Posts Tagged ‘marketing message’

Is your Facebook Advertising plan part of a bigger plan?

November 9, 2016

Digital advertising is getting a lot of attention and is generating a lot of buzz. For many small to mid-sized businesses, the risk is chasing the latest shiny object, the newest silver bullet. Keep in mind advertising is a marketing tactic. To clear through the noise, stay focused on your objectives and then evaluate if the tactics (e.g., digital advertising) will attain the objectives as effectively and cost efficiently as other alternatives. There are many aspects of digital advertising – PPC, Facebook Advertising, geofencing and the list goes on. One’s head could be spinning trying to evaluate what makes sense for your business. This blog highlights Facebook Advertising and how it is integrated into the overall marketing strategy to achieve both awareness and leads for a FMM client. The intent of the below is to highlight the importance of integration and coordination. Ultimately that is critical to effective and efficient planning and execution.

Assumptions before you read any further:

You have carefully reviewed all marketing tactics to achieve your defined objectives and have affirmed that money spent on Facebook advertising makes sense.

random-puzzle-pieces-dreamstime_xs_12493544

Integrating Facebook Advertising into your Marketing Plan: Review your marketing efforts – are they tightly integrated or is each effort (e.g., website content, banners and promos on your website, email marketing to drive leads, and Facebook advertising) a separate, disjointed effort like pieces from multiple puzzles? Are the messages cohesive? Do all the graphics support a consistent and cohesive brand? Think of your marketing plan including digital advertising as building one puzzle, not a bunch of random, puzzle pieces (e.g., tactics).

To help you integrate digital advertising into your plan, review the below simplified (yes this is simplified!) flow chart of 4 tightly integrated marketing work streams for one of FMM’s clients. Each month once the promotions have been confirmed with sales management, 4 tightly integrated work streams are kicked off. For this client, sequencing and timing is critical to have all elements orchestrated and live as promotion time periods are generally short (generally ~21 days ).

facebook-advertising-strategy-and-process

The 4 integrated work streams are:

  1. Email marketing with A/B testing – driving consumer to unique landing pages added to websites.
  2. Research – specifically competitive research and demographic profile building to support ad campaign building and website content.
  3. Website content – click throughs from email marketing campaigns go to unique landing pages; Facebook ads link to unique landing pages for additional details of specials. Pages include calls to action, competitive research to assist consumer in decision-making with all pages using Google Analytics for reporting and analysis by campaign.
  4. Facebook Advertising campaigns – multiple campaigns are developed for targeted audiences leveraging competitive research and demographic profiles to create a Facebook custom audience. Each campaign has unique ads linking to custom website landing pages. Each Facebook ad also includes a tracking URL, for accurate measurement of response using Google Analytics.

Your business may not be as time sensitive. For us, the tight orchestration is critical to not miss market opportunities and reach our ideal target audience through 2 primary marketing strategies: targeted email marketing and Facebook advertising allowing us to reach a distinct target audience with the same promotions.

Even if your business is not as time constrained, some things don’t change by incorporating digital advertising into the marketing mix. The same fundamentals apply that have always applied in effective marketing:  get the right offer out to the right audience.  Make sure the pieces fit together.  completed-puzzle-dreamstime_xs_70193339

Are you delivering at all stages?

August 17, 2016

Each consumer or client transaction has multiple stages. How is your company doing on delivering at every stage to attract, convert and serve your customers so they are champions for your business?

Below is an overview of a personal experience as a consumer that spanned several months from initial research to purchase to ‘using’ the product purchased. I hope this helps you review your key stages and address gaps that may be adversely affecting the total experience. This company did a great job from start to finish.

Stage 1. Looking to fill a need 

I was the consumer looking for a father’s day gift. Not the typical gift, but something that really was fun, unique and special. Not a gift for my own dad, but for my husband, the great father of our two kids.

I don’t have much time to shop. So I took a little bit of time online to search for ideas and see if anything struck me as a cool gift. I did all my shopping online relying on offers already in my inbox (opt ins) as well as solid SEO tagging as I did various online searches to help find ideas.  As is usually the case, I was in a bit of a time crunch to find something. I was ready to buy and now just needed to find the right thing.

Stage 2. Evaluating the offers.

