Tactical and Integrated Marketing, Sales Enablement for BtoB Marketing
We specialize in providing diagnostic marketing consulting that develops marketing processes and sales enablement which integrate your marketing process in alignment with your sales process. Among marketing consultants, our sales-process focus is unique, and this focus is definitely unique for our public relations work. By 'diagnostic' we mean that we start with a clean sheet of paper - no pre-conceived ideas or concepts (but a great deal of experience with what does work) about what will work for your company or markets. These services also emphasize your competitive distinction (via a customer case study approach) and provide your audiences (sales prospects, customers, potential and current employees, investors, industry analysts, etc.) with comprehensive, credible and powerful information about how your company and solutions help your customers solve business problems. We developed these techniques far before 'content marketing' came into vogue.
Many marketing efforts do not look at the total sales picture - because they are not specifically designed to support the sales process, nor or they developed in conformance to the client's marketing and sales architecture. In fact, a common complaint is that a company's marketing appears to be out of alignment with the sales effort.
Marketing programs in the digital age require consistency across the entire sales and marketing bandwidth, as well as clarity, content and credibility are necessary to capture and retain the interest of high-potential sales prospects.
Our programs are specifically designed to support your marketing and sales process. We provide several critical areas of expertise that are not typically found
in a marketing advisor:
demonstrated competence at understanding your business model, proactive
execution, creation of original and content-rich materials
for your programs, knowledge of your unique sales process, and
diagnostics to identify the role of various marketing tools in your sales
With more than two decades of business-to-business marketing experience, we have consistently found that the most effective marketing programs are based on the clear understanding of our clients' sales processes. In other words, their proven expertise at solving their customers' business problems. This expertise and your competitive positioning is best conveyed with current customer case studies that show how your products or services are used to solve your customers' business problems. More importantly, we develop these case studies to show why your customers chose you to be their preferred vendor. When used as the primary basis for the vision creation aspect of solution or consultative-selling methodologies, they establish a powerful focus on your company, products and management vision. They also convey the kind of information that serves as a basis for media coverage, or in the case of sales prospects, additional inquiries. In other words, they have 'shelf value' because we develop your competitive information in a way that has both depth and lasting value. Many of our case studies and other client media have been in use years for years after they were created.
Marketing Solutions Diagnostic Approach - The Sales Autopsy (sm)
Our development of marketing solutions for the marketing and sales of business-to-business products or services (including complex, hard-to-sell intangibles) is based on our diagnostic approach to your sales and marketing environment. Utilizing our Sales Autopsy methodology, we identify the unique factors of your successful sales. Since these unique factors often come from your best customers, our programs automatically incorporate a powerful competitive message - as told by your customers. We incorporate those insights into the marketing architecture, strategy, programs, messaging, collateral and web site. As a result, our programs help your sales force become more effective by off-loading the credibility and competitive-distinction effort that consumes much of the initial dialogue with a prospect, and further serves to generate prospect inquires that are better informed as to your distinction. In other words, your sales prospects are more self-qualified, leading to a shorter sales cycle.
Our Engagement Process
One of our colleagues once remarked that a professional is distinguished by three things: knowledge, tools and the discipline to use them. The following synopsis will walk you through our implementation of this concept, and the conceptual development of a typical (if there is such a thing) marketing or sales messaging program, which is an executable that we perform under the umbrella of a marketing solutions architecture.
Diagnostics: We begin our work with clients by discussing with them
their business goals and objectives for the coming 12 months. We focus both
on tactical sales objectives and strategic objectives (industry repositioning,
response to new competition, etc.) We ask clients to identify three to six
recent sales that represent their ideal sale (size, complexity, technology,
etc.) We then interview both their sales/executive team (sellers) and the
customer's buying/executive players (buyers), using our Sales Autopsy
methodology. From these two perspectives, we diagnose the important factors
in a successful sale, and the messages (or customer ‘pain') that help set
the stage for a successful sale. Another factor we look for is the distinction
between the information needs of your expert buyers and your
mainstream buyers. (See the commentary below on this concept.)
We can also interview industry executives for C-level insights and comments. We have some clients that retain us just for this aspect of our work - they normally find it very difficult to obtain an external senior-level marketing professional that can dialogue with their customers and industry executives.
