Are you putting all your eggs in one basket?
Do you do Digital or Traditional Marketing? A lot of marketing advice these days is to “go digital”. The rise of digital marketing companies is staggering and a lot of them are young companies that only think in one direction and that is how to market for Google. Or how to be found on Google. But is this the only thing that the modern small business needs to do?
Increase your business without the hard work
Digital marketing is a great way to increase business without doing all the old-fashioned hard work. And that is great. You can build a company profile by using Search Engine Optimization techniques and approaches to get your message out there. The only thing is that this takes time. A lot of small business do not have the luxury of time.
When the time comes to purchase
The thing that digital marketing does so well is it gives you the opportunity to be in front of a potential customer when the time comes. What I mean by this is that when someone decides they need your product they will look online and hopefully find you. Or they have seen your digital activity and approach you for your products.
Digital marketing creates the situation so that if you are doing it correctly you will be on the top of the lists i.e. high placing on Google. What it also does is put you up amongst your competitors.
Control is in the hands of the buyer
This is considered passive marketing. It also means that the control is all in the hands of the buyer. What if you wanted to be in front of a potential buyer before the decision time giving you the control? Then you must look at a more traditional type of marketing approach.
How to take control
Here are some marketing ideas that will help you take the control:
- Industry events
- Industry publication hard media advertising
- Sales and Business Development techniques such as cold calling, dropping in on business
There are more, and the majority are offline. It is hard work. But what it will do is put you in front of a potential buyer without your competitors being there. By building a direct relationship, giving you a stronger position to get them to buy your product.
Perhaps a different strategy
To do this you need to look at a different kind of strategy, a more traditional one. I’m not saying ditch the digital marketing but look at other ways to market your business. Don’t fall into the trap of putting all your eggs in the digital basket.
I have been working with sales channels for quite a while now and I find that there are simple approaches that make it easier to obtain good sales results. The first thing to do is ask what the best channel for your products is. I will in this instance talk about the industrial sector as it is where I have done most of my work. But this does not mean that we are only talking about B2B sales. Many of the industries I have dealt with have a many-tiered approach to the channel. For example a manufacturer, distributor, the retailer then end user.
Knowing this, who do you communicate to? The simple answer is all of them. If you do not let all segments of this channel know and understand your product then it will fail. I will explain why. The key to a successful sales channel is ease of flow. You have to make every stage flow on the next stage with ease. This is done through good communications to every stage.
It is a simple case of the “Chinese whisper” game that we all learned at school. Not so sure on the political correctness of that term these days, but I only remember it being called that. This is a case of every story changes from one person to another. This is human frailty of communication as we will all put our own spin on it so as to find the easiest way to communicate.
The way this works in channel management is:
The manufacturer must train and help promote the product to the distributor to give the best possible chance of promoting your product to the retailer. If he gets any of this message wrong then the message has changed.
The distributor will then train and promote the product to the retailer to give the retailer the best chance of promoting your product to the end consumer. If he gets this wrong then the message has changed.
The retailer will then educate and promote your product to the people who are going to finally put it in their homes or car and so on. Get this message wrong and you lose the sale.
So the retailer lost the sale and tells the distributor that they don’t want their product in their product line. The distributor tells you the manufacturer that they don’t want it because they can’t sell it to the retailer. The manufacturer now has no one to sell their product. How did it all go wrong?
The fundamental issue here is communication. Once you, the manufacturer, tell the next person in the process it is up to them to continue that message. Now it is important to note that there are three steps in this process that involves salespeople. You, the distributor and retailer.
There is something important you need to know about salespeople and that is this. Their living is dependent on one thing only. That thing is getting the sale. Wage, commission, self-esteem the lot, is all dependent on their end goal. They need to be focused on this or they will fail.
This is why I look at salespeople in the following way. I can say this from many years of sales living myself. They are like water flowing down a hill. The water will find the easiest path to get to its goal. The Goal being the bottom. The water will cut through weak dirt, around rocks sometimes over things to get to the end. Now water is controlled by gravity, which builds momentum and forges its way through by the easiest path.
