Four Steps To Better Data-Driven Marketing

Data Disruption By Greg BonsibCheck out the newly published Mighty Guides eBook Data Disruption and my chapter on data-driven marketing.

Data has always played an important role in marketing. What has changed in recent years is the sheer volume of data now available from so many different sources.

If we were once challenged to see the forest through the trees, we’re now challenged to see the forest through the leaves.

“I look at data strategically, with the essential premise that the customer is the ultimate focus of interest.”

Here at Zenith, we primary sell our products through our network of retail partners. We do have a product website, but it is not a major source of our sales. In my role at Zenith Products Corp., I look at data strategically, with the essential premise that the customer is the ultimate focus of interest. With that in mind, I have a four-step approach to using data in customer marketing:

  1. Start small. For example, we often use Amazon Services (AMS) ads to test the effectiveness of promotional strategies. We will focus on a product or a phrase or an idea and watch how it performs. By doing so, we can create a test with a focused objective, and we can keep the cost of our tests very low. Amazon Webstore provides an excellent data environment in which to try something small at low cost and capture meaningful performance data around it.
  2. Test and learn. By keeping the test small and the cost low, we can try many different variations. For instance, I used AMS to test category ads, product ads, brand ads, ads based on search words, ads based on competitors, even ad placement that AMS recommended. The good thing about this method is that Amazon provides data that allow us to track ad performance directly to Amazon Webstore sales. In this way, we can identify ad strategies that perform well and those that are total duds. Failures are as important as successes. The best-performing ads returned $5 in sales for every $1 spent on marketing—a 500 percent return on investment (ROI) on marketing spend.

“In this way we can identify ad strategies that perform well and those that are total duds. Failures are as important as successes.”

  1. Build on success. Using the proof point of a 500 percent marketing ROI, I can then build that ad concept into a larger marketing strategy that involves product packaging, in-store promotions, and many other things. Then, I start looking at other kinds of performance data. For instance, if a store is running a promotion on a product, I pay close attention to the halo effect of that product on the sales of other products.
  2. Document your knowledge. It is incredibly important to document what you do. Documentation enables you to build a body of knowledge about what works and also to share that knowledge through your organization.

The power of this kind of data-driven marketing is that when you have data that prove your strategy, you can gain credibility and resources to do it again.

Key Lessons for Better Data-Driven Marketing

  1. When testing ideas, it is important to create a test that has a focused objective and to keep the cost of tests low.
  2. The power of data-driven marketing is that when you have data that prove your strategy, you can gain credibility and resources to do it again.

Good Selling!

Greg Bonsib is an author of the new Mighty Guides Ebook Data Disruption.

Are You Throwing As Much As You Can Into The Marketplace, Hoping People Will Buy?

Changing Your PerspectiveDoes your traditional way of selling − your “selling chain” − always start with your products?

Of course, you present them to your potential customer be they retailers, distributors, corporate buying offices, contractors, etc. And, I’ll bet you are telling great stories about how good those products are for your customers.

But let’s be honest. You are reactive to those customers. Too often, when they say jump, you’re asking how high.

You may be afraid to take price increases, wary of losing volume.  Your products and programs are all aimed at their needs. You wait and hope that they take your products and market them – for you – to their customers, and you hope even more that your products reached their final destination: consumers.

I’ll bet you support these efforts with elaborate marketing plans, POP materials, promotions, sales literature, and more. You also may communicate with consumers through TV, trade magazines and promotions.

Are You Throwing As Much As You Can Into The MarketplaceYou may call it pull marketing, demand generation, or selling through, but what you are really doing is simply producing and throwing as much as you can into the marketplace, hoping people will react and that consumers will buy.

That’s a lot of wasted money and effort. Some even call this the “black hole” of marketing spend. (Your Ops team may even claim that every dollar they save through cost improvement is squandered in marketing.)

Changing Your Perspective A New “Selling Chain”

Time For ChangeYou need to turn your perspective completely around.

Instead of starting with the customer, start with the consumer. Now we ask them what they need. Strive to understand their problems and concerns, and determine their needs, at the retail level.

Task your teams to provide products and solutions that meet those needs and drive everything from new product development to merchandising and POP materials.

The better you understand your end consumer’s needs, the easier it is for you to communicate, and the consumer to accept, your products as a solution to their problems. Only then do you focus on calling on the next level, contractors and builders, working your way up the chain.

Share with them what the consumers shared with you, and show how your products are meeting their customer’s needs. Then, just like you did with the consumer, find out what are the builder’s needs, and show them you can help them stand out from the competition and sell more homes by providing solutions to their problems.

Next, work your way up to the distributor and retailer. As before, share with them what the consumers, builders and contractors are sharing with you. Tell the distributor about the tools you provide to meet everyone’s needs, about the products, solutions and systems that will help them make more money − solutions and systems that apply all the way up the pipeline.

