There’s a common misconception today about what copywriting is.
Or more specifically, how it differs from simply writing well in proper English.
Sure – a copywriter must use the written form of a language correctly, with the right grammar and spelling.
But copywriting is so much more than just writing well.
In fact, if you’re using a copywriter to just check spelling and grammar, you actually need an editor (or you’re not using your copywriter to their full potential).
In today’s content marketing era where your customers DEMAND content from you, copywriters have never been more important for businesses.
However, you can’t get the most value out of a copywriter without understanding how the profession works first.
Here are the common copywriting myths and the truth to set the record straight – as well as how you can get the most benefit from professional copywriting services.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a significant part of Marketing Strategy for businesses today.
But with voice search and audio content on the rise, people are changing the way they search; and so are the search engines. One thing is driving the solution to this is voice search copywriting.
Here’s how voice search is changing SEO and what you need to do to prepare.
That’s the experience like working with a copywriter?
It’s a common question that business professionals ask when they decide they need help with their content writing, but just don’t have the time or the expertise to do it themselves.
“I want to appoint a copywriter, but I have no idea what do expect.”
Most people know of copywriters and may even know that they need one, but are curious about what it’s like working with a copywriter.
So, let’s explain the process of working with a copywriter and what’s in store.
If you’re a modern business looking to reach and engage your audience, and have them actually care, then you’re probably familiar with inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is a far more effective approach today than other forms of direct advertising because it builds stronger relationships between you and your precious customers by offering informative and relevant content, at a time when they’re actually interested.
However, what often gets forgotten is that this content needs to be written by professional copywriters! Copywriting fuels inbound marketing because the process relies on written resources to be successful.
Here’s why and how inbound marketing needs copywriting.
Micro Snapshots and Key Insights into TEDx Macquarie Uni, September
Topic: Breaking New Ground
I was very excited to be at the TEDx Conference at Macquarie University on Saturday 27th of September to listen to an array of amazing and inspiring speakers and personalities from a wide range of industries, areas, backgrounds, locations and experiences, each sharing their own insights into how they 'broke new ground.’
Luckily, all of these talks are not lost! You can find them online and I recommend that you view them as everyone can benefit from their content. However, as a snapshot, below is a micro-summary of the main points I took from each presentation.
Professor Bruce Dowton
“What does it take to lead?”
Leadership lies in five key elements: building identity, ethical behaviour, motivating innovation, creating connections and the interpretation of complexity.
We cannot be effective as leaders unless we are true to ourselves and accept who we are first. By understanding ourselves, we are then able to lead and understand others and the environment around us.
Arvin Bayatpour and Cohen Bosworth
“So they told you age is a brick wall.”
These two boys were fifteen years old and had already begun their journey into gadgets via their company Arcod.
Innovation can start at any age. Don’t let societal pressure tell you anything else!
Don’t be afraid and don’t wait. Start now!
“Want to innovate? Become a now-ist.”
Don’t be a “future-ist, be a “now-ist.”
Deploy or die: Getting tangible innovations out into the market is the only true way to measure success.
Educational methods need to keep up with the times. We are all so connected by technology that we don’t need to read and study the entire dictionary before we set out. We can research everything at any time on the internet, so education should focus on adaptation, and not rote learning, simply because that’s the way it was always done.
Compass over maps- know your direction, rather than every street.
“Challenging gender selection.”
Even though we, as a society, assume that we have complete gender equality, it's not really true.
A new trend is emerging, called prenatal gender selection, which is the predetermining of the sex of a baby using science. It is illegal in Australia, but parents can go to countries where it is legal, such as the USA. Whilst it can be valid for specific medical reasons, couples are beginning to adopt this technology and specifically deciding the gender they would prefer. While most do this for an innocent reason, such as “family gender balance”, the repercussions in the future could lead to adding to gender stereotypes that should be phasing out, rather than being strengthened.
When we decide to have a child, it is different to deciding gender. But some parents are starting to demand more selection based on their traditional biases (i.e.: they want a girl because they want a baby who can be dressed up like a princess and get married, or they want a boy because they want a sportsman). By allowing this behaviour, it may be reinforcing gender stereotypes that hinder and bias future societies, as well as distort their views on what is right and wrong.
Leave gender stereotypes behind and let children grow up to be individuals they want to be.
“HIV illness narratives”
Presenting her three-minute thesis, Cheryl was investing homosexual men suffering from HIV/AIDs to piece together the real history on the past and future of the disease.
“I am the son of a terrorist.”
Zak was the son of one of the terrorists involved in the New York World Trade Centre bombings in the 90ies.
Most members of society want the same things out of life, however, in a population, there are always a very small group that adhere so closely to their beliefs that they will do anything in their power to get others to believe what they do, even if by force.
His story goes to show that being raised in that kind of hostile environment can still produce a family that can gain the independence to grow beyond the narrow minded ideas of past generations.
“Designing cities for women.”
Urban planning has shifted from desiring driving accessibility, to favouring closer proximity and walking spaces. In addition, the traditional idea of separating work from home locations no longer meets the societal needs of today.
