Quick-Start Marketing In Layman’s Terms

Written by AG

There are many components in a successful business marketing that continue to go through different prioritization orders for entrepreneurs. The fact remains the same –  that they all are important no matter how or when they are executed on a list of priorities. Whether creating a strategy to implement the four C’s or seven P’s of marketing they all will become important components within a marketing plan or discussion about marketing. 

Before you can market you need to know and understand your target market. If you try to promote to everyone then you are wasting money and resources reaching out to people out of, what seems to me as, pure laziness. You MUST do your research on the type of customer you want to represent. You would not market to all 50 states about snow shovels and ice melts, because places such Arizona and Hawaii do not get snow.

The more research you do on who your client is, what problem your service or product solves for them, and the consumers’ demographics, then you will be able to be more resourceful in identifying your target market. This is similar to your marketing statement. Go over the solutions that your unique product or service provides to your target market. If there is competition then, you will want to go above and beyond for your customer because this may be the thing that sets you apart from all others in your market. You will either own it or take it. From my experience the more you can ensure the customer that you are more for them than the money with it showing in the quality, you will get a repeat customer and some good PR from the consumer.

Look at Chick’A’Filet. I hear just as much about how good their waffle fries are as I do about the customer service they show all customers at the drive through…The Drive through! That is going above and beyond and the P.R. from that word of mouth is like no other.

Social Marketing focuses on four P’s: product, price, place, and promotion, but there are three more depending on who you are speaking to. Packaging, positioning, and people are the additional three. People refer to either you and/or your team that has expertise on your consumer, their needs, and preferences. Packaging and positioning refer to a product in a store that is being sold. Companies pay stores to have their items in the front and to be visually appealing to the consumer to increase the chances of catching and keeping their attention. Product or service, it needs to be appealing and you want it to automatically grab your consumers attention in how it benefits them. If you can identify your target and gain their attention to where the product or service alleviates some sort of burden, then you are already winning. This will allow you to capitalize on this problem solver when you promote the product or service.

Now once again you need to research to see what your competition is selling the product for and how they are promoting the item to your target market. When configuring the price for what you are selling you will have to take into account the Marketing P-Place. Place is where you are getting the product or items for your service and how it is delivered to you. If you are a small business and cannot buy in bulk then you will need to shop around for vendors or wholesalers that are within your price range to keep what you are selling at a price that you and the consumer will be happy about. You want to make sure you have a backup vendor or wholesaler priced and ready to use just in case your main supplier runs out of what you need or is not able to get your material due to a shortage. (Example: Snowstorm in the midwest requires shovels and ice melt, everyone buys before, during and after a snow storm and inventory will run low; so it is nice to have a reliable backup vendor/wholesaler that will keep you reliable with your customers.)

With the mention of the four or seven P’s depending on your stance, we have already worked in the four C’s of marketing. Consumer, Cost, Communication, and Convenience. The consumer is apart of your target market and is will be benefiting from what they purchase from you.  Communication is part of you promoting to your target audience and the different ways you can reach out to them to get your product or service circulating verbally, visually and/or physically. The convenience is similar to placement except it’s more about making it easy for the consumer to obtain and utilize the service or product; as opposed to getting their attention and being more visible over the competition.

As you can see there are many aspects when discussing marketing and this article touches on topics that have books dedicated to each part. My words of wisdom are research and focus on your target market to help your business grow to be self-sustaining.

by AG

Understanding Your CRM Needs

Startups, Entrepreneurs, and Freelancers may launch with a few clients without a sales strategy or a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) process and/or software. Once an idea is validated and the market need is circumscribed, it is not uncommon to jump a few steps. In fact, more than 60% begin with simple email management tools on freelance or crowdsourcing platforms before even considering a CRM strategy. With the increased availability of free CRM’s, it is better to use a CRM as early as possible to improve customer retention proactively.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software seamlessly connects the entire business development process of an organization from prospect to close. Depending on the nature of the sales process, it may serve as a tool for customer success relationship management for freelancers and small startups. Many freelancers utilize outsourcing websites to manage the entire process, but as a freelancer ventures outside of a freelancing platform and increases the number of clients from various marketing channels, it is critical for them to maintain a centralized distribution system for managing customers and clients.

Even if using a website like Fiverr, Upwork or Freelancer, it may be beneficial to the freelancer to get one sooner than later. This CRM will allow for the freelancer to schedule next actions, continue to build relationships and record activities assessing the effectiveness of a campaign. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a business philosophy, not just a technology — understanding your customers’ needs enables you to build better relationships and increase sales and reduce churn rates.

