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stop_button.jpgWhen it stops working.

Not when YOU get tired of it, not when you think the market wants something new, not when some expert tells you it’s time for a change, and  not just because you’ve had it a long time.

You change a campaign or strategy when the results you sought stop appearing on a regular basis.

You change it when it stops working. Period.

317356_ticket.jpg“Word of mouth has become word of keyboard,” stated an article in Futurist magazine last spring. Instead of seeking so-called “experts”, consumers today let their fingers do their talking and interact with other consumers to decide what, when, how and why to buy. You probably shop this way, too. So welcome to the revolution!

Not since the dissemination of the printing press have so many had access to so much in terms of information! We today live in the ultimate democracy, the ultimate testament to the free market economy and to freedom itself! You’re only a few keystrokes away from knowing, and, potentially, even having anything you want!

Think about how you buy just about anything today, from a movie ticket to a big-screen TV, and see how these statistics grab you: Over 50% of all consumers who purchased electronics online said they read the reviews written by other consumers. Of those, 30% said their purchases were based on consumer reviews they found at various places on the web. It’s a safe bet those numbers will go way up in a short time because, according to the article, 90% of people say they trust suggestions of the word-of-mouth, or “word of keyboard” variety.

Can anybody argue that the customer is NOT in charge these days? Does a business that even tries to debate that really deserve YOUR business?

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garbage_truck_toy.jpgI published my first book in 2007, the same year as the birth of our son. That was all done very much by design. I wanted him to be able to say that his dad was an author who wrote his first book the year he was born! He’s 17 months old now, and though I’ve told him every day that his dad is an author, and have even attempted to read him the book that is dedicated to him, he remains unimpressed from all I can tell.

The thing that really captivates him is when the garbage man comes in his big white truck with the hydraulic claw and the rythmic “beep…beep…beep” sound it makes when it backs up. My wife and I must admit, when you watch it as intently as he does, it is rather impressive. Whether or not I should try to get my money back on all the education I’ve invested in over the years and try to get a job as the guy who drives the trash truck so I can be my son’s hero is still something I’m debating.

What is NOT in debate, however, is that what is important is determined by, defined by, and described by THE CUSTOMER! Rather than just assume we know what our customer wants, and certainly before we take any action, we should study them to a point just short of obsession in an effort to find out exactly what is most important to them. Our strategic plan then simply becomes finding a profitable way to give them what they want.

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Double_bypass_burger.jpgOne would assume that a SWOT analysis of the Heart Attack Grill would lead to the conclusion that the increased focus on health and wellness would be a “societal factor” that makes this concept unattractive. If one were to reach that conclusion, one would be wrong, and one would be advised not to tell the folks over there that their strategy is flawed. They’re way too busy, between serving customers and going to the bank to make deposits, to argue!

Granted, in the big-picture scheme of things, the overall market is seeking healthier dining, so a restaurant seeking its fortune in this sector would at first seem like not such a good idea. On the other hand, that’s how everyone else is thinking! Everyone else is making the mistake of chasing the biggest market segment, which may indeed be profitable, but that will undoubtedly result in some segments being under served.  

The real question is, are there enough of us who are willing to “risk it all” and have a greasy burger once in a while to support a business? In this case the answer was a resounding “Yes”.

It’s far better, and often more profitable, to own a small piece of a big pie or a big piece of a small pie that our competitors are deliberately overlooking or avoiding altogether. Being just a little contrarian is a big way to, well, stand out from the herd!

Good marketing connects with the customers. Good marketing gets results. Good marketing is good marketing if it makes money.

Where and how to make that money are answers only your customers have.

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