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StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article

Struggling With Marketing? Here’s How To Improve It Immediately

There is no doubt in any business owner’s mind that marketing is a central part of the foundation of any company. Proper marketing does much more than just promote a product. On a grander scale, it enables a business to place itself in exactly the position it needs to be for greater ongoing success. Of course, it is not always this successful, and powerful marketing takes time, patience and no small number of failed attempts before landing on something just right for the business. All businesses also go through periods where the marketing is less than ideal in terms of its effectiveness. If this has happened to your business, then you might be wondering how to turn things around. For a start, take a look at these options for improving your marketing immediately.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article
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Embolden The Branding

You might see the brand as the vehicle with which the marketing does its job. As long as you have a working brand that does the job, all the marketing efforts are likely to be considerably more powerful automatically. That’s why taking a look at and emboldening your branding is one of the quickest ways to improve the marketing. As long as the brand is doing its job, you know that all else will likely fall into place too.

Drive Website Traffic

These days, there are few things more important to any marketing strategy than the website of the business. For most people, the website is the first port of call, so it is clear to see how important it can be for any business of any size. As long as you are drawing in decent numbers, and you’re providing good content, you’re happy. It is nowadays pretty much essential to adopt a strong SEO strategy. Here’s the thing about SEO Services: When You Get It Right, The ROI Is Phenomenal, and that is something that all businesses can benefit from.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article
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Improve Audience Understanding

The better you know your audience, the more finely tuned and effective you can make your marketing efforts. If you think about it, this makes perfect sense, as all it really means is that you know who you are talking to. Improving your understanding of who the target audience for your marketing is can be a powerful way of dramatically improving the whole marketing effort, so this is an essential tactic to take on board. To achieve this, you might consider asking your customers for feedback. This is one of the best practices a business can engage in anyway, and it is likely to help you get to where you want to go with your marketing in a much faster time.

Focus On Consistency

All your marketing efforts need to be consistent with one another, as this is how the brand develops most effectively. So if you are struggling with your branding, your marketing, make sure that you are being consistent in your efforts. This will likely make a huge difference in the long run.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article
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Winnie Hart

Standing Out In Business – The Era of the Brand

Standing out in the marketplace has become increasingly challenging in a world of sensory overload. Because of this challenge, a familiar and trusted brand still has the ability to cut through the clutter. Organizations will need to look deep inside themselves to find those unique characteristics which differentiate them from the competition and leverage these differentiators to become the preferred choice of customers and prospects.

From over two decades of experience, we have identified eight primary factors which contribute to standing out from the competition when it comes to marketing. We’ve distilled what we’ve learned into The 8 Fundamentals we define below. Ideally this information will help you to shine a light on shortcomings or challenges in your marketing strategy and offer suggestions and solutions for you to Stand Out from the competition, Take Off in a direction that’s true to who you are and where you want to be, and, finally, to Stay On Course to reach your goals.


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About the Authors

Lorrie Brignac LeeWinnie Brignac HartWinnie Brignac Hart and Lorrie Brignac Lee of TwinEngine bring 25+ years of marketing experience to leveraging their twin talents to help companies translate traditional marketing channels into forward-thinking solutions. They have built a reputation as inspired, award-winning designers and savvy interpreters of business brand and personality. Their most recent book collaboration, Stand Out: Tools To Master The 8 Fundamentals Of Standing Out In Business, is available on Amazon.com.

For more information visit TwinEngine.com.

Sharon Drew Morgen

How Do Buyers Choose One Solution Over Another?

Your solution matches the buyer’s need perfectly. You like them, they like you, you’ve had coffee/a meal/a powerful meeting or two, and best of all they recognize they need your solution. And then they buy from someone else. Or not at all. Or it takes them much longer than they anticipated. What happened? Are they stupid? Did they lie to you? Are they stalling? Are they making an emotional decision?

Not stupid. Didn’t lie. No emotional decision making. Maybe the need shifted, or the two new members of the Buying Decision Team needed time to consider their buying criteria, or they were able to get a partial solution from a current vendor. As outsiders, we’ll never know for sure. But one thing we do know: The initial – and most time consuming – reason that a sales cycle takes the time it takes involves getting the right decision makers aboard to figure out how to manage any change involved. And only when all of the right folks are assembled can buyers understand their criteria for choosing a solution.

