All About Customer Advisory Boards

A Customer Advisory Board (CAB) or Customer Advisory Council is a representative customer group comprising senior stakeholders who convene periodically to validate product features, the marketing plan, and the strategic direction of the company to ensure these align with customers and the market. The company uses the information gathered at these meetings to realign business priorities and formulate strategy.

CABs meet on a periodic basis, typically two or three times per year. Some companies choose to meet more or less frequently, depending on need. However, it is challenging to have frequent customer councils as participation at these events is often voluntary, and participants are usually constrained by time. Also, the time and resources taken to accomplish and follow through with changes discussed in the customer councils often do not allow for more frequent meetings.

A physical meeting is the most popular format for customer councils. Other formats used by companies include tele-conferences, video conferences, and online CABs. Using these formats can help reduce time and money spent on travel and can result in increased participation levels. However, while they are more convenient, these formats are not always as effective as face-to-face meetings.

Key Functions of CABs

Some of the important uses of CABs are as follows:

  • Validating ideas for new features or new products
  • Providing valuable insights into how customers are using the products
  • Prioritizing features and identifying the most important ones on which to focus
  • Assisting in understanding how the products fare against alternatives in the market
  • Helping in designing the next generation of products which customers may adopt in future
  • Assisting in retaining key customers
  • Increasing revenue opportunities within the existing customer base

A key distinction between a CAB and a focus group is that the members of a CAB are carefully chosen senior members of management from client organizations, unlike product users in the case of focus groups.

To read more articles about sales and marketing, visit http://www.smstudy.com/articles

Importance of understanding and evaluating Digital Marketing Channels

When creating an online presence, one of the initial steps for an organization is to determine the targets as defined by the Marketing Strategy and then explore the various digital marketing channels available to achieve those targets. Organizations typically market their products or services to targeted audiences that differ in demographics such as age, sex, education, marital status, geography, and income. Implementing digital marketing tactics allows a company to target very specific audiences and measure each tactic effectively.

Given the volatile nature of the online world, new channels are emerging with greater frequency, and audiences are continuously exploring new sources of online content—digital marketers must regularly assess and reassess digital marketing channels for their effectiveness. To identify the most effective marketing channels for an organization’s products or services, marketers spend a considerable amount of time and effort identifying and understanding the dynamics of all available digital marketing channels and evaluating these channels relative to their company’s overall organizational goals and objectives.

The digital marketing team analyzes the Internet behavior patterns of its target audience and identifies all possible online media that are used by those consumers being targeted. It observes macro trends that might impact the way in which the organization markets and sells a product or service to consumers. As a result of this process, the organization gains a better understanding of the digital landscape and learns how it can develop and implement its marketing strategies to be effective.

A company must understand the pros and cons of each digital marketing channel as well as the situations in which a channel is most effective or ineffective. For example, when a company wants to promote an important achievement or milestone, the use of social media forums is a good option because of the possibility of a viral effect and mass exposure, which may raise awareness of the company. When promoting a discount offer, the use of e-mail marketing is beneficial because of the fast results it can bring. On the other hand, if the company wants to inform customers about an expected delay in service (e.g., due to a scheduled routine maintenance, delay due some unavoidable circumstances), it is usually enough for the company to use e-mail or their website to notify customers, rather than initiating a social media update. Negative comments often spread faster in social media leading to loss of brand value and image. Therefore, understanding different channels is important in order to evaluate their usefulness.

To learn more about digital marketing channels, visit SMstudy.com

SMstudy : Your Way Up

When you leave the sales floor, where do you want to go?

Some people will just head to the lounge for a cup of coffee, but others will advance to new positions in marketing and management. What will make the difference?

Recently, the U.S. Department of Education began finding ways to encourage, facilitate and fund student participation in “alternative certifications.” As America and the global community moves to meet the needs of twenty-first century business, this is seen as a move to help training schools and companies that prepare students for professional certifications. The move is toward certified professionals that business and industry can trust.