New apps, like “Walkability Score”, are clear indications of new urbanism trends and illustrate the importance of the ability to walk to desirable locations. The cost of housing closer to central hubs is rising like it never has before, simply because people appreciate proximity over other considerations.
Unfortunately, this means it’s pricing out half of the market, which is a complex issue that requires solving. Individuals, families and couples part of the lower economic bracket have begun to move close to the city, as opposed to the past, where they all centralised further out in the suburbs. This is because all of the jobs are located in central jobs and so, they want their homes now closer to this than ever before.
“The elephant in the classroom.”
Humans love and hate change! This applies quite prominently in work and school settings. Learning and business environments suffer from balancing between rigidity to encourage productivity, and innovative flexibility.
Reforming public education lies in culture and economics. Schooling ‘educates’ children, but does it really teach them to be active contributors of society? Does it prepare them to live in an adult world?
So called ‘gifted students’ are just ones that thrive in the current learning paradigm. No student is unintelligent- they just need a more catered environment.
We need a different model to engage each individual student. The education system needs to adopt a “personalised learning matrix”- where the teacher and the student ‘negotiate’ the best way to meet their individual needs, within a dynamic, engaging space that achieves curriculum objectives.
Mr Speaker and The People Party
The struggle for your dreams is a hard reality. Therefore, we need to change whatever it takes to position yourself to achieve your dreams
Surround yourself with positive people that have the same passion as you, and whatever you do, believe believe believe!
“The secrets of nature’s grossest creatures, channelled into robots.”
Inspired by the cockroach (which can adapt to pretty much every challenge and environment), robotics of the future is adopting Robust Systems, which can perform multiple, challenging tasks, rather than one specific purpose. These robust systems include fault tolerance and damage resistance, so they can be utilised in more complicated scenarios such as search and rescue applications, amongst other functions.
“Creating the most influential you.”
As a magician and entrepreneur, how a magician practises their act is a good lesson for any individual to learn and adopt. It’s something most people never get to see, as it spoils the illusion of the tricks, but the method can be used in improving the way someone prepares and delivers a presentation.
Showmanship lies in three principles: Sight, sound, sync.
Sight: what the audience sees.
Sound: what the presenter says and how they say it.
Sync: How the first two work together.
When you are inconsistent (out of sync), people don’t trust you and you come across as insincere and not genuine. Therefore, actions, confidence and words all need to be in balance.
A way to improve your showmanship lies in the following method:
Video record yourself, then leave it for a day (to avoid critical bias). After a day, turn it on and mute the sound, watching only for visuals. Check your posture and take notes.
Watch it again, however turn your back and just listen to the audio. Do the words offer value? Is the message clear?
Watch the video for a third time with both sound and sight. Are both your actions and your voice now consistent?
The stage is a sacred place, as it's where a performer goes to influence and inspire. Always give it your best and treat that privilege with respect.
Dr Joanna McMillan
“Eat for a real change.”
One pill that provides absolutely everything we need to survive in a healthy way is not what we want. Food is much, much more than just about nutrients and essentials: food is culture and interaction.
She worries that nutritional science is ruining the cultural side of food, as we are now over analysing every bit of information, and, as a public, we are completely confused with this information’s interpretation. In addition, western cultures are suffering from obesity, diabetes and other food related conditions. Diet choice is a large contributing factor of all of those negative conditions. The way we eat is so engrained that bad habits are hard to shake.
70% of Australian people are confused as to what healthy eating actually means because the media skews all knowledge, and research can be greatly misinterpreted. E.g.: “low fat” doesn't mean healthy. It gave rise to a misinterpretation and it’s heavily impacting our society.
The real key to healthy eating is large amounts of plant food and stay away from the processed products.
“From unknown to expert.”
Presenting your ideas to an audience and being in the spotlight is a very challenging thing to undertake for most people. However, Catriona says it’s time to redefine the spotlight; it’s a responsibility and a privilege to present, and not only for the loudest and boldest.
Freedom comes with saying “yes”. No one should feel like their story is not as worthy as others, and so it is up to people that usually shy away to turn the tides and say yes to spotlight opportunities.
It’s deeper than just general excuses- it’s a personal issue. Everyone should have the confidence to present their ideas and find the strength deep down. You deserve to be in the spotlight, if what you have to say will help others.
The spotlight isn’t about the speaker, but the audience and what insights you can provide for them. You must give yourself permission to speak; only then can you unleash your potential.
Connect with your ‘why’: think about your higher and deeper purpose for the audience.
Be of service: gain confidence by knowing that listeners will help them.
Be yourself: it’s not about changing yourself, but being genuine and brave enough to be vulnerable.
Believe in your own stories: stop competing. Everyone has their own road and you can never compare your own situation to others.
Be open to yes: who are you not to shine your own light?
“Redefining the ordinary to the extraordinary.”
Everyone is extraordinary because everyone has their own unique story. To most people, someone might be ‘ordinary’, but for someone else, that person may mean the world. Next time you feel ordinary, remember that you were born extraordinary, you still are, and always will be.
Dr Steven Lin
“The power of smile.”
We often underestimate the power of a smile.
