fail to plan in business

Fail To Plan, Plan To Fail

Gee Ranasinha Business, Marketing

If you fail to plan your business activities, outlook, and marketing, you shouldn’t be too surprised when you don’t get the results you had hoped for. As you’d expect from a marketing services company, we get a lot of inquiries – often more than 50 per week – from business owners looking for help with their marketing. While the first question most people ask is usually “how much is this going to cost me?”, my first priority is to understand the entire business position – why it exists at all. I need to be convinced that the business in question can not only stand on its own two feet, but can grow. If I can’t be convinced of that, then the conversation stops there. If we can’t get on board with a client’s business idea and associated business plan, we cannot get enthusiastic about the business – and that affects the quality of work that we do. What’s just as important is how the business owner in question views the subject of marketing their start-up or small business. How a marketing budget is decided, how it’s divided over a twelve-month calendar, and what business goals the marketing plan is meant …

choice for the customer

Spoilt for Choice

Gee Ranasinha Business, Communications, Marketing

One of our current clients originally came to us because they had run out of ideas on how they could be the best at what they did. They wanted our take on what we thought they needed to do to be the ‘only’ choice for their customers. The problem is, in just about any industry you care to name, there is always a choice for your customers. Being (in your opinion) better than everyone else isn’t enough nowadays. For example, I prefer Google Chrome as my web browser of choice (even if, more recently, I’ve been using the Brave browser for its speed and removal of cookies and trackers). However, I’m happy enough to use Safari on the (admittedly) rare occasions when a particular website doesn’t play so nicely with Chrome. Changing over to Safari is not a big deal to me. In the same way while I prefer Evian bottled water, if the restaurant only has Volvic it’s not a deal-breaker. You see where I’m going with this? It doesn’t matter whether what you’re selling is (as far as you’re concerned) ‘the best’. No matter what the product or service, there are other choices out there which, by and …

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 …

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 …

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 …

the thrill of the chase

The Thrill Of The (Sales) Chase: But Don’t Forget Existing Customers

Gee Ranasinha Business, Customer Service, Marketing, Sales, small business

Every business needs customers. Well, duh… It’s also true that every business owner, sales manager, and marketer loves finding new customers. The initial contact, the first meeting. The sales pitch, the demonstration, and submission of proposal. Then follows the negotiation, the close, the transaction and, finally, the payment. It’s a complex dance, often with many intricate steps. Any one of those steps can go awry at any time. potentially resulting in sales failure. I think that’s part of the fascination. Business owners and sales managers are often Type A personalities. They relish the thrill of the chase. The sport, the competition against sales professionals from other businesses who are just as hungry for the sale. The importance of understanding the prospect – what makes them tick. The desire to win. The inherent risk and ultimate cost of failure. Looking at it this way you could be forgiven for thinking it’s all quite primeval. Supposing you’ve navigated successfully around the potential pitfalls to failure and – congratulations – closed the deal. What happens next? Sure, the customer takes delivery. Maybe there’s an onboarding phase – installation, training, support, and so on. But I’m thinking farther forward. I’m thinking about the time …

shotgun shells

Russian Roulette

Gee Ranasinha Marketing

Ever heard of “The Shotgun Approach” ? As you may know, a shotgun doesn’t usually use a bullet as its ammunition. Rather it uses a shell that contains hundreds of small pellets, or “shot”. Since the shot sprays out when fired, the user doesn’t have to aim too precisely. The idea is that, when fired, enough of the pellets will find their target. Most don’t, but it doesn’t matter since at least some do. In marketing communications The Shotgun Approach can be translated as coming up with as many reasons to buy, as many product/services features and benefits, as many compelling arguments as possible in order that something that you say will resonate within your target market’s psyche and move them into the buying phase. In effect you’re blasting them with everything that you’ve got, in the hope that something sticks. However – clay pigeon shooting aside – The Shotgun Approach doesn’t work. Perhaps it used to, though I’m not even sure about that. We’ve all been subject to the sort of marketing messaging that I’m talking about. Overly-wordy email blasts, confusing advertising, hopelessly-jumbled slide presentations. The end result is an impersonal, confusing mish-mash of corporate rhetoric and buzzwords that …