There are many certifications available to programmers, project managers, automobile mechanics and more. Now there are certifications designed for professionals in sales and marketing. These certifications and complementary training come from VMEdu, Inc., the global training company that has trained more than 400,000 students worldwide. Through its association with SMstudy it offers a range of certifications in six Aspects based on the six most common and often distinct career fields related to Sales and Marketing.

For those who want to move into helping companies develop plans for making their products and services dominate the marketplace, SMstudy offers four certifications in Marketing Strategy. SMstudy says that marketing strategy makes the difference between startups that last beyond the start and those that falter a few steps down the track. These certifications lead to management-level careers and opportunities.

For those who have the desire to harness the power of the Internet and social media, SMstudy offers certifications in Digital Marketing.

And for those who like to know the inner workings of what makes people buy what they buy, there’s a path from a Marketing Research Associate certification to Marketing Research Expert.

Training and certifications are also available in Corporate Sales, Retail Marketing and Branding and Advertising.

More than 30 percent of the American workforce and similar percentages worldwide are involved in sales and marketing either directly or indirectly. It is an exciting field that drives every industry, business and profession. Training and certification organizations such as SMstudy can help retail clerks become sale professionals.

For interesting articles about Sales and Marketing, visit www.SMstudy.com/articles

Play Poker, Not Chess with VMEdu

How many articles on leadership include advisories to “Play Poker, Not Chess” and “Blow up the Enterprise”? Not many, and certainly not as many as this author would like. However, in a series of articles on leadership for Forbes Magazine in 2012, Alex Knapp gave these two bits of advice using episodes from the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises as source material.

Knapp used Starfleet captains James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard as positive leadership examples in articles titled “Five Leadership Lessons from James T. Kirk” and “Five Leadership Lessons from Jean-Luc Picard,” respectively.  For negative examples, he visited Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi’s nemesis in an article called “Five Leadership Mistakes of the Galactic Empire.” Besides an affinity for the number five, Knapp gives an interesting twist to traits of leadership that are far from unfamiliar territory. His unique insights, dead-on applications and intriguing examples give this well-discussed topic new spirit and made reviewing some old saws interesting and enjoyable.

Giving well-discussed topics new spirit and making them both interesting and enjoyable is the challenge for all writers and educators.  While writers are more or less on their own, there is help for professional trainers and educators.

The Internet provides opportunities for new ideas and new discussions of old topics. It also simultaneously presentsmultitudes of people talking about these same things. Ideas, terms, and examples are bound to be repeated and repeated and repeated. The challenge for professional trainers is to keep their material fresh, relevant, and attractive. This requires knowing one’s students and this is where playing poker instead of chess comes in. Knapp writes, “For all of its intricacies, chess is a game of defined rules that can be mathematically determined. A far better analogy to strategy is poker, not chess. Life is a game of probabilities, not defined rules. And often understanding your opponents [students] is a much greater advantage than the cards you have in your hand.”

This isn’t to say that the “the cards you have in your hand” are not important; trainers and educators put most of their attention on them, and rightly so. However, in addition to knowing one’s subject matter, professional educators must share it in evocative and effective ways. And those are not the only things professional training providers must do. Each must also prepare knowledge assessments and track student progress. Aligning tests to the requirements of appropriate, associated certifications is often more than a trainer can handle. For this, the educator needs to follow the advice one learns from Jean-Luc Picard, “When you’re overwhelmed, ask for help.”

Knapp observes that seeking help “is a hard thing to do.” Because of this, there are organizations making it easier for professional training providers to get help, especially with tasks such as preparing and giving exams and tracking student progress. One such company is VMEdu, Inc., a leader in the professional training and certification industry that has developed a versatile course delivery platform and back office support. During the seven years it spent creating its Learning Management System (LMS), the company used it with its PMstudy and MyITstudy brands, whose students have achieved 98.7 and 99.2 percent pass rates, respectively, on professional certification exams. The LMS system helped PMstudy grow to be the largest PMP trainer worldwide and the SCRUMstudy brand to become the global accreditation body for Scrum with a network of more than 800 training partners. VMEdu now offers its platform and back office services and products to professional trainers across the globe.

