What Bob Dylan Taught Us About Marketing

He said it right about 50 years ago. ‘Times they are a changing’.? And there are many historical figures who have taught us that. People like the great Steve Jobs and his mastery of presentations and prodcuts, Dale Carnegie and his uncanny ability to interact with people, and many of our past Presidents whom have had the utmost speaking capabilities. In today’s modern world of business, times they are still ‘a changing’, rapidly. Communication is becoming a much more broader term that now includes many platforms and media that were not in play 5, 10 and 20 years ago. But somehow, I feel that the philosophies behind some of the greatest figures in American history can teach us many things about business today.

what bob dylan has taught us about marketing.

I grew up in a very musical household. My father idolized artists such as Billy Joel, Cat Stevens and perhaps above most, Bob Dylan. Some of my greatest memories as a child was learning piano as my father introduced me to these artists. In their time, the messages these artists portrayed to their audiences spoke of political influence, life experience and social movements that were storming the world. They saw opportunity to delivering these messages when they would connect best with their following. A noble concept that drives marketing today like no other time. Bob Dylan was a pioneer in the music world. A raspy vocal accompanied by a instrumental mix that was so unique, people flocked to become part of the experience. Here are a few lessons we can learn about marketing from Bob Dylan’s rise to musical stardom.

Create content that is unique to your product, and deliver it in the way of tomorrow

The 1960′s were filled with social movements. Bob Dylan created a uniqueness by defining a new way to reach audiences in a way that focused on philosophical, political and social influence. His unique lyrics were the foundation of his massive rise to stardom in his time. People craved insight to the things that directly affected them. Today in marketing, the strategy should remain similar. We must focus on creating a message and filling that message with content that touches our audience in a way that directly impacts them. Content is the fuel behind attraction. By creating content in a way that engages people, we have the ability to create a following eager to learn more, engage more, and eventually become advocates of what we do. Dylan had a method to his madness. Some of his lyrics drew criticism in masses, but still sent his message far across the the Nation in a way that no one else could.

Unique content is the foundation of marketing. Delivering it in a way that engages your audience is the different between success and failure.

Deliver your content in multiple mediums

Bob Dylan was known not only for his folk style music and unique lyrics, but he also distributed his message in a variety of mediums. Today, we have the challenge of satisfying our audiences’ urge to engage in multiple platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, E-Books, YouTube and many more. It should be a priority of us, as marketers, to engage in a variety of platforms to bring a broader message that satisfies this urge of today’s marketplace. Dylan was best known for his unique stage presence and ability to perform, however, he also had much success with turning over poetry, short stories, illustrations and more that were published and distributed to the public to further his reach and expand his message to a broader audience. People who criticized his music praised his poetry. People who remained reluctant to the counterculture that he attracted, embraced his simple illustrations on life’s hardships. By utilizing different mediums, he made followers out of critics and friends out of enemies.

Today’s culture is shifting at a speed many can’t keep up with. The younger generations continue to exploit new ways to deliver content and by ensuring multiple mediums in our marketing campaigns, we can expand reach and more personally interact with our audiences in a way that they choose.

Be where your customers are

Since 1994, some 30 years after his rise to fame, Bob Dylan has had three books published of drawings and paintings, many of which have been exhibited in major art galleries expanding his influence deeper into the art community and keeping his message alive for many more years to come. More importantly, the additional content landed in the places where his target audiences flocked. His desire to put his message in front of the art culture audience who once drove him to fame remained consistent, even with a new medium, has made him a running icon for nearly 50 years.

The biggest different between traditional and modern marketing is exactly that. Putting an ad in a magazine quickly becomes non-performing as soon after the release date of the publication. And its circulation may or may not reach your intended audience. It’s all based on who picks it up that day, by chance. Today’s platforms allow for great content to become archived and repeatedly show face to your audience when they so desire to find it, and when they desire to look. Viral YouTube videos can spend months circulating the globe. Great blog posts can be shared through Twitter and Facebook and then found months later when a search is performed. And speaking of search, let’s not forget that search engines create a lifetime of opportunity that puts your message in front of your audience every time they search for your topic.

