Tag Archives: SMstudy

Eye-to-Eye on IT Value, Marketing and SMstudy

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When designing a marketing strategy should you start where you want to be, or where you are?

If you’re a motivational speaker, you’re probably saying, “Start where you want to be.” If you’re a process engineer, you’re likely to say, “Start where you are.” If you’re a marketing strategist, you’re probably saying, “Yes.”

“But it’s an ‘either/or’ question!” they might remind you.

“True, but the answer is still ‘Yes,’” you would answer.

In sales and marketing, there must be a strong focus on goals and objectives, the “where you want to be”bit. “The Corporate Marketing Strategy is defined at a corporate level. It defines the overall marketing goals for the company. These general marketing goals drive more specific marketing strategies for each of the company’s business units or geographies,” saysMarketing Strategy, book one of the SMstudy™ Guide.

Can the company meet these goals? The answer to this lies in the “where you are.” “The strengths and weaknesses of a company determine its internal capabilities to compete in a market and to fulfill customer expectations,” says the SMstudyGuide. “Strengths provide the company with a competitive advantage and weaknesses place the company at a disadvantage.”

“Start where you are” is one of the “Practitioner 9 Guiding Principles” identified by Axelos, the people responsible for publications coming from the Information Technology and Infrastructure Library (ITIL) of the British Home Office. These principles are designed to help IT practitioners succeed in an increasingly customer- and market-oriented service environment.

One of the key “Practitioner Guiding Principles” is “focus on value.” This is something marketing professionals know very well: their product’s or service’s value proposition. “All successful products or brands need well-planned marketing strategies in place to ensure that they satisfy the goals set by the corresponding Business Unit or Geographic level, and in turn the overall Corporate Marketing Strategy. Marketing Strategy is therefore one of the most crucial Aspects of Sales and Marketing. It defines a product or brand’s unique value proposition, target markets, and the specific strategies to be used to connect with defined audiences,” according to the SMstudyGuide.

Arriving at a value proposition involves identifying the target market segment: what are the people that make up this group like? What do they do for a living? For recreation? How do they spend their money? These are very similar to questions that IT developers ask and answer when creating personas for their end users and customers. How will they use this service? When will they most likely access it? What will it do for them? How much is this worth to them? The confluence of service development and marketing is becoming greater and greater.

With the decreasing time between product development and its “hitting the shelves,” it seems inevitable that marketing interests and elements would enter product lifecycles earlier. Which ties in well with “Practitioner Guiding Principle” number 8: collaborate. The real value that developers put into a product after conferring with marketing and management becomes the real value that the sales and marketing people communicate to the customers, who buy that value, take it home and cherish it. Everyone is working together and the world’s a happier place.

 

For more informative articles on Sales and Marketing, visit SMstudy.com

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Eye-to-Eye on IT Value, Marketing and SMstudy

Modern-cyber-girl.jpg

 

When designing a marketing strategy should you start where you want to be, or where you are?

If you’re a motivational speaker, you’re probably saying, “Start where you want to be.” If you’re a process engineer, you’re likely to say, “Start where you are.” If you’re a marketing strategist, you’re probably saying, “Yes.”

“But it’s an ‘either/or’ question!” they might remind you.

“True, but the answer is still ‘Yes,’” you would answer.

In sales and marketing, there must be a strong focus on goals and objectives, the “where you want to be”bit. “The Corporate Marketing Strategy is defined at a corporate level. It defines the overall marketing goals for the company. These general marketing goals drive more specific marketing strategies for each of the company’s business units or geographies,” saysMarketing Strategy, book one of the SMstudy™ Guide.

Can the company meet these goals? The answer to this lies in the “where you are.” “The strengths and weaknesses of a company determine its internal capabilities to compete in a market and to fulfill customer expectations,” says the SMstudyGuide. “Strengths provide the company with a competitive advantage and weaknesses place the company at a disadvantage.”

“Start where you are” is one of the “Practitioner 9 Guiding Principles” identified by Axelos, the people responsible for publications coming from the Information Technology and Infrastructure Library (ITIL) of the British Home Office. These principles are designed to help IT practitioners succeed in an increasingly customer- and market-oriented service environment.

