Thursday, December 29, 2005

Good Customer Relationship Partners are important

I subscribe to three magazines at the moment. One is a marketing magazine from here in the UK, one is from Australia and one is from the US.

However, lately, only my UK magazine has been turning up. I have had problems before with magazines not turning up and you get the same comments everytime from the publisher - "that would be a postal problem. Check with the postal service."

It is frustrating. I was subscribed to the US mag when I moved house earlier this year, but I was subscribed to the other two magazines. Both acknowledged my change of address but only one seems to have got it right. But then again, it could be the post.

Which brings me to the to my key point. You need to have good partners who you can rely on to complete the customer service loop. There is no point in making the customer feel warm and fuzzy about handing over the cash for your product if you are simply going to make them dread the follow up.

Your partners need to be aiming for the same goals as your organisation. They must have the same customer service ideals or better. And the hand off - the passing of the customer, the sale, etc must be smooth. You need to get that right as well.

Are you providing your partners the information they need to do their job effectively for you?

If your partners don't have the tools or information needed to be effective then their poor form is going to be reflected on you.

Sometimes organisations go into partnerships thinking that a bit of training and a signed agreement will get the partnership going and that is all that is needed. NOT TRUE!

Partnerships take time and you really need to look hard at who you want to partner with. Then you need to work hard so that everyone involved in the partnership is working together for a single goal with all the tools and information required to get the job done. Even then, it is not a guaranteed success, but you will have a much greater chance.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Blogged out?

One of the reasons there has been so little activity on here for a while was that I simply got blogged out!

I started a new job in July and that has kept me pretty busy. Partly because I was tired after a day's work but also because of the amount of time reading and writing done around my blog I just simply got tired. My efforts on my personal blog also stagnated.

Has anyone else suffered from a similar ailment?

Maybe it is like many things, when something new comes along we get very excited and then the excitement wears off and it becomes the norm until it is no longer interesting. That describes a fad nicely, doesn't it. But you could also look at it as similar to "crossing the chasm". You have the initial excitement with a new product, the early adopters who jump on board. But then comes the hard part - making the leap from early adopters to early majority and building on the momentum.

The Blogging Enterprise reading material

Last month saw a conference on the Blogging Enterprise. There is some very useful follow up reading available at the Virtual Handshake website, including some post conference reading.

There is alot of useful info from the Virtual Handshake, including how to appropriately use social networking sites such as LinkedIn (are you on it?). Well worth a visit.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Christmas!

To all my readers,

Thank you for your support since the start earlier this year. May 2006 be bigger and better for us all.

Best wishes for the festive season!

Peter Vasey

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Good data is important

I had a moment yesterday, which simply reinforced the need to make sure your data is accurate and up to date before you start any campaign. The worst part, the organisation messing up was a marketing publication, supposedly offering insights into best practice.

The woman on the other end of the call was cheery enough. She explained that she was calling from this magazine and asked if I had heard of it. "Yes, I'm a subscriber," I say. Oh, OK.

Would I like to subscribe to the email updates, was the next question. "You mean the e-disptaches?" I ask. "I am already subscribed to them". Oh OK.

The point is, I should never have received this phone call. I now question the competence of the magazine and the people writing for it.

I remember being told by someone earlier this year that good data was very important. You can have a poor message, but if you have great data you will get a result. That's not to say, don't worry about your message. You should aim to get it right but make sure your data is great and you are on your way to better results for your direct marketing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Marketing and Sales, Working Together

So many organisations miss out on the great things that come out of sales and marketing working together. hey are two sides of the same coin.

Brian Carroll talks about how sales and marketing can work successfully together and why this needs to happen.

B2B Lead Generation: Better Sales & Marketing Integration

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Google's tough job

Google's release of it's instant messenging tool last week was greeted by a mixed reaction. For alot of general press this was exciting news. Google's broad appeal, its virtual omnipresence, has meant that with a little bit of buzz surrounding a new release the story very quickly snowballs.

But while the general press was busy explaining yet again how Google is changing the world, the IT press started asking the real questions about Google's new product. How is it better? How does it compete against the existing competition? Google Talk doesn't, not at this stage. It is in beta, but it is very much a 'me too' product at this time. That is, it exhibits a number of features that other products already have. So what are the benefits?

And this is where the problem lies. Google has set the bar very high for itself. Any product release, beta or otherwise, from Google are met with very high expectations. People expect Google to deliver something to make their lives better, compared to the competition. Google Talk doesn't do that yet. For Google's sake, I hope this is a case of the best is yet to come. For if this is the start of Google simply matching its competitors' features lists it can still lose the war.

Something to ponder - Do marketers count?

I recently heard an interview with one of the guys who wrote the book 'Freakonomics'.

One of the questions was, would it really matter if economists didn't exist?

And it got me pondering, what if marketers didn't exist? How different would the world be? Would it really matter if all us marketers just vanished off the earth tomorrow?

Any thoughts?

Friday, August 26, 2005

Customer Audio Testimonials

They say a picture says a thousand words. But the words of a person in a respected position when they speak are worth a great deal.

Customers testamonials can be so lame. As a buyer sometimes you cringe when you read them. They sound like the marketing department of your supplier wrote them. They are just words on a page. Wouldn't it be great to hear what this customer really had to say?

MarketingSherpa provides this interesting case study on providing customer testamonials via audio files on your website. How to Create & Use an Audio Testimonial Library to Shorten Your Sales Cycle

Books worth revisiting

I know I promised this a while ago, but here it is, some titles that are worth revisiting when you have the chance. These books have been around for some time but their still hold alot of truth in them, unlike some of their contemporaries.

