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7 P's of a Positive Marketing Strategy

Posted by Production Productive IT on Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Once you've developed your marketing strategy, there is a "Seven P Formula" you should use to continually evaluate and reevaluate your business activities. These seven are: product, price, promotion, place, packaging, positioning and people. As products, markets, customers and needs change rapidly, you must continually revisit these seven Ps to make sure you're on track and achieving the maximum results possible for you in today's marketplace.


To begin with, develop the habit of looking at your product as though you were an outside marketing consultant brought in to help your company decide whether or not it's in the right business at this time. Ask critical questions such as, "Is your current product or service, or mix of products and services, appropriate and suitable for the market and the customers of today?"

Whenever you're having difficulty selling as much of your products or services as you'd like, you need to develop the habit of assessing your business honestly and asking, "Are these the right products or services for our customers today?"

Is there any product or service you're offering today that, knowing what you now know, you would not bring out again today? Compared to your competitors, is your product or service superior in some significant way to anything else available? If so, what is it? If not, could you develop an area of superiority? Should you be offering this product or service at all in the current marketplace?


The second P in the formula is price. Develop the habit of continually examining and reexamining the prices of the products and services you sell to make sure they're still appropriate to the realities of the current market. Sometimes you need to lower your prices. At other times, it may be appropriate to raise your prices. Many companies have found that the profitability of certain products or services doesn't justify the amount of effort and resources that go into producing them. By raising their prices, they may lose a percentage of their customers, but the remaining percentage generates a profit on every sale. Could this be appropriate for you?

Sometimes you need to change your terms and conditions of sale. Sometimes, by spreading your price over a series of months or years, you can sell far more than you are today, and the interest you can charge will more than make up for the delay in cash receipts. Sometimes you can combine products and services together with special offers and special promotions. Sometimes you can include free additional items that cost you very little to produce but make your prices appear far more attractive to your customers.

In business, as in nature, whenever you experience resistance or frustration in any part of your sales or marketing plan, be open to revisiting that area. Be open to the possibility that your current pricing structure is not ideal for the current market. Be open to the need to revise your prices, if necessary, to remain competitive, to survive and thrive in a fast-changing marketplace.


The third habit in marketing and sales is to think in terms of promotion all the time. Promotion includes all the ways you tell your customers about your products or services and how you then market and sell to them.

Small changes in the way you promote and sell your products can lead to dramatic changes in your results. Even small changes in your advertising can lead immediately to higher sales. Experienced copywriters can often increase the response rate from advertising by 500 percent by simply changing the headline on an advertisement.

Large and small companies in every industry continually experiment with different ways of advertising, promoting, and selling their products and services. And here is the rule: Whatever method of marketing and sales you're using today will, sooner or later, stop working. Sometimes it will stop working for reasons you know, and sometimes it will be for reasons you don't know. In either case, your methods of marketing and sales will eventually stop working, and you'll have to develop new sales, marketing and advertising approaches, offerings, and strategies.


The fourth P in the marketing mix is the place where your product or service is actually sold. Develop the habit of reviewing and reflecting upon the exact location where the customer meets the salesperson. Sometimes a change in place can lead to a rapid increase in sales.

You can sell your product in many different places. Some companies use direct selling, sending their salespeople out to personally meet and talk with the prospect. Some sell by telemarketing. Some sell through catalogs or mail order. Some sell at trade shows or in retail establishments. Some sell in joint ventures with other similar products or services. Some companies use manufacturers' representatives or distributors. Many companies use a combination of one or more of these methods.

In each case, the entrepreneur must make the right choice about the very best location or place for the customer to receive essential buying information on the product or service needed to make a buying decision. What is yours? In what way should you change it? Where else could you offer your products or services?


The fifth element in the marketing mix is the packaging. Develop the habit of standing back and looking at every visual element in the packaging of your product or service through the eyes of a critical prospect. Remember, people form their first impression about you within the first 30 seconds of seeing you or some element of your company. Small improvements in the packaging or external appearance of your product or service can often lead to completely different reactions from your customers.

With regard to the packaging of your company, your product or service, you should think in terms of everything that the customer sees from the first moment of contact with your company all the way through the purchasing process.

