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Marketing Tactics

Marketing’s Best Kept Secret

Don’t tell a soul…

Debra Kaye

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I was walking with a friend in a residential part of New York City recently and we passed a girl running a fresh lemonade stand. Her father sat on the stoop of their brownstone watching her. I give a boost to a budding entrepreneur whenever I can so my buddy and I each bought a paper cup of the drink. Besides, it was hot and we were thirsty. All it took was one sip. Wow.

“This is pretty strong stuff,” my friend said.

“Not much sugar in it, is there?” I asked, thinking she had made the lemonade herself and didn’t realise she hadn’t added the required sweetener to make it palatable. The dad piped up.

“People have too much sugar,” he said, “We only added a quarter of the usual amount to our lemonade.”

I doubt that little girl was going to have much repeat business, and the following day when I walked by the brownstone again, I noted her packing up the stand.

“Not much business today?” I asked sympathetically. She shook her head in disappointment. The father just glared.

Give your customers what they want

He didn’t know the best-kept secret of effective marketing: Play into consumers’ existing behaviours and expectations. Lemonade has such a firm imprint on our minds that something so surprisingly sour only disappoints.

Most of us have made the same mistake this dad made. We come up with ideas we think are “good for” the consumer or that they “should” want, without taking into consideration what they actually already want, expect, and do on a daily basis.

Trying to change people to accommodate your product is a recipe for failure. If you think you can change customers’ behaviour, think again. Here are four things to avoid when developing and marketing your business:

1. Don’t toy with beloved traditions. Stove Top Stuffing has seen years of flat sales, the majority taking place between October and December as stuffing represents the celebratory nature of traditional seasonal feasts. In an effort to change this convention, Stove Top tried various advertising campaigns to convince consumers to prepare stuffing all year round, including summertime. It didn’t work. Better to create new bread-based side dishes for the brand that feed into peoples’ desire for variety, convenience, and seasonal habits, like a “just add fruit” summertime bread pudding mix.

2. Don’t stray too far from reality. Remember blue ketchup? The Heinz Company came up with an EZ Squirt brand of the familiar condiment, turning it shades of blue, green, and purple, basically the colours of mould, and completely alien to the colour of most ripe tomatoes. People just didn’t want weird ketchup. However, Heinz did have success with its “upside down” bottle, which is designed with the opening on the bottom of the container instead of the top. This went to the heart of an annoying reality consumers regularly face: a condiment bottle running low that needs to be turned upside down, which makes a mess.

3. Don’t push a lifestyle that people no longer have – or want. If stock price and flat sales are any indication, Talbot’s, the women’s retailer, has become a victim of the recession, a competitive marketplace, and changing workplace dress standards. Its styles are more conservative than classic, and don’t match the needs of most working women who feel more comfortable in casual clothes. The brand seems to have limited appeal to executive females, who favour luxury brands like Burberry and Hermes.

On the other hand, fashion retailer J. Crew Group nearly doubled its full-year profit this past March thanks to soaring sales and gross margins. It provides business casual clothes that meet the customer’s desire to transition from work to play and back to work again with ease and style.

4. Don’t add to the workload. The standard answer to “How are you?” is almost always “Busy.” As a culture, we believe we have less time. That’s why products that make people work harder to get a job done fail. The more you can streamline any daily process, the better. For example, Johnson’s 3-in-1 shampoo, conditioner and body wash for kids has fared well in the marketplace because it replaces several products with one.

If only the father of the lemonade entrepreneur had been less insistent on his sugar mandate, and more aware of the importance of expectations, authenticity and being true to what is deeply ingrained in our culture.

His daughter might have done quite well advertising “half the sugar” which would appeal to people’s desire for healthier drinks while still delivering something familiar and closely connected with happy summer memories. You can stay true to your principles and expand your marketing possibilities without leaving a sour taste in your customers’ mouths.

