Public Relations and Marketing

Businessman pressing virtual iconsMarketing is the wide range of activities involved in making sure that you’re continuing to meet the needs of your customers and getting value in return. Marketing is usually focused on one product or service. Thus, a marketing plan for one product might be very different than that for another product. Marketing activities include “inbound marketing,” such as market research to find out, for example, what groups of potential customers exist, what their needs are, which of those needs you can meet, how you should meet them, etc. Inbound marketing also includes analyzing the competition, positioning your new product or service (finding your market niche), and pricing your products and services. “Outbound marketing” includes promoting a product through continued advertising, promotions, public relations and sales.

A public relations has the goal of attaining and maintaining accord with the social groups on whom the organization depends in order to achieve its mission. Marketing has the goal of attracting and satisfying customers on a sustained basis in order to achieve an organization’s economic objectives. Every organization therefore needs both a marketing and a public relations functions. They are equally important to organizational survival and success.

PRIME FACETS OF MARKETING

Before discussing the role of public relations and marketing it is necessary to understand the prime facets of marketing. Public relations is more than just pitching stories to the media or mailing out press releases. The PR umbrella covers a number of related activities, all of which are concerned with communicating specific messages to specific target audiences. If you’re the PR person at your company, you’re responsible for managing communications between your company and your public.

The label public relations typically encompasses the following facets:

Research

You have to thoroughly understand not only your company but also your customers and potential customers. What do you offer that is unique or special? What are customers looking for? And how well do you fill those needs? Market research and an internal company audit are the starting points of successful PR campaigns.

Merchandising

Merchandising is the methods, practices, and operations used to promote and sustain certain categories of commercial activity. The simplest way to define merchandising is to say that it is the way a product is sold. From the time a product is created, there will be people developing part of that product’s merchandising plan. The type of packaging, colors, and slogans are all part of this process. Later on, it will be which stores will carry it, where the product is placed in the store aisles, and how the retail store will promote the product that become important factors in the process. Products need to be visible if the store expects people to buy them.

A product will be merchandised to a target audience, or the people most likely to purchase the goods and services being offered. Merchandising assures that the right product is available in the right place to the right people, and at the right time. It wouldn’t make sense to have a huge stock of turkeys, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pies in July, but it makes a lot of sense in November, when customers are looking to buy those things.

Merchandising is more complicated than just figuring out where to put products on store shelves. It involves a lot of careful planning. Order too much of an item, and it might spoil or go out of style before it is sold out, wasting money. Order too little of an item, and people will buy it elsewhere once you have sold out, costing you sales. A merchandiser has to be knowledgeable about statistics, good at math, and have a keen eye for details to be successful in the field.

Advertising

The paid, public, non-personal announcement of a persuasive message by an identified sponsor; the non-personal presentation or promotion by a firm of its products to its existing and potential customers. From a sales point of view a good advertisement whether it is on radio, television, or in print, should always seek to:

  • Attract attention of the people
  • Arouse curiosity about the product in people’s mind
  • Convey a message about the features of the product
  • Implant in the target’s mind a wish to own or use the product
  • Persuade the target’s buying responses by convincing him or her that the commodity is good worth for the money he or she is spending on it.

Marketing

The systematic planning, implementation and control of a mix of business activities intended to bring together buyers and sellers for the mutually advantageous exchange or transfer of products.

Advertising is a single component of the marketing process. It’s the part that involves getting the word out concerning your business, product, or the services you are offering. It involves the process of developing strategies such as ad placement, frequency, etc. Advertising includes the placement of an ad in such mediums as newspapers, direct mail, billboards, television, radio, and of course the Internet. Advertising is the largest expense of most marketing plans, with public relations following in a close second and market research not falling far behind.

The best way to distinguish between advertising and marketing is to think of marketing as a pie, inside that pie you have slices of advertising, market research, media planning, public relations, product pricing, distribution, customer support, sales strategy, and community involvement. Advertising only equals one piece of the pie in the strategy. All of these elements must not only work independently but they also must work together towards the bigger goal. Marketing is a process that takes time and can involve hours of research for a marketing plan to be effective. Think of marketing as everything that an organization does to facilitate an exchange between company and consumer.

Sales Promotion

The term Sales Promotion generally refers to all those promotional activities which are undertaken to stimulate interest, trial or purchase of a product by the end user or other intermediaries in between. Besides advertising and personal selling, all other activities undertaken to promote a product can be classified under sales promotion. Sales promotion includes several communications activities that attempt to provide added value or incentives to consumers, wholesalers, retailers, or other organizational customers to stimulate immediate sales. These efforts can attempt to stimulate product interest, trial, or purchase. Examples of devices used in sales promotion include coupons, samples, premiums, point-of-purchase (POP) displays, contests, rebates, and sweepstakes.

Sales Promotion Strategies

There are three types of sales promotion strategies: Push, Pull, or a combination of the two.

Push Strategy: A push strategy involves convincing trade intermediary channel members to “push” the product through the distribution channels to the ultimate consumer via promotions and personal selling efforts. The company promotes the product through a reseller who in turn promotes it to yet another reseller or the final consumer. Trade-promotion objectives are to persuade retailers or wholesalers to carry a brand, give a brand shelf space, promote a brand in advertising, and/or push a brand to final consumers. Typical tactics employed in push strategy are: allowances, buy-back guarantees, free trials, contests, specialty advertising items, discounts, displays, and premiums.

Pull Strategy: A pull strategy attempts to get consumers to “pull” the product from the manufacturer through the marketing channel. The company focuses its marketing communications efforts on consumers in the hope that it stimulates interest and demand for the product at the end-user level. This strategy is often employed if distributors are reluctant to carry a product because it gets as many consumers as possible to go to retail outlets and request the product, thus pulling it through the channel. Consumer-promotion objectives are to entice consumers to try a new product, lure customers away from competitors’ products, get consumers to “load up” on a mature product, hold & reward loyal customers, and build consumer relationships. Typical tactics employed in pull strategy are: samples, coupons, cash refunds and rebates, premiums, advertising specialties, loyalty programs/patronage rewards, contests, sweepstakes, games, and point-of-purchase (POP) displays.

Selling

Selling is last step in the chain of commerce where a buyer exchanges cash for a seller’s good or service. In business, “nothing happens until someone sells something.” Selling is trying to make sales by persuading someone to buy one’s product or service. From a management viewpoint it is thought of as a part of marketing, although the skills required are different. Sales often forms a separate grouping in a corporate structure, employing separate specialist operatives known as salesmen (singular: salesman). Selling is considered by many to be a sort of persuading “art”. Contrary to popular belief, the methodological approach of selling refers to a systematic process of repetitive and measurable milestones, by which a salesman relates his or her offering of a product or service in return enabling the buyer to achieve their goal in an economic way. While the sales process refers to a systematic process of repetitive and measurable milestones, the definition of the selling is somewhat ambiguous due to the close nature of advertising, promotion, public relations, and direct marketing.

PUBLIC RELATIONS IN THE MARKETING MIX

Public Relations involve developing and maintaining congenial relationships with clients and other outside entities. Public Relations is a significant component of the marketing mix of an organization. Recent years have seen the emergence of service paradigm in a big way. In such a scenario, Public Relation assumes significance in bringing a well conceived marketing effort to final result. Advertising is so often “in your face” and those of us that are interested are normally aware of a company’s advertising campaigns, but how often are we familiar with the associated public relations activities?

Marketing basically focuses on products (or services), and their price, promotion and place (distribution.) These collectively are known as the marketing mix or “the four P’s”. Britain’s first professor of public relations suggested that added to the classic four Ps of marketing should be for P for perception and this is where PR would come in.
It is sometimes said that public relations is new, as if it had been invented during the last few years or since the second world war, or just this century. In countries, such as Botswana, which have gained their independence during the last thirty years, public relations may well seem new.

Perhaps the reason why there is a mistaken idea that public relations is something new, is because in recent years we have enjoyed so many new ways of communicating. Before the advent of newer techniques such as television, videos and satellite broadcasting, a vital part was played by press, radio and cinema. It has, as a result, become both easier and more necessary to explain and create understanding about so many more topics as the target audience becomes ever larger. Today more than ever, public relations has to deal with the facts as they are – good, bad or indifferent and in that sense public relations has to be as new as the world in which it operates.

