Nov 282012
 

Video has fast become a must-have for content marketers. With the advent of high-speed Internet and the ready availability of tools marketers have gradually, but surely, taken to increasing the video volume of their content marketing.

Evidence of that is everywhere. Video marketing, video blogs, video brochures and video channels are not novel any longer. Video, alongside or as part of Social Media engagement, is prevalent. The increase in Internet speeds has accelerated the trend not only from the supply side, but also from the demand side… but is that statement factual? Do more ‘audience’ members watch marketing-related videos? Is this something that the audiences demands or engages in?

I was prompted to think about the subject not only because of the increase in video content, but also by a recent and credible article on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) which noted that Google ranks websites with video higher than those without. Incidentally, thank goodness this website has embedded YouTube videos. I think I should add more!

Still, my question is whether the audiences is engaged with and interested in video Content Marketing?

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 202012
 

It does not lend itself to a quick and efficient exchange, it requires thinking, preparation or imagination and is at odds with ‘soldier mentality’ and the speed of modern business.

Yet, storytelling is one of the most effective and enduring techniques to sell and market a product, service or idea.

Whether selling or marketing incorporating a story will have a sublime effect on the sales and marketing effort. People love hearing stories and often retain it better than an unthreaded pitch.

Leveraging storytelling as a technique is a good idea to start. It has a soft feeling that likely rekindles memories of one’s childhood and comfort or speaks to the narrative mind of mankind.

Nonetheless, storytelling does not exempt one from rules of sales and marketing.

  • Does the story invoke feelings and the warmness that is half the point of the technique?
  • Does the story allow for the recipient’s imagination and cognitive abilities to work and fill in the blanks? Are there numbers and facts included?
  • Like any sales pitch or marketing methodology the story cannot be perceived a false and bereft of logic.
  • Does it relate to the listener?
  • Does the story have a call to action?

 

Nov 132012
 

It is difficult to render a sweeping verdict on whether an indirect sales model is better or more beneficial or direct sales to end-users are optimal. Both models have been successful. A company like HP (Hewlett Packard) prospered selling through an indirect channel. A competing company, in the same industry, Dell prospered selling its hardware directly to end-users. However, Dell is a good example to cite given how it has since turned over a quarter of its sales to the ‘channel.’

Each model is valid and appropriate under different circumstances including product type, line maturity and revenue size. The channel model, however, is typically applicable for companies without dedicated resources or wishing to scale beyond certain revenue ceilings. Channel partners bring connections and a strength in numbers, but need maintenance and attention.

Pay attention to activities under each heading:

1- Recruit partners which address product needs technically and coverage needs geographically.

2- Retain them by maintaining mindshare, providing education, support and offering profitable resell margins.

3- Optimize co-selling possibilities. Stock the partner area or portal of your website with marketing collateral, FAQs, selling scenarios and deal registration space. Provide leads, while ramping up partner lead generation capability and independence.

4- Hold partners responsible for utilization, registration and monitor lead flows bi-directionally.

5- Maintain open communications and learn simultaneous to teaching.  Hold each other accountable.

 

Continuous feedback and collaboration is essential. Do not be afraid to cut ties once the relationship is stale and unprofitable.

This is the ultimate measurement of whether the channel is beneficial or perfunctory.

 

 

Jun 072012
 

What does your prospect think about? It depends on the customer’s role. Salespeople who target that position’s specific thoughts and concerns will be more successful. This is called role-based selling. For the purpose of this article I am skipping two crucial discussions. First, Assistants need to be marketed to as well. A salesperson must believe he or she deserves the executive’s time. After all, you are not wasting time, are you? Two, the approach to C-level and V-level roles needs to be personalized and stand out. More on those elsewhere as well as in future discussions. In the meantime, align your sales to the position’s objectives, while ensuring you are speaking correctly to the right ‘C’ (‘Chief’ title) or ‘V’ (‘Vice”-President title).

Peruse the below, but ultimately they need to tell you how to sell to them by telling you about their needs. This is why questions are important. This is why preparation in advance according to the below is important.

