SALES. TIME TO MAKE A BOLD DECISION.

Last week I elaborated on Pre-sales, which is the first phase of consumer experience. Now it is time to make or spend some money.

Online versus Offline

Let’s say you are in a shop that really appeals to you, experienced a perfect service, fell in love with the product, maybe you are even offered a discount for your first purchase but still hesitate to charge your credit card with such a high amount. You are wavering if you can afford it but another voice tells you that you will regret it if you do not buy this item and on top of all you have to look into the vendors eyes if you turn the offer down. Yes, your ratio tells you that nothing obliges you to buy but subconsciously you feel bad about saying no.

Do you have the same issue with a web-shop? Probably not. It is crystal clear that you are a face-less visitor on a website that is “talking” to a machine.

Comparing these two scenarios it is pretty clear who is more likely to sell. We cannot help it but we are social beings (not all the same as I admit) and people are typically looking for other people.

E-Commerce Is Growing. Why?

Nevertheless, e-commerce is a growing market because it offers some unbeatable advantages: You can buy around the clock from where you want and get it delivered to where you need it. So it saves the most precious resource: time. And if you say “no” you simply close your browser.

In order to really sell a company needs to establish a strategy. To establish a successful one you must know your target clients and of course your products.

Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG)

In my previous article I mentioned Amazon.com; a pure e-commerce business. I daresay that Amazon can basically serve everyone who has a credit card and an address things can be sent to. They were among the first ones who saw the power of e-commerce coming and in 1994 started marketing books electronically. I mean physical books. E-books came later. Meanwhile they can provide everything that goes as FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) and even jewellery.

From what I can see their strategy is a combination of

  • A VERY user-friendly e-shop
  • Competitive prices
  • Fast delivery
  • Anonymous which means it is almost impossible to talk to a real person if you need an advice; service is expensive and we want it cost-efficient if we shop with them.  (We’ll discuss the post-sales later in the next article)

Diamonds and More.

The trend of e-commerce also has an impact on high-end brands.

Farfetch for instance is an e-commerce platform that offers designer cloths. You’ll find brands like Armani or Alexander McQueen there. Basically, it is a platform that offers an online-market place to independent boutiques of which quite some only survived thanks to e-commerce. Farfetch was founded in 2008 and is a smashing hit. The company who is headquartered in London state on their website to have 1000 employees world-wide and from other sources one learns that there sales in 2016 was about USD 800 Million.

A much older and very famous brand is Cartier. If you visit their website you will find an online shop. The – for Cartier’s measures – relatively moderately-priced items are sold by e-commerce, too.

“Diamonds are a girl’s best friends”, now they are delivered to your letterbox.

Marketing, Marketing, Marketing!

One thing is clear: in the e-commerce business marketing is a very important and maybe the largest cost factor. My favourite Cartier video must have cost a fortune and is worth every penny.

 

CONSUMER EXPERIENCE. HOW TO MAKE IT. HOW TO BREAK IT.

There is not one thing that makes customer experience but it consists of many different aspects. But I still would divide it in three different stages: Presales, Sales and Post-sales. The present post only deals with Phase 1.

Presales. No Second Chance for a First Impression

Typically, you enter a shop or visit a website because you are interested in a certain product. If you are like me – I was possibly born to shop – you may also visit a shop just because of its striking design or the way the goods are displayed. Or you linger on a website longer just because it is so well done that you are curious to discover everything on it. This is where branding and corporate identity kick in.

If you are in a real shop your exclusive customer experience finds its untimely end when you bump into a sales person that is not empathic, incompetent or even rude. The same goes for boring websites.

Websites Can Make or Break Your Sales

At the moment a lot of websites look the same: A large banner or video on the top, a navigation bar and a button that tells you to enter. And do not think that this is just for plain vanilla items. No, even high end products and services have really plain websites that – at least from my point of view – don’t do anything for a flourishing e-commerce. Of course the clients a company targets must be taken into account.

Amazon’s website  is – from an aesthetic point of view – not the height of sophistication. But it is extremely well organized and one can find things easily, although they sell hundreds of thousands articles. They are strong at selling and post-sales as we will find out later on.

