5 Marketing Communication Tools – Updated

Dick first published this blog in June 2010. It is our most popular blog, with over 29,000 views since June of 2010, and is 2 times more popular than our second most viewed blog.

Four plus years in, it is appropriate to review this blog and note what, if anything, should be changed or updated. Comments/updates are in italics after each paragraph.

 

A marketing person has many tools at his disposal for generating awareness and supporting the selling effort.  While there are numerous marketing communication tools, there are also numerous mixes for these tools. The following is a list of some of the more common tools along with examples of their use and some considerations. One important note is to remember that marketing communication tools do improve understanding your product or service, reinforcing your messages, supporting the sales cycle and generating awareness.

Implicit in the introduction above is that there is a sales person who will ask for the order. Today that function may be executed by a sales person or a call to action on your web site.

 

1- Advertising: Advertising’s main feature is increasing awareness.   An example of an ad might be an enterprise promoting that it is number one in providing top quality lawn mowers. Ads also help promote your product or service and branding for your enterprise.   Major advice regarding advertising is to very clear about its objective, who is the audience and how will you measure its effectiveness.

One major mistake that many companies make is that after doing an excellent job of determining the objectives, defining audience and establishing metrics, is that they do not fund the advertising plan so that it will be effective.  All too many times after an ad campaign starts they stop funding it because they do not see any positive results.  Typically ad programs have a “threshold” or how many times it must run to be effective, but many companies stop part of the way through and move on to something else.  Rule number one; do not run any ads unless you are funded for the full program!

Even more valid today. If you choose to reinforce your brand through advertising, make sure that you completely fund the campaign, otherwise you waste the time, effort and monies spent. There is also a shift in where ads are placed,  i.e., from print to Facebook, Linkedin  , etc.

 

2- Direct mail or email campaigns: The primary purpose of mailings, direct or email, is to generate leads, via some form of an offer or call to action. An example of a direct mail might be a message that addresses the need for additional revenues and implementing a marketing program that will result in additional revenues.  Mailings can also be used for promoting any major communication messages.  Like advertising, first make sure you know your objective and have a targeted audience and how you will measure the campaign.  Word of caution, mailings do not usually replace the sales force (I am addressing business to business markets). But as stated, they provide leads or names of potential customers.  The biggest mistakes most companies make are; the offer does not line up with the targeted audience, the offer is not compelling. and lack a call to action. If you do not address these issues you are only “clicks” away from losing your potential customer.

The consensus is that mailings, both direct and email, work in generating leads and helping to close sales. The major difference from four years ago is working to make sure your mailing, either direct or email, stands out from all the other mailings that your target market is receiving and not end up in the trash can.

A second concern is to make sure that your mailing list, both email and direct, is up-to-date and valid. It is important to comply with the CAN-SPAM requirements and to avoid being perceived as a spammer. Developing and managing your mailing list is just as important as the content of the mailing itself.

 

3- Social Media:  Social Media’s main purpose is providing “information” about your products, services, and enterprise, and other people’s opinions about all three. As Bob has discussed in a number of articles, social media is not only growing at a rapid rate, it is becoming a resource for consumer/buyers to research the potential product or service way before your enterprise is even aware of the buyer’s interest.  Key advice here is to at least monitor these activities, respond to viewer’s comments, especially if there is bad publicity.  Common mistakes are not engaging in one form of these activities, becoming defensive about social remarks and not gathering this information for future products or services.

Good advice four years ago, but the use and application of social media communication tools has exploded since this was published. Today's buyers aggressively seek out information about your products, services, terms and conditions before engaging with a sales person. Some reports about the B2B market show that “94 percent of B2B buyers report that they conduct some form of online research before purchasing a business product.”1

As a result, your web site becomes the most visible “touch point” of your company. It must be attractive, easily navigable (for all types of electronic devices) and optimized for organic search. In addition, it must be tied to corporate Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and other social media pages that not only carry information, but also direct traffic to the web site. In 2014, for most companies, social media should be the emphasis of their marketing communication tool set.