Let us be clear about the meaning of public relations. Basically, public relations is about creating understanding through knowledge, and this often involves effecting change. Public relations is therefore a form of communication. It applies to every sort of organisation, commercial or non commercial, in the public or private sector. Public relations comprise all communications with all the people with whom the organisation has contact.

Public relations should be to the marketing practitioner, an integral part of the marketing mix, and for this to be the case, the confusion as to its role, as oppose to that of advertising, needs to be clarified.

One definition of advertising is as follows “Advertising presents the most persuasive possible selling message to the right prospects for the product or service at the lowest possible price.” Advertising presents this message through the creative skills of copywriting, illustration, layout, typography, scriptwriting and video making based on a theme or “copy platform”. The emphasis is on selling, which differs very much from the public relations role of “informing, educating and creating understanding through knowledge.”

There is however a major relationship between advertising and public relations in that advertising is more likely to succeed when prior public relations activity has created knowledge and understanding of the product or service being promoted. This is sometimes better known as market education and is a practical example of how public relations can help the marketing strategy. It is wise business practice for public relations to work with advertising, rather than relying solely on advertising to break into a new market or to introduce a new and unknown product or service. A number of new products have failed to sell simply, because there is no build up or market education and hence the advertising spend was a waste of money.
Public relations can almost be regarded as a bigger activity than advertising, because it relates to all the communications of the total organisation, whereas advertising, although it may cost more than public relations, is mainly limited to the marketing function. Public relations is certainly not free advertising, if done well, it is time consuming and time costs money. Whereas the cost of an advertisement is always known, the cost of securing editorial space or radio/TV air time is difficult to quantify but its benefit is often of great value.

Advertising may not be used by an organisation but every organisation is involved in public relations. For example a fire brigade does not advertise for fires or even advertise its services, but it does have relations with many publics.

Another difference lies in the finances of the two – advertising agencies usually receive their income from a commission based fee structure, with monies received being spent on media and production costs. Public relations companies however derive income from time and quality of work performed, with monies received being spent on staff salaries.

Public relations embraces everyone and everything, whereas advertising is limited to selling and buying tasks such as promoting goods and services, buying supplies and recruiting staff. Public relations has to do with the total communications of an organisation; it is, therefore, more extensive and comprehensive than advertising. On occasions public relations may use advertising, which is why public relations is neither a form of advertising or a part of advertising, but a misunderstood, crucial tool that cuts right across the marketing mix.

The 4 P’s of Marketing

The major marketing management decisions can be classified in one of the following four categories:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place (distribution)
  • Promotion

These variables are known as the marketing mix or the 4 P’s of marketing. They are the variables that marketing managers can control in order to best satisfy customers in the target market. The marketing mix is portrayed in the following diagram:

The Marketing Mix

Product

Place

Target
Market

Price

Promotion

The firm attempts to generate a positive response in the target market by blending these four marketing mix variables in an optimal manner.

Product

The first element in the marketing mix is the product. A product is any combination of goods and services offered to satisfy the needs and wants of consumers. Thus, a product is anything tangible or intangible that can be offered for purchase or use by consumers. A tangible product is one that consumers can actually touch, such as a computer. An intangible product is a service that cannot be touched, such as computer repair, income tax preparation, or an office call. Other examples of products include places and ideas.

Typically, a product is divided into three basic levels. The first level is often called the core product, what the consumer actually buys in terms of benefits. Next is the second level, or actual product, that is built around the core product. The actual product consists of the brand name, features, packaging, parts, and styling. These components provided the benefits to consumers that they seek at the first level. The final, or third, level of the product is the augmented component. The augmented component includes additional services and benefits that surround the first two levels of the product. Examples of augmented product components are technical assistance in operating the product and service agreements.

Products are classified by how long they can be used—durability—and their tangibility. Products that can be used repeatedly over a long period of time are called durable goods. Examples of durable goods include automobiles, furniture, and houses. By contrast, goods that are normally used or consumed quickly are called nondurable goods. Some examples of nondurable goods are food, soap, and soft drinks. In addition, services are activities and benefits that are also involved in the exchange process but are intangible because they cannot be held or touched. Examples of intangible services included eye exams and automobile repair.

Another way to categorize products is by their users. Products are classified as either consumer or industrial goods. Consumer goods are purchased by final consumers for their personal consumption. Final consumers are sometimes called end users. The shopping patterns of consumers are also used to classify products. Products sold to the final consumer are arranged as follows: convenience, shopping, specialty, and unsought goods. Convenience goods are products and services that consumers buy frequently and with little effort. Most convenience goods are easily obtainable and low-priced, items such as bread, candy, milk, and shampoo. Convenience goods can be further divided into staple, impulse, and emergency goods. Staple goods are products, such as bread and milk, that consumers buy on a consistent basis. Impulse goods like candy and magazines are products that require little planning or search effort because they are normally available in many places. Emergency goods are bought when consumers have a pressing need. An example of an emergency good would be a shovel during the first snowstorm of the winter.

Shopping goods are those products that consumers compare during the selection and purchase process. Typically, factors such as price, quality, style, and suitability are used as bases of comparison. With shopping goods, consumers usually take considerable time and effort in gathering information and making comparisons among products. Major appliances such as refrigerators and televisions are typical shopping goods. Shopping goods are further divided into uniform and nonuniform categories. Uniform shopping goods are those goods that are similar in quality but differ in price. Consumers will try to justify price differences by focusing on product features. Nonuniform goods are those goods that differ in both quality and price.

Specialty goods are products with distinctive characteristics or brand identification for which consumers expend exceptional buying effort. Specialty goods include specific brands and types of products. Typically, buyers do not compare specialty goods with other similar products because the products are unique. Unsought goods are those products or services that consumers are not readily aware of or do not normally consider buying. Life insurance policies and burial plots are examples of unsought goods. Often, unsought goods require considerable promotional efforts on the part of the seller in order to attract the interest of consumers.

Industrial goods are those products used in the production of other goods. Examples of industrial goods include accessory equipment, component parts, installations, operating supplies, raw materials, and services. Accessory equipment refers to movable items and small office equipment items that never become part of a final product. Office furniture and fax machines are examples of accessory equipment. Component parts are products that are turned into a component of the final product that does not require further processing. Component parts are frequently custom-made for the final product of which they will become a part. For example, a computer chip could be produced by one manufacturer for use in computers of other manufacturers. Installations are capital goods that are usually very expensive but have a long useful life. Trucks, power generators, and mainframe computers are examples of installations. Operating supplies are similar to accessory equipment in that they do not become part of the finished product. Operating supplies include items necessary to maintain and operate the overall firm, such as cleaners, file folders, paper, and pens. Raw materials are goods sold in their original form before being processed for use in other products. Crops, crude oil, iron ore, and logs are examples of raw materials in need of further processing before being used in products. The last category of industrial goods is services. Organizations sometimes require the use of services, just as individuals do. Examples of services sought by organizations include maintenance and repair and legal counsel.

Price

The second element in marketing mix is price. Price is simply the amount of money that consumers are willing to pay for a product or service. In earlier times, the price was determined through a barter process between sellers and purchasers. In modern times, pricing methods and strategies have taken a number of forms.

Pricing new products and pricing existing products require the use of different strategies. For example, when pricing a new product, businesses can use either market-penetration pricing or a price-skimming strategy. A market-penetration pricing strategy involves establishing a low product price to attract a large number of customers. By contrast, a price-skimming strategy is used when a high price is established in order to recover the cost of a new product development as quickly as possible. Manufacturers of computers, videocassette recorders, and other technical items with high development costs frequently use a price-skimming strategy.

Pricing objectives are established as a subset of an organization’s overall objectives. As a component of the overall business objectives, pricing objectives usually take one of four forms: profitability, volume, meeting the competition, and prestige. Profitability pricing objectives mean that the firm focuses mainly on maximizing its profit. Under profitability objectives, a company increases its prices so that additional revenue equals the increase in product production costs. Using volume pricing objectives, a company aims to maximize sales volume within a given specific profit margin. The focus of volume pricing objectives is on increasing sales rather than on an immediate increase in profits. Meeting the price level of competitors is another pricing strategy. With a meeting-the-competition pricing strategy, the focus is less on price and more on nonprice competition items such as location and service. With prestige pricing, products are priced high and consumers purchase them as status symbols.

