Marketing With a Blended Marketing Strategy For Maximum Visibility

Marketing in general is a vast and complex beast which requires knowledge and effort to truly master and leverage it to its full potential to grow your brand, let alone your business. Any good internet marketing strategy can effectively help you build your business online. However, as many internet entrepreneurs look to expand their online presence and grow their businesses further, I find that many of them fail to create a complete marketing and business development strategy, focusing the majority of their efforts online. Sadly, this is a HUGE mistake on their part.

Over the course of my career as an entrepreneur, business owner and web designer, I’ve conducted business with many individuals and businesses all wanting to increase their reach, develop a stronger brand awareness and build a strong internet presence. Yet through all their questions, two common fears continually rang through during my discussions with many of them. They either feared the idea of taking on a major internet campaign or they felt that internet marketing would replace their tried and true traditional marketing methods. Both these fears have their roots in the fact that the vast majority of them simply lacked the proper knowledge necessary to see that both an internet marketing and traditional marketing strategy should compliment each other providing reciprocal support of their various strengths. I like to refer to this more complete picture of a marketing strategy as “blended marketing”.

Why Do I Need to Do Marketing

If you plan to generate any kind of income online you need to gain an understanding that your blog or website is simply and extension of your true business. You must develop your business model first before you can properly identify how to apply your blog/website as a useful tool in your overall marketing and business development strategy. Any successful business has a marketing strategy to grow their business. You can’t simply set up a blog or website and expect the business to come rushing in. You must have a strategy in place to help bring in the interested buyers you desire.

Gain a Little Perspective

As a successful internet entrepreneur and internet marketing expert myself, I’ve been using a blended marketing strategy for well over a decade to maximize my reach, increase my exposure and better market to my target audience to grow my online business. I’d like to share with you how a blended marketing strategy can benefit you and provide you with some techniques I use when constructing your blended marketing plan.

To help you gain a better perspective on the concept of blended marketing I suggest you have a quick read of Rena Bernstein’s post over at Social Media Today entitled “Integrating Social Media with Traditional Advertising to Gain Higher Returns”. It is a great read and provides valuable insight into the benefits as well as examples on how effective it can be if done correctly.

What is Blended Marketing

Blended marketing is essentially a mix of both internet marketing and traditional offline marketing methods to create a more complete, overall marketing and business development strategy. Many businesses fail to integrate both internet marketing and traditional marketing strategies together. By taking advantage of the strengths of both an internet marketing and traditional marketing strategy, you will better position yourself and/or your business for greater success.

The idea of a blended marketing strategy is to create a complete marketing strategy which takes advantage of the various strengths of both an internet marketing strategy and a traditional marketing strategy where you work to increase your search engine rankings and internet exposure, while at the same time increasing your reach and exposure offline as well.

Different aspects of a blended marketing strategy can be for example, utilizing an email marketing campaign in conjunction with a direct mail campaign to provide a specific promotion to a select group of recipients. Some email marketing systems provide a service where they will also send a direct mail piece to your email list provided you have addresses for each recipient in your list. This is just a high level example of how a blended marketing strategy can work to ensure broader reach from multiple fronts.

Benefits of a Blended Marketing

The benefits of a blended marketing strategy are vast allowing you truly grow your business at a much more rapid pace than if you didn’t have one. A blended marketing strategy allows you to:

Gain Greater Exposure
Market to the Same Audience Through Multiple Online and Offline Marketing Efforts
Track the Effectiveness of Various Campaign Efforts
Identify the Strengths of both Online and Offline Marketing Strategies
Create Multiple Promotions for Various Marketing Strategies
Generate Multiple Sources to Feed Your Sales Funnel
Create Brand Awareness Online and Offline
Market Products/Services Both Online and Offline
Present Yourself as a Strong, Stable Business
Increase Sales

These are just a few of the many benefits in which a blended marketing strategy can provide.

Creating a Blended Marketing Strategy

Creating a blended marketing strategy isn’t all that difficult if you know your target audience and have identified how to reach them. From that point, you can craft a marketing strategy that will allow you to reach your target audience through multiple fronts to ensure your message is heard.

The first step is to conduct market research (yes you have to do this and you cannot skip this step). When conducting market research you need to identify:

Who Your Target Audience Is
Where They Hang Out
How to Reach Them
What are Their Needs
How You Can Fill Their Need
Will They Buy

Identifying a market for whatever you are offering is essential to the success of any business whether online or off.

The second step is to begin crafting your blended marketing strategy to incorporate the various resources available to reach your market. This is where the fun begins! Be creative with this and make sure you explore all possible options to get your message out to market. For example, you may want to include the various resources to syndicate your content not just for online purposes but also for offline purposes, such as industry magazines and journals. If you are creating an email marketing campaign, how will you mirror this effort offline through direct mail pieces? If you are going to utilize the Third Tribe concept for your online marketing, what real-world business networking and industry convention events are you going to attend to create brand awareness? Consider how you are going to integrate social media into your blended marketing and how can you drive people to follow you from your offline efforts?

The best way to create a blended marketing strategy is to mirror your online marketing efforts with potential real-world offline efforts that my accomplish the same if not similar task as your online efforts. Simply ask yourself: “Self, what offline marketing effort would be similar to this online marketing effort” then make a list of all related marketing strategies and decide which to integrate into your complete blended marketing strategy. Dedicate a lot of quality time to this process, because the more time you spend on market research and development to create your blended marketing strategy, the more effective your blended marketing strategy will be.

21 Top Marketing Mistakes Small Business Owners Make

The analogy between marketing and a business is similar to the relationship of body and food. Marketing is the heart of the business. Every business is different so each business has to offer marketing and development, which fits each unique business’s need. There are many ways of developing and marketing for any business, but first let’s find the true concept and definition of marketing.

Marketing definition:

“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large”.

1- Thinking advertising is marketing:

The biggest mistake most of the business owners make is to think advertising and spending money is the only marketing way exist. This group only focuses on advertising, which when the desire result is not achieved at the end of the month, they complain of how much money they wasted away. Advertisement is merely one of many ways of marketing.