One of the key “Practitioner Guiding Principles” is “focus on value.” This is something marketing professionals know very well: their product’s or service’s value proposition. “All successful products or brands need well-planned marketing strategies in place to ensure that they satisfy the goals set by the corresponding Business Unit or Geographic level, and in turn the overall Corporate Marketing Strategy. Marketing Strategy is therefore one of the most crucial Aspects of Sales and Marketing. It defines a product or brand’s unique value proposition, target markets, and the specific strategies to be used to connect with defined audiences,” according to the SMstudyGuide.

Arriving at a value proposition involves identifying the target market segment: what are the people that make up this group like? What do they do for a living? For recreation? How do they spend their money? These are very similar to questions that IT developers ask and answer when creating personas for their end users and customers. How will they use this service? When will they most likely access it? What will it do for them? How much is this worth to them? The confluence of service development and marketing is becoming greater and greater.

With the decreasing time between product development and its “hitting the shelves,” it seems inevitable that marketing interests and elements would enter product lifecycles earlier. Which ties in well with “Practitioner Guiding Principle” number 8: collaborate. The real value that developers put into a product after conferring with marketing and management becomes the real value that the sales and marketing people communicate to the customers, who buy that value, take it home and cherish it. Everyone is working together and the world’s a happier place.

 

For more informative articles on Sales and Marketing, visit SMstudy.com

Inventions from 1900-1910: Deja vu All Over Again

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There are some things I never do on social media. When I get a post with a picture of an old-fashioned pencil sharpener, apple corer or slide rule and it says “If you’ve ever used one of these, Like and Share,” I never do. And it’s not just because I don’t want to admit how old I am.

Looking back in history can be much more helpful than trying to get one up on “those young people today” by showing how difficult you had it and they should be glad they have it as easy as they do! Looking back in history can actually help people deal with the present.

With this in mind we thought we would take a quick look at the first decade of the Twentieth Century and draw some inferences relating to the first two decades of the Twenty-first.

We researched several websites and found that a lot of things happened from 1900 to 1910, inclusive. From the frivolous to the profound, some of the inventions and advances still affect America and the world today. In 1905, the American form of football allowed the forward pass to stop injuries and deaths caused by brute-force tactics such as the “flying wedge.” Today, the National Football League is trying to make reforms that will minimize, or do away with concussions. Also in 1905, Albert Einstein published a paper introducing the idea that the formula for determining energy is a direct ratio with the combined characteristics of mass and the speed of light squared, e=mc2. In that same year, he published a fuller elucidation, his theory of relativity. (We felt like we could use phrases like “fuller elucidation” when we’re talking about such heady stuff.) From those papers have risen arsenals, energy generation, medical uses of radiation, and advances in the physics that run our televisions and computers, among other things.

Speaking of televisions and computers, both of these have their roots in Lee De Forest’s invention of the vacuum tube triode in 1907. “The three terminal setup could serve as an electrical switch. When you changed the voltage traveling to one terminal, you could reduce the current following between the other two terminals. In this way, you could turn it ‘on’ and ‘off.’ That’s your 1 and your 0,” says Wired.com in reference to the binary code used in programming.[1]

The more immediate use of the vacuum tube was in building the sets needed to receive that new-fangled thing called radio. De Forest used his vacuum tube to transform “those taps and clicks [of Marconi’s wireless telegraph transmissions] into the broadcast communication system we know today,” according to Wired, adding, “Forest, who also coined the name ‘radio,’ used his invention to send the first over-the-air public broadcast on January 12, 1910.”

From all this, it becomes apparent that first decade of the twentieth century saw the new arrivals of more than twenty inventions that reshaped life and business. Mercedes (1901) and Ford (1908) took the automobile from the showcase and exhibition track to the roads of America and Europe in mass numbers. Along the way, they also invented the car salesman.

These inventions made their creators wealthy through marketing. In 1908, Dr. Julius Neubronner combined invention and marketing into one operation. He fitted “tiny timer-driven cameras to pigeons and developed and printed the photos immediately upon the birds’ return, selling them as postcards on the spot,” says Wired. They also say, “Take that, UAV cams!”

