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?

Is KMart Abusing Employees with No Time for Thanksgiving?

This is just a quick poll to get your opinion on the insanity around Black Friday.

In case you aren’t aware, KMart recently announced they were opening at 6 am on Thanksgiving and remaining open for 41 hours through Black Friday. I tweeted them about it and later learned this is their standard reply for any negative social media comments around this decision.

@KMart replied:

“Our decision to extend hours is based in part on fdbk from our Members, who sought more flex holiday in-store shopping times.”

This is a case where the customer is not always right. Businesses must consider the impact on employees.

Huffington Post has a screenshot of a Facebook thread with this discussion.

As a Retail Career Dog, I remember that Thanksgiving and Christmas Days were the only 2 days a year I could promise my family I’d be there. Not the case for today’s employees… Soon they’ll be open on Christmas Day. Oh, wait, I think they did start that in 2012… :(

(Note: Sorry to pick on just you, KMart. Yes, I know many retailers are open on Thanksgiving. But that doesn’t make it right in a day and age when family ties are so fragile and family traditions that help hold them together are disintegrating.)

Are Marketing Pundits Defining Social Media Without Consideration for Small Business?

Empty ConversationIn my experience with new clients, I sometimes wonder how it is they are so far behind in understanding social media concepts. But then, I sometimes can’t fault them.

  • Uncertain platform choices
  • The demise of some platforms.
  • Social media best practice content purposed primarily toward larger businesses and corporations.

Add to that the unspoken secret among experienced social media users – there truly is a long learning curve before the ROI kicks in with any social media.

Now for the bright side.

You’re a small business owner. You are successful because of the relationships you have with your customers. Sure, product has a say in your success, but it’s how you deliver on product that ultimately leads to your success, right?

So. completely forget everything you know about traditional marketing when you sit at your technology board of choice. Put on your on-the-floor sales hat and remember how you approach customers walking in the door. You’re not like the chain stores that bark hellos at you the moment a customer enters. YOU approach your customers in a relationship building manner.

You greet them, engage in a little chat, draw them into conversation around their needs, educate them on how to best get those needs met, offer suggestions on what you can provide toward those goals, fulfill with product or service, deliver, and follow-up on satisfaction. You do this while maintaining consciousness regarding their needs, not yours. Why? Because you know satisfaction is key to repeat/referral business.

Ok, now simply use exactly that strategy in your online content implementation.

Yes, it really is that simple. If you still have a hard time wrapping your head around that, work it in reverse. Think clearly about what you would NOT do on the sales floor. Then don’t do it on social media!!!

Best example? While you may have displays with a call to action firmly in place, you still do not verbally approach customers with a call to action. Then why do so many social media users do that in their updates? Because they are thinking of social media in the context of traditional marketing which is primarily focused on enticement and calls to action. Stop it!

For Your Small Biz: the Best Times NOT to Tweet [Infographic]

Twitter is apparently still the most misunderstood of the social media platforms.

While I was cruising Pinterest, I ran across just one too many Infographics declaring the best times to tweet. Chicken Little was everywhere! If you aren’t posting at those times, you’ll fail!

Not hardly. And has it occurred to anyone that if EVERYONE is posting during those “prime time” spots, then those times will become flooded and then you’ll be just as anonymous as they initially warned.

The most important times to tweet are when your demographic is there. Period. If you aren’t searching relevant keywords to determine where and when your preferred listeners are, then you are shooting at random.

Well, I took a stab at creating my own infographic. Hope it helps put some perspective on Twitter for you!

For Your Small Biz... the Best times NOT to Tweet

#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!


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

New Facebook News Feed Features – An Admission of Guilt or a Conquest for Users?

They have come a Loooong way! facebook (Photo credit: sitmonkeysupreme)

So, Facebook has finally come around…

We may think that Facebook doesn’t notice when we aren’t happy, but seriously? They notice. Especially since their attempt to monetize through their Edgerank algorithms is simply not working.

Sometimes you have to be hit over the head a few times before you realize the customer is right (most of the time).

So, FINALLY, Facebook is rolling out a new News Feed over the coming weeks with the following features. And for the full article (from Facebook themselves – shock!), click this link: http://newsroom.fb.com/News/581/A-New-Look-for-News-Feed

What we all really wanted all along and Facebook will be implementing:

  • All Friends – a feed that shows you everything your friends are sharing
  • Photos – a feed with nothing but photos from your friends and the Pages you like
  • Music – a feed with posts about the music you listen to
  • Following – a feed with the latest news from the Pages you like and the people you follow.

YAY! Just like Christmas for us Facebook junkies!

The point is that your consumer does often know what they want. And they are the ones using the product, so WHY NOT LISTEN?

From Skadeedle [Infographic]: Email Marketing Etiquette Dos & Don’ts

Email Marketers! You can’t afford NOT to address each point on the infographic below! Don’t risk an “Opt-out” or an unsubscribe because you overlooked what you might think of as a minor detail. Skadeedle is my favorite new Small Business marketing source. Here’s a fantastic Infographic they created that hits every nail on the head when it comes to what email marketers often overlook. Every single point on both the dos and don’ts are often dismissed or overlooked.

Perhaps #6 Do is the most underused: Include alt text (for those who don’t render images). This has become more important than ever with SmartPhone use on the exponential increase for opening email.

For better results in your email marketing – PRINT THIS OUT and keep it handy for every time you send an email to market your business!

Email Marketing Etiquette Dos & Don’ts [Infographic] - An Infographic from Skadeedle

Embedded from Skadeedle