Archive for December, 2010

Narrowly Focused

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Business development is among the most essential aspect of any company. The marketing team’s biggest concern is how to gain new customers while making sure the existing customers are satisfied. Frequently updated marketing messages can garner a lot of attention and gather new customers but it can also disable companies that don’t concentrate on their core competency. Knowing that few companies can do many things well, successful marketers consistently narrow their focus to retain market leadership in one or two core areas. As Ravi Kalakota and Marcia Robinson said in E-Business 2.0: “No visionary company shines in every dimension of business cost, quality, price, convenience, and ease of use.”

From a marketing standpoint, there are these three most common categorized focuses in response to different business strategies:

Cost-Leadership: Delivering messages of efficiency and low price points.

Superior Service: Marketing in a customer friendly way, by delivering what customers want with hassle-free service and value.

Continuous Innovation: Surprising consumers with functional, and emotional creativity.

To be a cost leader requires a strong will to resist the temptation of fighting against high-end competitors. Your marketing messages should always be focused for price sensitive consumers. Anyone can claim they are the lowest price provider, or they have the best product below a certain pricing point, but your customers only care whether they would get a better deal from you.

Superior service focus means to select a few high-value customer niches and then make a concerted effort to serve them well. This strategy requires a marketing team to anticipate the customer’s needs, and share information with your customers to provide expedient self-service to meet with their expectations. The attitude of your marketing and sales team is especially important to this strategy.

Continuous innovation sounds very exciting, yet it demands great dedication to change change and change: Innovate or Die! Marketing for a radical innovation can be high risk and before marketing a new product/service, you always want to ask yourself these questions: How do I convince the market that this new product/service would better fulfill their needs? How do I overcome the resistance to change among my customers?

Someone may argue that being narrowly focused limits possible opportunity. However, it is truly important to find your own niche and then stick with it, dig in deep, and thrive in it! For example, Apple never markets itself from a price standpoint; LL Bean has made a real effort to improve its customer service and it’s paid off; and AMB Property Corporation is not even interested in residential real estate, when millions of other commercial real estate investors made a huge fortune from it. Rather, these organizations win and maintain leadership positions because they provide intrinsic, narrowly focused value that their customers care about.

FiG Advertising and Marketing (Focus Identity Group, LLC), can help your business better focus on your niche and target customers, to deliver more concentrated marketing initiatives that lead to growth and increased sales.

Efficient Marketing Communication

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Following up on our previous discussion of social media, let’s dig deeper into the core of its “solid content” message.

With the expansion of digital technology, the world is becoming closer, but people are harder to reach.  Although there is no doubt that the internet has brought a lot of advantages to our society, companies and individuals are both facing obstacles to effective communication due to the explosion of online sources and the accumulation of clutter.

What does that tell us? Both the idea and the way it is distributed matter! What we are talking about here, quite simply, are the three golden rules of effective marketing communications: meaning, creativity and relevance.


Since audiences now have more control over the messages that they would prefer to receive, it is important to make the communication meaningful. However meaningfulness does not mean the message needs to be comprehensive. On the contrary, it has to be concise with simple points focused on benefits. Don’t lecture consumers about the features of your products or services; tell your prospects how these features will benefit them. Put the focus on your consumers instead of on your company. If you are a cell phone company, for example, share with your customers how your cell phone service can better connect them with their friends, families and clients rather than the technical features of your cell towers.  4G only matters because your customers will get the data they want more quickly and can share that data more efficiently.


“Creativity will be an increasingly essential business tool.”–Juicing the Orange

Why do we prefer to sit and watch a Coke commercial but get up to make a sandwich or go to the bathroom during other advertisements on TV? Why do we go online to search for an Old Spice video on YouTube, while spending extra money to skip advertisements with a DVR or subscription to a web page? Because they are creative! Creativity adds flavor to everyone’s life. Not to say that creativity alone sells, but that creativity has to speak to audience motivations.

“Going viral” is the holy grail of modern marketing.  Getting something out there that blurs the line between advertisement and entertainment is key.  Once achieved the audience grows on its own.  This tact does come with its own hazards however.

Creativity can lend itself to self-indulgence, “art for art’s sake”.  Worse yet it can be seen as a blatant attempt at social/pop culture relevance and create contempt in the audience who may feel condescended to or insulted.  This is a method that requires a greater investment in creative vs media spend than other methods and the rewards can be astronomical, just ask the Old Spice guy.  At the end of the day though keeping a message relevant to your audience couched in entertainment is your best bet.


The biggest challenge that most companies and advertising agencies face nowadays is that technology is threatening to make messages less prominent. When a message is less prominent you must rely on the audience sifting through and choosing to listen to what you are pitching. You can do this by creating relevance to what you are saying or you can see where relevance exists and seek a way to integrate yourself into it.

Think about WholeFoods. The core idea is that it is an organic market with a different selection, but the concept they are selling goes beyond that.  They convey that there is something inspiring about people’s decision to embrace a healthy lifestyle and that buying from WholeFoods translates into a cleaner/greener world. This differentiated message definitely motivates WholeFoods’ customers to be more loyal and willing to spend more than other competing supermarkets’ customers.  Relevance, however, is important not only in the message itself but also the channels that deliver those messages.

A few years ago, Nordstrom shifted its marketing efforts online and away from TV. The reason behind that move is that Nordstrom discovered that busy women shopping the Web wanted more than just product details; they love fashion, but they don’t have time to go to the mall. These women didn’t wait for an ad to inspire them to go into a store to start looking, they started looking online from home and work all on their own.  That’s why Nordstrom reformed its online store with music, and a goal of delivering fashion directly to the shoppers’ desktop instead of investing in less relevant avenues for this particular audience.  They became relevant to the browsing and shopping from home habits of their natural audience.

Improve Your Next Campaign:

If your last marketing communication fell short of the three golden rules you may not have seen the results you wanted. Communications that are meaningful, creative and relevant are more likely to bring in and keep customers during tough times and in the better days ahead.

About FiG Advertising and Marketing:

FiG Advertising and Marketing (Focus Identity Group, LLC) is dedicated to providing affordable, results-driven brand marketing communications and campaigns to businesses just like yours. It is important to communicate and connect with your customers on a level that has more meaning than an impression.