOs, CMOs, and agency heads, and over a dozen CMO roundtables in cities worldwide. We also conducted online quantitative surveys of 10,000-plus marketers from 92 countries. The surveys encompassed more than 80 questions focusing on marketers’ data analytics capabilities, brand strategy, cross-functional and global interactions, and employee training.

                      We divided the survey respondents into two groups, overperformers and underperformers, on the basis of their companies’ three-year revenue growth relative to their competitors’. We then compared those two groups’ strategies, structures, and capabilities. Some of what we found should come as no surprise: Companies that are sophisticated in their use of data grow faster, for instance. Nevertheless, the research shed new light on the constellation of brand attributes required for superior marketing performance and on the nature of the organizations that achieve it. It’s clear that “marketing” is no longer a discrete entity (and woe to the company whose marketing is still siloed) but now extends throughout the firm, tapping virtually every function. And while the titles, roles, and responsibilities of marketing leaders vary widely among companies and industries, the challenges they face—and what they must do to succeed—are deeply similar.

                      Winning Characteristics

                      The framework that follows describes the broad traits of high-performing organizations, as well as specific drivers of organizational effectiveness. Let’s look first at the shared principles of high performers’ marketing approaches.

                      Big data, deep insights.

                      Marketers today are awash in customer data, and most are finding narrow ways to use that information—to, say, improve the targeting of messages. Knowing what an individual consumer is doing where and when is now table stakes. High performers in our study are distinguished by their ability to integrate data on what consumers are doing with knowledge of why they’re doing it, which yields new insights into consumers’ needs and how to best meet them. These marketers understand consumers’ basic drives—such as the desire to achieve, to find a partner, and to nurture a child—motivations we call “universal human truths.”

                      The Nike+ suite of personal fitness products and services, for instance, combines a deep understanding of what makes athletes tick with troves of data. Nike+ incorporates sensor technologies embedded in running shoes and wearable devices that connect with the web, apps for tablets and smartphones, training programs, and social networks. In addition to tracking running routes and times, Nike+ provides motivational feedback and links users to communities of friends, like-minded athletes, and even coaches. Users receive personalized coaching programs that monitor their progress. An aspiring first-time half-marathon runner, say, and a seasoned runner rebounding from an injury will receive very different coaching. People are rewarded for good performance, can post their accomplishments on social media, and can compare their performance with—and learn from—others in the Nike+ community.

                      Purposeful positioning.

                      Top brands excel at delivering all three manifestations of brand purpose—functional benefits, or the job the customer buys the brand to do (think of the pick-me-up Starbucks coffee provides); emotional benefits, or how it satisfies a customer’s emotional needs (drinking coffee is a social occasion); and societal benefits, such as sustainability (when coffee is sourced through fair trade). Consider the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, which defines a set of guiding principles for sustainable growth that emphasize improving health, reducing environmental impact, and enhancing livelihoods. The plan lies at the heart of all Unilever’s brand strategies, as well as its employee and operational strategies.

                      In addition to engaging customers and inspiring employees, a powerful and clear brand purpose improves alignment throughout the organization and ensures consistent messaging across touchpoints. AkzoNobel’s Dulux, one of the world’s leading paint brands, offers a case in point. In 2006, AkzoNobel was operating a heavily decentralized business structured around local markets, with each local business setting its own brand and business goals and developing its own marketing mix. Not surprisingly, the outcome was inconsistent brand positioning and results; Dulux soared in some markets and floundered in others. In 2008, Dulux’s new global brand team pursued a sweeping program to understand how people perceived the brand across markets, paint’s purpose in their lives, and the human truths that inspired people to color their environments. From China, to India, to the UK, to Brazil, a consistent theme emerged: The colors around us powerfully influence how we feel. Dulux wasn’t selling cans of paint; it was selling “tins of optimism.” This new definition of Dulux’s brand purpose led to a marketing campaign, “Let’s Color.” It enlists volunteers, which now include more than 80% of AkzoNobel employees, and donates paint (more than half a million liters so far) to revitalize run-down urban neighborhoods, from the favelas of Rio to the streets of Jodhpur. In addition to aligning the once-decentralized marketing organization, Dulux’s purpose-driven approach has expanded its share in many markets.

                      Total experience.