For professional trainers in its VMEdu Authorized Training Partners (V.A.T.P.) and VMEdu Authorized Content Providers (V.A.C.P.) programs, it also develops apps designed to generate additional leads, provide immediate feedback on courses and lessons and generate up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, according to VMEdu. The training apps VMEdu has already created include interactive case studies, specialized glossaries, games, flash cards and practice exams.

Using an episode in which Captain Kirk, a 23rd century space explorer, mixes and uses gunpowder to save himself and his crew, Knapp points out that there was no need for Kirk to know this information because “Starfleet officers fight with phasers and photon torpedoes.” However, Kirk is a voracious learner and develops expertise outside of his primary field of focus. Knapp applies this to leaders saying, “In the same way, no matter what your organization does, it helps to never stop learning. The more knowledge you have, the more creative you can be. The more you’re able to do, the more solutions you have for problems at your disposal.” During World War II, General Eisenhower of the Allied command used a group of officers to increase his own knowledge base and put more solutions at his disposal.

Creating mobile apps and databases for following student progress may not be your primary area of focus, but they are two solutions for problems facing the trainer in the technological age. Knapp tells his readers that “Kirk’s reputation at the Academy was that of a ‘walking stack of books.’” Where Kirk had Starfleet Academy and General Eisenhower had his officers, today’s professional trainers have companies such as VMEdu.

Keeping one’s training fresh and interesting with unique insights, engaging mobile apps, and intriguing examples is a huge challenge, but NOT a challenge the modern professional educator must meet alone.

 

Works Cited

Knapp, Alex. (5 March 2012) “Five Leadership Lessons from James T. Kirk.” Forbes. (3 January 2014) http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2012/03/05/five-leadership-lessons-from-james-t-kirk/

− ­− − (13 March 2012) “Five Leadership Lessons from Jean-Luc Picard.” Forbes. (3 January 2014) http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2012/03/13/five-leadership-lessons-from-jean-luc-picard/

− ­− − (13 February 2012) “Five Leadership Mistakes of the Galactic Empire.” Forbes. (3 January 2014) http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2012/02/13/five-leadership-mistakes-of-the-galactic-empire/

PPC Advertising

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising or paid search advertising involves a company paying to have its ad appear on search results pages of search engines. PPC advertising providers such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing show sponsored ads, or paid search results, for most search queries. A consumer intending to purchase a microwave oven for her new modular kitchen may enter a query “microwave oven with convection and grill for home use,” seeking cost and feature information. A chain of electric kitchen appliances would likely then appear as a sponsored result. It is often observed that users with a high intention of making a purchase click on sponsored ads. This is especially true of highly transactional goods such as clothing, electronics, and consumer foods.

PPC advertising has a significant impact on consumer metrics such as brand awareness and brand image, even among users who do not click on the sponsored advertisements. Image ads tend to be more effective in exerting positive impact and increasing visibility in search results. A consumer seeking a new microwave oven may choose to review multiple electric kitchen appliances advice pages before making a decision.

A business can increase the reach of its website using PPC advertising in the following ways:

Choosing relevant Keywords–keywords are the search terms used by consumers to tell search engines about the specific product or service they are interested in purchasing. For businesses looking for maximizing their reach using PPC or search engine advertising, the focus must be on bidding on keywords that are highly relevant to the search queries that are common in their business. Businesses can make use of their historical data and competitor data to determine the popularity and relevance of various keywords.

The price of keywords can vary greatly, from pennies to several dollars depending on popularity, demand, and the value to the advertiser. The ad’s “quality score”, rank and popularity of the keywords among the competitors determine the price an advertiser has to pay. The quality score is the search engine’s way of determining the relevance of an ad to the searcher by evaluating each keyword’s relevance to the business and its landing page, as well as other factors. The rank of an ad is determined based on its cost-per-click (CPC) and its quality score.

Choosing relevant Geography and Time–search engines have enabled business to analyze their past data to determine where their online customers are located and the best time to reach them. Based on this data and other internal research, businesses can choose the desired geography and time of day in which they should advertise their products and services for optimal results. For small businesses that cater to a local audience, geography-based targeting is especially important and helps ensure that their ads remain relevant.

