Tell us about the transformational points in your life.

Every step, every decision that is taken is actually a transformational point in one’s life but some have more direct effects in your life and some have indirect impacts. From changing jobs to changing roles in a company, not any of them is less important than the other, so I prefer not to name specific moments, but one thing I would highlight is that the major transformational points are when you challenge your comfort zone and embrace a big change in your life… of course, if you see that there is a possibility for that to open new doors for you. So every role change has been a transformational point in my life.

What are the lessons that future marketers could learn from your journey of success?

I will highlight 3 top things that I see crucial for success. One, you should set the right targets which are achievable but challenging at the same time and they should be in sync with the company vision and targets. It is important to pick the right battles. You cannot be perfect in every area, so you should prioritize targets that matter for you and for the company. Second thing is, you should choose the right team. Real success comes with a strong team. Just as an individual, you cannot surpass some boundaries. Third one is that, you have to be ready to take some risks. Not every success comes from 100% failsafe actions… unfortunately ☺

What are the top three marketing challenges you met in your business?

The top marketing challenge is that you always have fewer resources than what you need considering the targets you are trying to achieve. Creativity is at the heart of marketing. You have to always think of new creative ways to get things done with limited resources. This probably applies to all sectors. Specific to the technology sector, one big challenge is the continuously changing trends with new technologies, new marketing approaches, new business models and new competition. You have to always keep up with what is happening around you, but this is at the same time what makes marketing fun ☺ Third challenge is I would say keeping the right balance between planning and execution. It is a fast moving world. Spending too much on planning without taking action on the right time, you lose. But on the other hand, jumping into action without planning sets you off-course. It is a challenge to find the right balance.

What are the new trends in marketing 2011-2012?

In recent years, the role Internet plays in marketing got more and more important. From search engine marketing to social marketing to viral marketing on the web, every day, Internet is getting a higher percentage of mindshare and advertisement budget. This is a trend that we will keep on seeing. The awareness around the impact of online marketing is increasing. One other trend that we already started seeing but which will leave its mark more on 2011 and later is mobile marketing. Especially with the increase in the adoption of smartphones and more usage of smartphones for internet access, mobile marketing will become key in companies’ marketing strategies.

Tell us success stories for three successful marketing strategies you experienced.

I will not name specific projects, but I will give you three strategies you should have in any marketing activity for success. One is making sure that results are measurable, otherwise success is subjective and without data you do not have a reference point to improve on. Second one is understanding the user. This might sound like marketing basics but there are so many marketers out there who are carried away by what they believe in not by what the users want. And third one is to keep building on what is successful. Never expect to execute the same program every year and expect to achieve the same success… you need to always improve it a step further to meet expectations.

How the marketers could develop a positioning strategy that makes their product unique and different than any other competitor?

We are all users ourselves. The most important thing is to be able to think like a user independent of what the brand is trying to impose. Our positioning should not be a “make believe”... It should address a real need. And always find your strong areas and build on them instead of trying to beat competition by attacking their strong areas.

How to design a brand identity?

Think of a person... the way he/she talks, the way he behaves, the way he looks, how he treats you all shape this person’s identity. For brand positioning, tagline is the talking, functionality is the behavior, design is the look, service is how it treats you… You should build a brand the way you want your users to recognize that brand… Is it Friendly? Innovative? Fun? Different? Humble?... You should define the character of the brand. And you should stick to that identity once you have loyal customers because nobody likes unsteady characters ☺

How to create a Unique Branding for your products and services?

One important thing to highlight here before answering this question is that while creating unique branding for products and services in a company, you should make sure that they are in sync with the company’s main brand identity. With that said, every product and service is a separate brand by itself. For it to be unique, one should prevent the biggest branding mistake. Being a copycat, using the same branding approach of a competitor and just trying to be better. Branding is a bundle of visuals and messaging. Your logo, product name, the tagline and positioning all should reflect the same identity and feel. The brand should be unique by itself but coherent within itself.

Tell us some secrets weapons in advertising.

There are no secret weapons, honestly, but there are some tips most people know but in action forget about them… I will be real brief here… like advertising should be ☺ For your ads to work - don’t say too much - just focus on your strength, don’t use overpowering visuals – people should read your message and see your brand first, and make sure the call to action is clear and straightforward. To summarize, do not try to entertain with your ads, try to deliver your message. But if you can entertain while at the same time delivering your message, then great ☺

How to create an entertaining customer experience that people love to share it with others (customers’ engagement)?

