Dr Brian's SmartaMarketing 2

Smarta Marketing Ideas for Smarta Marketers

Month: September, 2012

Learn to Paraphrase Your Customer’s Words

Sales and Customer Service – Paraphrase Your Customer’s Words

The customer is only sure that you have been listening when you paraphrase what the prospect has said and feed it back in your own words. This is where the rubber meets the road in effective listening. This is where you demonstrate in no uncertain terms to the prospect that your listening has been real and sincere. This is where you show the prospect that you were paying complete attention to what he or she was saying. Paraphrasing is how you prove it.

1. Question for clarification

When the prospect has finished explaining his or her situation to you, and you have paused, and then questioned for clarification, you paraphrase the prospects primary thoughts and concerns, and feed them back to him or her in your own words.

2. Use the right words

For example, you might say, “Let me make sure I understand exactly what you are saying. It sounds to me like you are concerned about two things more than anything else, and that in the past you have had a couple of experiences that have made you very careful in approaching a decision of this kind.”

3. Feed it back accurately

You then go on to feed back to the customer exactly what he or she has told you, pausing and questioning for clarification as you go, until the customer says words to the effect of, “Yes, that’s it! You’ve got it exactly.”

4. Earn the right to sell

Only when you and the customer completed a thorough “examination” and have mutually agreed on the “diagnosis” you are in a position to begin talking to the customer about your product (goods and services). In general terms, this means that you can not pull out your brochures and price lists and begin telling the customer how your product or service can solve his problems or achieve his goals until about seventy percent of the way through the sales conversation. Until then, you have not yet earned the right. Until then, you don’t even know enough to begin an intelligent presentation without embarrassing yourself.

5.  Be a good listener

The more and better you listen, the more and better people will like you, trust you and want to do business with you. The more they will want to get involved with you as a person and the more popular you will be with them. Excellent listeners are welcome everywhere, in every walk of life, and they eventually and ultimately arrive at the top of their fields.


Marketing has a lot of Guesswork – what makes good guesswork?

Marketing is often attacked as having too much guesswork and not enough research

Research gives us data – for guidance. But after the focus groups and the perception audits and the segmentation studies and the customer surveys – we make need to make decisions based on interpretation of  that research data That interpretation is  based on experience, knowledge and creativity.  Its why we are hired to do our jobs.  It still our best guess isn’t it?

Guess-making is a Learned Skill

That’s what makes marketing so difficult, so risky, and so satisfying. It’s those guesses, far more than snappy headlines or dazzling designs that push our creativity to the limit – and put our professional necks on the line.

The best marketers are those who make the best guesses the most often. This is the career path of the marketer: reaching increasingly important levels of guesswork – moving from executing someone else’s guesses to being the head guess-maker. From “what have you done” to “what do you think.” Marketing specialist to CMO. If we want to be great marketers, we must learn how to be great guess-makers.

Great guess-makers are not born – they are not the product of some partially predictable recessive gene. Great guess-makers are built, formed over time by diligent labour. A great guess is the product of the sum total of the guess-maker’s knowledge, and experience, and creativity.

So what makes a great guess-maker? I don’t know there is a definitive answer.  It is another set of guesses.  But I think they are good guesses.

I think the model could be the four Cs of guess-making:

1. Curiosity – Have a base ofgathered  knowledge to drive smart guesswork.

2. Confidence – Confidence in your ability to interpret the input data well.

3. Courage – Have the willingness to stick your neck out.

4. Creativity – To take what is presented and create something from it.

What might you add?

True Professionalism – A future reality or a continuing Marketing Pipedream ?

Critics often charge that marketing is the functional area most likely to be the source of unethical behaviour in a business.  As evidence, these critics point toward instances of deceptive advertising, unscrupulous sales tactics, misrepresented product capabilities, and unfair pricing tactics. For more than a century, marketers have been singled out as the perpetrators of unethical actions against buyers. This is because marketing is the business function most responsible for communicating with prospects and customers and satisfying their needs. As such, the actions of marketers are very clearly in the public view and susceptible to close scrutiny.

Individual marketers currently have to balance their own personal value systems, with the interests of a firm’s internal and external stakeholders. When they enter exchange relationships, marketers must consider the interests of several organisations, including their own – with very little (beyond the law) to use as a guide.

This can be a very difficult balancing act – resulting in making marketers an easy target for critics.  Further the business community and society in general tend not to have a lot of respect for our professional standing.  Even our own Code of Conduct is not as specific as say that provided by a true profession – such as Law.

