Archive for category Marketing & Branding

You Have To Love Your Product

You’d better love what you sell.

That’s what successful salespeople do.

dan-5

First, a true story about company loyalty…on steroids! My father was a very hard-working Coca Cola salesman. No matter the weather, rain, or shine, snow, sleet, hail, whatever, he was out there every day driving on the back roads of Maine, delivering his heavy cases of soda. And, he like all Coke salesmen, (sorry there were no Coke sales women back then) loved his product, He loved his company, and he loved the product. He loved it to the point that if he came to your house and saw Pepsi in your fridge, he would pour it out and replace it with Coke, free of charge.

The rivalry between Coke and Pepsi salesmen was hard core, they loved their company and hated the other company. True story (sorry this is a bit scary) One time, the company that made their coolers, you know the ones they put in the stores with their logo all over them, mistakenly delivered a Pepsi cooler to the Coke plant where my father worked. So, what do you think they did? Of course, they should have called the company and asked them to replace the cooler with the right one, right? But did they do that? Nooo.

Here’s is what they did. They loaded up the cooler on a Coke truck and took it to one of the guys’ houses. They filled with it with ice and beer. They drank all the beer, and then they took sledge hammers to the cooler and completely destroyed it. Then, and this is the best part. They dropped it off in front of the Pepsi plant, filled with empty cans of Coke!

Now that’s being loyal to your company!

Oh, there is one more story about my father and his loyalty to Coke that demonstrates that he did have a sense of humor after all. Later in his career he showed up at a family Halloween party dressed in a Pepsi uniform and carrying a six pack of Pepsi! The family couldn’t believe it. He was the hit of the party.

How about you? Do you feel you are selling the best product on the market today?  Are you so proud of what you sell, that you brag about it to everyone you know? Are you so confident that your products are the best products on the market that you make it your mission to make sure that everyone who needs it buys it.  And do you actually feel sorry for those poor customers who don’t take advantage of your product and all the benefits it comes with?

To be a successful sales person, you must feel like you’re doing your customers a favor by giving them the opportunity to buy your products. You want to tell as many people as possible about the great solutions to their problems you’re offering them.

Then, the next best thing is getting your customers as excited as you are about your products. Enthusiasm is contagious, and the more enthusiastic you are, the more enthusiastic your customers will be.

If you have the right sales job, and you believe in your company and its products, you’re going to be jumping out of bed in the morning, anxious to can talk to as many people as possible, converting them to becoming fans of the products you’re selling.

The true job of a salesperson is to get the customer off the fence, and onto his side of that fence. And, the best way to do this, is to demonstrate the true value of your product. If all the customer wants to talk about is price, then you have not done your job properly. You must convince your customer that your product is so valuable, that he will want to pay, what you have convinced him the price should be.

A perfect example of a “valuable” product is college. People feel that a good college education is so valuable to their children that they will pay any price. Think about that for a minute, the price of a Harvard education is now a quarter of a million dollars, and still people are breaking their backs to get in…and they only let in one out of five applicants. Now that is perceived value!

And, that’ exactly what we have to do with our products. Raise the perceived value so high that our customers will feel guilty even haggling about price. And, to do that you have to love your product, love it as much, as much as my dad the Coke man loved his product. It’s only common sense.

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Producing The Greatest Products Possible

dan 24

Laurene Powell Jobs was once quoted as saying that her husband Steve and legendary Apple designer Jony Ive would spend hours discussing corners, yes that’s right corners. I also read that Apple had an entire Quality department dedicated to boxes including a device that would check how those boxes would open and close. How many of us have a collection of empty I-Phone and I-Pod boxes just hanging around because they are too well designed to throw away? I don’t know about you, but I hate, hate, hate packaging that I have to destroy to open. There is a certain inelegance with having to tear and rip and destroy the box to get to my HP printer cartridge! Nobody is saving those boxes!

Jony Ive had this to say about design, “In some way by caring, we’re actually serving humanity. People might think it’s a stupid belief, but it’s a goal-it’s a contribution that we hope we can make, in some small way, to culture.”

