Tag Archives: marketing strategy

What Did You Do When You Were Supposed to be Sleeping?

 

 

Sleep Cycle is an app that tracks your sleep cycle. Seems pretty simple, but looks can be deceiving. In November of 2015, just a few short months ago, the app was released to the public and the vote is in. Everyone loves it.

So, here’s what you do. First, download the app. Before you go to sleep set the alarm programmed in the app and the sleep cycle device will activate. Place your phone screen side down on your nightstand, plug in your charger, and, hopefully, have a great night of sleep.

When you wake up in the morning, the app provides you with a line graph that depicts how many hours you were in bed and how your sleep varied throughout the night from awake, sleep, and deep sleep.

I tried out the app for the first time last night and it appears as if I am a champion sleeper, but I moved 1,267 times. I am a champion sleeper that thrashes.

But that’s not all! The trends tab on the app is available to premium members, and it provides you with several different charts that display sleep quality, what time you went to bed, the amount of time in bed, and what time you woke up at for the week. It also gives you a percentage in regards to sleep quality. Did you sleep poorly because you ate dinner too late? Or did you wake up refreshed because you hit the gym the day before? The app will tell you. It also lets you know if your sleep quality was affected by air pressure, weather, or if you are a thrasher like me.

You get all of this information for a large fee of 83 cents a month (This is not a typo).

Sales and marketing professionals can learn a thing or two from Sleep Cycle. We, as people, are fascinated about sleep. We can’t study our own sleep patterns, considering we are sleeping, so it was all too fascinating to find out that I sleep the majority of my night in a deep sleep. I would have never known that. That’s how they get us in. It’s all a marketing ploy. And then for just 83 cents a month I can not only learn how I sleep, but I will learn how I can sleep better. Who doesn’t want to know that?

83 cents a month is nothing for us fortunate enough to be living in a first world country. We see the advantages for the app, sign up, and never unsubscribe because it is only 83 cents, even though we never use the app anymore and it has been long forgotten. And the money is just rolling in for Sleep Cycle.

(Applause for Sleep Cycle)

So what did they do right? First of all, it is a very big gamble to charge such a low monthly fee. But according to Marketing Strategy, book one in the SMstudy® Guide, it was a very calculated move with the help of secondary marketing research. “Secondary marketing research involves the use of content and information that is currently available within the company or in the market through primary research that has already been conducted and is readily obtainable through company reports, trade journals, industry publications, and/or the Internet.”

The very popular Fitbit will track your sleep, but it can cost upwards of 200 dollars. Fitbit sold nearly 11 million devices last year, so the market was there. From looking at information that was right at their fingertips, Sleep Cycle was able to build a sales and marketing plan that was destined to succeed.

I was pulled in by a marketing ploy and I didn’t even see it. That’s how you know a company is doing its job well. I look forward to going to sleep tonight, I have a competitive streak, so I want to beat last night’s amazing performance.

Give it a try, you know you want to.

For more information and resources about sales and marketing visit SMstudy.com

Begin at the Beginning: A Well-founded Marketing Strategy

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A well-planned, comprehensive marketing strategy for a product or brand is essential to its success. The marketing strategy determines the specific resource allocation and activities involved with all other aspects of marketing. The effects of a well-positioned marketing strategy reverberate throughout the entire spectrum of marketing options and therefore should not be treated lightly or given short shrift.

The SMstudy® Guide notes, “marketing strategy defines a product or brand’s unique value proposition, target markets, and the specific strategies to be used to connect with defined audiences. It also specifies the pricing and distribution strategies for a product or brand and outlines the specific metrics, objectives and budgets for all its marketing activities.”

So, what are the basics of creating a comprehensive marketing strategy?

