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Ever heard that expression before?  Don’t wait for someone to pass you the ball, move around, get open and go get the ball yourself…  Be aggressive.

We should take this sports message to heart in our business lives.  Whether you are talking about sales or marketing or whatever aspect of a business you are dealing with.  Go to the ball.  Don’t wait for business to come knocking at your door – go get it.  Don’t wait for a new job to come knocking at your door – go get it.

Its really easy in these tough economic times to cut things we view as “discretionary” when it comes to your business.  Marketing & Lead Generation is one such activity.  However, it is OK to make cuts for the health and well-being of the business, but be careful how much you cut.  Going dark as a company can cause irreparable harm to the long-term health of your business that you might not be able to recover from.

One of the best company’s at launching products into the market is Apple. If you ever want to understand how to launch a product with maximum exposure, build brand and excitement in the market, then follow Apple’s launch of their next iPod or version of their iPhone.

Apple does a tremendous job of positioning and messaging their products in the market – however the one thing they do an unbelievable job of is introducing products that resonate with their markets. They understand the problems within their targeted markets and they do a great job of solving those problems with their products.

If you ever wondered why Apple is so successful, just take a look at one of their products and think about the problems these products solve and how they resonate with their markets.

For those who remember the mid 1980’s, sorry if I just dated some of us, one of the best marketing/branding companies of the last 50 years made, what some referred to, as one of the biggest market/brand mistakes of our generation when they changed the formula to Coke and came out with the NEW Coke.

Right after WWII, Coke owned over 50% of the software drink market – however by the early 80’s, under intense competition from Pepsi, their market share dropped almost in half.

When Coke announced the NEW Coke, Pepsi thought that they had “won” the Cola wars and put a PR campaign out stating just that.

48 Hours after the announcement of the NEW Coke, research firms estimated that over 80% of the US Population was aware of the “NEW Coke”. (THAT is brand recognition)

Later that same year under pressure from its faithful customers, Coke re-introduced the old Coke under the name “Classic Coke”. Within 6 months of this re-introduction, Coke’s sales had returned to more than twice that of Pepsi’s.

Whether just the re-introduction of the old formula was the driver to increased sales or the introduction that year of Cherry Coke, who knows.

Did Coca-Cola pull off one of the biggest marketing coupes of all-time? Or did they make one of the biggest mistakes of all time and came out smelling like roses?

Remember that next time someone says Marketing doesn’t effect sales. :o)

I often sit in meetings and listen to different companies talk about their next product release and how great a product it will be and how much the market is waiting for it, etc. etc.  Then I start asking questions like – How long has this product been under development?  What problems is the release solving in the market?  What prospects have you taken this product into and discussed the solution set to?

Most companies can answer pretty quickly how long the product has been under development and how much that development effort has cost them to date.  However, when I get to the questions about what problems the release is solving and what prospects they have talked to – I tend to get a look that quickly says “Solving problems?”…

Solving problems is why we develop products and bring them to the market.  Yet I am amazed at how often companies develop the next version of software because —  well, because they needed a new version.  Requirements are based on what the competitors are doing or worse, they are based on what the companies existing customer base says they want.

A little bit of thinking up front and spending some cycles talking with prospects will go a long way on the back-end of a requirements document that ensures the product you are bringing to the market actually solves problems that exist within your market.  After all, isn’t that why we develop products?

Tune in to your markets.

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