Apple Computers is the modern poster child for this symbiotic relationship between innovation and marketing. And that brings us to Digital Marketing, book three in the SMstudy® Guide series, “Today, consumers have multiple ways of searching, learning about, and purchasing various products and services, and e-commerce technology has offered the convenience of secure and instant transactions.”

In 1901, the vacuum cleaner was invented and was soon followed by the door-to-door vacuum salesman. The invention of the radio brought radio advertising, which was one of the methods inventor and businessman George Louis Washington used to turn his 1909 invention of instant coffee into a mansion in Brooklyn and a lodge by the beach in Belford.[2]

Automobiles brought roadside signs and billboards. Walls in every major urban setting became festooned with advertising aimed at the motoring masses. The marketing messages were everywhere. Conventional mass marketing made sure they even arrived in peoples’ mailboxes.

Today’s market seems filled with innovation and invention on steroids. “Consumers can receive messages from any of the several hundred television and radio channels, a variety of print media, including newspapers, magazines, and trade publications; and, online, it’s difficult to check e-mail without various banner ads popping up. The messages are constant,” saysDigital Marketing.

“For businesses, in this age where consumers are continuously provided with choice, the challenge is finding ways to stand out.” SMstudy and the SMstudy® Guide are designed to help sales and marketing professionals and entrepreneurs handle the change in ways that make them stars.[3]

For more informative and interesting articles on sales and marketing, visit SMstudy.com

[1] “The Decades that Invented the Future, Part 1: 1900-1910.” (10/12/12) WIRED. Retrieve on 4/13/16 from http://www.wired.com/2012/10/12-decades-of-geek-part-1/

[2] Janie (4/13/2015) “20 Influential Inventions from 1900-1910” JellyShare Retrieved on 4/13/16 from http://www.jellyshare.com/article-194/20-influential-inventions-from-1900-1910.htm

[3] For more information about the SMstudy® Guide, visit http://smstudy.com/SMBOKGuide

You are So Annoying! Not You, SMstudy, I am on the Phone

 

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It seems that there are some dangers with “going native.”

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has increased its oversight of native advertising online and on smartphones. The most recent company running afoul of this intensified supervision is Lord & Taylor, who just settled with the governmental body over charges that “it deceived consumers through paid article in an online fashion magazine and paid Instagram posts,” according to the FTC.

Part of Lord & Taylor’s problem were efforts to produce and publish native advertising. “Native advertising is a form of online advertising that blends in with its surroundings,” according to Digital Marketing, book two of the SMstudy® Guide. The FTC’s charges identified activities among which were “a seemingly objective article in the online publication Nylon and a NylonInstagram post, without disclosing that the posts actually were paid promotions for the company’s 2015 Design Lab clothing collection.” Here was an attempt to blend in with the surrounding content that seems to have blended in all too well.

“While native advertising can be perceived as annoying, it can also be an effective tool if properly used,” asserts the SMstudy®Guide, and the FTC is addressing both points: annoying and proper. What is the proper use of native advertising? The FTC’s actions against Lord & Taylor has resulted in an agreement between the two entities that is open to comment until April 14, 2016. This means the public can become part of defining what is proper.

While that discussion is going on, another facet of technology-driven changes in advertising will definitely become part of the dialogue: using the smartphone. “Unlike traditional marketing in public spaces–such as billboards, magazines, and television–the smartphone is a highly personal space for the consumer and requires an entirely different engagement model,” says Christina Desmarais in an opinion piece for Inc. magazine online.

With personal engagement comes personal offense. The reaction of the consumer becomes less “Do you really think that little of your customers?” and more “What type of girl do you think I am!”

Those who wish to use native advertising will need to develop a keen sensibility as marketing becomes more personal and the natives become more restless.

 

For more interesting information and articles about Sales and Marketing visit SMstudy.com.

