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Do you know what your customers really want?

The building block of any marketing plan is knowing your customer. It’s virtually impossible to craft a marketing plan of any kind without visualizing someone who would not only use your product or service, but who wants your product or service. Anyone who is in business can quantify at least a few details about who their customer is: gender, location, occupation, needs or desires.

But does that actually mean you know what your customers want?

Don’t answer yes so quickly.

You may know that your ideal customer is a male in his 20’s and 30’s living in Western Canada who enjoys the outdoors, but does that mean that your product is meaningful or can create attachment to that broad of an avatar?

In our day and age, we need to delve deeper. Meaningful relationships with brands matter now more than ever to Millennial consumers. Your brand is an extension of their life and also represents who they are to friends and strangers alike. For example, an outdoor lifestyle clothing brand that gives 10% of their proceeds to renewable energy research and makes its products out of vegan-friendly materials may resonate quite well on Vancouver Island, but it’s not going to see the same pick up in Alberta where your male demographic is much more likely to work in or support the energy sector, eat meat, and hunt. Both places are home to young men who enjoy many of the same outdoor activities, but they are two very different groups of people.

They want you to speak to them

In order to really know who your customers are, you need to delve deeper into their mindset: what causes they support, how they may vote, the content they consume, even the food they eat could play a role in whether or not they choose to make you a part of their lives.

When the time comes to launch a new offering, take the time beforehand to do your research. Take for example Pepsi’s tone-deaf ad featuring Kendall Jenner that makes a play off of the political protests in 2017. While their intentions of being sympathetic to social causes may not have been entirely off-base, using a celebrity that is seen by many as privileged, lacking substance, and most importantly, not seen as an icon by the very movement they were trying to market to, saw the ad being pulled almost as fast as it went up.

In this case we see a big brand like Pepsi failing to understand what audience they are marketing to. Are they marketing to the “woke” social culture of our current times? Or are they marketing to the celebrity-obsessed fans of reality TV and Instagram influencers? By not doing their research, they did serious brand damage.

We are now in a customer based world, and that has to reflect in your business. If you’re wondering what we mean by that, take a look at our post for a further breakdown.

Don’t launch without asking first

Research is the building block of a successful launch, and so often, it starts with the simple question: what do you want? For brands with established customer bases, it’s much easier. Surveys tied back to incentives like a discount or contest entry guarantees a larger uptake, and in turn, a much bigger pool of information to draw from. For emerging brands, concentrate on conceptualizing your ideal customer down to the most minute detail you can. Use it as a fun team exercise – really dive into who they are. If you can think of someone in your life who fits the avatar, ask them questions about the brands they like. Do everything you can to create this “imaginary” character and when you’re on the road to launch, ask yourself, “Is this on par with our avatar?”

The needs of the customer are constantly evolving. Are you adapting? Take a look at our video on adjusting to customer needs for a deeper dive on the subject.

Listen to what they say

You can reach out to your target audience all you like but it won’t mean a thing if you don’t listen. The real key is “listening beyond listening” ie: looking for trends in responses. Are there common phrases and pieces of feedback that keep coming up over and over again? Use them. Take a look at what they aren’t saying as well. Is there a key element in your marketing plan that wasn’t addressed in your research? At best, the unaddressed piece could take up valuable time and resources that could be spent on other areas that do provide value. At the worst it could create a situation like the Pepsi example above. We wonder if the marketers behind that campaign bothered to ask that if anyone who was sympathetic to social justice causes also happened to be fans of Kendall Jenner and reality tv?

We think not.

Asking why didn’t they buy from you

Rejection may be one of the worst parts of doing business, but if we can’t learn from our failings, how will we ever get better? We’ll never improve as romantic partners without asking our loved ones how we can be better and improve on what we did wrong. We will never get the job of our dreams if we don’t ask why we weren’t picked in failed job interviews. The same applies for your offering. Reaching back out to your customer base for feedback, through surveys, social media, or focus groups can give great insight into why there wasn’t the uptake you had hoped for.

As the legendary football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant said: “When you make a mistake, there are only three things you should ever do about it: admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it.”

If you’d like to find out more about to discovering who your customers really are, we’d love to chat. Contact us today and book a coffee to take your audience research to the next level.

A Return to the Customer Based World

Brands are supposed to make people’s lives easier or better in some way. But sometimes brands do things that just make people downright cranky.

If you’re a gamer, you’ve probably heard about the fallout from the release of Fallout ‘76. The backlash in the gaming community has been big enough that you might have heard about it, even if you don’t play online games.

Bethesda, maker of the Fallout series, made a major blunder, completely changing the Fallout game style from a role playing game (RPG) to a multiplayer online format, eliminating the RPG aspect. Bugs and playing issues aside, Bethesda’s biggest mistake was not doing better market research to find out if their very loyal community actually wanted this kind of radical change to their beloved game. The definitive answer was no. Sales numbers were down 82% as compared to the previous release. That’s huge!

With easy access to products and services of all kinds, brands have to be hyper-aware of their customers’ wants, needs and desires.

They have to return to the customer based world and put more focus on the people, rather than on the dollars, because focusing on the people will drive the dollars.

Brands have to better understand how their product or service helps to support their customers’ identities. We are social beings and we look for ways to identify ourselves with particular groups because it creates a certain status and a better way to navigate the world around us.

We can identify ourselves as nerds, geeks, jocks, hockey fanatics, fashion junkies, entrepreneurs, blue collar, university educated, and so on. Even identifying as a lone wolf creates a certain persona.

People buy brands because they support the way they think about themselves.

You have to understand your customer’s social identity and how your brand relates to it. A person’s selection, or rejection, of a product is equally as important. Both decisions give you insight into the way they see themselves. And each person has multiple identities depending on the situation.

A woman in a supermarket with her young child can identify herself as a healthy minded, well-educated shopper, who’s budget conscious, and holds the title for the ultimate 30-minute chef (in her own house, at least). Those identities will absolutely affect the products she chooses to buy. So, just knowing the basic demographics is not enough.

Saying that you “know” your ideal client because you can say he’s an active male, 25-35 years-old, living in a particular city, is like looking at a map of North America and saying you understand what it’s like to be in the Rocky Mountains because you can point to the triangles on the map.

If you want to build your brand, you have to really connect with the people who might want it, and pointing to them on the map, simply isn’t enough. You have to understand what really makes them tick, and exactly how your brand compliments their personality.

Understanding how your client self-associates with your brand is the key. What are the identity-driven effects your brand gives to the consumer? Basically, you want them to say, “People like us do things like this,” which includes purchasing your brand.

If a person identifies as an athlete, then you need to show how your brand supports that. Nike helps them to “Just do it”, Gatorade replaces what they sweat out, and lululemon is going to help them look good during their sweaty pursuits.

We all want to act consistently with the way we see ourselves, and it’s also important to us to have others acknowledge our view of ourselves as well. It’s identity verification. We continually send signals about who we are and what we represent to the other people around us, from the t-shirts we buy to the type of coffee we drink.

Each purchasing selection we make is a statement, sometimes loud and sometimes subtle.

Our signals and selections are also culturally driven, which is another area every brand must tune into, when it comes to really understanding their ideal client. Certain areas of a city can have vastly different cultures than others, which means a different way of identifying in each community.

We see the same thing on a larger level too, when we look at provinces or states within a country. While all Canadians have some common ground, someone from British Columbia, Ontario and Newfoundland, all identify themselves in different ways because of their local culture.