Program Development and Strategy: Once we have completed the diagnostic interviewing of your customers, we identify your defacto market positioning based on
your current sales success. We then discuss this with management and obtain
approval to structure the marketing elements and messaging program along the lines of this
positioning and the attendant competitive messages, or work with them to
adjust the positioning if desired.
Program Execution: We look at both how you currently shape your marketing, and what might be done to improve its effectiveness. This includes increasing your industry visibility and profile, and embedding your proven, successful sales messages in all of your materials - sales, marketing, website, media, etc. We also consider the Internet to be a media in and of itself, and look at your web site as an important vehicle to reach your audiences.
Our background in marketing and marketing consulting often helps us suggest
additional and innovative marketing approaches based on the insights we develop
from our diagnostic interviewing, and our evaluation of the industry trends
being covered by the media.
Commentary: How to Reach Both Expert and Mainstream Buyers
This distinction is subtle, yet important. Expert buyers know what
they want, are very difficult to persuade with manipulative sales methodologies,
and tend to be decisive. However, once they commit to a technology or vendor
- they usually provide excellent and persuasive references. Mainstream
buyers tend to be overwhelmed by information and choices, and look to
expert buyers or others for guidance on technology purchases. They can be
indecisive (long sales cycle), but their sheer volume is critical to the
commercial success of many products. A powerful tool in successful business-to-business marketing is to have your expert buyers speak through the media to your
mainstream buyers - by the effective use of business cases that demonstrate
the use, and value, of your products and services. (Note: You might want
to return to our section on Published Articles on the Index Page and read
the article How to Bridge the Chasm, Not Just Cross It for more detail
on expert and mainstream buyers.)
The reason that our Sales AutopsySM methodology works so well in creating
business cases is that all of the factors that typically frustrate sales
and marketing executives: e.g., competition, pricing, changing technology,
etc., all come together in a successful sale. By a process of structured diagnostic
interviewing, real-time information from all players is obtained which can
be put to work immediately to create the case studies that reflect the current
marketplace, and help to gain more sales.
Additional Benefit: Our Working Materials are Applicable to Many of
Your Sales and Marketing Needs
Powerful Sales-Centric Collateral: The tangible product from
our Sales Autopsy is a Deep Case Study. This documentary
is a solution-oriented business case study of your successful sales (typically an individual
sale, but can be blended sales for an industry or vertical), and it is written
specifically for the audience of your sales prospects - both anticipating
and answering typical questions, concerns and objections. Many clients have
used our customer documentaries throughout their organization - as sales and marketing
collateral, as press releases, or on their web sites. We use
the profiles as the basic building blocks (press releases) for our dialogue
with the media on your behalf.
Our programs have generated national and international results for our clients,
and our trademark is a more customized, creative and higher-quality marketing
effort which sales prospects both recognize and respond to. Here are
some representative examples:
International; Brand Building; Product Introduction; Awards
Developed and executed an international and domestic public relations program
that served to help build the client's brand in Europe, then leveraged that
identity and introduced it into the United States. European program was very
successful - they routinely outsell their largest (200x) competitor. Client
estimates 85% attainment of marketing goals in 24 month period since program
began. Additional editorial exposure gained in Latin America and Japanese
markets. Supported client introduction of several new product lines. Created
successful "Blue Chip Enterprise Initiative " award entry, also successful
Massachusetts Export Award entry - deemed "outstanding" by the judges. Client
uses awards and editorial exposure to enhance their credibility in negotiations
with major distributors, such as the successful negotiations with a Hong
Kong-based $300 million Asian distributor.
Internet; Product Introduction; Awards
A client wanted to introduce an Internet-based GIS (mapping) product. With
no betas and no marketing literature to build on, our consultancy created
a combination document in a newsletter format with conceptual value-added
descriptions (that we had developed) of the potential technology applications.
The newsletter went through two press runs for the Boston Internet show and
resulted in features in USA Today and Software Magazine. We
also gained their CD-ROM product a "five disk" review and MVP runner-up status
Complex Technology; Editorial Features
Developed user profiles for a client with a complex RPC middleware product.
One profile detailed their product's contribution to a $350 million system
integrator's creation of a sophisticated,three-tier client/sever architecture,
using best-of-breed products. Our profile and editorial placement efforts
resulted in Windows NT magazine assigning a writer to prepare
a feature article, with significant focus on our client.
