Is the On Demand Economy Reducing Your Sales?

7 Dec

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The on-demand economy is growing exponentially, and the effects of this growth will be felt in every industry. If your business is not ready to change with the times, then you may suffer a loss in sales because of the new ways which business will be done. The now $57 billion on-demand economy is showing no signs of slowing down – as a matter of fact, more industries than ever are switching to an on demand model to satisfy the needs of their customers.

The Harvard Business Review reports that the on-demand economy brings in more than 22 million customers every year. The largest part of this economy is online marketplaces such as Etsy and eBay. People spend nearly $36 billion on websites like these. After this, transportation companies such as Lyft and Uber bring in around $5.6 billion in yearly spending. Third in line is grocery delivery services such as Instacart. Consumers spend almost $5 billion every year on food delivery.

A very telling statistic is that these on-demand services are being used by people of moderate incomes. Around 46% of the people who are using the on-demand economy have an income of less than $50,000. If the industry has already penetrated into the lower middle class, you can definitely expect it to expand far into the future. Savvy business owners are now looking into ways to incorporate the on-demand economy into business rather than fight or ignore it.

How exactly will the on-demand economy affect your sales if you do not jump when this new technology says jump?

First of all, if your business does not specialize in obsessively solving a universal problem for your buyers, you will have trouble making sales. On-demand means a higher degree of specialization. Not only that, but this specialization comes with a high degree of transparency, security, and convenience in the transaction. As on-demand expands into more industries, it will be virtually impossible to find a service that cannot be rendered immediately with a few clicks from a mobile phone or laptop.

Secondly, there will be an increase in the number of single service entrepreneurs. The on-demand economy is giving individuals the ability to scale to the level of a B2B company quickly. It is now quite possible for a single person with the right technology on his side to function just as well as a team of human beings. The customer, of course, does not care who is rendering the service as long as it is done correctly. These entrepreneurs are also highly skilled in very precise areas. If your business is in any way general, you will need to shore up your most profitable niche in order to compete with these niche ninjas.

The increased emphasis on entrepreneurship will also make it more difficult to find top talent for your business. As more people choose to work for themselves, you will not only be competing for customers, but also for talent. Your business will need to market its culture and the benefits that come with working for you in order to attract the human capital that you will need to stay ahead.

Personalization is now the norm. If your service is equal to that of your competitors, but you are able to offer a more personalized experience, you will come out on top 10 times out of 10. However, you will need to work quickly. Companies in every industry are moving towards personalization, so shore up your audience today.

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The 7 Deadly Sins of Branding

5 Dec

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hillmanGuest Contributor: Matt Hillman, Creative Director

You have a great product, great service, great people, great materials—and your brand still sucks. Competitors in the building products marketplace keep racking up sales while you struggle to get by. It feels like you’re trying to scramble up a muddy hill, expending time and resources with little-to-nothing to show for it. How does this happen?

Over the years, despite the emergence of game-changers like mobile devices, social media, and other innovations, most of the issues around branding still seem to fall into seven distinct areas—consider them the 7 Deadly Sins of Branding, and any one of them can sink your brand.

Wrong Message

Too many marketers rely on what they already know to build their messages. This echo-chamber effect reinforces what’s familiar and “safe” and can actually keep you from gaining the ah-ha moments you need. Think of it as trying to steer your car down the highway while looking only in the rear view mirror, more about where you’ve been than where you’re headed. Instead, you need to be continually surveying your customers—and your prospects!—for the fresh insights needed to build a message that’s relevant today, not just yesterday.

Wrong Audience

This might seem like a near-impossibility, but it can happen. Marketing your brand to the wrong audience is most often the result of marketing and sales teams not communicating effectively, with marketing working toward where sales should happen and sales focused on where they can happen. Having a clear, agreed-upon marketing plan is essential to having your brand pointed in the right direction. Yes, these are fundamentals that should be self-evident, but all it takes is for your brand to be strong with architects but being marketed to builders instead, and your brand isn’t going anywhere.

Wrong Tactics

One of the best cautionary tales comes from experience marketing to building products dealers. When offered the option to select their preferred method of receiving marketing communications, what do you think topped the list? Email? Direct? Text? How about…fax. That’s right, in our world of high-speed connectivity and mobile devices, the lowly fax was the leading way dealers wanted to receive information. Why? Because it fits how most small- to mid-sized dealers operate, with the fax machine right next to the main bulletin board. Again, surveying your audience will provide the insights to get the right tactics in play and to avoid wasting effort on the wrong ones.

