q

You are browsing the archive for Marketing.

Marketing (as we know it) is dead

December 6, 2013 in Marketing

The final Sales Trend for 2013 is ”Marketing (as we know it) is dead” but you probably already know that given the rapid changes happening in our markets.

Traditional marketing, i.e. advertising, PR, branding and corporate communications, has become little more than an expensive, very often valueless mass communications methodology and has failed. Marketing has been at death’s door for well over a decade. It’s just that marketing professionals don’t want to recognise the reality!

keep-calm-and-buy-it-now-slimThere are three pointers that prove this:

  1. Buyers are no longer paying much attention to marketing messages. Studies show that in the decision-making process, traditional marketing communications techniques have very little credibility or relevance. Buyers are checking out product and service information in their own way.
  2. In a devastating 2011 study of 600 CEOs and decision-makers, around 73% said that marketing officers lacked business credibility or the ability to generate sufficient business growth. Around 72% of respondents in the study indicated that they were tired of being asked for funds without being given any reassurance that the funds would generate incremental business and 77% are no longer interested in any talk about brand equity that can’t be directly linked to recognised financial metrics.
  3. In today’s increasingly social media-infused environment, traditional marketing techniques not only don’t work, they make no sense. Trying to extend the 4 Ps to a world of social media simply misses the mark. It finds itself mired in an ongoing debate about whether marketing on either Facebook or using Google Ads is as effective as it needs to be.

The result is a disaster for marketing.  So…

Whilst over the decades of continually changing buying patterns and behaviours sales has made the necessary adjustments – from Snake Oil Selling in the 1890’s to the sophisticated Solution Selling of the 21st Century – marketing has continued, in the face of the increasing change, to hang on to its outdated 1948 model.

This is how sales did it:

Sales developed Solutions Selling, where a buyer is guided by professionals who understand what their company and their rivals’ offer; who understands what the buyer is trying to achieve and the risks and costs associated with both success and failure.

Just as there is new thinking around sales methodologies there is a lot of speculation about what will replace marketing’s broken model. What is certain is that the 4Ps of marketing popular in the 1970’s can’t and won’t work today. Marketing needs a shake up! A new model.

What should that model look like? In the end, marketing professionals will have to decide, but in their thinking they should be considering the following:

  1. market-segmentationA Change in the Market Segmentation: Theodore Levitt[1] used to tell his students, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”Every marketer agrees with this insight. Yet these same people segment their markets by type of drill and by price point. When marketers do this, they often solve the wrong problems, improving their products in ways that are irrelevant to their customers’ needs.There is a better way to think about segmentation that supports both sales and marketing – the structure of a segment, seen from the customers’ point of view with adoption of a SIVA model (Solutions, Information, Value and Access) to replace that of the 4Ps.Just take a look at what customers want. They need to get something done. Levitt (Harvard) once said that when people find themselves needing to get a job done, they essentially “hire products” to do that job. This left marketing professional with a clear mandate – understand what jobs arise in customers’ lives for which they might hire products. Package the company’s product and associated experiences and deliver them in a way that reinforces their intended use for which customers find themselves needing to get a job done. That way customers will hire the product.
  2. design things that do the jobDesign Products that do the Job: With few exceptions, every job people need or want to do has a social, a functional and an emotional dimension. If marketing professionals understand each of these dimensions, then they can package a product that is precisely targeted to the job. In other words, the job, not the customer is the fundamental unit of analysis for marketing when it comes to packaging and promoting products.Job-defined markets (i.e. segmentation by what the product is expected to do) are generally much larger than product category – defined markets.
  3. Purpose Brands: Understanding and targeting jobs was one of the important building blocks in Apple’s success. Steve Jobs never believed in market research. He argued that if he asked consumers what new innovations they wanted they would use their present paradigm to describe some innovation. He wanted new thinking and therefore never sought the opinion of his customers. Instead, he and his associates spent much of their time watching what people were trying to get done in their lives, then asking themselves whether Apple’s technology could help them do these things better and easier. Jobs would have badly misjudged the size of the market had he simply analysed trends in the number of mobile phones were being sold before he launched his iPhone.
  4. purpose brandsBuilding Brands that Customers will Hire: Sometimes, the discovery that one needs to get a job done is conscious, rational and explicit. At other times, the job is so much a part of a routine that customers aren’t really consciously aware of it. Either way, if buyers are lucky, when they discover the job they need to do, a branded product will exist that is perfectly and unambiguously suited to do it. That’s called a purpose brand. Marketing needs to go back to these basics.
  5. The Real Role of Advertising: Advertising cannot build brands or sell products, but it can tell people about an existing branded product’s ability to do a job well and it can encourage people to try the brand out.