At MAANZ, it is our strongly held position that it is in all our interests to establish a strong and detailed professional code of conduct.  Unquestionably, in the past many if not most marketers would have eschewed such a code as limiting.  Equally, today the standards required by governments and society are getting more precise – so there a growing obligation for practitioners to be more ethical and professional in their conduct.

Strong professional and moral guides and limitations on behaviours are needed to support and enhance our activities and differentiate us from those who would not be so bound. These obligations and constraints will benefit and assist (not hinder) marketers who wish to be true professionals to properly execute exchanges and build relationships of trust with all parties – including the public. The interests of marketers who seek the highest level of professionalism in their conduct are “best served . . . by seeking to build relationships of trust and respect with the various publics with whom the marketer is involved. In the process, [the best interests of] society [are] also served.”


When To Resist Market Research

When To Resist Research

If managers become more aware of research approaches that are relatively inexpensive and relatively simple, they may do too much research, arguing that “- since the cost of the research can be kept so low, why don’t we go ahead and do the research anyhow?” Such why- not research can lead all too often to wasted research funds.

There are two major rules one should use in order to resist the urge to do unnecessary research:

The manager should resist the “research urge” if

(1) the research is not directly related to some decision to be made, and

(2) there is some reasonable degree of uncertainty as to the correct action to take.

The second danger in too much research is that attempts to do cheap but good research will quickly degenerate into the old faithful cheap and dirty research.

There are also a number of other situations when one should also be cautioned to avoid research.

1.         A manager should resist doing research if it is really designed to bolster the manager’s personal insecurities.

2.         The manager should resist research if it is designed only to provide ammunition to justify a decision to others in the organisation.

3.         A manager should resist research designed just to check up on how things are going.

4.         A manager should resist research that is, at base, a fishing expedition.

5.         A manager should resist research that is designed to appeal to the manager’s curiosity.

6.         A manager should resist research that keeps up with the Joneses.

7.         A manager should resist research just for the sport of it.

Using the Phone More Effectively

These days everyone seems focused on the touch screen or keyboard of smartphone use – forgetting that the “cel” or “mobile” or “iThingie” is also useful for voice communication – even for social media

Indeed the telephone is still one of the most useful of communication media.  But it needs skills to use it well.  The following will give you some very useful basics.

Telephone Contact Essentials

Any telephone conversation is simply two-way communication.

Like any communication, there may be a good deal hanging on it.  Any problem will dilute the chances of success.  And the problems of ‘voice-only’ communication are considerable, and in some cases prohibitive.  Try describing to someone how to tie a necktie for example – without any gestures or demonstration.  It pays, therefore, to consider all the factors that can make vocal communication successful, and not underrate it as ,simply a telephone call.

Such factors are perhaps best reviewed in terms of how you use the telephone itself, your voice and manner, obtaining and using feedback, and planning.  The telephone distorts the voice, exaggerating the rate of speech and heightening the tone.  You must talk into the mouthpiece in a clear, normal voice (if you are a woman, it can help to pitch your voice lower.) It is surprising how many things can interfere with the simple process of talking directly into the mouthpiece: smoking; eating; trying to write; holding a file or book open at the correct page and holding the phone; sorting through the correct change in a call box; allowing others in the room to interrupt; or allowing a bad-quality line to disrupt communication (it is better to phone back).  This is all so obvious, yet so easy to get a little wrong, thus reducing the effectiveness of communication.

Voice and Manner

On the phone you have to rely on your voice and manner in making an impression.  None of the other factors of personality are perceptible.  Here are some suggestions to help you.

Speak at a slightly slower rate than usual.

Speaking too rapidly makes it easier to be misunderstood and also mistrusted, although speaking too slowly can make the listener impatient or irritated.

Smile.  Use a warm tone of voice.

Though a smile cannot be seen, it does change the tone of your voice.  Make sure you sound pleasant, efficient and perhaps most important, interested and enthusiastic about the conversation.  Enthusiasm is contagious.

Get the emphasis right.

Make sure that you emphasise the parts of the communication that are important to the listener, or for clarity.  You only have your voice to give the emphasis you want.

Ensure clarity.

Make sure you are heard, especially with names, numbers etc.  It is easy to confuse Ss and Fs for instance, or find 15 per cent taken to mean 50 per cent.

Be positive.