2- You don’t enjoy what you do:

As stated above Marketing has many ways and approaches. The main marketing for your business is to love what you do. Nothing is better than your “Love what you do” attitude since it brings out your creativity, shows your talent and tells everyone how devoted you are to your business. Your daily positive attitude defines the successful future of your business. The love of your business construe in your daily interaction with new clients, employee’s moral and making important and effective marketing decisions. To be a good marketer for your business, first rule is your love for what you do.

3- Don’t have a good business plan:

What is business plan?

“A written document describing the nature of the business, the sales and marketing strategy, and the financial background, and containing a projected profit and loss statement”.

Having a business plan is like having a map. Many businesses start their business ignoring this very effective tool and get lost in the middle of the road. Every business plan states the exact details of the business’s concept and outlines clearly the marketing strategies, profit and loss, demographic, place of business, finances and targeted niche market. In order to make a solid business plan:

A) Know your business inside and out

Knowledge of your business is important to know the answer to all the categories of business plan. If you do not know the concept of your product or service, business plan and the pillar of your business does not exist.

B) Study, analyze and scrutinize

When you know the back and forth of every detail in your business, you can access all the required information needed to project your business in a business plan. In order to access all this information you need to study, analyze and scrutinize every file and information in libraries, city records and valid informative site on the Internet.

C) Print it and have it accessible

When you put all the info together and created your fully detailed business plan, print a copy and keep a file handy and accessible.

Your projected analysis for the business works as a map to your success. Don’t drive to an unknown destination, not having a map on hand.

4- Don’t have any plans:

Marketing and developing its strategy is vital for every business. Marketing works as fertilizer to boost the lawn of your business. Even more importantly, marketing acts like sun to shed light and direction to your business for finding leads for the potential clients. Marketing is like having your open sign on in the dark street. I think I emphasized enough and you understood how important marketing is for any business, small or large.

5- Not analyzing the market for correct pricing.

Every business offers products or services. Then producing and providing the products and services involves certain cost and fees. Setting the price according to the market is very important and cause for a major failure for small businesses if done without market awareness. The root and source to find a perfect price is your business plan. It is necessary for every small business owner to investigate:

A) The demographic income of the targeted niche and audience:

The business plan states the average income of the targeted audience and the niche market. Set prices based on the factual statistic and spending ability of potential clients.

B) Market needs and economy balance:

An involved business owner is always aware of the market needs and the economy balance. Based on your niche market, be on top of the factors of change in economy that can impact your client’s ability to spend. If you deal with bankers and investors, keep up with stock market news and its daily changes and adjust your prices regularly.

C) Competitive market prices:

A business person is always on a lookout for its competitors and is aware of their side of story. It is necessary to know your competitors and adjust your prices based on their offering and similar services.

D) Demand of the product or service:

Investigate the demand before putting the price tag on your product and service. You can find this information through the data in your business plan. Balance your prices based on the market demands;

If you projecting a good volume of sale, price it lower than competitors.
If the demand is lower and the project of volume is slow, price higher to accommodate the distance between each sale.

E) Uniqueness of the product or service:

A unique product and service in the market attracts more attention. Price it higher than other regular products.

F) Acceptable profit margin range in the area:

Profit margin’s acceptability is always decided based on the market and economy as well as the market demand for the product.

Consider a big city. If you have a product or service that is unique, but projecting a high volume of demand, based on the economy and your targeted niche, the profit margin should set higher than normal.
In a small community, If you are investing on a product with limited demand, go conservative on your profit margin.

6- Not having any budget

Many small business owners make a big mistake and do not place any budget for daily, monthly or yearly marketing plans. Whatever the profit and loss data projects on your business, it must include certain amount of budget for marketing plans that are realistic and traceable. Unfortunately small business owners mostly have no budget and deduct the cost of marketing plans from their profit data. This particular budget assignment is very effective in the future of business growth. Increase the marketing budget with business slowly reaching the peak of demands for your product and services.

7- Spending money on non-traceable ads

As the market changes, so as the marketing plan, pricing and target audience. Invest and assign marketing plans that are traceable. Traceable marketing means follow-up charts to analyze data.

The worst mistake of marketing is to spend money on a plan that cannot be traced and measured. This marketing mistake is wasting money or in other terms is shooting in the dark.

8- Do not trace the result

Many businesses have assigned a budget for the traceable marketing plan but sadly do not follow-up on the result and do not trace it. This is just the same as spending wasteful money on non-traceable.

9- Think in a closed box:

Each business is unique. Even if the business offers a same product as other business few streets down the road, the two are still unique and different in many ways. The biggest mistake small business owners make is to follow other businesses’ footsteps. Marketing and its strategies should not have any limitation. Think of marketing out side of the box and do not limit the marketing strategies to a cliché approach others do. Be creative and design a plan unique and suitable for the very business.

10- Don’t know what plans to set:

Everyone is familiar with the word marketing. The first conversation when opening a new enterprise is “Lets do marketing!” But do we all really realize the core meaning of it?

I compare marketing strategies and its unique approach to our fingerprints, which is distinctive. Many understand the word marketing but are not familiar with how to set the strategy and the game planning related to the business.

It is a big mistake not knowing how to set the strategies while being fully aware of marketing important role in the business. Since setting the marketing plan requires research, analysis and knowledge of he market, hire a professional researcher and marketer to create the necessary game plan.

11- Assuming the product or service will sell itself:

One of the biggest marketing mistakes is to assume your product or service is going to sell itself. This assumption is misleadingly translating marketing into advertisement. I have met many small business owners who declared that quote-to-quote “I don’t spend money on the marketing, to me I only rely on word of mouth”.

Word Of Mouth is the strongest way of marketing. So what this small business owner was under impression that he does not do any marketing because he thought marketing was spending money on advertisement. So he was counting on the most effective marketing, the word of mouth. Word of mouth consists of two factors:

A) Product or service:

People have to like the product or service to continue talk about it and refer their friends.

B) Customer service

Another major difference between businesses is the level of customer service. I didn’t say the level of good or bad. What I mean is each business owner or employee that has been fully trained to look after a client as a customer service has his or her own charm. This specific charisma and character make the business unique to others and is a major influence for word of mouth.