My husband likes cars. I searched for an experience where he could drive a cool sports car on a race track. I came across some options, but several offers weren’t good enough – they only allowed the person to be a passenger, not to actually drive the car. I dismissed these and kept looking.  I quickly reviewed different options, striking off options as I learned more. Specific factors that affected my decision in addition to driving included location (needed to be in the general vicinity) and the vehicles needed to be cool, quality vehicles. He is a car snob.

Stage 3. The purchase.

I found exactly what I was looking for with Xtreme Experience. The experience included the option to drive the vehicle and they had many cool vehicles to choose from – Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari. The website was informative and the selection options were very clear and easy to choose. They also had brilliantly ‘packaged’ their offer for Father’s Day and had multiple packages from which to choose. The available dates at two different race tracks made scheduling easy and they wisely offered add-ons for their profits and for the consumer’s enjoyment. red lamborghini

My toughest decision was which vehicle to choose as there were so many and I am not a car snob.  I relied on my 19-year olds son’s insight to confirm my choice of the Ferrari 458 Italia. That was my first inclination as my research showed this vehicle seemed in high demand by the time slots so I figured it was a top choice. I made my choices and paid for the experience and printed out the information. After buying a small red sports car Match Box at Target, I had a prop for the father’s day gift.

Stage 4. The full package

I applaud Xtreme Experience in thinking through and delivering on the full package – from providing information easily on its website, developing unique offers with options, sending clear and thorough confirmation emails, providing periodic communication prior to the actual experience (well-timed and not too frequent) and last-minute communications offering other time alternatives due to the risk of storms on the day of the experience. They had detailed the key points affecting a buyer’s experience and had done a great job all the way through to anticipate questions and deliver on the promised experience.

Stage 5. The experience itself.

Two months after the initial on-line research and on-line purchase, Drive Day arrived.  I had not spoken to anyone from this organization. Up until today, everything had been done via their website. This past Sunday we drove to Palmer, MA (we saw parts of MA that we have never seen before) and spent 2+ hours in the car each way to check out Xtreme Experience and see if it would live up to expectations.

My checklist as the passenger and the consumer:

  • Signage:  great; very easy to know where to go.
  • Check-in: very easy; friendly staff; no hassle despite all the forms and waivers to sign including for those of us just watching from the Pit!
  • Amenities: Free cold bottled water provided for all including spectators (perfect as it was 95+ degrees)
  • Organization: very organized; we purchased a time slot; they had the timeframes down pat; everything worked like clockwork.Ferrari 458 Italia sign

In the training, they effectively cross sold my husband to encourage him to be a passenger in the lead car prior to his driving experience so he could see the track and all the 14 or so turns. He agreed (so the company had yet another offer that made sense and that he really enjoyed) and took off first with a seemingly professional driver who gave him a big thrill with his driving prowess.

Then he got his chance to drive and loved it. They delivered on all promises of the offer I had paid for and expected including the T-shirt and video of his actual drive. The vehicle was exactly as marketed and the day went off without a hitch.ferrari car

Two suggestions for Xtreme Experience

  1. Activities – it is a long time waiting as a friend/family member of the driver. It was nice to have a small umbrella and chairs but it would be great to have activities that those of us waiting around could do. Something as simple as a few  corn hole games, food to buy other than out of a machine, mini races with remote control cars…
  2. Survey after the experience. Get feedback. You do a great job but the one stage that I have not experienced is the final loop of sending me a survey as the buyer and asking for the email of the gift recipient to also get their direct feedback.

Great job Xtreme Experience.  Your brand reflects what you deliver and you have done a great job understanding and delivering during every stage of the consumer experience.  Well done!

 

 

Choose your words carefully

May 27, 2016

chess move strategy

One of my favorite parts of marketing is developing the brand through the careful selection of words.  I am a nerd. I readily admit that and am totally comfortable with that label.

This past month has been great spending strategic time on words. We made considerable progress for one of our clients in further development of the company’s messaging, positioning and terminology. In the past month we announced a new product and all the various efforts of preparing for that launch led to pages of notes, questions, and points of clarification. Additionally, and true for any small, rapidly growing company, the message naturally evolves over time. Two of us on the For Marketing Matters team led the charge to document standards to solidify and clarify positioning, messaging and word choice. Over the course of two meetings with the CEO we honed in on specific word selection to discuss, confirm and document standards including examples and explanations for the word selection. This document is a tremendous resource for our marketing team, but also for the company as a whole. The sessions with the CEO resulted in further clarity and alignment to the point the CEO requested the asset be included in the board package for this week’s meeting.