Take that to a global scale, and it becomes obvious that you have to do a lot of research to avoid the pitfalls that can come with reaching out to a new audience in a different country. If you’re going to market in another country, it’s highly recommended to have an advisor native to the area to help you navigate the ins and outs of the local culture.

No matter where you’re marketing your brand, the more consistently your brand can support a person’s identity, the more aligned and attached a person will feel to it.

Brand attachment is something we’re big on here at BottomLine. Studied in-depth by Joann Sciarrino, brand attachment is the “emotional connection between humans and brands” and it’s the only thing that directly correlates to sales numbers. Something rather important, when it comes to driving ROI for your company and your marketing.

Brand attachment forms in the limbic system of the brain, where the emotions are most associated with affection, connection and passion. When your brand touches all three elements, they combine to create repeat sales…or not, as Bethesda is figuring out the hard way, with Fallout 76. Their major brand departure has their customers passionately upset because they lost their connection to the brand, directly and detrimentally, impacting their affection for it.

But tapping into brand attachment the right way, supported with branded sales content, will help a company drive the attachment their customers feel, which will improve sales numbers.

Great storytelling is a huge part of developing brand attachment. Our brains are made for stories and storytelling.

Think about your own internal dialogue. Much of it is you scripting your own stories about any given scenario. We weave stories for ourselves all the time. We’re also good at weaving stories for other people too.

Storytelling is an effective technique because we have mirror neurons in our brains, which allow us to learn by watching or listening to others. Not having to figure out everything for yourself is a great evolutionary advantage.

Storytelling is a simple and effective way to pass on important lessons. When it comes to marketing, knowing this definitely gives a company an added advantage.

Stories are also a great way to help us digest large amounts of information, and because great stories tend to have an emotional quality to them, we actually remember them better. Our brains are more likely to focus on emotional stimuli, and the more focus we have, the more likely we are to remember it. And if your potential client remembers your story, they are far more likely to remember your brand, which opens the door to developing brand attachment.

That makes it all worth putting extra time into your marketing plan and develop a storyline for your marketing initiatives, ensuring it’s specifically aimed at triggering emotion in your potential clients.

So, how do you do that in the most effective way?

You have to understand the pain points your clients feel and the triggers in the environment that push on those particular pain points.

This brand-association technique helps to develop a more immersive experience for your clients, and one that keeps your brand top of mind.

Straight up, this is not easy to do.

You first have to understand the habits and rituals your customers have and perform, and then look for a way to pair your brand with a trigger in the environment. If you can also pull in a pain point they feel, you’re going to create a much deeper connection, improving the odds they choose you.

This is something Magic Bullet did really well with one of their infomercials. They tied in the ritual of feeding a hungry baby, with a mother’s concern about making nutritious selections for her child. They identified that the biggest roadblock into making her own baby food is the time and mess that she has to contend with, on top of the demands of being a mother. The Magic Bullet gives that mom the perfect answer, with a quick and clean way to give her baby fresh food that she can make herself, allowing her to reinforce her identity as a concerned and caring parent, who puts actively her baby’s needs first.

 

You know that your brand is going to help people by making their lives better, but in order to connect with your clients in a truly meaningful way, you have to get to know them on a much deeper level, fully coming to understand them and their world. From there, you can create a marketing strategy that will be far more effective.

This is our area of expertise and we’d love to help you navigate it. Let’s evolve your business together. Book a complimentary consultation with us today!

Boosting Business with Thought Leadership

If you don’t have a clear stance on something, then you stand for nothing. (Yup! We’ll take that stance.)

In business, that’s deadly.

Seriously, when was the last time you bought something that had wishy-washy marketing? That’s the stuff that doesn’t even hit your radar because it’s so bland.

If you don’t have a clear cut reason to open your wallet, you aren’t going to do it. It’s the same for your business and your customers.

You must have a clear direction for your brand voice and your thought leadership. That’s what will attract the right people to you. And they’ll love what you have to say.

Do it well enough, and they’ll start praising you from the rooftops. Why?

Your stance helps them reinforce their own identity. They get to say PEOPLE LIKE US do things, wear things, buy things, and say things like this.

People don’t own an iPhone just because they like the tech. They choose the iPhone because of what it says about them. Same with their Starbucks, Nikes or Jimmy Choo’s.

Your unique stance brings in the customers that you really want to work with, instead of the ones who make you sigh in resignation when they call, email or walk in your door. (We know you can picture that person right now!)

It can be a difficult or nerve-wracking prospect to take a hard stance and narrow your business to a very specific niche. Afterall, there are many people who can benefit from what you sell, right?

But if you don’t have a distinct focus and a specific stance, then you simply can’t connect in a meaningful way, with the people who matter most.

You just end up shouting in the masses with all the other businesses, trying desperately to be heard, but not saying anything relevant enough to fully capture someone’s attention.

If you’re not getting the kind of traction you want in your business, this is definitely part of the problem. There could be a lot more going on, of course, (check out this blog to help you diagnose other problems in your business) but this will be tied into it for sure.

The bottom line is, you have to pick the hill you’re willing to live and die on, but not without doing the research first, to back it up. That will give rhyme to your reason, and make sure that you actually have a viable product or service. That’s what market research does for you. When it’s done properly, anyway.

Based on that, you can then define your stance and create a unique brand voice, solidifying your exclusive position in the market. We’ve written a great blog on that here, so we aren’t going to reiterate everything in it. Check it out for yourself.

When you have an exclusive position in the market, the way you speak about what you do becomes crystal clear for you and everyone engaging with you.

You have to make sure you’re saying things differently than everyone else in your niche, in order to own it exclusively. You might cover the same topics, but your angle on it needs to be fresh. No one wants to read the same old same old. Give them something new and a reason to definitively choose you.

Your angle is going to define all your content, including your elevator pitch, the copy on your website, your sales material, blogs, articles, social media posts, talks you give…in short, everything you do.

But once you nail it, you’ll be so glad you did, because you’ll finally have the business, customers and income that you’ve always wanted.

Be sure to lead your business evolution with our white paper: 6 Future Trends That Will Affect Your Business.

It’s the Questions You’re Not Asking that Can Kill Your Business

It’s easy to become okay with the status quo when things are running along perfectly well in your business. You’re happy to have that wonderful, and hard earned, breath of fresh air. Then suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, you’re blindsided and find yourself hurtling down a steep incline.

How the heck did that happen?

In business, it’s plain and simple. If you’re not getting better you’re getting worse. There is no in-between. You have to be diligent at all times, otherwise your competitors will be happy to step in, fill the gap, and give you a nice little nudge to put you on that downward slope.

You have to look past the obvious if you want to be the king of the hill, because often it’s the questions you’re not asking that can kill your business.

The bottom line is, you have to continually challenge your assumptions. Let’s take your customers, for example. More data has been created in the last two years, than in our entire human history previous to that. Your customers are accessing that wealth of information, powered by their mobile devices. They can get anything they want faster and easier than ever before, including products and services just like yours.

So, have you asked yourself how you measure up?

How are you continuing to cater to their wants, needs and desires?

And have you checked in with them recently to see if anything has changed?

If you haven’t checked in and gotten feedback from your clients in the last year, then you’re definitely due. Their needs are changing.

They’re looking for ideas. They want to know which products are rated as the best, in pretty much every category, including “best toothbrushes”, which is up 100%! And they want to know what products and brands they should avoid.