  • Crossing the Chasm, by Geoffrey A. Moore.
    Making that step from early adopter to early mainstream looks easy on paper. So why do so many companies fall over at this point or 'get stuck in the chasm'?
  • SPIN Selling, by Neil Rackham
    Understand the mind of the buyer when the sales person makes their call allows us as marketers to supply more useful collateral to help build the case for the sales person.
Please share with some sales and marketing books you have found important that are worth revisiting.

Friday, August 19, 2005

How NOT to handle customer complaints

This is from Wired News' Furthermore section, which is dedicated to the more unusual news stories.

You're Overdue
09:37 AM Aug. 18, 2005 PT

If you were being generous, you could look at it as a refreshing break from the usual corporate sterility. But LaChaina Govan was not feeling generous. She'd been having lot of trouble with Comcast and she knew when she received her August bill from the cable company, addressed to "Bitch Dog," no whimsy was intended. Govan's bill arrived after she called at least a dozen times to complain about lousy service. After being transferred all over the place and being treated rudely on a routine basis, she complained about that. Then the bill came. Comcast finally stepped in, tracking down and firing the perps, making an official apology and offering Govan a couple of months on the house. She declined the offer. -- Tony Long

Setting the right expectations

Real estate agents aren't the only ones with this problem but recent experience has highlighted it to me.

My wife and I are looking for a new place to rent and we have been talking to agents around London.

We have given them our budget, preferred location, required specs, etc. "Oh yes," they say. "We have properties that meet your needs." So then we spend time discussing various properties, going off to view them and arranging times to see other properties. Problem is, the agents have set expectations that what they will show us will fit our needs. However, the reality doesn't match what they have said.

But worst off all is when the agents set the expectations that they should be able to negotiate a with the landlord to come to a price close to offer. But again, the reality is not very close. Most can't get halfway.

The end result is that any agents who mess us around are immediately 'dropped' from our list of people to deal with. There are plenty more to fill their place. And that's the strange thing. Competition is high so you would think that makes customer service an obvious way to create a point of difference. But they choose to ignore customer service in turn trying to keep you in their grasp long enough to find you something that will fit your needs.

No wonder more landlords, vendors, tenants and buyers are turning to the private market!

But, as I said at the beginning, real estate agents are not the only ones guilty of setting expectations and then failing to deliver. Look at your marketing - your call centre, your website, brochures, etc. What messages are you delivering to your market? And are you able to back them up? If not, how are you going to deliver on those messages? Remember, here's your chance to create an advantage, a unique selling point.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Data everywhere but customer service is missing

A few months back I posted information on an interesting article from Simon Caulkin in the UK's Observer newspaper.

Simon's latest piece on customer service highlights the wonderful irony that while today's companies have more information on their customers than ever before, service standards are slipping as most organisations have little understanding of what to do with it and how to make sensible use of it.

Dial 1 ... to take your custom elsewhere

Back into Marketing

Hello everyone.

After a break from it all things will start to pick up around here over the coming weeks.

There is lots of marketing to be done between now and the end of the year.

I look forward to sharing more thoughts with you and getting your feedback on what is important to you, in marketing terms, between now and December.



Saturday, July 23, 2005

Summer Holidays

I'm on holidays for the next couple of weeks.

More content soon.

There have been technical problems with the latest edition of the podcast, but that will be back when I get back.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

A slow few days

Things have been a little crazy in my life since last Thursday when the bombs here in London went off.

Family and friends here are fine, but it has diverted our attention away from the everyday. But things are returning to normal, including this blog.

Best of June

This is a little late, but here are my favour posts from June:

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Summer Marketing Activities

In this episode, Vasey on Marketing looks at how you can get your marketing ahead over the summer. Peter also looks at more ways to make the most of your fanatical customers.

Length: 17 mins 35 secs

Music: 'Monotony" by Binary Beats

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Should we forget positioning?

Tom Asacker at 'a Clear Eye' has written a new book and discusses one of the key ideas late in the book - that positioning is passé.

I am not sure that I totally agree with Tom in this one but it does get you thinking. Tom suggests that we should as marketers, turn our focus away from focussing on the position of the product in the prospect's mind and focus on a memorable commercial attitude. But perhaps this is just another way of positioning the product. What are your thoughts?

Tom Asacker: W.C. Fields on attitude

Marketing is like farming...

Here's an interesting analogy from Brian Carroll over at the B2B Lead Generation blog: Marketing is alot like farming. He is referring to an article about generating leads from SalesMasterWorld.

B2B Lead Generation Blog: Improving Lead Generating and Conversion Rates

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Ten tips for improving Direct Mail

Over at MarketingProfs, Steve McNamara writes about what he learnt from a recent report on what has been happening in Direct Mail over the past 12 months.

Alot of what Steve suggests can be implemented in the marketing on your website as well, especially tip #1 - Make stronger offers.

Give the visitor information that he or she are after. Provide them with a reason to contact you. That said, don't lock all the useful information behind walls forcing your visitors to jump through your hoops. Whet their apetite and have them thirsting for more from you.

Whether it is Direct Mail or Website copy, prove to your readers that your organisation is a thought leader through useful, relevant and timely information.

Read the article: Putting Spring in Your Ka-ching: 10 Direct Mail Tips

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Branding, Harry Potter style

An article by John Simmons from Sunday's Observer newspaper, 'Harry Potter, Marketing Magician' suggests that Brand Managers might look to Harry Potter as an example of how to do it.

I think it also nicely adds to the story idea that Seth Godin discusses regularly.

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Joys of Summer

Summer is a great time in the business world for those who want to get ahead.


Most businesses slow down, people go on holidays and things get quiet. People take a break from the hectic business schedule. But here is an opportunity for you to get ahead of the competition.

