Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Deserving Divas 2011

We were honored to play Paparazzi for the Deserving Divas this year. Each year Drs. Williams, Smith, and Golik of Suwanee Dental Care complete many diva makeovers, including a number as a charitable endeavor to help those in need who otherwise could not afford such dental care.

This year, Suwanee Dental Care selected three ladies from hundreds of nominations. This year's recipients Barbara, Shefije and Nancy received the smile they have always dreamed of from Dr. Williams, Dr. Smith and Dr. Golik of Suwanee Dental Care. To celebrate, the divas recieve a full makeover and reveal party at the Gwinnett Place Marriott.

Our day started by meeting the ladies at Revival Salon in Suwanee where they were getting there makeovers were underway. Cody Smith and his team donated their services to provide the Deserving Divas with hair and make up to compliment their new smile makeovers from Suwanee Dental.

Next they changed into their new outfits from Panache Consignment in Suwanee. Shortly thereafter, the staff at Suwanee Dental came and met them at the salon.

Next was a limo ride to Gwinnett Place Marriott where the Deserving Divas were to reveal their new, beautiful smiles to world with the help of Gwinnett Magazine. Upon arriving at the Marriott, there were greeting by family, friends, their dentists, previous Deserving Divas, and more.

They were then escorted to the presentation stage to meet the world. “We are so thankful for all those who partcipated in their journey and gave if there time and talent to make this dream come true possible for these 3 very deserving ladies” said Dr. Williams of Suwanee Dental Care.

After their reveal, they were escorted to a video set where they completed their final video interviews for an upcoming local TV show featuring the divas and their transformation.

Reformation Productions is very honored to participate in the day with the Deserving Divas Foundation and all of the sponsors who made these three, deserving ladies feel special and look great.... They may not be used to having others take care of them, with all that they do from others, but they really did appreciate it. Blessings.

If you are interested in nominating someone for the 2012 Deserving Diva smile makeover email andrea@suwaneedental.com. Nominations deadline is November 30th 2011 and must include a description of the nominee's character, a description of the nominee's contribution to the community and others, and details as to the severity of her dental needs. Help find our 2012 Deserving Diva!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Marketing to all 5 steps of the buying process

Some folks ask how fast their marketing will turn into sales & ultimately, revenue. I reply by asking three questions:
  • What is your time to sale?
  • What is your level of awareness within your targeted segments?
  • How many happy customers/clients have you created over time?
    Usually, I get puzzled looks as a reaction. A question that they percieved to be simple, was just uncovered as more complicated than they thought.

    There is a principle that's taught in business school - one satisfied customer can yield up to 10 more customers in less time than you could build them one by one, all by yourself. Let's explore the "Why":

    There are 5 stages to building a satisfied customer. They range from some one having no-awareness of your business to having a full blown evangelist that sings your praises from the roof tops. If Branding is done correctly, you'll only have to go through the initial stages of marketing once or twice to build the initial base of satisfied customers.

    This is a foundational principal behind Straight Line Marketing. It helps ensure that you have the strategies necessary to take a potential customer through each stage of the customer satisfaction/buying process.

    #1 Awareness:
    People MUST be aware of your product/service category, your business and its capability. They buy from you if they don't know you exist. It takes seeing something 7 times seeing or hearing something before the majority of humans will remember it. You must put your company out there it ways that the public will see or hear of you often and repetitively. That's not an opinion, it's science. However, if you accomplish this, many potential targets may still be largely indifferent as they may not see a need for your product or service.

    #2 Interest:
    Something happens in a potential customer's life or business for them to move from the awareness phase to the interest phase. You must have raised their interest proactively. To raise their interest, you have to push their buttons... to do that efficiently, you must know them. To recap - a potential customers cannot get to the interest phase if you haven't raised awareness of your brand and/or offering and when doing that, you have to raise their interest by targeting your message to their lifestyle, preferences, needs, etc. This is the point of a process where we would qualify a target as a warm lead and nurture them carefully to build their interest into hungry desire.

