Without a product, what would your company be? All businesses sell something. Whether it’s a digital product, advice, a service, or a physical thing, your livelihood revolves around your product.
Since your company has already been in business for some time, the assumption is that you are already marketing and selling your product reasonably well. But if you’re taking over the family business with the intent to create a high-growth environment, you’re going to need to think a little differently.
Products are inextricably linked to sales and marketing. To ensure your efforts succeed in these areas, you’ll need to change the way you think about these activities.
What’s the Difference Between Sales and Marketing?
In a nutshell, marketing is one-to-many education whereas sales is one-to-one persuasion. Marketing is about educating your audience, and it’s about generating leads. You need to educate your market on how your product is going to satisfy their needs. Marketing creates demand; selling turns your demand or contacts into a contract.
We’re not going to be able to condense everything in this chapter into a quick read, so let’s just say this is an overview. For more in-depth insights, I encourage you to purchase or download a copy of Disruptive Successor today.
The basic principles of marketing are market, market research, message, and medium.
Your market defines your target customer – and there is usually more than one. For example, my target market is family-owned businesses that are growing, but my ideal client is the next-generation leader, typically a millennial, who wants to upgrade their leadership skills and scale the business dramatically.
Market research is about gathering information about your customers and their needs. The results tell you who they are and what they want. You need this information before you can define your ideal customer.
The Message is what you communicate to your market. It generates awareness, demonstrates your unique value proposition, and stimulates demand for your product.
The Medium is how you get your message out; in other words, the channels you use, like social media, television, direct advertising, and so on.
To measure your marketing’s success and manage the spend, you need a budget, a calendar, and a way to track leads.
To successfully convert your leads into sales, your marketing must support the sales effort by educating the customer. Without marketing, sales will be a lengthier and more arduous process.
Other activities your salespeople will benefit from include:
A well-defined sales process
Training on sales scripts
You want the sales pitch to sound natural rather than scripted. The goal is to teach your salespeople to take a prospective customer through the journey with so much enthusiasm that they will want to refer others to do business with you.
We start by building rapport and finding out what brought the prospective customer to you in the first place. What are their needs? Pain points? Frustrations? What do they hope to gain?
You’ll also need to clarify their budget and ascertain who else is involved in making the decision. Only then can you move forward to closing the deal.
Critical sales skills include listening, presenting, storytelling, and problem-solving. If you hire the right salespeople, they will be continuously improving and honing these skills.
Planning makes any process more effective, and marketing is no exception. Unless you have an endless and steady stream of leads coming through your door, you need a marketing plan. Without one, you’re missing out on a lot of potential. With a plan in hand, you’ll access better quality leads at a lower cost. It’s an essential roadmap that’s part science, part creative, and filled with a lot of intuition and experimentation.
Any good marketing plan requires the following:
Research, to be sure you understand your ideal customer, their wants, and needs.
Target market. Primary research involves collecting first-hand information directly from your customers. Secondary research is collected from other sources, like newspaper and magazine articles, studies, and so on. Get to know your ideal customer inside and out.
Competitive analysis and positioning. Who are you competing against? And what makes you different from them? You need to develop a unique value proposition so you can communicate this through your marketing. In the book, I provide several exercises that should help you flesh out this understanding.
Go-to-market strategy. How will you get your product into the customer’s hands? What channels will you rely on? Some examples might be referrals, social media marketing, trade shows, local advertising, cold calling, direct mail, and the list goes on. Keep in mind that whatever your channels might be, they need to be trackable so you can be sure your efforts are giving you the results you need.
Pricing strategy. Are you market-competitive? Premium? Or a low-price leader?
Promotions, like discounts, trials, and promotional pricing help you get through slow seasons, and they also work well to upsell or incentivize a purchase. Your business model will often dictate the direction you go on this.
Budget. Overspending and underspending on marketing are two of the biggest mistakes businesses make. Set a budget for each go-to-market strategy that includes all the supporting materials and research they require. Review and adjust periodically to measure these efforts against your goals.
Metrics are critical. If you can, keep track of what channels your leads are coming from, the number of leads you’re getting, and how much it’s costing you for each one. Other measures include the average transaction spend, the lifetime value of each customer, and churn. Seeing how these metrics change over time helps you track trends.
Sales plan. Your sales plan covers things that aren’t addressed in your marketing plan, such as prospecting, sales process, team, tools, metrics, and targets. Creating a standardized sales process makes it repeatable, teachable, and ensures you are meeting your customer’s needs. If your process meets these requirements, then it’s easily scalable.
Number Three of the 7 Ps Planning is Product
If you haven’t yet, check out www.DisruptiveSuccessor.com and buy the book. In it, I dive deeper into various ways to grow your business’ sales, why your marketing might not be working for you, and action steps to help you bring it together. Come back next month when we’ll talk about Product Positioning and how to set yourself up for market domination.