Profiling the audience–Businesses must understand the profile of their target audience and create “user personas” that will help them identify the relevant ads for their customer base. A young age group may be attracted to video ads, while a more mature audience may prefer an image ad. Audience profiling may also help businesses identify the time of day when their target audience is most likely to make a purchase.

Selecting appropriate Ad sizes–Advertisements displayed on search engines and other third-party sites are available in different sizes, and the digital marketing team must customize their marketing content to the size of the ad being displayed.

Testing various Ads– Search engines allow businesses to experiment with two or more ad options in order to identify the more attractive one, commonly referred to as A/B or multivariate testing. A business can divide its marketing budget between two or more ads to be displayed to a similar audience throughout the day if it is unsure about the most effective advertising message for its products or services.

Customizing Language–businesses can also customize their ads based on the language preference of their target audience to make sure the intended marketing message is relevant and reaches audiences around the world.

To learn more about PPC advertising, visit SMstudy.com

Understanding the Sales Process

In this competitive age an effective sales organization is supported by marketing assets and includes a proper sales structure. The sales organization and governance must be designed to optimally support sales targets and create visibility into the sales team’s performance to allow for adjustments and course corrections as necessary to ensure that the business meets its sales revenue objectives. Since sales targets are directly linked to all sales and marketing and financial objectives, they are essential components in the achievement of company’s overall objectives.

Most experienced sales teams have an existing sales process. If this is the case, it is important to constantly evaluate, improve, and fine tune different components of the process. A new company, however, must define a sales process by adapting established frameworks to suit the specific needs of the business, leveraging identified strengths, and identifying and filling gaps.

Five Basic Steps in Sales Process

  1. Pre-sales—This first step in the sales process involves reviewing the current activities and selling processes. These activities include those carried out from the initial contact with a customer to the final delivery of a product or service. This step allows a developing company to assess its organizational capabilities to carry out the sales process. It includes understanding and strengthening the value proposition for customers. The different channels required to sell products in the future are also determined. Planning sales governance, setting sales targets, setting up the incentive structure for the sales team, and creating the marketing assets is also done at this stage. The sales team is also trained on products as well as the sales process and negotiation to prepare for selling activities.
  2. Profiling of Target Customers—The first step in the prospecting stage, profiling target customers and decision makers, involves identifying and benchmarking profiling criteria for prospects, as well as decision makers. Characteristics of ideal customers, such as annual budget, are used to benchmark the profiling criteria.
  3. Lead Generation and Qualification—The second step in the prospecting stage, lead generation, is the act of identifying prospective customers and generating ways to gain new customers. Profiled criteria and benchmarks are used to generate better leads. Lead generation uses various offline and online techniques and can be inbound or outbound.
  4. Needs Assessment—Conversion starts with understanding customer needs for products or services. This understanding of needs is vital in the conversion process and enables the sales team to demonstrate to the customer how their product can fulfill the customer’s requirements.
  5. Presentation, Negotiation, and Closure—This is the final stage in the conversion cycle. The corporate sales team presents the features, benefits, and advantages of the proposed products or services that can fulfill the needs of the prospects. At this stage, prospects present their objections to the sales proposal. It is the job of the corporate sales team to overcome these objections to close the deal.

Understanding these five steps and adapting them to suit the business requirements will help establish a framework for a comprehensive and effective sales process.

To learn more about the sales process, visit http://www.smstudy.com

The Lean Startup Movement and SMstudy

Startup “is shorthand for an ethos that the organization holds dear: speed, flexibility, a willingness to be daring and experiment,” writes Beth Comstock in the introduction to “Video: Eric Ries Talks to Beth Comstock about Entrepreneurship in the Age of Uncertainty” in GE Reports.[1]

Comstock, Vice Chair of GE (General Electric), puts this ethos at the heart of the Lean Startup managerial movement that she credits to Eric Ries and his Times bestseller, The Lean Startup.

