Applying My Lectures

I spent some times re-writing my lecture notes last week and even though at times I thought: “why on earth am I doing this, stop it now”, it was actually really useful. There were a few occasions where I felt things clicking and realised ah okay, I get that now. It also gave me a chance to look through the  notes on the lectures (on the course blog) and read about some of the points in more depth. Re-writing the notes took far too long, I would need to watch that in the future, but the practice of going over things again definitely seemed to work for me. If I did it weekly (I had two weeks worth) and kept on top of it that would make it much more manageable and worthwhile.

I am not planning to bore you by reiterating my lectures by the way so bear with me.

Oh and one last thing, my writing ends up as large scrawls sometimes so by writing it out again I am keeping good notes that I can revisit in the future. I would actually like to do my dissertation on something to do with marketing so they could prove valuable to me next year. So, I think I have just about convinced myself that it’s a good thing to do (even though it’s time consuming).

Anyway. Once I had finished re-writing them (and reading) I thought it would be nice to quickly test out some of the things on Pillow Talk. If you don’t already know, Pillow Talk is a new interactive product by DJCAD graduate Joanna Montgomery that helps long distance couples feel more connected. You may remember I did a workshop last week where we practiced using marketing tools, for the first time, on Joanna’s invention and company, Little Riot.

The first thing we were introduced to in our first lecture was the concept of a ‘brand’ – what it is, what it isn’t and how it’s much more than you think it is.

“A brand is a collection of functional and emotional values and together promise an experience”

You should be able to see these values on things like livery, advertising and packaging. They should also be part of the companies position in the market, it’s personality, it’s expertise. While these things are “intangible” they are just as important, if not more. I looked at two of these “intangible” qualities, Personality and Culture, thinking about how Little Riot, as a brand, would want to come across.

From this, I tried to see how this friendly, sensitive character would translate over to some packaging:

I then moved on to consider what the customer might want from the brand or the product. My lecturer told us about Theadore Levitt,  an American economist and professor. In his book, Marketing Myopia, he makes the point that when customers buy 1/4 inch drill bits what they really want 1/4 inch holes…I looked him up and he seems to concentrate on getting business to ask:

“What business are we in?”

In the drill-bits case, is the  company in the business of making drill-bits OR the means of making holes in material?Do they invest in manufacturing faster, stronger drills or in new technology that could make better holes, such as lasers. A way to help you answer this question for your business is considering what customers want or need. So, I tried this out with Pillow Talk:

As you can see I have tried to match up these ‘wants’ with the benefits of Pillow Talk. In my lecture, we were told that it is best to concentrate on the benefits of the product –  i.e. what can they use it for – apposed to the make-up of the product – i.e. how many USB ports it has. I don’t think these two things are meant to be connected together like this but I think it works. It lets you see whether or not the ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ of your customers have a relation to the features and benefits that your product has.

However, different people and indeed markets would ‘want’ different things from the product. I thought about this when I started to look at ‘Objectives’. An example of a typical business objective would be “increase sales”. It sounds monotonous though doesn’t it? My lecturer told us that objectives like that are not specific enough and that it is hard to judge whether or not they have been successful. He then introduced us to SMART Objectives:

Here is a SMART Objective I did for Pillow Talk:

It should say “who have a good grasp…”, sorry. This nevertheless reminded me of the Ansoff Matrix, one of the tools we practised using in our first workshop. I did a rough one just to see how my SMART Objective could be incorporated:

I have probably did this the wrong way round but nevertheless it let me see for myself how ‘marketing tools’ could produce SMART Objectives! I left the OAPs behind however, and went back to my original target market (20-40 year old professionals), to do a Marketing Mix (Four P’s) analysis:

Here is what I came up with for ‘Place’:

I covered most of the tools on the workshop last week, albeit with a slightly different target audience, so I shall move onto my second lectures notes:

The first thing we considered was how very often the people who buy things are not the people who use them. You need to think about this difference because these people might have different ‘wants’ or ‘needs’. Breakfast cereal is a good example: the mum might buy it but it’s her children who eat it. These children might want to eat sugary, chocolate cereals where as mum might prefer to buy something more nutritious like oat clusters. She is not going to buy the clusters however if she knows the children won’t eat them. Solving alignment problems like this is rather difficult. Finding the problem in the first place is simpler – ask yourself who your customers are, then who your consumers are.