                      Companies are increasingly enhancing the value of their products by creating customer experiences. Some deepen the customer relationship by leveraging what they know about a given customer to personalize offerings. Others focus on the breadth of the relationship by adding touchpoints. Our research shows that high-performing brands do both—providing what we call “total experience.” In fact, we believe that the most important marketing metric will soon change from “share of wallet” or “share of voice” to “share of experience.”

                      McCormick, the spices and flavorings firm, emphasizes both depth and breadth in delivering on its promise to “push the art, science, and passion of flavor.” It creates a consistent experience for consumers across numerous physical and digital touchpoints, such as product packaging, branded content like cookbooks, retail stores, and even an interactive service, FlavorPrint, that learns each customer’s taste preferences and makes tailored recipe recommendations. FlavorPrint does for recipes what Netflix has done for movies; its algorithm distills each recipe into a unique flavor profile, which can be matched to a consumer’s taste-preference profile. FlavorPrint can then generate customized e-mails, shopping lists, and recipes optimized for tablets and mobile devices.

                      Organizing for Growth

                      Marketing has become too important to be left just to the marketers in a company. We say this not to disparage marketers but to underscore how holistic marketing now is. To deliver a seamless experience, one informed by data and imbued with brand purpose, all employees in the company, from store clerks and phone center reps to IT specialists and the marketing team itself, must share a common vision.

                      Our research has identified five drivers of organizational effectiveness. The leaders of high-performing companies connect marketing to the business strategy and to the rest of the organization; inspire their organizations by engaging all levels with the brand purpose; focus their people on a few key priorities; organize agile, cross-functional teams; and build the internal capabilities needed for success.

                      Connecting.

                      In our work with marketing organizations, we have seen case after case of dysfunctional teamwork, suboptimal collaboration, and lack of shared purpose and trust.

                      Despite cultural and geographic obstacles, our high-performing marketers avoid such breakdowns for the most part. Their leaders excel at linking their departments to general management and other functions. They create a tight relationship with the CEO, making certain that marketing goals support company goals; bridge organizational silos by integrating marketing and other disciplines; and ensure that global, regional, and local marketing teams work interdependently.

                      Marketing historically has marched to its own drummer, at best unevenly supporting strategy handed down from headquarters and, more commonly, pursuing brand or marketing goals (such as growing brand equity) that were not directly related to the overall business strategy. Today high-performing marketing leaders don’t just align their department’s activities with company strategy; they actively engage in creating it. From 2006 to 2013, our surveys show, marketing’s influence on strategy development increased by 20 percentage points. And when marketing demonstrates that it is fighting for the same business objectives as its peers, trust and communication strengthen across all functions and, as we shall see, enable the collaboration required for high performance.

                      Another way companies foster connections is by putting marketing and other functions under a single leader. Motorola’s Eduardo Conrado is the senior VP of both marketing and IT. A year after Antonio Lucio was appointed CMO of Visa, he was invited to also lead HR and tighten the alignment between the company’s strategy and how employees were recruited, developed, retained, and rewarded. Coauthor Keith Weed leads communications and sustainability, as well as marketing, at Unilever. And Herschend Family Entertainment, owner of the Harlem Globetrotters and various theme parks, has recently expanded CMO Eric Lent’s role to chief marketing and consumer technology officer.

                      Marketing has become too important to be left just to the marketers. All employees, from store clerks to IT specialists, must be engaged in it.

                      Inspiring.

                      Inspiration is one of the most underused drivers of effective marketing—and one of the most powerful. Our research shows that high-performing marketers are more likely to engage customers and employees with their brand purpose—and that employees in those organizations are more likely to express pride in the brand.

                      Inspiration strengthens commitment, of course, but when it’s rooted in a respected brand purpose, all employees will be motivated by the same mission. This enhances collaboration and, as more and more employees come into contact with customers, also helps ensure consistent customer experiences. The payoff is that everyone in the company becomes a de facto member of the marketing team.

                      The key to inspiring the organization is to do internally what marketing does best externally: create irresistible messages and programs that get everyone on board. At Dulux, that involved handing paint and brushes to thousands of employees and setting them loose on neighborhoods around the world. Unilever’s leadership conducts a quarterly live broadcast with most of the company’s 6,500 marketers to celebrate best brand practices and introduce new tools. In addition, Unilever holds a series of globally coordinated and locally delivered internal and external communications events, called Big Moments, to engage employees and opinion leaders companywide directly with the broader purpose of making sustainable living commonplace. Research shows this has led to a significant increase in employee commitment. Nike has a marketing staffer whose sole job is to tell the original Nike story to all new employees.

