Tag Archives: New Consumer

Ideas and Innovation: Brainstorming for Small Business

Coming upon “I” in the A-Z of Marketing, I have to say, I was lacking inspiration (oh hang on there’s an “I” word); I didn’t need just any “I” word, I needed an “I” word that had something to do with Marketing and Small Business. Then I had an idea! Actually, the idea came to me during a swim, which is where I find a lot of my ideas start, so I decided to dedicate this post to Ideas.

The ways in which ideas can be generated and the techniques of pushing ideas past the barriers of what we know until we reach innovation are both paramount in keeping your small business at the top of its game.

Where do Ideas Come From?

“An idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements.”  James Webb Young

It always seems that there are some people who are just “full of great ideas” and others who are not. Ideas are our subconscious processing inputs and coming up with solutions, so it’s no surprise the more we sit and try to think of a great idea, the further and further it gets from our reach.

We all had an idea when we started our business, an idea of what we could offer a group of people that would be different in some way to the other options available. Had we sat down and thought, “I want to start a business, I just need a good idea” it is more than likely that we would have come up with nothing. But perhaps days later, when out on a walk, or having a shower, the idea would pop into our mind, as if out of nowhere.

So there lies the power of the subconscious. I read an article years ago and the crux of it was, to come up with a great idea, pose a question to yourself, then go and do something completely unrelated and with any luck your subconscious will do the rest.

But what do we do when the ideas won’t flow?

How to Brainstorm

Brainstorming is a creativity process where a group tries to find a solution for a specific problem by gathering a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by its members. It is a technique for finding alternatives to a problem. It is usually undertaken in a group setting, as the dynamic allows each new idea to generate other ideas, summed up best by the phrase “bouncing ideas off each other”.

To allow ideas to flow, some say it is best to follow the “rules” of brainstorming:

  • All ideas should be initially accepted without judgment or criticism. Negativity is a road block for idea generation.
  • Ideas can be imaginative and impossible. Take a “no holds barred” approach, it is easier to later refine ideas than to make them more unique.
  • Don’t limit the number of ideas generated; keep the flow until there are no ideas left. The more ideas that are generated the more likely the right idea will have been unearthed.
  • Allow each idea to be combined, improved and expanded.

I found brainstorming works best in a group environment when you use a large writing area. Draw a big circle in the middle of the space and write your problem, each idea then branches off, ideas can be joined together and new
ideas can branch off existing ideas. This is also known as a mind map (especially useful if you only have yourself to brainstorm with)

What is Innovation?

Like milk and baby’s nappies, new ideas don’t stay fresh for long. In our post on Getting Competitive with your Competitors we talked about the need to adjust your strategy annually to stay ahead of the competition.

The ideas we have for our products and services when we start out may not be the best combination for ongoing success 12 months later. This can be due to competition, the consumer evolving or saturation in the market. In marketing we know nothing sells like new! Having worked as a Brand Manager for two international cosmetic brands, the power of “new” always amazed me. Mascara sales would peak at +50% when we introduced a new variant; perfume sales would peak at +25% when we added a limited edition to a current product. “New” gets people excited and it gives them a reason to buy again.

Innovation is the process of becoming better or more effective; it is striving to stay ahead, to be first amongst competitors, to deliver solutions to needs consumers may not have even realised. Innovative products create demand and instead of fighting to take a bigger slice of the existing pie, they expand the pie in size and then claim a bigger slice than was originally available.

Brainstorming for new ideas often leads to innovation; it is open minded, unrestricted problem solving approaches like this that allow innovative ideas to come through. To innovate we ask:

  • Is there a better way of doing this?
  • Could this product do more than what it does now?
  • What are other industries doing, is there learning’s we can use from these?
  • What is the ultimate version of our product or service?

In the Jack Collins book Innovate or Die, he says simply to ask:

  • What can be added?
  • What can be taken away?
  • What can be adapted?