If you have some 'quiet' time coming up on schedule it is perfect to start planning ahead. This is the time to do some reviews of your marketing systems. It is more problematic if you need to interact with colleagues and they are away, but summer is definitely time to put some effort to review your marketing and work on how to improve on what works while putting aside what doesn't.

It is also a good time to review competitors. I know I don't have enough time usually to do all the competitive analysis I would like. But summer can offer you a chance to spend some quality time reviewing the messages your competitors are sending out to the market. You can learn alot from what your competitors are saying. Put yourself in the shoes of a prospect. What elements of your competitors' marketing works, inspires you to find out more, and what elements are a miss?

If you do get the chance to go away this summer and escape from the office, do it properly. Leave work behind and rest your mind. Come back refreshed and ready to take on the competition upon your return.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

What print needs to do to survive

Dana VanDen Heuvel discusses ten suggestions from Media Riff on how print can turn itself around within the world of advertising in his post 'Print not dead by any stretch, but it better shape its ass up fast'.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Do you reward loyalty?

I have been subscribing to Businessweek for the last two years. The last few months have seen me receive mailings reminding me that my subscription is coming to an end and that I need to renew it very soon in order to receive "uninterrupted delivery".

The funny thing is that the special deal on the subscription is no better than what I could find online (not on their website but through a third party) even if I let it lapse and decide a few months on that I really do want a subscription. As a result there is no incentive for me to renew NOW rather than later.

I am not sure if I am going to miss the magazine. I am focusing my reading on marketing alot at the moment.

The point of all of this is that Businessweek are not rewarding me to stay with them. Other magazine publishers have sent me mailings trying to get me to subscribe and they offer all sorts of gifts. But once you become a subscriber does the love stop?

Does your company treat customers in a similar way? Once you have them, a good deal is good enough, not a great deal. Existing customers are your best source of new customers. They spread the word about your product if you provide something truly remarkable (see Seth Godin's Purple Cow for more). But the old adage of 'treat them mean, keep them keen' doesn't work.

As I have said on more than one occasion here: Love your customers!

That means making them feel special. Be more than a provider of a magazine, or software or shampoo or whatever it is you sell. Let me know that you value the relationship.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Long Tail in Advertising

The long tail is a concept of market size.

Wired magazine provided a good description of the Long Tail last October.

Recently I have been reading Seth Godin's Purple Cow and also have been working on a Google Adwords campaign for a relative's company. Google Adwords works because of the Long Tail. But it is amazing how many people/businesses/organisations don't take advantage of this.

The Long Tail describes the distribution curve. You have a few big hits to the left and as you move right in the distribution curve so the sales/views/success of a product, etc will be less until it becomes infinitely small.

Amazon use it with great success selling their books. They don't have to stock books in hundreds of stores, just in their warehouses. So when someone wants a rarely sold book, they can readily lay their hands on it and make a sale. But the number of rarely sold books is HUGE! You do the maths.

Google Adwords works the same way.

I have been setting up a couple of hundred keyword phrases for a campaign. Alot of these keywords will be lucky to get one hit a month. But the combined hits adds up. What's more, the cost per click is far less than going after far more competitive generic keywords. And I have no competition. Why? Most people haven't figured out how to use the Long Tail yet.

And you can use related philosophies throughout your marketing. Should you be everywhere your competitors are? Can you out-Proctor & Gamble Proctor & Gamble, out-Microsoft Microsoft, out-Toyota Toyota? Probably not, and if you tried it would cost you a huge amount of money.

Marketers tend to act like sheep. We all go in the same direction as the rest of the herd. We don't want to risk missing out on what everyone else is doing. But it is pretty rough in the centre of the herd. Lots of pushing and shoving goes on there. Get to the edge of the herd and look for opportunities there. What niche markets, advertising opportunities are available that others are missing? There is a risk that it wont come off, but if it does, you will be ahead of the herd and then they will be the ones doing the chasing!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Customer Acquisition Paths

One of the topics I discuss this week in the Vasey on Marketing podcast is that of providing a clear call to action in any marketing you do.

While providing a phrase at the end of an advertisement or brochure with a telephone number is passable, there is so much more that can be done.

In the past, as part of brochure design, I have clearly outlined a series of steps to enablement. That is, the prospect/customer has been able to read the steps required to go from their current stage to the stage of using the product.

Of course your product might not be a complex sale and not require a series of steps in order for someone to review, purchase and then use your product. But clearly defining the best way for a prospect/customer to review and then to purchase your product (because, heck, once they review your product compared to the competition, they will definitely buy your product!) will not only help you to better track marketing efforts but also optimise your chances of success (just in case they are leaning towards the competition!).

In saying that you should point your customers to the right channel in your marketing material means having your customer touch points set up in order to meet, and exceed, the expectations of the prospect/customer. Customer service is about the best service to your customer base while meeting the profit targets of your business. That means that your best practice customer acquisition methods, while turning a profit, have to be focused on the customer.

Take a look at your marketing collateral. Does it clearly tell the customer what they should do next to purchase your product, or to move a step closer to purchasing your product? And do you have the systems in place to meet and exceed customer expectations when they take that next step?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A Call to Action

This week I look at making the right call to action in your marketing, getting customer feedback and using fanatical customers' energy to promote your products.

Length: 16 mins 40 secs

Music: 'Monotony" by Binary Beats

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Power of Mass Collaboration

BusinessWeek this week is focussing on the IT Industry. In particular it has a feature titled 'The Power Of Us : Mass collaboration on the Internet is shaking up business'.

The article looks at various technology companies and how their tools bring together the collective powers of thousands of people thus creating a threat to companies invested in the status quo.

Those companies which are creating threats include Skype, eBay and Google.

