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Marketing Research 101: A Step by Step Process

Marketing Research 101: A Step by Step Process

Marketing, to the average person, can look like either a sort of business that involves levels of betrayal and manipulation on par with Game of Thrones or an ancient magic spell that only be conjured by the most powerful order to gain results. But if you peeked behind the curtain of the world of marketing, you will be almost disappointed to discover that the Wizard is merely a little man with the right tools at his disposal.

Believe it or not, all the skills that are required in good marketing takes is pattern recognition, research, a base knowledge of sociological behaviors.  Below, I am going to list the most basic of processes we undertake when we dissect and problem solve a typical marketing case.

 

Step 1: Define your Problem – Perform an Analysis

The standard marketing student would immediately declare that they would do a SWOT analysis, while the business owners shrug and shake their heads in confusion. So, I am going to break down this particular jargon, so you can gain some sort of understanding of what you are working with.  A SWOT analysis is merely breaking down the concept into four digestible parts to mitigate what is happening.

  • S – means strengths – In this case, is defined by your companies better qualities that can be used to its advantage.
  • W – means weakness – Is defined by the things that can hurt your company that you are able to change.
  • Oopportunities – Are defined by the things that weren’t in your control but could be used for the benefit of the company.
  • Tthreats – Threats are defined by the things that aren’t in control that can hurt your company.

Marketers tend to develop a sense of strategy after looking at these four factors because it more or less serves as an outline of your particular case, and it is easy to pinpoint a problem there.

Step 2: Develop a Research Plan

Once you have the basic analysis,  marketers usually at this point create a hypothesis based on the conditions of the SWOT. How you create it, comes from asking the right questions:

 Is your business not getting sales because there are fewer visitors at your store?

Is your industry type succeeding or failing? Why?

How can that be fixed?

Are there plenty of visitors but your products aren’t selling? Why?

Who are the return customers and why do they shop at your store?

Why do you have foot traffic but no sales?

These questions scrape only the surface of what a market analysis looks like.

Each business has different problems, different opportunities, different goals, and different strengths. There is no one size fits all when it comes to branding yourself and that is the ultimate challenge of marketing.  It takes an inquisitive mind and a keen eye for detail to ask the right questions and make the right hypothesis for each case.  It’s less like magic and more like detective work.

 

We have to go deeper…

Step 3: Collect the Data

Once you figure out what you have and what you don’t have and how you can adjust, you want to figure out who can benefit from your product and service the most, as well as their motivations, so you can find more people like your current customers.

But it isn’t as easy as it sounds. For instance, once you find out who your target is, if you don’t know how they communicate, you are not going to get the information you need. Not everyone uses a computer, not everyone answers the door, and not everyone answers their phone.

There is already some statistical data about the response rate of certain target demographics like age, gender, and education level, and it is a good place to start but the data represents only the majority of the demographics. That means that there are exceptions to every rule and not everything is set in stone when it comes to data.

Some marketers tend to use more than one form of data gathering to get more results,  such as one member of the marketing group is hosting a quiz for Facebook, combined with someone else from the group knocking on each door in the neighborhood.

Every avenue has its benefits and its drawbacks so be careful when looking for the right data gathering method.

Step 4: Interpret the Information

Once the data is collected, it takes the clearest of minds to mine through the data that has been collected by the entire team, and that is where accuracy is of the utmost importance.  Did a person not fill out the quiz on Facebook all the way? Did they at least fill out the information relevant to your study? If they didn’t do at the very least the last little bit, then it doesn’t count towards your data pool.

Not only do you have to mine the data and compile it as a marketer, but you also have to draw up a presentation, and compile it in a way that the reader can understand so that they can understand what they need to do to change their current situation.

If your reader is a client who hasn’t read past the 11th-grade level in quite some time, you want to avoid special jargon and make the visual data just easier for your client to understand for the sake of transparency between the marketer and the client.

If your reader is your marketing professor, you use every single word in your marketing vocabulary and wrap it up in a proper paper with the best grammar known to man.