    #3 Desire:
    This is the hottest and most volatile point of the marketing and sales process - if you can take a customer through this journey and then identify when they have clearly made it into the "desire" phase of the sales process, then all you have to do is close the deal. But be warned, at this point you have done all of the hard work to build a client's awareness and interest in your product or service BUT if your product or service is not desireable enough (or your competiton is more convincing at this point) then you will lose the sale to someone else and all your effort will be wasted. You must be able to deliver on what you've promised in the first two stages.

    #4 Action:
    This is the point of the sales process where a customer parts with their money. At this point the decision has already made. Here's a good example of this stage in action: you've heard how men don't "window shop" - - well, when men, traditionally, go into a store, they already know what they are going to buy and how much they are willing to pay for it. If you have built awareness of your top-notch product or service and managed to hold on throughout the process constantly nurturing your lead with care, I would hope that you would be closing your sale here. The trick here is to make this stage of the process as easy as possible. You already have them, don't lose them.

    Now this part is most important, once you've gotten a customer through to this point, from a marketing stand point. The reason businesses strive for satisfied customers and not just paying customers is that a satisfied customer is more likely to take the initial step of raising awareness out of your equation for the next round of customers. A satisfied customer will sits around with their connections and makes a recommendation to their peer at a time when their peer is interested and has a need thereby cutting the time investment of the first three stages down substantially. Meaning that they can multiple customers quicker than the natural cycle starting with stage #1.

    The sales cycle is intrinsic to every business. You won't invest in marketing and be rewarded overnight, but if you understand the process you are investing in, it can be a much more rewarding journey, as you wont be tempted to give up half way there. Know that it takes time because you are having to lead potential customers on this journey. But if you are proactive and use a proven process like Straight Line Marketing, you can be assured that it will be the quickest that it can be, the most efficient, and the most effective because you are investing in doing it the right way.... scientifically.

    Let Reformation Productions help you through the marketing process as a local business. Call Rachel Bennett, Director of New Business, at 404.862.8814.
  • Thursday, July 14, 2011

    Welcome Upper Cervical Health Center

    We get the privilege of helping to welcome new businesses into our community from time to time. This week, we helped welcome Upper Cervical Health Center to Hamilton Mill by attending their ribbon cutting ceremony and open house.

    The new business is operated by Dr. Nick Tedder and Dr. Adam Tedder, brothers united in their passion for a healthier Georgia. They are located at 3635 Braselton Highway in the heart of the Hamilton Mill area.

    Upper Cervical care is a specialized practice within the Chiropractic field of healthcare. It is concentrated on clearing out interruptions in the nervous systems communication with the rest of the body at it's source....the top of the spine where it meets your head. Irritations or unnatural pressure in this area of the neck can lead to a variety of health problems.

    The ceremony was a success with several members of the community coming out to show their support. Dr. Tedder provided a tour of the offices as well as taking time to answer questions about this specialized field.

    We heard from patient advocate Donna Starnes, who told her testimony of how she met Dr. Tedder at her church and came to be under his care. She was in the process of shopping for a wheel chair, having been in pain for quite some time, spending over $10,000 while taking 14 different kinds of medication. After starting therapy with Dr. Tedder, she is happily down to 2 medications and is pain free.

    Dr. Adam Tedder then asked for everyone's attention and told of something that was on his heart. He offered everyone that was at the ceremony a discounted initial exam and indicated that the monies received would go towards Heart 2 Heart, a charity set up to help a local resident named Philip Morgan who recently suffered from aortic dissection and had to undergo 8 hours of emergency surgery, leaving him with large medical expenses.

    I like this way this business thinks. I like their compassion for the people in their community. We had a great time helping the doctors with their ribbon cutting ceremony and looking forward to seeing them prosper and grow as a community business.

    More photos are available on our facebook page at www.Facebook.com/ReformationProductions.

