Strategic Marketing:
How to Crush Competition and Boost Sales

This is a transcipt of a recent Webinar presented by Wilson Zehr.

Transcript of Webinar

Good morning, my name is Wilson Zehr and the focus of the session this morning will be strategic marketing.  I’ve spent over 20 years learning the right and the wrong way to do strategic marketing; create and manage strategic alliances; and develop winning sales channels in both the technology and communication market places.  First, working through my own company Cendix, and now as a partner with Cube Management, I’ve also found that many of these same principles apply broadly across a range of markets.  Today I’m going to share with you many of the same tools and techniques that we use to help our clients accelerate their sales.  Our talk today focused on primarily b to b sales and marketing, however, many of the same techniques apply across markets and we’ll pull in as many examples as we can as we go along to help you apply these principles to your business. 

Of course, as always we encourage all your questions.  We will answer all of the questions you post as time permits.  Rest assured if we don’t have time to answer your specific questions on this call, I’ll follow up and answer after the call is complete with a response.  You should also know that we will be turning this talk into a how to ?? Strategic marketing.  Every person who participates in this call and completes the survey will receive a copy of this ?? Paper for free once it’s available.  We have a lot of good stuff to share with you this morning.  Thanks again for joining us on this call.  So, are you getting all the sales that you want or need?  Do you see deals that can custom ?? your companies ?? right out from under you?  Do your customers perceive you as a slam dunk market leader?  The one good thing about our business at cube management is that we haven’t yet met a company that had all the sales they want.  Strategic marketing can help you deal with all of these issues and more.  Please follow along and we’ll show you how

What I’d like to introduce first is the strategic marketing model.  Based on experience over the years and a number of engagements we’ve created this model to explain how all the pieces fit together.  At the center of this model is the core.  The strategy of the company and the brand as well.  Both have to align together to produce great results.  Secondly, we introduce the five P’s.  Any traditional business goal-marketing course will introduce the four P’s; we’ve actually added one and tuned them a little bit to better meet the needs of the markets that we’ve addressed.  And then finally, we’ve added just one more, and we’ll save this to the end and explain how all of that fits together.  The next question that usually comes up is what is marketing anyway?  A lot of companies put terms marketing, business development, and sales used synonymously to refer to the same thing.  Really the sales function of the organization.  This is understandable; the sales function is really the lifeblood of the organization.  Without sales, few organizations will survive.  However, in this space we refer to that as marketing is the little “m”.  What we’re focused on in this presentation, although we will touch on sales, is marketing with a big “M”, which is strategic marketing. 

Strategic marketing is focused on understanding the strategy of the company, the unique selling proposition for its product, and presenting both the company and it’s products in the best possible light.  Marking understands customers and their buying behavior in detail.  It anticipates objectives in advance.  It assures that sales close as efficiently as possible.   In organizations that do have a marketing function, it’s not unusual for sales to poke fun at marketing.  After all, they make the big bucks!  However, the most enlightened sales people also understand that they can’t be nearly as successful without the air cover provided by marketing.  Someone’s got to do the positioning, produce the brochures, trade the sales tools, trade the training, and of course help support those sales efforts.  Both functions are required, and both functions need to work together in order for any organization to be successful. 

This leads us to the next topic, looking really at the core of the model.  We’ll look at what is strategy, and what is brand?  Strategy says that, I’ve taken a formal definition here, and we’ll dissect that a bit.  Strategy is the systematic plan that identifies the critical direction and guides resource allocation for an entire organization.  Is that theoretical enough for you?  The bottom line is that strategy is described as where we are going, and what we’re going to do to get there.  As the old saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, any path will get you there.  What we need to try and do in marketing is remove the guesswork…or at least remove the guesswork in our own minds regarding the company’s direction.

The second key element here is brands.  There seems to be some confusion in the literature about brands.  Even as I was preparing for this presentation and looking through definitions, many many sources talk about a brand as being a logo or a color design or some other visual that you put in front of the customers.  Actually, brand is much broader than that.  Brand is the perception of a company or a product in the minds of customers, the owners, and the community.  Brand is the result of apparent actions, symbols, messages, products, and intangibles delivered over time at each touch point.  In other words, brand is the combination of everything that you communicate to your customers or your prospects or your community every time you touch them. 

