A Cook is to Meals as a Salesperson is to Marketing

When those in marketing create new campaigns, sales personnel are often excluded. The logic behind this silo-ed process is that sales is perceived as not understanding marketing and therefore it is prohibiitve to include the sales department. From my experience, marketing doesn’t often understand sales.

If you are a small business owner, you should keep in mind that marketing efforts are not independent of your on-the-floor operations. Your marketing spend will go further with these important premises in mind:

  • your marketing consultant/agency must understand your business mission and store culture.
  • you must understand the marketing plans presented
  • your staff must understand the execution and strategy behind the marketing plan
  • you must provide easy to use results tracking tools for your staff
  • your staff must report results and customer feedback

I’ve heard the argument – “A good marketing plan doesn’t need sales involvement.”

That is the kind of bullshit rationale that comes from owners/managers who don’t respect their salespeople. (And then wonder why turnover is so high.)

Why must sales be involved in marketing?

Let’s use an analogy. Just as a meal is based on a cook’s skills, marketing success is based on a salesperson’s skills. For example, if you bring food to a cook without information on the desired meal, the cook is forced to focus on logistics rather than skills. S/he has to prioritize a) what the resulting meal is to be, and b) how to go about preparing it. Even then, the resulting meal may not be what was desired.

But, if you were to provide the cook with not only the food, but also the cooking tools, recipe, and clear instructions as to the desired result, not only will the cook prepare exactly what is desired, but will then be better able to focus on adding his/her unique cooking skills to the process for optimal results.

And so it goes with sales…

Using the analogy above, you can see how trying to implement a new marketing campaign with an uninformed, unequipped, and unprepared salesperson will sabotage your marketing goals.

As a small business owner, you have the advantage over large chains. Their corporate offices are distanced from actual business sites and must rely on strict guidelines to achieve minimal success. In a small business environment, one has far more ability to be hands on, communicate deeply to staff, and oversee execution. If you aren’t properly communicating your marketing plans with your sales staff, you cannot reap the benefits you truly seek.

Success vs Failure

Let’s look at two scenarios to illustrate how communication and cooperation between sales and marketing can enhance or sabotage results.

Scenario 1 – Undesirable

A consumer walks into a store anxious to buy your advertised item. but the salesperson approached knows nothing about it. The search for information presents, and the consumer becomes annoyed at the delay and confusion. There is so much effort in the process of determining the sale item and pricing that any opportunity to establish a consumer relathionship is lost on the clarification process. Add-on or ad driven sales strategies and opportunities are lost. There is little room for conversation as to why the consumer wanted the item and a lost chance to determine whether the item truly fit their need. This situation increases the likelihood of a return, and for a lost chance for conversion or multiple sales per transaction since the anxiety around the confusion dominates. It is only a highly experienced salesperson who can segue such confusion into a new start with a consumer in this situation.

Scenario 2 – Desirable

A consumer walks into a store anxious to buy your advertised item. The salesperson has full knowledge of the campaign because s/he has attended a meeting (or was otherwise fully informed) as to the marketing campaign strategy for increased sales and customer relationship building from said campaign. The salesperson confidently guides the relaxed consumer to the product area while procuring information to help cement the sale, present an opportunity for a more appropriate item, or even launch an upsell. A relationship is created with the consumer enhancing repeat/referral business potential. Results are documented for future marketing efforts to build upon. Palpable information is procured for an understanding as to whether the marketing campaign was a strategic win or simply incidental.

How will you execute your next marketing campaign?

No One Ever Said Learning Social Media Was Intuitive

Maybe I don't engage enough on Facebook, but when I do, everyone should know about it.

Here is yet another conversation with my husband over how-to-use his Facebook business page…!

Note: I’m the spouse here . . . so, of course, what do I know!? But, believe me, I can and do coach clients very successfully on these same issues – Really! :)

Hubby: Why can’t I get my blog post to show up on my business page? I clicked SHARE!

Me: You clicked on the share link at the bottom of the post again, didn’t you?

Hubby: Well, YEEEAH. I wanted to SHARE my post.

Me: Try to think like your blog followers… They read your post, get to the bottom and want to share, so conveniently the share button FOR THEM is at the bottom of the post so they can share your post to their page.

Hubby: But, I AM SHARING.

Me: No, you want to post an update. It’s different.

Hubby: Facebook is B—S—! There’s nothing intuitive about it!

Me: I never said there was.

Hubby: (clicking over to home page) Why is the post I shared from George Takei showing up twice in the feed?