Packaging refers to the way your product or service appears from the outside. Packaging also refers to your people and how they dress and groom. It refers to your offices, your waiting rooms, your brochures, your correspondence and every single visual element about your company. Everything counts. Everything helps or hurts. Everything affects your customer's confidence about dealing with you.

When IBM started under the guidance of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., he very early concluded that fully 99 percent of the visual contact a customer would have with his company, at least initially, would be represented by IBM salespeople. Because IBM was selling relatively sophisticated high-tech equipment, Watson knew customers would have to have a high level of confidence in the credibility of the salesperson. He therefore instituted a dress and grooming code that became an inflexible set of rules and regulations within IBM.

As a result, every salesperson was required to look like a professional in every respect. Every element of their clothing-including dark suits, dark ties, white shirts, conservative hairstyles, shined shoes, clean fingernails-and every other feature gave off the message of professionalism and competence. One of the highest compliments a person could receive was, "You look like someone from IBM."


The next P is positioning. You should develop the habit of thinking continually about how you are positioned in the hearts and minds of your customers. How do people think and talk about you when you're not present? How do people think and talk about your company? What positioning do you have in your market, in terms of the specific words people use when they describe you and your offerings to others?

In the famous book by Al Reis and Jack Trout, Positioning, the authors point out that how you are seen and thought about by your customers is the critical determinant of your success in a competitive marketplace. Attribution theory says that most customers think of you in terms of a single attribute, either positive or negative. Sometimes it's "service." Sometimes it's "excellence." Sometimes it's "quality engineering," as with Mercedes Benz. Sometimes it's "the ultimate driving machine," as with BMW. In every case, how deeply entrenched that attribute is in the minds of your customers and prospective customers determines how readily they'll buy your product or service and how much they'll pay.

Develop the habit of thinking about how you could improve your positioning. Begin by determining the position you'd like to have. If you could create the ideal impression in the hearts and minds of your customers, what would it be? What would you have to do in every customer interaction to get your customers to think and talk about in that specific way? What changes do you need to make in the way interact with customers today in order to be seen as the very best choice for your customers of tomorrow?


The final P of the marketing mix is people. Develop the habit of thinking in terms of the people inside and outside of your business who are responsible for every element of your sales, marketing strategies, and activities.

It's amazing how many entrepreneurs and business people will work extremely hard to think through every element of the marketing strategy and the marketing mix, and then pay little attention to the fact that every single decision and policy has to be carried out by a specific person, in a specific way. Your ability to select, recruit, hire and retain the proper people, with the skills and abilities to do the job you need to have done, is more important than everything else put together.

In his best-selling book, Good to Great, Jim Collins discovered the most important factor applied by the best companies was that they first of all "got the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off the bus." Once these companies had hired the right people, the second step was to "get the right people in the right seats on the bus."

To be successful in business, you must develop the habit of thinking in terms of exactly who is going to carry out each task and responsibility. In many cases, it's not possible to move forward until you can attract and put the right person into the right position. Many of the best business plans ever developed sit on shelves today because the [people who created them] could not find the key people who could execute those plans.

Excerpted from Million Dollar Habits


Content Strategy Explained

Posted by on Friday, July 26, 2013

Content Strategy sounds like something that’s reserved for the Fortune 500 companies. It scares many people because they’re not sure what it is or whether they can actually do it. However, the good news is that it’s an easy thing to do, and it can make a great opportunity for a small business to define what they’re trying to do with the digital medium. It also gives direction to what’s usually a chaotic attempt at Online Marketing. Even right here in Montgomery, Alabama, your business can still use Content Strategy to gain more clients and produce more revenue.

Content Strategy includes a few different areas, like design, development, marketing, SEO, and others. You probably aren’t an expert on all of these, so it’s better to get the right people in the room before you start writing this.

Why am I creating ‘Content’, anyway?

The stuff you’ll create is called ‘Content’, and it includes everything from writing articles to filming videos for YouTube. It’s all content, and it’s all valuable to your business in tons of ways. Your business probably won’t be able to create every type of content, so you’ll get better results concentrating on one or two types. If your website design allows you to have a blog, I would recommend you use it for this purpose.

