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4 relationship marketing strategies

Building relationships with customers is a way to increase customer lifetime value, improve customer retention, and reduce marketing costs. Just a 5% increase in customer retention can improve the profitability of a business up to 75%. Through relationship marketing, businesses are able to establish strong bonds with their customers, leading to customers who are more willing to engage, purchase, and advocate.

Even businesses unlikely to have repeat purchases and return customers can still benefit from the promotion, referrals, and brand awareness acquired through loyal and satisfied customers. But how do you get started? Relationship marketing isn’t a single strategy. Instead, it’s a type of marketing strategy. By learning more about the strategies available, you can find the strategies most applicable to your business and brand.

Strategy 1: Train and promote effective sales support.

Support is an incredibly important aspect of a business, so much so that positive support interactions can mean more to a customer than the quality of a product or a service. Sales support should be responsive, transparent, and ultimately focused on promoting customer satisfaction. This strategy puts customer support and satisfaction at the forefront of a company’s marketing strategy.

Implementation: Train staff members from the ground up to promote a ‘solution-focused’ form of customer support, in which employees attempt to find resolutions to a customer’s problems and effectively address their emotions. Sales support teams should be dedicated to identifying a customer’s needs and fulfilling them, and should be aware of when to escalate calls or when to provide additional benefits (such as discounts and refunds).

Strategy 2: Keep your lines of communication open.

Modern customers expect to be able to communicate through multiple channels: email, phone, live chat, social media accounts, and more. The more accessible your business is, the easier it will be to forge long-lasting relationships with your customers. Additional lines of communication will improve brand reach and awareness among multiple demographics.

Implementation: Invest in software that makes it easier for your customers to reach you. The appropriate CRM solution (discussed below) will give your employees easy access to customers through live chat, email, and voice calls — and will encourage your customers to contact you when they have questions or concerns. Every time you interact with your customers one-on-one, you build your relationship and develop further trust and loyalty. Make sure your employees are available when needed and respond promptly to customer communications.

Strategy 3: Invest in the right ERP and CRM technology.

Enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management suites work together to improve customer service and retention. Through this technology, employees are proactively given the information that they need to best serve customers — in addition to identifying top customers quickly. Through ERP and CRM, support staff can see a customer’s history, appropriately score leads, and follow up with customers who may have issues to resolve. 

Implementation: From comprehensive cloud-based solutions to smaller, on-premise software, there are dozens of popular ERP and CRM solutions. Companies should explore the solution that best meets their needs, supports their specific industry and targets them based on their company size. For many companies, a subscription-based cloud solution will be the most versatile tool available. Once setup, employees will be able to take notes about customers, consult customer information, and contact high scoring customers to check-in.

Strategy 4: Boost your loyalty and customer referral programs.

Getting customers to come back can be as easy as creating a rewards program. 79% of customers look for loyalty and reward deals before they commit to a purchase, with 26% looking for these types of promotions while shopping. Reward and referral programs show customers that you care about their business and that you appreciate their support. It also promotes and monetises their word-of-mouth efforts, potentially creating opportunities to develop brand ambassadors.  

Implementation: Many point-of-sale systems today have built-in tracking for loyalty, rewards, and referral programs. Test out new programs in specific markets, with different forms of reward (such as 10% off discounts, points towards merchandise, or free rewards). Promote your reward and loyalty programs through your social media accounts — especially referral programs. Referral programs are most useful for businesses that don’t expect a lot of customer retention, such as businesses that sell one-off luxury products.

Attain and retain with relationship marketing

These are only a few of the relationship marketing strategies that may be applicable to your business. For each individual business, different strategies may be necessary — and it may not always be possible to tell which strategy will be most helpful until tested.

If you want to learn more about the advanced marketing strategies driving consumer marketing today, you need to connect with other like-minded professionals. TEC can provide an exclusive, advanced network of entrepreneurs, CEOs, and other professionals, who are experienced and knowledgeable about the changes being made. Contact TEC today to find out more. 

