- Running a small firm? Who holds you accountable?
- Marketing & Sales Success Begins with a Simple Step… Thinking!
- Your Sales Forecast Doesn’t Have to be a Guessing Game!
- Lead generation is a 3-step process.
- Measuring Sales… it’s Not just about Revenue
- 7 Selling Behaviors Seller-Doers Must Employ to be Successful.
- Can you really be “all things to all people?”
- 12 Marketing & Sales Activities you Gotta STOP this Year!
- How to maximize the impact of your marketing investment.
- Revenue Growth? Try the ‘5% Challenge’… it’s Brilliant!
- Should you ever walk away from revenue?
- Get Ready for 2017 with these 6 Marketing & Sales Activities
- 20 Marketing and Sales Concepts Business Leaders Need to Know, Part 2
- 20 Marketing and Sales Concepts Business Leaders Need to Know, Part 1
- 10 Guidelines for How to Be Successful at Sales
- Strategy Before Tactics!
- 6 Marketing & Sales Lessons Learned in our First 4 Years in Business
- The Sales Presentation: Stop Reading the PowerPoint Slides and Tell Your Story
- Content Marketing not working? Eh, don’t worry about it!
- Marketing Measurement: 3 New Methods You Have to Try in 2016
- The One Thing You Must Include in Your 2016 Marketing & Sales Plan
- Not using LinkedIn? Are you kidding me?!
- Is it OK to fire a client?
- Take Charge of Your Own Success… Stop Relying on Others!
- Getting first-time clients to take a chance on you.
- 9 Ways to Build your Business During the Summer Slowdown
- The Top 10 Ways to Build Awareness
- The 13 Most Common Website Mistakes
- The Most Important Part of Exhibiting
- Content marketing isn’t a one-time thing… it’s an all-the-time thing.
- THINKING! A framework for creating better business plans in 2015.
- Not happy with your marketing & sales? Then make just one change in 2015!
- For Beginners: Should I Tweet Daily? Yes… and here’s how.
- Got your Marketing Plan for 2015? No?! Now’s a good time to start…
- How to Connect with Booth Visitors – An Exhibitor’s Worksheet
- Not getting the email results you want? Make sure you’re following these 7 email marketing guidelines.
- 10 Ways to Get Clients to Sell FOR You (and they won’t cost a dime!)
- Do you know where you’re going? Why Strategy should drive your marketing & sales.
- 11 execution tips to help you exceed client expectations
- How to Turn First-time Clients into Repeat Clients
- 15 easy, low-cost marketing and sales tactics for 2014 – Part 2
- 15 easy, low-cost marketing and sales tactics for 2014 – Part 1
- 13 Lessons for Researchers Who Don’t Want (or Like) to Sell
- Social media marketing success in 30 minutes a day
- Get it right! You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
- It’s not that complicated! A common sense approach to the marketing & sales process.
- How MR firms are blowing it with new customers: Lessons learned while secret shopping
- Management or sales… you can’t serve two masters.
- Prove it! Nine ways to convince prospects to work with you for the first time.
- Five everyday ways to grow your business
- How that ‘one great client’ could doom your firm
- Six marketing and sales mistakes MR firms make every day
- Eight proven ways to build awareness – and why you should!
- Suspects, Prospects and Clients: Is your firm focused on the right target?
- A Checklist for Conducting Your Own Marketing & Sales Audit
- Learning to play the game: What football can teach us about marketing
- Differentiating your firm in a crowded marketplace
- 25 low- or no-cost ways to grow your business
- 15 Reasons E-mail Still Matters in Sales and Marketing
- Come prepared, dress the part and follow up: 10 dos for exhibiting at MR trade shows
- No rookies, no gum and no Frisbees: 10 don’ts for exhibiting at MR trade shows
- How to see yourself as clients see you
- Marketing 101: It takes Work to make it Work
- Use the 8 Ps of Marketing when Setting Strategy
- Integrate the 4 As of Marketing into Your Planning
- Size Does Matter: 4 Approaches to Growing Your Business
- The 12 Guiding Principles of Marketing (part 2)
- The 12 Guiding Principles of Marketing (part 1)
How to see yourself as clients see you
As market research firms, we use many methodologies to help our clients understand their customers’ (or users’) experiences, from Web site usability studies and secret shopper projects to ethnographies. We need to take a similar tack with our own marketing plans.
Marketing is not just about ads, Web sites, social media and your sales team. Though most people rarely think about marketing beyond those kinds of constraints, marketing encompasses every aspect of a business (i.e., its people, products and processes) that touches a client or prospective client and in doing so, has an impact on their buying decision.
