Marketing: How to Reach Buyers

If you are in the B2B market, you might find this video helpful.  I think they do a great job of communicating how technology enables marketers to focus on establishing an engaging relationship with prospects.  I’m not an expert on lead nurturing programs, but the strategy is solid.

http://blip.tv/file/1757774/

In the Know: B-corporations

We all know that in the Thunderdome battle of business vs. non-profit, business wins. There is only one problem, the battles in which non-profits fights are not those that interest many business people!

It makes sense. As we become skilled, we build momentum in our industry or with our role. The momentum energises us. We make more money, get promotions, and the process continues. It is a big piece of the American dream as my generation sees it today.

The question is whether or not an organization will ever make it easy for us professionals to leverage our skills and get involved in the simple social issues that could easily be tackled with the talent stored in the ever-so-talented corporate America. Whew, that is a lot of sentence so I’ll break it down.

Will a company step into the fray and make it easy for professionals to volunteer? Specifically, will an organisation ever be able to make it SUPER EASY for talented professionals to step up and get involved?

Well, for you doubters out there, several interesting ventures are pushing the ball forward in some interesting ways. If you haven’t heard of them, check them out today.

B-Corporation [http://www.bcorporation.net/]

GOOD Magazine [http://www.good.is/]

Project Management: Daptiv vs. @Task

I just recently compared two excellent project management on-demand software applications.  Each has its benefit but if you need a simple but powerful solution that’s going to keep your costs low, go with @task.  With that said, if you have a healthy budget and need only a few dozen seats, your best bet will be Daptiv.

Marketing: Don’t stop promoting your business, failure is waiting

Look, over 500,000 businesses failed during the last recession. The ones that went first were the ostriches that wouldn’t cut costs. After these bloated companies fell, where do you think their customers went? You guessed it. Some competitor won these customers over with a compelling product or service.

What’s next?
Find a cost-effective channel that works and start promoting the hell out of your products and services. When your competitors fail, their customers are going to call the next company they think about. That company had better be you.

The pitch is CRITICAL – “We help our customers _________”
Put yourself in your customer’ shoes. Survey some of them and find out why they still plan to buy from you. Turn that into your pitch.

Bake in a sense of urgency
Offer a promotion that gives people a reason to buy from you soon. Your cash-flow is critical. Don’t waste time on simply promoting your name. Get your customers to buy soon, no excuses.

Which channel?
It depends on your size and product mix. Here are a few for you to consider. Some of these are going to be standard for your business but don’t forget to take a fresh look at each channel.

  1. Phone calls
  2. Direct mail
  3. Email
  4. Search Engine Marketing
  5. Reseller/Partner
  6. Door to door
  7. Print Advertising

Need marketing help?
I’ve been doing some limited consulting for non-profits in the Seattle area. If you’d like to chat more, simply shoot me an email and I’ll help you in any way that I can.
jeanpierrehill[at]gmail.com

Take a mental health day, prepare a new strategy

Look, your business is going to face challenges because of the economy. In the last recession, over 500,000 businesses went bust. You can’t afford to stick your head in the sand or attempt to adjust to realities as they begin to confront you. You’ve got to get ahead of the challanges, and fast.

You will need a strategy
Not only will you need a new strategy, but you probably won’t come up with one that’s worth a damn without taking some time off. Think about it, you are working in quick sand. How good or game changing will the ideas you come up with be without allowing your brain to take a step back for a few days?

If you can’t step away for two days for some reason, at least spend time with the family when you get home and exercise rigorously. The point is that you are going to need to let go to allow your brain to find a fresh perspective. If you are so Type A that you can’t get your head out of work, hire a consultant to give you some ideas.

Keep it simple or your strategy, and company, will fail
Your employees are scared and the most you’ll be able to get out of them is 85% of their capacity. If your strategy requires more than this, they are going to check out, get discouraged, or not fully commit.

You are going to need to change business as usual, your employees expect this. But don’t risk your businesses success on a complex strategy. Be able to summarize it in two sentences because anything longer will sound like, “bla bla bla, risk, bla, bla, risk, bla, bla, potential failure.” Don’t double down on a complex strategy, after all, you job is probably on the line.

Reassure yourself that this change in strategy is needed, then champion the hell out of it
Google the words “leading change.” What you’ll find is over a dozen articles that explain one thing, it’s hard. The most important point is that you must reassure yourself that a new strategy is needed.

Take input from everyehwere
You may not have the right strategy at first but your people will tell you and you can work it out with them. Let’s face it, they may have a more indepth knowledge of the reality your business is facing. Listen to your sales reps and customer service folks. Get on the phone and call your top ten accounts to understand how they plan to deal wth the challanges ahead. Tell them you are considering a unique strategy to deal with the economic situation and explain it to them. If they don’t like it, take their input, make adjustment, and call them back.

Your past successes may be irrelevant
Prepare for the possibility that you may need to fundamentally change your business model to be successful. Don’t jump ship on your current model unless it is totally hopeless. To be candid, you may not have the skill set to execute a new model. Be absolutley sure your business needs more than a strategic shift before you bet the company on a new model.

Once it’s decided, put your head down and let the chips fall where they may
Don’t risk multiple change efforts. Do your due dilligence to be sure you have a solid plan then focus on execution. The reality is that you may fail regardless but don’t incurease that likelyhood by flipflopping. Building momentum is going to be as or more important than the new direction itself. Don’t risk whiping out momentum by changing mid stream unless absolutely necessary. Odds are, it is a sign that your new direction was half baked and your employees will know it.

Sales and Marketing: Are you making it easy for fans to sell your product or service?

Affiliate, partner, and reseller channels can do wonders for your business.  Unfortunately, making your product or service easy to sell can be a huge challenge.  Typically, unless the CEO understands how it works, you won’t get the resources needed to execute.

The companies below represent a list of examples.  If you know of others, shoot me an email and I’ll update this list.
  1. Google – Ever wonder how they can offer all those cool services for free?  In addition to their search advertising, Google makes lots of money by letting other companies put Google’s advertisers on their web pages.  From bloggers to social networks, companies are monetizing their traffic by letting Google do the heavy lifting.  The product is called Google Adsense and it’s one of the best example out there.
  2. Amazon – Okay, so this one is easy.  Amazon has basically reinvented online sales.  First, they allow companies to sell books through their site.  Yes, they allow used books to be sold right next to Amazon’s own new selection.  This has made Amazon the go-to site for book sellers and their customers.  Win win for Amazon and their competition.  Can you make money selling your competition’s products through you?  If not, then you had better hope one of your competitors isn’t bitten by the Amazon bug.
  3. Freshbooks – Quickbooks watch out.  The market is large and they now have an affiliate program.
  4. Shopify – E-commerce affiliate program.
  5. 37 Signals – A handful of good products and they now have an affiliate program.
  6. Upsellit – Ever wish you could offer customers an incentive to buy the items in their shopping cart before they click away?  Now you can.  Upsellit released their affiliate program to ramp up revenue without having to ramp up their sales team.
  7. MailBuild – This is a product sold to consultants to resell to clients.  It’s equipped with everything from advice on how to sell email marketing to best practices in template design.  It’s a very solid program.
There are hundreds more.  Do some research and testing to find out what will work for your product or service

Marketing: There is a lot of money waiting for you if you can get customer segmentation right

How well do you know your markets? Great, now learn more. Here is a great article that on customer segmentation.  Getting it right is close to being a black-magic-like art.  But it’s an art worth learning because you may already be half way there.