Marketing3/Canadian Copywriter

Today's technologies have put a new spin on the concept of "guerilla" marketing. In years past, "guerilla" marketers were highly competitive. Their sole intent was to gather their troops and outflank the competition, in effect, trouncing them to the ground.

Today, that's all changed.

The new technologies have created a "level playing field" -- which forces business to re-think and re-focus their efforts. Today's mad rush down the "MicroChip Highway" has created an elite core of business people who are winning new partners and allies to help them succeed. And many are! For example, washing machine manufacturers are working with detergent manufacturers to put soap in new washers, cereal manufacturers are working with toy manufacturers to put toys in boxes of cereal. All types of manufacturers are working together to get lower air fares for their executives. The days of the lone wolf businessman have gone!

Yet even in today's high tech times, many of the old rules still apply. A marketing plan is still an absolute must (no matter how brilliant or mediocre) and the businessman must stay committed to the marketing plan. In the constant flux of today's marketplace, many marketers can get "skittish" -- abandoning their work in favor of what might be more appealing in a trendier marketplace. While it's important to keep an eye on the changes that are happening, it's also crucial to consider that a marketing plan is an investment in the future. At the Canadian Copywriter , we often think of the old axiom that "if you can keep your head while everybody else is losing theirs", you will be better off in the long run. This can be an analogy to the present times. It's important to stay the course, to stay consistent, to avoid changing your "spots" for "stripes", to be patient, to win new customers and keep your old customers confident in you, your abilities and your products.Similar to investing in stocks and bonds, it's a long-haul proposition rather than a quick buck scheme.

Another old idea that still applies -- and is constantly forgotten in the new economy -- is that "present" customers are far more important than "new" customers. For many, especially a sales force, it's human nature to go "after the sale" and once the sale is consummated to go after another "new sale" -- but "guerilla marketers" know that it costs a lot more money to persuade a new customer to buy a product than it does a customer who is already loyal.

All in all, it's important today to be a marketer -- and the "guerilla" analogy works well. It's important to keep your senses sharp. You must know who is with you and who is against you. You must know who your customers are -- from their buying habits to their birthdays and you must be able to delight them with outlandishly incomparable service!!

If you are a small start-up business, there are plenty of ways to promote your business. Chances are you won't be able to afford "big time" advertising, however a handsome business card and stationery shouldn't break the bank! When you get these much needed items, make sure they look as professional as possible. There are too many drab business cards out there as it is. Remember that first impressions are lasting impressions. So hire an artist to design a logo for you. Don't lame-out on your stationery either. Make it different than the rest. Use wild colors, for example. (when you call your client and ask him to pay the bill, you can tell him it's in the purple envelope!)

In the book, Off-the-Wall Marketing Ideas by Nancy Michaels and Debbi J. Karpowicz, one businessmen whose name was Blaze decided to singe his stationery with a blow-torch. Although he wore out three printers with his unique idea and drove his computer consultant absolutely nuts, he refused to change. The reason: It made him stand out! Being unique and catching your customer's attention is the name of the game! According to the book's authors (and we agree with them), the five fundamentals for small business marketing are:

Project A Professional Image.

This means always wear a suit. First impressions count -- and you will get a lot more respect in a suit than a pair of blue jeans.

Maintain A Professional Look On Paper. See above. But, don't dress yourself in paper.
Dress Your Surroundings To Impress

There aren't too many people who like to walk into a dirty office filled with orange crates. However, if you are a start-up business, make the place look like you've been serving a lot of customers. A hair-stylist who just opened her shop put Dixie cups in strategic locations with different lip stick stains on them. She was trying to create an image of a busy and popular location.

Select Professionals as Allies Who Complement Your Business.

If you are a flooring contractor, refer customers to a kitchen contractor and vice versa.

Seek Word-Of-Mouth Referrals.

