Marketing Strategy Overview

All successful products or brands need well-planned marketing strategies in place to ensure that they satisfy the goals set by the corresponding business unit or geographic level and, in turn, the overall corporate marketing strategy.

Marketing strategy is therefore one of the most crucial Aspects of sales and marketing and gets its own book in the SMstudy® Guide series. The book shows how marketing strategy defines a product or brand’s unique value proposition, target markets and the specific strategies to be used to connect with defined audiences. It also specifies the pricing and distribution strategies for a product or brand and outlines the specific metrics, objectives and budgets for its marketing activities.

The well-planned marketing strategy includes a set of outputs from the eleven marketing strategy processes described in the Marketing Strategy book of the SMstudy® Guide. These outputs appear throughout strategic planning to help provide overall direction for marketing initiatives designed to support the promotion of the company’s products or brand.

Here is an overview of the important processes and outputs related to Marketing Strategy:

Marketing Strategy’s second chapter, “Analyze Market Opportunity,” discusses the concepts related to analyzing the internal capabilities of a company and factors of the external environment that impact the business. An analysis of market opportunities is important because businesses operate in dynamic and constantly evolving environments. Understanding the changing landscape and trends impacting a business helps in developing an effective marketing strategy. Crucial factors to consider while analyzing a market opportunity include defining the market within which a company intends to operate and segmenting the market to identify potential customers for the company’s product portfolio.

The processes associated with Analyze Market Opportunity are Determine Strengths and Weaknesses,Determine Opportunities and Threats and Define Market and Identify Market Segments. Each process is explained in detail using its associated inputs, tools and outputs. Analyze Market Opportunity helps an organization understand what it can deliver so that it can fulfill customer needs.

The third chapter, “Define Competition, Targeting and Positioning,” first explores identifying the competition, understanding industry trends and creating future competitive scenarios that help in selecting target market segments. It then looks at creating a differentiated positioning statement for the company’s products or services for the target segments selected. Competitive positioning tools help define how a company can differentiate its product offerings to create value in the market by fully understanding its target segments and the competitive landscape.

The chapter outlines three processes that help an organization understand market competition, target appropriate market segments and define product features that help create a differentiated positioning statement for the products or brands of the company: Identify Competition, Select Target Segments andCreate Differentiated Positioning.

Marketing Strategy’s fourth chapter is “Determine Pricing and Distribution Strategies.” A pricing strategy properly prices a company’s products or services so that the company can sustain profitability while maintaining or growing its market share. Developing a pricing strategy involves assessing the value of the company’s products based on their features; analyzing the pricing and features of competitive products in the market; analyzing the consumer mindset, which takes into account demand and price expectations for the products; and considering anticipated unit costs, sales and profitability. A distribution strategy defines how a company moves a product from creation to consumption in a cost-efficient manner while focusing on the end users’ needs. The distribution strategy is important because understanding and addressing the needs of the entire distribution channel external to the company ensures that products or services are delivered and sold to customers in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

The two processes developed in the fourth chapter are Determine Pricing Strategy and Determine Distribution Strategy. The pricing strategy is determined for the various products or services of a company. The end objective is sustainable profitability while growing or maintaining a healthy market share. The distribution strategy ensures the most efficient delivery of a company’s products or services to the customer and that the selected strategy is based on the company’s assessment of several alternative distribution channels. These processes are explained with the help of their associated inputs, tools and outputs.

“Determine Metrics, Objectives, Marketing Aspects and Budget Allocation” makes up the fifth chapter and discusses the various metrics and objectives used for sales and marketing such as reach, brand perception, product availability, sales and profitability. It also covers various sales and marketing Aspects including Marketing Research, Digital Marketing, Corporate Sales, Branding and Advertising and Retail Marketing, presenting a framework for allocating targets and budget for each of these Aspects.

The fifth chapter describes three processes using their corresponding inputs, tools and outputs. The processes are Determine Metrics, Determine Objectives and Decide Marketing Aspects and Allocate Budget. In the first process, Determine Metrics, various sales and marketing metrics such as reach, brand perception, product availability, sales and profitability are determined. These metrics help measure the success or failure of the Marketing Strategy. In Determine Objectives, attainable, quantifiable and time-based objectives are determined for all of the metrics selected in the previous process. In the final process, the sales and marketing teams select the Marketing Aspects that will help the company reach its overall sales and marketing objectives. Subsequently, specific objectives are determined for each marketing Aspect and a marketing budget is allocated for each.

