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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.

Win 'Top-of-Mind' Positioning

Last time we introduced the concept behind this blog and gave you a quick rehash of the story of Prometheus. This week, Marka the marketer and Zoot the salesperson discuss the importance of “top-of-mind” in the fire industry. Remember: fire = print.

Today’s FIRE! Point:
Printing companies compete in super tough, service-based business environments. Winning “top-of-mind” market position is critically important for long-term success in this or any industry. When a “key business influencer” has a project that you’re equipped to handle, your name should immediately come to mind. Useful communications regularly delivered to these influencers are essential to winning “top-of-mind” positioning. Over the coming weeks and months, Marka, Zoot, Org and the rest of the tribe from Olympus will discover how to achieve this.

    *    *    *

Marka and Zoot sat across from each other in the cavernous boardroom of Fire Enterprises, Inc. (FEI). Sales were slower than a chariot with one wheel and worry was pervasive through the organization.

“All players in the hearth and fire lighting industry compete in a super-tough, service-based business environment,” Marka started. “Therefore, winning ‘top-of-mind’ market position is critically important for our long-term success. If a ‘key business influencer’ needs what we provide and our name immediately comes to mind, then we’ve won ‘top-of-mind’ market position in that individual’s head. Does this mean we’ll get the business? Not necessarily, more than likely, we’ll get a sales inquiry and business opportunity. What we do with this depends on how comfortable our prospect is with FEI and our value proposition.”

“How do we start?” Zoot asked. “Olympus is a big area with lots of people and hearths. It’s too much territory for my sales runners.”

“That’s what we’ve been talking about,” Marka said. “Marketing is a cheaper way of influencing more people than our runners ever can.

“Is it as effective, though?” Zoot asked.

“Good question,” Marka said. “No, because people like dealing with other people most of the time. However, a sales visit costs dozens or even hundreds of times as much as a well-executed marketing ‘touch.’ When we factor in cost ‘per impression,’ the answer is absolutely yes.”

“What about our new corporate sales efforts?” Zoot asked. “More of our business is coming from other businesses. Each sale is a whole lot bigger. Surely this is a sales-only activity, right?”

“No!” Marka shouted. “Marketing principals apply here too. Useful communications, regularly delivered to key business people at FEI’s carefully targeted B2B prospects are essential to winning top-of-mind positioning. Deploying a variety of marketing vehicles in conjunction with your group’s on-the-money sales efforts will keep our name on the ‘tip-of-the-tongue’ of important people in FEI’s marketplaces. ‘Out-of-sight, out-of-mind’ is a real phenomenon and can be combated through regular contact.

“There’s so much going on in Olympus these days,” Zoot said. “You can’t walk down Scylla Avenue without seeing signs posted on every boulder, column and tower. Commercials are on Olympus-TV. O-puters have advertisements on most O-web pages. How do we cut through the clutter?”

“The amount of marketing overload in today’s information-crazed world is truly amazing,” Marka acknowledged. “Each day, the average Olympian is exposed to more than three thousand advertisements and product names. Unless we market our company’s products and services effectively, FEI will be quickly forgotten in the heat of battle...even with our storied background.”

“This is my main concern,” Zoot said. “I know my runners can cut through the clutter, but I need to know that your marketing programs can do the same.”

“In hyper-competitive marketplaces, like the one for our fire services, it’s important to avoid thinking that our market position is solid. As Fire-Intel’s Andy Grove once put it, ‘Only the paranoid survive,’ ” Marka said. “The ‘fallen angel’ syndrome can quickly beset any fire company, even us.”

Zoot smiled. It looked to Marka like she was getting Zoot’s valuable buy-in.

“Companies once dominant in the market, but that have slackened their sales and marketing efforts, often travel the undesirable path from market has-been. Every major market seems to have at least one fallen angel. No marketing program by itself will ensure a company’s continued success, but it can provide a steady stream of opportunities, even in rapidly changing markets.”

“You’ve nailed it,” Zoot said. “Top of mind positioning is the first goal. What’s the second?”

    *    *   *        

FIRE! in Action:

Integrated Top-of-Mind Program Achieves Transcontinental Printing’s Goals

A leading Canadian commercial printer, Transcontinental achieved its marketing goals at an important 2007 trade show by coordinating a top-of-mind promotional campaign that included logo and name development, trade print advertising, an integrated trade show display and a post-event B2B, direct mail package. The results:

• The booth generated 70 qualified leads
• Quoting activity exceeded $6mm after the show
• Within another half year, the program produced $5.6mm in attributable sales

Next blog: Marka and Zoot discuss the importance of moving the battlefield away from price.

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