A very renowned hotel group we all know has an online presence that is so plain and uneasy to navigate that one must really be determined to stay in no other place to really book a room. Maybe they can afford it but I decided not to be bothered with it.

High End Websites for High End Products. Have A Look.

Giampiero Bodino is a jeweller in Italy who creates very unique pieces. A look at his exclusive website proofs that there is nothing wrong with an “explore” button on the first page and it makes me believe that the consumer experience is really unparalleled and if I am prepared to really spend money on something special I’d receive something of truly high value.

If it comes to web presence my actual favourite is Jean-Paul Gaultier on whom I elaborated some weeks ago. Although one does not buy haute couture online I think this page would sell the Gaultier scents very easily and the reason they do not implement an online-shop might be linked to their sales strategy.

 

  

HOW I USE INSPIRATION TO REACH MY GOALS.

If you have been reading here for a while you already know that inspiration is one of my favourite topics.

Originally, I started blogging while running my own company where I used it to spread the news about my services. I soon noticed that I enjoyed all those marketing activities since I got a lot of inspirations out of them and the feedbacks from my readers showed that inspiration is contagious.

Some weeks ago I said that marketing required a plan and inspiration. The latter because nobody can predict when success will kick in. Just when I started writing the post you are now reading I stumbled over a very interesting article describing the way to success. I think most of us can relate to most of the 7 steps the author describes. To me number 4 is the most important one.

Do Not Doubt but Focus

I tend to have more than one project at the time and normally only talk to the people who can support me about it. I still could not figure out why but most people tell you – without thinking twice or having a single fact – that your idea will never work. I had a heads-up last week when I stupidly talked about my activities concerning one project.

Others will respond with meaningful phrases like “let’s hope for the best”. I think they really mean well but cannot believe for a moment that you could be successful.

Both statements tend to cloud our inspiration with doubts. Doubts tend to kill success and happiness.

How To Fight Doubts

When I talk of inspiration I do not mean to sit there and wait until something wonderful is happening. What I mean is to keep the vision, set the next goal, to plan and to work for them. Sometimes we have to re-focus – even on a different vision. But I do not believe that hope alone – although it is said to die last – is the right concept to get to where we want to be.

I would lie if I said that I never had doubts or that I never failed. Fortunately, I do have friends that really support me even if my ideas might seem farfetched. And in order to really focus I use inspirational quotes. There is nothing magical about them but they remind me to focus. I created wallpapers for my mobile phone that I happily share with you.

MARKETING. WHY YOU NEED A PLAN AND INSPIRATION.

In the previous two posts we discussed branding. Now it is time for marketing.

Why marketing needs a budget

No matter what anyone says: marketing is an important and an expensive business. Always.

There are many free resources that do not require an investment in terms of money but certainly will cost you a lot of time.

So marketing has to be budgeted in one way or the other.

Show Your Competence by Blogging

You might want to use blogs to share information on actual projects or subjects related to your field. This is a good way to create valuable marketing content that you can share on social media platforms.

Most blogs are based on WordPress which is available as freeware and can be integrated in your website. Once set up it is quite easy to use and literally offers thousands of plugins that provide various functions.

And this is where it gets a bit complicated. To find the right tools and plugins requires A LOT of testing. From my own experience I can tell that the wrong plugin can prevent your blog from functioning.

In order to avoid this you have two options:

  1. You hire an expert to do the evaluation for you
  2. You get this e-book and check these 44 tools that really work. (Definitely the smaller investment)

Share Your Content on Social Media and Plan for It

The use of social media is free of charge but the amount of time it requires can be very high. In order to minimize your time and do maximize the outcome you need a social media plan. There are many questions to be answered.

The first one is the choice of your social media platform(s). To make the choice and the planning easier for you I created a free guide.

I can already tell you that a YouTube Channel is definitely on my list.

You Will Need Inspiration

Marketing is hard work and it often takes time until results show. Quite some time ago I created a comic about blogging.

The images are from an ancient photo album from an uncle’s attic.

Although I do not know the people it seems they are somehow related to me.

This Kindle book is free of charge as from February 3 until February 7, 2017. You can also read it on your PC; just install the Kindle app and enjoy.

POWER UP YOUR MARKETING BY SETTING UP A BRAND FIRST.