    If you are interested in Public Relations or photography for your next event, contact Rachel Bennett at Reformation Productions, 404.862.8814

    Reformation Productions
    As the marketing department for local business, we specialize in helping Small and Regional Business succeed in marketing their companies using a proven, scientific approach we call Straight Line Marketing. The most efficient and effective way to connect your products or service to your customers - - in a straight line. The next time you think of marketing, Think In Straight Lines.

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    Local Business Guerrilla Marketing Strategies

    OK, so Obama is in office, discretionary income is low, and therefore store front and/or website traffic is down... A lot of consumers have slowed or completely stopped buying non-essential products like home improvement, hot tubs, new cars, etc. and many of the other products you sell... they aren't eating out or going out for entertainment near as often. Well, unless you are ready to throw in the towel, and close up shop, it’s time to start finding new ways to drive prospects to your store/website.

    According to some estimates, the average consumer is exposed to about 3000 advertisements per day. So in order to capture your prospects attention, you must offer something unique.

    Here are a couple of unique ideas to think about...just a few... I'll give you three:

    1 – Co-branding/Joint Ventures
    Contact complimentary businesses that sell to your target market. If you are targeting consumers that suffer from back pain, why not get in touch with a local chiropractor, massage therapist and an acupuncturist and have an open house hosted in your store.

    Create an ad inviting back pain sufferers to a “Lunch and Learn” Back Pain Clinic on a Saturday afternoon. Each of the sponsors sends out invitations to their current list of customers and prospects and at the end of the event, you all get to share the leads that attended.

    That combines two strategic elements: co-branding and event marketing

    2 – Offer Unique Promotions
    If you think that you can rely on the standard “We match our competitor pricing” or “money-back guarantee” to drive hungry consumers to your business, you are sadly mistaken. Those are too simple for hard times...too generic. Customers are already expecting this and quite frankly, in many industries, this the “the price of entry” – in other words, this does not make you any different than your competition.... b.k.a. "everyone does it."

    This is going to get into web design a bit now but stay with me. It applies to brick and mortars also. Every website visitor that you have comes with a problem that they want solved or information they want to find. But prospective customers or clients may be at different stages of the decision-making/buying process. Some may indeed to ready to 'buy now' others maybe, and most are, still in the process of gathering information: finding out why, where, what makes you better, do I need it, etc.

    Regardless of what stage in the buying process the're at, you will need to provide them with the useful information that they are looking for as a potential customer so that they can use it make an informed decision about their purchase. If you don't, they will leave you site "wanting" and that's not good for your brand or your hopes of having them purchase from you when the time comes.

    Selling most products & services these days will requires that your potential customers be educated about what you do, who you are, why you are different and how your products/services can fill their need. This has been deemed “Education based Marketing” but it's a fundamental and critical part of the buying process that you must fulfill... because the educational process IS the heart of the selling process. And that's what you want to do. Your clients are wanting & needing information and they want credible advice. What they DO NOT want ever is a sales pitch....no body likes to think they are being sold. It has a negative connotation to it. Of course, educating them on why you are better, different, etc. IS sales... so there you go.

    Everything you do on you site should have one overriding objective – turning visitors into sales! No surprise here. But you have to do it in a way that is comfortable and effective FOR THEM. This is the purpose of customer targeting and the focus of the LISTEN stage of Straight Line Marketing.

    Another element that would help in the sales/buying process would be to provide numerous touch points with the prospect while they are considering, researching, and thinking about this purchase. One way set it up where you can verifiably do that is by capturing their contact information, minimally their first name and e-mail address, so that you can reach out to them again.

    What you want to do is get first time visitors to opt-in to something you offer. This could be an email list for future promotions, the opportunity to find you on Facebook, how to follow you on Twitter, or an informational newsletter or blog. In order to do convince them to provide you with their information, you have to offer something they perceive as valuable, something that they want in exchange for providing you their contact information.

    There are several different things you could offer: email lists, blogs, white papers, special reports, etc. Their purposes are all to provide needed information that your prospect couldn’t get anywhere else, thus building value in the mind of your prospective client (many times before you even meet in person). This are just some of the things we brainstorm during the THINK stage of the Straight Line Marketing process at Reformation Productions.