Psssst! Here’s the Obvious Marketing Money-Maker You Are Missing. Click Here

Debra Kaye is a partner at New York-based innovation consultancy Lucule. An international brand and culture strategist, she has worked with such brands as L’Oreal, American Express, McDonald’s, Johnson & Johnson, Colgate, Clairol and Sony. She is author of the book, Red Thread Thinking: Weaving Together Connections that Lead to Brilliant Ideas and Profitable Innovation (McGraw-Hill, 2013).

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Marketing Tactics

4 Ways To Implement Strategic Marketing Without Breaking The Bank

Marketing your start-up is all about the right strategies, not how much money you spend. You need to build your reputation from the ground up. Here’s how you can get started.

Mongezi Mtati

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Strategic marketing

Building a fledgling business is as much about increasing your client base as it is about building a positive reputation around the business and its expertise. Many experts and seasoned entrepreneurs argue that clients buy from people they trust and building that trust hinges on various parameters.

Take Steve Jobs, Wendy Luhabe, Richard Branson and many other leading business minds whose brands are built on years of credibility and trust. The truth is that equal attention needs to be given to great products and building trust within your client base.

Here are five skills that we’ve used to build our reputation at WordStart.

1Sharpen your writing skills for media and general communication

Create media coverage. Write on a company platform (like a blog) or for established media outlets. This will position you and your business in ways that get people to listen and share your knowledge.

Having your name next to an article on a respected platform can lead to useful connections with relevant contacts. A series of media features and industry commentary also help to position your business and team as experts in your field.

2Share industry trends

People will generally do research in and around an industry to find insights and trends, sometimes before they buy anything in that industry — and even afterwards. When I search for information on photography, Canon appears more than any other brand and they tend to set the scene on which device to buy.

Imagine your business is construction and that homeowners endorse your skills as a home improvement specialist. Packaging your knowledge into industry trends is also a great way to use your own lessons about the industry as you grow and it also helps you to connect with potential customers. Useful information with your name on it can increase your sales and client base.

3Edit. Edit. Edit

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Something that cannot be stressed enough is that your writing in client documents can tarnish your brand. Many businesses tend to overlook the importance of grammar in their documents.

It can be difficult to reread and rewrite documents that you use in the business, but that is precisely what can lead to the loss of new and existing business.

Pay attention to how your business uses language and edit that work. When in doubt, read it again and be sure that nothing was missed. 

4Practice public speaking and search for opportunities

After you have written for various publications, you increase the likelihood of being invited to speak at conferences and seminars, which means that people put a face and voice to the written expertise. In some instances, the speaking engagements can be paid for by conference organisers which can be an additional revenue stream.

Public speaking, especially industry-related speaking, will increase the likelihood of selling more products or services and this will separate you from the competition. By increasing the trust customers have in you, you can improve the likelihood of them buying from you.

Once a business is positioned as a team of experts with the ability to speak for their industry, opportunities open up for that business to create unique content. Industry leaders who are able to help the public to connect the dots through the information they share are regularly on guest lists.

Is there anything you can share that your industry peers and the public may find eye-opening? There may be a conference organiser looking for you.

5Educate the market and build a client base

One of the advantages of being part of an industry is that you have inside information that the general public does not have. This presents an opportunity for you and your business to become a self-nominated industry mouthpiece.

When an individual and business share news about an industry, they can create a new client base because the public associates them with that information.

One of the best cases in South Africa is Discovery’s Vitality rewards programme, where you earn points for being healthy. This does not mean that Momentum, Bonitas, Sanlam, Sizwe and other players do not have similar or even better offerings. Vitality is more visible and more vocal about the fact that leading a healthier life can get you rewards.


A great reputation may lead to positive word-of-mouth for your business and increased sales over a longer period than a single marketing message.

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Marketing Tactics

Cut The Bull That Comes With Women Saudi Drivers

If there is an opportunity to increase sales and dominate a market, hell they are going in, briefing their agencies to start the marketing and… well, cue the thoughtlessness.