Step 5: Draw a Conclusion

Once you have the data compiled and interpreted to your target audience, you recommend what needs to be done and leave them to fix the problem. If they need additional help from time to time but are unfamiliar with what they need to do, it’s okay to reach out and offer a helping hand. In fact, I do encourage a follow up a month from your presentation, just so you can see the fruition of all your hard work, and make a few adjustments.  But the minute that their successes and failures hinge on you entirely and long after you made your case and presented the steps they should take, you leave immediately and work on your next case, unless you are working in-house for a major company.

But the minute that their successes and failures hinge on you entirely and long after you made your case and presented the steps they should take, you leave immediately and work on your next case, unless you are working in-house for a major company.

 

By | 2017-06-28T15:20:26+00:00 June 6th, 2017|Post|Comments Off on Marketing Research 101: A Step by Step Process

How to Connect with your Audience in Advertisement

I have mentioned many times in the past in conversation and in writing, that we are living in a world that is oversaturated with advertisements. It is a relatively recent phenomenon that came with the age of the internet, but the gist of the concept is that people are bombarded with so much advertisement, that they start tuning out the ads that do not feel relevant to their interests, emotions, or personal values. To put it plainly: If there is no emotional connection between the ad and the viewer, it will have no impact whatsoever on the intended audience.  In response to this phenomenon, advertising companies have been changing their tactics by creating ads with the intent of getting people to emotionally connect with their brand directly, with mixed results.

After some analysis on my part, I have determined the three components behind advertisements that connect with their audience: A strong emotional message, A targeted audience, and alignment of company values with the values of the audience.

 

When creating any sort of advertisement, you need to carefully consider:

 

  • What you are trying to say- Your Message
  • Who are you trying to say it to- Your Audience
  • Does your message line up with your company values – Do You Say What You Mean

 

Context Done Right- State Farm | Neighborhood of Good

 

 

This commercial is sort of underrated, and it is a damn shame that it is because it handles the complex matter that it introduces with the right tone, conveys the right message to the viewer, and offers a solution to the complex subject matter in a tasteful way.

The ad starts off gentle music combined with a visual of a gentleman who is sitting on a subway and reading a poster that is about pet adoption, he is interrupted by a dog whining beside him and the camera pans to the same dog from the poster, that has somehow materialized as a tangible byproduct of that nagging guilt that most people feel after seeing or hearing a pet adoption ad.   Already, I can identify with this ad, emotionally, I want to adopt all the dogs to prevent their suffering but logistically I know that I cannot afford to do all those things, so the guilt slightly weighs me down just like the man on the subway.

The dog from the poster follows the man down the street and to his office, where the man comes across a Facebook ad that tells him to support the vets on his work computer. He turns to his right and sure enough, the veteran materializes and nods at the man. Again, emotionally, you want to help all the vets, but logistically, most people watching the commercial are burdened with the knowledge that they can’t afford to do that.

Cue the man sitting at a bar with his friends, being followed by the dog and the vet, seeing a news piece on the television about the rise of dropout rates among high schoolers, you know by now that the boy will materialize and follow this man around.  He is now followed by an entourage of various people in need that represent different causes that need to be addressed and it overwhelms this man that just wants to live his daily life without the weight of the world on his shoulders. But it keeps growing ever so larger.

It concludes when the man stops by a local community outreach center and decides that he is going to volunteer his time to this specific cause. The apparition of the boy nods in acknowledgment of his decision, and they all disappear as he enters the building.  A voiceover states, “You can lift the weight of caring by doing” and promotes State Farms Neighborhood of Good, encouraging others to volunteer.

Conclusion:

  • They were sending a clear message to the audience that was easily understood, that message being, “Life sucks, and you can’t fix it all, but you can at least do your part to help.”
  • They knew who they were sending the message to, sensitive people who feel an almost helpless sense of compassion.
  • They knew that the message was in line with their company values, being there as a good neighbor in times of crisis like an insurance company is supposed to do.

 

Context Done Wrong – Pepsi | Protest is the New Selfie?

 

Kyle Jenner Pepsi Ad

 

Pepsi caught hell the moment the company released the possibly well-intentioned but utterly tone deaf protest commercial on YouTube. On a surface level, it seemed like a hell of an overreaction from the public to a seemingly harmless promotion, but if you analyze it piece by piece, you can realize why it was an insult to the audience they were trying to communicate with.