Good oral health is such an important, and such a neglected area of healthcare. Unfortunately, however, we are not educated enough as a public to see the true value of dental care, which means that the government is not motivated to make a change for the benefit of us all. This increases the negative and flippant culture toward dental health, and it becomes a vicious cycle.
The key to a better future dental industry can be promoted using newer technology via social media. These avenues create awareness and education with the public which, together all start to make noise and therefore create a change.
Changing from reactive dental treatment to preventative methods is necessary in the future, and it’s up to the public to start the ball rolling.
Susan Redden Makatoa
“Stop pandering to working mothers.”
We could and we should extend flexibility to everyone in the workplace, not just females.
'Workplaces with heart' is a reformation of the standard business model, and is all about inclusion and equity. Giving choices to how people work and offering them more choice, such as allowing different start times and end times, could end up putting less stress on the transport problem and reduce pollution, as well as increase employee satisfaction.
There are three elements to this kind of working paradigm:
Assumptions- assume that employers want success and satisfaction, and employees want to do well for the business. Both sides need to be working together positively, first and foremost.
Acknowledgements- the essential operations for the business in generating profitability effectively are still the core of a business. Feedback and measurements will still exist, no matter what.
Arsenal- Negotiation skills and willingness to accept flexibility.
People are the key asset to any business; they’re important. Workplaces that are equitable and inclusive remove negative stigmas and add satisfaction because empathetic choice was provided to all employees.
“Let architecture in: Amazing things can happen if you do.”
The spaces we inhabit affect us all in so many ways. Iconic architecture, such as the Syndey Harbour Bridge, are uniting beacons of culture and add to the overall environment around you.
Embracing the impact your surrounding environment has upon you and everyone around you will increase your self-awareness. Being aware of it allows you to adapt to it, and you can make it adapt to you, too in order to achieve the optimal outcome. It can lie in something as grand as a city monument, or something in your own home.
“Touching tech- wearable technology.”
Technology can be quite distracting in today’s society. Whilst it is an advantage, sometimes businesses need to get back to the real world to create innovation.
Where we want to be next is taking over where we are now. We are all experiencing life through screens rather than life itself and our own senses. Technology needs to adapt to this, rather than add to the problem.
To show this, Ben and his team have developed wearable, fashionable technology, an industry advancing so fast that everything has to be developed straight off with little planning (sometimes spanning only 3 weeks!). such technology connects to your phone to your clothing for use in such applications as GPS. However, technology isn't always just about utility: fashion and technology have to meet correctly. For example, Google Glass is amazing technology but a fashion disaster.
The explosion of this type of technology starts with realigning with the real world again. Empathy for our environment is the key.
“Unmask your potential.”
Unmask your true potential. Stop locking yourself away. Don’t be trapped by your assumed “limitations.”
All of us are dying slowly and time isn’t infinite- we need to be more realistic with ourselves. Only then can we access our true potential.
“What are we doing?”
Take the fond memories of loved ones that have passed, and put one of their favourable traits into practise. Learning a favourable trait from someone is the ultimate honour to them and will help make you a better person.
A review of ‘Difference’ by Bernadette Jiwa
By Christopher Melotti
BComm:Mtkg, MCommLaw, AMAMI CPM
(This article was featured in the August/September 2014 Issue of B&T Magazine).
I’m not going to mince words here: this book is the very timely wake-up call that absolutely all Marketers need, and I highly recommend it. It’s extremely relevant to the current Marketing landscape, succinct, punchy and full of well-researched, supportive case studies.
With technology rapidly interconnecting global societies, and our lives racing at an even faster speed than ever before, it’s becoming obvious that today’s Marketing efforts as a whole are failing to evolve in sync with such a pace, which has meant that our target audiences are becoming increasingly resistant and more elusive when exposed to our ‘same-old’ practises.
Difference, by Bernadette Jiwa, perfectly summarises exactly what we are all starting to realise: Marketing just because ‘we can’ is not good enough anymore. Yelling “notice us!” more frequently and loudly to the masses is not good enough anymore. Communication strategies solely based on numerical statistics and quantifiable metrics are not good enough anymore. Marketing has lost touch of its empathetic, artistic qualities and has forgotten the humanistic roots essential to connect with an audience.
Today, all target markets are extremely well-informed, intensively focused and exceedingly time poor, leading them to become increasingly frustrated with blatant bombardment of intrusive, irrelevant and unengaging communication efforts, manifested from yet another uninspiring, mechanical Marketing strategy. This is not an emerging trend, it’s an unfortunate reality.
If you want a perfect example, look at all of the ads on YouTube (look anywhere for that matter): when searching for relaxing music, we are met with an explosively loud, completely untargeted ad that we grit our teeth through, our cursor hovering above the ‘skip-ad’ button that will appear within five seconds.
We need a wakeup call. We need difference.
Jiwa logically puts forward her theory of difference: people first. On the surface, this doesn’t seem ground-breaking, but therein lies the truth of our issue: Marketers think we know this, but we’ve completely lost touch of it when it comes to execution.