In essence, there are four main areas of research and analysis that should be addressed during the creation of any marketing strategy. They include:

  1. An analysis of market opportunity– this includes a look at both the internal capabilities of a company as well as external factors that may impact a business.
  2. Defining the competition, targeting and position– exploring the current competition, understanding industry trends and creating future competitive scenarios helps in selecting target market segments.
  3. Determining pricing and distribution strategies– assessing the value of the product based on its features, analyzing the features and price of competitive products and understanding the mindset of the consumer lays the groundwork for a successful distribution strategy, one that ensures that products and services are delivered and sold in the most efficient manner.
  4. Determining metrics, objectives, marketing aspects and budget allocation– this includes the selection of metrics such as customer reach, brand perception, product availability and sales and profitability as well as details setting targets and allocating budgets.

The chosen marketing strategy has far-reaching impact on all other aspects of marketing. In addition, other aspects of marketing work synergistically with the marketing strategy. Consider the following:

Digital Marketing

Marketing strategy elements such as product features, target segments, and distribution strategy are key determining factors for a robust digital marketing campaign. Product category and product features determine how suitable a product is to be marketed online. Some products or services are more conducive to online marketing than others. Given that digital marketing activities can be integral to a number of other elements of the marketing strategy, the impact of the marketing strategy may be far greater on digital marketing activities depending on the specific product-market combination.

Marketing Research

Marketing research provides valuable insights on the performance of a marketing strategy and is helpful when companies need to take steps to resolve issues. Many of the research activities carried out for one process in marketing strategy may also be used by other marketing aspects. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind all the processes of marketing strategy while designing a research project to ensure that additional relevant information is also collected if the incremental cost of collecting that information is acceptable.

Corporate Sales

Product features and target markets determine how suitable a product is to be sold through business-to-business channels, and how budget and resources are allocated accordingly for corporate sales efforts. Marketing strategy also provides the corporate sales team with market intelligence related to competitors and industry trends, which helps the company to position itself strategically for each business opportunity.

Branding and Advertising

Branding and advertising build awareness of a product with customers and then ideally transitions them to loyal customers. This evolution of trust is made possible by understanding customers’ needs and ensuring that the company’s marketing activities are oriented towards meeting those needs in the best way possible. Customer profiling is a part of the marketing strategy.

Retail Marketing

Target market segments and product features determine how suitable a product is to be sold through retail channels, thereby determining the budget and resources to be allocated to retail sales. Within retail sales, a company needs to further decide whether to sell directly to the end customer or to use intermediaries such as wholesalers, distributors, and retailers. With the global rise in e-commerce, this decision is generally a complex one and needs to be made in alignment with the marketing strategy where target segments and a distribution strategy have been clearly defined.

For more details on the processes of marketing strategy, visit http://www.smstudy.com

One Step Ahead of the Game

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The goal is to never go out of business, right? But how do you ensure your company stays in the black? Sure, it may take blood, sweat, and tears, but the to ensure you don’t go under to notice market trends and be willing and able to flow with them.

“I wake up every morning and think about how I can put myself out of business,” says Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia. What Vaynerchuk means is that every day he puts himself in his competitor’s shoes and thinks, “How could VaynerMedia be put out of business?” And the answer is simple really, be one step ahead of the game which is possible by performing a market trend analysis.

According to Marketing Strategy, book one in the SMstudy® Guide series, “A market trend analysis is an analysis of past and current market behavior and dominant patterns of the market and consumers. An important aspect of conducting a trend analysis for an organization is to obtain insight into the market scenario, consumer preferences, and the macroeconomic environment.”

Vaynerchuk stated that companies such as Uber and Airbnb should never have even been created. Not because there was no market for them, there was and we all know it, but because taxi and hotel companies should have capitalized on the market shift first before Uber and Airbnb has the chance to swoop in and snatch up a healthy chunk of their respective markets. By performing a market trend analysis, companies such as Hilton and Yellow Cab would have seen where the market was headed and could have predicted and evolved with the market.

Taxi companies blame Uber for putting their companies out of business, but they failed to do what Vaynerchuk does every day —look for trends in the market and adapt to them.

Jon Nordmark, co-founder of iterate, singled out the online retailer Amazon as a good example of an innovative company that has evolved with the continuing development of technology. Not only have they surpassed other American online retailers by sixfold as of 2015, but they have also nudging into Fedex’s turf thanks to their Amazon Prime delivery options.