Have the courage of your convictions.  Do not say: ‘possible’, ‘maybe’, ‘I think’, or ‘that could be’ (watch this one, professionals are apt to be far too circumspect)

Be concise.

Ensure a continuous flow of information, but in short sentences, a logical sequence and one thing at a time.  Watch for and avoid the wordiness that creeps in when we need time to think, e.g. ‘at this moment in time’ (now), ,along the lines of’ (like).

Avoid jargon.

Whether jargon is of the organisation (e.g. abbreviated description of a department name), the specialisation (e.g. technical descriptions of tax regulations or legal procedures for instance), or general (e.g. phrases like ‘I’ll see to that immediately’ – in five minutes or five hours?  ‘Give me a moment’ -literally?).  At least check that the other person understands they may not risk losing face by admitting you are being too technical for them, and a puzzled look will not be visible.  Jargon can too easily become a prop to self-confidence.

Be descriptive.

Anything that conjures up images in the mind of the listener will stimulate additional response from someone restricted to the single stimulus of voice.

Use gestures.

Your style will come across differently depending on your position.  For example, there may even be certain kinds of call that you can make better standing up rather than sitting down, such as debt collecting or laying down the law perhaps. (Really!  Try it, it works.)

Get the right tone.

Be friendly without being flippant.  Be efficient, courteous, whatever is called for.

Be natural.

Be yourself.  Avoid adopting a separate, contrived, telephone ‘persona’.  Consider the impression you want to give: Mature?  Expert?  Authoritative?  In command of the detail?  Try and project just that.

Your intention is to prompt the other person into action.  You should speak naturally in a way that is absolutely clear.  Here are some useful additional rules.

Be courteous.  Courtesy makes good conversation easier .  “Please” and ‘Thank you’ are words that will be appreciated

Be effective.  Know what your objective is and focus on achieving it

Project the right image.  Decide on what image will be most effective with your listener.  Fun?  Formal?  There are many alternatives

Be personal. Use “you” and  ‘I’ – say what you will do.

Be appreciative of their time.

Syncretic market behaviour

Strategy is about competition.

The competition may be current or future; direct or indirect; strong or weak – and each of those is a continuum (a lot of bits in between)

Competition can excite better performance (usually good for competitors and consumers)

There is another option – Syncretic market behaviour

Syncretic market behaviour

Syncretic (a combination of different beliefs) market behaviour is the attempt to achieve a dynamic balance between positives to be found in both competitive and co-operative strategies.  The objective is to enhance the competitive position of the organisation by Behaving in a mutually beneficial way with competitors, though sharing information and/or base technology.  The objective is to still actively compete for market share, whilst co-operating a way that builds a bigger market overall – a positive sum game.  This aims to reduce the costs and risks associated with duplication of effort.  The aim is to share basic technologies and capabilities that would be too costly and risky to independently develop and thus reduce costs and improve performance.  This is seen to also benefit customers.

Identity is More than a Logo

Identity: Deeper Than a Symbol

Too many organisations still treat identity as something that can be whipped up by a designer.  Identity is more than a graphic gimmick.

Organisational identity is more than a new letterhead, a Band-Aid solution.  It must be applied across-the-board as it must accurately reflect that organisation’s   business, its operating philosophy, its organisational culture.  An identity cannot be forged overnight in some ad agency.

Many advertising people recognise the importance of organisational identity in the marketing mix, even if they do not always appreciate the role of the CI practitioner in helping to shape overall long-term organisational strategies.

The turf-protective attitude will quite likely change as more mega-organiation s emerge and feel the need to impart an aura of parental responsibility.

In Marketing Communication “You’re talking to people who don’t want to know every last detail of a product’s features’ They want to know what ‘it’s going to do for me’-in plain, simple language. A well know and respected logo does that very well.  So do the initials IBM.

It’s not just a matter of marketing theory, of a picture being worth a thousand words.  It’s that there’s just so much advertising that the human mind can absorb.

The average consumer is exposed to over 500 advertisements a day, of which-media researchers admit-only 76 are “noticed,” and only 12 “remembered.” We are so inured to the surfeit of commercialism that we instinctively screen out all but the most memorable messages.


Like this article?  Please let us know.  Also check out our other blogs/articles on http”www.smartamarketing.wordpress.com

And consider checking out our website – http://www.marketing.org.au for much more information on good marketing

Dr Brian Monger

Is the importance of logos in branding often overstated?