In fact, we’ll never know how buyers choose one solution over another so long as we’re using the sales model alone. Without adding some Buying Facilitation® components sellers have a tough time becoming part of the change management process that buyers must manage to not only implement the solution, but actually define their criteria for solution selection. Remember: buyers have a change management problem before they have a solution choice problem.

Buying Criteria

Here are some questions to recognize what buyers need in order to have the right criteria to figure out their solution selection process:

  • Has everyone who will touch the solution defined their criteria for what they seek to achieve from a new solution?
  • Is every person who needs to be on the Buying Decision Team included? Every person?
  • Do they know how they will implement the solution and ensure the new and old will work together?
  • How will they prioritize the timing and resource for bringing in a new solution to avoid disruption?
  • How will a new solution effect job descriptions, relationships, daily responsibilities and activities?

Generally, when we meet a prospect, they haven’t figured out all of the above and the full complement of people aren’t on board yet. Until they do, they can’t buy – regardless of how well our solution matches the need they discuss with us.

The choice of the actual solution is the very last thing the buyer does: until or unless there is appropriate buy-in and everyone who touches the new solution knows how to implement, and all change management criteria have been met, and everyone on the Buying Decision Team has similar buying criteria, they won’t buy – regardless of how friendly you are, or how well your solution meshes with their need. Indeed: they cannot understand the full set of parameters of their need until all of the right players are on board.

Think about making a purchase yourself. Well before you hand over your money, you’ve had to make internal decisions. Do you need X right now? Do you need to do Y first? How will your colleagues/family be involved? How will your behaviors change – and how much change are you willing to take on? Do you wait until a new version comes out? Do you need to have a handover or integration or learning curve between the old and new… and how will that get done? When do you have the time to research, change, discuss? Who do you want to get ideas/input from?

It’s not about the solution – until it is.

Help Buyers Facilitate Their Change Decisions

How do you plan on helping your prospects think through all of the issues they’ll need to manage prior to being able to buy your solution? How will you enter the conversation given that a prospect’s need and your solution are the last things they need? That’s why you’re currently merely closing the low-hanging fruit: you’re entering at the end of their decision making and not facilitating them through their change where most of the action takes place.

Buying Facilitation® is change/decision/systems focused and not a solution-placement model like sales is. But it will help you help buyers manage their change. They have to do this anyway – with you or without you and with just the sales model alone, you cannot be part of their change process. After all, if they have no road map to thinking it all through, it will end up being a long, messy process that will seriously bias the timing of the purchase and delay the sale. But you can help guide them through all of the ins and outs of making the necessary decisions and getting the right people on board.

Yes, it’s a different skill and focus than just using sales alone. But would you rather sell? Or have someone buy? The sales model places solutions; Buying Facilitation® facilitates the buying decision process. You need them both.


About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is a visionary, original thinker, and thought leader in change management and decision facilitation. She works as a coach, trainer, speaker, and consultant, and has authored 9 books including the NYTimes Business BestsellerSelling with Integrity. Morgen developed the Buying Facilitation® method www.sharondrewmorgen.com in 1985 to facilitate change decisions, notably to help buyers buy and help leaders and coaches affect permanent change. Her newest book What? www.didihearyou.com explains how to close the gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She can be reached at [email protected]

Sharon Drew Morgen

Get the Yes: Winning Funding, RFPs, and Grants

When we seek funding or respond to an RFP, our proposals meet the criteria requested, presenting well-positioned information to persuade the decision makers to choose us. But winners are chosen by some mysterious set of criteria not only unknown to us, but often unknown to them. I began thinking about this when a friend told me she was writing a grant proposal. With my systems-thinking brain I asked her:

  • How will they choose you over other worthy requests?
  • What personal and professional criteria will members of the funding team consider before dropping others to fund you instead?
  • How do political in-fighting or long-term client/colleague relationship preferences factor in to the decision process?
  • How does your request fit in with their annual strategic plan? The commitments to their funding sources?

She had no answers, but resolutely believed that importance of her mission would rule the day. She has a 10% success rate, even though in many instances she knows people on the committee. That means she wastes 90% of her valuable time. Her strong appeal, great writing, and the importance of her message are lost because the criteria of those who might fund her driven by more than merit.

Decision Makers Driven By Unconscious, Unstated Criteria

Unfortunately, there are no ready answers to the above questions, even if they are posed. Here’s why:

  1. There’s no ‘one’ person on the committee who can convey the personal and political communication patterns that are largely unstated.
  2. An outsider can never understand the non-verbal, implicit, historic criteria being applied that’s most likely different in each situation.
  3. The funding group itself doesn’t always have a consistent, conscious understanding of why it does what it does.
  4. The questions an outsider asks to ‘understand’ are biased, gleaning biased data – not to mention that Responder most likely isn’t speaking for the entire group.

