A Marketer’s Guide to Making Smarter Decisions

A summary of the “How to Make Better Marketing Decisions: Unthinkable Wisdom” Podcast.

https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-make-better-marketing-decisions-unthinkable-wisdom-jay-akunzo/

During this podcast episode of The Social Media Examiner, Michael Stelzner speaks with Jay Acunzo, who is the founder of Unthinkable Media and an expert on the production of docuseries and video marketing for B2B businesses. The overall discussion of the podcast discusses in detail the common reasons why bad decisions in marketing are made, how to turn those bad decisions into good ones, as well as reasons why you as a marketer shouldn’t rely on guidance practices may not always be in your best interest.

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Since 2008, Jay has been building up his resume adding a variety of jobs to it that surround the marketing community, starting first off in the PR and Communications department at ESPN. From there he moved on to work in the digital media strategy department at Google. It was after that he jumped to business’s like Hubspot and Venture Capital. With all the knowledge and experience he was gaining, Jay made the decision to write a book about all the things he had learned thus far throughout his careers called “Break the Wheel”.

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As far as the main discussion of the podcast, Jay talks about how to answer the question “how can you as a marketer make better or smarter decisions?” Jay answered this main question by breaking it down under three sub questions throughout the entire interview which were complied of “how do we make better decisions, how do we know if we are using the best practices, and how do we choose our best option?”.

How do we make better decisions?

Jay’s immediate answer to how can we make better decisions is to start off by asking better questions. He goes into detail about how when you craft questions that are geared to what you and your team may be doing, it helps you make decisions that pertain to what you’re doing rather than what other outside opinions suggest that you do. In order to do this, you must first figure out what your customers priciple insight is and who your true believers are. Essentially, we can best learn how to make smart decisions based on what the customer wants and/or needs from the marketer. We can make better decisions when we are actually addressing the needs of our target demographic. So when it comes to making decisions, we don’t necessarily have to use all the fancy bells and whistles to get a point across, but rather the idea of understanding how to properly execut your ideas is what will help you create a strong marketing plan that will have a strong appeal to your customers.

How do we know if we are using the best practices?

When is comes to the practices we use to execut our ideas, sometimes we believe we have to search for the best way to get something done. But something to keep in mind is that something that might have worked really well for one company doesn’t necessarily mean that it will have the same benefit for your company. This is where the idea of finding your niche comes into play. Jay talks about how understaning the unique context of your situation will overall help you to make better decisions. If we are able to this, then we can open ourselves up to plenty of different options or possibilities for our creativity to come alive.

How do we choose our best option?

When choosing what our best option is, there are 3 main “danger routes” that Jay points out are major mistakes that marketers can make. They are made up of relying on conventional wisdom (best practices), relying on new trends and relying on reactions. You never want to set yourself to one standard with these danger routes because of the fact that context is constantly changing and there are new ways of doing things being implemented on a regular basis. The best way to avoid this is to stick to what you know and what makes you unique. This will allow you to avoid getting caught up in making a mistake because you chose to take someone else’s advice rather than sticking to what you knew all along.

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As far as what I learned from listening to this podcast and how I plan to implement the context into my future, the biggest take away for me was that you can’t expect new results if you are using the same strategies. You can do lots of research on different theories or ways to develop marketing strategies, but when it comes down to it, you need to be able to figure out what works the best for you. One thing that Jay talked about that I thought was great was his example of marketing pillows. He mentioned how even though the physical product is the pillow, customers are looking for something that is going to improve their sleep, so you as a marketer need to figure out the most effective way to sell the idea that your pillow provides the comfort of a great sleep. The biggest thing for me in my future career or careers will be learning how to sell the concept of an idea and an experience rather than just a product. I overall found the podcast to be very educational and recommend it to anyone in the marketing industry to take a listen to it because it really gives you some food for thought in the questions that Jay asks that help you answer them immediately after they are asked.

