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Marketing Insight to Grow your Business

What’s Your Story? January 28, 2009

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Every company has a story. A pregnant, working mom is frustrated with the lack of professional maternity wear available. She takes a chance and launches a clothing line. An immigrant family’s love for traditional Russian food inspires them to open a restaurant. A struggling college student launches a tech support company in his dorm room. Over the years, he transforms it from a one-man operation to a division of Best Buy called Geek Squad.

People don’t identify with products or services. People identify with people. And, there is a story behind every person. The first step to building a relationship with  your market is to open up and share your story. Where did you come from? How did you get here?  And, how does your story shape the way that you do business? Put the story on your website and, if it’s really interesting, pitch it to local media. They love a good human interest story!

While tactics like coupons and discounts cost money and only serve to cheapen your brand, sharing a true story about your path to success costs little and will work to strengthen both brand perception and market share.

 

What Makes Your Jerky Special? December 11, 2008

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Could your small business use a makeover? Gregory Nemitz’ web-based company beefjerky.com needed help and Fortune Small Business came to the rescue.

Last spring, Gregory Nemitz asked Fortune Small Business to help him boost revenues for his online beef jerky business. After more than a decade in business, Beefjerky.com posted revenue of only about $150,000 in 2007, and Nemitz netted around $50,000. Plenty of visitors were browsing his company website but Nemitz was shipping only eight or nine orders a day, at about $50 a pop. How could he convert those visitors into loyal, jerky-buying customers?

A panel of branding and marketing experts provided by Fortune consulted Nemitz. They found that the overall branding and messaging on the beefjerky.com website failed to convey the true value of Nemitz’ delicious variety of fresh jerky treats. They advised him to establish Beefjerky.com as a cost-effective Web source for many jerky brands and flavors, and to stress that all of his products are an exceptional value.

Read here to learn how smart marketing paid off for Nemitz’ beef jerky business. Even dried beef can make the big bucks when positioned as a gourmet snack food and marketed to the right niche!

So, what makes your jerky special? If you don’t know the answer yet it’s time to figure it out and tell your prospects and customers about it every chance you get. All of this writing is making me hungry for some gourmet beef snacks. Mmmm…

 

“Marketing bit me!”….”Well, sales was looking at me funny!” December 3, 2008

Thanks to years of working in corporate marketing departments I am keenly aware of the sibling rivalry between sales and marketing teams. Ask the sales folks why their numbers are taking a dive and they’ll say the marketing group is to blame because they don’t provide the resources needed to sell successfully. Ask the marketing team who’s to blame and they’ll quickly point their fingers towards the “lazy” sales team who isn’t using the quality resources they are given to their full potential. Simmer down kids, blame doesn’t increase sales so it’s time to share your legos and play nice. Here’s a few tips to get you started:

  • Define Ideal Leads- Prevent the ever-so-convenient complaint about the quality of leads (there’s always that one guy who laments that the leads are just BAD- even if your company sells Bacon of the Month subscriptions and you hand him a list of active members of the “Bacon Lovers Who’re Ready to Buy” association). Bring the sales team into a meeting to define exactly what a qualified lead should be. Include factors such as industry, company size, budgets, titles, purchasing timeline, etc. You’ll focus in on a precise target to which you’ll aim your lead-generation campaigns. Giving the sales team a voice during the lead definition process ensures a shared victory for sales and marketing teams when sales go through the roof, or a shared sense of responsibility if  the target is missed.
  • Don’t Forget the Steps Between Lead Generation and Closing- Simply handing over a list of smoking hot leads to the sales team isn’t enough. The steps the sales person takes after initially contacting the prospect will make the difference between a lead closed and a lead lost. Once ideal leads are identified, every person involved in developing collateral for the sales team must understand the prospects’ buying process. Understanding the needs of who you’re writing for is essential to knowing what to write. Each touch, or contact, must add value through its ongoing relevance to the targeted prospect. Arm your salespeople with a variety of resources that establish your company as an expert in the industry- articles, whitepapers, case studies, company blog- and prospects will begin to view your salespeople as a trusted resource. A relationship will form and sales will indefinitely follow.
  • Foster Open Feedback Throughout the Sales Process- If a salesperson fails to close a deal it is essential that they communicate why they lost it. The old adage “you win some, you lose some” is true- but in order to win more in the future you need to understand why you lost some. A solid CRM system will keep everyone in the loop but the system is worthless unless the sales team diligently updates it. Ask the sales managers to require ongoing updates on the status of their sales team’s leads but expect pushback- even the best salespeople tend to be a little lax on the organization side. Just remind them that they can cite “crappy collateral provided by inept marketing team” as reason for a lost sale and they’ll be more likely to participate.