Content doesn’t die and with today’s unique way of sharing information. Creating content focused on longevity can both expand and extend the reach of your marketing. Optimizing your online marketing efforts based on your audiences’ interests will allow you to create self sustaining marketing campaigns that live on well beyond marketing’s typical shelf life generating interest in more places where your customers are.

Don’t Appeal to Everyone

There was one thing that was for sure about Bob Dylan. He didn’t appeal to everyone. His twist on musical culture and raspy influence disturbed many, while attracting more. Bob Dylan’s unique style was often openly unappreciated at almost all of his concerts. There was even a point in time where a group of people who despised Dylan’s work followed him from city to city simply to “boo” while he performed. When interviewed in California and asked about the following, Dylan stated, “I’m just happy for their support. Last I checked they weren’t getting free tickets”. You must differentiate your message for who its meant for. One of the biggest mistakes both marketers and businesses in general make, is trying to appeal to every person possible. By doing this, you lose the personal interest of your audience. You lose the ability to appeal to the greater motives of your target audience. You can no longer create content that is tailored for your audience.

Segment your messages. If Bob Dylan would have simply conformed to his critics, he would have lost the much more massive audience that was attracted to his genuineness and uniqueness. It’s impossible to create something for everyone. Your marketing should be tailored in a way that is meant for the audience that matters most; Yours.

Closing Thoughts

As times change, technology advances and society continues to conform to what is tomorrow, never forget that the human relations of people remain the same. There are many people in our great history who can teach us many things by what they did so successfully. When you think back, don’t forget that what makes many people successful still make many people successful today. The message remains the same, the way we deliver it changes.

What other lessons can we learn from great influences of our past?

 

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Information Marketing for Profit in Industry

The internet has forced companies to rethink ways in which they deliver their products, services and pricing.  Although many high value service providers do not post their pricing as a matter of strategy; most don’t do so because their services are tailored to the specific needs of a project. But what happens when you introduce information marketing to that service provider who can then begin charging for the exact reason they don’t post pricing; Specialized knowledge.

Businesswoman drawing diagram on a natural background.

However, in most cases due to the vast numbers of service providers available, it is very difficult for a company to differentiate what they can offer.   Competitors that do not have the necessary skills in-house can very easily freelance the expertise in order to provide or match the service offerings of others in their market or industry.  Established companies can experience a ceiling on their pricing as a result.

Put Your Network in Place

However, businesses that have an industrial marketing network in place are at a distinct advantage in managing through pricing challenges.  Marketing for manufacturing, in some cases, works no different than any other business in that there are individuals who cannot afford to work with a particular business although they might want to.  Depending on the nature of the business that a company is in, opportunity routinely exists to take the expertise that companies cannot sell to businesses in project work completion, and instead package it and sell it as education/training. (Dramatic Music) Enter Information Marketing.

The existing industrial marketing network mentioned above that might be interested in training and information will consist of:

  1. An active (SEO) search engine optimized campaign to attract those who are interested in what the company offers,
  2. A following of industry related contacts from conferences, trade publications and educational content delivery
  3. A contact database of prospects, former clients and current clients
  4. A following based on social media platforms of Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn

Companies with this framework in place already have a potential client base for their information products.

Why is this important?

Why is this aspect of business worth pursing? Knowledge and expertise more than service delivery is the chief component of a business that providing a true sustainable competitive advantage.  It is the unique character of the knowledge pool within a company is what sets it apart from others.  While it can be to the company’s advantage to give a fair amount of this knowledge away so that a company and its executives can be positioned as experts in the industry; it can also be lucrative to take some aspect of the knowledge and provide it to companies that need information more than they need service.

Thinking in this vein is very important because it provides access to a competitor’s client base without necessarily having to offer the same bundle of services.  Additionally, while training is easy for others to copy and offer through their own venue, the expertise isn’t easy to duplicate.  There will always be some aspect of information that can be offered that is unique to the talent pool of a company’s staff that cannot be offered elsewhere.  How then can a company cost effectively bundle this information together without taking their focus away from their core product and service offerings?

