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Posts Tagged ‘value proposition development’

Value Proposition: The right strategy beats a bigger budget

March 7th, 2019
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Marketers say they have money problems.

According to research from Conductor, lack of budget is the biggest internal challenge that could negatively impact online performance. Securing budget/investment is the most extreme challenge for marketing teams, according to KoMarketing research. And here at MarketingSherpa, you’ve told us the size of your marketing budget is a barrier to growth time, after time, after time.

Hey, I hear you, marketers. I want a bigger budget as well.

But if you can’t simply throw more money at the problem or outspend the competition, you can still beat them — with a better approach. In other words, a more effective value proposition.

I recently came across the perfect example when I talked to a marketer who likely has far fewer resources than you do.

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

A value proposition based on customer-first marketing

Dean Porter is the development director at Hunger Fight, a small local nonprofit organization here in Jacksonville that helps feed Title 1 elementary school students as well as seniors.

Dean and his wife founded their charity in the teeth of the Great Recession. And they quickly learned that organizations were not so keen on simply stroking a check to a charity, even when it was doing noble work like feeding the hungry.

They didn’t have a big marketing budget they could fall back on. They couldn’t just spend their way into more leads.

So they had to come up with a better idea – a value proposition aimed at giving to their ideal customers, not just taking from them.

They created a model with a value proposition that coupled corporate employee engagement with community involvement by holding meal packing events, which they describe as “two ½ hours of organized chaos to feed children and families.”

 

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What do you lead with? (MarketingSherpa Podcast Episode #4)

February 12th, 2019
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What is an impactful way to increase conversion?

Or …

How do you grab your customer’s attention?

See, I could have led with either statement. Both statements describe our conversation in the latest MarketingSherpa podcast. But my hypothesis was that the first statement would grab your attention more.

Customer attention is a scarce resource. There is only space for one headline in the print ad, only a set amount of characters in a paid search ad, only six seconds that will be the opening six seconds of your TV commercial. And yet, your product likely has many value attributes.

So what do you lead with? To elucidate (and other fancy words) yourself on this subject, you can listen to this episode below in whichever way is most convenient for you — or click the orange “Subscribe” button to get every episode.

 

 

More About Episode #4 — Value sequencing

The initial question of the podcast leads to a bigger topic — value sequencing.

What do customers need to know? And when do they need to know it during the buyer’s journey? In addition, which customers need to know which things about your product?

This is true for their entire macro-journey with your brand but equally important at the micro-level within each customer interaction. For a landing page or an email, what do they need to know in the beginning, middle and end?

These are topics Austin and I dove into. Here are the show notes from this episode:

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Content Marketing: How to manage a change in content on your blog

October 11th, 2013
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You’ll get no arguments from me that starting a new blog can be difficult.

There are plenty of great content marketing resources from MarketingSherpa and elsewhere to help you do that.

But, what happens when your company decides to undergo a change in content?

Navigating the waters of a new format on a well-established blog is a different kind of monster than starting from scratch.

 

Make sure everyone understands the big picture

If you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of new faces on the MarketingSherpa blog.

Also, if you read the blogs of our sister brands MarketingExperiments and B2B Lead Roundtable, you will also find a lot of new contributors there as well.

When I asked Brandon Stamschror, Senior Director of Content Operations, MECLABS, about some of the elements driving the change in content, Brandon explained the new approach was a unique opportunity to return blogging to its roots.

“For us, it felt like it was time for our blogging voice to come full circle,” Brandon explained. “Blogging originated as the ultimate personal journal. It was a platform for practitioners who were passionate about their message being heard, but over time, that approach has evolved into a more sophisticated medium that has as much in common with a trade journal as it does with a personal journal.“

Another reason Brandon mentioned for the change was based on the idea that members of the MECLABS research team have a wide range of insights and practical advice to offer our audience.

“We realized that we are in a place to leverage the strengths of both approaches. Real world practitioner discoveries and observations supported by a consistent editorial standard,” Brandon said.

Instead of letting all of that content simply vanish, the era of the MECLABS practitioner blogger had arrived.

Consequently, this also meant the MECLABS research team would be taking on a new writing initiative, so the first real challenge was one of communication throughout the organization.

So, the first tip here is simple – communicate, communicate and communicate.

Make sure everyone in the organization understands the reasons for change and what their role in those changes will be, as your team can’t help build something they don’t fully understand.

 

Anticipate problems and start looking for solutions

This is my faith in Murphy’s Law – if anything can go wrong, it will – so the trick is to anticipate problems and find solutions to avoid headaches later.

For instance, while having a sizeable pool of new content creators was a great asset, there was one catch …

Most of our practitioners’ writing skills were based on formal training in academic writing.

Few had prior blogging experience, while only one to my knowledge had any experience in journalism or exposure to the editorial process.