Since its Inception, Amazon has become complete lifestyle. It is a one-stop-shop for not only retail items, but they have also moved up to number eight on Forbes “The World’s Most Innovative Companies” list due to Echo, a wireless speaker and voice command service first launched in 2015.

Echo has it all: it plays music, answer questions, orders pizza from Domino’s, manages home security devices and air conditioning through voice control and will even request an Uber. Summing up Echo, CNET stated, “The Echo may be the closest thing we’ll have to a Star Trek computer at home.”

It may be nice for a company to feel comfortable, but it can lead to complacency. Instead companies should be looking forward to what is coming next. You never know if and when some college student in San Francisco might create the next best thing that fits just right in this evolving market and an existing company might miss its chance!

For more interesting articles visit SMstudy.com

Sources:

Forbes, “The World’s Most Innovative Companies,” 2015. http://www.forbes.com/innovative-companies/list/3/#tab:rank

Gary Vaynerchuk, “Uber and Airbnb Never Should Have Happened the Way They Did,” May 13, 2016. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/uber-airbnb-never-should-have-happened-way-did-gary-vaynerchuk?trk=hp-feed-article-title-channel-add

Jon Nordmark, “Amazon Ecosytem Lock-In = Prime + Echo+ 2lemetry,” May 12, 2016. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/amazon-ecosystem-lock-in-prime-echo-jon-nordmark?trk=prof-post

A Ninety-two-year-old, a Value Proposition and SMstudy

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“Leaders are teachers and good team members,” according to product designer Barbara Beskind.

“If you can help those who are under you maximize their greatest potential, you’re a successful leader,” Beskind told interviewer Sarah Bielecki for a story on the Stanford Engineering website.[i]

And this could lead someone to ask, “how does Beskind rate an article in Stanford Engineering’s blog pages, and why should I care?” In sales and marketing terms this question is asking about Beskind’s unique value proposition.  In a way, everyone determines the value proposition of everything they offer to others.

A value proposition is “a business or marketing statement that summarizes why a consumer should buy a product or use a service. This statement should convince a potential consumer that one particular product or service will add more value or better solve a problem than other similar offerings.”[ii] For Bielecki, journalists and blog writers, this question comes into play when we find a source to quote—Why should the reader (our consumers) accept what I am telling them? What value does this expert or authority add to the information I want to share?

Bielecki answered this question by providing Beskind’s “bona fides” or credentials, telling her readers that at the age of 89 Beskind wrote to David Kelly, CEO of IDEO, “offering to help IDEO design for aging and low-vision populations.” Kelly soon hired her, and Bielecki spoke with her three years later, when she was 92 years-old, adding that “Prior to her career at IDEO, Beskind served in the U.S. Army for 20 years as an occupational therapist. She retired as a major in 1966 and went on to found the Princeton Center for Learning Disorders, the first independent private practice in occupational therapy in the United States”—all in all, a unique and beneficial value proposition when discussing the difference between a leader and a manager.

For businesses, the value proposition isn’t about sourcing, it’s about strategy. “Marketing strategy is one of the most crucial Aspects of Sales and Marketing,” according to Marketing Strategy, book three of the SMstudy® Guide,[iii] “It defines a product or brand’s unique value proposition, target markets, and the specific strategies to be used to connect with defined audiences.”

There are many ways for businesses to determine a value proposition—what is the value of the problem being solved, the need being met or the revenue to be earned? An additional approach to complete the value picture is to look at one’s competition. “Competitive positioning tools help a company explore how it can differentiate its product or service offerings in order to create a value proposition for those products or services in the market,” says the SMstudy® Guide. And creating a differentiated competitive position “helps the company maintain focus on each product and its value proposition while developing the key elements of its marketing mix, pricing, and distribution strategy.”

Like the journalist selling the idea that a 92-year-old product designer has something to say about developing leadership, a company has a lot to gain by defining and clearly articulating its value, “when a product’s price, value proposition, and positioning are optimally aligned, a company is in a position to maximize revenues and profits.” And that’s a valuable proposition for any business.

