How do we learn from past marketing experiences?

Now, this post is a more holistic approach to HOW we learn as individuals, and how that effects what lessons we learn from our previous marketing/sales experiences. In my blog posts I am fond of using the terms ‘learning from XY and Z’ and I am sure marketing pep talks are all about learning from past mistakes or achievements.

If we look at this snazzy home made diagram:

The stages of learning from experience can be presented as a cycle, experience > review > conclusions > planning. Short cuts can be deadly, and must be avoided.

For a small business the ‘learning from experience’ usually comes down to an individual. Maybe seeing how that individual learns to make sure we don’t jump to conclusions, take short cuts and learn properly from past experiences.

According to Peter Honey and crew, there are four distinct learning styles.

Activist – The trial and error marketeer, lots of mistakes will be made but equally there are lots of victories to be had.

Reflector – Considered and prepared approach to marketing, taking on board other peoples opinions and research. A more time consuming learning style, unsuitable when it comes to making snap decisions based on little data and the crux of the season.

Theorist – A methodical and complex learning approach, full of interconnecting relationships, ideas, evening and situations. More questions than answers can often ensue.

Pragmatist – Learning by practising, experimenting then releasing real and practical marketing solutions. No time for the innovative, unless there are clear guidelines and examples to prove efficacy.

So what is your preferred learning style if any? Check out the learning style questionnaire from Peter Honey publications. There is a longer version, but 40 questions is enough.

In essence, every good marketeer needs to hone in on all 4 different learning styles, or at least know where they are weakest. You need to consider your data (reflect), be practical (pragmatic), understand the complexity of the relationships (theorise) but be able to act quickly and take chances when the time comes (activate).

Once you know which hole you have been pigeon’d in too you can work on your weaker learning styles and also recognise your preferred learning style. Make sure the data and evidence you need to digest for the next move is appropriate for you to learn from.

Personally I am a strong reflector, pragmatist and theorist. I like to make informed and considered decisions with respect to my marketing and need to allocate time to make sure I don’t miss the boat pondering on the small details.

So when you read about learning from past marketing experiences, just consider exactly HOW you will learn.

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Heading towards the economic apocalypse?

Well if the BBC is to be believed then we surely are. The high street is failing! Well? It has been for ages since the nouveau on-line boom, but most major high street retailers now take advantage of the on-line world.

Through the looking glass of a small trader, things seem a little slower, but this is typical as we all unconsciously save our pennies after the holiday splurge to cover Christmas.

Purses will be tight, so only the smartest retailers will hit it big this festive season. Things have already hotted up for the costume sellers, with Halloween around the corner. Remember last years advice on looking at your statistics and getting ready for Christmas early?

The theory still applies my friends, you should be better equipped this time!

  1. Gearing up for Xmas 2007 – What to do in October…
  2. Christmas Marketing – What to do in November
  3. Cyber Monday – The Start of the Festive Online Shopping and December Marketing

but what IS new this year? What has changed in the shopping habits of the masses? This is something that no one can really predict, but if you think of the themes for this year:

Global Warming. Kinda overtaken by the rise in energy costs, but it all has a green theme. If you are into selling stuff that plugs in or runs on black gold, make sure the energy/fuel rating is the BEST. The government has been brainwashing the public to purchase the most energy efficient appliances. Their spies are everywhere, you can bet it has worked.

Value. Everything is about VALUE and not necessarily price. Make sure your unique value proposition is out there and visible. Many websites and auction sites now come equipped with moving pictures (video for those out of the 1920’s) including eBay. Nothing like a short film to show that your product is fit for purpose. Better still, uploaded it to Utube, you might start a viral marketing cult.

Timing. In the next 7-8 days millions of British tax payers get a pseudo extra £60, (£60 of tax relief) and will be hell bound to spend it. Are your auctions and ads running in anticipation?

Innovation. For some reason innovative products and services are hot this year. I suppose, if you have limited funds you spend it on something interesting. I mean, who’d a thought the wii with it’s Atari graphics would be a success?

Interaction. Interactive marketing is hot. Engaging the customer and combining the off-line and on-line. Use off-line media to drive your on-line sales. Use opportunities to sponsor, do charitable work all in the name of love…and money.

Train. Train your employees to cross sell, up sell and be honest. If you can’t sell the customer what they want, don’t ruin your reputation by hard selling. An item brought not fit for purpose will be a thorn in your side. Training your staff can motivate and bring value to the company. My enterprise has only one other and he has just passed his ‘Design and the web’ short course with the Open University. Now he is a more tailored web user and better understands the world I have thrust him into.

Export. For the first time in ages the pound has dropped and we can export again. The rest of the world can afford our stuff now! So our economy is fading, lets hang on to someone else’s.

