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!

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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Corporate Marketing Services vs. Strategic Sales

Are Sales and Marketing like the Offense and Defense for the Patriots?  Players with two different sets of skills supporting each other with a common goal.

Or, are they like Liz Taylor and Richard Burton...   On again - Off again....  From newlyweds to jilted lovers and back again.

Responses to a recent LinkedIn survey overwhelmingly agreed that most organizations have some degree of friction between Sales and Marketing - and all agreed that bridging that gap is critical for success. 

What they didn't agree on is who is owns:

 

  • Lead Generation Methods
  • Marketplace Research and Data Appending
  • How we improve Customer Service
  • Do we need Direct Mail Marketing
  • Do we need Promotional Products
  • How do we maximize our CRM


This blog will try to bring together these diverse opinions and find some common ground from which we can all benefit. 

Have any thoughts???  Email me!

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Playing catch with the Lead Grenades !

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Let's be honest. We've all been there. Launching grenades across the wall - not at our competition - but at our internal partners!  Recently in a meeting with a Life Science Marketing professional, I was fascinated to hear exactly how little on which the Marketing and the Sales group agreed. Neither side felt the other was very effective at Lead Generation Methods, research, or how best to leverage Personalized Direct Marketing tools.

Two of my favorite Award Winning movies exemplify the struggle.. ...

"Patton" - the General Patton is berating a representative of the Air Force about the lack of air support ( Marketing ) the ground troops ( Sales ) are receiving and the problems that is causing. As the Air Force representative assures the group of the Allied Force Air dominance - the room is hit with enemy strafing fire and everyone hits the deck.... Patton races outside and chases the enemy planes with hand gun fire. 

"Glengarry Glen Ross" - Marketing regularly develops leads - which they feel should be easy to close. The key moment in the movie arrives with the news that Corporate Marketing has spent a lot of money for the "quality leads." A group of seasoned ( or more accurately jaded ) salesmen begin to fight for their share of the Glengarry Leads - Corporate isn't sure if any of them can handle them. A profanity laced argument ensues - tossing verbal hand grenades across the desk.

Successful Marketing Communications Strategies are best provided as an Integrated Marketing Campaign. Marketing should be using the intelligence gathered by the ground troops and providing coordinated air support - and sales should be taking full advantage of the tools and programs developed by Marketing. 

Nearly every B2B or B2C client surveyed by The Allied Group agreed that developing Personalized Marketing Campaigns or One to One Communications programs are key to successful Business Development. Using research to truly make your content and solutions relevant to your prospect - great companies find a way to bring Marketing and Sales to the table early - and often. Everyone benefits....especially your prospect and future client !

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Lead Generation

Who owns Lead Generation in your organization? Do you have sales people sitting at their desks waiting for Marketing to generate leads? Do you have Marketing people spending their time working on ideas that look great but won't catch the clients eye? Or do you have a team that bounces ideas and feedback back and forth: Strategize - Execute - Measure - Adjust...

In the old model - Marketing spent their energy creating and developing content - they made a movie...  Marketing wrote the script, designed the costumes, decorated the sets, ran the ad campaign, product launch and media blitz. The I's were dotted and the T's crossed - and then it was handed off to sales. 

Sales people handed out flyers, gave out candy, popcorn and  soda. They showed prospects where to sit, made them feel good while the watched the movie: F&B ( The Features and Benefits of _______ ) - and when it was over they tried to sell tickets, DVD's, t-shirts and memorabilia.

In the new model - Sophisticated prospects are not interested in going to a stadium to watch YOUR F&B filmThis is the age of Personalization. That means that every salesperson has to develop and maintain their brand - and every marketing person has to put the clients needs ahead of the corporate goals. 

Think about your own world.  Do you ask for something special your burger, do you prefer Coke or Pepsi, do you like the generic Microsoft desktop? Or, do like to customize your desktop with Red Sox stats, local weather alerts, and a personalized Yahoo home page.

Successful Strategic Marketing and Sales Teams now work together. Together they develop flexible tools that provide a framework for everyone in the organization to use to communicate something of value to the prospect/client. They develop Integrated Marketing Communications Programs that include Social Media ( Blogs, Tweets, Facebook , LinkedIn ) and traditional Marcomm Programs ( Research, Lit Fulfillment, Promotional Products ). 

MOST IMPORTANTLY - they develop content that brings value to the client and solves the clients needs.  Working together - Sales and Marketing leaders can be a powerful combination that equals success. Success for the client and for the Company....

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The Social Media Dilemma

OK - I am officially on Social Media overload.  Despite all my efforts to confine my use of it as a tool - I have been assimilated by the Borg and now consider myself part of the collective.  I give up....  I pledge my allegiance to the blog and to the go public strategy for which it stands, one Twitter, under Linkedin, completely visible, with Facebook, Networking, and Branding for all.

It seems that you can no longer have a conversation without spending at least half of the time discussing Social Media. 

Lead Generation, Web Design, Data Appending, Sales Training, Marketing, SEO, Blogging, Public Relations, Direct Mail, Business Development, Loyalty - no matter what the topic - doesn't it seem to now center on Social Media?

In the last three weeks I have been to three events and participated in two webinars all of which focused on Social Media ROI.  Not one person had a case study that showed any proven ROI that Social Media had made them money. 

But can you live without? How will people find you, how will people trust you, how will people view you if you don't have a robust Social Media presence? 

In our Brave New World....