Based on our assessment, here were some of the problems we anticipated:

  • Limited blogging experience – How do we help analysts to start writing blog posts?
  • Formal training in academic writing – How can the content team help practitioners develop blog writing skills?
  • Few have exposure to editorial process – How do we build a new editorial process that allows for more revision and editing time? How can we educate our internal thought leaders on the editorial process?

After a few rounds of discussion, our team decided a blog post template provided a simple solution to solve the problem of helping analysts get started writing blog posts.

 

The feedback we received from our in-house writers so far is the blog post template has been helpful in providing some rudimentary direction and structure to get started.

In short, the more problems like these that you can anticipate and find solutions for beforehand, the less painful your transition will hopefully be.

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Social Media Marketing: Why should I like or follow you?

September 10th, 2013
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Once upon a time, I was the new kid at school. Since I was a fairly athletic kid, I soon found myself in the midst of a pickup football game at recess. Imagine my horror when, despite my lack of knowledge about the competition, I was selected as a team captain.

I remember asking kids to explain to me, as quickly as possible, why I should choose them for my team. Some kids gave excellent reasons. “I’ve got good hands,” says one. “I’m the fastest kid here,” chimed in another. Many of the kids, however, never offered any answer to my question. Some of them ended sitting out the game because they couldn’t articulate why they should be picked. In football, as in social media, the key to getting picked is selling yourself.

You’re probably used to selling your products, but do you sell your social media?

Here’s what I mean.

 

How does value proposition relate to social media?

The fundamental value proposition question is:

“If I’m your ideal prospect, why should I buy from you rather than any of your competitors?”

I’ve even heard the phrase expanded in an academic environment to include this add-on phrase: “or do nothing at all?”

The “do nothing at all” is an important distinction because given a set of equally depressing options, a consumer may elect to forgo any product purchase at all.

Therefore, the smart companies tailor product development efforts in such a way the value proposition question produces a satisfying answer in regard to product offerings.

This leads me to another important question.

If product developers know that answering the value proposition question effectively is the key to successful product development, then why can’t a similar logic be applied to your social media efforts?

 

Whose problem are you solving?

The biggest problem I see with most social media marketing campaigns is usually a paradigm problem. It’s also the primary reason why a company won’t ultimately become successful in the medium.

When companies launch marketing efforts, it’s generally to boost sales. But social media, however, is only successful when content solves a customer problem, not a lack of sales problem.

In other words, most companies are not asking the right value exchange questions. Let’s take Twitter for example.

The prevalent mindset is a company-centric focus of “how can we sell products using Twitter?” instead of a customer-centric focus on “why should potential customers engage our Twitter feed rather than any of our competitors’?”

Consequently, it would do well for marketers to stop and ask the fundamental question, “Is there any true value in our marketing proposition?”

 

From my experience, when marketers begin to ask these deeper questions about their social media content, the conversational ratio of their posts begins to change – usually for the better.

Here’s another fantastic illustration of my point.

 

Do this:

 

Not this: 

 

Notice how Publix has given the visitor a solution to their problem of wanting to eat more fish. They’ve included a free fish recipe, and a mouthwatering image of a completed meal.

The value of this post is clear and easily recognized. I want to engage with this content because doing so will enable me to cook a great fish meal for my family and achieve my goal of eating more fish.

The hoodie retailer, on the other hand, clearly has no answer to the question of why a user would want to engage with the content. Other than the gratuitous pandering about Saturday tailgates, the retailer makes no effort to solve any problem for the customer.

It even goes as far as to command the customer to “shop now.” Anybody who’s ever crafted a call-to-action knows that dog won’t hunt.

This post is designed to solve the retailer’s problem: the need to sell hoodies. It holds no value for customers whatsoever.

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Bottled Lightning: 3 creative approaches to email marketing (yes, email marketing)

September 3rd, 2013
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As I wrote previously on the MarketingSherpa blog, there is an inherent paradox in the marketing and media industries when it comes to creative talent.

We need them to come up with ideas that are wild and outside of the box, and they’re expected to fit within corporate structure.

 

Let’s take a closer look at one of those boxes today – email marketing

According to the MarketingSherpa 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, companies have identified a 119% overall ROI from email marketing.

This means more email marketing writing and design assignments for agency copywriters, art directors, graphic designers and marketing managers.

Now, anyone who has any writing or design ability at all probably did not grow up hoping to write email marketing. I wanted to write screenplays myself, and now my goal is to write the great American e-book. You might have originally started in the agency business or a marketing department with the hope of focusing on broadcast spots.

But, we all know the dog assignments are what separate the true professional writers from the hacks. For that reason, one of my favorite pieces in my portfolio is a postcard for a Realtor incentive program. No joke.

