A Helicopter View of the Marketing Strategy

In this blog post I will explain how to tackle a marketing strategy for a new or existing product and what to start with.

A common mistake for a small business owner or a less experienced marketing person is to focus on concrete marketing channels and tools first without considering the “big picture”.  On the graph below you can see what the main points to consider are.

First of all, you should be clear what your company values and image is. What are you good at? What skills can you develop? What makes you unique?

A customer is the focal point in any marketing strategy. Be clear on what customer segment you would like to serve and what their characteristics are (not just demographics, but also their interests, motivation and fears).

Product – after speaking to your potential customers and doing further market research decide what product would fulfill the needs of the selected customer segment. Formulate a unique selling proposition for your product. Never design and especially develop a product just by assuming somebody will buy it anyway.

You should also be aware of the market you operate in and how your competition is structured (you can also learn from your major competitors!). However, do not just focus all of your marketing strategy around chasing the competition- put your customers first instead.

marketing-strategy-helicopter-view

Then you can decide on the concrete marketing channels (digital, traditional or hybrid) and the marketing tools you will use in the context of how to better reach your customer with the information about your product. So, the best marketing strategy helps to connect the product and the customer in the most efficient and effective way.

For digital marketing strategy, you can consider the following channels:

  • Your own website
  • E-mail marketing
  • Partner websites (cooperations based on different models).
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Search Engine Advertising (SEA)
  • Display marketing
  • Social Media (both organic and paid)
  • Mobile marketing (includes e.g. in-app advertising)
  • Podcasts, etc.

To the traditional marketing channels belong:

  • Post (regular mail) Marketing
  • Telephone marketing
  • Print advertising
  • TV/Radio Marketing
  • Outdoor advertising

Hybrid or mixed marketing channels are:

  • Events
  • Press relations
  • Sponsoring
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Product samples distribution
  • Content marketing
  • Guerilla marketing

As you can see from this list, a huge number of options are available. You should also combine several tools for a marketing campaign, e.g. print advertising can be supported by an e-mail marketing campaign or a press release. The main thing is to stay consistent in your marketing message and closely monitor the campaign outcome.

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Commonalities among Basic Brand-Building Approaches

In this article I will talk about several well-known approaches to brand-building and what they all have in common.

Aaker: Brand Identity Model

Aaker’s approach is probably one of the most cited theories of brand-building.  It is based on the notion that a brand consists of several layers, where the brand essence helps to set the brand apart from the competitors and ties together the elements of its core and extended identity (in later works, Aaker noted that brand essence can be substituted by the core identity). The extended identity may include elements from any of the following categories: Product, Organization, Person, Symbol. The system of brand identity also includes, according to Aaker, value proposition as well as brand credibility and the relationship between brand and customer.

aaker-brand-leadership

Kapferer: Brand-Identity Prism

Kapferer sees brand as a system consisting of six parts. Some of them consider the brand from the sender’s point of view and some of them demonstrate the recipient’s view.

  • Physique – how the brand looks (logo, color, etc.) and what important physical attributes the branded product offers.
  • Personality – a unique brand personality, which can be connected to a real person (brand ambassador) or express the qualities of an imaginary person. Personifying the brand helps to build a brand-consumer relationship at a later stage.
  • Relationship – how the consumer sees its relationship to the brand.
  • Culture – often a broad cluster of associations, e.g. a certain lifestyle or the country of origin, if this is part of the brand communication strategy.
  • Reflection – how the brand sees its typical consumer or its target customer.
  • Self-image – how the target customers see themselves or what qualities of their character (real or desirable) they want to express through the brand usage.

