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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

“Me Too” Marketing

Differentiation

Positioning your business as simply an alternative to your competition with little or no differentiation is often referred to as "Me Too" marketing.

Lots of us make this mistake and if you feel like you’re the only one, look at Microsoft and Apple. Even the mighty Microsoft is "me too"-ing Apples computer personification campaign with their own "I'm a PC" ads.

Check out the videos side-by-side and see what I mean on JDM's website.

In the meantime, here’s the fundamental problem with “me too” marketing. When buyers are comparing similar products and services they look for businesses that are different in a way they value. No differentiation, little or no additional value.

Here are a few marketing tips to make sure you’re differentiating and not a "Me Too."

Scope out the competition

Before you can effectively differentiate yourself from the pack, you have to understand what everyone else in the space is up to. Conduct a simple analysis by gathering the marketing materials from all your competitors. Identify their key messages and special offers.

Once you know how your competition is attempting to differentiate themselves, you can identify and evaluate your similarities and differences. If you find a great deal of similarities, you’re “me too” marketing and it’s time for an overhaul. If you find little similarities, it’s time to message your key differences.

Take a walk in your customer’s shoes

My favorite primary research activity is the "secret shopper." It works as well for B2B and as for B2C. Enter your own sales and marketing pipeline under another name and see what you find out. Try returning a purchased product or getting a refund for a service paid for but not rendered.

Taking a walk in your customer’s shoes will give you valuable insight into the effect of that bureaucracy that only makes sense on white boards and corporate retreats as well as providing a deep understanding of how the purchasing process really works.

Consider also, taking a walk in your competitor’s customer’s shoes.

Get a personality

In homogeneous, commoditized markets, a little personality goes a long way. Consider giving your brand an image, an attitude or a figurehead. Whether in the form of the tone of your content, the accent of the voice over or the wardrobe of the spokesperson, it’s important that it provide the Brand with more than an identity, but a personality.

Slightly-related reads on differentiation and positioning:
See Apple's "I'm a Mac" video side-by-side with Microsoft’s me too Video "I'm a PC" on JDM’s website: http://www.marketinghasevolved.com/tips_me-too.php.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Burger King Crown Card

BK Gold Card

At JDM, we’re equally huge fans of customer acquisition marketing as well as customer retention marketing. Burger King’s "Gold Card" is an excellent example of both types of marketing in the same activity.

The Burger King "Gold Card" entitles its owner to a limitless supply of free food from any Burger King. The card is presented to celebrities who are "good friends" of the Brand.

Jennifer Hudson, for example, was a former employee at Burger King before becoming a celebrity. Robert Downy, Jr. received a gold card after mentioning Burger King in an interview. Jay Leno also has received one and describes the reaction upon flashing his card:

So I ordered my food, and the guy says, "That’s $11" So I say: "Fine, here you go," and hand him the card. His reaction was amazing: "Whoa…where’d you get this?" He was not impressed that I was on "The Tonight Show" or even that I was driving a Porsche Carrera GT. He was more impressed with this piece of plastic.

This is brilliant marketing from BK. It presents the Brand in an accurate light. Creates celebrity customers and uses free publicity to get the word out.

What’s smarter still is that in 2006, BK released the "Burger King Crown Card" to the public. It’s a glorified BK Gift card, but when associated with the real, celebrity-only Gold Card, it’s a powerful incentive.

Gift card and pre-paid card marketers could learn a lot from this kind of prestige marketing.

Learn more about PR as a marketing strategy by registering to download, "Easy Online Public Relations Marketing."

You too can impress your friends with your own BK Crown Card at bkcrowncard.com.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Online Reviews

OnlineReviewsLong understood in B2C marketing, reviews are sometimes your best friend and other times your worst enemy. Today, online reviews are becoming more and more popular for B2B businesses--and so they should.


What's powerful about these reviews is their inherent credibility. Anyone can post a comment or submit a review and there are numerous cross-referenced online business listings including Citysearch and MerchantCircle.

Each review provides prospects a peak behind the vial of your own marketing positioning. What's counter-intuitive is that it's true what your PR firm has been saying all along, "There's no such thing as bad publicity." Good or bad, these reviews provide uncensored visibility into your business and give your prospects a chance to see for themselves.

Here's a couple tips for rolling out this marketing activity:

Solicit reviews from happy customers

Rarely is there much you can do about a bad review. You can, however, stack the deck in your favor by asking for reviews from satisfied customers. Their reviews are worth more than all the hand-picked customer testimonials in the world.

4.5 Stars beats 5 out of 5

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. The same goes for reviews. The reviews don't have to be over-the-top. No one would take them seriously. During solicitation, ask for honesty.

