Tag Archives: Marketing Strategy

Marketing’s Role In The Selling Process

Managing Your Role In The Selling Process Is Key To Marketing Success

You have all seen this before – the classic “Selling Process” (aka “the Sales Funnel”.  Any marketer you come across should be able to explain to you how this works – in theory.  The challenges happen when the marketing team’s idea of how this works does not align with upper management.  Unfortunately, this is a very common occurrence.

The Selling Process

 

What happens when the board or C-Suite have a different view of Marketing’s role in this process than you have?  At a minimum, you end up wasting precious resources.  At a more serious level, this can lead to some pretty tough discussions.  This can all be amped up if sales results are not meeting expectations.  So . . . getting alignment is key.  But how do you get there?

Aligning Expectations on The Selling Process – Three Simple Steps

Achieving alignment may not be easy, but you can get on the right track by following these three simple steps.

  1. Get to know how your sales team interacts with customers.  There is no substitute to seeing this live in the field, preferably right in front of the customer.  Are there things you could provide them with to accelerate this process?  Are they calling on true qualified leads, or are the “customers” glorified cold calls?  Ask your rep:  How do you define a qualified lead?  It is crucial you perform this first before jumping to step 2.
  2. Ask Executive Management what they expect from Marketing. Yes – you need to ask them.  Ask them to describe (in detail) how they see marketing’s role in this Selling Process.  This is not a 15 minute discussion.  It might not be completed in a single meeting.  Be sure you are asking many questions, and taking good notes.  Let them know you will be doing a lot of “capturing” and will need this great input from them as you develop your marketing strategy.
  3. Re-Define Your Marketing Strategy.  You are now armed with very valuable information from the market as well as the company principals.  Your marketing strategy will be centered on alignment.  First you include recommendations for changes in how you equip the sales team to drive new business.  Then the tougher one.  You have to point out areas in which executive management has to “modify” their expectations.  They will be far more accepting of this when you wow them with your field research.  Along with your updated marketing strategy and planned activities.

Having these valuable conversations with the field and executive management will begin the alignment process.  You will likely discover other nuggets/ideas in the process that should also help drive results.  Time to start having those conversations – and asking questions!

 

 

 

 

Authentic Marketing

Consumers are Very Sophisticated – You Must Be Genuine.

 

Avoid Being an “Online Used Car Salesman”

Today’s consumer can smell a disingenuous company a mile away. When they catch a whiff of BS, they quickly jump ship. Why? Because the Internet has created a space in which people can easily be phony. It’s much easier to present a façade online than it is in face to face interactions. They have seen it way too many times.  It’s left people craving honesty and authenticity.

Authentic Marketing

What Constitutes Authentic Marketing?

In short, it means is being true to your brand promise, and treating customers as friends.  When you value these people, they value you.   It is that simple.  Cherishing that connection and staying true to it is essential. Businesses that “push the envelope” look greedy and impersonal. Those who practice authentic marketing are seen as friendly, substantive, and worthy. Here are some ways to market your business more authentically:

  1. Cultivate consistency – One of the biggest indicators of inauthenticity is inconsistency. When a company can’t seem to decide on who it is or what it wants, it’s going to be viewed as disingenuous and even sneaky. Be consistent with your message and the voice that delivers that message.
  1. Provide proof – If you make a claim, have the data or anecdotes to back up that claim. We’ve all seen politicians lose favor in the public eye because they make false claims.  Avoid that at all costs, since being authentic means being transparent. That means that you’ll be accountable for your claims.  Make sure they are backed up by facts.
  1. Respond promptly – Social media has given all businesses the opportunity to talk directly to their customers on a daily basis. When someone asks a question via social media, have a real person personally answer that question (or respond to that complaint or comment) as quickly as possible.
  1. Choose a cause to support – Pick something that you or your business has a real connection with. There are so many charities and projects that you can easily find one that matches your brand’s personality and goals. Supporting a cause that you really care about will show consumers your human side.

Take it from Will Smith:

“Smoke and mirrors in marketing is over; it’s really over,” said actor Will Smith at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation:  Seek Company-Wide Commitment

Virtually all organizations are striving to be more digitally enabled. As with anything, a small minority are true leaders, some are pitiful laggards, and most are somewhere in the middle.