HOW DOES A CRM HELP?

  • Operational Efficacy: Improve the utilization of existing resources, quality and service. An Indeed.com once suggested that as little as 10% of most sales professional’s time involved selling due to the backend administrative responsibilities. Knowing this is true amongst those focused on sales, emphasizes the time wasted by non-sales professionals inundated with organizational priorities when it comes to managing a professional pipeline of potential customers/clients/deals.
  • Responsiveness: For almost two decades, instant gratification through online interactions has spotlighted the way systems and processes are designed to meet the demands of customers. With immediate responses and a saturated market of similar products and services, there is a greater sense of choice for customers and the ability to obtain the same product or service smarter, better or faster. Responsiveness is everything in today’s market.
  • Cost Containment: Although the concept of lean systems is decades old, it is reiterated with considerable emphasis in today’s virtual world. With over 40% of new ventures operating virtually, a CRM will allow for startups, freelancers, entrepreneurs to maximize their ROI spending less time and money on sales management, automation and engagement.

HOW TO CHOOSE A CRM?

Identify your requirements based on your organization

Fully implement a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to:

  • Optimize your engagement process
  •  Automate workflow
  • Systematize processes

It is essential to choose a CRM which fully aligns with internal functions and methodologies. Based on a recent CRM Implementation Project, I have provided sample acceptance criteria and integration requirements as a recommended approach for selecting the right CRM.

SAMPLE ACCEPTANCE CRITERIA

  1. Improved Client Response Time: Using a proper CRM, the time of reply for the customers will decrease with different workflow capabilities that allow for activity downtime to be reduced or completely automated.
  2. Ease of Use: The newly implemented system should be intuitive in its use and require minimal training to sales teams that have utilized CRM systems in the past. Furthermore, the system should be easily trainable to new employees not as well-versed in the world of sales.
  3. Sustainable and Scalable: It is important there is a system which is sustainable in growth and won’t require replacement as the clients and employees increase.
  4. Customization Options: Even with out-of-box solutions, freelancers and entrepreneurs may require a system with a few customization options that make it easy to manipulate the system to current business practices, procedures, and needs.
  5. Security Integration: The CRM should integrate seamlessly into the organization’s internal technology processes without affecting any current firewalls or organizational security parameters.
  6. Data Migration: Data integration and migration processes will have a precise definition with all information tested and measured against the current customer contact management system utilized by the team. The integration and data migration testing will yield no errors after three tests and be fully ready for use.
  7. User Experience Testing: All software users will be able to perform a series of tasks, projects, and processes within the CRM to complete daily sales and project related tasks effectively. The testing scenarios will be manipulated for different situations as defined by your process to ensure the system is ready for various organizational sales scenarios.

OUTLINING YOUR EXPECTED BENEFITS

In addition to the acceptance criteria, it is important to note the expected benefits of implementing the CRM to ensure full alignment. Your acceptance criteria will focus on what is required to begin full use while your expected benefits will focus on measurable KPIs (key performance indicators) within a given period of time post-implementation.

The successful completion of this project will allow you to streamline current sales operations and activities. With the solution fully implemented, you would expect the following improvements made to the overall sales organizational structure:

  1. Shorter Sales Cycle: With the use of a newly implemented CRM, sales activities will be less manual and far more automated. This will result in more time selling to clients and less time worrying about the backend operations.
  2. Increased Profits: With the ability to increase productivity and require less human capital. As a result, the profit margins will improve naturally. Also, more time in front of external clients will allow for more closed sales.
  3. Better Data Visualization: Reporting on KPIs and tracking the number of customers/clients and leads in the pipeline will help produce metrics dashboards which display the current position of the organization according to its goals.
  4. Information Management and Data Integrity: Reducing the number of manual activities reduces human error and allows for more accurate information to be presented to leadership when reporting on sales performance.

Now that you understand what you want out of your CRM, how about mapping your overall buyer’s journey with your actual expected stages, sales phases and other details. This may seem like putting the cart before the horse, but if you know who your buyer is, what their journey is like, you will be able to choose your software and allow for it to align with your overall process. Once you get the technical details down mentioned above, it is time to consider which system has an out of the box deployment or can be customized to achieve all of your requirements.