Me: Because you follow George Takei. That is the post you shared to your page, so you see his post and your post.

Hubby: But I don’t want my followers to think I’m an idiot with this showing up twice on my page.

Me: Your follower feeds differ from yours. They see the posts of those pages they follow. Let’s go over the difference between “Home” and your “Timeline.” AGAIN!

Hubby: (clicking back to his business page timeline) It’s only on this page once. What happened to the other one?

Me: (deep SIGH – remember this is my spouse I am helping)

Hubby: So I’m on my home page.

Me: No, this is your timeline. Click “Home” to go to your home page.

Hubby: (he clicks home) This is my news feed.

Me: Technically, yes, but Facebook changed the name to HOME a long while back. Think of it as your “Home Dashboard.”

Hubby: Dashboard? But that’s not where I post my stuff!

Me: You actually can post on either page. “HOME” is where you should be living when you visit Facebook.

Hubby: I don’t care about all that stuff. I just want to make sure my followers are seeing my stuff.

Me: So much for the “SOCIAL” aspect of social media . . .

Hubby: (he gives me “the look”)

Me: Let’s go back to the cocktail party analogy. Do you want to be the person everyone is running away from or the one with whom they like to ENGAGE? ENGAGEMENT is social. ENGAGEMENT is how people will notice you – not so much your posts! Yes, you need to post your updates, too, but ENGAGEMENT is SOCIAL. It’s how people get to know you. Then they can go visit your page and learn more.

Hubby: All I want to know is how to make sure that what I post shows up right!

Me: I think I’ll go find a cocktail party.

Note: I do give him credit for actually trying to learn – FINALLY :-)

So, Where the Hell are We with Social Media?

IMAGE_RANDOM_girl looking down hiway

Ahhh… so where are we now with Social Media?

Surprisingly, Google+ is coming into its own! I was a doubter, too, but if you have checked it out lately, you’ll notice a lot more activity. It’s a bit like a cross between Facebook and Twitter.

How so? Well, imho, Twitter leans toward information and Facebook leans more toward the coffee klatsch. So if you don’t necessarily want to live in one or the other, Google+ seems to have filled that space.

Of course, who knows what direction it will take. It took what seemed like forever for Google+ to get serious recognition (including from me), but I must say it is clearly now a worthy contender for our attention.

And you could even say that it is encroaching on Pinterest territory since the picture quality is on par with Pinterest.

Facebook 

Facebook is floundering a bit now because it is responsible to stockholders and didn’t exactly impress them at their public launch. The problem was they switched too dramatically to monetizing without remembering their roots of success. Yes, it surely is infuriating to have a company that consists of millions who expect everything for free. But, I think this was a company that put the cart waaaaaay before the horse. If they had recognized earlier on that “free” can’t sustain a business forever, they would have been better prepared for the real business world.

But who am I to judge? Eh, just someone who makes a living helping others learn to use their social media effectively. Yes, I do encourage small business owners to use Facebook, but I fear Facebook is becoming the modern-day Yellow Pages for business. Why? Because many Facebook users are seriously more interested in keeping in touch with fam and friends, entertainment and the latest outrage. Business pages are mostly for specials or coupons. But God Forbid you DON’t have a Facebook page – that means you must not even exist, right?

That said, if business owners don’t have a Facebook page, they can’t help but lose exposure to the competitor who does. It’s a conundrum, yes. But, I still encourage its use because we have to wait for the next evolution of social media without losing momentum on the existing.

Twitter

Still my favorite. Where else can you get in on the action LIVE! Where else can you learn the latest even before Reuters gets it to the various news media? Where else can you have a singular conversation with interested and informative participants in real-time?

Yes you converse on Facebook and Google+, but when you get on a roll or a Tweetchat with others on Twitter, no other platform can compare with the immediacy in feedback and fun! Facebook may have its games and G+ may have its hangouts, but Twitter is the most spontaneous of all. And who doesn’t like a race? Yup, it’s like a race to respond in line before another question or an answer by another. Maybe it’s best suited for us ADD’ers ;)

But for small business, it is again, a must to be included in the conversations. But, alas, most SMBs are not on Twitter, or even if they are, have no clue about optimization.

And Not to Forget Pinterest

Pinterest, I’m a little worried about. Do people really visit the people they follow or are they mostly cruising the home page for the latest or a category page? It seems like the most viable spot on Pinterest is the home feed where the latest pins are popping up. So with all this action elsewhere, are Pinterest users too distracted by the latest and not have enough time to make a concerted effort to visit the pages they have followed? I could be wrong, but it is a concern.