54% of Permission Emailers Are Filtered as Spammers

MarketingSherpa has just announced the findings of a report by Pivotal Veracity which found that 54% of Permission Emailers Are Filtered as Spammers -- AOL, Wal-Mart, IBM and the Federal Government Included.

Read more at MarketingSherpa - 54% of Permission Emailers Are Filtered as Spammers: Including AOL News, Wal-Mart, IBM and the Feds

Friday, June 10, 2005

Apple store gets it wrong

Do you ever feel like a sales person is ignoring your needs and simply trying to sell you want they want to?

Most often this happens when you are dealing with call centre staff who are reading from a script. But it appears Apple are doing it in their stores. Aaron over at 'Confessions of a Brand Evangelist' tells this interesting story: A Bad Apple.

The strange part about this story is that Apple don't need to push hard. Most Apple users want to be Apple-ised, but they also tend to know what they want.

The lesson here is to not treat your customers as dumb users. While value-adding is important, also providing an outstanding customer experience by delivering what the customer wants and exceeding their expectations is just as important.

This story also highlights the fact that bad stories move fast. Word spreads fast about poor customer experiences and you can't control that today. But today's market also allows for positive feedback: see Amazon's reviews for items that they seel or eBay's user ratings.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

What do you want from VoM?

While we are on the subject of getting feedback, I thought I would take this opportunity to ask you want you would like to see here at Vasey on Marketing.

Is there a particular topic you would like to see discussed? Or is there something that has annoyed you? Let me know!

Drop me a line at or post comments at the end of this article.



Learning what your customers want

Sherri Dorfman over at MarketingProfs has written a good article on learning about what your customers want from your organisation.

As Sherri rightly points out, too many organisations decide for themselves what their customers want.

Instead of getting to the point of asking yourself "where did we go wrong?" when your customers stop buying, ask them today what they desire from your company and then build a profitable plan around their answers.

What Do Your Customers Really, Really Want? by Sherri Dorfman

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Online Marketing Show - London

For those of you in and around London, there is an online marketing show, being held at Royal Horticultural Halls, Westminster, today (June 8) and tomorrow.

The focus of the show is interactive marketing and advertising. I hope to get down there though I have a few things on my plate at the moment.

More details are available at the official site.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Trust between Marketing & Sales

As a follow up to this week's podcast, I thought I would touch on a point I didn't get a chance to include in the podcast itself: the relationship between marketing and sales teams.

In so many organisations, there seems to be trust issues between these two groups of people. Sales don't believe that marketing are pulling their weight and providing enough leads while marketing complains that sales aren't giving them the market feedback to get their job done and improve the effectiveness of the marketing. Neither team seems to trust the other to do their job effectively. We want to teach the other how to do the job.

I don't get it! We're on the same team!

While this trust problem is very common, I didn't experience in early roles. In fact, I always saw a good relationship between sales and marketing and then when things did start to get messy I couldn't believe what I was seeing or hearing.

But things like this are fairly easily fixed. Focus on open communication. Weekly or fortnightly meetings between sales and marketing are a great way for both parties to know what the other is doing. Also, in any campaign make sure that before you start you have set firm goals/benchmarks. That way both sides will know where they stand.

If you are having major trust issues between teams it will not go away overnight. But making things more open and clearly defining objectives will make it easier and should provide the basis for a better relationship in the future.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Marketing Yourself: Where's the Passion?

Probably the toughest job in marketing is that of marketing yourself. I am seeing that right now as I look for a new role here in the UK.


I am not sure. Maybe it is because it is very personal. When you are marketing products and services produced by an employer or client (if you are part of an agency team), then it is impersonal. Of course I am not saying that when you sell a product or service you should not have a passion about it. That is part of what drives success - your passion for the product or service that you are selling. But with yourself it is different.

The passion should be there moreso than in other marketing projects. It probably is. Yet business acumen tells us that we should be enthusiastic, yet restrained at the same time. Because restrained is professional. But what if enthusiastic even outlandish, unrestrained exhuberance was considered professional?

Too often I have walked into interviews where the atmosphere has the life of a dead fish. I want to be passionate but, should I? And even if the job was a good one, what about the work environment? Is the job interview a reflection of the rest of the company?

I realise that job interviewees have a thankless task. Get it right and no one says "great hire!" Get it wrong, however, and it can be costly in more ways than one. But show some life to your candidates! Let them know that being passionate is more than OK. It is a requirement for the role.

I love marketing and hope to back in the 9-5 swing of things real soon. Moreover, I hope it is with a company that values passion because just a check in the box in an interview.

Call Centres Lost to Disconnected Best Practice

Reading today's Observer newspaper, I came across a terrific article in the Management section titled "You call this 'best practice'?" by Simon Caulkin.

The article demonstrates the problems of call centres, both locally based and those outsourced to the far reaches of the globe. Apparently call centre staff in India are resigning in droves due to the abuse they receive from customers. But this also happens in the UK. Simon writes:

At bottom, companies are still producing to suit themselves rather than the customer. 'We don't care about the colour of the person we're talking to,' says Professor Harry Scarbrough, director of the Economic and Social Research Council's Evolution of Business Knowledge programme. 'But we do care about being fobbed off with people working to a script. Call centres don't have the knowledge available in a local bank branch or shop. What customers get is knowledge that is pre-packed, shallow, mass-produced and inflexible. People don't like that.'

Later on Simon also points our the disconnect between the vital role the call centre can play in the relationship with customers and the all too sad reality in most cases:

The problem starts with the distance of the call centre from the rest of the organisation, metaphorically as well as literally. It ought to be the company's window on the world, a vital and sensitive two-way connection with customers; instead, all too often it is a bolt-on cost centre, a lowest-cost sponge for mopping up the mess of the initial product inadequacy. As such, it has no influence on, and therefore precious little chance of changing, the conditions that caused the customer aggro in the first place.

