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Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards!
Innovation is seeing what everyone sees and making what no one makes!
Business has only two functions - marketing and innovation!
No great marketing decisions have ever been made on quantitative data!
Markets always change faster than Marketing

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I have a degree in Electrical Engineering/Computer Science but the day that I started to work, I got completely fascinated by the business importance of the marketing function.
Marketing is the center of all activities in any organization.
Without proper marketing, a company would be wasting money while creating and producing solutions that no one is aware of, let alone that someone would need them.
Successful marketing also means that different strategies must be applied along the life cycle of a product/service as clearly illustrated in the diagram hereunder.

(click to magnify)

A History Recap About Marketing Economics to Start With

The 3 recent era's of communications
» up to 1970: the product era, communications was about features and USPs; the mee-too products killed the product era
» up to 2000: the image era, communications was about reputation and image; the mee-too companies killed the image era
» up to today: the positioning era, communications is about creating a position in the prospect's mind, positioning is reality, being first is better than best

From the stone age to today´s entertainment age
- agriculture age, 5000BC - 1875: farming (following stone age, bronze age iron age)
- industrial age, 1875- 1950: mass production. The commencement of the industrial revolution is closely linked to a small number of innovations: textile, steam power and iron founding.
- information age, 1950 - 2000: we are all connected, everything is informatised, the economy is global with worldwide interchange of data and transactions.
- entertainment age, 2000 - today: technology makes so many aspects of life inexpensive and automated that we have more leisure time than any other generation before.

click for graphic illustrating the related economical shift

Did You Know; Shift Happens - Globalization - Information Age
(February 2007, Music credits: "The Last of the Mohicans", 1992)
An excellent mind-dazzling example showing that Markets always change faster than Marketing!

Een paar van mijn favoriete marketing stellingen:
» marketing is een spel die gevochte wordt in het 'hoofd' van de klant, een gevecht van percepties niet van producten
» marketing succes bereik je als een manier hebt gevonden om een woord in het hoofd van de klant te bezitten
» briljante marketeers hebben de capaciteit om te denken zoals hun klanten denken
» geef niet af op de competitie, dit geeft hun extra publiciteit, het brengt niet de order binnen
» dramatiseer het goede van jouw product, geef geen toespraak maar voer een show en vergeet niet dat jouw product niet beter kan zijn dan jezelf
» zoek uit wat de klant wil, hun echte motivatie is vaak anders dan wat ze jou vertellen
» het is niet moeilijk om iets te maken, het is moeilijk om de condities te schepen om iets te maken
» innovatie is zien wat iedereen ziet en maken wat niemand maakt
» wees niet bang om met de beste te werken en wees niet bang van stomme ideeën
» diegene die geen 'marketing' moed heeft zal altijd een excuus vinden
» om een marketing kampioen te worden moet je meerdere wedstrijden vechten

Marketing books that say it all

Blue Ocean is one of those business books that every marketing manager should read. Instead of focusing on beating the competition focus on making the competition irrelevant by creating a leap in value for the customer. In other words, go where profits and growth are – and where the competition isn’t. Click on image to download a summary.

Crossing the Chasm is another marketing icon that I recommend to everyone working on the go to market introduction of a new product or service. Click on image to download a summary.

Lateral Marketing. Instead of fighting over an ever decreasing fragment of a market in a traditional vertical marketing way, with lateral marketing, one can create a new market by transforming the existing product to make it suitable to satisfy new or different needs. This lateral marketing thinking is based on the fact that many succesfull innovations are a result of connecting two ideas which, in principle, had no apparent or immediate connection.

Two examples where lateral marketing created a new product category by satisfying an unmet need with an existing product:
» the Sony walkman made music portable -> cassette player + desire to listen to music while walking = walkman;
» Hero cereal bars made cereals consumable anywhere anytime -> healthy cereals + desire for healthy snacks when on the move = cereal bars.
Two examples where lateral marketing created market dominance in an over saturated market by adding a new feature to an existing product:
» market of filter coffee machines -> Philips Senseo penetrated this saturated market by marketing a coffee pods machine (in co-branding with Douwe Egberts)
» market of chocolate bars -> Kinder Surprises penetrated this saturated market by marketing toys and chocolate in one product

Some thoughts about positioning and marketing communications
» today's market place is no longer responsive to yesterday's marketing strategies, there are just too many products, too many companies, we have become an over communicated society. Making a good product with good commercials doesn't work anymore, the noise level of other products is far too high
» the basic approach of marketing and positioning is not to create something new and different, but to manipulate what's already up there in the mind,
» the only hope to score big is to be selective, to concentrate on narrow targets
» when you want to communicate your product, concentrate on the perceptions of the prospect. The perception is the reality, not the reality of the product. In other words, ignore the sending side of your message and concentrate on the receiving end.
» by turning the process around, by focusing on the prospect rather than the product, you simplify the selection
» marketing is a battle of perceptions, not of products, marketing is the process of dealing with those perceptions!
» a company can become incredibly successful if it can find a way to own a word in the mind of a prospect. E.g. Volvo ... Safety. BMW ... driving. Domino's ... home delivery, etc...
» less is more! if you want to be successful, you have to narrow the focus in order to build a position in the prospect's mind. E.g. IBM used to stand for mainframe computers; today it stands for everything, which means it stands for nothing.

