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Brand and marketing – how they fit together

By | News | One Comment

There is an increasing level of confusion between branding and marketing, with the two terms often being used interchangeably to communicate the visual or strategic objectives of a business.

We have come across many businesses and organisations recently, that have undertaken branding and marketing in the reverse order. This has resulted in a brand being created without a marketing plan, often then requiring the brand to altered when the strategic rigour provided within the marketing plan identifies misalignment.

Branding is a potential output of the strategic marketing planning process and not the other way around. At the base level, a brand enables the differentiation of one business from another, providing a conduit that builds common ground between stakeholders and personnel within the business.

The marketing planning process determines the overall marketing direction of the business. Branding and identity is a potential output and tactic that may be considered. If this is the case then a brand strategy is created which determines the attributes and essence of the brand, as well as guideline around the brand name, presence and brand promise. From this comes the visual identity and complementary creative materials that support the communication of the brand.

With marketing being ill defined, it can be easy for businesses to become confused between the two terms. This is compounded by the fact that Australia is dominated by tacticians of marketing such as the digital agency, creative agency or advertising agency.

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For non-marketers, particularly those on boards, it can be easy to take the branding option first rather than to invest in a marketing plan. Often a marketing tactician will show visual examples of their work and draft concepts, causing boards and other decision makers to often ask the wrong questions and hence confuse branding for marketing.

The strategic insights through marketing should always be the first aspect you consider when you look at your marketing mix. Once this step is undertaken, you can then consider what is required to develop a brand that resonates with your marketing direction.

Do not overlook your products and services

By | Advice for Businesses | No Comments

The marketing mix, or customer experience, forms the foundation of a strategic marketing approach. Each element within the mix needs to be considered from a strategic perspective to ensure alignment between business goals, market value and marketing outcomes.

While many businesses understand the core of what they offer, they often overlook the other attributes that consist of their product or service. A product or service will typically have three core components:

  1. The Core  – the fundamental need you provide. The core is the generic need that that is fulfilled by utilising your product or service. For example in hospitality you are satisfying hunger, or shelter for accommodation. This is often cited as one of the reasons for the failure of Kodak, since it failed to consider that its products provide story telling or memories, not photography.
  2. Actual product – the tangible components that customers interact with. This is the physical configuration of the product or service, including packaging, staff interaction and the product itself. Hospitality incorporates the setting of the restaurant, cuisine selection and attitudes of staff. In the case of Kodak, the product included the film quality, packaging and store interaction. Had Kodak considered its product as storytelling or memories, then the actual product would have encompassed digital storage, cameras and photography sharing.
  3. Augmented product – additional components you can offer to differentiate yourself from competitors, which reinforce your value proposition. A fine dining restaurant may incorporate an additional course in a degustation menu for regular customers, while a hotel may offer valet parking or extended check outs.
Product components

A product consists of many components – all of them need to be part of the marketing mix

Failing to incorporate a holistic view of your products or services will cause fragmentation within the marketing mix and diminish outcomes. Marketing needs visibility and influence into product development and service composition to ensure alignment across each element of the marketing mix.

Define your metrics

By | Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities | No Comments

Marketing is only effective when it is measurable, enabling you to evaluate outcomes and compare this to your expectations.  The ability to evaluate marketing outcomes begins through a marketing plan. Your plan needs to articulate your strategic direction and then identify the outcomes you want to achieve.  Part of this process should include identifying the metrics you will use to measure these outcomes so you can evaluate progress and the end results.

Metrics exist for most aspects of marketing and it is important to look at the real elements that you want to measure.  For example, measuring the number of hits to your website is meaningless, when the real value is in the number of website visitors that then interact with your business or respond to your call to action. Begin by understanding the value of what you want to measure and the reason why it is important.