Marketing evolution theory states that our focus has moved from production, to product, then selling, marketing and finally to societal marketing. I believe we now need to shift forward to the next stage, which I have coined as Empathetic Marketing. This means not simply scoping out the consumer and surrounding society alone and throwing a blanket over it all, but to delve deeper to really connect and truly understand what the priorities of consumers are and what parts of their external and internal environments actually have relevant meaning to them. This is completely possible now too, given advancement in technology: it is us as Marketers that need to catch up, and this book shows us the way.
Our products and Marketing efforts must now actually matter to people, not bombard them because we now have access to more channels than ever before. We need to conduct our efforts to truly thrill by putting ourselves utterly in the customer’s shoes, rather than spam the market and hope in the statistics that tell us a handful may care: this is now a zero-sum game that doesn’t work anymore.
To quote Jiwa, ‘The P that the old Marketing Mix forgot was People. Today, [consumers] are powerful influences who discern and care and want and choose. Because [they] can.’ In a modern world with unlimited choice, Marketers need to wake up and refocus on ensuring the right people care, and this book is the way to realign and reacquaint our perspective with the progressive and individualistic humans we hope to engage every day.
As an active, social participant of many facets of popular culture, spanning from literature, to film, radio, social media and music, I have been noticing a definite trend as of late; a surprising one that is becoming more prominent. I put this out there as I wonder if others are seeing the same thing as I am.
I have noticed that celebrities and new expressions of mainstream popular culture are sliding toward focusing on stars and celebrities that reflect “the average person”, rather than the flashy unreach-ables that they used to be. I appreciate that this is a long standing trend within the alternative, indie culture, but it’s a fairly new concept for mainstream media; what were once a collection of celebrity gods who provided an aspirational aura of envy and awe to the masses, are now starting to become more like the rest of us.
In film, young stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Shailene Woodley are fresh faces, continually praised for their ‘down-to-earth’ attitude to celebrity. They trip up stairs when accepting awards and give the impression that they are simple, happy-go-lucky people on and off the screen. In addition, the widely popular movies they star in, such as The Hunger Games and A Fault In Our Stars, are stories based on books about the average person overcoming obstacles they are faced with inside a non-magical, humanistic society; i.e.: the leading character could be any of us, struggling with simple mortality. The edgy bad cops and flawless superheroes are out, and the average, flawed achievers are in.
In music, newer, successful artists have shifted from the flashy Lady Gagas and Beyoncés, who were very relevant a few years ago, to far more conservative, genuine artists such as Ed Sheeran and Adele, who have cut their teeth tirelessly making their way to the top, singing songs they’ve written about university and the pain of lost loves. The Havana Brown image with her skimpy dress and porcelain doll look, having ink poured all over her, singing the same repetitive songs as everything else out there is out, and the curvy, soul singer or the guitar slinging, redhead boy next door is in.
Even the push with new reality TV shows, such as The Block and My Kitchen Rules, sport a full cast of average-Joes, each with their own laundry list of flaws, entertaining us through being ‘one of us’, rather than the traditional, beautiful, out-of-reach celebrity. Whilst reality TV is nothing new, having civilians like us perform tasks of normalcy, such as renovation or cooking, gives the audience an easy way to completely relate to the real people we see on our screens; they’re not just sitting in a house like traditional reality TV, they’re performing DYI jobs and cooking just like we all do almost everyday. The make-up polished superstar bathed in lights is out, and the batter mixing house wives and bickering creative couples are in.
This is an interesting trend, as ‘celebrity’ has always been defined as a person with a status symbol, so distant from the average person (with all due respect), so far as to say that their talent, wealth and connections are what most of us dream about. When you go to a music concert, you pay to see this amazing rock star on stage, waltzing around amongst all the glitz and glamour, then leaving in their private, black windowed car to escort them back to their penthouse suite within the best hotel in the city, alongside a complete entourage. Those celebrities go out and buy an island, or ten Ferraris. Now, we have singers like Guy Sebastian who, upon obtaining his first royalties cheque, buys a boat to go fishing with his family, or J. K. Rowling who discovered success on the brink of poverty and gives significant amounts to charity.
One of my life long goals is to learn languages, however with the hustle-bustle of everyday, how can find the time to dedicate hours studying a language?
Well, modern technology has solved this problem with smart phones, tablets and amazing apps.
I found this completely free app called Duolingo, which is completely ad free and simply amazing!
This app claims that it's scientifically proven for someone to learn a language to a solid level over just a couple of months, by dedicating half an hour each day! Easy, if you're like me, stuck on the bus each morning and afternoon to and from work.
Duolingo lessons are short and straight forward, with assistance at every step of the way. It's clean and clear and simply a joy to use.
It also offers a multitude of different languages which can be accessed by everyone from beginners, to people that wish to brush up their language skills.
Learning a new language does wonders for the brain- it's like intensive brain training every morning, and can break up the monotony of your work-day's activities.
I look forward to passing each lesson every day and the app allows you to track your progress, which is very encouraging. The app also allows you to add your friends so you can all motivate each other and share your progress.
The lessons range from voice recognition and pronunciation, to visual cues, word matching and so on. It's so simple and easy, and you progress through stages that build upon previous lessons. I quite liked the fact that it reminds you to go back and brush up on earlier lessons to ensure that you don't forget the basics. Very clever.