When Ries describes what he means by “lean startup,” he says, “We take ideas from lean manufacturing and apply them to the process of innovation itself… we build a minimum viable product … rapidly iterate, discover what is it that the customers want,” and then learn how to build a sustainable business around that. This approach is one of the most effective ways people successfully navigate innovation and change: taking ideas that work in one field and applying them where they can do a lot of good in another field.

The field of sales and marketing has seen its paradigms shift on an almost daily basis—the sellers’ market morphs into conventional mass marketing, which transforms into mass media marketing, then into internet sales and fragmented new-age marketing, and so on.  Technological innovation continually creates both new markets and new ways to reach established markets.

How do professionals successfully navigate this ocean of innovation? SMstudy—the global training and accreditation organization whose experts share their content through the SMstudy platform—takes ideas from the fields of project management and process engineering “to provide a practical and process-oriented approach to Sales and Marketing that emphasizes how its various elements can be integrated to develop a comprehensive and effective organizational Sales and Marketing Plan,” according to their website. [2]

Ries sees that “entrepreneurship is the missing function in corporations… imagine your business but with one of its major silos gone: there’s no marketing, there’s no operations, there’s no finance, you’d say, ‘Wait a minute, we’re in trouble.’”

Startups and established companies often find themselves in this position, but the missing component is an integrated marketing strategy and the capacity to deliver such a strategy. SMstudy’s Guide to the SMstudy Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge (SMBOK® Guide), 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 offers a comprehensive framework that can be used to effectively manage Sales and Marketing efforts in any organization,” according to their website. The process-oriented approach enables companies to design and build marketing activities and departments that match their needs, size and resident expertise.

Describing entrepreneurship as “about operating under conditions of extreme uncertainty,” Ries gives three questions that can help professionals be entrepreneurial within their daily business activities: “You can always be asking yourself ‘who’s the customer for this?’ ‘What is the benefit to the customer, what is it that they hope to get from your work?’ and ‘how do you know that you have positively impacted them?’”  These are topics covered in the SMstudy® Guide.

Being entrepreneurial, using lean startup processes and applying insight across business domains is helping companies like GE and SMstudy move successfully into a future of continuing uncertainty.

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

(Jim Pruitt, VMEdu staff writer contributed to this article.)

[1] Retrieved on 5/23/16 from http://www.gereports.com/a-lean-mean-startup-machine-business-strategist-wants-companies-to-embrace-uncertainty.

[2] http://www.smstudy.com/Individuals/Buy-SMstudy-Guide

Various types of Primary Data in the context of Marketing Research

When a researcher collects new data for a specific research project, the data is considered primary data. On the other hand if the data is already available in house i.e. historical data or data received from some other external sources (e.g. industry reports, internet searches, government published reports etc.), the data is considered as secondary data.

The research requirements will vary from project to project, with many research projects requiring both primary and secondary data to solve the research problem. Some research projects can be solved with the sole use of existing secondary data, while in other cases no secondary data exists and the research project can only be solved with the use of primary data.

As a rule, a researcher should always try to collect and analyze secondary data before moving to the collection and analysis of comparatively costly and time-consuming primary data. In some cases secondary data may be inadequate or unusable. When the needed data do not exist or are outdated, inaccurate, incomplete, or unreliable, the researcher needs to collect primary data.

Let’s take an example to illustrate the need of collecting primary data. It is a common HR practice to keep the employees satisfied for most of the medium to big sized companies as studies show that engaged employees are more productive and are better contributors to their employer’s goals and objectives. Employee satisfaction surveys (popularly known as “ESAT survey”) are done to evaluate the satisfaction of employees on key parameters such as satisfaction with senior management, immediate managers, company policies, work environment, hygiene factors and other facilities, training and development, opportunities for personal growth etc. In this case collecting primary data is a must as it is meaningless to use past ESAT survey data for the current workforce.