And renowned management writer Peter Drucker gave us three conditions that must be met for an innovation to be successful:

  • Innovation is work. It requires knowledge, ingenuity, creativity, etc. Plus, innovators rarely work in more than one area, be it finance, healthcare, retail or whatever. This work requires diligence, perseverance and commitment.
  • To succeed, innovators must build on their own strengths. They must look at opportunities over a wide range, then ask which of the opportunities fits me, fits this company. There must be a temperamental fit with the practitioner and a link to business strategy.
  • Innovation is an effect in economy and society, a change in the behaviour of customers, of teachers, of farmers, of doctors, of people in general. Or, it is a change in a process, in how people work and produce something. Innovation must always be close to the market, focused on the market, and market driven.

The benefit of bringing innovation into your business is that it gives you an edge. You will not have to compete on price and you will not be concerned when new businesses emerge mimicking your offer.

We understand how hard it can be as a small business owner to brainstorm and even more so when your business is just you, but the opportunity to bounce ideas off others is invaluable. Make sure you take advantage of networking both online and offline to help you draw inspiration, develop new ideas and innovate to keep your business moving.

We also offer an email support program we call the Business Bounceboard, which allows for unlimited email support and advice. It’s a great way to get input on new ideas and be pointed in the right direction when you get stuck.

Until next week I is for Ideas and Innovation and hopefully for adding a little inspiration.

Mary-Anne

www.wiseupmarketing.com.au


Email Marketing Basics for E Newsletter Success

Nearly every small business we talk to is looking for the same thing – cost-effective marketing solutions. “How do I get my business in front of potential customers without spending a packet?”

This post will guide you through email marketing and help you unleash its potential for your business. Follow our easy plan to increase your open rate, your click-throughs and your shares, giving you E Newsletter success!

E-Mail Marketing: The Basics

It is important before weE Mail Marketing even begin, that we clear one thing up, E-Mail Marketing to us does not involve bombarding our potential customers with offers every week in the hope they will buy from us. We are a business that rarely advises you to compete on price, so it should be no surprise that our e-mail marketing strategies will not focus solely on price promotion. Instead we believe you need to value add. You need to give your target customer a reason to open your e newsletter,
over and above this week’s special.

E Newsletters have emerged as a very successful E-Mail Marketing tool, as they give a personality to your business and allow you to connect with your customer over and above a promotion or sale. It’s an opportunity to bring together all your social media platforms and deliver a concise summary direct to your subscriber’s inbox.  Oh and did we mention, it’s free?

7 Steps for E Newsletter Success

1.Gather a great list

 From today, utilise every opportunity you can to grow your email database:

  • Ask permission to email updates and offers from your business. (It’s actually the law – http://www.adma.com.au/regulatory/compliance-tools/spam-act/).
  • Create a database capturing the First Name, Last Name and Email address of each subscriber (at a minimum). This can be in an excel spreadsheet or a mailing list using E Mail Marketing Software (EMS).
  • Remember to delete or mark inactive anyone who asks to unsubscribe.
  • Use a sign up tab /form on your website and social media platforms to encourage sign up.
  • Offer a discount to reward sign up.
  • Run a competition to drive sign up or buy space in a complementary newsletter to attract new potential subscribers.
  • Never email your list using the “To” box, as all email addresses will be visible to all subscribers. Instead use the “BCC” or better still send through email marketing software.

2.Cut through with your subject line

E Newsletters cop a bit of flack for being lost in a sea of email. It’s a fair point too. That’s why you need to ensure your subject line connects with your subscribers:

  • Keep it brief, too many words will get cut off.
  • “What’s in it for me?” Highlight the most exciting reason why your subscriber should open the email.
  • Think about your inbox; What gets instantly deleted? What gets opened? Why?
  • Mix it up; call out your promotion, ask a question, highlight brands.
  • Introduce your newsletter at launch “The Monthly Hoot: Launch Issue”.

3. Create a template that is easy to use

Set up a template whether in Word or using EMS and aim to use that template every month with minimal changes. This builds consistency and helps give a professional look.