I have a couple of examples here that I hope will explain that in more detail.  First of all, lets look at lethal.  How many of you are familiar with the company leschwab?  The company was founded in the 1950’s.  Owner leschwab bought a small tire company with I think less than $50,000 in sales.  In his first year he tripled it.  Now, in this year the company is still privately held and they have about 1.5 billion dollars in sales.  That’s an awful lot of car tires!  Although these days they do batteries and shocks and breaks and all kinds of other things.  If you look at the company leschwab, it’s created on some basic principles.  They sell a good product that they’re willing to stand behind.  Every product goes out the door with a written warranty.  They will repair your tires for free for the life of the tire.  In fact, in one case where I had a side log go out before the other three tires were ready to be replaced, they actually gave me a used tired with the right amount of wear on it for free to get me to the right replacement.  In fact, in this company when you bring your car in for service, the service technicians actually run, no joke, run to your car to help service it.  All of these things help establish the brand that leschwab has created for itself and helped make it a billion dollar organization in what is a very stogy industry by and large. 

The second example that I have here should be familiar to everybody- IBM, big blue.  Sure there’s a logo here that you recognize, and is recognized the globe over.  But, the brand around IBM can better be summarized in the series of commercials where they make the point that no one ever got fired for buying IBM.  IBM established itself as a pop tier provider, a very conservative businesses oriented company, at least historically.  Maybe not so much these days.  People know that at IBM they wore blue pinstriped suits, white shirt, and a tie.  All of those messages go into the brand that is IBM, which extends well beyond the actual logo.  We could actually spend an entire session talking about brands and logos and logo design and brand philosophies such as what kind of a branding strategy to use.  But that is beyond the scope of this presentation.  I would be happy to discuss it offline with anyone who is interested.

The final item here is, how important is brand anyway?  My answer to that is that it really all depends.  It depends on your marketplace and your competitors and what you have to work with.  If you’re thinking about a consumer product where a buyer is going to go into a retail store, as their hand reaches out to the shelf to pick a pain reliever, they’re going to have to make a buying choice.  At that moment in time, brand is critically important.  Especially if the brand next to it has some retail promotions sitting right on the shelf.  However, in other kinds of market spaces the commodity markets, it may make little difference.  Imagine the case of – here we have mount hood.  During the wintertime you can go up and go skiing.  Well maybe, if there’s been a lot of snow you have to have chains to go any further.  If you don’t have any chains you have to buy them.  At that point in time is the brand that they’re selling at the checkpoint going to make any difference at all?  I’m going to buy what’s available, and so is everyone else who finds themselves in that predicament. 

Anyway, moving on.  The key element here is that it doesn’t matter as much what your brand is or what your strategy is, as long as the two of them are aligned to support each other.   In order to get that alignment it really does require an understanding of a lot of moving parts within the organization.  The good news is that the questions you ask can determine the strategy of an organization or to understand that strategy are maybe the same questions that you need to ask to understand or build a brand. In fact, the questionnaire we use looks very similar for these two exercises.  You can see the elements here and I’m not going to bore you with the details of each.  However, I will outline a couple which I think are extremely important.

We have some intangibles – vision, mission, values, and image.  These are all things that are important to the organization which helps to explain where we’re going and how we’re going to act along the way.  These all need to be incorporated either into a strategy or into a brand. We point out here the elevator pitch.  Very common in technology, but not as common in some other industries but still critically important.  The elevator pitch is a 30 second blurb that describes exactly what you do.  What you sell, what your value proposition is, and who your customers are.  That 30-second pitch explains what you do should be readily available to every person in the company, and they should all know that blurb.  One of the things that we’d go do is when we’d go in and start interviewing people in a company we’d ask for this elevator pitch.  We’d expect to see every person in the company – from the shipping clerk to the CEO - be on the same page with regard to that message.  If they aren’t, it’s really difficult to get alignment within an organization. 

