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Published on Thursday 1st of September 2016
Successful business models evolve over time. Have you reviewed yours lately?
In recent years, a number of leading companies worldwide have been shaken by newcomers to the scene. Ignoring the writing on the wall, these market leaders omitted to rethink their once successful business model, and now they are too late. As of 2015, just 12% of 1955’s Fortune 500 companies in the US, which include IBM and 3M, remained on the list. Similarly, just 7 years after Research in Motion (Blackberry) made the top 10 of Fortune's 100 Fastest Growing Companies, it has dropped from the list.
As Richard Foster of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute said: “The average lifespan of a company listed in the [Standard & Poor’s 500 Index] has decreased from 67 years in the 1920s to 15 years today.” The global economy has undergone a series of drastic changes - and these shifts aren’t over yet. Therefore, companies need a successful business model that evolves.
Drastic economic changes that led to shifts in business practices
You are probably familiar with some of the most drastic economic changes of the last decade. Some of these include:
- Moving from the physical to the virtual. With the rise of popular online retailers like Amazon and Alibaba, shopping has shifted to the online sphere. While online businesses thrive, many "brick and mortar" giants, like RadioShack and Chapters, failed to adapt their business plan to the times and were forced out of business. Wal-Mart on the other end, managed to capitalize on this trend and is now one of the top 10 online retailers in the world.
- Ownership to sharing assets. Using shared assets, companies like Airbnb have taken over an entire sector of the holiday rental market. Today, Airbnb reports over $10 billion in annual revenue, which exceeds that of large hotel chains.
- A renewable energy economy. With sustainability becoming an increasing concern, the focus is starting to shift towards renewable energy. In 2015, electric car manufacturer Tesla was rated the 10th most valuable global car brand, tied with Porsche and beating Lexus.
- "Every thing" matters. The Montreal Transport Society (STM) recently started to implement bus telemetry to provide exact bus location and arrival times to smartphones, allowing for 20-30% travel time reduction for passengers. Buses are just one example of "things" that communicate. We are entering a new era of the "Internet of Things" (IoT) where "things" will communicate with people or with other "things" to monitor health, energy consumption and maintenance as well as to automate daily processes.
In order to make this article as concise as possible, we’ve held back from listing many other trends.
Do you need to reassess your business model?
Stay on top of the trends that are relevant to your business to ensure a continuously profitable business model.
Re-evaluate your business model. Maybe you’ll see the need to create a new plan or to adjust your existing model. After all, you do not want to find yourself in the same situation as the taxi drivers when Uber rolled into town!
For help on developing a successful business model suited to a new business reality, Contact us today!
Published on Monday 1st of November 2010business development strategy that includes business collaboration is in itself a key part of marketing, since it can yield multiple prospect referrals. By collaborating towards mutual interests, it is often far easier to generate sales leads with comprehensive business development then by attempting to go at it alone.
Here are three proven scenarios in which B2B business collaboration is most successful:
- A distribution channel: A manufacturing company would like to penetrate a new market, region, or country. Instead of upfront investments in salespeople and warehouse/office expenses, companies should explore local resellers, distributors, or agents that already have the connection with the target market. Therefore, they can be ready to serve potential new clientele in a very short period of time. In the past, we have assisted companies in finding distribution partners, training them and building incentive plans to control distribution performance.
- A strategic partnership: In this case, two or multiple organizations choose to work together to achieve a mutual goal. For example, two software companies decide on mutual R&D efforts in order to cut down the development period of a new innovative solution, while sharing the knowledge base of both participating partners. Shortening the time-to-market of the innovative solution would result in a faster delivery to their clients and in acceleration of your company’s revenue. Direct Objective Consulting has had proven success identifying strategic partners and negotiating terms.
- One complete solution: The way milk goes with cereal, and salads are served with a dressing, your company needs to find a complementary partner that unites each of your individual specialties into one comprehensive solution. For example, a medical device company can make an alliance to bundle its device in a healthcare kit that is packaged by another company. Or a specialty battery producer may choose to have their batteries already pre-packaged with the suitable hardware/electronics. Think about what can work for your product or service.
The strengths and weaknesses of each of these three business development strategies are dependent on a number of factors, including your company’s industry. Business development has been proven especially useful in service, telecommunication, government, and health care industries. Additionally, many industries have small, tight-knit communities, where strategic partnerships can even more rapidly accelerate your company’s exposure.
The best business development strategy will create win-win situations that would last long-term, and ultimately create more business for your company. Consult with us today if you need assistance in forming a successful business development strategy to build long-term relationships within your industry.