    3– Tie in With Charitable Organizations
    Why not find a way do some good for your business and your community at the same time. Create promotional tie-ins with local charities. Doing so can exponentially drive traffic to your business. How?

    Here’s an example. Hold a local high school football team car wash or blood drive in front of your store or do a charity drive at your office. In both instances, both you and the charity being sponsored can get free Public Relations in addition to any advertising you both do. Effective PR can definitely send traffic to your store especially if a school or charity is endorsing it.

    After the event, invite the charity and the local newspaper or TV station back to your store and have pictures taken of you and the charity along with the oversized check.

    Another example, our company offers event photography and blog write-up to all local charities. We've been known to contribute other things that fall under our expertise, but event photography and public relations is what we put out there. You see our company is passionate about helping local businesses and being charitable. What better way to communicate that aspect of our brand than partnering with local charity events?

    In summary, as a business owner, you know that you have to marketing your business if you want to stay in business. That isn't the question. The question is how to market the most effectively and efficiently that you can in these hard times. When the going gets tough, the tough get strategic and creative. We can help you through all this. Our passion is for local businesses and helping them get ahead in the marketing game...even in this down economy.

    Contact Rachel Bennett at www.ReformationProductions.com or call 404.862.8814.

    Reformation Productions is located in the north Atlanta metro area of Gwinnett County near the following surrounding areas: Dacula, Buford, Hamilton Mill, Braselton, Winder, Duluth, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Hoschton, and Suwanee.

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    Branding As Strategy

    Few local business owners have the time and resources available to dedicate to their branding they way that big corporates do...at least up to they same level. But there are plenty of things that larger corporations do well that small-business owners should consider implementing as they strive for long-term survival:

    1. Establishing strong brand positioning

    Defining a market position is the most critical step in developing a brand. You must know who you are before you can get to where you want to be. Brand positioning characterizes the way a company wants its target audience to think about its brand. It is the core message you want to deliver in every medium, and it creates clarity, consistency and continuity in the way the organization speaks to the market. Essential to an effective positioning statement is the concept of narrowing rather than broadening a company’s focus. The secret to a good brand-positioning strategy is a clear message that talks about your strengths and explains to customers why your product is the best in your category or industry. Reformation Productions offers what we call a Identification Session as one of the first steps in the Straight Line Marketing process. This process is so important and so impactful that we offer it at a discounted rate to new clients. As we go through this long, intense session, 90% of our new clients gain a full understanding as to what Straight Line Marketing is all about and how it can work to grow their business.

    2. Using market research to create a strategic plan

    This is what we call the LISTEN stage. When most of us think of market research, we think of statistics, focus groups and expensive surveys. In most cases, that is overkill. Market research needs to answer only a few key questions — the simpler, the better. Big businesses take feedback and apply it to a strategic plan. They evaluate sales and segment performance, predict sales growth, compile market trends and consumer insights, identify key drivers from the previous year’s successes and failures, set firm marketing objectives for the coming year, estimate costs and craft tactical programs and marketing initiatives to achieve those objectives. Good planning allows companies to continuously measure, refine and optimize their marketing mix. You should demand that all programs have financial benefits and amplify sales. Spend wisely, and know your cost per generated lead.

    3. Everything you do communicates, so be consistent across all materials and every aspect of the brand

    The perception of your company and brand is defined by the interactions people have with your company and your communications. Your message must be consistent and compelling at all points of contact with customers. Take a look at any coupon, print ad, television commercial or Web site for IBM Corp. Every message is marked by a vivid blue color, graphic elements influenced by the geometric shape of the logo, a single-minded tagline, uniform font type in headlines and the same tone across all printed material. We cannot express how important consistency in communications is to your success. This is part of the THINK stage in Straight Line Marketing. It's evaluating everything from the two previous stages and turning it into a campaign concept that incorporates the right brand messaging.