We need to understand the competition.  How are they competing?  How are they positioned themselves?  We want to be able to create a strategy and a brand that positions us to win against the competition.  We can’t do that unless we understand in detail who they are, and what their competitive behavior looks like.  What does the road map look like?  As we look out into the future what kind of products and features are we already planning to relieve and do those align with our brand and our strategy.  Competitive distinction – once we establish this position and strategy can we maintain it and can we maintain it through price, product, brand, or some other method?  And finally, the one that I’ll point out that may seem the most unusual here is his guiding function.  What I’ve found doing strategic alliances with a lot of organizations throughout the years, is that most organizations, especially the large organizations, have one function or discipline that kind of guides the organization.  Oracle Corporation is technology driven.  Microsoft is marketing driven.  Sequent was almost completely sales drive.  So when you’re trying to align strategy and brands, they need to support the mindset of the organization.  If you want something to move, a strategic initiative to move within Oracle, it’s a lot easier, at least historically when I was involved with Oracle, it’s a lot easier to tie it to a new technology product initiative and then it moves.  If you came in with a new marketing program – almost no interest at all.  The opposite would be true with a company like Microsoft.

I want to outline a tool called a SWOT analysis.  SWOT standing for strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.  Of course, the idea here is to leverage your strength, minimize your weaknesses, capitalize on your opportunities and avoid your threats.  This is a tool that is often presented in most business school curriculum.  Unfortunately it’s also a tool that’s often forgotten once people leave business school, but it’s extremely useful.  Not only for what we’re using it for here which is strategy or brand types of analysis, but it’s also valuable for addressing things like competitors, specific sales oriented problems, and other kinds of problems that you need to look at from a variety of directions to make sure that you fully understand them.  The key thing about this type of diagram is that you need to be brutally honest with yourself and your organization.  It doesn’t do any good if you’re going to sugarcoat this method.  Be honest about your strengths, weaknesses, and where you stand.  In this matrix I put in some examples of the kinds of things that we might use.  Of course these aren’t based on any specific company but I wanted to explain some ?? Relationships between the items.  For example, we see at the top of strengths we see the word nimble, the idea that the company can move very quickly.  That’s a function actually of the weakness here at the bottom of the list we see our small size.  That’s a single element, small size, which can be either a weakness or a strength depending on how you use it.  In fact, in the case of size if you don’t use it to your advantage it definitely becomes a weakness. 

We also talk about strengths that can sometimes turn into opportunities.  When putting together the strengths here for example we’ve got one that says 100% customer satisfaction.  Since I have 100% customer satisfaction, it seems natural that I might be able to leverage customer referrals to get new business, so we’ve added that to the opportunities section. 

The third item here in opportunities is called new government regulations.  Often times there’s some structural items put in place that can help a company be successful.  I talked with a company recently called Pole Track that has a telephone pole inspection program.  I’m not sure that I even really paid attention to telephone poles much until I talked to these folks, but it turns out in Oregon there’s a rule that telephone poles have to be inspected every three years.  Of course, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of telephone poles in Oregon.  Every one of those has to be inspected, tested, tracked, and scheduled for periodic maintenance.  It turns out to be a huge job.  Do to that regulation, it created an opportunity in the marketplace.  I could site many other examples.  The company I worked for Vertix Corporation made an ETA compiler.  The department of defense mandated ETA as a language required for all mission critical embedded systems applications.  Once again, it created a huge opportunity for our company much to the disadvantage of the folks who had built infrastructure around languages like CC++ and fourtrack­. 

The final item I would like to point out here is an item called sleeping giants.  We need to always be turned in to larger organizations that may not be in our marketplace now, but could be if they chose to be.  There are a lot of examples of companies like Microsoft and IBM where they choose to avoid the market risks associated with early adoption of new technologies and new products.  Quite often the wait for a smaller, more aggressive company to go out, develop a market, prove it’s there, and then come in later with marketing muscle and basically throw dollars at it to take that dollar away.  We need to be thinking early about this idea of competitive barriers and differentiation and how we’ll defend ourselves from those guys.  This is not just a technology issue.  You see it in industries across the board. 