They start off with protest imagery with a crowd of young people with various races, religions, and hobbies. They are all smiling and interacting with each other like they are going to a concert instead of acting like they are legitimately angry or anxious about the issue they are protesting about.  It doesn’t sound bad at first, but if you saw a video of everybody crying at a 5-year-old’s birthday party as the boy blows out his candles, wouldn’t that sort of dissonance just seem a little out of place?

Then Pepsi muddles the message further by a celebrity appearance by someone who has never really been associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, who stops in the middle of a photoshoot to protest because a guy in the crowd flirts with her. Again, there is no context and it confuses the hell out of the audience.  Are they saying protesting is sexy? A fun activity that all the kids are doing just to hook up? And what does this have to do with Pepsi?

In an even more bewildering crescendo in this hodgepodge of a commercial, it ends with the celebrity just simply picking up a Pepsi and handing it to an armed policeman which lead to him drinking it and the crowd cheering like they just achieved world peace.  Wait, what did I just watch?

For the entirety Pepsi’s branding history, the company identified itself as Coke’s main rival and was known in the 90’s as the ‘cool kids’ kind of soda. Their core values were based less on political and somber topics and more on the latest fads in music and pop culture. Coca-Cola was the company that identified itself more politically and internationally. So for Pepsi to try and identify themselves with any sort of political movement kinda makes their brand and soda just fall flat. It is a pale imitation at best and outright identity theft at worst.

So what is their message? Are they saying Pepsi is so cool that it leads to world peace? That Pepsi is the key to preventing all the police brutality?  Policemen are just thirsty and it makes them cranky? What are you telling me Pepsi?

 

Conclusion:

  • We don’t know what they were trying to say except “Buy Pepsi”.
  • We don’t really know who the message was for, while it alludes to the young crowd, there seems to be no real attempt at a connection with the intended audience.
  • We don’t know what sort of values that this company has, it just slapped together imagery of young people doing random things that Pepsi thought was ‘cool’ at the time instead of getting to know the demographic which is outright insulting if you think about it.

 

So if you want to avoid another flop, Pepsi,  when working on an advertisement that is emotional or that is supposed to connect with a specific audience, in general, it is a good idea to be clear in your message, your values, and your identity. When connecting with a specific audience, in general, it is a good idea to be clear in your message, your values, and your identity. Remember, an ounce of prevention in the board meetings is worth far more than the pound of cure that is apologies and wasted money on damage control.

By | 2017-06-16T14:18:09+00:00 May 30th, 2017|mistakes|Comments Off on How to Connect with your Audience in Advertisement

Leaving Dex Media or Hibu Is Possible!

I may have ranted a little about the pet peeves that I have with large media dex media and Hibucompanies such as Dex Media, Hibu, or YP.  It has been a hot button issue with local web development and marketing agencies when they advertise their own services to other local businesses only to be told very quickly, “We’re not interested. I am already paying for a website that does nothing for me, I don’t need a website.”

As I have been researching the entire debacle, a question popped into my head; Have customers been able to leave big media companies with their websites intact?

Another small business web designer, marketer, and blogger, Teri Brooks from TBrooks Web Design, answered the question for me in her insightful article about the insane but still possible process of canceling an account with Dex Media, Hibu and other Big Media entities.  Click on the link below for the amazing advice.

http://tbrookswebdesign.com/blog-cancel-dexmedia.html

Thank you, Teri Brooks. You are doing good work out there!

By | 2017-06-16T14:00:54+00:00 May 17th, 2017|Post|Comments Off on Leaving Dex Media or Hibu Is Possible!

7 Deadly Sins of Web Design

I am going to be brutally honest here, readers. Culturally speaking, the United States doesn’t see art-related careers as an important skill set.  At worst things like designing graphics and building websites are publicly viewed a useless talent that leads to little hope for a career prospect and at best it is treated as a quaint hobby that anybody can do with a bit of hard work and no formal training.

Too often I have seen business owners and students with very little aesthetic know how, try their hand at designing a website only to have abandoned their project halfway through or worse, created one of the most outdated and worst looking websites known to the internet.

