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Do large companies need to specialize in their markets?

Most of you know that a great deal of my consulting is for large businesses, and–especially if you work for a small business–you might think that large businesses don’t need to specialize. If they’ve got all that money and they can produce whatever amounts they can sell, why would they need to specialize. After considering it for a moment, you might say to yourself that maybe large businesses would need to specialize only when they were up against other large companies. But you’d be wrong.

I wish that I could tell you the company–it would make the story a lot better–but all I can say is that it is a health care product, one you’ve probably heard of. And the manufacturer has done all the right things–advertising, distribution, shelf space, you name it. But with all of those techniques, you can only say so much. And this product has been positioned as much as it can be against its competitors–some large and some small.

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And they’ve had no success with digital marketing. It’s not an e-Commerce product, so it will never be sold online. But the manufacturer has always done a good job of distributing coupons that are redeemable in store so that they can count how effective their digital marketing is. And the news is bleak. Very few people are coming to their website and even fewer are printing coupons. Fewer yet redeem them.

What to do?

I asked  a few pointed questions. Are there a few conditions for which this product is head and shoulders better than its competitors? Is there a kind of person who would much rather use this product than others? Are there places that it would work better than others?

They all said, “Oh yes. Doctors constantly tell us about how…and customers recommend us for…and we always hear about people using it at…” And then I asked, do you talk about this on your website? Or in your marketing? They don’t.

They never even thought of it because traditional marketing affords no way to do it. You can’t get into marketing messages that detailed and that specialized and that targeted in traditional marketing. But on the web, that’s what works best.

I can’t guarantee that this approach will jump-start their sales, but it has a much better chance than what they’ve been doing.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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