For more information on sales and marketing, visit smstudy.com

Importance of understanding and evaluating Digital Marketing Channels

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When creating an online presence, one of the initial steps for an organization is to determine the targets as defined by the Marketing Strategy and then explore the various digital marketing channels available to achieve those targets. Organizations typically market their products or services to targeted audiences that differ in demographics such as age, sex, education, marital status, geography, and income. Implementing digital marketing tactics allows a company to target very specific audiences and measure each tactic effectively.

Given the volatile nature of the online world, new channels are emerging with greater frequency, and audiences are continuously exploring new sources of online content—digital marketers must regularly assess and reassess digital marketing channels for their effectiveness. To identify the most effective marketing channels for an organization’s products or services, marketers spend a considerable amount of time and effort identifying and understanding the dynamics of all available digital marketing channels and evaluating these channels relative to their company’s overall organizational goals and objectives.

The digital marketing team analyzes the Internet behavior patterns of its target audience and identifies all possible online media that are used by those consumers being targeted. It observes macro trends that might impact the way in which the organization markets and sells a product or service to consumers. As a result of this process, the organization gains a better understanding of the digital landscape and learns how it can develop and implement its marketing strategies to be effective.

A company must understand the pros and cons of each digital marketing channel as well as the situations in which a channel is most effective or ineffective. For example, when a company wants to promote an important achievement or milestone, the use of social media forums is a good option because of the possibility of a viral effect and mass exposure, which may raise awareness of the company. When promoting a discount offer, the use of e-mail marketing is beneficial because of the fast results it can bring. On the other hand, if the company wants to inform customers about an expected delay in service (e.g., due to a scheduled routine maintenance, delay due some unavoidable circumstances), it is usually enough for the company to use e-mail or their website to notify customers, rather than initiating a social media update. Negative comments often spread faster in social media leading to loss of brand value and image. Therefore, understanding different channels is important in order to evaluate their usefulness.

To learn more about digital marketing channels, visit SMstudy.com

Brand Loyalty

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Brand loyalty is a metric associated with brand perception in marketing. Brand perception refers to how prospective and current customers react to seeing or hearing about a company’s products or brands and how the company is perceived within the market.

Brand loyalty is reflected by how many customers purchase a brand repeatedly. It indicates the commitment that customers have towards a brand irrespective of the price offered by competitors of similar products and is the basis of a strong relationship between the brand and its customers. The underlying metrics for brand loyalty may be the percentage of repeat customers out of total customers, the frequency of repeat purchases, and the degree to which other brands are also purchased along with the brand under consideration. A high degree of purchase of other brands reveals a low brand loyalty for the brand under consideration. Another way to measure brand loyalty is to examine customer response to situations where a product variant is unavailable. If customers are loyal to a brand, they will either wait until the product becomes available or buy another product variant of the same brand.

Let’s illustrate the idea with some example. Some retail chains use payback / loyalty card to measure brand loyalty by frequency of a customer’s repeat purchase of products from their stores. As part of the loyalty program, these retail companies incentivize the loyal customers by offering cashbacks, payback points and other personalized discounts over and above the listed discounts. Some luxury car manufacturers have strong brand loyal customers who are ready to pay a premium price for a luxury car due to its perceived uniqueness and status. These set of customers are so brand loyal that they book their vehicles well in advance and are willing to wait several months for their order to be fulfilled and they will not accept substitutes.

To learn more about other brand perception metrics, refer Marketing Strategy, the first book of the SMstudy® Guide.

The Truman Show: A Reflection on Product Placement

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In the 1998 film The Truman Show, a man named Truman Burbank, played by comedian actor Jim Carrey, stars in the ultimate reality show. At the film’s onset we learn that Truman is the first person to be adopted by a corporation and that since the time of his babyhood, Truman has been used, unbeknownst to him, as the star of his own real-life reality show, a show that entertain millions of viewers worldwide  as it unfolds in real time.

But there are other stars with whom he unknowingly shares the show; the ceaseless parade of products cleverly woven into the artificial tapestry of the stage set Truman calls home.