However, that does not mean that someone must have a formal education in order to do web design, but it does mean that they just have to take the time to learn the important rules of aesthetic appeal.  Because in the world of marketing and advertising, appearances matter.

That is why I decided to make a list of the worst mistakes that someone new to web design should their hardest to avoid.

 


Number 7: Lack of Content Organization

 

 

 

When you were taught to write in school, you started learning the structure speech, then words, then eventually you could sort them into essays and/or books with multiple paragraphs in a standard format that everyone could understand.

Web content has the same structure that makes it easy to convey the message of the site to the audience through both the use of words and illustrations.

The content in the center of the web page (much like the paragraphs in an essay) is supposed to be structured in such a way that the viewer can tell which section the content is supposed to belong to.  If the sections are clustered together with little space or too far apart, your website will look like an untidy mess, not unlike a kindergartner who has yet to master penmanship or grammar structure.

Content for your website needs to sorted in such a way that it looks cohesive to the audience and should follow the path that naturally draws the eye in a top to down and left to right direction with enough space in between for the reader which section is which.

 

Here are a few resources that can better explain what I mean:

 


Number 6:  Lazy Use of Graphics

 

poor website graphics

Have you ever watched an old television show or a movie at some point in your life and noticed that the quality of the footage was filled with grainy squiggle lines, or that you could see the edge of the film strip?  These visual hiccups deter the audience from focusing on the film completely and ruins the immersive experience almost completely.

So, when customers see your website with an image that has a watermark on it from the stock site that you took your image from, or left-over pixels where the background of an image used to be or just blurry photos, these visitors are not going to be interested in your business. Because these errors reek of unprofessionalism, possible copyright infringement, and outright laziness.

The general rule of thumb when selecting your images is that it needs to be at the highest resolution possible, aka the size with the highest number of pixels, only use your own images or images that are free for public use and to make sure that you download png images so that the backgrounds are transparent and not white.

 

For further resources, check these pages out:

 


Number 5:  Bad Color/Pattern/Texture Combinations

terrible website color

 

It is almost surprising how much colors, shapes, and visual textures could influence how people communicate with each other. The right combination of those elements can send either an intended message that can attract an audience and the wrong combination relay a poorly made, unintentional message that can turn potential customers and connections away.

Oftentimes I have seen websites that either too many textures, blinding/inappropriate colors, and patterns that make no sense.

Here are a few resources that will help if you are struggling with colors and patterns.

 

For further resources, check these pages out:

Number 4:  Bad Typography

 

When it comes to building a website, typography, aka the way that your letters and words are styled and sorted, is almost more important than your choice of colors and patterns for your website.  Good typography serves two important functions. It both must be easy for your audience to read your content and it must set the proper tone.

You would not believe how many times, I have seen site owners choose an ill-fitting font for their main typeface, or that the size of the chosen font was too small for anyone to read properly.  And if your customer or audience has to struggle with either the identity of your website or with reading the necessary text, they will not bother sticking around to try to figure it out.

Here is a link to a couple of resources that put you in the right direction as far as what fonts to use, and what to avoid.

 

 


Number 3: Lack of Site Updates

 

With various professional fields (especially when technology or medicine is involved), it is crucial to keep up with the ever-consistent changing tide of progress, lest you get swallowed in a sea of competition.  Web design is no exception to these rapid changes in not only aesthetics but in user experience and functionality.

Between the constant creation and updates for both mobile devices and computer programs it is important that you consistently update your design to keep the structure ‘up to code’. In layman’s terms check and see if the website builder you use is up to date or if the program is discontinued.

But even that is more forgivable than the lack of content updates to your website. If you have changed your address, your phone number, or if you no longer offer a service then it would be important to take the extra time to notify your customers of these major changes.  But I have seen many a website fail to make these updates and wind up literally turning their own customers away, simply because of the unnecessary confusion.

 

Below is a list of top website building programs and hosts that are more recent to more outdated:

 


Number 2:  Poor Grammar

 

a website with bad grammar

The English language is hard to grasp sometimes, and nobody is grammatically correct 24/7 when it comes to sending text messages or typing out paragraphs. However, it takes a special kind of trolling or an almost brilliant form of laziness, if your customer requires translation for the rampant chat-speak in your blog.  With no periods at the end of your sentences, no capitalization at the beginning of your sentences, and atrocious spelling that can make a third-grade teacher cry, virtually no one will have the patience or the time to take your website seriously or do business with your establishment.

