A New Business Plan That Is as Simple as 1, 2 and 3!
A proven, valid, realistic, and effective three-step plan for developing new business:
If you read my previous two articles posted on piworld.com (How Aware Are Your Customers? and In a World of Print and Marketing) this article will make a lot of sense. If not, please consider reading them, which comprise the other parts of my new business hat trick.
Yes, new business is a simple as 1, 2 and 3. The problem has been for most that the order is often incorrectly applied, or subsets are inserted that deflate the process and invalidate the program. So the simple 1, 2 and 3 becomes, 3, 1 and 2, plus 2a, 3b, 1f, and so on!
Many print providers place sales at the front end of any future or active new business effort — not a bad plan, but understand that most other sales-based industries (all businesses really) first attempt to understand their target market and become aware of the needs and pain points long before they make contact or release their sales teams. Most brands also predetermine if what they offer is desired, needed, or at least of interest to the targeted market. Successful brands also look to their customers/consumers to determine current and future needs.
When was the last time you asked yourself or your sales team “Are we relevant to our clients, customers, and prospects?” Once you have asked yourself and your management teams this question, ask: “What have we done to make ourselves relevant, wanted, needed, and desirable to our clients, customers, and prospect?” Have you recently develop a business case justifiable document?
Head Scratching and Step 1? The Research Phase.
If you had to think twice about the answers the questions above, then you may have already violated or ignored the first step of a successful sales process — RESEARCH. Successful brands — and yes, you are a brand — also strive to stay on message and undergo constant external research efforts to keep up with an ever-changing marketplace, such as the world of print and printing. Those that buy print are part of that ever-changing world, perhaps even more so since the industry itself is going through massive destructive and perhaps constructive changes. Research can also assist you in overcoming the bane of most printers—pricing-based issues. Correctly developed research can sharpen your price point focus and help you resolve the “deadly” problem of incorrect pricing. Research can also reduce the nearly endless delays or negotiations to get a job! Simply stated, proper research allows you to know your market.
Correct, properly conducted research is also a device that will be of cost benefit to you and your firm. Research allows you to target your audience and spend perhaps less money to gain greater, qualified leads and help generate new business for you.
Step 2, Establishing Dialogue, Start Marketing
To move on to step 2, MARKETING, you need to develop an ongoing research program that looks to yesterday (analyzing your existing customer base to help you recognize their needs and perceptions), today (determining what new prospects may need, want, and desire now), and tomorrow (studying trends to keep your business program not only set in the present but in the immediate and far future.
What is your customer’s new business cycle? How long does it take to land a sizable and profitable piece of new business? Has your new business pitch changed with the times—in the short term, the mid-term and the long term? If not, you may be causing your own sales decline and loss of profit.
The research you undertake should be based on not only how your equipment and service mix fits the current needs, but also what trends and vertical-based innovations are on the horizon that may eliminate you from being involved with the brand (your customer) in the near future. Research can assist you to understand how long the process needs to be and when you may need to limit or stop the effort.
Research can also help you fill an inside straight regarding the future of what media to use and the how and why of that use in order to support the ongoing migration that occurs every time a new, emerging media is introduced. Yes, media have value, and some media have an expiration date, and some do not.
Step 2, Effective marketing, an end result of successful research.
How has your decision to engage or purchase a product or service been influenced in some small or large way by a marketing effort? Have you switched soft drinks, changed from one car brand to another, or considered a new pair of jeans from a brand you had not heard of before? For me I just changed brands after a 25-year relationship. The new brand, a specialized footwear company, sold me on their product line based on three simple tenets — they clearly presented the benefits, explained the uses (applications) of the product, and provided real-time, real-world customer testimonials, testimonials, I might add, that related to my needs — sailing!
Part of a successful marketing effort is the understanding that not everyone is in your market or targeted demographic (See Step 1). A foundational element of a really successful marketing effort involves achieving an in-depth understanding, in as much detail as practicable, of who your target market is or could/would be?