Strategic Partnership Business Development Strategy Business Strategy Distribution Channel Business Collaboration
Published on Monday 19th of April 2010Paid search engine marketing and organic search engine optimization services are both economical and effective tools for attracting prospects. But which method to use? I’ll start with a short definition of each of these respective tools:
Organic Search Engine Optimization Services (SEO) – Organic search engine optimization is the process whereby a Web site structure, design and page content is adjusted to boost the search ranking of a Web page for specific keywords. This requires selecting high-traffic keywords, adjusting the HTML code, infusing content with the right keywords, and building incoming and outgoing links.
Paid Search Engine Marketing (also referred to as Pay-Per-Click (PPC)) – Paid search engine marketing is an advertising tool which exposes web users to ads based on the keywords they search. To get good results, there are a few steps. First you need to select the relevant keywords and avoid irrelevant ones; then you must create attractive advertising content that will generate clicks. Next, you need to design a landing page that entices people to give their contact information, and finally, adjust your advertising campaigns according to your results.
So from a marketing perspective, how does organic search engine optimization compare with paid search engine marketing?
- Visibility – We all want to be ranked on the top of the search engine results. Paid search engine marketing can quickly get your company to the very top of the results page—even higher than the organic search results. Though nowadays web users tend to differentiate between paid advertisements and actual search results, this exposure is still very effective, if your campaign offering is well defined. If you are already on the first page of the search engines, the benefits of paid search engine marketing will be marginal. But if you have trouble getting your site noticed, consider investing in paid search engine marketing for fast visibility.
- Credibility – While paid search engine marketing can bring you to the very top of search engine results, it is just not as credible as organic search engine optimization. Most users believe organic search results are more reliable and trustworthy because they have not been paid for. Remember that unpaid, organically ranked links get a lot more clicks than a paid search engine marketing advertisement.
- Sustainability – When organic search engine optimization gets you on the first results page, you are king—and unlike paid search engine marketing, you are not limited by a daily budget . This means that as long as you keep up your minimal SEO efforts, you will appear high in the results every day of the week. On the other hand, if you lower your budget for paid search engine marketing, you will literally disappear off the radar. So if you’re looking to invest over the long-term, go with organic search engine optimization services.
- Measurability – The effectiveness of both paid search engine marketing and organic search engine optimization services can be tracked by tools. These tools enable you to assess the effectiveness of your marketing and improve your campaigns.
- Fast Results – Paid search engine marketing will generally yield faster results than organic search engine optimization. With better control of the process of paid search engine marketing, you can reach the top of search engine results within a week. If your campaign is well-customized, you’ll get clicks right away. Still, you usually need at least three weeks of trial and error to customize a paid search campaign and get new leads. In contrast, organic search engine optimization is more tricky. Though most of the Web sites that we have worked on managed to get to the first page after a relatively short time (2-3 months), we have sites that increased their ranking within weeks. There are many factors that affect how quickly you will see results, and based on our expertise we can estimate how long it would take. At the end of the day, if you’re looking for immediate results, go for paid search engine marketing. If you’re investing in the long-term and want to gradually increase your traffic, invest in organic search engine optimization services.
- Maintenance –Paid search engine marketing requires constant maintenance. You must constantly adjust your ads to appear in the top positions with the right keywords. This is a daily process of ensuring that your budget is well spent. Organic search engine optimization is different. Once you spend your initial investment, you just need to invest in a low-maintenance plan to keep and strengthen your high position on the search results.
- Cost – The cost of organic search engine optimization services run between 15%-20% of the cost of paid search engine marketing; hence, many companies prefer starting off with organic search engine optimization services.
If you have other questions on whether to implement organic search engine optimization or paid search engine marketing for your Web site, please feel free to direct them to us and we will gladly assess your situation.
Paid Search Engine Marketing Business Strategy Business Marketing Planning Organic Search Engine Optimization Services
Published on Thursday 18th of February 2010iPad launch recently will appreciate the critical role of Apple’s marketing and strategic planning. In fact, Steve Jobs of Apple delivered a presentation so informal it seemed there was no marketing involved at all. He came onstage with jeans, and spoke with a carefree, matter-of-fact attitude. And frankly, that’s what was so effective about it.
So let’s see what was really going on behind the scenes with the proper marketing and business strategic planning for the iPad. First off, Apple performed a thorough competitive marketing analysis of the e-reader/netbook arena and concluded that there was room for something different. They also identified a need to adjust their positioning strategy and update their strategic marketing plan from the “Think Different” slogan. Apple just can’t push “Think Different” anymore, now that the company is becoming mainstream and is the No. 1 provider for mobile computing.