Brian Monger

The importance of logos in branding is often overstated (and very often overpriced)

Certainlygood  logos have their use and value.  But when it comes to branding, unless you can utilise an established, well recognised logo, it will have little to do with the establishment of your brand.

The design of your logo doesn’t hugely matter to your market.  Would you choose Yahoo as your search engine over Google because of their logo? I don’t think so

Essentially good (effectiv) branding is about positioning and differentiation. It’s about developing a  promise (and delivering on it) and creating an ongoing relationship with your customer. While you need to have a name and probably a logo to differentiate your product as a distinct brand, it’s not that much about a stunning graphic design.

A logo by itself is a mark, a visual symbol, but it is not the essence of modern branding.

The brand promise and tagline are more important to your brand definition and may or may not be included in your logo. Don’t get a logo unless you first define brand promise and craft a tagline. Then include your tagline with your logo to see if it fits.

Having a nice logo is great, but it very rarely increases sales. But don’t spend a fortune on it.  Just ensure it does its basic job

Banks and other big institutions tend to spend up big on new logos – even after having spent years making the old one recognisable and meaningful to their market.

Despite having designed a few logos and being involved in the design of several more, I personally would rarely recommend spending up big on a new logo until you understand what you want it to do.  .

Here are some things to consider if theC Suite  is hypnotised by a Svengali graphic designer into considering a new logo.  Or if the new marketing manager wants to make a big impact statement (for their future job prospects)

  • Does the new logo have any intrinsic meaning behind it?  Many “designs” lack immediate meaning unless they were attached to the name of the business.
  • Do people – in particular your target markets have to have the logo explained to them because it is so abstract?.
  • Is the new logo necessary in building the brand?
  • What is the overall cost of changing signs, stationery websites, packaging, Promotional items?
  • How long will it take to get established in the mind of the public?
  • Could your logo work just as effectively for another(competitive)  brand?  If so it has no intrinsic meaning to your differentiating particular product/brand
  • Logos may become more important as the brand becomes more established, but usually they have little to do with the initial establishment of your brand – except perhaps gaining some attract attention to the new brand, in the right places
  • Is the proposed new design actually meant for creative folk and deep thinkers?  Good (effective) logos don’t need to be creative works of art.  Unless you are in an arty market populated by designers who will appreciate the nuances the design represents  Your logo is much more likely to be better off simply with just your name, using a basic design and  font presentation.
  • The new logo will be the face of your  business.  Is this how you want to look to your target markets?  Your logo is the calling card for your business.
  • A familiar and trusted  logo on a new product can help boost sales of the new item, because customers will associate its quality with the quality of other products with the same logo.


What makes a good logo ?

Yes logos need tohelp the product/brand stand out from the crowd. A good logo should be recognisable at some distance and when in visual competition with other logos so that buyers can recognise your product.  So consider:

  • It needs immediate (understandable) impact.  You can get big impact with high contrast and a high level of weirdness – but does it instantly appeal and go to work for you?
  • It should create or evoke a positive image for your target market (not a circle of designers)
  • It needs to be an honest reflection of the brand’s positioning and promise
  • It must provide differentiation from competitors – unless you are pretending to be the same product as a successful brand, only with a new package
  • Allow for easy recognition and associations
  • It needs to accurately represent the organisation
  • It must be memorable

Also keep in mind:

Logo Orientation and size

Determine how you will use your logo in various media (including signage and stationery (your livery) and then specify its orientation accordingly. Maybe you need something square, round or vertical. Know the shape before you start.

Think about size.  Will it be able to be recognised in a small format – say on a business card?

Colours – Avoid multi-coloured logos. Shoot for a one or two colour logo. They tend to look better and are less expensive reproduce.

Make sure your logo looks good in black and white/tonal format

Do some research and then specify the colours you want in your logo. Choose your colours based on your customer profile  and your brand promise to them.


I hope you find these ideas useful.  Perhaps check out similar articles here, or in the sister blog site smartamarketing.wordpress.com

And let me know what you think?

Contingency Planning in Decision Making

When a choice is made the implementation of that choice can be seen as an action plan.  Contingency planning is the process of protecting a plan against what might go wrong in future.

Without a plan, nothing can go wrong and hence contingency planning can only start once a plan has been developed (this is in contrast to problem solving which should occur first to provide the information needed to make a plan).  Contingency planning may be needed because there is a weakness in a new plan or to protect an existing plan where the situation is changing . It can be seen as a number of brainstorming steps designed to uncover possible future problems which then become the focus of subsidiary plans to either prevent those problems occurring or to reduce their effects.