In addition to the four basic pricing strategies, there are five price-adjustment strategies: discount pricing and allowances, discriminatory pricing, geographical pricing, promotional pricing, and psychological pricing. Discount pricing and allowances include cash discounts, functional discounts, seasonal discounts, trade-in allowances, and promotional allowances. Discriminatory pricing occurs when companies sell products or services at two or more prices. These price differences may be based on variables such as age of the customer, location of sale, organization membership, time of day, or season. Geographical pricing is based on the location of the customers. Products may be priced differently in distinct regions of a target area because of demand differences. Promotional pricing happens when a company temporarily prices products below the list price or below cost. Products priced below cost are sometimes called loss leaders. The goal of promotional pricing is to increase short-term sales. Psychological pricing considers prices by looking at the psychological aspects of price. For example, consumers frequently perceive a relationship between product price and product quality.

Place

The third element of the marketing mix is place. Place refers to having the right product, in the right location, at the right time to be purchased by consumers. This proper placement of products is done through middle people called the channel of distribution. The channel of distribution is comprised of interdependent manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers. These groups are involved with making a product or service available for use or consumption. Each participant in the channel of distribution is concerned with three basic utilities: time, place, and possession. Time utility refers to having a product available at the time that will satisfy the needs of consumers. Place utility occurs when a firm provides satisfaction by locating products where they can be easily acquired by consumers. The last utility is possession utility, which means that wholesalers and retailers in the channel of distribution provide services to consumers with as few obstacles as possible.

Channels of distribution operate by one of two methods: conventional distribution or a vertical marketing system. In the conventional distribution channel, there can be one or more independent product manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers in a channel. The vertical marketing system requires that producers, wholesalers, and retailers to work together to avoid channel conflicts.

How manufacturers store, handle, and move products to customers at the right time and at the right place is referred to as physical distribution. In considering physical distribution, manufacturers need to review issues such as distribution objectives, product transportation, and product warehousing. Choosing the mode of transportation requires an understanding of each possible method: rail, truck, water, pipeline, and air. Rail transportation is typically used to ship farm products, minerals, sand, chemicals, and auto mobiles. Truck transportation is most suitable for transporting clothing, food, books, computers, and paper goods. Water transportation is good for oil, grain, sand, gravel, metallic ores, coal, and other heavy items. Pipeline transportation is best when shipping products such as oil or chemicals. Air transport works best when moving technical instruments, perishable products, and important documents.

Another issue of concern to manufacturers is the level of product distribution. Normally manufacturers select from one of three levels of distribution: intensive, selective, or exclusive. Intensive distribution occurs when manufacturers distribute products through all wholesalers or retailers that want to offer their products. Selective distribution occurs when manufacturers distribute products through a limited, select number of wholesalers and retailers. Under exclusive distribution, only a single wholesaler or retailer is allowed to sell the product in a specific geographic area.

Promotion

Promotion is the fourth element in the marketing mix. Promotion is a communication process that takes place between a business and its various publics. Publics are those individuals and organizations that have an interest in what the business produces and offers for sale. Thus, in order to be effective, businesses need to plan promotional activities with the communication process in mind. The elements of the communication process are: sender, encoding, message, media, decoding, receiver, feedback, and noise. The sender refers to the business that is sending a promotional message to a potential customer. Encoding involves putting a message or promotional activity into some form. Symbols are formed to represent the message. The sender transmits these symbols through some form of media. Media are methods the sender uses to transmit the message to the receiver. Decoding is the process by which the receiver translates the meaning of the symbols sent by the sender into a form that can be understood. The receiver is the intended recipient of the message. Feedback occurs when the receiver communicates back to the sender. Noise is anything that interferes with the communication process.

There are four basic promotion tools: advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and personal selling. Each promotion tool has its own unique characteristics and function. For instance, advertising is described as paid, non-personal communication by an organization using various media to reach its various publics. The purpose of advertising is to inform or persuade a targeted audience to purchase a product or service, visit a location, or adopt an idea. Advertising is also classified as to its intended purpose. The purpose of product advertising is to secure the purchase of the product by consumers. The purpose of institutional advertising is to promote the image or philosophy of a company. Advertising can be further divided into six subcategories: pioneering, competitive, comparative, advocacy, reminder, and cooperative advertising. Pioneering advertising aims to develop primary demand for the product or product category. Competitive advertising seeks to develop demand for a specific product or service. Comparative advertising seeks to contrast one product or service with another. Advocacy advertising is an organizational approach designed to support socially responsible activities, causes, or messages such as helping feed the homeless. Reminder advertising seeks to keep a product or company name in the mind of consumers by its repetitive nature. Cooperative advertising occurs when wholesalers and retailers work with product manufacturers to produce a single advertising campaign and share the costs. Advantages of advertising include the ability to reach a large group or audience at a relatively low cost per individual contacted. Further, advertising allows organizations to control the message, which means the message can be adapted to either a mass or a specific target audience. Disadvantages of advertising include difficulty in measuring results and the inability to close sales because there is no personal contact between the organization and consumers.

The second promotional tool is sales promotion. Sales promotions are short-term incentives used to encourage consumers to purchase a product or service. There are three basic categories of sales promotion: consumer, trade, and business. Consumer promotion tools include such items as free samples, coupons, rebates, price packs, premiums, patronage rewards, point-of-purchase coupons, contests, sweepstakes, and games. Trade-promotion tools include discounts and allowances directed at wholesalers and retailers. Business-promotion tools include conventions and trade shows. Sales promotion has several advantages over other promotional tools in that it can produce a more immediate consumer response, attract more attention and create product awareness, measure the results, and increase short-term sales.

Public relations is the third promotional tool. An organization builds positive public relations with various groups by obtaining favorable publicity, establishing a good corporate image, and handling or heading off unfavorable rumors, stories, and events. Organizations have at their disposal a variety of tools, such as press releases, product publicity, official communications, lobbying, and counseling to develop image. Public relations tools are effective in developing a positive attitude toward the organization and can enhance the credibility of a product. Public relations activities have the drawback that they may not provide an accurate measure of their influence on sales as they are not directly involved with specific marketing goals.

The last promotional tool is personal selling. Personal selling involves an interpersonal influence and information-exchange process. There are seven general steps in the personal selling process: prospecting and qualifying, pre-approach, approach, presentation and demonstration, handling objections, closing, and follow-up. Personal selling does provide a measurement of effectiveness because a more immediate response is received by the salesperson from the customer. Another advantage of personal selling is that salespeople can shape the information presented to fit the needs of the customer. Disadvantages are the high cost per contact and dependence on the ability of the salesperson.

For a promotion to be effective, organizations should blend all four promotion tools together in order to achieve the promotional mix. The promotional mix can be influenced by a number of factors, including the product itself, the product life-cycle stage, and budget. Within the promotional mix there are two promotional strategies: pull and push. Pull strategy occurs when the manufacturer tries to establish final consumer demand and thus pull the product through the wholesalers and retailers. Advertising and sales promotion are most frequently used in a pulling strategy. Pushing strategy, in contrast, occurs when a seller tries to develop demand through incentives to wholesalers and retailers, who in turn place the product in front of consumers. Promotion decisions involve advertising, public relations, media types, etc.

The following table summarizes the marketing mix decisions, including a list of some of the aspects of each of the 4Ps.

  • Marketing Mix Decisions
  • Product
  • Price
  • Place
  • Promotion
  • Functionality
  • List price
  • Channel members
  • Advertising
  • Appearance
  • Discounts
  • Channel motivation
  • Personal Selling
  • Quality
  • Allowances
  • Market coverage
  • Public Relations
  • Packaging
  • Financing
  • Locations
  • Message
  • Brand
  • Leasing options
  • Logistics
  • Media
  • Warranty
  • Service levels
  • Budget
  • Service/Support

Need of Marketing Manager

Now a days its can be seen that more and more South African technology companies are recognizing the need to employ marketing managers at a senior level within their organizations. Although this trend is increasing, it is interesting to note that, in South Africa, we lag behind the US and European countries in which over 90% of ICT (Information Communication and Technology) companies have some form of marketing representation at board level. This stems from a lack of understanding about what the role of a marketing manager should be, how to select the appropriate candidate and how to measure and reward this person.

