Month: December 2014

Are you selling what your customers want to buy?

Are-you-selling-what-your customers-want-to-buyAll too often, I see businesses advertising their wares…but from their own perspective. They talk about their expertise and what they DO or MAKE, thinking that’s what people are buying. Of course, that’s not what they’re buying at all.

Hence my question — are you selling what your customers want to buy?

Confused? There’s a great story that illustrates this perfectly. A college professor stood in front of his classroom, holding a shovel. He told the class that their assignment was to write an ad, selling the shovel.

The students got to work and their ads talked about the virtues of the shovel – the hardwood handle, the forged steel blade, the balance between the blade and the handle, etc. The professor let the students go on for a while and then he stopped them and shook his head. He said, “Let me tell you the secret for selling this shovel. The secret is to realize that no one buys a shovel just because they want a shovel. They buy a shovel because they need a hole.”

No matter what it is you sell – you need to figure out what’s behind that sale. They’re not buying your service or your product. They’re buying what they get out of that service or product. When you miss that – you run the risk of not meeting that need and losing a customer.

Recently, I had a very unsatisfactory experience with a company that promised to “townhouse my house.” I think the reason they were so disappointing is because they didn’t really understand what their customers want to buy.

They believed that they were selling yard services like weeding, mowing and snow removal. As long as they could perform those chores satisfactorily – they thought I’d be happy. But I could buy those services anywhere.

What I really wanted to buy was the convenience of having someone else worry about my yard and just take care of what needed to be done. I wanted the confidence they would show up when they said they would, so I didn’t have to keep calling them back. What I really wanted was the peace of mind that I could just cross all those tasks off of my list – and my life would be easier because of it.

Ultimately – because they didn’t understand what I really was trying to buy – I stopped buying. I didn’t need or want their shovel.

So – how do you go from selling shovels to realizing that your customers want to buy a hole?

Ask better questions: Don’t just ask the standard intake questions. Develop a short list of questions that will trigger a conversation about the underlying need. Listen carefully and ask enough follow up questions so you truly know the root problem you are being hired to solve.

Hire an outsider to talk to your current customers: We have that Midwest nice thing going on so sometimes customers won’t be very candid when you ask for feedback. But, when you hire a firm to do that asking for you (or secret shop you), you’ll be amazed at what you learn. We provide this service for our clients and I’m always amazed at how much we learn.

Observe them in the wild: Watching how your customers interact with what you sell can be incredibly enlightening. They might use it in a way you hadn’t imagined or for a purpose you hadn’t considered. They may have had to create a workaround because of something that isn’t quite right. If you sell your products in a retail environment, hang out in the store and listen as people considering buying your product.

The real secret to knowing what your customers actually want to buy is to never assume. Don’t be fooled into thinking you know. Do the hard work of finding out and earn their loyalty for years to come.

The post Are you selling what your customers want to buy? appeared first on Drew's Marketing Minute.

Drew’s Marketing Minute

5 Skills That Will Get You Hired in 2015

shutterstock_235307296Do you possess strong communication skills? Do perform well in a team setting? If so, it’s very likely you’ll be a highly sought-after candidate in 2015.

According to a November 2014 report by NACE, leadership, the ability to work in a team, and strong communication skills are just a few of the top skills employers are looking for in candidates in 2015.

As you prepare for your job search, it’s important to be aware of these top skills that will get you hired in the new year:

1. Leadership.

Candidates are more likely to be hired if they can show employers their ability to lead in the workplace. Leadership is an important quality to have because employers want employees who can lead teams, wear multiple hats, and have the ability to coach their coworkers.

Demonstrate your leadership skills to employers by talking about previous leadership positions or situations where you had to lead a team in the workplace. This will show employers you are capable of being a leader for their company.

2. Ability to work in a team.

The ability to work in a team means being able to collaborate and work effectively with others. As a team player, you should have the ability to inspire team members and work together to accomplish a goal. This skill is highly valued by employers because they seek candidates who can bring their strengths to a team setting.

When explaining your teamwork skills to employers, provide examples of times where you had to work in a team or collaborate with a coworker to accomplish a task. This will give employers an idea of how you’ll perform in a team setting.

3. Problem solving.

Being a problem solver isn’t a skill many job seekers immediately think of when trying to impress employers. However, it’s a critical skill you must have in order to get hired in 2015. Illustrate your problem solving skills to employers by telling them about a time when you had to solve a problem and the result you achieved.