    4. Being unique is crucial, even if you’re coming in second

    Companies that grab market share first often grab the glory, but they aren’t always the last one standing. At one time, The Procter & Gamble Co. was second to Union Carbide Corp. in marketing disposable diapers. Dell Inc. unseated Compaq Computer Corp. by marketing to the upcoming college generation. The secret to second-mover advantage: You can’t propose just a me-too idea; you need a unique angle to spin. Me-too businesses rarely survive. They usually end up in price wars because they don’t have anything unique that establishes value in the minds of their prospects. They are left with only one competitive weapon: price. Unless you have a significant cost advantage over your competitors, you will lose. We'll help you determine what your edge will be as part of the IDENTIFY stage.

    5. Speak to the consumer and create value

    Does your marketing material directly address the value of doing business with your company? Can it answer any consumer’s basic question, “What’s in it for me?” Some companies forget communication is about getting consumers to see brand benefits for themselves. To get that across, a brand must speak from the consumer’s point of view, not the marketing department’s. Remove all those meaningless benefits from your Web site and other communications materials. Replace them with the added value customers are after. Determining which marketing tools you should be using is part of the SPEAK stage. The tools you select, the programs you develop, everything from your website down to your listing in the yellow pages or your ad in the Neighborhood News should be crafted on purpose and with meaning.

    Let Reformation Productions help your business function with the expertise and experience of the big corporations. Call our new business team at 404.862.8814 or visit us online at www.ReformationProductions.com today.

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    The 4Ps

    The 4Ps.... taught over and over in marketing school as a way to differentiate your brand. There are always considerations other than price and product functionality in the buying decision. The challenge is to define them. When you do that you are defining your brand. Your brand is not your logo. It is not your slogan. It is something more intangible. Your brand is every part of the buying decisions that is not Price or Product/Service.

    What a customer buys when they are buying a product or service is the total package of benefits associated with the selling organization, the people who work there, its image and reputation, and the way it does business. These are much more than the features, benefits, price and tangible aspects of a specific product or service, something that adds value to the transaction. I've worked with many banks and credit unions over the years: Bank Of America, Y-12 Federal Credit Union, Regions Bank, SunTrust, Fleet Bank, MBNA, etc.... so let's use banking as an example - when a customer chooses a bank for a cash management system, he or she buys that bank's experience and track record, the quality of the people who developed and maintain the system, the "image" of how that system is perceived and how easy the bank will be to work with. There are always considerations other than price and product functionality. The most important point is that that what a customer buys transcends the product itself. The challenge for those responsible for sales and marketing, therefore, is to capture the power of this notion and define that "something more: so customers can easily see it and the value it brings to them. It is the "something" that ultimately determines from whom the customer buys and how much is paid. The "something" is at the core of the organization's brand.

    These ideas are at the core of the 4Ps model, an important conceptual tool. The 4Ps - Product, People, Past and Process--represent those resources of a company that can be differentiated from one institution to another. Often these differences have evolved over time with little intention or planning. For instance, one bank has a reputation among its customers for being helpful to new businesses. Where did this notion come from? A policy? A particular group of employees? A specific, well-known and publicized incident? With some thought, some veteran employees of this bank might be able to trace how this perception came to be, but most likely they will report it "just happened." On the other hand, if management is aware of the importance of differentiating the bank from its competitors, it can specifically create, develop, communicate and manage notable differences that the customer will perceive as valuable around the bank's products, people, past and processes. (See definition of the 4Ps at the end of this article.)

    Plainness and a Promise

    The origin of the 4Ps stems from two compelling problem areas in marketing: selling a commodity and selling a service. A commodity is a product that is fundamentally the same from one vendor to another. Steel, potash, sulphur, nails and screws are commodities. A service, on the other hand, doesn't exist at all until it is delivered; it is intangible and cannot be experienced by the buyer in making a buying decision. The commodity exudes undifferentiated plainness; the intangible service presents a promise, an uncertainty. A bank has the unique distinction of offering a number of commodity-type services.

