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 are you living your life? - Steve Jobs

"You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new."
Steve Jobs

Align Your Goals
In his commencement address to Stanford University in 2005, Apple founder Steve Jobs made the following statement. It pretty much explained why he has been so successful in his life.
 
“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me, and for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something (@minute 9.10).”
 
How are you living your life?  How do you want to be remembered?  What will your loved ones say when you're gone?

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What's Trending 7

What's Trending 7

A little late this month. But, wow, I'm actually familiar/aware of all three of these people & events. This is a first. Here's "what's trending" according to our friends at Yahoo:

Kate Gosselin. I guess the infamous mother of 8 is opening up about coupon blogging and the cancellation of "Plus 8". Riveting.

Wardrobe Malfunction. Do you remember the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show? I bet you do. Well 8 years later, a federal appeals court has ruled that CBS should not be fined for Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction. Nice to see the swift action taken by our judicial system.

TJ Houshmandzadeh. Even though I'm a football fan, and I know TJ is a wide receiver, I wasn't aware that he had a "bitter ending" to last season with the Ravens and now he's making his debut as a Raider. Hmm. I guess I do now!

Well, at the risk of being redundant, I will say again... "what does all of this have to do with the world of marketing consultancy services?" To me, in two small words, a lot!

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Customer Commitment - a Key to Insurance, B2B and B2C sales on the Web

Research released this year shows the importance of the work done by marketers and IT professionals in driving prospects to your website and converting them into customers. A large number of studies as well as actual experience reveal a way to increase conversion rates and sales with those who visit your site. This method involves good marketing communication strategies and skillful IT work.

 

Commitment is the Key

 

Well over 1,000 studies by social scientists have established the fact that the commitments we make can actually change how we feel. One outstanding example was reported by renowned influence expert Robert Cialdini, PhD and his coauthors. Social psychologists Jonathan Freedman and Scott Fraser had a research assistant call a number of homeowners to ask them to participate in a remarkably intrusive survey. Here’s what he said:

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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.

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Expect The "Unexpected"

Last weekend the Northeast was hit with an unexpected snowstorm. There was a decent amount of snowfall, very high winds, and the snow was very heavy, creating some power lines to come down. Many folks lost their power and are still waiting days later for it to be restored.

OK, those of us who live in New England should not be surprised by this weather, right? But in October? This definitely was an unexpected weather event for this time of the year and people had to act quickly and change their normal plans for what would normally be a beautiful Fall weekend in New England.

These unexpected events happen in the business world every day. Something happens and it forces a business to change their own plans and react to the change. Often times these are events our of your control (like unexpected weather) and you must handle the adversity . . . An economy starts to dip. A high-ranking executive leaves the company. A top client decides to end a relationship? Have any of these things happened to your firm?

Are you a college that has had an unexpected drop in enrollment? Maybe you need to revisit your student yield programs? Or tap into the knowledge of a higher education marketing firm?

Are you a business in need of sales leads? Maybe you need to hire one of the lead generation agencies? Or a strategic marketing consultancy to revamp your business plan?

Business today is full of unexpected events and those who can react survive; those who cannot will not have to worry about it. When that top client wants to end their relationship with your company, do you know what to do? How will you react? Is there a plan in place to retain this client? Often times the plan is that there is "no plan" and everyone scrambles . . . sometimes this works; most times it does not.

What is your company doing to expect "the unexpected"?

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Good Marketing Solves the Customer's Needs First - Your Needs Second

angry-customer

“The key is, no matter what story you tell, make the buyer the hero.” Chris Brogan

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. If it seems like I’ve been picking on them, having just bought two cars, I now remember why it takes me so long in-between purchases. The ad came blaring over the radio on my drive home. “We’ve had a great month at XYZ Auto, we’ve sold lots of cars and we want to keep our momentum going.”

Whoa! When did my potentially buying a car turn into me caring about you keeping your momentum going? Sure, while I and probably most people prefer to do business with an organization that is doing well, I don’t want to be either beaten over the head with it nor have it made the first “feature and benefit” in your selling proposition. I have my own reasons for considering any purchase and trust me; it has nothing to do with what’s important to you. Not to say that I’m not a win-win kind of guy, I sure hope I am. But talk to me about what you can do for me first, not what I can do to help you.