 

4-  Trade shows, seminars, webinars: These tools can address many issues, but usually their primary objectives are leads and a product/service introduction or announcement. An example might be “Visit our booth #1234 and see the industry’s fastest switch”.   Two of the biggest mistakes are not getting the leads out to the field in a timely manner and having a very strong message that is easy to understand.

Trade shows, seminars and webinars still play a significant role in reaching customers and developing leads. The first two allow for face-to-face interaction between buyer and seller, an invaluable experience especially for higher priced goods. Secondly, the benefits of your product/service can be demonstrated, under your control, at trade shows and seminars ensuring that the best possible message is conveyed to the audience. Lastly, given underlying economic changes, trade show and seminar attendees tend to be heavy influencers and/or decision makers whose opinion can be influenced by your presentation. Webinars should be part of your social media outreach program.

 

5- Newsletters, Catalogs: Primary use is for convening information, be it some form of an update or similar to the trade show, an announcement of a new product or service.   Key for success for these is attention getting and true value proposition.

Electronic newsletters can be part of your email campaigns. Catalogs are loosing value due to both the expense and the buyer's practice of seeking out required information from you web site.

 

Understand there are numerous marketing tools and even more  when you make different mixes, and I have just highlighted just 5.  Regardless of the tools you use or what combinations, remember that you must have an objective, a well defined audience, an agreed method of measurement and most importantly, adequate funds for each program/campaign.  The key to a successful use of these marketing tools is to coordinate these activities with the sales organization (give them plenty of notice ahead of time) and other distribution channels.

 

Valid points in June of 2010 and in December of 2014.

 

For more information regarding this post and its implication to your business contact us for a 2 hour no obligation phone call. (We will ask for background information prior to the meeting.)

 

 

RHL 06/15/10

RHL 12/9//14

 

12014 STATE OF B2B PROCUREMENT STUDY, Acquity Group www.acquitygroup.com

The Role of Marketing – Yesterday and Tomorrow

I come from the old school of Marketing – the 4 P's of Product, Place, Promotion and Price. In those days the Marketing department was the hub of the company. Marketing developed unit forecasts that drove manufacturing and/or supplier orders, Marketing set pricing that was used by finance to compute the revenue and profitability of the company, which in turn established budgets for all departments in the company, Marketing chose and trained the distribution channels that were carefully selected and modified as the volume grew (or declined) and the product positioning, branding and lead generation was handled by the Marketing Marcom group. In short, Marketing worked, and had to work well, with all elements of the company.

 

In addition, the Product Manager was responsible for the full product life cycle of products; introducing new products and sun-setting older ones. His/her cost estimates were integral to profitability and his/her actions played a large part in the cost of carrying inventory

 

In some companies where I worked the Product Manager was viewed as a de- facto General Manager, but without P&L responsibility…although this often played a large part of his/her evaluation.

 

Today, I am inundated with blogs, articles and info-graphics on “What will Marketing look like in 10 years?” or “The Future of Marketing” or “Marketing = Customer Service and Digital Marketing.”

 

These content generators start by focusing on their definition of Marketing, brought on by the changes in the last 10 years. And many things have changed; inbound marketing, ecommerce, CRM and Marketing automation, big data, etc. etc. Yet a few constructs remain, whether you are a B2C or B2B customer.

 

  • Somebody must understand the customer's pain points and take the responsibility to build/deliver a product that removes that pain, at a reasonable price. This has nothing to do with any of the new marketing developments, and it drives much of the R&D or procurement that takes place around the world. If this isn't being done in the Marketing department, where is it taking place?

  • While Zappos has done an enviable job in selling shoes and clothing, there are still a large number of retail shoe and clothing shops that are patronized daily. Not everything gets sold through ecommerce (although Amazon and Google would like this to happen). Getting the right product to the customer effectively (meaning channel selection and training) is a Marketing responsibility. If this isn't being done in Marketing, where is it taking place?