With a well-developed and designed marketing strategy, a company can achieve and sustain sales success.

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Can You Really go Viral?

Lately, I have been asking myself, “Why do companies really push their marketers to go viral?” Only 15 percent of marketing material actually goes viral, so why not push for something more realistic? I get that companies want to “Go big, or go home,” but this mindset just wastes marketing dollars.

Going viral literally just means the number of views your campaign reached. So, the obvious choice to get your marketing to the masses is social media. According to Jason Akeny, a contributor at Entrepreneur, “Getting your brand noticed via social media grows more difficult with each passing day. Users upload 100 hours of video to YouTube every 60 seconds and share more than 4.75 billion pieces of content on Facebook every 24 hours. Add to that 500 million new tweets per day, and the chances of breaking through to a wider audience can seem virtually nonexistent.”

The companies that have mastered the art of going viral, such as T-Mobile, Similac and Chipotle also have the marketing budget, for lack of better words, to waste when it comes to focusing on going viral. So, what can small businesses do to reach this same level of success? The truth is going viral isn’t an effective marketing strategy. This may be a hard pill for many to swallow, but it is still possible for those smaller companies to go viral, it just can’t be the end goal.

There is also the misperception that if you produce more content then it has a higher chance of reaching more people. But it will most likely just get lost in the social media ocean of information. Companies need to focus their attention on what their marketers are producing; quality not quantity.

“An assumption can be defined as anything that is considered to be true without proof,” states Marketing Strategy, book one in the SMstudy® Guide. So, going viral is really just that, an assumption. How do we prove how to go viral? As stated in the book, “Competition analysis involves examining the competitive landscape for competing products with a view to understanding the company’s current product portfolio relative to other products and determining opportunities for product differentiation.”

This does not necessarily mean that an analysis should be done for a company’s specific industry, but rather for many industries in order to find that proof. When it comes to creating viral content there is no formula, but evaluating how other companies achieved their success is a good place to start.

Companies that are looking to successfully market their brand (this is what the main focus should be) need to think outside of the box. Madison Avenue has always struggled to market feminine product companies. Women just don’t associate their “special” time of month with dancing on the beach in white pants. In 2013, HelloFlo, a subscription-based company that delivers feminine products right to one’s door launched.

The new brand was barely keeping their head above water when they decided to try something a little different. They decided to be honest. “The Camp Gyno” hit YouTube in the summer of 2013 and within 24 hours it became the ad of the day and reached 6 million views in its first month. Not too shabby for a product that was produced on a small budget.

It is possible for small businesses to go viral, but that doesn’t mean it should be the goal. The goal should be to create quality content that breaks away from the norm and makes people think, laugh, or even cry. Producing a content mill will not reach your prospective consumers, but creating the right content will. Stop wasting your time producing a lot of content when you could be producing the right content. Go ahead, I dare you.

For more information and interesting articles go to SMstudy.com.

 

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Leaky Funnel

Accepting that the sales and marketing funnel will always be leaky is akin to accepting that, despite all efforts, we will not grow taller… or younger. It’s never going to happen, we know this. The marketing funnel will always be leaky, no matter how talented and thorough sales and marketing teams become at plugging the holes. But accept it we must! Since as of today, there is no leak-free funnel and none on the horizon, we all just have to deal.

We learn from SMstudy that the leaky funnel is an analogy. Water being poured from the top represents prospective customers and the water existing from the bottom represents converted customers.

SMstudy states: “Digital media reaches out broadly and acquires potential customers using a variety of online tactics. Marketers then capture information about those customers and begin to target them more effectively with marketing messages and other digital marketing initiatives, and many become qualified prospects or leads. Eventually some of the qualified leads buy the product, thus becoming customers.”

In a perfect place known as “Sales-and-Market Landia,” every dear soul who ever views our ad, not to mention visits our website, would be swirled into our seamless steel-trap funnel with no chance of escape except out the bottom as the proud owner of our product or service, free to roam and spread the good word.

