The 5 Elements of Marketing – Part 4 – Messaging and Competitive Positioning

Brand Messaging

What is competitive positioning?

It is creating a message that will differentiate your company from your competition.  In order to do this, you need to understand what the competitors are saying about themselves as the reason to buy from them.  As a Marketing Consultant, I do this kind of analysis all the time.  It is extremely enlightening.

I am often amazed when looking at the websites of the competitors of a client.  Sometimes, these websites don’t give a single reason to buy from them.  They simply say what they do or what they sell.  I ask myself, do they really get any business from a website like that?  Then there are other competitors that do give a pretty convincing reason to buy from them.  Depending on the industry, the size of the companies that are competitors of my client becomes important.  The larger the competitor, the more likely they are to get their message out to the potential customers of my client.  I need to craft a message to beat all of the competitors (if possible) but particularly the larger competitors.  Most of the time though, we are only going for a subset of the market and we need a message that resonates with the exact group we are trying to sell to.  Just remember that trying to sell on a low price as a small company is not likely to keep you in business very long as it is highly unlikely that you are the lowest cost provider.

Why is it important?

You need your messaging to stand out from the crowd.  You need your messaging to be persuasive.  You need messaging that will resonate with potential customers.

What is messaging?

It is the thing you say that gets the prospective customer to call you and buy from you.

As a Marketing Consultant, I can tell you that competitive positioning and having the right message is essential to success.  Of course, it needs to support your Marketing Strategy.

 

Bryan B Mason

Apollo Consulting Group, Providence, RI

My Article Published by the RI Small Business Journal – 5 Steps to Improving the Customer Experience with Good Service

January 2018 Cover

Please take a look at an article I wrote that was just published in the January edition of the Rhode Island Small Business Journal print and online versions (www.RISBJ.com).  In it, I describe five steps to provide good service in order to enhance the customer experience.

See the full article on page 11 of the January issue at

https://issuu.com/gillantini/docs/risbj_v7_no1_issue_proof

I write extensively about the importance of improving the customer experience.  A key element of a good customer experience is having good service.

These are the five steps to improving service:

  1. Hire the right person
  2. Instill a culture that values diversity
  3. Training
  4. Sweat the details
  5. Be gracious

Bryan B Mason

Apollo Consulting Group, Providence, RI

Business Insurance: The Safety Net Your Small Business Needs

The Need For Business Insurance

This article describes the different types of business insurance that you may need.  However, as a business consultant, I can tell you that almost every business needs a basic business insurance policy that covers liability and property damage.  This can be very inexpensive, as low as $350 per year, depending on your situation.

Do you have insurance for your small business?  If not, you’re not alone.  Fewer than three in 10 small business owners in a recent survey by Manta and Insureon have a business owner’s policy, the basic business insurance that covers general liability insurance and commercial property insurance to protect you from loss…

See the full article at https://www.smallbizdaily.com/business-insurance-safety-net-small-business-needs/

The 5 Elements of Marketing – Part 3 – Branding

Brand Creation

Branding

A brand is, of course, the identifier that distinguishes a company or product from its competitors.  It has five main parts:

Brand Promise – This is the promise you make to consumers and what they can expect.  At Domino’s it is “We GUARANTEE – Fresh hot pizza, delivered in 30 minutes or less, or It’s FREE!” Think Apple with its sleek design and simple operation.  The brand promises not only a great product, but also a great buying experience and a great service experience.

Brand Perception – This is how the customer perceives the product.  Again, Apple is the very epitome of tech cool.  When you buy it and are seen with it, you feel cool and leading edge.

Brand Expectations – With your promise, you set an expectation.  You need to meet that expectation with each and every interaction or the customer will turn away from your product and seek one that does meet their expectations.  Has anyone made use of the Apple “Genius Bar”?  What about Zappos – Powered by Service.  Do you know anyone who had a bad experience with Zappos?

Brand Persona – Brands embody a persona.  Think about a specific person who personifies a brand you like.  What is that person like?  Why are you attracted to it?  Apple and Microsoft have very different personas. Think about it.

Brand Elements – These are the logo, color scheme, design, the tag line and even the packaging.  This is what you always think of when you think of a brand.  Think again about Apple – “Think Different”, etc.

 

Why is a Brand Important?

Customers will pay more for a branded product.  So you can typically have a higher profit margin.  It is easier to sell products and services when you have a strong brand.  The customers are often pre-sold when the walk in or call.  Customers will come to you!  Wow!  Doesn’t everyone reading this column want customers to come to them?

As a Marketing Consultant, I can tell you that building a brand will reap great benefits over time.

Bryan B Mason

Apollo Consulting Group, Newport, RI

How A Minimum Wage Hike Could Actually Benefit Your Small Business

Rising Buying Power

This article talks about the benefits a higher minimum wage can bring to small businesses.  See the full article at:

http://smallbusinesspulse.com/2018/01/25/minimum-wage-hike-benefit-business/

In the last two years, more than 20 states and an even greater number of cities have passed laws to raise the minimum wage. More states and municipalities are expected to do so in 2018…

The 5 Elements of Marketing – Part 2 – Unique Selling Proposition

Unique Selling Proposition

USP

Unique Selling Proposition

A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) describes the unique benefit or benefits the customer gets from the company’s products or services.  The USP must be meaningful to the customer.  The USP is designed to differentiate your company’s products and services from the competition and to have them stand out in terms of competitive positioning.  It provides the answer to the question of why a customer should buy from you.  It can be based on many things including product quality, service, location, etc.