    Theodore Levitt of the Harvard Business School has written a number of articles on product differentiation. (Harvard Business Review, January-February,1980 and Harvard Business Review, May-June, 1981) which have contributed to the 4Ps concept.

    What A Product Is: Beyond the Obvious

    Levitt has developed a product diffentiation model that opens a new perspective as to what a product is. This model defines a product on four different levels: the generic product, the expected product, the augmented product and the potential product.

    The generic product, as Levitt presents it, is the product itself--the cash management system, the letter of credit, the term loan--whatever it is the customer can use to help improve the business. Even though these generic products are found in most banks, they are not necessarily the same. Slight differences in product design may make one bank's lock boxes more attractive than another's. This is the most obvious area for product differentiation as anyone who has ever seen a development team laboring long and hard to generate creative nuances for a new product will report. But there is more to a product than its parts.

    The expected product includes those aspects that relate to delivery, terms, support, new ideas for product applications, all of which are one step removed from the product itself, but without which the product simply could not be successfully sold. The augmented product refers to Levitt's notion of adding something to improve or modify the product for a particular customer. Developing a report on how much money is saved using a cash transfer system, for example, is a vehicle for demonstrating
    what the vendor will do for the buyer. Augmenting the product goes beyond the product by exceeding the buyer's expectations. Finally, the potential product is "everything that might be done" to attract and hold the customer. This includes making suggestions for technical changes, reporting the results of surveys regarding product usage and attitudes of customers, installing new technologies to better use the product, and advising customers on business conditions, feasibility of business plans and employment of experts in specific technical areas.

    Levitt's model is a useful framework for defining the various levels of product a customer can buy. Most important, as a development source for the 4Ps, it introduced the idea of moving away from product as a cluster of defined features, benefits and prices, into a more expanded view of what can be sold. In a bank, the idea of building more value into a loan or a trust account or any product or service is compelling. Every bank has the same products; an expanded view would include the unique value of people who service the product, the manner in which it is installed and how customers interact with the bank as well as the success the bank has had in the past. All these elements can be made to be different from the competition.

    Reducing Uncertainty

    Most bank products are services provided for customers. This brings into focus the other marketing challenge faced by banks, that is, selling services, and the associated problems of convincing customers that an intangible that customers can’t see, touch or feel will improve their business operations.

    Another business writer provided some insight into how intangibles, such as services, can be made tangible. Warren J. Wittreich, in a classic article on selling professional services (Harvard Business Review, March-April, 1966), succinctly outlined the issues. To be successful, Wittreich writes that uncertainties surrounding who the customer is dealing with, how the service will be implemented and whether or not the money is being spent wisely must be dealt with. The degree to which a professional who sells can persuade the customer that he or she (and the bank) understands the problem, has solved similar problems in the past and has a way to do it or process which is logical and easily followed is the degree to which the customer's uncertainty can be reduced. The seller can sell him or herself by demonstrating command of the methods to be used, familiar relationships key people who are resources in solving the problem, and knowledge of and preferably involvement with related success stories. When people who sell do this, Wittreich writes, the "high bidder often wins" because there is much more value in dealing with certainty than uncertainty.

    Wittreich's article was a forerunner of the many articles and books written about the service culture, excellence and customer orientation. Today, corporations are attempting to develop new ways to add value to the customer relationship while still maintaining low costs. Consumers are aware of the competition and are attracted to banks that provide what they need with the most added value. Among many examples, combined statements with summary information, account information accessible online and even advice about markets, investments and other specialized knowledge-based services are the kinds of developments banks have to make to give the customer more for his money. In fact, as the age of disintermediation accelerates, the types of services offered and the resources surrounding those services should be more important to banks interested in keeping market share. The concepts provided by Wittreich are an additional essential ingredient of the 4Ps, offering a wider view of
    what has to be sold when selling these types of services.