Why words matter (and how you could benefit from this same effort):

  1. Alignment.  How aligned is your team? For this client, the management team is geographically dispersed across the globe working at a rapid pace. This poses a real challenge for broader, strategic discussions to occur across the management team on a regular basis. We literally kept a running list of inconsistencies and questions to bring the challenge to light while developing press releases, sales tool kit materials, web content, technical specifications and sales presentations. As engineering was finalizing the product, operations was selecting final exterior finishes and sales was building the pipeline and the risks of mixed messages was high. Everyone had the right intent, but it felt like herding cats.
  2. Ownership. Words should not be casually selected with little to no grasp of the implication it can have. Example.  I was on a call reviewing a PowerPoint presentation and an idea was casually raised wondering if we should edit a bullet n the PowerPoint to describe the product as a “smart device”. I literally almost dropped the phone. Huh? This is not a casual edit to then move onto the next bullet. This type of descriptor needs to be thought through in terms of the implications to the product positioning and to the market and target buyers. If you are a CEO, ownership of messaging and the resulting choice of words needs to be made clear – this is not to be casually edited by anyone in the organization to decide they want to jump on the bandwagon of ‘smart devices’ or ‘Made in the USA’.
  3. Clarity. Literally don’t leave it up to chance. Don’t assume other employees are on the same page. Get it in writing and then distribute it – especially valuable if key personnel are geographically dispersed and don’t have the benefit of being in the same office, picking up important tidbits throughout the day.
  4. Scale. Just like the old telephone game played at many a sleepover as a kid, the message gets distorted with every person added to the chain. If scaling your organization is a priority to achieve your growth goals, don’t ignore the critical role that words have in enabling your company to scale. Capture the words you want employees to use; capture the words you want customers/clients/prospects to hear and understand. Use this asset as part of your on boarding plan.

focus definition in dictionary

 

Some tips to help you build, expand and manage this asset:

Ground rules:

First, it is important to recognize and embrace that this asset is never done.  It is a working document and marketing should own it. If you don’t have senior marketing expertise on your team, you need to. They don’t need to be fulltime, but you still need the expertise.

Second, this is not distributed for review and comment!  The danger of everyone in the company feeling they have a voice in weighing in on word choice is not realistic nor recommended. Marketing owns messaging. Marketing is not part of everyone’s job description. Working closely with the CEO is critical, but the reality is that others in the organization are most likely not well-suited for the nuances of word choice and let’s face it we all have our view of the world (remember those old posters where Boston would dominate the Globe, or New York etc.?)

What to include in establishing messaging, positioning and terminology standards:

Messaging – should include company-level and product level. Include the elevator pitch.

Terminology – document the terminology that is critical to your value proposition. Use examples of how the terms are to be used and what terms should never be used.  Example – for this client, the product is NEVER referenced as a ‘device’.  If this makes your head hurt, secure the right expertise to facilitate this investment – it will deliver a ROI if implemented correctly across the organization. No doubt.

Trademarks and registered trademarks – from a branding perspective, develop standards of how TM and R will be used. Again, consistency and clarity builds the brand. Don’t leave this to others in the organization to know how to handle. Document it and distribute across the organization.

Let’s face it most small, entrepreneurial companies don’t have a lot of overhead. They are nimble organizations. Many have not secured an outsourced marketing department like For Marketing Matters to develop and manage such assets to enable scaling of the brand and the organization. The reality is we can’t review every manual, document, proposal, client report that goes out the door for this client. We can build standards and manage the brand as part of the team and ultimately serve as the internal police to protect the brand.

So what words matter for your company?

As CEO, do you cringe when a team member uses a certain word that you never want used? Do you have a visceral reaction when a client is referred to as a customer or serving a customer is described as ‘dealing with the customer’? If your word choice is not clear internally, how can you possibly be well-understood by the market?

Watch this great Inc. video of how Dermalogica focused on words to build their brand.

The nerd in me celebrates the progress made in establishing standards in terminology this past month.  It feels great and paves the way for scale, efficiency, clarity and consistency.  The ROI is unquestionable.