Second, the business development professional services company. A telemarketer selling training services essentially teaching us how to get more business. The voice mail started with “Hi Brian, this is Donna, give me (no please) a call back, I’d like (why would I care what you’d like at this point?) to talk to you (not with) a little bit and tell you (not share with) what we have to offer.”

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Can Smaller Institutions Win when Recruiting against the Giants?

Research shows that time-pressed Millennial hs students prefer well-known brands. What chance do worthy but lesser-known colleges have to compete? Consider:

While researching ways to increase inquiries last spring, I found myself in a parking lot packed with hs students at the NACAC College Fair in Boston and decided to hold an impromptu focus group. To my amazement, the juniors I spoke with already had already put together their short lists and planned on talking with just 3-5 institutions at the Fair. I asked if there was anything a college that wasn’t on their list could do to gain consideration. They gave two answers:

  • Give away free stuff (NACAC wouldn’t be thrilled with that!)

  • Make an impressive presentation 

This experience reinforced two important points. First, it showed the wisdom of a recommendation made in a Search Expert presentation at NEACAC this year: “Starting early is key.” As Strauss and Howe point out, Millennials are big brand shoppers. Research shows that people who are pressed for time look for shortcuts, and a strong brand provides an easy one. Therefore, it’s crucial that students learn about your institution very early in the process. And if your college is not in the news regularly, it’s clear that you’ll need to do some good PR work with freshmen and then search sophomores if you’re going to make many short lists.

Students may have learned this approach from their parents. Internationally respected research firm Global Reviews conducted a marketing study on people buying insurance on the Internet. It showed that, just like prospective freshmen, those who buy insurance online often start their search with a preferred list of providers in mind. But a full 35% of those who did ended up buying their insurance from a firm that was not on that list.

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3PL, Supply Chain Management and Logistics Management Defined

I have been asked to provide several key definitions surrounding the Supply Chain:

 

Supply Chain Management is the organization, planning, control and execution of a product from development and purchasing, through production, warehousing and distribution to the final customer in the most cost effective way possible. 

 

Logistics management is the planning, implementation and coordination of the details of the supply chain.  

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Business Pros Still Trick or Treating

Business Pros Still Trick or Treating

So who is trick or treating this upcoming Monday night? Wasn't Halloween one of your favorite days of the year as a kid, dressing up in your favorite costume and coming home with a bagful of candy! "Trick or treat" was our favorite expression in those fun younger years.

Now, as business professionals, we are still playing Halloween . . . looking for as many treats and avoiding as many tricks as possible. Our days (and sometimes nights) are filled with challenges that can make your work week a bunch of peaks and valleys.

For those involved with supply chain fulfillment, there are many ways to get tricked as there are treats. This is a detailed business process that one little trick can change an entire process to satisfy your client.

For those involved with data to print programs, you look for treats as an updated address list or "clean" data.

For lead generation agencies, the tricks and treats are easily identified . . . find a good lead and you have a treat - find an unqualified lead and there is your trick.

Tricks and treats can make your workday both frustrating and challenging at the same time. They are the ups and downs that make business interesting. They are the reason we love to succeed. They are the reason we come to work each day. Obviously we don't love the tricks but we know that those tricks make the treats worthwhile.

How do you and your clients handle their tricks and treats?

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New Research shows Marketing, IT’s Importance when Competing with Giants

Insurance companies who must fight for market share with giants got some good news from a study published this spring. The report, from business researcher Global Reviews, highlights the critical roles IT and marketing professionals play in winning sales when prospects are searching online.

Marketing’s crucial role in creating demand

Marketing's role is especially important with the growing cadre of new customers who search the web. Internet marketing expert Dave Chaffey reports that research conducted on 10,000 households found that for some products, like airline tickets, the average prospect visited no more than two websites before making a purchase. This may be due, in part, to their preference for well-known brands. Global Reviews’ study on insurance buyers found that 36% already had a company in mind when they began their search.

This seems to give an advantage to well-known companies like Allstate, Aflac, State Farm, Prudential, Aetna, GEICO and Progressive. Worthy but less advertised carriers could win a place on insureds’ short lists by stepping up their integrated marketing communications programs. Studies have shown that pleasant familiarity alone can make a person or organization more attractive to consumers. Without the skilled efforts of insurance marketers using an array of media including broadcast, direct mail and the Internet, high quality companies or their agents may never get a chance to make their case. Effective Internet advertising can be crucial in attracting the 64% of insurance buyers in the study who began their web search without a particular company in mind.

IT’s work stimulates conversion

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