Understanding Marketing – An Overview of Strategies, Costs, Dangers and Risks

What is Marketing?

Marketing is a business discipline through which the targeted consumer is affected to react positively to an offer. This can relate to the purchase of a product or a service, the joining of an organization, the endorsements of a candidate or ideology, the contribution or investment in a cause or company, or a variety of other choices of response.

The marketer can use a number of techniques to reach the consumer which can be based on artistic or scientific strategies, or a combination of the two.

Typically, the consumer is identified as a member of a particular segment of the populace, known as a market. For example, markets can be defined by age, income, area of ​​residence, home value, interest, buying habits, industry or profession, etc., which facilitates and simplifies the marketing process. Knowing to what the marketing effort is appealing greatly asserts the marketer in developing appropriate language, reasoning and incentives to find success in its marketing efforts.

Choosing to target a particular market as opposed to the entire universe also greatly controls marketing expenditures but also may limit response. If anyone anywhere can be a customer, sales expectations may be higher but marketing costs will certainly also need to be higher as well with such a huge target as its goal.

To address this dilemma, more creative means of marketing are sometimes utilized to assist with marketing message delivery. If what is being marketed is considered newsworthy and of public interest, editorial coverage in the media can greatly assist marketing efforts. Since this usually is not reliant on major marketing funds other than what is needed to support the development, distribution, and yes, marketing of press releases to editors and publishers, the advantages of such publicity can be priceless, albeit typically miraculous on such a large Scale.

Marketing is everywhere!

Everywhere we turn, everything we do is somehow connected to marketing, whenever we have been induced to participate in some activity because of it or develop an interest in some idea as a result of it. Whether we realize it or not, there are personal, political or commercial agendas cloaked as news we read in the paper, behind the books, movies and music we experience as part of our culture, and within the confines of our stores and supermarkets where we Shop. Of course, we easily recognize the blatant marketing efforts that reach us through direct mail, media advertising, and all over the Internet including the spam we receive ad nauseum . Marketing has become one of the most all-pervasive elements of life and we are fools if we do not question the validity or innocence of everything we read, see and hear.

Marketing is communication and education!

In order to be successful in business marketing, the customer must be reached in a variety of ways. First of all, not every customer gets the daily paper or listen to local radio. We have limited knowledge of which TV station they may watch, where they shop, what roads they travel or where they dine. Depending on what we are marketing, we may have to utilize a whole assortment of avenues of marketing to get their attention. And, if we reach them just once, that is hard enough to make a lasting impression. Marketing is necessary on a repeated basis in a diverse number of ways in an ever-changing presentation to insure that every customer can relate to it in some way, learn what we are offering and understand how it can benefit them. To achieve long-term customer loyalty, the targeted consumer needs to be coddled into familiarity with what we are selling so they feel it is something they really want as opposed to having it forced upon them as something they unfortunately need, only to find out later They were tricked!

Marketing Sounds Expensive!

Yes, marketing can get pricey particularly if it is done on a consistent basis. But in today's world, we have marketing options we never had even twenty or thirty years ago. Now, instead of paying for expensive printing and postage to mail a brochure or postcard to a targeted consumer, we can utilize email marketing, website presentations or online banner ads to reach the same market, usually at a fraction of the cost. Today, instead of buying expensive print advertising, we can work on improving our website's SEO (search engine optimization) – (something we can do for free, if we are so inclined) so that people in need of what we offer can find us through Internet searches, rather than our trying to find them at an astronomical expense.

What About Social Media Marketing?

In addition to alternative marketing options already mentioned, there is the latest craze for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other incredibly popular social media where people, young and old, spend hours developing relationships with "friends" they may never have met or ever will Meet. Yet they share intents secrets of their deepest thoughts and desires as well as actual photographic representations of the same which sometimes land people in trouble with the law, or at the very least, their employer, school or parents.

Whatever social media marketing is a worthy endeavor for businesses remains to be seen since businesses rarely accumulate millions of followers the way celebrities do. But as a way for customers to interact with a business for which they may have developed a fondness can not be disputed. Can this translate into more sales for the business? We'll have to wait and see, while continuing to devote precious time to composing meaningful 140-character tweets and building a Facebook "persona" for the business. From this writer's point of view, the only worthy social medium for business is that of LinkedIn since it provides a serious platform on which to create a business résumé where anyone interested in your professional stature can quickly summarize your capabilities, experience and accomplishments.