To the marketing team, sales is the pesky, messy little brother. To sales, the marketing group is the overbearing big sister. Love ‘em or hate ‘em you can’t live without ‘em. So stop pointing fingers and start working together as a singular team with the common goal of increasing sales. The whole family will be healthier, happier and more productive for it.

If you blame others for your failures, do you credit them with your success?”- unknown

 

Happy Turkey Day November 26, 2008

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Just a quick note to say thanks to all of you who tune into my blog. I hope you have a relaxing Thanksgiving with your families! Enjoy it. Now go….

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How are you doing? November 19, 2008

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Bailouts. Tumbling stocks. Rising unemployment rates. I don’t want to get all Chicken Little on you but it really does feel like the sky is falling. Ready to hear something positive for a change? Uncertain times like these offer a real opportunity for relationship building not only with your prospects and clients but in the community where you live and work as well.

Have you taken the time to ask the people around you how they’re doing? Have you thought about whether there is anything that you can do to help them? I don’t mean offering a 10% discount on your services. I mean taking a moment to reach out and let folks know that you genuinely care about THEIR success during these tumultuous times. You may not get instant gratification in the form of a spike in sales but you will build and strengthen your relationships. And that is the key to healthy, long-term growth.

Apply this concept to your community as well. Schedule a half-day for you and your employees to volunteer at a struggling local charity. Pull together and remember how it feels to work as a team rather than as a boss and a group of walking, talking potential pink slips. Your company and your community will be stronger for it.

A kind gesture on a rainy day will be remembered when the sun comes out again. After all, relationship marketing without the relationship is just plain marketing.

 

Integrated Marketing Summit Lacked Realistic Takeaways November 18, 2008

I attended the Integrated Marketing Summit last Thursday. I signed up for the same reason every company decides to go to a conference- to learn some applicable tips from the big dogs and to get my networking on. I mingled and made some solid connections during the networking mixer but I must admit I was a little disappointed in the content of the conference.

The Summit website said that we should expect to hear “the latest thinking on integrated marketing, presented by high profile dynamic gurus, with great examples and stories to share from a national and international perspective.” The speakers were impressive, no doubt- VP of Communications at Mars, VP of Marketing at Coca-Cola, along with Creative Directors from The Martin Agency (masterminds behind the UPS whiteboard campaign) and Gigante Vaz Partners. However, these companies’ marketing budgets are no noubt impressive as well. Sure, it’s interesting to hear how a company like Mars built buzz through TV interviews and social media for a campaign that involved building a giant Statue of Liberty M&M and sailing it in the NY Harbor. But, what about that story is applicable for a start-up, boutique marketing agency like mine? It seems that I wasn’t the only one who shared this sentiment. By the time the third presenter stepped down from the podium, everyone at my table was discussing how jealous they were of the speakers’ budgets. Rather than vigorously scribbling down new, exciting ideas of how to incorporate integreated marketing in their businesses, people actually started to look a little deflated. I realize that the speakers intended to inspire us with success stories but they failed to inject their tales of marketing grandeur with some good old-fashioned, realistic takeaways. And, that’s why the Summit missed the mark for me. It was a classic example of neglecting the needs of a market. At least the sushi and the conversations I shared with fellow Atlanta professionals were memorable!

 

Evolve Your Marketing Mix or Risk Extinction September 22, 2008

Times they are a changin’. And, so are the dynamics of the marketing landscape. According to Mike Iaccarino, CEO of Epsilon, a leading marketing services firm, “In this economic climate, businesses are seeking accountability and measurable results. Data driven marketing is an increasingly important component of corporate marketing campaigns as senior marketers employ sophisticated segmentation strategies to recruit and retain customers.”

In a survey conducted by Epsilon in August 2008, 175 U.S. Chief Marketing Officers and marketing executives of some of the largest brands in the nation gave us a peek at their evolving marketing mix. The shift to digital marketing is evident- new media in the form of social computing and blogs is getting increasing attention from businesses:

  • Social computing (including word of mouth, social networking sites, viral advertising, etc.) was the most popular emerging channel with 42% of marketing executives expressing interest in adding it to their marketing mix.
  • Blogs were the second most popular emerging channel: 35% of marketing executives want to pursue blogs and 19% already use blogs
  • Almost one-third of CMOs mentioned Podcasting as an area of interest: 31% are interested in adding Podcasting to their marketing mix and 18% already have.
  • Mobile devices also elicited interest: 29% are interested in Mobile Devices (Phones/PDAs) and 22% have added them to their marketing mix.

Interesting responses. These execs know that when budgets are tight accountability is key. If marketing is an expense that you are considering cutting it’s probably because you can’t justify the cost. And, that’s a sign that it’s time to evolve your approach.

Thanks to Larry at Epsilon for sending me the link to the article.

 

 
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