Using conventional practices of submitting a well-written, compelling, and provocative grant or proposal, or making a professional presentation, it’s a crap shoot. But it’s possible to have more success by facilitating the decision makers through their unconscious, mysterious process and helping them recognize, before they begin, the issues they will need to address to succeed.

Case Study

My clients in large corporations (naively) believe they win on either price, relationship history, or quality/brand. Here’s a real story.

A global consulting client received an RFP from a Fortune 50 company – the company historically used Company X as their consulting provider. My client, delighted at the chance to win new business, assembled a large team to respond to the multimillion dollar RFP. When I asked them what’s stopping the Fortune 50 company from using Company X now, my client went silent. They called the Fortune 50 company and asked:

CONSULTING CO: What’s stopping you from using Company X again this time?

FORTUNE 50: Nothing. We’re going to use them again. We just needed a second bid.

True story. Since we now knew we wouldn’t win the RFP, we chose a different route. We offered a cover page and a couple of pages of Facilitative Questions [a new type of question I developed that enables Responders to assemble/recognize unconscious, systemic criteria – in this case, regarding implementation, buy-in/consensus, resistance issues that would be a natural fall-out from a project of this size]. We wrote a note:

“We are interested in winning your business, and we’ve included an overview of the types of services we provide. However, since you will be using Company X, we’ve decided not to respond to the RFP but instead offer you a real service. We’re sending along some important questions to answer before you begin your project to ensure a successful implementation. We hope you find these valuable. And if the time comes you would like to have a conversation around how we can serve you in projects such as these, we look forward to putting our best team together to help you be successful.”

I spent some time understanding the human systems that would show up during this project and formulated about 40 Facilitative Questions to help the client uncover answers to problems that would come up but were not included in the RFP, such as:

  • How will you know when you have assembled the appropriate group of people to give you the full set of correct data before you begin, to ensure you won’t use faulty or incomplete data moving forward?
  • What would you need to set up at the very beginning of the project to ensure continuing communication among all involved, at each stage of the project, to ensure there is no time or resource wastage due to insufficient information being circulated?

By answering these questions, the client would have 1. Knowledge of potential problem areas that didn’t show up on the RFP, 2. Knowledge that we knew how to achieve successful implementations, 3. Knowledge we were professional, focused on their success, and eager for the business. We didn’t hear back for two months. Then they called and hired my client because their chosen providers didn’t address any of the buy-in/consensus/resistance issues we highlighted, and they realized there would be costly (in the millions) implementation problems. My client won the business with no proposal, just the two pages of Facilitative Questions that helped their prospect put their ducks in a row and avoid potential problems.

Why Does Excellence To Occur?

  1. If you merely offer a good proposal or presentation, you will never know how funders or clients will choose you.
  2. Groups who send out RFPs or offer funding only offer data points of what they think they need. They, themselves, most likely don’t know the idiosyncratic values-based, personal criteria each decision member will use when a vote is taken.
  3. Groups sending out RPS or funding sources seeking clients to back don’t know all the consensus or implementation issues that will occur during the implementation.

It’s possible to override these problems by helping funders/clients recognize what they need with by teaching them how to uncover and manage the hidden issues necessary for excellence to occur with minimal disruption. To differentiate yourself, use the opportunity of seeking business (i.e. doing a presentation), funding, or responding to a proposal to show them you can help them address their systemic shifts and give them the knowledge that you are a knowledgeable partner.

For my clients, I have created a decision facilitation model (Buying Facilitation®) that produces about 30% more success with proposals and presentations. You can create your own consensus/implementation model to add to your proposals and presentations, so long as they include the ability to help the clients manage the steps they’ll need for success.


About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is founder of Morgen Facilitations, Inc. (www.newsalesparadigm.com). She is the visionary behind Buying Facilitation®, the decision facilitation model that enables people to change with integrity. A pioneer who has spoken about, written about, and taught the skills to help buyers buy, she is the author of the acclaimed New York Times Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: Why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.

To contact Sharon Drew at [email protected] or go to www.didihearyou.com to choose your favorite digital site to download your free book.

