importance of relevant content in business marketing

Content Isn’t Everything. It’s The Only Thing.

Gee Ranasinha Advertising, Business, Communications, Marketing, Social Media

A quick question for you: For most businesses, where would you say is the first contact point between the company and a prospective customer? Before they see your ad, read your postcard mailer or receive the sales cold call, the first engagement point with your company is most probably your website. So why don’t more companies take their website seriously? I don’t (just) mean the design and having up-to-date information on your business value offering – i.e. your product or service: whatever it is that you’re selling. I mean having content on there that existing and prospective customers want to read. I mean having a ongoing and regular program of delivering new content designed and researched in such as way for your audience to find interesting. So interesting that they’ll come back again, to consume even more of it. So interesting that they’ll talk about it with their friends. Today, before a customer ever buys your product or service, they “buy” into your company. They listen to your story, the narrative of why you do what you do. Why you sell, as much as what you sell. I’ll bet you, just as with our company, that if you checked your website …

Middlemen Are An Endangered Species

Middlemen Are An Endangered Species

Gee Ranasinha Business

Back in 1995, I landed a job at a London-based systems integrations company that sold their wares into – amongst others – the printing industry. It was a transitory time, from both a technical as well as a commercial perspective. The publishing industry was coming to terms with – for example – no longer being able to charge £70 (about $110) for printing out a “proof” of a magazine page for an advertising agency or publishing company. It was also to be the beginning of the end for the newspaper advertising “Gate Keepers.” These were a group of perhaps five premedia companies that, together, pretty much had the monopoly on preparing and sending ads to the major UK newspaper publishers. Their rationale was that preparing files for newspaper printing needed specialist knowledge – their knowledge. This was back in the day when preparing a PDF file that was fit for the printing press was a lot more complex than it is today. It was before the time of industry standards such as PDF/X-1a, for example. If your company wanted to run an ad in any of the major UK newspapers, the file could only be sent to the publisher via …

non-trustworthy-looking person

Maintaining Credibility In The Eyes Of Your Customer

Gee Ranasinha Communications, Sales

Imagine that you’re in a sales situation with a potential client. The deal could be highly lucrative. Things are going well – you’ve done your research, they like your offering…but they also like the offering of one of your biggest competitors. From your perspective, it’s anyone’s guess as to who’s going to get the deal. Then something happens. The prospective customer shows your pricing proposal to the other company – or forwards them one of your emails, asking them for their take on it. What just happened? You lost the sale. For whatever reason your credibility, in the eyes of your customer, has been compromised. For all intents and purposes you’re no longer in the running. Of course you’re never going to hear that from your customer directly: they’ll continue to go through the motions of the sales process right up until they make the purchase – with the other company. There are 1001 reasons why you may lose the credibility of your customers. Maybe it’s the overly-pushy salesperson who needs to be the center of attention, dominate the conversation, or make it abundantly clear that they’ve been there and done that and (in the words of Stevie Wonder) you …

customers to know your story

It’s not WHAT you sell, it’s WHY you sell

Gee Ranasinha Business

Do your clients ‘get’ what you do? I don’t mean if they know what you sell. I’m guessing that they know that already. If they didn’t they wouldn’t be customers, right? I’m not talking about whatever product or service your business sells. I’m talking about the reasons why they should buy from you, as opposed to the hundreds or thousands of others who, in their eyes, offer something similar to what you do. What I mean is: do your customers know your story? The reason why you’re in business? Oh, and by the way the reason as to why you’re in business is not to make a profit. Making a profit is simply a result of why you’re in business (well, hopefully at least). When I say ‘why’, I mean the passion, cause or belief that caused the creation of your organization in the first place. Let me give you an example. We launched KEXINO because we feel that companies and organizations of all sizes – from “mumpreneurs” to SMEs – should have access to next-generation marketing resources in the same way that the big guns do. Why? Because, increasingly, customers expect a certain experience when they interact with a …

