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Published on Tuesday 24th of January 2017
Essential global marketing strategies for business expansion.
Are you planning to go international? Is your business ready for global markets? If your business is in the process of global expansion or if you are considering entry to the US, here are 5 international marketing strategies for successful entry to new markets:
Research the Targeted International Market
Many companies skip this crucial step and jump right to market penetration. They open an office in their target market and hire a local salesperson. After a year or two, this office still has more expenses than revenue. As an alternative, we suggest to conduct brief research to identify local market needs. This helps identify specific market trends, competitors and ways the solution can be customized to meet demand.
This step delivers a positioning strategy that enables you to refine your marketing messaging and definition of potential client segments. For example, if you would like to enter the US market, you should first determine what states are a good fit for your solution and focus first on these regions. This will lower your initial costs and enhance the likelihood of turning prospects into clients.
Create an Actionable Marketing Plan
Instead of a taking advantage of a short planning phase, most SMEs choose to respond to random opportunities. For example, a potential reseller contacts them and they say to themselves: “Sure, why not bring them onboard.” After 2 years, it turns out that the reseller is not delivering results. By this point, the company has invested a lot of resources to train this reseller.
To avoid this scenario, we suggest building a marketing plan to generate demand in the targeted international markets, based on the initial research (as described in Step 1) and available budget. Choose international marketing tactics that enable you to focus on the target market that best fits your product / service and incites prospects to learn more about your offering, while your sales team is still operating from your headquarters. If your company is looking to develop a distribution network, our plan will include a process to identify, validate and monitor resellers.
Adjust Branding/ Messaging
International markets are different and there are many considerations to examine. Trade barriers, proximity, and currency are some of them. But what about cultural differences? How do you handle these?
To this end, we implement the positioning strategy from Step 1 and make sure to adjust the website, sales and marketing material and other documents to reflect the newly suggested messaging. After all, if your messaging does not match your target market, potential clients may not be as attracted to your solution.
Customize the International Marketing Plan
While executing the marketing plan, you want to make sure that you have someone on your team who understands the cultural or language nuances. A lot of the times, companies assume that they can deploy marketing tactics the same way they do in their local market. This is not necessarily true. We have seen campaigns where the use of certain wording in a different context results in market rejection. Sometimes, colors in one culture drive a message that a company had no intention to evoke, impacting the attractiveness of their solution. Thus, it is important for an expert in the targeted market to review the implementation before it goes international.
Measure Impact and Improve
You need to measure each international marketing campaign on a regular basis to ensure the company receives the desired results. The assessment should not only concentrate on quantitative, but also on qualitative aspects. Though the number of prospective clients is important, we highly suggest to assess the quality of the prospects and define whether the potential clients meets the specific definition of the potential client base defined in Step 1.
Follow the above steps and you will manage to go international safely. If you have questions or you would like us to assist you with developing international marketing strategies, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Published on Thursday 1st of September 2016
Successful business models evolve over time. Have you reviewed yours lately?
In recent years, a number of leading companies worldwide have been shaken by newcomers to the scene. Ignoring the writing on the wall, these market leaders omitted to rethink their once successful business model, and now they are too late. As of 2015, just 12% of 1955’s Fortune 500 companies in the US, which include IBM and 3M, remained on the list. Similarly, just 7 years after Research in Motion (Blackberry) made the top 10 of Fortune's 100 Fastest Growing Companies, it has dropped from the list.
As Richard Foster of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute said: “The average lifespan of a company listed in the [Standard & Poor’s 500 Index] has decreased from 67 years in the 1920s to 15 years today.” The global economy has undergone a series of drastic changes - and these shifts aren’t over yet. Therefore, companies need a successful business model that evolves.
Drastic economic changes that led to shifts in business practices
You are probably familiar with some of the most drastic economic changes of the last decade. Some of these include:
- Moving from the physical to the virtual. With the rise of popular online retailers like Amazon and Alibaba, shopping has shifted to the online sphere. While online businesses thrive, many "brick and mortar" giants, like RadioShack and Chapters, failed to adapt their business plan to the times and were forced out of business. Wal-Mart on the other end, managed to capitalize on this trend and is now one of the top 10 online retailers in the world.
- Ownership to sharing assets. Using shared assets, companies like Airbnb have taken over an entire sector of the holiday rental market. Today, Airbnb reports over $10 billion in annual revenue, which exceeds that of large hotel chains.
- A renewable energy economy. With sustainability becoming an increasing concern, the focus is starting to shift towards renewable energy. In 2015, electric car manufacturer Tesla was rated the 10th most valuable global car brand, tied with Porsche and beating Lexus.