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Since you don't have big time advertising working for you, you will probably have to rely on the second most important form of advertising: "word of mouth". While "word of mouth" advertising is relatively inexpensive, and certainly doesn't equal a 60-second commercial on a national network, it can still be effective. "Word of Mouth" relies on the basics -- that whatever you do for a living, you do it well -- and you have satisfied your customers. Satisfaction, of course, depends on service -- but it also depends on "follow up" service, which means that you must keep tabs on your present customers and make sure they're willing to re-use your product or service. Always keep in mind that "keeping a customer" is a lot easier than finding a new one". Keep records of your customers. Send them follow-up reminders of your service. Consider taking a chapter from the book of that other batch of liars and cheats:"Insurance People". Insurance people have a virtual "death grip" on "word of mouth referrals". They've taken their "service" to a level that's far and above us mere mortals. Their "mission in life" is to try to get to know each and every one of us by our first name. On their clients' birthdays, they send out birthday cards. Sure, it's corny, but it works! What possible replacement could there be for a smile, a slap on the back and somebody remembering your name, your capabilities and your milestones? Another low-budget way to remind your customers of your service is with a "magnetized business card" -- oh, sure it's cornier than the entire state of Iowa, but still very practical. Everybody uses fridge magnets to hang up notes on their refrigerators -- and that again can be a constant reminder of your service. Networking is always an important aspect of your business (as it is in life). You should be aware of who can use your services as well as who your competition is. "Cross promotion" is also an important part of "small budget" marketing. If you can get other business people (who offer services that are in the same milieu as your business) to participate in your advertising plans, you will create a beneficial relationship that works both ways. For example, if you bake wedding cakes, get involved with a wedding dress shop or a banquet centre. Offer them space on your web site while they advertise their services on yours. When you team up with others in your marketing plans, the relationship is equal to "1 + 1 = 3".

Another important facet of "small business marketing" is an attitude of gratitude. The marketplace is competitive. A consumer has many different options. So when s/he comes to you, it's important to be appreciative of their business. Send them a thank you card -- or include a small gratuity with their purchase. It goes a long way in keeping a good customer.

Systems that affect marketing

Just in time manufacturing has had a tremendous impact on the marketing process throughout the world. The idea originated in Japan after the second world war -- changing Japan from a producer of "second-rate goods" to a highly regarded manufacturer of quality precision products. Can you imagine how much easier your marketing job would be if you were responsible for marketing the kind of quality that comes out of Japan?

Just in Time Manufacturing was created by a need to do more with the space available in a manufacturing facility -- and, of course you know the space limitations on the Japanese. They realized that a lot of the precious space in their manufacturing plants was for storage of raw materials and finished products rather than production. So they decided to forego storage in favour of production. They also decided to take a second look at traditional approaches to manufacturing which were:

  • Inspection is the key to quality
  • Quality control is a cost
  • Buy from the lowest cost suppliers
  • Play suppliers off against each other
  • Quality comes from Quality Control

  • Produce defect-free goods, eliminating inspection
  • Good quality is more profitable than poor quality
  • Buy from suppliers committed to quality
  • Work with suppliers
  • Quality comes from top management's commitment
  • There are many other systems and concepts involved in the "Just In Time" manufacturing technique -- but it basically comes down to a smooth, problem-free flow from the raw materials to the finished product. For more information about the development of the concept plus a fascinating insight into Japanese culture and how Japan became a world power in producing quality merchandise, pick up "Understanding Just In Time -- in a Week" by Malcolm Wheatley

    I.S.O. 9000 is another concept that has had a major impact on the marketing process. It's a series of quality assurance standards that was created by the International Organization for Standardization which was founded in 1946 in Geneva, Switzerland. The organization is a consortium of virtually all of the world's industrialized nations -- from A to Z (Albania to Zimbabwe) with approximately 110 members.

    The system is not a product standard, but a quality system standard that applies not to products or services, but to the process which creates them. It is designed and intended to apply to virtually any product or service made by any process anywhere in the world -- and it covers every process from auditing procedures through to handling and storage.

    The benefits of the I.S.O. 9000 system are considerable, and to the customer, the benefits are obvious. The quality of a product is considerably enhanced by a company's adherence to I.S.O. 9000 standards. There are advantages to the company too. I.S.O. 9000 registration affords access to markets, an enhanced quality image and significant competitive advantages. In fact, I.S.O. 9000 has kept many businesses from going bankrupt. The Institute for Quality Assurance has found that the annual bankruptcy rate for non-registered firms in England was 7.14 per cent while the rate for registered firms is a mere 0.2 percent.

