5 Tips for Monitoring Your Competitor’s Marketing Strategy

 

 

 No matter how unique their product or service, every business has a competitor (or more than one). This is probably a good thing because it means no CEO or business owner can become complacent or believe there’s no threat to his or her company’s well-being.

Competitors are a fact of life. The trick, in terms of crafting your company’s marketing message, is knowing what the “other guy” is saying and how well their message is being received by the target audience.

Here are five tips for staying on top of your competitor’s marketing strategy:

1. Monitor changes in their website. Just as your business has put a great deal of time, energy and resources into building a customer-friendly website, so the competition has also worked hard to craft a high-functioning business website. When was the last time you looked closely at the competitor’s web pages, scrutinising the look and feel of the site, its content and images, and so on? Try viewing their site through a customer’s eyes. See how well you can navigate from homepage to purchase page (and everywhere in between). After taking this “tour,” make a point to stop by every couple of months and see if they have added new functions or changed their design. Watch for any changes, subtle or otherwise, in their key marketing points.

2. Track their activity on social media. Presuming your business has a vibrant social media presence, it’s safe to assume the competition reaches out to followers on several platforms as well. Which platforms do they favour—Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.? What does their business profile look like? Does it appear to convey a more compelling or emotional message than your own profile page? There’s nothing wrong with choosing to “Like” or “Follow” your competitor on social media. This way you can keep track of any special offers or announcements they share with their customers, as well as any big changes in their marketing approach.

3. Analyse the content they offer. Whether it’s blog posts, podcasts, customer testimonial videos or webinars, the content your competitor offers to customers and prospects might be coming across more effectively than your own. Generally speaking, it’s possible to determine how widely an article or case study is shared among followers, which will give you a better idea of what type of content your customers value most. (It can also spark your own creative impulses to come up with value-added topics.)

4.  Set up a Google Alert. This is an easy way to monitor how often your competition is mentioned online. Type in a handful of industry-relevant keywords in the Google Alert (including the name of your own business) and regularly check on who’s talking about competitors and why. This may be quite valuable in assessing how well the other guy’s marketing message is performing in the eternal hunt for new customers.

5. Look at competitors through a customer’s eyes. Marketing expert Jim Joseph suggests engaging in “shopping trips to try out your competitors’ customer experience, both online and in-store.” Study and analyse their approach to customer service, along with the quality and variety of their products and services, and how they are “sourced, merchandised and priced.” This will tell you a lot about their marketing efforts—and where they may be cutting into your customer acquisition efforts as well.

The information you gain from monitoring the competition shouldn’t just be compiled and left on a shelf. Use this research to pinpoint any areas of deficiency in your own marketing efforts and make changes as necessary. Look for new ways to attract prospects through social media and upgrades in your website. Do everything possible to make your own customers’ buying experience as unique as possible. See how well you can leave the competition in the dust.

Want to learn more about marketing and competitive research? Want to achieve marketing and management excellence? Listen to this free recording  http://info.thealternativeboard.com/strategic-marketing-and-management

 

4 Tips for More Effective B2B Lead Generation

 

In the perennial search for B2B sales leads, the equation always seems to come down to quantity versus quality. Any campaign that generates a tonne of sales leads is well worth the effort, isn’t it? Or is it more effective to analyse and isolate those elements that lead to more qualified sales leads, even if it takes more work and time to come up with those leads?

Whatever the answer, a majority of those engaged in B2B marketing and sales report that “lead generation remains the top challenge” in their companies.

If this holds true for your organisation, here are four tips to generate more effective and qualified B2B sales leads:

Keep faith with email campaigns. Sales experts seem to go back and forth about the overall effectiveness of email campaigns to generate leads. But if you haven’t embarked on such a campaign for a while, it may be worth trying again. The following steps can lead to more achievable results:

  • Resurrect an old or neglected existing email list.
  • Assemble a new email list from your social media contacts, particularly those on LinkedIn.
  • Focus on a concise, compelling email message that answers the prospect’s key question, “What’s in it for me?”
  • Closely monitor who clicks on and opens your email message and target them accordingly.

Expand your social media efforts. Speaking of LinkedIn, how much time and effort do your sales team put into making new connections and developing relationships with your target audience? The process demands time and patience, but building a solid relationship paves the way to setting in-person appointments and/or sharing product demos with the right individual in the right organisation.

Make a renewed commitment to quality content. Social media, in general, remains a fertile landscape for B2B sales leads. A key component of social media sales strategies is providing content of quality to prospects—as a means of demonstrating your specific industry knowledge and a willingness to share that knowledge with others.

