Category Archives: B2B

Traditional marketing is dead, really dead

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Traditional marketing is dead. No, really it’s dead. It’s pining for the fjords.

We have all seen what’s happening to newspapers, declining revenues, layoffs. Television is a landscape in flux, with Netflix and alternative online viewing options that bypass advertising, at least for now.

And Content Marketing is rising like the Phoenix – attracting  and retaining customers by  creating  content that attempts to change or enhance a consumer behavior. Fewer hard sells from pitchmen, but rather information that makes the buyer more intelligent.

hilltopsAt its essence is the belief that a smart content strategy delivers ongoing valuable information to buyers, who ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.

Building a relationship of trust is important to customers who need information to make smart buying decisions. That’s why networking is such an effective tool in the B2B world. It takes time to build trust but once it’s there, relationships blossom.

Traditional marketing still relies on a we talk you listen. And for most of us, that doesn’t cut it anymore.

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Filed under B2B, Content marketing, Marketing, social media, Stephen Rhodes

Price “fixing”

 By Jeff Bowman

This past weekend, I ventured out and attended several “amateur” sales events close to my home.  Better known as garage sales, these mini one day retail ventures offer some great insights into how prices are set and negotiated in the business world. Similar products at different locations varied greatly in price and other products displayed prices that seemed to have no rhyme or reason to them. A good example was paperback books, 4 for a $1.00 at one house, $1.00 each at another on the same street! I don’t need to tell you where the dollars were going.

Translated to the business world, that equates to two different stores setting their price using 2 divergent formulas for sales. “Entrepreneurs tend to keep prices too low,” according to business author Reed K. Holden.  In experience, sometimes we don’t see ourselves as a contributor to the value proposition, or take fully into account the real value the product or service brings to the customer. Larger companies may have a tendency to utilize the “mark up on cost” tactic which incorporates a variety of costs involved in bringing the product or service to market, then simply adding on a viable profit margin, sometimes with little regard to the competitive environment.

Setting your price is a critical part of the marketing mix and all things need to be considered such as your total costs including time, marketing, sales expenditures and transportion to name a few, the competition, the aggregate need, the decision making process of the buyer, the elasticity of demand (which in simple terms means the change in demand at various price points) and the position that it will be delivered to the market in, those positions being: is it new and “revolutionary”, is it an improvement or “evolutionary” or is it a similar product or service to many in the market already or ”an also ran”

In considering all of the above, the most important factor has to be the overall value that your product or service provides to the buyer. As a sales coach I constantly reinforce the value proposition in the sales process, and it is no different in the pricing approach. Businesses need to put dollar figures to the benefits the features provide. By monetizing the value to the customer the pricing consideration can be more clearly evaluated. A real quick example would be, if I introduce a product similar to others in the market, with improvements that are proven to save maintenance, shut downs and costly delays, is it wise to price it only a few dollars above the current market value, or is it worth much more in dollar savings over time for the customer?

Garage sale economics may dictate put the “stuff” out, price it to sell and close at noon to enjoy the Saturday, but if your price is too high it may need some fixing to avoid a long day standing on the driveway and a future trip to the dump.

Jeff Bowman, the “Attitude” in The Marketing PAD, provides workshops and sales consultations for businesses looking to grow.

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Filed under B2B, Innovation, Jeff Bowman, Manufacturing, Marketing, Sales, Strategic Planning

Tune Your RADIO to”Success 2012”

 By Jeff Bowman

During the first quarter of the new year, we must reflect on the successes and triumphs that we experienced this past year.  It was another complex year in terms of the recession, however I prefer to celebrate the victories we had rather than dwell on the difficulties we may have encountered.  In analyzing our achievements, we can better plan for increasing the business victories in the next year. The first quarter of 2012 is time to rev up the planning of sales and marketing activities for 2012.

2012 will bring many of the same challenges that we experienced in 2011, so we need to highlight our areas of success and plan around them moving forward as a sales organization.  It is important to stress that business should not operate in silos, with marketing having their planning meetings, finance theirs and so on.  A sound strategic sales plan is fully interdependent on the actions of every other employee in the company.  If operations decide to change shipping procedures for example it may impact sales, finance clamping down on days outstanding will result in a more difficult selling experience and then we may have new product introductions or changes in marketing budgets that directly affect sales. An overarching plan must be in place that incorporates the individual ideas, plans and actions from every department.

I recommend you tune your RADIO.  It is an analogy I use to assist business owners to identify and deal with issues affecting their success.

R – Review your successes and performance against your objectives, incorporating frontline accounts and testimonials. The sales force should meet to debrief about their experiences. Special attention should be paid to what was done right, what made the sales process easier, what made clients more acceptable to their calls. Focusing on the accomplishments creates a more driven and motivated sales representative. Who enjoys sitting in a meeting being reminded of negative sales trends, reduction of sales efforts, cut backs in marketing.  These are your frontline people, keep them interested!

A – Ask clients what they like about doing business with you.  Surveys can tell you important information, as well as demonstrate to the client that you are interested in their views. Everyone in the organization represents the company, and everyone can ask the clients for their opinions. If changes are suggested and undertaken, let the client know what you did to improve!

D – Dialogue creation. Focus on the many different ways there are to keep lines of communication to the clients and prospects open.  Twitter, blogs, newsletters, product updates, and surveys keep your name top of mind with the client.

