Your Competitor’s Claims have Caught your Prospect’s Eye

Your competitor’s claims have caught your prospect’s eye.

Here are 5 points to consider to avoid an “us vs. them” approach. http://ow.ly/aosZ9

Knowledgence’s new Google+ page

Please check out Knowledgence’s new Google+ page! We’d love to connect with you there http://ow.ly/9Qy3f

Hearing Voices is Good for the Prospect

No, you are not outwardly seeking clients with voices in their head.  The voices that you want your prospects to hear are those of your satisfied customers!

The single most effective marketing and sales tool you can have is a sincere message from a satisfied client or customer, singing your praises.  For this reason, it is important to let those voices be heard (or read).

Check out Lisa Dennis’s recent article in Mass High Tech, which discusses specific kinds things that you’d like your customers to address, as well as the best way to present these voices so that prospects can get a feel for what it is like to work with you.  This should be a significant tool in your marketing toolbox!

Developing Buyer Personae

An important shift that I’m seeing more frequently is tailoring marketing content by persona.  Seems like a no-brainer:  focus on the “who” of your customers to be able to address them directly in their voice, about their concerns.  My experience has been that most B2B companies understand that is what they should do, but the pull of talking about their own products and services in their own voice is irresistible.

Marketing Sherpa published in their Chart of the Week some research on the methods of developing buyer personae.  Major emphasis:  interviews – going to the customers and prospects (64%) and talking to sales (56%).

They make a further point to  balance this qualitative data with more traditional quantitative data.  I’m in total agreement with the interview method.  There’s nothing worse than a buyer persona that describes who we “think” the buyer is, as opposed to mirroring the actual buyer.

— Lisa Dennis

The “Invisible Children” and “Kony 2012” Phenomenon

We normally try to steer clear of political hot buttons on this business blog, and will make every attempt to do so here, as well.  What I want to focus on is the amazing reach of a single idea, and and how that idea quickly splintered into reactions and investigations and rumor and innuendo and inevitable humor and satire, all within 24-48 hours.  That, my friends, is viral.  Or as we say in New England, wicked viral.

An interesting summary of the situation can be read here, and some intelligent comments on both sides of the argument follow.  So I will not recapitulate the matter here, nor express my opinion on it (which is, in fact, still being formulated.)   Rather, I would like to examine the social media impact of this phenomenon.

The video first caught my attention via an article on FastCompany.com on March 7.  By the time I watched the video, it had already been viewed by half a million people since its appearance on March 5.  Within an hour of sharing it on my Facebook page, a friend posted a comment, with a link to another article, which suggested that the makers of the video, and their cause, were not exactly as they presented themselves to be.  After reading that article, a few thoughts came to mind:

    1. The power of a well-produced video is so compelling.  Upon first view, my reaction was not to do more research, or ask any follow-up questions.  In my mind, the video had shown me enough to warrant my desire to share it with others, thus helping the cause of the organization that created and posted it.  That’s a powerful video.
    2. At this writing, the original video has almost 28 million views on YouTube, and almost 17  million more on Vimeo, just 6 days after its initial appearance.  Is it possible to capture that kind of lightning in a bottle on a regular basis?
    3. It will be interesting to see how much traction their movement gets before April 20 – the day the organization has targeted for having their message blanket the physical world, in addition to the cyber world.  As a marketing case study, this one is a beaut!

So, the question is, is this a matter of a well-made video, introduced initially to a number of the right influencers in the worlds of politics and entertainment, then snowballing into a viral phenomenon?  Is the actual subject of the video that drove its popularity, or was it the execution of a great content packaging and release strategy?

Chuck Dennis

Can Pinterest Help Your Business? Or Is It Just Messing Around?

Yes.

Pinterest, one in a long line of new social media platforms, is seen by some as a fantastic gateway to driving traffic to other web sites, and therefore, ostensibly, some business.  It is seen by others as another in a long line of colossal, self-indulgent time-wasters on the web.  Hey, you kids!  You’re both right! 

Like with all social media, don’t blame the tool for the quality of the content its users post.  As we are still in the infancy of social media, let us indulge in the frivolous for a while.  Indeed, it is, and has been necessary, to put fun, goofy stuff on the web to encourage more users. Twenty years ago, those of us with corporate jobs were adept at using a computer, but most other working people were not.  Now, 2012, everybody’s grandmother is playing Angry Birds online.