Digital TransformationThe digital leaders have woven digital elements into virtually every aspect of their organizations, not merely in their Web presence. Elements such as integrated call centers, connected sales reps, and seamless customer experiences are all indications of digital savviness.

If your firm is on the wrong end of the bell curve when it comes to digital integration, you are probably experiencing some form of “digital envy”.   While serious, this condition is treatable given a firm commitment to widespread change.  In short – you need a “digital transformation”.

Here are a few actions you can take to initiate a digital transformation at your firm:

  1. Point to the competition:  Do a competitive site analysis that shows your competition is beating you.
  2. Obtain customer feedback:  Nothing speaks louder to c-suite management than the views of top customers.  Some pointed comments from key customers can be very impactful.  This can be very powerful.
  3. Point out some glaring problems.  Should not be too hard to do.  If you are feeling bold, as some key executives if they are proud of various functions.  Don’t just point out the problems.  Have a solution in place.  (See #4)
  4. Create a high-level plan: Explain of how the digital-transformation could work including theoretical timelines, expenses, resource allocations, etc.
  5. Recruit some influential change agents:  These key individuals will help you “fight the fight”.  You can’t fly solo on this.  Think CMO, key sales team executives, CIO etc.  Feel free to share the customer feedback as you are recruiting support.

If you take these few steps (simple, not easy) you probably have a “ticket to admission” to have an initial conversation with executive management.  Don’t expect rapid success.  Change is hard, and requires that your key leadership get out of their comfort zone.  Your job is to raise their collective consciousness.  Be aware, they are likely to resist at first.  Remember – it is a digital transformation.  Not a digital “overnight makeover”.

Be patient and keep chipping away.  You will get there.

Personas – Your “Blink” for Targeting

Segmenting your market into PersonasSeveral years ago Malcolm Gladwell wrote the book Blink, which is an excellent discussion of the importance of gut instinct in business decisions.  Blink suggests that over years of experience gathering, the human mind is far more informed than we generally acknowledge.   It is very effective when it comes to making quick decisions.   The book provides numerous examples of how the mind succeeds at fast, informed, and eerily reliable decisions.  This “Blink” concept can be used to build personas for your market segments.

For those who are not familiar with personas, here is the definition from Wikipedia.

Personas are fictional characters created to represent the different user types within a targeted demographic.

A while back I discussed the importance of understanding the Bell Curve and marketing planning.  In a basic sense, think of personas as building a fictional character for each of these segments.  Each persona will have a different bell curve each personal characteristic.  For example, let’s say your pertinent characteristics that define your persona’s are:  Age, Income Level, and Family Status.  You then use these characteristics to define your personas.  For example:

Andy:  Age 26, earns $65,000 annually, single.

Susan:  Age 37, earns $125,000 annually, married with three children.

Phillip:  Age 69, retired (income comes from investments), adult children self-sufficient.

The messaging you deploy to each of these personas is quite different.  Let’s assume you are a financial advisor.  Your approach to messaging differs significantly for each persona.  You have to market to each persona’s needs and desires.  To over-simplify things, your basic approach will resemble:

Andy:  Many years of your career ahead, get started saving now.  Take more risks now since you have less responsibilities.

Susan:  Focus on children, appropriate insurance level, college planning for each child, long-term wealth planning.

Phillip:  Stability is top priority.  Safety, income, and estate planning will be hot buttons.

Personas are a great starting point for building your messaging.  It gives you the 30,000 foot view.  You then have to refine the messaging of course.  As you tweak the messaging, you have to remember the “genius” formula that I frequently refer to.  Test, measure, refine, retest, retest.

Personas are a great way to start the planning process.  Consider making personas a starting point for your overall marketing strategy.  If you use them enough you will start thinking of them as real people.  If this happens, you are on your way to improving your marketing!

It All Starts With The Proper Foundation

I was meeting with some collegues today, and we were discussing a particular Web site.  This was a bit of a brainstorming session, so conversations were quick to take a left turn and then quickly (too quickly) evolve into an action plan.  Hosting a brainstorming session can be challenging, because while you want to encourage freeform thinking, you also want to keep the discussion fairly grounded in reality.  It is a delicate balance.

After a few consecutive left turns, I felt compelled to reign it in a bit.  I asked the group “What is the REASON for this Web site.  In other words, why should a consumer choose this over the competition”.  This is central to branding, and unfortunately many business ignore this rudimentary aspect.