- "Every thing" matters. The Montreal Transport Society (STM) recently started to implement bus telemetry to provide exact bus location and arrival times to smartphones, allowing for 20-30% travel time reduction for passengers. Buses are just one example of "things" that communicate. We are entering a new era of the "Internet of Things" (IoT) where "things" will communicate with people or with other "things" to monitor health, energy consumption and maintenance as well as to automate daily processes.
In order to make this article as concise as possible, we’ve held back from listing many other trends.
Do you need to reassess your business model?
Stay on top of the trends that are relevant to your business to ensure a continuously profitable business model.
Re-evaluate your business model. Maybe you’ll see the need to create a new plan or to adjust your existing model. After all, you do not want to find yourself in the same situation as the taxi drivers when Uber rolled into town!
For help on developing a successful business model suited to a new business reality, Contact us today!
Published on Wednesday 25th of May 2016
Develop a strong, successful marketing strategy by combining lead generation and nurturing
Acquiring new B2B customers is an exciting but challenging process. As you know, demand creation does not happen overnight. Businesses must pinpoint - and analyze - their target market. They must develop an effective marketing strategy. Then, they need to engage with prospects and convert as many as possible into sales. To increase your conversion rate, you must first understand the roles of both B2B lead generation and lead nurturing.
Lead Generation and Lead Nurturing Defined
Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting prospects who show initial interest. Meanwhile, lead nurturing consists of building relationships with potential clients. They might not be ready to buy your solution, but they could be in the future. This is sometimes called drip marketing.
Lead nurturing serves to increase a prospect’s knowledge and shape his or her perception of a specific solution. Simply put, lead nurturing serves to build trust between your company and the prospect. That way, prospects are more likely to choose your solution when comes time to decide.
Lead Generation Versus Lead Nurturing
We’ve set up a table outlining the difference between these B2B marketing strategies. Lead generation serves to help your sales team find new prospects. This type of generic campaign will help you identify initial interest in your product/service.
Meanwhile, lead nurturing has a different goal: to turn prospects into clients. With this type of marketing tactic, you’re in it for the long haul. You will build a relationship with your prospects throughout the buying cycle. You’ll be creating customized campaigns tailored to their needs.
To find new prospects
To convert a prospect into a client
Until you identify initial interest
Throughout the buying cycle
Source: Direct Objective Consulting
In short, B2B lead generation and lead nurturing are two sides of the same coin. These aspects of B2B marketing complement each other. When performed well, together, they will help you generate more conversions.
Do you need help setting up lead generation or lead nurturing campaigns? Would you like to find out about these B2B marketing strategies? Contact us today!
Published on Wednesday 13th of April 2016
Is it time for new SEO best practices? Google recently made drastic algorithm changes. Here are a few Google SEO directions:
- Focusing less on individual keywords
- Rewarding better quality and authentic content
- Assessing web usability and performance
- Relying on established online reputation
We chose the top 5 search engine optimization tips to assist you in getting your site ranked high.
1. Ensure Proper Website Coding
Keywords no longer play as crucial a role in SEO as they used to. Regardless, your site must maintain a lexical correlation between the following:
- Web page’s title
- Meta description
- Header (H1)
These elements need to be unique and should describe the page well. Make life easier for Google’s search engine when it is differentiating between content and code. The more you use structured data methodologies, the better your website will rank.
Finally, ensure your coding is errorless to avoid search engine crawling failure.
This alone is not enough to achieve high SEO ranking. All the same, these are mandatory prerequisites for all optimization efforts!
2. Post Unique Content
One of the top SEO practices for 2016 is to write quality content. Google likes to index sites that offer valuable information in answer to specific questions. As such, Google looks at pages to see if they provide a good answer to a frequently searched question.
This means that Google is now after long-tail keywords and highly readable content. For example, “What is SEO”. Long-tail content consists of:
- Short sentences
- Words with two syllables
Google chooses to feed selected content into its Direct Answers box at the top of the search results or into its knowledge graph box on the top right (see examples below).
When searching “what is SEO”, a Google box appears on the top with a definition taken from a highly ranked page.
Google Knowledge Graph: when you search for a term such as “Direct Objective Consulting”, Google will display a box on the top right, providing all the key information about the company.
3. Create a Positive User Experience
SEO ranking is no longer based only on your site’s design and content. Instead, Google is looking to understand how readers react to your website. The more positive experience your site projects the more likely your efforts will further online lead generation.
Here are some things Google looks into:
- Do readers spend a long time on your pages? (Time on site)
- What links do users click on? (Click-through rate)
- What is your website’s performance?
- Is your site mobile-ready?
4. Integrate Social Media
Social media plays a major role in our life today. Google knows this and looks at how accepted a brand, product, or service is based on its social presence. It is essential to integrate social media into your website. Google will then be able to see traffic coming and going from your social channels.