 

 

 

Are you on target?

February 6, 2016

Target-Audience

Know your audience.  Marketing 101 stuff, right?

So, when was the last time you reviewed your documented ideal target audience? If your answer is vague and reminds you of how you answer the dental hygienist when asked about flossing, it’s time to review it.

Why should you bother?

  1. Are you hiring this year? If so, a current ideal target audience will help shorten a new sales person’s learning curve. Time is money.
  2. Are you evaluating events to speak at or attend? Your marketing team will be more effective in evaluating the right events to prioritize where the investment is spent if they can efficiently evaluate the event attendees against your ideal target audience.
  3. Messaging. Basic, I know, but really important to make sure your marketing message is revised and refined to speak to the ideal target audience.
  4. Media. Is PR part of your marketing strategy for awareness and credibility? If so, a documented target audience will help your marketing team or your PR agency fine-tune their media list and prioritize the media to target for coverage.
  5. Social media. Directly linked to messaging, but too many companies waste time with an unfocused social media effort. Groups (e.g., LinkedIn)can be a very effective way to dramatically increase awareness and credibility but you need to know who you want to reach for the social media specialists to develop the right content, hash tags and engage with the right groups to attain ROI.
  6. Alignment. This probably should be #1 on the list as having an ideal target audience in someone’s head does not scale. At a minimum sales and marketing (hopefully not the same group nor the same people!) work together to develop the ideal target audience and then revisit and refine with feedback from sales on a periodic basis.

This week we worked with one client to updated their ideal target audience. It had been a year.  It was great to see the progress in how much more we (marketing and sales) know about our ideal target audience in 12 months! The clarity of the refined target audience is already making an impact as we just today passed on an event given the target audience was not aligned with our priorities (time and money savings).  With new sales folks joining the company, this is a great way to help them prioritize their contacts in their iPhones/Rolodexes to help them get started with a targeted sales plan for their territory.

If you have never documented your ideal customer/client, do that first.  In no particular order, write down everything that makes your ideal client ideal. Then convert that list of characteristics (include key parameters including but not limited to geography (if relevant), industry, company type, size, attitude/outlook, needs, title/role) into your first documented ideal target audience. At least annually, review it. I bet you will be amazed at what you learn and how it helps you and your business.  After all, having an ideal target audience is fundamental to building a business on a solid marketing foundation.

 

Know when to walk away, know when to run!

November 14, 2014

I am not one to quote Kenny Rogers frequently, but boy does this line capture it for me.  Not all business is good business.  Not all revenue is worth it.  We all learn the hard way and with hindsight being 20/20, we commonly look back and think – should have walked away.  So what does this have to do with marketing?

Everything!

A solid business has to start with a solid foundation.  For Marketing Matters has 13 essential elements to be on solid ground and the first two are:

#1.  Define your value proposition.

#2.  Develop your target profile.

If you have completed #2 and I mean documented as clearly as you can EXACTLY who you want to be selling to and working with, then you are in MUCH better shape to assess prospects and decide whether the opportunity is a good match for you and your business.  Congratulations if you have this in place.  Most small and medium-sized businesses skip this step.  Responses include:  Oh, we know that.  Sure, we have done that…. so, I ask them for a copy.  Uh, Oh, it is in our heads.  We don’t have to write it down.

I have a documented target profile and I ignored it.  I was introduced to a business owner, referred by another business owner that I have a lot of respect for and admire.  As a potential source for referrals, I wanted to help his client out and show what FMM can do.

As a marketer, I ignored my target profile, my notes from my initial meeting and my gut. Complete idiot. This business owner did not fit my profile at all.  He is a classic dabbler:  not interested in strategy, just marketing tactics.  His priority was getting an email blast out the door.  He was looking for a silver bullet and I took the bait.  I should have RUN.

Of course, the project (note to self – my business model is NOT to engage in projects, but to earn serving as the outsourced marketing department) had a tight timeframe and details were sketchy.  Again, RUN.  Just this once I will deviate from my core business strategy.  I was referred and I want to deliver.  I left the initial meeting with such clarity of how we could help his business have a clearer, stronger go-to-market plan.  So, I respond with “Sure, we can start with a project.”  In my mind I would still develop some of the core marketing foundational work that he really needed as part of the project and, of course, he will see the benefit.  In my mind, I will help him and it will be all ok.  Doh!  So not true.

