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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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

 

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.