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BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: 10 Easy Pieces to Improving Your Marketing Effort

I know it should be 5 Easy Pieces to correspond with the movie title, but I didn’t want to shortchange you on information, so I went with 10. Summer is a great time to recalibrate the ‘marketing machine’ as businesses usually slow down during this time period and the demands aren’t as high. However, like the book, Peaks and Valleys, suggests let’s try to take this lull in business activity to prepare for a marketing windfall in the coming months. Some might say, “but I’m not in marketing; my department isn’t even close to marketing.  However we have to recognize that the new business model is moving to a much more integrated marketing approach (everyone is marketing their business and their profession somehow), not to mention we all have a personal brand we have to manage to better position us for that promotion, or for that next job. Here are some tips, whether or not you are in the marketing arena or not, that will kick start the summer marketing plan:

Piece 10 – LinkedIn: As we talked about a while back, LinkedIn has come roaring back to life and is seen as a major contender not just for social media, but as a way for business people to connect with other business people. Here are some things you should be doing with it:

- Update your LinkedIn status 3 times a week with what is currently happening within your company, your industry, a good article you read, or a professional insight you might have – provide a link to the content.
– Update your profile to act as your virtual resume and Rolodex (i.e. you shouldn’t still be working for that company you left 5 years ago).
– Join subject specific groups (like a marketing group, manufacturing group, association), listen to what they’re talking about and answer where you deem it appropriate.
– Don’t forget to “link in” with people! One great way of doing this is by importing your Outlook contacts into LinkedIn. There’s something to be said with putting a face with a name and how that helps a business relationship grow (Read our paper on LinkedIn).

Piece 9 – Video: Establish a YouTube account (it’s free). Buy a Flipcam ($70), and start filming.  Start by asking yourself what your clients and potential customers might want to see. Put your videos on your blog, your internal training system, or your main website. People have gotten over their need for professional video quality in order to get quality information through video. Make sure your videos are insightful and value-added (even some humor is great on video). If video is too much for you right now, I suggest taking some great photos of your workplace and what you do and using a collage-making website like Animoto to add some flair and motion to your website, blog or Facebook Page (check out what we recently did for a local Garden Tour). If interested in video, here are some quick ideas courtesy of Derek Halpern:

- Shoot “behind the scenes” of what goes into making your product or service.
– Interview your best customers and ask them about their success (not yours).
– Interview your employees who are the most passionate about your projects.
– Record screencasts if you have an online product, so that people know what they’re getting into.
– Create educational content that helps people better use your product/service, or that helps them with some not-related-to-you aspect of the job.

Piece 8 – Establish a physical presence: Get out there. Meet some people. Don’t stay locked up in your office. Michael and I try to get out, establish our firm, at least once a month if not more at networking functions or one-on-one coffee meetings. Are you volunteering any where? Attending networking functions or conferences? Having lunch with like-minded people? You should be. I am really not a fan of salespeople (sorry to any salespeople reading this).  I’m more of a fan of explaining what I do, why I do it and how I might be able to help and then I leave it up to the person to decide if I fit within his/her plan. That’s it. That’s the pitch. The one caveat I will add here is to be very strategic with your time. Meet the right people. Join the right organizations or associations that will serendipitously place you with the right people so that you can provide relevant information and value to them.

 

Piece 7 – Publish: Start to build your brand and thought leadership by publishing your thoughts on the industry and trends. This tends to be one of the hardest things to grasp when we consult with people who haven’t been asked to write creatively or constructively since college. “But, I don’t know anything. I’m not a writer. A thought leader?” they usually say. I like to think of it as being your own journalist or editor. You have to get people this information in order for them to be the most informed. Publishing your content could be a great breakthrough for your readers so don’t go hiding your breakthrough thought from them. Look into setting up a blog (like we have) or seek out editorial columns in newspapers, business journals, other blogging sites – just don’t forget to mention your organization to get some website traffic going to them. Also, make sure if you write on behalf of your organization, you have their blessing.

Piece 6 – Update your marketing material: I am not the biggest fan of brochures or tri-folds, but I understand their place in an integrated marketing approach. Nothing hits home when you go on that pitch like having a well-organized folder of print material explaining what you do and the value you provide. Over the past two years (and yes, it took us a long time to produce our marketing materials to ensure it was what we wanted), we have produced a large 11×17 service brochure, a training catalog with over 50 trainings, 5 industry specific service brochures that highlight our work within each industry and a tri-fold of our services and specific programs like our NDC Training Co-Op. Remember – this was two years of work, don’t feel like you have to do it all now, but get started. Not that graphicly-inclined? I recommend this website which manufactures templated print material: StockLayouts.