Marketing Can Be Intuitive

Much of what becomes marketing strategy is based more on common sense than on some mysterious scientific formula. As we see on a daily basis in stock market gyrations as well as political leanings, the herd mentality rules. On any particular day, if the Japanese or European stock or bond markets are selling off for one reason or another, you can safely bet that the US markets will follow suit. And in any political race, as we are witnessing in the US presidential primaries, the more one candidate gains ground, baby step by baby step, the more likely that candidate will become the party nominee. Today's world is governed by a minute-by-minute opinion survey measured by the endlessly publicized polls where people see what other people are thinking and use those results to form their own opinions. Monkey see, monkey do. The same holds true for marketing.

If we are told that a certain brand of coffee is the leading brand in America, we will probably believe what we are told, assume it tastes best, possibly buy it ourselves regardless of cost, and possibly adopt it as our own favorite. All because we were told everyone else was doing it. Safety in numbers, as they say.

It is ironic that those who become successful marketers usually dwell on the outskirts of the herd, have a more astute grasp of mass psychology, and approach business and life in a more innovative, creative and unique way, a mindset that they use to form the next Marketing phenomenon. The world is made up of leaders and followers: a few choice leaders and a glut of followers. It takes a lot more cumption to become a leader than it does to join the herd. That's why marketing is a profession based in psychological control by a choice few over the mindless masses who have no initiative or courage to decide for themselves.

What is the difference between marketing and selling?

Selling is one aspect of the greater process of marketing. Marketing begins long before the product or service is even ready to sell. Marketing encompasses the concept, naming, branding and promotion of the offer while selling is the much more individualized effort to convince a lead who has clearly responded to the marketing offer to make the purchase. You can not have one without the other, at least not easily. Marketing is a process by which we strive to reach the final goal of making the sale. Without marketing, the sales process is extremely difficult because the entire onus of educating the consumer about the offer is on the shoulders of the sales representative. On the other hand, if marketing has been successful, the sales rep can waltz in knowing the consumer is well apprised of the offer and can work his magic to convert the prospect into a satisfied customer.

What are some of the instruments of marketing?

There are many ways to market an offer, some of which are expensive, and others of which can be free. The methods we use that cost us dearly may not work as well as some of those we receive as a gift. Among the expensive ways are media advertising, direct mail, conference presentations, distribution of printed literature, online advertising, email marketing, etc. Of those that are free are efforts referred to as guerrilla marketing, which are things we do ourselves to spread the word, network and publicize what we are offering. This can include posting flyers on bulletin boards in supermarkets, libraries, delis, small shops, and government offices, etc. Every time we add a tag to our emails where people can click to go to our website, we are using guerrilla marketing at no cost. Making sure we are easily found in Internet searches through search engine optimization of our website or other online presence, is an excellent way to achieve free marketing. One way to do this is to register your company or organization on every possible free online directory in your industry, region or interest group which translates into exponential growth as time passes.

What is viral marketing?

Viral marketing (as it refers to the word "virus," meaning contagious and capable of spreading) is another means of free promotion facilitated by shrewd decisions we can make to further our cause. The easiest way to define viral marketing is that which is communicated by "word-of-mouth." Related to the herd mentality discussed above, if a friend or business acquaintance sins a product or service in a favorable light, we will be much more inclined to remember it and check it out. This can happen in a business meeting, at a mall, at a soccer game or over lunch. However, since most of us spend so much time on the Internet, it can happen practically everywhere we turn by clicking on the "like" buttons on Facebook or the "1" button on Google, among others. These are our personal endorsements where we give a "thumbs up" to something we have experienced and want to share with our friends so they too can enjoy it. Getting your offers out with such buttons attached can result in viral marketing in your favor.

Viral marketing can have powerful repercussions as experienced by one client with an online auto accessories store. Many of his customers frequent online special interest forums related to the model of car they drive where members discuss products that have installed and the source of their purchase, followed by a link to his refereed website. Such referrals are repeated in other ensuing discussions, multiplying the number of links back to his site, increasing the power of his SEO and catapulting him to the tops of Internet searches for what he sells. He paid nothing for this phenomenon of parlayed good fortune except the daily effort he consistently expends to offer top quality merchandise and equally excellent customer service.

Do you need marketing?