“Apple’s great design secret may be avoiding insult. Their thoughtfulness is a sign of respect. Elegance in in objects is everybody’s right, and it shouldn’t cost more than ugliness. So much of our manufacturing environment testifies to carelessness.” Paola Antonelli, MOMA

Wow! Where am I going with this? Why am I talking about Apple and design and even quoting a curator at the MOMA? I bet that is the first time that MOMA has ever been mentioned in any article at any time, having to do with printed circuit board technology. You think?

Okay, here is my point. To be a great PCB fabricator, to be a great assembly company, or any manufacturing company, for that matter to be successful you have to pay attention to the customer. Not only pay attention to the customer but find ways to elate and delight that customer.

Just like Jobs and Ivy would talk about corners for hours on end, we have to spend time thinking about our customers and how we can find ways…elegant ways to delight them.

No, no don’t tell me that a PCB company is a job shop or that an assembly company is just putting someone else’s product together for them. No, don’t say that because when you do you are self-commoditizing. You are bringing your product down to the “anybody can do this” level and you and I both know this is not only untrue, but it also diminishes our companies and your products as well.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How many times have you purposely sat down with your team to discuss customer connections from the first call from your sales person to the final shipment of the product?
  • How many times have you envisioned your customer receiving your product, and experiencing opening your packaging?
  • Or better yet when was the last time you visited a customer’s receiving department to see what they do when they open your packages, so you’ll know exactly what that feels like?
  • How many times have you extended your vision beyond what you are building to where your product is going to end up. To envision what your product what your product is going into and how not only that end product will change the world but how your own product will contribute to that change?
  • Or going to the other side of the spectrum. How many times have you insulted the customer with your product? You did not send the right paperwork, or the coupons or the C of C’s or when the quantity in the box did not match the quantity on the invoice? These mistakes are not only a gross inconvenience to the customer who cannot clear your product out of receiving and onto the manufacturing floor, it is also an insult to that customer, sending him the message that you did not care enough to send the very best. Not to mention an indication of carelessness and sloppiness on your part as well.

The old adage take care of the little things and the big things will follow has never been truer than it is today. Yes, our customers are demanding, yes, they want more from us than ever before. But that is because they are getting the same high demands from their customers. They are trying to thrill their own customers and want you to thrill them in return.

Great craftsmen have been known to say that they leave a little piece of themselves, a little bit of their heart in every product they produce. They spend hours producing the best art, writing, sculptures, landscapes, quilts, and furniture so that they can share their passion with the receivers of their works. Why should it be different for us? Go ahead, sit down with your team once a week and talk to them about how your company can produce products that will delight and thrill your customers, products that will have the best of everyone in your company within them. It’s only common sense.

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Marketing: They Can’t Buy From You If They Don’t Know Who You Are

dan21One Ad is not Marketing

Marketing is important. If you want people to know who you are and what you do you have to market your company. Think about it, if people don’t know your name, if they don’t know what you do, if they don’t know how to reach you, how are you going to get any business?

Would you open a store on a busy street and not put up a sign?

Would you start selling sweaters on line without a web site?

Would you open up a new medical practice without an announcement in the local paper?

Would you start making PCB boards and not tell anyone? Oh, wait a minute that is exactly what you are doing if you don’t market your company.

And yes, unfortunately one ad is not a marketing campaign, in fact it is not marketing at all.

Marketing is telling your story and then communicating it to your marketplace, people who can use your product.

A good friend of mine Keith Robbins uses a perfect example of the difference between sales and marketing. Selling is putting your line in the water and hoping you will catch a fish; marketing is getting the fish to jump into the boat.

Marketing is telling and communicating your story in such a compelling way that people are going to want to do business with you.

Marketing is defining your business, your company and your product in a manner that not only explains who you are and what you do, but also why people should want to buy from you.

And most of all marketing is a mosaic. A good and effective marketing plan is made up of many parts all of them synergistically connected.

The message conveyed by your advertising is connected to the message on your web site which is connected to the message relayed by your newsletter which is connected to the message conveyed by your press releases, articles, white papers, interviews, trade show booth graphics, brochures and literature, signage and yes even your business cards.