“Lord & Taylor Settles FTC Charges It Deceived Consumers Through Paid Article in an Online Fashion Magazine and Paid Instagram Posts by 50 ‘Fashion Influencers’” (3/15/16) Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved on 3/24/16 from https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2016/03/lord-taylor-settles-ftc-charges-it-deceived-consumers-through

An overview of the SMstudy® Guide is available at http://www.smstudy.com/SMBOKGuide and a free course on Digital Marketing is available at http://www.smstudy.com/Certification/Digital-Marketing-Associate.

The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, beginning today and continuing through April 14, 2016, after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final. Interested parties can submit comments electronically by following the instructions in the “Invitation To Comment” part of the “Supplementary Information” section.

Desmarais, Christina. (2/29/2016) “Why Everything You Know about Marketing is Obsolete” Inc. Retrieved on 3/24/16 from http://www.inc.com/christina-desmarais/why-everything-you-know-about-marketing-is-obsolete.html

Dont be One of the Three, Start Your Startup with SMstudy

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How can you keep from being one of the three?

A stat being tossed around a lot these days is that three out of four startups fail. Such odds even seem favorable when compared to direr (and possibly more realistic) observations that “nine out of ten startups fail.” Neil Patel made that claim on Forbes.com, suggesting that “entrepreneurs may even want to write their failure post-mortem before they launch their business.”[1]

What causes these failures?

A look at more than one hundred essays by the CEOs of failed startups two years ago revealed to Fortune.com “that the number-one reason for failure, cited by 42% of polled startups, is the lack of a market need for their product.”[2] Most inventors and innovators imagine that they are providing something people need—the next best mousetrap. Yet, according to these CEOs, there was a clear misalignment between imagination and market reality.

How can someone avoid that threat?

A look at other items in the poll—pricing/cost issues, poor marketing, ignoring the customer and mistimed product launches—provides a clue. The one thing that all of these threats have in common is that they are sales and marketing issues. They are all things that are discussed in SMstudy’s Marketing Strategy, volume one of A Guide to the SMstudy® Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge (SMBOK® Guide).[3]

Marketing Strategy has an entire section titled “Analyze Market Opportunity,” which would definitely help avoid the problem of having a product without a market.  Pricing and cost issues can be addressed with knowledge gained from the section on “Determine Pricing and Distribution Strategies.”

The book discusses PESTEL Analysis, which entrepreneurs can use to evaluate macro-environmental factors such as political,economic, social, technological, environmental and legal factors that affect the successful and timely launch of a product or service.

Writing about “Ten Essential Startup Lessons” for Entrepreneur, John Rampton includes as his number 7, “Become a salesperson. If you want your startup to succeed, then you must sell. You’re going to have to market the company’s product to employees, investors and clients.” Then he asks, “But did you ever take a ‘Salesperson 101’ course in college?”[4]

The complete SMBOK® Guide is more than just “Salesperson 101.” It includes books on branding and advertising, digital marketing, corporate sales and market research. For the inventor, innovator and entrepreneur, the six books that make up theGuide give insight and direction for turning their product or service into a business—a business that has customers.

Offering some “Startup Advice” on BothSidesoftheTable.com, Mark Suster says, “When you start your company the very first question you need to ask yourself is which kind of customers do you want to serve.” He discusses going after elephants—what others call “whales”—when one really needs to hunt deer. It’s a great analogy and explains one of the reasons startups often have “suboptimal results.”[5] Defining the market and identifying market segments is covered at length in Marketing Strategy.

A Guide to the SMstudy® Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge by SMstudy is not a collection of inspiring or amusing anecdotes about sales that hit the stratosphere; they are practical, process-oriented collections of processes and best practices that help companies create and develop sales and marketing plans and departments that succeed.

SMstudy also offers courses online and in mobile apps that put the information entrepreneurs need where they are when they need it.

How can you keep from being one of the three . . . or one of the nine? Start your startup with SMstudy.

