Alan Rae [alanrae]
Up till now, what has been your professional career path?
obtained D Phil in Biochemistry as a young man. Then worked as marketing manager in Engineering Company. In 1981 set up first business as Marketing Director and set up second one in 1985 as Managing Director. These were both IT companies. In 1996 I was appointed project director of the Executive Studio in West London. This was a flagship IT and ecommerce training and demonstration centre. We carried out an MBO in 2001. In 2004 I set up my current business. I do research projects into how companies use IT and the internet and develop training programmes for both corporates and SMEs in these topics. The company has an internet trading arm specialising in horticultural products.
Please list web addresses where one can see something about you.
What is your stance as a marketing professional? What are you good at? What differentiates you from others?
I'm good at research and identifying new products or services that appeal. I take a practical approach to IT based marketing being quite hands on in that respect. I've written a book called Social Media for Real Businesses which tries to make sure that the reader develops a compelling narrative and tells it online, face to face and in writing in an integrated way.
A marketing strategy begins with an idea. How are yours born?
It's generally fairly interactive. I look at the situation, go and talk to some people and decide what approach is likely to work. Then I develop something and try and sell it to someone. If it works I do more of it.
In which market, products or services, are you currently working?
Market Research, Social Media, Gardening products, organic produce
Did this product exist ten years ago? And the brand?
Some did some didn't. The Brands have all been created in the last 8 years
What is the consumer or user like that you have to win over?
They're either very bright - or they are environmentally committed
What is the key to gaining consumer fidelity?
Attention to detail in delivering a top class service. Its all in the logistics.
How do you determine what consumers think and feel? Is something more than qualitative research necessary?
The Qualitative stuff is the most important but you have to do a modicum of quant to ensure that the market is big enough to be sustainable. I use a combination of in depth interviews, focus groups and online surveys via survey monkey
What type of communication are you utilizing?
Blogs, social media for the most part with a good bit of face to face work
Who/what is your competition?
In my research work other professionals although I generally get work because no one else has the combination of experience I have - a benefit of a great age ;)
What differentiates your product/service from the competition?
attention to detail - and the quality of my thought
How do you value the results obtained up to now?
What is a better way to communicate your product: emotional or rational?
All selling is emotional although you do need to have the logical stuff off pat to give people the excuse to say yes
What's your answer to the typical question: does marketing create nonexistent needs?
Yes it often does - after all look at Coca Cola. However I don't consider it ethical to do that.
In times of crisis sales of generic store brands rise. What should premium brands do or not do when faced with this?
That's a good question - they would need to look at emphasizing the value in what they offer although personally I'm not so sure it's always there.
Can you cite brands or well-known products that you admire for marketing brilliance?
Cravendale, Innocent, Apple, Virgin
The consumer is king: have advertisers realised this yet?
I'm not convinced that advertisers have realised that the market has moved elsewhere
Are we heading towards more individualised marketing and advertising?
What percentage of your marketing budget is invested in digital advertising and why?
About 70%. We are an internet trader - other things we do are top end shows like RHS hampton Court, PR and email marketing with some catalogues for one particular market. In my market research practice it's all electronic apart form my face to face networking budget
What is the most surprising thing you have learned about digital marketing in the last few years?
The continuing marketing power available to us as free services.
A few years ago, it was said that online sales would end up killing traditional store sales, but that has not been the case: how can you explain this?
People like to see the goods before they buy. This is particularly true of fresh produce.
How do you evaluate the potential of social networks for marketing on-line? Do you really think there is a new 2.0 marketing paradigm?
No it's business as usual. The same rules apply in online networking as they do face to face. Be polite, don't broadcast, practice giver's gain, get back to peole quickly. And above all be real
What industry or market segment do you find attractive for devoting yourself to in the coming years?
Products that empower people to be more themselves - whether that's business support products or worthwhile consumer products.
Be a prophet. What phenomenon will revolutionize marketing in the next few years?
The need to tell the truth and to play fair by the customer. We are all sick and tired of corporates broadcasting one message to us while setting up systems that cheat us with hidden charges. The web brings transparency and sooner or later enough people will pressurise the legislators to stamp out sharp practice
Are you part of any professional networking sites? Has it served its purpose for you?
Yes I'm on Ecademy, Facebook and Linked-in and Twitter. Ecademy has delivered a good ROI already
How do you do your own personal branding? What do you recommend other professionals do to position themselves in the job market?
You have to make sure that when people Google you there's a lot of good stuff that demonstrates that you know what you're talking about. We live in an era where we have unparalleled opportunities to tell our story all over the world. I find that amazing.