These are the slides I use to present the marketing section of the Business Plan workshop at Seattle SCORE. Each of your teams should have their own marketing plan, and you should insist on measuring the return on your investment.
Marketing is the key to your business future. Successful marketing creates selling opportunities. Every now and then you have to get away from day-to-day operational details and review your marketing plan. This checklist is intended to help you decide if your marketing is taking you where you want to go.
Take a look at your target market. How much do you know about your prospects? Are you talking to the right people? Do they look like your most profitable customers? Are there people on your list who made sense in the past, but don’t today? Does everyone in your company agree on the definition of a Class A prospect?
Spread out copies of your marketing materials on a clean table. Include brochures, sales literature, print ads and press releases. Prop open a laptop featuring the home page of your website, and others with your social media efforts. Are you sending out a consistent message? Is it customer-focused? Does it speak to today’s market conditions, or is it rooted in the past?
Are you getting the results you need from print ads, direct mailers, sales letters, telemarketing and trade shows? Are you in front of people often enough to break through the clutter of competing messages and make a good impression?
Do your sales people control the selling process, or do you? Is your marketing strategy clearly defined? Does your marketing program qualify leads, or merely create them? Have you defined the point where marketing stops and selling begins?
Why is the marketing budget the first thing management cuts when sales soften or the economy heads south?
They could sell the conference room furniture. They could even fire some of the dead-heads in the (whatever) department. But NO!!!
The problem is RESULTS.
That 27-acre conference table impresses the hell out of customers, vendors and visiting market analysts. Results.
Salespeople sell things. Some more than others, but selling things puts money in the bank. Salespeople produce results.
“Time out,” you say. “Marketing gets results. We collected more business cards at our last trade show than ever before. Our new ads have generated more inquiries that we can handle. Lotsa people visit our website! We give the sales department tons of leads.”
Question: Where are the results?
Salespeople don’t have a lot of time to call on unqualified leads. And let’s face it, a lot of the people who respond to ads are just shopping. Most of the people who go to trade shows aren’t decision makers.
So, how do we get results? We qualify the leads. We find out which ones have the money, the need, the motivation and the authority to make or champion a buying decision.
We get answers to the questions the salesfolk would ask if they were talking to the customer face-to-face. We give the sales department Class A prospects, not cold leads.
When marketing departments generate results like these, they get funded, supported, and respected.
Nix creativity. Your products are so great they sell themselves. Fill every square inch of ad space with features. Forget color photos and snappy headlines. Emphasize data, not emotion.
Play hard to get. Don’t use “800” numbers, bingo cards, bounce-back’s or fax-on-demand offers in advertising or direct mail. Sales literature is way too expensive to send to just anyone. Make people prove they really want it.
Don’t keep records. Most people who ask for product information are just shopping around. It’s a big hassle to track names, addresses and contact status — so why should it come out of the marketing budget? Wait until somebody places an order and let the accounting people worry about record keeping.
Forget inquiry follow-ups. Send out product literature, period. Cover letters are a waste of time. If customers want to buy something, let them call sales rep or distributor. You don’t have time to waste on information gatherers.
Don’t worry, be happy. Management-types love big numbers, so report every inquiry as a success. The number of people who actually qualify as sales leads and eventually make the effort to place an order is way too small to impress a VP.
You can tell that I’m kidding, right?
©1999 Ken Sethney
Last June, I referenced an article by By Michael Stumpf, principal of Place Dynamics LLC, showing that companies with fewer than 50 employees were the ones that created all the new jobs from 2000 to 2010. According to a May 8 article published by Inc.com, a Brookings Institution study shows that entrepreneurship has been fading for several decades. This is not good news, so what are you doing about it?
All too often, sales and marketing people have different objectives. If they do, they can spend more time bickering than creating bottom line results. Or worse, they just go their separate ways.
If you want to find out if your sales and marketing people are working together, send them a simple questionnaire. Make sure a copy goes to every sales rep, manager and executive. Send it to every person in the marketing department and the people at your ad agency, design studio or public relations firm.
Ask them this: “In fifty words or less, who is our ideal customer?” The answers will be revealing.