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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Content Marketing: An Age-Old Strategy that Still Works Today -- a Stereo Store Story

Content marketing has become one of the buzzwords in the business marketing world. Many claim this is a new way to market. That is not correct. Providing valuable content to lure prospects and visitors has been around for a while. The distribution channels for this content may have expanded recently, but the strategy has been around for many years.

One case in point involves a tiny electronics firm in Seattle. The company opened in 1954 as Magnolia Stationers and Camera Shop in the Magnolia Village shopping district of Seattle. The owner, Len Tweten, loved music, which eventually led him to move the business into the world of high-fidelity audio. This transition over time also prompted a business name change to Magnolia Hi-Fi.

High-quality products and commitment to service were just a part of the overall plan to grow the business. Being a small business with no real marketing plan or budget, Magnolia Hi-Fi decided the best way to differentiate itself was to educate prospects with valuable information about the Hi-Fi world. To do this, the company introduced stereo buyer's guides (over 30 years ago), which provided educational content and answers to commonly asked questions on buying audio equipment.

The buyer's guides set Magnolia Hi-Fi apart from the competition. They also positioned the company as leaders and experts in their field in the eyes of their audience.

Did this content marketing plan work?

The tiny store grew into a small chain, which was acquired by Best Buy in December of 2000... for $87 million! In 2004, the Magnolia brand was incorporated into Best Buy as a store-within-a-store, known as Magnolia Home Theatre.

Content marketing works. It works best when you use multiple channels to distribute and share your content (print and digital work in perfect tandem for this strategy). Creating valuable content your prospects are looking for takes some work and resources. But don't overlook the rewards that can come from that work. It may not net you $87 million, but it can prove to be nearly as valuable.

You can read more of the details behind this remarkable story here.


Peter "The Printer" Lineal
Founder/CEO
Plum Grove
2160 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
www.PlumGrovePrinters.com

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Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Why You Need a Competitive Advantage

A successful business follows one core marketing concept: "Find a need and fulfill it." However, there may be many players offering similar services and products in your field. This is where having a competitive advantage can lead you to the top.

To be in the top 10% of your field, you need more than just a competitive advantage. You must also communicate that advantage loud and clear through everything you do. If the prospect doesn't understand your advantage then you lose to a competitor who markets better.

Competitive advantage is defined as "a superiority gained by an organization when it can provide the same value as its competitors but at a lower price, or can charge higher prices by providing greater value through differentiation. Competitive advantage results from matching core competencies to opportunities."

In other words, when you create a competitive advantage for your business, you can win either by charging less than your competitors through improved efficiencies or by charging higher prices than others because of the added value you provide.

In 1985, Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School professor, wrote the definitive guide called Competitive Advantage. In his book, Porter defined three ways companies can have a competitive advantage:

  1. Being the Cost Leader: offering lower prices than your competitors by providing a reasonable value while still making a profit. Wal-mart is one company that's famous for this strategy, but Costco may have mastered it even better. Low prices are in Costco's DNA and have become the company's competitive advantage. Costco still charges just $1.50 for a hot dog and a fountain drink. As prices increased, Costco began manufacturing its own hot dogs in order to keep the prices low. Massive buying power and a super-efficient distribution system, coupled with a lower-overhead warehouse business model, have allowed Costco to remain a leader with this strategy.


  2. Differentiation: providing products and services that stand apart from your competitors. This strategy involves creating a brand that clearly communicates how your company delivers value in a way others can't match. The result is a product or service people are willing to pay more to receive. Starbucks has mastered the art of charging higher prices than its competitors by selling more than coffee. The company sells a brand and overall coffee-buying experience others can't duplicate. Buying a Starbucks coffee includes the atmosphere the company creates for its customers. It's an added value the company's thousands of locations "sell" and which customers continue to buy into every day.


  3. Focus: providing your products and solutions to a niche target market that you know well. With this strategy, you understand your customers' pains and problems better than your competitors. Therefore, you can offer the best solutions at the best price. Apple understands its target audience. While others have tried slashing prices to remain relevant, Apple has been able to innovate and charge premium prices because the company understands who its market is.


Where does your business fit in these models?

If you haven't defined your competitive advantage or aren't clear what it could be, first answer these questions to help refine your search.

  1. What is it exactly that you provide? What problems do your services and products solve? Be crystal clear on the products, services, and solutions you provide.


  2. Who are you serving? What is your target market? Who are your ideal customers?


  3. Who is your competition? This could include local businesses or Internet-based companies. It could also include services and products from other industries that your customers are purchasing to solve their problems.


Once you've completed these steps, the research phase is done. Now you must analyze your findings in order to discover where your products and services can realize a competitive advantage. The answer may not appear right away, so you must continue to revisit the process until it becomes clear.

Once you've found your competitive advantage in the marketplace, it's time to communicate that advantage in every marketing piece and everything you do until it becomes a part of the DNA and culture of your company.


Peter "The Printer" Lineal
Founder/CEO
Plum Grove
2160 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
www.PlumGrovePrinters.com

Like Plum Grove Printers Facebook PageFollow Plum Grove Printers TwitterConnect with Plum Grove Printers LinkedInConnect with Plum Grove Printers Google+
Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.