With no way to break for commercials, since the show is live 24/7, product placement is the obvious choice for advertising. Snatching at any opportunity to slip in a plug for gardening sheers or vegetable peelers, Truman’s family and friends (all actors) awkwardly discuss the merits of wares and services within the program. Everyone is “in the know” on the embedded product “advertisements”, everyone except Truman. He moves through his staged world unaware of the exaggerated enthusiasm with which his “friends and colleagues” discuss a certain beer or truck.

The film’s director, Peter Weir, uses the film as an opportunity to turn the camera on itself and satirically question the part product placement plays in Hollywood. In The Truman Show, Weir is clearly reflecting the reality of the ascent of product placement in films in the 1990s, because although product placement has been seen in film since the early 20th century, the golden age officially began with the release of Spielberg’s ET in 1982. Anyone remember Reece’s Pieces?

It’s been observed that over the last few decades we’ve seen an increase in the amount of product placement in both films and television according to Dr. Mary Lou Galician.

In her book, Handbook of Product Placement in the Mass Media: New Strategies in Marketing Theory, Practice, Trends, and Ethics, Galician states, “What is most important regarding the evolution of product placement is the increasing number of high-involvement placements found during the 20-year period of the study. These high-involvement appearances nearly doubled from 1977 to 1997, further indicating that product placement has become an integral aspect of making Hollywood movies.”

So, what does this mean for marketing strategy?

As Dr. Galician points out in her findings, which cover a 20-year analysis of Hollywood films, product placement is on the rise. This will mean continued opportunity, but also continued competition and possibly threat. The SMstudy Guide, Marketing Strategy book states that opportunities and threats should be determined before embarking on a marketing campaign. In considering product placement as a marketing option, opportunities may include reaching a larger or more responsive segment of the market. Threats may include negative backlash or a company may simply find they are priced out of that particular avenue for marketing their product.

Additional opportunities may arise in the growing opportunities for other film-related product marketing. Dr. Galician notes that there has been a rise in product “tie ins” and “cross promotion” creating more marketing opportunities and greater integration between film and consumer products and services.

As stated in Marketing Strategy, first book of the SMBOK (or SMstudy Guide), potential innovation should always be considered when planning a marketing campaign. New and innovative ways to integrate a product with a film or television show are in continual research and development.

 

Begin at the Beginning: A Well-founded Marketing Strategy

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A well-planned, comprehensive marketing strategy for a product or brand is essential to its success. The marketing strategy determines the specific resource allocation and activities involved with all other aspects of marketing. The effects of a well-positioned marketing strategy reverberate throughout the entire spectrum of marketing options and therefore should not be treated lightly or given short shrift.

The SMstudy® Guide notes, “marketing strategy defines a product or brand’s unique value proposition, target markets, and the specific strategies to be used to connect with defined audiences. It also specifies the pricing and distribution strategies for a product or brand and outlines the specific metrics, objectives and budgets for all its marketing activities.”

So, what are the basics of creating a comprehensive marketing strategy?

In essence, there are four main areas of research and analysis that should be addressed during the creation of any marketing strategy. They include:

  1. An analysis of market opportunity– this includes a look at both the internal capabilities of a company as well as external factors that may impact a business.
  2. Defining the competition, targeting and position– exploring the current competition, understanding industry trends and creating future competitive scenarios helps in selecting target market segments.
  3. Determining pricing and distribution strategies– assessing the value of the product based on its features, analyzing the features and price of competitive products and understanding the mindset of the consumer lays the groundwork for a successful distribution strategy, one that ensures that products and services are delivered and sold in the most efficient manner.
  4. Determining metrics, objectives, marketing aspects and budget allocation– this includes the selection of metrics such as customer reach, brand perception, product availability and sales and profitability as well as details setting targets and allocating budgets.