  • Pricing a product is a delicate strategy. If you price too low, you can leave money on the table. If you price too high, you might not get any demand. Also, the price of your product conveys its market positioning…where it fits versus competitors or the collection of others who might do the same thing. One of the first things a Product Manager learns is not to price based on cost. If there is not enough margin in the product, the PM has to be able to defend his/her pricing decision to the Management team as part of an overall strategy. Marketing should be responsible for pricing; leaving it to a clerk in the finance department is a quick end game.

  • Reaching the customer has changed. The buyer today, whether it be a consumer or commercial product, probably knows more about your product, its strengths and weakness and how it is ranked than most of your employees. The Internet and web have facilitated these changes. Out are broad commercial appeals (TV, Radio) and blanket direct mailings of catalogs (unless you are Restoration Hardware). In are attractive web sites, knowledge transfer, emails to specific target market segments and nurturing campaigns that lead to a sales closure.

 

Here are some suggestions for “evolving” companies who may be enamored with the new wave of digital activity.

 

  1. There should be one person responsible for a product/product line. If there isn't, you are going to have problems.

  2. That person must have responsibility to define the product, (feature, functions, benefits) and is responsible to declare it market ready. If Engineering or Management is making this decision, they are doing so with a different agenda.

  3. That person must have the responsibility to price the product, as this is integral to the product positioning, which impacts branding.

  4. There needs to be a person to train the sales force, whether it be tel-sales, direct sales, or distributors of the product. He/she must also convey this information to the content writers and people who populate the web pages. If there is no-one to do this, the product won't get sold, or orders taken.

 

My advice regarding all these articles that are appearing about “The New Marketing” is to ignore them. On the other hand, if you find yourself in an organization where the traditional Marketing responsibilities are dispersed, you might want to move on.

 

RHM

10/16/2014

 

The Greatest Rock and Roll Band – Part II

Dick recently wrote about the Greatest Rock and Roll Band ever. He used the 4 P’s of Marketing to help support his claim that the Rolling Stones deserve the title of the Greatest Band. (See https://firealarmmarketing.com/blogs/).

While using Dick’s analysis may define the Rolling Stones as the Greatest, (others will disagree) Dick is overlooking another group that influenced the Stones and countless other bands. Due to their short career, they did not have an opportunity to perform for 50 years, release numerous albums or have multiple #1’s. However their influence shaped rock and roll music for decades.

The Crickets

Based on their music, style and appearance, Buddy Holly (Holley) and the Crickets influenced numerous people and bands.  From Wikipedia:

Contrary to popular belief, teenagers John Lennon and Paul McCartney did not attend a Holly concert, although they watched his television appearance on Sunday Night at the London Palladium. Ian Whitcomb once said "Buddy Holly and the Crickets had the most influence on the Beatles."[26] Lennon and McCartney later cited Holly as a primary influence.[27] (Their bug-themed band's name, The Beatles, was chosen partly in homage to Holly's Crickets.)[26]

A 17-year-old Bob Dylan attended the January 31, 1959 show, two nights before Holly's death. Dylan referred to this in his 1998 Grammy acceptance speech for his Time Out of Mind being named Album of the Year:

"And I just want to say that when I was sixteen or seventeen years old, I went to see Buddy Holly play at Duluth National Guard Armory and I was three feet away from him…and he LOOKED at me. And I just have some sort of feeling that he was – I don't know how or why – but I know he was with us all the time we were making this record in some kind of way."[30]

Keith Richards attended one of Holly's performances, where he heard "Not Fade Away" for the first time.[citation needed] The Rolling Stones had an early hit covering the song.