 

To avoid this web design sin, you can either have someone edit your content for you, or you can consult the multitude of websites that can help you with spelling and grammar errors in the links below:

 


Number 1:  Audio Automatically Playing in the Background

 

Back in the days of Myspace yore, web pages took ridiculously long to load, and you have a very limited amount of RAM to navigate with on your home computer, so when you loaded a friend’s profile page and you heard the latest pop ballad or television theme song, you were pleasantly surprised and entertained while you were looking at the photos of your latest outing.

10 years later, you have at least 20 web page tabs open, along with a word processor program and a playlist of your own music and when you click on a link, you hear a second audio track that is playing loudly and you don’t know where it is coming from.

What has been an amusing gimmick in the early 2000’s has now become an utter annoyance that is not unlike having nails screeching on a chalkboard and unless you are a musician with a playlist that can be turned on and off, you have no business embedding any audio of any sort on your blog or website.

 

For a list of reasons why this would be a great design handicap for your website, check out the links below:

 


 

Do you agree or disagree with me? Or maybe there was something I missed on the list. If you want to talk about it, comment on this page or on our Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/purpletieguys

 

Image Sources:

http://www.theworldsworstwebsiteever.com/

http://philsandovals.com/

http://chainsawtreeservice.com/

http://www.danstours.net/

http://www.stereoandalarm.co.uk/

http://www.benefitadvisory.com/new/benefitadvisory/

By | 2017-06-07T13:17:22+00:00 April 10th, 2017|list, mistakes, Post, top ten|Comments Off on 7 Deadly Sins of Web Design

Avoid Web Design Fraud

 

The Dangers of Web Design Fraud

It is not easy in the age of information to navigate through all the data to determine which companies you should trust your business website and advertising with and which companies you should steer clear from. By no means am I telling you to trust only us as a web development company, but I have noticed a disturbing trend in the web development industry, the more I have been working for The Purple Tie.
Scammers that either take your money and run or people with “friends” that have little to no knowledge at all when it comes to web development are a huge problem in the web development industry.
There are scammers and con artists in every field of profession, and by no means is web development an exception to that rule, but when even large companies from the phone book industry have been accused of shady business practices, I can’t help but wonder, “What are the ethical standards of web development?”
The best that I can do to explore this question for both myself and for anyone reading this article is offer examples of these terrible business practices so that when you start shopping for someone to do your website that you can at least see the signs of someone who isn’t on the up and up.


They Rely on Outdated Technology

Computers have changed quite a bit since their first conception at NASA as glorified calculators that took up half the size of a room, and technology as a field has been growing and changing at a rapid rate.  That means that the technological hardware and software that have been dated from 20 years ago, to about 3 years ago, are woefully inadequate on both an aesthetic level and a functional one for today’s technology.

outdated_technology

Why yes, I can build your website...

So, let’s say that someone has been creating websites for around 8 years. Unless your web guys can demonstrate up to date knowledge of the latest programming languages and has access to the right software, not only will create an outdated looking website, but it will be constantly broken and impossible for people visiting your site to see, since most devices rely on the latest set of coding and formatting practices. Simply put, unless the programmer knows how to make your website show up on a tablet or smartphone, you wasted money.

If you have trouble determining if the person that you are thinking about hiring is using antiquated technology, you can consult a programming timeline and directly ask the developer what tools they are going to be using for your project. If their response is anything older than three years ago, I would suggest finding someone else.


There are No Visual Portfolio or Signs of Updates

Would anyone of a sound mind walk into a tattoo parlor and immediately sit in the workstation chair and tell the artist to do ‘whatever’ on his back?  Even drunk people that walk into tattoo parlors either have an idea of what they want or look at the wall of preview images before having something permanently marked on their body.

So why, in good conscience, would you hire any web developer or graphic designer who has not shown you examples of their work before paying them?

 

art without effort or skill

What do you mean I need to paint something before I put it in a gallery?