Well, the real world is not “Sales-and-Market Landia,” and most of those who venture into the funnel will ultimately slip through the cracks on their way to the final stage (aka the sale). Leakage numbers vary, but according to Lisa Cramer nearly 80 percent of those who fall into the funnel are never brought to sales. On the bright side or perhaps a cautionary warning, 60 percent of leads who enter the funnel will end up purchasing within the next 24 months… just maybe not via that same funnel.

With figures like these it’s no surprise we find all sorts of advice on how marketers can plug the holes of their own unique funnels. Just google, “plug leaky funnel” and you’ll see what comes back, a bucket load of funnel advice.

Basics such as data analytics and understanding the Point of Loss (POL) and Point of Influence (POF) can help to identify and shore up the holes, and realistic genuine attempts should be made to do so. But at some point, acceptance of a leaky funnel is key to not obsessing over the holes and maintaining your sanity.

David Lund of Marketing Executives Networking Group recognizes the inevitable nature of the leaky funnel and the necessity of accepting said leakage, but still offers these simple steps to increase sales even for a hole-riddled funnel:

  • Put more total people in the funnel.  Your funnel still leaks, but more people in should mean more people out.  If only 1-5% of the people at the top of your funnel actually buy from you or sign up for your services, you need to first focus on improving your funnel rather than putting more people into it.
  • Put more of the right people in the funnel.  You hope to attract and sell more of your target audience.  But, if you don’t clearly understand why they are choosing you, this approach will not be fully effective.
  • Retain more of the right people in the funnel.  By slowing or stopping the leaks in your funnel, you will optimize your efforts to attract and retain more target customers.  This is usually a much more productive near-term effort versus just spending more on ads or offering promotions.

So, ideally, yes, all holes would be plugged and anyone who ever knowingly or unknowingly fell into our funnel would come out the proud owner of whatever product or service was for sale. But that is a myth, a dream straight out of “Sales-and-Marketing landia.” The truth is, despite all our efforts, there will always be holes. Always. But still we plug on!

For more articles on sales and marketing, visit smstudy.com/articles

[Spring Eselgroth, VMEdu staff writer, contributed to this article.]

Photo credit: Catherine, https://www.flickr.com/photos/rumpleteaser/2812559753

Sources:

SMstudy Guide, Digital Marketing, pg.62-63.

Sales Success as an Optimistic Cynic, Tibor Shanto, Pipeliner CRM, July 7, 2015, http://blog.pipelinersales.com/sales-professionals/sales-success-as-a-optimistic-cynic/

The Beginner’s Guide to Identifying Leaks in Your Sales Funnel,” Dale Cudmore, The Daily Egg, June 8, 2015, http://blog.crazyegg.com/2015/06/08/leaks-in-your-sales-funnel/

“How to Reduce Lead Leakage Now,” Lisa Cramer, Marketing Profs, Oct. 27, 2011, http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2011/6227/how-to-reduce-lead-leakage-now

“Do you know where your marketing funnel is leaking and how to stop it,” David Lund, Marketing Executives Networking Group, July 30, 2013, http://mengonline.com/blog/2013/07/30/do-you-know-where-your-marketing-funnel-is-leaking-and-how-to-stop-it/

Lower Your Bounce Rates with SMstudy

The bounce rate (BR) or the percentage of people who entered a website and immediately left, is a popular metric companies use to determine the quality of a webpage.

According to Digital Marketing, Book 2 in the SMstudy Guide®, bounce rate is defined as “the percentage of visitors who leave the first page of a website they encounter without clicking to other pages on the website. A lower bounce rate from a modified advertisement would indicate that customers were leaving the page less often, possibly because they were finding the page relevant to the advertisement. The target bounce rate should be the bounce rate of pages linked to similar advertisements that the company has used successfully.”

So, a BR is not exactly a percentage of people who visited a website and immediately left, but actually a percentage of people who visited a website but then performed no other trackable actions. Technically, according to these guidelines, a person could read a 10-thousand-word article on a company’s website and share it with five hundred of their closest friends without actually performing a trackable action. A common misconception in regards to BR is often the way it is calculated. If a company does not take into consideration the example above, then the bounce rate will appear to be too high.