The launch of Bobby Vee's successful musical career resulted from Holly's death, when he was selected to replace Holly on the tour that continued after the plane crash. Holly's profound influence on Vee's singing style can be heard in such songs as "Rubber Ball" (the flip side of which was a cover of Holly's "Everyday") and "Run to Him."[citation needed]

Holly influenced many other singers during and after a career that lasted barely two years. Keith Richards once said Holly had "an influence on everybody."[31] In an August 24, 1978, Rolling Stone interview, Bruce Springsteen told Dave Marsh, "I play Buddy Holly every night before I go on; that keeps me honest."[32]

The Grateful Dead performed "Not Fade Away" 530 times over the course of their career, making it their seventh most-performed song.[citation needed] The song also appears on eight of their official live recording releases.

So, while short in performing time, the influence of the Crickets has been felt far beyond their sadly truncated career.  (See "When the Music Died")

 

Implications to Marketers

When launching a new product or feature, or even re-branding an existing product, capturing the lead company, or influencer in your target market segment is the key to long term success. This company/influencer may not be the largest, or the fastest growing, or the most well known. It is, however, the company/influencer that all others look to and try to emulate.

In capturing this company/influencer margin is not an objective, and customer service goes way beyond their otherwise high standards to make sure that everything is perfect. In short, capturing this account, person, company is a goal of the company, driven by Marketing and implemented by Sales.

So while a healthy debate can continue as to the Greatest Rock and Roll band of all time, Marketers must focus on the influencers in their target markets to ensure success.

 

RHM

8/20/14

Typical Business Plan Outline Part 2

~~Before we look at a typical business plan, a few comments first.
1-Regardless of the size or complexity of the enterprise, one should include all sections even if they are not formed or required.
2- Each section should have a “mini” business plan that should define their mission, goals and objectives that support the company’s missing, goals and objectives.
3- The descriptions below are NOT all inclusive.
4- Business plans will vary in items like content, objectives and schedules depending on which phase the company is in (initial / startup versus a steady state business).

  Business Plan Outline
Executive Summary – A high level summary of the business plan that covers all major topics
Vision – What will your company be like in the future?
Mission – The purpose of your company
Goals –   Goals are absolute and measureable   Example – Increase sells by 20% from last year
Objectives – What tasks does the company want to accomplish. Example – attend 4 tradeshow this year
Assumptions – What assumptions are being made for this particular business plan? Example – some of the investment will come from the sale of company stock.
Markets –    Overall markets and targeted markets with size, share of markets by competition
Products and or Services – A description of the products and or services which would include differentiation and distinctive competencies.
Investments – The monies and resources required to execute this business plan(s). Note, not just the initial phase, but long term financing.
Forecast – 1- 3-5 years forecast with market sizes, estimated share, units, and revenues
Marketing – Mini plan that both supports the company’s business plan and how marketing will promote and help sell the products and /or services.  This plan should cover all the marketing tools (trade shows, social media, etc.) and their mix.
Sales/Field Sales – Mini plan that both support the company’s business plan and items like, how sales will sell, assists customers and channel strategy for the products and /or services.
R&D – Should document what resources, technologies, and etc are needed for this research.
Development – What resources, technologies, and etc are needed for developing this product(s) and or service(s).
Engineering  – Should document what resources, technologies, and etc are needed for this plan along with other critical items such as schedules, budget and any exception to the original MRD/PDR.
Product/Program Management – Requirement documents such as MRD, PRD, schedules, requirements from other departments
Customer Service – What is the strategy to support this product /service, skill sets needed, will it be field resources or remote support?
Customer Satisfaction – Measurements, metrics, what is the company’s policy regarding product/service issues (example, returns, full warranty, upgrades).
Manufacturing– Resources, skill sets, technologies needed, capacity, how will the product be manufactured (example, JIT, custom build, etc.).
Quality Assurance – Where in the process/program will Q/A be inserted, what are the measurements/metrics and what will be the rejection criteria.
Measurements/Metric – What will be the measurements, desired results (targets) for the business plan and for the company and each division/department?
Competition – Who are the competition, what is their strategy, their market share, their product and /or services that you will complete against?
Dependencies/Issues – What resources, functions, activities, knowledge, technology, etc are needed to be successful?   Also are there any issues relative to federal, state, and local government, environmental or international rules?
Next Steps – Key activities that must be performed in executing the business plan.