Customer acquisition and retention is often a particular area of focus. Begin by understanding the number of customers that you have and make sure you avoid double-counting, particularly if there are multiple users but just one purchaser.   Once you have identified an accurate number you can then identify the frequency and recency of their purchases and your overall client retention rate.  This data provides an insight into the lifetime value of your customer. As a result, you are able to gain an understanding of the customer attributes that are required to provide a greater return to your business.

Furthermore, using these metrics you can then explore the cost of acquisition and orientate your approach to customers that provide a greater level of return. Consider the time that is required to convert leads into customers, as well as the number of touch points and key steps that are required.  Very few businesses can rely on one channel alone to generate customers, so it is important to consider each step that is required to achieve these outcomes.

Understanding and embedding metrics into your marketing plan ensures you are able to evaluate your results and make informed decisions. For example, without these metrics you may have a sound acquisition approach, but could end up spending far too much time and money on customers that generate too little return. Ensure that you have the ability to understand where best to invest your marketing outcomes.

Taking the time to develop the right metrics enables you to establish a benchmark and evaluate performance over time. As a result you are able to measure the impact of your marketing outcomes and work towards the strategic direction you have identified.

Beyond the SWOT – Revisiting this elementary tool

By | Advice, Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, Government, Resources | No Comments

The SWOT analysis (the consideration of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) is a tool that is often incorporated into most business and marketing plans. While the SWOT analysis may be trivialised, it can provide a suitable starting point to assess your current context.

A SWOT analysis looks at both internal factors (the strengths and weaknesses internal to your business) and external (the opportunities and threats that exist externally). Your SWOT analysis will only be useful if you clearly distinguish between these internal and external factors.

A SWOT Analysis lets you review the internal and external factors influencing your business.

A SWOT Analysis lets you review the internal and external factors influencing your business.

The Internal Factors

Understanding the distinction between internal and external factors is key to developing a SWOT analysis. Internal factors are those that are entirely controlled within your business.

Strengths

A SWOT begins by exploring your strengths. These are internal attributes that are stronger in your business when compared to your competitors or the broader industry. Consider factors such as assets, staff, or processes that give your business an advantage above others.

What is it that you do better than your competitors and why is it important? Leveraging your strengths enables you to develop a competitive advantage.

Weaknesses

Weaknesses are the areas of your business that are weaker, relative to comparable organisations. Explore the capabilities of your business, such as staff constraints, production barriers or policies.

What limitations exist for your organisation, and why are these an issue? Weaknesses may need to be mitigated to prevent adverse effects on your business.

External Factors

External Factors are dependent on factors that are beyond your immediate control. For example, these elements may be influenced by competitors or broader industry trends.

Opportunities

Opportunities are areas of potential growth, or activities that could be undertaken by your business. Consider new markets, such as demographics that could be interested in your products or services, or adaptations that could enable you to encourage repeat purchases.

Why do these opportunities exist and what is required to pursue them? How feasible is it to develop these opportunities, and what is their likelihood of success? Remember that opportunities need investment to be realised.

Threats

Threats are aspects that may pose a risk to your business. Examples include new competitors, regulations, economic conditions or industry trends that will have a detrimental impact on your business.

How likely are each of the threats and what would be the potential impact? How can you mitigate these threats to minimise the potential ramifications? Understanding these threats lets you consider how best to allocate resources towards mitigation.

Undertake the Analysis

While it is often easy to list multiple items, it is important that you also consider the context behind each entry. Clearly identify why an item should be listed within one of the components and consider the broader context.

For example:

  • What are the ramifications if a threat is not mitigated?
  • Are your weaknesses able to be exploited by competitors?
  • Can you leverage your strengths?
  • Are you able to develop the identified opportunities?

These are some of the questions that you should be answering as you develop your SWOT analysis. Remember that a SWOT is only useful if you do more than just list items, ensure that you add the analysis as well.

Creating new opportunities through Social Enterprises

By | Advice, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities | One Comment

The formation of social enterprises is becoming increasingly important for not-for-profit organisations and charities, as they seek to diversify income and reduce dependence on government funding.