Once your research has achieved your goals, you need to construct a viable plan, define the tools/media to be used, select the correct message, and then move on to the actual deployment stage. This will involve tracking the media used, tracking the results, and (nearly constantly) asking yourself: Are/were my goals and objectives obtainable, realistic, and achievable?
Do not expect double-digit growth via a marketing program. Many, if not all, printers see single-digital growth (1% to 3% is more like it) from a well developed, appropriately timed, designed, and deployed marketing effort. Expect short-term dialogue, convert this dialogue into long-term engagement, and, if you did your research correctly, turn the dialogue into sales.
Step 3 – Activating the sales process and engagement, start selling.
A sale is the action of selling something. What that something is depends on who you are, what you are, what you sell, and who uses what you sell. A salesperson’s job is to sell what you have in stock or inventory or to determine what a future need may be. Marketing is the process of aligning you now and in the future with your clients, customers, or prospects. These definitions are as much different as they are the same.
When you combine the action of Selling with the process of Marketing, the end result, if done correctly, should achieve success — or at least some level of success. But this is where the process can go awry. Oftentimes, salespeople drive themselves to provide the reason for a purchase without presenting any direct or indirect benefits, just here I (we) are use us! That is not realistic in many instances. In some cases, sales efforts are informational in nature, and the sales team’s purpose is to “inform” the prospect, again limited in scope and I believe somewhat ineffective, but needed. My successful profit-based programs involve carefully balanced, conceived, and executed processes that are highly researched and carefully structured and include a preview of the marketing effort with all the research data available to internally “sell” not only the sales team but the balance of your employees and of course the prospect. Often your sales effort is derailed when a prospect calls and speaks to an employee who knows nothing of your marketing efforts and is off message.
Recently, I purchased a product that was marketed to fulfill a specific task and fulfill a defined need. Yet, when I called the customer ordering/service line provided in the marketing messaging tools, I was shocked to discover that the product I was about to purchase was 80% of what it said it was, and that the missing 20% was exactly what I needed. The more I questioned the sales rep, the more confused and agitated the sales effort became. Finally, I ended the call with a thank you and no sale. Messaging, internal branding is critical!
How you define sales success is in part based on your goals and objectives and your expected results. Your goals and objectives need to be based on real world factors. Do not expect a 25% sales conversion rate when the rate in many industries is closer to 10%. Cost-per-acquisition is another item to be knowledgeable about. Ask yourself if are you expecting leads, qualified leads, sales, or something else.
Be real, live in the day. Support the facts, and expect a longer-term rate of success vs. an immediate upswing in sales. In short, not only research the marketplace but also research the effectiveness of all media and the ROI/ROR as well as the cost-to-acquire. Advertising is a slower tool for sales development. The 7 pillars excluding Advertising offer faster returns. But remember that faster is relative to many independent factors. If you need to know more about the seven pillars, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a PDF, which outlines the seven pillars and the changing media landscape.
Step 4 and beyond?
If there is a Step 4, it is to be realistic. A service I offer (beyond developing new business programs) is forensic marketing analysis. In more than 50% of the cases, the dissected program’s problem relates to unrealistic goals, as well as to poor communications and confused instruction.
Summary: Next Stop a Go-to Market Strategy
Sales & Marketing or Marketing & Sales is not a simple process. But the fundamentals, like your elevator speech, must be simple. The devil, they say, is in the details. Research, planning, and realistic goals, objectives, and expectations offer you a way to keep the devil outside the process, as do realistic objectives and valid goals and correct sales projections.
Thad Kubis is an unconventional storyteller, offering a confused marketplace a series of proven, valid, integrated marketing/communication solutions. He designs B2B or B2C experiential stories founded on Omni-Channel applications, featuring demographic/target audience relevance, integration, interaction, and performance analytics and program metrics.