I highly recommend a careful reading of this article. There is alot of food for thought for marketing management. We are putting our relationship with our customers in danger by focusing on our costs in key aspects of the relationship over the long term value of that relationship.

"You call this 'best practice'?" by Simon Caulkin.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Product Placement in TV Shows

With more and more TV being pre-recorded by consumers, advertisements are being fast-forwarded. Consumers are also muting the commercials between TV show segments. So how are companies getting their products in front of consumers? By placing them directly in the show itself.

The growing trend of product placement is dicussed in Michael Grebb's piece, Gadget Promos Creep Into TV Shows, over at Wired News.

The Trust Problem in Marketing

Marketing has a problem: Trust. People don't trust marketing and advertising professionals, let alone our message. But what can be done?

Length: 16 mins 50 secs

Music: 'Monotony', by Binary Beats

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Dumb Advertising

Here in the UK, KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) has received a number of complaints regarding its latest TV commercial.


The scene is an emergency call centre and two of the operators are singing with their mouths full of a new KFC product. This, say a number of parents, is promoting poor table manners in their children.

Apart from the terrible manners, it is simply a DUMB ad! Emergency services have a terrific reputation around the world (even here in the UK) and this ad is trying to get audiences to laugh at stupidity as these two operators try to answer emergency calls with their mouths full of KFC.

I haven't seen anyone laugh at these ads, in fact it is more of a cue to change channels or turn the sound down (they can't sing either!). But British TV seems to be full of this type of dumb advertising lately.

If the Brits want to see some clever advertising, they only have to pick up some of the magazines coming out of the US to see some creative and clever ideas.

I am not sure if agencies are trying to be more creative and are just missing their targets or whether there has been a definite move away from smart and sophisticated advertising. Or maybe it is time for the agencies to hire some grown-ups!

What dumb ads have you seen lately? They can be print or electronic.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Blogging is now a Marketing Skill

The Wall Street Journal published an interesting article, Blogging Becomes a Corporate Job; Digital 'Handshake'? yesterday on blogging being an up and coming marketing skill. People are being paid to blog for companies.

While this is probably not news to many in the blogging world, it does reinforce the role that blogging can play within marketing campaigns. Further, it shows that with blogging hitting the mainstream if you wish to take advantage of it before 'every man and his dog' does, the time to move in NOW!

Remember when Google Adwords used to be reasonably cheap even for many mainstream keywords and using the service was a distinct competitive advantage? Well, blogging has reached that stage. It is time to turn it into a competitive advantage before your competitors do!

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

May Favourites

As we come to the end of May, I have been reflecting on the posts of this last month. Here are the ones I thought were the best.

What are your favourites?

Honest Advertising: Targeting your ad through copy

While the article reminds me a little of the movie 'Crazy People', which stars the late Dudley Moore, there are some interesting ideas that come out of Roy H. Williams' piece entitled 'Targeting Through Ad Copy' on 'Making Ads Work'.

Roy suggests that as advertising we might have the targeting around the wrong way. Instead of worrying so heavily on where to place the advertisement, we should focus more on the messages in our ad to produce results in term of who will want to buy our products.

Carefully crafting your message in your advertisement is no less important than choosing the right publication in which to put your advertisement. Each ad should have a great story. Too many ads look like the copy was just written and then sent out without a great deal of thought. Take time (where possible) to craft the story properly.

Journalist Richard Preston drafts the opening paragraph of a story 30 to 40 times. Is your product or service story any less important than the unpaid stories?

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Re-Branding & B2B vs B2C Marketing

This week Peter reviews a couple of the interesting presentations from the B2B London marketing conference, including re-branding issues and how B2B marketing rates versus B2C.

Music: Monotony, by Binary Beats

Length: 17 mins, 50 secs.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Some interesting stats from Google

At the B2B London conference the other day I sat in on a presentation from the Head of B2B vertical Markets, Google UK, Mr Russ Cohn.

In telling their story they presented lots of numbers of search and online marketing and usage.

Below are some of the more interesting numbers.

Forrester Research (sorry I don't have the year) reported that for Europe, the change in media consumption was as follows:
Magazines: - 36%
Newspapers: -12%
TV: -21%
Internet: +40%

In the UK, PricewaterhouseCoopers reported that online advertising spend was up 79.8%.

Piper Jaffray reported that for 2004, average costs per return for advertising across various mediums was as follows:
Search: £0.45
Email: £0.55
Yellow Pages: £1.18
Banner ads: £2.00

The key takeaways were:

  • ROI is important. You need to measure your ROI in order to know how much you spend.
  • Ads must be relevant. Irrelevant ads fail. It is surprising how many people don't get this.
  • Test and re-test. By refining the various elements of your campaign based on careful analysis of the ROI you are increasing the chances of success for your adwords campaign.
In a Q&A session following, one audience member asked if he should target keywords such as competitors names. Apart from a vague "no" from the Google reps there wasn't much said on it But aside from any legal implications such actions might bring in terms of trademark infringement, it says this organisation doesn't have a very strong message if they need to ride on the coat tails of their competitors.

It really does annoy me to see organisations practising such things. Good marketing isn't hard. You need to learn it, but that is the main thing. Otherwise it is time consuming. You can't be lazy and be a successful marketeer.

Leveraging Word of Mouth for more leads

Continuing on from his post last week on 'word of mouth' at Revenue Roundtable, Brian Carroll talks further about word of mouth lead generation over at his B2B lead generation blog.

There is also a recommended process for word of mouth lead generation.

How to Leverage word of mouth for more leads

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Direct Marketing is not dead!

Another interesting session at B2B London today was one titled 'Managing Your Data', presented by Richard Lloyd of Experian.