 

[1] Patel, Neil. (1/16/15) “90% of Startups Fail: Here’s What You Need to Know about the 10%.” Forbes.com Retrieved on 2/12/16 from http://www.forbes.com/sites/neilpatel/2015/01/16/90-of-startups-will-fail-heres-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-10/#185237c255e1

[2] Griffith, Erin. (9/25/14) “Why startups fail, according to their founders.” Fortune. Retrieved on 2/12/16 from http://fortune.com/2014/09/25/why-startups-fail-according-to-their-founders/

[3] http://www.smstudy.com/SMBOKGuide/overview-of-SMstudy-guide

[4] Rampton, John. (7/25/14) “Ten essential Startup Lessons That You may not have Learned in College.” Entrepreneur. Retrieved on 2/11/16 from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/235905.

[5] Suster, Mark. “Startup Advice.” BothSidesoftheTable.com. Retrieved on 2/11/16 from http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/on-entrepeneurship/

Sales training, not just for sales teams anymore. SMstudy is for everyone.

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As companies continue the eternal pursuit of streamlining, a little bit of universal sales training can yield major benefits. Basic understanding of the aspects of the sales process is a benefit for all members of a company regardless of position or department.

Some very real advances in efficiency can be achieved when everyone speaks the same language.

Ever feel important communications get lost in translation from one branch of a company to the other? Since sales is usually a crucial element of any company, it benefits everyone to have an understanding of sales processes and its terminology.  When everyone speaks the same language, everything goes more smoothly.

According to Will Brooks, executive vice president and director of marketing at The Brooks Group, “Communication is enhanced once everyone is fluent in the selling process, when the dialogue around specific accounts and stages in the buyer’s journey becomes more efficient—both within the sales team and across departments. Congruent terminology and standard definitions of each stage in the buying process reduces miscommunication and unifies the sales and marketing departments.”

Continuity of Message = Efficiency

Another important benefit of universal sales training; the continuity of company communication, both internally and externally. A consistent informed message that permeates a company will make a stronger clearer message to potential customers. As customers are brought in to the sales cycle, they will continue to receive a consistent message that in turn leads to a seamless customer experience.

Brooks notes, “Customer service can better understand the customer’s needs once they have received sales training, and when marketing understands the sales process, they can provide tools and resources that are aligned with how sales is selling. The promises sales makes to customers should mirror the messages that marketing sends out, and alignment between these departments ensures that’s always happening.”

SMstudy works very well for any company considering a company-wide sales training program. It’s convenient and offers flexible training opportunities that work within the timeframe of a staff members’ busy schedule. The SMstudy Guide® and all its resources, including training videos, study guides, test questions and more, is ideally positioned to provide a positive sales training experience for everyone.

Find more interesting information on sales and marketing at smstudy.com

Sources:

How Sales Training Can Benefit More Than the Sales Team, Will Brooks. Sept. 21, 2015. https://www.trainingindustry.com/blog/blog-entries/how-sales-training-can-benefit-more-than-the-sales-team.aspx

 

 

Psychology, Sales and the SMstudy Guide

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Could a beer seller’s story about their purple wisteria saving the day help you?

When the story is an example of using psychology and emotion-driven sales, it can and probably should. London Pride accomplished this with their advertisement featuring a uniquely ancient wisteria plant: “The purple genus has been steadily scaling our brewery walls since 1816. It’s the oldest in England.”  It seems the Brits value their past, their national pride and their wisteria.

“London Pride beer uses emotion-driven marketing … that hooks the reader with a memorable story about something Londoners are familiar with and proud of,” says Kath Pay in Leveraging Psychology in Digital Marketing.

A Guide to the SMstudy® Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge (SMstudy® Guide), makes a similar point: “The most popular blogs choose topics that are of interest to a large community. Successful blogs have something interesting, useful, or creative to share, and do that sharing with an engaging style.”

How does one leverage psychology in his or her marketing efforts? SMstudy® Guide’s book Marketing Strategy explains one of the ways: “Psychographic segmentation is primarily used for consumer markets and involves segmenting buyers along one or more psychological variables including, but not limited to, the following—Attitude, Personality, Values, Fears, Lifestyle, and Life stage (e.g., early childhood, youth, young adult, newly married, married with young children, married with teens, empty nester, elderly and retired).” This type of segmentation begins the process of researching and analyzing a target market’s psychological profile.

