Why you need to Create Marketing Materials With Your Salespeople in Mind

Hi readers,

My marketing professor, Stephen Hurley, a solutions marketing expert and a great teacher shocked me by sharing that the average life of a CMO in the US is just a tad better than 2 years!

That stressed me out and set me thinking on the WHY part of this revelation!

I have had a big skew in my career towards sales management, as opposed to marketing. In my 18 years career, sales figures in ALL 18 years, whereas marketing figures for ONLY 7!

So when I started to analyse the reasons why CMOs have a short shelf life, I figured that disconnect between the marketing and sales functions in an organization is the biggest culprit for this looming disaster.

You can attribute numerous reasons for this disconnect, BUT the biggest reason for this disconnect is when marketing produces marketing and sales collateral materials WITHOUT taking sales into confidence or working with them as partners!!

As the CMO of your organization you need to ask yourself these key questions- 

Why do you need you sales reps to succeed? Because when they succeed, get their bonus, get their incentives, achieve their quotas, NOT only do your sales reps shine, more important, YOU DO TOO!!

What do your salespeople need to succeed?  Give them a toolkit that helps them out during every step of the sale. SIMPLE!

Whether you have one salesperson or 10, outfitting your front line with the right tools is critical to your company’s success. Production of collateral materials often falls to marketing staffs that design in a vacuum, without true insight into the day-to-day operational requirements–and just plain hands-on, grab-and-run nature–of salespeople. The result? Some recent studies suggest that as much as 80 percent of materials created by marketing staffs for the use of salespeople go unused, while salespeople often create their own less-than-stellar tools on the fly. Meanwhile, important branding and selling messages can fall by the wayside, and sales may decline or stagnate.

So how can you create tools your salespeople will love–and actually want to use? It all comes down to these three essential steps.

1. Get frontline input. Eliminate the disconnect between your marketing and sales teams by getting them talking. Salespeople can offer tremendous insight into customers’ needs and objections as well as your company’s competitive challenges. Ask your salespeople to brief the marketing staff on the product or service elements that are most critical to the customers or clients they meet. Listen to them recount the objections they face most often during the selling process so you can create marketing tools and materials that support their efforts to overcome them. Salespeople should also tell your marketing team about any changes in customer demographics or hot buttons so that old tools can be revised to coincide with the current needs of your customer base.

Salespeople are continually butting heads with competing products and services. Ask them for insight into new, emerging competition to help you create marketing materials that are a step ahead.

2. Add up all the touch points. Your sales force requires a full family of tools that carries a consistent look and message. Each time salespeople make contact with customers or clients, these tools must work to reinforce your company image and support the sales process. Many business owners fail to take into account the true number of touch points throughout the sales cycle–intersections between the sales staff and customers or clients–where collateral materials are needed.

For example, your salespeople may use sales letters, business cards and notecards, company brochures, presentation tools, proposals, contracts, sell sheets, e-mails, printed and online forms, catalogs and other materials. It’s essential that all of them have a consistent company message and use your logo or company identity properly. Take the time to investigate and make a comprehensive list of the day-to-day touch points between your salespeople and customers, then supply your people with every item they need to be successful.

3. Enroll salespeople in your mission. Once you’ve gained all the input you need from your frontline sales force and have created new collateral tools and materials, make a presentation to your sales staff that highlights how all the tools will work to help them win more sales. Rather than merely handing over boxes of tools, share the strategies behind the key marketing messages to get everyone onboard with your campaigns and materials. If they reflect the input the sales force shared with you and your marketing team, your salespeople will be enthusiastic about using the tools you’ve created.

Schedule ongoing joint meetings with your sales and marketing staffs to obtain evolving customer information and preview upcoming promotions and specials. Let your salespeople know where and when your advertising will run so they can be ready to respond. And include them in any changes in future creative materials and strategies. This will guarantee that the tools you create are positively embraced by your sales staff and successfully support the sales effort.

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Marketing pros…wake up call!

Hi readers,

As a hard core sales professional with 18 years of experience , I have had my fair share of run ins with my marketing team members and animated discussions with my CMO on more than one occasion. The theme of these discussions with my marketing team was just this-

Create Marketing Materials With Your Salespeople in Mind !!

During my stint as the P&L head for a CPG business in Africa, I kept marketing to myself and led that initiative, because I wanted my sales team to succeed from the word go..otherwise I knew that the KPIs that I had pledged to achieve would NOT be achieved, come what may.

I was in no mood to NOT learn from my years of experience working with my marketing teams; focused, clear approach to marketing would ensure success to the sales team ( driving them further with positive enforcement) and definitely help me achieve the business KPIs!! simple!!

Key job of marketing is to help sales achieve their KPIs- the numbers. Give them a toolkit that helps them out during every step of the sale.