Two weeks ago I introduced Biz&Brands and the idea behind it. I also stated that every business needs to invest in marketing.

But what do we market at all? I believe we market a brand which of course immediately raises the question: “What is a brand?”

What Is A Brand?

The answer could vary depending on who you ask. The brand consultancy Prophet defines a strong brand as one that makes a difference in consumer’s lives. To me this definition is quite convincing. They also established what they call a Brand Relevant Index that lists the top 50 most relevant brands in Germany, the UK and the United States.

They also emphasize that a onetime shot is not enough by far. A relevant brand must deliver constant value to the clients.

What does a Brand consist of?

First of all we need a product, a service or a very specific field of experience. A brand shows what we stand for.

Let’s take two examples:

  1. You set up a shoe shop
  2. You are a scientist in a special field

Than we need to know who and where our clients or peers are

  1. For the shoes there might be various possibilities: men, women, children, a specific sport if you design athletic shoes, even a specific geographic region for whatever reason
  2. Other scientists in your field, universities, book publishers

Now it is time for corporate identity.

Corporate identity is a very complex subject since it can comprise many aspects. After all we need to know what and who we are.

Some companies like for example McDonalds work with a franchising system and make sure all the restaurants look the same and the staff wears uniforms. Other companies have clear rules about how the receptionist has to greet customers and what the wording of their communication should look like.

An important ingredient to corporate identity is the company’s culture. It can be rather informal and people can show up jeans or more conservative. In the Anglo-Saxon world it is quite normal to address your colleagues by their first-names. This is not necessarily the case in European countries.

Moreover, what are your company’s values? Do you stand for tradition, great service or innovation? These values must be visible in your corporate design on which we will elaborate next week.

This is by the way the reason I missed out last week’s newsletter.

I modernised the corporate design of my blog, Biz&Brands and my personal website. Hope you like it.    

THE COLOURS OF 1980.

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We reach the 1980ies of which I have vivid fashion-memories such as hairdos that were difficult to fix because the idea strictly worked against gravity and BIG shoulder pads.

In my memory contrasting colours like black and white or black and red were very much in demand. But as it seems my brain works very selectively when it comes to the 80ies since my research reveals many other styles that were influential in this decade.

Wealth and Function

The famous series “Dallas” appeared on TV. The protagonists were mostly members of the Ewing family. They lived in Dallas, were obscenely wealthy, mean and street-smart. They thought and acted like cowboys. Since their money derived from the oil business they worked in offices and not in stables. Most of the time they seem to have forgotten about this since men wore cowboy hats and jeans while the ladies appeared in overpriced leather boots and dresses one would expect in a real saloon of the 19th century. Granted, for special occasions they returned to the 1980ies were the rest of us lived.

If we look at the UK we find Lady Diana; very shy at that time and dressed in big (probably hand-knitted) pullovers, trousers of cord – and rubber boots.

What looks like a series of errors today obviously inspired fashion designer Ralph Lauren. He enabled the rest of the world to dress like landed gentry.

Various Styles

To be perfectly honest I am not surprised that I cannot remember more particular styles that were in vogue during the eighties since it seems to me that the styles were competing so much that none of them was really domineering.

A look at the nineties and at my memories of that decade makes it clear that individuality prevailed over a certain type of colours or fashion.

Personally, I appreciate diversity but for my writing it means that I have to switch the subject and to close my series “colours of a century”.
   

THE COLOURS OF 1970.

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Back to Nature

If there is one decade I am colour-wise allergic to it is the 70ies. Many buildings still suffer from this “style”. Orange tiles in bathrooms and kitchens, olive green or dark brown carpets. Not to forget the wooden (of course brown) ceilings that make sure a room looks like a box. Buildings that were constructed around 1910 typically have high ceilings that are embellished with stucco. Only about half of it survived the 70ies.

If I read about the 70ies it looks as if people wanted to go back to nature. I did not know that stucco is the enemy of nature and neither was I aware that only autumn (orange, dark red, brown and olive are the dominating colours in the European autumn) are natural.

Disco and Punk

Now I step off my soapbox.

