Make an Impact

Marketing Insight to Grow your Business

What Makes Your Jerky Special? December 11, 2008


Could your small business use a makeover? Gregory Nemitz’ web-based company 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, 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 website failed to convey the true value of Nemitz’ delicious variety of fresh jerky treats. They advised him to establish 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


How are you doing? November 19, 2008


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.


Why Being Irrelevant Could Be Your Marketing Downfall September 15, 2008

“Make yourself relevant”. A nugget of advice that sounds simple enough. So, why do few companies actually utilize this tip to drive sales? Because being relevant requires work.

You can’t distribute the same marketing brochure that you created half a decade ago to every segment of your market and expect it to make an impact.

You can’t email a case study highlighting a law firm’s success with your product or service to doctors and IT guys and expect your message to resonate.

And you certainly can’t speak to a prospect amidst today’s economic climate in the same language that you did 5 years ago and expect to reach them. Watch any car commercial currently airing and you’ll see the art of being relevant in action… “Prices at the pump leaving you penniless? Buy a Honda this weekend and get free fuel for the life of your vehicle!” A message like this is much more likely to strike a chord with consumers who are feeling the squeeze at the pump than a generic commercial focused on the performance of Honda vehicles.

Customizing communication based on elements such as the particular needs of a group of prospects or the current state of the economy is your ticket to being relevant. And being relevant is essential to the success of any marketing strategy.


Sometimes you’ve got to roll up your sleeves July 18, 2008

…and do some nitty, gritty marketing research. It’s not the glamorous, creative or “fun” work that us marketing geeks get excited about, but it is a necessary (and, yes, sometimes evil) part of growing your business.

When was the last time you took a close look at your position in the market compared to your competitors? Market Opportunity Analysis is something most companies do when they begin business or when they are about to launch a new product or service. But, that’s not the only time it can provide value. Keeping tabs on the current trends and needs in the marketplace is a solid way to ensure that you are marketing your company in the most strategic way possible. It can help you identify unmet needs in the market and align resources to deliver continued value to your customers. Market Opportunity Analysis may sound like no fun at all, but the return on investment will be something to smile about!


When Everything Goes Wrong April 22, 2008

So, here I am after a 2 month hiatus from blogging. What can I say? Being struck by lightning while camping and dealing with the near 3 week hospitalization of my father set me back a bit. In the realm of excuses, you could say I’ve got some pretty solid ones. But, at some time during our lives and careers we all do. For days, weeks and months it may seem like nothing is going right. You feel like you’re in an uphill race wearing greased soles…nowhere to go but down.

These are the turning points that can make or break a person (and a company). It’s how we handle the punches that life throws at us that makes us who we are. Right now, companies around the nation are flailing as the economy dives. The pressure of layoffs is eminent. Morale is sinking. And, just as I witnessed personally, it’s when the chips are down that weaknesses rear their ugly heads. But, something else happens during these times- the true strengths of your company shine through. When put to the test you’ll gain a newfound clarity of what works and what needs work. And, your outlook will be uplifted when you realize you’ve been granted the opportunity to become a survivor.


Charisma and Marketing: The O(bama) Factor February 20, 2008

I don’t intend to get all political on you but considering a large part of politics is marketing- I think this post is appropriate.

Nightline did a segment last night on the impact Obama’s charisma has on people or, the “O Factor”, as I’ll call it. They panned the audiences at his rallies, where adoring fans cheered, cried and yes, even fainted. When was the last time you finished a sales presentation and looked up to see your potential clients’ pumping their fists in the air with excitement? If you answered never, you’re not alone.

Part of the reason Obama elicits such a remarkable outpour of emotions is because he is speaking about changing the world for the better. Chances are, your product or service addresses issues and benefits on a smaller, less engaging scale. But, the other part of the O Factor is a result of the confidence and passion Obama conveys that leads people to believe he can deliver on his promises. Sales and marketing success is highly dependent on the way that you present yourself and your company to prospects. If you truly believe in what you say your charisma will open up doors. Political views aside, if John McCain and Obama did sales presentations at your office on parallel products, who would you buy from? Thought so. There’s no fainting at McCain rallies for a reason.


There’s Nothing Pretty About Bad Service February 6, 2008

I was reminded of the value of compassion and genuine customer service this weekend after an accident put my boyfriend and I in a vulnerable position.