Let me give you an example of how powerful the word of mouth and spreading the word is to any business. While ago, I worked as a junior manager in an up-scale restaurant. The general manager identified his target niche as young professionals in downtown area. So he hand-picked few employees in the same age range as the targeted niche to use public transportation and talk about the restaurant among each other. His decision, although was not directly traceable, but yet had an amazing effect. How did I analyse the result and witness the proof?

The restaurant offered comment cards, asking “How you hear about us?” and many without any surprise responded via word of mouth in public transportation.

Even if the business owner is avoiding any advertisement cost, they still rely on spread of word about their service and product via the community and the word of mouth marketing.

12- Don’t know the target audience:

To plan and set a marketing strategy, any small business has to have a direct target niche as an audience. Analyze everything about the niche audience. The list certainly is not limited to the audience’s income, age, interest ratio to the product, sex, education, commitment ratio and their loyalty.

13- Don’t know the competition:

The best way to analyze the market is to get familiar with the competition and rivals. It might sound cliché but as the Godfather movie suggested, “Keep you enemy close”. Or if I may rephrase ” Keep your competition close and be aware of their moves”.

This is especially important for small business owners in small community to have a good relationship with other competition. To share my experience in the same restaurant I used to manage, the general manager always encouraged me to go to other local restaurants and dine. He even offered to pay the bill. All I had to do was to analyze everything from the greeting, staff knowledge, manager’s presence, client’s relation and the overall quality. My report helped him to understand his competition strengths and weaknesses.

14- Hiring wrong person to do marketing:

Many small business owners out of desperation and lack of networking, hire wrong people to do their marketing. As we said earlier, every business has unique offering and services so must focus on unique planning for its marketing strategies.

It is the small business owner’s responsibility to hire a professional firm who can relate to the business’s need and offerings.

A good reputable marketing firm whose focus is to promote books and authors in not a good fit for a small local bistro.

15- Underestimate the value of existing clients:

A good businessperson always knows the value of the existing clients;

The best way of follow-up with the existing clients is to create informative data about them. Many small business owners lack this very important source of information. To avoid this mistake, keep a record of every client’s information. If the information requires certain personal data, keep it in a safe and secure place.

A client whom already has experienced your product and service knows about the quality of it. Always do follow-up calls and do not be afraid to ask how they liked the product or service. Even if the client responses back with dissatisfaction is a perfect opportunity for the business owner to fix the problem.

Gain a new customer is costly. I am gong to explain this by an example:

“Nancy enters Joe’s café because of a coupon she found in a local magazine offering 10% discount. She solely relies on a menu attraction, prices, quality of the food and customer service. Joe the owner spent lots of money and time for marketing after analyzing the community needs, price affordability and the targeted niche market.

Joe has three ways to collect emails or phone calls for follow back:

A) placing a note pad in front of the cashier’s desk asking new clients to write email or contact info for special promos.

B) Placing a glass bowl by the cashier’s desk offering the weekly draw of free lunch from dropped business cards.

C) Offering comment cards and asking for contact info.

Joe has three ways to accumulate client’s information and follow-up with them. So everyday he goes through all the information and creates a secure data.

Nancy finds the place charming and the food great but not a good customer service. It is Joe’s responsibility to follow-up and gain back Nancy’s business once again to avoid spending all the money and time all over to attract another new client.”

Existing clients are the perfect way to promote every business. Send special offering, communicate with them and even ask them to share your business with their friends. Respect the boundary between proper communication and spamming.

16- Not offering giveaways and novelty items:

One of the most effective ways to attract clients is to giveaway your product or service for free.

A) Test run: Offer a monthly test run of your product and service and giveaway a free sampler. People love to get samplers. It gives them information about your business and its quality.

B) Propose monthly contest: Proffer a monthly contest and giveaway prizes based on participating in your business. People love contest and it excites them to know they can win something. If it didn’t work, Lottery and Casinos didn’t exist.

C) Give out novelties like mugs, pen, key chain, notepad, calculator, shirts and hats with the business information printed on it.

17-Wrong niche:

As a business owner recognizing correct niche market target is necessary for further marketing planning and budget assignment.

To explain this better lets picture a shoe store that carries high-end fashion shoes for women. The first thing that comes into the mind, high-end fashion niche is only younger generation and teenagers. A good business owner will explore the possibilities to analyze further more into the data from business plan to understand the local community needs.

If selling high-end, then its higher quality and higher prices. A teenager on a student living budget cannot be a direct and only target niche. So the correct niche is a professional and higher income spender who is more interested in quality without considering the price tag.

This example clears how a business owner distinguishes the certain target audience by analyzing the local market data from business plan. With enough knowledge in market research, the business owner avoids wasting the marketing budget on a wrong niche.

18-Not participating in community:

“Every big things has small beginning”

Regardless of the geographical target of any business, whether global or corner store in a small village, it all begins with local community.

Who are the first people you would share news with in your everyday life? Family and friends are the strongest link to marketing and spreading the word. It starts from friends and family and spreads to their friends and family and before you know it, is a snowball effect and cumulative.

The local community is the test run before spending a time and money on a dead-end marketing plan.

19- Do not own an informative and representative website:

Internet plays a great deal of connection in people’s life everyday. Many customers use the Internet to search and review local businesses. No matter what kind of business, it requires an informative and user-friendly website. A good business website is a gateway that welcomes customers to enter and experience the business offering.

Many small business owners making mistake and assume their line of business does not need a website. With daily development of technology, people get more connected via Internet and do their shopping online. Search engines get stronger everyday by developing codes and programs to bring up the exact and precise inquiry.

20- Do not appreciate the value of the Internet:

With a vastly growing competition on the Internet and the increase in demand for business development, simply having a website that offer information is not enough. Popular search engines are only producing websites in their search result, which have better ranking. Many small business owners simply making a big mistake by avoiding the presence on the Internet and ignore the growing highway to success. Every business must have an informative website and optimizes the business on search engines, social media and popular relevant forums. This subject of Internet marketing and its highly effective marketing plans is a lot of subject to cover in this article.

21- Expecting too much in short time:

Do not expect too much in a short time. There is always cause and effect but it requires proper time period to produce best effect. A seed needs time to open the surface and grow to a strong tree. But it requires water and good fertilization. Marketing is the water and fertilization to the business. It takes time for a good marketing plan to spread the roots and make a strong holding ground.