4.Balance the content

You want to get opened, get read, be clicked and be shared! This can’t be achieved with just one type of content:

  • A personal message, aim to have a short message from the business owner or the nominated voice of the business. They should wrap up what’s been going on and what subscribers should look out for in the newsletter.
  • Recap the month; share a post from Facebook that got people talking, perhaps include a paragraph of the best blog post for the month and a link to read more
  • Feature a reader of the month, product of the month or special of the month
  • Add some value to newsletter by adding an educational article, a humours anecdote, a recipe, a local restaurant review. Something readers look forward to every month that is more than just a plug for your business.
  • Run promotions, competitions, special offers sometimes. Not every time.
  • Use a variety of methods and learn from what works best with your subscribers.
  • Open it up to subscribers to supply content. Content co creation can be a great way to foster valuable connections.

5.Send at the right time

Based on your business type, establish the best time to send:

  • Mainly Business Customers? Usually around 3pm Tue-Thurs is a good time.
  • Mainly WAHers? Try after 7pm on a weeknight.
  • Is your business focussed on the weekend? Thursday 3pm – Friday 3pm

6.Encourage sharing

  • Create content that people just have to share. Added value and co-created content will be especially popular.
  • Make your email easy to forward. Use a “Forward to a Friend” form in your EMS or simply add “If you enjoyed this issue, please forward it to a friend” at the end.
  • Run competitions via the newsletter that use “Refer a Friend” for more entries into the draw.

7.Check your stats

Most effective tracking will come from using EMS, as you will be able to analyse your open rate, click-through and your shares. You may also be able to look at the most popular time of day your email was opened.

  • Use your stats to learn what your subscriber base is really looking for in your newsletter.

Start today by committing to a monthly newsletter for your business and pick a date to send out your newsletter every month (e.g last Wednesday of the month). Consider writing a plan for the next 3 months of what you will feature in each newsletter, so you are not overwhelmed as each month rolls around. Monitor the success of each newsletter, compare the results and uncover the best formula for your E Newsletter Success.

Using E Mail Marketing Software

Just before we wrap up, one last word on EMS. Although we guided you through our 7 Steps to E Newsletter Success, with the choice of using EMS or going it alone, we must stress our advice is to use it!

EMS allows you to:

  • Manage your database subscribers and unsubscribers easily, professionally and most important of all, in accordance to anti spam law.
  • Create a template to use for each mail out that is professional, structured and can manage technical requirements like including plain text elements to not get misread by spam filters.
  • Create ease of sharing with “Forward to a Friend” forms.
  • Create ease of sign up with links on your website and social media being directed to a form that automatically updates your mailing list and validates the subscriber.
  • Personalise your newsletter, so you can send 1,000 emails with one click, yet each recipient can be addressed by their first name.
  • Easily analyse your statistics to make changes and increase effectiveness of your newsletter.
  • Do all this for free (within limits) – check out Mail Chimp and Send Blaster.

Have you launched an email newsletter yet? What you would consider changing after reading this?

If you are procrastinating about it, contact us and we can help you with a plan to launch your businesses email newsletter.

Until next week E is for E Mail Marketing and for … (no really it is, click to find out)

Mary-Anne

Wise Up Marketing

Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


The Decision Making Process of the New Consumer

What did we do before Google, Facebook, Twitter, Trip Advisor, You Tube and everything in between?

The ability to research has become quicker and easier than ever before. As consumers we are presented with not only an increase in information, but also the falling away of geographical barriers to purchase.

The new consumer is influenced less by what they are told and more by what they uncover. This post will look at the decision making process of the new consumer and how to use the internet and social media to connect from awareness to purchase and beyond.

Traditional Decision Making Process

Marketing theory has traditionally painted the consumer decision making process to move through 5 stages, with strategies to maximise the opportunity to attract and maintain the consumer through each stage. The process has looked something like this:

  1. Need recognition. When the consumer feels they have an unsatisfied need, this creates a motive to act.
  2. Identification of alternatives. Consumer research begins; this might include different categories to fulfil their needs as well as different brands or providers.
  3. Evaluation of alternatives. The consumer compares their options; they might seek out offers, opinions of friends, relatives and respected bodies.
  4. Purchase decision. With the decision made on what to buy, the consumer will now make a series of small decisions including where, when and how, until the actual purchase is made.
  5. Post-purchase behaviour. The consumer will either be satisfied or dissatisfied with their purchase.