Companies can offer the following information bundles and packages for sale to interested buyers:

  1. Self Published/Commercially Published Books
  2. Audio/Video Training (Online/Offline)
  3. Conferences (Online and Offline)

In effect, information marketing provides companies with the option of being able to make an offer of some kind to everyone in their marketing funnel.  While offering information products should not preclude a company from providing free training, it can supplement their earning capability by positioning themselves as consultants in addition to service providers.  This will help them to offset some of the lag time between a project’s start and its corresponding compensation.
So then how does a company begin building a structure to package information to market to its network?

  1. Take note of the expertise that the company has
  2. Survey the network to find out what they want to learn and what training they are already paying for
  3. Based on this information determine if the expertise can be offered with existing staff
  4. Add industry expertise from outside of the company, freelancers for pay, industry professionals for exposure
  5. With this information, decide on the most cost effective way to deliver the information
  6. Test the product on a segment of the company’s network and gather feedback
  7. Make suggested changes and offer the product to the entire database
  8. Recreate the information in the two additional forms from Step 3
  9. Offer the other forms to the company’s network
  10. Repeat the process for those problems that industry managers and executives are willing to pay for be trained for.
  11. Develop a referral and affiliate system offering sales commissions to those who bring new clients to this part of the business

The key component in the process is to survey those who are already purchasing information and follow the trend to figure out what can be immediately offered.  This method is advantageous because it can provide visibility in markets that the company was unable to compete in otherwise.  It will also provide new visibility to the business in areas where their pricing was too high for those who may have wanted to work with them.
Most importantly, information products offer an excellent opportunity for companies to showcase their expertise to future clients. Often those who experience a business’ philosophy in training will come to understand that their best course of action is to hire the authors of the information to carry out the process instead of trying to implement it themselves.

Is your business being paid for its expertise or only paying for it?

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Responsive Website Design for Today’s Market

Responsive web design refers to creating Internet content that is not only accessible but optimal when viewed by many different devices, be they laptops, smartphones, tablets, or the next new gadget (i.e. Google Glass). The proliferation of mobile devices has made this the standard expectation in the industry – customer attention and interaction now depends on it.

Responsive Website design

When a user views your site on their smartphone, will they be confronted with a distorted portion of a huge image? Will they be able to push the little buttons with their fingers, or use menus easily? Did you take into account that one popular device that needed some special optimization attention?

The Problem

In the absence of responsive web design, if an industrial marketing business wants their site to be easily accessible from desktops and mobile devices they need to create a separate version of the site for each platform. This means maintaining two versions of a domain, two versions of the content, two versions of the design, etc. Start adding different devices with different requirements (iPad, Xbox, Samsung) and the process quickly spirals out of control.

Two of the most pressing problems facing the responsive website design community are converting older sites to become responsive, and dealing with the massive amount of new devices constantly flooding the market.

So, how are web developers ensuring that their designs are responsive and always look beautiful, no matter the platform? Pictures and videos need to be sized appropriately; buttons need to be big enough and spaced far enough apart to be pressed accurately with fingers; resolution needs to be adjusted to fit screen size and connection speed; orientation needs to be accounted for, if the user might hold their phone upside-down or sideways.

Three Key Concepts

Experts agree that there are three key concepts involved in a responsive design process – media queries, fluid layouts, and fluid images.

  • Using media queries to detect device specifications – Different devices have screens with different heights, widths, resolutions, and aspect ratios. Media queries can be used within CSS3 to adjust for these factors and display properly sized content. Here is a code example, used to create a stylesheet with a maximum horizontal resolution of 720 pixels.
  • This code will ensure that the stylesheet is only loaded on devices with the maximum horizontal resolution specified.
  • Using a fluid grid to create a responsive layout– Proper use of media queries will give you the information you need to create a responsive design, but you will still need to do something smart with that information. Fluid grids let you specify the maximum size of a grid which will automatically resize to fit into a smaller frame. If we want our 720 pixel-wide grid to dynamically adjust to smaller screens, we will create a relative measurement for our grid that will be appropriate for any screen.