You can see here some examples of brand identity prism: Apple, Ralph Lauren, Nike.

kapferer-brand-identity-prism

Keller: CBBE model or Brand Pyramid

At the bottom of the CBBE model lies the definition of brand identity which ensures brand recognition by the target user. This is followed by brand meaning, i.e. the associations the user has with the brand. Brand meaning is divided into performance (satisfaction of functional needs) and imagery (satisfaction of psychological needs). The next level is the reaction to the brand, i.e. positive reactions to the brand in the prospective buyer, which are, in turn, divided into judgments about the brand and emotions (feelings) associated with the brand. At the top of the pyramid is the relationship between the customer and the brand, which is based, among other things, on how much the customer identifies with the brand.

The upper parts of the pyramid cannot be reached until the lower parts are worked out. For example, without constructing a brand identity, it is impossible to evoke the right brand associations.

keller-brand-pyramid

Similarities among branding approaches

By reflecting on these three branding models, we can find the following commonalities:

  • Brand-building is viewed as multi-step, multi-layer process
  • The first step is always the creation of “physical” brand identity, such as brand name, logo, slogan and assigning colors to the brand.
  • This is followed by creating and communicating a set of positive associations with the brand and the product/service, something that makes it unique. In other words, this is the USP of the brand.
  • The next step is “emotionalizing” the brand, e.g. by connecting it to a certain type of personality or to a certain type of lifestyle. Strong brands event succeed in creating a whole “brand world”.
  • The final step in brand-building is nurturing the relationship between the brand and the target customer, which leads to higher brand loyalty.

The drawback of all of these theories lies in the fact that they fail to explain how brand-building takes place through different marketing channels. This is the area where more empirical research is needed.

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Website UX/UI Testing Parameters Part II

In this post, I will discuss compatibility, performance and security testing as important parameters of UX website testing.

In the previous post, I covered the first group of website testing parameters. In this article, I will discuss compatibility, performance and security testing.

website testing

  • Check how your website is rendered through different browsers and if the website functionality is maintained. You surely do not need to cover all existing browsers, however, the website should be compatible with the essential browsers and browser versions. In case you have visitor statistics from the past, you will know which browsers your visitors use (this may differ e.g. depending on the business you are in). Otherwise, you can use available statistics, such as by W3 (https://www.w3counter.com/globalstats.php). By the way, instead of installing all the browsers, you can just turn to one of browser testing tools (Browser Sandbox, Ghostlab, etc.)
  • Device compatibility at a higher level means mobile-friendly layout and functionality. At a more granular level, it means compatibility with most often used devices, in particular with their screen sizes and resolutions.
  • Statistics on operating systems (device platforms) can also be found in your previous web analytics reports, or, in the absence of those, on the Web (here you can also refer to W3 website).
  • The last point on compatibility refers to the most common OS, browser and device combinations. Also, here you can use professional testing tools without having to buy hundreds of devices.
  • Load testing examines how a site would perform at peak loads (extremely high user activity), stress testing may stretch the site beyond its limits or well beyond an expected peak load.
  • Take preventive measures in order for a website crash not to happen  (use a reliable hosting company, cautiously make code changes)  or to restore your website quickly in case it does crash (making a backup).
  • Website speed greatly influences not only user experience but also how your website is ranked in the search engines. For determining the site speed you can again turn to Google Search Console, but there are a lot of other tools out there.
  • Login security guarantees that only logged-in users can view certain areas of your site, but also that each user may only use their unique username and password.
  • Form validation means that only valid information can be entered. It is essential that your website’s code cannot be manipulated through form fields.
  • Internal website files should not be available to external viewers unless you want some of them to be accessible (such as .pdf files for download). Also, be careful about any transactions involving file uploads to prevent visitors from uploading executable files.
  • SSL enables secure file transfer between a server and a client and is a crucial feature of any up-to-date website. Using SSL causes that the links in the browser appear as https://. In case SSL is not present, website visitors will get a warning from most browsers.
  • This is by no means a full list of measures to protect your website from hackers’ attacks, so check logs of important transactions and error messages to identify any security breach attempts. Abnormal user behavior can sometimes be identified through your web analytics data.