We’ve tried to illustrate a way out of the death spiral for marketing. Marketers who choose to break with the past will be rewarded not only with successful brands but with profitably growing businesses. Sales professionals who make the leap to Solutions Selling will find that they are able to sell more, more effectively at better margins. And companies that re-assess the role of selling and marketing will benefit from sustained incremental profits. Perhaps most importantly customers will get the value they are seeking at prices they are willing to pay.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett, www.barrett.com.au

 

 


[1]     Harvard University Professor of Marketing 1925 – 2006

7 differences between Sales and Marketing

September 6, 2013 in Business Acumen, Collaboration, Education in Sales, Marketing

If any business is going to thrive in the 21st century it’s vital that we all have a clear understanding of how Sales and Marketing can work effectively together in our businesses. For too long, there have been unfruitful turf wars between sales and marketing teams. For too long, too many people have been fooled into believing that ‘sales’ lives under marketing’s mandate. And for too long, too many people have been calling ‘selling’ marketing which it is not.

We need to redress these issues once and for all and properly define Sales and Marketing.  So why have these disagreements and misconceptions been allowed to fester for so long?

Firstly it’s worth reviewing some of the findings from Peter Finkelstein’s 2012 Whitepaper, “Why Marketing as we know it is dead”:

traditional marketing has failed‘According to an article in Harvard Business Review (August 2012) traditional marketing – i.e. advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications – has failed. And we at Barrett concur. Traditional marketing (which has become little more than an expensive, very often valueless mass communications methodology) has failed. As far as mass communications is concerned not only has it failed, the Internet and social media have surpassed anything the conventional marketing professionals have to offer. Marketing has been at death’s door for well over a decade. It’s just that marketing professionals don’t want to recognise the reality!

There are three pointers that prove this…

First, buyers are no longer paying much attention to marketing messages. Studies show that in the decision-making process traditional marketing communications techniques have very little credibility or relevance. Buyers are checking out product and service information in their own way, often through the Internet, links to business associates and through direct interaction with supplier organisations – many of whom communicate using smart-phone technology. And they are doing it in their own time, at little cost.

Secondly, in a devastating 2011 study[1] of 600 CEOs and decision-makers, around 73% (438) said that marketing officers (CMOs) lacked business credibility or the ability to generate sufficient business growth. Around 72% of respondents in the study indicated that they were tired of being asked for funds without being given any reassurance that the funds would generate incremental business. A  significant group, 77% (462) are no longer interested in any talk about brand equity that can’t be directly linked to recognised financial metrics. That leaves only a handful of around 130 CEOs (21%) who are not necessarily dissatisfied, or satisfied with marketing‘s efforts.

The two key questions that need to be asked are…

  •    Why has marketing taken such a credibility beating?
  •    As important, why now is sales finally getting the professional recognition it really deserves?

Whilst over the decades of continually changing buying patterns and behaviours sales has made the necessary adjustments – from Snake Oil Selling in the 1890’s to the sophisticated Solutions Selling of the 21st Century – marketing has continued, in the face of the increasing change, to hang on to its outdated 1948 model. And whilst the Internet is turning sales and marketing on their heads and rapidly changing the playing field – one click at a time – marketing is still struggling to make the move away from the old formula of Product, Price, Place and Promotion (i.e. the 4P’s) – developed by James Culliton[2]. And though marketing has recognised the growing power of the Internet its practitioners have made the fatal error of trying to apply old models to new buying patterns. The result (as the Harvard article pointed out) is a disaster for marketing.

sales-and-marketing-via-social-mediaThirdly, in today’s increasingly social media-infused environment, traditional marketing techniques not only don’t work, they make no sense. Trying to extend the 4 Ps to a world of social media simply misses the mark. Even FaceBook and Google can tell you all about it. It finds itself mired in an ongoing debate about whether marketing on either FaceBook or using Google Ads is as effective as it needs to be.

