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THE REGIS TOUCH - A book review

computer board

by Anne Yeiser

What can you learn from the Silicon Valley marketing experience? Can the hard-won insights of a high-tech marketing consultant benefit you?

The Regis Touch by Regis McKenna is subtitled "Million Dollar Advice from America's Top Marketing Consultant." The author has worked with more than 150 companies in Silicon Valley and helped bring success to upstarts such as Apple and its Macintosh.

He learned by experience that fast-changing industries must play by a new set of marketing rules since the old rules assumed that technologies and markets change slowly.

McKenna reveals these major points...

The new marketing, like the old is a battle for positioning, but the new requires dynamic positioning which is achieved through positioning the company, not just the product.

In a culture where constant flux and radical change are the norm, one must focus on intangibles such as quality and leadership in carving an image, rather than on price or product specifications. That is the only way to combat the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) that trail rapid change, and to survive when the unexpected occurs-- and it will.

Recognizing that complexity is a growing cultural phenomenon, a company must target a specific niche rather than trying to be all things to all people. Products must be viewed in terms of unique benefits to capture prospects who are diverse and demanding.

Product positioning must be shored up through word-of-mouth campaigns in the marketplace because buying decisions hindered by FUD are based on personal recommendations more than on advertising. McKenna outlines how to launch a word-of-mouth campaign.

Strategic press relations and a good reputation in the financial community are also indispensable. All these elements and processes result in dynamic positioning.

Market creation, not market sharing, is essential in fast-changing industries. The traditional market-share strategies focus on advertising, promotion, pricing and distribution and on winning market share from others. Market-creating strategies instead emphasize 1. applying technology, 2. educating the market, 3. cultivating the good will and recognition of retailers, analysts and anyone between the customer and manufacturer who has an influence on the buying process, and 4. creating new standards. Marketing managers must think like entrepreneurs and be willing (allowed) to experiment and take risks.

Companies in the fast lane must be market-driven, not marketing-driven. Marketing-driven businesses stake their livelihood on advertising and promotion, while a market-driven approach 1. develops strong products, 2. requires the manager to understand the structure of the market, and 3. focuses on building relationships and strategic alliances with other people and companies in the marketplace. It uses advertising and promotion to reinforce positions, not to create them.

The new marketing is qualitative, not quantitative. Marketeers who rely on numbers can miss the action since extrapolating the trends of the past or the present "almost never works," says McKenna. Example: In the 1940s, computer companies estimated the total world market for computers to be several dozen. They obviously failed to envision the rapid spread of new applications, or the sharp decline in prices.

Qualitative marketing is based on intuition-- that sense of what is going on in the marketplace based on a broad-based, first-hand study of it. It takes into account the strengths and weaknesses of competitors, the perceptions and attitudes of customers and prospects, and the social and political trends of the nation. These factors are continually, creatively monitored, and marketing strategy is adjusted accordingly.

McKenna recommends:
»» a clear but flexible company mission,
»» internal and external audits to define company goals and market trends before strategies are laid,
»» roundtable discussions rather than lengthy marketing reports,
»» a company culture that encourages innovation,
»» an organization that enables fast decision making, and
»» selling to the right customers - those that make quick buying decisions, which often are not the [bureaucratic] Fortune 500.

He discusses 10 intangible competitors which marketing managers in fast-changing industries must confront. The first one mentioned is change. The U.S. auto industry is cited for ignoring the growing demand for small cars, which is how it lost market snare to the Japanese.

To discover McKenna's other nine intangible competitors, read The Regis Touch. To evaluate whether they might threaten your company, consult with us!

THE REGIS TOUCH, by Regis McKenna. Copyright 1985. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc.

Top Marketing Concept #1

guy with mobile phone

"You can catch more flies with honey than you can swat with a sharp stick."

In this analogy, the flies are your customers--very hard to catch-- and the product or service you offer is the honey. The question is: Are your offerings wonderfully irresistible? How can you make them so?

Quality is important, but in the current marketplace it is more important to know precisely what matters most to your customer. A "total quality" product may not be affordable; your customers may be happy with a lot less. Of course, customer service is a key, but that is no different than what your competitors are offering. What makes products and services truly irresistible is a unique differentiation-- something that the customer can't get anywhere else. For example, there is a self-serve gas station where the manager will pump your gas for you at the self-serve price. Now that's honey.

The sharp stick of Top Marketing Concept #1 is direct mail or email facilitated by database marketing. People will invest a lot in this form of advertising because they believe that sending a message by mail or email into homes or businesses insures that it will be noticed and read. Not so. You see, even with a pointed stick you can still miss your target. You need a swatter, a broader instrument. Some experts call that "integrated direct marketing" and they define such an effort as comprising print advertising in appropriate trade or niche publications, an 800 number, some telemarketing or personal selling efforts, perhaps some billboards or www banners, plus direct mail.

We recommend complementing your direct mail/email with other media. This builds your image and reinforces your message, and it is the interplay among various media that increases your direct mail/email response to way over the 2% which is the industry average for mailings that are not supported by any other media or efforts.

But first, start with the honey. Because you can point and swat all you want, but without honey, you may never catch the busy things.

Top Marketing Concept #3

shopper

"A bridge over troubled waters is better than burning your bridges after you've crossed them."

Companies tend to stop advertising in times of economic downturn or at a point when it just doesn't seem like the program is working. The troubled waters could be a recession or they could represent a time of year when people don't buy as much of what you sell. But at those times, what will happen if you drop your advertising? Will people forget you? Will someone steal your customers? Possibly.

Picture this: You have built a bridge, that is, a communication link to your customers. You have built up a certain amount of awareness. If you stop advertising, that will be lost. You will lose your investment. As one marketing guru has put it, "The bond of communication is too precious to break capriciously." Remember, it does take time for a program to show results. So be consistent in your efforts; regard them as an investment and be committed.

You need one bridge or program to reach, retain and cross-sell customers, and another to reach prospects. Often, people think of advertising only as a way to reach prospects, and that is unwise. In today's marketplace, retaining your customer base is a key to survival. To retain customers, do simple things like reinforcing purchase decisions with a "thank you" or with an elaborate brochure that celebrates the benefits of the purchase.

We usually court the customer with a brilliant website and gorgeous printed materials to sell the product, but once it's sold, we think all is well. However, that may be the very time when the customer begins to doubt his decision especially on large ticket items. At this point he needs a congratulations or other positive reinforcement. That will assure positive word-of-mouth advertising.

To get new customers, you need a creative advertising program which features a simple message touting customer benefits, not product attributes. Remember, a benefit is what a product or service attribute does for the customer. Make that clear to capture their attention and awareness. Then repeat the strategic yet simple message with as much frequency as your budget will allow.

©2014. DAY Communications/fastzone.com. All rights reserved.

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