Archive for April, 2010

Marketing Axiom #5 – Ignorance Not Allowed

Relying on the experts in marketing can be a disaster in waiting.  A scarcity of knowledge can easily translate into a significant lack of dollars and results. From my experience, there is a lot of marketing experts who only have a smidgen more knowledge than their customers.

Regardless if you are a small business owner, SOHO, independent sales professional or even C-Level executive, ignorance is not allowed when it comes to marketing.  Granted you do not need to be a Leo Burnett or David Ogilvy or even Apple, but you should have some understanding of what effective marketing really is. (Note: Leo Burnett Agency was known for having a basket of apples in every reception area.)

For example, if you are considered hiring a marketing firm, do your research about them.

  • Ask for at least 3 clients who you can contact.
  • Ask the firm how long will it take to secure the desired results?

Now they may say it will take up to 6 months depending upon the medium and they cannot guarantee the results.  Okay then ask why should you part with your hard-earned dollars for a maybe sale.

If firms are courting you specific to your website, there is one way to quickly determine their expertise.  Download the Alexa toolbar from Alexa.com. This tool shows you real time Internet traffic to your site as well as to the marketing firm’s website.  What I know to be true is 90% of the cases where firms tell me they are search engine experts, my own website generates 3 to 5 times more traffic than theirs.

Of course, to overcome ignorance does require an investment of time. When you hone your marketing knowledge and skills, you will invest less of your resources (time, energy, dollars and emotions) in selling your products or services and increase your earned sales ratio (close ratio).

Yes, marketing comes first and selling second. By understanding and implementing these 5 Axioms as discussed these past five days, you will begin to increase sales and truly enjoy the fruits of all your labors.

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Marketing Axiom #4 – Heart, Head and Hands Prevail

Credit: Nowpublic.com

According to Dr. Hartman and the science of Axiology, people make buying decisions with their heads, their hearts and their hands. To leverage (think influence) how people make these decisions requires a convincing message with these four elements:

  • Powerful Story
  • Cohesive Message
  • Emotional Exploitation
  • Targeted Audience

Your message is the first and most crucial step within the overall sales process. A weak message delivers equally weak results.  However, a message that fails to emotionally connect with your potential customers (a.k.a. prospects) will also deliver poor results.

Take a few moments to think about your existing marketing message and how it attracts your potential customers.  Are you sounding like all those other businesses when you begin speaking?  Have you ever considered you are playing a very worn record that drones on and on and one instead of one that literally stops your targeted audience in their tracks?

Since people hear words and think in pictures, you have far more control of the picture they are painting in their brains than you probably realize. When you begin to observe what words trigger an emotional response, you can weave those very same words into your story. Then all you need to do is to ensure your overall message is cohesive in that is has a beginning, a middle, an end and makes sense specific to what you do.

By remembering this axiom, will help you with Axiom 2 and eventually lead to more sales.

P.S. If you are not sure of your own decision making styles and talents, you may find this performance appraisal instrument of interest.

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Marketing Axiom #3 – Remember the 75/25 Rule

Business is at least:

  • 75% about marketing
  • 25% about selling

Unfortunately, for many the opposite is true with 25% or less time being devoted to marketing. Then when the business becomes busy delivering its products or services there is even less time for marketing.  When you think you do not need to market because business is good to great, then look to your nearest McDonald’s.  Has this business with impressive branding stopped its marketing?

Also returning to Axiom #1, did McDonald’s stop marketing during known turbulent economic times?  Absolutely, not! McDonald’s knows their target market can be fickle and easily motivated to go elsewhere for their fast food.

One of the reasons that so many businesses stop marketing during bad times is because they lack an overall strategic action plan as well as the subsidiary plans of marketing, sales, customer loyalty, growth & innovation, leadership & management and financials. What then happens is the Captain Wing It scenario where actions are being sprayed and prayed all over the place with the hope that something sticks.

Take action and determine where you are spending your time versus investing your time.  Make sure you continue to market your business. If it is good enough for McDonald’s it is truly good enough for you.

