Making sense of the changed, shifting marketing Venue.
I am sure there are several entrepreneurs like me who feel the market is shifting to new venues or mediums.
Very much similar to how music shifted from one type of venue to another. Starting with drums played in open fields, to the arrival of harps and violin in palace courtyards, then to the grand organ and piano in cathedrals, then to packed taverns and restaurants with a guitars and wind instruments….. The venue determined the instruments, the effect of music and of course, the audience.
In marketing and advertising too, the venues have kept shifting. Starting from notices stuck at various places, to radio, TV, billboards, news papers, internet, digital marketing, apps, building loyalty through tribes………… the journey has been through newer and newer venues. Those who want a piece of the music, must learn to shift to new venues and learn to play the new instruments, by new rules.
Else, they will be forced to face the music.
Businesses that don’t move with the times and adapt to new marketing venues, get confined to the list of – also rans.
My company and I once faced the brunt of the changing venue of the markets when the rampaging venue of the internet gobbled up the concierge business we had started in 2000 and ran for about twelve years.
Right now, mobile applications are among the new venues for my type of business.
The decision I recently took to join Digital Deepak’s Internship programme is to understand the dynamics and nuances of the changing market venues.
His journey in the field of marketing and the path he has paved inspire me to explore possibilities to be the best-known in our line of business.
The new marketing venue offers more opportunities than pitfalls to those who are adaptable. To turn into fervent broadcasters and reach thousands of people in one go, at a fraction of the cost.
In the light of what I learned from Deepak and my experience, this post is an attempt to honestly think aloud and arrive at a cogent strategy to make use of the evolving marketing venue. This might give food for thought for entrepreneurs to avoid some of the pitfalls I landed my company into – despite my best efforts.
Not Investing on Marketing is like keeping a lamp under a bush.
Customers rave about our services. There are close to 500 great reviews on Google and almost all of them speak about the warm wow experience Service Square services elicit.
Yet, our business growth has not kept with the reputation we enjoy.
I have grappled with this question for long. Why is success elusive when we are the best rated?
The answer is obvious. We haven’t been marketing our services smartly enough.
It is akin to keeping our lamp under a bush. Lack of marketing undermines a great service.
Running a business successfully is not only about providing quality service.
Without strong support from marketing, quality of services will begin to flounder.
Like in science, in marketing too, there are laws. An entrepreneur ignores them at his own peril.
The trajectory of my business will change to the extent I learn and apply the laws of marketing.
Welcome to the Laws of Marketing!
One very important law of marketing is – The best-known will prevail over the best till the best becomes the best-known.
In business, there is no poetic justice. It is not the best ones who succeed, it is rather the best-known that reap the fruits. So, it is my job to understand what it takes to make our business known. Else, I will be the bottle-neck to the growth of my company.
Contrary to what most people think, marketing is a science and not a matter of creativity.
No amount of fancy, imaginative conceptualising can compensate for the hard work needed to do marketing in alignment with these laws.
Customers are at the left, right and centre of all laws of marketing.
They are people in flesh and blood, with emotions – loves and fears, weaknesses and strengths.
They are not an amorphous lot that can be manipulated with social media posts and jargon. They need to be heard and understood.
Successful marketing will be governed by the bond that exists between people in our company and our customers.
As I understand and internalise the centrality of this bond, the following ideas discussed by Deepak makes enormous sense.
- Marketing is about sending the right message, to the right person, at the right time.
- It is just not about selling. It is about keeping existing customers happy by communicating with them.
- Marketing is a means to an end – to build a brand and capture a position in the minds of the customers. Peter Drucker’s wise words drive home the essence of marketing, powerfully.
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well, the product or service fits him and sells itself…. The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous”
Essentially, every customer has a story why she needs our service. Understanding the stories of our customers is the beginning of marketing.
Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt shares this same idea with this insight:
“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill bit. They want a quarter-inch hole.”
Value Maximization Ladder – Making Money at each rung of the value ladder,
from low to high value.
For businesses with several products, this seems to be a smart way of marketing in the digital era. Start with a small value product at a low price and get a very high volume of buy-ins, gaining the all-important contact details and email addresses.
