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7 Steps to Improve Marketing Communications

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Improving effectiveness and efficiencies in the design, development and execution of marketing communications begins with a process that is well-defined and documented. Experience and time in the trenches has revealed that 3 key elements are at the root of delivering quality marketing communications –  people, process and technology.

The following provides 7 steps to realizing highly effective marketing communications. Continue reading → 7 Steps to Improve Marketing Communications

5 Keys to Improving & Sustaining B2B Growth & Profitability

Business to Business (B2B) enterprises both large and small are increasingly challenged to drive and sustain top and bottom line business performance.  In a survey commissioned by B2B International among 226 companies across North America and Europe several challenges were identified that stand in the way of organizations optimizing performance.  The following are a few of the top key elements that make it to the top of the list to drive higher levels of customer acquisition, retention and growth.

Key #1 – Define a Unique Selling Proposition

In the eyes of business decision-makers the biggest problem faced by their companies is the lack of a clear Unique Selling Proposition (USP).  This lack of clearly articulated differentiation vis a vis market competitors represents the biggest roadblock to achieving improved business performance. Making an investment in quantitative primary research among customers and prospects can uncover valuable insights that point to critical features and benefits of your product/service offering and how an enterprise can leverage these points of difference in its favor

Key #2 – Understand the Key Drivers of Customer Loyalty

As a part of any primary quantitative research plan, marketers will be well-served to structure an ongoing tracking study to better understand the key drivers of customer satisfaction.  Knowing what is important to customers is only one piece of the equation.  Knowing HOW important each of the component drivers of satisfaction are will be helpful in bringing about change in the product/service mix and aid in the direction of future R&D for the enterprise.

Key #3 – Continuously Improve Processes & Product/Service Performance

Ongoing customer satisfaction research will provide an effective means of keeping a pulse on those factors that drive customer satisfaction and provide a scorecard for operations to constantly review to view “how we’re doing” and make operational and product changes to help ensure that the enterprise is meeting/exceeding customer expectations.  Tracking studies such as these are critical to providing management with accurate and comprehensive information on how the business is performing from a customer perspective and what needs to be done to keep the business on course to continuously improve business performance.

Key #4 – Understand Your Product/Service Appeal to Every Customer Segment

Successful businesses recognize that their customer base is not a homogeneous mix of B2B companies, and depending on your company’s product/service mix the diversity of the customer base beyond company size can be significant.  If your enterprise has not yet initiated a customer segmentation research study, it would be a prudent investment.  Understanding the make-up of your customer base will be valuable in defining customer segments on many dimensions not just economic.  Such segmentations will provide the company with insight and a means to speak to each segment that is both meaningful and relevant.

Key #5 – Hire and Retain Quality People

Although this 5th key may seem obvious, few elements in the process of product/service development and delivery are more important than for an enterprise to attract and retain quality people.  Jim Collins, author of Built to Last and Good to Great quantified those elements that drove companies to achieve greatness.  No factor was any more critical than “getting the right people on the bus” and then “getting those people in the right seats on the bus”.  Your employees are more than the face of your enterprise, they collectively represent all the vital organs that drive your organization forward to achieve success year over year.

Summary

Success in business isn’t easy.  There is no one simple formula that leads to success.  What is well-documented is that if management fails to adopt a Unique Selling Proposition (USP); fails to understand just what it takes to retain customers, and fails to put in place mechanisms to continuously monitor what’s important to each of its customer segments while hiring and retaining quality people, the likelihood of business success is greatly diminished.

About Us

Parisien & Associates is a strategic marketing services agency equipped to assist our clients to profitably achieve their business goals.  For more information on how your organization can benefit from our experience and expertise across multiple industries from financial services to manufacturing, please contact us at Parisien & Associates for a free consultation.

Alignment of Sales & Marketing

Tension has existed between sales and marketing since the early formation of the disciplines within a corporate setting.  However, in the past decade or so, both sales and marketing in organizations big and small, have come to appreciate the value that each discipline brings to the party.  Successful businesses have come to learn that by focusing on the alignment of sales and marketing, management has come to learn that greater efficiencies, productivity and overall business performance can be achieved. By aligning sales and marketing, and putting in place the proper metrics, both disciplines can be held accountable for shared goals.  The challenge comes in achieving alignment.

Before delving into the process of creating sales and marketing alignment, let’s first review the benefits that can be derived from alignment.

Benefits of Achieving Alignment

  • Improvement in both the quality and quantity of sales leads.
  • Sales cycles are shortened.
  • Sales forecasts become more accurate.
  • Sales force becomes more accountable for performance.
  • Sales and Marketing tend to collaborate more on developing customer-centric solutions.
  • Marketing becomes accountable for top and bottom line results.
  • Cost of sales are reduced.
  • Growth in revenue and market share.
  • Customer needs are better satisfied.

What do the experts have to say about sales & marketing alignment?

In the spring of 2006, Philip Kotler, Neil Rackham and Suj Krishnaswamy published an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled Ending the War Between Sales and Marketing.  The article identified the issues standing in the way of alignment and offered practical steps to creating an environment where sales and marketing teams can come together to effectively support the growth objectives of the enterprise.  And yet, now better than a decade from the publication of this article, finger pointing still goes on.

From Sales we hear:  “Marketing continues to deliver un-qualified leads.” 

From Marketing we hear: “The sales force just doesn’t get it.  They are constantly focusing on ‘price’, rather than the value proposition that our product/service offering brings to the market.”

Assessing Sales & Marketing Alignment

As a first step in determining whether or not an organization is in need of aligning the disciplines of sales and marketing, first ask the following 10 questions.

  1. Does Sales & Marketing meet routinely to discuss customer and/or market issues/opportunities?
  2. Is marketing responsible for delivering topline revenue growth for the enterprise?
  3. Is there a process in place for delivering qualified leads to the sales organization?
  4. Does your organization have a process for resolving conflict between sales and marketing?
  5. Does the leadership of both Sales and Marketing report to the same senior executive in the organization?
  6. Is there duplication of effort between Sales & Marketing? Where does overlap exist?
  7. Does the organization have a complex consultative selling process or are the products/service fairly simple and commoditized?
  8. Are both Sales & Marketing involved in product planning and establishing sales targets?
  9. Are both Sales & Marketing involved in discussions to address customer needs?
  10. Are both Sales & Marketing involved in the sign-off of advertising and marketing communications materials?

Conclusion

The alignment of Sales & Marketing can pay big dividends particularly if the enterprise is of a size that a considerable investment has been made in financial and human resources to support both disciplines.  And too, for those organizations of size, particularly in the B2B space, alignment of Sales & Marketing can begin to focus resources on revenue generating initiatives while holding both Sales, as well as Marketing accountable for shared revenue targets.  Like anything that is worth doing, creating alignment with Sales & Marketing is not necessarily easy, but the dividends can be significant.

For more information on how your organization can benefit from greater alignment of sales and marketing, contact us at Parisien & Associates for a free consultation.