The chosen marketing strategy has far-reaching impact on all other aspects of marketing. In addition, other aspects of marketing work synergistically with the marketing strategy. Consider the following:

Digital Marketing

Marketing strategy elements such as product features, target segments, and distribution strategy are key determining factors for a robust digital marketing campaign. Product category and product features determine how suitable a product is to be marketed online. Some products or services are more conducive to online marketing than others. Given that digital marketing activities can be integral to a number of other elements of the marketing strategy, the impact of the marketing strategy may be far greater on digital marketing activities depending on the specific product-market combination.

Marketing Research

Marketing research provides valuable insights on the performance of a marketing strategy and is helpful when companies need to take steps to resolve issues. Many of the research activities carried out for one process in marketing strategy may also be used by other marketing aspects. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind all the processes of marketing strategy while designing a research project to ensure that additional relevant information is also collected if the incremental cost of collecting that information is acceptable.

Corporate Sales

Product features and target markets determine how suitable a product is to be sold through business-to-business channels, and how budget and resources are allocated accordingly for corporate sales efforts. Marketing strategy also provides the corporate sales team with market intelligence related to competitors and industry trends, which helps the company to position itself strategically for each business opportunity.

Branding and Advertising

Branding and advertising build awareness of a product with customers and then ideally transitions them to loyal customers. This evolution of trust is made possible by understanding customers’ needs and ensuring that the company’s marketing activities are oriented towards meeting those needs in the best way possible. Customer profiling is a part of the marketing strategy.

Retail Marketing

Target market segments and product features determine how suitable a product is to be sold through retail channels, thereby determining the budget and resources to be allocated to retail sales. Within retail sales, a company needs to further decide whether to sell directly to the end customer or to use intermediaries such as wholesalers, distributors, and retailers. With the global rise in e-commerce, this decision is generally a complex one and needs to be made in alignment with the marketing strategy where target segments and a distribution strategy have been clearly defined.

For more details on the processes of marketing strategy, visit http://www.smstudy.com.

Should You ask Permission to Market?

 

Everyone despises commercials. It’s true, don’t even try to deny it! There is not one single person who would rather listen to a commercial than jam out to a new song. But we put up with them. Sort of.

Some people turn the volume down while a commercial is on the radio or take out the trash while they wait for their favorite television show. Yet, this form of conventional mass media marketing actually works. People hear a commercial about Tide laundry detergent, they may tune it out, but when they go to the grocery store, they select Tide because they have heard the name.

As defined by Marketing Strategy, book one in the SMstudy® Guide, conventional mass media marketing is “print advertising (newspaper, magazine, insert, or run of paper), mass mailers, television (network, cable, or syndicated), radio (national, local, satellite, or podcast), and out of home advertising (billboards, street furniture e.g. bus shelters, transit, alternative, e.g. stadiums).”

Conventional mass media marketing is also referred to as interruption marketing, or put more simply, marketing that interrupts.

But we have stepped into a new age, the age of the internet, which has given rise to fragmented new age marketing. “Since the late 1990s, with the increasing popularity of the internet and, more recently, smartphones, many options now exist for advertisers to reach a global audience using digital media marketing methods such as mobile phone apps, Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, QR codes, gamification, and proximity marketing (e.g. Foursquare),” states SMstudy.

Fragmented new age marketing is also referred to as permission marketing, or put more simply, where people have to give you permission to market to them.

According to Krista Neher, content marketer for Boot Camp Digital, “Most online marketing is permission marketing, where people have to give you permission to market to them. People choose to follow you on Twitter, subscribe to your email or visit your website. They make the choice to connect with you (and allow you to market to them) because you provide great content. You must be interesting or useful for people to agree to your interruption marketing, or they will just ignore you. Permission marketing is about providing value so that people choose to view your marketing.”

So, should you stop putting marketing dollars towards interruption marketing? No, because as previously stated, it does work. But by putting an emphasis on permission marketing a company can ensure that their time and money is not being wasted. Conventional mass media marketing is not a sure deal, while fragmented new age marketing is.

Neher provides some guidelines to follow so you can successfully incorporate permission marketing into your marketing strategy.