To avoid reliving a nightmare of a project, this blog is focused on how you can learn from my stupidity.

Document your target audience.  Don’t skip this step.  This is NOT simply a title and industry.  Dig into the details of what are they like, what is important to you about this company and this individual. My ideal client is MARK.  Not because he is a man, but because he or she wants to make a Mark in this world – they are passionate about what they do and they invest in their business.  They are not dabblers.  They are not do-it-yourselfers.  They are smart, passionate, focused, driven and committed to growing their business.  To do so, they surround themselves with professionals to have the expertise and insight that they need and value.  They are optimists (working with pessimists is a drag for me). They know what they don’t know and they are not nickel and dimers.  I am their partner, not a vendor. They get ‘it’ and they appreciate accountability, hard work, insight and they value results.  They value having a plan to stay on course, but are open to evaluating what is working and what is not.

Once you have this type of target profile clearly defined, convert it into questions to evaluate prospective clients!  Once you have the profile and the associated questions to evaluate prospects, use it.  Be consistent.  I ignored my notes.  Not because I wanted to work with the business owner and his business, but because I wanted to deliver on the referral.  Stupid.

Then leverage your written target profile to help you and others in your company consistently and clearly evaluate prospective business.  Not all business is good business.  Not all revenue is worth it.  Not only will it help you RUN AWAY from potential clients that are not a good fit, it will help you scale your business to have more business development folks evaluating potential business in the same way. Make it part of your sales process.

If you don’t have a target profile developed, get this done.  In the meantime go with your gut.  I know a great marketing company that can help you grow…but you’ll have to fit the ideal target profile!

 

Can your brand make this impact?

September 3, 2014

I am in awe of the Market Basket brand and the impact this brand has had on so many lives, especially in the past several months.  I boycotted the store and closely watched the events unfurl.  There was rarely an interaction over these past weeks that did not include a reference to the Market Basket saga.

This past weekend I went back.  I debated as time was tight (isn’t it always?) and I have no patience for making two stops to get what I need.  I decided I would give Market Basket a chance and see how if they had any produce and dairy.  Wow!  I was wow’d.  I am a consumer who is not easily wow’d, but I was smiling as I approached the doors.  Signs in the windows  – “Thank you” and “Welcome Home” – really nice choosing home over back.  The friendly voice over the intercom reinforced the welcome and more kind words of thanks.  Employees had smiles; you could feel the positive vibe.  The bakery team was handing out free snacks (note to my trainer – I DID not take any).  I started shopping in produce and was not just surprised, but amazed at the full bins and all the fresh produce.  It was Sunday of a long weekend.  Truckers, warehouse teams and the store staff were busting their butts to get this store back to normal.  As I shopped, a man spoke to me and shared his excitement for the store being back, for being able to shop again at a store he loved and commenting on how the produce was back.  There really was an energy and an excitement that was heartwarming.  It is not uncommon for me to speak to people I don’t know (ask my kids), but chatting with the shopper near you seemed normal, healthy and part of the process we had all been through as collective Market Basket shoppers.  I was having fun, actually enjoying this.  Reminder, this is grocery shopping people!  One of the most mundane weekly chores on my list.  How the heck has Market Basket turned grocery shopping into an experience?

The marketer in me can’t help myself.  This brand is amazing!  People walked off their jobs to support Artie T.  They risked the stability of their lives – their jobs and their income to support their leader.  They love the brand – the store, the family atmosphere and what they stand for.  They organized shopping carts in the parking lot to form his initials.  Local establishments delivered pizza to the workers.  We as customers boycotted the stores and went elsewhere to pay more and get less. Local farmers lost business.  People on fixed incomes suffered. People on bus routes suffered. Then the news broke that a deal had been reached and Artie T was back.  There was palpable excitement, relief and joy.  Full page ads in the Boston Globe including suppliers welcoming Market Basket back.  Reminder, this is a grocery store chain. AMAZING.

So what is it?  As I say to my clients, what is the secret sauce? This is more than JUST low prices.  There are plenty of discount, low price companies that have never attained this brand status.  There is not this level of affinity, brand equity, love, and loyalty attributed to a brand like this and certainly not in this same category.  This is uncommon, unique and yes, remarkable.  A neighbor of mine was self-described as being ‘sad’ over the risk of Market Basket going away.  Another friend expressed concern – what if they sell to Hannaford? It was MORE than just the low prices.  It was the secret sauce.

