Written on January 29th, 2013 | Short URL: http://abcjr.me/ch
In last Wednesday’s lecture, we talked about the critical importance of value. Beyond simply the dollars and cents of it all, value is often defined by qualitative goals (how you feel) rather than something more quantitative (getting x amount of utility for $y).
Broadly, we identified four dimensions of value:
In class, I asked what one dimension of value the students most often use to make purchasing decisions. I was surprised when most students mentioned performance and status rather than price (looks like the poor college student caricature might be waning). At the end of class, I offered a bonus journal to further reflect on that question as well as share what they would expect to value ten years from now.
For me, price tends to be the first value on which I make purchasing decisions and that hasn’t really changed much in the last ten years. However, the way I look at price has changed, and has allowed me to also begin to look at the other areas more readily, particularly performance and relational.
Ten years ago, I was a year out of college and working in my first job trying to figure out how to pay bills. I left school with a mountain of debt, a car payment, and ancillary expenses like my cell phone and credit card debt. Like many recent graduates, I wasn’t making a lot of money and had to often settle for lower-quality, low-price products. In the following ten years, I had a few different careers, including one as a not-quite-successful entrepreneur, which made financial resources even more scarce. Even after getting a new job, it took years for me to settle the financial challenges that resulted from that setback.
Now that I’m a bit more established, I’m also aware of the importance of good quality, whether it be in vehicles, clothes, housing, etc. As such, I balance other areas of value, particularly performance, more heavily than I once did. I’m also incredibly loyal to certain companies or brands, especially in my community, so the relational value is more important to me now.
In a decade, I expect that I will still be financially prudent, though the other dimensions of value will likely be even more important or will trump price. Despite my experience in marketing, the status bug will likely bite me as I expect to have access to more financial resources, for better or worse. Even if I know I’m being duped, I likely won’t be able to resist.
What do you value now? Ten years from now? Do you think it will be the same?
Written on January 17th, 2013 | Short URL: http://abcjr.me/c6
As promised, I’m following the class with my own journal entries/blog posts about the subject. Our first is:
As we covered in class, Entrepreneurial Marketing is (for better or worse) more than just the Four Ps (Price, Place, Promotion, and Product for those of you who can name three-of-four and inevitably forget one of them). Unlike traditional marketing, which can simply focus on who is going to buy the product, entrepreneurs must market to a variety of stakeholders: suppliers, customers, the end users of those customers, market intermediaries (gatekeepers that might exist in your market), investors/potential investors, and business partners/employees/potential employees. Each group requires its own strategy and tactics, all when resources are incredibly scarce.
Sure, the money problem is obvious, some of it can be overcome with good research, strategy, and tactical execution. What isn’t quite as easy is balancing multiple priorities among a diverse group of people who often have competing interests. Not only must entrepreneurs focus on selling their product or service, they must also be constantly thinking about how to market their business to raise money (through equity or loans). Finally, they must do this while promoting the overall image of the company, ensuring that suppliers and talent are both on-board as partners in the company’s success. Not an easy task.
Interestingly, most entrepreneurs seem to do this automatically. They work to build relationships with all of these people and tend to manage those relationships well. However, many entrepreneurs can suffer from tunnel vision — maybe focusing too much on sales while neglecting investors, or working hard to raise money without making sure the customers are happy. Coming back to the money issue, entrepreneurs often don’t have the capital to recover from a major error when marketing to any one of their diverse targets. This makes attention to all marketing strategies incredibly critical.
Personally, I find maintaining relationships with market intermediaries to be the most difficult, since they are acting as gatekeepers and offer third-party interference with your customers. When these relationships are good, they’re excellent. When they’re bad, they can make an entrepreneur’s marketing job much more difficult.
What do you think? What would be your biggest marketing challenge?
Written on January 7th, 2013 | Short URL: http://abcjr.me/c4
In Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, he says that the sweetest sound in any language is the sound of a person’s own name. In entrepreneurial marketing, it’s even more true.