Many companies consider the marketing manager to solely be a link between its advertising and public relations agencies and in most cases the marketing department exists in isolation from the rest of the company. In reality, marketing is key to the success of the business and it should form an integrating role with the company’s organisational structure.

The most valuable asset a company can manage is its customer base. Growing the value of this asset – the customer equity value – has a direct correlation to the creation of shareholder wealth. Consider who in your organisation has the responsibility for this critical function. It is not unusual to find this responsibility falling under the sales manager or split across various members of the board, but arguably this function requires a skilled, dedicated and focused resource. That resource should be the marketing manager, and due to the importance of this position this person should be part of, or report directly to, the board of directors.

What are the roles and responsibilities of the marketing manager? Firstly this person has to analyze information. This data can be created internally (sales and financial reports, product information etc.) or externally (primary or secondary market research data, competitive information etc.). Given this responsibility, it would be expected that the incumbent would have knowledge of statistical analysis and be able to interpret the results in a business context. Next, the marketing manager should be able to produce a marketing plan. This plan is central to and representative of the strategic future direction of the company. The plan then needs to be implemented which requires the coordination, project management and control of various programs. The marketing manager also needs to be involved in setting price levels, promoting the products and services and identifying and managing the distribution channels. In addition, this person needs to be able to form creative ideas that support the marketing processes. All of these activities need to be completed to achieve the organisational objectives. Thus the role of the marketing manager is a little more important than that of just liaising with advertising and public relations agencies.

The internal integration of the marketing department with those of other company functions is key to the success of the implementation of the company’s strategic plan. One of the most important relationships is with the sales department. The sales team is a great resource for market intelligence, since they interface with the customer on a daily basis. They tend to know better than anyone in the organisation about customer satisfaction, the customer’s needs, wants and expectations and what the competitive environment looks like. Yet, in most businesses, not only do the marketing and sales departments communicate very little, but also it is unfortunately commonplace that the sales staff does not know the direction set by marketing. In theory, the sales function is a sub-component of marketing and therefore it is suggested that the sales manager should report to the marketing manager. This would ensure consistency of all customer related activities. It is also critical that the marketing manager interfaces with his counterparts in finance, operations and manufacturing.

We can see that the specification for the marketing manager suggested, is perhaps a little different than exists in most companies in South Africa today. This individual needs to be creative, analytical, communicative, numerical and have leadership qualities. He or she will have had at least 4 or 5 years experience in a senior position and will probably hold a post-graduate qualification with an element of marketing theory training.

Specific objectives must be set for the marketing manager. These should be related to sales volume, market share and profitability. Other goals should be those of customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and product penetration. All of these should be consistent with the company’s strategic objectives, yet specific enough to enable the board to monitor performance over time. Given the nature of the marketing manager’s responsibilities, it would be most appropriate to offer remuneration in the form of an incentive driven package. Care has to be taken not just to reward these individuals based solely on short-term performance. These policies may tend to discourage innovation, acceptance of risk and aggressive pursuit of growth for future returns. In the United States marketing executives tend to receive some kind of long term performance incentive tied to share price performance, share options or direct share allocation.

The environment in which we work is one of increasing competitiveness. Retaining the appropriate skills at a senior level in an organisation is imperative in ensuring the company’s continued success. A skilled and motivated marketing manager is a key component in this team and it is this person that should be responsible to drive growth and secure the long-term health of the organisation.

INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATION

Integrated Marketing Communications is a simple concept. It ensures that all forms of communications and messages are carefully linked together. At its most basic level, Integrated Marketing Communications as we’ll call it, means integrating all the promotional tools, so that they work together in harmony. Promotion is one of the Ps in the marketing mix. Promotions has its own mix of communications tools.

All of these communications tools work better if they work together in harmony rather than in isolation. Their sum is greater than their parts – providing they speak consistently with one voice all the time, every time. This is enhanced when integration goes beyond just the basic communications tools. There are other levels of integration such as Horizontal, Vertical, Internal, External and Data integration. Here is how they help to strengthen Integrated Communications.

Horizontal Integration occurs across the marketing mix and across business functions – for example, production, finance, distribution and communications should work together and be conscious that their decisions and actions send messages to customers. While different departments such as sales, direct mail and advertising can help each other through Data Integration. This requires a marketing information system which collects and shares relevant data across different departments.

Vertical Integration means marketing and communications objectives must support the higher level corporate objectives and corporate missions. Check out the Hall Of Fame later for more about missions. Meanwhile Internal Integration requires internal marketing – keeping all staff informed and motivated about any new developments from new advertisements, to new corporate identities, new service standards, new strategic partners and so on.

External Integration, on the other hand, requires external partners such as advertising and PR agencies to work closely together to deliver a single seamless solution – a cohesive message – an integrated message.

The many benefits of Integrated Marketing Communication are examined below:

Benefits of IMC

Although Integrated Marketing Communications requires a lot of effort it delivers many benefits. It can create competitive advantage, boost sales and profits, while saving money, time and stress.

It wraps communications around customers and helps them move through the various stages of the buying process. The organisation simultaneously consolidates its image, develops a dialogue and nurtures its relationship with customers. This ‘Relationship Marketing’ cements a bond of loyalty with customers which can protect them from the inevitable onslaught of competition. The ability to keep a customer for life is a powerful competitive advantage.

It also increases profits through increased effectiveness. At its most basic level, a unified message has more impact than a disjointed myriad of messages. In a busy world, a consistent, consolidated and crystal clear message has a better chance of cutting through the ‘noise’ of over five hundred commercial messages which bombard customers each and every day.

At another level, initial research suggests that images shared in advertising and direct mail boost both advertising awareness and mail shot responses. So Integrated Marketing Communication can boost sales by stretching messages across several communications tools to create more avenues for customers to become aware, aroused, and ultimately, to make a purchase

Carefully linked messages also help buyers by giving timely reminders, updated information and special offers which, when presented in a planned sequence, help them move comfortably through the stages of their buying process, and this reduces their ‘misery of choice’ in a complex and busy world.

Integrated Marketing Communication also makes messages more consistent and therefore more credible. This reduces risk in the mind of the buyer which, in turn, shortens the search process and helps to dictate the outcome of brand comparisons. Un-integrated communications send disjointed messages which dilute the impact of the message. This may also confuse, frustrate and arouse anxiety in customers. On the other hand, integrated communications present a reassuring sense of order.

Consistent images and relevant, useful, messages help nurture long term relationships with customers. Here, customer databases can identify precisely which customers need what information when and throughout their whole buying life. Finally, integrated marketing communication saves money as it eliminates duplication in areas such as graphics and photography since they can be shared and used in say, advertising, exhibitions and sales literature. Agency fees are reduced by using a single agency for all communications and even if there are several agencies, time is saved when meetings bring all the agencies together – for briefings, creative sessions, tactical or strategic planning. This reduces workload and subsequent stress levels – one of the many benefits of integrated marketing communication.

Barriers to integrated Marketing Communication

Despite its many benefits, Integrated Marketing Communications, or IMC, has many barriers.

In addition to the usual resistance to change and the special problems of communicating with a wide variety of target audiences, there are many other obstacles which restrict integrated marketing communication. These comprise: Functional Silos; Stifled Creativity; Time Scale Conflicts and a lack of Management know-how.

Take functional silos. Rigid organisational structures are infested with managers who protect both their budgets and their power base.

Sadly, some organisational structures isolate communications, data, and even managers from each other. For example the Public Relations department often doesn’t report to marketing. The sales force rarely meet the advertising or sales promotion people and so on. Imagine what can happen when sales reps are not told about a new promotional offer!

And all of this can be aggravated by turf wars or internal power battles where specific managers resist having some of their decisions (and budgets) determined or even influenced by someone from another department.

Here are two difficult questions – What should a truly integrated marketing department look like? And how will it affect creativity?

It shouldn’t matter whose creative idea it is, but often, it does. An advertising agency may not be so enthusiastic about developing a creative idea generated by, say, a PR or a direct marketing consultant.