The reality is that the Internet, smart-phones and social media have changed the world of sales and marketing. The interesting thing is that both sales and marketing professionals saw the changes coming. Marketing did what it has traditionally done when under threat – resorted to a PR campaign to come up with “inspirational names” for doing the same old thing (e.g. relationship marketing, out-come focused branding, life-style communications and a myriad of other names used to disguise the use of the antiquated 4Ps model) in the hope that these would encourage people to believe marketing was up to the challenge.

Sales, on the other hand, has simply adapted the selling techniques to accommodate the avalanche that the Internet and social media represent in the way people buy. In turn this has bolstered the credibility of sales, at the same time as marketing are struggling to regain some vestige of credibility.

From a sales perspective, professional salespeople have learned that they needed to break the umbilical cord that has given them so much comfort in the past. It’s no longer up to marketing to generate leads for sales (which salespeople tend to decry as poor quality any way); it is no longer marketing’s role to create invitation lists to networking functions (that salespeople complain is not with the right people). Nor is it necessary for marketing to invest in expensive collateral and printed brochures that sales really only use as a crutch for a lack of product knowledge. Now these activities and many more are being performed jointly by effective sales and marketing teams. Teams that work collaboratively to engage with their buyers in a more holistic manner.’

sales_and_marketing_wordsSo in a 21st century world what are some of the differences between Sales and Marketing?

Marketing is…

1)       Marketing is one to many.

2)       Marketing tells the stories (company, product, etc.) to many people.

3)       Marketing looks after the brand’s reputation

4)       Marketing needs to keep the stories circulating and resonating with the target markets using the company’s plumb line (the business of the business) as its central reference.

5)       Marketing analyses the big data.  Marketing brings you the average result not the specifics.

6)       Marketing studies what experience customers expect when they buy or try a product, service or solution. That means reading their digital footprint and understanding their on-line chatter as much as it does focus group discussions. Marketing looks for new metrics about consumer clusters and grouping. On-line groups are markets of the near future as more and more people cocoon themselves and shop less

7)       Marketing should not promote special prices and discounts, instead replace these with special offers, focusing on delivering greater value – more bang for the buck is the new mantra and greater value with fair exchange is the principle of pricing today – not cost plus as it has been in the past.

Sales is…

1)       Sales is about one to one

2)       Sales is where our business becomes real for the client. It is where the stories and brand come to life.

3)       Sales  develops relationships. It’s relationship driven

4)       Sales looks after individuals.

5)       Sales deals with the ambiguities and the details of each person. It cannot be averaged.

6)       Sales analyses the behavior of the prospects and customers whom they deal with on an individual basis. Sales professionals talk to their customers about the joys of risk free offerings that help them realise their goals and objectives. They tap into their buyers’ FaceBook, LinkedIn and other digital pages to gain a deeper understanding of what experiences each individual customers want.

7)       Sales moves away from discussing price and discount, instead replacing these with discussions about total cost of ownership which includes price but extends to include deliveries, warranties, support, training and the other contributing things that are delivered as part of the purchase. Sale engages with customers to understand what risks they face when making a purchase and then learns how to position their companies as risk free alternatives.

The one thing Sales and Marketing must share in common is the company’s ‘plumb line’ and its stories. From many people to the individual, the central plumb line: the business of the business, needs to be consistent and help each customer connect in a meaningful and specific manner that is relevant to their situation and their view of the world.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett, www.barrett.com.au



[1]     London-based Fournaise Marketing Group, 2011  – A Study of Global Marketing Effectiveness

[2]     “Marketing Mix” was coined in an article written by Neil Borden called “The Concept of the Marketing Mix.” He started teaching the term after he learned about it from an associate, James Culliton, who in 1948 described the role of the marketing manager as a “mixer of ingredients”

If you’re a sales person you should be a brand leader

March 6, 2013 in Attitudes & Behaviours, Brand & Reputation, Marketing

Barrett’s head of sales strategy, Peter Finkelstein contemplates the power of salespeople to be brand leaders.  In the last 40 years the concept of branding, as a means of differentiating one company or product from another, has become an important and powerful marketing tool. Enormous sums of money, and extensive executive time has been invested in developing and promoting brands, and making sure that more buyers were aware of the value that a brand had to offer.

