Month: November 2008

29 Nov 2008

Vendors Vs Clients

I write this blog about topics that I am knowledgeable about.  Why would I write about something I couldn’t speak intelligently about? So, I write about my experiences and from time to time, my pet peeves.
The reason I write anything is to encourage discussion and educate people who aren’t involved in marketing circles.
The topic I want to write about today is entitled, “Vendors Vs Clients”. I hope everyone treats these two different business relationships with the exact same respect, value and consideration. Unfortunately, I am positive that doesn’t happen every time.

Clients are the most important relationship a company has. They provide the sales, revenue and profit to keep your firm in the black. If treated and utilized correctly, they provide invaluable insight into your product and how to improve it to increase market share, sales and growth.
My question to you is: why would you not extend that thought process to your vendors as well?
Your vendors are an integral part of your company and provide an essential element to any business. They provide parts, service and the numerous components that keep your product on shelves or your service viable.
So, communicate with your vendors and be open and honest. They understand how business works and that circumstances change frequently. Most of us do not like confronting unpleasant subjects especially when the other party will  potentially react negatively.
However, the situation is only made worse with no contact. In cases such as these, no news is NOT good news.

Talk. Build trusting relationships. Your company will be better for it.

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23 Nov 2008

Linked In Groups

Let me first start by saying Linked In is a great networking resource and can really assist people expand their associations, facilitate great discussions and help small businesses in a variety of ways.

The issue that I have with some of the groups I have joined is some people are using it as a advertising channel. That is not why I joined the website or any of the groups. In fact, it really makes me think poorly of people that are placing their own advertisements in the group discussion forums. LinkedIn was created to help people “link” to other like minded business professionals. People are making the experience cheap by following this strategy.

I see this over and over in all aspects of life. People do not want to work for anything. They want to take the easy way out and hope to get results from it. All they are doing is hurting their reputation and, in some small business cases, their brand.

I do not trust a LinkedIn advertiser who is using a medium not mean for that purpose. This also goes along with other social networking etiquette such as a blog. In both instances, you must be upfront and truthful about what you are attempting to do. A blog (like LinkedIn) should not be a veiled sales pitch. Be open and start providing real and useful content to your network. This will place you and your brand as the authority on your subject and instill confidence and reliability, which will earn you a reputation as someone to count on. All that will help you get and retain clients, increase sales and boost profit. That is a good thing!

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19 Nov 2008

To Design or Not Design

During the creative process of creating any kind of marketing piece, people become very possessive of their ideas, design and copy. Although that is a positive thing, there are limitations to it.
You want to make sure the piece, whether it be collateral, ads, blogs, speeches, etc, follows your brand guide and represents your brand image consistently. You also obviously must ensure all your statements, claims and product/service offerings are completely accurate. In addition, make sure your copy is proof read. I don’t know how many times I have seen typos in a wide variety of pieces. (If irony is consistent, I am sure there is a typo somewhere in here) Make sure there is an action item, as well. There are a several other things you must confirm in there, so go through your list.

After a thorough process, at some point you must ask yourself one question. Is this going to achieve my goals? I have seen so many design processes get bogged down by indecision and assumptions. Is this color right? This photo won’t be appealing to the bottom 1% of our market…..that graphic is too wavy…. You can try to be everything to everyone with all your marketing, but, guess what? That is impossible. Make sure your piece is geared toward your target market, isn’t completely offensive (unless it is meant to be) and looks professional. Get it done. Get it out the door and move on. We all have a million things to do and the opportunity costs of not getting other projects done is outrageously high.

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12 Nov 2008

Donkey Marketing

During the course of working with small/medium sized businesses, I come across a common occurrence when the topic of Marketing comes up. I understand that cash flow and capital in small businesses are more of a luxury than a commodity. Most of these companies are just trying to make payroll and pay vendors to keep their heads above water. The last thing they believe is important is their marketing strategy; if they even have one!

As a small business, I can understand where they are coming from. However, I know that a half-hearted attempt at a marketing plan is no plan at all. I don’t know how companies think they are going to attract new customers, retain current ones, establish/gain market share or build a brand without a viable, solid and integrated marketing plan. I guess they think clients will fall out of the sky if they just register a trade name and make some business cards. I know firms that are having a hard time growing their business, yet they do not have the tools in place to attract customers. In certain cases, they have no marketing collateral, web presence or strategic plan and they wonder why they have no sales/revenue/customers.

Firms HAVE to put an integrated marketing plan into place. Even if you are a one man shop, you must show your target market that you are trustworthy, truthful and reliable. I understand that this may take some back to high school since this is a little superficial, yet everyone wants to feel they made the correct decision when buying a product or service. This goes beyond the actual purchase, but extends to post purchase behavior and cognitive dissonance. Marketing does not only help sell a product, it assists companies to retain or attract repeat customers. The marketing that consumers see after their purchase helps them re-affirm their decision. They feel they were right in buying your product. 

So devise a marketing strategy, implement it and stick to it. Don’t dismiss marketing by saying it doesn’t work when you reluctantly execute it.

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04 Nov 2008

Clients Choosing You

When do potential clients choose to use you?
Do you sell them on your product or service during that first sales call?
Is your sales pitch that good?

Odds are the decision has been made long before you even speak with them.
Where have they heard about you? What is your marketing campaigns doing for you?

Laying the ground work by building a brand identity is a MAJOR reason why companies decide on whether they do business with you. Do they trust you? Are you providing a true solution to their need area?

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