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Australian Computer Society

Australian Computer Society’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation SIG: The Entrepreneurial Journey – Challenges and Rewards

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The Australian Computer Society is the professional body representing the IT profession. This evening I was invited to the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Special Interest Group, to discuss the role of marketing in enabling an entrepreneurial journey.

Marketing and IT are more closely related than they first appear. Both perform a support function for many organisations, enabling them in turn to deliver their core products or services. In addition, marketing insights are enhanced through IT’s role in data collection and analysis.

With a growing emphasis on tech startups there is a tendency to romanticise the industry, with people forgetting that companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Google or Facebook were not overnight sensations. While their products were part of their success, it was the execution of their marketing plans and direction that made these products relevant.

Developing a new App or IT based innovation is the first stage of the entrepreneurial journey, getting it to market and maintaining relevancy is what leads to ongoing success.  During my presentation, I outlined the role of marketing and highlighted a number of areas that are often overlooked by entrepreneurs.

In particular, there is a need to understand market segments and the potential userbase.  No product is relevant to everyone and it is important that you take the time to understand your key target markets.  In addition, you should consider your supply chain, investors and business partners, so you have a strategy that considers the value they receive from your innovation.

Furthermore, competitors are another area that is often overlooked.  It is factually incorrect to assume that a new product has no competitors. While there may not be other direct competitors (those offering the same product or service), there will be indirect competitors (who offer similar products) and other forms of competition that will compete for your target market’s time and money. Understanding the competitive landscape is essential to developing a successful innovation.

One of my aims is to educate communities on the importance of undertaking a strategic approach to marketing. The presentation at the Australian Computer Society’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Special Interest Group works towards this vision.

DM Forum

The DM Forum – Melbourne Events and GE Capital

By | Advice for Businesses, News | One Comment

The DM Forum is a quarterly event focused on sharing knowledge between professional marketers. This evening’s forum provided an overview of the City of Melbourne’s event management services, with a focus on community experience and engagement. The City of Melbourne works with event organisers to strengthen the participant’s engagement with the Council, providing an opportunity for further interaction and activity. Events form a significant part of the Council’s approach to drawing people into the CBD and surrounds.

The second speaker discussed the new customer focused approach that was initiated through GE Capital’s Marketing Department. This case study provided an example of how marketing can lead to an innovative approach. GE Capital’s strategic marketing approach identified new customer segments, based on changing consumer trends, following the global financial crisis. The result has been a company that better understands its target markets and has been able to position its communication and products around the identified needs.

The DM Forum offered an opportunity for marketers to gain insight from speakers that have direct experience in utilising marketing to deliver tangible outcomes. The sessions are held on a quarterly basis, visit www.dmforum.com.au for further information.

Viral Marketing - It's All About Context

Viral Marketing – It’s All About Context

By | Advice for Businesses | No Comments

Over the weekend I was catching up on some YouTube only to be confronted with an odd and rather creepy advertisement from Sportsbet entitled “50 Shades of Greyhound”. Designed as a parody of the trailer for the movie “50 Shades of Grey” the ad parodied the original trailer with a twist, having the male protagonist depicted by a greyhound.

In the span of a week, this ad has already amassed over 300,000 views on YouTube. The video has over 10,000 likes on Facebook and has been shared just under 5,000 times.

A rather different looking Mr Grey

A rather different looking Mr Grey

Viral marketing has gained increased precedence amongst well known brands who want to connect with a younger audience. Brands such as Old Spice, Air New Zealand and Metro Trains have been able to gain world wide awareness and recognition through viral marketing. While the impact of some viral campaigns have been questionable, we believe that the most important thing for a viral campaign is its context.

Personally, I found the Sportsbet 50 Shades of Greyhound ad in bad taste. However I can see their context.

The betting market is a mature and competitive industry with many players. While many individuals who engage in betting and gambling are over 50, there is a growing demographic engaging in online gambling between the ages of 18 to 29. Viral videos and an active social media presence are an effective way of reaching this demographic.

Looking at the social media pages for Sportsbet, they have just under 500,000 likes on Facebook, 98,000 followers on Twitter and over 4,000 subscribers on YouTube. Their content is clearly cutting through to their target markets.

Past campaigns have included parodies of television shows such as Wife Swap and Game of Thrones. They have also taken to making fun of their own customers during the cricket and spring carnival seasons through advertisements depicting various customer segments as “bogan”, the “handholder” and the “International”.

In creating this “lad-like” content, Sportsbet has been able to personify itself as a mate to its younger demographic, breaking boundaries and creating engagement.

50 Shades of Greyhound has been designed for those young men, who may have been forced to watch 50 Shades of Grey with their partner. It also attracts the attention of those questioning the significance of this movie. It is an impossible situation that makes a cheeky link back to its offering.

While I clearly did not enjoy it, I can see young men around the country discussing this advertisement, looking at their phones and checking for the next greyhound race!

Inside a Marketing Plan – Begin by capturing the Information you need

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Last month we explored our framework, which provides a holistic approach to developing marketing and business strategies.