Once a bounce rate is properly calculated, it’s time to get down to business. User experience should be the first factor a company looks at in the hopes of reducing their BR. People that browse websites are looking for a seamless passage through the site. If a company’s website is confusing, difficult to navigate or causes confusion, people will tend to look for another site they can get around more easily. As the old saying goes, “keep it simple, stupid.” Another easy way to enhance user experience is to ensure the content is relevant and engaging. This can be done by creating videos, images, blog articles, and more.

One additional action that can easily improve a person’s user experience is customizing language to region. As stated in Digital Marketing, “In order to ensure that the marketing message is relevant and reaches audiences around the world, businesses can also customize their ads based on the language preference for their audience. For example, a company providing services in Canada may wish to develop both French and English versions of their ads to target search queries in either official language.”

For more information about bounce rate and how to lower your company’s percentage visit www. SMstudy.com where you can be sure you will be able to take a seamless journey through our website.

[Stephanie Vezilj, SMstudy staff writer, contributed to this article] 

Importance of Questions During Lead Generation Process

Questions are an effective tool for the Needs Assessment for Each Qualified Lead process. Asking questions is especially useful when the qualified lead does not have clearly stated needs.

Even in cases where requirements are documented, questions are an effective approach to gain a better understanding of the need or needs driving those requirements. Questions are also helpful in conveying a better understanding of the lead’s industry. Answers to the questions during this phase serve as inputs for designing, creating, or customizing a solution.

The questions asked during the Needs Assessment for Each Qualified Lead process are generally classified into two types:

Closed Questions – Closed questions can be answered with either a simple “yes” or “no,” or the answer may lie in a single word or phrase. Typical examples of closed questions include the following:

  • Is your annual revenue above $5 million?
  • Does your company use an ERP system?

Open Questions – Open questions require longer answers and cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no.” Typical examples of open questions include the following:

  • What can you tell me about your current business environment?
  • What can you tell me about your manufacturing process?

Needs assessment uses a combination of closed and open questions.

Build Relationships with Negotiation Training

In sales, all that matters is the bond between the seller and buyer. The buyer always finds arguments to have a better deal than the quoted one, and that is when the negotiation skills of the seller comes in! Negotiation skills are much like a language. People who are unacquainted with the concepts and terminology of negotiation may find it intimidating.  With proper training, constant use and practice, it can be learned and mastered.

Negotiation Strategies

  • Distributive Negotiation – This type of negotiation often results in a win-lose scenario. The parties involved in this type of negotiation work towards getting the most out of a fixed value or sum. Hence the gain of one party results in the loss of the other. Say for example, you are bargaining to buy a gift from a foreign trip where you are not going to purchase from the seller again. Given the nature of this strategy, very few negotiations are truly distributive.
  • Integrative Negotiation – This type of negotiation is carried out with the objective of achieving a win-win scenario. The deals negotiated with this strategy are meant to create and deliver value for both the parties by integrating their interests.  Examples for this type of negotiations can be mergers and acquisitions or the relationship between a manufacturing company and its suppliers.

Negotiation Styles

Kenneth W. Thomas identified five styles of negotiation based on dual-concern model.

  • Accommodating – Individuals who emphasize on preserving personal relationships and consider other party’s problems during negotiation.
  • Avoiding – Individuals who do not enjoy negotiation and try to avoid the confrontational aspects of it.
  • Collaborating – Individuals who enjoy the problem solving aspect of negotiation and tend to use creativity to come to mutual agreement.
  • Competing – Individuals who enjoy and dominate the negotiation process.
  • Compromising – Individuals who are eager to close the deal by being fair to all the parties involved.