“Content” doesn’t mean written text only, not by any means. Today’s buyers are drawn to images, video, infographics and other interactive content that gives them a kind of “hands-on” feel for what you have to say. As we’ve noted before, however, valuable content comes free of the typical hard sell. Instead, the goal is establishing you and your business as thought leaders who offer the kind of insights and information your prospective customers want in order to succeed in their own endeavours.

Host virtual events. Increasingly, B2B and other businesses are exploring the potential of “virtual event platforms” in the realm of sales and marketing. These carefully planned and orchestrated online events can produce, with the right attention to detail, generate new sales leads. Sales strategist Hurera Sheikh offers these virtual event planning tips:

  • Create a simple, easy-to-navigate registration page and don’t skimp on intriguing content and crisp imagery.
  • During a live event, staff virtual booths and help desks to “maximise the contacts exchanged over the booths.”
  • Leverage high-quality live or pre-recorded webinars to get participants engaged in the event.
  • Offer a seamless online transaction process. If sales opportunities arise during the live event, make sure your PayPal or debit/credit card integration process is fully operational to meet any kind of demand.

By renewing dormant lead-generation tools and exploring new, high-tech options, you can see a spike in B2B sales in 2018 and beyond.

Want more advice on sales and lead generation? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 

How Business Psychology Can Help You Gain Customers

 

happy worker holding sandwiches at the backery

By Guest Blogger, Eileen O’Shanassy

There is a ton of psychology involved in doing business, and as a business owner, you must understand that people behave in certain ways and can be influenced with the right triggers to purchase your products or services. There are many examples of how to use basic psychology to get more customers and if you are savvy, you can use these to your advantage as you market. If you want more information, check out applied psychology programmes online or courses where you can learn these skills in a business sense.

Using Social Proof
When people have an opinion on something, you will put more weight into that opinion even if they didn’t conduct any in-depth research and haven’t compared the pros and cons. Businesses use social proof in the form of reviews, ratings, social media mentions, and buzz to bring attention to their products and services. They know that if they build a positive conversation around their business, it’ll create a momentum that will attract new customers. Use positive reviews like these to improve your customer reach and to market your business more easily.

Using Authority
You are more likely to trust a business if some kind of authority is attached to them. For example, if you see an endorsement given by a well-known figure or celebrity, you are more likely to trust the company that’s being endorsed. Sometimes the authority is built around reputable roles like doctors, law enforcement, physical trainer, etc. If you can establish authority around your business, you’ll increase your credibility and make it easier for new customers to trust you.

Scarcity
A psychological trigger that you often see used in infomercials is scarcity. People are generally attracted to things that are harder to get. Some get emotionally worked up by the possibility of losing something valuable. Infomercials often use this trigger by building up value in bonuses and discounts. The kicker is that the bonuses and discounts are only available for a limited time. This creates scarcity and often triggers customers to buy when they may not have done so under normal circumstances.

While psychology is an incredible way to gain customers, you still need to realize that your customers are people too. Don’t insult your audience by making it obvious that you’re trying to use a gimmick to get them to make a purchase. You have to walk a fine line and embed psychology into your communication in a way that is respectful while also impactful. Consumers have become more educated about marketers over the last few decades, so it’s important to learn how to use psychology the right way for the right products.

Need more advice on gaining more customers? Find out if the collective wisdom of a peer-advisory board is right for your business.

 

Personal Branding Tips for CEOs and Business Owners  

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Business leaders understand the importance of creating and maintaining a viable brand identity for their companies. It’s only more recently that they’ve come to see the value of creating and maintaining a personal brand for themselves.

CEOs and business owners are often the public face of their companies. As such, it’s necessary to cultivate a personal brand that reflects the integrity, authenticity and expertise they want for the business brand. A personal brand “is the emotional response your customers have when they hear your name,” notes branding expert Lorraine Carter. “It is the experience of ‘you.’”

There’s no better time than now to embark upon building or refining your personal brand. Here are tips to keep in mind:

Learn what’s already out there. When was the last time you conducted a Google search to check the status of your online reputation? Knowingly or not, you already have a personal brand in the digital universe. Take a look at what’s been written about you (or that you’ve written yourself) and objectively assess the impression it’s likely to create in your prospective customers’ eyes. You may locate inappropriate content, some of which you created long ago in your less-discerning past. If possible, eliminate these unflattering links.

Build a strong bio/profile that works across all platforms. Don’t leave your social media profiles to chance. Craft a concise, yet compelling profile that serves as a foundation for your personal brand. This profile should include:

  • A brief overview of your experience and achievements, which you can add on all appropriate networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Reddit and other niche platforms unique to your industry)
  • A professional, high-quality headshot for use on all sites

Consistency is key here. Wherever people come across your profile, they should encounter the same wording and brand message.

