What Happens When A Company Reduces Its Marketing?

What Happens When A Company Reduces Its Marketing?

Communication, Featured

If you haven’t heard of Blue Apron, it is a food delivery service that ships recipes and the needed ingredients to its customers packed in dry ice. It also has a few problems. The biggest one is that there is no difference between it and its competitors, one of which is Amazon. Additionally, the market for the company and its competitors is more limited than it originally thought. Faced with increased competition and a shrinking market, Blue Apron made the decision that it had to cut costs, and the first thing it cut was its marketing budget.

What Blue Apron found out was that cutting its marketing also cut its sales. New customers dropped and when Blue Apron announced its earnings, so did its stock price. Blue Apron found that cutting its marketing was the biggest mistake it could make because it’s competitors didn’t. Since there was no differentiation between the companies, customers went to the one in front of them. They went to the company they saw in commercials and showed up on websites they looked at.

Marketing is not a luxury. Marketing is how customers learn about your company. Without marketing, your customers won’t find you. If they don’t find you, they don’t buy from you.

Stay Away From The Race To The Bottom

Stay Away From The Race To The Bottom

Customer, Featured, Planning

It can happen in any industry. One company decides to lower their prices. Then another decides to match or beat them. Then a third. Before you know it, the companies are locked in a race to the bottom to see who can offer the lowest price. By lowering the price, the company hopes to bring in new customers. There are several problems with this theory though.

  • Customer loyalty: Customers that jump on to the lowest are not loyal customers. Studies with coupons have shown that customers whose main focus is price will jump to another product if that price is lower. Customers that are drawn in by low prices are difficult and expensive to keep.
  • Quality: There is only so much you can cut prices before it affects the quality of your product or service. That loss in quality will chase away your existing customers, even as the price brings in new ones.
  • It’s tough to climb back up: Once customers get used to paying a lower or discounted price it becomes difficult to get them to pay higher prices for the same product or service. Walmart found this out when they tried to raise prices. They faced an exodus of customers who went elsewhere in search of lower prices.

Stay out of the race to the bottom. Compete on quality or compete on results. Competing on price is a minefield.

Don’t Stick By Outdated Plans

Don’t Stick By Outdated Plans

Featured, Process

planAs your business evolves, the original master plan you came up with grows obsolete and needs to be replaced. New technology, changes in competition, and unforeseen situations cause processes that made sense when you started break down. Things that seemed simple become complex, inefficient, and time-consuming. Rebuild and simplify your processes to refocus your efforts.

  • Focus on the big picture. Cut any systemic practices that have outgrown their usefulness. How you accomplish your goal is less important than what you are accomplishing. If an outdated process is making it more complicated to reach that goal, get rid of it. Just because you have always done it one way, doesn’t mean that is still the best way.
  • Delegate. It may have been logical to do everything at the beginning. As you move closer to your goal it makes sense to bring in people with expertise to take over parts of the project. Have others oversee individual areas to speed up the process.
Scarcity Leads To Innovation

Scarcity Leads To Innovation

Featured, Innovation

constraintNecessity is the mother of invention. When times or resources are tight, people usually figure out how to make due: they create work-arounds, devise new ways of operating, and make better use of limited assets.

If you’re looking for a creative solution or an innovative new product, remember that creative problem-solving is the inevitable result of working with constraints. Try deliberately imposing scarcity on a process. Limit time, money, options, or other resources.

A great example is the work done by NASA during the flight of Apollo 13. They needed to build a CO2 scrubber (a filter that removes carbon dioxide from the air) but were limited by the fact that they could only work with what the astronauts had on the ship. They also had to devise a new process to power up all of the ship’s systems, without going over power constraints.

Set up a series of requirements and limitations and get creative. Innovation is a strategic advantage and you can coax it along using this method.

To see how a Modern Observer Group coach/consultant can help you innovate and overcome constraints, contact us.

Five Steps To Financial Security

Five Steps To Financial Security

Featured, Improvement, Personal Growth

Financial SecurityNo matter what your definition of success, most of us want at least enough money to keep us from worrying about paying bills and be able to handle emergencies if they come up. Better still is enough to retire comfortably. However much money you define as your goal, interviews with self-made millionaires have revealed a five steps anyone can take to improve your financial situation.

  1. Live Within Your Means: One thing all self-made millionaires agree on is that you have to live within your means. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Don’t live in a home larger than you need. Don’t pay for tv channels you don’t watch. Take advantage of sales on things you do need. Ideally, you should live on no more than 70% of your income, but in places with high living costs or if you are saddled with high debt you may have to work your way down to that. Take advantage of warehouse clubs (like Costco or Sam’s Club), discount supermarkets (like Aldi), and sales at stores you regularly shop at.
  2. Quality Over Quantity: When you do buy things, it is better to buy higher quality and less quantity. It is better to have one great suit than three cheap ones. The reasoning behind this is two-fold. Financially you will spend less on high quality items over the long run because they won’t need to be replaced as often. Psychologically the higher quality items  make you feel less like you’re scrimping and saving.
  3. Invest: No one ever became a millionaire on their salary. Start with an interest-bearing savings account. When you have  put aside enough (even if you can only save a few dollars a month) start investing in stocks or mutual funds. While it may take you awhile to save up enough to use a financial adviser, you can start with services like RobinHood that allow you buy individual stocks with no commissions and no minimums. You can start with less than you think. As of this writing stocks like GE, Bank of America, and Ford are all available for less than $25 a share (I am not recommending you buy any of these. I am using them as examples of low-cost stocks). Before doing anything with stocks, research and talk to experts. As you grow your savings and portfolio, it is worth it to use a financial advisor.
  4. Read: Keep up to date on what is going on in the world. Keep learning and improving your skills. The easiest way to do this is to read. Most experts recommend reading at least one book a month.
  5. Network: Finally, your net worth can be improved by your network. Spend time with people who are where you want to be. They can bring you opportunities and help introduce you to people who can help you along your journey.