Using social media to improve customer engagement

Facebook, Instagram, and — of course — LinkedIn. From connecting with colleagues to finding old friends, social media provides a valuable and ubiquitous role in our daily lives. But it isn’t just about personal communication; it’s also about connecting with consumers. 88% of businesses are now using social media for marketing. LinkedIn, Yelp, Facebook, and even Instagram now play a vital part in connecting customers directly with brands. By using social media strategically, companies can not only increase general brand awareness but also customer retention and engagement.

Choosing the right platforms

Social media platforms change year by year. Platforms such as Vine shut down, while Twitter radically alter their platforms with continuous feature upgrades. Each platform has a different core demographic and is useful for different industries. To create an effective social media campaign, you need to understand the different platforms available and select the most appropriate one for you.

  • Facebook. Restaurants, bars, and nightlife venues frequently find their customers turning to Facebook first — and it’s easy to see why. Creating and promoting events on Facebook is an easy way to get in local traffic. But Facebook pages aren’t just for food and drink service; nearly every business should maintain at least a Facebook page where reviews can be posted.
  • Yelp. Yelp has easily become the go-to for customers looking for businesses in their area. Customers will look for everything from general contractors to retail outlets on Yelp and posted user reviews have become extremely important.
  • Google Places. Google Places is extremely well-integrated with the Google Maps service, and consequently having reviews and your business information up is extremely important. For example, when customers search using the keywords “interior painting near me” or “sports good stores,” they’ll often be directed to Google Place information.
  • Instagram. Instagram is popular with restaurants, shopping outlets, and recreational facilities; anything that will give you fun and engaging pictures. Whether your business runs outdoor excursions or sells antique jewellery, Instagram can be a great way to quickly increase brand awareness through solid, unique content.
  • Pinterest. Pinterest tends to have an artsy audience focused on cooking, crafting, fashion, and other creative pursuits. Businesses that are either selling creative products or selling hobbyist supplies will find Pinterest extremely useful.
  • Twitter. Twitter is rapidly becoming a go-to place for business-related information, as well as one of the first places that many customers look to for customer support. Because of that, Twitter is now becoming non-optional for many larger businesses.
  • Tumblr. Companies that want to reach out to a more youthful demographic would do well to consider Tumblr, as the platform is commonly used with demographics aged 15 to 25. Other platforms, such as Facebook, are primarily focused on the 25+ audience.
  • LinkedIn. With nearly half a billion users, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional and business networking platform. It is a vital networking tool that also aids in both customer retention and talent acquisition, making it a critical component in every company’s overall networking strategies.

It’s not possible for most businesses to run comprehensive advertising campaigns on all of these platforms. Instead, companies need to drill down and identify which platforms their customers are using the most. Youthful, modern brands may find their core audience on Tumblr and Instagram, whereas B2B companies may want to focus on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Optimise each channel

It’s easy enough to automate your marketing so that content is replicated across all platforms — but it’s usually not the best strategy. Every platform and its audience is different, and consequently content has to be optimised for each channel.

Word limits, hash tags, embedded links, image filters, and more are all different across platforms and impact how users may interact with your content. Content on Twitter or Facebook may have vastly different hashtags than content on Instagram or Pinterest. Similarly, some types of content such as video or images may be better suited for other platforms.

Building a strategy

  1. Develop your social media goals. Is your organisation attempting to build brand awareness? Increase sales? Bring in website traffic?
  2. Investigate platforms. Which platforms are more likely to be of use to your organisation? How can they be integrated together?
  3. Create a content calendar. Use an automated system to schedule your posts and connect your chosen social media platforms.
  4. Set the tone. When posting to and interacting on social media, put your content first — and avoid being overly promotional.
  5. Build relationships. Social media isn’t a one-way street. Build relationships by interacting with customers one-on-one.

Analyse and optimise

It isn’t always possible to have the correct social media strategy right out of the gate. Instead, you’ll need to analyse your audience behaviour and optimise your strategy to their needs. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which posts are garnering the most interest? Try to take advantage of popular content by promoting it and following up with similar posts.
  • When do we get the most interaction? You may find scheduling your posts at different times and days of the week will get better reactions.
  • Where are our followers coming from? By identifying the sources of your followers, you can see which platforms are most useful to your strategy.
  • How many followers are we retaining? If followers are frequently leaving, you may not be delivering the content that they expected.