OEM Deals; Editorial Features
A client received their second-largest (six figure) OEM deal of the year
solely on the basis of our editorial placement in the Emerging Business Section
of the Boston Globe, which was one of many national and international
media placements obtained for that client.
Video; Scripting and Direction
With over a decade of experience in the production of video, from short news packages through to on-air talent to technical direction, we are now the Director for a multiple award-winning cablecast program. Between the personal awards (we work with the program's Producer) and the program itself, we have won six awards in total - local, regional and national.
Our video services for clients are restricted to overall scripting (messaging) and the role of Director (or Executive Producer) for the production effort. We do not offer production services (there are many excellent and dedicated vendors for that), but would work with the client's dedicated production resource. We also can help clients evaluate production resources.
Business Planning and Marketing Consulting Services
We offer business planning and marketing consulting services to companies whose products or services are marketing to other businesses, or to consumers through dealers, and the dealers are the focal point of the marketing effort.
Our business planning services have a sales and marketing orientation, rather than the more common financially-heavy (spreadsheet) orientation.
Our marketing consulting focuses on the development of marketing architectures that serve to focus and coordinate the marketing efforts in support of sales. We focus on the near-term, that is, generally the next four quarters or a rolling 12-month horizon.
Our consulting is distinguished by a diagnostic approach (which includes a custom research effort) which focuses on our clients' strengths, helps them identify the full capabilities of their current resources, identifies additional resources they might need, and we also provide assistance in the execution of the program(s) we develop.
Unlike many marketing consultants, we do not stop at the creation of a strategy or the delivery of a 'plan' - we also want to help our clients successfully implement the programs we have helped them to design, and offer implementation assistance as a follow-on service. This often takes the form of periodic 'mini-planning' sessions which serve to reorient activities to the plan, or modify the plan for new opportunities.
For example, we recently worked with a client on a major strategic alliance that will propel this client to a leadership position in their market. We have worked closely with this client in the following areas:
Identify potential alliance partners, and a strategy to approach each,
Orchestrate initial dialogues that were designed to establish our client's credibility early-on,
Performed first-cut market research to quantify the both the size of the market and its near-term potential, evaluated the appropriate sales methodology to reach this market and profitable pricing strategies,
Evaluate sales channels, profit margins, and marketing support needed for each venue,
Developed an initial negotiating strategy with extensive contingency planning,
Accompanied the client to alliance-partner meetings, and actively participated in the meetings to insure that all necessary business planning and marketing planning information was obtained,
Drafted the initial business plan to respond to each alliance partner, including a unique go-to-market program that we would both actively execute and participate in,
Helped the client evaluate and balance multiple negotiations and their priorities as events unfolded.
This provides a sample of the type of business planning and marketing consulting we engage in. In short, we provide our clients with the planning and marketing horsepower that is usually only seen in Fortune 500 companies. Marketing consulting has always been an element of our services since our inception in 1982, and was our exclusive practice for the first decade. We have advised many businesses including national technology companies and distributors, specialty retailing, professional services and specialty technology products. More importantly, we have worked with a wide range of owners and executives and their management styles. We fit our advisories to their styles and capabilities - which sometimes includes precautionary advisories. We have found through long experience that the most valuable advisor is one who is also realistic. An expression we have gotten used to hearing (sometimes long after the fact) is: "You were right about that."
It is impossible to list all of the services we might provide as a marketing consultant, since each engagement is unique to the client. We do not take on all assignments, since we have found our approach is most helpful to clients with the following characteristics:
You are either an on-going company, or a start up that has a very clear vision of your business model,
You have experience in driving a business to its goals (can execute to plan),
You are experienced and comfortable with using outside advisors,
You have realistic expectations of your capabilities to implement the anticipated programs,
You have realistic budgets, and have the necessary funding for these budgets.
Should you fit the above description and be facing the challenges of growing your company and the business planning and marketing issues that accompany those challenges, we invite your call. We will discuss your particular situation in detail, and if we think we can help you get to your business goals, we will outline a conceptual program for you. At the very least, you'll come away from this discussion with a lot of new ideas. It's the successful execution of those ideas that make the difference - and that's where our services and participation help you.