No I have not forgotten LinkedIn, Instagram, etc… but they have clearly defined themselves (kudos to them) and are in a safe zone for now.

At any rate, no matter which platform addiction followers have, it is important to recognize that all platforms have their followers and we would be foolish to not recognize the power of their social media attention. 

Consider online marketing’s infancy and understand that no one, and I mean no user, no “expert,” no one has a crystal ball because, again imho, social media is highly dependent on technology capabilities. So, I expect that inasmuch as we have seen amazing things around online use in these last 20 years,…

…We Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet!

#1 Tip for SMBs: Don’t Be Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

TH has a discussion question posed by the Group Manager for the LinkedIn Marketing Communications Group:

“Do you have any tips or ideas for marketers working on a tight budget? Please add your suggestions.”

In the comments, there were many great suggestions on how to market with the fewest dollars possible for the best results. And, as usual, there were many suggestions about social media, blogging, promotional products, grass-roots marketing, guerrilla marketing, etc, but  no one was addressing the real issue – and that is that marketing should be recognized as a critical investment in your business.

So as a member of that group, I added my suggestion. I hope this gives you some new perspective. I also suggest you visit the group to read the other comments as many were note worthy and well presented.

“These are all excellent suggestions for the more seasoned small business person, but I must add that my first tip would be to rethink the distribution of your budget to include a higher percentage for marketing.

I see small business clients often spend properly for the right equipment, computers/software, fixtures, merchandise, supplies, etc., but leave marketing budgets to “whatever $ is leftover” rather than a priority. This is convoluted and wasteful thinking.

Marketing is just as much a priority as all the other elements of your business. And a do-it-yourself approach based on the “free” element of social media usually gets poor results and ultimately is deserted or fails.

It is as (if not more) important to invest in marketing as it is in physical business necessities. Because marketing is an intangible that many business owners have difficulty understanding, they don’t understand how critical it is to the success of business.

**My answer is to increase your marketing budget, and have a well thought out and scheduled plan that includes synergy with your sales techniques and merchandising.”

Here again is the link to the actual discussion for you as there are many tips worth noting and the discussion has just started!

http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&gid=59008&type=member&item=241638207&commentID=140716839&report%2Esuccess=8ULbKyXO6NDvmoK7o030UNOYGZKrvdhBhypZ_w8EpQrrQI-BBjkmxwkEOwBjLE28YyDIxcyEO7_TA_giuRN#commentID_140716839

Also, please feel free to join the discussion on my Facebook Page.

Why SMBs Should Consider a Marketing Consultant

Apparently a lot of people don’t understand consulting services. When many prospects shop for a marketing consultant, they often expect some sort of price and package menu. A prix fixe is a double-edged sword for consultants and prospects.

Why hire a consultant?

You hire a consultant because they customize their services to your needs. They should have specialized experience and know-how of what you require to succeed. Moreover, a consultant is not an employee – no overhead, no insurance, no commitment to keep them, easy to hire and fire, and many more benefits of a non-employee status. You have total control.

However, you as a business owner typically don’t know what you don’t know outside of your areas of expertise, so package pricing is really of little to no use to you. Some work on a sliding scale based on the size of the job, length of time, customized preparation involved, and so on.

Every small business is different in their marketing needs, and every small business is at a different stage and level of marketing. There are thousands of self-help websites, books, tools, and more out there – and many of them free. But, it’s not just knowledge of using the tools you need, but the strategies and applications that fit your particular business that are far more important for implementation.

Food for thought:

The overall impact of a consultant is that clients have access to deeper levels of expertise than would be feasible for them to retain in-house, and may purchase only as much service from the outside consultant as desired.

You have total control. That’s the beauty of hiring a consultant. You need not employ another person to get a specific job done. You can retain a consultant for as long as you like or as an as-needed go-to resource for your business.

It’s a win-win for both client and consultant.

Keep it Slow and Simple with LOTS of Visuals! – Seminars and Webinars, that is… :)

Seminars have your head spinning?

I’ve been asked to provide a presentation/demo on online tools that a) are free and b) easy for even the tech-challenged (these aren’t just boomers either… I’m surprised how many in their 30s have no clue).

It started with an email newsletter that I sent with a few tips on free tools. The host of the event is a subscriber and loved it, so she asked me to present on it at one of her events. (Which shows you never know where opportunity will knock).

To tell the truth, I had felt guilty about that newsletter. I had been so busy that I didn’t have time to do the newsletter I wanted, so I featured the tools. Hmm. But, turns out it was fortuitous in giving me the opportunity to speak (I loooove to speak!).