Piece 5 – Press Releases: You should be distributing a press release once a month. You should have a dynamic list of local, regional and national media contacts that you email to. “But I’m only a department manager,” you say. In this economy we are all publishers of content.  Wouldn’t it be great if you forwarded on a fully-written, press release (sample) to your PR division every month that you wrote (maybe about a new process, new industry insight, department hire)?  I bet they would be grateful; you did half their job for them. I also recommend using the online resource PRWeb to get your press release out to the Associated Press and Google sites.

Piece 4 – Understand Your Customer: I know, simple. But every time we work with clients on their marketing strategy, it’s the #1 hiccup for them. Part of it is because the client wants to be everything to everyone.  The other part of it is a lack of putting themselves in the “customer’s Nikes.” What would you want if you visited a website? BUY BUY BUY! No, not really. I’d like the right information, a good navigational design, an easy way to contact someone – but essentially I, the visitor, will make the final decision – not the company telling me. So approach your customers the same way. Build a persona of your customer(s), who are they (Industry, Need, Size of Company, Department, and Title) and then build your marketing material around meeting THEIR needs. (Read more on Customers)

Piece 3 – Present: The next step after going to networking events or conferences is to become the leader and speaker at these networking events or conferences. If you have a perspective on something or think a new technology would be really great to show the masses talk to your clubs, associations, groups to see if you can present. Again, if you work in a department and go out and find speaking engagements to promote the larger organization I bet senior leadership would be floored. (Read more on Presenting)

Piece 2 – Email: Here are some quick thoughts:
– Check out Direct Email services (if you’re looking to up your game and mass distribute emails).
– Put links in the signature line of your email that drive people to your website, blog post, video, social media.
– Set up a system (I can’t stress enough) that reminds you to follow up with people. The #1 reason companies lose a sale is because we forgot to follow up or communicate with someone.  It doesn’t have to be an overly formal email; just a “dropping a line – how is business” works great to get a pulse of your clients or potential clients. STAY CONNECTED!

Piece 1 – Be Genuine: Drop the car-salesman act. I don’t like it, you don’t like it and I’m willing to bet your customers don’t like it. The trend of all marketing and sales is moving to a more conversational tone (note: just because its conversational doesn’t mean it’s not professional, don’t get ‘glib’ or ‘cheeky’ with your language). When I read your material, visit your site, watch your videos, or meet you in person tell me what you’re offering, how it might help and then let me decide. There is a time and place to be assertive with your services especially if there is a quota to meet, but you can be assertive while still being human. Here are some ways to bring the humanity back into your marketing:

- Send a postcard after someone chats on your website or email
– Send a hand-written note when someone orders a product
– Don’t talk about your business at the next coffee meeting with your potential client; talk about theirs
– Give a phone call instead of an email follow-up to a client
– Remember a client’s birthday
– Being Vermonters, we like to send maple treats, VT postcards, and New England calendars to people who interact with us. It gives us a good earthy feel and instant branding. Vermont tends to remind people of friendliness, quality, and trustworthiness, a brand that we like to hold ourselves to.  What separates you and gives you your charm and value proposition?

So why do all of this? Direct answer #1: The better your company looks (providing value, customer service, quality, etc.) the better you look – so help them out and make sure people know what a good company you are. Direct Answer #2: The better you look (shining LinkedIn profile, a mover and shaker, great speaker, an authority within your industry), the better you have positioned yourself to move up in your organization or, if need be, within your industry. Given the choice I’d put the all-star on my team any day. Are you positioning yourself and your company to be an all-star?

 

 

If you liked this, you may like these:

The New Small Business Marketing Model

Top Trends In Marketing Heading Your Way

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  • I always enjoy reading the NDC Blogger but in this issue I saw line suggesting the use of a stock layout site for those who are design-challenged. While this may be the best solution for no-budget projects, I suggest to first talk with a freelance designer and see if they can work with in your budget. Skip the cookie cutter design solutions if you can and opt for something fresh baked.

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    Thanks for the insight Tim. I think it really is based on the customer you’re trying to reach and very realistically, the size of your organization (and wallet). For small, tiny, just-starting businesses, who can’t afford graphic designers, StockLayout get’s you moving.

    For mid to large companies looking to integrate the same brand (look, tone, feel) on their website, in their print material, and/or through their direct email blasts, I have to agree with Tim on using a professional Graphic Designer to seal the deal.

    Picky-backing off the final paragraph and the all-star metaphor, sometimes our internal team isn’t equipped with all the talent we need, sometimes we have to go outside of our company to find that designated hitter who will knock our graphics out of the park, like a well-skilled graphic designer.

    Good looks Tim!

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