In short, they’re looking to get as much information as they can, before they commit to buying.

Are you giving them what they want?

And, do you know where you are on those lists?

With all the information and new technology driving the market in new directions, it should be no surprise that trends in marketing and purchasing are in rapid-fire adaptation too.

More people than ever are using their phones for searches and purchases. 77% of customers are reading reviews before they make their buying decision, and a whopping 93% of online purchases have been influenced by social media.

It begs the question then, what are you doing on mobile to drive purchasing behaviour?

And, are you giving your prospective customers the information they want, in order to purchase from you?

When it comes to trends of any kind in business, you have to be in the know and stay ahead of the curve, or you’re going to get left behind in the dust.

Then you have to think about the evolution of your own business as well, and how much it’s changed over the years. Guaranteed, your business is very different now, than when you first started.

Have you adapted how you talk about it?

Do people know why you’re truly remarkable?

Are you putting forward your real value? Or are you focusing on what you deliver, and your process, instead of why people want it?

If you want to keep your business in growth mode, and avoid that downhill slide, you have to continually monitor and make sure your market position is relevant and exclusive to what you deliver. Check in, analyze, regroup, adjust, and then do it all over again.

Sometimes easier said than done, we know.

If you need a little help or want a fresh perspective, we invite you to have a chat.

Internal Clients, Culture and Catastrophe Oh My!

We love it when the research we do for our clients applies to more than just that one client. And we really love it when we can use that research to help people we haven’t even met yet (maybe that’s you!), because we believe that stronger businesses make for a stronger economy, and that makes for more opportunities all around, which in the end, leads to a much better world.

Badda bing badda boom!

The research we did for one company, whose goal is to improve internal business culture by improving communication, is definitely information you need to know.

During their Impact Assessment we discovered what a catastrophe it can be when your culture clashes with your employees – who are your internal clients – because it affects your company in a big way, and on a number of levels.

But let’s back up the bus a bit first….and start by defining what a positive work culture actually is, because there can be a lot of definitions. Culture is the character and personality of your organization. It’s what makes your business unique and is the sum of its values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviors, and attitudes.

A good definition, we think.

Now a positive culture holds values of respect, support, collaboration, cooperation, inclusion, and so on; and those values have to go beyond lip service to be effective. Your actions count.

We’ve all been in a place, or know a person, who says one thing and does another. Do you trust them? Noooo!

When you work in a place where you can’t trust the environment, or the people in it, that causes stress. A lot of it.

Work stress alone has astronomical costs to a company. In Canada, absenteeism due to stress is up 300%, at a cost of $3,550 per employee per year, according to Watson Wyatt Canadian Staying @ Work Survey.

Then add in the hidden costs of errors, turnover, and poor customer service because your employees are stressed out and money is flying out the window!

There’s nothing like an employee having a bad day that turns into losing a customer for life.

You can probably think of a business right now that you wouldn’t step foot in again because of the crappy customer service. That business, guaranteed, is suffering because of bad culture and a management team that most likely isn’t doing anything about it, or worse, are perpetuating it, which leads to catastrophic losses for the company.

Eventually, that business will have to shut its doors. [Enter EXTINCTION, stage left.]

Employees that don’t like where they work become disengaged and that directly impacts your bottom line in a BIG way.

The statistics on disengagement in Canadian workplaces are shocking.

75% of people are disengaged! That’s disastrous.

When a company has a poor culture, it lacks a sense of team and support, and with that, productivity takes a big nosedive. In North America, that lack of productivity costs $350 billion a year.

How much might your company be losing in productivity alone? No need to think abstractly about it, we’ve got the goods for you:

According to Gallup, the hard cost of disengagement is 34% of the employees salary.

SALARY X 34% = NET LOSS PER EMPLOYEE/YEAR

So, at $60,000/year, a disengaged employee costs the company $20,400 per person. For a manager at $100,000, the company loses $34,000.

Want to calculate the specific disengagement loss to your company? Here’s the formula:

# OF EMPLOYEES X 75% X (SALARY X 34%) = COMBINED NET LOSS FOR EMPLOYEES

# OF MANAGERS X 75% X (SALARY X 34%) = COMBINED NET LOSS FOR MANAGERS

COMBINED NET LOSS FOR EMPLOYEES + COMBINED NET LOSS FOR MANAGERS = TOTAL LOSS

Let’s try out an example:

A company with 50 employees, at an average salary of $50,000/year, and 5 managers with an average salary of $80,000/year, is losing up to:

$739,500/YEAR!

That’s a WHOPPING hit on the bottom line. What could your business do with that kind of cash infusion? Every year!?

This is why controlling your culture is so important, and not just to your employees.

Of course, to do that effectively, you need to have a plan…and that’s something we’d love to help you with.
Let’s have a coffee and chat about your work culture and how you can effectively evolve your business!
[Enter WINNING STRATEGY, stage right. 😉]

Avoid the Pitfalls of Going Global

I watch my client’s team interact, supporting each other’s ideas, as they come to an agreement on what they feel is THE thing their company does best. They’re far more animated than they were when they walked in. Far more comfortable. They’re getting excited about the exploration we’re doing in this discovery, even though they’re still a little uncomfortable with outsiders looking on as they debate.

Really digging in about your business, and all the little things you do to make it great, is not something you do every day. Because you’re so used to doing what you do, it seems like second hand news, but when you realize the uniqueness of your business, and acknowledge it, it definitely feels good. That’s where they are right now, and I’m happy they’re getting into the groove.

They’re a local business, and their grassroots are a big point of pride for them. They believe in the power of being face to face with their customers. They believe that their strong relationships are the fuel their business runs on, and I agree. Their customer service clearly sets them apart. The amount of word of mouth marketing they get is enough to make most business owners salivate like Pavlov’s dog.

But here’s the thing – I also know that they could easily take this global and still deliver the same level of service.

I can see it as clearly as the words they’re writing on the whiteboard. I feel that bubble of excitement rise, as it always does when we do this.

The global market is making huge leaps and bounds, thanks to the ease of doing business online. As new technology develops, and translation gets better, that’s going to open even further because language barriers will be much less of an issue. A world of possibilities is coming.

The statistics for the upcoming global audience are quite staggering.

By 2030 the world’s population is expected to soar to 8.5 billion, and it’s predicted that 75% of those people will have both mobile and internet access.

That’s a lot of customers and a lot of opportunity opening up for savvy business owners. I know my client is one of them.

But in order to do it well, the research into the markets has to be done – thoroughly. The last thing anyone wants is to make a mistake like Best Buy or Target in an international launch.

Best Buy entered into the Chinese and European markets and ended up with a big fail, because they didn’t do the market research necessary to create success.

Because they didn’t do their due diligence, they had no idea that the local consumers in both markets, unlike North American shoppers, are not fans of big box flagship stores.

Additionally in the Chinese market, people aren’t willing to pay big price tags for brands, unless it’s a giant like Apple. And the market itself has a great deal of piracy, which limits the demand for electronics at North American retail prices. That’s some basic stuff you have to know before you take the leap.

Then, let’s not forget the epic fail with Target coming to Canada. That also stemmed from poor market research, with operations and logistical issues compounding the problem.

They didn’t realize the placement of their stores would be a big issue. Target purchased the old Zellers locations from HBC, but many were run down and in areas that were difficult to access. That limited foot traffic in a big way right from the start.