4. Written and verbal communication.

In today’s workforce, written and verbal communication skills are essential to workplace success. Whether you’re an entry-level candidate or you’re applying for a leadership position, you need to possess excellent communication skills.

The hiring process is an excellent opportunity to illustrate your communication skills to employers. At the beginning of the application process, show employers you’re a strong communicator by writing a flawless resume and cover letter, and promptly communicating with the hiring manager. When offered an interview, you’ll have another opportunity to display your verbal communication skills.

5. Initiative.

Employers want to hire candidates who are will to go above and beyond in the workplace. This is why having initiative is a trait that makes exceptional candidates stand out during the application process.

Show your initiative to employers by providing accomplishment stories about times where you took action to complete a project or meet a deadline. For example, let’s say a previous manager asked you to put a last-minute report together for a crucial presentation. You can talk about what you did to ensure you met your manager’s immediate deadline.

As you continue to search and apply for jobs in 2015, be sure to keep this desired skills in mind. By adopting some of these skills as a professional, you’ll get noticed by more employers and land a job in the new year.

What are some skills you plan to obtain in the upcoming year?

Personal Branding Blog – Stand Out In Your Career

Branding Strategy Insider: Our Greatest Hits 2014


Thank you all for making this another highly successful year for Branding Strategy Insider. Of the many posts we brought you over the last 12 months, these were some of our most popular (listed here in alphabetical order):

10 Reasons To Rebrand – change your brand identity only if it will make your identity more fascinating and relevant for your consumers.
10 Things A Brand Must Have – ensure your brand has the distinctive attributes it needs to  take on a life of its own.
50 Things Successful Brand Managers Know – the must-have knowledge base for those looking to successfully and profitably manage brands today.
Are You A Strategic Thinking Marketer? – the five key characteristics of strategic thinkers. Is this how you work?
Brand Building Through Customer Experience – brands need to think big but at the same time they need to sweat the small stuff.
Brand Voice In The Social Media Age – in an age where content marketing is often nothing more than disguised advertising, your brand’s ability to speak with clarity and authenticity is critical.
Brands Need Big Insights Not Big Data – data can deliver powerful understandings of consumers but it is still subject to the beliefs and expectations of those who analyze it.
The End Of The Unique Selling Proposition? – has the USP had its day? Should we ditch this bastion of marketing theory in favour of the Unique Brand Perspective?
Top 4 Brand Loyalty Mistakes – marketers need to adapt to a relationship building environment where the hunt for top of mind has been replaced by the search for front of heart.
Why Brand Management Will Replace Marketing – the shift from brands as products to brands as assets is prompting big changes among brand owners like P&G.

What’s clear to us from your responses and from the diversity of subjects that our Authors and guest contributors covered is that brand managers and senior decision makers are grappling with wide-ranging issues – from maintaining their brands in optimum condition to creating and driving the strong strategies needed to keep their brands competitive.

Here are some of our thoughts on the state of brand right now:

Brands need to be actively managed – there are so many pressures on brand value these days that no business can afford to simply leave its brands to just get on with it. Brands that are not being proactively and consistently managed by experienced teams will find themselves increasingly at risk.

Picking the time for change is critical – we hear a lot of talk about innovation and the need to keep changing business models, but knowing what to change, when and most importantly why is critical if a brand is going to evolve successfully.

Big brands are increasingly sensitive to big behaviors – as brands continue to expand their presence, the need for brand managers to monitor, analyse and react to changes in consumer attitudes and behaviors will only increase.

Social continues to disrupt branding as usual – brands are still working through how they make the most of trading environments that are increasingly dominated by digital platforms and socially connected consumers.

Brands are only as strong as their stories – everyone’s talking about story and the power of storytelling. We think this will be an ongoing priority for brands for the foreseeable future.

Language matters – brands need to pay more attention to shaping a distinct verbal identity.

Purpose is now part of the brand conversation – there’s increasing consensus that purpose has an important role to play in strategic discussions and direction setting.

Again, thank you for reading and participating. We look forward to bringing you more insider views and opinions on branding strategy issues in 2015.

Sponsored By: Resonate. Reach audiences based on why they choose brands.