  • Change your mindset: Stop thinking about selling, and start thinking about how you can create value for the people that you want to reach (in a way that links to your business and marketing strategy).
  • Change your message: Your message can’t be so advertising-ish. Your message must be something that people actually want to read (again, while at the same time growing your business).
  • Evaluate all of your channels: What is interesting is that even traditional marketing works better when it meets the difficult bar of both selling your product and being interesting to your customers.

This is an exciting time to be a marketer. The possibilities are endless as long as you follow one simple rule, show them, don’t tell them. But don’t forget conventional mass media marketing in the process. There is still a use for it. Interruptive and permission marketing can run parallel, it’s all about how you position your brand.

As noted by SMstudy, “With all of these options, many marketers find it beneficial to use an integrated approach to marketing by leveraging the strengths of various types of media.” Good luck fellow marketers, it’s a brave new world.

For more interesting articles visit http:://www.SMstudy.com

Sources:

Krista Neher, “Permission Vs. Interruption Marketing,” content writer at Boot Camp digital. http://bootcampdigital.com/permission-vs-interruption-marketing/

Robots, Communications and SMstudy

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“I cannot fully understand or predict what the system will do, so I don’t trust it,” says Riccardo Bevilacqua of the University of Florida about his autonomous vacuum cleaner.[1]

As Bevilacqua indicates, trust is based on understanding. And understanding is built through successful communications. As the world changes, the ability to communicate, and to do it well, is becoming ever more important, even when it applies to talking to our robots.

“Today we see robots as agents able to operate independently – like my vacuum cleaner – but still be part of a team – the family’s efforts to keep the house clean. If they are truly working with us, rather than instead of us, then communication is key, as well as the ability to infer intent,” Bevilacqua says. In today’s marketplace where concepts such as co-creating value are popular, the same can be said of customers. When customers and suppliers become a team to solve a problem, meet a need or create a new experience, effective communication becomes crucial.

“Unlike older media options where sales and marketing communications were primarily uni-directional (i.e., from producers to end-consumers), communications have increasingly become multi-directional (i.e., from producers to consumers, consumers to producers, and consumers to consumers),” according to Digital Marketing, book three in the SMstudy® Guide series. As behaviors become more important more people become involved.[2]

As a result of not understanding and trusting his autonomous vacuum, Bevilacqua says, “I play it safe, and spend time doing things to accommodate the needs I imagine the robot might have.” Trying to meet imagined needs is impossible, and in sales and marketing it can be dangerous. To avoid this, a company’s marketing team “should create ‘personas’ of ideal customers in each segment” as part of the market segment selection process, “Then, depending on the market size of each segment and the ability of the company to build products for each persona, the target segments are selected,” according to Marketing Strategy, book one in the SMstudy® Guide series.[3]

“Personas are highly detailed fictional characters, representative of particular types of users in a market segment. They are created to help the marketing team identify who the potential buyers are, what they are trying to achieve, what they think, what drives their behaviors, how they buy, and why they make certain decisions,” Marketing Strategy says. These characteristics of potential buyers are essential for beginning and building communication systems and messages that matter.

“The persona should be research based and include highly specific demographic and lifestyle attributes such as age, gender, education, environment, interests, and goals. A quote illustrating the persona’s requirements can also be included,” according to Marketing Strategy. The inclusion of a quote by the persona can help marketing team members envision a welcoming approach and make an easier connection, “With detailed personas, users become more personal and real to the team.”

With the expanding channels and methods for communicating with consumers and users, companies can keep sales and marketing from being a robotic experience for everyone involved. At least, until we learn to communicate better with our robots.

[1] Riccardo Bevilacqua (Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace engineering, University of Florida) (5/30/16) “Can I Trust My Robot and Should My Robot Trust Me?” GE Reports Retrieved on 5/31/16 from http://www.gereports.com/can-i-trust-my-robot-and-should-my-robot-trust-me/

Originally published (4/4/2016) in The Conversation at http://theconversation.com/can-i-trust-my-robot-and-should-my-robot-trust-me-55553

[2] Digital Marketing, book three in the SMstudy Guide to the Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge (SMstudy® Guide).

[3] Marketing Strategy, book one in the SMstudy Guide to the Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge (SMstudy® Guide).