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 !

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!


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.


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...


Playing catch with the Lead Grenades !

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 !


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....


The Season's First Snow.

The Season's First Snow.

Even the Scrooge probably has a little nervous excitement when he sees snow for the first time in the season. Weather (spelling intended) you're a child, child at heart or, conversely, you dwell in the practical reality of life, living and logistics, this day does bring with it an air of freshness and giddiness that, frankly, doesn't happen often (the only other day that does it for me is that first day that really feels like Spring).

This all comes with an opportunity. Sure, the first, and most obvious, is to simply enjoy. Soak it all in, but then leverage that into something more productive. The season's first snow should also come with some anxiety. Thanksgiving in 2 weeks, Christmas in 6 weeks, and only 7 weeks left in 2013!! Are you ready?

A holiday direct marketing campaign can be a great way to drive business for that last, all-important push to finish off 2013 strong. It could be very simple. Have you taken the time to thank your best customers yet this year? Marketing communication strategies don't have to be complicated. In fact, some of the most successful include lead generation methods that are staples of any good marketing plan. Remember, time is valuable over the next 7 weeks. It may be unrealistic to do an open house and expect a reasonable turn out when we've all got multiple commitments (personally and professionally). But a simple, well-designed direct mail effort is very reasonable and feasible to build and deploy in the next few weeks. We've got some great promotional product ideas and corporate gifts that would be perfect.

On this "special" day, use that little spring in your step as motivation to get a few things done that are on your list. Sure, you can check it twice but then remember how nice it will be to sit by the fire in that winter wonder land that will be here in a few weeks knowing that you did everything you could to finish the year strong. And just think, all that from a few simple snowflakes!


Heading Down the Stretch

Heading Down the Stretch

In a lot of ways, the business cycle is very similar to the baseball season. A lot of strategizing, planning and building in the winter months - things sort of "spring" into action in April - it gets exciting in May, June and July, then everyone seems to fall into a dopey haze in August. Business slows down, play seems to slow down and everyone and everything seems to have a lethargic feel and tone to it. Then what happens?


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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.


Spring Turns to Summer Turns to...

Spring Turns to Summer Turns to...

The Summer Slow Down! So, what are you going to do about it now?

If your business is like many, the summer does tend to have a significant impact on output and production. For some businesses, it probably has as much to do with a seasonal product or product line, but, for many, it has more to do with an overall more casual, relaxed attitude and vacations on top of other people's vacations combined with more vacations.

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