For the iPad in particular, Apple focused on identifying the requirements of their target market with a thorough competitive marketing analysis and market research, developing a device that answers the dreams of a modern on-the-go business people. They branded the product consistently with their other products (iPod, iMac, iPad), and gave it the same look and feel, and much of the same functionality. In the presentation, you’ll see Steve Jobs demoing photo libraries which appear haphazardly arranged. This apparently random selection is anything but random, and also part of an ingenious overarching marketing work that was prepared well before the launch of the iPad. The Web browsing demo and the Ipad gaming capabilities are directly linked to deals with leading partners, book publishers, newspaper publishers, and leading mobile/gaming applications that were negotiated in advance. Such partnerships are, after all, part of good business strsategic planning to block the competition.
But the question is, while Apple was working hard and enjoying the fruits of its competitive marketing analysis with a potent product launch, where was Amazon? Nowhere. Amazon was not on guard to block Apple from a tremendously successful launch. Though Amazon now has 60% of the ereader market share and had an established relationships with all those publishers and many more, they were not wise enough to leverage these relationships as part of their own strategic marketing plan before the launch of the iPad. Moreover, they butted heads with some of the publishers, resulting in a cold relationship.
Now that the ground is falling out from underneath Amazon, they have announced that they bought a touch-screen company, clearly looking to update the Kindle with the same touch functionality as the iPad. They are also looking to tempt publishers with a higher commission percentage. If this competitive marketing analysis had been performed last year and they would have been prepared for the Apple launch, imagine how much damage might have been avoided for Amazon!
As today’s market evolves faster than ever, you don’t want to be left behind. Don’t risk losing market share! Conduct competitive marketing analysis well ahead of time, and you’ll be sure of an effective product launch and market penetration, and you’ll be well equipped with the proper strategic marketing plan.
Published on Saturday 16th of January 2010
With the arrival of 2010, here are some B2B marketing trends and best practices which we will continue to see developing in the New Year:
•A focus on B2B marketing content that is matched to buyer profiles: Buyers behave very differently now than in past. Today’s buyer is much less receptive to sales people, but would rather research information independently. Thus, B2B marketing best practices now require the creation of reliable, seemingly unbiased content to provide prospects with the information they seek. Like attracting fish to bait, B2B marketing content has to be targeted to the needs of buyers so that they “bite” into it.
•Increased presence online and focus on online reputation: The Internet has become a dominant source of information. To stay current with B2B marketing trends, a company needs an interactive website, a blog, a profile on different social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, not to mention videos, podcasts, and RSS feeds. It’s crucial to spread the word with many online marketing best practices so that buyers can easily find you.
•Lead nurturing is key: Lead B2B marketing campaigns create demand. But each lead should be thought of as a seed. Not all seeds that are planted will sprout right away. They must be ready. With prospects, it is much the same—they must be nurtured until they are ready to buy what you offer. Online marketing best practices now make it easier to score leads based on their level of interest and readiness to make a decision.
•Online marketing automation practices: No B2B marketing campaign stands alone. Nowadays, B2B marketing campaigns are complex. They require planning and execution in order for campaigns to work smoothly side-by-side. Only a truly integrated online marketing campaign leads to success. For instance, you can integrate social media into email marketing to achieve social marketing automation. There are many existing tools to help you get better results with your online marketing practices.
•Measure, measure, measure!: Last but not least is the bottom line. Branding is very important to a company’s development, yes, but it’s not what satisfies the company’s owners and investors. B2B marketing best practices should be monitored and have results measured over a period of time. This will enable the company to invest wisely in its B2B marketing campaigns to generate better results and a better return on investment.
As we enter into 2010, I wish you all the best for you and your business. Feel free to contact me with any questions on online marketing practices.
Happy New Year!
Published on Friday 18th of December 2009Bulk email marketing campaigns can be one of the best ways to reach prospects. However, bulk email marketing can also be one of the worst ways of promoting a company if it is not done properly. Nobody likes to be bombarded with spam, and your company’s reputation will suffer considerably if you are perceived as a spammer sending unwanted email marketing campaigns. Sometimes clients come to me as they are concerned that their email marketing campaigns will be perceived as spam, but it certainly doesn’t have to be that way.
So what are some of the reasons that email recipients would perceive your email marketing campaigns as spam?
1) No Opt-In Program. Because they never opted-in to receive your email marketing campaigns. It is important to get permission before sending bulk email marketing out via email.