Whether you have one salesperson or 10, outfitting your front line with the right tools is critical to your company’s success. Production of collateral materials often falls to marketing staffs that design in a vacuum, without true insight into the day-to-day operational requirements–and just plain hands-on, grab-and-run nature–of salespeople.

The results of this 11th hour hurried work, with out clear comprehension of the consumer, the value prop and the market dynamics is poor to say the very least. Sales sees this effort by marketing as a patch work , they pay little or no attention to this input, and its back to business as usual….so it brings you back to square one…why did you have this done in the first place, AND worse, for senior executives to question, WHY DO WE NEED A MARKETING DEPARTMENT in the first place?????

This is dangerous territory!!

So the question is….how do you create quality marketing material that engages the sales team and generates quality results?

1. Get frontline input- 

Eliminate the disconnect between your marketing and sales teams by getting them talking. Salespeople can offer tremendous insight into customers’ needs and objections as well as your company’s competitive challenges. Ask your salespeople to brief the marketing staff on the product or service elements that are most critical to the customers or clients they meet. Listen to them recount the objections they face most often during the selling process so you can create marketing tools and materials that support their efforts to overcome them. Salespeople should also tell your marketing team about any changes in customer demographics or hot buttons so that old tools can be revised to coincide with the current needs of your customer base.

Salespeople are continually butting heads with competing products and services. Ask them for insight into new, emerging competition to help you create marketing materials that are a step ahead.

2. Add up all the touch points. Your sales force requires a full family of tools that carries a consistent look and message. Each time salespeople make contact with customers or clients, these tools must work to reinforce your company image and support the sales process. Many business owners fail to take into account the true number of touch points throughout the sales cycle–intersections between the sales staff and customers or clients–where collateral materials are needed.

For example, your salespeople may use sales letters, business cards and notecards, company brochures, presentation tools, proposals, contracts, sell sheets, e-mails, printed and online forms, catalogs and other materials. It’s essential that all of them have a consistent company message and use your logo or company identity properly. Take the time to investigate and make a comprehensive list of the day-to-day touch points between your salespeople and customers, then supply your people with every item they need to be successful.

3. Enroll salespeople in your mission. Once you’ve gained all the input you need from your frontline sales force and have created new collateral tools and materials, make a presentation to your sales staff that highlights how all the tools will work to help them win more sales. Rather than merely handing over boxes of tools, share the strategies behind the key marketing messages to get everyone onboard with your campaigns and materials. If they reflect the input the sales force shared with you and your marketing team, your salespeople will be enthusiastic about using the tools you’ve created.

Schedule ongoing joint meetings with your sales and marketing staffs to obtain evolving customer information and preview upcoming promotions and specials. Let your salespeople know where and when your advertising will run so they can be ready to respond. And include them in any changes in future creative materials and strategies. This will guarantee that the tools you create are positively embraced by your sales staff and successfully support the sales effort.

What Constitutes Marketing Aptitude?

Hi readers,

This is another subject that my sales  team members would often take up for discussion during our Saturday meetings.

I based my assessment of marketing aptitude on my personal experience, inputs from peers who had impeccable record in marketing and by developing an understanding of the subject by observing my VP marketing at work.

According to me, the 9 key attributes that constitute marketing aptitude are

  1. Business and operational savvy. Visceral understanding of what constitutes business success, strong finance streak, capable of P&L responsibility and flawless execution.
  2. Passion for the product. Passion for every aspect of the product or service the company markets. Detailed knowledge of the competitive marketplace and what it takes to win.
  3. Big picture. Keen understanding of all the moving parts of the entire industry’s food chain, logistics, and infrastructure.
  4. Inspirational and insightful. A visionary capable of big insightful ideas, plus recognizing and inspiring them (and innovation) in others.
  5. Customer savvy. Passion and empathy for the customer relationship and the user experience.
  6. Promotion savvy. Intuitive understanding of what it takes to get above the noise, create a buzz, and build a brand. Detailed knowledge of all major promotion vehicles from grass roots to mass market.
  7. Communications skills. Adept at communicating vision, ideas, and emotions to a broad range of audiences from the board of directors and employees to customers and partners.
  8. Leadership skills. Capable of driving diverse groups of highly opinionated individuals to consensus and action.
  9. Left brain – right brain balance. Marketing intelligence combines the ability to think, reason, and act logically and methodically, with the ability to connect emotionally and inspirationally with one’s self and others.

How to Do a Successful Marketing Pitch

Hi readers,

In my 7 years of marketing experience, I found marketing to be extremely challenging in terms of deliverable.

The fact that my mandates in marketing were qualified successes gave me tremendous insights in understanding what constitutes a successful marketing pitch.

It all begins with the MARKETING PITCH folks…and here is my take on the subject.

First, get over yourself. Marketing is about facilitating business; it’s not an end onto itself. If you can’t relate your project to developing market-leading products or increasing market share, revenues, or profits, then selling it will be infinitely harder and justifiably so.