Since then many people – particularly those in the public eye, including actors and politicians – have come to recognise the value of developing a strong brand. It wasn’t too long before some salespeople followed suit. Recognised the value of creating a brand for themselves and becoming “personalities” in their own right, these high equity salespeople are now leading the pack!

However, because of some of the misconceptions about brand equity, one of the questions salespeople are now asking themselves is whether building a brand identity for themselves is really worth the effort?   

Although brand identity is about capturing share of mind – the better known the brand, the more likely it is that customers will want it – branding actually involves much more than just awareness. Central to the concept of branding is what is referred to as brand equity – i.e. the premium a purchaser places on doing business with a supplier over others. And brand equity for salespeople is no different to brand equity for a product. Here is an example…

brand equityBrand equity refers to the premium price that a product – say Coke – can command over a no-name brand cola drink. Because Coke is so well known and so consistent in its taste, appearance and offer, it has, over time, created a high level of equity. That equity allows Coke to charge a premium. In other words, consumers willingly pay more for a Coke than they are prepared to pay for a house or no-name brand because in their mind, Coke offers something the other brands don’t, that is worth more!

Exactly the same principle applies to salespeople. Those salespeople with high brand equity are better placed within their organisation and with their customers, because they consistently deliver on their promise. Interestingly enough, when salespeople develop strong brand equity, everyone benefits…

On a personal level, salespeople with high brand equity are able to command a better remuneration package.

The organisations they represent also get a better return. These salespeople enjoy unique levels of credibility and an exceedingly good reputation with customers. The better the brand equity, the greater is the believability of the salesperson – i.e. the person’s credibility rises along with that equity and the more cost-effectively they sell. They tend to get less pressure for discounts and find customers and prospects are more cooperative simply because buyers see value in having them help address their key issues.

Does this concept sound far-fetched? In the late 1970’s IBM salespeople were considered the elite. Highly skilled, highly knowledgeable and living the brand identity of IBM. Known in those halcyon days as “Big Blue”, IBM sales executives (they were never referred to as salespeople) were mandated to wear blue suits, offset pale blue or white shirts with starched collars and matching tie, with black shoes, black belt and parted hair. Their physical appears represented the image that IBM portrayed in its brand.

nobody gets fired for buying ibmIBM’s brand equity was reflected in an expression common at the time (amongst Information Technology Management): “You won’t get fired for buying IBM”. That concept carried over to the sales executives: “The advice from an IBM salesperson is sound and credible…”

Until the corporation tripped by not embracing the PC revolution fast enough IBM’s sales force commanded a premium. They were amongst the highest paid salespeople in the IT sector and enjoyed the greatest degree of respect and credibility amongst customers who were – even then – becoming disenchanted with the false promises of many IT salespeople.

So yes, brand equity for salespeople really does deliver value for all concerned. The interesting part is that developing high levels of brand equity that will differentiate sales professionals is not all that hard. Like branded products, the hard part is sustaining the brand value, consistency and image.

Having addressed the fundamentals – knowledge, skills and mindset, for salespeople to enjoy the benefits of developing high levels of brand equity there are five things that should be considered…

For starters salespeople who want to build strong brand equity don’t have to stress themselves and try to be the highest performing members of the sales team. Top selling brands aren’t necessarily the best. What they are is the same. They are consistent at whatever level they are. So yes, salespeople need to meet their targets and fulfill their responsibilities – all of the time – but like top selling brands, they don’t have to be the best – only the most consistent and meet what is expected of them.