So the next slide here really focuses on people. If we talk about the five P’s, they’re all important, but people are the most critical. People in this case stands for your customer.  If you don’t understand your customers, it’s really, really difficult to build products and sell to them.  The first question is, who is your customer?  If you’re trying to grow your existing sales, then the best predictor of your future customers is your existing customer.  That really requires exploring your current customer database, understanding who they are, and trying to find others who look exactly like that.  On the other hand, you may be expanding into new markets.  In this case, this will require some primary research to understand what those target prospects look like. When I say what they look like, what I’m really talking about is demographic, title, location, size of the company, industry, and buying behavior.  We need to understand an exact profile of who that person is that we will be building products for and marketing to. 

The final item I put in this top ?? is market size.  It felt like I’d be ?? if I didn’t add it because I can think of a couple of examples off the top of my head of cases where companies targeted products and markets into which the market wasn’t big enough to support it.  The example comes to mind of a computer company called ???.  It was a joined venture between Intel and ?? to make a fault tolerant computer.  The partners spend about 300 million dollars to build that product, only to find that they had no orders and in fact, that once they did the analysis they could never see enough of these computers at that price point to actually pay for the investment and make money.  So it’s all well and good to have a market and a customer in mind, but we also need to make sure that at the end of the day, that customer market is going to be able to support our efforts.  

In terms of the other items here, we talked about buying behavior briefly.  We really need to understand what series of steps the customer is going to go through to buy our products.  Are they going to ask for referrals, are they going to look in the yellow pages, are they going to google us?  What does this behavior look like?  Is there going to be a formal RFP?  Because those are going to tell us the best way to reach the customer and influence them.  You’re going to see the buying behavior comes up a few times.  It’s a recurring theme because it’s critically important.

The second and final issue here is often times in an organization you’re going to have to worry about multiple people within this process because it’s not unusual to have a case where the actually end user is not the actual decision maker.  There’s someone else in the organization that has the budget and has the right to make the decision and there are a number of people that are also influencers.  They have an opinion that will affect that sale in one direction or another.  So in addition to understanding our end user customer, we also need to understand the other players that factor into that decision. 

The next “P” that we’ll explore is product.  I like to talk about the distinction between a device and a product.  ?? a very successful marker at Intel in the 80’s wrote a book called high technology in marketing which is just as relevant today as it was when it was written.  He makes the point especially in technology that there is a difference between a device and a product.  A device is the technology that you build, but the product is what you offer to your customers and it includes the device, plus everything that goes around it - the collateral, the financing, the service and support, the hotline, warranties, packaging.  It’s everything that you bundle together that you give a customer and create a product.  When we’re in the process of defining this, we need to make sure that we don’t get stuck solely on the device, but that we’re expanding our view and really looking at the product for the customer. 

In terms of primary elements, the first item on the list is always benefits.  It’s really, really easy to start out and want to dive in and define features.  What is this thing going to do?  However, it is always a better idea to start with the benefits.  What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?  Where’s the pain?  Then from there, coming up with distinctive features that are going to help you address that pain for your clients.  Competitive differentiation - how do you differ from your competitors? How are you solving the problem in a way or removing that pain in a way that’s different from the way that the competitors are using, and why is your way better?  That is important to understand.  We have to create product requirements, and then we also have to look at the market window and the price point.  The market window is important because while you’re building, packaging, and preparing your product or service for market, the market isn’t standing still.  If you look out at the market today, what you see today is most likely different than what you’ll see 6 months from today.  Depending of course on how fast moving your market is. We need to pick a window and try and forecast what will be required by the time we release this product. 

Price point of course requires some design trade off.  Imagine, taking a low-tech example, a lunch wagon in an industrial area of any major US city.  Probably, if you’re designing a menu, your price point based on your customer is probably somewhere in the $5 rage.  If you were designing a list of menu items for this $5 menu, you wouldn’t use caviar or truffles, no matter how good they tasted!  So price point does become a factor in this process. 