 

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5 Simple Tips That Will Make You A Branding Pro

In order for a company to be successful, it’s important that they take the appropriate steps to build their brand up so that it functions at a professional level. For this to happen, companies need to create a plan of action to put in place that will allow them to grow and appeal to their target market. This plan of action can be referred to as a brand strategy. Throughout the course of this blog, I’m going to talk about 5 different tips that aren’t necessary for every company to use, but is recommended to be helpful in creating a brand layout strategy.

So let’s start out by asking the question of what is branding? Branding is the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising or distinctive design. In simpler terms, it is the process of making your company or products unique and distinctive to the market. In creating this uniquiness, you develop what’s known as the companies identity, which helps consumers to tell you apart from your competition. Once you have developed a strong branding technique, the rest of the branding strategy is a little bit like putting together a puzzle, each individual section of the strategy offers it’s own special feature complied of the value, advertising and marketing, design and other aspects, which fit toegther to build a branding layout strategy that is exclusive to your company.

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So now let’s get into the focus point of this blog post, and start talking about the 5 tips on how a company can develop a branding strategy that will display them as reputable and eccentric to their target market.

#1 Discover Your Niche!

Rule number one of course has to be that you need to find what makes you so great as a company. Once you find this, you can develop your companies purpose that will help you distinctify to your target market what makes you stand out from your competitors. This will allow you to draw in customers more easily. Carly Stec from Hubspot talks about the importance behind having a purpose in her article Branding Strategy 101: 7 Essentials for Strong Company Branding. After reading the article, I found her statement about having a purpose to be really compelling, especially the section where she says “While understanding what your business promises is necessary when defining your brand positioning, knowing why you wake up every day and go to work carries more weight. In other words, your purpose is more specific, in that it serves as a differentiator between you and your competitors”. A great example of a company who thrives off the idea of having purpose is Patagonia.

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The company follows the intentional concept that Carly discusses in her article. While they look to make a profit off of their products, they are also are passionate about their commitment to sustainability and are super supportive of many evironmental and non-profit organizations to help encourage their consumers to buy products that encourage people to reduce, reuse and repair items.

#2 Consistency is Key!

My second tip is to simply keep it consistent. Consumers like things that are consistent, especially the consumers who are brand loyal to your company. Consistency however does not necessarily mean that your products need to look the same of do the same things, but when it comes to the marketing aspect of the company, consistency is appealing to the buyer. The way you market your company and products is what helps buyers to associate your catchy slogans or creative commericals with the products you make. A review that was conducted by Forbes talks about 6 different companies that are doing everything right when it comes to advertising consistency. One of the companies that they touch on that does a great job at keeping their ads consistent is Capital One.

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Althought Capital One uses different celebrities to be featured in their advertisements, they keep everything consistent with their very well known slogan of “what’s in your wallet?”, and people naturally know to associate that slogan with Captial One.

#3 Bring Value to Your Brand!

Understanding the true value of your company and your core product is key when placing a value on your brand. A buyers willingness to pay is one of the most important things to take into consideration when setting your prices for you products. Another thing you need to take into consideration is how much your competitors are charging for their version of the same product. If you feel that your product has a high value, then you might feel comfortable with charging a higher amount for it and not worrying about your competitor. The customers that you are probably targeting with that mind set are going to be your brand loyal consumers who are willing to pay whatever to get the product or brand name that they prefer the most. If you are a company such as Apple, you know that people who love Apple products will pay whatever price you charge since they know they are getting a premium product from a luxury based company, so they don’t have to worry as much of what their competitors will charge since they know their products are of high value.

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In an article by Brand Extract, a buyer’s willingness to pay is the main focus of their view on value. Johnathan Fisher states that “The value of perception is very measurable when it comes to product pricing. When two companies sell a near-indistinguishable product, the one with a stronger brand will be able to preserve or even elevate the price point”. The value that is put on a product by a consumer all cycles back to how strong the brand’s awareness is to those consumers, the more well known your company is, the more likely you are be someone who is a price setter for the market and the more profit you will make over your competitors.