My grocery shopping over Labor Day weekend was an experience.  Managers stocking shelves, smiling and thanking you.  Helping me try to find an item on my list and then sincerely apologizing to me because they did not yet have it n stock.  I smiled and said “No problem at all.  I am glad you guys are back and I completely understand.”   People were so nice, so warm and friendly.  In a sea of mostly strangers, there was a sense of belonging, of being one, of the power of standing for something that is good. I can’t pinpoint all the ingredients of this secret sauce, but I am in awe.  I train client’s employees on the brand and on the message.  I am in awe of this number of employees being in sync, being on message and clearly and consistently representing the brand.  As the cashier said to me as we chatted during checkout, ‘we look forward to the movie’ and with her big wide smile thanked me for coming back.  That is a movie I will see.  I also look forward to reading the business case as clearly this is one story we can all continue to learn from.

 

Can you be reliable?

July 21, 2014

Do you know what your customers want from your business?  This company does.

We are in a ‘this old house’ phase where every major item seems to be breaking, decaying or rotting.  The most recent replacement expense was the fence.  The original, came-with-the-house, white picket fence was long overdue to be replaced.  It was staying up on a prayer.  Fast forward from the quote phase to the installation phase and what does Reliable Fence have?  A very happy customer who wants to share their experience with the world.  Contractors have a reputation for being horrible about follow up and follow through.  When I have an experience that ‘wows’ I need to share.

reliable fence

So, why am I blogging about Reliable Fence?  Frankly, as a marketer, I am not impressed with many businesses.  Their brand is weak, their logo is not legible, there is no thought on color scheme, their customer service is lousy, their phone systems is equivalent to voice mail hell…the list goes on and on.  So many business owners don’t get “it” , they dabble, they cut corners and ultimately they leave a bad impression.  I am impressed when a firm gets it and I feel part of my marketing evangelist role in life is to spread the good news of companies that I recommend because they do the important things well.

Reliable Fence is my latest example.  First reason:  Marketing 101.  They put a sign up in our yard prior to doing the work to market their business to all runners, walkers and neighbors.  Smart.  Yep, basic, but smart.  Do you know how many companies assume our little cul de sac is not worth putting up a sign?  Silly assumption.  They should see how many people walk and run and bike and our homes are all the same age so HELLO?  They likely will need your service too!  Ok…back to Reliable Fence.

Second reason for a shout out to Reliable Fence.  Material delivery phase.  Pretty basic stuff, right? What could go wrong at this simple stage?  Well, let’s see, have you ever had a business unload something right in front of one of your garage doors for days?  Or directly on the lawn to kill the lawn or in a flower bed?  Not with this company.  The lead guy came to the door, introduced himself (basic, but often does not happen), remembered my name, reviewed the job with me and asked great clarifying questions.  He was friendly, professional, and focused.  He confirmed where he could leave all the materials and confirmed the timing of the job and their expected duration.  He and his partner unloaded all the materials and I could immediately tell they were organized by area and out of the way from causing any harm or hassle.  Nice.

Third reason for shout out to Reliable Fence:  They were neat and thorough.  They used our garden hose to wash off the fence sections as they got them done.  At the end of the day, they put the hose back where they found it.  They picked up all their trash as they worked.  Yes, really.

Final reason for shout out to Reliable Fence:  they worked really hard and never complained.  They had to move 4 granite posts into place and there was no close access for them to drive the posts to the needed location.  These posts were heavy (so I am told!).  My husband came up with a solution using our lawn tractor and a neighbor’s tractor trailer to save their backs.  They were so appreciative!  This work was hard and it was hot.  It was Friday afternoon in the summer and they were grinding it out.  They could have cut out on a Friday and said they would be back on Monday to finish the job. (sound familiar?)  Nope, they stayed until after 7pm on a Friday night and the two guys lived in Western MA – they had a long drive ahead of them and never complained.  They did not cut any corners to start their weekend.  Instead they reviewed the finished work with me, patiently reviewing the gates and keys and never indicating that they needed to get out of Dodge and start the weekend.