Think back to the late 90’s when the humble DVD player launched. Your decision making process went something like this:

  1. Need Recognition: Saw an ad on TV or in the newspaper about DVD players and how the quality of DVD is far superior to that of Video. Thought about never having to rewind a video again, this motivated you to learn more.
  2. Identification of Alternatives: Looked at catalogues and at Harvey Norman and found out there were two brands you could choose from.
  3. Evaluation of Alternatives: Talked to friends who had bought a DVD player about what brand they got and what they thought, talked to a few salesman about the different brands, read an article in Choice magazine.
  4. Purchase Decision: After deciding to buy a Panasonic DVD Player, you reviewed the newspaper and catalogues and decided to go to Harvey Norman on Sunday and buy their advertised deal.
  5. Post-purchase behaviour: You watched your first DVD that you hired and felt satisfied that you just eject it and return it.

The Online Effect

Fast forward to the year 2010 and you hear some buzz about a new personal computer called an iPad. Let’s review the decision making process:

  1. Need Recognition: You saw Steve Jobs on the news talking about the iPad, your friend also sent you an email with a You Tube clip of a leaked iPad, your friends are debating on Facebook which store they will camp at for an iPad,
    iPad is trending #1 on Twitter. The hype is getting to you and you can’t imagine not being able to have your photos, music and apps for business everywhere you go.
  2. Identification and Evaluation of Alternatives: You go on the Apple website and read about the different sizes available and that you can also choose to have Wi-Fi compatibility. You don’t even consider any other brand as you are an Apple devotee. You check out blogs in the US of those who got an iPad on pre release, read reviews on how much space you might need, you sign up to Optus and Telstra to find out what their data plans are. You sign up to Apple to be notified when they are releasing the iPad.
  3. Purchase Decision: You order your iPad online and it gets delivered to you on the day it launches. You get the 32GB with Wi-Fi.
  4. Post-purchase behaviour: You sit on the couch and update your status on Facebook to say how in love you are with your iPad, you Tweet that you can’t work out how to get your wireless printer working and post on an Apple Forum how your iPad has completed your world.

With the increase of information, we see the identification and evaluation of alternatives merging into one step; they are done concurrently as the consumer gathers information from multiple sources.

How to win the New Consumer Over

I love this illustration from Orbital Alliance: I look at it to draw ideas for marketing to the new consumer. I see this as the new consumer decision process; the online stratosphere has increased the information available to consumers. The inputs are greater than ever before and (literally) at their fingertips.

My tips for maximising your connection with the new consumer

  1. Increase Awareness
    1. Optimise to be seen in search results
    2. Use social media to create a brand name
    3. Use pay-per-click advertising to get in front of your consumer
    4. Advertise in popular newsletters of complementary businesses
  2. Maximise your Consideration
    1. Make your homepage work harder (you only have seconds to convince them to stay)
    2. Use a blog so your consumer can get to know you better
    3. Make your offers clear and easy to understand
    4. Use press releases to ensure there is hype about your product on multiple platforms
  3. Convert to Sales
    1. Offer service that your competitors don’t (or can’t)
    2. Reward regular purchases
    3. Add value (don’t just try to cut the price)
  4. Compel to share
    1. Asks for reviews and recommendations
    2. Use Social Media to thank major customers

The new consumer is just like you, they have changed a lot in the last 10-20 years. Don’t lose sight of how differently you make your decisions as a consumer and make sure you are adapting your business approach.

How has your business evolved to maximise the new consumer? Our Website Effectiveness Audit gives a third-party review of your website and helps you ensure you are maximising awareness and consideration to help you
convert sales. Click this link for more information – Package Info

Until next week, D is for Decision Making and also for … the coolest Alphabet Book that I just bought for my son’s birthday

Mary-Anne

Wise Up Marketing Solutions


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