As a Information Technology MD, its very critical for you to understand developing brand strategy is extremely critical. The most important asset your company has is its brand. Quite simply, it drives the direction of your business. So you should definitely have a well thought out brand strategy in place.
Increasing competition in business develops similar products with good quality from different manufacturers. But only an effective, innovative and Business Network & planning can make your business and products more popular.
For your profession as Information Technology MD it becomes your responsibility to stay connected with like-minded supporting industry experts who can guide and help you deal with your day to day work issues.
Marketing Strategy - How to Plan Your Advertisement
If you are entrepreneurial in nature owning a business is very exciting adventure. It can also be the most difficult thing for you to get into if you are not prepared.
I am often asked, "How do I know that I am getting the most bang for my buck when running an ad in any particular advertising vehicle?" The answer here is that it depends. There are many factors to consider in determining if you are on the right track. Following are some tips that will help you.
1. Determine Your Ad Campaign Goals
What is your goal for your advertising campaign? Are you trying to create awareness? Do you want to generate traffic to your website or store front? Do you need X amount of leads to come from your campaign? Do you want to create a certain amount of sales for a new product or service? Determine what you need your ad to do for you then design your ad with the goal in mind.
2. Determine Your Budget
When I ask my clients about their advertising budget, I am often presented with this blank stare. It is very important to determine what the advertising budget is throughout the course of a year, and stick to it! Break out your budget and determine what you can spend per month. It's common sense, I know but many people don't do this in their business. Then go back to determine, based on upcoming events, what advertising needs to take place and when. Remember that it's okay to mix in other marketing vehicles such as internet ads, workshops, article marketing or public relations. These activities do not take a chuck out of your budget to implement.
3. Have Your Target Market In Mind
Who is your target audience? Where do they live? Where do they work? What is their income bracket? What is their marital status or age group? What are their habits? The answers to these questions will greatly help you determine which marketing vehicle to use based on their demographics. For example, if you find that most of your customers are into skiing, then you may want to advertising at a ski resort, in a ski magazine, exhibit at a conference or tradeshow that targets skiers or advertise on a billboard next to a ski shop.
4. Give Your Ad Time
So, how much time should you give your ad to do its job you ask? Again, the answer is, it depends. Monthly and quarterly marketing vehicles will require longer lead times than a local newspaper or radio. Plus, consider your campaign goals. Is your goal to create awareness, then you'll want to plan and run a continuous, steady, balanced campaign. If you are running a special during a specific holiday season for example, you'll want to run intense, concentrated campaigns. For instance, for a landscaper running an aeration promotion during the fall and summer months, he'll run more frequent ads for a few weeks rather than months, and then move to a more steady and poised pace during the summer and winter.
Keeping in mind that people need to see and hear your message several times before it sticks, different messages also resonate with different people. However, if your ad is producing little to no response, the advertising vehicle may not be to blame. Your ad may be the cause. Check that your ad has a compelling offer. Do you have a call to action in your ad? Is it too wordy where your audience glazes right over it? Do you have a catchy ad tagline? Remember, you have seconds to catch the attention of your audience. Are you trying to sell all your products in one ad? Keep your message to one subject and focus on one goal in each ad. Most advertising vehicles will allow you to change your ad at any given time. Test your ad for best results.
5. Measure Your Ad's Effectiveness
Keep track of which ad in what marketing vehicles are producing the best results. If you have a coupon running in various media, put a code at the bottom of each ad that will tell you where that coupon came from when a customer uses it. Have a slightly different offer in different media mixes to determine how a customer found you. Note: Different offers can also effect how will your ad is fairing. If you have one ad offering a percentage off versus a specific dollar amount, the results can differ dramatically. Above all, ask your customers how they heard about you.
5.5 Also, determine your cost of reaching your customers. Using the cost per thousand (CPM) method, multiply the cost of the ad by 1,000 and then divide that number by the size of the audience (your ad representative or advertising agency should be able to give you this information). To illustrate, if your ad cost you $650 to run in your local newspaper and their reach is 22,000, then the cost to reach your customers is ($650 x 1,000 / 22,000) $29.54. Comparing the CPM across various marketing vehicles will help you place your ad accordingly.
By following these simple guidelines, you'll place yourself in a more favorable position to meet your goals, stay on target while producing results, without extending your marketing budget.