If you do not know what the “reason for your existence” is – start thinking about it immediately.  It is the core of your marketing strategy and should be central to your marketing plans.  It is the foundation you build upon.  Think of it like a house – if you have issues with the foundation of your house, everything else is questionable in that house.  The foundation must be solid – and from there you can build fabulous things.

 

Make it All Great

I recommend you read Jim Collins’ classic business book “Good to Great”.  Great read – and applies to all aspect of business, Marketing of course included as well.

While you should still read the whole book, one of the central themes is that to become a great business, you have to do every little thing great.  The collective result is that it all adds up to being a great entity.

This point obviously holds true with your Marketing – you can’t do some of it “great” and then let other parts go.  You have to be “consistently great”.  The old cliche is that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link – that is the point exactly.

Can’t just be great in some areas – it must transcend all aspects of your business.  All customer touches, communications, packaging, staff apparel and messaging (another future post), every single element.

If you can dot every I and cross every T – VOILA – you will have FABULOUS marketing.

 

Apple Products Even Smell Good

You hear about Apple EVERYWHERE.  I recently bought a new Apple Time Capsule hard drive – so I can backup my family video and photo files.  Upon opening the package, it occurred to me that in addition to the normal great packaging of Apple products, the Time Capsule actually had a pleasant aroma to it!  Maybe it is placebo effect because i am very much an Apple fan, but honestly it smelled nice.

I am not sure it was intentional, but whether intentional or not it certainly speaks to the “total product” concept.  Your customer’s perceptions (and therefore your branding) are tuned in to EVERY ASPECT of your product.  It is not just the function, the packaging, the quality it is every single thing.  Be aware of this – and strive to do every possible thing you can to make it all “top notch”.  The result will be customers who are satisfied at every level of their experience!  This will lock them in to your brand.

I cannot say for sure that Apple strives to make their products smell nice, but I will tell you that I have unboxed other products that have an unpleasant smell to them.  In these cases, the manufacturer was not considering the “total product” concept.  They thought their responsibilities ended with the product, but how wrong they were.  Their customers consciously and subconsciously attach all kinds of attributes and feeling to the product.  If you are aware of this, you can capitalize on it.  If you are not aware, you miss an opportunity that may work against you.  Especially if your competition is more thorough than you are.

You can’t be fabulous without addressing every aspect of your product!

Names Are A Big Deal in Marketing– Part II

There is a pizza place North of Chicago “Madhu’s Pizza” – it just closed in the last year or so.  I don’t know about you, but when I am looking for a pizza place, I look for some sort of Italian flavor.  My personal favorite is Lou Malnati’s here in Chicago.  Wonderful Pizza and a good name.

Now let’s talk about Madhu’s pizza.  I am sure Madhu is a fine fellow who makes a nice pizza (I have never tried it) but I do know that Madhu should have chosen a different name.  I will bet he worked very hard in putting the money together to build his restaurant.  By the time he was ready to launch, he was probably so proud and so excited there was only one name the establishment could be.  Unfortunately using his own name was a mistake.  Madhu apparently let his own personal pride take precedence over what is truly best for his business.  He would have been far better off choosing “Antonio’s” or “Tina’s”.

Everything you do from a marketing standpoint should be “customer-centric”.  That is the first question to ask yourself, “What would the customer want” (WWCW).  If you are continually focused on the customers, they will be far more likely to focus on you.

Swallow your pride, and choose your name based on what the customers are looking for, not just to satisfy your ego.

Names Are a BIG DEAL in Marketing (Part 1)

Patagonian toothfishHave you ever eaten Patagonian Toothfish?  I’ll bet you have even though you may not have realized it.  That is because some crafty marketing folks got on the case and correctly assumed that Patagonian Toothfish did not sound that appetizing to the masses.  So what did they do?  They changed the name to Chilean Sea Bass, and the sales skyrocketed!  Unfortunately to the point where this slow-growing fish is in severe decline in numbers due to over-fishing.  The marketers did their job – now it is time for the fish harvesting authorities to do theirs.The point of this discussion is that names ARE a big deal, despite what some so called experts say.  They need to be easy to say, easy to remember, and in the days of Internet marketing, easy to type.We will continue this discussion in our next post with another name example also related to food.