“To make the path to conversion clear, you must understand the psychological cues that prompt action, and then consider the entire customer journey, using both implicit and explicit directional cues,” says Pay.

How can you find the cues that prompt consumer actions? The SMstudy® Guide helps here, too, suggesting the use of behavioral segmentation and explaining, “There are five variables that can be used for behavioral segmentation.”

Needs: Users are segmented on the basis of their needs related to a product. Here it is important to understand the users’ category and brand purchasing motives, their value systems and their perceptions in order to draw a composite image of each user and his or her needs.

Consumption Behavior: Purchasers may not be the direct consumers or may not be the only consumers for a variety of products. Therefore, consumption patterns for these products should be considered separately.

Purchase Behavior: Users are segmented on the basis of their purchasing patterns. Some of the patterns are non-user, potential user, first-time user, one-time user (also referred to as “one and done purchasing”), repeat user, former user, product/brand loyalty-based user and early adopter.

Communication Behavior: Users are segmented on the basis of how much they communicate about the product with others before, during and after purchasing. In this respect, opinion leaders are particularly influential as they are knowledgeable about, or are regular users of, particular products; are very vocal about their views regarding such products; and command the attention of other potential customers. In addition to examining how these users communicate, it is also important to understand how they prefer to receive communication. For example, what types of media do they consume?

Consumer Purchasing Roles: Consumers can be categorized based on their roles in the purchasing process. Individuals take on one, several or all of the following roles in the purchasing process: initiator, influencer, decider, buyer and user. When segmenting based on consumer purchasing roles, businesses will often target influencers rather than buyers in an effort to connect with those with the most influence on the purchasing behavior of the group.

Looking at the traits that put consumers in each of these categories provides cues to their motivations and the directions those motivations will lead them.

Using some practical suggestions from www.SMstudy.com can help leverage psychology and make people think that buying from you is a good idea. Cheers.

 

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Leaky Funnel

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Accepting that the sales and marketing funnel will always be leaky is akin to accepting that, despite all efforts, we will not grow taller… or younger. It’s never going to happen, we know this. The marketing funnel will always be leaky, no matter how talented and thorough sales and marketing teams become at plugging the holes. But accept it we must! Since as of today, there is no leak-free funnel and none on the horizon, we all just have to deal.

We learn from SMstudy that the leaky funnel is an analogy. Water being poured from the top represents prospective customers and the water existing from the bottom represents converted customers.

SMstudy states: “Digital media reaches out broadly and acquires potential customers using a variety of online tactics. Marketers then capture information about those customers and begin to target them more effectively with marketing messages and other digital marketing initiatives, and many become qualified prospects or leads. Eventually some of the qualified leads buy the product, thus becoming customers.”

In a perfect place known as “Sales-and-Market Landia,” every dear soul who ever views our ad, not to mention visits our website, would be swirled into our seamless steel-trap funnel with no chance of escape except out the bottom as the proud owner of our product or service, free to roam and spread the good word.

Well, the real world is not “Sales-and-Market Landia,” and most of those who venture into the funnel will ultimately slip through the cracks on their way to the final stage (aka the sale). Leakage numbers vary, but according to Lisa Cramer nearly 80 percent of those who fall into the funnel are never brought to sales. On the bright side or perhaps a cautionary warning, 60 percent of leads who enter the funnel will end up purchasing within the next 24 months… just maybe not via that same funnel.

With figures like these it’s no surprise we find all sorts of advice on how marketers can plug the holes of their own unique funnels. Just google, “plug leaky funnel” and you’ll see what comes back, a bucket load of funnel advice.

Basics such as data analytics and understanding the Point of Loss (POL) and Point of Influence (POF) can help to identify and shore up the holes, and realistic genuine attempts should be made to do so. But at some point, acceptance of a leaky funnel is key to not obsessing over the holes and maintaining your sanity.