It does not matter if you know the person’s aunt, if they are your best friends, or if you are the developer’s mother unless you have seen examples of what your web designer can do, you don’t hire them without seeing their work.  You are trusting your, business advertising, and in some cases your entire livelihood to this developer. If you are paying any kind of money at all towards getting your website developed, you better be 100% confident in their ability to deliver what they promised in a timely fashion.


They Filed for Bankruptcy or Have Been Downsizing Consistently

In the grand scheme of things, it is perfectly natural for companies to make mistakes or to have bad quarters. No human is perfect, so why on Earth should a company be held to the standards of perfection?

 

Hello, I misinvested all of my money, can I have all of yours?

However, if bad quarters, company downsizing, or filing for bankruptcy has become a consistent trend over the last couple of years within the people you are thinking about hiring to design your website, then it is safe to say that the current business has become an unstable. Last I checked, it is practically financial suicide to entrust your business website or marketing strategies to a design company with little to no stability.

A way to check and safeguard your small business from such a fiasco is to take the time to do a quick google search about the company that you are trying to hire. Have any business licenses been recently revoked? Have any employees complained about working conditions? Were there any business news articles that state that the company in question has filed for bankruptcy or has there been any talk of downsizing?


They Have Very Poor Customer Interaction Policies

You wake up at one in the morning as your phone rings. It’s them, again. They haunt your life like an ever-present specter that robs you of your happiness, slowly wearing away every nerve that you have as the phone rings every ten minutes, denying you the small joy of silence as you try to go back to sleep. They feed on every inch of your sanity as you pray for the end of your suffering, but it will never end until you give them what they want.  These monsters that I am talking about are telemarketing sales teams.

 

Your worst nightmare come true…

This technique is not new by any means, and there are legitimate businesses that call at inopportune times to pester you into buying or donating something at all hours of the day, but if the only time that people hear from the person that you are thinking about hiring is when they are pestering you for a ridiculously long amount of time, then chances are they care much less about customer service and more about getting your money in their pocket.

A good way to check and see if they have a poor customer interaction track record would be to check company review websites, such as the Better Business Bureau or other professional field related review sites. If you either see no trace of positive or negative reviews or a load of negative ones in which customers complain about a lack of actual service, then you should steer clear from this web design company like the plague.

 


Conclusion

Benjamin Franklin had hit the nail on the head, when he stated, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Successful businesses, no matter how small or large, take much in the way of planning and effort, and unless you take that same amount of precaution with who is making your website and how they are doing it, either you will be out of a ridiculous amount of money at best, or lose your business at worst due to a lack of foresight.

I am not saying that you must know all the odds and ends that go into what making a website, that is the developer’s job. However, if you or the person you are hiring doesn’t treat your business website with the same amount of care and dedication that you do with your physical location, customers are going to see and will associate your business as one giant mess.

 


Do you agree or disagree with me? Or maybe there was something I missed on the list. If you want to talk about it, comment on this page or on our Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/purpletieguys

Image Sources:

Stockunlimited.com

Pixabay.com

By | 2017-05-05T12:17:48+00:00 March 29th, 2017|list, Post|Comments Off on Avoid Web Design Fraud

Why You Should Make A Mobile-Friendly Website

The advent of the Internet has been a boon to small businesses and large corporations alike. It has opened floodgates of communication to potential clients and returning customers, from your hometown to countries all over the world.  However, there has been a growing statistical shopping trend that could leave your business crippled and vulnerable if you have yet to adapt.  This trend of course, is the usage of smartphones and the integration of mobile-friendly web design.

Did you know:

  • According to the ComScore, over 80% of Internet users in the US owned mobile phones in 2014?
  • The CMS Report found that 57% of users won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile website?
  • 61% of users won’t return to a poorly designed mobile website and 40% of those users would go to a competitor’s site?

If you think your business is ready to make that change or if you have any more questions regarding the subject in detail, feel free to

Contact: The Purple Tie – Alabama’s leader in mobile-friendly web design.

Author: Patricia White

Illustrator: Blake Singleton

By | 2017-05-01T16:05:06+00:00 February 9th, 2017|Post|Comments Off on Why You Should Make A Mobile-Friendly Website