Upon completion of each module, you earn points, called "lingots" that you can spend to unlock bonus content, such as 'sayings', 'idioms' and 'learning how to flirt'! These were a nice perk and an interesting addition.
Additionally, you can create a universal log-in, which stores your progress, regardless of whether you're using multiple platforms: so, if I use my phone on the bus and then wish to continue on my iPad at home, it keeps my progress so I don't have to repeat anything.
Obviously, I cannot rave about this app enough! It's a very thorough system, with an enjoyable interface and no bugs or errors (that I could see). I'm very impressed and I hope that many more will join me on this app!
Just on their website here: https://www.duolingo.com/ or find their app in the iTunes App Store, or Android's Play Store today and enjoy the benefits!
Grazie mille! :)
Being a professional writer (of both fiction and non-fiction) and editor of all kinds of work, there seems to be a repeating theme amongst an alarming number of fellow editors and writing reviewers: this need to become overly emotional with their editing and feedback.
The sheer amount of edits I get back from beta-readers looking at my upcoming novels with comments that are inches away from aggressive abuse startles me! I actually laugh out loud at how emotional some of these editors can be and, truth be told, it can actually lead me to distrust and undervalue them as you begin to question their thought patterns and motivation behind their processes.
Now, I'm NOT saying that I don't have a thick skin or anything as petty as that; this is NOT a whinge blog post. In fact, the deeper and more thorough the reviewer and editor is, the better in my opinion! However, there is no need to get aggressive or emotional with your edits, notes and comments.
As an editor: keep your comments professional. It's very important that if you are dedicated to your craft and are serious about repeat work, and wish to encourage positive word-of-mouth about your services, you ideally want the original author to continue to trust your opinion. There is no need to capitalise your comments (e.g.: "DO NOT USE THIS WORD HERE!!"), use excessive punctuation (e.g.: "Why would any character ask this?!?!?!?!?!?), or use snide comments (e.g.: "Surely you know this is wrong?!").
Editing work is already a sensitive process, as people are very defensive with their work, so I believe it best not to poke the wound by adding unnecessarily bitter comments.
I prefer to keep my editor comments light and informative, without emotion. Professionalism is the key as you want the author to read your ideas and comments, and think to themselves 'Yes, I see why you would think this.'
Additionally, give them the option to agree or disagree with you. After all, it is their work and most elements of writing are very subjective; ie: your opinion may not always be correct.
When editing, I try and keep suggestions light, as one of the main rules to editing (especially with fiction) is not to rewrite it for the author; instead, explain why something did not work, or give them your opinion from the perspective of a reader, not a writer.
Remember, as an editor, you're there to help, not patronise!
All the best in your writing endeavours!
Social media makes the ordinary person feel like a celebrity. That comes with its ups... and equally its horrible downs.
Part Eight: Distribution
Distribution is the fourth element in the marketing mix, dubbed as ‘Place’. Basically, it is everything involved with making the product offering available to the market. An organisation is faced with many options to get the product within reach of the consumer and that can be either through a channel or direct to market. Having distributors makes economic sense in certain contexts, however the organisation needs to trust the channel by giving up a lot of control.
Today, distribution channels are getting shorter and shorter with technology, which has been called ‘disintermediation’. This basically means it is becoming easier to ‘cut out the middle man to increase profits, maintain greater control and give the organisation direct contact with the customer.
The Strategic Value of Channels
In a more general sense, an organisation can usually cover the information, promotion, contact, matching and negotiation activities of a transaction, however the physical distribution can often be outside the scope and therefore outsourced by the organisation, especially when in the form of a physical good.
Intermediaries specialise in the essential distribution duties and can also offer value-add services like storage and warranty support, so often, it makes strategic and financial sense for, for example, a manufacturing organisation to enlist the partnership of such intermediaries to complete the channel flow, so they can focus on what they do more effective and efficiently.
The issue is, intermediaries are starting to gain a lot of power given that the other organisation relies so heavily upon them to make any sales at all. They can make all kinds of demands and then threaten to stop supplying the market the organisation’s product should they not comply.
This is why some organisations attempt to shift the power using VMS, Vertical Marketing Systems.
Vertical Marketing Systems (VMS)
A VMS is where one part of the channel either purchases or sets-up their own distribution channel or intermediary in order to by-pass powerful distributors and do it themselves. The obvious advantage is that power goes to the original organisation and they have far greater control over the whole channel, even if they use their own and use another distributor, as diluting the stage means that the powerful intermediaries lose their monopolistic power.
The problem with a VMS is that it can be risky and costly to do as the organisation needs to learn to be a good distributor and retailer as well as a manufacturer. There is little use in setting up a VMS if the newly opened intermediaries do not have the right contacts or skill set to really compete with a specialised one.
Apart from a straight VMS, there are two other slightly different VMS models. The first is a contractual VMS, where another intermediary is not technically owned, however they are contractually secured by the other organisation, such as what is done in franchising. The other is a weaker administrative VMS, where an intermediary is not technically owned or contracted to the other organisation, however both organisations work together as partners.
