The Power of Positioning

Positioning is one of the many “P”s in the list of multiple “P”s associated with marketing.  If you haven’t given much thought to how your product, product line or service is positioned, you might want to do that.  And remember that positioning is not what you think you are saying to your prospects and/or customers, but rather what they perceive as your positioning. Because no matter how clever you try to get, prospect/customer perception is reality as far as they are concerned. Watch this video.

Think about a commodity product like gasoline. ARCO positions itself as a supplier of “good” gas for your car at the lowest price. Chevron/Texaco positions itself as a supplier of GOOD gas that will keep your car’s engine clean and prolong its life. There is no mention of price. ARCO sells a lot of cheap gas at (relatively) low margins. It aims for the frugal consumer. Chevron/Texaco probably sells less total gas per location than an ARCO station but has (relatively) higher margins.  It aims for the more affluent consumer. Both companies are making billions of dollars per year in profits.

Both companies are selling the same product.  A product that serves the same purpose. Yet they are clearly positioned differently.  And both positions seem to be successful.

Think about a company like Starbucks.  They don’t position their cup sizes as small, medium and large.  They are tall, venti and grande. You might bristle at paying $3.15 for a “small” mocha when you can get one at McDonald’s for a lot less. But for a “tall” one?  Well, that’s a different thing altogether. Coffee, chocolate syrup, milk, whipped cream, cup. 12 ounces. The differences?  Positioning and, of course, price (which is another one of the critical marketing “P”s).

There are many other examples of positioning for maximum market share and maximum profitability. If you have an example you’d care to share, we’d love to hear about it. Please do leave a comment.  And think about your product, product line and/or service positioning. It is truly important. Thanks for reading (and watching).


The Instant Strategy Session Offer

NOTICE:  This blog post is promotional in nature.

Getting the right marketing planning and marketing strategy consulting help doesn’t have to be a long, difficult process. Many times it’s possible to solve a whole host of problems and answer a whole slew of questions in an hour over coffee in an informal atmosphere. Check out this quick video.

That’s what the Instant Strategy Session is designed to do for you.  You bring your questions — and $125 — and I’ll buy the coffee at a time and place here in Portland that’s convenient for you. And we’ll get into it.  We can talk about any or all of your questions, problems and issues.  From basic marketing planning to messaging to social media implementation to media selection. Let me help you grow your business.

If you are not in Portland, we can do it by phone, email or video chat.

Call me today at 503-877-4609 or use the Contact Form to schedule your session.


The Power of Planning

The Power of Planning:  How to stop throwing darts in the dark — a short video.  Text is below.

I have some words for you today on The Power of Planning. If you don’t have a formal marketing plan you are most likely wasting time and money in your marketing efforts. You’re like someone throwing darts at a dartboard while in the dark. You might hit the board occasionally, but it will be by sheer chance. Do you want to be someone who depends on sheer chance for success? Do you think throwing darts in the dark is a good way to score points? Is your business growing as fast as you’d like? If not, and you don’t have a formal marketing plan, you might want to stop throwing darts in the dark. Get rid of the dark.  Call me for help with your marketing planning. I’ll help you see the light and grow your business through better marketing strategies. Visit now for more information. Stop throwing darts in the dark!

9-1/2 Rules of Marketing

I recently had the opportunity to hear Cathey Armillas, author of The Unbreakable Rules of Marketing, speak about her 9-1/2 rules of marketing and I have to say that I was impressed. Impressed first with her ability to boil a very complex subject down to a small number of specific reminders for all of us in the marketing world and impressed secondly by her ability to explain the reasons for those rules.

For those of you not familiar with those rules, I present them here (with Cathey’s permission):

1.  Consistency beats ability 
2. Perception is reality
3. Be creative or die
4. The medium is not the message
5. Work hard to keep it simple
6. Give love to get love
7. Emotions rule the world
8. Go big or go home
9. Everything is marketing
The 1/2 rule:  Know the rules and now when to break them.

I share these rules with you because I think they make a lot of sense.  Too often we get caught up in tactics before we work out a real strategy. Or know what our unique message is.  And who needs to hear that message.

In my marketing plan and marketing strategy consulting work, I emphasize the need for setting the goals before establishing the strategies and, especially, before executing tactics. It was gratifying to hear Cathey reinforce that philosophy.  She is clearly not in the “fire, aim, ready” class of marketing strategists who don’t find out what your business is all about, who your target markets are, what you really need to do and how you need to do it before recommending a course of action.  She will question the heck out of you to get to what you are really all about before attempting to help you build a strategy. Very professional.