Some thoughts about customer relation management
» customers want ease of doing business with, personal treatment, graceful service and consistency!
» if the customer perceives there was a service failure, you are in recovery whether you caused or not. Getting the customer back to normal after some disappointment is the minimum requirement for service recovery.
» when handling complaints, paraphrase the customer's complaint to show that you have heard and understood, tell the customer that you understand how they feel, assure them that their feedback is invaluable, apologize for any inconvenience, and do all you can to make up for it.
» always go for 'spectacular'. under-promise, over-deliver!
Service recovery is emotional repair; customers have recovery expectations, learn them! Look at customer complaints as the customer's way of making you smarter about how to serve them better.
» the process of servicing and helping customers makes you famous! not just the superior value of your product. People tell hate/love stories about the process, not the outcome!
» customer satisfaction = 25% product quality + 25% customer service + 50% personal treatment
» unsatisfied customers don't complain, they go to the competition. No complaints means that something is wrong!. A complaining customer means that s/he cares, that s/he has hope for better times!
» remember that the essence of product is form, that of service is emotion
» if your customers are simply satisfied, they don't remember it, and they take you for granted, they just don't bad-mouth you. Treat every encounter as if it were the beginning of a long term relationship.
» when customer feel like partners, magic happens! they are more demanding, yet also more forgiving of error!
» never forget that the cost of acquiring a new customer is more than 8 times the cost of retaining one.

Some thoughts about selling solutions versus selling products
Full solution selling means reducing risks of the client by taking responsibility for service, integration, customization, implementation ore whatever other business processes solve the whole problem for the client rather than just a part of the problem. During my sales work I often realized that the consultative selling techniques that are typically used during such lengthly sales processes are also very applicable when selling less complex products or services like desktop PCs or software licences.

Click on this PDF link to download a training about Solution Selling that I compiled back in 2002 for my sales colleagues when we transformed our organisation from a leading PABX supplier to a full system integrator of business communication solutions. Old material but still very valid and usefull.

Solution Selling Training

Some thoughts about team selling
» different levels of selling require different methodologies and different talent.
» allocate sales team resources according to how the customer buys. Don't put tellers or farmers into competitive sales solutions without a hunter.
» it is a waste of talent to have hunters farming non-competitive small order repeat business.
» make sure everyone working on the account knows the sales strategy and plan.
» although product knowledge is important for credibility, tellers feel they can simply explain enough features about the product that eventually they will hit something the client likes. Linkage of features to benefits is left to the buyer! tellers lapses into endless parades of product features without connecting them to benefits. They fall into the trap of appearing to be too complex!
» the best sales people are not necessarily the best talkers, they are the best listeners. Listen first, talk second!
» less is more! what do you want this system to do? focus on the pains that the client has confessed
» the role of the sales force is to link the differentiated capabilities of your solution into the personal and professional pains of each buyer individually! You don't always need product superiority to win! You simply need one capability connected to one powerful person at the right time in order to win.
» if the requirements have already been defined, you've missed the first step in the sales cycle! Find out how the requirements were defined and by whom.
Some thoughts about buying behaviors
People divide into two categories: "maximisers" and "satisfiers"
» The maximiser insists on looking at all the alternatives when out shopping before deciding what to buy. The maximiser is doomed to misery in the modern world, because there is so much choice. Going out for a simple bite to eat turns into a trawl for haute cuisine, full of regret for all the choices not made. They worry constantly that the latest is no longer the best and the unending choice drives them to a despair that defies the actual level of their material attainment
» The satisfier, on the other hand, says: "That's good enough, that'll do me." Satisfiers worry less about the gifts they buy. They care less about the gifts they receive. They are routinely able to find satisfaction in what they have, regardless of what else is available.
Extroverte versus Introverte & Rationele versus Emotionele Kopers
Een andere manier om het gedrag van kopers te classificeren is afgebeeld in het volgende kwadrant. Dit eigen overzicht gebruik ik dikwijls om na een korte "psychologisch gerichte" kennismaking, een potentiële klant op de juiste manier aan te spreken over de toegevoegde waarde van een bepaalde oplossing. Het klopt en werkt bijna altijd!

Viral Marketing to Close With
One of the best examples of viral marketing (John West Salmon) used to attract the attention of on-line consumers who forward such videos to friends and colleagues at a click of a mouse:

For questions or suggestions, please send a mail to Eric van 't Hoff