Have I mentioned the fence?  No, because at the end of the day my expectations were that the fence would be what we had contracted for.  The fence is their product, but the reality is HOW they did the job was more important to me than the baseline expectation of having a new fence installed that would be properly installed to last for years and look good.

Marketing Message for today:  learn from Reliable Fence.  I expected their fence to be reliable.  That was not the ‘wow’ factor.  I was pleasantly surprised with the professionalism of the team and the manner in how they conduct business.  Kudos to you, Reliable Fence.  I can see why you have been in business for over 50 years.  May others learn from you how to deliver on what is most important to their customer vs. delivering just what was contracted for.  Thanks for great service and a great fence.

 

When Packaging is Not Enough

July 8, 2014

These days, more and more people are carefully reading product packaging,  Packaging can be a powerful marketing tool to speak to your target audience.  I admit this is not my area of expertise as I primarily focus on B to B marketing and thrive on marketing services and complex products. But as a consumer, I value and appreciate the importance of packaging and that is why I am compelled to write about such an odd topic that could get downright dirty and nasty quickly.

Reading the packaging

Now, are you curious?!

I have been buying the same brand of toilet paper for years.  Remember the ads:  “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin”?!  I was sold on this brand and like many things in my life as a consumer, I am a loyal customer.  It makes decision-making easy and certainly makes grocery shopping as efficient as I can be.  If I like a brand, I stick with it.  Perhaps I would buy Cottonelle once in a while, but any good analyst would quickly realize that softness was a key feature of the brand that I purchased in this product category.

Not anymore.  I am done with Charmin.  Good bye Cottonelle.  Why you may ask?  Because, during a Sunday night service call, a drain guy digging up our front yard to solve a septic tank issue informed us that Charmin is bad. We should be using Scott!  Huh?  I had no idea.

The marketer in me immediately thought of why has this message not reached me and other folks living with a septic system?  We have lived in this home and been on septic for 14 years and I never knew this was a product differentiator?  Where have I been?  So, today, I went to the grocery store in between meetings and honestly, went down the toilet paper aisle with a curiosity that is not only weird, but very marketing-nerdy as I could not wait to see if the packaging of Scott toilet paper included messaging about its unique features.  Sure enough – a ‘septic safe’ message right on the package!

But, hold on! Marketers that messaging on the package is not enough!  Until today, I NEVER looked at the Scott’s packaging before because I do not look at ANY other brand of toilet paper in the whole aisle. The small ‘septic safe’ would have gone totally un-noticed as I went down this aisle with blinders on. Unless I had seen an ad or read an article about its benefits of being ‘septic safe’, I never would have known until this tatted guy casually solved our issue by telling us what I wish I had known 14 years ago – buy Scott.

Since Sunday evening, my mind has been thinking about all kinds of ways this message could be better shared to target home owners using septic, but I need to move on to focus on my clients and their needs.  However, there is a marketing lesson here and I am noodling it around in my head to remind myself of the broader opportunity this story highlights:  as marketers we have to think how best to reach our ideal target audience and convey the unique differentiators of our products and services in a way that matters to them and in a way that actually reaches them.  In this case, the packaging appears to be reinforcing a benefit to consumers already buying the product.  Without knowing for sure, I expect this product category has a fairly high brand loyalty.

Thanks Drain Man for informing me and saving me from future annoying and potentially expensive septic issues.  He is an influencer in my purchasing behavior and this loyal customer has switched brands to the one he recommended.

As I conclude, I have to say I am surprised to write such a blog and not even have one potty talk reference. Is that called maturity? Great Scott!

 

B to B Marketing: Is your company building a Dream List?

April 13, 2014

Scenario: You are CEO of a B to B business. Your goal is growth (sales and profitability). Your growth strategy is expand existing clients and attract new ones. You need to expand awareness of your products/services in a cost-effective way.

Marketing works the top of the funnel, building the message, creating the awareness and opening doors for sales to then qualify, build relationships, propose solutions and close the deal. A critical asset that a B to B company needs to effectively go to market is a Dream List.

What is a Dream List?
– it is an asset of all company contacts – clients, prospects, suspects, referral sources, partners, competitors.
– it is CRITICAL to organize this information in a useful manner.
– it may be as simple as establishing an Excel spreadsheet or may be part of your company’s ERP software – often referred to as the CRM module. You may use salesforce.com; honestly the actual software is less critical than having an asset that is carefully organized, built and maintained.