“Rome was not built in a day”

It took generations and much hard work of skilled engineers, planning and proper budgeting to build the mega city of Rome.

Can you hold a roof without building the pillars and the walls?

Marketing is the pillar of the business. Without marketing and planning, business lacks a foundation.

Many business owners place the marketing and development in their last page when the business opens its door to the public. Marketing starts when the business idea takes shape. It begins before the business is even called a business. Avoid making marketing mistake and start your marketing with knowledge and strategy.

Marketing is the heart of every business and keeps the health of the company in balance. But treat the heart right. Eating healthy, exercise and lack of stress are keeping the heart healthy to beat the life into our body. Practicing and implementing the right marketing strategies keep the business in shape. Don’t make mistake if you had a good run. Many small business owners get too excited for this temporary beat of recognition and look at it as everlasting. To keep a good balance in business, marketing and planning should match the flow of the business. Increase your strategies as your business grows and increases.

Marketing is the pillar of every business and is the only foundation to go further, faster. Imagine a boat with no engine crossing the Atlantic. The marketing to a business resembles the engine to a boat. The planning and strategy of the marketing to the business is the safety gear of the boat that keeps it balance and not to tip over.

The Contribution Of Marketing In The Business Boardroom

Executive Summary

Marketing’s Contribution on a Board

There is an unfortunate, not to mention utterly baffling reality occurring in organisations today of all different sizes, scopes and industries: the under-appreciation of the function of Marketing as a significant and valuable force in conducting successful business. Instead of seeing Marketing as it should be, that is, a powerful engine of research, innovation, development and communication, the Boards often misjudge it as a pseudoscientific art that has little impact on their bottom line.

The Boardroom is where the overall business goals are introduced, discussed, reviewed and approved, and yet quite commonly, a Board Director with a background in the function that is the muscle power of developing corresponding strategies and tactics to achieve these very goals- i.e.: Marketing- is completely absent. Board Directors with the typical Financial, Operational or Legal backgrounds are not familiar with and therefore do not appreciate such vital activities as communicating directly with customers, developing brand image campaigns or conducting research on customer behaviour in order to determine how best to position the product- a Marketing professional however is. Whilst Financial, Operational and Legal backgrounds are strong contributors on the Board, it is time to emphasise the missing gap: the strategy driving Marketing function. The root of the issue essentially boils down to an underlying misunderstanding and undervaluation of what a Marketing Board Director can contribute.

Demonstration Of Marketing Value

The Gap Of Undervaluation

The article, A Seat At The Boardroom Table, mentions that Robert Colquhoun, the Managing Director of Alexander Colquhoun & Son, admitted he referred to Marketing as “practitioners of the dark arts.”[1] My own father, Neil Melotti, CFO of Grace Worldwide, referred to Marketing as “The ministry of good times and novel contributions.”

In order for a Board to see the value of a Director with a Marketing perspective, the value of Marketing’s contribution to organisational success must be correctly demonstrated. The time has essentially come to foster a culture that looks beyond the tainted reputation of gimmicks, give-aways, cheesy jingles and pretty pictures that Marketing has unfortunately gained throughout the years, and instead rebuild a solid, respected reputation for the function as an arsenal of powerful, driving solutions for the ultimate benefit of the organisation; only then will the Board Members believe that Marketing is an asset in the Boardroom.

Marketing’s negative reputation is compounded by the fact that, unlike other functions that are always on a Board, such as Legal Counsel and Finance, a Marketing Professional can often be seen as a practiser of pseudoscience or an ‘ace-in-the-hole’ when the sales team need that little extra support to reach a set target. That’s because Marketing is a function that isn’t always accurately measureable or rational on paper- both at strategy and result levels. It’s very difficult to justify an expensive communication campaign to raise brand awareness in a target market that is comprised of unique people. Scott Stratten describes it perfectly in his book, UnMarketing[2]. He says it’s not solely ROI (Return On Investment), an accurate and commonly used measure, that drives business success; it’s more ROR (Return On Relationships) which Marketing cultivates that produces the greatest outcome; and that is really hard to calculate tangibly. Therefore, the buck stops with Marketing to overcome this ‘gap of undervaluation': the Board won’t decide to include and appreciate Marketing with no evidence- it must be proven and justified as an asset, both in and outside of the Boardroom.

Marketing’s role is to externally communicate to unpredictable Human Beings; you cannot plug in lines of accurate code with people to have them all behave in a way profitable to a business; some of the segment will reject the message, others will love it, more still will misinterpret the campaign and others will be too busy to even notice. There is no perfect solution to a problem when working with people, whether they are running organisations or individual consumers, hence the misconception and resulting undervaluation of the role of Marketing in an organisation.

Marketing: Helping Guide The Submarine

Therefore, it’s time to dispel these misconceptions and take Marketing off the side-line. Marketing needs to be seen not as an offshoot of support to the Operations/Sales teams, but as a strategic partner worthy of valuable contribution in the Boardroom. After all, due to the very nature of how Marketing works, it is the function with the finger on the pulse of the industry and its customers: how can a Boardroom steer an organisation to greater heights whilst such an informed contributor is not present?

Consider this analogy: It’s like a submarine (the organisation) without a periscope or sonar (Marketing), instead, relying on mathematical instruments (Finance) and a previously drawn map (Operations) alone to guide the course and hoping it reaches the destination successfully (Strategic Business Goals). What if the water current changes (market trends)? What if the depth is unpredicted (market demographics)? How can you keep an eye on other submarines (competitors) to ensure no collisions or direct attacks? Marketing cannot be on the beach, with a two-way radio to the Board Member crew; it needs to be there playing its role actively together with the rest of the crew.

The world’s industries are changing at an exponentially increasing rate and organisations cannot afford to wait to finally come to the realisation that the role and importance of Marketing has never been greater. Marketing is the function that is researching the shifting trends and fluctuating demographics of an organisation’s customers in order to predict and respond appropriately for the benefit of the organisation. How can an organisation rely on a Board with such a vital contributor is absent?