    More To It Than Talking Product

    As a final resource for the 4Ps, a recent Sales Competency Study (Miller and Maginn, 1987) isolated the activities of high performing sales people in banks. In general, people who excel in selling in banks mention a variety of activities that revolve around themes of specificity, initiative, involvement, planning, focusing and analysis. Of critical importance to these individuals is the concept of selling yourself, of bringing more to the table than the competition, of creating an image of personal value to the customer. From a series of focus groups with these individuals, it became clear that high performers considered themselves a virtual product of the bank, an extension of the institution and behaved in a way that lead customers to recognized them as such.

    These individuals were good at selling the resources of the bank, but they were also excellent at selling themselves. In Wittreich's words, they were good at reducing the customer's uncertainty in the way they responded to problems, in the genuine interest they displayed in the customer's business, in their understanding of the customer's needs, in their knowledge of how the bank does business and how resources within the bank work, in demonstrating their experience with solving similar middle market business problems. In the 4Ps model, the Relationship Manager is one of the resources the bank has to offer. Those sales people who recognize this can develop ways to differentiate themselves from their counterparts at competing institutions. A firm knowledge of the bank's resources--the 4Ps--and how to talk about them in sales situations represents a personal strength and an expanded view of what can be sold to the customer.

    The 4Ps—A Practical Model

    The 4Ps represent a synthesis of concepts from different areas of marketing and sales literature. From selling commodities comes the concept of looking beyond the generic product and into the arena of what additional value is delivered or can be delivered to the customer along with the product. From selling services comes the idea of reducing a customer's uncertainty by making the intangible more tangible--talking
    about personal knowledge and experience, the process of working together, and related success stories. Finally, from the Sales Competency Study comes the high performers' conviction that they, as individuals, add value to the relationship by demonstrating what they know, who they know and how to get things done.

    The 4Ps model is not a difficult concept to grasp. Yet, when faced with the task of defining what products are really different, what individuals are valuable, expert resources, how doing business is more user friendly than the competition and what success stories are worthy of corporate legend status, many bank Sales Leaders and Relationship Managers struggle. While many of the 4Ps can be tactically defined at the work unit level using local heroes and successes, the real work of defining the 4Ps is for the corporation's directors. It is up to them to clearly specify what the bank should be known for and to clarify how their products, people, process and past are better than the bank down the street. This is one of the primary objectives of what we call the Identification Session. For us, this 4-6 hours session is so vital that we offer it as a first step to companies at an extreme discount. It's our "free oil change" to bring customers in the door. After this session, the value of Straight Line Marketing is without question. Often times the second step within the Identify stage includes a Branding Workshop... to carry what's been identified, defined, uncovered and developed to the employees and preparing them to share it with the customers.

    The 4Ps

    The 4Ps represent resources of an organization which, when created and managed, become differentiators defining the brand. That is, they describe what the total offering of an organization is.


    The features and benefits of the product. This is the baseline of differentiation. To be competitive, the features and benefits of a product have to convey valuable differences to buyers. When there are no or minimal differences, the other Ps in the 4Ps model must be used to differentiate the product or service.


    One resource is the combined experience of the organization with the type of issues the buyer is facing. For example, if a customer is having trouble defining the kind of leasing arrangements to use, having a reputation as “the bank that helps small business get started in leasing” is a definite way to reduce uncertainty.


    The individual or team working with the client represents another facet of the total offering. As a product, the individual or team literally has features and benefits. The level of expertise, ability to get things done, experience with similar clients, and even industry status represent examples of potential features of individuals that can help reduce uncertainty.


    How the organization does business is a strong potential area for differentiation. If the actual buying, delivery and implementation process is efficient and user friendly, it can be a major differentiator. Careful definition of this process, especially for intangible services, can bring a sense of security to an uncertain buyer.

    References for this blog post:
    Levitt, Theodore, "Marketing success through differentiation--of anything." Harvard Business Review, January 1980.

    Levitt, Theodore, "Marketing intangible products and product intangibles." Harvard Business Review, May 1981.

    Miller, N., and Maginn, M., "Business Development Competencies for Bank Relationship and Sales Managers." Lending, Winter, 1987.