All these things are ingredients of your overall corporate marketing plan, and it all boils down to the impression you want to deliver to your marketplace

So, you see one ad does not make a marketing plan. Anyone who puts one ad in a magazine and then expects to get business is fooling himself.

Here are five steps you must take to develop a good and effective marketing plan:

  1. Tell that story. This is the basis of all your marketing. Who started the company? Why did they start the company? What need does the company fill? Who needs the company? What makes the company outstanding? Why should people buy from the company and what company characteristics make the company distinctive? Use all of this information to draw up your company’s unique story. Make sure the story is compelling. Remember your goal is to get people to want to buy from you. As examples think of Tiffany’s, Nordstrom’s, L.L. Bean, Disney, and the best of them all Apple.
  2. Develop the ideal customers. This means you need to know who will benefit from your products and services? What kind of people and companies will like what you are selling? In short who will see value in what you are selling.
  3. Find out where these people go for thier information. What magazines do they read? What web sites do they visit? What trade shows do they attend? What other forms of media do they habituate to learn about products like yours. Once you establish this then use these venues for communicating your story.
  4. Develop a communication plan that will send your story out to all the right people using the information you learned in step 3. Make up a budget that will effectively and economical get your story out to the right people at the right time.
  5. Consistency is the key. Your message should be consistent and you should deliver it consistently. Marketing is a long-term ordeal. It is not something you do for a couple of months and then walk away. You should be constantly spreading the word about your company and your products and services. You should also study the results. Decide what media best suits you. What facet of your story gets the best results? Always be analyzing what works and what does not work and spend your time and money on what works.

And one more, in the spirit of under promise and over deliver. Establish a following, a tribe as Seth Godin calls it. Publish a value-added newsletter to your customers and your potential customers. Ask everyone you meet if they would be interested in receiving your newsletter and then make the newsletters compelling enough that these people, your tribe, will read every one of them. And, once you have their attention, one you get your readership up, you can start educating your readers first-hand on what you do and how it will benefit them. This is called “permission marketing” where your customers and potential customers are actually giving you permission to send them information about your company on a regular basis. Now that is marketing.

There is one simple rule of marketing and that is: people need to to know who you are if they are going to buy from you. It’s only common sense.

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Check Out The Restroom!

Dan 8There is a huge grocery store in Ohio called Jungle Jim’s International Market. From what I hear this is the best and most interesting grocery store in the world! Yes, you got that right… grocery store. And that store has the best restrooms in the world. They pride themselves on their restrooms and how well taken care of and clean they are.

So, let’s talk about restrooms. Reading about Jungle Jim’s in Tom Peters new book, The Excellence Dividend, this week got me thinking about what you can learn from a company’s rest rooms. Let’s face it whether your company is an OEM, or a CEM or a PCB shop the one thing you have in common is that you have public restrooms, another thing you have in common is that customers visit your company and of course the thing all visiting customers have in commons is that eventually they will need to visit the restroom.

Which leads me to your rest room. What does your public restroom look like? I challenge you to go check it out. Go ahead, whether your reading or listening to this, stop right now and go check out your restroom.

Okay, what is your restroom like? Are you proud of what you see…or are you disgusted and embarrassed? If it’s the latter you’d better do something about it now, right now. If you shudder every time a customer asks to use the restroom, it’s time to do something about it!

Here is what your restrooms say about you and your company:

And I’ll only use positive examples because the negative ones are just plain too, well, disgusting.

If your restroom is spotless: it means to the customers that you care. That you are a well-organized company and that you have pride in what you do. It could be the most impressive thing that your customer notices about your company. And not only customers, what does it say to your associates when your restroom s spotless? A beautifully maintained restroom is a great lesson in and of itself.

If all the right supplies are in the right place: it means to people that you pay attention to detail. That if you can keep track of the soap and TP and all the other restroom accoutrements, you most likely have a pretty good system to take care of your inventory in the shop as well.

