Comprehensive Integrated Marketing seems like an easy goal to achieve. After all, don't we just have to make everything look nice and sales will happen? No.
The best analyst of your marketing effort is the consumer of your product. We have not met a CEO yet who had much of a clue what impact their marketing had on the public. They knew their bottom line profit and their costs and assumed these were all the indication they needed to see how they were doing.
Nothing could be further from the truth. History is littered with companies that kept their eye only on the bottom line and ignored trends, consumer attitudes, competition, and even their own sales force.
When a salesperson wants to sit down with the CEO, what usually happens? The CEO ends up telling them to keep up the good work. Bad move. The salesperson is trying to educate management. They are the ones in the field who get the first inkling of pending disaster. Clients tell salespeople, especially good ones, their fears and the shortcomings of your products or services. Don't be caught like a deer in headlights.
Call Rivette Marketing Group to understand the vital role marketing and feedback play in your daily activities. As always, our specific ideas create tangible results.
RMG's Comprehensive Integrated Marketing Plan
A marketing plan is to your company's growth what a map is to a road trip. It shows where you where you are, where you want to be - and how you're going to get there. If you are operating without a written marketing plan you owe it to yourself to develop one. We can help guide you through the process. We can also examine your business needs and develop one independently. Or just focus on that part of your planning which requires immediate attention.
Each portion of this plan uses a different set of tools or methods to achieve the objectives. Some will be accomplished strictly inhouse using client personnel while others will require outside services be engaged.
RMG will examine your process and will uncover those areas where you might need assistance. From small companies and startups to major corporations, there is usually room for improvement.
STEP ONE - REVIEW
Before we proceed, we need to review your past efforts using our integrated checklist. We will determine which programs met your goals, which did not, and how to better combine, tailor or otherwise alter efforts so they work to greater effect.
RMG interviews ownership/management to find niches your marketing plan has neglected, to define success in those markets you have approached, and to restructure programs where necessary to make sure all facets of your firm's efforts are integrated. You are simply throwing dollars away without integration.
Usually, RMG finds many small, easily addressed components that will help boost product and service sales. We also excel at creating new programs for existing markets, as well as locating entirely new business opportunities for clients.
STEP TWO - A STRUCTURED ATTACK
Your company may require any portion of this process support in addition to the typical services used to execute a marketing program we design:
1- We identify your most profitable customer accounts:
With proper analysis of your product/service and available markets, markets you may not have even previously considered, we can compile a target list and then prioritize the information.
2 - We find out what your customers value and build on it:
Once defined, we will help determine those components/features of your product which should be accentuated for each individual market.
Consider something as simple as fabric. For window treatments, the most important features might include print style while for automotive uses it would be durability. In a more refined sense, for mass market window treatments it might be the limited color palette used for producing the final print versions, while for upscale interior designers it might be an extended palette for custom ordering or matching preplanned design goals.
3 - We identify market segments offering the best potential:
Evaluation of the target market is critical. Without surveying or test marketing products your business will never know what the actual potential of a product for a particular segment. The fact is, most businesses today, even large conglomerates, practice a hit or miss method of selling product/service without concern of whether the product is appropriate for a segment. Many businesses spend less time on development or tailoring a product for a market AFTER research and more time forcing sales of untailored products to their chosen target customers.
4 - We identify and target top prospects more efficiently:
By developing an internal process for such culling and targeting each client, the top income generating prospects can be developed to their full potential. Many businesses spend enormous resources diluting their efforts across a broad spectrum of potential clients with little regard to the ultimate productive outcome of the relationship. This type of approach destroys budgets and resources, trapping businesses in sales cycles which they don't control, leaving them with unpredictable income and an inability to plan for future growth.
5 - We develop a uniqueness in the marketplace:
We want to be the price and quality leader to every potential customer. A business which touts this as its mission statement will not succeed. It is an impossible reality. If a business can develop a range of market penetration in various segments for each of its products and product variations, and build on those through the definition of unique aspects in which they excel, then they will succeed and grow.
6 - We base your marketing decisions on facts:
The biggest mistake a business can make is assuming they understand their market year to year, because of what worked in the past. The pace of business and market opportunities for any product change constantly. No business should practice the complacency that accompanies such thinking. Remember, there was once a company which owned the patent on and was the sole producer of the small circular, plastic inserts for 45 rpm records so they could be played on the newest stereo hifi systems with auto-change features. While they innovated slightly over the years with altering design, they never explored other products or potential uses for their equipment to develop new products or new markets. They kept selling the same product, the same way, because it would always work. I would bet that the molded plastic manufacturer of eight-track tape cases felt the same way when the cassette tape was introduced.
Take the example of something more to the point in business to business sales - the IBM Selectric electric typewriter was a boon to typing and with memory could record and type selected passages. Secretaries combined this flexible product with the latest in dictaphone hardware to create a streamlined office. Look around the average office today and you will be hard pressed to ever find an electric typewriter with its hundreds of manufactured components, a dictaphone or even a secretary.