I – Investigate the industry. Keep on top of the competition, be aware of emerging trends, understand where the customer’s real needs are and address then directly. Take the time to train your employees, so that their customer service and consultative sales skills are top-notch. (all employees who have any contact with any prospect or client)

O – Organize, set objectives and obtain results. Analyze the potential that exists in every territory or region that you sell into.  The potential is made up of many variables including the competitive environment, trends, population growth, demographics and is closely affixed to marketing activities. I have been working with businesses for 20 years in looking at “real” versus “imagined” potential, and I can tell you, a good understanding results in increased recognition of untapped potential. Create “realized potential” objectives and monitor the results quarterly.

Tuning into your business needs isn’t as easy as tuning in a radio station, however making the effort to tune into those distant and local areas of concern in the business will certainly improve the reception and your business success.

The Marketing Pad specializes in assisting and facilitating the “Success Planning Process”. Call us today to get you to the next level.

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Filed under B2B, Communications, Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, Managing, Marketing, Media, Sales, Strategic Planning

Building Business The Mike Holmes Way

By Jeff Bowman

I have said over and over again that trust is the glue that binds business relationships. The overarching goal of any business activity whether it be sales, marketing or networking is to develop a level of trust with your client base and prospects. Stephen Rhodes wrote an excellent piece on trust earlier this year and reinforces the link between trust and business growth.

I read an article this weekend that really drove home the message. It appeared in the Costco magazine and was entitled Holmes is where the hearth is. The article talks about the empire Mike Holmes has built on one simple premise, trust. His blunt forthright attitude and his blue-collar approach to business development through understanding customer needs and delivering top-notch quality has made him the second most trusted person in Canada according to a 2010 poll. Yes, he is more trusted than Peter Mansbridge, and sits behind only David Suzuki.  Not bad for a guy who comes from an industry (contracting) which was ranked in the same poll as the 4th least trusted profession. Holmes himself is quoted as saying “This is the easiest business I know of where people can get screwed legally.”

I had the pleasure of meeting Mike Holmes a few years back when we where keynote speakers at the Construction Safety Association’s Annual Conference in Toronto. He is extremely passionate about the construction trade and gets visibly angry (I wouldn’t want to get this guy upset) when recounting stories about families who have lost thousands to crooked or inept contractors. He has spent many years correcting mistakes and building an aura of trust. Although you may know him from television, he also has 4 books, a complete line of merchandise, and a charitable foundation that works to raise the profile of trades and encourage  kids to enter the profession.

Holmes has 5 simple rules for any person looking to hire a professional contractor and these rules can easily be applied to any business model, whether it be B2B or B2C.

They are as follows:

  1. Slow Down
  2. Educate yourself
  3. Hire the right contractor
  4. Get a permit
  5. Stay involved in the project.

Applied to businesses, they could be interpreted:

  1. Take the time to understand the client’s real needs
  2. Know what the your limitations are in responding to clients needs
  3. Align yourself with the right business associates and contacts in the industry
  4. Provide written documents outlining the services you sell, do what you say you will do.
  5. Ensure that the client has input at various milestones in the work you do.

When you follow the Holmes guidelines, you will most certainly develop trust and build long-lasting relationships.  This guy doesn’t just know how to build homes, he has clearly demonstrated his ability to build a business, a model that we could all follow!

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Filed under B2B, Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, Marketing, Networking, Sales, Stephen Rhodes

A Shot in the Arm for the Business Flu

By Jeff Bowman

The sleepless nights, the aches and pains in your joints, chills, fatigue and the fever that accompanies the flu have beaten us all down at some time or other.  There is a virus floating around and if you aren’t careful and wash your hands, and avoid close contact with those around you who have it, you’re going to get it. The silver bullet in recent years seems to be the flu shot.  Get the shot avoid the flu.

Your business is also very susceptible to the flu, or Enterprise Influenza A.  It has been almost in a pandemic stage for a couple of years now.  Yes, most of us dismissed it as the common “CC Variant”, the Company Cold, and thought that it would simply run its course given a little time. Fact is, it may not have. Now you require a little shot in the arm to get things righted, make the business feel better so to speak. The wonder drug is “buttkus bootus”.  It is available with a prescription, but can be quite expensive since it isn’t covered by your typical business health plan.  I recommend that you get an over the counter self-administered version, a home remedy that was popularized in the 30’s, then the late 50’s and again in the 90’s.

The first thing you need to do is identify if your business truly has the flu, or is it lagging due to a cold or aging pains.  There are two main types of symptoms you need to recognize, the internal ones that you can feel, measure and that are a source of constant complaint, and the more visible signs that others can see such as the pallor of the business, fatigue etc.

Among the internal symptoms are low employee morale, increase in sick days, outdated technology, lower productivity and a general malaise towards sales and customer relationships.

The outwardly visible signs include things like decreased market share, a deterioration of your marketing effort, an old outdated brand image, and a total disregard for emerging social media.

The bad news is that if left untreated, Enterprise Influenza A can be deadly.  Over a period of time the business will become more and more lethargic, clients and suppliers will not want to come near you in case you are contagious and just as the flu drains your energy, this will drain your company revenues and resources.

The good news is that this is 100% treatable.

  • Identify the symptoms and what you believe are the base cause.
  • Consult a few experts for their opinion
  • Focus your efforts on the cure, and change habits that you might have developed over the last couple of years.
  • Create a plan of action to re-invigorate the business
  • Continue with the treatment, take all the medication prescribed
  • Take the temperature of the business regularly to see what is working

The environment over the last few years has been very conducive to this particular business ailment.  You may not have seen the gradual decline in health, but now is the time to take the chicken soup to get you back on your feet.  Some of the measures you need to take will take strong will power and conviction, but keep in mind a qualified consultant can offer advice but in the end, it is you that has to take the action.

Need some advice on what’s ailing you? Contact the  the Business Physician!

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Filed under B2B, Branding, Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, Marketing, social media