For the shoppers who did go to the stores, pricing was an issue. Canadian shoppers expected much better deals from the brand. The company also didn’t consider the amount of competition they would have to contend with from Walmart, who had already established a solid foothold.

Then their stock issues pretty much sealed their fate. Empty shelves led to a lot of negative experiences, which resulted in shoppers who couldn’t be bothered to return to the store again.

Instead of turning a profit in less than a year like they promised to investors, they ended up pulling out of the market in less than two years. Sadly, pretty much all of it could have been negated if they’d done the necessary in depth research.

Learning from the failure of others is the name of the game. It’s so much better when it’s not yours! There’s something to be said for working back from a worse case scenario…you get to devise a much better plan for a successful launch.

As the meeting with my local client wraps up, my head is already spinning ideas. I love this part. It lights me up like a five-year-old on Christmas eve, imagining the possibilities to come. The threads are weaving together to form the potential my client doesn’t see yet. That’s where the evolution starts.

In a few weeks we’ll deliver their new direction. I’m certain developing into the global market is going to be the right thing, and I’m confident the research will back me up.

I nod my head knowingly to myself, pleased with where it’s going. And pleased we know how to avoid the pitfalls of going global.

There’s a world of opportunity out there when you’re willing to evolve your business and take it to a new level. Explore more ideas and possibilities on our blog >> Leading the Evolution.

Business Diagnosis – When You Can’t Put Your Finger On What’s Wrong

“I’m pretty sure it’s my marketing.”

That’s what the owner of a medical supply company said, in our initial conversation. And it’s often what many business owners think when they have a sales issue, but it’s not the only reality. In fact, there a many things that could be going on. Which was actually the case for her. While her marketing was definitely lacking, there was also a heck of a lot more holding her company back from the growth she wanted.

Straight up, we’re a lot different than most marketing companies or agencies. We can confidently say that we haven’t found a competitor yet that goes as far as we do to ensure you get a cohesive marketing strategy on all fronts.

Your business, your business plan and your marketing all have to come together to create the perfect intersection. That goes far beyond your messaging and marketing tactics.

So for this client, when we got into the nitty gritty, there were some pretty glaring issues that quickly showed up. The biggest – she had the wrong business model.

Few marketing companies look at that, but we know that if you don’t have the right model, it doesn’t matter how much money you throw into your marketing, it’s going to be a wasted effort.

The problem with her model was that she hadn’t set up a recurring replacement schedule for the products. Instead, she placed manual orders every month. That meant she could never predict or count on an income for the company. She also incurred increased man hours for order placement, and her clients ran the risk of running out of supplies because a baseline usage was never established. Not a good foundation for sales or service.

On top of that, she was under charging for a product far superior to her competitors’, she was marketing to the wrong target audience and she wasn’t standing out from her competitors because she hadn’t nailed down her positioning

So you can see that in just this one case, there is so much more to consider than just your marketing, when you can’t quite put your finger on what’s wrong.

With your business you should definitely take a look at the factors above, and there’s even more to consider. So, what else should you take a look at?

  • Your business and marketing plan
  • Culture
  • Trends
  • Positioning
  • Thought leadership
  • Your path to the sale

 

Your Business and Marketing Plan

This seems like a no-brainer place to start, but the number of businesses that don’t have a formalized marketing plan is shocking, let alone a plan that aligns with the goals of the business plan.

In one business survey, 49% of businesses admitted they don’t have a plan at all; and in another 75% of businesses polled have no inbound strategy.

That’s a lot of businesses winging it!

Considering consumers are more curious than ever, your inbound strategy needs to be airtight, as does your overall plan.  

According to Google, people are becoming more obsessed with doing research, even on the little things. They want a personalized experience and they’re making decisions about your brand faster than ever. As a business, if you want to grow your market share, you have to be able to anticipate their needs and supply the information they want. And you definitely need a solid strategy to keep up with it.

On top of that, your marketing plan needs to support your business plan, otherwise what’s the point? Right?!

If your goal is to increase business 20% then you need a clear cut strategy to do it.

  • Will you focus on your best selling product or service?
  • A new one?
  • One that has your best profit margin?
  • A combination of the above? And if so what percentages of the goal will be assigned to each?
  • How many do you need to sell to reach the goal?
  • And what are your conversion rates?

These are all things your marketing plan has to take into account, if you’re going to reach your milestones, for the week, month, quarter and year.

The more clarity you have the easier it will be all around. If you don’t have formalized business goals and a marketing plan to specifically support achieving those goals, then this is a good place to start.

Culture

Your culture is really your business’s personality, combined with the way work gets done in your company. There’s a lot of other definitions, but that’s one we really like.

In a survey done by Deloitte, 82% of the people polled said that culture is a potential competitive advantage. That makes sense to us.

Typically, the more supportive a culture is for the employees, the more productive they are. Not only does that mean they’re more efficient at work, they’re also happy to talk about the business favourably outside of work, which should lead to more business, as well as better profit margins, based on productivity alone, not to mention a decreased cost for finding a new customer, and so on.

And, of course, happy employees, working directly with clients, are going to create more engaging interactions; and in a world where experience is becoming a huge part of the landscape,  Your Client’s Needs are Changing. Are You Adapting? you need to have that kind of competitive advantage.

If your business isn’t on the growth curve you want, it might be because it doesn’t have a very attractive personality and/or work isn’t getting done in the best possible way.

In other words, you could be in the middle of a culture catastrophe and not even realize it. It’s definitely worth checking into and making sure that your internal, as well as your external, marketing and communications are on track.

Trends

Technology is rapidly advancing and quickly changing the way we do business in every area.

From marketing to operations and beyond, you need to adapt with the trends. If sales are down this could be the culprit.

Let’s start with consumer trends. Today’s consumers expect more from your business and they want help with their purchase every step of the way, online and offline

That means anticipation, automation and articulation – think ahead about their needs, deliver it fast and efficiently, and send the right message.

No mean feat…and certainly if you’re one of the 49% of businesses without a marketing plan, it’s going to be nearly impossible.

Added to that there are big changes in the marketing landscape with voice computing, augmented reality, blockchain, and the internet of things. (All covered in that awesome white paper above.)

And you can’t forget about trends for buying local and also going global either. [LINK TO Q1 AVOID THE PITFALLS OF GOING GLOBAL] Savvy businesses need to consider how they fit in, and where they have to focus their energy for these trends and many others.

A personalized evaluation of your industry is a must.

Positioning

This is one of our most favourite things to do for a business! Why? Because the businesses we work with get to see their business in a whole new light. It’s exciting all around!

Pretty much every single business that comes to us has a problem with their positioning. They are typically so similar to their competitors that they don’t stand out, and because of it they’re losing out on sales and profit margins.

We call it swimming in the Sea of Sameness. Unfortunately that puts them into a category where they are a commodity that people want for the cheapest price. It’s easy to see how that limits your business income. What you want is exclusivity, and so do your ideal clients.

A huge part of your positioning is considering what your competitors do – but from the perspective of your ideal client.

If they have customers, they’re doing something right. So the question is, what is it? And what makes the prospective client choose them over you? And the next logical question, what do you do that’s different that appeals to the customers you want to work with.

Ultimately, you want your ideal customers to self select. You don’t want to work with everyone. Really – you don’t.