Have a personal website and blog. Your own website is the “headquarters” of your personal brand. This is where you demonstrate your skills, experience and vision—in your own words. Blogging offers the opportunity to reflect on the marketplace and industry trends, offer an occasional peek into your personal life (tastefully done, of course!) and invite your readers to comment and share thoughts of their own. This helps build a community around your brand.

“It’s important that you come across as a real person and not a sales robot,” cautions marketing specialist Jonathan Long. “Mix in a few your passions and interests that connect with your audience on a more human level.”

Engage with others on social media. In addition to your own blog posts, jump into the social media fray and engage with others – fellow CEOs and business owners, influencers, journalists and bloggers with their own significant audiences. Conversations revolving around your industry are always taking place online.

Anything you post online – articles, videos, comments on other blog posts – should in some way contribute to your personal brand. Don’t alter your voice in an attempt to mimic a particular site’s style. Don’t jump out of character in a YouTube video, just because you’re feeling playful that day.

As career consultant Matt Brady notes, whenever you “write an article, post an update on social media or interact with your audience, you should think about the overall message you’re trying to convey.”

Remaining consistent and authentic is the proven route towards establishing a recognisable (and relatable) personal brand.

You can enhance your standing as a thought leader by volunteering to serve as a source for journalists and bloggers seeking experts for their business articles.

Following these steps will result in a solid foundation for your personal brand. From there, it’s up to you to actively share what you know through the vast array of online venues (blogs, webinars, white papers, social media). This willingness to benefit others with your expertise will, over time, establish you as the “go-to” person for an authoritative take on the marketplace.

 

6 Tips for Attracting Customers Through Offline Marketing

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All businesses large and small must have a vibrant online presence these days, including social media and content marketing. But your business can benefit as well from a variety of offline marketing efforts—tactics and manoeuvres that don’t cost a lot of money but help keep brand awareness high within your business community.

Here are six tips for luring customers to your business and boosting awareness of your brand that complement your online marketing strategy:

1. Scatter your business cards far and wide. Even in our digital era, printed business cards are useful for keeping your business top-of-mind. The trick is distributing them with greater frequency and in locations that might not appear at first blush as promising venues.

Planning to dine out at a prestigious local restaurant this week? Leave a business card along with your tip. Ask your employees to pin a business card up on bulletin boards located in the various businesses they frequent. Be sure to generously distribute them at any tradeshows you attend.

2. Get actively involved in tradeshows and associations. Business still thrives on relationships. Whether you’re promoting a product or simply attending, tradeshows are a great place to forge new partnerships, attract prospective customers and just generally get more people aware of your brand.

Many trade associations distribute publications offering industry updates and insights. Contact the editors of these publications and see if they’re looking for short, insightful articles about new trends and activities (most are). Then try your hand at writing an article, submitting it and (if it’s accepted) politely insist on including your byline and title.

3. Build a reputation as an industry thought leader. With a few publications and/or speaking engagements under your belt, you’re well on the way to becoming a thought leader in your particular industry. Granted, as a CEO or business owner, you don’t have a lot of free time—but landing one or two speaking gigs at a high-profile industry event is worth its weight in marketing gold.

This works even on a more modest scale. Always “be on the lookout for offline opportunities such as local radios and seminars,” advises content marketer Christopher Jan Benitez. “You can also offer a free consultation day at your office or leave bits of useful information in flyers, posters, and your branded merchandise.”

4. Explore giving your product away for free. It’s not a business practice that should be adopted on a daily basis, but anytime you find an opportunity to offer your product as a top prize in a community contest—or donate your services for a worthy cause—you’re generating goodwill within the community and increasing awareness of your brand.

Additionally, look into cross-promotional opportunities with businesses that complement your own. It’s another way of getting prospective customers to think about your business differently, and to establish a presence in an unexpected way.

5. Leverage your expertise to appear on local media. Local and regional media—print, TV, radio, electronic—needs a constant infusion of new stories. As you build your reputation, reach out to local columnists, news anchors and others you admire, offering your expertise to give a local slant to national or international business news.

Building such a relationship doesn’t happen overnight; it requires persistence and an ability to frame yourself as a credible and persuasive source. The good news is—once you’re in, requests for appearances will likely multiply, expanding the range of awareness of both you and your company.

6. Track your company’s events in photographs and video. Images remain a very powerful marketing tool. So while guest speaking engagements, community activities and other events happen offline (that is, in real life), sharing photos and videos of them are often wildly popular on social media. “Real-life photos [and video] from the offline world show the personality of your company and increase online user engagement,” notes marketing strategist Jayson DeMers.

Given the right amount of effort and persistence, offline activities can spur greater momentum for your overall marketing strategies.

Want more advice on sales and marketing or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!