Find the value in social media engagement

Through social media, you can effectively build your customer relationships and increase customer engagement — but it does take a lot of work. With no one-size-fits-all solution, each business must find their own path. Your social media strategy will depend on a lot of factors, including your organisation’s industry and its primary audience. But once you’re able to develop a solid social media strategy, you’ll find yourself connecting and engaging with your customers more directly.

Modern businesses are finding that the way that they do business and market is changing very quickly. From recruiting brand ambassadors to improving brand awareness, companies must always be cutting edge if they want to remain competitive. With the rise of new digital trends, many CEOs, entrepreneurs, and managers may find themselves needing advice and guidance. At TEC, we provide world-class mentoring from an experienced and successful network of professionals from different industry sectors. If you want to build connections, enhance your business or get help in navigating the ever-changing corporate landscape, contact TEC today to get started.

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Marketing technologies to support your sales strategy

Marketing strategies are growing in complexity every day. From social media advertising, mobile advertising, and content marketing to paid advertising and email marketing — how are today’s organisations keeping up?

It’s all about the technology. Through automation, data collection, scheduling, tracking, and big data analysis, companies are able to leverage new advertising strategies without a significant increase in costs. Marketing technology, also known as ‘Martech’, gives companies everything that they need to create and optimise comprehensive marketing campaigns from scratch. This new buzzword isn’t just a fad or a trend — it’s here to stay.

Analytics: get the most out of your organisation’s current strategies

Modern businesses thrive or die according to their data. A complete analysis of your marketing data can be used to identify which strategies are working and how effective they are . Collecting and analysing data is often the only way to truly quantify how effective your marketing tactics are. Through analysis, you can track how many new users you’re capturing, how many users return, how active they are, and how interested they are in your brand and your products.

Often, analytics is the first sign that something has radically changed within the marketing environment. A sudden decline in traffic could indicate a problem with the corporate website — one that needs to be fixed quickly before the damage becomes permanent. Conversely, a large increase in traffic could indicate a viral piece of content, which the company must move swiftly to capitalise on.

A popular example of analytics in action is Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free platform for the analysis of the company’s website as well as online advertising strategies. Through Google Analytics, businesses are able to track everything from user demographics to real-time user activity. For more information about what metrics to look at, check out our blog ‘The guide to marketing metrics that matter’.

Content Management Systems (CMS)

Companies are increasingly moving towards content management systems (CMS) rather than developing their own websites from the ground up. Content management systems are pre-built websites that can be customised in look and feel and are designed primarily to post content with ease. The benefits of a content management system are significant:

  • Reduced maintenance and development time.

Rather than having to design and develop a website, a company can instead deploy a CMS and then customise it to suit their needs. This CMS is updated and maintained by other companies.

  • Improved search engine optimisation and social media sharing.

Content management systems are developed with improved SEO in mind from the beginning. IT also comes pre-loaded with easier features for social media sharing — making it easier to kick-start a campaign.

  • Advanced eCommerce and analytic services.

Whether built-in or included through add-ons, content management systems have eCommerce and analysis functions that can be deployed with the push of a button. These systems are extremely complex to develop from scratch.

  • Tools for marketing automation and optimisation. 

Rather than having to post content regularly, marketing automation provided by content management systems can schedule your posting and automatically update social media accounts.

WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal are all popular content management systems. Squarespace and Shopify are also other additional eCommerce-focused systems. It is important that you do a thorough research on these platforms and seek recommendations on which works best for your business. Moving to a CMS can be time-consuming and costly, so it is important that you choose the best fit for your business.

CRM and marketing automation

Customer relationship management (CRM) suites are designed to track the interactions between a customer and a company — in other words, it creates a chart of the relationship that the customer has. CRM solutions are designed to collect and analyse large volumes of marketing data, and they can also be programmed to react to this data. A few examples include:

  • Emailing customers who haven’t made a purchase in a while.
  • Sending important data to customers who make the most purchases.
  • Automatically scoring leads who have not yet engaged.