You can probably think of someone you really dislike working with pretty easily. That person is not your ideal client. If you only had that kind of customer to work with day in and day out, the joy of doing business would get sucked away quickly, like a drop of dew on a cactus in the desert. (Which also might describe working with those people – prickly, dry and highly uncomfortable.)

Instead, you want to work with people who are most like your favourite client. Imagine what that would be like? Sunshine, unicorns and rainbows! At the very least, it would certainly be something much more magical than the desert scene.

In order to do that, everything you do as a business has to create an experience for that person, and showcase the things you love to do most. That includes the messaging on your website, your content, social media, sales sheets, in store experience, and so on.

When you focus there, you will differentiate yourself from your competitors. You will be able to charge more for the exclusive experience you bring. And the best part  – your ideal client will love you for doing it.

It’s a win/win all around, in our experience.

Thought Leadership

Okay, this can be a bit of a marketing buzzword in some people’s books, but honestly, it goes hand in hand with your positioning, and it helps to set you apart from everyone else in your niche or industry. Which is why we believe it’s a big part of a great strategy and something that absolutely drives sales.

Think of Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Elon Musk or the Dalai Lama. All have their own very specific brand of thought leadership, and they all have those people who are avid fans and purchasers (physically and spiritually). Your thought leadership will do the same thing for your business, and raving fans drive word of mouth marketing, which is the most powerful form you can attain.

Once you define exactly what it is that you do that no one else can, that gives you a specific angle to work from, when it comes to the way you talk about your business and your industry.

You get to define a very specific space to own, because of your area of expertise and unique ability to do what you do best.

An example is the easiest way to understand it, so let us share with you our angle and the positioning for our thought leadership.

We believe that to do your marketing properly you have to go far beyond the tactics. If you’re thinking battle tactics, of course you have to know how the tank works, but as the general on the field, you also have to be aware of all your troops, your allies, their specialties and how that combination lines up with your opponent’s, if you’re going to win the battle.  

Our whole goal as a marketing company is to examine the trends and help our clients evolve with them, in the way that specifically supports them.

In short – we lead your evolution. That means we need to understand all possible angles, probabilities and tactics and then consider the strategies for each one.

So where our competitors focus on the tank and how it works, we’re looking at a far bigger picture that goes beyond a single tactic. They might talk about “how to’s” for social media, blogs or digital strategy, but we don’t even go near that. The focus is too narrow to be effective for the business over all, when you’re looking at evolution.

Evolution means adapting your business and your marketing together.

So that means we need to understand how that works from every angle and we need to be able to use that kind of thought leadership to educate our prospective clients. That’s why you’re reading about diagnosing a business problem (which includes your marketing) instead of diagnosing a problem on your blog.

When you have the right strategy in place, everything else falls perfectly into line.

Your Path to the Sale

A seamless experience is equally as important in person as it is online. That means every stage of the buying cycle has to be met from the time a person finds out about you, to the time they purchase from you…and beyond, if you want them to come back.

We can’t stress enough here that the real key comes in understanding who your ideal client is and what really makes them tick.

You can’t meet their needs if you don’t understand them.

And you’re going to find that your sales will take a hard nosedive if you’re missing the mark.

If your customers have a negative experience with your brand they’re 60% less likely to purchase from you again. Consumers have a lot of choices out there, so if they don’t get what they want with you and from you, they can easily find it somewhere else.

That’s a lot of sales to miss out on, and you’ll be stuck, forever trying to make up ground, if you don’t do something about it.

So what constitutes a negative experience?

  • Slow page loading times
  • An inability to find information easily
  • Slow checkouts (in person or online)
  • Not predicting/anticipating their needs

Here are some of the stats to support it:

  • 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than three seconds to load.
  • 46% of people say they would not purchase from a brand again if they had an interruptive mobile experience.
  • 61% of people expect brands to tailor experiences based on their preferences.

You need to remember your path to the sale includes the experience on your website or “in store”; the kind of information you provide to help educate prospective clients on the way to the purchase; your engagement on social media and willingness to build a community of like minded people; and so much more.

Looking at all of these factors, you can probably understand why evolving a business goes far beyond simple marketing tactics, and why it can be so hard to figure out exactly what’s wrong when things aren’t where you want them.

But when you get it right, the results are pretty amazing.

That client we talked about at the start of this post took only a few months to surpass her goals because of our recommendations. We’d love to talk to you about evolving your business and improving your results. Let’s book a coffee chat together today! 

Business Flatlined? Your Market Position is the Culprit

Nothing feels worse than realizing your business has flatlined. Looking at numbers like that pretty much makes your heart want to do the same. Most often when businesses come to us for this reason (or because their marketing isn’t working the way they want it to), it’s because they haven’t properly defined their position in the market.

That was exactly the case for a client who came to us in the team building/coaching niche. What they had was interesting enough to get into a sales meeting with a client, but it wasn’t enough to close on the deals.

When we dug into the problem, unsurprisingly, their market positioning was the culprit.

They were saying exactly the same thing as everyone else in their niche, so they didn’t stand out in any way. On top of that, they’d completely missed the mark on what their clients wanted to hear. So, it made complete sense that they weren’t closing on their sales.

Market positioning can be a tricky little thing, because it combines various factors from three key elements:

  1. Your unique selling/serving points.
  2. Your competitors’ unique selling/serving points.
  3. The needs of your ideal client.

When you haven’t carved out your specific niche in the market, and clearly set yourself apart, you make yourself a commodity, which will absolutely flatline your sales and tank your profit margins.

We’ve written a great article about that on LinkedIn. Check out: Becoming a Commodity – How You’ve Unknowingly Stunted Your Growth to learn more.

Your market positioning, of course, has to start with you and what you do differently than your competitors. That runs a huge gamut of things from: vision, mission, values, customer service, products, internal culture, external culture, and so much more. When we do an Impact Assessment for our clients, we take at least five hours to go through this with their team. We mine for the real gems they often don’t even know they have, and they certainly don’t talk about.

This is exactly what we did for our team building/coaching client. What we found was that, unlike most team building courses, their programs actually created lasting change. And after we built a measurement system for them to prove that they did make lasting change, they were able to authenticate it with hard facts.

Because their programs solved communication issues and improved overall productivity, they could potentially put hundreds of thousands of dollars back on the bottom line. The cost of their most intensive program was peanuts compared to that!

But that wasn’t what they were talking about. Instead, their content focused on the kind of personality profiles they did, what was in their programs, how they ran them and their overall process.

They completely missed the actual value they delivered!

Sadly, that’s the case for the vast majority of businesses in the market. They focus on the surface stuff, squarely landing them in the commodity category.

Their content, online and offline, usually focuses on their process, which is NOT the reason anyone makes a purchase!

It’s not about your process. It’s the VALUE you deliver that your clients buy.

You have to get past all the things you usually say, and get to the really cool parts about your business that actually set you apart from everyone else. Which brings us to the next point.

In order to be in a niche all your own, you have to fully research your competitors. That means understanding their brand, brand voice, business model, and what they do to make people rave about them.

You have to define their offerings, so you can remove any similarities from your messaging and marketing.

Your messages have to be completely different than everyone else in your niche, in order to own your market position.

Then the final step, is to develop messages that resonate with your ideal clients. And that means more research.

So for our client, they were missing the mark with their messages because they hadn’t done the full research into their target audience. They had the surface stuff and the basic demographics, but they didn’t understand what the decision maker wanted to hear, which flatlined their business.