A Dream List - A critical element for a strong Marketing Foundation

A Dream List – A critical element for a strong Marketing Foundation

If you don’t have a company asset (aka A Dream List) that represents a usable list that marketing can use to target and prioritize messages to fuel your growth, you are going to struggle with achieving your growth goals. You also run the risk of renting lists and driving costs to acquire new clients. Build an asset that marketing AND sales continue to add to. Over the past 3 years, we built a Dream List for one client from scratch – starting first with consolidating their known contacts. We started with ~400 B to B contacts and have grown that to over 6,000 contacts that is our source for our ongoing marketing efforts. When this client installs their new ERP system this July, we will simply map the fields of our Dream List Excel file to load all this knowledge and all this work to be housed as a central asset.

I am looking forward to the fruits of our labor appearing in pipeline reports where the pipeline can then be sorted by industry, by client type, by source code and by many other fields enabling us as marketers to see the impact we have made on the bottom line and by continuing to build the Dream List adding new contacts daily that come in from our marketing efforts that generate phone and email and web leads. A closed loop marketing effort is a beautiful thing, but a critical marketing foundational element is that unglamorous Dream List that we started building years ago.

By the way, you may wonder why I call it “A Dream List”? Like the Dream Team is your go-to A players, the Dream List is the go-to list for your marketing efforts. It should be your source, your “system of record” of your client base, a centralized repository of your prospects and contacts you have built over the years. Start building.

This is not a good sign

March 23, 2014
The importance of alignment

The importance of alignment

Is this an accurate image of how your marketing and sales groups operate? Each headed in their own direction? If so, you as the CEO have a fundamental problem and it is not just an internal issue.

Alignment is required. I use this term “alignment” consistently when working with my clients. For all of my clients a marketing plan is in place. As we make measurable progress building awareness and generating leads, the client conversation naturally leads to the importance of alignment with sales. What specifically do I mean by alignment? Visually it would mean moving the sales sign in the above image so it is right under marketing and headed in the same direction. The direction is defined by the company strategy and priorities.

1. Why under marketing? Simply, marketing builds the top of the funnel through its efforts focused on building the brand awareness, generating leads for sales to then nurture and close. Sales leverages the marketing message to retain clients, expand business and handle leads from marketing to convert to clients.
2. Why in the same direction? Honestly, this seems like it should be obvious. Do you want marketing focused on acquiring new clients through lead generation efforts yet sales is only focused on expanding existing clients so there is no appetite or bandwidth to work the leads that marketing is bringing in? The two groups need to be aligned to the priorities of your company. I have clients that struggle with the ‘alignment’ word. Some clients prefer ‘partnership’, but to have a partnership you first need to be aligned.

Alignment is key. Alignment between marketing and sales MUST include the following:
Strategy. Make sure you have alignment at the strategic level. In other words, if your growth strategy for 2014 is based on acquiring new clients while retaining existing and expanding within existing, there is a direct implication to the role that marketing will play to reach BOTH existing clients and new and that naturally affects the sales organization and how it develops its sales plan for the year.
Goals. The goals for both marketing and sales need to support the strategy. These should be measurable and tracked consistently for both groups.
Incentives. Many companies only have a sales incentive plan. Why don’t you have an upside for marketing that is ‘aligned’ with the behavior you need that is also then aligned with sales? Make sure you are not equating aligned with the incentives being the same! Marketing should have incentives tied to the top of the funnel while sales should have incentives tied to the middle and bottom of the funnel.
Priorities. As CEO are you confident that the quarterly and monthly priorities within marketing and sales are in alignment? Are they pulling in the same direction or working against themselves?

The reality is that all your functions need to be aligned, working like a well-oiled machine. I am focused on marketing and sales because there is SO MUCH opportunity for companies to grow by getting these signs aligned and headed in the same direction. The upside is HUGE.

How will you as a CEO or President get the signs headed in the same direction starting in Q2?</strong>

At the risk of thinking about this as an organizational exercise, keep in mind the real negative impact of having these two groups not in sync is felt by your clients and prospects. They are the ones getting mixed messages. That should be enough reason to work on this intersection and make it a priority.