Integrated marketing communication can restrict creativity. No more wild and wacky sales promotions unless they fit into the overall marketing communications strategy. The joy of rampant creativity may be stifled, but the creative challenge may be greater and ultimately more satisfying when operating within a tighter, integrated, creative brief.

Add different time scales into a creative brief and you’ll see Time Horizons provide one more barrier to integrated marketing communication. For example, image advertising, designed to nurture the brand over the longer term, may conflict with shorter term advertising or sales promotions designed to boost quarterly sales. However the two objectives can be accommodated within an overall integrated marketing communication if carefully planned.

But this kind of planning is not common. A survey in 1995, revealed that most managers lack expertise in integrated marketing communication. But its not just managers, but also the agencies. There is a proliferation of single discipline agencies. There appear to be very few people who have real experience of all the marketing communications disciplines. This lack of know how is then compounded by a lack of commitment.

For now, understanding the barriers is the first step in successfully implementing integrated marketing communication.

Communications Theory

How do we communicate? How do customers process information? There are many models and theories. Let’s take a brief look at some of them. Simple communications models show a sender sending a message to a receiver who receives and understands it. Real life is less simple – many messages are misunderstood, fail to arrive or, are simply ignored. Thorough understanding of the audience’s needs, emotions, interests and activities is essential to ensure the accuracy and relevance of any message.

Instead of loud ‘buy now’ advertisements, many messages are often designed or ‘encoded’ so that the hard sell becomes a more subtle soft sell. The sender creates or encodes the message in a form that can be easily understood or decoded by the receiver.

Clever encoding also helps a message to cut through the clutter of other advertisements and distractions, what is called ‘noise’. If successful, the audience will spot the message and then decode or interpret it correctly. The marketer then looks for ‘feedback’ such as coupons returned from mailshots, to see if the audience has decoded the message correctly.

The single step model – with a receiver getting a message directly from a sender – is not a complete explanation. Many messages are received indirectly through a friend or through an opinion leader. Communications are in fact multifaceted, multi-step and multi-directional. Opinion leaders talk to each other. Customers talk to opinion leaders and they talk to each other. Add in ‘encode, decode, noise and feedback’ and the process appears more complex still.

Understanding multiphase communications helps marketers communicate directly through mass media and indirectly through targeting opinion leaders, opinion formers, style leaders, innovators, and other influential people. How messages are selected and processed within the minds of the target market is a vast and complex question. Although it is over seventy years old, rather simplistic and too hierarchical, a message model, like AIDA, attempts to map the mental processes through which a buyer passes en route to making a purchase.

There are many other models that attempt to identify each stage. In reality the process is not always a linear sequence. Buyers often loop backwards at various stages perhaps for more information. There are other much more complex models that attempt to map the inner workings of the mind.

In reality, marketers have to select communications tools that are most suitable for the stage which the target audience has reached. For example, advertising may be very good at raising awareness or developing interest, while free samples and sales promotions may be the way to generate trial. This is just a glimpse into some of the theory. Serious marketers read a lot more.

Golden Rules

Despite the many benefits of Integrated Marketing Communications, there are also many barriers. Here’s how you can ensure you become integrated and stay integrated. Following are the few golden Rules of Integration.

  • Get Senior Management Support for the initiative by ensuring they understand the benefits of integrated marketing communication.
  • Integrate at Different Levels of management. Put ‘integration’ on the agenda for various types of management meetings – whether annual reviews or creative sessions. Horizontally – ensure that all managers, not just marketing managers understand the importance of a consistent message – whether on delivery trucks or product quality. Also ensure that Advertising, Public Relations, Sales Promotions staff are integrating their messages. To do this you must have carefully planned internal communications, that is, good internal marketing.
  • Ensure the Design Manual or even a Brand Book is used to maintain common visual standards for the use of logos, type faces, colors and so on.
  • Focus on a clear marketing communications strategy. Have crystal clear communications objectives; clear positioning statements. Link core values into every communication. Ensure all communications add value to (instead of dilute) the brand or organisation. Exploit areas of sustainable competitive advantage.
  • Start with a Zero Budget. Start from scratch. Build a new communications plan. Specify what you need to do in order to achieve your objectives. In reality, the budget you get is often less than you ideally need, so you may have to prioritize communications activities accordingly.
  • Think Customers First. Wrap communications around the customer’s buying process. Identify the stages they go through before, during and after a purchase. Select communication tools which are right for each stage. Develop a sequence of communications activities which help the customer to move easily through each stage.
  • Build Relationships and Brand Values. All communications should help to develop stronger and stronger relationships with customers. Ask how each communication tool helps to do this. Remember: customer retention is as important as customer acquisition.
  • Develop a Good Marketing Information System which defines who needs what information when. A customer database for example, can help the telesales, direct marketing and sales force. IMC can help to define, collect and share vital information.
  • Share Artwork and Other Media. Consider how, say, advertising imagery can be used in mail shots, exhibition stands, Christmas cards, news releases and web sites.
  • Be prepared to change it all. Learn from experience. Constantly search for the optimum communications mix. Test. Test. Test. Improve each year.

IMPACT OF THE INTERNET

In recent years, the Internet has evolved into a communication network that many individuals have come to rely on. Although most users of the Internet use it for e-mail, there are some professions that are strictly dedicated to the Internet. Web designers and Webmasters are just two examples. However, professional use of the Internet is not just limited to those whose livelihood depends on the Net, but many different types of professionals. The Internet is used as a promotional, advertising, educational, profitable, informational and entertainment tool just to name a few. As technology advances, so does the capability of the Net and its users are taking advantage of it.

Public Relations practitioners have turned to the use of the Internet in great proportions over the past several years since the Internet boom. The Net has become one of the most powerful public relations tools available. Many companies use the Internet to publish their press releases, introduce new promotions and provide promotional support. Online public relations can be used as a supplementary or main mode of communication to reach target audiences. It has been said by many professionals that a company will not survive without a link to the online world and without good public relations the link to the online world will not survive. The Internet allows a company to directly communicate with audiences from all over the world at the click of a mouse. It is cheap and it is fast. Companies love it. Consumers love it. Public Relations practitioners love it. With the growth of the Internet, companies have had to do a great deal more crisis management than before. The online community gives people an opportunity to communicate with each other about problems in a very lengthy, in-depth manner as opposed to through media circuits such as the newspaper, radio and television where the lines of communication were limited.

Professional Development

Recent years have seen the advent of numerous websites, internet mailing lists, and “e-zines” or electronic newsletters devoted to improving the practice of public relations. Practitioners can find a wide variety of resources for their own education, knowledge development, and professional networking. Perhaps one of the most popular forms of PR professional development and networking is the “listserve” or e-mail mailing list. There are so many mailing lists, forums, and message boards devoted to marketing, communications, and PR that each of us no doubt has a favorite.

How to Make Money Online in 6 Easy Steps

1According to Juniper Research Foundation, a mobile, online and digital market research non-profit organization; about $1.2 billion USD was paid to affiliate marketers back in 2008. Based on these figures I rough out an estimate of the possibility that there could be 40 million affiliate marketers out there. The number came back and it says $30,000 for each of the 40 million marketers! And then I found out something even more bizarre, the survey was conducted only on the United States and United Kingdom which should only count for less than 12 million active affiliates approximately.

$1.2 billion for a handful of people is really really big, which is all the more reason why you should start your own affiliate marketing blog now and get a piece of that pie! That amount grows to 40% every year also which means the total payout last year might have been as high as $6 – $8 billion USD.

So, let’s get you setup and ready to take a chunk off of this money with these 6 easy steps:

1. Create a Website or an Affiliate Marketing Blog
Every great thing starts with humble beginnings and the first thing you will need in order to become an affiliate is to have an affiliate marketing blog or website. You can use the easy, click & drag website creator platforms such as WordPress, Blogger, Weebly, Squarespace and many others. Afterwards you need to fill it with content and then, buy a 1 or 2 years hosting service and publish your site or blog.

2. Choose a Product/Service Niche to Promote
Advertisers want to market their products/service to as many people as they can, and they want to do it cheaply yet effectively. This is where you come in because you’ll be their affiliate who will write excellent reviews about what the advertisers are selling. In your blog posts you will include affiliate links or they may appear as banner ads on your website also. Once the customer is convinced that you have written honest reviews about the advertiser’s products or services, then they will click on those links and get redirected to their website form your affiliate marketing blog. If they’ll buy the product, then you’ll get a percentage share. Easy pheasy, isn’t it?