In summary, the main key point is that regardless of the size, phase or complexity of your company you must have a business plan in order to be successful.

RHL 8/13/14

Who Is the Greatest Rock & Roll Band of All times?

~~At various marketing events or at  technical forums on subjects like OSPF, SEO, cloud Computing, or at our local town meetings or fund raisers or at various watering hole,; I get asked who is the greatest Rock & Roll Band of all times.  So, I thought I would settle this question once and for all.
Among suggested responses are:  the Grateful Dead, Aerosmith, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, a number said the Who or Led Zeppelin.
So to determine the correct answer, I used the five “P’s” of marketing.
Let’s start with the Product: which group has produced the most records, given the most concerts, the most tours and books?  Several surveys stated that the Beatles have  sold the most records (at least in the USA).  Among the top five in overall sales were the Rolling Stones
As for Promotion, This is a tough one to determine, since there are very little financials regarding money spent on advertising, media, and other promotional areas. One band that has been declared by a number of music outlets as the Greatest Rock & Roll Band is the Rolling Stones.
Price: Again a number of surveys/studies have provided a range of ticket prices. Some mentioned in the biggest value were Jimmy Buffet, The Who and the Rolling Stones
Place, place in history.  Sure the Beatles have had an impact on music and our culture, but do they exist (No Wings does not count)?   The Rolling Stones have been turning out tunes, concerts, and literature for 50, yes, fifty years.  And because of this longevity, they have connected with multiple generations, an unusual feat.
Profit: One book estimated the Rolling Stones are the most profitable band in the world (their financials are all Dutch based with a tax rate of less than 3%) and have had record breaking revenues over various periods of times.

So in conclusion, there is only one band that is either number one in one of the five P’s or in the top five; it is the Rolling Stones!  One of the Stone’s songs is “Satisfaction”, to be more accurate; instead of saying “I can’t get no satisfaction” the words should be changed to “we are extremely satisfied”.
In any case, regardless of who is your favorite band, just keep in mind, “it is only rock & roll and I like it”.

RHL 8/4/14
 

The Basics of a Business Plan Part One

Business Plans are critical to any enterprises.  But there are enterprises that either have only a partial plan or no plan at all.   Having no plan is like a ship without a rudder; you will be afloat but are drifting at sea with no direction.
Business plans should contain all the disciplines of the enterprise. Discipline/divisions are areas such as sales, marketing, R&D, development, support, service, finance/accounting and service.
Key to any successful business plan are its mission, goal(s), objective(s) and strategies … and the plan must be reviewed periodically.  Without clear a mission, goals, objectives and strategies; everything else is just a waste of time. 
The other critical note is that each division/discipline must have its business plan (sub business plan) that supports the companies’ business plan.
Let’s look at the mission, goals, objectives and strategies in more detail.
Mission, states the company’s intent or what they want to be or known for or what is the company’s purpose and are typically long term in nature  Note vision statements are different then mission statements.  Vision statement is basically what your company will be if it accomplishes its goals and objectives.
Examples of mission statements are:
• Become the best provider of health care
• Be the most reliable automobile manufacturer in the USA
• Providing the best value for home security system
Goal(s)
Goals are absolute or specific targets that support the mission statement. Again, goals will be different throughout the organization, but must support the company’s goals
Examples of goals are:
• Increase revenues by 10% from last year
• Obtain 25% share of market in next three (3) years
• Reduce operation costs by $2 million dollars in this fiscal year
Objective(s) are tasks that will get you to those goals. Objectives will be different thought out the organization, but again they must support the company’s objectives.