Using the framework shown above, you will be able to test the most important UX/UI parameters of your website before or just after it goes live.

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A Simple Approach to Branding Strategy Based on Leadership Brands Model

This model is an extension of Aaker’s model for leadership brands, mentioned in his book “Brand Leadership” (by Joachimsthaler & Aaker, 2001).

Leadership brand types

First, let us define leadership brands. A leadership brand inspires employees by setting high expectation levels. It also provides additional benefits to consumers – both emotional (empowerment through brand association) and functional (high quality standards). In the table below, I will demonstrate how leadership brand types position themselves and what their USPs are generally based on.

Click here to view this table as an image file. 

Type of leadership brands What the brands do Brand message Reason why for the consumer Examples
Power brands Own (or claim) a category benefit that is functional and in constant improvement; the product itself is at the core of the strategy. It works better I want to get the job done Gillette (“Better Blades = More Outstanding Shaves”)
Explorer brands Use people’s desire to grow and explore their potential, focus not on the product but on the context of use. It gives you new possibilities I want to improve and grow Adidas (“Through sport, we have the power to change live​s”)
Icon brands Symbolize some cultural aspect that customers share emotionally, create a “brand world”. Join our journey I want to be a part of it

Disneyland Paris (“A magical experience”)

Identity brands Build a connection through user imagery, helping
people express who they are, often strongly personified brands.
This is us I want to be like you Birkenstock (nature-oriented, conscious lifestyle, healthy -“Consciously healthy shoes)
branding-strategy-leadership
Leadership brands types

Branding Strategy Examples

Here is how you can use this model for building a branding strategy.

  1. Analyze your competitors. Is there a predominant strategy they are using? A lot of times, companies go by the “industry standard”, thus selecting the strategy common in their niche.
  2. Investigate if you can use another strategy to differentiate from your competitors (provided you have the resources for that).
  3. Do market research (e.g. focus groups) to verify if your strategy resonates with the target customer.
  4. Launch the brand, monitor and evaluate the results.

Let us take an example of a B2B market for industrial cooking ovens. The majority of producers and distributors base their branding strategy on the “power brands” method, featuring qualities of their products and what they deliver.

A somewhat fresh approach would be to use “explorer brands” strategy. For example, talking about how the food industry professionals can benefit and produce better quality food for the end consumer. For example, Baxter markets its ovens by stressing how the ovens can be used to produce the desired result: “We understand that advanced technology is there for one thing: to help you create an authentic experience for your customers”.

An even more daring strategy would be to use “icon brands” strategy.  One of the leading brands in this segment, Rational, is deploying this strategy. Although it features the products on its website, it rather focuses on being passionate about food production and experiencing the world of professional cooking. MAM brand (pizza ovens) clearly uses the Italian origin of its brand as its USP, featuring Italian lifestyle and cooking and stating “Italian product. Italian technology. Italian taste” on its website.

It is also thinkable to come up with identity brands strategy in this segment (e.g. personifying the brand or centralizing the brand around the personality of its founder or a brand ambassador). For example, BULL Outdoor Kitchens uses the logo featuring a bull, thus personifying its brand “Don’t underestimate the power of the BULL”.  This makes the brand stand out from the competition and creates a strong image in the minds of customers.

As follows from these examples, you can use the leadership brand model to create or to optimize your branding strategy, independently of the market segment you are operating in.

 

what is a uspIf you have any questions about branding or building a brand, do not hesitate to contact me!

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PR in a Nutshell

Public Relations (PR) is one of the most important marketing instruments for creating a positive company image. However, the message you communicate will depend on the stakeholder group.

Below you will find a short table to help you orientate.

Stakeholders PR Message
Clients Buy only our products
Shareholders We work for you
Investors We won’t deceive you
Banks We pay our debts
Partners We are reliable partners
Employees It is a joy to work for us
Competitors We are stronger than you
The state We are predictable and follow the rules
People living close to our production plants We don’t exist

 

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