But social media sites like Facebook, and now, to an extent, Pinterest, attract many of the casual web users.  They come for the fun, but many of them stay for the shopping.

And this is where Pinterest shines, if your business sells anything that can be attractively or interestingly turned into a graphic image.  You post a cool image.  Everybody on Pinterest can see it.  Many of them click on it to get a bigger version of the image.  Many of them then click on the link which will direct them to your site, or wherever you got the image from.  Then, many of them pin it on their own page, thus giving their seal of approval to your product.  People trust their friends more than advertisers, so they click on the image, too.  Pinterest has driven more traffic than Google in the past several months.  Like, way more traffic.

But the age-old question on the web is, does the traffic turn into revenue?  That’s up to the individual business, of course.  Pinterest will get the interested people to your site, but you still gotta give them something they want to buy!  That’s a whole other can o’ beans.

For businesses that do not provide tangible products that lend themselves to graphic representation, Pinterest is not right for your business.  Might be great fun for you, personally.  But not your business.  Don’t post pictures of your gas station, because no one online cares about it until they actually need gas.

But for artists, photographers, jewelry, real estate, music, food, collectors, automobiles & boats, and about a zillion other businesses, I think Pinterest is a no-brainer addition to your social media mix.

— Chuck Dennis

Sales Letters: Focus, People! Focus!

We have all received sales letters that bore us to tears.  The writer goes on and on about themselves and/or their company’s wide range of products and services.  If we actually read these things all the way through, are we then motivated to buy anything?  Not really.

If your child is a little thirsty, you don’t blast him with a fire hose.  (Well, you shouldn’t, anyway.)  Same principal applies to sales letters.  If you know your customers are thirsty for something, you don’t need to blast them with everything you’ve got.  Give them a taste of what they are thirsting for, and they will come to you for more when they want more.

We discuss this concept in more detail here, and offer some tactical tips on how to focus your message so that each recipient feels you are speaking directly to him or her, with exactly what they are thirsting for.  We urge you to try some of these tips so that you don’t  overwhelm your audience, or bore them to the point of indifference.

One size does not fit all.  All sizes do not fit all, either.

— Lisa Dennis

Sound Advice

We’ve been saying this for years… one size never fits all.

Identify the BEST customers for your business, and knock yourself out trying to astound them with your service.

Don’t Grow Your Business With Bad Customers

www.inc.com

Take the time to discover which customers add the most value to your business.

Kick-off!

Whether your company is large or small, the impact of the Sales Team Annual Kick-off meeting is extremely important. It’s the time to layout the strategy for moving forward for the year.  See Lisa’s article in Mass High Tech.

All I Want for Christmas is… a customer-focused value proposition?

Some of you in reading this will question whether what I’m proposing is really a marketing responsibility or a sales responsibility. But the point is that the buying climate out there is forcing marketing and sellers to engage and partner more closely than ever before. It takes a village of marketing and salespeople to land and keep happy customers. Marketing has the power and expertise to lead the way on that journey.  So please read this and let me know what you think!

• Customer-focused value proposition that clearly states the prospect’s challenge or goal, your company’s specific offer to address it, and what differentiates your offer from available alternatives;

• Customer-focused benefits (not features) tailored to individual personas/titles of target prospects;

• List of key value drivers that guide the prospect’s decision process, quantified with verifiable proof (customer testimonials, case studies, or third party validation). Qualification tools make all the difference in streamlining the sales process and driving closeable opportunities into the pipeline. While it is sales’ job to qualify, there is a role for marketing to play in driving the process.

• Create a “Prospect Fit Index,” which provides an easy and consistent method for sales to determine whether a prospect is worth pursuing. The index should outline what is a poor fit versus an optimal fit based on a set of 5–7 key criteria that describe the best and closable sales targets for your products or services. Any prospect can be quickly assessed or scored based on where they map across the index.

• Develop a lead measurement tool that allows both marketing and sales to score a lead to be able to assess the quality of leads coming in, and to determine which leads should be pursued versus nurtured until they are ready to go to sales.

Oh yes, there is more!  Click here to continue.

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