Examples of objectives are:
• Increase prints ads to existing customers
• Attend the top four trade shows for the automotive industry
•  Hire more employees in the customer service group
Strategy is the “HOW” you will accomplish your goals and mission.
Examples of strategies are:
 *Being the price leader for your products (Wal Mart)
 *Product uniqueness/ differentiator or innovator   (RIM is one example)
 *Providing full service or integration of product and services
So regardless of the size of your company, or what industry you are in, or the what stage of the company’s life cycle; you need a business plan, every group must develop their own sub plan that supports the overall business plans and all plans must be reviewed and or updated on a regular basis.
Part Two will cover an example of a business plan outline
RHL   7/14/14

Social Media – Now What?

The following scenario is playing out today in B2B and B2C companies across the world.

CMOs and Marketing Managers have spent the past 3-4 years in adopting and integrating social media tools and techniques into their marketing efforts. They have hired new skill sets, replaced old patterns of spending and behavior, and invested in new technology and tools. And they are keeping a wary eye on new technologies and potential risks to their buyer’s behavior…i.e., is Amazon’s Fire Phone a game changer?

Yet, generally speaking, for many companies their market share and market positioning hasn’t changed. Sure, the #8 and #9 competitors may have merged and are now #4 and the #2 and #3 competitors swapped places, but in total the number of competitors and their respective slices of the pie are roughly where they were 5 years ago.

Why? Because almost everyone has integrated the same tools, techniques, processes and plans. The differences between the top 3-5 companies in a B2B or B2C market is minimal in the way they identify, track and engage their target markets. It is the rare “shooting star” that has captured and maintained market share and revenue due to their unique social media efforts.

So, after turning the ship and answering new questions; “What is the ROI of our Marketing efforts?” “Why aren’t the leads given to sales more targeted?” etc., etc., CMOs and Marketing Mangers are faced with a new question, “Why haven’t our social media efforts been more successful (code for why haven’t we gained market share and revenue)?”

The answer lies in the underlying fundamental of each company. What is the distinctive difference that sets you apart from your competitors? What is your value add, and have you communicated it well to your target market? The rise of the empowered buyer, using the internet to gain knowledge before making a purchase only changes the way in which a company must communicate. It doesn’t change why a company is different, more attractive, lower cost, or a better fit for the buyer. These attributes are inherent in the product, the company and the image that it projects.

When everyone is using the same devices and procedures to reach the same target market, it is not surprising that relative positioning hasn’t changed significantly. Going forward, CMOs and Marketing Mangers must:

     • Focus more on distinctive competencies than SEO, click thru-rates, followers, likes, and other social media metrics

     • Understand what channel works best in communicating with their target market, and strive to be recognized as the leader in that channel

     • Push the Product Planning team(s) to introduce newer products that fit the changing needs of the target and related markets

     • Make sure that their Marketing Mix meets the needs of today’s buyers and most importantly their target market

What the past 3-4 years have taught us is that changes in buyer behavior and Marketing communications happen quickly. While today’s CMOs and Marketing Managers must be flexible to adopt to change, they must also continue to emphasize those fundamental elements that make their product(s) different from their competitors.