 

Creative, effective email

So, with MarketingSherpa Email Awards 2014 now accepting entries until September 8, let’s take a quick look at a few examples of really creative email campaigns. Since results are a major focus of the Email Awards, this is creative that really works.

I call this bottled lightning – taking a run-of-the-mill creative brief in a restrictive medium and adding a creative jolt. It goes back to the basics you learned when you first built your portfolio. Sure, anyone can make an amazing 60-second for Porsche or Harley.

But, you can’t do these in broadcast …

 

1. Get interactive in real time

The Best in Show winner from MarketingSherpa Email Awards 2013 (sponsored by Responsys), NFL.com, added some really innovative features to its newsletters, like “Countdown to the Game” countdown clocks and a “Who Will Win? Vote Today!” dynamically updated poll.

 

Results: 121% increase in open rate, 26% increase in clickthrough rate, and a 9% increase in mobile opens.

 

Kudos to …

  • Christine Hua and Aidan Lyons of the NFL (client)
  • David Hubai, Andrey Semenov, Ray Bovenzi, Robert Ragusa, Kellie Mixon, Greg Zolotas, Colin Petruno, Anne Koskey-Wagoner and Lilia Arsenault of e-Dialog (agency)

 

Steal this idea …

Admittedly, I’m starting with a brand that must be as fun to work with, or more fun than Harley and Porsche. What’s impressive here is how these marketers took the Marshall McLuhan approach. One huge advantage email has over broadcast is that it’s interactive and you can update your creative in real time.

 

2. Win back that old flame

Travelocity won a Gold in MarketingSherpa Email Awards 2012 (sponsored by Responsys), for its win-back campaign. The designers created an email so beautiful you just want to jump into it like the girl in the “Take on Me” music video.

 

Results: Travelocity increased ROI more than 100% from previous efforts.

 

Kudos to …

  • Doug Purcell of Travelocity (client)
  • Tonya Gordon, Doug Steinberg and Aaron Wilson of StrongMail (agency)

 

Steal this idea …

Broadcast is a mass media because you must talk to a mass audience. You don’t know who has bought recently, or bought a long time ago and hasn’t come back.

With email, you can find that old flame and target a message specifically to them. However, many win-back campaigns are solely discount focused. In this case, the team produced an email that appealed to the rational by including the discount, but didn’t overlook the emotional reasons to travel with the beautiful imagery.

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Online Marketing: 3 website optimization insights I learned from baking

July 26th, 2013
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Ever since I was a little girl, baking has been a hobby of mine.

There has always been something satisfying about attempting to master the complexities of baking.

Although the realist in me knew I wasn’t going to hit the big bucks through baking, I have found a few ways to apply some of the lessons I’ve learned from baking to my work as a research manager at MECLABS.

In today’s MarketingSherpa blog, I wanted to share three insights into how I think about testing and marketing as a result of my baking attempts.

 

Don’t stick with the directions on the box

Some of my best cakes have come from getting creative and literally thinking outside the box by adding different ingredients, or from asking friends what kind of crazy cake ingredients they’d like to try.

When working with one of our Research Partners to create a testing strategy, I often find myself confined to my own thought track – which I’ll admit can cause the creativity of test ideas to become stale and truthfully, can even get a little boring sometimes.

So, brainstorming with others in our peer review sessions is a great way to add those “new ingredients” to a test design to hopefully help our Research Partners learn more about their customers.

 

Beware of offering coupons in the Sunday paper too soon

Betty Crocker’s coupons excite me every time, and it’s a marketing tactic that stretches all the way back to 1929.

That’s when the company first decided to insert coupons into the flour mixture part of the box mix. And, I’ll admit the tactic works on me because I often find myself staring at the Save $1.00 off TWO boxes of cake mix coupon and debate a trip to the store.

But, here’s the big question … am I being motivated to buy more because of my aggregate experience with the product, or because of the value proposition offered in the coupon?

Before I even saw the coupon, I wasn’t planning on buying cake mixes, but now I’m thinking about it – why should I buy more cake mix from you?  It will cost me more regardless of the coupon savings.

Now, I understand the idea of incentives and they can work – people have a hard time letting savings slip through their fingers, but offering incentives right off the bat isn’t always the best answer to increasing conversion and here’s why …

At MECLABS, we generally stress incentives should be the last resort in your testing efforts to see a quick win. The reason for this is offering incentives can skew your understanding of true customer motivation, as you can tell from my coupon example above.

My need for cake mix is why I initially purchased, and a coupon incentive may not be the optimal solution to keeping me as a return customer or attracting new customers.

So, before you worry about the coupons and other incentives, try to make sure you have the basics covered first:

  • A website that visitors can easily navigate and find what they’re looking for.
  • A simplified purchase flow for potential customers.
  • Easy, accessible support for your customers when they can’t figure things out.

If those items are in place and you’ve tested for the optimal user experience, then you can begin to explore incentives.

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