Are any of your Targets Transumers?

By Mike Kolbrener

There is a new marketing type in town and they are called transumers. As classified by Rainer Evers in a trend briefing on trendbriefing.com, transumers are “consumers who are more interested in the experience rather than owning.” Well, yeah . . . that’s called renting. They’re just renters, right? Not exactly. Transumers do rent, but they rent items that normally require ownership.

Here are a few examples:

FlexPetzA pet-sharing program that works like a time-share or fractional ownership in a jet. The service targets customers who want to have a dog but cannot care for it full time.

FractionalLife.comWith the tagline “The Smarter Way To Own”, FractionalLife offers partial ownership in an array of products and services. As expected, categories include yachts, jets, luxury vehicles, but other offerings such as high-performance computing and livestock are unanticipated.

Bag, Borrow or StealAn online luxury bag and jewelry sharing service.

ZipcarA car sharing program that allows members to reserve and drive a car whenever they want. Should you be targeting a transumer segment among your target audiences? Your answer might be yes if: • You sell luxury items or your product or service requires a large, up-front capital investment. • You find that an audience segment for your product or service doesn’t have the time to own or the need to own, typical of many targets who live in metropolitan areas and/or travel frequently.

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October 6, 2009 at 4:32 pm 1 comment

Marketing and Sales: “Two great tastes that taste great together”.

By Mike Kolbrener

You got chocolate in my peanut butter! You got peanut butter on my chocolate! That very successful 1970s launch for what is now a ubiquitous treat is the perfect metaphor for the way marketing and sales disciplines often view each other. To make matters worse, most marketing professional have convinced their clients that “successful” marketing will get them noticed! What about marketing and branding that actually fills the new business pipeline? Novel idea, but it shouldn’t be.

How do you really generate sales? Some companies are lucky enough to ride the wave of an emerging technology, others are just lucky, the rest have to actually work at it. We’ll assume that you have something that others really want, have identified who those people are and then differentiated your offering from competitors. We’ll also assume that you have someone to sell your offering (even if it’s just you). Next, you might consider allocating a marketing budget of 2-4% of your gross revenue. Now comes the part that will define your sales success or failure. In order to get that 2-4% of gross revenue to actually work, you’ll need to align that marketing spend with your sales process. That means documenting how your sales team sells and weave in marketing tactics that are in lock step with that process.

Don’t have a sales process? There are many good ASP (on demand) and server-based options out there, but you’ll need to choose one (Landslide.com or Salesforce.com). Next, find out how often your sales people contact a prospect? How do they do so? Letters, phone calls, direct mail, email, newsletters, etc. How are those timed with relation to a projected close date? Herein lies the secret. It’s the synchronization of sales and marketing that makes it all work. When they are synchronized, they work harder than each on their own. At the end of the day, marketing and sales need to dance together. Just like peanut butter and chocolate. After all, marketing and sales are “Two great tastes that taste great together.” peanut butter cup

October 6, 2009 at 4:28 pm Leave a comment

What do Barry Bonds and Arnold Schwarzenegger have to do with Google?

By Mike Kolbrener

For those of you new to SEO and the terminology, first let me explain PageRank.

PageRank is a link analysis algorithm that assigns a numerical weighting to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents, such as the World Wide Web, with the purpose of “measuring” its relative importance within the set. The algorithm may be applied to any collection of entities with reciprocal quotations and references. The numerical weight that it assigns to any given element E is also called the PageRank of E and denoted by PR(E). (Wikipedia)

In layman’s terms, Google has a PageRank of 10, Facebook has a PageRank of 8, and AXIS has a PageRank of 5. If you are an SEO and are not aware of Google’s latest PageRank Leg Drop, it may be time to hang up your keyboard. Google hammered websites that were selling text links on their website to pass PageRank to their advertisers. Because typically a link on a webpage has a PageRank of 8 will pass more rank than a webpage with a PageRank of 3. Around the webmaster community, site after site was devalued, with many webmasters responding with “well our rankings didn’t drop, so what does it matter?” Well it does, here is why.  I will begin with an analogy. If SEO were No Limit Hold’ Em, and Eric Ward were Doyle Brunson, then right now would be the Poker boom of 2004-2005. (This next paragraph is a generalization, so please take it with a grain of salt.)

