B2B Marketing

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fresh experiences on marketing topics for the B2B enterprises and more

What is the meaning of life – your company’s point of view

Every year the CEO hands down the revenue goals in the annual business plan. Everyone scrambles to make the figures, but nobody seems to take the time to think about what shaped those decisions.

First of all, you have to bear in mind that the main focus should not be deciding which strategy to adopt, but which criteria you use to select the right strategy. You start to develop those criteria, by figuring out what matters to your company and what success looks like.

Here are a few guidelines that will help you develop a set of criteria for your own business:

1. Establish what success looks like

Define as many elements as possible. What is your financial goal? What marketing strategies or tools will you need to promote your company? Do you have the right people working for you? Are the people you hired assigned to the right roles? Are their skills used properly and to the greatest advantage? Is market share more important, or maybe revenues, or client satisfaction?

If there are any changes to be made, they are welcomed before, rather than after implementing the strategy.

2. Decide what matters (in a general sense)

What is the current situation on your market? What are the new trends? Are there any preconceptions or long-held beliefs that might be holding your company back? What is the general feeling among your team members? Do they support your strategies? Were they effective in implementing the latest one?

It’s most important to keep your strategy aligned with the new status on the market, as well as the status in your own company. You have to develop a strategy that is both up to date and generally supported by your team.

3. Figure out what specifically matters to you

Now keep in mind that the main focus here is your company. And the most important asset you’ve got are the people working for you. Figure out what is important to them, and then what is important to the executive team. Do they have the same objectives? Are the interests of the people working for you aligned with the interests of your executive team?

4. Review the solid criteria

If you’ve gone through the first three steps, you’ll have about all the criteria you need to select the right strategy for your company. Here is a list of criteria you might consider:

  • Company size
  • Timeframe
  • Products portfolio
  • Region
  • Certainty
  • Affinity
  • Opportunity
  • Defense move
  • Sales model
  • Customer
  • Leverage
  • Service
  • Profitability

Elaborating the right success criteria helps you stay focused on the things that really matter for your company. You can only achieve success if you define what success is. How else will you know if you got there? Or how will you know if the place you are at is the right place for your company?

Filed under: Best Practices, General, how to, Internal Marketing, Marketing Planning, objectives, Strategy, , , , ,

Make personnel your best asset in company branding during crisis

As if people weren’t annoyed enough with the image of happy, shining employees in all TV commercials, you can see, even these days, that some companies try to display the same immaculate image, as if nothing was wrong on the labor market these days.

Even if the type of clients I’m working for aren’t very deeply affected by the global crisis, I still find a challenge in talking about means to support company growth.

There are two conflicting trends on the market right now, as far as the employees are concerned: some of them (maybe most) try to prove their skills even more than ever, while others just sit tight, waiting for the crisis to pass them by and hoping to keep their jobs no matter what.

If how to deal with the second category is pretty obvious, how do you motivate the first category to get even more involved and help sustain company brand in times of downturn?

Here are some ways to begin the process of internal brand alignment and improve employee engagement at your company.

1. Hire the best people possible

Those soft skills that fall under the heading of “emotional intelligence” (social skills, controlling your emotions, correctly sensing what others are feeling, etc.) are critical for short and long term employee success. These skills can be tough to identify in an interview but it’s worth making the extra effort.

Labor is the largest expense any business has (and most businesses right now are mostly preoccupied in cutting labor costs), but you have to pay people a living wage and create an environment where people feel valued. If you don’t do this and you manage to hire some good people, they’ll leave as soon as they’re able to.

2. Communicate even more than ever

Educate your staff about your business, your product, and your services. Educate employees on the state of the business, the goals and plans you have. Otherwise, they will not be able to give clients and prospects any kind of relevant information that they might need in order to stay/become clients.

3. Be consistent with statements and rewards

Make sure your employees really feel that what you call a company value is treated as such.  A great example is when you say things like “Teamwork is critical” and then you promote the person who can’t seem to get along with anyone. Allow employees to show other points of inconsistency, and this will help you pick up important tips on the type of image you should display in and outside the organization.

4. Help employees do their job

If one of your corporate values is excellent performance, then you need to have staff trained to perform that way.

In addition to formal training, providing top of the line equipment and supplies sends the message that the staff is important and they deserve the best tools. Your marketing efforts may attract customers, but the experience they have with your employees is what will bring them back again. It costs much less to get an existing customer to do business with you again, compared to the cost of obtaining a new customer.

Converting a project-based customer into a long time customer and then build your brand on referrals from happy customers requires dedication to provide an outstanding customer experience with every interaction. Investing in your staff is one of the best ways to help your company do just that and should be a critical part of your overall brand strategy.

Filed under: Best Practices, General, how to, Internal Marketing, Marketing Planning, Marketing Results, Marketing Tactics, Strategy, , , , , ,

How to write good marketing letters

As we kick off 2009, one thing is clear: We’re entering an entirely new era for marketers. Right now, prospects want to make every purchase a safe one. That means they’ll rely on companies or brands they know and trust. Closing sales will require a stronger emphasis on tactics that let you relate to customers one to one. And it’s never been more important to craft a set of effective letters that you can customize for individual prospects.

Writing a great letter takes a bit of time and know-how. Whether you use it to follow up a lead, close a hot prospect or introduce your products and services, a well-crafted letter will be one of your most powerful marketing tools in the new year.

These six rules will help you write letters that motivate your best prospects:

 1. Establish a measurable goal

Every good letter must be written to make something happen. Focus on that goal before you begin, and decide what your letter must contain to produce the desired result. Make reading your letter worthwhile for your prospect, and it will reward you by advancing the sales process. If you’re sending letters just to provide prospects with more information, you’re wasting your postage and opportunity to move prospects to the next level.

2. Have a strong hook

Your letter has to immediately grab the reader’s interest or it’ll be discarded as junk mail. Depending on the type of business you’re in and what you’re marketing, your hook can be a special offer or a lead communicating a unique benefit. When your letter follows a phone call, highlight the benefits your prospect desires in the first paragraph.

3. Transmit a unique message

Have you ever received letters from competing companies with virtually identical offers? Chances are you tossed them because you couldn’t tell one company from the other. Take a look at one of your old letters. If it could have been sent by any of your closest competitors, rethink your approach. The message, pricing and offers contained in your letter must be unique to your business and tie into your branding.

4. Keep the reader in mind

Imagine you were face to face with your prospect, reading your letter aloud. Would you be comfortable, or would the tone be all wrong? Your letter is a one-to-one communication with a real person. Don’t come on too strong or overpromise. Use simple, direct language, not flowery prose or impressive vocabulary. And because you won’t really be face to face with your prospect, the look of your letter alone must convey your professionalism, so double-check for errors.

 5. Write about  the customer

Great letters are –directed outward. That means they stress what “you the customer” will get and not what “we the company” provide. Highlight benefits front and center, and use the body of your letter to describe the features. Then summarize the key benefit once again, and close with a call to action that gives the prospect a reason to move to the next step in your sales process.

6. Make responding easy

No matter what type of marketing letter you’re writing, close by providing a clear and actionable next step. When a special offer has been made, your letter should make it quick and easy for the prospect to take advantage of it via phone, e-mail and postal mail. The fewer hurdles your prospect must jump, the more likely you are to close the sale.

Filed under: b2b marketing, how to, Marketing Tactics, , ,

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