Next, top selling brands have a clear value proposition that they communicate to their markets. That message is always credible. Top brands don’t claim to be something they aren’t or to have characteristics that they don’t have. Top branded salespeople too, have a clear promise on which they always deliver. They don’t make promises or claim to offer benefits that don’t exist or that they can’t deliver. Their customers know that if they say something will happen or a solution will deliver a particular outcome, it will happen. That’s what gives them credibility and that’s what adds to their value.

Top selling brands are both easily and highly visible. They usually enjoy the lion’s share of any advertising or promotional budget and are always easy to spot amongst rivals because their appearance – look and feel – is so clearly defined (Coke, IBM, Nike etc.). And top branded salespeople are just as visible. They take time to ensure their appearance reflects the message they want to communicate. They also carefully consider their behaviour. These (appearance and behaviour) are the ways they “advertise” their difference so that their customers easily recognise them apart from their rivals.

Branded products are well protected. Any deviation from the brand standard is quickly addressed by the manufacturers and marketers because a bad experience with a brand could irreparably damage the brand equity. Salespeople who have brand equity take on the same responsibility.

The promise I make is the promise I keep

The promise I make is the promise I keep

They live by the mantra – “The promise I make is the promise I keep”. So, they never play the blame game. They simply fix the problems their customers may have had with a purchase (when these do occur). They don’t view solving customer concerns as something for another department, but rather as part of their responsibility to protect their brand equity.

There are many salespeople who meet all of these criteria. They are probably brand leaders, without realising it. As a result, they tend to undermine their own importance in the sales mix, ending up by losing control of the sales interaction, rather than sharing it with their customers, as equals. They under-value the importance of being an expert-advisor – someone with the knowledge, experience, skills and mind set able to solve complex business problems in their field and who are truly valued by customers. As a result some of these salespeople become either too pushy or too call reluctant to be fully effective. Getting the balance right and living the brand you can be, makes for really exciting times that benefits everyone in the mix.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett, www.barrett.com.au 

Delivering “good service” isn’t enough!

October 16, 2012 in Attitudes & Behaviours, Brand & Reputation, Competition, Customer Service, Marketing, Sales Driven Organisations, Sales Relationships, Sales Skills, Teamwork

I was impressed by a brief, but excellent ABC News Video on the impact of social media on a business’ reputation and brand, especially when things go wrong and that to reduce or eliminate any negative publicity issues to begin with starts with something rather old fashioned – delivering Service. This got Peter Finkelstein, our Sales Strategist and I musing about and the importance of good ‘ol fashioned customer service’ and what it really means today in a digital world.  Peter has proposed we adopt C.A.R.E. as our mantra. 

Here is what he has to say about C.A.R.E.:

Everyone knows that delivering good customer service is a fundamental building block. Here’s the challenge… If everyone knows about it, and most organisations are doing it (or at last trying to), then how can the delivery of “good service” be used as a differentiator? Or, is the question more likely to be: “How does one use service to create a competitive advantage?”

The reality is that delivering “good” service just isn’t good enough. In today’s competitive market, delivering good service is passé! To gain any advantage from service, companies will have to find ways to delight their customers. The best way to give sales a boost is to learn to live by the message hidden in the acronym C.A.R.E.

Everything going right

Companies need to dig very deep to find the competitive advantage

Following these fundamentals will help make C.A.R.E. a strong, lasting and profitable connection with customer….

1) Create a learning culture in the organisation. However long companies have been in the game and no matter the experience level of the customer-facing staff – sales, service and production – there’s always something else to learn about the products, services, customers, techniques, company and competition that will contribute to an improvement in both selling and customer support efforts. Stimulating a culture of innovation, where everything to do with customers is constantly challenged in order to find ways to improve information, ideas and strategies, helps develop the techniques that delight customers.

 2) Give away advice freely, but make sure it is good. Make it a goal to become a trusted adviser and business resource to customers. Most of the time, new and repeat customers and increased sales will follow. Customers should regard the company, and its sales and service people as people they can turn to for sound advice that helps them improve their own operations without worrying about having to pay for assistance.