Wrong Voice

If you’ve followed social media the past few years, you’ve probably heard of (or witnessed) the notorious sass of Wendy’s social media accounts. While some might think this was a bold or daring move, it’s actually highly calculated, the result of Wendy’s assessment of what brand voice would resonate best with their target. Where other fast food companies played the usual safe game, Wendy’s connected with their audience with a salty dialogue that not only aligned with the brand but helped share it more broadly online. Again, research was the key to cracking the code and connecting with customers.

Inconsistency

One way to think of branding is simply a single message delivered consistently and aligned with customer experience. And yet, time and again we see brands shift their message as if chasing sales trends, or worse, repeatedly reinventing the message to push an idea that doesn’t match the customer experience. If your name is One Day Printing and service takes two days, that’s a brand problem. Similarly, if you say your customer service is superior and then leave customers on hold for minutes at a time, that’s a brand problem. Determining what your brand is—and isn’t!—and sticking to that is critical to developing a strong brand over time, and over time is exactly how brands happen.

All About The Product

The brands that see the greatest strength in the marketplace are the ones that offer more than just a product or service—they build relationships with those who select and purchase them. Through content offerings, customer experience design, website functionality, social media strategies, sponsorships, and other interaction-based methods, the strongest brands take on a personality well beyond something being sold to buyers. These brands can have conversations with the public, growing and evolving through the choices made in messaging and positioning—all without changing what’s being produced or delivered.

No Differentiator

In the film Field of Dreams, we hear the iconic line: “Build it and they will come.” Unfortunately, all too many companies have followed this same advice when developing their brand—and have paid a heavy price for it. It is not enough to simply be available for purchase, there has to be a reason your target would take notice, have interest, and be willing to abandon their current relationship to gain one with your brand. And just as it is with products or services, your brand needs a unique selling proposition, too, something to make it different from the others. Is it more innovative, less complicated, focused on quality, easier to do business with? Identifying what sets your brand apart—and staying true to that differentiation—is critical to finding an audience that appreciates it. Trying to be all things to all audiences or simply showing up isn’t enough to get noticed.

Name + Logo = Brand

“We have a brand,” the marketing manager will say, pointing at a logo. “It’s right there.” Actually, no. The worn-down vehicle with your logo on it: that’s your brand. The customer left waiting hours for a delivery with no updates: that’s your brand. The defensive response to a highly critical customer review on Yelp: that’s your brand. The product that arrived dented: that’s your brand. Identity is all about a name and logo; brand, however, is about expectations and experiences. The strongest brands find success in designing and crafting the brand experience for customers, both new and current, and making sure everything aligns with that design. If it doesn’t align, it’s analyzed, adjusted or removed—why spend time and effort on something that only undermines your long-term efforts?

If you recognize any of these 7 Deadly Sins associated with your brand, have hope: Every one of them is escapable and repairable with honesty and effort. The common element to all of these brand issues is to take nothing for granted: conduct research and be willing to accept that your buyer isn’t who you think and may not think of your brand the way you do. But with focus and time, virtually any brand can find its own salvation.

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Is the B2B Market Finally Improving Its Overall Sales and Marketing Messaging?

30 Nov

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Dun & Bradstreet reported that most B2B buyers are happy with the communications they are receiving from the marketing and sales teams of companies they patronize. According to this report, 51% of buyers say that communications have improved in recent years, with 24% complaining of worse service.

Of the buyers that reported a positive increase in service, 41% of them said that these communications were more important to business then before.

One thing is for sure – buyers continue to raise their expectations for communications. If you have not prioritized advancing your efforts in this field, now may be the time to heed some of the tips below.

First, make sure that your representative has done basic research about the prospect before making the call. At the very least, your representative should have the full name of the contact, the job title of the contact, and a basic understanding of the relationship between your two companies. Calls usually go much more smoothly if your representative has more detailed information about the prospect, such as recent projects and partnerships, a working knowledge of recent news items about the prospects, and the scale of business to be potentially conducted.

Secondly, make sure that your representatives call at an appropriate time for your prospect. Sometimes, there is no way to know when the busiest time of the day for a prospect is. However, one call should take care of that problem. Once this has been determined, the information should be kept in notes for other representatives who call out to that business.

If it is obvious that your representative is calling from a list, giving a robotic script reading and generic terms of business, your close rate falls immensely This is also a very quick way to lose any standing that your business may have had within your prospect’s industry. Make sure that your representatives know how to think on their feet and present a personable voice over the phone. Even if they are following a script, give them the leverage to have a real conversation if the interaction moves in that direction. If you do not have the talent in-house for this to work, consider email blasts instead of phone conversations for your initial outreach efforts.