(I also noted down that the nature and price of the product meant it was an unlikely ‘gift’ from a third party)

Once you know who your customers are  you can start to analyze them a bit more. Two main ways of examining customers is: as market segments or as a set of attributes. Segmentation, according to The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier, means:

“The process of dividing a market into subcategories of people who share similar values and goals”

Thus, a market segment is:

“a group of people who are likely to respond to a given marketing effort in a similar way”

I tried to create a segment for Pillow Talk by firstly breaking ‘long distance couples’ down into ‘long distance couples because of work’.

As you can see I even went a little further into a particular profession: Acting. There will be lot’s of location filming going on in the world of acting for example. There is even different types of actors you could segment off too I guess, concentrating it even further e.g touring theatre companies.

This theory is illustrated in the “elephant story” my lecturer told us: There is a group of people in a room with a wooden floor. An elephant is then lead around the room by a very slight woman wearing heels. Once she and the elephant leave, the people leave too and a new set of people come in. How could the new people tell that anyone had been there before them?

The answer? The woman would have left heel marks in the wooden floor. If you think about it, the elephant would not have left any marks because it’s weight is evenly spread. The woman on the other hand, slight as she may be, is focusing her weight on two small points. The moral of the story in marketing terms is that you’re more likely to leave a mark by focusing. If you try to spread your weight you won’t leave a mark, i.e if you try to make your product as universal as possible you’re not going to make an impression on the market.

So, focusing in on one single group of people, one segment is a good marketing strategy. It also relates to Pareto’s 80:20 Rule: roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. So, 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. For that reason, it would be a good idea to concentrate more on that 20%, rather than trying to please everyone. How can you help them? Of course you need to make sure you don’t ignore the other 80% as well. It’s an out of balance, balancing act I suppose you could say! My lecturer mentioned that Amazon took advantage of Borders focus on 20% of their stock. The way Amazon operates allows them to stock books that Borders would have to order in. Meeting this small demand for less know titles gave Amazon an edge that Borders, unfortunately, fell over. This can be illustrated in a statistic known as “the Long Tail”.

With Borders, if you wanted a book that was unpopular and fell in the ‘yellow’ proportion of the % of sales you would have to wait weeks for it. They didn’t stock it in shops, in fact they might not have even stocked it at all. Amazon on the other hand would most probably have one or two copies that would be shipped out to you in a matter of days.

Now, moving onto customer attributes – which means their “characteristics”. In my lecture we also looked at customer behavior alongside this as well. Investigating ‘what’ and ‘why’ people buy things can help you decide how to market your product. The ‘what’ is more physical, what have they bought? How many? The ‘why’ is more psychological and I must admit, made me feel a teeny bit uncomfortable.

As you can see from my notes on the subject, the ‘why’ can be broken down into ‘rational’ reasons and ‘irrational’ reasons. Irrational sounds worse than it is; in this context it means the emotional reasons – apparently. I actually managed to come up with more ‘irrational’ reasons people would buy Pillow Talk…

This is most likely due to the emotional nature of the product. I will however try to think about this again and be more rational! Anyway, these irrational (or rational) reasons can then be translated as benefits which the company can advertise. These benefits will, as I mentioned earlier, be more likely to sell the product: people buy benefits, they buy what a product can do for them. Here are my ‘selling benefits notes’ for Pillow Talk:

Marketing campaigns can play up to irrational ‘why’s or can, just as importantly, ‘counter them’. (I like the latter scenario better) If you look at my Lecture notes (2 up) you can see the car campaign idea.

It supported the decision to do the ‘rational’ thing (the right thing?). My two scenarios for Pillow talk tide towards irrational reasons. I would like to revisit this and try to play more towards the rational reasons. I would like to come back to it with some new knowledge from future lectures or indeed new knowledge of the product. I think I need to get a better understanding of how customer behavior is perceived in advertising terms.

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