Application Of Marketing Techniques

Placing The Correct Value On Marketing: Contribution and Results

As outlined above, Marketing revolves around creating and monitoring the essential flow of information to and from external sources and the organisation, and in doing so, it defines, locates and retains customers for financial gain and organisational growth. The value of Marketing to the Boardroom therefore equates to both its initial tactical contribution at the goals and objective setting stage, and the measureable results and outcomes of its efforts.

Marketing’s Contribution

To a Board planning and developing future goals and targets, Marketing’s value lies both in:

1. The provision of information regarding external trends, characteristics, opportunities and threats that will effect these objectives, as well as;

2. The conceptualisation of a marketing strategy which effectively harnesses the strengths of the organisation, aligned to meet these set objectives.

Referring back to the submarine analogy, a Board setting goals must appreciate and be aware of the current and predicted future market landscape. Marketing, as a function, should be a major asset here as their efforts lie directly in contact with the market itself. If a competitor is having a particularly strong effect on the market, the major consumers are becoming more price-inelastic, or a recent breakthrough has made certain products redundant, Marketing can not only share this vital information with the Board, it can explain what impacts this will have on the current organisational objectives and suggest multiple options and tactical strategies to circumnavigate detrimental hurdles, as well as appropriately pursue advantageous and innovative opportunities. This is the benefit of inviting Marketing to participate in the Boardroom: such critical information should not be discounted or dismissed entirely. Such an oversight is an unnecessary detriment to organisational success.

Why would an organisation, therefore, think to exclude Marketing on the Board? Are the Board are willing to forego such advantages as already described above?

Marketing’s Reciprocal Obligation

Expectantly, it is a two-way street for Marketing to be included in the Boardroom. A Board with a Marketing member can assess and evaluate the Marketing concepts and strategy to ensure that the function has fully appreciated the other functions’ roles, responsibilities and perspectives. The Board can also actively interpret and ensure that the Marketing KPI’s align with budget, organisational and financial objectives, essentially removing the ‘practising of the dark arts’ perception: by inviting Marketing to the Boardroom, the organisation shines a large light over Marketing’s efforts, which in effect, will assist with dispelling the pseudoscience misrepresentation.

Marketing’s Outcomes and Results

Pinning down Marketing’s often intangible outcomes and results can be a difficult task- one that significantly adds to the under-appreciation of the function itself. However, it isn’t as shrouded as it may seem to other Board members, should a Marketing Board member be included.

Every function’s responsibility essentially lies with their direct impact and performance success on the organisation’s business plan and marketing is no exception to this. All functions are tasked with their objectives to make their appropriate contribution to the organisation’s goals and, in Marketing’s case, that is tangible and intangible corporate value.

Tangible value is the most solid due to the hard facts. In reality, straight hard figures reverberate the most in the Boardroom setting and include metrics such as direct customer responses to advertising, revenue growth, statistics from traceable online advertising, and figures from such activities as Product Familiarisation/Loyalty Programs.

However this is scratching the surface: as mentioned, it can be the intangible Return On Relationship (ROR) results that demonstrate Marketing’s effectiveness, however measuring these can be difficult. This in mind, a Boardroom can invite Marketing and focus on the value leveraged from the concept of marketing assets[3].

Marketing Assets are the leverageable value from intangible marketing elements, such as profitable good-will, reputable brand names, successful brand image, deep brand awareness penetration, the discovery of a profitable niche, a compelling advertising campaign, contributing marketing intelligence and so on. The issue here is that, often a Board vaguely accepts the value of these Marketing Assets, but fails to truly appreciate the scope of their impacts on organisational success and profitability. You cannot put a yearly mathematical depreciation formula on a brand name, for example. Therefore, by including Marketing in the Boardroom, the vagueness can be removed by an explanation of how to assign correct metrics to such Assets in order to demonstrate the impact they have.

These metrics are best assessed in a dynamic way by comparing continual past and future results of each Marketing Asset each time the Board meets. By viewing the value of each asset over several periods, unusual outliers and unexpected circumstances ‘smooth out’ and true value can be calculated. For example, Marketing can provide intelligence about competitors in the market through their research. This can be valued by the Board based on how such ongoing knowledge not only allowed the organisation to be better prepared over the last few quarters, but how well the developed Marketing Strategies assessed such threats and turned them into opportunities.

Another example is the value and contribution of a Brand. Brand awareness and perception are difficult to mathematically assess, however dynamically comparing unprompted and prompted consumer response to a brand, as well as its relevance in the market will indicate the potential earning capability it could generate. For example, Apple as a technology brand was seen as a technological leader and innovator in the market from around 2010 to 2012, and therefore, Apple’s Board, with a strong appreciation of Marketing, could accurately assess high profitable return to be leveraged off this good-will. However in 2013, to their detriment, Apple’s Board could view the Brand was weakening in the market now due to aggressive competitors and a far less innovative brand offering[4]. The Late and Former CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, was always a strong advocator of the value of Marketing at Board level toward organisational success[5].

The Apple example provides a good basis for the argument. The Board can assess past Marketing and organisational efforts that strengthened the Brand in previous periods (2010-2012) and investigate why a change has occurred in more recent periods. The Board, with Marketing present, would most likely determine that there was a distinct and direct correlation between the decline in their Brand’s strength and their falling market share, due to their recent Apple products being far less ground-breaking and their marketing campaigns far less unique and consistent with Apple’s funky, fresh image. Therefore, the next time the Board meets, the role of Marketing can be appropriately valued and more aggressively targeted to boost the next period’s results. By including the Marketing function in the Apple Boardroom, the Executive Team are better equipped to appreciate the decline and re-evaluate the organisational goals and strategies to address the treats to the business.

Organisational Synergy: A More Complete Boardroom

A successful Boardroom contributes best when it correctly appreciates all of a business’ separate systems: this should definitely include Marketing, not because it is a budget-draining misunderstood ‘pseudoscience’ of unproved, unpredictable and immeasurable efforts, but a powerful contributor and resource. A Boardroom with a Marketing member that understands this will be better equipped to value, manage and utilise the function for the extremely valuable contributions it can produce.

Key Elements to Successful Co-Marketing Lead Generation Campaigns

Many channel support programs on the market today really just involve providing free software, marketing collateral and sometimes low qualified leads. Few are really focused on helping partners to sell joint solutions effectively. Even fewer are focused on developing long-term co-marketing success with a demonstrable return on investment (ROI).