7 - We create advertising with a clear and consistent message:
The nicest layout, prettiest picture or most cleverly worded ad in the world is meaningless if the agency developing the ad has missed the point. How many times do you sit in front of a television or flip through a magazine and wonder "What was that about?"
The examples of bad advertising are too numerous to mention. Most ads in technical or trade journals are similar. Nice colorful graphic of surreal hardware with boring copy. Who do they speak to? Mostly, the agency which produced them and not the potential client. No connection is made. That would almost be laughable until you consider the cost of a full page magazine ad multiplied by the number of titles and frequency it runs. I know if I were spending that kind of serious money every month I would want to know the ads actually work. That is why many companies hop around from agency to agency looking for the connection. They hope that somewhere, someone will understand them.
Incorrect. No one needs to understand your business except you. All the agency has to do is convey what it is you are selling. Find the right avenue. Create an easily understood ad or sales support piece and place it.
How will you know it is easily understood? You will show it to groups of people before you place your order. If they are from your target audience and they don't get it, then neither will your future customer. If you are selling widgets, picture a widget and explain why yours is a) better, b) cheaper, c) faster, and d) any combination of the above. Don't picture a llama in a spacesuit with a catchy title about overeating and expect the product to jump off the shelf. It won't happen. Leave art for art's sake. Advertising is its own animal.
8 - We reduce cost of sales by improving the process:
Floundering. Sales process can always be improved. Should always be changed. Should adapt to the customer. If you intend on selling the customer in a particular manner, then you also intend on filing bankruptcy at some point soon. Customers will dictate the process. Your job, and ours should we accept a client, is to give you the tools, support, analysis, or just lend an ear to help understand the definition. There are going to be customers who can't be sold. Because they don't want to be sold. They are wasting both your time and their own. They don't know what they want or expect, just what they hope.
Our job is to turn those hopes into something concrete. To define it for both of you so the process can evolve. Along the way, we may both discover something - a better way of doing business. Twenty years ago, customer relationship marketing consisted of how hard you shake hands. Now, it boils down to everything you say, do, and don't say or do.
And speaking of creative, remember, client A may love slideshows and client B hates them. They will tell you how to sell them if you can be quiet long enough to listen.
9 - We learn what you need to do to grow profitably:
Define financial goals which are attainable. Get real. Pie in the sky only works before you open the doors. Then things start going wrong. Your COO leaves after six months for a better offer. Your equipment experiences greater than marginal error rates. Your lead programmer/assembler decides that she really wants to rent cabanas on a beach in Mexico.
Tailor your plan around what you can accomplish realistically. Leave dreaming to the marketing team. The CEO still needs to make sure everyone gets paid at the end of the week. In fact, if you ask a successful CEO about their main concerns, often very high on their list is "making payroll". A good CEO always has the entire organization in mind when making decisions. And that means solid planning for long-term sustained growth. Not the artificial growth born of mergers. Anyone can spend their way to a bigger company, more accounts, and greater debt in the process. I am talking about the much vaunted organic growth born of good product development and solid marketing efforts. If you can't look in the mirror and say you accomplished true growth, however minimal, through organic means today, then you accomplished nothing.
10 - We set clear marketing goals and directions:
Don't follow fads. Lead them. If you want to develop a new market or market niche, do the research. And be prepared to walk away from the decision to proceed. One of the hardest realizations any company can have is understanding that management is not always right, and more often than not, they are just making educated guesses based on experience.
What happens when a new technology or market appears? Who has the experience? No one. So, to develop inroads requires:
Any number of factors can influence the decision to proceed either way. With clear goals and direction, intelligent choices can be made to avoid wasting resources.
11 - We get everyone in the company pulling in the same direction:
The company sets goals and direction, begins the process outlined above and knows a decision will be pending - this is the time to communicate the goals and get feedback from the entire organization. Keeping others in the dark about potential plans only leads to surprises.
It is understandable that companies want to keep potential marketing information restricted to a limited number of decision makers. But, this destroys the ability to innovate and plan. Also, personnel beyond your key people are capable of testing or evaluating programs. Chances are, the company has just never asked for their input. Most innovations of value come from client demand, the marketplace, field reps and end users. Contrary to executive belief, rarely does true innovation start with upper management. They may have the expertise to cultivate the process, but most good ideas are submitted, not dictated. Again, learn to listen to the average line assembler. They'll tell you why a product improvement isn't an improvement at all.
Did you know that most inventors are not under 30, or even 40? That most inventing takes place after a person has been exposed to a particular field for many years and has had the chance to evaluate good products and bad, good methodology and bad, and finds a better way to solve a problem? Invention is truly mostly perspiration. So don't sweat it. The more people who understand your goals the faster you'll achieve them.
A very popular television commercial at this time features an IT team being told by a CEO that the research has been completed and everything indicates that their company should invest millions in pursuing a new market using a new platform immediately. Then the IT team responds that it will take months to achieve what the CEO seeks. Unfortunately, the decision had been made prior to getting everyone in the company together for investing in the process. If the CEO understood the necessity for getting company wide input, then the entire program could have been salvaged. Instead, the company is left scrambling for a solution to a market need from which it could profit. That is not the optimal use of anyone's time.