I will concentrate more on the engagement part of this question since for a marketing activity or campaign to be engaging, it does not need to be entertaining. Many marketers make the mistake of creating something that is fun to create customer engagement. making it “fun” or “interesting” is one way to cook it. The more important gradients are making it personal, making it interactive and making it easy to share.

What is your recommendation about Marketing Communications for entrepreneurs and small business owners who have limited marketing budget?

Measure results! That is the trick to everything. Don’t be carried away by marketing projects that look attractive or positioned as not to miss by people around you... always question the return on investment. A marketing approach might reach a large audience but just a few people might respond, or another activity can reach a small audience but you get the right people. Don’t be deceived by quantity, go for quality. If you measure results well and decide on your tactics using data, then you can create wonders with small budgets.

What are the top three mistakes that marketers should avoid?

We talked about some of them in the previous questions, but to recap, three must avoid things by marketers are:

  • One, do not try to be everything for everyone. Focus on your strengths targeting the right audience with the right messaging.
  • Two, do not try to be everywhere getting lost in the execution of many small projects spreading your limited resources across many activities. Focus on the ones that create big impact with the best return on investment. Use your resources wisely.
  • Three, do not only measure results at the very end. Also set milestones to measure progress. Always make sure that you are going at the right pace and at the right direction. Otherwise it becomes too late to correct your course for success.

 

What are common branding mistakes?

I’ll share with you three most common mistakes:

  • Inconsistency: Brand is a company’s identity. Your customers, hearing and seeing your logo relate to your brand values. Stick to your brand guidelines to make sure you do not cause confusion in your customers’ minds.
  • Copying: Meaning creating similar branding to a competitor hoping to benefit from existing awareness. This does not give you a head start… it just makes your competitor’s brand stronger.
  • Overusing: Too much visibility is not always the right path to increasing awareness. Use your brand wisely to keep it fresh and valuable.

 

Tell us some Secrets Weapons in Search Engine Optimization.

Within Google, there are more than 200 triggers that sets your website’s quality score, which determines your position on the search results page. I will not be listing them all here and honestly I don’t know all of them. Those are the secrets behind the success of Google Search Engine. The best thing to do is to visit Google Webmaster Central website which gives you some information on how you can make sure that your website is indexed correctly by the search engine. The URL of the site is www.google.com/webmasters. You add your website to your account and the system gives you suggestions on what you can improve on your site so that Google can index your site better.

What are the recommended steps to help future marketers to join a marketing team of a multinational organization?

It is not only related sector experience that counts to be accepted for a marketing role in a multinational organization. Achievements that show an individual’s creativity, entrepreneurial instinct, team spirit, leadership and social skills all add up. Trends change very quickly, business models adapt to the changing world. Organizations do not hire people who can only succeed in the current environment. They hire people who can also adapt to change and even more than that they prefer people who can lead change. And on top of all these, if there is also high motivation, then the formula is complete.

What are the steps and recommended actions that future marketers need to follow to become a marketing director of a multinational organization? 

The requirements for success change by the role. But generally speaking, the must haves for moving up the career ladder are: Knowing the vision and the mission of the company by heart, understanding how you can create impact for the company to achieve that vision, setting the right strategy, right targets and priorities for yourself and showing measurable success. Also just sticking to your responsibility area is not enough, you should be able to see the bigger picture and be a team player to support also others to achieve.

How the Marketers could create & develop an idea to become a billionaire as Mark Zukerburg, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Michael Dell?

I wish it was so easy to recap it in a simple set of steps ☺ Understanding the user, having a long term vision, differentiating yourself from competition, not fearing to take risks and innovating continuously to stay ahead of the game are key. And another integral ingredient is hiring the right people who share the same passion with you and have the skill set to drive the company forward.

What are the marketing books you recommend for marketers to read?

I prefer not to name specific books since no single book can create a mind shift by itself. Everything read, be it a book, an article or a blog, helps you absorb new thoughts, rethink your existing beliefs, and come up with ways of your own. And whatever you read, share and discuss, which is the best way to digest new ideas.

Tell us about the consultancy/coaching/training programs you offer for your clients, and how our future marketers could connect with you?

I deliver many seminars and also workshops when I have the opportunity both on marketing basics and also on new trends in marketing. The best way to keep in touch about these are through my webpage (www.mustafaicil.com), my Google+ page (www.google.com/+mustafaicil) and my Twitter account (@mustafaicil).

What is your recommendation for future marketers who want to become Marketing Guru?

I guess my recommendation would be, “Don’t try to be one. Just enjoy what you are doing and never stop learning.”

Mustafa İÇİL

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