A social enterprise exists to generate not only a positive financial return, but also to achieve broader community outcomes.

There is no formalised definition, but in 2009 Social Traders partnered with the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS) at the Queensland University of Technology and identified the following attributes:

  • Are led by an economic, social, cultural, or environmental mission consistent with a public or community benefit;
  • Trade to fulfil their mission;
  • Derive a substantial portion of their income from trade; and
  • Reinvest the majority of their profit/surplus in the fulfilment of their mission.

We have worked with several organisations in developing strategies and implementing concepts for social enterprises. As a result, we’ve seen several elements that we believe are crucial for success.

Provide a commercial focus, while retaining core values

A social enterprise, like any other business venture, needs to generate a positive return. A social enterprise that is continually dependent on grants or donations, is not diversifying the income of an organisation, or expanding its capacity.

As a result, there is a need for organisations to have a commercial mindset that can also recognise positive social outcomes.

We recently worked with six inner city community learning centres to develop a new social enterprise through the Inner North Cluster. The social enterprise will aggregate resources and reduce duplication, with the aim of providing services to other centres. There is a need for a business perspective to achieve the social outcomes that would enable the individual centres to focus on their core services of providing educational opportunities.

Connect the social enterprise with the core purpose of your organisations

The products or services of a social enterprise should have a correlation with the key strengths and purpose of an organisation. Maintaining this correlation will help during the formation of the social enterprise and facilitate the exchange of knowledge.

We’ve worked with Volunteering Western Victoria to develop Governance Mentors, a program that will provide mentors to community organisations and improve the governance of committees.

Governance Mentors correlates to Volunteering Western Victoria’s aim of expanding the capacity of community organisations through training and skills development. The social enterprise broadens the organisation’s reach, but still relates to its core values.

Social enterprises will often require substantial discussion and planning

Social enterprises will often require substantial discussion and planning

A social enterprise like any good idea needs a plan

Establishing a social enterprise will require initial financial resources and time. Developing a plan enables an organisation to identify how the social enterprise can achieve its aims, while delivering a positive financial return.

Social enterprises need to add value and not compound existing problems. Planning ensures that opportunities are identified and that risks are considered.

Social enterprises can be time consuming in their initial formation, but they can lead to not only additional income, but also an expanded capacity to deliver the core values of an organisation. We have enjoyed working with a range of organisation to develop their social enterprises.

Hearing Nene King Speak at the VECCI Women in Business Lunch

VECCI Women in Business Lunch

By | Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities | 2 Comments

As a business owner, I enjoy hearing about the successes of other women in business.

Today I attended the Women in Business Lunch organised by VECCI at Crown Palladium. The keynote speaker was Nene King, the former Editor of Women’s Day, who revolutionised the direction of the magazine during the mid 1980-1990s.

Prior to this event, I knew very little about the personal drive of Nene King.

With the recent release of the mini-series Paper Giants: Magazine Wars, Nene has yet again found herself in the spotlight.

I was surprised by her honesty, wit and ability to talk openly about her accomplishments and failures.

During the mid 1980-1990s Nene was one of the most powerful women in Australian media. Nene discussed how she attributed much of her success to her instinct in knowing what the Australian public, and women in particular, wanted.

Mandy McElhinney who portrayed Nene in Paper Giants was also a speaker. Mandy achieved much of her success after appearing as ‘Rhonda’ in advertisements for AAMI. She is an example of a woman, who, with perseverance and resilience, has managed to achieve her goals after turning forty.

It was interesting to hear Mandy speak about portraying Nene, who was someone that she had little contact with in the past.

One of the main things I learned, is that Nene did not regard gender as an issue whist she built up her career. She focused more on achieving outcomes and working towards her vision, of becoming a leading force in media and communications.

The event was well organised and attracted a large audience, including quite a few men! I had the opportunity to network with many people at this event and to discuss their business experiences.