If you have extra supplies: That is even better! It indicates a well-run company that most likely has a great MRP system. Think about that, if even the restroom’s essentials are well-stocked then the shop will certainly be as well.

If it smells good: Ah yes! No olfactory nightmares please! If you have taken the time and effort and money to add not only a great ventilation system, but also a wonderful spa-like aroma as well then, you will not only impress your customers, you will wow them! And as far as your associates? Well, you could have a hard time getting them to get back to work.

If your restroom looks spectacular when the visiting customer uses it, then you have probably already won over that customer. Seriously, for the most part many of your visitors are non-technical people from purchasing, or accounting or program management who don’t know much about your business. They can take the most intense tour you have to offer, but they will not be able to tell a twenty-year old outdated piece of equipment from a brand new one. They will not be able to tell one plating line from another…but what they will be able to tell is how clean your shop is, starting with how clean your restroom is…seriously.

If you care at all about your customers, if you care at all about your employees, if you care at all about your company, you will take care of the most important thing in the shop, the  one thing that everyone who comes in contact with has an opinion about, you’ll make sure your that you, not Jungle Jim’s have the best restrooms in the world. It’s only common sense.

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Sales People: Get With Social Media

dan21Sorry, but you cannot keep ignoring marketing or even social media

Remember when we thought it was funny for one of our fellow sales people to say something like,” no I don’t know how to “twit” or “tweet” or “twitter”, or whatever these kids are doing these days.” Or something like, “What is the point of this Linkedin thing anyway? What is that MyPage for business people?” And “I don’t have time for stuff like that, that’s just for the kids. That’s a fad anyway, it will be just a memory next year at this time, I’m not going to waste my time with that.” And then, we would all laugh, agree with the speaker, and order another beer. Remember those days? Well guess what? That kind of prideful ignorance is no longer cool, and if you want to succeed as a sales person today, and in the future, you’d better catch on to these “newfangled notions”. You’d better figure out exactly what Linkedin is, especially Linkedin, and learn how to effectively use it.

More people than ever, like say millions and millions of people, are using Linkedin for all facets of their business, from developing leads, to finding key people, to connecting with the right people, those they need to be doing business with. Linkedin has become the single most powerful sales tool available today on the market today.

And Twitter, that’s right it’s called Twitter, and what you do is Tweet, is almost as powerful. Go ahead and try it, send out something like” # (your company name) is the best metal backed fabricator in the industry” and watch what happens. Actually, probably not much, since you just learned how to say Twitter. But go to your IT guy or someone younger than you, which is just about anyone else in the company, I’m sure, someone who has been Tweeting long enough to have developed a strong following and have them Tweet that same thing, and you’ll see what can happen with the right Tweet to the right audience.

Which leads me to another, not unrelated, subject which is content development and distribution. The best companies are doing it, the smart companies are doing it. And now it’s up to you to get on the content bandwagon. You must start writing articles, columns, blogs, technical bulletins, even books and Micro-books about your company, especially its’ expertise. You should be doing everything you can to get your name out into the market, and the best way to do that is to write some informative valuable, content highlighting what your company does best.

By the way, you do not have the luxury of saying you and the rest of your management team are not writers, Nope, that will not fly. You must find a way to get your company on a regular content producing course and that content out to your marketplace. Find a way to do this. Hire a writer to help you with content-carrying media. Develop a regular content-producing schedule for your company. It’s not that difficult and here’s why…the neat thing about content is that you can re-purpose it for all your needs.

Let’s say your company has been fabricating large memory cards for many years, chances are this make you and your company experts on memory card technology. Now, develop a monthly column where each month you will write a new column of a different fact of the memory card business. Here are some examples of column subjects: What to look for in a Memory card fabricatorTen fundamentals that each memory card designer needs to know. Or, The future of memory card technology. You get the idea; and then publish these columns every single month in a trade magazine such as this one, and you will soon be considered an expert in this field.