Their messaging focused on empowerment, inspiration and motivation, which is all well and good, but when you’re a CEO responsible to shareholders and stakeholders there’s a lot weighing into every decision, not the least of which is the profits and loss statement every month.

Empowerment, inspiration and motivation are nice to have, but those things aren’t going to light a fire hot enough to get the wallet out, especially if nothing’s burning down – which was the reason they weren’t closing sales.

Because they weren’t focusing on the things that were important to their potential clients, they weren’t providing value.

The real value they delivered was saving lost time and revenue by solving communication issues, which were affecting productivity.

When we did their comprehensive research, we found that companies with 50-100 employees lose over $400 000 annually because of these issues. And they could solve it!

That’s something their prospective clients wanted to hear! In fact, when they talked to a client they’d been courting for over 5 years, with this new position and a new tactic we had pitched to them as part of their marketing strategy, the client said yes right away! We hadn’t even created the asset yet, and they wanted it!

That’s what appropriate market positioning does. It makes people say, “I don’t have that and I want it!”

Imagine what it can do for your business! Give us a call and let’s chat over a coffee about your market positioning.

Your Business Just Hit a Plateau, Now What?

So, things were going along fairly well in your business, until now. You’ve hit the dreaded plateau and sales have flatlined. You can’t quite put your finger on what the problem is, but you’re pretty sure it’s the marketing. And you might just be right. But it might not be.

We’re covering six different areas in this post that will affect your business…and not all of them are marketing based.

Here’s the quick overview:

  • Changes in consumer behaviour.
  • Becoming a commodity.
  • Your market position.
  • Telling a great story.
  • Going global.
  • Technology driven market and marketing changes.

First off, let’s talk about your clients. How well do you actually know them?

Do you clearly understand their needs, wants, desires and the things that cause them pain? When was the last time you did a pulse check? (Figuratively, of course!) If you’re not completely in tune with them, it’s going to affect your sales. The reality is the landscape is changing fast and if you haven’t evolved with it, your customers have probably left you behind and that’s showing up on your bottom line.

The National Retail Federation has noted a marked decrease in foot traffic to retail locations and businesses are being forced to put more and more focus into their online shopping experiences. But consumers are being bombarded with monstrous amounts of information and ads, which is affecting their ability to focus and connect with brands.

That means you have to quickly connect with them online, show them the clear value of your product or service, and then give them what they need to make a purchase with you.

In a study done by Cisco, consumers said they want the brands they purchase from to really understand them and what they want for themselves, as well as what they want for the world around them. What’s most important to your customers according to the study?

  • Caring about me
  • Caring about the world
  • Understanding me
  • Being like me
  • Being made to feel special

While they don’t need to have brand loyalty to purchase from you, creating a connection to your brand will definitely bring you more of their wallet-share.

Then after that everything is about speed. Speed of service, the ability to quickly find information, and a streamlined checkout. If you aren’t delivering that speed along with a tailored brand experience, then you’re losing customers.

According to Google, 60% of consumers who have a negative experience with your brand will never buy from you again.

That negative experience includes slow checkouts or ones that require giving a lot of information before a purchase, slow page load times, and having to search for information about your product or service.

Mobile interactions are increasing exponentially, so if you don’t get this under control and start appealing to your clients in a way that’s meaningful to them, your market share will shrink rapidly, if it hasn’t already.

Next question to ask yourself – Have you become a commodity?

On the surface, maybe that seems like a pretty good thing. After all, milk, grain, orange juice, oil and gold are all commodities and people buy them all the time.

But here’s the thing, people want commodities for the cheapest possible price.

So, if your clients are asking for discounts or waiting for the month end sale, you’ve clearly landed in the commodity zone. If you want to charge more, you have to have more value, and that comes with creating exclusivity. That means you have to clearly stand out as being different when you’re being compared to your competitors.

What we typically see when companies come to us, is that they are swimming it what we call the Sea of Sameness, which means they are distinctly in the commodity zone.

The Sea of Sameness is when you and your competitors are all:

  • Displaying similar brand colours
  • Using the same value propositions
  • Describing your products and services in similar ways
  • Utilizing comparable photos or visual identities
  • Employing similar mission and vision statements

When you’re all saying exactly the same thing, you look pretty much the same way, and there are no real distinguishable differences at a glance, then your potential clients look for the business that has the best deal.

What you really want (unless your goal is to have the cheapest price) is to carve out a specialized niche that only you can fill. That gives you exclusivity and you attract the clients who want what only you can deliver. Plus you get to charge more for it, because no one else can do what you do.

Which brings us to the next point….

Have you clearly carved out a market position?

Your market positioning is, of course, the linchpin for your marketing and, even more importantly, for your business plan. Your market positioning is guided primarily by the reasons why you started your business in the first place.

  • You knew you could do it better
  • You wanted to impact the world in your way
  • You deliver something no one else can
  • Your clients are simply better off when they work with you

There is definitely more to this process of carving out an exclusive niche, but this is where you have to start to build your foundation. The things that you do differently than your competitors, and the things that you deliver to your clients 100% of the time, are the things that make you unique, which is exactly the reason your clients want to work with you.

99.9% of the businesses who come to us haven’t clearly outlined their market position. (Even other marketing companies!)

Because they aren’t clear on their market position, their messaging tends to get stuck in the process of what they do rather than the value of what they deliver to the client, which isn’t a meaningful place to start.

Think of it this way, when you’re really hungry do you want to know how the meal is going to taste? Or do you want to know the order that the chef puts the ingredients into the pan? At that moment when you’re really hungry, how it’s going to taste is far more important. And that’s what’s important to your prospective clients too.

When it’s pointed out, it’s so obvious, right?

So why do businesses get caught in the process instead of the value? Because that’s the part you’re most familiar with. This is why it’s so important (going back to our first point) to get to know your customers and what they like best about your business, which should really be your market position. Then you sell to that, with messaging that connects with what your customer really wants.

Are you telling a great story?

As long as humans have been around we’ve been storytelling. It’s part of our human nature, and it’s also a key part of giving your brand human qualities that people can connect with.

As we covered earlier, your clients really want a brand that cares about them. Nothing gets that across faster and more effectively than a great story.

Why? Stories are literally the way we think and how our brain is wired. We have mirror neurons in our brains that help us learn by watching or listening to others. That means we don’t have to experience everything ourselves in order to figure it out. (At least most of us!) Those mirror neurons allow us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. The cool things is that when we just think about an experience, the neurons in our brain fire in exactly the same way they would if we were actually living the experience. Our brains don’t know the difference between thought and reality, which is why you can wake up from a nightmare with a pounding heart. Your brain thinks it’s real and relays those messages to the body. A really great story will do the same thing for your clients.

We continually weave stories in our minds about ourselves, other people, circumstances, situations, our past, our future and so on. Those stories create emotional responses and feelings. The stronger the combination of the feeling and emotion, the more likely we are to remember it. (That alone makes sense for a brand to tell a great story.)

90% of all our purchases are made emotionally and then we justify the decision after the fact with logic.

Knowing that, and knowing that stories are more likely to affect the reader emotionally, it becomes quite obvious that stories are the superior way to go. Yet, most businesses have a chronological detailing of when they started and dates when they passed particular milestones, kind of like your grade school biography project. It adds up to a pretty big yawn for almost all of your customers.

The strongest stories are about people and their ultimate triumphs. They make us feel by talking about the struggles and hardships, delivering lessons and they always have a moment of universal truth in them to learn from, and that inevitably leads to a better place.