The Intermediary Focus
Whilst this topic can become focused on the manufacturer as the only central focus of a distribution channel, the intermediaries are large players in the channel themselves. There are several intermediaries that have become very successful simply by finding manufacturers in a localised area and simply brought them together in one unified distribution model, creating a symbiotic relationship. An example is a meal delivery service, where the service promotes all of the food and the delivery to the customer, the customer orders through them, and then the meal delivery service places orders with local restaurants and delivers the food.
Influences on Channel Strategy
The strategy an organisation chooses is impacted by both external and internal factors. Internal factors include the organisation’s strategy, goals, objectives, resources, skillset, control and marketing mix. External factors include customers, the market environment, competitors and intermediaries.
As is normal from a marketing focus, the key is to keep customers as a focus for all activities. Therefore, considerations such as what benefits they’re seeking, what channels will provide the best access, which distribution strategy will position the product as the most appealing to them, and so on.
This is a very popular trend in modern distribution strategy and is extremely popular with consumers. There are a few factors to impact on this type of distribution:
- Certain taxes can be avoided
- Legislation and consumer protection
- Loss of physical store jobs
- Government focusing on internet legislation and internet services (such as the NBN)
- Globalisation of economies and markets
- Increased competition as physical restrictions are removed
- Currency exchange rates
- More informed, price conscious consumers
- Access to foreign products
- Cost advantages due to competitive pricing
- Social media has become a norm in society
- Other demographics are becoming more involved
- Socially acceptable to be thrifty
- Time poor customers have a need for convenience
- More accepting and tech savvy demographics
- Self-image is important, so customers can easily share their purchases online
- Easier for all organisations to use and take advantage of
- Increase in accessibility
- Increased security on technology which increases buyer confidence
- More devices to access online shopping
- Big Data allows customers to be better catered to
- More advanced software to assist all stakeholders
- The shortening of the supply chain could reduce environmental impact
- Less need for bricks and mortar stores
- Customers are more environmentally aware
- Less physical distance, reducing barriers to access
There are three main classifications of channel densities.
(1) Zero Level: where the manufacturer goes straight to the consumer direct, such as Dell computers.
(2) One level: where there is only one intermediary in between the manufacturer and customer, such as book sellers and Amazon.
(3) Multilevel: where there are many intermediaries, such as wholesalers and retailers between the manufacturer and consumers. In a multilevel channel, the producer can sell in one straight line (i.e.: one wholesaler and then on to one retailer, then the customer) or through many different intermediaries in different industries (such as agents).
Distribution intensity refers to all strategies an organisation has for getting product through the channel.
(1) Intensive distribution
Where an organisation sends their product through a large variety of intermediaries, channels and stores for maximum access to the market. This type is mainly for simple, inexpensive and easily transportable products that tend to be repeat or impulse buys, given the consumer as much exposure and therefore opportunity for purchase as possible.
Typically, products that are intensively distributed are heavily promoted with low cost and high turn-over. The quality can also be average or low in general.
(2) Selective distribution
Where the organisation is slightly more selective about which channels they chose so as to not cut off all access to customers, but be more selective to give the product a different positioning to a commodity product. This is for products, such as specialty retailers and branded stores, that are more on the specialty or higher end, and therefore restrict certain levels of access to create an aura of quality or provide more intimate customer service.
(3) Exclusive distribution
Where an organisation has a very low number of channels and outlets. This is a very restricted distribution strategy for very high-end, high involvement products and give the perception of exclusivity and uniqueness.
Typically, products that are selectively or exclusively distributed are promoted exclusively, are priced high and the consumer will specifically seek the product as the quality and value is high.
All three distribution types position the product differently in the eyes of the consumer, hence why the channel strategy selected must be consistent with the marketing plan. Obviously this varies with product and industry type.
There are also two types of alternative strategies to the above to increase the flow of the distribution channel:
(1) Pull strategy: the organisation advertises and conducts marketing efforts directly to the end consumer at the end of the channel, which increases their demand, ‘pulling’ products through the channel. To do this, the distribution must be so there is enough access provided for consumers to get the maximum effect.
Such marketing efforts, besides straight promotion, could include free samples, trials, coupons, financing, discounts, specials and so on. Usually, these are quite successful as, being normal fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), a consumer will tend to take advantage of these types of bargains.
(2) Push strategy: when the organisation advertises and conducts marketing efforts directly at other intermediaries within the channel to encourage their demand, ‘pushing’ products through the channel.
Marketing efforts in a push strategy involve incentivising intermediaries so as to encourage their demand, such as benefits to their sales forces, bulk discounts, financing and negotiation on marketing efforts to the end consumer.
Pricing and customer value are closely linked. Basically stated, the value a customer places in a product and brand is indicated by how much they are willing to give up, usually in the form of money. The price is the monetary value set by an organisation at a level they believe is worthy of their offering. However, if a customer wants a product, but the price is too high, their value analysis of the trade is lower than the price set and they won’t make a trade.
This ‘trade’ for a customer, which is the price set from the perspective of the organisation, comes in many forms, such as rent, tuition, fees, fares, tolls, premiums, commissions, incentives and even bribes. Price is the only element of the marketing mix that produces an income for an organisation in the form of revenue. It is the one part of the marketing mix that is the easiest to adjust quickly, which is as to why organisations often opt to that element to spur a customer response to their offering, over changing the product itself, its promotion, people or distribution methods.