Preparing for Negotiation

There are four steps to prepare for a negotiation:

  • Consider what would be a good outcome for both parties. The negotiator should determine the interests and objectives of his party as well as those of the other party. This is to done by thorough research or by having a dialogue with the other party. Areas of common ground, compromise and opportunities for favorable trade need to be understood.
  • Learn about the people on the other side before negotiation. Negotiating is an interpersonal activity. Experienced negotiators know this and try to learn as much as they can about the people on the other side. Experience of the negotiators, their negotiation style, their levels of authority, the culture of their organization and the importance of the deal for their organization are some of the things that can help you during negotiation.
  • Gather external information about the deal points and negotiate from your positions of strength. Each side wants to get a fair and reasonable deal at the end of the negotiation. It is a good practice to benchmark with industry standards for the negotiation. There are many criteria for fairness and reasonableness. During preparation, it is essential that the team research the criteria that is more favorable to them and should be ready to show that those criteria are more relevant than other factors.
  • Determine the authority position of the person with whom you are negotiating. Ideally, the negotiator on the other side should have similar authority as the negotiator on your side. To determine the authority of the negotiator on the other side, one must try to figure out the decision making process of the other side.

For more intersting and informative articles on sales and marketing, visit http://www.smstudy,com/articles

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is performance-based marketing where customers or partners, known as “affiliates”, are rewarded for designated actions that help market the brand. This can be a productive way for a company to expand its reach and marketing efforts. There are two ways affiliate marketing is approached: companies offer affiliate programs directly to other companies/individuals, or they can sign up to be an affiliate through another organization. The company that is offering or controlling the affiliate program will pay a commission for every lead or sale the affiliate delivers to the company’s website.

Let’s take an example to illustrate the idea. An individual might mention in a social media post that he or she purchased a product and gain a certain number of reward points for the post. The affiliate marketing program may be structured in such a way that the individual earns certain reward points  for every ten likes or comments on that post. The affiliate can then redeem these points against the company’s products.

Affiliate marketing helps widen a company’s reach exponentially using the most credible medium—existing customers. Websites offering price comparison services, coupons, shopping directories, and virtual currency platforms are the most popular affiliate marketing websites. One of the main advantages of affiliate marketing is that companies can gain more customers with limited budget, since the approach is commission or reward points based. However, there is the possibility that some merchants may incur high commission, maintenance, and initial setup costs, depending on the nature of the business.

Affiliate marketing is different from referral marketing in the way that it uses online marketing platforms—social media, blogs, search engine marketing, and more—to market the product while referral marketing is primarily based on word-of-mouth and relies heavily on trust and personal relationships between existing customers and prospects.

Attracting the right partners is very crucial for the affiliate program to be successfull and in determining the volume that can be expected from the program. Common-place brands, even consumer packaged goods brands, can benefit greatly from affiliate marketing with the help of the right offers and efficient partners. Getting products onto as many sites as possible is not necessarily the most important goal. Marketers must also consider the relevance, value, and traffic of the sites and platforms that one is able to reach.

To learn more about affiliate marketing, visit http://www.SMstudy.com

Get the SMstudy, not Nuts

When creating a brand for your company do not use an American celebrity to shoot chocolate bars at innocent bystanders. Apparently Mars, the company who produces Snickers chocolate bars, did not get the memo.

In July of 2008, Snickers UK launched a commercial starring Mr. T, an American actor and one determined (and brave) speed walker. In the commercial, Mr. T crashes through a building, in what appears to be a supped-up pickup truck, and pulls up alongside a young man wearing tight yellow shorts. Mr. T proceeds to open fire with what appears to be a Gatling gun, pelts his victim with Snickers bar “bullets” and yells, “Speed walking?! I pity you fool. You a disgrace to the man race. It’s time to run like a real man.”

The commercial was pulled after just one week.  The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group, criticized Mars for spreading, “the notion that violence against LGBT people is not only acceptable, but humorous.”

Mars could have avoided this marketing failure by taking a look at Marketing Strategy, book 1 of the SMstudy Guide®. According to the book, “Brand perception refers to how prospective and current customers react to seeing or hearing about a company’s product or brand and how the company is perceived within the market. Leading organizations across industries realize that a powerful brand is one of their most important business assets, so they work hard to maintain a positive brand perception as it helps to increase sales and improve profitability.”

This was the second commercial in a three-part campaign entitled, “Get Some Nuts.” Mars had envisioned Mr. T as the face of the Snickers brand, but instead they were branded the company with the face of homophobia. Snickers could have avoided this issue by performing surveys as explained in Marketing Strategy. “Brand perception can be measured using a variety of approaches, but it is mainly measured via research surveys that question participants about the perceptions of the company and/or its products. Surveys typically gather quantitative and qualitative data. They are conducted to help companies understand how their brands are viewed in the market and to identify the brand attributes that are preferred by customers.”