Task your teams to provide products and solutionsIf you’ve done your job, you shouldn’t have to tell distributors and retailers much at all. They’ll already know about your products and solutions from their customers. They’ll know you talk to their customers, and their customer’s customers, and are creating demand for products they sell.

And all you’ve done is reverse the direction of the “Selling Chain,” and changing your story from one that highlights product features and turned it into how you’re introducing a simple approach to solving consumer problems.

Differentiating Yourself on Something Other Than Price

Differentiating Yourself On Something Other Than PriceDistributor and retailers still buy “product” and think in terms of discounts, profit, and “What’s in it for me?” But now, instead of increased profits from lower cost of goods, you can bring them higher profits from increased sales.  You can demonstrate this by telling them:

  1. What the consumer is telling us
  2. What the builder is telling us
  3. What the contractor/remodeler is telling us

Then show them the tools you have to meet those needs, including products, solutions and systems to help them make higher profits. Because they know that you have been talking with consumers and builders, they will be receptive to your presentations.

Listening to the Future

Listening to the FutureThere’s an old saying in sales that says, “We never make a mistake when we make a decision in favor of the customer.” The basis for that philosophy is formed by putting the customer’s needs first.

Remember that you need to think about your customers broadly…consumers, distributors, retailers, dealers, contractors, builders, the investment community, and so on. A customer-driven company defines their customer as broadly as possible…opening up incredible opportunities and difficult challenges.

A customer driven company also knows what their customers want in their terms, not their own. They have an external focus and bias to all they do.  They will do things in the short term that are costly in support of their customer needs, knowing full well that they will repaid 1000 times over

Task your teams to provide solutionsIt’s good to have these perspectives as part of a company philosophy, but it’s equally important that you remember that if you listen closely to the customer and put their needs first, you will benefit from a preferred position and market share while achieving outstanding customer satisfaction.  And it will touch every aspect of your company, including quality, brand, service and value.

Focusing on the customer is a key to your future – for without them, you have no future.  Any time you hear a customer request, listen closely, that’s the future talking.

Good Selling!

Active Search Results (ASR) is an independent Internet Search Engine using a proprietary page ranking technology with Millions of popular Web sites indexed.

9 Simple Principles To Avoid Badvertising

How to avoid badvertisingBadvertising, or bad advertising, is all too common. Companies know they should be advertising to get their brand or product in front of potential buyers, but too often they miss the mark.

Sometimes it’s an effort to cram too much into one ad (I explore this problem in my post 5 Simple Tips for Creating More Effective Advertising). Other times it’s just creativity run amok.

“This is going to go viral” must be in someone’s head. Perhaps it does, but only by bloggers who watch for examples of badvertising. (Yes, they are out there. Let me know of your site if you’re one of them.)

Follow these simple principles to avoid bad advertising.

1.    Don’t pay to talk to yourself.

Media costs real dollars. Don’t waste them patting yourself on the back. Your prospects aren’t sitting around waiting to hear, act or believe anything your company has to say – especially if you’re busy talking about yourself.

2.    “You can’t bore people into buying your products.” – David Ogilvy

Why pay to blend in? Campaigns based on “quality” and “service” as well as other cliche ideas are guaranteed not stand out from the babble of the marketplace. Challenge yourself by translating USP’s in a new and interesting way.

3.    Don’t target your audience.

To comprehend this you must understand the “missing moose theory.” Come September 1st, the first day of moose hunting season, Tom Bodett doesn’t see any moose in Homer, Alaska. It’s because their being targeted. In other words, don’t target your audience or they’ll run, too.

4.    Don’t talk out of both sides of your media at one.

Establish a brand personality and stick with it.

5.    Don’t promise the moon, unless you’re NASA.

People know hype when they see it, and it turns them off. The best ads are about real situations with real benefits being addressed.

6.    Acknowledge that nobody roots for Goliath.

Nobody cares if you’re number one if your product doesn’t benefit them. So don’t flaunt you market position, even if you are number one.

7.    Eat jumbo shrimp.

There are no rules in advertising. Ads that break out of the norm are winners.

8.    Swing for the fences.

Nobody remembers Babe Ruth as the “Strike-Out King.”

9.    Fail.

Don’t be afraid to miss once-in-a-while.

Great advertising communicates powerfully. Badvertising is shouting for attention.

Avoiding badvertisingUltimately, you want to create advertising that will do one of these three things:

  • Build your brand
  • Generate leads
  • Drive sales

The temptation is to have it do all three.

Work to make your advertising meaningful by telling your story in an engaging and relevant way that will activate a relationship to create a customer (hopefully for life). The provide a simple, clear call to action.

Do you have other ways to avoid badvertising?  One of my favorites is this post from Miriam Hara in her Hoop!a blog: Bad Advertising: It’s Not In The Brief.

Active Search Results (ASR) is an independent Internet Search Engine using a proprietary page ranking technology with Millions of popular Web sites indexed.