Products or services in the next higher rung are marketed to the list that has already purchased the first low value product.The satisfied buyers of the second product are marketed another product, at a higher price.
This process can go on as long as there are products to sell at higher and higher price points.
The original list of customers forms the fulcrum for creating more and more sales. As more transactions happen at higher and higher yields, companies maximise their revenue and profit, even though the volume of transactions may be low.
Creating and Growing Service Square Brand
Fortunately, Service Square has the potential to evolve from a small, but significant name into a major brand in our line of business.
A few of the attributes discussed by Deepak about building a strong brand is a reality in Service Square.
Our Logo inspires our approach to building our brand – a smile inside (our team’s) and a smile outside (customers’)
Our tagline – service with a heart – is what we promise and deliver to our customers. We have a unique angle in the way we provide our services. We create experiences for our customers.
And, we adhere to our values because of which we know what is important for us.
Our logo with its tagline, our mission and our values are what truly guide and give us strength. My personal experience is that they are what make our path – on which we walk. I cannot over-emphasise the role of these in the creation and growing of our brand.
I am very proud about the 500 terrific reviews on Google – where customers speak about their experience of the experience from our service. Social proof contributes to the growth of brands.
Many customers are our brand ambassadors.
And there are signs, our product is beginning to sell by itself – by word of mouth.
We keep innovating and introduce new services in the market so that we not only remain the best rated, but also the only one.
Decluttering & Minimalism is one new service we have introduced into the market. This service does not have any competitors. We have the first mover advantage.
I ought to be at the forefront of our marketing efforts, instead of blindly outsourcing marketing to consultants. My diffidence and laid-back approach have to go. The founder should be a marketer.
The Power of the ONE and Exploiting the Power of Niche.
The Formula to Wealth Creation is, n^ (CATT)
n is Niche, C is Content, A is Attention, T is Trust and T is Transaction.
Niche. The Power of the ONE.
It is a futile exercise trying to be everything to everyone.
When Service Square started as a concierge organisation in the year 2000, we focused on an unwieldy, unfocused list – more than 150 of them – of services. We achieved nothing more than a big hole in the wallet and enormous stress.
There is tremendous power in focusing on one thing and doing everything possible to make that the mission of one’s business.
In my company, we are apparently not fully aligned with this principle of operating in one niche.
Because, we are nurturing three businesses with three distinct websites. One is related to deep cleaning services, another focuses on painting and the third one, interiors and renovation services.
All these services are tied together by a pervading theme of creating beauty and cleanliness by decluttering and minimalistic designs.
Our goal of making all the three verticals successful will materialise only if I cede power and vest it with the people heading each of these verticals.
I will have my niche to operate in – to ensure the three verticals never forget our roots, which are, our mission, values and commitment to experiential service. And I will be the chief communicator of the three verticals connecting them with our customers in a coherent way.
Creating wealth depends on the intensity with which I work in my selected Niche, using the power of content to gain the attention of my audience or customers. Trust happens as a result of sustained interaction and inevitably, this results in Transactions.
Communicating my way to customers’ Minds and Hearts.
And where I missed the bus.
The discussion on developing communication skills had me reflecting about the enormous opportunities I missed.
Because, good marketing is about good communication. The truth is, I haven’t used the talents I possess, to communicate with customers.
I enjoy writing. I think I can excel in content creation. I indulged in it for several years.
I started blogging way back in 2012. Soulful Growing is about my personal journey, for an audience of one – me. Services in Chennai was meant to show-case inspiring entrepreneurs behind great services. Then there is Service Square blog.
We even published for 12 years at a stretch, a 25-30 page weekly bulletin in pdf, called Chennai This Week (CTW) which was a compilation of weekly events in the city, as a value addition. It took a lot of energy to create the pdf publication, week after week, for twelve years. This reached about 50000 people. But we didn’t use this bulletin to build our brand or get maximum business out of this publication.
Though I wrote quite a bit in my blogs over the last few years, I didn’t address a specific audience. Nor did I make efforts to share my posts with people. I did not get the attention of anyone because I did not address anyone’s need. And I wasn’t keen to bring myself out in front.