As an example, my Unique Selling Proposition is that I have developed a process called the Apollo Profit Acceleration Technique and that it is the fastest way to identify and realize the profit potential of any company.  In short it is the fastest way to increase profits and it is unique to Apollo.  And it works!

This last point is most important, the USP must be real.  You need to be able to show it, do it, etc.  It needs to create real value for the customer.  It must have a high perceived value.

Your USP is a central pillar of your Marketing Strategy.  As a Marketing Consultant, I highly recommend you spend as much time as needed to get your USP right.

Bryan B Mason

Apollo Consulting Group, Providence RI

The 5 Elements of Marketing – Part I – Marketing Strategy

marketing consultant

Marketing Strategy

Today I begin a five post series defining the five elements of marketing.

Marketing Strategy

Most of my clients need more customers, or more importantly, more of the right kind of customers.  The first step is to develop an effective marketing strategy.  A marketing strategy is the overall game plan for reaching people and turning them into customers for the product or service the business provides.  It defines the groups of potential customers.  It defines the characteristics of those customers.  The successful execution of a marketing strategy seeks to create the sustainable competitive advantage identified in the business strategy.  A marketing strategy is a critical prerequisite to the development of a successful marketing plan.

To do this properly, there must be sufficient information derived from a review of customer needs, competitors, opportunities, consideration of all of the internal and external environmental factors, identification of constraints (resource and other) and the evaluation of other factors including technological, economic, legal or political.

Marketing strategies can be based on a large range of differentiating factors but they all boil down to what is unique about your offering (product quality, service, location, etc.).

As a Marketing Consultant, I cannot overstate the importance of having a sound marketing strategy.  Next week I will discuss the second element of Marketing – the Unique Selling Proposition.

Bryan B Mason

Apollo Consulting Group

My Article Published by the RI Small Business Journal – How to Fund Your Business

Rhode Island Small Business Journal

 

Please take a look at an article I wrote that was just published in the December edition of the Rhode Island Small Business Journal print and online versions (www.RISBJ.com).  In it, I describe potential funding sources when you are (1) funding a new business, (2) funding for expansion and (3) funding to meet current expenses.

 

See the full article on page 11 of the December issue at

https://issuu.com/gillantini/docs/risbj_v6_no11_issue_proof

Bryan B Mason

Apollo Consulting Group

I am giving a Free Seminar – Profitability Checkup 1/18/2018 in Wakefield RI

I am giving a free seminar at the Southern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce in Wakefield RI on January 18th. at 12:00 and includes lunch.  It is free and all are welcome and you don’t have to be a chamber member to attend.  The topic is a “Profitability Checkup for Your Small Business”.  Also speaking will be Mark Collins on “How to Get Your Website to Rank in Google on Page 1.  You can sign up using this link:

http://web.srichamber.com/events/Lunch-Learn-w-Apollo-Consulting-Group-and-OnWebLocalcom-3535/details

or call the Chamber at (401) 783-2801

Who said there was no such thing as a free lunch?  Sorry, that was an Economist’s joke.

 

Over-Challenged?

Business Consultant

Over-Challenged?

Around this time of year, and especially on new year’s day, a lot of small business owners reflect on their successes and challenges in the year just past.  I like to ask two questions.

  1. Are you Over-Challenged and spend a lot of your time just putting out fires and managing your cash flow?
  2. Are you working too hard but not achieving the results that you want?

As a business consultant, my customers come to me with a range of challenges that they are trying to overcome.  Some of the most common are the following:

  • Need to get more customers
  • Need to increase profits
  • Need a roadmap to get their company to a successful future
  • Not sure how to get their company to stand out above the crowd
  • Losing money
  • Poor cash flow
  • Operational inefficiencies
  • Poor customer service or poor customer responsiveness
  • Need to figure out how to price their product or service
  • Experiencing delays in launching new products or services
  • Lack the control over operations they need
  • Fragmented information for decision making

There are three main reasons that they are seeking help.  The first is that they think they understand the problem but have been unsuccessful in overcoming it.  The second is that they have come to understand that they don’t have the expertise to solve it.  The third is that they don’t have the time to solve it.

As a business consultant, I have found that there is typically more than one problem going on at the same time and that the solution to one problem may compound a different problem cancelling out the positive effect the business owner was trying to achieve.  I have also observed that many business owners have considerable expertise in creating their product or delivering their service but don’t necessarily have all the skills on their team to address issues they are unfamiliar with.

I resisted the urge for all of 2017 from having anything in my blog that looked like self promotion.  With this post, I am going to make an exception and urge you to get some help to overcome your challenges and seize your opportunities rather than just chip away at your problems.  After all, the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome.

I make it easy.  I come to your location, and we discuss your challenges.  I assess your situation and come back with an approach to untangle the issues and address them one by one.  It costs you nothing and there is no pressure or obligation.  So what are you waiting for?

I wish all of you great success in the new year.

Bryan B Mason

Apollo Consulting Group