2) Content Mismatch. Your newsletter content is completely irrelevant and does not interest the contacts on your bulk email marketing list, or you send emails so often that recipients are overwhelmed and lose interest.
3) Use of Spam Words. Your newsletter content features certain words or terms that set off spam filters. Multiple exclamation points, capitalized words, and terms like “free” in the subject line are a surefire way to get sent straight through to the junk email folder.
4) Unprofessional Look & Feel. You suddenly change your newsletter branding, or use a less-than-professional design for your bulk email marketing campaigns.
5) Poor CAN-SPAM compliance. MOST importantly, you will likely be perceived as a spammer if you do not comply with CAN-SPAM. CAN-SPAM is a law that establishes the requirements for commercial messages and gives recipients the right to unsubscribe to bulk email marketing campaigns. Read more on CAN-SPAM for bulk email marketing campaigns. In the near future, we will see the same in Canada with the proposed electronic commerce protection act. Failing to follow these regulations for bulk email marketing campaigns can incur some tough penalties.
If you have challenges with your bulk email marketing campaigns, contact us to assess why they are perceived as spam.
Published on Wednesday 18th of November 2009
Business sales presentations have changed quite dramatically in recent years. Here are some of the new trends, as well as some sales presentation tips:
1. Fewer face-to-face business sales presentations – Online communication has made it much easier to give business sales presentations long-distance. Face-to-face meetings are no longer necessary, and there is no need to book expensive flights across the country. Given the flight security issues that have appeared since 9/11, it is much more convenient to conduct a business sales presentation remotely.
2. Slide sequence, the key to success – Quite often, I will see a client’s business sales presentation that has all the ingredients for success, and yet it just does not work. Much of the time, it is due to the arrangement of slides. In order to have a really effective sales presentation, it is important to develop a logical slide sequence that the target market can relate to.
3. Make it short and sweet – Clients do not have the time to listen to a long business sales presentation. Avoid corny sales pitches and get to the point. Introduce the main idea right away, and then elaborate and go deeper if your prospect is interested.
4. Use visuals, diagrams and the latest business sales presentation technology - Many complex ideas can be easily explained with an image, graph, flash animation or even a brief video clip. Invest in tools to facilitate the work of your sales team.
5. Personalize the presentation to your specific audience – Your prospects should feel that the presentation is specifically geared towards them. Research shows that the more you tailor your business sales presentation to the needs of prospects, the greater the likelihood that your presentation will be perceived as valuable.
Using the latest technology and applying these sales presentation tips will ensure that you retain valuable sales. Consult with us to learn how you can get great results with your business sales presentation.
Published on Wednesday 14th of October 2009
Because the lead generation process is, in fact, very much like fishing. After all, the effectiveness of a strategic marketing plan is just a factor of how much you can get prospects to “bite” at your campaigns. Any good fisherman will tell you it takes more than a glitzy lure and a bit of bait to catch a fish.
The good fisherman starts by deciding just what he is fishing for— lobster? Salmon? Trout? Depending on the catch, the location will be vastly different! The lead generation process is similarly different according to the chosen target market. And a fisherman will not want to crowd close to other boats, where fish may be drawn away. In this way, your strategic marketing plan should delineate how you will compete with other companies and “fish” in areas with less competition. Then there’s the question of equipment. Will you need lobster traps? A fishing rod? Or maybe a net?
To launch an effective lead generation process, you need to take in all of these kinds of considerations, like a fisherman. You need to define your best target market, resolve on where to find the leads, figure out how to get them interested in your product or service. You need to make sure that prospects instantly understand the difference between your offering and your competitor’s, and get them to act and ultimately pay for your offering.
The positioning strategy defines how to project your offering as visibly and attractively as possible, so that your potential client base (i.e., target market) will easily recognize it and will show increased interest in your offering.
Are you ready to fish for new clients? Do you know which segment would be the most profitable for you? Do you have the right positioning strategy in place? If not, it’s time to equip yourself!
Published on Monday 14th of September 2009
There is a constant debate on how much companies ought to invest in brand development strategy, and what the ROI on such an investment would be. I tend to agree that small and medium-size businesses should not invest in campaigns just for branding, because branding has long-term benefits where small businesses are usually looking for short-term benefits. Nevertheless, it is instrumental that your brand would project a coherent look and feel, a firm message, and an image that perfectly corresponds with your offering.
Effective Branding Guidelines
1) Make your brand memorable- Business-to-business products and services are often very complex. Make sure your branding simplifies and captures the concept so that your target market can easily remember your business.