Remove the rose-colored lenses
So, when it’s time to work on your marketing and sales plan, remove those rose-colored lenses from your glasses and take a fresh (read: honest) look at your firm through the eyes of your clients. Here are 14 suggestions to help you get started.
Note: Depending on the size and structure of your organization, some of these ideas may require the use of a “secret shopper” to help out.
- Look at your marketing materials as if for the very first time. Or better yet, get an outsider to do it for you. Brochures, proposals, e-newsletters, letterhead, business cards, ads, etc. – read every single word. Look at the layout. Is the message still on target? Are the look and feel still current? Do they convey the perception you intend? Is there consistency across all pieces so the reader knows they have all come from the same firm?
- No need for a full-blown usability study – get a friend or neighbor to surf your Web site and blog. Are they easy to read? Easy to navigate? Are graphics fast to load? Do all of the links work? Is it easy to find your contact information? Are they integrated with your other marketing materials? Are they kept up to date? Does your Web site provide valuable information or is it just an online brochure? If your blog posts allow for comments, are you checking them regularly and responding as necessary?
- The same goes for your firm’s social media sites (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
- Do you have an e-mail address on your Web site like email@example.com? Use it. Send an e-mail requesting information about your firm. Is the e-mail acknowledged? How quickly? By whom? Does the response have a logo and/or relevant message in the signature?
- Do you have sales reps on staff? If so, have them deliver a sales presentation to you. Are they delivering the message and representing your firm the way you thought they were? How would you describe their sales and presentation skills? Challenge them during the presentation. Make sure they take this exercise seriously, like their job depends on it – because it should. Don’t have salespeople? As the senior executive, are you doing the presenting? Then you need to present to some of your colleagues and be open to honest feedback.
- Call your office (often, a prospective clients’ first impression of your firm). Do you get a human or an automated attendant? If a live person, are they friendly and professional? If automated, get rid of it. If you absolutely must keep it, are the prompts clear and easy to follow? Can the caller get to anyone in the firm with just one or two button pushes? Try calling after 5 p.m. – what happens?
- Do clients sometimes come to your office? If so, do a walk-through. Does it look sharp and professional? Are your employees friendly and do they introduce themselves? Is there a client-specific welcome sign at the front desk? Do the furniture and decorations look nice? Is the atmosphere what you want? Is there functional signage outside to direct your clients?
- Look at your invoices and statements. Are they branded? Are they clear and understandable? Above all, are they accurate? Are they sent out on time, every time? Is there a phone number (on the invoice) to call in case of questions? Go ahead and make that call. How is your problem handled?
- Take a fresh look at your client-facing personnel (e.g., project directors, account managers, etc.). Place a call to them. How is it handled? Are they professional and friendly? Do they under-promise and over-deliver? Can they/do they do a little upselling? Are you investing in their development?
- Take a look at your logo. Does it need changing? Does it look like the new millennium or is it a remnant of the ’90s (or ’80s – yikes!)? What is your first impression of the firm when you look at the logo?
- Do you have a plan in place to constantly improve? Are you surveying your clients after every project? Listening in on sales and project calls? Training your employees? Rewarding excellence from your staff? Great adage: You can’t take care of your clients until you take care of your employees.
- Are you staying up on the latest trends in our industry? Market research is changing rapidly – thanks largely to advances in technology – and if you’re still doing things the old-fashioned way, you’re likely to get left behind.
- Go back to those clients who have left you and conduct an exit interview. Ask them why they left. If it was a big client, do it in person. Ask them what you did right, what you did wrong, what changed and where you can improve. It will be painful – but incredibly insightful.
- Finally, look at yourself. A manager does things right; a leader does the right things. Which are you? Which do you need to be? If the above list contains some things your firm needs to do, are you the one to make sure they happen? Then do it!
- Bonus! Now that you’ve looked at your firm through the eyes of your clients, do the same for your competitors. Take a fresh look at them using the above list. How do they compare? Where are they stronger than you and you stronger than they?
Wherever, whenever, however
There are probably another hundred suggestions we could add to this list. Look throughout your firm. Wherever, whenever and however you could potentially touch a client – that’s where you need to be auditing what you do.
Look, learn and then – most importantly – do something about it! Put a process in place for learning where improvements need to be made and then have a dedicated team responsible for making them happen. The fact is, you’ll never be done with this job. You will never achieve perfection but you should always be working toward it.
Note: This article was originally published in Quirk’s online (http://www.quirks.com/articles/2012/20120627-2.aspx).