April 23, 2014

Column from Florida Trend's Business Coach

How to tell if your marketing works or not

Ron Stein | 5/21/2012

Does your marketing stink? Don’t brush this off too quickly. More than likely you know deep down that your marketing isn’t as effective at growing sales as you’d like.

The beautiful thing about marketing is that when done correctly it leads to a sale.

But that’s the end result. Before laying out the warning signs of a stinky marketing effort, let’s define what marketing is:

"Marketing is everything."

Regis McKenna, a marketing consultant, proclaimed this shockingly simple statement in an article he wrote for the Harvard Business Review. Many companies see marketing as purely a tactical function, which produces all sales material and promotional efforts — yet, It’s much more than that.

Everything you do affects how prospects and customers view your company. From the right product or service solving the right problem, to how you answer the phone and your speed of handling issues. It should involve every corner of your company. It is the entire business seen from the customer’s point of view.

So how do you tell the difference between marketing that works and marketing that doesn’t? Here are 4 signs that your marketing stinks:

  • Your customers don’t get what they want. Most businesses will not take the time to really understand prospects and customers -- how they operate, what motivates them, what outcomes they’re looking for, and the decision process they use to make purchases. In fact, nearly all companies have a difficult time describing their ideal or perfect customer in detail. When assumptions are made about what customers want, sales are killed. Don’t fly blind -- get the facts. Ask your market if you’re delivering what they want.
  • You aren’t clear about your unique selling proposition. Prospects get confused about the value of an offer for three primary reasons -- (1) the wrong point of view, (2) lack of meaningful results, and (3) businesses that attempt to be too many things to too many markets. Start by focusing on prospects from their perspective. Most companies tend to talk only about themselves and the wiz bang features of their products or services. Count how many times your sales literature and website use "we" or "our" or "I". Look at your too long list of features. That’s not what people want! Change your messaging by writing and talking about your prospects and the results they want. Finally, a business can only stand for one key value idea. Otherwise you’ll muddy the waters and confuse potential customers.
  • Your follow through lacks a systematic approach. Revenue goals will never be met with wishful thinking. You need to have a process for converting interested prospects into paying customers. It has to be a repeatable approach that captures leads and follows up with prospects, both online and offline. Know exactly who is going to follow up on leads and what educational materials will be used at each step to develop a relationship of trust. Consistent follow through will boost your closing rate and dramatically increase customer satisfaction."
  • Your sales people complain a lot. I know, you’re thinking that all sales people love to grumble and find fault. Maybe there’s a bit of truth to this, after all the good ones are intensely goal-oriented and self-confident. There’s something worse though, and that’s not having them drive the revenue you expect when you know that they are skilled sales people. When that happens, just ask them what they need in order to sell more effectively. If you trust your sales force and their talent, then listen. If you’re a small company and you are the primary sales generator, trust your gut. Someone who is in front of prospects all of the time will know what works and what’s a waste of time and money.

Marketing touches everything in your business.

Know what your customers want and have a message that communicates your value proposition consistently across all possible customer touch points. Lead generation is the lifeblood of any company, but is worthless if there isn’t a system and approach in place to follow through and build relationships. And create tools that that will leverage your sales people’s time and boost their productivity. The result will be more sales with less effort!"


Read earlier columns from Florida Trend's business coach, Ron Stein
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Ron Stein is the founder and President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com). He has more than 20 years experience in sales, marketing, and business development, working positions ranging from salesman to vice president of sales and marketing to CEO of startups with industry leaders such as Motorola, VideoServer, Paradyne, and SercoNet. Ron is a member of the advisory team at the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, a nationally recognized entrepreneurial and startup accelerator for the state of Florida. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com

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