3. Find and Sign Up in Affiliate Networks
There are a wide range of affiliate networks that you can partner with after you’ve established your affiliate marketing blog. You can choose one or more but if you’ll choose more than one, then you need to make more than one blog or website also. That’s because each blog has to be tailored for the product or service that you will be promoting. You do this to avoid confusion and get more people to subscribe and purchase, so you can have commissions on sales. Here are some of the renown affiliate networks:

  • Clickbank
  • E-junkie
  • PayDotCom
  • Commission Junction
  • Google AdSense

4. Affiliate Site Content
Being an affiliate marketer gives you freedom from choosing the kind of products you want to promote, choosing the time when you want to work and, of course, choosing the kind of website you’d like to establish. There are 2 kinds of affiliate marketing blog. One is called a “resource site” and the other is called a “review site.”

  1. A resource site is an information hub for the product or service that you are promoting. Let’s say you’re promoting LG’s products, your site then has to have detailed information about all of LG’s latest products for sale or under development. When people read your blog posts they must be able to find out what, where, when, how and why about LG’s smartphones or smartwatches afterwards.
  2. A review site, on the other hand, is also informative although sometimes critical, but only up to a minor point due to highlighting the pros and cons of each product or service reviewed. You must give an honest review or you’ll lose credibility! But limit the criticism to a minimum or turning them into opportunities that customer can still appreciate, instead of creating a dead end. Readers who go to review sites generally want to find out which one is the best product/service that they particularly need. Make sure that part of their longing is satisfied in your reviews.

5. Attracting Web Traffic to your Affiliate Site
Mixing internet marketing strategy or what some experts call it, “internet marketing blueprint” will have a dramatic effect in generating traffic and leads to your site as well as the advertiser’s site. Generally, you’ll want to broadcast news about your new affiliate marketing blog, so that people will know about it; and when they do know about it, then they’re going to want to check it out. That’s where web traffic starts to build. Here are some ways you can get traffic to your site/blog:

  • Paid Advertising – while you may think that this method is costly and not worth investing, you might miss the advantages that it brings. First of all, you can choose a paid advertising package based on the budget you have. Second, it will boost web traffic to your site minus the effort needed to put in it, because the advertising company will do it for you.
  • Free Advertising Sites – but don’t stop there because it’s better if you have other means to drive traffic to your affiliate marketing blog and you can embed a link while posting ads in those free advertising websites.
  • Article Marketing – this one is a must. There’s only one undisputed King of the Web and it’s not what you think it is, because it’s web content. That’s right! The very blog posts you’re creating is your best chance at connecting to people. So, make more of it and not just the ones for your site or blog, but also for article directories, social media sites and others. The idea is to embed your website’s link somewhere in these articles for people to click and get redirected to your homepage.
  • E-mail Marketing – having done the above 3 methods of getting web traffic, you can now proceed with this cool method of getting more people to subscribe – email marketing. What you do is send out a custom newsletters and/or infographics weekly to people who have already subscribed to your affiliate marketing blog. This will ensure customer retention but you can also buy an email list of people who are looking for products/services that you promote and then, send out newsletters to them also.

6. Join Affiliate Marketing Forum Discussions
One last thing, you must also recognize that you’re a beginner at this whole affiliate marketing thing, and while this article has shed light on the basics and, in some cases, some of the advanced features of it; it does not cover the smaller details. Therefore you need to keep yourself updated with helpful information from seasoned experts and you can find a whole lot of them in those forums or discussion boards.

How To Promote Your Website With Link Building

2Link building is all about having proper links with other search engines and websites. With the use of proper inbound links you would be able to draw large number of potential viewers and quality back links to your site. Any good e-commerce business works on links. Your online would fare better on the search engine charts if it’s well linked. For better traffic and attract viewers you would require quality website and back links and that’s why link building is a very important part of SEO services. There are various ways to create inbound links, an innovative way is to create a word that is not commonly used and it would quickly grasp anyone’s attention. Here are some benefits that proper link building can provide you with.

Increases Popularity Of Your Website: Most SEO or Search Engine Optimisation experts believe that proper link building leads to better rankings of your website on the search engine results page.

Very Affordable: Link building services are comparatively more affordable than other forms of marketing services.

Techniques Used: For quality link building most SEO India uses forum posting, directory submission, blog comments, paid and free link exchanges and social bookmarking.

Very Effective: Building links for your website is a very effective way to boost your business. The main advantage of link building is that it attracts a lot of potential customers who are looking for services and products that you have to offer. It also directly affects the SEO and ensures that your website gets good rankings and visibility.

Better SEO Performance: A mobile website provides you with better rankings on mobile friendly search engines like Yahoo and Google.

Easy Accessibility And Connectivity: This is by far the most biggest advantage of mobile optimised websites. You can easily access a mobile website from anywhere at any time. This enhanced connectivity provides you with an unmatched opportunity to better connect with your target audiences in new ways.

Better Credibility: When other reputed websites promote and post your links it gives a certain amount of credibility to your site. When reputed sites are backing you there is a high chance that your target audience would increase.

Search your most reliable and trustable company with various link building packages and is also one of the most popular SEO Company that offers best in class SEO link building services. It provides you with expert team of natural link builder and has created over 100000 relevant links.

Inside Information Regarding Free Instagram Followers No Survey

29Grab the possibility and then use free instagram followers no survey hack rather than expecting the target audience to uncover you. A number of people already know concerning the particular expert services that enable to purchase Instagram fans but they overlook excellent possibilities by means of not using these web sites. Keep reading if you are new to this concept or have never tried this sort of service in past times. You definitely will quickly know the reasons to use the hack tool in order to achieve increased visibility on social networking sites like Instagram.

If perhaps you had sought out numerous ideas that describe precisely how to become popular on Instagram, you almost certainly heard the identical tips and hints almost everywhere. The guidelines generally advise one to like photos which other individuals submit, discuss all of them and generally end up being extremely active on Instagram. It’s not an extremely poor recommendation however there is one big issue. You will need to commit a lot of time to start out getting awareness. On the other hand with the applicability of free instagram followers no survey hack you are nearly assured with quick popularity and that too without spending any money.

An approach which is just about as known as leaving comments concerning photographs is always to focus on the quality of your images. Based to these people who seem to clarify exactly how to grow to be well-liked, you do not have a lot of fans because you don’t have material on your own user profile. It is actually explained that you will acquire a large number of supporters as soon as you’ll get plenty of premium quality content. You need to get incredibly fortunate in order to think of form of content material that isn’t provided anywhere else.

Free instagram followers no survey hack is exclusively effective to get some followers – not huge amounts of them. If you are searching to acquire a huge direct exposure, you actually should really contemplate to use sites where you can get Instagram fans. Without any doubt there are many such hack tools which are serving needy individuals with free Instagram followers. It might be a tricky situation to select one hack tool out of many available. In order to avoid any sort of problem there is a need to go through enough reviews and follow quality online sources.

With enough information available the chances of making wrong selection will decrease a lot. The hack tool mentioned here is definitely a blessing in disguise for the individuals who want to get popular on social networking site but dont have enough money to buy free instagram followers.

7 Offline Marketing Tactics That Still Work

Although the Internet has forever changed the way businesses advertise, you can still market your business with “old school” offline marketing methods and get results. Here are seven offline marketing tactics you should give another chance.

Offline marketing ideasYou might show your age if you bring this up at parties but there was a time when businesses were able to grow WITHOUT the Internet.

Who knew, right? A long time ago, in a land far, far away social media didn’t exist. There was no such thing as a Google ad or even the Internet.

There’s no doubt that the Internet changed how businesses reach people. In the early days of what was commonly known as the World Wide Web, reaching millions and later billions of people was not only easy, it was cheap.

Then came Facebook, a company that became the third largest company in the world. Businesses scrambled to make their presence known because Facebook was the next big portal to a large amount of people at very little cost.

But everybody knows what happens when they place their eggs in one basket. The basket notices that everybody relies on it and begins charging. The basket gets so full that it’s hard for a business to stand out from every other business.