If you are in business, of course you do. While you can attempt to do as much of it as you can on your own, it is advised that you begin with a reliable base of professional name, logo, website and search engine optimization to get started on the right foot. From there, you can work on promotion via guerrilla marketing and seek professional marketing services as needed for special needs, like a strong, effective ad to run, the development of professional sales literature to distribute at an emerging show, or a direct mail promotion to Your list of repeat customers, for example. Some business people choose to handle their own taxes to save on the cost of using an accountant for such critical functions at the risk of getting audited. Likewise, you can certainly attempt to produce marketing tools yourself but for long-term branding purposes and best return on investment, it is advisory to leave marketing development to the professionals.

Your "Must Know" Ecommerce Metrics

Web Analytics can be an amazing technology, but also a highly under-utilized one. Complex deployments and integrations frequently leave business users befuddled. Without dedicated staff to analyze, analytics packages more often than not collect dust.

This brief is focused on outlining the 7 most important web metrics to monitor within your eCommerce business and what to look for as it relates to your website’s performance.

Bounce rate

First on our list is the most important metric you will encounter: bounce rate. Think of bounce rate as a first impression. The definition of bounce rate is the percentage of users that leave your website after only viewing the initial page that was presented.

Bounce rate is so vital because it provides details into how you initially message your value proposition to the customer or prospect. It provides a cue to also help you identify performance issues with your site that may be causing the inflation the metric.

Bounce rates vary by industry, but eCommerce businesses should focus on getting the metric below 30%. Especially important within paid search campaigns, bounce rate will provide valuable cues into which product assortments and promotions at the category and sub-category levels of your taxonomy are doing well. This knowledge can be leveraged across the business in other categories and implemented via multi-variate testing deployments.

Email Capture Ratio

The next metric you want to track is your email capture ratio. As an online business, you probably sell some type of tangible product or service in which you monitor orders or completed information forms. Most businesses monitor their standard conversion rate, but few businesses frequently monitor their email capture rate and take a proactive approach to increasing.

With eCommerce conversion rates yet to eclipse an average of 3%, 97% of users who come to your store are leaving without buying something. Just because they are leaving however does not mean they are not interested in communicating on some level with your business. By gaining an initial step of trust through the capture of an email address, you are not only increasing the size of your house list for future marketing but you are also building a relationship with your customer and can win their business by providing them solutions to their lives.

Strive for a 7-10% email capture rate and place the sign up tool prominent in the header. Too many businesses bury their sign up tool and do not leverage rich applications that can use browser technologies such as ajax to expand a capture field over standard text in an overlay fashion.

Number of non-branded organic keywords

Make sure you look at number of monthly non-branded organic search keywords. When monitoring SEO performance, you need to first strip out the branded terms that correlate with your business. Thats traffic that you would have received without effective SEO. Then look to the number of remaining keywords that were utilized to make up the balance of the remaining natural search visits.

Why is this important? Because SEO is driven from the long tail. Sure, core SEO terms are nice but you need to capture the 4 and 5 word queries that make up the majority of Google queries each day. Long tail placements are achieved through proper site architecture and quality targeted content. Simply put, the more terms that people are using to find you, the better your site is doing in content development. Aim for a 5% to 10% increase each month within non-branded search keywords as you structure your SEO campaigns.

Shopping Cart to Checkout “Step 1″ Progression Rate

Our next metric directly correlates to the transactional process. Make sure you monitor your direct progression percentage from the shopping cart to checkout step 1. See how many of your users are bailing for price shopping and/or they see a promo code box on your site and they are going hunting for one. This type of behavior dramatically impacts your conversion rate and overall profits and steps should be taken to measure and reduce.

Consider adding the promo box at the end of the transaction for non-affiliate sessions in order to reduce leakage. Use a cookie from an affiliate or potentially a URL to trigger two versions of the cart page. By incorporating checkout abandonment tools that re-market via email, and aggressive banners both internally and externally to try and re-capture the lost transaction, eCommerce businesses can pull prospects back in the sales funnel.

Browser and Resolution Percentages

Dont forget about looking at Browser/Resolution percentages (types and sizes) when scaling your eCommerce business. Lace face it, when you sell online you are in the “looks professional…is professional” world and goo design can make even the smallest retailer seem large. If your build your site and it breaks in Safari (Mac’s browser), or the navigation breaks on Firefox 3.5 on a PC, you essentially shoot yourself in the foot.