The intention of the “Get Some Nuts” campaign was to target men and their masculinity. In order to be a real man you need to be tough and aggressive like our good ole pal Mr. T. Mars could have avoided yet another blunder by sticking to Marketing Strategy. As stated in the book, “Once a company has identified all market segments, explored the competition, and then compiled the details of competitive products, it should then analyze the various segments and the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats faced by the company in order to identify the target segments in which the business would be most competitive. This process involves identifying the type of customers a company plans to target and the product categories under which it intends to create products.”

In this case, the campaign did not just humiliate homosexual men, which makes up 1.8 percent of the male population, but also men perceived to be “wimpy”. The campaign only targeted men that are rugged and tough, which does not help a company when it comes to forming target segments.

Companies can benefit from providing their employees with the knowledge that can be found in the SMstudy Guide®. If only Mars had been aware of what a Sales and Marketing certification can do for its company, they may have eluded a very big marketing fail.

For more information and resources about Sales and Marketing visit SMstudy.com.

Catching an Academic Wave with VMEdu

It’s not like riding a Tsunami.

But it is exciting, exhilarating and breath-taking to get in early on one of the disruptions that are rapidly reshaping the world we swim in.

Disruptions that wipe the landscape clear are dramatic and threatening. And they are rare. Disruptive inventions and practices in business and industry happen gradually; so gradually, in fact, that they often seem inevitable. This is a point bestselling author Hugh Howey made in a recent article about the state of publishing: “All manner of publishing has been greatly disrupted, but it’s often hard to see because what has changed is what’s now missing from our lives. And these missing things have not disappeared all at once. Rather, it’s been a gradual vanishing.”[1]

The world of publishing—which Howey says includes such products as encyclopedias, maps, those liner notes in albums and CDs, how-to books, instructions enclosed in products, newspapers, magazines and novels—provides an excellent example of the disruption that is now going on in education and training.

Michael Horn, in a piece on Forbes.com, described the disruption this way: “Much of the growth of online learning isn’t just in accredited higher education institutions, but in unaccredited institutions that are hired to do a similar ‘job’ as that of many accredited higher education institutions—advance adult learners in their career pathways. These organizations don’t need accreditation per se though, as they will ultimately develop their reputations from the success of their students with employers.” He cites research done in this regard by Michelle R. Weise and Clayton M. Christensen of the Christensen Institute.

Horn’s suggestion is that schools of higher learning should enhance their online presences and offerings. He gives examples of partnerships that colleges, universities, corporate entities and training organizations can make as a way of turning his suggestion into a reality. One of the companies facilitating this disruption in education and professional training is VMEdu, Inc. This company has a global reach with more than 750 partners in its VMEdu Authorized Training Partner network. It is expanding this with the launch of its VMEdu Authorized Content Partners (V.A.C.P.) program.

In discussing the digital disruption of the publishing industry, Howey says, “In just about every measurable way, these have been great developments.” The V.A.C.P. program brings an enhanced Learning Management System (LMS) and other great developments arising from disruptive innovations in adult education and training to any organization that has created courses related to any field of adult learning in any language; or is already using another LMS to host their courses.

The V.A.C.P. program enables content providers—educational institutions, training companies and those with an expertise worth sharing—the ability to launch courses on their own websites for free, get their own mobile app, sell their courses to the VMEdu Partner Network, offer Sales and Marketing courses on SMstudy, and efficiently track student progress.

Looking at the changes in publishing, Howey says, “It’s difficult to find anything to complain about with this transition, unless you are a middleman who no longer provides a service commensurable with your cost. This is an important point, the act of offering a service that matches your cost.” Educational providers and trainers are very familiar with the costs of some of their products. Student loan debt in America is almost infamous. VMEdu says, “There is no cost associated with creating or uploading your courses, and zero licensing fees.”

The same goes for certain mobile apps for partner courses: “VMEdu will take care of all expenses related to creating, maintaining and upgrading your mobile apps—you pay only $1 per student per month for every student accessing your courses through the mobile app.” This is an example of where the company earns its income.