1. Introduction
Co-marketing is a practice that allows two or more companies to work together to drive sales opportunities that benefit all of the partners involved. A successful co-marketing campaign allows different companies to leverage the strengths of each partner to succeed in ways that each individual company cannot do alone.

One such example is IBM and Oracle, two large yet different IT companies with complementary products and services, who have been alliance partners for a variety of campaigns since 1986. The results of the collaboration between these companies are hardware platforms and application systems that work together to provide companies with reliable IT services. Personnel are trained on both IBM hardware and Oracle applications to efficiently operate and maintain mission critical systems for companies around the world. Sometimes the joint offering is promoted via direct sales staff from both companies, and sometimes through mid-market partners.

Co-marketing goes beyond marketing and channel support: it is a program that requires full participation and commitment from all parties involved to result in success.

2. Creating Co-Marketing Alliances
An effective alliance of partners is the primary concern in ensuring a successful co-marketing campaign. Each partner contributes to the relationship in a different way, and in some cases, three or more partners are needed to provide a robust, successful campaign.

2.1 Types of Co-Marketing Alliances
Every co-marketing partnership is different, but there are a few primary types of co-marketing alliances in the IT sector:

• One Large + One Small – In this scenario, a large company, such as IBM, may partner with a mid-market company that focuses on a specific niche market. IBM can take an existing IT product, tailor it to that specific niche industry, and the mid-market partner can leverage its own customer base plus the name recognition of IBM to market this tailored product.

• Two Large – Co-marketing campaigns don’t always have to include a large company and a small company. Two large companies with complementary product or service offerings can form alliances to develop a product that benefits the customer bases of both companies.

• Two Large + One Small – In this case, two large companies partner with a single mid-market company to drive leads to that company. For example, IBM and Oracle can form an alliance with a mid-market company who has developed a product that is complementary to IBM and Oracle’s offerings. IBM and Oracle can funnel leads to this mid-market partner from their own customer base, or assist the partner in driving and managing new joint sales opportunities by themselves.

The key to success in forming a co-marketing alliance is to bring together partners with complementary product or service offerings that are committed to each other’s success.

2.2 Engagement Models
The engagement model for the co-marketing alliance outlines how each partner will contribute to the overall alliance. In some cases, one company will generate leads then pass them to a partner to nurture. In other cases, each partner funds the campaign equally, and each generates leads from its own customer and marketing base. Some of the basic engagement models include:

• Large company generates leads, passes them to partners
• Large company provides marketing funding, partners develop and implement co-branded campaigns to generate leads
• Alliance partners co-fund campaign, all partners generate and share leads

The design of the engagement model depends on the types of companies involved in the alliance, the intended participation of each entity, and the goals of the campaign.

3. Keys to Successful Co-Marketing Campaigns
It can be difficult to design a marketing campaign with only one company involved; adding one or more partners can significantly complicate the design and execution of a campaign. By being aware of potential pitfalls, using the right resources, and instilling accountability in all partners, a co-marketing campaign can meet or exceed all expectations.

3.1 Overcoming Obstacles
One of the challenges is finding the right partners to form a co-marketing alliance. Many co-marketing campaigns occur naturally, when partners working together on other projects decide to initiate a new campaign together. However, in some cases a smaller company may have co-marketing campaign ideas that could involve a larger company, and may need assistance in approaching a larger company to form an alliance.

Some of the major obstacles that can be encountered in forming a co-marketing alliance include:

• “We don’t have the time/money.” – Many organizations may initially balk at the time, money, and personnel that are required to create a co-marketing campaign, without really understanding what really is required. Many co-marketing campaigns can actually save all of the partners time and money in the long run because efforts aren’t duplicated by each partner.

• “I don’t even know where to start.” – Organizations that have never developed a co-marketing campaign may feel intimidated by the process. One option is to work with an alliance partner that has significant expertise developing its own co-marketing alliances. Many larger companies have significant marketing experience and the in-house staff to adequately design and manage co-marketing campaigns.

Once an alliance has been formed, the design and execution of the marketing campaign can also contain many pitfalls, including:

• Poor Planning – Alliances that fail to plan are planning to fail. A successful co-marketing campaign requires integrated planning by all partners within the alliance at the very start of the design process.

• Misalignment with Partner Messages – A large partner could potentially force a smaller partner to conform to the large partner’s established messages, even if they don’t exactly align with the message that the smaller partner wants to portray.

• Not Using Available Tools – Each partner in a co-marketing campaign has their own resources that they can provide, whether it’s funding, personnel, or software tools. If one partner does not take advantage of the tools that the other partner has provided, then they reduce the overall value of the campaign.

• Overly Complex Messaging – Messaging between personnel and partners within a co-marketing campaign has to be tailored to each of the parties receiving data. For example, CFOs will want to stay on top of ROI figures for the campaign as a whole, while CIOs will focus on ROI for web and email efforts. C-level executives need big picture information while personnel executing the operations of the campaign need specific technical information targeted for their function.

• Lack of Lead Nurturing – The majority of leads that will be generated during any type of co-marketing campaign will be long term and will require a nurturing process. Treating these leads as one-time sales chances and avoiding building a relationship will result in failure. Lead nurturing also has to be performed by the right people. Leads generated by marketing personnel need to be passed to sales personnel who can follow up and nurture these leads. In a co-marketing alliance, these leads often have to be passed from one partner to another.

• Overwhelming Smaller Partners – A Common complaint from smaller partners is the “peak and trough” problems of running one-off campaigns that generate a high volume of leads quickly, and then nothing until the next campaign six months later. Partners are overwhelmed with the volume of leads initially, do not have the resources to follow up properly immediately, lose momentum with the leads, which is later followed by a trough.

• Lack of Sales Process Training – Smaller partner companies and their account managers may have unrealistically high expectations of leads. They consequently do not manage them through a formal sales process that enables the lead to progress naturally through specific stages of a standard sales process. In effect, they “blow” the lead by expecting it to close too early.