David Lund of Marketing Executives Networking Group recognizes the inevitable nature of the leaky funnel and the necessity of accepting said leakage, but still offers these simple steps to increase sales even for a hole-riddled funnel:

  • Put more total people in the funnel.  Your funnel still leaks, but more people in should mean more people out.  If only 1-5% of the people at the top of your funnel actually buy from you or sign up for your services, you need to first focus on improving your funnel rather than putting more people into it.
  • Put more of the right people in the funnel.  You hope to attract and sell more of your target audience.  But, if you don’t clearly understand why they are choosing you, this approach will not be fully effective.
  • Retain more of the right people in the funnel.  By slowing or stopping the leaks in your funnel, you will optimize your efforts to attract and retain more target customers.  This is usually a much more productive near-term effort versus just spending more on ads or offering promotions.

So, ideally, yes, all holes would be plugged and anyone who ever knowingly or unknowingly fell into our funnel would come out the proud owner of whatever product or service was for sale. But that is a myth, a dream straight out of “Sales-and-Marketing landia.” The truth is, despite all our efforts, there will always be holes. Always. But still we plug on!

For more articles on sales and marketing, visit smstudy.com/articles

Photo credit: Catherine, https://www.flickr.com/photos/rumpleteaser/2812559753

Sources:

SMstudy Guide, Digital Marketing, pg.62-63.

Sales Success as an Optimistic Cynic, Tibor Shanto, Pipeliner CRM, July 7, 2015, http://blog.pipelinersales.com/sales-professionals/sales-success-as-a-optimistic-cynic/

The Beginner’s Guide to Identifying Leaks in Your Sales Funnel,” Dale Cudmore, The Daily Egg, June 8, 2015, http://blog.crazyegg.com/2015/06/08/leaks-in-your-sales-funnel/

“How to Reduce Lead Leakage Now,” Lisa Cramer, Marketing Profs, Oct. 27, 2011, http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2011/6227/how-to-reduce-lead-leakage-now

“Do you know where your marketing funnel is leaking and how to stop it,” David Lund, Marketing Executives Networking Group, July 30, 2013, http://mengonline.com/blog/2013/07/30/do-you-know-where-your-marketing-funnel-is-leaking-and-how-to-stop-it/

The Lean Startup Movement and SMstudy

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Startup “is shorthand for an ethos that the organization holds dear: speed, flexibility, a willingness to be daring and experiment,” writes Beth Comstock in the introduction to “Video: Eric Ries Talks to Beth Comstock about Entrepreneurship in the Age of Uncertainty” in GE Reports.[1]

Comstock, Vice Chair of GE (General Electric), puts this ethos at the heart of the Lean Startup managerial movement that she credits to Eric Ries and his Times bestseller, The Lean Startup.

When Ries describes what he means by “lean startup,” he says, “We take ideas from lean manufacturing and apply them to the process of innovation itself… we build a minimum viable product … rapidly iterate, discover what is it that the customers want,” and then learn how to build a sustainable business around that. This approach is one of the most effective ways people successfully navigate innovation and change: taking ideas that work in one field and applying them where they can do a lot of good in another field.

The field of sales and marketing has seen its paradigms shift on an almost daily basis—the sellers’ market morphs into conventional mass marketing, which transforms into mass media marketing, then into internet sales and fragmented new-age marketing, and so on.  Technological innovation continually creates both new markets and new ways to reach established markets.

How do professionals successfully navigate this ocean of innovation? SMstudy—the global training and accreditation organization whose experts share their content through the SMstudy platform—takes ideas from the fields of project management and process engineering “to provide a practical and process-oriented approach to Sales and Marketing that emphasizes how its various elements can be integrated to develop a comprehensive and effective organizational Sales and Marketing Plan,” according to their website. [2]

Ries sees that “entrepreneurship is the missing function in corporations… imagine your business but with one of its major silos gone: there’s no marketing, there’s no operations, there’s no finance, you’d say, ‘Wait a minute, we’re in trouble.’”

Startups and established companies often find themselves in this position, but the missing component is an integrated marketing strategy and the capacity to deliver such a strategy. SMstudy’s Guide to the SMstudy Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge (SMBOK® Guide), also referred to as the SMstudy® Guide, “is a series of books that provide guidelines for the Sales and Marketing of products and services. It offers a comprehensive framework that can be used to effectively manage Sales and Marketing efforts in any organization,” according to their website. The process-oriented approach enables companies to design and build marketing activities and departments that match their needs, size and resident expertise.