While customer relationship management suites collect information, marketing automation uses this information to reach out to them. Together, CRM suites and marketing automation saves time, prioritises efforts, and improves upon efficiency. SalesforceHubSpot, Adobe Suite, and Mail Chimp are all examples of customer relationship management and marketing automation solutions.

Campaign

In addition to general relationship management solutions, there are also marketing technologies that help to create paid advertising campaigns and manage it from start to finish. These include GoogleAdwords, Facebook advertising, LinkedIn advertising, and much more.

Companies need to get on board with martech if their digital marketing campaigns are to be successful. With the current technological improvements such as AI and machine learning, martech is becoming non-optional for those who want to remain competitive. If your company isn’t using martech, your competitors likely are.

To avoid the risk of getting left behind, you need to become aware of the strategies and technologies being used today. And this is where your peers can step in. TEC gives you connections throughout the industry that can help you explore new techniques that can improve your marketing strategy. Contact us today.

The guide to marketing metrics that really matter

It’s easy for a business to become overwhelmed with the sheer amount of marketing data that it has collected. But marketing data isn’t just ‘data’, it is critical to improving and directing a marketing strategy. Just as logistics and shipping analysis is necessary for fine-tuning business operations, marketing data is necessary for identifying potential opportunities and points of failure. But because every business is different, the metrics that are important to a particular strategy may also differ. Companies need to be knowledgeable about different types of metric if they are to isolate the ones that are relevant to them.

Audience metrics

  1. Visits to the website

In terms of audience metrics, there are two important ways to count visits — total traffic and per user. Total traffic encompasses the number of individuals visiting your website. Services such as Google Analytics can even show you real-time dashboard results regarding how many users are active right now. Total traffic should always be trending upwards year-on-year. Often, the per user visits may be more important. Analytics services can also track how many times an individually recognised user has visited your site. This shows how much of your audience you are retaining. Customers average six to eight connections with a brand before conversion.

  1. New sessions

When a user visits a website, all of their activity is considered to be a “session.” The amount of new sessions is an effective metric to assess your brand awareness – Is this increasing over time? For growth campaigns, new sessions can be used to track the performance of outreach initiatives. More new sessions mean an expanding audience, while a decrease can indicate a plateau in market saturation or a loss of interest. Sessions can be combined with other metrics — such as how long the user stays on the site, how many pages they visit, and whether they come back.

Behaviour metrics

  1. Sources of traffic

Where is your audience coming from? Search engines, advertising campaigns, the monthly newsletter, social channels and direct links will all be recorded under sources of traffic. If your website is being primarily accessed through search engines, then your SEO campaign is healthy and working. If your website is being primarily accessed through social media accounts, then your social media campaigns are working. Your “sources of traffic” analysis tells you which components of your marketing strategy are most effective — and which components need more work.

  1. Bounce rate

Sometimes users may reach a website and then immediately leave it without taking a further action. This can happen for a variety of reasons — the page was slow to load, the content was something they did not expect, they did not like the design of the website or they simply became distracted. Regardless, a high bounce rate generally indicates that something has gone wrong.

Campaign performance metrics

  1. Conversion rate

The conversion rate is often the most important metric in a marketing campaign. Conversion is commonly used to refer to a user making a purchase; converting from a user to a customer. But that isn’t the only type of conversion. Conversion rates can also be used to track newsletter sign ups, contact us forms, brochure downloads, or free trials — it all depends on the strategy. Many campaigns focus primarily on increasing the conversion rate, which means paring down to users that are most likely to convert, and attempting to secure more of these users.

  1. CTR

Click through ratings are used to track when customers interact with links, whether through blog links, email marketing, or paid ads. If customers aren’t clicking through, they aren’t converting. This could mean that the marketing copy and design is not engaging or is not reaching the right audience. A low CTR generally indicates the need for a clearer or more compelling call to action.

  1. Customer acquisition cost

Customer acquisition cost, in its simplest form, is the amount that you spend on marketing divided by the number of customers gained. How much is the marketing team spending to acquire one customer? By tracking customer acquisition costs, you can optimise your strategies to make the most out of your advertising dollar. If you have multiple campaigns working at once, it may be difficult to isolate the cost of each individual strategy. In these situations, split-testing and granular tracking of each separate campaign may be necessary.