People can't follow when they can't see where they are going. It is one thing to claim leadership and ask for trust. It is another to do so blindly.
12 - You must anticipate sales volume:
Track and project sales volume based on prior experience. If you are developing a new product for your firm there are still competitive products to analyze. The data is harder to come by but the end result is the same. You will be able to create a clearer picture of expected sales. No company should invest a single dollar in a program without a true picture of the ROI. You need to produce such figures for any investment or loan. Why wouldn't a company do this as a matter of course for every product or service it develops? This is key to a marketing plan. It will tell you whether the idea has any economic worth.
13 - You must anticipate financing needs:
Upon learning that a new market requires new equipment/process to enter, begin the process of determining additional capitalization. You can't hook a big fish without a big fishing rod. If you ever trawl a cable behind a deep-sea fishing boat and you hold it in your hand, the friction and tension of the first large shark or fish you hook will take your hand with it. That is why there are steel anchors. Begin with a proper foundation for expanding a market or developing a new one and you will avoid losing a long-term relationship, permanently.
The biggest complaint most corporations have when dealing with smaller vendors is the consistent experience of having deadlines missed. For the corporation, missing the trade show deadline can be hard, but for the small vendor it can be a disaster. This is the most important point of any marketing effort - If you fail to deliver on any feature of your plan as promised, you will never regain the lost trust. Tell the truth. A negative truth will never destroy trust, but a positive lie will.
14 - We build customer relations for long-term growth:
With a variety of sales approaches today, companies are attempting to build customer relations, sometimes not even knowing what this truly means. It goes beyond the marketing plan, the sale, and even your products and services. It is incumbent upon companies to deliver total customer care.
Take for example the company receptionist who is asked to make copies of a special investment report for a meeting of the executives flying in to a central office that day. The paper in the copier which your company sells and services keeps curling because it sat next to a water cooler opened for two weeks. There is nothing wrong with your equipment. What do you do as the salesperson/point of contact?
Do you tell your marketing department so they can explain that the newer model due out next month won't malfunction even if the paper is wet?
Do you tell legal so they can explain the contract doesn't cover defective paper?
Do you tell operations who will send a technician to the site to tell them the paper is ruined?
If you followed any portion of the above planning for growth, then total customer service indicates the simplest solution. It supports your advertising claims, your written guarantees, your effective manuals, the sales process, and keeps your company focused on the long-term growth strategy it spent so dearly to develop.
You get in your car, go buy enough new unopened paper at the nearest office supply house, drive to the client, load the paper and help the receptionist meet her deadline even if you have to hand punch every copy to put in the ring binders yourself. She is pleased, the executives are pleased, the company is pleased and you have provided a new level of satisfaction in building customer relations.
Remember, one poorly answered phone call is enough to drive your client to your competitor's doorstep.
15 - Keep Management From Destroying Success.
One last point to keep in mind. When you succeed in developing employees who take the bull by the horns and deliver as promised, praise them. Even if their methods appear unorthodox and step on the toes of hierarchical authority, remember, your business does not exist to preserve some ladder of command purely for the sake of egos. Your business exists to grow financially, sustain families and develop talent. If someone in the company can't respect another's ability to excel, it's time that person leaves. You don't need people around who exist to bottleneck progress. No one, including the CEO, needs to control every facet of production or customer care. The bottom line is the bottom line. If the customer is happy, you are happy.
Managers may cry that this kind of thinking destroys "team building" or that they need to have input over every decision or at least "visibility". This is an incorrect view. Every day, individually we make thousands of minute decisions which affect our work flow, the quality and results WITHOUT any direct input of a manager, a committee or others. It is the manager's inability to allow excellence to thrive and chart its own course which destroys team building.
Team building is a natural, unguided process. You cannot dictate progress on a given day. Cooperation and collaboration among members to accelerate the potential of an idea cannot be forced.
Teams are made up of members. If every member feels like they cannot progress except by the agreement of a manager or committee for every decision, especially major ones, then none of the members will progress. Consensus or preapproval does not mold success. It stifles creative thought and depresses employees. There is no incentive to excel since decisions are automatically reviewed prior to enactment. Good ideas stagnate and become muddled "team" ideas with no real energy or ability to reach higher. The tailoring management imposes in this case removes the peaks from the mountaintops.
When you rode your first bicycle, no one sat behind you guiding the handle bars or pumping the peddles. They may have helped hold you up for a time. You rode, and fell, and rode, and fell, then finally somehow you soared. A good manager will run alongside the bike ready to keep you out of harm's way but will let you fall. They will even cheer you on to success. A bad manager will insist on steering the bike and determining the speed of peddle rotation even if they cannot correctly detect the speed necessary to sustain momentum. They will frustrate you and destroy your enthusiasm.
Keep your managers from holding back potential. Even if there are failures, these create future success. Remind authoritarians of this when they complain about success and try and reframe it as "bad" somehow when all objectives were met but their egos were bruised. And remind them the door swings both ways.
The COMPREHENSIVE INTEGRATED MARKETING SOLUTION builds long-term customer relations by working with all departments within a company to focus on the same goals and achieve them using any skills at their disposal.