Friday, August 23, 2013

Are You Telling Your Story?

People love stories. They tell them around campfires, buy books to read them, and gather around the television to watch them play out on screen. This love of stories can be a powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal.

One of the best reasons to employ storytelling in your marketing is that it’s memorable. How many statistics do you hear over the course of a week? If you’re like most professionals, you probably hear quite a few. How many of those statistics that you haven’t heard over and over do you actually remember? Now consider how many stories you remember, even the ones you only heard or overheard just once. It’s probably a lot.

It’s not that you’re ignoring the statistics and paying attention to the stories, although that may play some role. The brain processes stories in a different way. Stories engage our emotions. We invest in the narrative and feel something about the people involved. Maybe we don’t like the person, or what they did, or maybe we’re sympathetic to their plight. We connect with the story and the people in the story because we’re interested in other people.

Most of the time, numbers and factoids exist in a vacuum. It’s difficult to invest in an average or a percentage, unless it applies to you specifically. A business owner is deeply invested in her market share, but because it’s part of her personal narrative. Her customers probably don’t know that number and would particularly care if they did, because that number doesn’t apply to them.

On the other hand, if that same business owner talked about how her grandparents started that business after fleeing the Nazi threat during World War II, people get interested. It’s not just a business anymore. That business is not a player in a bigger story that changed the world. Of course, not every business has a story with that kind of native emotional power, but every business has a story.

At some point, you decided to open a business or take over a business from your parent or a buy out a business. Why did you do that? What drove you to make that choice, over the potentially easier path of going to work for someone else? Did someone inspire you? Do you learn your craft from a wizened old grandfather?

By communicating your story to customers, you provide them with an emotional hook and a narrative they can remember. It helps to make you interesting and provides a kind of unique differentiation that no one can copy. You’re the only person who can lay claim to your story. If you want to tell your story to your customers, Tier3, out of Scottsdale, can help you get your story out to them.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Benefits of Turn-key Marketing

Marketing a business is a demanding endeavor and the expansion of marketing techniques and tactics only amplifies the challenges. The marketing challenge is even more taxing for smaller businesses, where the owner or manager must not only find ways to market the business, but do so while trying to run the business at the same time. For businesses where the time spent trying to develop marketing collateral and get that collateral into the right channels is costing the business more time and money that the marketing is making the business, a turn-key marketing system can be the right solution.

Turn-key marketing systems typically include a high-level of automation intended to deliver your marketing material on a schedule in several ways, such as emails to your customer list, posts to social media and blogs, and even direct mail. They can also include pre-made websites designed around SEO best practices or options to optimize your website.

Turn-key systems aim to minimize or eliminate the technical competencies and logistics of getting your marketing into the world, leaving you time to focus more on marketing content and running your business. Some turn-key providers will work with the business to help develop individualized text and graphics, or incorporate existing marketing copy and graphical elements directly into the system. This individualization helps the business avoid confusing customers by creating a level of continuity between what the business had already achieved in marketing terms and where the system will take the business in the future.

The systematic and scheduled nature of turn-key systems also helps businesses to build momentum by catching customers at multiple touch points over time. It can take as many as 12 interactions with marketing materials before customers make any purchase decision and a failure to follow up over time often means an automatic default to not buying. While consistent follow up is not guarantee of a future sale, it significantly increases the odds in your favor.

Turn-key marketing systems help businesses to limit the amount of time they must spend managing individual elements of the marketing process and allows them to focus more on the big picture elements, like consistent positioning and branding. For businesses that struggle with the technical and logistical side of marketing, Tier 3 in Scottsdale, Arizona can provide a turn-key system structured around your business.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Marketing is not Sales, but Does Matter to Sales

It is a common conception, and often true in smaller organizations, that marketing serves as an add-on or subordinate function to a sales department. Unfortunately, as businesses expand this conception that was once both useful and at least partially accurate ceases to hold water.

Smaller organizations often depend on sales just to survive to the next quarter and meet payroll. They depend on external suppliers, cater to local markets they understand intuitively and can get by without a dedicated marketing department. Larger organizations often acquire some or all of their supply chains, expand into markets they do not intuitively understand, and a dedicated marketing staff becomes a requirement to gain market share.

At that point, the conception of marketing as a subordinate function to sales no longer reflects the reality. Marketing is responsible for managing issues that have business-wide impact. They often handle that supply chain the business acquires, perform market research and delve deep into the product development process. On the customer-facing side of things, marketing develops collateral to boost awareness, entice, excite and build buzz about products. Marketing also manages relationships with external marketing and advertising firms. The one thing these all have in common is that they support, but are not themselves, sales activities.

Even direct marketing, which is probably, hands down, the most sales oriented type of marketing isn’t a sales process. Direct marketing still aims to create interest and foster relationships with customers. The entire object is to draw the customer into the sales funnel, by calling now or signing up for more information. At that point, marketing ends and an entirely new process, the sales process, begins. To demand that marketing justify itself by offering up a return on investment measured in sales is to lean on the old conception of marketing as subordinate function to sales, which it isn’t.

Marketing should, however, work to support sales efforts. Territorial standoffs are common between the two departments, which often view each other as budget-sapping and ineffective. When marketing and sales don’t align their strategies, these accusations are true.

If a marketing department blindsides the sales team with a new product announcement, the sales department is woefully underprepared to sell the product to anyone or even field questions. When salespeople make price reductions to move the product, it often looks arbitrary and dismissive of the extensive marketing research that goes into setting price points. 

When marketing and sales coordinate, though, big things can happen. Sales people go into the field fully armed to answer questions, product information in hand, and ready to take pre-orders. Marketing materials go out at times when the sales team can best capitalize on that material and sales number go up. Tier 3 in Scottsdale can help to ensure that your marketing materials go out exactly when you need them to support that big sales push.

CRM, Marketing and Your Business

The term customer relationship management gets thrown around a lot in business and marketing circles, but is it something you should spend your time and energy on? If you like having loyal, satisfied customers, not to mention drawing in new customers, (and who doesn’t?) you should absolutely devote some of your resources to CRM.

On the technical side, CRM boils down to creating a kind of profile of existing and prospective customers by collating and aggregating a range of data, such as contact and purchase history, to provide a current picture of the customer. This gives staff at the business better insight when assisting customers and enables the development of customer-specific solutions. High-quality CRM systems also include contact scheduling features that remind you to follow up or automate some types of follow up.

This is where CRM and marketing meet. At heart, marketing strives to create a relationship between customers and a business, product or brand. The initial marketing relationship is the one that gets customers into the store or shopping on a website. Maybe the initial contact aims for nothing more than getting someone to sign up for a newsletter or free information product. CRM is a direct extension of that initial marketing relationship.

Follow up emails, newsletters or direct mail all serve to remind the customer about their relationship with the business. The more relevant and helpful the content of those contacts, the more the customer will come to view the business as worthy of trust. For the vast majority of businesses, customer loyalty is inextricably linked to customer trust.

After all, how loyal do you feel to a mechanic you don’t trust or a website that burned you on an order? Now think about the businesses you’re happy to pay at premium prices just because you know you won’t get ripped off. Those businesses, though repeated contact and transactions, proved themselves to you. That is all part of CMR and it’s good for the bottom line.

Of course, follow up contact is where many businesses struggle. Even with the automation built into CRM systems, some of that follow up contact requires a human being to make decisions, write copy, get flyers or sales letter printed and see to it they get in the mail. Tier3 Marketing brings years of experience to helping businesses deliver the follow up contact that secures customer trust and loyalty.