#4 Loop in Your Loyal Customers

Sometimes the most effective marketing isn’t something that a company pays lots of money for, but comes from the people who adore your brand and it’s products the most. WOM or word of mouth advertising comes from the consumers who are known as brand loyal. Sometimes when you are constructing a brand layout strategy for your company, gaining loyal customers is one of the strongest aspects to increasing your brand awareness. Believe it or not, in the process of obtaining loyal customers, companies utlize ALL of the tips that I have recommended so far throughout my blog. After reading another article from Forbes about how to increase brand loyalty, some of the first items on the list are to focus on purpose, value and consistency. The article goes into detail explaining all the ways to make and keep your loyal consumers happy with doing things from not spamming them with advertisements to rewarding them for being such good customers. A great example of a company who recognizes their customers for being so loyal would be Starbucks.

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Starbucks is very well known for their speciality coffees, however, to their customers, they are well known for their loyalty program. I myself am guilty of being a member of the Starbucks Gold membership program, but being apart of the program is what honestly keeps me going back because I get points for every dollar that I spend at any given store and almost every other time I go to Starbucks I have some kind of reward whether that be a free drink or and certain percentage off.

#5 Embrace Your Competitors!

Competition happens in every single market, no matter what. But competition isn’t always necessarily a bad thing, competition allows companies to rise to the occasion and challenge what other companies are doing in the market. In chapter 9 of our textbook “Marketing Management” by Greg Marshall and Mark Johnston, they talk about the many roles that brands play, especially competitor brand roles. In one section, it states that “in industries with strong market-leading brands, competitors design and build products targeted specifically at the market leader”(Marshall & Johnston, p.248). In most cases of other brands going against the market leader, they tend to focus on leveraging their strengths as well as exploiting their competitors weaknesses. An example of a company in a competitive market would be Ford.

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Ford focuses on being considered a tough and manly brand for the every day blue collar American worker. One particular commercial that recently was released for Ford where they talk about all the quality strengths behind a Ford truck, and if that’s what consumers were looking for then that’s the vehicle they should purchase, but if they were looking for a car that had a list of weaknesses they named off that they should buy any other brand except for a Ford. Car brands, especially in the pick-up truck industry are constantly trying to out due all the other companies to show who has the biggest and badest truck on the market.

Overall to recap, the 5 main tips that I want my readers to take away from this blog is #1: discover your niche and purpose for what makes your brand so unique. #2: consistency is key so keep your marketing clean and catchy to draw in an audience. #3: bring value to your brand and show why you have the best products/services to offer. #4: loop in your loyal customers to maintain your public brand ambassadors. Finally, #5: embrace your competitiors because a little competition can be healthy to challenge your brand. Most importantly, I want to know what you would suggest is the most important of the 5 tips I’ve talked about!

An Analysis of the Human Technological Nervous System: A Review of Big Data

Since the ending of the Industrial Revolution in the 1960’s, our world has taken a step in a direction that focuses more on the internet and technology than it ever has before. Everyday activities have evolved into something that can take place with the touch of a button. For example, rather than taking time out of your day to drive over to your local grocery store to pick up the things you would need for the average week, you can open up your smart phone and pull up apps or websites such as InstaCart and electronically pick out the exact items and the amount of that item you require, only to pay for it online then later that same day have the groceries delivered right to your door step. Conveient? Maybe so, but that doesn’t nescessarily mean that this evolution of the technological world will always fall on the positive side of the spectrum when we compare and contrast it to the past.

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After watching the documentary that aired on PBS “Big Data Revolution”, there were a few things that stuck out to me in regards to how our world is changing into a more digitized and futuristic verison of how we activitely function as a society. The first piece of information that was covered in the documentary that didn’t surprise me at all were the speculations and conspiracies behind whether or not the government is collecting information on each individual person and bulding a profile of all of their personal information. The reason as to why I don’t find this surprising is because there are so many options online that ask people if they would like to save their personal information in a database to avoid forgetting account passwords or usernames, but do we really trust that that information is only staying locked inside a password keychain on our personal devices? In my opinion, we are basically offering this information to anyone who is able to access the internet. This is how people are able to hack into private accounts and access your information.