5. Build Your Online Reputation
This is the most difficult practice to achieve. In a way, your online reputation will grow over time. But only if the other SEO best practices are well implemented.
We should aim to constantly increase our authority in our fields. You can do so by:
- Referring to domains with an established online reputation in your business area, or
- Serving as a source of reliable information in a specific area of interest.
Here's the bottom line: strive to become the authoritative source in specific subject matters related to your business.
As we have seen, SEO best practices have changed quite dramatically. But as long as you keep these tips in mind, you will see results. Start by error-proofing your website code, then focus on creating original content. Offer a rewarding user experience and incorporate social media. Over time, your online reputation will grow.
Contact us today for more advice on implementing 2016’s SEO best practices.
Published on Tuesday 24th of November 2015
The top 6 questions to ask yourself when performing your company’s website audit
I meet owners of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on a weekly basis and the very first thing I do is look at their company’s website. Websites are indicative of how much focus your company puts into marketing, both online and offline. Nowadays, your company’s site acts as the window to your brand’s soul, so it is worth performing a regular website audit to make sure you are obtaining optimal site ROI.
Let me suggest a few questions to allow you to perform a quick website audit and to determine whether or not your company’s site is “healthy”. Please answer the following questions by saying “yes” or “no”:
- Does your company’s website generate enough weekly or monthly inquiries?
- Would a person who lands for the first time on the site understand in 1 minute what you offer and why they should do business with you?
- Have you changed your web design in the last two years?
- Do you develop new, original content for the site on a regular basis?
- Is your company’s site mobile-friendly?
- Do you track and measure how your site is doing?
If you answered “no” to at least two of the above questions, you should consider investing more in marketing activities to increase your company’s website ROI and to start bringing in additional prospective clients.
If you would like my advice, contact me and I’ll be happy perform a website audit for you.
Published on Tuesday 6th of October 2015
Tips for successful online lead generation and what it can mean for your business.
Websites have come a long way from the online brochures they once were. Beginning as catalogues, websites quickly evolved into information and knowledge providers. Savvy business owners then began creating e-commerce sites. Social media giants took it a step further by using websites as communication and community building tools. Websites continue to evolve. Through the years, one common theme remains. The most important roles of a website are, and have always been, to further online lead generation and to create demand.
Nowadays, having a website is an essential part of your business’s marketing efforts, but online lead generation should be the ultimate goal of your cyber endeavors. After all, there’s no better way to reach out to potential clients than by having a website that impresses upon first glance. Chances are, you’re already investing in your website’s design and the necessary technology to keep it up-to-date. Although these are essential elements of a good website, they won’t further B2B lead generation on their own.
Read on to learn more about the three main tactics that contribute to increasing leads for your business:
Make your website easy to find through Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Through a targeted SEO strategy, your website will benefit from a higher ranking on search engines like Google and will receive more attention (i.e., visits, reads & clicks). Some of these clicks will turn into leads. Establishing a successful SEO strategy is a complex process. Start by choosing the right keywords for your business. Once you’ve picked your keywords, infuse them naturally into your content. Don’t sweat it if you don’t see results immediately, as it sometimes takes several weeks or months for websites to rank highly on search engines.
Engage your audience with a focused, relevant message which provides value to them
Prospective clients will spend more time on a website that is informative and relevant to their needs. If you have a focused positioning message that flows well and is engaging for your audience, your website will achieve a higher ranking and will attract and convert additional traffic into business inquiries and leads. When creating content for your website, ask yourself what potential clients want to know about your solution and explain it to them in a clear manner. Once prospective customers have gotten to your website, if they find the content to be well-written and well-structured, chances are you will see a surge in online lead generation (i.e., inquiries).
Improve your online B2B lead generation with authentic content
One thing search engines love is authentic content. And if search engines are happy, this means that your website is much more likely to attract more traffic and generate new leads. Show potential clients that your products and services stand out from your competitors’ by offering something new and different when they click through your pages. Use catchy headlines, well-written, original text and offer a fresh perspective on industry trends and challenges. Unique content isn’t limited to the website’s text (though this is essential) but also includes the website’s design, videos, forums, podcasts and infographics. A stylish, original design in line with your company’s branding not only consolidates your business’s image but will enhance your visitors’ experience, ultimately building trust and increasing online lead generation.
Once you have optimized your company’s website for search engines, crafted a focused message and ensured the content you display is authentic, you will be ready for increased unique visitor rates, daily relevant web enquiries and more time spent on your website by potential clients. Online lead generation may take some restructuring of your website but it is well worth the effort.
Ready to get more web enquiries and increase your B2B lead generation? Contact us to see how we can assist you in making it happen today!