Many people think of Direct Marketing as being mail shots which are soooo old school and not worth their while because email is so much better. Well, they're wrong.

Direct Marketing encompasses any number of channels including both email and post, as well as fax and some people include trade shows. Basically, DIrect Marketing is where you can have a targetted conversation with a potential buyer.

Bearing the above in mind, here's some facts and figures on the Direct Marketing industry in the UK:

  • The Future Foundation reported that £40 billion was generated in 12 months by B2B direct marketing
  • The Direct Mail Information Service in 2004 reported that:
    • Business managers receive an average of 13 Direct Mail items per week
    • There was a 139% increase in volume in the last 13 years (since records began)
    • Expenditure was up by 165% in the last 13 years
    • Business managers opened 66% of direct mail pieces, 9% is re-directed to a colleague and 20% is filed for future reference or responded to.
    • A large majority found direct mail useful, with 36% stating it was "quite useful" or "very useful".
  • Business data is shown to have a decay rate of 37.5% per annum. That means over one third of the data stored in your CRM system or the like every year is out of date. As an aside, 10% of businesses change address every year.
  • As a result of the above decay rate, £220 million is wasted every year on inaccurate mailings.
Yes, these figures are for the Unite Kingdom but they do raise some salient points on the importance of accurate mailing data. But, get (and keep) that data correct and a well crafted direct mail piece is just as effective as ever.

10 Questions for Your Website

One of the most interesting sessions I went to today at B2B London was presented by Richard Bush of Base One Interactive, a web marketing company.

As part of his presentation, Richard looked at some good and bad websites and asked the following questions. How many can you genuinely check off for your website?

  1. Does the homepage say who you are, what you do and who you do it for? (Most get 1 or 2 out of 3!)
  2. Is the navigation clear and logical?
  3. Is the labelling written from a buyer's perspective?
  4. Does the homepage highlight areas of interest that draw the buyer in?
  5. Does the site effectively demonstrate and prove your expertise, competence and experience?
  6. Does the site recognise the needs of different decision makers?
  7. Is there rich content available to encourage interaction?
  8. Does the site encourage users to leave their details? (You would be surprised at those that don't!)
  9. Does the site include contextual links to guide users through to "calls to action"?
  10. When you look at the site do you feel interested, engaged and wanting more?
These are terrific prompts and I doubt very much if most corporate sites could get much over 50%.

Note that, as I have mentioned recently, Richard highlights designing for the user/buyer. Look at your products and services from their perspective. What are they looking for? What do they want to see? Google backed this up in a presentation shortly afterwards (more on that later) in which they said to design the websites firstly for your users not search engines.

If the above didn't inspire you, Google quoted a Marketing Sherpa survey from last year which found that 95% of B2B buyers use search engines (and thus websites) to research new products.

Can you afford not to get it right?

B2B London

Today and tomorrow I am visiting B2B London - a conference and exhibition for businesses targeting businesses.

Some posts will follow shortly from sessions I have attended, providing some insight into what is going on in the B2B space. There are some interesting topics which are being covered including search engine marketing, regulatory issues surrounding B2B marketing and Direct Marketing.

B2B London official site

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Is functionality dead?

This week we look at product functionality being the driver for purchases of product. For IT, you can no longer sell on product functionality. But what is the alternative?

Length: 14'30

Music: Monotony by Binary Beats

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Referrals Generate More than Leads

Nice article from Brian Carroll over at Revenue Roundtable on how referrals are useful lead generators, but do more than that.

Carroll says "For the complex sale you need these enthusiastic references to help you build your reputation, differentiate yourself, demonstrated your value proposition, shorten your sales cycle, and drive revenue."

Read more about it: Asking for referrals does more than generate leads

If You Build it They Will (not necessarily) Come

If you website is user friendly and provides visitors with the tools to readily find what they are after you have won only half the battle. For once you have built your website, how do you attract visitors?

Of course you can splash out on a glitzy advertising campaign across multiple media if it for a special promotion, but if you are looking to drive day to day traffic, you need to look elsewhere.


Even with today's problem of spam mail, well crafted email newsletters targeting those people who want the information (ie. Subscribers to your newsletter such as customers and prospects) can drive visitors to your website. Build in links to your email which direct your readers to the website for more information.

Once they have landed on your site, your visitors are free to move around to other parts of the website. But again, this reinforces the point that you have to make your website easy to navigate so that your readers can quickly move from the news to other useful information.

Search Engines

There is a little conundrum when developing a website. While you need to make it user-friendly, you need to make it search engine-friendly. Sometimes these two things don't go quite hand in hand.

While for smaller websites you might be able to perform search engine optimisation yourself, it can pay to outsource the search engine optimisation and placement to a professional company. BUT make sure they are reputable.

If you go with the wrong crowd you could end up getting your site blacklisted by the search engines due to the dubious techniques used by some of these companies.

Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)

Popularised by Google's Adwords program, PPC is a very hand tool for advertising if you have a limited budget. The great thing about PPC is that, as the name suggests, you only pay when someone clicks on your advertisement. You set the price you are willing to pay when someone clicks on your ad and set a daily budget.

Again, PPC is something you can do on a small scale, if you have the time and resources. The success of your PPC campaign is very much determined by the testing and refining of the various aspects of your campaign - price, copy, keywords selected. The more time you have to carefully measuring and refining your campaign the more success you will achieve.

There's more to advertising your website than the above, but I will save that for another day.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Thoughts on the Podcast

Have you listened to an episode of my podcast yet?

I am after some feedback on it, such as:

  • Appropriate length - currently it is 15 mins. Is this right or not long enough?
  • Am I covering the right topics for you?
  • Should I be more in depth with the information?
  • Other suggestions you might have.
Comments can be made below or sent to my email address.