If you are looking to optimize your performance and understand the returns your CRM can generate, check out Customer Relationship Management: Concepts and Technologies  by Francis Buttle

Building Customer Relationships with Customer Data

Effective communication with recurring customers presents several opportunities for evolving a business model thanks to the current advancements in technology. From Social Media platforms to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, data accessibility has become incredibly easy for organizations reviewing past performance to improve interactions and reduce churn within current customer lists. As technology improves market accessibility, organizations continue to adapt their model to stay ahead of competitors while considering how they can further improve the lives of customers through product and/or service offerings. Customer data creates synergy between a brand and the target user when a company can interpret the data and develop algorithmic models for testing and improving relationships.

When a potential buyer contacts an organization by subscribing to a newsletter, filling out a contact form or through other various actions, the interest generated in the product or service has already been established.  Understanding each activity as raw data will allow for the organization in question to create a meaningful experience for a new buyer. As processes are refined, stakeholders can present solutions based on similar actions, personas, and other information customers presented before making a purchasing decision.  Collecting data from pre-established customers allows for marketers and sales professionals to optimize their funnels as new users intercept a brand’s messaging.  Segmenting the data from lost-closed deals and won-closed deals will ensure the most effective content, communication channels and strategies are continuously adapted and implemented.

Surveying new users against recurring customers

Further analyzing previous strategies creates a basic guideline for content refinement and development. As new users become engaged, more data is collected. Collect all customer data in order to identify new trends, areas of improvement or growth.  If your organization has multiple revenue streams, it is important to assess what is most profitable and what is producing waste to eliminate or improve upon areas of the existing infrastructure.  Go beyond the data that is automatically collected and create variables in the way you survey customers – understand what they want, need, and how to expand the relationship.  Creating associative data and translating this into a conversation will ultimately improve customer engagement and streamline internal operations.

Building personalization into your business model

Personalization is the new black in today’s marketing and business development processes.  If users feel that an organization took the time out to differentiate them from a number within a CRM system, they are more than likely to continue engagement.  Personalization does not have to be a manual process, advanced tagging, field customization, artificial intelligence tools like Chatbots and other machine learning make it possible to have advanced computer-generated interactions with users while building the system for the buyer – no matter how much technology is integrated into the process.  A buyer is not just building rapport with a singular individual, they are building rapport with an entire culture.  The right tools and technologies will prepare any executive, marketer or sales personnel for interactions with quick access to historical data on a specific customer.

Using CRM Systems to Reduce Churn

CRM systems create ease for businesses utilizing data to improve systems and processes. Not only is it helpful with respect to nurturing new leads, but it also allows organizations to understand churn rates and how to keep churn at a minimum. So what is churn? The churn rate is the frequency at which subscribers, clients or customers discontinue use of services, products or regular interactions with an organization.  Collecting data within CRM systems allow for sales professionals and marketers to properly target the issues within the organization and create lasting relationships with the individuals interacting with their sales process.

Reducing churn rate can be easy when extracting data from an organization’s CRM, in this event, you can see why a CRM can easily be referred to as a “Customer Retention Management” software.

CRM Systems Can Highlight What Has Worked In The Past

CRM systems used to be about shuffling names and addresses into a computer and using the information to generate automated email blasts. Now it’s all about tracking. Using CRM systems, business owners can track the efficacy of their marketing campaigns down to the very last detail, allowing them to see which of their advertising strategies have generated leads in the past and why. This allows them to reuse the advertising strategies that did work and discard others with little to no return on investment (ROI).

Insight into Consumer Needs and Preferences

CRM systems afford business owners a number of ways to stay informed about consumer preferences regarding the bridge between their issues with a product and a means of communicating that. Through which media portal are they communicating their grievances most often? Many CRM applications scan social media for references to your business. The frequency with certain keywords are used–a statistic the CRM is designed to return–can alert you to the need for change in the way you field complaints. Is ‘customer service number’ a recurring theme? If you do not have one, it could be time to get one.

Constant Access to Consumer History

In addition, CRM systems give business owners access to a customer’s entire history with the company, from which emails they received to how many times they clicked on them. From complaints they might have had to the ways in which their complaints were fielded, a CRM system can show anyone on your staff the ways in which that consumer has interacted with the company in one location.

This affords you the opportunity to gauge exactly where that customer is in the conversion funnel presently, giving you key insight as to how to interact with them next. Additionally, since the CRM system has the ability to keep individual records, it gives you the opportunity to address the needs of these individuals personally based on their cumulative experience with the company, and not as a group.

Ultimately, CRM systems can help you keep the customers you have now by affording you key insight into their cumulative interaction with the company on a personal basis. It helps highlight consumers’ needs as a whole regarding any changes to your customer service infrastructure and can help you keep track of what works and what doesn’t.

