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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.

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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

 

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.

 

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.

 

When Your Writer Can Spot a Dangling Participle Blindfolded but Doesn’t Know What SEO is- You Have a Problem December 7, 2007

Every company knows that they must keep an eye on the competition. Before starting my business, I surfed around a good bit to check out some established freelancers’ websites. Upon visiting my competitors’ sites, I was shocked at what I saw and I came to one surprising (yet delightful, since it sets me apart) conclusion- most writers don’t know a damn thing about marketing.

I gasped at home pages that read like endless sales letters, filled with 8 syllable words only their geeky, grammar-obsessed friends would find engaging. One page I visited literally required 2 minutes of scrolling to reach the bottom. Who has the time for that? No one. And that’s the key issue I noticed with many writers’ approach. They get lost in a literary fever, eager to dazzle with their impressive vocabulary, but they forget about the reader’s need for quick, informative copy that points toward a clear solution and, thus, they lose the sale.

If they somehow manage to maintain your attention through 2 minutes of scrolling and you decide to give them a shot, expect more of the same when they write copy for your company. After all, if they don’t even know how to market themselves efficiently, how are they going to market your business?

It doesn’t matter how many books they have published or how many awards they have won for creativity from their local writer’s circle- if a writer doesn’t understand how to get into the heads of your target market and speak to them in a way that encourages them to act, they will not be able to help you grow your business. Plain and simple. (Yes, fellow writers, I know that was a sentence fragment but it helped illustrate my point. Now go back to conjugating verbs.)