upstream marketing

Can you move to a more profitable business - upstream?

Why consider going "upstream" in your marketing strategy? Because it allows you to build a more profitable business much more quickly - through a deeper understanding of your unique market position and a meaningful connection to your customers... and then optimize for the conversion of visitors into followers, prospects, leads, and customers. Upstream, you'll discover and build on your strongest position and radically improve your website & advertising performance; bringing you new leads / customers and slashing advertising costs. You can do it all by looking at business top down.

Upstream marketing is all about making sure you address the true source of problems / opportunities vs. simply the problems / opportunities themselves. This results in much improved long-term business benefits. It's akin to "learning to fish" vs. being handed a fish. (Most business owners just want the fish, and contractors are more than happy to deliver. So, if you're satisfied with a one-off tactics, upstream is not for you.)    Onwards!


Simon Sinek describes why APPLE has achieved the success they enjoy and continue to innovate:

Here's the secret:
They achieved extraordinary success through upstream thinking. Day to day, they employ a series of far-reaching, well placed optimizations & innovations built around a strong and well understood core understanding of WHY they exist - and this goes to the very source of our quest upstream. Then the optimizations don't add up - they build on each other to reel in exponential results.

“Adequacy is the enemy of Excellence.” - Peter Drucker

Is your website working for you?

“Since we started working with Leadinglobal, our business has improved considerably due to our increased visibility online. Al's worked with us as an online marketing consultant & site designer, going above and beyond to help us expand and gain an edge in a highly competitive market. Simply put, he's has helped us focus on where we want our business to be.”

   testimonial - owner, BLVD Interiors, Toronto Canada

Upstream Marketing: it's a game-changer

“What most people visualize as 'marketing' involves advertising, promotion, brand-building, and communicating with customers through public relations, trade shows, and displays. Those activities are obviously of great importance, but primarily 'downstream' in nature -- that is, they enhance the acceptance of a product or service that already exists.

Upstream marketing, on the other hand, takes place at a much earlier stage by developing a clear market segmentation map and then identifying and precisely defining which customer segments to focus on. It analyzes how the end-user uses the product or service and what competitive advantage will be required to win the customer, and at what price points.”
- Ram Charan, 'Profitable Growth Is Everyone's Business'

What a great idea.

UPS spends over $1B US a year figuring out slightly better ways to deliver packages. Yup - $1B/yr on a system that shaves off a mile or two per driver per day and tracks delivery performance. Why? Because in the end it's cost effective and gives them an advantage over their competitors... and the confidence to move forward that comes with knowing what's actually happening with their customers vs. taking wild swings. In effect, management is held accountable by real data. And that's a great use of data.

Q: What are you 3x better at than you competitors? What are you 3x worse at than your competitors? If the answer is 'nothing' to both, you're not unique enough to make waves...

Our upstream philosophy:
1. Get your team on-board.
2. Identify your best customers.
3. Develop a better understanding of your unique position in the market.
4. Create products and services more applicable to each stage of the customer lifecycle.
5. Continuously improve an effective web site that sells.
6. Develop automated systems that boost performance while cutting expenses.
7. Develop better customer service solutions.
8. Test, test, test. Then test some more.
9. Roll out campaigns for research and high-conversion traffic.
10. Apply what we learn & return to step 2 with fresh, refined insight.

You can get started immediately with one of our exploration worksheets...

✓ Am I in the right market?
✓ What does my target demographic crave?
✓ How do I turn a single, costly click into a life-long relationship?
✓ How do I find that small fraction of customers who spend the most money?

"Why do my site's visitors never become customers?"

So, you've gone upstream, your niche is firmly established and your traffic is flowing...

Now - why aren't your visiors converting? Easy; they're fish out of water.
Your visitors:

• have a short attention span.
• get lost easily without a single clear direction.
• get distracted, even when given good directions.
• won't understand your website's layout.
• crave a 'human element' in their online experience.
• want to read about themselves & their problems, rather than your company's.
• don't want to feel bullied into making a decision.
• want to develop their relationship with you at their own speed.
• need to know they can trust you.
• see even small errors on your website as unprofessional.
• need a compelling reason to choose you vs. your competitor (and no, saving money is almost
   never a good enough reason!)

Now, let's turn those visitors into responsive customers...

Multiplying visitor response

“Drastically improving visitor response is simply the
right person (a visible, credible spokesperson that your audience identifies with)
the right message to
the right audience at
the right time in
the right way.”

- Glenn Livingston

You have all of ten seconds to answer the following 3 questions for your visitor, or they'll click your 'Loss Of Customer' button (that's the one labeled 'Back' on most browsers) :

1] Where am I?
2] What should I do here?
3] Why should I do it?

Feeling the pressure yet? - We must end your visitor's search through engagement, credibility & trust in your products & services; answering all of their concerns and channelling them smoothly & effortlessly towards the right goal - for them. Did you catch that? It's worth repeating - the right goal for them.

Profitable, effective design - will you sink or swim?

You may have asked yourself: "What's wrong with my current website?  It's got everything!"
Exactly. Take a minute to watch this bit of fun:

Imagine: 90% fewer people take any action when faced with 4x the number of choices.

   “Would you like a glass of water with A) lime B) lemon C) mint D) raspberry juice, or E) any three in combination?”
   Ummm.... no thanks.

That's 90% fewer customers and clients.

   “Would you like a lemonade with ice or without?”
   Sure! (Notice we've changed the conversation from 'what' to 'what kind' - an ultra important step.)

In a culture where more = better, it seems counterintuitive - but this concept is incredibly important when designing a web page, ad or offer. Layout, copy, order of operations, and yes, even colour play an important part in your success or failure. Distraction kills conversion.

There are more things involved than looking great. Actually, bad design plus good layout and copy will outperform great design with bad layout & copy nearly every time. Sobering; especially with the advent of Google Preview, where searchers now see your landing page before even clicking on your link. Google Preview exposes uninspired landing pages to the judgment of searchers; rewarding page distinction & brilliance while slapping pages that don't engage your audience.

Your site design must be based on your business goals and sound functionality, not on how it may impress your designer (or you), and certainly not on how much content & multimedia you can cram into a given space. If your business goals and your designer's goals are not matched, they need to be told what you need your site to achieve. Your designer needs to understand some basic SEO principles & even more importantly, customer conversion best practices. Otherwise, your traffic's not worth a dime, and you've spent thousands to do yourself a great disservice. And how do you determine your true business goals? You go upstream & discover what your customers crave.

"Clarity trumps persuasion" - Hunter Boyle,
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" - Steve Jobs & Leonardo da Vinci (up & coming artist)
"Our job is to simplify, to tear away the unrelated, to pluck out the weeds that are smothering the product message." - Bill Bernbach
"You will gain tremendous credibility, become much more productive, make those around you much more productive, and experience a great deal more joy in your working life if you look someone in the eye after hearing one of these verbal brain jammers and tell the person, 'I don't have any idea what you just said to me.'"- Dan Pallotta

but wait, there's more! >>