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If one more person tells me they took a marketing class in college…I may spontaneously combust!

With seemingly everyone in the world claiming to be “the expert,” the purchasing market is confused. This confusion extends to business owners and sales teams that refuse to permit an expert’s vision and creativity to craft their brands for increased brand recognition and sales. Marketing is inherently fun, and everyone readily provides input, no matter their company role, typically leading to a confusing messaging strategy that sputters from the outset.

Malcolm Gladwell posits the 10,000-hour rule in his book Outliers, which states that individuals’ efforts applied to real-world situations in their chosen fields greater than 10,000 hours validates them as an “expert.” With thirty years of practical marketing experience (and a communications degree), I have helped grow brands and sales across the world. My forty-hour, eight-hour-per-day workweek translates to 2,080 hours per year. Over thirty years, the result is 62,400 hours. By Gladwell’s standard, that’s “expert times six.”

As a marketing expert, I have experienced tremendous successes and a few failures. The minority failure category is typically due to a company not investing properly in marketing (not enough budget), input from too many people (messaging is unfocused and confusing to the audience), or lack of chemistry between myself and client company stakeholders. To be effective, the experts need to be trusted with the larger marketing vision and execution. When people trust my guidance and expertise, the success odds swing heavily in their favor.

Marketing-forward companies that want tangible sales growth need to provide the expert as much information as possible about their company, ideal customer profile, competition, and differences from the competition. They then need to trust the industrial marketing expert to apply an objective vision to a comprehensive strategy to grow the company. This road map for company growth should then be approved by leadership and adopted by the sales staff.

Too often, I see impatient salespeople butt in and create their own version of sales collateral that distracts from the company’s branding goals. Somehow, a marketing class in college or time spent on Facebook qualifies them (in their minds) to initiate renegade campaigns.

Corporate lawyers and CPAs rarely experience this phenomenon because legal documents and corporate tax returns are rarely second-guessed. However, ad campaigns are routinely destroyed by overzealous owners and salespeople taking a clear message and muddling it. The role of corporate approval should be focused more on ensuring accurate and consistent messaging, not alternative directions.

The best policy is to provide ample information up front to your marketing expert, trust his or her expertise, and commit to a long-term marketing strategy to achieve measurable company growth.

For more information regarding business to business marketing for manufacturers, visit www.IndustrialMarketingExperts.com.

Written by Woody Stoudemire

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is more accessible and affordable now more than ever. Popular services such as Salesforce, HubSpot and Dynamics365 offer immense leverage over big data for manufacturing businesses of all sizes. Most companies are adopting inbound marketing strategies that are yielding a higher volume of qualified leads. Purchasing and implementing a CRM system can greatly enhance the ability to capture and act on this higher volume of leads, automate follow-up and task reminders and ultimately lead to growth in sales and customer satisfaction. Let’s break down how you can get the most utility from a CRM system for your business.

Most popular CRM software vendors offer their products using a cloud-based platform. Outside or field sales personnel run these services as an app on their smartphone, tablet or PC. The software enables users to log customer information in real time such as size, category and industry type, create maps for customer visits and access order history. Imagine making a customer visit or receiving a call inquiring about your product. You can enter the details of your visit or inquiry and process quotations, check stock levels and add valuable follow-up information that seamlessly adds appointments to your integrated calendar.

For inside sales, customer service and sales management, a CRM system provides an efficient way to catalog and track leads and opportunities resulting from the company’s inbound marketing strategy. Users can enter and track the source of leads whether from a website visit (contact form), direct message on social media platforms, direct mail, repeat customer or email campaign. Having the ability to track the source of leads ultimately reveals the efficacy of marketing dollars spent. A CRM system also allows the ability to track and regain lost customers and identify emerging markets and industries.

Integrating CRM with your ERP and even your e-commerce platform can automate customer communications such as follow-up opportunities, customer satisfaction surveys and testimonial solicitation. Real customer feedback that you can use as website and social media content tells a more relatable story for your brand. It shows your customers you genuinely care about their feedback, loyalty and patronage. Using services like Microsoft’s free PowerBI, users can link data from Google Analytics, ERP, CRM and social media paid advertising services to track target audience buying behavior, geographic density of sales activity and product seasonality.

These are only a few examples of the utility of a proven CRM software. The automation and integration across your company’s platforms versus manually tracking these ubiquitous selling processes are where the real value lies. At Gotham, we advise our industrial clients on how to adopt CRM software to leverage data from their marketing campaigns. Are you ready to start taking advantage of the latest CRM products to grow your sales and increase customer satisfaction?