Anyone who lives in GA knows that it was beautiful weather on Sat- 60 degrees with blue skies and a cloudless sky above. People swarmed outside, ready to soak up the sun after months of hibernating. My boyfriend, Matt, and I decided to take advantage of the spring-like temps and packed the car up with our bikes and our dog, Sadie. With Sadie on a leash running along next to him and me following behind, we enjoyed a bike ride around the quaint little neighborhood of Oakhurst. About a block away from the car, the pleasant Saturday afternoon ride went wrong. In the blink of an eye, Sadie jerked back to check and see where I was, Matt let go of her leash and it looped around his handlebars and took the bike down, slamming him elbow-first into the concrete.

His pain was moderate at first, but after a night of trying to home remedy with ace bandages and a CVS sling, we realized that it was too intense for him to wait to see the Dr. on Monday. To further complicate the situation, Matt’s insurance at his new job doesn’t kick in until mid-month, so from a financial standpoint things were looking ominous. We opted to take him to an urgent care clinic in hopes of avoiding the imminent wallet draining that accompanies a visit to the ER.

The urgent care clinic left something to be desired aesthetically. It was small and a little rough around the edges, but I can’t say enough about the service that we received there. A Physicians Assistant was on duty, but after observing the extent of pain that Matt was in, she called the Dr. at home and asked him to come in to take a look at him. Keep in mind- this was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, and not just any Sunday- SUPER BOWL SUNDAY. If the Dr. was unhappy about having to make an unexpected trip to the clinic, he sure disguised it well. He immediately set Matt at ease by telling him he had been in his shoes years ago after suffering the exact same type of injury to his arm in an accident. He gave Matt the pain meds that he needed to curb his suffering a little, but more importantly he empathized with him by telling him he understood what he was going through. He knew Matt was dreading the movement required to take x-rays, so he proactively engaged him in conversation about his line of work to distract him long enough to get the x-rays done. He took the time to listen to our worries about the financial impact of going to the ER without insurance. Then, he cared enough to reach out to his associates who were orthopedic doctors and asked them to meet us at the clinic to take a look at Matt’s injury. Despite his tireless efforts, he could not coax anyone into making a last-minute trip for a consultation on Super Bowl Sunday. But the point is- he did everything he possibly could to help us. And he even made Matt, who was in excruciating pain, smile a few times in the process. Now, that’s understanding your customer.

We did end up having to go to the ER that night, where Matt was given stronger pain control meds and a sturdy brace, and we were told we would have to go see a specialist in the morning. Oh, joy! Three doctor visits and no insurance in sight. Just as a point of contrast, I’ll tell you quickly about our visit to the orthopedist the next day. Aesthetically speaking, the orthopedist office was the Ritz Carlton and the urgent care clinic was a Super 8 Motel. Glossy hardwoods, Starbucks-style, blown glass lighting fixtures and high-dollar paintings greeted us as we walked in the waiting room. Easy to see how they purchase all the fancy trimmings when the snippy girl at the front desk told us $500 was due up-front for the appointment and any further service charges would be due before we leave. Um, is the Dr. going to follow us home and cook us dinner and do our laundry for the next month? Because, if not, that seems a little steep. Already baffled and agitated at the money spilling down the drain, we sat back down and waited for Matt’s name to be called. I know it’s typical for doctors to take their sweet time, but considering the situation our frustrations mounted as we waited and waited and waited some more. Finally, we were put in a fancy little room with another high-dollar painting where, just for good measure, we waited even longer. At long last, the orthopedist came breezing in and, without eye contact, snottily asked, “What happened?”. He then spent about 30 seconds eyeballing the x-rays that we brought in with us and belted out the profound comment of, “Yep, it’s fractured and it’s gonna take a while to heal. We’ll wrap you back up in the brace and sling you came in and book you for another appointment for more x-rays in a month.” Excuse me? If nothing else, I expected him to sit down and feign interest in the injury and pretend to care for at least 5 minutes. Matt asked him how long it would take and he responded, “for what?”. For world peace to be achieved, ya idiot-how long until he will heal, of course! As he walked out the door, he told us over his shoulder that it would be 6-8 weeks before Matt’s arm was back to full functionality. Thanks, Doc. Guess we don’t have any more questions.

I could continue to rant and rave, but by now I am sure you get the moral of the story. Your company can have all of the fancy trimmings; i.e. pretty website, glossy packaging and modern, high-tech offices, but if you fail to connect with your customers and empathize with them on a genuine level, they won’t stick around for long. After all, relationships are built between people; not expensive furnishings.