Make stakeholders part of the process. As a marketing manager, your key stakeholders include product development, sales, HR, finance, and in many cases, executive management. Make them part of the process – bounce your ideas off them and get their input one-on-one before pitching to the group.

Don’t shove it down their throats. Instead, build a top-down story that relates your project to key corporate goals or business fundamentals. Explain using data and logic your audience understands. Think teacher-educator, not pushy salesperson. Encourage debate and grow thick skin.

Stick your neck out on tough metrics. Offer up aggressive metrics that will raise eyebrows. If you end up falling a bit short but the project is still a success, nobody will give you a hard time. That said, don’t go over-the-top or you’ll lose credibility.

Learn how to build consensus. Be prepared for a long haul, iterative process that may take several meetings and revisions. Still, you need to keep it moving forward toward a consensus plan. Learning to walk that fine line takes experience and maturity.

Stay tuned!

 

How to Be a Great Marketer

Hi readers,

I have been speaking extensively on sales management for all these days. Time to switch to marketing.

This is my insight based on the 7 years of marketing experience that I have, from the 18 years of total experience as a business management professional, working in some very challenging economies.

If you’re new to marketing, welcome to a function that nobody understands and everybody thinks they know better than you do.

  • Sales is your friend. The whole “natural tension between sales and marketing” thing is a dysfunctional crock. Sales owns the customer relationship. As a marketer, one of your key functions is to facilitate sales’ ability to sell your products. You need each other and your goals can and should be aligned.
  • Be patient with your boss and peers. Not coincidentally, strong leaders and managers often tend to be controlling individuals. That means they can become easily frustrated with things they don’t understand, i.e. marketing. Be patient and pay attention to their feedback.
  • Remember, you have way more customers than you think. The executive staff, your peers, product development, manufacturing, sales, finance, HR, employee communications, they’re all stakeholders in the marketing function. Treat them as such.
  • Bond with the development and product people. This goes way beyond educating and teaching. These are very smart people with a strong, vested interest in what you plan to do with their product. Bond with them, listen to them, understand their issues and concerns, make them partners in your “process;” it’ll pay off big-time.
  • Teach, teach, teach. Successful marketers are strong communicators and educators. Spend as much time teaching and educating internally as you do networking and meeting with customers externally. Again, it’ll pay off.
  • Measure and communicate results. The biggest slam on marketing is that it’s an expense black hole with no metrics to measure results. Be disciplined. Spend 10 percent of your budget on metrics for key programs and take the time to communicate results – both good and bad – to stakeholders. Do it.
    • Listen, listen, listen. Most of your “brilliant ideas” will come from others – internal stakeholders, vendors, and customers. Make them part of your “process.” Your job is to actively listen and then crystallize these gems into product and corporate strategy and positioning. It’s a real skill to learn, but it starts with listening.
  • Get out and visit customers. Balance internal focus with external focus. That doesn’t mean waste customers’ and sales’ time to suit your agenda, but meet with customers when you’ve got something important – from their perspective, not just yours – to discuss. Ask open, leading questions and listen to their feedback. It’s invaluable.
  • Get close to your competition. I don’t mean study their products, I mean get close, really close. Introduce yourself at conferences or other events – they’ll be there. Get together from time to time, have lunch, whatever. They don’t bite. Just remember to learn more than you share.
  • Be accessible to the media. PR and the media can be an incredibly powerful tool, but like all tools, you have to learn to use them properly or they can work against you. I’m not saying be reactive; it should fit into your overall communications goals, strategy, and messaging. Creating a buzz is an art form; just look at Steve Jobs and Apple.
  • Make key vendors part of your virtual team. If you pick the right vendors, they can be tremendous strategic resources, since some of the most capable PR and advertising people have their own firms. To benefit from their knowledge and experience, bring them into the fold. Make them part of your virtual team, just like the rest of your staff.
  • Be visible, network, attend conferences and events. It’s easy to become too internally focused within the four walls of your company. You can lose perspective and start to breath too much of your own fumes. Get out, network, meet people, and bat some ideas and concepts around. If you don’t do it, who in your company will?
  • Listen, listen, listen. Most of your “brilliant ideas” will come from others – internal stakeholders, vendors, and customers. Make them part of your “process.” Your job is to actively listen and then crystallize these gems into product and corporate strategy and positioning. It’s a real skill to learn, but it starts with listening.
  • Get out and visit customers. Balance internal focus with external focus. That doesn’t mean waste customers’ and sales’ time to suit your agenda, but meet with customers when you’ve got something important – from their perspective, not just yours – to discuss. Ask open, leading questions and listen to their feedback. It’s invaluable.
  • Get close to your competition. I don’t mean study their products, I mean get close, really close. Introduce yourself at conferences or other events – they’ll be there. Get together from time to time, have lunch, whatever. They don’t bite. Just remember to learn more than you share.
  • Be accessible to the media. PR and the media can be an incredibly powerful tool, but like all tools, you have to learn to use them properly or they can work against you. I’m not saying be reactive; it should fit into your overall communications goals, strategy, and messaging. Creating a buzz is an art form; just look at Steve Jobs and Apple.
  • Make key vendors part of your virtual team. If you pick the right vendors, they can be tremendous strategic resources, since some of the most capable PR and advertising people have their own firms. To benefit from their knowledge and experience, bring them into the fold. Make them part of your virtual team, just like the rest of your staff.
  • Be visible, network, attend conferences and events. It’s easy to become too internally focused within the four walls of your company. You can lose perspective and start to breath too much of your own fumes. Get out, network, meet people, and bat some ideas and concepts around. If you don’t do it, who in your company will?