Sponsored ByThe Brand Positioning Workshop, the Brand Storytelling Workshop Series and Brand Strategy and Customer Co-Creation Workshops

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

FREE Publications And Resources For Marketers


Branding Strategy Insider

social media stars

"Social Media Stars" cartoon
YouTube has been increasingly promoting its homegrown talent to advertisers. YouTube vlogger Michelle Phan partnered with Lancome, Bethany Mota partnered with Aeropostale, and the Fine Brothers partnered with Friskies.

Brands have been partnering with social media influencers for years. It can be an effective way for a brand to combine content creation with audience reach. But it’s tempting for brands to chase viral to the exclusion of everything else. Marketers shouldn’t forget the importance of brand fit.

This is especially interesting to watch as brands newly try to appeal to Millennial audiences, sometimes in awkward ways.

Fortunately, channels like YouTube feature infinite niches. There are potential content partnerships for every imaginable brand. But brands need to take the time to find the right fit.

Marketers can struggle with social media because their historical bias is to create commercials. Content creators can struggle with how to incorporate a commercial message into their work. The ideal is when there’s a genuine connection between the two and the freedom to collaborate creatively.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how best to partner with social media influencers.

(Marketoonist Tuesday: I’m giving away a signed cartoon print. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Tuesday. Thanks!)

Tom Fishburne: Marketoonist

Communication Practices for Successful Networking in 2015

shutterstock_218342101Communication is something that we do every day. Communication is easy but doing it effectively is another thing. Great communication skills are essential in your personal and professional life, by helping you better understand a person, build trust and respect, and establish an avenue where creative ideas can flourish and problems can be solved. If you want to be a thought leader in your industry, it is essential to be a great communicator. However, being socially adept does not always translate to being a great communicator.

Effective communication is an integral part of your professional success at many levels. There are a host of factors that determine effective communication, but it is not just limited to verbal expression. Good communication also includes non-verbal expressions.

Communication practices that can help your personal brand

#1. Listen first. Communication is a two way process. How you convey your message depends on how you listen to others. It is important to understand whom you are talking to regardless of the mode (written or oral). Not all people will understand or appreciate your message even if it’s full of brilliant ideas. As such, be mindful of people’s differences by listening to them. Understand more about their thought process, educational background, interests, cultural, and even religious leanings. Do not expect that others will understand everything you say. Through listening, you can carefully select the words and the kind of information that you share, and subsequently convey it effectively.

#2. Think before you speak. There are lots of people who say whatever comes to mind without paying much thought. Talking doesn’t always translate to being a communicator. Sometimes it leaves a negative impression on your brand when you talk too much without thinking first. Always remember that whatever thought you want to share, think first, be sensible and choose relevant words to convey the message clearly.

#3.Use a professional tone. If you want to be taken seriously, avoid slang or shorthand lingo whilst communicating. Some professionals use slang to make others feel comfortable and show that they are affable. While speaking this way may give an impression that you are friendly, not all people will appreciate it especially if you are dealing with professional matters. Think of this situation: You come across two people whom you’ve talked to before and they’re together at the time. Now, you spoke to one in a professional manner while the other you were rather personal with and used slang. When you come across the two individuals, the latter approaches you the way you approached them before, and the former is taken by surprise, mostly because they don’t expect you to be so cavalier in your communication. How do you assuage that person’s fears that you are not as professional as you say you are?

#4. Speak slowly and clearly. Be sure that your tone doesn’t go overboard even if you have strong feelings regarding an issue. With regard to written communication, use an active voice. Active voice is more powerful than passive voice. Also, be careful with your grammar and punctuation. Sometimes the incorrect placement of punctuation can give off a different message.

#5. Show confidence. There are people who are not easily persuaded even if you have the most brilliant ideas in mind. It is important to exude confidence when expressing your thoughts. Nervousness and over excitement can cause you to stutter, resulting in ineffective communication. When you are speaking in front of a crowd, avoid injecting “uhmms, you knows, and stuff like that”. If you can’t help it, pause occasionally and breathe deeply. Take your time to compose your thoughts. If you are conveying your message through writing, use active voice. Avoid providing too much information to convince your reader.

#6. Be mindful of your gestures. Body language says a lot of things. Slipping your hands into your pocket or hand tapping can signal to your audience that you are nervous or lack confidence. Maintain eye contact with your audience because it signals honesty.

