Marketing and sales: You will only win if you go all out

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Kristin Zhivago

President & Founder

Kristin Zhivago, revenue coach, is the president of Zhivago Partners, a digital marketing management company, and author of Roadmap to Revenue: How to Sell the Way Your Customers Want to Buy. Zhivago and her team of digital marketing specialists focus on helping clients get to “ka-ching” by making it easier for their customers to find them, appreciate what they’re selling, and buy from them.

Speak with Kristin on her direct line: (401) 423-2400

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It’s easy to get lost in all the details of digital marketing. It’s complex; there are a lot of channels, choices, rules, costs, and varying opinions on what you should do for your business. It gets even more complicated when you endeavor to combine the efforts of your marketing and sales departments. 

But there is an overriding truth: Whatever you do now, you have to go all out to win.  Competition for your buyers is stronger than ever, buyers are better than ever at tuning out commercial messages, and frankly, the complication of a typical campaign can get bogged down and never reach its full potential. 

Rather than list all the ways your marketing and sales can lose their power, I would rather focus on the positive and list some ways you can make sure it works. 

1. Don’t be afraid to show your face. Every exec I’ve ever interviewed tells me the first place they go when buying services is to the About page—so they can see who’s running the company and what they care about. That’s been true for years. 

Now people buying consumer goods are much more concerned about the “who” and the “why” behind the products and services that they’re buying. Crass commercialism is out; purpose-driven purchasing is in. Consumers will pay a bit more for a product that devotes some portion of the profits to some worthy cause. Paul Newman put that into practice a long time ago (mostly because he was just a nice guy who wanted to make a difference). 

Today, if you are the company owner, you are expected to appear on video. They will figure out “who” you are after a few seconds of watching the video; what they really want to know is “why” you did what you did—the decisions you made when creating the product or service; what matters to you; how much you understand your customers’ needs. 

Don’t shy away from doing video. Set yourself up to do it, and do it. Regularly. This is so essential, and yet it is so easy to put off. Months can go by with you thinking, “I need to get those videos done.” Don’t let that happen to you. A competitor who is making regular short and relevant videos will be sure to out-sell you, taking customers you could, and should, be helping. Video is one of the most important channels now. 

If you are naturally an introvert and the thought of being on video gives you a stomach ache, either decide to get over it or find another way to incorporate video into your marketing. You could even hold a contest for your customers, asking them to do a quick video about your product, and then putting them all up for a vote—so other customers can choose which one they like best. That person should get a good prize, such as free products or services. These videos can then be used on your site, in social media, and on your blog—you could feature the video embedded in an article about the products that the customer is talking about. 

2. Get marketing and sales working together. This is so difficult. Marketing usually creates a campaign and “throws it over the fence” to sales. But the customer’s buying process is not departmental in nature. All they want is for the right answers to be available to them when they need them. That means marketing and sales need to work as a team. Each group should know what the other group is doing and should design joint efforts that make the best use of each group’s unique strengths. At the very least, have weekly meetings and work on specific projects together. 

3. Use more than one channel. Your campaigns should be a combination of channels—email, social, outreach, advertising, content/SEO. Don’t be afraid to use the old-fashioned stuff such as billboards and direct mail, if it is appropriate for your audience. Numerous studies claim that your buyer has to see your message 7 – 8 times before they even notice you.  

I’ve always said that marketers get tired of their campaigns just about at the time that their audience is starting to “see” it. It’s also easy to fall into the shiny-marketing-object syndrome, where you think that what you were doing wasn’t working, when in fact, it was about to take off. 

How do you know which channels to use? Start by interviewing your customers and ask them where they would hope or expect to see you. Ask them which groups they belong to and sites they tend to visit. Ask how they typically buy a product or service similar to yours. This is the easiest and fastest way to know where you should focus your messages. 

Then research what your competitors are doing. Visit their social feeds and notice which posts got the most positive feedback. Use tools such as SpyFu to look at what is happening with their digital advertising. Check out their YouTube channel and make note of their most popular videos. 

4. Optimize it all. Digital marketing is not a one-way broadcast medium. It is a way to have a conversation with your audience, because you will be able to see what they do in response, in a short period of time. Digital advertising is especially useful for testing concepts and making small changes that can make a big difference. 

If you have a small audience, it will take longer, but if you are patient, you can learn a great deal and make improvements based on what you learn. 

Optimizing your content—blog articles and pages—takes longer, but you can still determine which content is the most popular and endeavor to provide “more like this.” Going back to the concept of going all out, though, I can tell you that the more content you generate, the better. 

This is easier for some companies than others; one of our clients helps her customers charter luxury yachts worldwide. This means that her site can be filled with content about locations, points of interest in those locations, the history and appeal of those locations, and so on.  An insurance company, on the other hand, has a more limited number of topics to feature. If your company falls into the latter category, don’t despair. Start thinking about all the ways you can look at your type of product or service, including the what, why, and how; the people who have bought it; the people who work inside the company; the decisions made and the results; lessons you’ve learned; how you’ve helped your customers achieve their goals; and so on. 

There is no question that Google responds noticeably to a high amount of useful content, but you have to be willing to generate enough new content to make a difference. 

5. Don’t just hire an agency and go back to what you were doing. No matter who you hire, they will be more effective if you do your part. If you are really going “all out” to win at marketing and sales, you will spend 10 – 20 percent of your time on it. This includes working on concepts and strategy with the agency; being interviewed or providing thoughts for each topic before the writer starts to write; going over budgets and plans; watching what competitors are doing and pointing out what you see; paying attention to trends that might help (or hurt) your business; and, of course, doing those all-important videos. 

Success in 2020 is going to go to the bold and brave, to those with boundless energy and a high level of enthusiasm. Happiness is infectious and fun to watch. Success is also going to go to those who keep asking, “What more can I do? How can I get more information out there? How can I make that information more relevant? How can I go beyond the norm?” This is where the profits are. 

Good luck to you, we wish you all the best. 

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