Sharon Drew Morgen

Content Marketing that Converts

‘Content is king’. I’ve heard that phrase for years. But what does it mean? Does it mean that by offering thought-provoking, useful, creative information buyers will be motivated to contact you at the right time along their complete (including pre-sales) decision path? By sending out veiled advertising in the form of ‘articles’ to random email addresses you can convert readers to action? How is ‘conversion’ defined – opening the email? Making a purchase that can be directly tracked back to the email? Let’s look at the problems.

  1. Wrong Time: Content is useful only at the time it’s needed and won’t be opened otherwise, even if your solution is needed later. Even when offering options, research, or educational benefits, your content currently targets the activity of product/vendor selection; you miss key opportunities to enter earlier, during the buyer’s necessary pre-sales activity – assembling the correct Buying Decision Team members, sorting out change issues and responsibilities, getting consensus, etc. – to become a true trusted advisor and support partner. Imagine offering the type of content that drives buyers during every decision and pre-sales activity. Then you’ve part of the solution, every step of the way, as they approach a final purchase. And they trust you.
  2. Wrong People: You get a 1% (or less) conversion rate because your missive connects with only those whose email addresses you have and, even if they might eventually be part of a Buying Decision Team, who consider it spam. It’s possible to offer content that readers seek out because it’s vital to their path toward excellence.
  3. Wrong Focus: Content is often merely an ad vaguely concealed as an ‘article’. Buyers know this. It’s possible to use content to facilitate the non-solution-focused consensus and change issues readers must attend to as they ready themselves to make a purchase.

The way you’re doing it now:

  • neither attracts nor retains a specific audience,
  • ignores ways to enter and influence buyers early in their pre-sales decisions,
  • doesn’t drive customer action unless they are at the specific point of readiness,
  • merely annoys.

You’re finding the low hanging fruit who would have found you anyway. Content marketing can help prospective buyers dispense suitable information 1. into the hands of the right people 2. at the time they need it while 3. coaching them to get their ducks in a row to move forward.

It’s possible to write content on important relevant topics that readers WANT to read – i.e. the pros and cons of concrete over glass for housing, or how we can hear others without bias – and will help them go from an idea to a purchase through linking to your site, reading and saving other articles, and using them to help traverse their action route.

Case Study

I get anywhere from 40-51% conversion with my content marketing. My readers take action from my articles: click on linked articles or sites; download free books/chapters; buy a product; share/RT/Like daily. Here’s what I do:

  1. I write well-written, provocative, 750-word articles that may have little to do with my services or books specifically but are of real interest to that population who may ultimately be buyers. (You found the title interesting enough to read this far, right?) I offer links that tie in to my books /services: I’ve written about diversity, leadership, collaboration, questions. Yet my services focus on facilitating buying decisions and bias-free communication.
  2. I only send articles to subscribers, and Friends, LinkedIn, and 15 ezines, such as HR.com, Sales and Service Excellence, StrategyDriven, who often publish them to vast readerships. (Sometimes 3 or more of my articles appear each week.) I have 3 blogs that often get onto best lists, such as top innovative content, top sales blog, top business blog. Net, net, I’m getting large distribution in really targeted fashion: those folks most likely to read and potentially need my services/products. Sort-of ‘hot leads.’ No spam.
  3. Like you, I let social media splash my content to enable interested folks to find it and start conversations. I get many new subscribers and ‘friends’ weekly. My lists grow with interested folks. Daily, I get Thank You notes that begin conversations and sell products.

Questions:

  • Why would people open your content if they consider it spam?
  • How can you compose true thought pieces that people want to open?
  • How can you use your content to facilitate each stage of the pre-sales and buying decision path?
  • Seriously: are you willing to try something different to get a higher ‘conversion’ rate? Seriously.

What you’re doing now only converts the low hanging fruit. It’s possible to enter earlier by offering valuable intelligence that will encourage curiosity; introduce, explain and target the full set of decision stages; and keep your name topmost in buyer’s minds. You’re currently taking the lazy route: throwing spaghetti on the wall hoping enough of it will stick. Do you want to write? Or enable real business opportunities?


About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is founder of Morgen Facilitations, Inc. (www.newsalesparadigm.com). She is the visionary behind Buying Facilitation®, the decision facilitation model that enables people to change with integrity. A pioneer who has spoken about, written about, and taught the skills to help buyers buy, she is the author of the acclaimed New York Times Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: Why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.

To contact Sharon Drew at [email protected] or go to www.didihearyou.com to choose your favorite digital site to download your free book.