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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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Personalizing Content to Empower Your Sales Team

7 Nov

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Marketing and sales must work as a team in order for your revenues to keep pace with your competition. Just as your sales team has the responsibility of finishing the job on the front lines, your marketing team has the responsibility of making the initial lead acquisition and journey through the sales funnel as easy as possible. If your sales team goes into battle with personalized content, they will be greatly empowered to bring home the bacon.

The modern customer demands personal attention. However, they do not want to be pushed into a sale. The goal of personalizing content is to create a relationship between the salesperson and the customer that will eventually translate into action. Here are just a few of the ways that your marketing team can help your sales team succeed by personalizing content.

Buyer Personas

Your salespeople are dealing with individuals, but those individuals definitely fit a certain psychology. Make sure that your salespeople understand the buyer persona of each customer. Forward them the email threads that go to different personas. Make them understand the differences in marketing to those different personas as well. If your front-line salesmen understand how you have introduced the company to certain people, they will be able to follow up with a much more personalized message.

CRM

Is there any reason that the marketing team knows that the big client’s CFO has recently retired and the sales team doesn’t? Is the sales team privy to the latest information about a prospect’s ability to make a purchase? It is very important to let the sales team in on all the real-time information that your customer relationship management CRM program gets from your prospects. This is yet another building block that your salesmen can use to create a personalized pitch when doing business.

Synergy

The best companies are now opening the doors of their marketing staff meetings to salesmen. No longer is a position on the marketing team seen as a promotion over sales – the two positions are treated equally in terms of determining marketing campaigns, advertisements, and social media rollouts. When the sales team has a say in the way that ads are rolled out, they will be more likely to understand the message that marketing is putting in front of prospects.

Regardless of your industry, your sales and marketing team must work together to create the personalized content that will empower your sales team to succeed. Otherwise, you are basically throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks. Follow the tips above to ensure a close connection between your sales and marketing teams and the personalized content that will work well in the field.

 

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Why B2B Marketers Should Care About Algorithmic Attribution

20 Feb

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Successful companies in the B2B market space must prioritize attribution in order to fully understand how marketing affects sales. Attribution creates a convenient and precise way to match marketing efforts to the successful movements of the sales funnel. The data that attribution cultivates revenue, lead generation, etc., that each channel generates – and helps to map out the customer journey.

One of the most successful methods of quantifying attribution is the algorithmic model. Algorithmic attribution was created as a response to simpler, less effective models such as the first touch and the last touch model. It is a hybrid model that avoids much of the criticism of the simpler models; algorithmic attribution employs less of the predetermined rules that reduce the complexity of the customer journey too far.

Creating a Viable Model for Marketing

As analytical technology improves, it is no longer necessary to reduce model complexity in order to fit into limitations on the delivery or timeliness of information. As models become more detailed, accuracy naturally increases. The improved number of touchpoints within the algorithmic attribution model as compared to, say, the first touch model, greatly improves the viability of the conclusions lifted from its data inputs.

An AdRoll report seems to show that marketers believe the algorithmic attribution model to be more effective than any other methodology. Models that utilized machine learning as the data intake method were the most impressive.

The Method Behind the Algorithmic Madness

The major difference between algorithmic attribution and its simpler cousins is the custom weight that the algorithm places on data as it moves through the sales funnel. Instead of relying on assumptions or old data, algorithmic models rely on historical data that is already proven to be valid and useful to your company.

Why the B2B Market Should Prioritize Algorithmic Attribution

Many B2B marketers make the mistake of treating customers like businesses instead of individuals. Although the scale of B2B sales is usually larger than B2C, individuals within the company are making those purchases. These individuals exhibit the behavior of a commercial consumer in most cases, and treating them as such has many positive effects.

The successful B2B company of the future learns its customer most accurately. The algorithmic attribution model allows a company to access the data that is most appropriate for the current analysis. B2B marketers are able to see the stages in the customer journey that should be of the highest priority. This is especially important for a company with a multichannel or omnichannel approach to sales – the channels that are most successful can be identified accurately as well.

The Main Differences Between the Algorithmic Model and Simpler Models

  • A company may be able to add stages to its customer funnel that would otherwise go overlooked
  • Data is more actionable, because it falls into more precise and easily identifiable channels
  • Sales credit is given to the appropriate channels, allowing unsuccessful channels to be completely removed or reduced
  • The model itself translates more easily between departments, because the modeled customer journey closely resembles the actual customer journey

Knowing where to invest the human and financial assets of a company is essential to its ongoing marketing efforts. The algorithmic attribution model provides a more accurate depiction of the customer journey for marketers, leading to a more successful journey for marketers as well.

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Measure Value, Not Activity

30 Aug

Are You Measuring the Right Results?
Business People Meeting Growth Success Target Economic Concept

Open rates, click through rates (CTRs), and conversions are just a few of the metrics most B2B marketers tend to use when determining the results of their work. But are those really the best metrics for determining success?

According to new data from Forrester, not necessarily. More and more B2B marketers are now struggling to tie these results to revenue. The truth is that while the metrics described above do a good job in a vacuum of helping marketers determine whether their marketing is working, they don’t necessarily shed light on whether or not the marketing efforts are generating real dollars for the business as a whole.

Increasingly, it’s not just CMOs who are looking at marketing results, it’s the CEOs. They want to see a direct correlation between marketing spend and sales generation. If the numbers don’t work out, then the marketing department or creative agency might not work out either.

Despite the demand for revenue-based results looming above them, B2B marketers are still struggling to deliver these types of results. So what is complicating their efforts? According to the article, there are several main challenges:

  •  Internal data is difficult to collect, connect, and analyze given the silos that exist in many workplaces.
  • Too much data! Marketers have access to more than ever before, and sometimes it is difficult to cut through the clutter.
  • Marketers aren’t always “numbers people.” Think of the best ones you know—they’re usually creative types who may not have developed the analytical skills necessary to excel—no pun intended.
    Marketing is a subjective field, but by looking at the right numbers and presenting them to the right people, B2B marketers can convert numbers into usable information that can drive real results for the business. (For some fabulous tips about presenting results to others, read this blog by an account service professional at ER Marketing, Matt Bartlett.)

Testing subject lines and measuring open rates and CTRs is great, but only insofar as it improves your approach to your marketing goals. If it helps you fine tune your approach, all the better. To prove your worth as a B2B marketer, you need to start measuring the value of what you do, not just the activity.

To read the full article about the Forrester findings, click here.

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