This is not a get rich quick plan. It takes time and effort. Sticking with these tips will improve your financial position over time.

For more ways to improve your life and business, talk to a Modern Observer Group Coach.

Put a Meeting-Free Day on Your Weekly Calendar

Put a Meeting-Free Day on Your Weekly Calendar

Featured, Focus

meetingsDay after day we get caught up in the minutia that we have to do. It’s difficult to rise above the din and focus on strategic projects. To clear some mental space and make progress on your larger goals, give yourself one meeting-free day each week. Block it off on your calendar and commit to leaving the whole day open for work. Use the time for tasks that require focus and high-level thinking, such as writing, strategic planning, or analysis.

To get the most out your meeting-free day, choose two to three discrete deliverables you’ll accomplish and record them in your calendar. Commit to moving these items — and only these items — forward. It might feel awkward at first to ignore or delay emails and daily tasks so you can focus on your planned project. But once you get in the groove and realize how great it feels to get so much done, it will get easier.

Stay Motivated By Focusing On Your Customer

Stay Motivated By Focusing On Your Customer

Attitude and Mindset, Customer, Featured

motivatedRoutines have good and bad results. The good is that they provide consistency. The bad is that they can sap your motivation. Doing the same thing over and over can be mind numbing. How can you stay motivated?

One way is to focus on your customer. We all want to know that what we do matters. Remembering that what you do affects and helps people can boost your motivation. Creating a concrete picture of your impact can be self-affirming as well as motivational. Studies have shown that cooks feel more motivated and work harder when they see people eating their food, for example. Even if the results of your work aren’t tangible, thinking about specific names and stories of those who benefit from your efforts can offer a window into the good that you are doing.

Go beyond what you do and look at what effects your work has. Look at what your customer is ultimately getting. Your work allows them to improve their work. That allows them to make a better living and improve their life. Your product keeps your customer safe. Your work alleviates a problem that held your customer back. Whatever it is, the key is to make a direct connection from your work to those who benefit.

To learn how a Modern Observer coach can help you, use the contact form here

5 Tips For Achieving Your Goals

5 Tips For Achieving Your Goals

Featured, Focus, Improvement, Planning

ChecklistFocus is one of the key elements in building your success. A major part of that focus is having goals to focus on. Your goals provide you with both something to focus on and a way to measure your progress as you move forward. To get you started, here are five tips for setting and achieving goals to better aid your endeavors.

Be Specific and Set A Deadline: Vague goals are unattainable.  While the goal of “bringing in more sales” is an admirable, it is also lacking specificity.  Your goals need to be realistic and measurable, which means you need to be specific about your objectives.  How many sales are you aiming for? How do you intend to bring in more sales?  What specific steps do you need to do to accomplish this?  Once you establish specific goals, you need to assign them deadlines in order to ensure you see them through.

Develop A Plan Of Action: Even with specific goals, you still need to have a plan for achieving them.  Goals are a lot like trips — you cannot expect to reach your destination if you do not know what route to take.  For goals, that means creating an outline or punch list that breaks down your goals into bite-sized, manageable steps easily integrated into your daily work life.

Review Goals: Check your goals periodically. What have you done to achieve them? Talk this over with other people. If your goal is to be accomplished by a team, review it with them.  Reviewing goals allows everyone to get on the same page as their follow team members, which helps employees work more efficiently.

Incorporate Goals Into Life: Attaining your goals is a process, one that is reached gradually.  They will not fall into your lap already realized.  Instead, you must find ways to blend your everyday workload with strategies and tactics designed to achieve your goals in a concerted effort that simultaneously advances progress on your goals and improves your productivity.

Be Prepared For Changes: Life throws you curveballs.  You must accept that, because part of reaching your goals means being ready for those curveballs, being able to acclimate and being prepared to adjust your plan of action on the fly.  Goals are rarely, if ever, reached without a hitch.  Besides, adaptability is crucial in the business world.

Keep Your Presentation from Being Forgettable

Keep Your Presentation from Being Forgettable

Communication, Featured

presentationsAdvice on giving good presentations tends to focus on structure and style, but there’s something even more important to consider: getting your audience to remember your talk. Here’s how to make sure they remember what you say:

  • Follow the right sequence. Audiences remember the beginning and end of a talk most easily; they have more trouble remembering the middle. Get your most important point out right away and reinforce it at the end.
  • Draw connections.Making connections among the key points in your talk helps your audience remember them. The more connections you draw, the more chunks of information people will be able to recall later.
  • Make the audience work. Audiences commit things to memory when they have to do a little work to understand them. Ask people questions, let them vote on something, and get them to summarize your points for themselves.
Balance Your Personal and Professional Selves on Facebook

Balance Your Personal and Professional Selves on Facebook

Communication, Featured

FacebookMore people use Facebook than any other social network, which means that you need a Facebook strategy for your business and career. This is especially true since we usually use our personal accounts when we’re on it. Here are some tips for managing your personal account in relation to your professional identity:

  • Use your lists. Creating different lists for different groups of people – coworkers, friends, and professional contacts, for example – helps you keep track of whom you’re sharing things with.
  • Target each post. Before you hit “Enter,” double-check who will be able to see it. Should the post be public? For a specific list? For only you?
  • “View as colleague.” Use Facebook’s “view as” feature to see what your profile looks like to other people. Make sure your colleagues, customers and potential customers see what you intend them to.
  • Change your defaults. If you use Facebook on your phone, set your default privacy settings to the narrowest possible audience. It’s better to share too narrowly than too widely.