    In order to register as an I.S.O. 9000 company, the organization's plants are first inspected by I.S.O. 9000 officers. If the processes are up to standard, they will receive certification. It may sound easy, but it isn't. I.S.O. 9000 companies must maintain their standards throughout their membership -- and the standards are rigidly enforced by bi-annual inspections. Sanctioned under I.S.O. 9000, a company can provide confidence to three audiences:

    maple leaf bullet
    The customers directly
    maple leaf bullet
    The customers indirectly
    (via third-party assessment.
    and quality system registration)
    maple leaf bullet
    Top management and staff.

    In order to satisfy these three audiences, I.S.O. 9000 requires that every businesses activity affecting quality be conducted in a three-part, never-ending cycle: planning, control and documentation. For more information on I.S.O. 9000, an excellent book to read is "I.S.O. 9000 -- Meeting The International Standards" by Perry L. Johnson.

    Doctor W. Edwards Deming was well-known in Japan for over 30 years before finally being discovered in America. He was the driving force behind Toyota's (and many other Japanese firm's) remarkable improvements in quality after the second world war. How he was discovered is a story in itself. American manufacturers (particularly the big-three car makers) were perplexed by how the Japanese were beating them hands down in quality every time a product came off the assembly line.

    They knew Japan had a secret -- and whatever it was, the Americans would do anything to find out. Finally, in 1978, after a great deal of investigation, the President of the Ford Motor Company discovered that a Doctor was making speeches to the big industrialists throughout Japan -- and the Japanese were listening! That man was Dr. W. Edwards Deming, who was propounding a philosophy to the Japanese that was completely contradictory to how America thinks -- AND IT WAS WORKING!

    Ford's President invited Dr. Deming to return to the States and spin the same kind of magic with his company. Dr. Deming agreed and when he and the Ford executives got together, it was quite a test of wills -- but Dr. Deming's philosophies finally began to sink in. The result of his work eventually found its way to the public in the form of Ford's new motto: "Quality is Job 1".

    Although Dr. Deming was a professional statistician, he rejected statistics as a way of measuring a company's success. He theorized that by "juggling the books", any company can "dress up" the bottom line. Instead, he concentrated on "customer satisfaction" with the quality of a company's product. He rejected the theory that "zero defects" would automatically lead to quality production, opting instead for correcting faults in the manufacturing process itself.

    He was also highly suspicious of American management, wondering if they were fully grasping his concepts, and considered the worker a victim of American mis-management (given the current state of affairs with the Big Three, it's hardly a wonder isn't it? These "big time" auto makers (otherwise known as "fat, lazy, greedy cats") have been lying to us for years now -- promising that they will produce factory-production "highly-fuel-efficient" cars in a few years --- yet they've produced absolutely nothing. Obviously, there must have been some high-minded memos going around that that they should cater to the "American Psyche" and keep producing gas-guzzling, high-powered vehicles, because they make the money. Oh, wow, aren't we getting on a tangent? We're going to have calm down. Yes, we'll just have to calm down for a minute) Anyway, Dr. Deming's philosophies are summed up in Fourteen Points -- which have virtually become the ten commandments of American and Japanese enterprise today. Here they are:

    Deming's Fourteen Points

    Establish Constancy of Purpose.

    This simply means that a company must maintain its long term goals while addressing short-term issues. It must identify what a customer wants as well as its long term and short term goals in order to please the customer

    Improve Constantly and Forever
    Every System of Production and Service.

    The Deming Cycle involves constantly defining and re-defining the wishes of the customers and rallies every function of business around these principles. Many of the U.S. companies have gradually shifted their corporate cultures and processes to pursue constant improvement.

    Eliminate Numerical Goals and Quotas,
    Including Management by Objective.

    Deming loathes companies who have long term goals or quotas. He believes long term goals make both the workers and management ignore the process in favour of the final numbers. He also states that quotas will only work as well as a process permits. If a process is faulty, it could put a worker in jeopardy of losing his or her mind.

    Drive Out Fear So That Everyone
    May Work Effectively in The Company.

    Deming suggests that many U.S. managers are only interested in hearing "good news" while their counterparts in Japan are elated to hear "bad news". That's because "bad news" offers an opportunity for improvement. Workers must be able to relay "bad news" to upper management without fear of punishment.

    Institute Leadership.

    Simply put, this means transforming a supervisor from "cop" to "coach".

    End The Practice Of Awarding Business Largely on the Basis Of Price.