A simple example would be a local coffee business. They don’t have a large budget, so YouTube videos and a Podcast about Coffee wouldn’t be feasible—but they could write about the newest flavors they produce and make a few videos about their process, which would provide results faster than just text. The video and articles would get traffic from Social Media, which means more customers.

How often are you creating your content?

If you’re filming video, chances are it’s a one-time deal. Most businesses can’t afford to produce monthly videos about their business—but that’s okay, since it isn’t worth it for most people.

I’d suggest you choose to write a few articles per month or per week. It takes effort to follow through with this, and consistency is key to writing. Only set a schedule that you’re willing to stick with in the long-term. One article every two weeks, or even one article per month is okay, as long as you’re consistently posting it on time. Make sure your website design is designed so that it features your content prominently!

I’m already too busy! Why should I add this?

It’s easy to talk about this stuff, but once it comes to taking responsibility, most people take the easy way-out: ‘That sounds great, but I’m too busy, already!’.

The truth is that you should make time for it. You’re leaving money on the table if you attempt anything online without truly setting goals and responsibilities. You’re risking confusion and loss of income that could be coming from new customers. In the long-term, it’s worth it to make some time to sit down and work this stuff out. You’ll be glad you did in six months’ time.

Who is responsible for this stuff?

It’s important to clearly define who is responsible for creating your content, and what they should be creating.

If your secretary is responsible for updating the blog—well, what should she be writing about? Her vacation? She needs relevant topics to your business, and guidelines on what is and isn’t okay for her to write about. This prevents confusion and hurt feelings down the road.

Tell the person responsible how often they should be creating your content, and where they should post it. Give them access to Social Media for your business so they can promote the articles.

Next Week: Define Your Goals

Next week we'll continue this series by talking about Defining Your Goals, and how you can get the most benefit out of your site without having to spend hours working on it.

Stop by and talk with us about how your business can benefit from Content Strategy! We're available anytime during business hours at 334-356-3561, or come by if you're in Montgomery, Alabama!


5 Tips to Make Twitter More Effective for Your Business

Posted by on Friday, June 28, 2013

Twitter is one of the largest social media networks today, and it’s quite possible that many of the people you know at least have an account on Twitter. If you’re like most small businesses, then you might have an account just for your business. Maybe you even post a few times per month.

However, simply having an account isn’t enough to build your business, there are a few things you’ll need to do in order to get the most out of your effort, and make Twitter start working for you, and build your business’s brand:

Make your Twitter name easy to say and remember.

This matters. When you’re talking with someone, make sure your Twitter Handle (your account’s name) is easy to say and understand, as well as remember. SuperCompanyDesign is much easier than SuprDesgnCompanyLLC1. Avoid numbers, abbreviations, or other excessive variations (EX: 5Up3RD351GN instead of SUPERDESIGN) unless they’re an integral part of your business name.

If your company’s name isn’t available, get in touch with the account holder and see if they’re interested in selling the name. (NOTE: this is technically against Twitter’s Terms of Service, so it should used as a last resort. Your mileage may vary!)

If your name isn’t available, try variations. For example, SuperDesign probably isn’t available, but perhaps SuperCompanyDesign is. ExtremeSports isn’t available, but maybe ExtremeAlabama, or ExtremeSportsAlabama is.

Be sure to keep it as short as possible. You want your handle to be short enough to tell someone as they’re hanging up the phone, or as they’re walking away, and still be understood.

Like this:

...Okay, we’ll confirm that meeting tomorrow, but If you need to speak to us quickly, just send us a Tweet at SuperDesign. Have a nice day!

instead of:

... Okay, we’ll continue talking about it tomorrow, but if you need to talk with someone again before then, just send us a tweet at ‘S’ 1 (the number 1), ‘U’, ‘P’, 3 (the number 3),...

It flows much easier in conversation—which is a good thing!

Tweet Often, and Consistently.

If you’re not willing to tweet at least once per week, then it’s not worth the effort to create an account. People generally aren’t willing to follow an account that only posts a few times per month, unless you have some really engaging content. You better be giving away stuff like it’s 1999.