Stories help us make sense of it all, and help us to define our position in the world.

Your brand story has to do that for your business and your clients. The people you want to work with most, will identify with your brand story because it mirrors their own story in some way. In other words, the things that make you stand out as a brand (your market positioning) are also the things they value for themselves.

Your brand’s story, will be the flagship for all your marketing, leading the way to a cohesive strategy for all your online and offline content, which means everything flows in one direction.

Is it time to go global?

So let’s say you have the first four points fully covered and you’re knocking it all out of the park. Then it’s time to look at your market pool and your customers in it.

It is absolutely possible to outgrow your local market. And when you do, there will be an obvious stall in your business because you simply can’t sell to any more people. That’s the time to start looking at new markets in the province, the country or around the world.

By 2030 the world’s population is expected to soar to 8.5 billion, and it’s expected that 75% of those people will have both mobile and internet access.

That’s a staggering amount of growth and opens up a heck of a lot of opportunity.

So even if you haven’t hit a plateau because you’ve outgrown your market, it still makes a lot of sense to look at how you can expand and take advantage of the new opportunities.

Before you do take the global leap, you need to make sure you have a solid business and marketing plan in place, which is going to include everything we outlined in the previous points, and more. Far too many businesses launch into new markets without doing their due diligence in planning and research.

You remember Target coming to Canada, right? A disaster from the get go, because they didn’t fully consider the location placement, competitors, customer expectations, stock and shipping logistics, and so much more.

Whether it’s another city, province, or country, there’s a lot to consider, not the least of which is significant differences in your target market, their needs, the culture and how you can best connect with them. Even if you think your idea is brilliant and people will love it, research is required. Remember people want a brand that understands them, and you can’t do that until you really connect with them.

Also consider things like currency exchange rates, language barriers, shipping costs, knowledge of the import and export laws and taxes, and so on. Taking a monstrous hit on your profit margin, because you weren’t aware of the taxes and tariffs on particular products, can be a death knell for your company abroad.

The final thing to consider….

Is your business being affected by market changes driven by technological advancements?

We’re not big believers in chasing your competitors, but if you’re losing a lot of ground to them you may have to consider that they might have something you don’t have – new technology that’s giving them a leg up and winning your customers before they even have a chance to find you.

Marketers around the world continuously groan over the latest algorithm changes for Google and every social media platform out there. It takes some serious dedication to stay ahead of the game in every area. On top of those changes, you also have to contend with new advancements in software and hardware. So if you’re not evolving continually in the technology department, you’re most definitely losing ground.

We’ve written a great white paper that will give you far more information…

Artificial intelligence, (AI) and augmented reality (AR) are creating massive changes, so it has to be the place to start. AR is predicted to be the fastest moving sector for growth in the next 5 years.

Businesses are already using it. Apple’s iphone is the most obvious one, with a number of AR applications. Not to mention Apple has a mission to change the way we interact with the world, by using AR.

AR creates an experience for the user. We know your clients want a unique experience from the brands they frequent. While it’s in the early stages yet, big brands are already investing heavily in AR in their marketing and advertising strategies. The experts predict that advertising spend alone will hit $215 billion by 2021.

Process automation, cognitive insights and cognitive engagement are all AI advancements being used by companies to be more effective internally and externally. Add in chat bots, big data and predictive analytics and you can see how these advancements are helping to streamline the way they operate and connect with their clients. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to AR, AI and business. It’s worth your while to do more research into this rapidly expanding sector.

Voice computing is another area that will absolutely affect you, if it hasn’t already. According to Google, 20% of all mobile searches are now done by voice. Comscore.com predicts it will hit 50% by 2020, and it will be the dominant search form 10 years out.

That’s going to mean some pretty big changes in the marketing landscape. Websites are going to have to be designed with voice computing in mind, since most of the experiences will take place without having to look at the screen.

Social media platforms are already moving toward voice computing and it won’t be long before you can write, post and respond to comments on your posts, without having to look at a screen at all.

And voice searches are definitely affecting keyword choices and SEO. The average voice search is 4.2 words or longer; and it’s much more conversational in nature. That means your marketing is going to have to reflect those changes, and the new style of keywords will have to be worked into your content in order to be found by the search engines.

There is absolutely no doubt about it, the landscape is going to change radically in the next 10 years. In order to thrive your business is going to have to evolve. BottomLine is Leading the Evolution. Let’s chat about yours…

Your Client’s Needs are Changing. Are You Adapting?

Consumer behaviour has undergone a rapid change in the past 10 years, and the predictions for the future clearly show the trend isn’t stopping any time soon. Between morphing customer expectations, new technology advancements, emerging global markets, and “Buy Local” trends, the landscape is constantly shifting.

If you’re not on top of it all, and evolving your business, you’re simply going to be left behind in the dust.

Consumer Behaviour

Let’s start with morphing customer expectations. Just the vast selection of providers in any niche has really transformed shopping behaviours. Long gone are the days when you just went to the local store and made your decision solely based on what the salesperson or business owner had to say. Now the consumer has the means to be far more selective about who they work with and a desire for more variety in the offerings.

Consumers can research products and services, compare alternatives, and get reviews and feedback about those products or service before committing.

The sheer amount of data consumers can access is vast. That gives them the ability to ask prospective brands intelligent questions before they purchase, allowing them to make highly informed buying decisions. Which is something we all enjoy.

As a business, you have to adapt and supply the information customers want.

Because there are so many suppliers to choose from, businesses have to get better and better at creating content in a variety of formats, while becoming more and more transparent with the information they deliver. Developing that kind of honesty opens the door to building greater trust with your customers, but it also slams it hard and fast if they find you less than forthright.

The reality is that your consumers are now spending twice as much time on their mobile devices, as they are on their desktops or laptops.

That means they can access a wealth of information, as well as products and services very quickly, no matter where they are, which has set up the expectation that they can get anything they want pretty much instantaneously. And those expectations are being met. Giants like Amazon, Zappos, Wal-mart and Apple, can receive an order and have it on a customer’s doorstep the next morning, in most circumstances, and sometimes sooner. There’s no doubt we can expect to see faster and faster delivery times in the future.

The “I want it all and I want it now” kind of mentality means your potential customers become extremely frustrated when they don’t get that from you. If they can’t easily find the information they want to make an informed buying decision, or if they have a less than stellar experience with you, you’re unlikely to see them again in the future.

According to Google, 60% of consumers who have a negative experience with your brand will never buy from you again.

Sadly for many brands, what’s classified as a negative experience by a customer can simply be a neutral experience. With access to so many different options online and offline, consumers are now expecting something much more dynamic when they interact with you. Sixty-one percent of people expect brands to tailor experiences based on their preferences. That requires a lot of in-depth knowledge of your customer, which means you need to be constantly in touch with them, getting their feedback.

Patience is a premium most customers simply won’t pay.

If your mobile experience is deficient at any point during the sales process, it will absolutely affect your sales. Slow load page times, difficulty navigating or searching your mobile site, and slow checkouts will have consumers bouncing from your site to someone else’s in a real hurry. Why wait when you can get the exact same thing you want somewhere else without the added time and effort?

Get more information on this in our white paper:

Consumers are also expecting free shipping, one day shipping, as well as easy returns and exchanges online and offline. That definitely creates some logistical and financial hoops for businesses to jump through when they want to grow market share.

