Brian Carroll

Three Questions to Align Your Strategy, Marketing and Sales

June 28th, 2016
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When the business strategy isn’t linked with sales and marketing, the result is that marketers and sellers end up working harder, not smarter. This has a multi-billion dollar impact. Most companies struggle with this according to the Frank Cespedes, author, and Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School: “Selling [or marketing,] no matter how clever and creative, can’t generate good financial returns unless it’s connected to strategy.”

I met Frank while we both spoke at an event in Santiago, Chile. We had a memorable time sharing ideas and research. I thought Frank had a practical approach to aligning sales and marketing. So, I reached out to him and interviewed him about what he’s learned through his research for his most recent book Aligning Strategy and Sales.

[Editor’s Note: This interview was edited for length and grammar only.]

 

Brian Carroll: What inspired you to write about Aligning Strategy and Sales, which is the title of your new book?

Frank Cespedes: Despite decades of attention to so-called strategic planning, there is remarkably little research about how to link strategy with the nitty gritty of field execution, especially sales efforts [and marketing]. American companies annually spend about $900 billion every year on sales efforts. That’s not marketing, that’s sales, that’s compensation, the travel, incentives, the infrastructure, etc. and to put that in perspective, Brian, that figure is more than three times what they spend on all media, Super Bowls, everything. It’s more than about 40 times what they spend on digital marketing, and it’s more than 50 times what they currently spend on social media. This is a big, big gap.

 

Can you tell us more about your background and where all of this came from?

I was an academic at Harvard Business School for about 11 years working my way up the hierarchy and always was doing research in sales-related areas. My research started with distribution channels, B2B distribution channels, morphed into sales. Then I ran a business for 12 years. And then I came back and said, “I’m teaching strategy. I know something about sales. Let me see what people have written about it.”

What I found was this gap, so I figured two things. One is I don’t think the world needs another book about strategy, and I don’t think, to be blunt, the world needs yet another selling methodology, but there just isn’t much if anything about linking the two and that was the gap that I set out to address.

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Daniel Burstein

Customer-first Marketing: Do you put your customers’ interests first?

June 21st, 2016
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fiduciary-dutyFiduciary duty. These words have been in the news lately, as the government seeks to require that financial advisors have a fiduciary duty to their customers in certain cases.

A fiduciary duty is a legal duty to act solely in another party’s interests. So what this new regulation essentially means is, financial advisors must put customer’s interests before their own. And the financial industry has been fighting this.

As marketers – this should be crazy to us! This is what we should do every day: Put our customer’s interests before our own. How can a business, much less an entire industry, be against the customer?

 

Remember: You are not your customers

Customer-first marketing begins with the realization that our desires and goals are not necessarily the same as our customers’.

Let me give you an example. Mary Abrahamson is an Email Marketing Specialist at Ferguson Enterprises.

Usually if you go to marketing industry events, and a mobile vendor asks, “Who has a smartphone?” we see that everybody raises their hands. And so the vendor says – “See, everyone has smartphones.”

Well Mary realized – she wasn’t her customer. Her customers were plumbers and HVAC professionals. These people often had flip phones. So, when she launched a mobile campaign, she made sure that text messaging was an important part of her campaign … not just apps. The campaign ultimately generated more than $10 million in online revenue.

So next time you’re launching a campaign – take a fiduciary responsibility with your customers. Think of their needs … and not just your own.

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Melissa Pickle

Customer-centric Marketing: 5 more takeaways on consumer behavior from researchers and strategists [Part II]

June 17th, 2016
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MarketingSherpa Summit 2017 will be here before you know it, and our team is hard at work planning the agenda, with a special emphasis on customer-centric strategies and approaches.

As we select our keynotes, the team has conducted in-depth research and gained some interesting takeaways from both academic and marketing practitioners.  We highlighted the first five takeaways earlier this week, and we have five more thought-proving insights again for you today.

 

Takeaway #6. Build habit forming products

Many of the products we use in our daily routine have influenced our routines.

Nir Eyal, author of best-selling book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, has identified a design pattern in habit forming products. He describes this design pattern, “the hook,” as “an experience designed to connect the users’ problems to your solution with enough frequency to form a habit.”

The hook is comprised of cycle of triggers, actions, rewards and investments. The triggers can be internal or external, but must evoke motivation to act.