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Women belong in the kitchen, right? Wrong! Now they can drive in Saudi, and you know what that means? They can fetch the groceries too!

Bet the Feminists clicked on this article looking to wage a social media war. No need. The afore mentioned thinking is exactly how the quick acting social media teams of major car manufacturers are acting after King Salman announced the lift on banning women drivers in the kingdom.

Whether we think it’s progressive is not the debate here right now. I personally think its great that such a country who has long ‘protected’ its women from the horrors on the road now believes that women are capable of taking care of themselves out there. The issue? Let’s take one step back and mention one South African social brand so you can see where I am heading. Take Bic Pens with their infamous 2015 #HappyWomensDay post reading, “Look like a Girl, Act like a Lady, Think like a Man, Work like a Boss”. 

bic-campaign-on-womens-day

What does a Pen in South Africa and a Car in Saudi Araba have in common you ask? All their CEO’s have a twig and two berries (66% of those car manufacturers who ‘praised’ Saudi Women drivers on social, are white men) and they didn’t get there without some form of business knowledge.

Related: 10 Laws Of Social Media Marketing

If there is an opportunity to increase sales and dominate a market, hell they are going in, briefing their agencies to start the marketing and… well, cue the thoughtlessness.

Thinking before Tweeting 

There is nothing like a good tactical on Social Media. Every brand wants to be Oreos during the super bowl when the lights went out. Every Marketing Manager wants to be the one to get his or her clever execution out first because time is of the essence.

Did the car manufacturers do great tactical work? Absolutely!

Did the car manufacturers think about the role they didn’t play in the fight for the cause? Absolutely NOT! They just saw another opportunity to capitalise on ‘to be relevant’.

This ever-connected digital world we live in comes with an opportunity for brands to build deep relationships with their customers. Sure relevance is key, but do (straight, white, male) brands have a place in that conversation now that the hard work is done (by strong Saudi Women)? Was fighting for women’s rights to drive in Saudi ever part of their Brand DNA before the last week of September 2017? Nope, they just see an increase in sales come June 2018.

Common amongst those tactical auto brands’ values were customer service promises, the comfort of people in cars, and sustainability. Only one vouched for the respect for diversity, while another strived for integrity, vowing to keep its doors open to men and women alike. While I can understand that a Trans National Corporation needed to respect culture and politicophere of Saudi to be able to operate there, was there not an opportunity to lead the charge and help the 10- year fight for equality on the Kingdom’s roads? Would their auto brands need to advertise after being part of the battle after that?

The irony is that The Women to Drive Movement started with a 2007 YouTube video. Did none of these brands have an ORM tool that picked this up? I wonder if any evaluated the risks vs the returns had they supported the movement.

Sullivan Principles Anyone?

Back in 1977, The Sullivan Principles was a part of the world’s Corporate Social Responsibility as brands applied pressure on apartheid, South Africa. The corporate protest came with the thought that if business divested in SA, apartheid would eventually be cash-strapped and collapse. At the time General Motors was the biggest employer of Black South Africans and eventually was the first to pull out.

In 1999 the new Global Sullivan Principles was unveiled by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the preamble reads:

“The objectives of the Global Sullivan Principles are to support economic, social and political justice by companies where they do business; to support human rights and to encourage equal opportunity at all levels of employment, including racial and gender diversity on decision making committees and boards; to train and advance disadvantaged workers for technical, supervisory and management opportunities; and to assist with greater tolerance and understanding among peoples; thereby, helping to improve the quality of life for communities, workers and children with dignity and equality.”

Related: Direct Marketing: Go Where Your Customers Are

The first part of the new Sullivan Principles reads:

(We) “express our support for universal human rights and, particularly, those of our employees, the communities within which we operate, and parties with whom we do business.”