I was reminded of this when I received a catalog from pc/nametag, a small company that makes custom name tags for events and sells other premiums that are often handed out at trade shows. As you can see in the image, the front cover was printed with my name on it as it would appear in one of their products (they also assume I’m an All Star, #1, and an Achiever … that’s just pure flattery). This would be the first time my name has been on the front of a catalog and, I have to say, it’s well done.
When running a start-up or small business, it takes a lot to cut through the noise and overcome natural skepticism from customers who are likely being courted by a multitude of vendors. However, with market research and a little creativity, this company was able to get my attention rather easily (and tell you about them as well).
Advances in digital printing technology have made individual customization cost-effective, presenting an incredible opportunity for companies looking to make an impact. And, despite the advances in email marketing, there is something much more remarkable about a well-developed custom print piece (anyone can create an email blast with a name form field). The lone exception was a marketing piece I once received from the American Marketing Association that made my name part of their url (i.e. albertciuksza.marketingpower.com, but it is no longer active). I thought that was an excellent way to get me to visit their website.
For companies that don’t have the financial resources to make a big splash, it’s important to remember that you don’t always need to make a big splash to be effective. Sometimes, you have to play to your target’s sense of self and say the sweet sound of their own name.
Written on January 3rd, 2013 | Short URL: http://abcjr.me/c2
I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to engage the students at St. Vincent College, my undergraduate alma mater, in the newly-minted Entrepreneurial Marketing course that has been added to the Entrepreneurship minor under the McKenna School of Business. To some extent, I’m incredibly jealous of the students pursuing this minor and wish I had the chance to integrate this track into my studies when I attended 11 years ago.
One of the ways that the students will explore the material is through nine journal topics that will be submitted over the course of the next four months. In the spirit of fairness, I will be exploring those same topics here on my blog and will adhere to the same deadlines (though not for a grade). You’re welcome to follow along and critique my own thoughts through this journey in the comments section.
Finally, I thought it might be useful to mention a few of the themes that will be sprinkled throughout the course. Regardless of the tactical discussions we will have, there are a few takeaways that are absolutely critical to marketing in the entrepreneurial context:
A few other random things:
I’m looking forward to the adventure and hope the students are as well. Class begins Wednesday, January 16th and ends May 8th.
Written on June 25th, 2012 | Short URL: http://abcjr.me/bb
I’ve been hearing that QR codes are going out of style. Through three experiences with bad QR code management last week, I learned why.
The worst example was Macy’s, a company sophisticated enough to know better. My fiancee and I had stopped by to register for our wedding last Wednesday night to take advantage of a promotion that would give us a chance to win a gift card between $50 and $2,000 (note: we were told that everyone who opened a registry that night would receive a $50 gift card just for showing up, a nice little bait-and-switch by Macy’s). In order to enter, we had to scan a QR code.
I pulled out my phone to scan while my fiancee downloaded a QR code reader (showing just how ineffective the whole QR code thing can be). I scanned the code, which took me to my browser. I waited. And waited. And waited.
About three minutes later, a non-mobile-optimized site loaded informing me that I had not won anything, though I was given a star-shaped sugar cookie for my troubles. My fiancee had no better luck with the same load time. Already frustrated by the special trip we made to the store for the non-existent gift card, the poorly-executed, anti-climactic contest gave us good reason not to use Macy’s for our registry.
Finally, a confession — I’ve made the exact same mistake on a marketing piece for the Pittsburgh Impact initiative, a program I run for my day job. Last year’s version of the piece contained a QR code, which pointed to the initiative’s website, PittsburghImpact.org. Once again, the site to which the QR code was pointed was not mobile-optimized.
QR codes could be a very good marketing tool if marketers didn’t use them poorly. In fact, had Macy’s had created a mobile site for its contest, I think it would have been a well-executed way of entering. However, between the inconsistent application of QR codes with respect to mobile platforms — really the only time a QR code would be used — and the potential security risks associated with the codes, I can see why they’re falling out of favor.
If you insist on using them, here are a few pieces of advice:
For some great examples of marketers’ poor QR code usage, check out WTFQRCodes.com.Next Page >>