For instance, customers need to anticipate the reward for their action or they will not engage. The more involved a customer becomes with a product, the more likely he or she will develop a loyalty to the product.

Nir explains, “Products that create successive cycles through the hook help customers’ preferences, tastes, and habits develop.”

This engagement is what makes these products better, it’s not necessarily the quality of the products.

 

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Melissa Pickle

Customer-centric Marketing: 5 takeaways on consumer behavior from researchers and strategists [Part I]

June 14th, 2016
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At MarketingSherpa, we’re in the planning phase for MarketingSherpa Summit 2017. With the interest of our customers’ experience at the core of our every decision, we conduct extensive research to select the most thought-provoking and applicable keynote sessions for our attendees.

During our research phase, we have identified 10 key takeaways from leading experts (both academics and practitioners) in marketing. That’s a lot of key takeaways, so we’re breaking it up into two digestible bites. Read on today for insights around customer centricity, empathetic marketing and “less is more.”

 

Takeaway #1. Customer centricity does not mean doing exactly what the customers want

Dr. Peter Fader, Professor of Marketing at University of Pennsylvania and Co-director of the Wharton Customer Analytics Institute, explains that while performing at the level of meeting or exceeding customers’ expectations is a component of customer centricity, it should not be a blanketed approach for all customers.

According to Fader, truly customer-centric organizations do not treat all customers the same because they do not provide equal value to the company. Most of us are aware that we should identify different segments of customers. Fader establishes that while segmentation itself is not a new idea, how it is conducted has evolved from simple demographics to customer lifetime value. He suggests companies organize themselves around different customer segments rather than different products. Then, organizations can deliver products appropriate to their segments of customers.

In summation, to truly become customer centric, companies need to identify and invest in the right customers.

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Paul Cheney

Direct Marketing vs. Wholesale Marketing: How Steve Madden organizes and optimizes its $1.4 billion shoe empire

June 9th, 2016
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When your business is 80% wholesale like Steve Madden, how do you carve out a unique value proposition for your direct ecommerce business?

 

Watch the full interview to find out

“The value proposition of our site is that we have the deepest selection [and] we have it before anyone else.”

So said Mark Friedman, President of Ecommerce for Steve Madden, yesterday during a live interview at the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2016.

Additionally, Mark mentions the company’s community of rabid Steve Madden fans in social channels and through the SM Mag.

“It’s crazy how people feel about the brand. We incorporate that into the site, and that gives others some perspective of how some people are wearing it. You’re getting to see not only the product that they bought, but their complete look and how they put it together,” Mark said.

Of course, because the business is 80% wholesale, Steve Madden can’t just leave partners out in the cold. To balance its relationship with partners, Mark mentions the team employs a variety of tactics, including:

  • Syndicate product photography done in-house
  • Syndicate product reviews that were written on SteveMadden.com

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Regina Love

How Integrating Customer Service and Marketing Can Build Successful Consumer Marketing

June 7th, 2016
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This week, the MarketingSherpa team is running the official Media Center at the world’s largest ecommerce event – IRCE 2016. We’re interviewing speakers, industry experts and brand-side marketers to bring back ecommerce lessons for you. To get notification when this year’s interviews will be available visit our IRCE 2016 Media Page. Until the videos are up, here’s an interview from last year’s event. 

When you go to a restaurant and your customer experience before the meal arrives is terrible, you’ll most likely refer to that restaurant as being terrible, even if the meal was amazing. Customer service has the power of leaving a bad taste in your mouth.

Customer service and marketing now work together more than ever. At the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2015, Courtney Eckerle, Managing Editor, MarketingSherpa, interviewed Katie Laird, Director of Social Marketing, Blinds.com, on how her team was making amazing strides with their customer experience.

Here are a few components to transforming customer service feedback internally to build success in your company.

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Courtney Eckerle

How maurices Increased ROI by the Strategic Use of Omni-channel Marketing

May 27th, 2016
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“The real challenge is that the path to purchase isn’t just a single step anymore,” said Ali Wing, Chief Marketing Officer, maurices.

The clothing retailer has addressed this in two ways, Ali said.

  • Putting in place attributions in order to organize which channels receive credit
  • Transitioning analysis of those attributions from a transactional approach to that which includes well-rounded customer data

“We’re attaching customer data so we get a long-term value in understanding the customer we’ve acquired, versus the transaction we just acquired,” said Eric Bibelnieks, Vice President of Enterprise Analytics, maurices.