RHM 6/24/14

The Pros and Cons of different product/service strategies

Do you have a product/service strategy? If you do, then this post will be a great guide to confirm that you have picked the correct strategy. If you do not (60% of small to medium enterprises have no strategy at all) then this will provide a guide for selecting one.
In selecting a product /service strategy (there are numerous ones), one should consider many macro items i.e.; is the product/service simple or complex, what is the preferred method of distribution, who is the end user, and who is today’s competition and who might be the competition tomorrow, etc.?.
The following lists of strategies are the more popular ones. The first strategy is pricing leader; this is when your product/service leads the market in pricing. Wal-Mart and Southwest are examples of companies viewed as price leaders.
Typical characteristics of a product or service that would be a good candidate for price leader are: simple or easy to understand/sell, decent margins (room for price reductions), many potential users/buyers, if the product/service is not easily differentiated within your market segments.
Pros
• It is easy to be unique
• A way to eliminate the competition.
Cons
• One can get into a price war and if you do not win or plan or sustain for the war you can lose everything.
• You have no other strategy if pricing does not work out
Differentiation strategy is when one you can differentiate your product/service with a distinguishing feature or service. An example of this strategy is BMW, where they stress design and performance. Products that are best suited for this strategy are; can support rapid changes in technologies, many different buyers’ needs and many ways the unique features can be used by the different end clients.
Pros:
• You can offer a premium price
• Will gain loyalty
Cons:
• Copy cat can come along and eliminate one or all of your differentiations
• Technologies “disruptions” can alter or eliminate your differentiation completely
Innovation is the next most popular strategy, which is when one is leading the market by providing advanced features and /or technologies before anyone else. Examples of innovation are RIM’s Blackberry and Apple’s iPhone.
Products/services best suited for this approach are when they can easily have technology changes or additions, but still maintain their key features.
Pros:
• By being ahead of the “curve” you can command a premium price
• Your have great value propositions and you are seen as a leader
Cons:
• It is a large task to keep providing innovation
• Again technology “disruptions” can eliminate your innovation
The next strategy is providing unique service with a product or unique service alone. Examples of companies in this arena are: IBM, Accenture and Globe Telecomm. This selection is best suited when service is a requirement for the success of the end user’s business or it is cost advantage to have your enterprise perform the services.
Pros:
• Potential for a good and profitable revenue streams
• Service can be a huge differentiator
Cons:
• Requires skilled resource, which can expensive
• Service contracts can have “hidden” issues and thus can become non profitable
The fifth strategy is providing a solution offer versus just offering a point product. Microsoft’s Office suite is an example of a solution set. This strategy is well suited when you can combine/ integrate some of your existing products that would deliver solutions for certain types of industry’s processes or functions.
Pros:
• A complete solution can command a premium price
• Eliminate the point product competitors
Cons:
• Proving a solution can be expensive and complex if integration is required
• Probably requires trained sales persons and/ or teams to sell the solution
The last strategy is having a best in class method of distribution (your channel for getting the product/service to the end user). The major methods are direct (your sales force), indirect (via resellers/ distributors) or online (web based). The best well known of online channel method is Dell, Amazon and eBay, where they bypass the middle man. Selecting which channel to use is largely dependent on the product or services. A complex product or solution strategy is best via direct distribution. A commodity type product could be best for online.
Pros:
• Can reduce overall expenses
• Can augment your resource and provide additional reach
Cons:
• Potential reduction of margins
• Potential loss of end user information
A couple of additional comments regarding choosing a strategy. First, understand that you should review your strategy on a periodic basis and analyze how it stands against the competition, the current external environment and how customers are reacting to your strategy.
Second, strategies are the “how” of doing things, not the implementation or execution. Additionally strategies have to be sustainable as they do evolve.
Third, you may have multiple strategies depending on the number or types of products or services, and the end users who acquire these product and or services.
Last, if you do not select a strategy, your competition will not only have one but will also have a strategy on how to take market share from you. Not having a strategy is like a boat without a rudder; you will just drift in the market place with very poor results.
RHL 5/5/14

B2B Marketing, the 4 P’s and Social Media – Price

 

 

Price

The fourth in a series of blogs that focus on today’s B2B marketing environment, in which the traditional 4 P’s (Product, Place, Promotion and Price) are being influenced by social (digital) media and activities.

Price and pricing is probably the most important of the 4 P’s.  The price of a product conveys where it is positioned in a competitive array; it is used by the buyer to determine the ROI of the product and features; it sets the approval level and therefore the selling level in a buyer’s company; and it influences the margins in distribution channels.