There are various forms of primary data. Some common types are illustrated as follows:

Demographic Data—Demographic data are related to characteristics such as the gender, age, income, education, occupation, marital status, ethnicity, and social status of the target group. Demographic primary data categorize the target market into different customer segments each having some common attributes which help marketers to focus on a specific segment or create segment specific marketing strategies. For example a fast food (e.g. pizza, burgers etc.) brand may find that preferences of people in the 20–30 age group are different from the preferences of people in the 30–40 age group.

Psychographics and Lifestyle Data—This kind of data is related to personality traits, interests, lifestyle, values, and opinions of the target respondents. Marketers often combine psychographics and lifestyle information with demographic information to obtain an important perspective of the target market.

Intentions—Intentions refer to the anticipated future behaviors of an individual. This is a subject of interest to marketers who want to solve a research problem related to future consumption rate or demand.

Attitudes—Attitudes refer to a person’s feelings, convictions, or beliefs toward an object, idea, or an individual. Since attitude impacts behavior, it is of great importance to marketers.

Awareness/KnowledgeThis data refers to what subjects do or do not know about an object of investigation. Information influences behavior and marketers often want to know how the behavior of customers changes with their level of awareness regarding a particular product, brand, object, or industry.

MotivationsA person’s actions are the reflection of his or her inner state. Marketers often want to know the motives that direct specific consumer behavior. Motivations can include users’ category, brand-purchasing motives, value systems, and perceptions among others.

BehaviorsBehaviors are the actions taken by respondents. Questions regarding respondents’ behaviors toward a particular situation can be asked to them directly and can be included in a survey. However, the responses may not represent the actual behavior of the respondents. Observation techniques are more often used to understand the actual behavior of respondents. Purchase behavior is also an important factor; when considering purchase behavior, marketers might categorize consumers as non-users, potential users, first-time users, regular users, or former users.

To know more about primary data, visit SMstudy.com

Plan B: Assessing Social Marketing Future Scenarios

No one likes to contemplate a worst-case scenario, but it is wise to have a plan B. Any digital marketing strategy should think optimistically, but preparation for future scenarios that may look very different from today’s digital marketing landscape is vital to a brand’s survival.

“Anticipated future scenarios” is an output of the Evaluate Digital Marketing Channels process and is described by SMstudy®Guide, Digital Marketing as the analysis of the most likely future changes to take place in each digital marketing channel; analysis of the potential impact of defined changes; and proposed actions.

Assessing possible changes in future digital channels that could affect revenue, production, access to resources and so on is primary. But a thorough analysis should also take into consideration the way technologies come together to create a brand new scenario, even though most changes occur incrementally, according to Andrew Frank, analysts with Gartner for Marketing Leaders.

“When this happens, brands that anticipate these transformational scenarios will thrive; incrementalists will lose out,” Frank said.

As Frank points out, it may be tempting to want to keep a set digital marketing channel strategy, but agility and open-mindedness will benefit today’s marketing strategists. Staying on top of trends and recognizing where they converge with a company’s product or brand is also a component of future scenario assessments.

With that in mind, here are the top 2016 digital marketing trends noted by Adam Fridman, founder of MeetAdvisors, published on Inc. Dec. 1, 2015:

Data, data, data. Learn to love it.

“In short, data is behavior. Learning from this behavior drives creative messaging and strategic campaigns. Tracking behavior and tapping into the emotional connection through messaging, ads, social, and design makes all the difference in the digital space.”

Forget the funnel. The funnel is flawed.

“There’s little opportunity to share the research and buying experience which is crucial for interacting with fans and getting more people into your funnel, or ecosystem. too much work on consumers and consumers hate doing too much work.”

Test with laser-like focus. Technology now allows for deep research on target audiences. Even detailed aspects of an ad can now be picked apart and analyzed for demographic appeal.

“Targeting is a crucial aspect of any marketing strategy and by marketing directly to your ideal audience, you’re effectively and efficiently spending only what’s ”

Social engagement. This isn’t new, but it’s definitely continuing.

Two things to know: 1. Encourage audience participation through creative engaging campaigns and 2. Spare them the mediocre content.