    Wittreich, Warren J., "How to buy/sell professional services." Harvard Business Review, March 1966.

    The 4Ps are infamous is college courses on marketing. The bring a lot of insight into what branding is and how it can be developed, nurtured, defined, and encouraged. Now the positive attitude in this blog post is optimistic. But there is another side to branding. The scary, dangerous side is knowing that all companies have a brand.... whether they choose to develop, control, and management it or not. I've often defined your brand as "what people say about you when you aren't in the room"... it's the character of your company if we excluded your actual products or services. And left to it's own devices, your brand could be working against you. Everyone has an opinion... what are your customers opinions about you? And how are you responding to is?

    Reformation Productions
    Contact Rachel Bennett or Jeff Robertson to discuss your company and how Reformation Productions can serve you and your brand.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    In It To End It

    Most of our blog posts are educational; not this one. From time to time, you'll see our V-logs, where we highlight local businesses we are working with and the opportunities that we've been given to work within the community, helping making it stronger for local commerce.

    This blog, I want to tell you about an opportunity we had recently to partner with another local business owner in his efforts to support charity! I'll admit, we were late to the game. Rachel Bennett, our Director of New Business, met Jerry & Judy Pilet, owners of Fernando's Mexican Restaurant, the first restaurant in Dacula to offer Mexican cuisine and margaritas, just last week. In our discussions, he let us know he had plans to hold an event, "Party In Pink," that very weekend and that all proceeds would go towards breast cancer research. We immediately asked how we could help.

    Jerry, who also owns Del Rio Mexican Grill in Dacula, has supported charity numerous times before. Through a relationship with a few Avon sales agents, he decided to join the fight against Breast Cancer and support Avon's Walk For Breast Cancer campaign by hosting an event on Sunday, July 12. He decided to talk with local musicians about donating their talent; give out door prizes; have t-shirts made that they could then sell for the charity; and even donate all, gross proceeds from the restaurant during the 5-hour event to the cause! Talk about above and beyond!

    Our support came in the form of Public Relations- promoting the event, developing some creative, photographing the event, and then bringing attention to the cause by celebrating what Jerry took on himself to pull together. As you can tell, we were very impressed and inspired by the heart shown by Fernando's and all that contributed to making this event a success.

    When we arrived, Jerry and Judy were talking with Mayor Jimmy Wilbanks, who had come out to show support for what Fernando's was doing within the community.

    Tommy Knight, a local musician, was just setting up to play his set to a patio full of supporters, all enjoying tremendous Mexican food....all for the cause.

    Fernando's staff was extremely well attentive and celebratory. Each wearing the "Save The Ta-Ta's" shirt that Jerry had made for the event. These were for sale to the public as well, with all proceeds going towards Cancer Research.

    Door prizes were donated in different sizes and from different community businesses. In between musicians' sets, one of the girls from Avon would call out ticket numbers to announce door prize winners. Supporters could also buy raffle tickets for items, as well as, donate money directly to the cause.

    Before too long, Joe and Wade Hall, a duo that frequently plays Fernando's on the weekends, took their turn on the patio entertaining supports and we decided to sit down for our own delightful, Mexican meal.

    I haven't been told how much money was raised yet, but the place was packed all day. It seems people from all over the city came out to support Breast Cancer Research and to thank Jerry for putting on the event at Fernando's.

    One of the many things that we enjoy about specializing in small and regional businesses, as Reformation Productions, is getting to witness community business owners coming together to help each other and, in this case, coming together for a cause much bigger than our individual selves. It thrills our hearts, as a company, to be able to work with business owners like Jerry Pilet as they seek to serve others and provide in the ways that they can, with the opportunities, resources, and gifts that they've been given.

    We encourage you to visit Fernando's at 465 Dacula Road in Dacula whenever you're hungry for some great Mexican food. You can let him know we sent ya! You can also friend them on facebook by at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fernandos-Mexican-Restaurant/121312547918354.

    For more photos from this event, you can visit the Reformation Productions page on facebook.

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    Think In Straight Lines