If brands actually invested in the people and their lives first, the customers will follow. Do this and there would be no need to be super tactical when it comes to the celebrations of the marginalised. We need brands to value ethical and corporate social responsibility they have in the markets they operate in. We have seen that the likes of General Motors can have an impact on a country, especially in South Africa (let’s drop the fact that they have divested again for the purposes of this).

Bottom line is advertising, marketing and brands have the power to shape the world years before a few people can go at it alone. Yes, businesses need to make money, but see the bigger returns when you are a part of something. The returns will be greater than the PR value you got on that meaningless, thoughtless, and unearned tweet. I promise you.

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Marketing Tactics

4 Unique Marketing Ideas For SMEs On A Budget

There are a plethora of unique marketing ideas that have been proven to be effective and require only a modest initial investment.

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When it comes to marketing, some business owners have to work on a shoestring budget. In fact, deciding which marketing or advertising strategies will yield the greatest results for the least amount of capital is one of the toughest challenges facing small to medium enterprises.

Thankfully, there are a plethora of unique marketing ideas that have been proven to be effective and require only a modest initial investment.

1Generate online buzz through digital PR

Building a relationship with the press is a great way to get the word out. Try finding blogs, newspapers, tabloids, magazines, and webzines that are relevant to your business and offer them an exclusive press release. Most news outlets will list a telephone number you can call or email address you can write for press inquiries.

If you’re a locally-oriented business, try reaching out to smaller publications like community newspapers or newsletters.

Remember to be courteous and not too pushy with the editors and reporters you come in contact with. It’s their choice whether they want to cover the story or not. The goal is to build a working relationship with them, and an overly aggressive or hostile attitude can jeopardize any chance of positive coverage in the future.

Journalists will take an objective approach to covering your press release, so don’t expect coverage to always be glowing. Still, it’s an incredibly effective way to start spreading word-of-mouth about your business. Articles like these help generate buzz about new startups, and people are more inclined to read them because they aren’t paid adverts.

2Email marketing

Email marketing

Email marketing is “a type of direct digital marketing that uses electronic mail (also called email or e-mail) as the marketing communication delivery method.” It’s also one of the most effective, yet under-utilised marketing tools you can utilise on a tight budget.

The trick to successful email marketing is garnering a large roster of subscribers. This can be accomplished a number of ways. The most successful, by far, is by offering potential subscribers a free resource. Just what this resource is depends on your business, but it should be something a consumer would find highly valuable.

When it comes to email marketing software, there are quite a few options are your disposal. MailChimp is free to start with, but puts a price-tag on premium features. ReachMail is also free for up to 5 000 subscribers and 15 000 emails per month.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 5)

3Offer promotional vouchers and special deals

Offering coupons, vouchers, special deals, and one-time offers is a great way to attract new customers. It’s doubly beneficial because these new customers are more likely to be loyal to your business in the future.

While printing vouchers in a local paper works best for small, brick-and-mortar enterprises, don’t under-estimate the value of online promotions. Voucher Bin example of a website that connects consumers with businesses and brands offering special promotions.

4Social media influencer marketing

Whether your monthly budget is $1000 or $1,000,000, a good long-term marketing strategy should always be oriented around building beneficial relationships. The term influencer marketing refers to doing just that.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa (PART 4)

Though the concept has been with us for a long time, only recently has social media brought it to the forefront of modern marketing strategies.

“Influencer marketing can be loosely defined as a form of marketing that identifies and targets individuals with influence over potential buyers,” writes Kyle Wong in Forbes magazine.

“In the past, brands may have focused on popular bloggers and celebrities but today there is a new wave of ‘everyday’ consumers that can have just as large an impact.”

Try finding individuals who are influential on social media (look at their number of followers and post interactions) and offer he or she a few perks for mentioning your brand, product, or business. Try to target your efforts at people who would have a legitimate, enthusiastic interest in what your organization does.

Remember, you’re trying to build a long-term relationship with these individuals, so always approach respectfully and through the appropriate channels.

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