“Each social channel, blog post, e-mail, web link must have a purpose and drive towards something. Never post simply to post. Without engagement or traffic, those posts are a waste of time and money.”

Expand the team. Start to think about a marketing team as more than just the marketers for a company or brand. Every “share” received through social media channels is an endorsement, each person “reposting” is an ambassador.

“Single marketing voices only reach the people already in their networks. To break through, companies and causes will increasingly need to partner with suppliers, brand and others to reach more people, more often.”

 

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

Photo provided courtesy of  Anoop Kumar, Flickr. Image has been cropped. https://www.flickr.com/photos/anoopkumar/

Sources:

SMstudy® Guide, Digital Marketing, pg. 63-64.

“Agenda Overview for Emerging Marketing Technology and Trends, 2015,” Andrew Frank, Dec. 18, 2014. https://www.gartner.com/imagesrv/digital marketing/pdfs/Emerging_Marketing_Technology_and_Trends.pdf

“The Future of Digital Marketing- How It’s Changing in 2016,“ Andrew Fridman, Dec. 1, 2015. http://www.inc.com/adam-fridman/the-future-of-digital-marketing-how-it-s-changing-in-2016.html

What Did You Do When You Were Supposed to be Sleeping?

Sleep Cycle is an app that tracks your sleep cycle. Seems pretty simple, but looks can be deceiving. In November of 2015, just a few short months ago, the app was released to the public and the vote is in. Everyone loves it.

So, here’s what you do. First, download the app. Before you go to sleep set the alarm programmed in the app and the sleep cycle device will activate. Place your phone screen side down on your nightstand, plug in your charger, and, hopefully, have a great night of sleep.

When you wake up in the morning, the app provides you with a line graph that depicts how many hours you were in bed and how your sleep varied throughout the night from awake, sleep, and deep sleep.

I tried out the app for the first time last night and it appears as if I am a champion sleeper, but I moved 1,267 times. I am a champion sleeper that thrashes.

But that’s not all! The trends tab on the app is available to premium members, and it provides you with several different charts that display sleep quality, what time you went to bed, the amount of time in bed, and what time you woke up at for the week. It also gives you a percentage in regards to sleep quality. Did you sleep poorly because you ate dinner too late? Or did you wake up refreshed because you hit the gym the day before? The app will tell you. It also lets you know if your sleep quality was affected by air pressure, weather, or if you are a thrasher like me.

You get all of this information for a large fee of 83 cents a month (This is not a typo).

Sales and marketing professionals can learn a thing or two from Sleep Cycle. We, as people, are fascinated about sleep. We can’t study our own sleep patterns, considering we are sleeping, so it was all too fascinating to find out that I sleep the majority of my night in a deep sleep. I would have never known that. That’s how they get us in. It’s all a marketing ploy. And then for just 83 cents a month I can not only learn how I sleep, but I will learn how I can sleep better. Who doesn’t want to know that?

83 cents a month is nothing for us fortunate enough to be living in a first world country. We see the advantages for the app, sign up, and never unsubscribe because it is only 83 cents, even though we never use the app anymore and it has been long forgotten. And the money is just rolling in for Sleep Cycle.

(Applause for Sleep Cycle)

So what did they do right? First of all, it is a very big gamble to charge such a low monthly fee. But according to Marketing Strategy, book one in the SMstudy® Guide, it was a very calculated move with the help of secondary marketing research. “Secondary marketing research involves the use of content and information that is currently available within the company or in the market through primary research that has already been conducted and is readily obtainable through company reports, trade journals, industry publications, and/or the Internet.”

The very popular Fitbit will track your sleep, but it can cost upwards of 200 dollars. Fitbit sold nearly 11 million devices last year, so the market was there. From looking at information that was right at their fingertips, Sleep Cycle was able to build a sales and marketing plan that was destined to succeed.

I was pulled in by a marketing ploy and I didn’t even see it. That’s how you know a company is doing its job well. I look forward to going to sleep tonight, I have a competitive streak, so I want to beat last night’s amazing performance.

Give it a try, you know you want to.

For more information and resources about sales and marketing visit SMstudy.com