    Deming points to government bidding systems as an example. Government contracts are usually awarded to the bidder with the lowest price -- with no regard for quality. As a result, America's infra-structure is suffering. Deming urges companies to focus on a single-supplier philosophy -- so the companies can form a close relationship and work together to improve the final product.

    Break Down The Barriers Between Departments.

    The only way to break down "corporate feifdoms" is by focusing on the end product and the customer. By doing this, departments will cooperate with each other rather than use an adverserial approach.

    Institute Training On The Job.

    Workers and managers need to be trained to identify problems and and improvement opportunities

    Eliminate slogans.

    Slogans often become platitudes with little meaning to the worker. They may be positive and upbeat, but in time become irritating. Deming asserts that slogans imply that improving quality depends on added effort by individual employees rather than a well-functioning system... and that slogans only create adverserial relationships. problems and and improvement opportunities

    Institute A Vigorous Program of Education and Self Improvement.

    Deming believes it is the company's job to offer an employee meaningful work and an opportunity to improve his or her self. (Deming is very mindful and respectful of the worker, perhaps because he was once in their shoes).

    Cease Dependance on Mass Inspection.

    Basically, this means eliminating the cost of inspection and putting the savings into improving the process that produces the product.

    Eliminate annual rating and merit systems.

    Deming believes that companies should encourage an entire group of employees to shine rather than place the spotlight on just a few. He contends that employees should be compensated based on their experience and responsibilities rather than according to a numerical ranking

    Adopt The New Philosophy.

    Quality management is a holistic philosophy that must be adopted in its entirety if it is to work at all

    Create A Structure in top management
    to accomplish the transformation.

    Every job in an organization is part of a process. Only by understanding the role each job plays in the company's customer-driven strategy can the process be improved. Thus, to achieve transformation, companies must be committed to analyzing every project and every step of a process with a view to constantly bettering it.

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    Dr. Deming continued his practice throughout his eighties, and never lost his dislike of American Managers. He died on December 23, 1993. For more information on W. Edwards Deming, pick up the book "The Man Who Discovered Quality" by Andrea Gabor



    The Coca Cola Fiasco


    Back in the 1980's, Coca Cola was in a very heated war with Pepsi Cola -- and Coca Cola was losing. In a desperate attempt to re-gain its market share, Coca Cola decided to make a major move against those pesky people at Pepsi. Coke decided to re-invent its product with "A New Coke" (which tasted an awful lot like Pepsi). Coca-Cola's decision was either an incredibly stupid or gutsy move and although the initial market response was satisfactory, things soon went awry. Most people who liked the original Coke criticized Coca-Cola's decision to change its formula. Analysts were declaring that Coca-Cola had failed to understand the emotional attachment consumers had with Coke - the brand. They said that Coca-Cola had lost customer goodwill by replacing a popular product with a new one that disappointed the consumers. Finally, Coca-Cola relented and threw in the towel. They went back to their original formula ten weeks later by launching 'Coke Classic' on July 11, 1985. Roger Enrico, the then CEO of Pepsi commented on the re-introduction of Old Coke in these words: "I think, by the end of their Coca-Cola nightmare, they figured out who they really are. They can't change the taste of their flagship brand. They can't change its imagery. All they can do is defend the heritage they nearly abandoned in 1985." By the end of 1986, New Coke had a market share that was less than 3%. Eventually, it went the way of the dinosaurs.

    The Phoenix Coyotes.

    As you might recall, we wrote on our "Off The Wall Marketing" page that no matter what a marketer does, s/he must still "fish where the fish are". There's a codicil to that: that the marketer must also use the proper "bait". Well, recently, we've witnessed the complete "meltdown" of the Phoenix Coyotes in the National Hockey League. The owner of the team has lost over $300 million. Well, duh? In the opinion of the Canadian Copywriter staff, that owner deserved to lose the money. Why would you try to promote a sport that is completely alien to a region and try to sell tickets to people who have probably never ever seen ice before! You have to grow up with a sport in order to understand it, and eventually love it! No wonder the owner lost money! Some people believe that it's possible to sell "refrigerators to Eskimos", but trust us, it isn't. Now, a Canadian by the name of Jim Ballsimie is trying to buy the franchise and re-locate it in the city of Hamilton, Ontario (where hockey is truly appreciated) -- yet the National Hockey League is fighting his every effort. Chalk this move up to "Marketing Morons 101". Nuff said!