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!

5 Resolutions for Business Success in 2016

The time has come...marketing services company

1. Commit to Marketing. Why? Because if people don't know you are an option to fulfill their needs then they can't buy from you. Effective marketing should increase your number of new business opportunities. If it doesn't - you don't have a sales problem - you have a marketing problem. 

2. Start with strategy. Getting your message out consistently is important - as long as it's the right message and it's getting to the right audience. The only way to know that you are hitting the target is to be sure of who you should be communicating with - and - why. (i.e. marketing communication strategies).

3. Be prepared to change course. Realize that there are no permanent solutions. All marketing tactics only work for a while. Marketing is essentially trial and error. Marketing requires a multitude of tactics. Customers who buy are the only measuring stick. Customers look for relevant solutions to their immediate needs.

4. Develop a sales process. Sales conversion isn't always about the "number's game". It is about having a repeatable process. The essential thing to sales success isn't lots of opportunities at all. It's developing a (marketing and sales support) system to make sure that, no matter how many calls you make, every one is managed as effectively and consistently as possible. The maximum number of calls is rarely the optimum number.

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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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The 5 Sales Lessons of the Fall

There is a time for every season and every purpose under the sun I’ve heard it was written. Well, fall is no exception. It is here. And for me, it brings with it some interesting sales (marketing and sales support) and business lessons.

1. Look for low hanging fruit. On our recent trip to the apple orchard, I spent a good bit of time maneuvering the ‘picker’ to reach high up into the trees to grab the apples at the top. But as we went along, I also grabbed some of the apples on the lower branches, and, even some on the ground. If you’re looking to make some deals this fall, grab some of the ones on top but don’t overlook the easy ones.

2. Embrace change. Change is in the air. The temperature. The amount of daylight. The color of the leaves. If you’re like one of the now 7 billion people living on the planet, I’m guessing that you’re experiencing some kind of change right now. Maybe it’s because of; technology, the economy, trends, styles etc. or whatever. Don’t fight it. Embrace it. Figure out how to profit, be more healthy and productive because of it.

3. Look for extra time. We’re about to turn back the clocks. In this upcoming weekend that means we get one extra hour of time. In your busy schedule, look for some things you can drop (turn back) so that you can pick up a little extra time for the priorities in life.

4. Ask for the order. My kids didn’t walk up to the doors on Halloween night, ring the bell and say, “would you like to think it over about giving me some candy”? They rang or knocked on the door, it opened and they said, “Trick or Treat”? And they came home with hundreds of orders…ah, I mean pieces of candy.

5. Be prepared for surprises. The freak snow storm that hit Saturday night caught many people buy surprise. Hadn’t bought the new ice scraper, couldn’t find the snow shovel in the shed. Be a boy scout. Be prepared. Go into the day, the rest of this year and, next year, with a plan that includes being ready for the unexpected.

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Paper is not bad

Are you environmentally friendly? Are you practicing sustainable living? We all hear these questions all the time, even in email signatures, but how bad is print?

The printing industry is not always viewed as environmentally friendly - we understand that. But what we want everyone to know is that printing and paper have their place and are still effective ways to communicate.

At Allied, paper is an important part of our fulfillment outsourcing and marketing and sales support solutions as well as recycling and being responsible. Furthermore, we want to make sure that people have all the facts about print and our industry.

Please, click here to read an article regarding the print industry and how paper has gotten a bad rap these days.

Visit our site to learn more about an integrated marketing communications program or full service fulfillment program that is right for you.

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Spring is Here and It's Time to Plan that Perfect Golf Outing!!

If you know me at all then you know I love sports and I can be very competitive. One sport I’ve never gotten good at or been very competitive in is golf. In fact, when I golf with friends they spend as much time laughing at me as they do trying to count my strokes! For those of you more serious about your golf game and who would like to plan your own golf tournament I will be providing tips on how to run a successful golf tournament throughout March and April.

 

 I suggest using a checklist: 

 

1) Send out formal invitations. The personal letter makes the recipient feel special. Send the invitation at least a month in advance to ensure a good turnout. Be sure to follow-up and ask whether the person is attending. Allied can help you with Post Card Mailing Services!

More tips to follow...

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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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Don’t bring a fishing pole to catch Butterflies

One of the most dangerous decisions that a company or organization can make is to think that everyone is a good customer. There might be a few exceptions but the general rule is to stay with what you’re already good at, or, focusing on the specific problems you are good at solving is a far better bet for customer satisfaction and long-term success. We don’t go to the general practitioner for a foot problem but rather a podiatrist. For heart problems we see a cardiologist and skin issues a dermatologist. In today’s ultra competitive world, specialization rules.

In much the same way, when you go to market you must know what the unique value structure of your organization is in relation to your customers’ needs.

In a book written by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema titled, The Discipline of Market Leaders, the authors discuss the 3 basic ways to organize your mission. The three options are; operational excellence, product leadership or customer intimacy.

Operational excellence means providing dependable products at good prices with great convenience (Think Wal-Mart). One to one communication and relationships with customers are not highly valued because processes are streamlined and standardized and transactional efficiency is prized. Operationally excellent companies tend to offer less variety and follow rigid business plans.

Product leaders are at the cutting edge of innovation (Think Bose). They take advantage of all ideas whether internal or external, get to market fast or 1st and make their own products obsolete in favor of new ones. Product leaders are passionate about quantum leaps forward and “hitting it big” with one new idea.

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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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Are you getting your 'Bread and Milk'

Are you getting your 'Bread and Milk'

In what has become one of those quintessential Rhode Island jokes, when a large winter storm hit last week, the supermarkets and convenience stores were overrun with people getting their bread and milk so they could survive the storm.

At some point in time I guess, somebody decided that bread and milk were the staples, the things that you could not make it through a tough stretch without.

Almost all of us have had a different kind of tough stretch the last few years. One of the most challenging business climates that most of us have ever seen.

So I got to thinking about what the staples were of a solid revenue engine for successful and sustained business development in our organizations. I came up with 3 must-haves.

Marketing. If prospective customers don’t know who you are or existing customers don’t know all the things you could do for them – you have a serious opportunity gap. Fire up your marketing communication strategies and get the word out – continuously so you can avoid the storm of an empty pipeline.

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Be prepared to run the Marketing Marathon

Be prepared to run the Marketing Marathon

History tells us the original marathon was run by a Greek man named Pheidippedes.  During a war between the Greeks and Persians in 490 B.C., he was requested to run back to Athens to announce the Greeks victory.  He ran all the way from his hometown of Marathon to Athens, a total of 26 miles.  Upon delivering the good news, Pheidippedes dropped dead.

 

While our competitive business environment is ever-more challenging, hopefully none of us are “at war” with the competition.  But, our determination to stay the course and willingness to run a marathon may be the deciding factor in winning the race.

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