If you don’t adapt to your customers expectations, you’re definitely going the way of the dodo.

Consumer Habits

Where people are spending their time has also changed, and again that’s affecting their behaviours.

In fact, a recent study by GlobalWebIndex involving 170,000 people, found that they spent 28% of their online time on social networking sites.

News, socialization, stimulation and so on is obtained on social media. That means the traditional ways of doing things is becoming less and less important to them, which means it has to become less and less a part of your business and marketing strategy.

Canadians watch more YouTube than anyone in the world, they out-tweet Americans, and they visit Facebook more than U.S. online users. Americans are watching more than 5.5 hours of video a day online, according to eMarketer. In short. the time spent watching TV or listening to the radio is definitely on a downward swing.

That means businesses have to look beyond traditional media outlets when it comes to marketing. That can be both good and bad depending on the business.

Good because there are so many places to advertise, on social media and otherwise; and most of the time, you can do it for a lot less money than the budget necessary for a radio, television or billboard campaign. Digital marketing also offers far superior targeting, allowing you to reach your ideal clients. Digital ads can zero in on specific age groups, locations (down to a single postal code if you like), particular industries or job titles, and so much more. That gives business owners and marketing managers far greater ability to reach the right people and get a proven return on the marketing investment.

It can be bad for businesses because there are so many platforms to choose from. Many companies try to use as many as possible, which waters down their marketing efforts. Strategic targeting is a much better way to go. Before you launch into the digital marketing realm you need a marketing strategy that’s tactically focused on your business goals and initiatives, which will help you decide where you need to be, when you need to be there and what you need to say to connect in a meaningful way with your prospective clients.

Straight up – if every single piece of your marketing strategy is not pushing forward your business goals, you’re wasting your money!

Let’s look at video as an example. We know people are watching more online video now than ever before, and the statistics clearly show that using video can absolutely increase sales. 74% of users who watched an explainer-video about a product, subsequently bought it. Perfect, right? But there’s far more types of videos to choose from than just explainer videos, so which are best to employ for your business? These are just a few of your options:

  • Vlogs
  • Explainer videos
  • How to’s
  • Brand videos
  • Product videos
  • Testimonials
  • Webinars

The answer really depends on your business goals, your marketing strategy and your resources.

Everything has to move in one direction, and it very clearly needs to meet a predetermined purpose, otherwise why do it?

Many businesses chase the tactics, like video or deploying Google ads, because it seems to be the latest and greatest thing to bring in sales, but they jump in without having a strategy in place. That leads to disjointed marketing initiatives, ineffective results and frustrated CEO’s, owners and marketing managers, who are all left wondering why their marketing isn’t working.

We can’t stress this enough, a full and comprehensive strategy needs to be fully outlined, and followed, if you want to be successful with your marketing efforts.

Consumers and Technology


Beyond the mobile devices we use for shopping and surfing the net, technology is rapidly changing the world and the way we act and interact within it.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is quickly playing a big part. The IoT is simply any device connected to the internet or any device connected to a device that’s connected to the internet. Research analysis firm, Gartner, expects that there will be around 26 billion IoT connected devices by 2020.

This new technology is allowing consumers to make more purchases to improve their quality of life, making it easier and more enjoyable. They also expect that their favourite brands are doing the same thing. They want brands to anticipate their needs and deliver products they don’t even know they need yet.

Scripps Networks recently did a study and found 75% of consumers bought a smart device to keep their family safe and comfortable.

Safety and comfort are basic needs and big internal drivers for humans. We also want greater ease and less stress, so it’s no wonder smart home technology is an area experiencing a huge growth surge.

We can now get IoT products for just about everything. There’s voice activated garbage cans, virtual assistants like Alexa and Echo for the home, toothbrushes with AI, and so much more. Soon smart homes will give way to smart cities, countries and eventually the world. Those changes are going to again morph consumer buying behaviours.

Wearable tech is also in demand. From the Fitbit to Bluetooth yoga pants, expectations are changing. People are becoming more concerned about their health and wellness and about the earth. They’re becoming more discerning about ingredients in the food they eat, chemicals in products and the overall footprint we have on the world.

According to the Mintel Global Food and Drinks Trends report, only one in five Canadians trust the health claims on a food and/or beverage package.

That type of mistrust is forcing changes worldwide, not just in Canada. Manufacturers are having to be more forthright about ingredients and product materials. Companies are revising their practices, reconsidering the types of packaging they use, and looking at ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Around the globe, there’s a push toward banning one-time use plastics, like grocery bags. We see companies like Starbucks getting on board, and eliminating plastic straws to reduce non-compostable waste in the environment; and companies like Adidas making running shoes from all recycled ocean plastic in an effort to get our world in better shape.

Consumers are taking notice and giving more and more support to brands that are thinking about the world around them. You have to consider, as you move forward, how you’re going to be one of them.

Global and Local Consumers

With the internet being home to nearly two billion websites around the globe, it’s easy for consumers to get their hands on just about anything they want. Products and services they might not have been able to access locally, are now easily reachable. And this is just going to get bigger.

By 2030 the world’s population is expected to soar to 8.5 billion, and it’s expected that 75% of those people will have both mobile and internet access.

That will, of course, mean many more businesses to compete with in the market, but it will also mean a lot more clients you can reach if you expand globally. With new voice computing technology getting better and better, we can expect to see language barriers drop and more business being done abroad.

The ability to purchase globally has conversely fueled “Buy Local” campaigns, in order to support businesses in the community.

Some of the new technology advancements are actually helping local businesses. 20% of mobile queries are now done by voice command, according to Google (expected to reach 50% by 2020), and local businesses have bit of an advantage with voice computing. People who use voice search on their mobile devices are three times more likely to make locally based enquiries, working in local details like “restaurants near me.” That can mean a greater likelihood of your business getting found in an organic search from a mobile device in a local query.

The consumer focus on greater health and better nutrition is also helpful for local businesses who operate under more of a farm-to-table model, or who source and manufacture products locally. A survey given to Canadians, conducted in 2016 by the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity, showed that:

  • 48% were personally concerned about the use of hormones in farm animals.
  • 46% were worried about pesticides in crop production.
  • 45% were drug anxious about residues in meat, milk and eggs.
  • 45 % were troubled about eating food that comes from genetic engineered crops.

The transparency in your product components, as well as a focus on your customer’s wellbeing is noticed by your prospective clients and will win you their business.

What Consumers Really Want from You

Consumers are saying they want the brands they purchase from to really understand them and their needs, as well as understand what they want for the world around them. In a study done by Cisco, consumers said they want to work with brands who show they:

  • Care about me
  • Care about the world
  • Understand me
  • Are like me
  • Make me feel special

In order to deliver on the new expectations your clients have for your brand, you have to truly get know them. That goes far beyond the basic demographics most businesses focus on, like age, gender, marital status, geolocation and so on. You have to dig a lot deeper and begin to understand their wants, needs and values. You have to know what motivates and excites them, what causes them pain, and what they want from life for themselves and for their loved ones. Then you have to be able to take that information, apply it to your brand, and develop something for your client that goes far beyond a single transaction.

The best brands build solid relationships and immerse themselves into their client’s lives. They anticipate their clients’ needs, and they stay ahead of the trends in order to maintain and build on their market share.

At BottomLine, we are Leading the Evolution for savvy businesses who want to stay ahead of the curve. If you’re one, you’ll want to check out our white paper…