You should at least be posting once per week, but once or twice a day is average, and usually returns good results. The best time to post your best tweets (giveaways, sales, or other things that you think will generate mentions) is usually around 1:00 - 3:00 PM for your target audience. If you’re looking to gain followers that work in the Night guard industry, you might consider varying your post times. Otherwise, it’s best to stick to sometime in the early afternoon.

Talk about Relevant and Interesting Content in Your Industry.

Don’t talk about your cat unless you’re in the pet business. Don’t talk about your car unless that’s relevant to your business. (You’re a mechanic, car salesman, or the like.) This keeps your tweets targeted to a specific audience, and your account will be more likely to gain followers faster. Nobody wants to follow a business account that just talks about personal stuff. Generally, there’s no value there, it’s simply polluting their feed.

However, that isn’t to say that people don’t like any sort of interaction in the human form at all. People tend to favor accounts that have a human quality to them, so occasionally commenting on relevant events in your areas is acceptable and encouraged!

Interaction on Twitter is the Key to Success.

While simply consistently tweeting is a great start to building your brand, It’s when you start interacting with other people that it really becomes a valuable way to spend your time. When someone mentions your brand, make sure you respond to answer their question(s) if they have any, or add something to the conversation they’re having with someone else. The more you talk with others, the more your followers will be engaged with your brand.

Be careful about Who you Allow to Tweet for Your Business.

There are numerous articles written about the disasters that have befallen businesses that don’t follow this suggestion. All it takes is for one person managing your Twitter feed, and suddenly everyone knows about the inner workings of the business, and what’s happening internally. Make sure to place someone responsible and qualified in charge of Social Media, or it could mean disaster later on!

If you’ll follow these few tips on making Twitter more effective for your business, you’re much more likely to see results quicker than simply having an account. Just be consistent, and make sure to respond to people that ask you questions, and you’ll have a fantastic experience!


Why Responsive Design Matters

Posted by on Friday, June 21, 2013

Responsive Web Design—If you’re not familiar with the term, that’s okay. Many people that aren’t intimately aware of websites haven’t yet heard of it.

Basically, Responsive Web Design is a technique to building websites that gives the client a much more efficient, effective, and robust website, while reducing the time it takes to build a website, depending on the particular needs of the project.

Understanding Responsive Web Design involves realizing just how many devices are currently being used to view your website. If your website isn’t responsive, and someone on a mobile phone goes to your website, they may see a jumbled mess of text and images, instead of your clean, effective site. This is because mobile devices (as well as iPads) use a different process to show you the website, and this difference causes tons of poorly built websites to become nearly unusable. So it’s vitally important that you update your website to be responsive, if your budget permits. Otherwise, you’re losing customers that would otherwise be purchasing products, or calling for your services.

If your website isn’t already using Responsive Design, let us help you get your website up-to-date and starting making your website more effective for your business!


Tis the Season for New Media Holiday Marketing

Posted by Production Productive IT on Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Media Marketing

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that we are on the cusp of a huge wave of holiday marketing. Companies typically plan months in advance for this time of year when customers are willing to spend a little more in the “spirit of the season.” However, with social media becoming an increasingly more prominent part of that mix some business are turning to more innovative ways of grabbing your attention than a simple commercial or magazine ad.
Retail businesses especially are methodically introducing new QR code campaigns, social media widgets and augmented reality apps by the buckets this year. We thought we’d share a few examples of those doing it well that might serve to offer some inspiration for your own season marketing campaign.

Starbuck’s Cup Magic

Macy’s Believe-o-Magic

JCPenney’s Who’s Your Santa?

That’s not to say businesses can’t still use traditional media to be creative – most of the samples here are done in coordination with print and TV campaigns. In fact, the 2011 Toy ‘R’ Us Christmas campaign is focused primarily on the “vintage appeal” of their 1980s commercials as well as Sunday newspaper inserts. The important thing to remember is that, regardless of the tools used, marketing your business is about creating unique, branded experiences for your customers.


How's Your Reception? Advice on Tuning into the Right Marketing Channels

Posted by Production Productive IT on Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Marketing Channels

First off, I suppose we should begin by defining what a marketing channel is and how they work. Marketing channels, in short, are the ways in which you communicate with potential customers on a daily (sometimes even hourly) basis. Knowing what some of the basic channels are and how they operate can make them powerful tools for managing your marketing efforts both online and off.