brand protection

The brazen cry of packaging counterfeiters is, Catch me if you can!”

Worldwide brand theft is costing companies more than $400 billion annually in revenues and is growing at an alarming rate of up to 15% a year. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 10% of the global drug market is made up of fake products in fake packages. Not only does counterfeiting lead to revenue loss and brand defamation, it undermines security, placing consumers directly in harm’s way.

But the good news is this–since October, 2002, a team funded by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)–made up of members from the Physical Science Laboratory at New Mexico State, Axess Technologies, Reconnaissance International and Sigma 4 Inc.–has been assessing a range of technologies to wage war against counterfeiting.

Four leading technologies that help thwart brand theft and counterfeiting include:

* Radio frequency identification (RFID)

* Chipless RFID and coded taggants

* Latent image technology (LIT)

* Optically variable devices (OVDs)

Low cost RFID on the rise

Knowing where your products are is “as valuable as knowing your bank balance.” And keeping track of your products can keep counterfeiters at bay.

RFID tags or chips allow brand owners, packagers and retailers to “talk” to their products from the beginning to the end of the supply chain. Tags can contain a range of information about a product, including manufacturing and packaging facility locations, packaging line runs, date codes, product ingredients, packaging supplier data and logos. Tags can be sandwiched between layers of plastic or paperboard used for packaging and paper or film used for labels. RFID readers are then placed all along the supply chain, following a product and its package ensuring its authenticity and safety.

However, one of RFID’s major stumbling blocks has been high cost. Typically, RFID chips can run up to $1.00 of more per tag. But as chips get thinner and smaller, it is estimated that RFID costs will dip down to the 10 to 20 cents per chip range. RFID experts say that cost will lessen as RFID manufacturers develop cheaper tags while increasing production volumes.

One current case in point illustrates the scope of RFID and its potential decrease in cost. The Gillette Co. recently announced the purchase of 500 million low-cost RFID tags (some sources say the tags cost around 10 cents apiece but this price could not be confirmed) from Alien Technology for tagging cases and packages of expensive razors.

This is the first major commercial order for products incorporating an electronic product code (EPC), which was developed by the Auto-ID Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This technology is manufactured using Alien Technology’s patented “Fluidic Self-Assembly,” allowing tiny integrated circuits to be cost-effectively handled and packaged into EPC tags in large volumes.

An RFID EPC tagged label is affixed to a package and can be used to track a product through its lifecycle. EPC tagged labels are more than a radio “bar code” because they contain individual item serial numbers, manufacturing location, date codes, product to package comparison and other supply chain data.

Getting ready for a potential RFID explosion, SATO America Inc., in conjunction with CCL Label is currently offering a way to produce labels with RFID capability. SATO’s RFID kit for its CL408e and CL412e printers allows the printing of labels embedded with RFID chips. The kit also programs the chips by downloading product/packaging information directly into the chip and activating it at the same time as printing.

Where’s the chips?

Mention RFID and packagers may automatically think in terms of chips/tags, unwieldy readers and high cost. But a chipless RFID technology has been developed and licensed by a company called Inkode. The Inkode system involves embedding tiny metal fibers–called Taggents[TM]–into plastic and paper or any other materials that radio frequency waves can penetrate. These microscopic particles are energized by low power and respond when “excited” by radio frequency waves.

Used as a checks and balance system, Taggents can be embedded in the same area as a bar code on a package. Using a unique serial number, you can ensure there is a match between the Taggent and the bar code and what is supposed to be in the package. The serial number can be linked to a database, which can house supply chain information for packaging tracking purposes.

Two potential packaging applications where Inkode Taggents can be embedded are in meat labels to trace the product back to the meat packing company and pharmaceutical labels as a way of authenticating drugs. The cost for Taggents can be as low as one cent depending on the application and volume needed.

Similar to Inkode Taggents are microparticle taggants, which are encoded data-infused microparticles that can be incorporated into packaging materials such as paper, coatings, film and adhesives.