I think I’ve gone one too far here you guys.  Backing up, we talk about product release bundles.  This particular side is a little more tech focused, but it can apply across the board as you design your products and services.  The whole idea is to find out, now that you understand the benefits and the problems that you’re trying to solve, looking out and trying to find the universe features that can really help address that problem.  Those ideas come from customers, internal brainstorms, trade shows, industry experts, and focus groups.  Any source that you can imagine you should try and pull those together.  As a domain expert you can weed out the ones that don’t make sense at all, ending up with a list.  Then as you work through that list, you need to really look at the ROI for each feature.  ROI meaning how many more sales does it drive, and what are the costs as far as resource and time.  Then prioritize each of these features based on those criteria.  Now, once again establish a target market window and understand the resources available.  Then, when we talk about maximizing the returned resources we’re really talking about going through this list again and reprioritizing based on the market window.  For example, we may find one feature that has a high return, but it takes a lot of resources to delivery.  We may also have 3 little features that on their own have a small return, but can be delivered more quickly and when we combine those three we end up with an overall benefit that’s greater and will still help us meet our market window.  We may then decide to move those items up the list and move something bigger down so that we can get to the market faster with something that adds more value.  Then of course we draw the cut line that allows us to hit our market resources with the maximum upside. 

The next page here is really looking at enlightened product development and I thought that I would be remised if I didn’t touch on some of these items that are the products of experience over time.  For product development you really need to establish the core, enhance systematically with smaller kind of planned releases rather then trying to do everything at once.  Publish realistic dates that allow you to set expectations and deliver on time.  In marketing this becomes especially important because if we’re planning PR and advertising and training and other activities then we need to make sure that everything comes together when it’s supposed to.  Above all, avoid the big bang.  Avoid the 6-12 months product release cycle where you have 10,000 features.  In that case it may seem like a good idea, but what really happens is you may really multiply the potential for error and really increase the risk that the market has moved by the time you get there.  If the issues still arise, and they will, eliminate them quickly.  Customers appreciate fast resolution.  Just like with the example of Leschwab where people come running to your car.  If you can address issues quickly and knock them out your customers will forgive the error and appreciate the effort. 

Then, listen to your customers.  It seems so obvious but it’s funny how often that gets ignored.  Your customers can’t always predict which technology is going to be best for them down the road because they may not have a window into all that’s available, but they do know where their pain is and whether what you’re giving them is helping or not.  We need to learn based on that experience.

Moving on to pricing.  In most organizations there is a lot of discussion on this topic.  People go back and forth about what’s the right price point and model.  You know I have to say though, in my experience this is probably the easiest of the “P”’s to solve.  The reason is that there is one element that you can’t ignore, which is the price of the goods.  Unless we’re doing a strategy like Gillette where you give away the razor to sell the blades, we really don’t want to be selling products below costs because we’re not going to make it up in volume. Disregarding that, there are really only two factors that determine pricing.  1.  What’s the value to the customer?   When they purchase your product or service, what are you going to save them in time?  Are you going to increase revenues?  Are you going to increase productivity?  What does that look like because it’s going to justify what they are willing to pay for your product.  2.  What are the competition solutions, and what price point are they at?  If the competitor has a product that solves the problem equally as well as yours and is equally as complete as yours, and has a lower price point then you’re at a tremendous disadvantage.  Those two items can almost always lead us in the right direction. 

Which introduces this model on page 14 which I call the natural selection model.  The whole idea here, and I use the example of ??? is that there’s a difference between the value or completeness of a solution vs.  the price point.  In ?? case, we sold high-end Oracle database servers.  At that time, a 100GB database was massive.  If we look at that market space, ?? probably had 138 databases of that size on Oracle.  HP had 7, Sun had 1.  We totally dominated the market space.  So, what happened?  Well, what you’ll see is that based on ?? volume of computers and the expenses, their costs of goods was relatively high relative to the competitors.  The reason for that is because these higher volume competitors coming up market can spread their ?? costs over a larger base.  At any point in time if they can reach the same level of completeness or ?? the same level of value with their solution at a lower price, it becomes really difficult so that was the demise or ultimate acquisition of ?? by IBM is when Sun and HP both reached that point.  This model here is general as well.  You can use it to apply to high end SUV’s, manufactured equipment, or any other products if you need to understand the value based market dynamics in any space. 

