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Sales and Marketing Strategy

Anyone who goes into business whether online or off needs to have a mission, with clear cut objectives and then a strategy, which becomes the road map to get from where they are to where they are going. Hopefully, that is to a sale.

A mission is important because it defines why you are in business. It provides the passion necessary to pursue your objectives. Objectives give you a clear focus and direction to where you are headed. As the old saying goes if you do not know where you are going, chances are you will not get there.

Nothing is going to happen however until you have developed a Sales and Marketing Strategy which will be your roadmap to success. A Sales and Marketing Strategy is necessary to lay out what must be done to get the sale. Once you have the strategic plan, you then have to work the plan and that is when the work starts.

Let us look at what is involved in putting together a Sales and Marketing Strategy for an online business. And here I am going to be talking about achieving success without a huge investment but just grinding it out with good hard and mostly smart work.

The first thing you need to do is market research. You need to find out what people are buying. The answer to this question can usually be found in the keywords that people search in the various search engines. This information is readily available on Google. Along with this information, you have ClickBank, Commission Junction, Linkshare, and Amazon to name a few that will tell you how much of what products are being sold by various affiliate programs.

Now after doing this homework, you can decide which affiliate program you will represent based on your knowledge and liking of what you are going to sell. Your knowledge will give you credibility, and your liking of a product will transmit enthusiasm which is contagious and necessary for a sale to be consummated.

Now it is time to become an affiliate and have a product that you believe in and people are buying. Sounds’ promising, however, nothing is going to happen until something moves. In order to move the product, we need to communicate to the world in this case, since we have an online business that we have what people are searching for and want.

Now here is where commitment comes into play. We can communicate either with paid advertisement or free article marketing. The real fact is that although article marketing is free it is going to cost you in time and energy because you are going to need to write lots of articles in order to dominate the niche that you choose to sell in.

Of course, if you go the paid advertisement route it will still require a lot of commitment along with patience and determination until you finally start making sales. I prefer to go the Article Marketing route during the test period. After I start making sales I can either pay someone to write articles for me or go with paid advertising at that point.

Good Luck.

The Impact of Social Media on Sales and Marketing

The world has changed. The way of doing business is changing. How we communicate is changing. The traditional methods of communication are changing. How have companies communicated with clients and prospects in the past? Most smart sales people seek to build dependable referral lead sources consisting of clients, centers of influence and very important people. Although these are proven strategies for increasing sales success, this lead generation method takes considerable time. It could take months and sometimes years! Most companies can be rather impatient. This puts pressure on sales people to generate sales immediately! Businesses must produce sales to remain profitable. What are your choices? Some Fortune 500 companies have adapted to the change. Unfortunately, small and medium sized companies have not gotten the message yet. Most have not adapted to this change.

Mike Volpe, Vice-President of Hubspot agrees. He conducted a webinar on the impact of social media on marketing a couple months ago. The old traditional methods: cold calling, direct mail marketing, advertising and trade shows are less effective today. Americans are bombarded with marketing and advertising everyday! Everybody is trying to sell you something everyday and all the time! Consumers and prospective buyers are blocking out these messages. There is the “Do Not Call List” that prevents unwanted telemarketing calls. Additionally, the federal government passed the Can Spam Act which blocks unwanted emails. Tivo allows television watchers to bypass the commercials. Sirius and XM digital radio have no advertising at all!

Major newspaper and television companies are losing advertising revenue and downsizing and laying off employees. Do you watch television or listen to the radio, read the newspaper or magazines for the ads? Advertising is expensive and most times produces a low return on investment. Here in Atlanta, Georgia, I noticed that the price of Atlanta Journal Constitution daily newspaper is now 75 cents. When did it go up? The old price was 50 cents. That is an increase of fifty percent! With decreasing revenues, perhaps the AJC had no choice. Business owners are now analyzing their return on investment on advertising. Now they are implementing alternative marketing strategies via the web! Many major corporations are advertising online by flocking to social media sites. YouTube, My Space, Facebook, and Linkedin, are attracting millions of subscribers. Likewise, Fortune 500 companies are connecting with those subscribers online and spending millions of dollars!

Selling is a tough business. Here are the facts about sales and marketing:

o The average company brand awareness is 7 percent.
o Ninety percent of people connected are not ready to buy.
o A new sale might take 8 to 15 touches with a prospect.
o The average sales person makes 1 to 2 calls and quits and never calls again!
o Fifty percent of all buyers purchase within 6 to 18 months.