The salesperson has a similar goal, not driven by gravity but in a not too dissimilar way, a need to survive. So like the momentum of water and gravity a salesperson needs knowledge and confidence. So many times have I seen a salesperson sell a product that he knew more about (confidence), overselling an alternative product, even if that alternative was the better item. Thus you need to make his job (flow) easier.
This is done also in a multi-tiered approach. Tell the right message to all stages of the channel. The distributor knows the right message, the salesperson has the right message but the end user should already know about your product. How easy is it for a salesperson to get to his goal when the buyer says “I’ve heard about this particular product and what it can do, can we talk about this product”.
Thus it is not a simple case of manufacturing the product and saying I will let my sales channels do the work of selling for me. It is up to the manufacturer to have control on all the stages especially when it comes to communication. Have your message right so as you don’t create confusion, misunderstanding all of which destroys confidence. Good communication comes from understanding your end user and the reasons why they will need your product. Ask this question: What need does my product fulfill? The answer will define your communication message. The message from this will help the process flow through your channels which will increase sales.
Or are you talking industry jargon? Many businesses think that because they are in a certain industry they must use industry terminology. The more you work within an industry the more you understand and thus modify the language to what is often quicker and more efficient. For example, acronyms and shortening of words. This is ok but not when it comes to marketing and communicating to your audience.
The problem with industry terminology is that people start to communicate in a certain way. For example, a case study in the Solar Industry is often used to sell the brand and the idea that Solar is a good thing to install. So, when these stories are written it will generally talk about the size of the system, how many “PV” Panels and what brand was used, what inverter brand and size etc. Everyone in the industry knows what that means and they get it. The thing is you are not selling your product to people within the industry.
External industry customers
We must remember that most of our customers are not in the industry we exist in. They are in other industries (or no industry for domestic consumers), so they may not understand what “PV” means. So why do we communicate this way?
It reminds me of Rob McKenna from the story “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”, an ordinary lorry driver who can never get away from the rain. He has a log-book showing that it has rained on him every day, anywhere that he has ever been, to prove it. He was described by the scientific community as a “Quasi Supernormal Incremental Precipitation Inducer”. Someone suggests that he could show the diary to someone, which Rob does, making the media deem him a ‘Rain God’ (something which he actually is) for the clouds want “to be near him, to love him, to cherish him and to water him”.
So why is the scientific term given?
Is it because sometimes industries like to own certain things. A need for control. So, they create terms that only they can explain. If someone wants to understand the term, then all they need to do is ask the industry insider and all will be revealed.
We are marketers not industry insiders.
The better option is to make your industry understandable so that your potential audience will own the terms themselves. When you give someone a sense of ownership they start to take control and need little convincing that it is a good idea.
So, the before mentioned Solar story should go something like; “Customer X needed to save on their electricity bill and asked our business to find a solution. We suggested our product (solar) as it would be perfect for their situation. We are glad to say the Customer X is receiving good savings from our product.” No need to mention what technicalities were involved. If you do, then it is an afterthought not the lead for the story.
Are you using Local SEO to your advantage?
Using free directories is a great way to utilize local Search Engine Optimization to help increase Google ranking. This is all about utilizing the directories for their SEO potential. Every time your site is referenced Google puts it up a notch in its ranking. This strategy is not so much about having people find you although that is good, but about using the sites potential to have you listed in their SEO activity.
Are you listed in the following online directories?
To start with you should look to see if you are listed on these sites. It is a good exercise just to see what they have listed and if the information is correct and up to date..
- www.whereis.com part of yellow pages
Add your listing to the other sites
Here are just a few sites that you can add your business to if you are not listed on them. You can also find out other sites that are relevant to your industry. Sign up to these sites to see what can be done. They may have a no-cost listing service.