3.2 Using Third Party Agencies

For companies that have never been involved in a co-marketing campaign, it may be difficult to navigate the design and implementation process. Third party channel marketing agencies with experience facilitating co-marketing alliances can provide significant support in designing and implementing a co-marketing campaign, no matter what size your business is. Third party agencies that understand the complexities of multiple stakeholders can help cultivate the relationships between all of the co-marketing campaign partners. A third party agency can also:

• Improve marketing efforts through CRM integration, management training and marketing workshops
• Provide Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) that guarantee a certain level of pipeline
• Provide smaller partners with additional marketing support to bolster their marketing resources, and provide “hand-holding” through the process, reducing the footprint on partners
• Empower sales personnel through recruitment, training, and resources
• Create lead generation through multiple integrated tactics
• Cultivate customer loyalty through keep-in-touch activities, developing customer satisfaction surveys, “drip marketing” and creating customer panels

The bottom line is that a third party agency that specializes in developing co-marketing alliances can help guide businesses of any size through the process of developing and executing a co-marketing campaign and navigate the alliance partners around potential pitfalls. A third party agency can help to significantly improve the performance of a co-marketing campaign by facilitating communications, keeping all of the partners on track and providing the tools and resources needed to succeed.

3.3 Instilling Accountability
When working with one or more partners, it is vital to have an established system of communication and accountability. This will ensure that all parties know and understand what is expected of them, and task lists and timelines are clearly established and communicated to all team members.

One of the best ways to instil accountability right from the start of the project is to begin the alliance with an advance marketing workshop. This workshop, which involves all parties in the alliance, lays out the blueprint for the campaign and allows for consensus to be reached on all matters in campaign design and execution. This type of workshop should include:

• Determining the specific marketing tactics and mediums that will be leveraged as part of the marketing campaign
• Determining the specific engagement model between all parties in the co-marketing alliance
• Creating alignment between all marketing messages and all alliance partners so that a consistent message is promoted
• Developing targeted messaging and communication tailored to the needs of each recipient.

When all partners are at the same table, literally, from the start, the chances of success for the co-marketing campaign increases significantly.

Another tactic to instil accountability in each party is to engage people who have sales quotas. People who have specific sales goals or work on commission-based compensation models are more sensitive to the effectiveness of marketing methods, because they can see the results of success or failure in their numbers, or their pay checks. These employees are often more willing to be engaged with their counterparts across the alliance to make the partnership work.

Accountability should be three hundred and sixty degrees. Sometimes there could be four or more parties to a co-marketing campaign, e.g. Two strategic partners (e.g. IBM and Oracle)

Partner marketing team
Partner account management team
Product marketing team
A mid-market partner (e.g. Value Added Reseller)
A marketing agency

All parties should be held accountable for their commitment, co-operation and deliverables. There should be an all-round “partnership” relationship by all parties, rather than a “client-supplier” relationship that restricts honest feedback.

Finally, as part of the commitment to clear communication amongst partners, it is critical to identify, report, and manage key performance indicators (KPI), such as numbers of new customers and retention of existing customers, throughout the campaign. Identification of KPIs should take place during the initial design of the co-marketing campaign, but these numbers need to be communicated and acted upon as needed as the campaign plays out to maximize the performance of the campaign. Strategies need to be in place to react to KPI changes, whether positive or negative.

Understanding Marketing – An Overview of Strategies, Costs, Dangers and Risks

What is Marketing?

Marketing is a business discipline through which the targeted consumer is influenced to react positively to an offer. This can relate to the purchase of a product or a service, the joining of an organization, the endorsement of a candidate or ideology, the contribution or investment in a cause or company, or a variety of other choices of response.

The marketer can use a number of techniques to reach the consumer which can be based on artistic or scientific strategies, or a combination of the two.

Usually, the consumer is identified as a member of a particular segment of the populace, known as a market. For example, markets can be defined by age, income, area of residence, home value, interest, buying habits, industry or profession, etc., which facilitates and simplifies the marketing process. Knowing to whom the marketing effort is appealing greatly assists the marketer in developing appropriate language, reasoning and incentives to find success in its marketing efforts.

Choosing to target a particular market as opposed to the entire universe also greatly controls marketing expenditures but also may limit response. If anyone anywhere can be a customer, sales expectations may be higher but marketing costs will certainly also need to be higher as well with such a huge target as its goal.

To address this dilemma, more creative means of marketing are sometimes utilized to assist with marketing message delivery. If what is being marketed is considered newsworthy and of public interest, editorial coverage in the media can greatly assist marketing efforts. Since this usually is not reliant on major marketing funds other than what is needed to support the development, distribution, and yes, marketing of press releases to editors and publishers, the advantages of such publicity can be priceless, albeit usually miraculous on such a large scale.

Marketing is everywhere!

Everywhere we turn, everything we do is somehow connected to marketing, whether we have been induced to participate in some activity because of it or develop an interest in some idea as a result of it. Whether we realize it or not, there are personal, political or commercial agendas cloaked as news we read in the paper, behind the books, movies and music we experience as part of our culture, and within the confines of our stores and supermarkets where we shop. Of course, we easily recognize the blatant marketing efforts that reach us through direct mail, media advertising, and all over the Internet including the spam we receive ad nauseum. Marketing has become one of the most all-pervasive elements of life and we are fools if we do not question the validity or innocence of everything we read, see and hear.

Marketing is communication and education!

In order to be successful in business marketing, the customer must be reached in a variety of ways. First of all, not every customer gets the daily paper or listens to local radio. We have limited knowledge of which TV station they may watch, where they shop, what roads they travel or where they dine. Depending on what we are marketing, we may have to utilize a whole assortment of avenues of marketing to get their attention. And, if we reach them just once, that is hardly enough to make a lasting impression. Marketing is necessary on a repeated basis in a diverse number of ways in an ever-changing presentation to assure that every customer can relate to it in some way, learn what we are offering and understand how it can benefit them. To achieve long-term customer loyalty, the targeted consumer needs to be coddled into familiarity with what we are selling so they feel it is something they truly want as opposed to having it forced upon them as something they desperately need, only to find out later they were tricked!

Marketing Sounds Expensive!

