Make an Impact

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.

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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

 

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.

 

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.