Over the next few weeks we’re going to delve into a marketing plan, exploring the methodology we utilise to develop and execute a marketing plan.

Capture Business Plan NFP 1000px

Know what you need to Research

The first step is to understand the information you need for a marketing plan. Consider details of your customers, the composition of your products and services, as well as the competitors and industry trends.

Each of these elements should be researched in sufficient depth so that you do not need to make unfounded assumptions.

Identify competitors

Pay particular attention to your competitors, consider not just those that offer similar products or services, but indirect competition as well. What other alternatives exist to purchasing your products or services? These alternatives are all a form of competition and should be considered. For example, a restaurant would not only consider other similar competitors, but also take-away and delivery options.

Furthermore, given that restaurant spending is often used as a form of enjoyment, there is a need to consider alternatives as a form of indirect competition, including movies, theatres and other forms of entertainment.

Know Your Customers

Understand your customers, including what motivates them to make a purchase, as well as key demographic information. Knowing your existing customers will assist in extending your reach within your target markets. If you are a new business or want to consider new markets, then you should assess the customer segments that are being served by competitors and whether you will serve similar demographics or identify alternative targets.

Understand your entire business

Marketing involves your entire business operations. Understand your sales process, how do staff greet customers, do they encourage interaction and the confidence for someone to make a purchase? How could staff encourage purchases or strengthen engagement with customers?

Similarly consider the process for delivering services or products. How could these be improved to strengthen the customer’s experience? It is important these aspects are considered, so that bottlenecks do not emerge if sales are increased.

Research Underpins Your Entire Plan

The Capture Phase sets the foundations for your entire marketing plan. The latter phases of a marketing plan are based on the information that is uncovered during the capture phase. The Capture Phase relies on current and historical information to inform the future direction of your marketing plan.

A Marketing Plan Informs Your Strategy

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A Marketing Audit is the first stage in being able to plan for the year ahead. As we discussed, the audit enables you to review your activities to identify what worked and what needs to be refined.

The second stage is Planning, so you can gain insights into the your market and the actions that are required to achieve your goals. This stage incorporates the development of a Marketing Plan that provides both a short-term and longer-term vision to position your business in the marketplace.

A Marketing Plan is a high level strategic document that should support the direction identified in your Business or Strategic Plan. The Marketing Plan explores how you can achieve the outcomes you have identified in the Business Plan, as well as the resources that are required.

You need to start with strategic marketing planning, as the right strategy will ensure that your tactics or actions will deliver results. Begin by understanding your current market position, competitive pressures and the value that is provided by your products and services.

You should also gain insights into your target customers and key demographics. Understand who your ideal customer is and the value that they receive from your products or services. Also consider other potential customer segments that may receive similar benefits. Identifying new markets can provide further opportunities for growth and enables you to discover segments that may have less competitive pressures.

A Marketing Plan identifies how you can achieve your goals

A Marketing Plan identifies how you can achieve your goals

Research is an essential element of any successful marketing plan. Undertaking the right research will enable you to make informed decisions so you can understand how best to allocate marketing resources.

This research will enable you to consider strategies that will enable you to achieve your business objectives. For example, if you want to develop new growth opportunities, then potential strategies could explore the development of new markets or encourage repeat purchasing. Research into customer trends and demographics will enable you to identify what markets may be suitable or how best to encourage additional purchases.

The strategic marketing planning approach validates your direction, ensuring that resources allocated toward strategies will deliver positive results. This in turn will influence the actions and tactics that will be undertaken as you implement your marketing plan.

Make sure that implementation and your plans fit together.

Planning for 2014 – what are your goals for this year?

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January is almost over, and planning should be well underway for 2014. What goals do wish to accomplish over this year and what resources are required?

As we discussed last year, an annual review allows you to benchmark performance, and evaluate whether you are meeting the goals established in your business and marketing plans.

Reviews let you make informed decisions, and ensure there is an alignment with your business and marketing plans.

A marketing audit follows through by providing a health-check of your marketing activities. An audit ensures that you are receiving a return on your investment and are able to respond to opportunities aligned with your goals.

Planning needs to be supported with implementation. For example, if your review identified opportunities for new customer segments, how will you reach these markets and what resources are required?

Ensure that implementation schedules are realistic and supported by metrics that let you measure effectiveness. Identify the sub-tasks that are required and the items that are critical for success.

Make sure that your implementation  outcomes and plans fit together.

Make sure that your implementation outcomes and plans fit together.

Activities will often be inter-related, and it is important that you consider a holistic approach. For example, a promotional campaign may be designed to reach your existing customers, but will need to reinforced through other tools, such as social media or direct mail.

Identifying how you can interconnect your marketing and communication tools will deliver a higher response rate and reinforce your key messages. Marketing needs to be considered in a holistic context so that you can achieve growth and service your target markets.

Unfortunately there was a high degree of economic uncertainty throughout last year, so lets make 2014 a year of achieving great outcomes.