Management

Get Better Results from Fewer Marketing Programs

Marketing Makes the Difference

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We find the number one challenge for printing companies to develop great marketing and sales programs is time and focus. For smaller companies, success is seldom about the size of marketing budgets or the number of marketing initiatives being managed. With the day to day pressures of satisfying customers and getting work out, many marketing activities are often relegated to a low priority. This is counter-intuitive because without marketing there can be no sustained growth.

There are more choices than ever for businesses. For instance, for many small printers, maintaining and regularly creating new content for a great web site, pushing content to multiple social media sites, managing Google ads, maintaining an eCommerce site, participating in business networks, keeping up with LinkedIn, hosting a customer event or two, driving Search Engine Optimization (SEO), as well as other forms of marketing is just “too much”. The time and focus needed to manage everything possible is daunting.

Recently we researched printing company web sites. It was interesting to find so many not well maintained, displaying broken links and errors. A poor web site will create a negative perception for a perspective customer and may cause them not to place a call for a quote. This helps prove the point that it is better to do a few things very well than to do many things poorly.

Before spending any money or exerting any effort on marketing, here are 10 questions to answer. The answers will help narrow down your program to a “vital few”.

Ten Questions

  1.     What is your company’s story? How did you get to where you are now?
  2.     What do your sell that generates the most sales and profits?
  3.     Are you a technology company, a service company, or a PRINTING company
  4.     Who are your customers?
  5.     How do your customers describe what you do and how you make them successful?
  6.     What are your company advantages?
  7.     How much is the company willing to spend on marketing and sales?
  8.     Based on the answers above, list and prioritize every marketing and sales initiative
        that the company could possibly implement
  9.     Pick 1, 2 or 3 of the top initiatives that can supported and maintained
  10.     Monitor progress regularly and adjust as required

Whatever is decided upon, the approach should be: do it well. The advantage of doing a few things well is that they can be easily scaled up or down as required. For instance, one company may do well a robust eCommerce site, an aggressive Search Engine Optimization program and a well-managed in bound and out bound telemarketing team. While another print provider may want to focus on a direct sales team, customer events and a dynamic web site.

If something is working, then increase it. On the other hand, if an initiative is getting tired or simply not working, replace it with a new program. Doing a few things well builds a great brand and generates results.

Joe Rickard is the founder of Intellective Solutions. Intellective Solutions (www.intellectives.com) is a consulting and training company. They work with printing and technology organizations to improve their sales, marketing and operational effectiveness.  Contact Joe by calling 845 753 6156.

How Much Pressure Can Salespeople Stand?

The general thinking in managing salespeople is that the right amount pressure on salespeople is good for sales performance.

There have been countless articles on sales management and how to effectively manage sales performance without using undue pressure tactics. What about salespeople who put too much pressure on themselves when closing a large deal?

Recently, I read an abstract, The Impact of Pressure on Performance: Evidence from the PGA Tour February 2015 published in the Harvard Business Review written by Professors Daniel C. Hickman and Neil E. Metz. They used data analysis to determine the effect of pressure on making big money putts on the PGA golf tour. A key finding was that short putts that would result in winning significant amounts of money were not appreciably impacted by the pressure. But they did find that slightly longer putts of 6 to 10 feet were in fact impacted.

For salespeople and managers, an analogy to golf may be logical and no further discussion is needed. For me, the abstract reinforces the necessity for managers to ensure salespeople are working in environments that minimize mistakes and paralysis caused by pressure.

The takeaway is that large deals that are “more than short putts” and which will generate large rewards do result in a “choking” phenomenon for many salespeople.  Here are four recommendations to minimize pressure on large deals where there is a lot at stake.

1.      Match less experienced salespeople with seasoned pros. Experience salespeople will less likely be impacted by the pressure.

2.      Don’t leave a big deal to one person. Make it a team approach. The more support and help will alleviate the pressure on any one individual.

3.      Ensure the deal is sold before the close. Carefully review the sales and buying process to make sure each step was carefully executed.

4.      Test the proposal with the “customer champion” or a loyal supporter in the account to make sure everything has been covered before presenting.

By qualifying the account and thoroughly managing the sales process, longer putts become shorter putts. The shorter the putt; there is less pressure.

Joe Rickard is the founder of Intellective Solutions. Intellective Solutions (www.intellectives.com)  works with printing and technology organizations to improve their sales, marketing and operational effectiveness. The Intellective team enjoys providing Customer Event marketing services. He can be reached at 845 753 6156. Follow him on Twitter @joerickardIS

How the Printing Industry and Retail is the same

This morning, I had the good fortune to hear retail senior executive Mark Cohen speak about a range of topics affecting the retail industry.  It was outstanding. Mark teaches at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business and also consults with leading retailers.

To an audience on the campus of Dominican College, he spoke specifically about the challenges, changes and opportunities facing the Retail Industry. Mark gave many examples about the rapid transformation that has taken place and some of the companies that will not survive. He emphasized that leadership and creativity is vital. He emphasized that no matter what changes take place over time, customers will always still search for value.

It struck me as a consultant and trainer who works within the Printing Industry that some of his advice and consul that he gave to the audience apply to the printing industry. Here are some key points that every printing business needs to pay close attention:

·       Short term pricing discounts that impact long term profitability is
        a prescription for disaster. Once you discount, it is impossible to  
        reverse the tactic with customers.

·       Consistent and large discounts are unsustainable and reduce 
        customer confidence in the brand.

·       Provide wonderful and high value products and services

·       Create exciting promotions that don’t rely on discounts

·       Participate with partners to support customer requirements

·       Provide great customer service

·       Move quickly to a multichannel system of delivery and marketing

With all the challenges facing printers, these bullets should be carefully considered. The commercial printing industry was built by small, regional and family businesses. Their core advantage is that they have been able to establish deep relationships with customers in a very personal business.  Keeping up with the times and knowing how to deliver high value products and services is the road map for long term success.