Yes, We Do That

The Allied Group is New England's leading provider of Printing, Kitting, Mailing and Fulfillment services. Our blog authors have backgrounds in Sales, Marketing, IT, Production and Operations and post useful tips, trends, news and opinions in our industry and beyond. We know you'll find something you enjoy. Most of all, be sure to jump into the conversation!

The 5 Fundamentals of Great Customer Service Organizations

"Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it.  It is what the customer gets out of it."                                        &n...
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Are You Really Going For It?

"It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult" Lucius Annaeus SenecaHopefully most of us have big goals and dreams. Ones that we desire to accomplish and contribute in both significant and meaningful ways. That is the very essence of human nature. When one lets go of his or her dre...
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Remember Me? I'm Your Customer.

"Your customer doesn't care how much you know until they know how much you care." ~ Damon Richards I had two experiences the other day that left me shaking my head in disbelief. Both were solicitations for my business. One a radio commercial. The other, a direct telemarketer. First, the auto dealership. Sometimes I feel like I pick on the...
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An Attitude of Entitlement Leads to Mediocrity—or Worse

"A sense of entitlement is a cancerous thought process that is void of gratitude and can be deadly to our relationships." - Dr. Steve MiraboliI found this story in my notes just the other day. My apologies for not being able to quote either the author or the source. Like almost all stories, I'm not sure if it is true or not. But, like any good stor...
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One Missing Sign is Often the First of Many

I recently went to breakfast with a business colleague at a fairly large hotel restaurant.
Now if you’re like me, and most people I know, you’d look for the sign that gives the instructions about how I’m about to be served. Either; “please seat yourself”, or, “please wait to be seated”. We saw neither.

And to make things even more confusing, there was NO ONE in any direction to help tell us with what we should do. Not wanting to break the unwritten rule we did not see, we waited. And waited. And waited.

After about 4 to 5 minutes we decided to seat ourselves and help ourselves to the breakfast buffet. We put our coffee, juice and first plate down and went to retrieve some silverware. When we got back to our table we found that our food had been cleared and table washed down.

While standing there more than somewhat both stunned and amused, the server mysteriously appeared again and when we mentioned what had happened she matter-of-factly responded that we could help ourselves to more food. And she disappeared again.

After finally re-loading our plates we found the eggs runny, the fruit not ripe, the coffee cold and the juice warm.

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What's your goal?

Do you need more Customers? More sales? More Revenue? If so, then you need better marketing communication strategies. Unbelievably, one of the first things that too many companies cut during the recession.

Why you ask? Because the ultimate goal of marketing is to attract customers by making yourself attractive to them. If they don’t know about you, then there is no way that they can buy from you.

Marketing is everything you do to promote your business; from the second you dream about it through the time you actually have customers buy your products and services. It encompasses all aspects from naming and branding your company through the ways you present your value proposition to your target audience. Peter Drucker, the acknowledged leading management thinker of the 20th century, said that marketing and innovation were the 1st concern of all businesses, more important than anything else - including finances.

Good marketing is not an expense but rather an investment because it will pay you back. Most successful companies, even ones that had a unique market position at the start, eventually have to differentiate themselves from the competition. The only way to do this in both the short term and long run is marketing.

Done correctly, effective marketing will:

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Where's the Wow?

For years now, every 4th of July, we pack the kids in the family car and head off to the firework show at the local park. And while it is always entertaining, this past year we started whispering half way through that maybe we would not come back next year. Been there, done that. Seen one, seen ‘em all. Then, all of a sudden, it started. The mother of all finales. Explosions of color and sound all over the sky. It lasted for more than 15 minutes. Incredible! Definitely worth going back for.

How many of your customers feel the same about your service? Even if it’s good, is it enough? Is there a wow factor, something unexpected that is worth coming back for? Remember the three possible outcomes of a customer interaction with your company.

Expectations not met. We know what happens then.
Expectations met. Do you really want only a 50/50 chance of retaining customers?
Expectations exceeded. Now we’re talking.

Now, one carload of kids, even mine, would not dramatically alter the economics of a community fireworks show. Sure, a few less glow-sticks and buckets of popcorn and lemonade and hotdogs would be sold, but the vendors would not go out of business. But multiply the not coming back effect slightly and it just may. Try losing 3 or 5 or 10% of your business because you provide only average value rather then something special and see what happens.