Do you know with certainty what your target audience truly thinks, feels, or believes regarding your brand, products, and/or services? Would the truth about these things change the way your products are promoted, or would you even modify the products you make and sell? Surveying your customers and prospects will yield specific data and critical insights that can be used to build and grow brand awareness, perception, and customer loyalty, thus positively impacting the bottom line.

First, let’s unpack what exactly a brand perception survey is. These surveys include polling your customers and prospects with open-ended questions regarding what they think about your products, how they explain your products to their friends or colleagues, or what emotions they feel when they use your products. Understanding these behaviors and actions can reveal a lot of information that may not be intuitive in product design and testing. Learning about your target audience’s actions and emotions toward your brand can help you respond with better, more tailored products.

Product quality and reputation are certainly important, but a large component of brand perception is how your message resonates with the target audience. A company should always strive to align the company values with the product experience. Surveying customers on how they feel about your brand and products will reveal whether your company is perceived positively, negatively, or neutrally. A neutral perception is almost as bad as a negative impression because a neutral impression generally means you haven’t done a good enough job educating your audience on who you are, what you stand for, or the purpose of your products.

Reliable subscription services like SurveyMonkey and SurveyAnyplace simplify and automate the survey process and quickly help you determine customer loyalty. These services allow subscription holders to benchmark their results against other companies in their respective industry. This will help your company identify and act on best practices to better serve your customers and set goals that align better with customer behavior and habits. Most capable survey management services offer CRM integration to further enable data collection for trend analysis and other stratification goals.

Don’t let your company’s brand perception be a mystery. Be proactive: poll your current and potential customers during all stages of the sales cycle. The knowledge and feedback you receive may change your company’s perception dramatically and ultimately yield more sales. Gotham’s industrial marketing strategists can help you plan, design, and execute surveys in a variety of channels to best understand what your customers think of your company. We’ve been helping B2B companies since 1989 do just this. Are you ready to enhance your brand’s perception and awareness across the board? Get started at  www.industrialmarketingexperts.com.

1- WHAT ARE YOU SELLING?

One of the biggest mistakes in industrial product marketing is not identifying or describing your products or services to the customer. Keep your descriptions simple and understandable for the greatest marketing success.

2- A GENERIC POSITION!

Rather than trying to be all things to all people, find your niche. To get ahead, focus on your strengths, what you do best, and how you are different from the competition.

3- APPEALING TO EVERYONE.

Find your target audience and gear your marketing plan to that audience. Marketing to a defined group allows you to better control how your message is received.

4- RECRUITING NEW CUSTOMERS VS. CUSTOMER RETENTION.

Too often, businesses focus their marketing toward bringing in new customers rather than capturing repeat business.

By building relationships with your current customer base, you generate brand loyalty and longevity and save marketing dollars. It typically costs four times more to recruit a new customer than to retain an existing one.

5- LATE CAMPAIGNS.

Timing is everything when it comes to marketing. Planning your B2B industrial marketing campaigns in advance allows you to generate greater interest and better target your audience for seasonal sales, new products and services.

6- CAUGHT IN A MARKETING RUT.

Continuously using the same marketing format, such as print only, limits your creativity when it comes to promoting your business and product. Get out of the marketing rut and discover new ways to promote your marketing message.

7- WEAK PRODUCT MESSAGE.

No matter how fantastic your service or product may be, the message you send out says it all. Make sure that your headlines have impact and that your copy is loaded with benefits, not just features.

8- STALE SOCIAL MEDIA.

Don’t encourage your customers to follow blogs, Twitter and Facebook accounts if you’re never going to use them.  Commit to regularly refreshing your entries and posts with exciting updates, offers and news for your customers.

9- MONEY POORLY SPENT.

If your budget is limited, evaluate the use of your marketing dollars and see where they can best be spent. Create campaigns where customer responses can be tracked, measured and analyzed through resources such as Google Analytics.

10- NO CALL TO ACTION.

Getting the word out is simple with print and web marketing available today, but enticing the reader to go the next step in contacting your company can be tough. Creating a dynamic call to action with phrases such as “Download Now, Click Here, Receive Free Tips, and While Supplies Last” generates excitement and motivation while increasing your chances of turning a prospect into a customer.

To add new life to your marketing program, contact the industrial marketing experts at Gotham, LLC.

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