To do so, we can take the default font size for browsers (16 pixels) as one em (a unit of width) and divide our grid width by that amount. So, 720 pixels divided by 16 pixels = 45em. We can then use the following code to create a responsive grid with a maximum width of 45em, ensuring that the layout always looks good up to 720 pixels wide:

#container {
position: relative;
max-width: 45em;
margin: auto;
}

  • Using fluid images for perfect sizing – This is much like the previous point. Image sizes can be set to percentages of the total grid, meaning that they never grow bigger than their allocated proportion of the grid. If we have an image that is 360 pixels wide, for example, we know that it should never exceed its native resolution and only ever take up 50% of the total layout space. To create responsive images by setting image width as a percentage, we can use the following code:

img {
max-width: 100%;
width: 25%;
}

Combining these three techniques can provide a wealth of opportunities for creating responsive website designs that are dynamic and prepared for any platform. These clever methods let you write one set of programs to be used in multiple applications, instead of wasting your time writing the same code over and over for different devices.
So, are you doing everything you can to create responsive web content that looks great from every angle?

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Implementing a Conversion Funnel on your Website

A conversion funnel is the term used for defining the process your website visitors go through from initially clicking on your website to ultimately converting to a purchaser or one taking action. It is a graphical representation of your marketing process. A conversion funnel can make or break your industrial marketing online campaign.

conversion funnel

  • Properly utilized, a conversion funnel will bring in targeted visitors ready to take action. An inefficient conversion funnel, on the other hand, will have visitors leaving your website without taking action.

Picture a funnel, with the largest part being all the visitors coming to your site. That is Step 1. As visitors go through the funnel, they are narrowed down to the final converters. The final step would be a “thank you” message.

Why Is a Conversion Funnel Important?

A conversion funnel will:

  1. Provide insight into purchasing stages
  2. Allow marketing to target visitors
  3. It can improve conversion rates
  4. Show areas of marketing strength
  5. Reveal areas of marketing weakness
  6. Play a key role in your marketing for manufacturing

What Causes A Poor Conversion Funnel?

An ineffective conversion funnel can stem from:

  1.  Not properly targeting your market
  2.  Not knowing your objectives
  3.  Not stimulating your visitors
  4.  Using inactive wording.

What’s The Solution?

The key to having an effective conversion funnel is by having strong, clear objectives. Do you know what you are hoping to accomplish on each page of your website? Do you target your visitors at the most effective time?

  • To optimize your conversion funnel, you need to know which metrics to evaluate. To do this, you must micro-analyze your sales path to understand what hinders conversion. Where are visitors dropping off? Which are just browsing? Which are ready to take action?
  • In addition to understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each step of your funnel, you must calculate the drop-off and conversion at every level. Do you lack a compelling reason to buy at the product selection stage? Or, do they lose interest due to your process being so confusing?

How Do You Implement a Solution?

  1. Lower your conversion funnel drop-off rate by decreasing the steps involved. Make it as quick and easy as possible to get those conversions. The fewer steps you have, the more likely people will perform your desired action.
  2. Optimize your conversion funnel by creating a compelling call-to-action for every step involved. Make certain each step contains a strong, compelling benefit. Be sure to use action-oriented wording that sparks interest and desire.
  3. Implement site tracking, such as Google Analytics, to properly analyze the pages of your site. This allows you to track goal funnels, view page visitors and plays a role in optimizing your sales.

Is your conversion funnel doing all it can to bring positive results?

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Alternative Ways to Financing Small Business

It has been a well established fact among entrepreneurs that you don’t get money from a commercial bank for your business unless you don’t need it.  What is meant by that seemingly paradoxical statement is that banks typically want to see that a business has collateral that can be seized if something goes wrong.   While that is true, the barriers are even higher for startups even while their needs are greater.  Startups don’t merit a second look from commercial banks, as their standard policy is that funding will never be made available for them.

crowdsourcing for business financing

Unfortunately, this is not something that a company seeking funding can fix easily. While an industrial marketing consultant can assist in making sure that the business has a well thought out plan in order to generate consistent earnings, that alone will not fix the fundamental problem of a startup’s request for funding. The company is truly not a good candidate for lending.

The fact of the matter is that although their need for capital may be great, the company will not have been in operation.  There is no way of knowing whether or not the company’s product or service will be a good one or whether or not management will be able to consistently deliver what they are selling.  If that doesn’t happen, it is unlikely that they will be able to repay a loan on a regular basis.  It would not be prudent for a bank to absorb a loss with an unproven concept, untested management and undocumented ability to generate consistent cash flow.