Most marketing companies would agree that there are four primary channels (with Mobile quickly becoming a fifth channel). These four channels are as follows: Physical, Web, Social, and Email. Despite a few similarities, these four channels each pose a unique opportunity to convey your marketing (or brand) message and can even expose your business to a previously new audience.


As its name would imply, the Physical marketing channel refers to any outlet in which you or your brand make a physical connection to a potential customer in the real world (sorry, the Matrix doesn't count). This channel could include Affiliate Marketing, Sales/Cold Calls, and Print Advertisements (magazines, newspapers, billboards).


In the world of online marketing there are a plethora of ways to connect, but specifically for the Web marketing channel we're referring to generating content (text, images, video). This content is, for the most part, static which means that it is more of a one-way path of communication. In other words you're sending a message out to potential customers that allow them to act, but not respond. Strategies in the Web channel typically include Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay-Per-Click/Banner Advertising, Online PR, and Blogging/Article Writing.



Within the Web channel lies the Social marketing segment which, moreso than Web, focuses on providing content that allows for an open discussion online. Social marketing has received a lot of attention thanks in part to the popularity of platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. Although these are the most popular platforms, there are literally countless others that each cater to their own audience (including our very own River Region Online). The thing to remember about Social marketing is that it requires constant maintenance. Interaction is key here and simply creating an account just won't do.


In conjunction with Social marketing, Email Marketing offers one of the most effective methods to cultivating a loyal customer base that finds value in your message. Email marketing is also one of the most inexpensive channels, considering that many services now offer integration with many of the Social channels such as the aforementioned.


Back in January (2011: The Year of Mobile Marketing?) we mentioned the growing emphasis of Mobile marketing on the advertising industry and how you might be able to take advantage of it for your business. Although the mobile boom hasn't quite reached its max potential, it would be unwise to overlook the potential exposure this channel offers with the ability to place your message in the pockets of countless customers.

Next time...

In the next post we'll discuss some ways in which to use each channel to the best effect and how to identify what types of customers are most receptive to which channels.


2011: The Year of Mobile Marketing?

Posted by on Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mobile Marketing

Apparently it's supposed to be the next big thing. Everyone in the industry has either been talking about it, blogging about it, or tweeting about it. Heck, I even attended a lecture the other day about it by David Grayson from Atlanta-based LSN Mobile! But what, exactly, is mobile marketing and why is it important to your business?

At its core, mobile marketing is nothing new. Ever got one of those annoying late night text messages from some company touting their latest effort to save you money (but not sleep)? That's essentially mobile marketing; however, perhaps not the best example. Mobile marketing is, when used properly, a permission-based form of marketing that empowers a customer to decide whether or not they want "opt-in" to receive your marketing message. If they agree, you’re in. If they don't, at least you’re not wasting your time, money, and effort on someone who isn't interested.

Unlike television, print, radio, or even the web, mobile marketing relies mostly on overtly simple actionable ads that drive customers to either A) subscribe or B) take action. This action could be to call your 1-800 number, visit your mobile website, or even download your latest app. Regardless of the call to action you are prompting them to take must be simple and easy enough to complete on the go. An example provided during the lecture I attended used mobile coupons to influence the shopping habits of customers in real time, offering what is known as a “double opt-in” to capture both the customer’s attention as well as their contact information with the promise of more discounts in the future.

Even small businesses can get into mobile marketing!

As the technology of mobile phones (particularly smart phones such as the iPhone and Android), not to mention the iPad and similar tablets progresses, we can most certainly expect more sophisticated methods of marketing opportunities to emerge. Companies such as Foursquare have already lead the charge for using more location-based social media through the power of mobile technology in 2010, as did Gowalla, and that trend doesn't appear to be slowing down. In fact, mobile marketing has the uncanny ability to connect all other forms of marketing in a personalized, cohesive way and as technologies such as 4G improve, I can only imagine that we’ll be given bigger and better solutions of what kind of immersive marketing potential the mobile arena holds.

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