Look at the varied browsers and resolutions that are being used to view your website. Conduct full cross-browser testing, on varied platforms, to fully notice any potential usability problems that arrive.

Average number of cross/up sells added per visit

If you are an eCommerce business, you already know that intelligent merchandising is a crucial key to success. A primary metric to help you understand performance within online merchandising is that of average cross/up sells added per visit.

This datapoint associates to your cross sell tools that integrate at the product and the cart level and measures the average number of cross-sells added to the cart per visit. The number will provide details into the effectiveness of your product recommendations and if the recommended products are actively engaging and persuading customers.

It is tough to provide a benchmark statistic for this metric since products can vary so greatly in terms of pricepoint. But look at your historical performance and consider automating this component through algorithmic third party solutions.

Using Digital Printing to Promote Your Business

Promoting your business may not be as hard as you first think. If well thought out, the daily running of your business can have a major impact on your marketing. Business people travel around on a day to day basis doing business. Customers also travel around and will take note of a well positioned advert, maybe on your building, on an employee, on a vehicle or by a local attraction.

There is a recession going on. Businesses can not afford to stop promoting themselves. Astute businesses will be looking for ways to market themselves at lower cost. One very effective technique is to create an offer, discount or enhanced service to promote your business to new customers and promote this using mobile advertising. Clever advertising has a call to action, for example a website or telephone number.

Digital printing is a very broad term, which covers a variety of products. The main point for business owners to bear in mind is that digital printing generally means that marketing activities can be undertaken in much smaller campaigns and at lower cost than at any other time in the past.

Magnetic Signs
Magnetic signs come in all shapes and sizes. Magnetic signs are very versatile; You can have several graphics and messages to enable you to choose different messages for different jobs.

Foamex Printing
A foamex display is like mobile exhibition stand that can be put up at any opportunity to promote your business in a useful context. This need not be restricted to work related opportunities, why not have a really eye catching board made up for your car window so that your car can promote your business while you are doing your shopping? This will not appeal to everyone but there are certain products and services for which it may be an excellent strategy.

Window Manifestation
Having an eye catching window graphic is a technique often overlooked by business owners. This is particularly the case if your business is positioned in a busy thoroughfare or junction. Window displays work in the same way that television adverts do and people who regularly pass will start to register the message given by your window manifestation in a subliminal way. This is very powerful.

The initial outlay to have a window professionally covered is not as expensive as you may think and considered over the many years that it will serve your business it can only be a great investment.

Exhibition Graphics
You may be surprised to see exhibition graphics included in a list of low cost ways to promote your business. Large exhibitions may well be an excellent forum for promoting a business but we all know that they are not a small financial commitment.

A business can create a small portable exhibition stand which can be taken to locations such as leisure centers, hotel receptions and golf clubs to create a smaller exhibition scenario at a fraction of the cost.

Everyday will give the determined business owner an opportunity to promote his business at relatively low cost utilizing fundamental day to day things that would need to be paid for anyway. Maximize your impact, utilize your assets, let your business do some marketing for you.

Electronic Keyboards – Their History and Development

The term "electronic keyboard" refers to any instrument that produces sound by the pressing or striking of keys, and uses electricity, in some way, to facilitate the creation of that sound. The use of an electronic keyboard to produce music follows an inevitable evolutionary line from the very first musical keyboard instruments, the pipe organ, clavichord, and harpsichord. The pipe organ is the oldest of these, initially developed by the Romans in the 3rd century BC, and called the hydraulis. The hydraulis produced sound by forcing air through reed pipes, and was powered by means of a manual water pump or a natural water source such as a waterfall.

From it's first manifestation in ancient Rome until the 14th century, the organ remained the only keyboard instrument. It often did not feature a keyboard at all, instead utilizing large levers or buttons that were operated by using the whole hand.

The consequent appearance of the clavichord and harpsichord in the 1300's was accelerated by the standardization of the 12-tone keyboard of white natural keys and black sharp / flat keys found in all keyboard instruments of today. The popularity of the clavichord and harpsichord was ever eclipsed by the development and broadfall adoption of the piano in the 18th century. The piano was a revolutionary advancement in acoustic musical keyboards because a pianist could vary the volume (or dynamics) of the sound the instrument produced by varying the force with which each key was stuck.