 3) Map and communicate customer touch points on the value chain.  No one really likes surprises – let customers know what is going to happen to them when they work or partner with you.  What are the touch points in the relationship? What can the customer expect to happen and when?  If you are in any form of long term arrangement with your customers it helps that your salespeople clearly communicate these touch points up front and that the rest of your organization along that value chain knows their role in delivering your promise of value to your customers.

 4) Be consistent. The single most important aspect of brand equity (i.e. that magic ingredient that makes a brand strong and valuable) is consistency. Potential customers are always sizing the company and its customer-facing staff up. Credibility, achievements and even the delivery of outstanding service in the past can be obliterated in the blink of an eye by the failure to keep promises. It is now more important than ever that companies commit to and live by the mantra of professionalism – “Make promises you can keep and keep the promises you make…” Make sure you have the tools in place to monitor and measure turnaround and response times – because your customers do. Make sure that your actions match your words.

 5) Continuous Improvement. Customer centric organisations stay flexible and open to change. They follow the lead set by their customers in a segment. When buyers are informal they develop a culture of informality. When customers are businesslike they create a culture of unity by reflecting that characteristic. To be able to delight customers organisations have to size up the situation and circumstances in a segment and adapt their service delivery to a level higher than the expected. It is no longer good enough to have a standard service ethic. Whatever the current level of service is, that’s good enough for today. Tomorrow it has to be better.

6) Think resolution and closure. The constant goal of any customer-centric organisation should be to resolve any customer concerns or obstacles as quickly and as painlessly as possible. Provide customers with all the information they need to make an informed decision and reassure them why a decision to buy / support the organisation is a wise choice.

Companies need to incorporate that Customers Are Really Everything

Companies need to incorporate that
Customers Are Really Everything

In any customer interaction service is the backbone of success. Most customers will not buy the cheapest product or service if they have to pay a higher price for dealing with an insensitive, uncaring or unreliable service or sales person in an organisation. Incorporating the C.A.R.E. philosophy – Customers Are Really Everything – into the fabric of the organisation goes a long way to building the competitive advantage that rivals will find hard to emulate.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett, www.barrett.com.au 

Brand your Salespeople

August 2, 2012 in Brand & Reputation, Marketing, Strategy, Uncategorized

Have you ever asked your salespeople what your company’s brand means? Chances are you will get different answers from different people – and chances are none of their answers will be entirely correct either. In spite of the investment many companies make on developing and promoting their brands to their customers, little is done to build the brand integrity internally. As a result there is often a disconnect between what a company promises to its customers and what the salespeople are saying.

Branding (amongst many things) is designed to stimulate an emotional expectation. Armed with the feelings, stimulated customers meet with salespeople looking for confirmation of that promise. However if your salespeople are not brand aware chances are that promises will not be fulfilled.

Sales executives and channel partners are your company’s brand ambassadors. Their behaviour, attitude and knowledge determine how customers perceive the validity of the brand promise. If their behaviour is inconsistent with the brand promise you could destroy years of brand building.

Understanding of Branding and Values

Understanding of Branding and Values

How do we address this challenge? Peter Finkelstein, Barrett’s Sales Strategist, says involve your salespeople and channel partners in your company’s branding efforts. Start by determining their current level of knowledge and find any gaps, inconsistencies and misconceptions. From there you can deliver the product and brand knowledge they need to fulfill your brand promises.

And remember, any time you look to enhance your brand or even rebrand make sure you involve your sales team in the development. For instance, if your brand values display, amongst other things, a formal professional image, then your sales team should have the same demeanor. There is nothing more disconcerting for buyers than getting mixed signals – a neat and professional brand image sold by sloppy or casually dressed sales people. That is incongruent and creates cognitive dissonance in customers.

Peter Finkelstein says above all make sure that the brand philosophy runs throughout the entire business including the sales operation, finance, productions, service, administration, etc.

One of our clients has recognized the importance of including the operations and productions teams in the high level roll out of the new sales strategy and value proposition because they will be key to delivering the promise across the value chain and without them the promises cannot be kept.

A brand is more than just a name and a catchy logo; it’s an entire personality and way of being.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett, www.barrett.com.au

Switch to our mobile site