Facebook now charges and that has prompted many business owners to cry foul. “Why are they charging me for what took so long to build all by myself?” asks many a business owner.

The problem isn’t so much with Facebook, Twitter and all of the free advertising vehicles that are no longer free. The problem is that business owners abandoned what has worked for centuries and placed all of their advertising eggs in one basket.

But take heart—we’re here to help. Let’s take a look at the past and rekindle advertising strategies that don’t involve the Internet.

1. Direct Mail- You thought email marketing killed direct mail but you’re wrong. Take a look in your mailbox on any given day and you still see a ton of advertising. You might not respond to such strategies but many customers do.

The secret, according to the pros, is to purchase qualified leads. In other words, if you sell products geared towards seniors, sending your mailer to the 20-something demographic isn’t the best use of your money. Just like you would with email marketing, get super targeted with your list and you’ll be happy with the ROI.

2. The commercial- Again, don’t let your own opinion sway you. Smart businesses don’t invest time and financial resources into something that doesn’t work. Local media advertising is still a fantastic way to raise brand awareness but you have to put the new spin on an old-school technique.

On the Internet, content marketing is simply giving the customer something valuable while interweaving your brand into it. For example, a plumbing company may write a blog post about how to keep drains from clogging.

If you’re advertising on television, create valuable content that isn’t hard-core advertising. Set out to entertain or inform while working your brand into the spot. You probably don’t have the budget of Apple but the company has mastered this concept. Take a look at this spot and notice how the company entertained while still inserting their brand.

3. The Sign Spinner- You’re driving down the road and see somebody standing on the street corner wearing a superman costume doing crazy acrobatic moves with a sign that says, “HUGE SALE TODAY!!” “Live advertising” works and it’s not expensive. Never thought you would try it? Sometimes moving out of your comfort zone results in big profit.

4. Cold Calling- If the Internet were a person, business owners would line up to hug him or her for this simple reason: They didn’t have to cold-call anymore. But here’s the reality: Cold calling works and successful businesses still do it. Just like mailings, don’t waste time calling the wrong people. Make sure your call list is highly targeted.

5. Sales Calls- The stories of the old-school salesman like Dale Carnegie who traveled the nation selling to people in the early twentieth century are nostalgic but certainly not dead.

Today, pharmaceutical companies, and so many others, still employ massive armies of people to make sales calls. If it works for them, it can work for you.

6. Networking- Do you attend conferences and seminars? How about teaching a class at a community college or other venue? Get yourself out and network with your potential customers.

7. Relationship Building- Nothing has changed—people still do business with people they trust and like. Going back to Dale Carnegie, he said in his book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” “Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours.” Building genuine relationships is tough on the Internet but easy face-to-face and its those relationships that will produce great results in a much shorter period of time.

Essential Sale Team Management Strategies

Your total sales may be on target, but are all the members of your sales team meeting their goals? Here’s why it’s important and what you need to do if some sales people are under performing.

sales team
Image source: Photospin.com

Ongoing management. Low performers, mid-level performers and even high performers need it. It does not assume high performance, and once high performing, does not assume it will always continue. Everyone needs to be managed on a consistent basis. In sales, the goal of ongoing management is participation rate.

Participation rate is the percentage of sales team members who are at or above plan.  For a sales team, participation rate is easy to calculate. On a team of ten people where four are above their sales plan on a YTD basis, the participation rate is 40%.

Participation rate is a statistic that rarely scrutinized. Why? Sales managers are measured for making their quota. If the quota is $100 million, the sales manager’s goal to get each sales person to deliver an average of $10 million. Some will produce $15 million and others will produce $5 million; the sales manager only needs the total to add up to $100 million. The sales manager is incentivized to keep average performers. A sales person who only delivers 50% of their quota is better for the sales manager than the 0% they would contribute if the sales manager let them go.

Research reveals that a participation rate of 60% or less will give sales managers a 10% chance of making their revenue plan. Sales managers must aim for a high (70%) participation rate to have a good chance of making plan, although it is not guaranteed.

Given this, why do sales managers tolerate poor performance? What stops them from having tough conversations? Sales managers are nice. They do not want to rock the boat. Their strategy is hope.

A sales rep’s performance can be evaluated on two criteria – behavior and results. Assessing whether a sales rep is or could be delivering results is fairly straightforward – it’s a math problem. There are four performer categories a sales manager works with:

 

  1. High Performers = Deliver results + behave correctly
  2. Coachable Performers = Behave correctly but results are not 100% yet
  3. Tough Performers = Deliver results + behave poorly
  4. Poor Performers = Poor results + poor behaviors

In an ideal world, a sales manager would have 100% High Performers. Neat concept,
most likely not going to happen. What is the next best thing? One hundred percent High Performers and Coachable Performers. This is attainable but it’s not the norm.

Most leaders will have some Tough Performers and some Poor Performers. Imagine having ten direct reports with two in these groups. Not bad, manageable. Now imagine four out of ten. Life is tougher and  tough moments happen on a daily basis. At six out of ten, it is probably tough to get out of bed in the morning.

Related: Transform Your Sales Force by Creating Specific Expectations

Ongoing management of performers involves monthly (minimum) One-on-Ones, observational coaching with feedback, sit downs to try and help – all the day-to-day routines to try and lift behavior and results. When these fail to work, that’s when it’s time for the performance conversation, which has five key steps:

  1. Set a clear standard and set milestones of performance for the direct report.
  2. Inform the direct report where they are not meeting the standard and set milestones.
  3. Give the direct report the opportunity to meet the standard and set milestones.
  4. Offer assistance to meet the standard and set milestones.
  5. Advise the direct report of the consequences of not meeting the standard and set milestones.

Sales managers know how to do this – the issue is getting up the nerve. Sales managers need to have the conversation as soon as needed – putting it off spares no one. Sales reps who want to be with you will step it up and improve. Those who are not capable/not interested will show very quickly (weeks not months) after the performance conversation. If things still don’t improve, the sales manager can move to the final warning, consulting with HR to effectively handle this and how to go your separate ways if that is required.

20 Ways to Get Word of Mouth Marketing for Your Business

Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is an effective and inexpensive way to bring in business. Getting a recommendation about your business from a friend or acquaintance can be the confidence booster potential customers need. Here are 20 ways to generate great word of mouth for your small business.

how to get word of mouth
Image source: Photospin.com

Word of mouth marketing has always been an important tool for businesses. It drives sales because buyers want to be sure they are making the right choice when they make a purchase. Hearing other people say good things about a product or service helps build a buyer’s confidence that their purchase won’t be a mistake.

Small businesses often think of word of mouth marketing as free advertising. But word of mouth is so powerful that big businesses pour millions of dollars into advertising campaigns to make consumers think everyone has a great experience when they purchase their products. Think about the Burlington Coat Factory ads, for instance, where consumers brag about how much money they saved on clothes by shopping at Burlington. Then there are the DSW Shoe commercials where one woman runs up to another and asks in awe, “Where did you get those shoes? ”The answer is the company’s slogan – “DSW – It’s where you get those shoes.” The implication: DSW is the place to go for shoes that will make you a standout.

Small businesses don’t have that kind of money to spend. Nevertheless, savvy small business owners have learned to generate great word of mouth reputations on tiny budgets. How do they do it? How do they get customers to not only appreciate them, but promote them to other people as well? Here are 20 free and low-cost tactics you can adopt to drive word of mouth marketing for your small business.

1- Provide top-notch products and services. Customers will only extol your virtues if they are happy with what they’ve bought. What you sell and how you sell it, should live up to or exceed what your customers expect based on your ads, sales pitch, and industry standards. Remember, word of mouth works two ways. If customers are unhappy with your company, they will complain loudly and publicly about their bad experience.

2 -Provide excellent customer service. The secret here: treat your customers and prospects the way you’d like to be treated yourself. A few basics: Smile at customers when you talk to them. Be polite. Answer their questions. Don’t keep them waiting unnecessarily. Whenever possible have a real person answer the phone. If you must send callers to voice mail, have something in your voice mail announcement that lets them know how soon you will return their call. Then, return their call within the stated time frame. If you provide a service, get the customers’ projects done on time and within their budget. Keep them informed about changes, delays, or other information they’d want to know.