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Marketing Axiom #2 – AIDA Model Is Queen

Products or services only sell themselves only after these 4 actions have been taken, leading to an established relationship.

  • After Attention
  • After Interest
  • After Desire
  • After call to Action

People buy from people they know and trust.  Until you accomplish these four actions, the likelihood that you have the beginnings of a mutually agreeable relationship has been greatly diminished.

Take a moment to think about sales from the perspective of the game of chess.

Credit: TheChessWorld.com

There is a lot of thinking (strategy) taking place. The King is the Buyer and you as the seller are most like the Bishop where you advise the King. However, if you fail to establish a relationship, the game is lost and hence this is why the Queen is key.  For without the relationship, the buyer will go elsewhere no matter how great your advice is as the Bishop. Additionally, there is always the opportunity for someone else (think competition) to capture your Queen and leave you with checkmate (no increase sales).

Again, who else can get the attention, the interest and desire of the King?  The Queen is usually the best person to achieve those goals.  And usually she can be one to provide a call to action. For without the Queen (the relationship), the sale will languish far from the cash box.  (Translation, you will not increase sales.) To capture the Queen demands you must be the Red Jacket and the AIDA model will help you do just that.

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Marketing Axiom #1-Greater Awareness Increases Sales

You can have the best product or service, incredible customer loyalty and the greatest ROI, but unless someone sees and more importantly wants to learn more about you, it truly doesn’t matter about your products or services.  Think about the good times that follow bad times.  People who previously would not spend their money are loosening up their purse strings.  They will go to the businesses they remember especially if they have no loyalty to a particular store.

In bad times, people shop where they perceive they are receiving the most bang for their buck.  Again, this perception is created by marketing through special offers to top of mind awareness (TOMA).

Marketing research suggests your potential customers and existing customers need to hear about your products or services at least 33 times in a given year.  Translated into a monthly number equals 2.75 contacts.  Between direct mail, e-mail, paid print advertisements, radio or television commercials to actual physical contacts through business events, you must connect with your target market almost 3 times every month if you wish to increase sales.

Additionally, new marketing research conducted by Pitney Bowes suggests direct mail is preferred by 70% over electronic mail.  Now direct mail (anything received through what many call “snail mail”) is postcards, handwritten notes to paid advertising in business journals or newspapers.

Now, awareness is not selling. Unfortunately, far too many in business perceive marketing to equal selling. These are the folks who always talk about their products and prices quickly followed by “Let me send you a proposal.”  By remembering this axiom, you may reduce your confusion about marketing and selling and truly be the Red Jacket in the sea of gray suits. The added value is you are now on a better path to actually increase sales.

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Market First, Sell Second to Increase Sales

Marketing is usually the first victim when times are down because the business cannot afford what those in charge view as an unnecessary expense.  Then when times turn around and the economy rebounds, again marketing loses because sales appear to be happening without once again this not needed business liability.

So this leads to this question: What comes first marketing or selling?

This is the chicken in the egg quandary faced by small business owners, SOHO, sales professionals to even C-Level executives.  However, to end that quandary I contend the answer is marketing. Now some may resist this simplistic response because marketing is not their strong suit or because the current organizational structure removes the sales department from marketing efforts.

So why is marketing so critical to business and sales success?  During the past 10 years in working with my clients and observing those who continue to be desperate about revenues, I have identified these five (5) axioms to help answer that question.

Each of these five marketing axioms will be discussed beginning this coming Monday.

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Sales Leads Costs + Selling Skills = Increase Profits

Business must increase profits will improving revenue generation.  A recent and must read report by Hub Spot revealed outbound versus inbound sales leads costs.

Bottom line outbound marketing costs almost 3 times as much as inbound. In real dollars according to this report, securing a sales lead from traditional marketing activities such as direct mail, cold calling or trade shows translates into $332. However inbound marketing specific to websites costs $134 per sales lead.

What this suggests is a loss of almost $200 in profits per sales lead acquired when using outbound marketing actions. Just take a moment to total up your current leads and do the math. Can you afford to continue what you are doing especially if cash flow an ongoing challenge?