Look at locals

When prospects are looking for businesses of your description in a given area, most online local listings come with reviews. There's no better time to show off your rating than when the prospect has already found your business in their desired area.

Some of JDM's favorite locals and listing sites:
Look into putting online reviews into your marketing mix. They're not just for B2C anymore.

Monday, September 8, 2008

6 Unknown Rules of B2B Marketing

1. There's nothing worse for an inferior product or service than great marketing.
Believe it or not, marketing must support and promote the product or service as it is and not as you wish is was. Positioning an inferior product or service as anything but will spell long-term disaster.

2. Selective employee involvement is a must.
Employees are not always the best marketers, but those who demonstrate that they are "business developers" and have insight into market opportunities should and must be consulted if marketing is to reach its full potential.

3. The name of the game is quantity AND quality.
The key to long-term business success is to respond to a large quantity of qualified customer requests. Pre-qualifying based on a "looser" criteria will limit strain on your resources and increase your hit percentage.

4. Outrageous often works.
Consider outrageous promotions both for their memory retention potential as well as mass media attention-getting power.

Learn all about outrageous promotions on our Innovative Marketing Tips page: "No One Can Resist a Monkey!"

5. Fall in love off stage.
Hard, cold calls and customer request responses will keep you busy and direct marketing will keep you top-of-mind, but falling in love with a profitable business partner happens off stage. Get in front of them; provide targeted value at each and every encounter and you’ll quickly have them seeing stars.

6. Have a little fun.
B2B marketing can get a little dry over time. Add personality and interest to your marketing materials and cut through the clutter of the other, dry materials in the space. It will prove as fun to develop as it proves an effective marketing activity.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Is Google Chrome Worth Its Weight in Gold?

Today, Google released Chrome.  Google Chrome is an Internet browser that combines the minimalist design we all associate with Google as well as some pretty sophisticated technology under the hood.

The browser is completely free and available for download here.

From a web development standpoint, it’s worth downloading the brand new browser to ensure your website is still compiled correctly.  However, Chrome is built on the same rendering engine as Apple’s Safari browser (WebKit), so if it looked alright in Safari, you’re golden.

Will Chrome dethrone Firefox?  Will Internet Explorer face a fierce competition?  Download, take it for a test drive and let us know if Google Chrome is worth its weight in gold.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Don’t Punk Your Own Product

Vista Gets PunkedEver since Windows Vista's release, it's gotten bad review after bad review. To make matters worse, a recent study released by InfoWorld reports 35% of Windows Vista users are downgrading to Windows XP! As a counter-ad campaign, Microsoft launched "The Mojave Experiment."

The experiment took a bunch of regular XP users who were afraid of Vista and told them Microsoft was going to show them a secret new operating system called "Mojave," but it was really just Vista in a different box. Unsurprisingly, these people mostly said they liked Vista.

Coming from a family of scientists, I can’t help but attack the validity of the ‘experiment’ on two grounds.

The Placebo Effect

When I was a bartender in college, I would always run into customers who thought their drinks weren't strong enough and wanted to be over-poured. I quickly learned that I could just take the drink behind the bar, stir it and hand it back. They would invariably exclaim, “Thanks so much. That’s much better.” That’s the Placebo Effect.

If we are told something is new-and-improved, it’s human nature to prime ourselves to believe it (Check out Blink by Malcolm Gladwell to learn more).

No Control Group

The second reason this ‘experiment’ isn’t scientifically valid is that there is no control group. There is no group to compare against to rule out the Placebo Effect. What they could have done was video XP people on XP machines disguised as the new “Sahara” OS and compared their reactions to the “Mojave” group’s.

So What? Don’t Punk Your Own Product!

So the "data" gathered from this "experiment" are not scientifically valid. So what? This is a viral marketing activity designed to look like a scientific experiment. Who would look at the Pepsi Challenge taste tests as scientifically relevant? It’s just a promotion.

What’s really interesting about The Mojave Experiment is how Microsoft is trying to combat bad publicity by essentially saying, "Try it yourself. Don't just listen to the negative reviews." That’s a campaign strategy--not a strong strategy, but a strategy.

However, the tactic of ‘Punking’ your own product, rather than promoting its benefits, well, that’s not strong. Look at Apple’s ads and you’ll see that each and every one of them promote their product’s benefits.

Benefit-focused advertising is Marketing 101 and Microsoft should know better by now.

Learn more about psychology and marketing in our new white paper, The Psychology of Marketing :: Minus all the Psycho-Babble. Learn more and register to download the white paper on our new website.

 
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