Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Marketing Mischief: You are not your Customer

MK here.  I am working on a new business with a global team.   

We are a diverse group.  We are millennia's, genXs and boomers.  We are British, Chinese, American and Canadian.  We are diverse in culture, education and gender.  Just like our target market.

Yesterday I was talking to one of the leaders about the product offering and in his gentlemanly British accent he told me:  "I just can't get my head around it.  I won't be willing to use our service that way.

Now, what is important to understand is that my business partner in this venture is a 50+ year-old school administrator and math teacher.  In fact, he is a genius in both regards.

But, our customer is small ecommerce business owner. 

The market research shows they are traditionally 25-40 and 50% are female.  They are dealing with all the traditional challenges of small business, including managing product inventory, cash flow and currency exchange.  At this particular moment, these are all amplified by the Q4 rush,  pending holidays. 

A highly destructive challenge in start-ups is thinking YOU are the customer. 

It's easy to solve a problem for yourself but ah the mischief.... YOU are not your CUSTOMER.

Solving a problem for someone else is hard.  It requires putting yourself in their shoes understanding their business, their challenges and their preferences. 

Here is the mischief.  Too often in early stage companies the product team or development will solve the technical problem in a way that works for them. 

That's great, only we are here to solve the problem for the customers not ourselves. 

Look for the mischief in your product design, product development and user experience.  Your female customers don't think like your male developers.

Most importantly, when someone is shutting down an idea, listen to how they are relating to the product.  If their comments begin with I just cant get my head around it, or I would never., just remind them:

You are not your CUSTOMER.


Monday, November 24, 2014

A Primer on Mischief

Yesterday we rebranded our blog and started a new series, Marketing Mischief, beginning with a blog on search engine marketing.  MK and I thought that it would be a good idea to step back and take a look at the definition of mischief.

After 25 years of starting, investing, building and advising companies in many different countries, we have both experienced and observed a lot of business mischief.  From leaders who cannot set direction or make decisions; to innovations that have no clear purpose or defined market; financials structures that constrain the growth of the business and dysfunctional teams that stifle innovation.     
Wow, with that introduction you might think mischief is only negative.  Ah, but that is not the case.

Mischief can be powerful and when guided it creates magical outcomes in business and company cultures and on your clients, partners and teams.  Mischief includes curiosity, a unique way of solving a problem, building a market, launching an idea.     

Companies that are disrupting their industries are full of delicious mischief and enjoy extraordinary growth.  Oh, and they are also capital magnets.   

Over the next several months we are going to look at the mischief and myths in marketing and business.  We are going to tease out new ways of thinking, innovating, building your business, your market and your company culture.     

We are going to measure the impact, so you can see the power mischief has both positive and negative in your business.

Joint us in the dialogue.  Look at your own mischief let’s eliminate the barriers accelerate the growth of your ideas so your business can flourish.

Cheers from your mischief makers,

MK and Chicke

Marketing Mischief: SEM is Killing your Brand

If you were a fan of Solutionz Think Tank blog, we have renamed it.  Same blog. New name. 

Please give a warm welcome co-author Mk Marsden, my partner in mischief.

This is the first in a series of Thought Leadership blogs jointly authored by Chicke Fitzgerald and MK Marsden.  Here, we expose the mischief behind the marketing darling known as SEM.

No doubt about it.  Search engine marketing is an easy way to drive traffic.   

And since over 43% of all ad spending in 2013 was through search, it must work, right?

According to PwC and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), US companies spent $18.4 billion in 2013 on search, up from $16.9 billion in 2012.   
One thing that is clear is that SEM works REALLY well for Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, ASK and AOL.

Google dominates the landscape with 67.4% of searches and Bing/Yahoo (which are jointly administered from a keyword buying perspective) produce 19.3% and 10% respectively.  ASK and AOL hold 3.3% of US search market share combined, inconsequential when you look at the power of the other players.
So, to get started on using search engine marketing, all you need to do is:

1)      determine how much you want to spend on SEM
2)      divide your budget between the top platforms
3)      choose your keywords
4)      figure out your bid so that you can be in the top three
5)      craft the most amazing ads that are sure to elicit a response, a click

Easy peasy.  

SEM is mathematically predictable. Beautiful, right?   It appeals to the scientific and analytical part of a marketer’s brain.  Low risk, right?  Results are immediate, measurable daily.  What could be better?

But here’s the MISCHIEF.  SEM does absolutely nothing to generate sustainable business.  It is actually the polar opposite of brand building.  And if you don't do a job of grabbing them and converting them to a sale, your investment literally goes down the drain.

The dirty little secret about search is that it is building the brands of Google, Bing and Yahoo, but doing precious little for your business.  

Here is their growth since 1996.  Nice curves?

This is business mischief at its finest.   The SEM crack dealers have you hooked.  Admit it, you can’t live without them. 

If you stop spending on keywords for even one day (or for some of you, even for a few hours), your business will collapse.  If Google changes their algorithms and you are relying on SEM for a significant amount of your traffic, pardon the French, but you are screwed.

Search engine marketing may be bringing you traffic, but unless you find a way to turn those clicks into
bookings/purchases, and then turn those customers into ZombieLoyalists, a term coined by our friend Peter Shankman, you are doing nothing but building the businesses of the search engine companies. 

We think you marketing money is better spent building your brand.  

STOP the mischief.  Refocus.  Build your brand.

Cheers from your mischief makers,
MK and Chicke

Friday, November 21, 2014

New Series Starting Monday - Managing Mischief

 I am so excited to announce the addition of my partner in mischief, MK Marsden to this blog. 

We will be co-authoring a new series beginning Monday, with the first one entitled Marketing Mischief.

In fact, I like this title so much, that I'm changing the title of the blog . 

You can read more about MK by clicking on her image to the right of the blog. 

She brings a wealth of marketing and leadership experience to this blog and we are doing some very fun things together that we will be announcing after the first of the year.  

Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Thanks to @WE_Magazine for this recognition

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