If selling is such a tough business, what questions should you ask of yourself and your company?

o What is your brand awareness?
o How do your clients and prospects recognize your products and services?
o What do they say about you and your company?
o What are you doing to stay in front on your best prospects?
o How are you connecting and improving your relationship with your clients?
o What tools are you using to engage your clients and prospects?
o How are you using technology to enhance your image?
o How are you using technology to demonstrate that you are better than the competition?

The traditional methods for prospecting and selling no longer work as well. Most sales people still cold call and telemarket, send mass direct mail via U.S. Postal service, attend networking and trade shows. Most sales people who do not have a prospect database must find clients by reading local newspapers and magazines, buying leads for a database company, searching directories for the best prospects and “smiling and dialing” the Yellow Pages . Although sales professionals should never abandon these methods, they must adapt and continue to thrive in this tough business environment.

The key is to find ways to attract your best prospects. People want to buy. They do not want to be sold! In the past, prospective buyers needed marketing and sales personnel to get enough information to make a buying decision. Not any more! People are using the power of the Internet and embracing technology! They are using major search engines to find the information that they need.

What does this mean for you and your business? How could this impact your sales and business? If you do a search on your name, company or your keywords that describes your business, what search results do you get? If you are not on the first page, guess who getting the business? Your competition! If you are not actively using the Internet to attract potential and keep clients, start now! You can not afford not to start now! Your business might depend on it! There is plenty of opportunity to build your web presence and digital image. Do not let the Internet and others define you, your brand and company! You have no choice! Take control! The other option is the “smiling and dialing” businesses in the Yellow Pages for eight hours straight!

Here are a few suggestions:

o Conduct a search on your name, company and key words.
o Learn more about the Internet and how to use it to your advantage.
o Start reading business blogs and news releases.
o Discover interesting videos in your industry or profession.
o Join a social network to connect with potential clients and referral sources.
o Start blogging your personal views and observations within your industry.
o Start video and audio podcasting.
o Begin writing articles and submitting them to directories that will search your target market.
o Start an electronic newsletter.
o Initiate a monthly or weekly news release promoting your company.
o Review your company website and your SEO parameters and guidelines.
o Offer free trials and tools to encourage prospects to try your products or services.
o Discover what web 2.0 tools that you could use in your business and start using them now!

As the Recession Deepens, Sales and Marketing is Failing the Turnaround Test

During 20th Century recessions, sales and marketing people were often heroic. As companies came under financial pressure sales people often started selling like crazy. And marketing people launched innovative advertising, promotions and public relations campaigns. As a result, 20th Century sales and marketing efforts often got turnarounds turned around. They reversed sales and profit declines and built a foundation for continuing growth.

Without a doubt, sales and marketing folks often saved the day during 20th Century recessions. But, that was then. This is now. And here in the first business recession of the 21st Century most sales and marketing efforts are failing the turnaround test.

The problem is that what customers want (and in fact demand) here in the 21st Century is almost the polar opposite of what they wanted back in the 20th. Back in the 20th Century customers often welcomed sales and marketing efforts because they wanted and often needed the information that those efforts provided. In appreciation, they frequently rewarded information providers with lucrative sales.

In contrast, here in the 21st Century Internet wired and inspired customers often know more about what they buy than the sales and marketing people who attempt to sell it to them. They resist and resent being marketed or sold to. And, they often punish 21st Century sales and marketing efforts by paying only the lowest possible price (which seldom yields a profit) . . . and they hop from one competitor to another in a heartbeat.

So, facing today’s recessionary pressures what is a CEO to do?

According to Dr. Bob Roth, founder of the BPI for Sales(TM) sales and marketing method (BPI stands for “Business Process Improvement”) what a CEO and his or her sales and marketing team need to do is to connect their “dots.” They need to connect the cross-functional business process dots that Promise, Produce and Deliver what their customers want (and will pay for).

They need to recognize that the sales and marketing people are only one of three dots that need connecting. The people who produce (or purchase and stock) what the company sells are the second business process dot. And, the people who deliver what the company delivers are the third dot.

Simply put, here in the 21st Century it takes a cross-functional sales and marketing team to provide customers with value, make them feel important and build strong and lasting bonds. Doing that is the only way to increase sales and profits and to build a foundation for growth here in the first 21st Century recession.