Yes, marketing can get pricey particularly if it is done on a consistent basis. But in today’s world, we have marketing options we never had even twenty or thirty years ago. Now, instead of paying for expensive printing and postage to mail a brochure or postcard to a targeted consumer, we can utilize email marketing, website presentations or online banner ads to reach the same market, usually at a fraction of the cost. Today, instead of buying expensive print advertising, we can work on improving our website’s SEO (search engine optimization) – (something we can do for free, if we are so inclined) so that people in need of what we offer can find us through Internet searches, rather than our trying to find them at an astronomical expense.

What About Social Media Marketing?

In addition to alternative marketing options already mentioned, there is the latest craze for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other incredibly popular social media where people, young and old, spend hours developing relationships with “friends” they may never have met or ever will meet. Yet they share intense secrets of their deepest thoughts and desires as well as actual photographic representations of the same which sometimes land people in trouble with the law, or at the very least, their employer, school or parents.

Whether social media marketing is a worthwhile endeavor for businesses remains to be seen since businesses rarely accumulate millions of followers the way celebrities do. But as a way for customers to interact with a business for which they may have developed a fondness cannot be disputed. Can this translate into more sales for the business? We’ll have to wait and see, while continuing to devote precious time to composing meaningful 140-character tweets and building a Facebook “persona” for the business. From this writer’s standpoint, the only worthwhile social medium for business is that of LinkedIn since it provides a serious platform on which to create a business résumé where anyone interested in your professional stature can quickly summarize your capabilities, experience and accomplishments.

Marketing Can Be Intuitive

Much of what becomes marketing strategy is based more on common sense than on some mysterious scientific formula. As we see on a daily basis in stock market gyrations as well as political leanings, the herd mentality rules. On any particular day, if the Japanese or European stock or bond markets are selling off for one reason or another, you can safely bet that the U.S. markets will follow suit. And in any political race, as we are witnessing in the U.S. presidential primaries, the more one candidate gains ground, baby step by baby step, the more likely that candidate will become the Party nominee. Today’s world is governed by a minute-by-minute opinion survey measured by the endlessly publicized polls where people see what other people are thinking and use those results to form their own opinions. Monkey see, monkey do. The same holds true for marketing.

If we are told that a certain brand of coffee is the leading brand in America, we will probably believe what we are told, assume it tastes best, perhaps buy it ourselves regardless of cost, and perhaps adopt it as our own favorite. All because we were told everyone else was doing it. Safety in numbers, as they say.

It is ironic that those who become successful marketers usually dwell on the outskirts of the herd, have a more astute grasp of mass psychology, and approach business and life in a more innovative, creative and unique way, a mindset they use to formulate the next marketing phenomenon. The world is made up of leaders and followers: a few choice leaders and a glut of followers. It takes a lot more gumption to become a leader than it does to join the herd. That’s why marketing is a profession based in psychological control by a choice few over the mindless masses who have no initiative or courage to decide for themselves.

What is the difference between marketing and selling?

Selling is one aspect of the greater process of marketing. Marketing begins long before the product or service is even ready to sell. Marketing encompasses the concept, naming, branding and promoting of the offer while selling is the much more individualized effort to convince a lead who has possibly responded to the marketing offer to make the purchase. You can’t have one without the other, at least not easily. Marketing is a process by which we strive to reach the final goal of making the sale. Without marketing, the sales process is extremely difficult because the entire onus of educating the consumer about the offer is on the shoulders of the sales representative. On the other hand, if marketing has been successful, the sales rep can waltz in knowing the consumer is well apprised of the offer and can work his magic to convert the prospect into a satisfied customer.

What are some of the instruments of marketing?

There are many ways to market an offer, some of which are expensive, and others of which can be free. The methods we use that cost us dearly may not work as well as some of those we receive as a gift. Among the costly ways are media advertising, direct mail, conference presentations, distribution of printed literature, online advertising, email marketing, etc. Of those that are free are efforts referred to as guerrilla marketing, which are things we do ourselves to spread the word, network and publicize what we are offering. This can include posting flyers on bulletin boards in supermarkets, libraries, delis, small shops, and government offices, etc. Every time we add a tag to our emails where people can click to go to our website, we are using guerrilla marketing at no cost. Making sure we are easily found in Internet searches through search engine optimization of our website or other online presence, is an excellent way to achieve free marketing. One way to do this is to register your company or organization on every possible free online directory in your industry, region or interest group which translates into exponential growth as time passes.

What is viral marketing?

Viral marketing (as it relates to the word “virus,” meaning contagious and capable of spreading) is another means of free promotion facilitated by shrewd decisions we can make to further our cause. The easiest way to define viral marketing is that which is communicated via “word-of-mouth.” Related to the herd mentality discussed above, if a friend or business acquaintance mentions a product or service in a favorable light, we will be much more inclined to remember it and check it out. This can happen in a business meeting, at a mall, at a soccer game or over lunch. However, since most of us spend so much time on the Internet, it can happen practically everywhere we turn by clicking on the “like” buttons on Facebook or the “1” button on Google, among others. These are our personal endorsements where we give a “thumbs up” to something we have experienced and want to share with our friends so they too can enjoy it. Getting your offerings out with such buttons attached can result in viral marketing in your favor.

Viral marketing can have powerful repercussions as experienced by one client with an online auto accessories store. Many of his customers frequent online special interest forums related to the model of car they drive where members discuss products they have installed and the source of their purchase, followed by a link to his referenced website. Such referrals are repeated in other ensuing discussions, multiplying the number of links back to his site, increasing the power of his SEO and catapulting him to the tops of Internet searches for what he sells. He paid nothing for this phenomenon of parlayed good fortune except the daily effort he consistently expends to offer top quality merchandise and equally excellent customer service.

Do you need marketing?

If you are in business, of course you do. While you can attempt to do as much of it as you can on your own, it is advised that you begin with a reliable base of professional name, logo, website and search engine optimization to get started on the right foot. From there, you can work on promotion via guerrilla marketing and seek professional marketing services as needed for special needs, like a strong, effective ad to run, the development of professional sales literature to distribute at an upcoming show, or a direct mail promotion to your list of repeat customers, for example. Some business people choose to handle their own taxes to save on the cost of using an accountant for such critical functions at the risk of getting audited. Likewise, you can certainly attempt to produce marketing tools yourself but for long-term branding purposes and best return on investment, it is advisable to leave marketing development to the professionals.