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Need to Scale Your Sales? Invest in Marketing

The online world enables good online marketing to escort prospects through the sales process (know me, like me, trust me, and pay me). Online marketing is a path to scaling your sales reach.

By Jennifer Matt
Published: December 17, 2013

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Jennifer Matt is the managing editor of WhatTheyThink’s Print Software section as well as President of Web2Print Experts, Inc. a technology-independent print software consulting firm helping printers with web-to-print and print MIS solutions. You can reach her at jen@whattheythink.com.

 

Discussion

By Patrick Whelan on Dec 17, 2013

And yet another great article. Focus on creating conversations. If their online content is relevant and talks to their customers, the SEO will follow. Hummingbird has made it much easier for Printers to ramp up their SEO results. But it all starts with content and commitment. So many great bits of info in here it's hard to single out the best.

Thanks for sharing and cheers for the Holidays.

 

By James Olsen on Dec 17, 2013

Jennifer is right on. The most poignant phrase for me is: "So marketing isn’t about our company, our products, and our equipment anymore. Marketing is about joining the conversation with the customer about their challenges. We have to get out of our own heads and get into the heads of our customers."

 

By Jennifer Matt on Dec 17, 2013

Thank you Patrick and James for the comments. Every printer is in need of increasing their top line business, in the past we limited our solutions to this to hiring sales or doing more sales ourselves as print owners. Investing in marketing has to be seen as an investment in sales. It can be measured and if done right online it can escort prospects (strangers to your company) all the way through the process of know me, like me, trust me, and pay me.

I'm not saying its easy, I'm saying its possible and it has to be part of your strategy for staying competitive.

Jen

 

By Carl Gerhardt on Dec 17, 2013

Jen, this is a great perspective. I recently had this driven home to me from an experience of one of our franchise members. A prospect did an on line search for business cards and then wrote a blog testimonial about his experience. On line search was key but the follow up was exceptional. Read and enjoy: http://thepatientpipeline.com/3-new-patient-referral-lessons-from-a-print-shop/

 

By Mary Beth Smith on Dec 17, 2013

Jennifer, keep preaching, girl!

The lines between sales and marketing are increasingly blurring for all the reasons you cite, particularly in our industry. Tailoring the marketing plan to target the business you want is critical to your content strategy, and is also the foundation for your sales strategy.

In days past, sales reps were frequently expected to be all the marketing a company needed if they were armed with a few brochures, and backed by an ad in the Yellow Pages. This is no longer enough. Content creation has to be thoughtfully coordinated between sales and marketing, and distributed in today's cross-media environment in language that reflects the customer's point of view - not the company's POV. If done effectively, the sales rep then steps in, gives life to the content and develops the live relationship.

PS: @Carl Gerhardt: What a great testimonial - awesome job! Perfect example of take the online relationship to the 'alive, breathing and paying' stage.

:) mb

 

By Wayne Lynn on Dec 17, 2013

Jen, if people can't get their minds around this any other way, consider this: it's been said many times that the most expensive waste of a salesperson's time is sitting somewhere going through a list looking for prospects. Your way, if done well, generates warm leads for those types of selling where the salesperson is still needed. Why not help the salesperson do their job? Anybody hired an experienced rep lately whose "book of business" actually came with them?

Wayne Peterson reminded us recently of Peter Drucker's counsel that the purpose of a business is to create a customer. He also said that the goal of marketing was to make selling unnecessary. Anyone wanting to do 21st century marketing? Open the door described by Jennifer.

 

By Gina Testa on Dec 18, 2013

I have a soft spot for that line too, James! The sales process has indeed changed and with that, companies need to adjust their marketing tactics in order to put their company’s best foot forward – the first step being: join the conversation. As Jennifer mentioned, it’s important for brands to know what their customers want and need. Marketers can use this data to drive a targeted approach that demonstrates that their brand is the solution to their inquiry.

In my experience, it’s the companies that invest to expand their messaging beyond just pushing a product to embodying customers’ needs, which in return, encourages them to get to know their brand. Xerox discussed the usefulness of SEO, among other changes in Internet marketing, that can be found in this blog: http://xerox.bz/JDQGOO.

– Gina Testa, Vice President, Xerox Worldwide Graphic Communications Business

 

By Jennifer Matt on Dec 18, 2013

Wayne - I agree, I think the reluctance to invest in marketing up until now was because it was nearly impossible to measure. You know the old saying, half of my marketing budget is wasted, I just don't know which half? ;-)

When I first joined the job market I hated be associated with the marketing department because I couldn't figure out what they actually delivered other than high design and marketing lingo that was only important to them and completely missed by the target customer. I was also put off by the fact that most marketers I met didn't do much customer facing activity and almost no sales activity.

Marketing is getting a better rap now because it has to. The sell-side used to have all the information, so the sales rep had all the power. The buy-side has caught up and frequently surpasses the buy-side, the customer can be better informed than the sales rep! I see it all the time.

Marketing is about teaching your customers and prospects but also your sales team. I love it because its forcing everyone to be better. The customer is demanding it.

Jen

 

By Jennifer Matt on Dec 19, 2013

Gina,

Great points. I find it challenging to convince sales and marketing resources to hold back the urge to sell and first listen for what the customer is struggling with and then find a way to teach or provide unique insights into those struggles.

As you mentioned, SEO and getting found on the web is a challenge for most printers. Yet when I look at the curriculum at most print-related conferences they are still dominated by topics related directly to the print manufacturing process. No printer I work with today expresses to me, "I just don't feel confident about my manufacturing process." ;-)

They express frustration and confusion around how to use technology (in particular software technology) to create leverage in their business (customer acquisition, customer retention, and automation).

When your target customer is struggling with something that doesn't directly relate to your primary product/service, its a struggle to convince your team to learn about it, provide unique insights, etc. because it doesn't result in an immediate sale, it results in the 3rd step in the sales process (trust me) - that most challenging step in the sales process. Once you've established trust, as soon as the customer needs your product, you are first in line.

Jen

 

By Gina Testa on Dec 19, 2013

Thanks for the thoughtful response, Jennifer. I agree that it’s important to be proactive in finding the solution for customers – even if it’s not your own. By building these genuine relationships, trust is established and the sales process becomes mutually beneficial. Thanks again for the great article and discussion.

 

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