                      Inspiration is so important that many companies, Unilever among them, have begun measuring employees’ brand engagement as a key performance indicator. Google does this by assessing employees’ “Googliness” in performance appraisals to determine how fully people embrace the company’s culture and purpose. And Zappos famously offers new hires $3,000 to leave after four weeks, effectively cutting loose anyone who is not inspired by the company’s obsessive customer focus.

                      Focusing.

                      When we asked eight global marketing executives in one organization to list their top five marketing objectives, only two goals made it onto everyone’s list. The remainder was a motley assortment of personal or local objectives. Such misalignment, our data show, increases the farther teams are from an organization’s center of power. With marketing activities ever more dispersed across global companies, that risk must be carefully managed.

                      By a wide margin, respondents in overperforming companies agreed with the statements “Local marketing understands the global strategy” and “Global marketing understands the local marketing reality.” Winning companies were more likely to measure brands’ success against key performance indicators such as revenue growth and profit and to tie incentives at the local level directly to those KPIs. Ironically, almost all companies were meticulous in planning and executing consumer communication campaigns but failed to devote the same care to internal communications about strategy. That’s a dangerous oversight.

                      Marc Schroeder, the global marketing head for PepsiCo’s Quaker brand, understood the need for internal cohesiveness when he led a cross-regional “marketing council” to develop and communicate the brand’s first global growth strategy. The council defined a purposeful positioning, nailed down the brand’s global objectives, set a prioritized growth agenda, created clear lines of accountability and incentives, and adopted a performance dashboard that tracked industry measures such as market share and revenue growth. The council communicated the strategy through regional and local team meetings, including those with agencies and retail customers worldwide, and hosted a first-ever global brand stewardship event to educate colleagues. As a result of those efforts, all Quaker marketing plans are now explicitly linked to one overall strategy.

                      Organizing for agility.

                      Our research consistently shows that organizational structure, roles, and processes are among the toughest leadership challenges—and that the need for clarity about them is consistently underestimated or even ignored.

                      We have helped design dozens of marketing organizations. Typically we enter the scene after a traditional business consultancy has done preliminary strategy, cost, and head-count analyses, and our role is to work with the CMO to create and implement a new structure, operating model, and capability-building program. Though we believe there is no ideal organizational blueprint, our experience does suggest a set of operational and design principles that any organization can apply.

                      Today marketing organizations must leverage global scale but also be nimble, able to plan and execute in a matter of weeks or a few months—and, increasingly, instantaneously. Oreo famously took to Twitter during the blackout at the 2013 Super Bowl, reminding consumers, “You can still dunk in the dark,” making the brand a trending topic during one of the world’s biggest sporting events. That the tweet was designed and approved in minutes was no accident; Oreo deliberately organized and empowered its marketing team for the occasion, bringing agency and brand teams together in a “mission control” room and authorizing them to engage with their audience in real time.

                      Complex matrixed organizational structures—like those captured in traditional, rigid “Christmas tree” org charts—are giving way to networked organizations characterized by flexible roles, fluid responsibilities, and more-relaxed sign-off processes designed for speed. The new structures allow leaders to tap talent as needed from across the organization and assemble teams for specific, often short-term, marketing initiatives. The teams may form, execute, and disband in a matter of weeks or months, depending on the task.

                      New marketing roles.

                      As companies expand internationally, they inevitably reorganize to better balance the benefits of global scale with the need for local relevance. Our research shows that, as a result, the vast majority of brands are led much more centrally today than they were a few years ago. Companies are removing middle, often regional, layers and creating specialized “centers of excellence” that guide strategy and share best practices while drawing on needed resources wherever, and at whatever level, they exist in the organization. As companies pursue this approach, roles and processes need to be adapted.

                      Coca-Cola, Unilever, and Shiseido have set up dedicated marketing academies to create a single marketing language and approach.

                      Marketing organizations traditionally have been populated by generalists, but particularly with the rise of social and digital marketing, a profusion of new specialist roles—such as digital privacy analysts and native-content editors—are emerging. We have found it useful to categorize marketing roles not by title (as the variety seems infinite) but as belonging to one of three broad types: “think” marketers, who apply analytic capabilities to tasks like data mining, media-mix modeling, and ROI optimization; “do” marketers, who develop content and design and lead production; and “feel” marketers, who focus on consumer interaction and engagement in roles from customer service to social media and online communities.