media companies wrestling with the change in reader behavior

Media Companies: Stop Trying To Save The Past

Gee Ranasinha Business

John Einar Sandvand talks about a word that should be banned from the vocabulary of all media companies. What’s the word? “Cannibalization.” Many media companies today are happy to develop the digital side to their business, but only as long as it doesn’t negatively impact the revenues they generate from their traditional sales. As John points out, “What Can Become Digital, Will Become Digital.” As consumers, the immediacy and convenience that digital content delivery provides – whether that content is music, movies, newspapers, books, or whatever – is a compelling and attractive proposition to us. More importantly, even if the analog equivalent is ‘better’, it doesn’t mean that it has a given right to co-exist. The market will decide – whether or not we like the results. Take the music industry as an example. Why did the CD all but kill off vinyl? Because with a CD you don’t have the hassle of a turntable and stylus, and you don’t have to get-up to flip the record over when you want to hear “side two.” Similarly, MP3 files replaced CDs for many people because their reduced sound quality from an MP3 files is mitigated by convenience and immediacy of purchase: you don’t have …

Questions

Why Didn’t I Think Of That?

Gee Ranasinha Business, Marketing

We’ve all heard the phrase “there’s no such thing as a stupid question.” Asking a question means that you’re listening, absorbing, trying to understand. Religions are born. Regimes are created (and overthrown). Companies, products and services are conceived because someone asked a question. Too many times, at the end of a report or presentation, we ask the audience if there are questions with regards to the subject matter that was just delivered. Usually the reply is a pregnant, awkward silence. Does that mean that no-one in the room needs some clarification on whatever’s been proposed to them?  Usually not.  It usually means that no-one has the fortitude to start the ball rolling and ask the first question. More often than not if two or three questions get asked – and answered – quickly, more questions will follow. We should question the absence of questions. Asking questions is how we learn, how we understand. Questions are the beginning of how we effect change. So why do so many organizations effectively neuter their own innovation and development potential by instilling an aura of fear for asking questions? A lot of people in business behave in the same way that they did in …

brain with question marks

Don’t Be An Expert

Gee Ranasinha Business

Are you an ‘expert’? I sure hope not. As consumers, none of us want to make the wrong decision when we’re looking to buy something. None of us want to be the one that bought a Zune. We like the assurance that third-party confirmation gives as part of the buying process. Maybe we seek out reviews from trusted sources such as specialist magazines, blogs, or websites. Or perhaps we’d let untrusted opinion guide us. What do I mean by “Untrusted opinion”? In recent years buyers have grown to trust the phenomenon of the Customer Review, essentially a word-of-mouth recommendation from someone that we don’t know. We often can’t confirm that the submitted information is accurate, or unbiased, yet we allow it to influence our purchasing decision. Word Of Mouth has been supplemented by Word Of Mouse. What’s amazing to me is that we often value the opinion of these people over and above the information from more historically-trusted sources. We’d rather believe a total stranger who may not even be real, over a brand’s own content. In the world of business – in sales, marketing, finance, HR, and so on – what we’re looking for, consciously or otherwise, is an ‘expert’. Someone who can …

ring love shadow

Show Your Customers Some Love

Gee Ranasinha Business, Communications

Happy belated Valentine’s Day. Reading Tim Sanders’ blog recently, I noticed that his book Love Is The Killer App is nine years old already. If I had to mention one book that had the single biggest influence on my business life, it would be this one – and I discovered it by accident. I just happened to be at a conference in the USA where Tim was speaking, and was blown away by what he was saying. I bought the book soon afterwards. What Tim was saying in his keynote presentation, and that the book explains in greater detail, was a way of interacting with people that I was unconsciously doing already. I’d never even considered that I was doing something that others were not. Tim’s presentation opened my eyes to how I was approaching people in business, and that more of us should be doing the same thing. If you’ve never read the book, it’s message is basically to give without expecting to receive. To go out of your way to help others in business, your employees, your customers, like you would treat family. Nine years ago such talk would have had you dismissed as some sort of pot-smoking …