Letting Your Customers do the Marketing

Rok over at is visiting The Syndicate Conference this week.

One of sessions was on customer evangelism and letting your customers deliver the marketing on your products and business in their way.

I know as a marketer I would be concerned about letting my customers loose like that. We are control freaks us marketers, but its not such a bad idea.

Think about it. Today's consumer is highly cynical about marketing messages. They are very wary of them. However when their friends and peers are providing the message, there is no hidden subtext. It is a case of WYSIWYG marketing!

Read Rok's post here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Buy Seth Godin's New Book Here

Yes, I have now set things up so that you can purchase Seth Godin's latest e-book with just a few clicks from my website.

"KNOCK KNOCK, Seth Godin's Incomplete Guide to Building a Web Site That Works."

Buy it now for only US$9!

Making the web more usable with sliders

Here's a good discussion on new techniques to improve website usability by Rael at O'Reilly Radar. There are some suggestions including 'sliders' and though it is a little techie I think the examples are worth looking at.

What the post highlights is what I said in my podcast this week: as users of the web we have become accustomed to poor design so we bear with it through the frustration in order to achieve what we need to.

Of course, the real winners in the coming years will be the organisations who can harness the most usable technologies of the web and provide a seamless end-to-end customer service. They will thrive in the online economy while those organisation who cannot do this or choose to ignore such technologies will see their grip on their markets become tenuous at best.

O'Reilly Radar: Sliders are the new drop-downs

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Seth Godin on Websites That Work!

Seth Godin has released an e-book called "KNOCK KNOCK, Seth Godin's Incomplete Guide to Building a Web Site That Works".

I haven't read the book yet, but it is definitely on my reading list. Seth has for a long time been an advocate of permission marketing and if this book lives up to his usual standards there will be something for everyone in it, all
for the price of a take away lunch.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Your Website for Your Customers

We look at how to make your website meet the needs and goals of your customer, not just your corporate needs.

MP3 File

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Knowing When to Communicate

While CRM tools allow you to break your customerbase up into tiny chunks and send them targetted messages, there of course is the concern that they might reject your messages if they come too thick and fast, no matter how targetted they are.

The results of the latest Yankelovich Marketing Receptivity survey prove this. Jackie at Church of the Customer notes that the report showed that 70% of consumers are interested in products that help them block advertising, while just over half of consumers avoid purchasing products from companies that overwhelm them with marketing and advertising. These are scary numbers, but they do show what a fine line we are walking as marketeers.

Talking to someone at a business dinner last night, we were discussing marketing and the fact that the whole trick lies with knowing when to communicate with a customer. What is the 'buying' signal that customers give to make you send them the information at the right time?

Generally advertisers rely on sending their message out cheaply to a large enough audience that they will cover their costs and make some money. While most recipients are not ready to buy, enough will be to make it worthwhile. But as the above numbers suggest a change in strategy is required for consumer advertising to continue to be effective.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Know Thy Customer with a Corporate Blog

Blogspotting, the new Blog from BusinessWeek, has a good post on "Why Corporate Blogging Works".

Corporate blogs work because you are interacting with your customers, learning about their needs, not simply marketing them an item.

So, should a corporate blog be part of a CRM strategy? The jury is still out but the emphasis I think should lie with the fact that as marketers, we need to learn as much about our customers needs and problems and then provide solutions to those problems. If a corporate blog helps you to acheive this then the answer is a simple 'yes'.

Not all Customers are Equal

One of the great things about CRM tools is that the good ones provide some great data analysis capabilities.

You can dissect your customer data so many ways and so long as the data you have in the system is accurate and orderly, you can get some extremely useful information out. For example, you can find the customer relationships which are profitable to your company, and more importantly the ones which are not.

Focusing on the Money

For some businesses (or sales and marketing people), market share is everything. They don't care about profit so long as they own the market. That's great in the short term but sooner or later you have to turn that substantial customerbase into a profitable one. And you have to admit that there are some customers who simply cost your business money to service them.

Sometimes the 'unprofitable' customers are those who tie up your customer service people with frivolous complaints or comments. They waste your colleagues' time. It might be that they refuse to move to a new version of your product because their model "is just fine thanks!"

Whatever it might be, there are times you must walk away from the customer, whether it is an outright refusal to service them further or to put into place more expensive contracts for service which make it unreasonable to continue purchasing from your organisation.

Part of the problem with the Dotcom boom was that many companies focused on marketshare over profit. The idea was to build up a customerbase at whatever the cost because some day down the track all those unprofitable customers would magically turn into profitable customers. Yes, that can happen - banks have done this by raising fees and charges on their products with the knowledge that people are loathe to change banks - but it is not always the case.

Find Your Niche

Knowing the costs associated with looking after customers, you need to determine who you should target. For example, if your product is something in IT that takes a bit of integration work to get it up and running and therefore requires some funding up front, it is probably not going to work well in the SOHO and lower end SME market.

I know of a company where there was an ongoing discussion about whether to chase outright market share or leave the small prospects alone as the costs in servicing small clients far outweighed the larger clients who had greater expertise and thus reduced the burden on the customer service staff of the company. They had a large niche but there alot of other companies with smaller niches doing well.

Luxury brand are the best example. Look at Ferrari. They only make 4,500 cars per annum. They have a waiting list for some of their latest models. But are they going to ramp up to pump out many more cars? No. To make many more cars would dilute their image. A Ferrari is a special car. Not everyone can have a Ferrari.

So look at your customerbase, look at what type of customer is making you money and what kind is not. With the unprofitable customer, either move them on or adjust the relationship so it becomes profitable for you. Then adjust your marketing to target the types of prospects who will make you money, not send you broke.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Good Marketers know...

