price comparison websites are hurting small businesses

Blending Into The Crowd: The Problem With Price Comparison Sites

Gee Ranasinha Advertising, Communications, Marketing, Technology, Website

“CHEAPEST FLIGHTS!” “THE LOWEST HOTEL ROOM RATES!” “WE COMPARE PRICES, SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO.” Price comparison websites are all the rage at the moment. From airline flights, to car insurance, to getting the best on your savings, there’s sure to be a website that aggregates the prices of various products and services to allowing you to compare them. Rather than manually searching, entering details, and writing down the answer we can simply go to a single website that does all the heavy lifting for us. As consumers, we love price comparators. No-one wants to pay more than they need to for the same product or service, right? But is it a fair comparison? The problem with price comparison websites is that they reduce your business value offering to a commodity. Perhaps you offer exceptional customer service, no-quibble warranty, or 20 years experience. If people are deciding whether to buy from you based on nothing else but price, all that business differentiation you’ve been building for the last few years gets ceremoniously flushed down the toilet. You’re being judged by the price of your widget – and nothing else. A quick question for you: think about the last time you …

The Importance Of Content Strategy

Gee Ranasinha Marketing

OK, so you get that developing an online presence for your businesses is important. You know that there are tools out there that allow you to develop conversations and relationships with both existing and potential customers. You know that social media is not going away any time soon, and that eBooks, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and web content can become key content distribution vehicles to help your organization communicate, engage and inform. So what do you do now? What’s your brand message, it’s story, it’s voice? More importantly: What are the informational requirements of your customers, and what’s your plan to address them? In order to maintain their relevance and develop a valuable online experience for their customers, any organization developing an online marketing presence (or arguably any marketing presence) needs to have what is called a content strategy. Key to developing your brand’s online reputation lies in the ability for your company to produce relevant and valuable content. Without interesting content, why should your target audience keep coming back for more? Content Strategy: A Way Of Thinking There’s a great article by PR and social media observer Brian Solis on the Mashable website called Why Brands Are Becoming Media. …

customer experience

What Does Your Company Sell?

Gee Ranasinha Business, Communications, Marketing, Sales

Some businesses sell products. Other businesses sell services. Some businesses may even sell both. But the most successful businesses in the world today sell neither of these. They’re selling something far less tangible, but far more potent. They sell an experience. As consumers the vast majority of the things we buy, we buy because we want them – rather than need them. We buy them because of how we think they will make us feel. Our buying decisions are initially based on an emotion, with the pragmatic argument following behind to allow ourselves to justify the purchase. Those $600 shoes you’ve got your eyes on. Sure, they look awesome – but you don’t really need them, do you? What happens is that you purchase them with your heart. Then you rationalize with your head. You convince yourself that, because the shoes are hand made to a very high and exacting standard using only the best materials, they’ll look amazing and last much longer than cheaper shoes. Their classic design won’t look out of place in a year or two. In fact, since they’ll last at least three times longer than the other shoes you were looking at, you’re actually saving …

lingua franca

Lingua Franca

Gee Ranasinha Print

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you’ll know that it’s rare for me to blatantly promote my company’s services. However, today I’m making an exception, so if you choose to stop reading right now then I’ll totally understand. We’ve just launched Qarto, an online transcreation portal for businesses and organizations that need a quick and easy way to localize documents or artwork. So, what’s “transcreation”? Well, a good explanation can be found here. Fundamentally, it’s taking a document’s content from one language and totally re-creating it in another, in such as way so that the reader isn’t even aware that the text actually originated from another language. Transcreation is not simply translating text from one language to another. It’s about creativity and originality, not a ‘word-for-word’ transcription, employing the destination language’s cultural and linguistic nuances. Qarto takes the concept of transcreation even further, in two clever ways. Firstly, the system is an online service that effectively streamlines the whole localization process. If you have ever had to translate a document, you’ll know that the production process is often a nightmare. Appointing and then sending documents to translators, chasing people with phonecalls and emails, getting the translated text …

is so-called 'conventional' marketing dead?

Is Conventional Marketing Dead?

Gee Ranasinha Marketing

Spend some time on the internet and within a very short while you’ll run into a common thread running through the various marketing-focused blogs and websites. There’s increasing popularity in the notion that ‘conventional marketing’ is dying out, and is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Today, all the talk is about social media, customer engagement and so forth. The theory is that so-called ‘conventional’ marketing techniques and assumptions are outmoded within today’s ’empowered customers’ who have changed the way that they evaluate products and brands. Proponents of the theory point to how the new-generation media channels are challenging conventional marketing ideas on targeting and reach. Publishers and broadcasters are suffering with regards to revenue generation because many advertisers feel that such content distribution vehicles are no longer as efficient as other communications media. Companies now have a greater choice in how to deliver their content. Outlets such as social media allow organizations to target audiences with far higher level of granularity than was previously possible with mainstream media channels such as newspapers, magazines or radio. So, is ‘conventional marketing’ as we’ve come to know it on it’s way out? Yes, and no. Conventional marketing has always been dead. Why? Because there is …