                      The networked organization.

                      A broad array of skills and organizational tiers and functions are represented within each category. CMOs and other marketing executives such as chief experience officers and global brand managers increasingly operate as the orchestrators, assembling cross-functional teams from these three classes of talent to tackle initiatives. Orchestrators brief the teams, ensure that they have the capabilities and resources they need, and oversee performance tracking. To populate a team, the orchestrator and team leader draw from marketing and other functions as well as from outside agencies and consulting firms, balancing the mix of think, do, and feel capabilities in accordance with the team’s mission. (See the interactive exhibit “The Orchestrator Model.”)

                      Companies are using this model to create task forces for a range of marketing programs, from integrating online and physical retail experiences to introducing new products. When Unilever launched Project Sunlight—a consumer-engagement program connected with its sustainable-living initiative—the team drew talent from seven expertise areas. The international cable company Liberty Global uses task forces to optimize the customer experience at key engagement points—such as when customers receive a bill. These teams are led by managers from a variety of marketing and nonmarketing functions, have different durations, and draw from each of the three talent pools in different measure.

                      The task-force model is both agile and disciplined. It requires a culture in which central leadership is confident that local teams understand the strategy and will collaborate to execute it. This works well only when everyone in the organization is inspired by the brand purpose and is clear about the goals. Google, Nike, Red Bull, and Amazon all embrace this philosophy. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos captured the ethos when he said at a shareholders’ meeting, “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details.”

                      Building capabilities.

                      As we have shown, the most effective marketers lead by connecting, inspiring, focusing, and organizing for agility. But none of those activities can be fully accomplished, or sustained, without the continual building of capabilities. Our research shows pronounced differences in training between high- and low-performing companies, in terms of both quantity and quality.

                      At a minimum the marketing staff needs expertise in traditional marketing and communications functions—market research, competitive intelligence, media planning, and so forth. But we’ve seen that sometimes even those basic capabilities are lacking. Courses to onboard new staff and teach targeted skills are just the price of entry. The best marketing organizations, including those at Coca-Cola, Unilever, and the Japanese beauty company Shiseido, have invested in dedicated internal marketing academies to create a single marketing language and way of doing marketing.

                      Senior managers across the company can benefit from programs for sharing expertise on consumer habits, competitor strategy, and retail dynamics. Virgin, Starbucks, and other corporations have created intensive “immersion” programs for this purpose. Executives at the director level can profit from advanced courses that focus on strategic considerations such as portfolio management and partnering. We find that senior leaders often gain a lot from digital and social media training, as they’re frequently less well versed in those areas than their junior colleagues are. Appreciating this, companies including Unilever and Diageo have taken their senior leaders to Facebook for training. We’ve collaborated with partners at Google, MSN, and AOL to develop similar programs, including “reverse mentoring,” which pairs very senior managers with younger staffers. Even the CMO can benefit from continued, targeted training. Visa’s Antonio Lucio, for instance, hired a digital native to teach him about social media and monitor his progress.

                      Underperforming marketers, on the other hand, underinvest in training. Their employees receive just over half a day of training a year, on average, while overperformers give people nearly two full days of tailored, practical training by external experts. At first blush, the Marketing2020 study reveals what you might expect: Marketers must leverage customer insight, imbue their brands with a brand purpose, and deliver a rich customer experience. They must connect, inspire, focus, organize, and build, as detailed here. The finding that’s striking—and should serve as both a warning and a call to arms—is that most organizations haven’t been able to put all those pieces together. Our data show that only half of even high-performing organizations excel on some of these capabilities. But that shouldn’t be discouraging; rather, it illuminates where there’s work to do. Regardless of how marketing delivers its messages in the future, the fundamental human motivations that marketers must satisfy won’t change. The challenge now is to create organizations that can truly speak to those needs.

                      Author:

                      Harvard Business Review

                      Marc de Swaan Arons and Frank van den Driest are the founders of the global marketing strategy consultancy EffectiveBrands (now Millward Brown Vermeer) and the authors of The Global Brand CEO (Airstream New York, 2010). Keith Weed is the chief marketing and communication officer of Unilever and the chairman of the Marketing2020 advisory board.


                      Frank van den Driest is the chief client officer and a founding partner at Kantar Vermeer, a brand and marketing strategy consultancy.


                      Keith Weed is the chief marketing and communications officer at Unilever and chairman of Kantar Vermeer’s Insights2020 board.

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