Published on Thursday 3rd of September 2015
Taking your B2B branding to the next level with a modern corporate logo design.
On September 1st, Google introduced its new logo and corporate identity.
|Google's Old Logo||Google's New Logo|
Many of you may be wondering: "Why change your logo when your existing brand has such worldwide recognition?" Google explained its motivations in a detailed blog post but the reasoning can be summed up as follows: the Google of today isn't anything like the Google of 2013, when Google last changed their logo. Google's new branding reflects recent changes in their offering and positioning strategyas well as their vision for the future of the company. Is it time for your company to adjust its corporate logo?
See whether it is time for a logo refresh by answering the following questions:
Was your logo updated in the last 18 months or so?If your logo looks old-fashioned, your clients will wonder whether your company and its offering are antiquated too. In order to avoid appearing obsolete, your logo should follow design best practices which emphasize simplicity and clarity as well as responsiveness. Is it time to change your corporate branding?
Does your logo reflect your evolution? Your organization has introduced new features, products and services due to new strategies and trends in your target market, but what about your logo? As a key item of your corporate branding, your logo should reflect what you do and why you do it in the present, not the past.
Do you feel that your target market trusts your branding? Companies go through different phases in their life cycle. They become mature and experienced in their field. Sometimes they enter into a crisis or build their reputation in an area that does not match their image. Changing your corporate branding can revive your target market's perception of your company and demonstrate your "real image."
If the answer to any of these questions is no, then it's time to consider investing in fine-tuning and refreshing your corporate logo.
One example of a recent successful logo refresh is eXplorance. In the past year, eXplorance grew significantly with an expanding international clientele, a series of new products, and improved methodological processes. As part of their new corporate branding, eXplorance launched an energized version of their logo and explained in their press release the reasoning for that change.
|eXplorance's Old Logo||eXplorance's New Logo|
With the new logo, eXplorance was able to strengthen their identity as an innovative market leader.
Are you in need of a logo refresh? Contact Direct Objective to develop a logo that reflects your corporate identity.
Published on Tuesday 28th of July 2015
In our current highly driven social media society (with nearly 2.1 billion active users) marketing is no longer a one-on-one process. It has now become the art of getting approval from the people that are most influencing your market and your targeted clients. One segment that most SMEs neglect is that of technology analysts.
Why are technology analysts so important? They act as a strategic source of information for the entire industry. Technology analysts provide your clients with accurate statistics, targeted recommendations, as well as reviews of innovative products and services within the industry. These reports are used by your industry buyers to strategically shorten the purchasing process.
How can SMEs "grab" technology analysts' attention? Either they make a big splash through an expensive and flashy marketing campaign (though this is not a guaranteed way to draw analysts' attention) or they build analyst relations through vendor briefings. Most SMEs cannot afford a flashy campaign which is why they rely on the latter. During vendor briefings, IT vendors have the opportunity to present their products and services to technology analysts. If they successfully communicate the innovativeness of their solution, technology analysts may choose to include the SME in their industry report.
There are four major benefits to being incorporated in an analyst's industry report:
- Selling more. Analyst recommendations (and industry reports) shape the thinking of technology buyers. Potential clients will be more likely to consider your firm if you have been publicly recognized by an analyst.
- Building and establishing a company's credible reputation. In today's highly competitive market, it is challenging for young companies to compete against those who have 10 or 15 years experience and a long client list. By using technology analysts and vendor briefings, companies may increase their chances of building a solid, reputable name for their business.
- Achieving more positive press coverage. An analyst quote may strengthen and help shape the thinking of journalists. The media plays an important role in influencing the buyer's action towards a certain product or service. If the solution is represented positively by a relevant journalist's coverage, there is a greater chance that a potential customer will be persuaded to purchase it.
- Improving your products and services. An independent perspective on your company's direction and positioning strengthens thinking and go-to-market strategies. Technology analysts are constantly in sync with market trends and thus they can quickly assess the innovativeness of your solutions and sometimes provide feedback.
Many SMEs are reluctant to approach technology analysts due to two major myths behind vendor briefings:
- "Vendor briefings are only for large companies" - in fact, vendor briefings are for any company size whether you have 3 or 300 employees. The best way to get a briefing is to develop an innovative product or service, demonstrate the market need for such a solution, and provide the required resources to bring the solution to market.
- "Vendor briefings are too expensive" - all vendor briefings are FREE. In order to assess solutions in an unbiased manner, technology analysts do not charge for vendor briefings. The only cost that companies may incur is that of conducting a bad vendor briefing when they are not fully prepared, have insufficient understanding of global markets or fail to differentiate their innovation.
Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Contact us today to leverage the power of technology analysts.