#7. Be honest and authentic. People are attracted to someone who is genuine, transparent, and honest. Many people are turned off by those who talk too much or put on a show to persuade others. People who speak with humility and genuine respect for others are almost always held in high regard.

Do you think communication has suffered or benefited from social media? [tweet this]

It is important to hone your communication skills as it brings a lot of difference in your personal and professional life. More so, communicating effectively and efficiently has a huge impact on the success of your personal brand. It is our hope that these tips help you improve your communication skills. What other practices can you share?

Personal Branding Blog – Stand Out In Your Career

Finally, There’s a Twitter Feed to Track Brands Saying ‘Bae’

Brands getting sassy and slangy with their tweets definitely created one of 2014's more dubious digital marketing trends, but the cuteness seems to be fading fast.

For evidence, look no further than the hottest Twitter feed of the moment, @BrandsSayingBae, which (as of this writing) is approaching 10,000 followers in just two days and has generated the attention of everyone from The Verge to Time.

The feed essentially compiles brand accounts tweeting slang terms like "bae" and "on fleek." The anonymous aggregator's tacit message to the featured brands is quite simple: Stop.

The examples are (so far as tweets go) relatively dated, with examples dating all the way back to March and April, when I'd argue that "bae" was considerably more novel.  It's hard to call this trend an epidemic when you have to reach back nearly a year to stock your first few dozen examples, but perhaps the intent was to lay a historical foundation.

Have a look at some of the examples below and be sure to follow the feed for plenty more.

Adweek : Advertising & Branding

Have You Lost This Essential Business Success Factor?

Belief - Business Success FactorSmall businesses wish they were larger, wish they had bigger budgets and more customers.

Large businesses wish they still had that entrepreneurial spirit, wish they could be more human and less bureaucratic.

We all wish for something, yet we are what we are…and what we are is special, unique and different. Our strengths will always be our weaknesses and vice versa.

Big, small, local, global….it doesn’t actually matter. There is only one thing that matters….


You see belief in ourselves sells. Not arrogance or blind belief but self aware belief.

Think about it…..if we don’t believe in ourselves why would anyone else? (Tweet this)

Large companies can easily fall into blind belief. Yet true business belief is a business success factor.

Small companies can easily lack true belief. Yet true business belief is a critical business success factor.

Large or small real belief is truly engaging so how do you find true belief?

Belief needs two components to develop into your strongest asset

  1. You need to understand why you are in business and how you are achieving that goal.
  2. You need to keep listening for signs that either you are drifting from that belief or that the how is no longer matching the original why of the business.
  3. You need everyone in your business to believe in your business. Not believe in the pay cheque but the reason why you exist and how you want to be different. And that includes YOU. Often we drift, we get bogged down in the minor details and forget the why……keep true to your aim for others to keep true to you. (Tweet this)

The Engaging Brand

Starting Over, a Goal for 2015

shutterstock_219432358Learn to Start Anew

Holding on to what’s no longer there holds too many of us back. Some of us spend the majority of our lives recounting the past and allow negativity to permeate our present. We waste our time and energy when we dwell on the past and inhibit ourselves from making progress by not letting go and moving forward. You must accept the end of something in order to begin to build something new. In order to experience real growth and change, you need to move away from the past, learn from your experiences and then move towards something new (and hopefully better) in its place.

When we continue to repeat a story in our head, we eventually believe that story and embrace it – whether it empowers us or not. The message we repeat to ourselves becomes a part of our psyche. So the question is: Does your story empower you? Do you allow your mistakes to dominate your thinking and pull you down? Or do you learn from your mishaps and use them as a springboard for personal and career growth? As Marc and Angel Chernoff say in their book, 1000 Little Things Happy and Successful People Do Differently, “Remember, all things are difficult before they are easy. What matters the most is what you start doing now”.

The Upside to Taking Risks

There’s an upside to taking risks and rethinking about uncertainty. If no one would take risks we wouldn’t have the printing press (the precursor to the internet), penicillin, semiconductor, optical lenses, refrigeration, gunpowder, the airplane, the automobile, the pill, the telephone, anesthesia, the assembly line and the combine harvester. No one would marry and certainly no one would dare to have children. Essentially, if no one took a risk to fail at attempting to do things differently, the world would still be in the dark ages. The risk takers who went out on their own challenged the status quo and sought to innovate were not crazy, insensible people.