  1. Social media and content engagement

Likes, shares, follows and comments all show positive levels of engagement. These metrics are used to assess what content best works with your audience. As with high levels of traffic and recurring sessions, social media engagement improved the odds that users will convert, in addition to extending brand identity and general brand awareness.

Long-term marketing metrics

  1. Customer lifetime value

Customer lifetime value is calculated by averaging the amount that a customer will spend with a business throughout their entire relationship. For each customer, there is both the cost of acquisition and the cost of retention. Lowering these costs and increasing customer spending will increase revenue. Low customer lifetime value may indicate that a company is not effectively retaining customers.

  1. Net Promoter Score

Net promoter scores, measured on a scale from -100 to 100, indicate the willingness of current customers to refer others to a business. Essentially, it is a metric that reflects word-of-mouth reputation. Net promoter scores are solid indicators of customer loyalty. Low net promoter scores may indicate that a business needs to improve its products or its customer service.

Depending on your individual marketing strategy, you may use only a few of these metrics — or you may use nearly all of them. Your campaign may be focused on building awareness, improving revenue, or both. Regardless, a solid understanding of the metrics available is the first step towards creating a well-rounded and well-optimised strategy. By consistently tracking the right metrics, your organisation will be able to compare different initiatives and improve upon them. But that also requires experience and knowledge. At TEC, individuals are able to reach out to peers who are exploring and discovering the same marketing strategies and advancements. Contact TEC today to learn more about the benefits of an on-demand and exclusive peer-to-peer executive network.

Inbound marketing: A new way of marketing

63 percent of businesses now report that generating traffic and leads is one of their top marketing challenges. A few decades ago, it was commonplace for consumers to rely on advertising that was sent to them — television and radio advertisements, physical mailers, and even billboards. In the early days of the Internet, marketers sought to replicate the impact of this type of advertising through pop up ads, banner ads, and interstitial ads.

But very quickly, an entirely new way of marketing has emerged — inbound marketing.

In inbound marketing, customers are targeted with great content so they are directed to the business themselves, given that it can provide them with the information and insights they need.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Commercials, physical mailers, and magazine ads are all forms of ‘outbound’ advertising. Companies send these highly promotional advertisements to customers with the express purpose of getting them to commit.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is marketing that promotes great content and makes it available to customers in a way that points them back to the company. Inbound marketing encompasses corporate websites, social media accounts, blogs, and other content repositories. Inbound marketing is notable primarily because the consumer is entirely in control of the whole interaction. Brands give them the data they need so they can choose the brand themselves.

Let’s check out how inbound marketing works when buying a car.

Decades ago, consumers were fed with various advertisements for local car dealerships — this is how they got to decide which dealership to go for and select from the cars they have available.

Today, a consumer is more likely to google different car models first before deciding on what car to buy for themselves. They will then do an independent research on car dealerships available in their area, read online reviews to check for trustworthiness and reputation, and then check if they have the car of their choice available.

To appropriately capture inbound marketing, modern companies need to be aware of both buyer personas (representatives of their key demographics) and buyer journeys (the process of purchasing that a buyer undergoes). Learning more about your buyers personas and supporting them as they go through the buyer journey is a key way to improve conversion and engagement.

The stages of Inbound Marketing strategy

 

Attract: In an inbound marketing strategy, the goal is to attract consumers at the very first stages of the buyer journey. When looking for new products and services, 65 percent of smartphone users search for relevant information first — regardless of where it comes from. In real estate, a real estate agent may want to attract buyers who are looking into home financing or sellers who are looking into remodelling a home for sale.

Convert: Once you’ve successfully attracted the consumer’s attention, the need to promote great content is essential to drive them to convert. Through a great content strategy, marketers will want to showcase how their product is superior to others. From the scenario above, a real estate agent can do this by establishing trustworthiness and authority through timely and valuable content.

