marketing tactics

Know your market

I was recently struck by an awesome site.

Of the 15 restaurants located directly around and opposite a prominent theatre in Russell St, Melbourne, one stood out. It wasn’t particularly flashy, it didn’t have dancing girls or promise discount beer, it offered something which none of the others did: A Pre-theatre dinner special.

The price was under $20 for a three course meal and was all designed to be served and consumed with enough time for you to make your way to your theatre seat and be settled in by the time the curtain raised. How fantastic. Not one of the other restaurants were offering anything remotely targeted to the tens of thousands of annual theatre patrons.

The restaurant owners clearly know their market – or at least a key niche subset of it – and they’re standing out as a result. And not only do they know that some of their current market are consumers theatre goers, but they’re directly marketing to other theatre attendees who may want their products and services.

So what are you doing in your business and marketing activity to gain ground on your niche markets? Where and what are your opportunities? What are your current consumers already telling you about themselves that you could use to then go after more of those niche’s? Are a subset of your core database keen golfers? – Why not think about affiliating with a golf course? Or a golf retailer? Not only will you demonstrate you care about a core niche and make them happy – potentially reducing consumer churn – but other golfers might become new consumers of your products and services.

This is the perfect time to analyse your data and try to find what’s working, who’s buying, where your core strengths are and where they might be next.

For example are you sure you know:

  • Who your market is and the core niche subsets within it?
  • Are there lesser niche subsets which you could appeal to to make them ‘core’?
  • Have you assessed what your niche market(s) want?
  • Do you already know what they want?
  • Do you already provide it or a variation of it but just aren’t marketing it effectively?
  • If you’re not currently offering what they want is it something you can provide?

It’s times like that this that some companies fold and some flourish. Understanding where your current dollars are coming from and, based on the data your consumers are already telling you, where new dollars could come from is key to being in the latter group.

Trust me* I’m a brand

So, do you, do you trust me?

If not, why not? I said ‘trust me’, isn’t that enough?

Would you trust me more if you knew me? Would you trust me more if we’d done business together in the past? What if I helped you buy your first car or your first house? Would you trust me then?

Or were you prepared to trust me until you saw that little asterisk?

It’s amazing that in the whole world of marketing and advertising nothing else quite says ‘serious strings attached’  like an asterisk.

You see it everywhere and we accept it everywhere, all the time, but an asterisk next to the company’s offering instantly changes the perception the public has about that product or service. An asterisk can be one of the most corrosive things to a me, i'm a brand

If everything you say to your target market has an asterisk next to they’ll know that you’re not really saying what you’re saying. Instantly your offer is too good to be true. In effect you’re giving them a half truth, a partial reality, you’re trying to polish up your offer and make it as attractive as possible, but in truth what the brand is saying isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and the chances of the consumer realising the full benefits of the offer is very low, if at all.
And it goes way beyond ‘batteries not included’ – at least Mattel say that in the commercials and on the box.
Think about, for example, ad’s for banking products – home loans and credit cards spring to mind – isn’t there a better way to display terms and conditions for the products being pushed?
It’s not a banks fault of necessarily, there is legislation and rules around how financial information can be presented and marketed, lest the public fall prey to unscrupulous lending or borrowing practices – not just anyone can offer you 18% interest on a credit card used to pay for a packet of cigarettes and a full tank of diesel you know, you have to be approved to do that.

But surely companies from all industries could be a little more honest and open? Isn’t that what consumers want?

In previous lives I’ve done marketing for products and services that needed some serious disclosure but where possible we always tried to avoid that corrosive asterisk. And often you can get around it, but often with many products I see an asterisk being used because the aesthetics of the campaign material may be slightly disrupted.

It’s been my experience and that of my marketing colleagues that when we’re working for companies that have products that don’t require an asterisk, or when the products do have regulatory stipulations about making people aware of terms and conditions we avoid where possible using an asterisk and using phrases like ‘terms and conditions apply’ etc instead. Consumers of those brands have a much closer brand affinity and are much happier in their purchasing and they generally, but not always, are more happy to spread word of mouth (old school viral to anyone whose birthing is on youtube)  because they feel, to an extent that you’ve been honest with them. Similarly retention rates tend to be higher and acquisition is an easier process too.

I guess I wanted to write about this as we’re in the eye of the global financial storm. I can’t help but think that if many hundreds of brands (companies) around the world had been  a little more honest in the past five year maybe the globe wouldn’t find itself in the situation we are today.

And isn’t gaining a consumers trust, not just producing a glossy veneer, one of the major points of marketing?

Loyalty only comes through trust > trust is only gained by honesty > honesty can only be built by being as open as possible. Being as open as possible means that sometimes you need to display things the way the consumer really wants them.

I think marketers, as the representors of companies, one of the front line information providers, need to take a more responsible approach in the future to regain the trust of consumers.

So, I guess the question begs: do you trust me now?

Terms and conditions: This is a nonbinding offer which includes, but is not limited to, trusting me. I accept no liability for any loss associated by your decision to trust me, i.e. If I say I’ll meet you somewhere but I’m five minutes late, I’m not going to compensate you for five minutes, but I’ll probably buy the first round of beers. Me saying ‘sorry’ does not automatically make me 100% liable for anything including, but not limited to, your bumped knee, broken nail or a headache which you may or may not be experiencing.

Seth on bread at TED

I never get tired of watching Seth Godin at TED, talking about bread.

It’s fantastic and during the financial crisis marketers and general managers should watch it over and over and over.

It’s easy to get swept up in social networking but it’s important to remember the roots of marketing and what you’re ultimately trying to achieve.