This report supports why your marketing actions must come from your goal driven marketing action plan that is in alignment with your overall strategic business plan. Unfortunately, far too many business from small to mid-size lack executable (goal driven) action plans. These folks are bleeding profits all over the place from their spraying and praying activities because they hope for something to stick. Sales Training Coaching Tip: This is why triage business planning is needed first before a full scale strategic action plan is enacted.

Invest the time now, not later to determine the costs of your sales leads as well as to how you can increase sales in the most effective way possible (think profits).  By taking this action, you will be the Red Jacket in your marketplace and not in the red or out of business.

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Referral Marketing Appears to Be “Quid Pro Quo”

Social media through its interactive structure allows for referral marketing by leaving glowing comments about businesses.  Unfortunately, there are business who are taking advantage of this opportunity as reported by The Consumerist in their report on how to spot fake online reviews and it appears this is happening a lot.

This article was expanded upon in a blog over at EZlocal.com. Bottom line as easy as it is to post multiple reviews, it is just as easy to spot the fake ones.

In a recent article I addressed that external controls cannot control internal behaviors when it comes to ethics. Unethical behavior is a direct result of internal beliefs and this case that belief is “it is Okay to submit potentially fraudulent reviews.”

What continues to surprise me is that companies fail to understand the Internet allows smart people (think educated potential customers) to check up on what businesses are doing. Through search engines such as Google to specific sites, someone can research your company and even you as a professional business individual.

So if you are looking for reviews through referral marketing, then make sure such requests are in alignment with your core values statement within your strategic action plan. In this way, you will be the Red Jacket and seen first for your values.

P.S. In a future posting on April 30, I will address what I call the #5 Marketing Axiom – Ignorance is not allowed.

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Social Media & Customer Service – The Disconnect Continues

Social media sites and customer service are being monitored by retail businesses.  Customer complaints to comments are being monitored according to a report released by Forrester. One of the interesting customer service facts was the continued disconnect between customer support and actual customer strategy. In other words, there is a belief that meeting customers’ needs is very important, but the actual execution of that belief continues to face critical challenges.

To meet this challenge, about 1 out of 4 retailers will be offering interactive chat (think Word Press 2.0). Social media sites will take an even greater presence in these marketing action plans.

What this means for any business is understanding the impact of the Internet and how your site must truly be user friendly as well as found on the web. When your website turns people off after you send them there, you are only widening that gaps between brand marketing, execution and customer loyalty.

Unfortunately, many small business owners have ineffective web sites in spite of paying hundreds to thousands of dollars for search engine friendly sites. Today it is critical for small business owners to sales professionals to understand some Internet basics specific to search engine optimization (SEO) as well as how to write better marketing copy before they make the jump into social media as they expand their branding further and further into cyberspace.

Then within the customer loyalty plan, specific goals will probably need to be written as to how to monitor what is being said about your business on the web through social media and other interactive web sites.  Today being ahead of the flow is necessary especially if you wish to thrive in the years to come.

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Marketing Today Is Much Like 2,500 Years Ago

Social media expert Joel Comm recently sent an email that revealed some significant facts:

  • 1.8 Billion people text every single day (I am not one of them.)
  • 95% of all text messages are read in 15 minutes
  • 17% of all text message are forwarded virally
  • 20% of people respond to text messages
  • 1/3 of human kind has mobile internet access

What these figures indicate is that marketing today is far different than yesterday as how quickly messages are received. Yet, having a compelling marketing message that will go viral is the same today as it was 5, 10 or even 2,500 years ago.

I realized this when I learned of this quote from the Old Testament.

Habakkuk 2:2 – “Write the vision. Make it clear on tablets so that anyone can read it quickly.”

Yes, mobility in marketing appears to be moving at what appears to be the speed of light.  Yet unless you understand how to market your products and services through your <a href=”http://www.processspecialist.com/business-growth-action-plan.htm”>marketing action plan</a>, when to market them and how to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, your actions will just be very expensive activities.

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