Describing entrepreneurship as “about operating under conditions of extreme uncertainty,” Ries gives three questions that can help professionals be entrepreneurial within their daily business activities: “You can always be asking yourself ‘who’s the customer for this?’ ‘What is the benefit to the customer, what is it that they hope to get from your work?’ and ‘how do you know that you have positively impacted them?’”  These are topics covered in the SMstudy® Guide.

Being entrepreneurial, using lean startup processes and applying insight across business domains is helping companies like GE and SMstudy move successfully into a future of continuing uncertainty.

For more insights and articles on sales and marketing, visit SMstudy.com

[1] Retrieved on 5/23/16 from http://www.gereports.com/a-lean-mean-startup-machine-business-strategist-wants-companies-to-embrace-uncertainty.

[2] http://www.smstudy.com/Individuals/Buy-SMstudy-Guide

Robots, Communications and SMstudy

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“I cannot fully understand or predict what the system will do, so I don’t trust it,” says Riccardo Bevilacqua of the University of Florida about his autonomous vacuum cleaner.[1]

As Bevilacqua indicates, trust is based on understanding. And understanding is built through successful communications. As the world changes, the ability to communicate, and to do it well, is becoming ever more important, even when it applies to talking to our robots.

“Today we see robots as agents able to operate independently – like my vacuum cleaner – but still be part of a team – the family’s efforts to keep the house clean. If they are truly working with us, rather than instead of us, then communication is key, as well as the ability to infer intent,” Bevilacqua says. In today’s marketplace where concepts such as co-creating value are popular, the same can be said of customers. When customers and suppliers become a team to solve a problem, meet a need or create a new experience, effective communication becomes crucial.

“Unlike older media options where sales and marketing communications were primarily uni-directional (i.e., from producers to end-consumers), communications have increasingly become multi-directional (i.e., from producers to consumers, consumers to producers, and consumers to consumers),” according to Digital Marketing, book three in the SMstudy® Guide series. As behaviors become more important more people become involved.[2]

As a result of not understanding and trusting his autonomous vacuum, Bevilacqua says, “I play it safe, and spend time doing things to accommodate the needs I imagine the robot might have.” Trying to meet imagined needs is impossible, and in sales and marketing it can be dangerous. To avoid this, a company’s marketing team “should create ‘personas’ of ideal customers in each segment” as part of the market segment selection process, “Then, depending on the market size of each segment and the ability of the company to build products for each persona, the target segments are selected,” according to Marketing Strategy, book one in the SMstudy® Guide series.[3]

“Personas are highly detailed fictional characters, representative of particular types of users in a market segment. They are created to help the marketing team identify who the potential buyers are, what they are trying to achieve, what they think, what drives their behaviors, how they buy, and why they make certain decisions,” Marketing Strategy says. These characteristics of potential buyers are essential for beginning and building communication systems and messages that matter.

“The persona should be research based and include highly specific demographic and lifestyle attributes such as age, gender, education, environment, interests, and goals. A quote illustrating the persona’s requirements can also be included,” according to Marketing Strategy. The inclusion of a quote by the persona can help marketing team members envision a welcoming approach and make an easier connection, “With detailed personas, users become more personal and real to the team.”

With the expanding channels and methods for communicating with consumers and users, companies can keep sales and marketing from being a robotic experience for everyone involved. At least, until we learn to communicate better with our robots.

[1] Riccardo Bevilacqua (Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace engineering, University of Florida) (5/30/16) “Can I Trust My Robot and Should My Robot Trust Me?” GE Reports Retrieved on 5/31/16 from http://www.gereports.com/can-i-trust-my-robot-and-should-my-robot-trust-me/

Originally published (4/4/2016) in The Conversation at http://theconversation.com/can-i-trust-my-robot-and-should-my-robot-trust-me-55553

[2] Digital Marketing, book three in the SMstudy Guide to the Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge (SMstudy® Guide).

[3] Marketing Strategy, book one in the SMstudy Guide to the Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge (SMstudy® Guide).