On the other hand, there were a few things that surprised me about the documentary. The first being the fact behind that researches are estimating that by 2020, data volumes will be at about 40 zettabytes which is the equivalent to adding up every grain of sand on the planet and then multiply that number by 75, and that number (40,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) would equal out to 40 zettabytes of information. That fact is just amazing to me to know that we as humans are going to expand the technological aspect of our existence.

Business’s Accessing Big Data

When it comes to business’s using big data for work, there of course can be many benefits to this excesive amount of research and information avaliable for the use to help further your company. Of course for everything that has a good side, there is also a negative side to be found, especially when it comes to ethical dilemmas and decisions. A research study conducted by a group of individuals from the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia talks about the issues that can arise for business’s when it comes to utilizing big data analytics. They specifically go into detail about how concerns can appear when it comes to subjects under the umbrella topics of individuals, organizations, and society as a whole. A small piece of the study states that “alogorithmic decision-making, profiling of individuals and discrimination, control and surveillance of individuals, and lack of transparency in the big data value chain, all raise concerns regarding the use of big data analytics, and the social consequences of big data analytics”.

Is Our Privacy at Risk?

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So does big data pose a threat to privacy? The answer to that question is fairly obvious, yes. To go back to my previous point of how people are voluntarily posting their private and personal information online through interactive platforms and online tools such as social media networking, online banking, online shopping and so many more. Something that we are reminded of is that once you post something online or input data somewhere on the internet, that information is out there for good, and although you may be able to hit delete from your own personal view, it does not fully erase that data from the online web. I feel that this is something that a lot of people tend to lose sight of at times as well, and don’t truly realize that when they post on facebook, the company then owns the rights to the personal photos or content that they decided to share for people to see.

Data Misuse by United Kingdom Police

In 2018, a probe was conducted and found that there were 779 different scenarios of data misuse in 34 seperate police forces across the UK between Janurary of 2016 and April of 2017. It was found that the data that these forces were accessing was either inappropiate and in some cases, illegal. After the probe had taken place, it showed that a lot of these forces needed to buckle down and tighten up on their rules and regulations that employees had to follow. The use of this data that employees were using was having a negative influence on how they were doing their jobs, and therefore left a negative reflection on the upper management of the police forces. The overall outcome of the situation has shown that this misuse of the data is still currently going on and will more than likely take a while to gain control of again. The main parties affected by this misuse of the data was of course the police forces themselves, but also the public because of the fact that this knowledge will help to instill a negative standpoint on their trust in the police.

Baldwin Wallace Univeristy Uncovers Misuse of Mobile Data

Top ranked corporations like Google and Apple have been discovered to be using mobile information through smart phone applications. A group of students and a professor at Baldwin Wallace University were able to pinpoint that apps like Google Play and the App Store of Apple are misuing personal information without the permission of the owner of that device. Of course you can password protect and turn on your privacy settings, but it won’t have that much of an impact since the companies have been taking this information from the device owners and selling it to other companies for things such as  advertising purposes, making smartphone owners the clear victim of this misuse in data.

The Future of Big Data

The expansion of the techonological world in my opinion will never seize to exist. Although I do have some thoughts about whether or not there will ever be a point in time where the ability to expand the amount of big data will run out. By run out I mean the amount of space located on the internet or internal and external drives to hold access to all this information. Although I have touched on a lot of the negative that can come from big data, there is also a lot of good that can come from it. For example, big data allows us to access information to conduct many different kinds of research for things like the medical field, the criminal justice field, education systems and so many more. Statistical information can be utilized to help business’s have a better understanding behind their target demographic or how they can turn around their numbers if they didn’t have such a great year for sales. So in conclusion, how can we as the youth of our generation moving forward into the next years of the expansion of big data, help to omit the negative possibilities of use of this overload of information? Is there anyway that we can help to compile this data so that the things that are used for good are easier to access and vice versa for the things that are negative to be harder to access?