Moving on there are several other things to consider with pricing.  Some of these are obvious so I wont spend a lot of time on it.  One element is price elasticity.  Unless you go to business school, you may have not been exposed to this concept but the idea is that often times you can increase revenue just by increasing price assuming that you have a good value proposition and a strong product.  However, there is a point at which if you increase the price any farther the volume of the unit will fall off to a level where revenues don’t actually rise they fall.  So competition aside if you’re tuning a price to find the maximum point, you’d like to find that point at which if you raised your price any further revenues would actually fall rather than grow.  You can do that by testing – adjusting price and looking at the results. 

The whole idea of annuity processing – companies like techtronics have taken the Gillette model to a new level.  Techtronics actually had a program a couple of years ago, I’m not sure if it’s still running today, but at one time you could actually get a free color printer if you committed to a certain volume of usage every month.  The reason for that is because the margins are in the ink and they know that if they’re producing a certain volume they’re going to make a certain amount of money on the ink.  It then becomes very easy to justify giving you the printer and of course once you have their printer, you have to buy their ink!  So that makes sense. 

The final item here is promos and the reason that I’ve highlighted this is because often times if you lower prices it’s harder to raise them again.  If you’re trying to create a near term sales objective or if you’re trying to do something like move B leads to A’s, which we’ll discuss in a further side, promos can be a very useful tool and create an impending event where someone is encouraged to buy sooner rather than later. 

The next item we’ll talk about here is place, which is really the sales channel.  The one key thing for this slide is that sales is a process, not an event.  I remember after closing a big deal with Bell Canada some years ago talking with a friend and saying, “Man ya know, I just closed this big deal but I’m worried about making my number next quarter.  How do you deal with that?”  And he said, “Well, I’m not worried at all!  I treat sales as a process.  I’m just filling the funnel and I’m helping each of those customers move to the next stage in the funnel.  As long as I fill it at the right rate and continue to move people through the sales will happen exactly when the need to.”  I think that’s a very healthy way to approach it. 

Here you’ll see the division between marketing and sales.  Marketing’s job is really to feed the funnel and then to provide the materials and training required to move across back through that funnel.  Of course marketing and sales may share that task and lead qualifications, but marketing’s job is to make sure that that funnel is filled with qualified leads and that the tools are there. 

In terms of place ya know, we often have to address this idea of channel selection.  What is the right channel for our product?  Price point, of course lower priced products, or lower margin products require a less expensive channel.  You wouldn’t send a direct sales person out to sell a very low priced product, but it might very well lend itself to direct response marketing.  Then next to complete the solution and complexity, you know we may actually be called upon in the sales channel to help complete the solution.  You’ll see a lot of technology companies have a sales engineer or an overlay sales force based on the specific domain or piece of knowledge and that’s all designed to help ease the sale of a complex product or a product that’s more of a device.  In terms of channel pro choices there are a lot of different alternatives here.  The one thing we’ve seen more of in recent years is the combination of channels where we can maybe combine online and inside direct sales.  Or maybe we used telesales as a front end to direct sales to increase the momentum.  Really, finding the optimal mix really boils down to understanding the customers.  Buying heaver, price point, and complexity of the products and then finding the right mix between these elements. 