President or CEO

What? Grow and lead the company

Pains and Concerns:

  • Grow revenue
  • More profitability/declining profitability
  • Shareholder value
  • Happier and more productive employees
  • Company reputation and
  • Determining strategy and direction

Financial Managers (VP Of Finance, CFO, Controller, Treasurer)

What? Financial management

Pains and Concerns:

  • Knowing and measuring financial drivers,
  • Profitability,
  • Information and reports to manage events and conditions,
  • Reducing costs,
  • Return on investments and return on assets
  • Accounts reconciliation and forecasting (treasurer)
  • Business value (controller)
  • Shortening transaction times,
  • Line of business accountability
  • Closing books faster or consistently having them ‘closed,’
  • Ensuring consistency among territories, divisions and currencies,
  • Drive operational efficiencies,
  • Better, more consistent and more centralized reporting
  • Make better decisions faster and
  • Analyze and predict.

Human Resources Managers (VP Of Human Resources)

What? Manage the business’ people. A business’ most valuable asset is its people. Everything the company does or wishes to achieve is tied to its people’s skills and abilities.

Pains and Concerns:

  • Business and society, and employees, constantly change.
  • Doing more with the same or less,
  • Improving productivity,
  • Delivering and tracking education that is related to work,
  • Budgeting for, finding, hiring and calculating the cost and return on employees,
  • Enabling employee self-service for faster and more efficient control and removing bottlenecks and
  • Local currency and regulations.

Manufacturing Management (VP Of Manufacturing, Chief Operating Officer)

What? Producing timely goods at the lowest cost

Concerns:

  • Manufacturing on demand with the shortest possible lead time,
  • Manufacturing to order,
  • Forecasting demand,
  • Customizing and configuring to order,
  • Collaborate and communicate with supply chain including suppliers, sub-contractors and distributors including view into demand and inventory via EDI or the web,
  • Track costs,
  • Operational justification to understand where cutting cost won’t impact operations
  • Analyze efficiencies,
  • Predict inventory cycle and
  • Eliminate waste.

Sales and Marketing (VP Of Sales, VP Of Marketing, CMO)

What? Increasing sales, improving top and bottom-line and tracking to forecast

Concerns:

  • Knowing the customers,
  • Sales growth,
  • Customer satisfaction/customer turnover
  • Margin growth and maintenance,
  • Forecast accuracy and visibility,
  • Company profitability,
  • Monitoring sales channels and trend analysis,
  • New customer acquisition
  • Company image
  • Productivity of sales and marketing staff,
  • Effectiveness of marketing programs and motions,
  • Positioning products, services or people
  • Efficiency of different types of marketing (such as promotions, web, channels, viral, etc.),
  • Campaign budgets and ROI (Return On Investment),
  • Anticipating trends and consumption,
  • Lead management and visibility into each representative’s achievements and pipeline.
  • See http://www.alighaemi.com/wp/?p=846 for different types of marketing.

Information Technology (VP of IT, CTO, CIO)

What? Lead the company’s information technology

Pains and Concerns:

  • Running the company’s information technology
  • Which hardware, software and service
  • Enabling productivity
  • Interoperability among internal and external customers
  • Flexible systems that can scale up or down with the business
  • Saving the company money
  • Eliminating disparate systems

Jun 052012
 

I firmly ‘believe’ that having belief is one of the keys to success. This is not some spiritual intangible. It is an imperative. Wayne Gretzky, a Canadian hockey player, is often quoted as saying, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” It is as simple as that. Believing is about doing. Time and time again when a salespersons is convinced that an effort is futile it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Successful salespeople know that when all hope is lost the worst possible thing to (not) do is to give up. One last e-mail beseeching customers, one more call exploring alternatives, one strategic question to a prospect may turn things around.

One needs belief however. The belief that something may happen. Ironically, it is the more experienced and tenured salespeople that often fall victim to a lack of belief. They internalize the mistakes, failures and objections and project them into various current situations. It should be the opposite. The more pertinent question invoking belief is ‘have I sold before?” or ‘have I interviewed for such a job successfully before?’ or ‘Did I win in a similar situation in the last year?’… then why not again?

Your believing not only determines what you do, but it also determines that you do it. Moreover, it is the duty of the management and company to give, instill and maintain that belief. Salespeople are humans. They need support as much as anybody.

 

Jun 042012
 

People in sales and marketing might occasionally forget or possibly not be able to say what they know as succinctly as ‘fear sells,’ but unfortunately fear does sell. Think about the nightly news where the leading stories are negative items designed to instill worry, catastrophe, disaster or concern into the minds of the viewers “if it bleeds, it leads.” Think about salespeople scaring you that should you not buy X you will lose your health/pay more later/fall behind, etc.