Close: Marketers are often only able to directly engage with consumers when closing. All content must be tilted towards a clear and concise call to action. The call to action directs a consumer further along their buyer journey, ultimately leading to closing a deal. Using the same example, a real estate agent would urge ready buyers and sellers to connect with them directly.

Delight: With consumers given more control, retained customers have become even more important. After closing a sale, marketers need to get in touch with their clientele to make sure they have everything they need and check if they were fully satisfied with the process. By driving customer loyalty, you ensure repeat business.

Channels used for Inbound Marketing

 

Social media: Consumers enjoy interacting with brands directly. Social media accounts can be used to distribute content, engage with consumers, and actively respond to any questions and concerns.

Blog posts: Blogging is an effective way for companies and professionals to build up a repository of great content. 53 percent of marketers report that blog posts are their top inbound marketing strategy.

Word of mouth: Consumers often ask friends and family for advice when looking for big ticket purchases. In fact, 64 percent of marketing executives believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing. An effective word-of-mouth strategy nearly always come from previous clientele.

Search engine optimisation: Consumers need to be able to find a business to interact with it. When consumers have questions in mind, SEO directs them to the right answers. An SEO campaign relies upon keywords and high-quality content to promote brand and businesses.

Online video: There are many third-party platforms dedicated to online video, which provides a mix of social media engagement and an engaging video content.

Email marketing: Consumers are often interested in further information from brands and companies they trust. Signing up for an email newsletter provides consumers the opportunity to learn more about the brand and in turn, gives companies direct access to consumers on a regular basis.

Building an Inbound Marketing strategy

There are many types of inbound marketing strategy — and different types of strategy work well for different companies, industries, and demographics. Building an effective strategy that is universal and can be used in a massive scale is impossible. Everything needs to be tailored to the customer’s needs. Marketers, instead,  need to ensure that they have a strategic plan and that they are able to adapt to this plan as needed.

A marketing plan should consist of a clear goal, solid metrics, and methods of optimisation. Goals may range from improving engagement to building sales revenue, depending on the company’s current advertising strategy. Metrics must be directly related to goals to track the performance of the strategy and optimisation must be completed on a regular basis to ensure that the strategy remains effective.

Not sure whether your business is in need of an inbound strategy?

  • Do you use your website to sell your product or service?
  • Does your target audience use the internet to research topics related to your product or service?
  • Do you want to expand your customer base beyond your company’s geographic location?
  • Do you have expertise to share?

Marketing is continuously evolving and businesses need to keep up in order to stay relevant. CEOs, entrepreneurs, and high-level professionals must be well-versed in these new marketing strategies if they are to survive the technological disruption and consumer revolution that is to come. Modern consumers are now looking to make more intelligent choices on their purchases, giving tech-savvy companies an opportunity to grow and an opportunity to outpace slower competition.

But when something as intrinsic to a business as marketing strategies change, there may be a myriad of other adjustments that need to be made as well. Consulting with other key stakeholders within your industry is one of the best ways to learn how to adjust your strategy and avoid common pitfalls.

TEC provides access to a strong peer-to-peer network of executives, entrepreneurs, and professionals that offer peer-to-peer consulting on the massive changes that are impacting businesses today. Contact TEC now to find out more. 

Know yourself, know your enemy

Know yourself, know your enemy

 

George was having a terrible day at work. The deal he was sent to conclude had irrecoverably broken down, with key terms rejected and feelings hurt.

He had done everything by the book and followed best practice methods. However, he left without anything to show for his months of advanced negotiations. But unlike many business leaders, he did not take the red-eye home, reviewing the evident failures along the way. No, he in fact had months to muse over his unsuccessful negotiations as it was 1793, and George Macartney was returning home following the failure of the first British diplomatic mission to China.

Macartney faced a number of challenges that have strong similarities with the contemporary plight of marketers today. While he faced unique obstacles, such as showing the appropriate level of submission to Chinese emperor Qianlong, the British call for greater trade ultimately failed due to different perspectives of the world.