Last year, Amazon paid out over $140,000,000 to authors in its Kindle Unlimited program. That doesn’t count the dollars paid for book sales,” says Howey. The disruption of traditional publishing is enabling those who create the works to share a much larger portion of the revenues they generate. Through VMEdu’s cloud-based LMS, the same is happening for adult and professional education providers.

For those considering an educational venture into the new cloud-based ocean of opportunity, come on in; the water is fine.

Surf the VMEdu website and learn more about its V.A.C.P. program: Benefits of Becoming a V.A.C.P.

[1] Howey, Hugh. (2/2/16) “The State of the Industry.” The Wayfinder. Retrieved on 2/3/16 from http://www.hughhowey.com/the-state-of-the-industry/

America, Trump, Branding and SMstudy

Today has been all about brands and branding.

The day hadn’t even started when I saw that a friend had posted a LinkedIn Pulse article that included what he learned about branding from Warren Buffet. The next article that caught my eye was a brand comparison between Donald Trump and America, as in America, the Beautiful—the ideal, the brand.

Together, the articles made a strong argument that brands matter; they seriously matter. Gerald Sanchez wrote in his Pulsepiece, “Brand Matters: Think about some of the companies that are in his [Warren Buffet’s] portfolio that are well known: Coca-Cola, Geico, Heinz, Proctor and Gamble and Johnson and Johnson.  Their brands provide a ‘hard-to-replicate advantage over their competitors.’”[1]

A concise definition of branding says that it “is the process of creating a distinct image of a product or range of products in the customer’s mind. This image communicates the promise of value the customer will receive from the product or products,” according to the SMstudy® Guide: Marketing Strategy.[2] Together, a powerful image and an accurately defined value deliver that “hard-to-replicate advantage.”

Interestingly, as Merry Carole Powers alludes to in her Huffington Post article[3] analyzing Donald Trump’s presidential-candidate brand, powerful images and appealing to the wrong—though accurately defined—value can give an advantage that lacks health and perhaps staying power.

The idea of looking at a political campaign from a marketing point of view and dismissing a candidate’s statements as just saying whatever sells at the moment is fairly common. But Powers’ analysis is not, “I have been so horrified by this man from my personal point of view as a woman and a human being, it hadn’t dawned on me to assess him from a professional place.” This seems to be how most of us look at politicians. Perhaps we, too, should be more professional, “And when I did, I was surprised at what I found.” (Spoiler alert: she still isn’t a Trump supporter.)

Powers’ analysis of Trump as Trump the Brand used “a few core branding blocks that must be a part of any strong brand.” Such a brand includes “unique positioning, clearly defined purpose, truly held values, an authentic personality and a compelling message.”

Using these blocks, Powers does an item by item analysis of Trump as a brand and then compares the Trump brand with that of America as represented in the Declaration of Independence—arguably the best single statement of America the brand ever written.

Does Trump have a strong brand? How does it compare to America’s brand? Does it belong in America’s highest office? We’ll let you read Powers’ excellent article to learn that.

For this blog, let’s take away the realization that communicating our promise of value is crucial when we take an important stand and we want others to join us in it. Brand matters.

Look for SMstudy’s soon-to-be-released book Branding and Advertising, part of the SMstudy® Guide series.

For more interesting and informational articles on sales and marketing, visit SMstudy.com.

 

[1] Gerald Sanchez. (4/3/16) “Gleaning from the Gurus: What I Learned from Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger about Small Business.” Pulse. Retrieved on 4/4/16 from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/gleaning-from-gurus-what-i-learned-warren-buffet-charlie-sanchez?deepLinkCommentId=6122773332300492800&anchorTime=1459782918057&trk=hb_ntf_MEGAPHONE_REPLY_TOP_LEVEL_COMMENT

[2] A Guide to the Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge, also referred to as the “SMstudy® Guide,” is a series of books that provide guidelines for the Sales and Marketing of products and services. It is available at SMstudy.

[3] Powers, Merry Carole. (4/1/16) “Donald Trump vs America: Side-by-Side Brand Analysis.” The World Post. Retrieved on 4/4/16 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/merry-carole-powers/donald-trump-vs-america-a_b_9592180.html