Their success came from taking risks and being persistent with their ideas with courage to accept a failure and to learn from it. This kind of sensible risk taking will allow you to manage a great success, a mild success and a total blow out failure. Smart risk taking requires taking a leap based on having a realistic gauge of market demand and being aware that with every risk there’s the possibility for failure.

Starting Over: Do What You Love

Starting your own business can be an exciting and rewarding experience. It can offer numerous advantages such as being your own boss, setting your own schedule and making a living doing something you enjoy. But, becoming a successful entrepreneur isn’t for everyone. It requires thorough planning, creativity and hard work. It also requires a willingness to let go of the past, learn from your mistakes, accept the possibility of failure, and a commitment to learning new skills and wearing many hats.

Famous People Who Started Over and Achieved Success Later in Life

Gary Heavin was 40 when he opened the first Curves fitness center in 1992, which ended up becoming one of the fastest-growing franchises of the ’90s.

Vera Wang was a figure skater and journalist before entering the fashion industry at age 40. Today she’s one of the world’s premier women’s designers.

Julia Child didn’t even learn to cook until she was almost 40 and didn’t launch her popular show until she was 50.

Harlan Sanders, the Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, was 62 when he franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1952, which he would sell for $ 2 million 12 years later.

Tim and Nina Zagat were both 51-year-old lawyers when they published their first collection of restaurant reviews under the Zagat name, which eventually became a mark of culinary authority.

Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man, was 43 when he began drawing his legendary superheroes and his partner Jack Kirby was 44 when he created The Fantastic Four.

Don’t Throw It All Away: Your Past is a Springboard

No matter what career you’re in, you’ve made a considerable investment in your education and training to be there. It makes sense to pause, reflect and seek some objective outside advice at this point. Similar to a romantic relationship, there were reasons you selected this particular industry, and at one point at least, something was appealing about that job or that industry. Sometimes, it’s making adjustments in your role at work and reshaping your job that can make a huge difference in your overall happiness and success. But in other cases, starting anew could mean applying skills from your past job to a new area that excites you. Your past real world experience isn’t wasted instead it becomes your springboard for a future success. The experiences both good and bad could all be beneficial if you use them as a catalyst for positive change.

If you weigh the pros and cons of your job and conclude there are more reasons to leave than to stay, then making that actual career move into entrepreneurship will invoke less anxiety. You’ll have greater clarity for why it makes sense to leave and will focus your thoughts and future plans on making constructive changes that could lead to a better career and a happier, more fulfilling life.

Personal Branding Blog – Stand Out In Your Career

Accounts in Review: Phew! What a Busy 10 Days

When it rains, it pours. Five marketers have hired new shops for creative and media accounts in the past 10 days, starting with Johnsonville Sausage, Johnnie Walker and Golden Corral and ending with Bloomin' Brands and Sprint.

Sprint's selection of Deutsch L.A. had been expected since last month, when the telco told fellow finalist Arnold that it was not getting its broadcast business. In fact, Deutsch had already started creating TV ads before it finalized its contract. And it's a big one, with revenue estimated at $ 30 million. Now it's time to do battle with market leaders AT&T and Verizon.

Adweek : Advertising & Branding

517 – Using BIG Data to Win Customers

engaging brand podcastAre you awash with data but don’t know how to use it to actually win customers?

What if we could maximise that data to increase our revenue – wouldn’t that be great?

Well, this week on The Engaging Brand podcast Russell Glass, Head of Products at Linked In Marketing Solutions about how big data can be used to increase sales. He has cowritten The Big Data-Driven Business: How to Use Big Data to Win Customers, Beat Competitors, and Boost Profits.

We discuss

    • How big data is not new
    • How the buyers journey has changed significantly since Google.
    • Should we use data to direct the customers journey or to track the customers journey.
    • How to use big data without being generic or creepy.
    • Should big data be used upfront in the marketing process?
    • How Netflix uses big data to define what to invest in.
    • How big data can be used as a service to customers.
    • How to add a human element when using big data?
    • How to read digital body language.
    • How to think about how big data can deliver value to both your business and your customer.

Movy was chosen as listener of the week – chosen from anyone who has shared about the show. For your chance to win just share on your favourite network.

The Engaging Brand