Cathey’s Rule 6 — Give love to get love — is really the reason for this blog post. She gave of herself this morning and I wanted to share her wisdom with you. I’ve included a link if you want to buy her book.  It’s a good investment.  And no, I don’t get a commission!

Thanks for reading and please don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts about this post with me. I look forward to hearing from you.

The Power of Free

The word “free” in your email subject line can get your electronic missive sent to the recipient’s spam folder in a hurry. But free is a powerful draw in many ways. I’ve become acutely aware of the power of free over this past week because I’ve heard and read so many examples and seen so many offers.

I use MailChimp for my newsletters. It is free. Unless I exceed certain numbers or want extra features.  Then I’ll have to pay the way I would with other email programs. But if I got to the point where I needed to pay for these features, would I switch email programs or just pay MailChimp (where my cleaned list resides, my templates reside, my learning curve has been conquered, etc.)? I think I know the answer.  You probably do to0.

I use ZoHo for my customer relationship management (CRM) purposes.  It is free.  Unless I exceed certain numbers or want certain extra features.  Then I’ll have to pay the way I would with other CRM programs. If or when I get to the point of exceeding those numbers or needing those extra features, will I switch to another program or stay with the one I started with?

I just got an ad for free video project production and hosting. Up to a small number of videos with a modest bandwidth allowance for people viewing them.  If I start with this company, am I likely to switch later?  Not likely!

When you go to the grocery store you get free samples of stuff to taste. Even at Costco, where you can try pizza, cheese, crackers and all kinds of other things while you buy paper towels and paper plates. Do you need that special artichoke-parmesan dip?  No, you don’t.  But it sure tastes good.  Might as well get some while we’re here spending a lot of money anyway.

The local bakery gives you bites of breads, cookies, muffins, cupcakes and other pastries. The deli department at the grocery store gives you samples of meats, cheeses and salads. Do these sample increase their revenues?  You bet they do!

How many free e-books have you downloaded in the last month or so?  Or free videos?  All of these free things are designed to entice you to buy the products or contract for the services of the sellers.  They want to give you a taste of what they can do for you so that you will feel comfortable committing to the paid product or service. Not enough info for you to do everything yourself, mind you, but enough to get you to realize that the result you get will be better with some professional help, experience and advice than you’d get doing it on your own.  And probably faster, too, than if you have to do all the research and learn how to do what an expert has done many, many times.

So think about free. Not only its impact on you, but its potential impact on your business if you can find the right thing(s) to give away. An interesting proposition, don’t you think. Comments solicited. One free gift card to your favorite coffee shop for you if I like your comment best.


The Power of Involvement

Have you ever given a presentation designed to persuade some people to pursue a particular course of action and been met with silence and blank stares from your audience members?  In plainer language, have you ever given your sales pitch only to have it fall on blind eyes and deaf ears?

If this hasn’t happened to you, you either (1) haven’t given enough presentations, (2) are so charismatic that everyone hangs on your every word or (3) you learned early on in your career the value of involvement. The most successful marketing and sales professionals know deep in their guts that they must get the prospect/customer to open up and respond to them during each and every interaction. Even negative responses provide information and additional opportunities to overcome objections or uncover new needs or wants.

Those who market and sell products or services for a living, which is almost anyone in business, have been taught from day one to ask open-ended questions.  Not “May I help you?,” which provides only two answers, one of which you don’t want. More like “How may I help you?,” which gives the prospect or customer the chance to articulate his or her needs or wants.  Not “Would you like to buy now?,” which still has one answer you don’t want and calls for a decision the other party might think is fraught with risk.  More like “Do you think the walnut or the mahogany style would look better in your living room?,” where a simple preference answer moves the prospect ever closer to the ultimate buying decision.

I had the opportunity recently to give a presentation to 20+ people at a lunchtime networking meeting. I’ve watch and given hundreds, if not thousands, of presentations and I know that succeeding depends very heavily on audience involvement. Beginning a presentation with a question relevant to the members of the group is one of the simplest and best ways to evoke participation as early as possible during your presentation. So is dividing a group in half and getting them to compete with each other using questions or game-style presentation methods, which is the method I used for this occasion. And it was a big hit according to the feedback I received.

How do you know what kinds of questions to ask?  You have to do your homework!  You have to know what is likely to pique the interests — or set off the passions — of the members of the group to whom you are speaking.  So research is a vital element in the preparation of your message to your listeners. Because the wonderfulness of your graphics and the slickness of your presentation style will buy you nothing if it is not perceived to be relevant by those on the receiving end of it.

The same is true for any and all of your marketing tactics. Or do you have another opinion?