Planning for Interim Success – Part Two
This is the second part of a review of some of the most common requests made to an interim marketer. This section considers collateral, re-branding and mobilising the sales force, with hints from the author to help make improvements in these areas.
The first part of this article reviewed some of the marketing issues I get asked about, ranging from customer data, reducing marketing costs to direct marketing and web sites. In Part Two, I want to look at another sample of topics including sales collateral, re-branding and mobilising the sales force.
So, we have a successful web site, we know and can track our customers, and are managing our budgets. Now we can focus on telling the rest of the world about our organisation and its great products. For some companies, PR is nothing more complicated than sending out a press release to a handful of relevant magazines, then waiting for page after page of enthusiastic editorial. Sadly the reality is a little different.
Far from eagerly receiving our handcrafted work, editors are swamped every day with hundreds of news offerings from around the world. Does this mean we shouldn’t bother with PR? Of course not, but don’t recommend devoting an inappropriate amount of effort to it at the expense of more ‘controllable’ initiatives. While it’s important to get column inches, PR is also a door opening opportunity to contact targeted editors - a useful starting point to building a long-term relationship.
Having opened that dialogue, you’re now able to explore the placement of articles around topics on which you have significant expertise (but that’s an entire article on its own!). And don’t forget to use even the simplest contact management package to keep track of the communications to manage outstanding actions, such as supplying product for review, contributing to a forthcoming article and so on. In other words, view editors and journalists in the same light as clients, working to a program around their needs and timescales.
Next on my list is a topic that positively devours time - Marketing Collateral. This covers anything from the basics (data sheets and brochures) to the one-offs like shows, conferences and sales promotions. Again, we can identify ways to deliver this material matched to particular sectors and audiences, whether it’s case studies using terminology appropriate to their industry or sales cribsheets highlighting the benefits to a specific type of customer. But having the best collateral is of limited use to the sales guys unless it’s readily available and is guaranteed to be up-to-date. I did say that, done properly, collateral just eats up resources!
Talking of the sales team brings me on to a growing need for many companies - Mobilising the Workforce. Not just the domain of engineers and tech support teams, mobile systems are now expected to go beyond printing the odd form or document, delivering every conceivable facility while on the road. Similar to marketing and sales collateral, the aim is to make information available where and when needed, whether it’s at a customer’s site or exhibition booth. But experience has taught me that you don’t try to provide everything that’s asked for, instead assess each request’s true ROI before deciding to divert resources from another initiative. In other words, the key requirement is for accurate and useful facilities that are always available wherever the need.
Now for one project that is of limited duration but makes more of an impact than most others. Re-branding or Building a New Brand is becoming a regular request for me, sometimes due to an organisation’s profile becoming stale or possibly disjointed after years of acquiring competitors, each with their own previous profile in the marketplace.
But, before committing resources, we must be clear what is meant by changing the ‘brand’. Specializing in B2B marketing, I’ve learned to not take the project at face value but to probe a little into what is really needed and often find it’s more a case of re-alignment than re-branding. The difference is that re-alignment is a matter of keeping what’s working within the fabric of the organization and improving the rest, while re-branding is obviously more about focusing on the image that represents the company. Both would require a comprehensive refresh and harmonising of everything ranging from stationery and PowerPoint templates to web sites and staff awareness. Because of their one-off nature, these projects are often difficult to build into the ‘normal’ marketing schedule, which must still maintain its events program, sales lead generation and so on. This is where a professional interim marketer can make all the difference, providing support (and mentoring, if relevant) without distracting the rest of the team away from their day-to-day tasks.
Doing all these things is fine and dandy but make no mistake – someone high up will want to know what benefits are being delivered and how we go forward from hereon in. Reporting and Analysis is probably one of the more time-consuming elements in a marketer’s calendar - and often least enjoyable! - but it’s essential if we are to justify our existence and earn continued marketing funding.
I’m a strong believer that professional marketers shouldn’t wait to be asked about their team’s efforts. By proactively communicating what the marketing budget has been delivering, we are showing that we know our targets and aren’t afraid to be measured against them.
Turning our achievements into presentable intelligence, though, will need a clear definition of the marketing team’s objectives. ‘Acquiring an extra ten dealers’ is obviously different to’ increasing sales by 15% to existing customers’ – both are measurable but need widely different messages and delivery techniques. Trust me, putting in that extra bit of work will help win over the non-marketers (and, dare I say, even sceptics?). And I mean going beyond just the Board to include anyone who may not appreciate exactly what goes on behind the door labelled ‘Marketing Team’.
So that’s a quick review of some of the more common tasks I get to work on, but a professional marketer will know that most of these initiatives are done in conjunction with any number of other tools and equally obvious is the demand this places on the often stretched I.T. resources and skills. Saying all this, I’ve still found that, with careful planning and collaboration, even major projects can be achieved in a relatively short timescale.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Based in the UK, Glyn Yarnall has over twenty years marketing experience, including ten years as an Interim Head of Marketing/Consultant for multi-national B2Bs, not-for-profit and government, particularly for US-based companies wishing to improve their European presence. More case studies, along with further examples of interim projects, are featured at http://www.reveremarketing.co.uk/