Swarms of SEOs clamoring for top rankings, flooding forums with questions like “I lost my rankings, please help!” while their forum signature is a link to Satellite Equipment (It won’t help your website!). The goal is to be the Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer, or Joseph Hachem. The mentality is “if Moneymaker did it, I can do it.” But this group, values links solely on PageRank. That is their problem, and it was a blessing to webmasters of high PageRank websites. Now that blessing is a curse. Google hit websites where it counted, in their pockets. Because the PageRank fiends would be willing to spend a ‘C’ note on a sitewide link if the domain had a PageRank of 6. Now that it deflated to a 4, they would rather spend their money elsewhere.

So back to the original point: What do Barry Bonds and Arnold Schwarzenegger have to do with Google?

Plus paid links, and you get:

Are you surprised when people want to put an asterisk next to his records? Same holds true with Google’s PageRank.

So Matt Cutts (head of Google’s Webspam team) said:  “Hey you!  That’s right you, PageRank 8! You look like this, huh?”


And you are selling links on your homepage to “Dog Beds” and “French Property”? Watch this!”


Remember it is Google’s world, we’re just optimizing in it.


Check Page Rank of any web site pages instantly:
This free page rank checking tool is powered by Page Rank Checker service

October 6, 2009 at 4:19 pm Leave a comment

A Quickie Guide to Web 2.0 SEO Strategy

By Mike Kolbrener

Lately, a lot of people have been asking us about Web 2.0 strategies and more particularly about Web 2.0 SEO and social media strategies. Below, are 6 things that you can do yourself to take advantage of SEO as an integral part of your company’s lead generation strategy. A Web 2.0 SEO “social media” strategy will build awareness of your products and services and help engage your prospects in a larger conversation about the topics in which you are an expert.

1.    Build multiple blogs on multiple ideas around your expertise, all linking to eachother and back to the main site. You’ll need 5 to 6 (minimum) people who are willing to write for these blogs on a weekly basis. There are many good blogging tools and many of them are free. Take a look at www.wordpress.com.

2.    Create video content (interviews, discussions, activities, etc) to post to http://www.youtube.com that also links back to your main web site. Inexpensive digital video cameras can be purchased for as little as $225 and are an invaluable tool. With drag and drop interfaces for YouTube, the process is easy.

3.    Post photos on http://www.flickr.com that link back to the main site.

4.    Develop pod casts and post on your main web site (you can take audio contentfrom the videos or an interview with some of your key clients on the benefits they receive from your company).  Here’s a great link explaining DIY podcasting. Also check out mypodcast.com as a good place to start and create and host your podcasts.

5.    Open LinkedIn, FaceBook, MySpace or Twitter accounts for your company and or yourself. The one’s you choose largely depend on who your target audience is, but don’t underestimate the power of these locations.

6.    Find 5 or more advocates of your product or service and ask them to blog about your company. Make sure that their blogs link back to the main page.If you’d like to know more about Web 2.0 strategies you can contact me at mkolbrener@axiscomm.com

October 6, 2009 at 4:07 pm Leave a comment

Branding from the Inside Out

By Mike Kolbrener

Back in October of 2007, John Quelch of WPP and professor since 1979 at the Harvard Business School, shared his insight with Laura Mazur and Louella Miles regarding the power of “branding an ingredient” as a key to better marketing a larger or more complex product or service. “When is the provider of the final product or service willing to compromise its own brand-building to add the ingredient brand on the package as well as in advertising? There are four conditions:

  1. The ingredient is highly differentiated, usually supported by patent protection, and so adds an aura of quality to the overall product. Think Gore-Tex for water resistant rainwear.
  2. The ingredient is central to the functional performance of the final product. Think Shimano gear systems on performance bicycles or Monsanto’s Nutrasweet, added to Equal sweetener.
  3. The final products are not well-branded themselves, either because the category is relatively new, because customers buy infrequently or because there is low perceived differentiation among the options. Think about all of Dupont’s ingredient brands for clothing, from Rayon through Lycra.
  4. The final products are complex, assembled from components supplied by multiple firms who may sell the “ingredients” separately in an aftermarket. Think cars with Michelin tires, Dolby stereo systems and Champion spark plugs. “

October 6, 2009 at 4:05 pm Leave a comment

10 Great Web Resources for Inc. 5000 Companies

By Mike Kolbrener

1.         http://www.incbiznet.com/learn-more
Online Business Networking IncBizNet is a free Website designed exclusively for private companies to promote their businesses and connect with other businesses in the network. Here’s what you can do:

2.      http://www.onecoach.com
Business Coaching and Consulting Every great player has a great coach. These are the great coaches for the business player. The story of OneCoach is not about them – it’s about you and your success. It’s about helping you realize your hopes and dreams, by providing you with tools, information and connections; all of the experiences that you need to confidently build your business.