For instance, a security alarm company will never approach homeowners with information such as “99% of houses in your area were not burglarized.” Rather, the message will go something like this: “a house down your street was burglarized. You could be next!” Cue homeowner to order security monitoring for the house.

Another related psychological imperative is the need to avoid pain. People are compelled by the need to avoid pain more instantly over seeking or finding pleasure. Think about it. Does someone want to avoid or escape a predicament first or seek a new pleasure? Pain Avoidance is a prime technique for making pressing sales and accelerating sales velocity. This instinct is inherent in our genes.

In sales the formula for success is quantifying the pain and problem and demonstrating to the customer that the solution being offered costs less than the problem it displaces.

Similarly, the sales collateral, proposals and discussions should be fashioned in the same way.

Examples (with ‘better’ prompting more urgent action than ‘good’):

  • Good: “you can sign our contract and get the product”  Better: “Get the papers out of your hair”
  • Good: “your solution will bear many years of results”  Better: “Your problems are about to disappear”
  • Good: “your promotion is likely” Better: “Your boss will immediately get off your back”
  • Good: “people will enjoy the new menu and word will spread” Better: “No more bad reviews or food poisoning”

However, and very importantly, a salesperson needs to 1- have asked about the pain 2- understood the imperatives (listening skills) 3- quantified the challenge and 4- has calculated a Return On Investment (ROI) aligned to the solution offered. As such, the above

May 242012
 

It is not news that Social Media is taking on a bigger role. Most people have Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn accounts. Often when I eat at a restaurant I notice a sign proclaiming how a Wagjag or Groupon coupon would not be honoured under certain conditions. Alternatively, the hostess asks whether one is there with a coupon as if the food and service would be diminished. Most have more Facebook friends than actual ones, while LinkedIn and Facebook have been among the top ten largest IPOs of the last couple of years. Many companies such as Instagram have sold at unreasonable valuations.

Many companies have risen to the occasion and become ‘social.’ Whether it is a simple page or account belonging to a business, analytics to measure reaction or specific features such as Social CRM the future is set.

Over the weekend, I came across the two most concrete examples of the benefits of the Social media that I can think of. Agree with them or not, one cannot deny the tangible difference YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have made (in these cases) to the propagation of these the cases. It is not an exaggeration that the characters involved and the points-of-view would not get anywhere near the air they have without Social media participation and technologies. Companies and for-profit entities are a little more beholden to individuals. Here is proof that Social media is having impact far beyond hype.

 

“12-year old Victoria Grant explains why her homeland, Canada, and most of the world, is in debt.” Incidentally, her father works at Reserach In Motion the maker of Blackberry.

United Breaks guitars was a song written in protest by Canadian musician Dave Carroll and his band Sons Of Maxwell when United Airlines broke his guitar in 2008 and (initially) refused to pay for it or admit responsibility. After the initial fiasco, the airline did an about face and nowadays uses the song and video internally.

So what is Dave Caroll up to now aside from strumming? He has turned the publicity that ensued including millions of views of the song’s video on YouTube, which incidentally would never have a chance on a conventional music station, into a business called www.gripevine.com which bills itself as an “online voice” to get problems resolved.

Neither of these instances would have grown so big without the multiplying effect of Social Media and users spreading the word one update at a time.