The two groups of people, the British on one side and the Chinese on the other, stemmed from very different cultures and started from fundamentally different points-of-view. As such, each had very different objectives and methods for achieving them. The scenario is very similar to the environment marketers find themselves in: Trying to understand customers and consumers, who may have very different perspectives of a brand.

Knowing the customer: Segmenting your markets

In today’s world, understanding customers is essential, from sales to customer service and everything in between.

How many executives simply say: ‘There are 30 million customers and all we need is 1 per cent market share’?

Rather than help, such an approach glosses over the nuances and differences in the consumer base, risking failure similar to that experienced by George.

So how to avoid similar issues?

Clever market segmentation is the answer.

Traditionally, segmentation occurred by creating homogeneous groups of customers based on demographic characteristics such as age, location and ethnicity.

While it’s a simple idea, market segmentation can throw a number of curve balls to even the most experienced business leaders. However, if they can segment their markets in a meaningful way, the organisation can create marketing messages that are relevant to real customers who have real needs.

I believe that today traditional methods of segmentation are not good enough to deliver satisfactory results. So the question remains: How should market segmentation be approached?

Looking deeper, getting involved

In today’s world, characterised by fragmented perspectives, novel needs and nuanced wants, market segmentation can offer organisations a number of benefits. From risk reduction to enhanced resource use, the technique can offer organisations a way into the diverse world of consumers – if done right. On line marketers talk about a segment of one given the emerging abilities online.

While market research has value, there are a number of limitations. Take a normal qualitative research project. From the offset there are problems to deal with: You have people who are paid to be in the focus group and who may not be representative of the consumer base. You will also need a facilitator who tend to have their own biases, which can influence the direction the group takes and thus the results at the end.

Rather than relying on market research data, I think business leaders need to sit down in one-on-one interviews with 20 to 50 customers. By doing this, researchers can find the common factors that link them and allow real information sharing with the marketing team.

Only by investing the time to sit down with customers can a truly deep and intimate understanding be fostered. However, this is not a task for some intern- it really needs to be conducted by an individual high-up the organisation, someone who is across the business from head to toe and really knows the big issues that the organisation is seeking to solve.

There is no doubt that attracting customers requires a very good and deep  understanding who your customers are and finding clever ways to break them into manageable groups that will respond positively to what you have to offer is the goal of segmentation. Taking traditional methods step further and taking the time of senior leader to actually talk and observe real customers will deliver the gold.


 

Ian NealBy: TEC Chair, CEO mentor and coach Ian Neal

Marketing vs Sales: What's the drama

Marketing vs Sales: What’s the drama?

Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street got me thinking about Sales vs. Marketing. During one of its scenes, the main character – played by Leonardo DiCaprio – tests his colleagues’ understanding of customers by handing each of them a pen and asking them to sell it to him.

The challenge is an attempt to identify his associates’ grasp on the key drivers that underlie sales. In most instances, people believe they need to make this pen more attractive or appealing. To sell the pen, they need to create an elevator pitch about the pen’s features and attributes.

However, one of his associates realises that it’s not so much about the pen. Instead, it is about the buyer; it’s about understanding what makes the buyer tick and motivates them to act. The scene ends with the associate not describing the pen as others had done, but instead asking: ‘Write this down for me’. To which DiCaprio’s character replies, ‘I do not have a pen…’

Marketing is?

The vignette above is an example of how marketing can drive sales. When I talk with business leaders about the value of marketing, I am often met with indignation: ‘I already invest in sales, why should I spend on marketing?’.

This attitude stems from the fact many are unaware of what marketing actually is. As such, its value can be confused with that of sales.

What many do not realise is that marketing has a strategic outlook. It involves understanding what the client wants and what drives them to act. Marketers aim to reduce the barriers to sale, allowing BDMs and other sales-centric roles a much easier ride. As Howard Gossage put it, people only see what interests them most; everything else is nothing.

So why the hesitation, why are many business leaders unable to identify the value of marketing and why are they not putting a budget behind it?

Sales and marketing working in tandem

One of the major challenges that business leaders face is bringing together the efforts of both sales and marketing and orientating them around the same goal. Getting strategic marketing and tactical sales working together is a challenge that when mastered makes the top line sing.

