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Marketing Insight to Grow your Business

What Makes Your Jerky Special? December 11, 2008

jerky

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…

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“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

Filed under: Holiday — papercutstar @ 3:49 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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….

turkey-says

 

How are you doing? November 19, 2008

chicken-little

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!

 

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.

 

Position Yourself as an Expert; Part 2: Build Trust by Becoming a Resource January 21, 2008

More often than not, I surf the net to explore, research and learn about a variety of topics rather than to make an immediate purchase. Whether it’s “how to make dog stop digging in yard” or “tax filing tips for small businesses”, I am always impressed when I search for answers and inadvertently land on an applicable article within a related company’s website.  When my pup Sadie was turning our backyard into Swiss cheese with her persistent digging I did a search that led me to a jackpot of doggy obedience articles. After learning that she was committing her crime due to boredom and inability to release pent up energy, I clicked around the site to find their line of innovative toys that are designed to keep dogs engaged for hours. Ridden with guilt over my inefficient puppy parenting skills, I was soft putty in their hands as I clicked the “Purchase Busy Bones” button.

This example clearly demonstrates that providing free information can lead to an immediate, unplanned sale. Keep in mind- the dog toys did not require a large investment, so it was easier for me to make the quick decision to purchase after reading the obedience articles. Those selling higher dollar items or services will have to be more patient. Building trust doesn’t happen overnight. But, if you make a point to provide NON-SALESY, meaty online content that people actually want to read, the amount of visitors to your site will climb. Not only will you get more site views, but something will happen to these visitors’ perception of your company as they read the valuable information that you provide. You will become a resource. Someone that they look to for real advice. And, eventually, someone that they can trust. Your sales numbers will prove that credibility is the closer.

 

Position Yourself as an Expert; Part 1: Be Everything to Someone, or You’ll Be Nothing to Everyone January 3, 2008

Since I started freelancing I have noticed something time and time again. Companies all over the nation seem to be suffering from an identity crisis similar to what a teenager goes through in those first painful years of highschool (sans the acne). They silently wonder;

  • Who am I?
  • What makes me special?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What if I fail because people don’t like what I have to offer? 

These are valid questions for both a teen and a business, but it seems that many companies are failing to answer them. I’ve seen web design companies that sell self-help books and IT consulting companies that offer-gasp-landscaping services. It’s like walking into a diner and the hostess asking if you would like your car washed and your teeth cleaned while you wait for your patty melt. It seems businesses are afraid to focus on their strengths and provide specialized services because they think it will limit their market. But, who said a limited market is bad? The sooner you realize that you can’t be everything to everyone- the better off your company will be.

Let’s take that hormonal and confused teen into consideration again- we’ll call her Suzie. On top of school, Mom wants Suzie to play soccer, Dad wants her to be on the debate team, her friends want her to sing in their rock band and she wants to take art classes. Worried Suzie may disappoint her friends and family, she decides to do all of the above. With too much on her plate, it’s not long before she is missing soccer practice, failing Algebra, forgetting the words to her songs and struggling to keep her eyes open through art class. Suzie spread herself too thin by trying to please everyone and, in doing so, she inhibited herself from excelling at anything.

If you want to avoid going down the same path that poor, misguided Suzie did, now is the time to take a long, hard look at what your company has to offer and who you want your market to be. Focus on offering the services and products that your company delivers best and position yourself as the expert in that particular segment. Answer the questions that Suzie did not and you have a MUCH greater chance at surviving in this giant high-school that is the business world. Plus, you’ll have someone to sit with at lunch.   

 

Grammar schmammar December 17, 2007

Filed under: Effective Marketing Tips — papercutstar @ 5:42 am
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I was surfing around WordPress looking at other folks’ blogs on writing/marketing. I came across this one post that illustrated the main point of my last blog entry beautifully.

What was that silly bank with the “Expect more easy” slogan thinking? I can tell you what they weren’t thinking,”Would my highschool grammar teacher give this slogan the thumbs up?”. Chances of their prospective clients being grammar buffs or past or present English teachers who care are slim to none. That “stupid” bank was trying to get the attention of potential clients who were flying by the billboard at 60 mph while sipping a latte, putting on eyeliner and wondering if their last paycheck was deposited yet. Think they’re concerned with the structure of a sentence on a billboard? I think not. “Easy” probably has a nice ring to it as they spill their latte and smear their eyeliner after learning that their bank account is overdrawn once again.

I am assuming that the comment my fellow blogger left in response to the post was sarcastic. But, if not, it’s an instant classic.