Customer Relationship

Building Real Customer Relations

Gee Ranasinha Business

How far does your business go in building relationships with your customers? Today, many companies have realized that they need to do more than hang a “We’re Open” sign on the door to get customers to buy from them. They may even have heard that “People don’t buy from companies, people buy from people.” As a result, they schmooze, they cajole, they inform, they educate, they interact. To use the current parlance: They engage. If it all goes according to plan, then perhaps the customer makes the purchase. At which time, more often than not, they’re shown the door and we’re off playing the game all over again with someone else. But couldn’t – or shouldn’t – the customer relationship be more than just a way to get the sale? In some cases there is a relationship after the sale: Perhaps the customer has to pay for some kind of assistance or service following the purchase.  Or maybe there’s some ongoing training/induction type sessions that last an amount of time, that maintains the client/supplier relationship. But if a business – any business – sincerely exists to offer some kind of help or solution to their customers, then shouldn’t they view every …

It’s not voodoo, it’s marketing.

It’s Not Voodoo. It’s Marketing

Gee Ranasinha Business

A successful and effective social media presence isn’t voodoo, or another one of the black arts. It’s simply tried-and-tested marketing process applied to other channels. Perhaps, like many business owners, you’re looking at this year as being an opportune time to pin your business on the social media map. A social media presence is no longer the bleeding-edge of a company’s communication, awareness-building, and engagement strategy. If you are about to venture into building a social media presence for your business, may I give you a few words of warning. Many businesses spread themselves too thinly when it comes to social media. There are so many sites to choose from. Where should one start? • Traditional sites such as Facebook or Twitter? • Business-related sites such as LinkedIn, XING, or Viadeo? • Location-aware sites such as FourSquare? It’s tempting to think that you need to be on all of them. After all, you may be missing out on attracting possible customers, right? Technically you’re correct. But surely your business should already know where your customers are, when they are there, and what your organization should be communicating when they are listening? Social media doesn’t abdicate your responsibility in finding and directing relevant …

business butterfly

Change Your Business, Or Watch It Die

Gee Ranasinha Business, Marketing

There’s plenty of management-speak out there about how business leaders need to embrace change. How business, and commerce in general, has its foundations on shifting sands. The only way to ride the wave is to accept and relish the concept of change within your company. However, the truth is very different. Most company managers that I know are more about creating and maintaining a consistent and stable workplace for employees, in order to create an air of security and reassurance and help keep staff morale high. The problem with building all of this structure is that it prevents you acting – or reacting – when an external force is applied.  Take the music industry as an example. For decades, music companies held control as to how and what music was consumed, and record stores controlled distribution. When the internet threatened to upset that control, their immediate reaction was to fight it. To keep things the way are. Guess what? They lost. Today, anyone can release a piece of music  – or any other piece of intellectual property – and get it in front of a big-enough audience to generate attention. The biggest seller of music in the USA today is …

cheerleaders

Do you have Followers, Fans or Evangelists?

Gee Ranasinha Communications, Marketing, Sales, Social Media

In order for your business to understand more about why customers buy from you today, and hopefully continue to buy from you tomorrow, you need to understand more about customer loyalty. Loyal customers can be broken down into three very distinct groups: Let’s call them Followers, Fans, and Evangelists. A successful and growing brand needs all three types of customer in order to thrive. “Followers” are the ones who buy your product or service no matter what. Times can be good, times can be bad, but they’re going to stick with what they know – and they know you. Followers are generally creatures of habit. It’s stressful for them to contemplate changing (after the initial stress of finding a suitable provider – i.e. you – in the first place). So rather than go through the hassle, the Follower will stay with you. However, note a Follower is only with you because it’s convenient – for them. Yes, they’ll continue to buy from you. They’re choosing you for their own reasons. Supposing things change with your business (as they always do). Supposing you get to a point where you’re forced to raise your prices. Perhaps the raw material costs have gone up, or …