Now, how do you fill 45 minutes on tools without overwhelming the audience?

I’ve decided to keep it slow and simple. With LOTS of visuals!

I mean, don’t you attend a seminar or webinar to feel like you actually LEARNED something?! I haven’t been attending as many as I used to because I get disgusted with people who hold you captive for an hour only to gloss over the topic and then slam you with a sell at the end. And the worst are those webinars with a stagnant visual just in your face the whole time.

Give me some meat and potatoes. Give me something to chew on for a while. Give me a reason to go back to my desk and try something new.

How about you?

I hope my audience walks away with something of real value…

 

Who Are These People and What Am I Doing Here?

George Takei https://www.facebook.com/georgehtakei
George Takei – or as some of us know him from the original Star Trek Cast – “Sulu” Now the most influential person on Social Media in 2012. https://www.facebook.com/georgehtakei

Many social media newsletters and blogs are chock full of the wrongs and rights of social media. But, while that is all truly good information, most of my clients and presentation attendees are still very hungry for the WHY of social media.

  • What good is it?
  • Why should they bother?
  • And lastly – Why should they want to connect with hundreds or thousands of strangers?

So I decided not to discuss the stats on where Social Media has gone in 2012, the demographics and analysis, the projections for where it is going, etc… (my favorite reliable source for that  – http://mashable.com/social-media/)

INSTEAD, let’s walk through the “why” in hopes it will change how you think about Social Media and get you participating on a REAL basis.
I remembered a blog (no link, I’m protecting the innocent), that suggested in your efforts to organize in preparation for the opportunities of 2013, that you should also UN-Follow anyone in social media if you couldn’t identify them on sight of their gravatar.

H U H ?

My Perfect segue into the why…

If you follow the advice of that blogger and UN-follow anyone whom you really don’t know, don’t connect on LinkedIn with someone you don’t know, and don’t accept invitations to friend those you don’t know, then you are missing the point of social media. (yes, you should check out their profile first!)

TO PUT THIS IN THE SIMPLEST TERMS… Here is the why…

Part 1 – Who ARE these people?

  • When you go to a party or gathering, do you ignore everyone you don’t know?
  • When you attend a business networking event, do you refrain from accepting a business card or offering your own?
  • When you are standing in line at the grocery store and the person behind you comments on the long wait, do you turn away and ignore them?
  • At any public sports event or concert or play, if the person in the seat next to you shares positively in your emotional response to the event, do you reject them?
  • When you are at a store that sells products for your hobby or niche, does the advice of a bystander bother you when you make a decision on the products you are perusing…?

Are you starting to get that aspect of it…?

Ok – now part 2 – What am I doing here?

  • Have you  never made any comments to a stranger on the surrounding events?
  • Have you never hi-fived someone next to you at the Sports Bar when the team you both support makes a goal?
  • Have you never offered words of comfort to a stranger in need?
  • Have you never shared business ideas and observations with the vendor in the next rented booth at an expo?
  • At home, don’t you have pictures of family, vacations, certificates of achievement… on your walls for all who visit to see?
  • Don’t you talk to strangers (prospective customers) every day in your business?
  • Have you never been excited to share good news or concerned enough to share bad news?

Enough? Now is it sinking in?

Last Considerations:

  • Do you know the number of friends, acquaintances and colleagues you have in the physical world?
  • Aren’t those relationships of varying degrees?

There are services out there that people get sucked into that will “buy” likes for your social media account…

  • Do you want friends that have nothing to do with your world – in other words, do you “buy” friends who serve no purpose but to add quantity to your circle?

So now… what do you do to get started on a realistic level that works? You begin to think of Social Media as a public venue for all the interaction you do on a normal basis…

  • You stop thinking of Social Media as a badge of distinction based on the numbers of fans or followers.
  • You become open to the possibilities of these tools of social media. Yes, that is all they are… tools. YOU make them what they are and YOU determine the results you get. Just like in the physical world.

I hope this blog has helped explain and inform you enough to get more involved in the use of social media for your business – and get social!  And don’t forget that Google loves fresh content…

Post Script:
And one last distinction that is often overlooked… Social Media is also a manifestation of our 1st amendment rights in the United States of America
Consider that in some countries, there are use restrictions and even total bans…

Example: Section 66A of India’s Information Technology Act, makes it a crime punishable by jail time to use social media platforms to make offensive statements.

Food for thought.

Please visit my archives for more food for thought on Social Media and more…