1.  We all self-educate before we make a decision. The fastest and easiest way to do the research is generally on the web.  Social Media make info is accessible.

2.  We trust people we know. Relatives, neighbors and friends have always influenced our decisions. Social Media extends the circle and reduces the time to get opinions.

3.  We want community. Humans crave affiliation and want to be part of something. Church groups, Elks, Rotary, PTA - these are all ways that we connect with people of similar interests... it helps us feel normal! Social Media offers a gateway to join groups, follow trends, get information without having to go to meetings, get on committees or sell brownies as a fundraiser. 

We may not always like it or even understand it - but Social Media - like every other major shift in how we communicate - offers benefits and hurdles. Radio didn't kill books or newspapers, TV didn't kill radio, Movies didn't kill theater, Cable didn't kill movies, email didn't kill the USPS, Texting has killed email, and Social Media won't kill Sales and Marketing. It will change us forever....

Progress brings new worlds, new opportunities and new markets. Social Media is a game changer, but the game isn't over.

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Guaranteed Results in minutes a day! Really?

Attending a recent "Get Motivated" Infomercial in Providence recently, I was overwhelmed by how easy it is to be incredibly successful. Guaranteed Results !  Bigger... Faster... Better...  Thinner...  Stronger... 

Sounds perfect right? Why wait... The cure for all your troubles is right here waiting.....  Click here ...  Download this...  No risk...  No Obligation...  Instant Results...

The featured guests included the "A" list of the worldwide speaker tour: Colin Powell, Rudy Giuliani, Lou Holtz, Terry Bradshaw - and best of all, everyone's favorite TV dad - Bill Cosby. These powerful speakers brought personal stories and interesting anecdotes all touching on three important themes: God, America and Business.

In between the speakers, the "pitch" was on. The room was full of people hungry for expert wisdom and guidance on how to become wealthy, independent and widely successful via Internet based: investing, real estate and affiliate marketing. For a very low monthly investment - you can join the ranks of millionaire's from ages 4 to 85 who have used these tools to become wealthy in just 90 days.

Now, it's possible that these tools could work and you could be a millionaire in 90 days. In full disclosure - I am a big fan of God, America and Business. I am also a big fan of ROI and of success. I've also seen some exciting business development programs - but none of them worked their magic in quite the same way.

Some bad news.... Managing and growing your personal brand or your corporate brand takes time. There is no panacea, no cure all, no "get results overnight guaranteed" program. Marketing and Sales success evolves from a prolonged, diversified, and intentional effort. Whether you are in Sales and Marketing in Medical Devices, Higher Education, Non-Profit, Insurance or any other field - the keys to success are the same. 

Success is the result of nurturing prospects and clients, providing them valuable content and solving problems. Not exactly rocket science. Good old fashioned business sense. Success comes from working with a Strategic Marketing Consultancy or a Business Process Outsourcing Solutions Provider who will help you build the right model:

  • Research and Analysis:  who are your best prospects?
  • Data Appending:   what is of interest to them?
  • Nurture Marketing: how best to speak to them?
  • Lead Generation:  how can they easily interact with you?

What you will end up with is an Integrated Marketing Campaign that leverages email, web, print, mobile, events and social media.... Combining the best of print and digital to

Some good news....  This infomercial - was free.

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Sun Tzu "The Art of War"

I'll admit I never thought I would read this book. We've all heard it quoted in movies - (Bud Fox to Gordon Gekko in Wall Street) but actually reading it... That's another thing all together.

What could this book possibly have to say about Marketing, Sales, Lead Generation, or Business Development? How does it apply to The Allied Group - or any other business in 2011? 

Not surprising, was the valuable insights into Operational concepts, Financial Implications, and the need for constant adaptation.

So - what can we learn in Sales and Marketing 2300 years after Sun Tzu wrote his blog:

"War is a grave concern of the state; it must be studied... the 5 factors are moral influence, weather, terrain, command and doctrine..."

  • Moral Influence: The people (sales, marketing, finance, operations) must be in harmony with the leaders.
  • Weather: The interaction of natural forces that affect the conduct of operations in accordance with the season. A direct mail campaign for snow blowers in July ???
  • Terrain: Whether the ground is traversed with ease or difficulty, whether it is open or constricted, and the chances of life and death. If closing the sale requires a live demo - will the product travel well, can sales do the demo, are the prospects near each other, are there tariff or tax implications that will complicate the deal?
  • Command: The General's qualities of wisdom, sincerity, humanity, courage and strictness. I liked all of the qualities of a Sales and Marketing VP right up till "strictness." Who wouldn't love a boss that was wise, sincere, humane and had the courage to trynew things....and we all know that no one likes a boss without a spine. 
  • Doctrine: organization, control, assignment of appropriate ranks, regulation of supply routes, the provision of items.  What a waste if Marketing designs a cool new campaign - but it mails late because no one funded the USPS escrow account... or Sales has a killer blitz but operations can't keep up with the incoming requests...
  • There is no General who has not heard of these five matters. Those who master them will win, those who don't are defeated.  Nothing new under the sun - we all know the right way to manage our Sales and Marketing efforts... 

    So how do we do it ?
  1. Invest in an Integrated Marketing Communications Campaign
    1. Research
    2. Data Appending
    3. One to One Communication
    4. Lead Generation
    5. Stealth Programs
    6. Nurture Marketing
    7. Customer Acquisition
    8. Loyalty and Rewards
    9. Cross Selling
    10.   Referrals

     

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