Friday, 28 October 2011

So what is marketing exactly?

Now there’s a question....…well not surprisingly it’s made up of quite a number of components some of which are obvious and some not so. The starting point is having a strategic plan for the business, and a business strategy revolves around marketing; indeed it is the cornerstone on which a commercial organisation is built. A company needs to understand and communicate with its customers in order to sell its products and services and that is basically what most people consider marketing to be about, however it’s a much wider subject than that. Before you can embark on any marketing campaign be it through traditional paper methods or digital media you must have a marketing plan, and before you can put together a plan there must be a strategy. A strategy requires some other components of marketing such as market research and analysis of the target market and what if any competition is operating within it. This way an understanding is gained of the potential size of the opportunity, where your products and brand stand within it, and what the perception of quality and price point of your company and its products are in relation to your competitors. Now there is a bit more to it than this but essentially before moving forward those are the fundamentals.

Positioning your brand (which could be your company name) is essential at this stage as changing it at a later date can be pretty expensive (see previous blog) so before printing or building anything make sure you take time to think this through. Next before embarking on any creative design work or campaign you need to have a marketing plan. This will detail all the marketing activities, campaigns, and deadlines, along with roles and responsibilities, which should of course link back to the strategy.

Now you can move onto the design and build which is where the brochures, websites, mailings, social media, company collateral (business cards, headed paper, compliments slips etc.) come in, oh and of course not forgetting any branding or re-branding design work that’s required. So when all that’s done that’s it right? Well no, not really. There’s no point going through all that and not putting checks and balances in place to ensure you’re on track. You need to have an understanding of how to measure whether everything you’ve put in place is working or not. This involves introducing measurements (sometimes referred to as metrics) to link sales & marketing costs and activities together to ensure success and efficiency. In addition the strategy and plan should incorporate measurement’s to determine that the plan is progressing as expected or not, these are normally referred to as KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and be prepared to amend your strategy we’ve all become painfully aware lately that the only certainty in life is that things change.

So that’s it now is it……..well…no there’s things like PR (public relations) newsletters, exhibitions, advertising, promotions, flyers, mailers, electronic email campaigns, banner ads, oh and not forgetting social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
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Friday, 21 October 2011

So what is in a name? or more precisely, behind a name?

Choosing a company name seems easy, but names are chosen or evolve for a variety of reasons, so it can be quite complex. Whether starting out or looking to diversify, there should always be strategic reasoning behind the decision. Large or small a company should  have a strategy supporting what it does and why it does it. The strategy document itself needn’t fill a bookshelf, but in its basic form it should address these three questions, where am I now? Where do I want to be? How am I going to get there?

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While normally spanning 3 or 5 years, a strategy shouldn’t be rigid, it should be regarded as a living thing to be re-visited and tested regularly and revised where necessary. We have all become painfully aware lately that the only certainty in life is that things change, so its more important than ever to adapt our strategies to meet whatever market and economic challenges arise.

So does this mean a company name or brand can be changed. Yes of course, there’s a famous global sportswear brand that launched as Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964 and changed to Nike (Greek goddess of victory) in 1978. However there should always be sound motivations to doing this as it can come with hefty financial consequences so it’s not for the faint-hearted.

Simplicity of branding is a strategy a lot of well-known companies have adopted when changing their name, take for example; IBM (International Business Machines), BP (British Petroleum), B&Q (Block & Quayle), and more recently HP (Hewlett Packard), and M&S (Marks & Spencer). The abbreviation route is not however for everyone.

An alternative strategy is to promote the brand rather than the company like Research In Motion (RIM) who are better know as Blackberry, or Proctor & Gamble who have brands such as Braun, Gillette, and Duracell. This is perhaps a safe strategy as it makes diversification easier.

The boldest strategy is to adopt the company name as the brand, two famous examples being Apple and Virgin. This approach creates the greatest opportunity but brings with it the most risk.

So are there any hard and fast rules to follow, yes and no. Yes you should have a strategy that defines your company’s target market, customers, and its future, what you name it is up to you. However a little careful forethought can save a lot of time and money down the line.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Whats in a name?

I was at a local networking event recently when this chap asked me where does “Zine” (his pronunciation) come from then. It transpired that he had an interest in where companies got their names from so firstly I explained that it was in fact pronounced “Zen” the “i” is silent and then proceeded to tell him the story of the M Y Zein.

The Zein has had many names and many owners since she was built in 1928 and first commissioned in Southampton. She weighed in at 298 tons, 147 feet long, with a 23-foot beam and a draft of 12 feet. Mr. Soulas the owner, named her the "Monica" after his daughter. He kept her for four years before selling her to a Greek gentleman named Zarch Couyoumbian who changed her name to "Rion." He kept her for only two years. In 1938, she was acquired by Sir George Tilley, chairman of the Prudential Insurance Co., who enjoyed her until 1939, when the British Government conscripted her for the war effort.

After the war HMS “Noir” (as she was now called) was acquired by a Panama-registered charter firm owned by Aristotle Onassis and renamed “Arion.” When his daughter Christina was born, Onassis built a larger vessel, which he named after his daughter.

Then came what is perhaps the M Y Zein’s most famous chapter in it’s history when Aristotle Onassis gave the “Arion” to Prince Ranier and Princess Grace of Monaco as a wedding present. The royal couple named her the “Deo Juvente II” and honeymooned aboard her, cruising the coasts of Corsica and Sardina. They kept the ship until 1958 and since then she again has had several names and owners.

In 1989 John Issa, Chairman of the SuperClubs hotel chain acquired her at a government auction. She was given a complete refit in Tampa, Florida and began promotional cruises for SuperClubs up and down the East Coast, now named “Zein” after one of John Issa’s twin daughters.

Motor Yacht Zein - Negril, Jamaica
The M/Y “Zein” arrived in Negril, Jamaica for the opening of the Grand Lido Negril hotel on 8 Mile beach in 1989 and it was here that my wife and I were fortunate to sail on her twice, on the 19th & 25th November 2004 when attending the wedding of a friend where I was his best man.

So why so specific, well on the 25th November 2004 I proposed to my now wife aboard the M Y Zein and we were married exactly one year later in the same resort with my friend reciprocating as my best man. So she holds a very special place in our hearts and we couldn’t think of a better name for our company than that.