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Marketing Insight to Grow your Business

“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

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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.

 

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.

 

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.