Alternatives to Investor Funding

Startups have traditionally relied on venture capitalists and angel investors to fill this gap.  However, in the years following a substantial decline in economic activity in the United States, both venture capitalists and angel investors have been reluctant to invest in companies new to the marketplace.  They have assumed, prudently in most cases that buyers have not yet demonstrated the kind of enthusiasm necessary to support new concepts.  And in the cases of smaller businesses, their projects typically aren’t large enough for these investors to partner with them.

But the fact that their project is smaller in absolute dollar size doesn’t make their need and/or opportunity any less important.  The need for capital is exactly the same of any large private business that can attract venture capital.  The need for these smaller companies mirrors large publicly traded companies that are capitalized by stockholders.  There is a market opportunity that they can seize, if someone will shoulder the risk with them on the startup costs to get their idea to market.

How Crowdfunding is Changing the Financing Landscape

What can a company in this situation do to move their project forward?

An interesting new development has taken place over the last five years filling the financing void for new concepts, called crowdfunding.   Crowdfunding is basically the establishment of a network of individuals who believe in a project and are willing to contribute toward its success.  Instead of a project having hundreds of shareholders or even one venture capital firm, it could have tens of thousands of investors contributing smaller amounts to get startup capital to an entrepreneur.   The most prominent name in the industry is the company Kickstarter, although there are many others such as: Indegogo, RocketHub, GoFundMe and Peerbackers.

The key to the success to any crowdfunding project is developing a network of interested investors.  Companies will need to apply traditional industrial marketing principles in order to attract attention including public relations, whitepapers and conference attendance.  However, just as marketing for manufacturing has changed since the 1990’s, so to has building a successful network of stakeholders.

While companies will need to attract individuals who may be interested in contributing toward the success of new projects, companies should also leverage their existing client base.  Those who have had a good customer experience will be easier to convince of a company’s ability to develop the systems necessary to deliver excellence in a new marketplace.  Businesses should expand the scope of their industrial marketing plan to include the possibility of adding new investors to new projects.

How then does a company reorient itself to capture this new source of capital to undertake new projects?  Is there something that companies can do to work with the ‘crowd’ to fund these new ventures?

5 Ways to Become Attractive to Crowdfunding Investors

Marketing for manufacturing should now include the possibility that those within the company’s stakeholder group could be potential investors.  Their line of thinking should be modeled after the commercial banking parameters.  In other words, the best time to begin crowdfunding is before the capital is needed.  Industrial marketing can and should include building a network of interested parties. So what should companies do to begin building their network?

  1. Companies should be active in building relationships with those in their contact database.  This means providing regular education on the state of the industry, problems in the marketplace and new opportunities to exploit.  Companies should share research that is of interest to those who are part of the universe in their email database.
  2. Companies should utilize public relations with news and community appearances with an eye not only to attract potential customers, but also to attract potential small investors.
  3. Companies should begin establishing a YouTube.Com channel creating videos of everything that a potential investor would want to know about the company, including new projects, current research, customer testimonials, executive commentary etc.  The YouTube channel should be created with potential investors in mind as well as customers.
  4. Companies must create interest in social media not only with potential customers but also with potential investors.  This is especially true with industrial companies that do not always have a need to interact with individuals at the consumer level.  Even though their customer base will probably remain other business customers, their investors could come from those who have followed them on social media.
  5. B2B companies should have a home for all of this activity apart from its company website.  A blog could serve the purpose of categorizing all of its YouTube videos, its research, its education and news that is not directed toward selling.  This provides organization a holding place as time passes so that when the need for funding comes, they will be able to point to one location for investors to find the information that they need.

Closing Thoughts

Business can prepare for potential crowdfunding projects before there is a need. In most cases, they can do so utilizing the existing industrial marketing framework they have in place.  Today’s marketing for manufacturing should be executed to attract customers and prospects for purchases as well as for potential investment.  A company confident about a funding source can evaluate new market opportunities with confidence knowing that their network of investors is growing.  They can do this irrespective of the fact that they do not have the traditional sources of financing needed by publicly traded companies or large independent businesses.  The question every executive should be asking is: does our company proactively build relationships with potential investors?

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