Bribes may be illegal in certain countries and acceptable in others, however in the illegal countries, it may be classed as other things, such as perks and added bonuses.
Who Sets the Price?
It is a typical accounting argument, where an accounting department of an organisation may believe it is their responsibility given that pricing involves monetary terms. This would be all well-and-good if the price was a simple recuperation of costs for the organisation. However, it is not that simple: pricing of a product speaks volumes to consumers.
This is why the task of setting price is with the marketing department: as the consumer receives a whole lot of messaging from the setting of the price alone. It signals to a customer what positioning and image the brand and product has. If it is expensive, often consumers will use it as a surrogate indicator for a judge of quality. This is most common in the wine industry, where higher priced wines are often thought of immediately as better in consumption.
Therefore, marketing manage the price setting tasks as it indicates much more than simply cost plus profit. It isn’t a simple equation- it takes the department familiar with communicating with the target audience, as price is just another communication stream.
Price and Demand
As can be expected, the price of a particular product directly impacts on the amount of demand it receives from customers. The actual relationship is known as the economic term of price elasticity. Whilst in reality, nothing works as simply as economic models suggest, in general, a product with a high price elasticity of demand means that a change in price results in a large, corresponding change in quantity purchased. Luxury and nonessential products tend to be within this category, as a large price increase will greatly drop demand, and visa-versa.
A low price elasticity of demand means that a change in price will not greatly affect demand shifts- this is known as inelastic demand. Less substitutable products and essentials full into these categories as, within reason, when price shifts, consumers still require them.
A more realistic approach to price and demand prediction is more toward the idea of pricing points. For example, if the price is high and quantity is purchased for a luxury brand, and the price is suddenly dropped, initially, the demand would increase as consumers believe there is more value. However dropping the price further may then decrease demand, as consumers start to feel that the luxury brand is losing its exclusivity. This makes demand fall.
All of these types of factors must be taken into account by the marketing department when setting price of their products.
The Pricing Phenomena
As much as economic theory attempts to assume that consumers are rational, they just aren’t when it comes to purchasing. The perceptions of value and price given by an individual consumer is so unpredictable that it takes the function of marketing research to really delve into why consumers think and act as they do.
Take, for example, bridal products. Large organisations over charge for pretty much everything to do with ‘the big day’, however the consumer is more than willing to pay as it’s more of an emotional purchase rather than a rational, ‘utility maximisation’ purchase. A bride doesn’t want a cheaper product, even if it is the same as an expensive version, as they value feeling expensive and exclusive and therefore justify the high prices.
Pricing as an Information Cue
As discussed before, price can be used as a surrogate indicator of quality, even if it’s not true. In the customers mind, higher price raises expectations as the amount they have to trade for it is high. There are two associated pricing techniques relevant to pricing as a communicative device:
(1) Price Skimming- this refers to setting the price very high, thus skimming the very top of the market’s customers. This creates an aura of prestige and/or technologically advanced status and is a good way to recuperate research and development costs, control initial demand and supply and generate high profit. However the product must justify this image if this technique is used.
(2) Price Penetration- this is when a product’s price is set very low to attract high quantities of sales and obtain large uptake in the market before a competitor.
(3) Yield Pricing- setting the pricing to manage exact quantities of purchasing. For example, if stock is perishable, the price may be discounted to increase numbers and then when supply is short, the price rises to manage this.
(4) Volume Pricing- setting a price to ensure high sale/bulk volume purchasing over profit per unit.
(5) Loss Leader- Pricing at a loss per unit to encourage impulse, related purchasing of other products in the same offering.
Pricing strategy all depends on the organisation’s justification and rationalisation of all aspects of their marketing strategy.
Pricing and the Psychology Of Consumption
There is a directly psychological relation between pricing/cost and the consumption rationale of a consumer. Most organisations do not draw attention to the price as it represents a cost to the consumer, and they would much rather the consumer benefit from the product’s value rather than them dwelling on how much they paid for it. This makes sense. This is why some organisations offer upfront bulk payments, season passes, bundling and so on.
However, as mentioned previously, consumers aren’t always rationale and sometimes, the constant reminder of cost is motivating for them. Basically, a consumer who doesn’t utilise their purchase will actively make a decision to not rebuy it. This means that charging upfront could make the consumer forget about the product (e.g.: a gym membership), and once they forget, they will not justify a repurchase, however smaller costs more regularly are more manageable in a consumer’s mind and the constant reminder stimulates motivation for consumption, and therefore repeat purchase.
It all depends on the organisation’s product offering and pricing strategy as to what approach they take.
Internal Pricing Factors: Objective Based
There are different types of objectives of consideration when setting a price, aiming to achieve a particular goal.
These are strictly about monetary goals, such as setting price to achieve a gross profit margin of 23%, or Return On Investment (ROI) by 12% this year.
These revolve around market and consumer focused goals, such as increasing market share, gaining more consumer awareness or increasing brand loyalty.