Steps in contingency planning are as follows:

1          List all the steps in the plan and identify key areas which include unknowns or which are particularly critical to plan success.

2·         Using 1 as a focus, brainstorm possible problems and then identify those on your list having a high seriousness and high probability of occurrence.

3          Using 2 as a focus, brainstorm possible causes of major problems and identify causes with a high probability of occurrence.

4          Develop plans aimed at preventing problem causes identified in 3 and which have a high probability of occurrence.

5·         Using 2 as a focus identify problems still likely to occur (despite 3 and 4) and list the negative effects that would happen.

6          Develop plans to handle serious negative effects identified in 5. Ensure a warning mechanism if those effects could start suddenly or unexpectedly.

Because people are anxious for their plans to succeed, they often fail to examine them critically and hence miss flaws which could easily have been corrected.  In the same way it is easy to be defensive about criticism of a plan rather than thinking how we can use the information to our advantage.

In contrast Napoleon is said to have mentally rehearsed every battle he fought weeks before the event.  He would go over his own tactics, visualising the enemy defences, their reaction and the terrain.

In the same way we can significantly increase the success of our own plans by mentally rehearsing them both to eliminate possible problems and to prepare our defence should these problems arise.

Making a Successful Decision

To be successful a decision must have:

·           Rational quality – to the extent that there is a difference between the available choices it will be important that the alternative offering the most benefit is chosen.

·           Commitment to implement – to the extent that the commitment of the people involved is necessary for effective implementation, it will be important to gain that commitment.

When choosing who to involve in making a decision, you should consider who can contribute to requirements for quality and commitment.  Although most managers give overriding consideration to achieving a high quality decision, more decisions probably fail through lack of a real commitment to follow them through and make them work.

The decision making process described here is ideal for use individually or with a group.

Because it offers a clear and logical approach to selecting a high quality decision while actively involving the group in the decision making process it is also excellent as a means of gaining group commitment.

Every decision will contain three elements:

·           objectives – or the things we wish to achieve as a result of the decision;

·           alternatives – or the choices available to us;

.           risks – or the uncertainty that a particular alternative will       actually deliver the objectives we want or has unplanned side effects.

The ideal decision maker will be someone who clearly identifies his objectives, creatively generates new choices or ways of meeting those objectives, and is prepared to make choices involving risk where the benefit/risk pay-off of a choice makes it the most appropriate solution.  However, our flesh and blood manager frequently behaves very differently from the ideal model.

Typically he\she adopts an approach which may be called incremental analysis in which he\she moves a minimum distance from the existing situation when change is required.

First he\she may have no clear idea of his objectives.  Rather he\she finds that something has gone wrong and he\she simply wishes to get out of trouble or make some improvement.  Thus he\she is looking for an acceptable rather than the best solution.

Next he\she may have spent little time creatively generating new approaches with the result that the choices available to him only represent small changes to the existing situation.

Finally, he\she may not be working in an environment in which risk taking is encouraged.  Too many people may have an investment in the current situation and be unwilling to exchange it for the uncertain future associated with a significantly different approach.

The process for decision making discussed helps to overcome these difficulties because it is structured in the following way.  It starts with a discussion of the objectives (rather than an argument over the alternatives).  By doing this we can:

·           improve understanding of what an ideal solution could achieve;

·           generate commitment to more than a minimum solution;

·           avoid the politics of ‘hidden objectives’ because every individual knows that an undeclared objective will not be available to give weight to his choice at a later stage.

Following agreement on the objectives, a brainstorming session can take place to creatively generate new solutions or choices if this appears appropriate (i.e. existing choices appear lacking in some respect).  The brainstorming can be creative and avoid criticism because it is understood that evaluation against objectives is the next step.

After alternatives have been generated they are scored against each objective in turn with the purpose of finding the maximum overall benefit (achievement of objectives).  This avoids the ‘information overload’ and fruitless argument that can result from a direct overall comparison of alternatives against each other.

Having identified the alternative which offers the best overall benefit we then evaluate that alternative for risks.  What are the unknowns and what could go wrong if that choice were adopted?  If the alternative offering the best benefit also has significant risk, then other alternatives must be evaluated and the one offering the best risk/benefit pay-off chosen.  This allows an open discussion on the level of risk people are prepared to accept.

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