 

 

Don’t Walk Your Buyer’s Journey Alone

If you only focus on closing, you are not adding value. Focusing on a niche has produced the most value over the last few years due to market thorough buyer segmentation practices. When businesses focus on what they genuinely care about, it becomes easier to reach your audience. Take the buyer’s journey beginning with drafting buyer personas and refocus to add value. Always.

As humans, we all don’t like the same things, so try to find those who like what your product or service offers, have a need for it, even if they don’t know it. Create useful buyer personas and don’t walk the buyer’s journey alone Take the walk with the buyer, engage in a meaningful relationship and discover what they need in order to deliver value.

If you can’t give them what they need, it’s okay to send them on their way. At the end of the day, you want to focus on building a long-term business relationship. Not on closing a one time deal that will leave you and the other person feeling no different or possibly even worse.

You know how people say there isn’t a handbook to parenting? Well, actually, there are thousands of parenting handbooks. With marketing and sales, the same is true and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Gather the information most relevant to your organization and find the best way to engage your audience in a meaningful manner. 

Targeting the right market requires meticulous planning and an in-depth understanding of your business model.  Begin looking into how you differentiate from your potential and current competitors and conduct a survey on the market.  You want to narrow down the audience you can provide the most value to, instead of attracting waste within your lead management pipeline.  Quality over quantity is an easy concept to discuss, however, it may prove difficult to implement when you don’t have a basic understanding of your targeted buyer personas.

Stop Using the Wide-Net Approach

Many sales professionals and marketers inundate themselves learning persuasive techniques for closing sales, without realizing the fundamental pre-sales activities for identifying and qualifying a target audience. Operating in a high-performance environment presents the misconception of casting a wide net for sales leads. The wide net approach, if not executed properly, will restrain performance, produce waste and complicate sales data. Unless a product accommodates the needs of the general consumer populace, like toilet paper or soap it is more useful to target before prospecting. Facilitating a high-quality sales process begins with creating an ideal target profile and performing within a collaborative discovery process.

Research

Quality research reduces waste, builds contexts, and enforces pre-discovery knowledge which may include a prospect’s organizational pain points. For organizations just starting out, the investigation begins with defining individual brand attributes and then developing buyer personas. Success criteria for a successful research campaign include:

  • Three to Five Target Buyer Personas
  • Customized prospecting campaigns
  • Clear & concise messaging across all marketing channels
  • Develop market-wide engagement beyond the user
  • Identification of Renewing Sales Opportunities

Research is ongoing and contributes to the continuous improvement and efficacy of sales processes and campaigns. It is a necessary step to establishing a quality database of suspects to convert to prospects and then customers. If you have a SWOT or PEST analysis, use that as a starting point. If not, create one or both to understand where you can begin to develop relevant targets.  Once you find the ideal buyers, take them through your process with a focus on education and discovery. Educate them on your offering while displaying genuine curiosity into their problems and how you can prescribe a solution to help them.

Education & Discovery

So you’ve succeeded at scheduling a meeting with a potential buyer – so what is next? It’s important to continue the conversation while building rapport and understanding who they are to you and your organization’s bottom line. Discovery is integral to providing an enjoyable experience for both you and your buyer. If you are selling an individual on consultative design, instead only hearing the client’s needs once, it’s essential to listen with a purpose at all touch points and revise the approach throughout this phase.  As discovery takes place, the sales professional will benefit most while listening with the aim to qualify additional needs and educate the client as the relationship develops on the importance of the service provided as it pertains to the challenges faced before and during the engagement. Ask plenty of questions and don’t be afraid to not have all the answers, as this will help build an honest and transparent relationship to last and reduce overall churn within your sales and marketing pipeline.

Standing Behind a Valuable Offer

At the close of discovery, the sales analyst will gather information regarding the budget, timeline and project constraints. A structured presales process concentrated around co-creation and education communicates user’s uniqueness and reaffirms there aren’t one-size fits all approaches various user problems. In fact, it reinforces the value of the relationship, without having to directly sell the value.

Avoid demising the value of the offering by engaging in client projects that cannot achieve or surpass selected KPIs. If a salesperson cannot thoroughly communicate the value, it may be time to consider closing off the engagement instead of diminishing the value YOU create.

Effective sales focused on targeted buyer personas and a detailed discovery process, allows organizations to refine their approach in real time for quick testing, iteration, and improvement. Through this, an organization will reaffirm its position in the marketplace while becoming an advocate for its customers looking for solutions to increase their bottom line without diminishing the value of an offer.