Pricing is set by the organisation based on managing a societal rationale. For example, adding into the cost a donation to charity, or carbon offsetting.
Internal Pricing Factors: The Marketing Mix
Does the marketing plan and current marketing mix support the proposed price? In other words, is the price set consistent with the expectations a consumer would have given the rest of the product’s attributes. The price must be reasonably consistent and in context with the product’s design, process, distribution, people, reputation, brand and positioning.
Internal Pricing Factors: The Market Classification
Pricing is also very subject to the type of market the product exists in. In a monopoly, there is only one offering organisation, so excusing government regulation, pricing can be set at whatever they wish. In an oligopoly, where there are a two to five large main players in the market, the strategy tends to be a lead and follow pricing strategy, basing price off the movements of the main competitors.
In a perfect competition market, where the product is an identical commodity, the price solely depends on the supply and demand of the time.
In a monopolistic competitive market, which is the typically normal market where many organisations are within a market offering substitutable yet differentiated products, pricing is set based more on each organisation’s marketing plan.
Internal Pricing Factors: Organisational Considerations
Naturally, the management within an organisation decides who best to set the prices of all the elements within the product offering- this is known as the pricing process. Typically, in smaller organisations, price is usually set by management but in larger organisations, it is set by product managers within the marketing team. The most important part is that the person or people that set the price must have well informed insights into the customer and their perception of value.
Revisiting the Concept of Customer Value
Remember that customer value is total benefits over the total costs. Costs include a lot of pricing, such as the initial purchase price, maintenance and repair costs, ongoing fees, installation, training, financing and so on.
The benefits of the product, such as performance, features and quality must outweigh all of the prices and costs to be worth the value to the customer.
Approaches to Pricing
There are three main approaches to setting a price.
Basing the pricing barriers (such as the price floor- the lowest possible price), on how much the product costs to produce. Generally, if fixed costs are quite high, a part of the price is set lower to maximise volume sold. If variable costs are high, price can be set to maximise the per unit margin.
The issue, again, is that this pricing is based on internal measures, rather than on the target market, and could communicate the incorrect message to them. Still, the cost-based approach can be a background consideration.
As the name suggests, this is basing it on however the competition prices and differentiating a product based on their pricing strategy. However this assumes that the competitor has a good grasp on the target market.
This approach bases costs on what level of value the target market places on the product itself. Then, the organisation can employ a price skimming strategy (pricing at the top value), price penetration (pricing at the lowest value) or somewhere in between. This requires a bit of research to discover what attributes and expectations the customer values the most and pricing it on this.
In reality, there should be a blend of the approaches. The price ceiling (or the price point at which demand becomes zero) should be set at the top, and the price floor (or the price point at which profit becomes zero) should be established first. The Price ceiling represents customer perception of value and the price floor represents the consideration for product cost.
The price is then set in the middle, in between these points, with all factors such as marketing strategy, objectives, competitors and market place factors taken into consideration here to find the ideal price.
The Value Based Approach
Basing pricing strategy on the target market is an obvious choice, given the impact price has in communicating with the target market. Through starting with the customer’s value and working backward, a price can be settled on that will allow an organisation to best maximise the price per segment and manage customer value perceptions.
The Gift Economy
With technology increasing so rapidly, a ‘gift-economy’ also referred to often as a ‘free-love’ economy has emerged. This is where an organisation offers their main product as free and finds another solid revenue stream to gain profit from. Search engines are a good example of this, where the search function is free, but the google adword service and other advertisements and services are paid for.
The issue with this is the consumers lose the perception of value when products, such as music and news) are available for free, online. This shift in mind-set is a rapid game changer for a lot of organisations as consumers start to question why they are paying for specific products. For example, years ago, customers would purchase a newspaper, because they saw the value as worth the money, however today, when news is so rapidly available online, they can no longer justify paying for it.
Today, organisations are creating business models where the consumer doesn’t pay and then charges associated organisations for their access to these customers, such as YouTube or social media advertising.
This has the risk of becoming so extreme that it may get to a point where organisations will pay or reward the customer to use their product, rather the other way around, just to give them access to the customer to sell this onto other organisations for profit.
However, there is a predicted limit with this as over-exposure to secondary ads and the other revenue-gaining ‘add-ons’ will render them ineffective and these secondary organisations will avoid these business models.
This relates to the new pricing technique known as ‘freemium’. A freemium is when an organisation gives the basic level product to the consumer for free and then charges for the premium use of it. This is very evident in free phone apps on smart phones, where the basic app is free to download and use, however the customer must pay to get the ad-free version or open up all of the service for them to use.
A pricing technique where the main product is free or extremely discounted, however then the customer must purchase an expensive associated product to utilise the main product. An example of this is office printers, where the printer is given for free, and the customer has to purchase the paper and print ink off the printer’s organisation.
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Your brand is one of the most valuable elements of your business.
Your brand establishes your tone and identity in the marketplace, and is a key factor in differentiating you from your competitors.
Therefore, it's important to get it right so that it resonates with customers and helps you develop positive and ongoing relationships with them.
With this in mind, let's get back to basics and discuss everything to do with branding.
Welcome to "Brand 101" - A marketing introduction.