3.      http://www.signaturefp.com/
Financial Planning, Retirement Planning Signature Financial Planning was founded with the goal of assisting their clients in every aspect of their financial lives. They’ve provided the most personal service available, thus earning a reputation for excellence in our industry.

4.      http://www.salesforce.com/
The industry leader in web based CRM and SFM Easy-to-use Web-based CRM solution for sales, service, marketing, and call center operations that streamlines customer relationship management and boosts customer satisfaction. Organizations can enjoy unparalleled productivity, revenue growth, and business intelligence with Salesforce

5.      http://www.merchantloans.com/
Business Loans Your business requires money to grow which is where Express Funding Group can help.  They can give you the money you need for growth in as little as 72 hours.  This way you can take advantage of business opportunities that come your way.

6.      http://toolkit.prnewswire.com/inc/index.shtml#
Do-it-yourself PR Welcome to the PR Toolkit for Small Business. You’re wearing multiple hats throughout the day and after you’re done wearing the president, bookkeeper and webmaster hats it can be difficult to find the time to promote your small business. The reality is, by finding the time to issue a simple news release you can help your small business grow faster.

7.      http://www.bnet.com/
Business management information resource BNET is a website dedicated to issues of business management. It is offered by CNET Networks. BNET membership provides access to several other CNET properties, including FindArticles.

8.      http://www.slideology.com/
Presentation Help Great advice on how to make killer presentations rather than boring power point slides.

9.      http://blog.inc.com/ask-norm/
No nonsense business advice Norm Brodsky, who co-authors Inc. magazine’s Street Smarts column, is the founder of six businesses, including a three-time Inc. 500 company. He began writing Street Smarts after being featured on Inc.’s cover in July 1995.

10.    http://www.scienceofmind.com/site/affirmations/index.html
Daily Affirmations Who knows! Maybe this stuff works! The site offers a spiritual perspective on world events, as well as tools for your spiritual practice, all based on the life-affirming Science of Mind philosophy. Filled with practical as well as inspirational content, Science of Mind will change your life

October 6, 2009 at 4:02 pm Leave a comment

Does Branding add Merger and Acquisition Value?

By Mike Kolbrener

Identifying brand assets and building their value is crucial before, during and after mergers and acquisitions.

In almost any industry, we have seen firsthand that branding and marketing of a target company directly impacts the success of M&A deals. And that timing is essential.

Enhance Brand Value Before M&A

If you plan to sell your business, don’t underestimate the impact of brand value on the final selling price—because acquirers don’t.
Your brand is among your most important assets. An Interbrand/JP Morgan study found that brands account for over one third of company book value.* Another expert asserts that, on average, a corporate brand accounts for 8.5% of a company’s market cap.2**
After selecting an M&A advisor to sell your business, you typically have 60 to 90 days to get your house in order before evaluation by private equity firms and acquirers. During this period, an expert branding partner should quickly identify your key attributes, and, working seamlessly with your investment banker or M&A advisor, implement the branding and marketing improvements that will most effectively increase your company’s selling value.

Integrate Brands After M&A

Mergers and acquisitions create unique opportunities: expanded offerings, new markets, economies of scale, better competitive outlook, and more. But studies suggest that up to 70 percent of acquisitions fail to deliver long-term value for the acquirer. If not addressed promptly, post-M&A brand issues—market resistance to a brand shift, brand confusion, incompatible marketing and sales process, negative perceptions of a deal among customers or employees—can form a “black hole” for a deal’s value.
You’ll need to quickly assess affected brands or brand extensions and target markets, then devise and begin implementing a value-building brand integration strategy in the critical first 60 to 90 days after a deal. Taking these steps will help you maximize long-term brand value while avoiding the marketing missteps that cause so many deals to fall short of expectations.

* Brand Valuation: The financial value of brands (April 27, 04), Interbrand

** Speaking in Numbers, the Language of Bottom Line Business, David Stewart, University of Southern California (February 7, 2006), A panel discussion presented to the IIR 9th Annual Conference on Returning Marketing Investment

October 6, 2009 at 3:47 pm Leave a comment

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