Feb 022012
 
UK-based Sage is one of the largest providers of business management software.*
Those following the company know that the firm has been making marketing moves for the last few years focused on the naming and branding of its products. Approximately five years ago the company, which has a slew of products, assigned strategic products to one category (Sage Accpac for example), products that would go into maintenance to a ‘Value’ line (Sage Pro for example), divided everything into Small and Mid-Market and finally decided to push the name ‘Sage’ more and more over its better-known sub brands, which had mostly come under the Sage umbrella following acquisitions.
In North America more people were familiar with Accpac or MAS, ACT or Simply Accounting than they were with ‘Sage.’ Consequent to the decision to rebrand to the mothership the firm began giving more prominence to the word ‘Sage’ on its packaging and on its websites and also pushed the name ‘Sage’ more in its advertising and radio spots. A new logo and simplified design was also introduced.
Of course, some would argue the best rebranding is making one’s products better and better, but to be realistic marketing does move things.
Part of the problem is that now Sage has more than one Sage 50 or 100 across the globe. These products would have the same name, but are not the same products. Additionally, 50 is not upgradeable to 300 is not upgradeable to 500. That seems confusing and a recipe for many customer questions to come. To make things even more confusing several Sage products are not being transitioned to the new naming convention. Sages SalesLogix will remain… Sage Saleslogix. Sage’s bright hope for the future X3 (formerly Adonix) is remaining X3.
The Sage move has been controversial. Sage employees, partners and customers have questioned the move and raised several flags. Sage’s relatively new North American CEO, Pascal Houillon, has been insistent. He used to manage part of the European business in France and is bringing North America in line with the European nomenclature. Last year he had to move to address Sage ecosystem concerns and seems to have somewhat allayed fears about the change.
It is a brave change. Products that have sold millions of licenses are being called something else going forward. Is it worth it? Is it a case of short-term pain for long-term gain? In that case, it is a risk and a brave change. Did I already say that?
The cynic might say that a new CEO would want to have his stamp all over his new job. Another point-of-view is that an ‘outsider’ can look at things more critically and more objectively. The new CEO has less allegiance and nostalgia towards a set of products. 
The ‘Connected Services’ mantra, which describes Sage’s partial and largely incomplete attempt to sell its plethora of products (say Fixed Assets and CRM) horizontally is now also part of the same marketing effort.
 
*I used to work for Sage.

Jan 252012
 

People often ask, “what is the best sales technique (I can use)?” The question is general and unclear.
For the question to be answered one has to understand the difference between effectiveness and efficiency. Effectiveness is about output. Something is effective when it yields the best result. Efficiency, however, is closely related to resources and input/output. A process, in this case a sale, is efficient if a relatively good outcome (a sale? profit? margins? above average numbers?) has been obtained through a minimal amount of resource having been expended.
Think about it. The best sales technique, as far as efficiency is concerned, to give away the customer whatever he or she wants.
Salesperson: “Hello. How much would you like to pay for X?”
Customer: “I would like to buy this car with all the options included for $5.”
Salesperson: “No problem. I will drive it out for you.” Thinks: “Great day, so far today I have sold 10 cars and we have been open for 15 minutes.”
That is pretty efficient. The dealer has sold ten cars in fifteen minutes.

The catch is… well you know exactly what the catch is. It might be the best sales technique, but is not profitable, sane or sustainable.
Think about the way the group discount websites operate. They offer a big discount on something giving businesses the hope that the ‘something’ becomes a loss leader that generates volume or repeat business. I won’t get into the doleful nature of a business that wants to win business by doling out ‘deals’ or the sordid nature of a consumer that purchases solely based on ‘deals,’ but one thing requires particular attention. The ‘group buy’ websites, such as WagJag, GroupOn or Living Social, do not practice what they preach. I doubt any of these websites offers mass discounts to its customers (the businesses that buy into the promotions). After all, GroupOn has investors and sales and margins it needs to protect. It aims to be a long-term business and does not give in to the efficiency of whatever the merchant demands.
So, a better option is to have people find, crave and want you. Apple is the obvious example. Word-of-mouth, utility, group-think and momentum deliver Apple what it wants: sales. It is not price sensitive (Apple is often the most expensive of its category) and not subject to competitive pressures as much as other businesses. People come to it because it has a good reputation. It is known and liked. It knows what customers want and it crafts it.

In the era of modern and instant communication, the Internet and pervasiveness of information a business needs to stand out and draw prospects and customers in. The same goes for persons.
What is your inbound marketing strategy?

Dec 072011
 

Just over a month ago I wrote about different marketing techniques and types:
 http://www.alighaemi.com/wp/?p=846

As a follow-up I want to discuss a general Marketing Continumm (feel free to download the slide from the link at the bottom).

1- Preamble – type of marketing? What is appropriate for the business?
2- Objective – what is the definition of success? How will it be measured?
3- Duration – what is the implementation and control/cessation period?
4- Target Market (Who Or Which?) – Includes the P’s (place, price, product/service or promotion) and cannot be ‘everybody’ as that is too broad.
5- Branding – Includes message, byline and logo
6- Milestones – Time measurements that determine the project’s timeliness and success. Be realistic and beware of mission-creep. What steps need to be complete?
7- Repeat Or Recurring Activities – what are they and are they budgeted for time and money-wise?
The slide is here:

THE MARKETING CONTINUUM