The emergence of electronic sound technology in the 18th century was the next essential step in the development of the modern electronic keyboard. The first electrified musical instrument was thought to be the Denis d'or (built by Vaclav Prokop Dovis), dating from about 1753. This was shortly followed by the "clavecin electrique" invented by Jean Baptiste Thillaie de Laborde around 1760. The former instrument Consist of over 700 strings temporarily electrified to enhance their sonic qualities. The later was a keyboard instrument featuring plectra, or picks, that were activated electrically.

While being electrified, neither the Denis d'or or the clavecin used electricity as a sound source. In 1876, Elisha Gray invented such an instrument called the "musical telegraph.", Which was, essentially, the very first analog electronic synthesizer. Gray discovered that he could control sound from a self-vibrating electromagnetic circuit, and so invented a basic single note oscillator. His musical telegraph created sounds from the electromagnetic oscillation of steel reeds and transmitted them over a telephone line. Gray went on to incorporate a simple loudspeaker into his later models which considered of a diaphragm vibrating in a magnetic field, making the tone oscillator audible.

Lee De Forrest, the self-styled "Father Of Radio," was the next major contributor to the development of the electronic keyboard. In 1906 he invented the triode electronic valve or "audion valve." The audion valve was the first thermionic valve or "vacuum tube," and De Forrest built the first vacuum tube instrument, the "Audion Piano," in 1915. The vacuum tube became an essential component of electronic instruments for the next 50 years until the Emergence and widespread adoption of transistor technology.

The decade of the 1920's brought a wealth of new electronic instruments onto the scene including the Therin, the Ondes Martenot, and the Trautonium.

The next major breakthrough in the history of electronic keyboards came in 1935 with the introduction of the Hammond Organ. The Hammond was the first electronic instrument capable of producing polyphonic sounds, and remained so until the invention of the Chamberlin Music Maker, and the Mellotron in the late 1940's and early 1950's. The Chamberlin and the Mellotron were the first ever sample-playback keyboards intended for making music.

The electronic piano made it's first appearance in the 1940's with the "Pre-Piano" by Rhodes (later Fender Rhodes). This was a three and a half octave instrument made from 1946 until 1948 that came equipped with self-amplification. In 1955 the Wurlitzer Company debuted their first electric piano, "The 100."

The rise of music synthesizers in the 1960's made a powerful push to the evolution of the electronic musical keyboards we have today. The first synthesizers were extremely large, unwieldy machines used only in recording studios. The technological advances and proliferation of miniaturized solid state components soon allowed the production of synthesizers that were self-contained, portable instruments capable of being used in live performances.

This began in 1964 when Bob Moog produced his "Moog Synthesizer." Lacking a keyboard, the Moog Synthesizer was not really an electronic keyboard. Then, in 1970, Moog debuted his "Minimoog," a non-modular synthesizer with a built-in keyboard, and this instrument further standardized the design of electronic musical keyboards.

Most early analog synthesizers, such as the Minimoog and the Roland SH-100, were monophonic, capable of producing only one tone at a time. A few, such as the EML 101, ARP Odyssey, and the Moog Sonic Six, could produce two different tones at once when two keys were pressed. True polyphony (the production of multiple simultaneous tones which allow for the playing of chords) was only obtainable at first, using electronic organ designs. There were a number of electronic keyboards produced which combined organ circuits with synthesizer processing. These included Moog's Polymoog, Opus 3, and the ARP Omni.

By 1976, additional design advances had allowed the appearance of polyphonic synthesizers such as the Oberheim Four-Voice, and the Yamaha series CS-50, CS-60, and CS-80. The first truly polyphonic synth, introduced in 1977, was the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5. This instrument was the first to use a microprocessor as a controller, and also allowed all knob settings to be saved in computer memory and recalled by simply pushing a button. The Prophet-5's design soon became the new standard in the electronic keyboards industry.

The adoption of Musical Instrumental Digital Interface (MIDI) as the standard for digital code transmission (allowing electronic keyboards to be connected into computers and other devices for input and programming), and the ongoing digital engineering revolution has produced tremendous advances in all aspects of electronic Keyboard design, construction, function, sound quality, and cost. Today's manufactures, such as Casio, Yamaha, Korg, Rolland, and Kurzweil, are now producing an abundance of well-built, lightweight, versatile, great sounding, and affordable electronic keyboard musical instruments and will continue to do so well into the foreseeable future .