3- Be friendly. If you have customers you come into your store or restaurant regularly, take a minute to smile and say “Hi” and ask how they’re doing today. If you know a customer’s name, call them by name. Friendly hellos and a few seconds of small talk make most people feel welcome and like they’re dealing with a friend. If you have customers call you, do the same thing, if possible.

4- Answer questions that prospects have with facts, not jargon, and if you sell something technical, don’t talk down to the customer or get annoyed if they have trouble understanding what you are saying. Rephrase your answer so the customer does understand it. If there’s some industry news or product information that will be helpful to customers, pass it along to them.

5- Thank your customers for their business. Everyone likes to be appreciated, and customers are no exception. While you may have the words printed on receipts or included in email confirmations of sales, or you or your staff may say “Thanks” in person, doing something such as sending a handwritten thank you card to new customers or a returning customer will set you apart as a business who cares about their customers and is worth recommending.

6- Return calls as promptly after you’ve made the sale as you did before. If there’s going to be a delay in delivering a product or service, let the customer know about the delay as soon as you become aware of it, and let them know why there’s a delay and what options they have.

7- If a customer calls with a complaint about your product or service, don’t argue with them or point fingers. Apologize (even if you think the customer may be wrong) and solve their problem or offer a refund. By handling problems quickly and efficiently, you and your employees can turn angry customers into fans and advocates.

8- Be sure you and your employees are always polite no matter how rude or angry a customer may be. Never raise your voice, be sarcastic, or speak in a demeaning way to customers.

9- Keep in touch with customers and prospects by email. Using email to communicate regularly with customers and prospects who have requested to be on your mailing list helps them remember you and brings repeat business. If you’re regularly providing interesting information, coupons, or other material customers want, they’ll brag to their friends who have similar interests about the benefits they’ve derived.

10- Be personally visible to your market. Join networking groups and industry groups that your customers join and be a regular attendee at meetings and events. Talk to people at meetings to find out what they do and what’s important to them and what challenges they face. When you can, give them tips or point them to resources they need, even though it has nothing to do with your business. Your goal is to be thought of as a friend and problem-solver – not just a salesperson.

11- Be Active in Social Media. Set up Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Linked In pages for your business. Consider Pinterest and SlideShare, too. Choose the social media channels that are most likely to reach your target customers. Then encourage your customers to like them, follow them and share what you post on them. Run contests and special promotions to encourage shares. A social media “share” spreads the word of mouth about your company to all the people who follow and like the customers who share your information. Test paid ads or promoted post options on Facebook, too.

12- Add social share buttons to your website and email messages. The easier you make it for customers and prospects to share your information and promotions, the more likely it is they will do so.

13- Offer to be a speaker or give seminars at conferences, industry meetings, and libraries. Be sure your talk delivers plenty of useful content. Delivering useful, factual information and problem-solving tips about issues common to the audience will set you up as an expert and the go-to person to solve the problems you talked about.

14- When people praise you, ask if you can use their comments on your website and/or promotional material. The comments are testimonials you can use to help prospects “hear” good things about your company.

15- Publicize any publicity you get. If a reporter quotes you, you win an award, you are a guest on a talk show, let other people know about it. You can post newspaper clips on a store bulletin board, link to them from your website, and mention the accomplishments in a newsletter. Knowing other people are talking about you, will give your customers even more incentive to tell their friends about you.

16- Be involved in your community. Whether it’s sponsoring a little league team, or an organization event, your participation will help you and your business name be remembered.

17- Make your business name and phone number easy to find. Have it painted in big letters on vehicles you use to service consumers or businesses so anyone who can see your vehicle knows how to reach you. Leave several business cards with customers so they can hand them out when a neighbor asks if they were happy with the job you did… and how to get in touch with you. Make your business phone number visible on every page of your website.

18- Hone your networking skills. Join and become active in local business, community, or industry groups that attract your targeted customers. Win respect (and business ) by helping others in the group achieve their goals.

19- Refer business to noncompeting businesses. When you refer customers, patients or clients to others, those businesses are more likely to refer business to you.

20- Thank people who refer business to you. How you thank them will depend on the nature of your business. The thanks may be in the form of a hand-written thank you card, a coupon, a cash reward, or whatever is practical, expected, and ethical for your line of business. Thanking those who help you will make them feel their efforts are appreciated, which will make them be glad to recommend you to more people.

Small Business Marketing Challenges Infographic

 

Ask a small business what their biggest marketing challenge is and they’ll tell you “finding customers.” But finding new business is an ongoing marketing goal. Businesses often have a variety of other challenges that get in their way as they race to acquire customers. We asked small business owners who visited the BusinessKnowHow.com website to tell us what those other challenges were. When we analyzed the responses from over 300 small business owners, they reported dozens of hurdles that were making marketing difficult. The issues below are the challenges that were mentioned most often. Click on each of the challenges cited to find ways to overcome these marketing problems.

Small Business Marketing Challenges

7 Strategies for People Who Hate Networking

Networking doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If you find it awkward, try these seven strategies to make networking more enjoyable and profitable. 

business networking
Image source: BigStockPhoto.com

We’ve all heard that going to events and networking is very important.

Meeting someone in person is generally a much faster and effective way to get to know him or her than through online methods.

There are some people who are born networkers. I’m not one of them. I didn’t like networking until I found a few strategies that helped me feel more comfortable and make them more fun and yes…rewarding.

Here are the top 7 strategies that I use myself, AND of course share with my clients, for enjoying (and getting the most out of) networking events.

1. Smile.

Before you step out of your car or hotel room, take a deep breath and smile. Purposefully ‘turn it on’. Bring that smile into the room with you and keep it there.

2. Rescue someone.

You’re not the only one who doesn’t enjoy going to networking events. There is almost always someone standing off to the side or alone. Go over to them and make them feel comfortable. They will appreciate being rescued and you will have someone who wants to talk with you. Then, if you see other people just standing around invite them to join your new group. You’ll be looked upon as a connector.


3. Don’t worry about what you’re going to say.

Learn about your new friend. You can start the conversation by complimenting a piece of jewelry, mentioning the artwork in the room or asking them why they came.

Let them talk. When the time is right the conversation will naturally turn to you and you’ll be able to share.

4. Relax.

Remember that this is nothing more than a conversation. Don’t try to sell. Don’t try to impress, just get to know each other and be yourself. People buy from people they know, like and trust. Establish a relationship. Get to know each other.

5. Don’t try to meet everyone.

It’s not a competition. Personally, I prefer to get to know a few people well than to have superficial conversations with everyone.

6. Follow up.

It’s more important for you to get his or her contact information than for you to give your card to everyone you meet. The truth is that very few people follow up after networking events. Tell your new friend how and when you’ll be in touch after the event so that they expect it.

7. Attend the same networking group regularly.

The more often you go the better you will know the people, the easier it will be and the more business you will get from it.

3 Marketing Tactics Every Small Business Needs

When it comes to marketing and advertising your small business, you need to focus on more than just attracting new customers or clients. In fact, that’s the most expensive and difficult way to grow your business. Try using a mix of these three types of marketing tactics to get new clients and keep them coming back for more.

three types of marketing
Image source: BigStockPhoto.com

If you’re like most small business owners the majority of your marketing and advertising is focused on bringing in new business Maybe you’re doing a lot of networking…Or placing ads…Or cold calling…Or finding referral partners…Or all of these and more.

I call these “attraction” tactics because they attract new clients and customers. And they can be quite effective.

Entrepreneurs tend to use a lot of attraction tactics because that’s what everyone is most familiar with. Whether on TV or radio, the sides of buses, or in magazines and newspapers, we’re bombarded with ads that are nothing more than a catchy image and slogan plus a Web address. Pure attraction.

If all those big, successful companies are spending oodles of cash on attraction tactics, you probably should too. Right?

Well, yes and no. There are actually two other powerful types of tactics. And you need to use all three if you really want your business to grow.

The problems with attraction

I’ll be the first to say attraction tactics can be a valuable and effective part of any marketing plan. They get your name out there, create a sense of familiarity, and hopefully make your business memorable. The problem is that straight attraction tactics are usually the most expensive, and take the longest to generate results (IE sales).