However getting these two jealous twins to actually play in harmony is like trying to break up a turf war.

The sales people think marketers are theoreticians who live in an ivory tower, while the marketers think that sales group are a bunch of cowboys- used car salespeople.

Getting them to work together involves finding a common goal, taking them back through the ‘Why’ conversation and then getting them focused on achieving the entire organisations business plan. The departments are two sides of the same coin; one side tactical, one side strategic. Building a regular and respectful dialogue is essential to harnessing their strengths, and facilitating that dialogue is the prerogative of the organisation’s CEO.

This does not mean they should have the same KPIs or identical metrics. This would not only be an indication of  misunderstanding the value of both departments and is also a waste of time.

Measuring a return on investment for each area of expertise requires different approaches, methods and techniques. Marketing needs to be measured through the lens of a company’s brand: What is the awareness and how easily can a customer/ prospect identify the brand? Does the marketing spend actually deliver an easier sales path? These are the key questions that should shape your measurement approach. And sales, well that is pure dollars in different segments of the funnel and actual dollars sold.

Marketing is not a add-on to your sales team. It has its own destiny, techniques and benefits, all of which complement sales. If these two functions are not behaving in harmony then the CEO should see an easy path to improving the top line by solving this issue.


Ian NealBy: TEC Chair, CEO mentor and coach Ian Neal

The 5 benefits of entering business awards

The 5 benefits of entering business awards

There is a common misconception that business awards are only for large companies with massive pulling power. However, award ceremonies are calendar fixtures in every industry and those that don’t put themselves or their employees forward stand to miss out on a number of advantages.

There is something in the Australian psyche that loves a good victory. Regardless of whether it is on the hallowed turf of Lord’s in The Ashes, at the Oscars or in the boardroom, a win on whatever stage definitely feels good.

As we watch our sporting and entertainment heroes enjoy their victories, it does pose an interesting question – could your business create its own hype through an award?

There is a common misconception that business awards are only for large companies with massive pulling power. However, award ceremonies are calendar fixtures in every industry and those that don’t put themselves or their employees forward stand to miss out on a number of advantages.

Here are five benefits of entering business awards.

1) Recruitment and retention

As a business, one of the best ways to put yourself in front of potential employees is recognition on the highest stage. Even if you don’t win, the simple fact you’re among the top players in your industry should suggest to high-quality candidates that the company is a good option for their career.

Of course, being part of a business award also does wonders for the morale of your current employees. The opportunity to dress up, have a night out and be social with the team in a relaxed environment can reaffirm dedication and passion for the business.

2) Marketing and promotion

With the business environment so competitive today, any form of marketing and promotion that you can get for free should be taken with two hands. By participating in or even winning a business award, new customers can get a sense of your knowledge and hard work in the industry and be more receptive to working with you in the future.

It is also important to note the marketing opportunities that business awards offer. Whether it is through blog posts, email banners, business cards or social media, business awards are a great way of showing off your achievements to your customer base.

An image of your team and with a hard-earned business award also looks fantastic on any homepage or social media profile.

3) Impressing investors and stakeholders

Employees within a business often do a lot of work that goes under the radar. Many of these achievements are also essential for ensuring the business grows and investors and stakeholders remain happy and loyal to company.

By entering industry business awards and highlighting the fantastic work that your team does, this can impress investors and even attract more in the future.

4) Benchmark with the competition

For many businesses, it is easy to see the differences between your organisation and your competitors. However, is it often the small details that separate the pretenders from the contenders. In the realm of a business awards night, you can see what other businesses in your industry are doing well and take notes to lead your organisation in a different direction.

If you win, then that is fantastic, but just being an active member in your industry can give you an insight into where the industry is heading.

5) Meet industry experts and contacts

While we don’t like to admit it, a business awards night isn’t all about the prizes and the accolades. A night away from the computer that is spent communicating with players in the industry and potential customers can be more vital than you think.

Business awards are a potential network of contacts and taking this opportunity is critical to stay relevant and active in the sector. As mentioned above, winning is always good for morale and marketing, but if you can meet other business leaders and learn from their success, this can only be positive moving forward.