Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Need For Solid Marketing Foundations

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The importance of creating marketing programs from a solid basis

Much of the marketing visible in the marketplace looks like the leaning tower of Pisa because it is based on weak foundations. Actually, if your marketing looks like that, it’s not too bad because the tower stands out, as opposed to the majority of the marketing stuff that is buried in the market noise and clutter. For our clients, our first role is architect. We start with the design of solid and long-lasting marketing foundations that serve as a basis for the launch of a few well focused campaigns aimed at carefully selected targets. In other words, we help them stand up and stand out through smart marketing investments. There is a joke that says “I know that half of my marketing money is wasted, but I don’t know which half.” When marketing tactics are built on solid foundations, the bad 50% is reduced to a minimum. Marketing foundations consist of a few essential building blocks, including bottom up:

Differentiation

Question: What are the three things that make you stand out or set you apart from your competitors?

The key to standing out in a crowded market is to be different in an attractive and meaningful way. The choice of one major differentiation factor is the toughest problem most marketers are facing because they all have a tendency to bombard us with endless lists of specifications, features and benefits (including the proverbial kitchen sink). They don’t think hard enough about what notto say.

Positioning

Question: What position do you want to occupy in the mind of your customers?

Clear differentiation is, in turn, the key to successful positioning. Positioning is the act and the art of imprinting a unique, credible and memorable message in the mind of the customer and to consistently work at defending and reinforcing this position. This takes time but, once you are ‘there’, it’s difficult to dislodge you.

Core Message

Question: How do you translate the above into persuasive words?

The core of your message needs to be attractive, relevant and persuasive to serve as a consistent basis for:

– Your marketing plan

– Tag lines and one-sentence statements

– One-page company / product briefs

– One-paragraph to half-page summaries

– Elevator pitches, 60-second speeches, ..

– Website content (e.g. “about us” statement)

– Brochures, newsletters, direct mail, advertising

– White papers, manifestos, case studies, etc

Customer Experience

Question: How do you make it easy and comfortable for your customers to deal with you and use your products and services?

We find it also very effective to describe, in simple words, what happens from the moment a prospect gets in contact with your company to the time your service is completed or your product no longer used.

Thinking Out of the Box

Question: Why do you need an independent advisor?

Our experience shows that this essential exercise works better with the objective, external point-of-view of a specialist who looks at your company or products from a different angle and who brings fresh ideas.

We perform a thorough diagnosis and check if your company is ready for the market limelight, if your products are fit for market battles, and if your marketing strategies and tactics can withstand the heat.

Then we help you define, among multiple possibilities, what marketing investments are smart, focused and effective.

Sales Force Europe

 

How To Obtain Hot Leads for B2B Sales

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Telemarketing – Digital Marketing – Buzz generation via PR

Selling complex systems or services to companies is quite different from pushing mass products to consumers. Complex systems’ sales require a solid level of trust between the seller and the buyer through multiple contacts with customer staff and decision makers. Such sales also often span a long period involving presentation, evaluation, trials, RFQ, proposal, contract negotiations, delivery, installation, testing and final acceptance. Since sales people play a pivotal role through the whole process, as supplier, you have to make sure you engage professionals with solid expertise and experience.

In addition, you have to maximise your sales people efficiency by enabling them to get and follow the best possible leads.

If your target customers are easily identifiable –e.g. telecom operators, large banks, food retail chains- you can ask the sales people to qualify such prospects one by one, relying on already established contacts in such companies.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you can consider about any company as a potential customer (quasi B2C scenario) and if you have no upfront indication of what market sectors would be the most lucrative, lead generation plays a predominant role.

There are several ways to create a pipeline of quality leads and, in most cases, these methods can and should be combined to maximise effectiveness. Let’s examine three standard approaches.

[1] Telemarketing – Calling potential customers by well trained professionals allows to identify and to partly qualify interesting targets. This method permits trials and errors, testing samples in several sectors and progressively focusing on the most fruitful. You have to be careful not to antagonise buyers with quasi- automated calls sounding like cheap telesales. Callers have to fully understand what they present and be able to entertain a meaningful conversation through relevant questions… and answers. Positive calls can be followed up with mailings including appropriate documentation and introduction of the sales person who will carry on the dialog.

[2] Digital marketing – In today’s world it is essential for most companies to have a well-managed social media presence. This includes the development of professional LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter pages; efficient Search Engine Optimization keywords; Search Engine Marketing; technologies enabling online chat, automatic email responses, web conferencing and so on. Using advanced Online Reputation Management listening techniques, you can seek out relevant conversation hubs and Key Opinion Leaders and develop a plan to create a Conversion Rate Optimized online presence. By putting all your digital assets to work for you in generating leads efficiently, you will generate a pipeline of significant new leads.

[3] Buzz generation– Your first challenge -when entering a new geographic or application market- is to catch the attention of potential customers and to create some interest for your products and/or services. You will make the task of telemarketers and sales representatives significantly easier if -in the first contact- your company’s name/brand rings a bell in the prospect’s mind. So, you need to create a buzz in the new market. Apart from advertising, public relations -PR- is a rather efficient way to generate buzz. A single, part-time freelance local PR specialist with a reasonable knowledge of your application market can make a significant difference by drumming up the support of relevant media/publications, making your brand show up and initiating word-of-mouth. The whole process can be kicked off by a launch event marking your entry into the market. Your PR person will also advise your participation in local conferences or seminars, and help you manage contact during and after such events.

SFE can help you generate hot leads through the above methods by offering, in addition to standard Sales Representation Services and Sales Management Services, the services of experienced professionals in telemarketing, digital marketing and PR and all main geographies.

Sales Force Europe

“Streetline” – chooses SFE to accelerate its international growth

Streetline chooses SFE to accelerate its international growth. Streetline – Parking is a $25 billion industry that’s seen little innovation in decades. Streetline is changing this by helping to build a Smart Parking Ecosystem that integrates all the key players in the system: from motorists to parking lots and meters to the merchants and cities — even universities, airports, and shopping centers. Managing the true supply and demand of parking will enable cities and motorists to make smart transportation decisions.
With the introduction of Parker™, the first real-time parking guidance application for smartphones and in-car navigation systems, Streetline enables drivers to find parking quickly and easily. Experts estimate that 30% of urban traffic is caused by motorists looking for parking. By connecting the real world with critical information, Streetline is revolutionizing the way we live and work, while making cities more efficient and lessening their environmental impact.