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Cyber Monday – The Start of the Festive Online Shopping and December Marketing

Cyber Monday (the 26th of November this year) is the ceremonial kick-off of the holiday on-line shopping season in the United States between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. It is also close the the last pay day in time to shop for Christmas for most of us in the UK too. Over 700 million dollars was expected to be spent on this day.
Online spending is on the up:

$9.3 billion spent online from November 1 through 23, a record and 17 percent higher than the $8.1 billion spent online last year

Check out the post $700mm Cyber Monday? for more details.

If you have been following our marketing series, the last post Christmas Marketing – What to do in November. you would have been ready for the Christmas Crunch time between the 23rd of November and 16th December.

So what do you get up to in December?

Check, check and re check! You still have time to tweak your marketing strategies before the 16th of December! Do you have the last shipping date displayed for your target market? If you ship internationally make sure you distinguish between the posting dates.

From the 17th of December:

Ramp down your festive keywords and marketing to avoid wasted pay per click sales. Gather and analyse your data to outline the best method of increase your sales in the next festive season.

Celebrate your success, and forget about your failures until next year when you make moves to eradicate them!

Prepare stock and website for the sales. In the UK sales start on boxing day, so you will need to get moving implementing your strategy, boasting the best prices and driving the bargain ethos. Advertise NOW that your sales start boxing day, in pay per click and on your site. Email all your customers about the fantastic bargains to be had!

Repeat the main and successful steps from your Christmas marketing. top make sure you clear old and redundant stock ready for the trends of 2008!

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Christmas Marketing – What to do in November.

Follow on from:
Gearing up for Xmas 2007 – What to do in October…

Week 1:

You have done your research, you campaign has had 7-10 days. Pin point your successes and failures.

Ask yourself a few questions:

1. What campaigns are working?
2. Why are the successful campaigns working?
3. What campaigns are not working?
4. Why are they not working and what can we change you yield a positive result?

You need to look at your analytical data and see where your revenue stream is coming from on these campaigns, are the keywords you thought were relevant to the season and your product working for you?

Are to continuously testing the efficacy of your landing pages?

Week 2:

You need to analyse your purchase or lead generation process. You should have enough data now to see where your customers are either abandoning the shopping cart or being lost in your pages.

Check your error and web logs, has the site had a slow down due to the increased traffic? Have loading times been effected at all? Do you have any dead links on your site you forgot to get rid of in October?

These holes in your bucket need to be corked before the ‘Christmas Crunch Time’ which is typically 23rd of Nov to 16th Dec.

Crunch starts in week 3.

Week 3:

Check stock levels and product feeds for errors. Display and be realistic about your last posting days before Christmas. Evaluate your pay per click and other active return on investment advertising to increase quality of traffic. Re-evaluate your match types, campaign negative keywords, budget, position and bids to ensure the relevancy of your shoppers.

Don’t sell them something they are not looking for. If they don’t know what they are looking for make sure you are ‘suggesting ideas’ within your advertising i.e Gifts for Mum, Gifts for a music fan etc.

Make sure you campaigns are organised to separate such ‘Suggesting Campaigns’ from product specific or general campaigns. These campaigns are more specific to panic shoppers at Christmas with no idea what to buy their loved ones.

If you do run an affiliate program make sure the creative and promotions are seasonal, add Christmas bonuses.

Week 4:

Wash. Repeat.

Keep tweaking and checking your promotional presence. Keep and eye on your competitors.

Again this is not a complete guide, only suggestions to get you going for the Christmas period and hopefully be a little thought provoking when your are planning your marketing activities. Watch out for the December edition!

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Gearing up for Christmas – Seasonal E-commerce and Marketing

Most retailers depend heavily on Christmas sales. So how can you do better this year than last?

– Set up a separate advertising campaign and make sure your merchandise fits
– Create specific seasonal landing pages for your products to improve optimisation at this earlier stage. Remember you have 4 seconds to convert your customer so make sure you test and fine tune these pages.
– Pull last years top searches, there is a good chance last years searches will mirror this years
– Dust off last years successful email marketing campaigns and make sure you don’t repeat mistakes
– Don’t repeat on last years ‘non sellers’ If they didn’t sell last year they won’t this year either
– Make sure your items can be found in time for the Christmas season, search engines can take a while, which not try shopping comparison engines or other pay per click methods and specifically design them for the Christmas market.
– Be prepared to change your promotional activities quickly in response to the market. Don’t wait till next year to get rid of a dud method.
– Make sure those changes you were going to make to the site are made and you don’t start fiddling mid season.
– Streamline your checkout, make sure all the information is displayed and your customer has minimal fields to fill in. No one likes a cumbersome checkout when your Christmas on line shopping. Time is of the essence.

Another point highlighted by Lets Talk E-commerce

Make your shipping process completely transparent.

As the big day approaches, online shoppers have one big question: “Will I get my order on time?”

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