And then finally we come to the issue of promotion.  I’ve got to speed up a little bit here because I’ve got a couple of items to cover and I can see that we’re running a little short on time.  In terms of promotion, once again you’ll see this theme of understanding buyer behavior.  It’s incredibly important.  Defining the sales processes and figuring out what materials are required to advance the sale at each touch point.  We talked about qualified leads, it’s amazing to me how many folks still look at all leads as being created equal.  Historically, in a well-managed marketing program, we tend to divide leads based on qualifications.  Here I’ve talked about A, B, and C leads.  A leads are those with interest, budget, and that will act in a relatively short time frame.  B leads just have interest in budget, and C leads have only interest.  Then of course there’s everything else which is just noise.  90% of the focus of sales should be working on these A leads and the focus of marketing should be finding more A leads and trying to move Bs into As.  And then finally critical outlet is just to sell benefits not ??.  We’ve already talked briefly about that. 

Collecting the optimal mix- Here we talk about three big clumps; advertising, public relations and viral.  Advertising, there are tons of different ways to advertise your product and it really depends on where your clients live and what their buying behavior is which allows you to touch them in the right place.  Rest assured that there are as many ways to spend your money on advertising as you could ever imagine.  You can spend as much as you want so you need to be diligent.  Public relations is really letting other people tell our story for us through press releases, articles, editorials, and interviews and trade shows.  And finally viral.  The whole category of viral really got some additional credibility in the dot.com era.  It was originally coined by Tim Draper because they found that with the product Hotmail, if they put a little line at the end of each email which said “get your free hotmail account!” people would click on it and the product would expand virally.  Since that time people have found that they can create the same effect by using clips, or jokes, or other things that people would like to share with their friends and family.  ???? and most recently TV commercials all end up in emails distributed around that can give you a viral marketing reach.  A great tool to leverage when it’s available.

I want to take a minute to talk about the Internet because it seems to be the rage as people talk about marketing today.  The Internet is not the same thing to all people.  First it can be used as a communication sub street like email or instant messaging.  It can also be used as an information portal for example with google, and quite often this is the way especially business-to-business people use it.  They’ll use a tool like google to go out and research their purchase and then actually make the purchase directly with the vendor over the phone or in person.  Finally, they use it as a sales channel like Amazon does.  I remember listening to talk with Jeff ?? where he said basically, that the Internet was going to replace bricks and mortar.  At the time I remember thinking to myself, “well that just ignores the whole history of commerce.”  In the old days people got the Sears ?? catalogue, they ordered stuff, and then waited for it to come in the mail.  But as soon as they could go to a Walmart down the street, that catalogue went right in the trash.  I think that’s the same phenomenon we have here.  The total size of the Internet marketplace looks like a fancy catalog sale.  Although we can get more people participating in the market, and it’s a lot fancier catalogue, still, it doesn’t spell the end of bricks and mortars so we can’t isolate our marketing efforts to look only in those spaces.  In terms of actual tools, something to consider in online marketing is the reach.  Most prospects don’t live online and in fact there are new stats out that say up to 17% of the population are active technology avoiders so they wont go online no matter what you do!  If those people are part of your customer mix then you need to figure out how to address active vs.  passive.  Address the fact that most Internet advertising is passive.  People have to come to you, you can’t go to it unlike direct mail or telesales or something along those lines.  And you need to think about whether your real objective is to build repore, which a tool like email newsletters are very good, generate leads, which are a lot more well suited for SEO or PPC or actually closed sales, which is something ecommerce sites need to be concerned with.  Lots of tools in this space.  Marketing on the web is much more than SEO and pay per click.  You need to explore the right mix which makes sense. 

Then finally, we talk about the final P which is positioning which is a combination of all of these elements.  Being able to tune the various other Ps to create a sensible competitive position which is going to give you breakthrough sales momentum.  Finally, if we’re looking to apply all of these principles, we need to align the strategy with the brand, optimize the five P’s to create winning positioning and execute flawlessly.  This all reminds me of a recent Snapple commercial talking about Green Tea.  The guy is saying, “What is Green Tea anyway?”  Then they show him in a field in China on a hilltop with this old master saying, “We find the tender baby tea leaves and then we pluck 'em!”  and he says, “is that it?” and he says, “that’s it!”  Marketing is almost the same way.  A lot of common sense, you can just work through this equation, fine tune it, and you’re golden! 

That’s the end of the prepared material that we have today, and we’d be happy to take any questions you have!