Flash versus QuickTime

“One Size Fits All” Format Coming For Online Video

Gee Ranasinha Communications, Technology

One of the challenges in using video content as part of your online marketing strategy has been with regards to what video format to use. Today, it ultimately comes down to two choices: Adobe’s Flash format, or Apple’s QuickTime. Both have their pros and cons, but the main ‘con’ for both formats is that the PC that you’re using needs to have a bit of software installed, otherwise you won’t be able to watch the video. Any modern PC that you buy today already has both Flash and QuickTime installed. If you’re unsure, it’s easy to find out if your machine is online video-ready. If you can watch a  YouTube video, then Flash is already in there. If you use iTunes, then since QuickTime is part of the install, you’re good to go as well. But what about mobile devices? I’ve written about the phenomenal growth in the use of mobile devices to access online content before. Based on the growth numbers, it would seem that any video-based online campaign simply has to take into account mobile device access. While optimizing content for mobile devices is a little different than for PCs, by far the biggest issue is support for Flash. Apple’s …

marketing personalization is dead

Personalization Is Dead

Gee Ranasinha Communications

A few years ago some technology came about that allowed marketers to personalize their mailings to you. All of a sudden we were all deluged with mailings with our name in them. Maybe your name was written in roses, part of a pretty photo of a flowerbed. Or your company name appeared in fluffy white clouds as part of a beautiful landscape. The marketing, printing, transpromo, and direct mail industries all jumped for joy. Companies could create a personalized message to each of their customers and produce more engaging and relevant content. Except for the fact that, as consumers, we all got very bored very quickly. Was it because of the cheesy ideas, expressed with even cheesier images? Well, partly. But I think that its because marketers – and therefore companies, by inference – don’t know the difference between personalization and individualization. Consumers no longer get excited about seeing a mailing with their name on it. They want you to know them as people, not as a name. Why? Because they’ve come to expect it. For example, when I log into Amazon I’m not impressed that I can see my name on the homepage. I’m impressed that I can see …

2010

New Thinking For A New Decade

Gee Ranasinha Business, Communications, Customer Service, Marketing

It’s the end of the year. It’s the end of the decade. It’s also the end of the way that your prospects have purchased your products or services up until now. In the old days, your marketing department devised programs based on old-school methodology that generated leads that fed the sales team. Today, thanks to the internet, your prospects know more about your business value offering – and that of your competition – than you do. Your customers are trying to pigeonhole you, to commoditize you, to make their buying decisions easier. What’s your plan to differentiate your company and its value offering in the minds of your prospective customers? They don’t care that you’ve been in business for twenty years, have four offices and 200 staff. None of that matters to them – and why should it? It’s great that you’ve been in business for all that time. But, just as they say on all those financial services ads, past performance is no guarantee to future gain. How are you ensuring that your messaging is communicating what they want to hear, and not what you want to say? All they want to know is whether your product or service …

branding marketing

Companies Don’t Control Their Brands: Customers Do. It’s Time To Rebrand Branding

Gee Ranasinha Marketing

What is your brand? Where is your brand? Your brand is an ephemeral quantity that exists in the minds of your customers, created based upon their direct and indirect experiences with your company, product or service. Your brand is one of the reasons why your customers choose your business value offering over that of your competitors’. It’s one of your business differentiators. Branding isn’t something that gets created in your marketing department. Every single person in your organization directly or indirectly contributes to shaping and defining your brand. More than that, unless every single person within your organization understands and actively engages in your branding strategy, your branding initiative will fail. Most people think ‘branding’ is your company logo. Or a particular set and shade of colors. Or the typeface you use on your website, brochures, and letterhead. It’s not that. At least, it’s not just that. Branding is the way we differentiate one business from another, but not (just) in terms of logo, colors, and the rest. At its core, it’s the very essence of the promise you’re making to your customer. It’s a long-term, never-ending commitment. The importance of branding cannot be overlooked. But it’s also important to …

who you know social network

It’s Not What You Know…It’s Who You Know

Gee Ranasinha Business, Communications, Social Media

Not so long ago, a big part of doing business locally involved getting to know people of influence through organizations such as alumni associations, business organizations, religious groups, the golf club – and of course the Freemasons. Being accepted into such institutions was almost a prerequisite to conducting business. A few years ago I remember having a conversation with an acquaintance at an industry conference. Within a short time the conversation turned to golf. When I casually mentioned that I wasn’t a golfer, my conversation partner looked at me with shock and surprise. “You don’t golf? But then how on earth do you get leads?” But aren’t these old-style networks now under threat from social media? By online networks such as LinkedIn, Viadeo and XING? The issue with the various old-style networks is they usually want new members to be of the same class and cultural background as the existing constituency, thereby discriminating against race, sex, age, religion and goodness-knows what else. If you’re from what they’d regard as the wrong side of the tracks, you may find your access to such networks hindered, or even blocked. Online networks, in contrast, have no such membership restrictions. Sure, at the individual …