However, when I am managing a business, it is mandatory for me to stay in touch with our customers to let them know that their support is valued and we are grateful. I didn’t do that despite all the content I prepared. Therefore, I gained the trust of no one.
As I did not gain the trust of my customers, business transactions did not pour in.
In hindsight, it is clear my energy was dissipated in different directions without any focus. I blogged in fits and starts and didn’t write with any regularity. In those days when I did, I built an audience, slowly but surely.
Content, when it is well directed, will gain the attention of my audience or tribe. This will in turn translate to building of trust and many business transactions.
Going forward, I will write with fixed regularity, a specific audience – our customers – in mind. I will explore ways to give value to my readers by writing content that will benefit them. Perhaps, there are avenues to even inspire my audience by raising my standards and being true to my words and commitments, in the process gaining their attention and trust.
My agenda for the immediate future is, decide if all the three blogs can be amalgamated into one. Find a simpler theme, if it is possible. Build an audience, starting small. Write regularly. Write as if I am talking to them.
Building a Personal Brand – Go, Tell it on the Mountain.
What Deepak discussed about building a personal brand is something that will change me and my business for good.
If my company has a great product or service, it is my duty to aggressively promote it for the good of the world and for the success of my business. It is something I owe the world and my business.
To promote my service, I need to have a community of my customers with whom I engage on a regular basis and build a relationship.
In building a relationship, it is essential that I am authentic – seen with my vulnerabilities and strengths.
In the process of building a relationship with our customers, they develop trust in me and my message.
And as I am the face of the company, they would end up trusting the company as well. That is how, as I communicate, I also build the brand of Service Square.
And, trust is the bedrock of any business. When a tribe of customers develop this trust, it becomes Mass Trust and that builds a momentum towards huge success.
All these years, my false sense of modesty prevented me from showing my light to the world, thus stunting the growth of my company’s brand.
In one of my three blogs, www.servicesinchennai.com, I used to write about very successful and impactful entrepreneurs.
But I always shied away from telling my own story to the world. I was too reticent to speak about my worth.
From now, I won’t be shy about building a personal brand. By standing up for something. By believing and espousing causes. I will shed this inhibition that somehow morphed me into the background all these years.
It is time to assert myself. Be seen. Because I have something wonderful about myself that is worth showing the world. Go. Tell it on the mountain tops.
I also know from my core that communicating while building a personal brand should not be about caressing my ego.
Just as a woman bears and gives birth to her baby, I too am a bearer – of ideas. They do not originate in me. I do not create them. They come out of me, but not of me. There is a Force from where these ideas spring and I would be foolish to take credit for them.
Several years ago, I worked in a company where I was a director and I was hugely successful in what I did. Almost everything I touched turned to gold. But I wasn’t then aware of the impact I was creating. I just put my best foot forward and did my best, that’s all.
Soon enough, I become aware of my prowess and the impact I was creating. Things got to my head.
Then on, everything I touched turned to dust. Perhaps it was a coincidence. Or it wasn’t.
Integrated Digital Marketing – to create leads and build long term relationships.
“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, …… in the air…. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
This was the outline of Winston Churchill’s comprehensive, multi-pronged strategy to take on the enemy during the Second World War.
To win our marketing war, it is essential to engage many, multi-pronged digital channels such as search engines, social media, emails, videos, blogs etc., and connect with current and prospective customers.
Because, customers and prospects inhabit various haunts and we must find them at their favourite lingering points. The more the channels used, the better is the outcome.
I will latch on to the power of e-mail marketing to drive home my message repeatedly to an ever-widening base of my audience.
I will create content and spread its message through various social media platforms to unabashedly reveal my excellence and that of the company I represent. Blogging is a platform I intend using on a sustained basis.
I will use either directly or through others, various means such as SEO and paid advertising to reach more and more people.
That’s the way transactions will happen on their own.
There will be passion, truth and beauty weaving through the fabric of the services we provide.
My story and that of my company will be worth telling. And worth hearing – for my audience.
Go. Tell it on the mountain tops.