The 70ies also gave room to the disco culture which stands for bright and cheerful colours such as pink, yellow, electric blue, red and also black. John Travolta’s white suit and Karen Lynn Gorney’s red dress in louche darkness should become legend. Alluring Donna Summer appeared in sparkling dresses, blue boots and big hair.

Not to forget another rebellious crowd: the punks. Granted, their outfits were mainly black – or at least dark. But think of their hair: blue, green and pink or a mixture of it all. Although a Mohawk reminds me to cockscomb going back to nature was not their mission.

THE COLOURS OF 1960.

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The 60ies were dominated by the era of John F. Kennedy. When he was elected president of the United States in 1960 hope and optimism was in the air. When he was assassinated in 1963 all hope seemed lost.

Politics and Fashion

The First Lady was renowned for her elegance. In 1962 she travelled India. The influential Life Magazine published photo reportages of her doing all that tourist stuff and still looking ravishing in pink and red robes. Inspired by this Vogue published articles about Indian textiles which of course even enhanced the glamour and Indian textiles soon became a hit. At the same time the American poet Allen Ginsberg travelled to India and fell in love with this country.

While Jackie Kennedy heavily influenced fashion Ginsberg triggered people’s interest in Buddhism. Some say that the two of them were a large inspiration for the Hippie generation to pilgrimage to India in order to find illumination. Even the Beatles went to an ashram in India.

Colours

According to Vogue’s editor in chief pink was the blue marine in India. In other words a wardrobe without pink was not complete.

In the article about the roaring 20ies we discussed the discovery of exoticism. In the 60ies it had a revival. The slogan “black is beautiful” said it all and magazines like “Life” and the “Lady’s home journal” put a black model on their cover page in 1969.

Pop Art

The movement of Pop Art already emerged in the 1950ies. In the 60ies, Andy Warhol developed a brand new technique for his art where even soup cans became iconic.

Besides Campbell soups (I guess their market value exploded with Warhol’s fame) his most famous model was Marilyn Monroe.

Pantone

In the pilot article of this series I shortly introduced Pantone. During my research for this article I found more facts on this system.

The printer Lawrence Herbert was sick and tired of his client’s complaints that he did not deliver exactly the shade they ordered. One day he had THE idea. In 1963 he contacted 21 ink manufacturers and introduced his idea on the Pantone Matching System. At this time he had the 10 first colours specified. Each had a clear formula and a number. Within two weeks he had contracts with 20 of these manufacturers. The 10 shades remind us a lot to the ones Andy Warhol used for his art.

On 1964 he brought the Pantone colour specifier to the market. More colours were added to the system. Today Pantone comprises several hundreds of different shades; specified and numbered.
   

THE COLOURS OF 1950.

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It seems to me as if the fifties try to make undone all the horror but also all the progress that was made in the 20st century until before the beginning of WW2.

Home

Home should be a place to be oneself and to be happy. There is nothing wrong with it. Men came back from war and expected things to be the way they were when they left. Women, on the other hand had to do the “a man’s work” during the war plus they managed the household and the kids.

First of all they needed equipment to get the work done faster and all the electric devices came in handy. Once their husbands were back home the old order was restored. Men earned the family income and their wives looked after them, the kids and the household. In 1950 an American TV show “Father knows best” represented the new ideal. The title says it all…

Mostly pastel colours were in use and also the darker shades were unobtrusive.

Hollywood

Hollywood always had a big impact on fashion and society. While women in the movies of the 20ies often were tough and strong-minded the beauties of the 50ies were the exact opposite. They were inline with the ideal of a perfect hope. Grace Kelly always the perfect lady dressed in cool colours. Or charming Audrey Hepburn who always looked innocent and wide-eyed.

I am a big fan of “Ben Hur”, “The ten commandments” or “Quo vadis”. Despite the ancient stories Hollywood’s interpretation is very 50ies.

Although I have to admit that I prefer the 20ies by far from the 50ies the reaction is understandable.

Abstract Expressionism

However, the anguish of war and the fear that was ignited by the Cold War were not completely banished.

Some say that Abstract Expressionism was a reaction to these events. Artists used different techniques for their creations. Famous Jackson Pollock for instance used knives or his bare hands instead of brushes.

Just for the records: The abstract expressionists used very dark and very vivid colours. Useless to look for pastel shades there.