 

Many marketers struggle in a transition of this nature with understanding which data points are important when it comes to understanding your customers, and Ali has a specific approach that helps her and her team.

“I don’t care as much about absolute precision in any one of the channels. I care about a criterion that I consistently apply and then watch for patterns, because patterns tell us more than the nominal amounts in any one of the channels right now,” she said.

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Brian Carroll

Six Places to Focus to Make your Website a Revenue Generator

May 24th, 2016
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We have more digital marketing channels than ever before, but it’s become even harder to connect with customers. In my role as chief evangelist for MECLABS Institute, MarketingSherpa’s parent company, I get to talk to marketers and thought leaders daily.

One thing’s become clear, that there is a growing divide between those who are fully engaged with digital marketing and those who are still figuring out the fundamentals. When I read the report by Kristin Zhivago, President of Cloud Potential, on “revenue road blocks,” I wanted to see what she’s discovered to help marketers quickly close this digital marketing gap and do better.

If marketers directly address getting six key focuses right, you can move forward and close the gap between digital and customers.

Brian: What inspired you to do your research on revenue road blocks?

kristin-zhivago-president-cloud-potential

Kristin: Actually, it was our day-to-day experience working with company managers that drove us to these conclusions, combined with our research on the best practices of digital market leaders in more than 28 industries. The gap between the companies that are successfully using the newer methods and those who are not is growing wider by the quarter.

What is really concerning is we are seeing otherwise solid, successful companies slipping behind their more digitally adept competitors, and they can’t figure out why. They’re doing what they’ve always done, and it’s not working anymore.

Of course, that’s the problem. Buyers have radically changed the way they buy, especially in the last couple of years, and these sellers haven’t changed the way they’re selling. Mobile and the cloud have changed everything; today’s buyers are not the obedient, pass-through-your-funnel buyers that we used to be able to depend on. They are looking for any excuse to say no, because they are sure that there’s another solution only a click away. There is absolutely no risk for them to reject you. In fact, rejection is the safest option for them.

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Regina Love

Maximizing Multiple Marketing Platforms for Success

May 20th, 2016
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After 35 years in the industry, Chinese Laundry, a privately held women’s footwear company, continues to expand its influence season after season.

During Internet Retailer Conference Exhibition (IRCE) 2015, MarketingSherpa’s Courtney Eckerle spoke at the MarketingSherpa Media Center with Scott Cohn, Vice President of Ecommerce, Chinese Laundry.

Scott spoke about how marketers tend to establish processes or utilize platforms that work for specific projects or campaigns, but don’t always think about how it affects our customers.

“The biggest challenge we had is that they [platforms] were perpetually out of sync. So our inventory, pricing and a whole variety of other things that a customer expects to be consistent across channels, just weren’t consistent,” he said.

Whether you are looking to condense your blog platforms to update your content strategy or want to build product awareness, Cohn shared two key takeaways on maximizing multiple marketing platforms:

 

Be on the lookout

When undertaking a technology innovation, how do you begin to think about where you pain points lie?

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Daniel Burstein

Marketing Basics: Don’t overlook these 5 digital marketing tenets

May 17th, 2016
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There are so many impressive things you can do with your website these days. Augmented realty. Rich animations. Micro-interactions. Interactive infographics.

But I like to think of it like this …

When the quarterback throws a 90-yard touchdown pass, the camera cuts to the wide receiver doing a celebratory dance, and then to the quarterback pumping his fist. What they’re not showing you is the right guard who picked up the blitz to allow the quarterback the time to heave up that bomb.

Your website, content, and digital marketing is often presented the same way. Advanced, flashy user interfaces are great. But looking in our own analytics, I was reminded there are probably a few unheralded, down-to-Earth, un-buzzworthy basics that should still power your online marketing.

 

Basic content

“Basic” has become slang for “limited,” “rudimentary” or any number of other negative connotations. To quote Kara Brown on Jezebel, “Being basic just means that you aren’t that dope.”

And you probably feel that way about the content on your site as well. You are steeped in the latest, most advanced things going on in your industry. You focus on the breaking news. You spend your waking hours thinking about the coolest features of your products, and most advanced capabilities of your services.

But is that what your customer is looking for?

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