Seth Godin highlights a list published in the New York Times on "What Every Good Marketer Knows". It is a great starting point. How much do you know?

Seth Godin: What Every Good Marketer Knows

Sunday, May 08, 2005

An Introduction to CRM

We look at CRM in this week's podcast. What it is, what it means, and what it does.

Length: 15 mins.

The theme music is "Monotony" by Binary Beats.

MP3 File

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Why Can't You Love Your Customers?

I have just been reading a fascinating interview from CRMGuru talking about getting organisation to wholly focus on the customer and improving the relationship.

Even if I wasn't discussing CRM right now, it has so many valuable points it is very worth sharing.

Talking to author, Lior Arussy, the discussion leads to some fascinating points:

  1. There is a disconnect between the CEO and the rest of the company when it comes to customer relationships. Most CEOs think that their organisation is customer focussed when in fact the rest of the company is not.
  2. Seventy per cent of executives said they didn't have the tools or authority to do what is right for their customers.
  3. While most executives believe that you can either 'love' your customers or be highly profitable but not both, 89 per cent of them did not know the cost of a new customer and 86 per cent did not know the value of a customer over 12 months. So how do they know that 'loving' their customers is not profitable?
This is a great, thought-provoking interview. You can read the entire interview via the link below.

Make Customer Strategies Work: An Interview with Lior Arussy

Thursday, May 05, 2005

What is CRM?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.

CRM is a philosophy. What it says is that in order to have a great relationship with your customer, you need to know as much information about that relationship as possible.

If you understand your customer, what their pain points and needs are, what they have bought from you in the past, the issues they are having, it helps you provide appropriate products and services tailored to that customer.

The philosophy goes on that if you acheive the above you will have a happy and satisfied customer that will purchase more from you and will be a champion of your company. The relationship will be a profitable one for both parties.

Is CRM Cursed?

Like all good philosophies, with CRM the devil is in the details.

AMR Research estimated that for 2004, 33 per cent of CRM implementations had significant user adoption problems while 28 per cent of CRM implementations didn't even get to go live.

These are huge numbers we are talking about!

Look at the office building you are in. If you assume that every organisation has tried CRM in the last twelve months, that means one in every three offices in your building is having issues with their employees using CRM and just over one in four have thrown in the towel!

But CRM should not be forsaken. Benefits are there IF you know how to go about rolling out the project.

How to make CRM happen

The trick with CRM is getting champions within your office to support your project. That is a HUGE battle. Secondly you must choose a software that meets your needs, not something that will straightjacket you into one particular process. Also make sure that it can change over time as you adjust your processes. Also use the change to CRM as a chance to review your company's processes.

More in the Next Podcast

Don't miss the next podcast, because I will going through more on CRM and how to acheive success within the project. The next podcast will be available at the end of this week.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Relationships Matter

I have just read an interesting entry from Dana VanDen Heuvel on Social Networks and what business value they bring.

My experience with online communities is that where they are set up as a social function primarily, you need to nurture your relationships offline to gain anything meaningful.

I have been a part of an online community based around a football team in Australia. I have developed some good relationships with fellow members over time and yes perhaps in the future something might come out of it business wise. But these relationships have developed over many a cold ale, etc.

Social networks are a great way of finding people who share common ground with you but I wouldn't trust them for business use.

It will be interesting to see if Dana can find concrete examples of peoplewho have had business success thanks to social networks. Read Dana's post here.

But all this gets onto a topic I am very passionate about - CRM (Customer Relationship Management). As the old saying goes, it is a lot cheaper to keep a customer and have he/she purchase from you again than to acquire a new customer.

Key to keeping a customer is good communication, through multiple channels.

Let's explore this further

More on Marketing at Trade Shows

Following my podcast, I thought I would break down, in textual form, the key points on marketing at trade shows. They generally fall into Do's and Dont's.


  • Tell visitors what you do: don't hide descriptions of your products and services in buzzwords and catch phrases. Prominently display what you do. eg. If you build houses, say that, list the key features of your houses, don't talk about "lifestyle habitation environments"!
  • Show your product: Don't be scared to do this. If you don't show your product and your competitors do you immediately raise suspicions in the mind of your prospect.
  • Talk to visitors on your stand: Be nice, find out what they need. If you can help them, do so, if not wrap it up politely and move onto the next visitor.
  • Keep the stand and what you display relevant: It's no good using attractions that are irrelevant to your business because visitors wont remember you.
  • Criticise your competitors: Keep your message positive. Your time with each visitor should be kept to a minimum. Nobody likes hearing people complain about what their competitors are doing or not doing.
  • Judge a book by its cover/ignore visitors: You never know what kind of deal you might be missing out on if you. Treat every visitor with respect. If they aren't relevant to your market, politely wrap up the conversation and move on.
  • Hide: It is amazing to walk on a stand and not find anyone to talk to. Always make sure you have enough staff rostered on and keep them out the front of the stand not hiding out the back or at the coffee cart.
In general, you should keep trade show chats reasonably short. The length should be dicatated by the value of the client/deal and the information you need to collect.

Generally, most visitors to a trade show only have a limited amount of time and so monopolising their time on your stand isn't good for them. Collect their contact details, needs, pain points, etc and discuss how you can help them. Demonstrate your products or services briefly if you have time. Then wrap up the conversation. Even in complex sales, this should take no more than 15-20 mins in most cases.

If you have any comments, feedback or suggestions for topics you would like me to cover, please use the comments area below.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Vasey on Tradeshows

Welcome to Vasey on Marketing. In our first podcast we look at the good, bad and ugly of marketing at trade shows.

Length: 15 mins.

The theme music is "Monotony" by Binary Beats.

MP3 File