Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
How to Profile Your Customers
Knowing one’s customer is a prerequisite for successful marketing practice. Customer profiling is the collection valuable information about customers which will help in better targeting and marketing strategies. Although every marketer knows about the importance of customer profiling, it is surprising to see how little effort has been taken in this regard.
The main reason cited by marketers, especially those dealing with FMCG and consumer durable products, for this lack of customer profiling is the sheer size of the customer base. For a mass marketer, profiling the large segment of consumers is not viable economic proposition. The problem starts when marketers see their customers as a large segment and not seeing them as a collection of individuals. It is true that a mass marketer cannot profile individuals but treating the entire segment as one without understanding individual profiles can make decision making less effective.
Profiling helps the marketer in better targeting, better communication and also provides a thorough understanding about his/her buying behaviour. The more information a marketer has about the customer, more efficient will be his marketing activities. Customer profiling can be done at an individual level or at segment level. In practice, most of the mass marketers and B2C marketers tend to profile customers at the segment level and the B2B marketers focus on individual profiling. B2C marketers find it difficult to profile individual customers because of the large number of customers.
Customer profiling starts with the identification of target customers. Before profiling, marketers should have clarity about their prospective customer. This is a critical step for start-ups and those businesses that are entering new markets. The critical question that a marketer should address at this stage is “Who is our customer? “. Many businesses tend to view this question narrowly. It is important for marketers to understand the different customer- roles in a buying situation. For example, in the case of a Television purchase, every member of the family will have a role to play in the whole purchase process.
According to Professor Philip Kotler, there are five customer roles in a purchase process
Initiator – The person who first suggest the idea of buying a product.
Influencer- One who influences the purchase decision through his suggestion or advice.
Decider- Who decides on the purchase and also any purchase decisions like where, what and how to buy.
Buyer – Who makes the actual purchase?
User- The person who consumers or uses the product.
While profiling the customer, it is important to profile those members of the purchasing unit who takes up these roles.
The next step in the profiling process is to decide on the information that is to be collected. Marketers can collect general date like demographic data which are often available in the public domain. These data help in proper segmentation and also in determining the market potential. Along with these data, it is important for marketers to collect personal data about their target customers. These data are difficult to capture and requires investment of people and financial resources. These data involves the media habits, hobbies, psychographics, purchase patterns, attitudes etc. In the book “Customer Equity “ , Robert C Blattberg, Gary Getz & Jacquelyn S Thomas , identifies six major categories of customer profile data. They are
Customer Sales Potential: Refer to the potential sales volume from the customers.
Customer Characteristics: Refers to the data related to customers like demography, income etc
Summary Customer Equity Measures: The value that the customer brings into the company
Organisational charts and Key persons: Applicable to business customers.
Influencers and specifies: The key roles customers play in the buying process.
Customer Attitudes: The qualitative data about the customers.
Once the information requirements are finalized, marketers should decide on the collection of the data. It is very difficult to collect the personal data of the consumers. Hence marketers should adopt data collection techniques which are more qualitative in nature. It is important for marketers to take a long term view about collecting such data because of the cost involved. The data pertaining to the attitudes and purchase patterns should be collected on a continuous basis in order to make it relevant.
Data once collected should be effectively utilized in the decision making process. Technology has enabled companies to collect all sorts of data. Many managers feel overwhelmed by the quantum of information collected. It is important for firms doing customer profiling to have a mechanism to make relevant data available to the decision makers.
In this era of high competition, customer profiling can prove to be the winning edge for marketers. One factor that determines whether a company is customer oriented or not is how the firm effectively uses customer profiling in their decision making process.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Thursday, August 05, 2010
How to Craft Your Brand's Vision
Creating a vision for the brand is the most important primary step in the brand management process. Brand Vision can be defined as the long term strategic position that the brand will take in the market as well as in the consumer mind-space. Brand vision offers a strategic intent which will act as a long term goal for the brand.
Creating brand vision is a strategic process which requires the involvement of top management. The vision dictates the future course of action for the brand with regard to its growth and future course of action.
Most of the time marketers are faced with critical decisions regarding the future growth path for the brand. There is a dilemma whether the brand should be extended to cater to new opportunities in the market or to be focused on the current category. Some times marketers tend to extend the brand too much that the entire brand equity gets diluted. Without the guidance of a clear vision, brands tend to lose focus and extend into unchartered unrelated categories. Lack of vision also creates the problem of discontinuity for the brand’s strategies. There are chances that the brand compromises its equity for the sake of short-term growth unless guided by a long-term vision.
Having a brand vision will help marketers make decisions regarding the growth of the brand. The vision also helps marketers to tap into opportunities which are in line with the vision and reject others that contradict the vision. Vision helps the brand to create a brand charter which will act as a rule book for the managers. It will also help the managers to shape the brand strategies during the time of crisis.
Brand vision also helps to develop consistency with regard to brand communication. The messages derived from the brand vision will be consistent across all media. Even when the advertising & creative agencies change, the brand message will remain constant. In the absence of brand vision, the communication messages will not be connected by a common thread.
Brand vision also motivates the employees to perform better. Employees feel motivated and inspired when they are aware of the brand vision. More importantly, employees should feel that they are contributing to the realization of that vision.
Typically brand vision statements should be simple and easy to remember. The golden rule is that every employee should be able to remember the brand vision especially in the case of a corporate brand or service brand.
While drafting the brand vision, the marketers has to keep the following facts into mind
While drafting a brand vision, marketers need to have big plans for the brand. The vision should not restrict to the category or even the industry. Instead the brand vision should aim at addressing some critical issues faced by the consumer. The vision should inspire both the consumers and employees alike.
Brand vision should encourage the growth of the brand beyond product categories. The marketers should be looking at a 10 year time horizon while drafting the brand vision. The marketers should be asking the following questions while drafting the vision.
- In 10 years, what will be the position of the brand in the industry/category?
- What is the core need that this brand is going to satisfy?
- Is that need sustainable over a period of time?
- What needs do this brand satisfy in future?
- Will the vision of the brand appeal to the consumers?
- Does the brand vision excite the employees?
- Does the vision encourage growth and pursuit of opportunities?
- Is the vision easy to understand and communicate?
It is important for the brand to maintain synergy with the corporate strategy. That is why the top management should play a key role to in drafting the vision. When the brand’s vision is aligned with corporate vision, a sustained investment and support can be ensured for the brand’s growth.
Brand visions should be created with customer as the focal point. Many a time brands focus too much on the product rather than the customer need. Having a strong focus on customer will help brands to create visions which are practical. Customers will also be able to relate to the brand vision since the vision is created with the customer in mind.
Although brand vision is crafted for a long term, it is important for the marketers to revise the vision from time to time. Brands operate in a dynamic environment. There are chances that the brand’s vision may become irrelevant for the consumers in the changed environment. Hence visions need to be revised in line with the changing consumer environment.