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References

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308024119_ETHICAL_IMPLICATIONS_OF_BIG_DATA_ANALYTICS

https://www.instacart.com/?ko_click_id=ko_855b5c490b7124e03&utm_medium=paid_search&utm_source=instacart_google&utm_campaign=ad_demand_prospecting&utm_term=+groceries%20+delivered&gclid=Cj0KCQiAvqDiBRDAARIsADWh5TePRpfdkdXwbmIUvYd9Qv9lKpXpXNSrXXF5UgZhXDmFbuZeg_Rat24aAoRXEALw_wcB#

https://hbr.org/2018/07/the-industrial-era-ended-and-so-will-the-digital-era

https://www.observeit.com/blog/3-new-examples-data-misuse/

The Importance of Organizational Strategies

When it comes to the marketing aspect of a brand or company, the break down behind the goals they want to achieve is one of the most detrimental steps to creating and developing an effective and efficient marketing plan that will help them to attain their goals. A company must be able to pull together a series of strategies and tactics that will help to lay the foundation towards making an impact on achieving these goals, but before we get any further into that, let’s start off by asking the question of what are strategies and what are tactics?

A Strategy can be defined from our textbook Marketing 3e Management, as a comprehensive plan stating how the organization will achieve it’s mission and objectives. In simpler terms, it’s your companies game plan or plan of action. According to Google, a Tactic is an action or strategy carefully planned to achieve a specific end. Another way to describe a tactic would be the actions you take to carry out the strategies or plans of actions you layout for your goal or mission. So now that we know what they each a strategy and a tactic, we can ask the question of what is the difference between the two? The main difference between the two would be that strategies are considered to be more of a long-term planning where as tactics are meant for more short-term plans of actions for quick decision making.

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Looking at strategies a little more in depth now, we can classify to different types of strategies, the first one being generic strategies. A Generic Strategy can defined as it’s overall directional strategy at the business level. On the other hand, the other type of strategy is Competitive Strategy, which can help to define three primary categories of low cost, differentiation and focus or niche. When comparing this two forms of strategies, they each carry their own characteristics that help to define and seperate their differences such as the fact that Generic is what any and all companies need to use to make major business decisions in regards to growth and company sustainment. Competitive on the other hand utilizes it’s three primary categories to help identify their core competencies which are “activities the firm can do exceedingly well” in reference from the textbook.

Taking a look now at Porter’s model of the Competitive Strategy Matrix, I’d like to match each individual strategy with an example that accurately represents it.

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Starting off Differentiation, a company that best fits this would be Patagonia. The reasoning for this would be that the company itself prides themselves to standout from their competitors to make high quality products that are unique as well as customers are okay with having to pay a bit of a premium for their products. The next strategy is Cost Leadership, and a company who I feel accurately represents this strategy is Walmart. Walmart prides themselves to always have the lowest prices in comparison to their competitors and they have a policy that they take very seriously is that if you as the customer find someone who has a lower price than them they will price match it so that they can maintain their customer base. For Cost Focus, a great example of a company would be Chegg. This company specifically targets college students in particular to help them save the most amount of money for purchasing books for school. They also have linked partnerships with other companies that give students extra resources at a lower price than their competitors. Finally, for Focused Differentiation, a company that I believe is a good example would be Apple. The reason for this is because of the fact that Apple is consistently producing products that are on the top of their market that have consumers lined up outside of store to purchase before they are even released. They are consistent with retaining brand loyal customers whom which have no issues what so ever with paying a premium for their products.

 

References

Marshall, G.W. & Johnson, M.W. (n.d.). Marketing Management. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Education.