In this day and age of choice and global competition, deliver the basics and consumers are likely to judge you unfavorably. Deliver the basics along with what is expected and you might get a middle of the road rating. Only when you start to exceed expectations do customers begin to think about coming back on a regular basis.

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Meatloaf Got it Wrong - 2 Out of 3 Is Bad!

I want you…I need you…but b2ap3_thumbnail_meatloaf1.jpgthere ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you – now don’t be sad….cause two out of three ain’t bad. ~Meatloaf

One of the more popular singers of my youth, this was the signature line from one of his two most popular songs. We’ll save the review of Paradise by the Dashboard Light for another time.

Here’s my problem. I’m pretty sure that two out of three doesn’t work so well in the game of love. And I know for certain that two out of three doesn’t work at all in the world of business development.

Successful business development (long-term revenue and profitability growth) can’t happen without all three of the necessary elements in place and working well. All organizations must be able to do three things; attract, acquire and retain the right customers.

Attract. An integrated marketing communication plan usually consists of a variety of parts that may change over time but committed to so that no gap in getting your message out there exists. A winning marketing communication strategy could be made up of any number of tactics including unique lead generation methods, personalized direct mail and promotional products. The key is to get and hold a prospective customers’ attention.

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Sports and/or Business

Sports and/or Business

Fresh off the weekend and the Superbowl being set, I found myself wondering many times about how the sport itself translates into a business. Of course there is strategy on the field and in the game plan, but is there strategic marketing going on as it relates to the overall goal of the team? I'm not talking simply about promotions. I'm wondering...are all teams trying to win? Does winning on the field = business success?

As a true New England sports fan, that has been/was always the knock on the Red Sox and Bruins. After Dan Duquette proudly proclaimed that "we spent more time in first place than any other team" it became clear that the ultimate goal may be to simply build a competitive team. They may not win it all, but they put butts in the seats and they "make it interesting" every year. And really, do we want to make the investment (financially, physically & mentally) to be a true contender?

You could say the same thing about business. We're brought in for our marketing consultancy services and to implement tactics like one to one communication and to redesign websites, but are we fundamentally willing to make the tough decisions? Are we willing and able to make the investment needed to field the best team possible?

"Strategy" is a word that's getting tossed around left and right in the boardroom and in the locker room. And I'm beginning to wonder if we've forgotten what it actually means. To be an elite 3 PL Provider or marketing communications company, we've got to actually put our money where our mouth is and make the move from pretender, to contender!


How to "Escape the Black Hole"

Are you talking Science Fiction or Sales and Marketing? Robert Schmonsees book cover looks like it was designed for Carl Sagan: "Escaping The Black Hole - Minimizing the Damage from the Marketing-Sales Disconnect."  
While the cover evokes images of Star Trek and the metaphors seem scientific - the content gets to the heart of the matter. In the traditional business model Marketing and Sales support are not interwoven and aligned. Sales doesn't use the content and tools developed by Marketing;  Marketing generates leads that are not followed up on by sales; and neither side values the others contributions or opinions.
"The Black Hole" is the unknown place where well intentioned projects go that died before their time. Marketing designs collateral, develops websites, branding - all based on expensive market research.  Sales receives brochures, training, and, hopefully, leads. So what's missing? VALUE. Do we know if anyone this solves a client's problem - or adds value for the client. The result - time, resources, budget and lots of recycled paper that ends up in "The Black Hole."
But Why? Both Marketing and Sales have skills, they worked hard, and they focused on their Core Competencies. But, did they work together to develop a "Complete Value Proposition" - and did they understand that, as Schmonsees calls it, CMM (Customer Message Management) is the key to success. Take the best of an integrated marketing communications campaign and a well trained Sales Team, develop solid value propositions, provide sales-ready tools, all geared toward a "one to one communication" that is a truly relevant  conversation with the prospect. CMM requires partnership and a "synchronization: of the Sales and Marketing "ecosystem."
Some companies are looking for business process outsourcing solutions or marketing consultancy services partner (like The Allied Group) for answers. Others choose turnover. Did know that the average CMO's tenure is less than 3 years and over 50% of sales people don't reach their annual quota? As competition increases and budgets decrease - how does a successful Sales and Marketing team prevent getting lost - together?
A good start might be to give all your leadership Robert Schmonsees' book. It may be the map to keep your campaigns out of the Black Hole.   
ps.  My boss gave me the book !

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