Wilson thank you so much!  That was some great information.  If you’d like a copy of today’s slides, please email us at events@???.com

At this time, Wilson we’re going to go ahead and open it up for Q and A.  Ok

It looks like we’ve got a few questions coming in.

The first question I’m seeing here is:  How important is it here to religiously follow brand guidelines, can we be more creative than sticking to just the brand guidelines? 

My answer to that is that the real power of brand is communicating or sending a consistent message over time.  In fact, you should have a brand guideline and if you do have one then you’re way ahead of time game because most people don’t.  I do think it’s important to have a consistent message, imagine, presence at every touch point with a client.  My advice would be rather than just deviating from the brand guideline, if there’s something you feel is missing from the brand that’s not allowing you to do your job then you need to work with others in the organization to fix the brand and to fix the guidelines rather than just ignoring them. 

Any ideas regarding pricing for web hosted products?

You know that’s really going to depend on once again competition, and value proposition for the customer.  It requires understanding the customer, what the specific product is, and what their alternative solutions are.  A lot of folks today on the hosted model are going for a pay as you go.  I certainly think that’s really the future of software moving forward.  People are going to pay for things as they receive them.  I certainly think those models make sense at this juncture.  However, if we want to talk about specific prices, we have to get a lot more specific about solutions and competitors. 

Can I get a copy of the presentation?  Sure no problem

Again, if you want to get a copy of the presentation go ahead and email us at events@core….  The email address is actually in the welcome notes section to the left of the presentation today on your screen.

How do you test pricing when you have a small number of customers in a new product segment?

I think that it can be an issue, but I also think often times it’s not just a matter of testing pricing, it’s a matter of selling pricing.  You’re going to have to understand the value proposition of your product or offer for that specific customer and then come up with the selling proposition that supports the pricing that you determined.  Of course that’s all going to be affected by what your competing solutions are being offered for.  There’s a theory of thought that maybe you test and find the right price point and I think that’s certainly valid but in a case like this where you have a limited area to sample in anyway, I think it’s a lot better to understand value, competitors, and find a way to justify a price that you think makes sense.  Then of course if you need to negotiate, you can go from there!

Great, Wilson it looks like we have time for one more question and while you take that question I’m going to go ahead and open the survey again.

How do you feel the future email campaigns will be?

The last company I started was called ?? and we automated direct mail campaigns for real direct mail - letters, postcards, ?? mailers that sort of thing.  This question came up a lot.  It’s that retro?  How does email fit?  It turns out, first of all, aside from the fact that marketing through email more than once is against the law, there are a lot of other things that don’t work to it’s benefit.  One is targeting.  With direct mail or a tool like that if I want to reach married Dennis in NJ with a house more than $500,000 I can find that list.  If I want to do it on the Internet I can’t.  Plus email is really just a slice of a slice if you start looking at the demographic of who you can actually reach, where as a tool such as directsmail could reach every consumer and business in America.  With that said, directmail does have some expense associated with it.  Today, the greatest of those expenses is around postage.  We find that email is a very good tool not necessarily for prospecting, but if we can get a customers permission and do something like a newsletter email box it’s a very good tool for building repore.  Once you have that repore if you can include offers and other value adds within that communication, it becomes a very powerful tool.  Much more so then an offline media such as direct mail, at least once you factor in the relative cost.  One of those topics that isn’t special interest area for me.  We could probably spend hours talking about it but that’s the short answer.

Great!  Thank you so much and we appreciate all of the great questions that came in today.  Once again Wilson’s email is on the screen so you can shoot him an email.  At this time thank you all so much for your participation toady.  Wilson, thank you for that great information.  Please remember your registration for today’s event makes you eligible to win a free 30GB Apple iPod Video and we’ll be holding the drawing July 13 and we’ll contact the winner by the registration information that they’ve provided.  If you’d like to increase your chances of winning the Apple iPod please visit….. to register and attend our next event – what every marketer should know effective web design!  Thank you all so much and you may now disconnect from the audio of today’s event and have a great day!  Thanks everyone!