Lastly, do not try to climb the totem pole within your prospect’s hierarchy to quickly. If you are cold calling, then your representatives will likely run across gatekeepers rather than decision-makers. These gatekeepers should not be trampled over, as many of them actually help executives make decisions. Your representatives should have a script based on the job title of the person who picks up the phone. You may also be able to find out a great deal of information about the decision-maker from the gatekeeper.

Your sales and marketing messaging will improve over time if you analyze the shortcomings in your current workflow. However, follow the tips above to start on the right track. Remember that communications should be a priority in your business from 2017 forward – prospects are no longer putting up with anything less than a fully personalized, genuine conversation about business.

 

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The Insights You Should Be Following in the 2017 B2B Market

28 Nov

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You do not have to wait on the new year to give an assessment of your marketing and business strategies. Technology and business trends are moving faster than ever, so whenever you have a chance to stop and revise, you should do so. Here are a few new insights that you may want to consider incorporating into your strategies for the rest of 2017.

Marketing Automation

The concept of automation was made for B2B marketing. The idea of being able to apply personalized concepts at scale gives business marketers the ability to nurture an entirely new level of leads and track those leads confidently down the sales funnel. Surprisingly, many companies have not looked into marketing automation as a viable strategy for 2017. Do yourself a favor – start automating your initial email outreach or CRM updates and watch how much free time you have for more creative pursuits.

Content Marketing

Although content marketing has been used as a staple technique in the B2B landscape for many years, most companies have not truly incorporated inbound marketing into the equation. We now have more opportunity than ever to share social media and blogs with our prospects. This is also another strategy that you should incorporate as quickly as possible. Many B2B specialists have identified content marketing as a strategy they want to employ; they simply have not found the time to do so. If you are on the cutting edge, then you can expect quicker results for your timely actions.

Personalization

Prospects demand personalized service. The B2B industry should be taking a page from smaller e-commerce sites and personalizing content whenever possible. For instance, if you are not using dynamic content insertion as a daily technique in your email blasts, you have some catching up to do.

Channel Integration

Going omnichannel is great, but have you integrated these channels into a single nurturing process that is easy to fulfill? It is one thing to collect separate lists of data from social media, your phones and message boards. However, you may be creating trouble through duplicate records, outdated records and unqualified leads. Funnel all of your channels into a single CRM so that you can effectively track your prospects through the sales funnel.

Account-Based Marketing

Combining account-based marketing with marketing automation is a technique that savvy companies are now seriously considering. Look for automation services that also include features of account-based marketing that will make targeting and nurturing groups of prospects easy through the creation of buyer profiles.

Mobile Marketing

All marketers should be looking to move into the mobile space. Google has reduced its mobile first index and will begin giving out penalties for pop up windows. These are both signs that commerce continues to move into the mobile space, and this trend is definitely not turning around anytime soon. Mobile traffic is now over 50% of all web traffic, and no business can be sure that they are being contacted on a desktop or a laptop. Make it a goal to shore up your mobile marketing by the end of 2017 for best results in 2018.

 

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Salesforce Simplifying B2B Facebook Marketing?

16 Nov

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Perhaps unjustly, Facebook has never been known as a hub for B2B lead generation. This is not for lack of potential – plenty of companies use Facebook for surfacing contact info. However, following up on that contact through automation and CRM systems required a bevy of tools that were disconnected and independent of each other. No longer – Salesforce Lead Analytics for Facebook brings the sales funnel together.

The Salesforce tool innovates by working simultaneously across Instagram (which is owned by Facebook), Facebook itself and the Facebook Audience Network, which is the official name for the Facebook ad platform. Users of the Salesforce Lead Analytics tool will enjoy a data stream that connects the first interaction of the customer all the way to the purchase. Users will also be able to connect data from upsells and resells. The dashboard will showcase the most important performance metrics that marketers need to improve campaigns, such as leads generated and total views, as well as sales performance related to ads. In addition, the proprietary Salesforce Einstein AI will give a marketer a score for each prospect after that prospect finishes with a lead form.

There is plenty of other data for marketers to pick through with this new tool. Some of the other featured data includes a Pardot score rating, ad spend for campaigns, click through rates, campaign ROI and qualified leads that each campaign generates.

Salesforce is not done here. Alongside the Lead Analytics tool, the company is also bringing out the Einstein Account-Based Marketing tool. This tool will automate the connection between the sales and marketing staff. The data in both departments will now be easier to marry, streamlining execution time.

These new innovations from Salesforce have definitely come under duress. Its main competition in the CRM landscape, Microsoft, has greatly strengthened its position in the market through its soon-to-be acquisition of LinkedIn. Although Salesforce has tried to block the acquisition, the effort will likely fail. However, these new tools certainly bolster Salesforce’s position in the market, especially since they are currently on the cutting edge of technology here.

 

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