Too high a price and you may not be considered.  Too low a price and you might be perceived as not having all the necessary features.  Once set, it is very difficult to raise a price.  On the other hand, if a company is always discounting its price, its credibility is at stake. 

The price of a product also defines the Value Proposition to the buyer.  He/she evaluates the totality of the goods and services offered by the seller, in both the short and long term, and subtracts the cost to derive the Value Proposition. (VP = benefits – cost)  If the Value Proposition of your product is greater than your competitors, you win the sale.

The question of putting a price list on the web site is answered by…it depends.  If a B2B company is selling a well known and long established commodity, then putting the pricing on the web site may enhance the buying process.  If pricing is put on the web site, it is critical that the entry is monitored and updated on a regular basis.  There are stories of lost sales due to web site pricing that was not updated.

If the product has unique features that are fully differentiated from the competition, putting the pricing on the web site may be giving away too much information.  One should assume that once a price is placed on a web site it will be and/or has been seen by both buyers and the competition.  Any first mover advantage, say in lowering prices, is quickly lost.

As noted in earlier posts, approximately 60% of the sales process is completed before a sales rep is contacted.  The 40% of the remaining sales process is where the salesperson earns his pay; by reinforcing or correcting what the potential customer thinks they know, by providing technical input if required, and by “costing out” i.e., pricing the sale.  This may be then followed by a series of changes and/or negotiations before the sale is closed.  This last 40%, where discussions and negotiations around pricing are a big part of the selling process, is the purview of sales.  Generally this is does not involve social media or marketing.

Bottom line, pricing is very important.  The joining of social media and pricing depends upon the product(s) a company sells and the markets in which they compete.  It must be judged on a product-by-product basis, with Marketing taking guidance from the Management team.

 

RHM  3/5/2014 

B2B Marketing, The 4 P’s and Social Media – Promotion

Promotion

The third in a series of blogs that focus on today’s B2B marketing environment, in which the traditional 4 P’s (Product, Place, Promotion and Price) are being influenced by social (digital) media and activities.

Prior to the rise of social media, B2B promotion meant both product and corporate branding via the following channels; literature (handouts for trade shows, 4 or 6 color brochures, newsletters, etc.) event sponsorship and speaking engagements, direct mail to established and potential customers, ads in trade publications, and related lead generation activities.  These activities were measured on leads generated, sales and market perception.

With the change in buyer behavior, where 60% of the sales cycle is completed before a sales rep is contacted, promotion in the social media age takes new forms and emphasis.  The “old” activities are still needed but on a smaller scale.  The emphasis instead must be put on the following:

· The web site.  (See the Place article for specific suggestions.)

· Email campaigns.  These should be tied to the marketing automation system in order to link opens and responses, so that follow-up nurturing letters can be sent.

· Corporate Branding activities.  In the days before social media, the salesperson established trust in the company by building a relationship with the buyer.  Today it is necessary to convey the strength and reliability of the company by building and reinforcing its brand.  This takes many forms:

o   Building industry thought leadership through blogging, guest blogging and pertinent articles available on the corporate web site.

o   Listening and commenting on industry related user groups

o   Listening and commenting when appropriate on twitter

o   Maintaining a YouTube channel that shares the thought leadership information and provides information about the company

o   Up-to-date information about the company and the management team

o   Listening and following up via customer service activities

· Product Branding activities.

o   Written and video presentations of feature/advantages/benefits of the product

o   Written and video presentations of case studies, including interviews (endorsements) by the principals of the case studies.

o   Estimated ROI calculations of the product

 

The key to successful promotion in the social media age is the development and distribution of unique meaningful content.  This content can then be shared via the different social channels resulting in continuous broad exposure.  Failure to develop and deliver original content may drop a company lower in the search algorithms, resulting in lower placement when a buyer does an organic search.

Bottom line, the “old” promotional elements remain, but at a lower level.  New social media elements are in play, the most significant being the development of unique meaningful content.

 

RHM

2/26/2014