2) Ensure your branding is consistent- Implement your branding across all your marketing materials, including your website, business cards, promotional materials, etc. Always present your offering in the same way, so that over time your target client can identify the same message whatever the media.
3) Differentiate yourself from the competition- Through your branding, use your positioning strategy to emphasize what makes you stand out from the competition and why your offering is better than others.
4) Offer clear benefits- Business-to-business purchasing decisions are mostly performed based on rational decisions. Be crystal clear as to the benefits of your offering.
5) Build your relationships- It is your responsibility as a vendor to develop a relationship with your client. The closer the relationship you establish, the more loyal your clients will be. Branding is building a relationship in the mind of your client.
So what is the expected outcome from following these branding guidelines? Why should we invest in a brand development strategy?
Business-to-business companies with strong branding will enjoy:
1) A dramatically shorter sales cycle- Branding brings greater trust in a company, with less time needed to close a deal.
2) Higher pricing- Clients will be more willing to pay premium prices and less sensitive to price increases
3) An established industry signature- Your offering will dictate some of the mandatory purchase criteria
4) Product/service inclusion in the initial top short list, sometimes, without extensive sales push activity
It is true that branding takes time to effect, but by starting in very small steps you can soon see the difference. Check with me how to succeed in doing so.
Published on Thursday 27th of August 2009developing an effective marketing plan. But how best to go about it?
In the old days, marketing consultants would prepare a document of as long as 500 pages, which covered every detail for the subsequent five years. This used to be a good way to develop an effective marketing plan, but times have changed. Now, marketing tools have a life span of under two years, and your planning must be focused and efficient! To come up with an effective marketing plan, you will frequently have to make adjustments according to what is happening on the market.
Don’t get me wrong—you do still need to work on developing a marketing plan! But you need a high-level marketing plan that draws on reliable, short-term research. What is the best way to develop such a marketing plan?
1) Ask yourself, what is the best target market? And why? In order to develop an effective marketing plan with focus, and with better success, you need to establish your audience.
2) Set yourself apart from competitors. You need to know how to successfully represent your company and product/service and make sure you stand out from the crowd.
3) Developing an effective marketing plan means establishing the best marketing tools to generate demand. Isolate which lead generation tools are best suited to igniting interest in your product/service.
4) Determine what kind of alliances or partnerships would accelerate awareness and demand for your product/service. This would allow you to move beyond your company resources and have collaborators help push your offering.
5) Determine how you will measure the effectiveness of your marketing activities. If you work on developing a marketing plan without being able to track results, you’re working in the dark.
Developing a marketing plan is crucial to business success. Keep in mind that marketing has evolved incredibly over the years, and with a combination of traditional and Web-based marketing tools, it’s a whole new ball game. Stick with these tips and you’ll have a much more effective marketing plan to achieve business success.
Published on Friday 23rd of January 2009business marketing? Start off 2009 right, with goals and a clear plan for your marketing lead generation.
Here are a few considerations and tips for your company’s business marketing in 2009:
- Adjust to New Market Trends - The business marketing of your company may need adjustment due to the downturn economy. For example, a company targeting the financial industry will see its market sector dramatically decrease spending in 2009. Take stock of the new market conditions, which have changed substantially since 2008, and update your 2009 business marketing lead generation program accordingly.
- Revise your Branding and Positioning Strategy - Before planning for the New Year, reassess your marketing lead generation and business marketing materials. Ask yourself, are your branding and marketing materials still in line with your marketing positioning strategy? Do they emphasize what sets you apart from the competition?
- Cut your Business Marketing Budget, but Not Entirely - In a downturn economy, you might be tempted to totally cut funding for your business marketing lead generation . But do not stop investing in your marketing in 2009. Turn off your business marketing expenditure, and your prospect leads will dry up. Without fresh leads, you will be entirely dependent on your existing client base. Of course, remember to nurture your existing client relationships and capitalize with cross-selling and up-selling as much as possible. But you’ll find that with a little investment in your business marketing and marketing lead generation, you’ll be more visible during an economic downturn, and get new clients as a result.
- Focus on Economical Marketing Methods - Even if you are not cutting your business marketing lead generation entirely, it is likely that you will have to cut costs in 2009. Resolve to invest in low-budget business marketing mediums, such as online internet marketing. These mediums are sometimes much more effective than traditional marketing methods, and significantly less expensive.
- Measure Marketing Results - Remember that New Year’s is a great time to take stock of your marketing lead generation and overall business marketing, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t monitor your business marketing throughout the year. Resolve to keep tabs on your business marketing activities throughout 2009, and keep tuning them to get the best possible results. Know what works for you and what does not.