Branding Strategies - When a Bargain-Brand Attacks a Premium-Brand
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What is a Brand? Put simply, it defines the identity of an organisation, product or service. It's more than just names and logos. The identity needs to be based on a unique idea and told through a compelling story. It needs to connect with potential customers and form positive emotional bonds. The idea needs to be distinctive from the competition and relevant to the target markets worldview. It also needs to be authentic, meaning that it's not enough to simply make empty claims. The organisation needs to actually live its brand.
Brands increase the value of products and services by differentiating them from the competition, creating positive mental associations and forming emotional relationships with the customer. Philip Kotler from the Kellogg School of Management famously said that "if you are not a brand, you are a commodity. Then price is everything and the low cost producer is the only winner."
Competing on price may increase short-term sales, but is a dangerous strategy for anyone serious about building a profitable, sustainable business. Brands provide businesses with the means to free themselves from constant price competition, increase the value of their services, reduce their marketing costs and develop long-term customer loyalty.
Building a successful, sustainable brand requires careful planning and consistency. It needs a strategy. Brand strategy is the plan that defines defines the ideas and stories behind the brands, the structure and relationship of the brands within the organisation and the core identifying elements. These can include elements such as company and product names, tone of voice, logo's, colour schemes etc. It also provides the framework for implementing the brands throughout the organisations operations and for using them to efficiently work towards the businesses goals. It's not just a cosmetic exercise; it's a key element of business strategy.
With a clear strategy in place, managers can make appropriate, co-ordinated, informed decisions not just in marketing, but in all departments from product development through to customer service and recruitment. This process of embodying the brand idea throughout the organisation is what we call branding.
The beauty of branding is that by telling your customers authentic, compelling stories, you not only make your goods more attractive and valuable, you give your customers something to talk about. Humans naturally love to tell and share stories. By giving them good stories to tell, you gain access to what is by far the cheapest and most effective form of promotion - word of mouth.
Few organisations manage to achieve the full benefits of word of mouth, and worse still, for many organisations it spreads more negative stories than positive. To compensate for a lack of positive word of mouth, organisations spend huge sums of money on ineffective marketing exercises. Without an effective brand strategy these exercises are often unfocussed, inconsistent and unauthentic. Consequently, they rarely pay for themselves, let alone make a profit.
So what is the role of marketing? To a large extent, branding is the antithesis of marketing. Branding is the most effective way of generating positive word of mouth, making it both cheaper and more effective than traditional marketing techniques.
Marketing without a clear brand strategy is a chaotic, costly exercise that in essence is little more than shouting and showing off about your products and services. People don't like or trust show-offs. If you want to make an impact, you need to talk to them like grown ups. With exposure to thousands of marketing messages every day, consumers have become largely immune to meaningless promotional messages, filtering them out and filing them in their mental recycle bins.
However, there is still a place for marketing and in many cases, marketing is part of the branding process as it provides a means by which to spread the brand story. This explains why there is so much confusion regarding the difference between them. Marketing used to be about the promotion of products and services. Successful marketing now focuses on the promotion of brands.
If an organisation developed a perfect brand idea but did nothing to promote it, then no one would ever have heard about it. The story would never spread and the strategy would be unsuccessful. It's therefore important to combine the strengths of both branding and marketing in order to reach your target market.
The most successful organisations combine a confident and forward thinking idea with a robust and organised strategy. They then use carefully targeted marketing to help get their story out. The success of their brands means that as time goes on, the need for formal marketing reduces and the effectiveness of any existing marketing increases, thus paving the way for increased profits and organisational growth.
In conclusion, brands are a key element of building profitable businesses with long-term sustainability. When executed well, they increase sales, add value to products and services and reduce marketing costs. They also give focus to a business, boost staff morale and increase share value.
Building successful brands is not simply a cosmetic exercise. They need to be consistent, true to the organisation and embodied throughout their activities. This is only possible when a clear brand strategy is in place to act as a framework for their implementation, and to ensure that they are always working towards the business goals. Marketing has its place as a tool for promoting brands, but once they have made a connection with the core of their target market, successful brands can sell themselves through word of mouth.
Networking has always been considered a powerful tool for improving business prospects, advancing a career, and developing ideas. Other than some brief, structured events, networking has been mostly informal and inexpensive in comparison to cost they otherwise spend on different channels. But membership is growing in many formal, long-term networking groups, and so is the price tag.
Our groups are not groups for generating sales leads, nor are they places where individuals can drop-in to gain quick advice on an immediate challenge. Members also sign a confidentiality agreement and benefits from the guided mentoring to help each other.
These groups include an experienced facilitator and use a structured discussion method to ensure appropriate participation.