Now, here’s the good part; you take each one of these columns and post it on Linkedin thus widening the circulation. To make sure that as many people as possible see it, write three related tweets each time a new column comes out driving more people to read the column. Condense the column into shorter blogs and distribute those with your Word Press blog. And if you get even more ambitious put out a newsletter every month featuring your column and other information about your company, always positioning your company as the expert in large memory cards. Before you know it that single monthly column has become a message carrier carrying your company’s message to hundreds if not thousands of interested potential customers.

And that’s not all…wait there’s more, your SEO people will then take all this content and blast it all over the internet making sure you get the coveted high Google ranking, showing up on the first page on any Google search looking for large memory boards.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. “What the heck is SEO? Well I think we’ve had enough for one day. We’ll talk about that next week. Stay tuned. It’s only common sense

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Think Different

dan-7Remember when Steve Jobs came back to save Apple from the brink of disaster, and the first thing he did was launch an ad campaign that featured people who changed the world by thinking differently? He featured famous people from Bob Dylan to Albert Einstein to John Lennon and many others all of them bright, passionate, creative, and most importantly fearless when it came to pioneering a new way of approaching things.

Remember the quote? “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holds.

The ones who see things differently. They are not fond of rules. And they have no respect for status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy”

What did you think when you heard this for the first time? Do you remember what it felt like to see some of your long-time heroes like Gandhi and Buckminster Fuller, Thomas Edison, Muhammad Ali, Ted Turner, Maria Callas, Mohandas Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, Alfred Hitchcock, Martha Graham, Jim Henson (with Kermit the Frog), Frank Lloyd Wright and others, all of them people who left their mark not only in their own profession but in the world as well?

So, what about those of us in sales? What can we do to think different? What can we do to go where no other sales person has ever gone before? Doing things that no other sales person has dared to do before. Yes, what about us? Why are we stuck in the same old rut when we could think different and fly higher than anyone before us ever has?

What is stopping us from daring to dream? From wanting to be the best there ever was?

Nothing, that’s what, nothing is stopping us, in fact most of us are in a position to exceed anything we have ever done before; and exceed what anyone else has ever done before. There is no better time to soar, there is no better time to be the best that you can be.

I can tell you from personal, hands on experience that you do not have to worry about your management, your company owners, and presidents, and sales managers standing in your way. In fact these people are dying to see their salespeople do something extraordinary. They would love to see their sales people come up with new, creative, and innovative ways to win more business. They would give their eye teeth to have even one of their sales people fired up enough to set sales records this year. They would be enthralled to have even one member of their sales team break through that self-created ceiling of “doing everything the way it has always been done” and do something new.

I know, because in my job I work with company leaders, and the biggest complaint of frustration I hear from all of them is that their sales people are just not excited about what they are doing. Instead of coming up with ways to think differently and finding new ways to gain new customers and increase their territory sales most sales are caught up in a quagmire of excuses of why they cannot make their numbers. most of the time they focus on what the company can do for them so that they could make their numbers rather than any creative ideas they could come up with on the road to success.

The sales managers I talk to are pulling their hair out at the lack of originality, creativity, and outright ambition many (not all mind you) but many of their sales people exemplify.

There is no good reason for this. So, what if we have been in the business for a long time? So, what if we feel we have tried everything and nothing has worked? So, what if the competition is unfair and our customers only want to buy on price? These are only a bunch of excuses. A great sales person will always find a way. A great sales person will look at the cards she has been dealt and find a way to transform them into a winning hand.

I want to challenge every sales person reading this column today to start thinking differently. To start looking at the world differently. I challenge you to start spending at least 30 minutes a day just sitting quietly, thinking up ways to do things better than anyone else is doing them.

Do I hear you say you need some stimulation? That’s easy, there is plenty to go around. Read a sales book. Watch a sales video on YouTube. Watch some videos of Steve Jobs, or Tom Peters, or Seth Godin and get inspired to greatness. There is only one person who can make you a great sales person and it’s that person that you see in the bathroom mirror every morning. Have a talk with that person tomorrow morning and convince him or her to think different. Its only common sense.

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Marketing Your Rep Firm

dan21Who are you and what are you doing here?

If you want to stand out as a rep company, you have to get your name out there. And that means getting involved in some good old marketing and branding. The good news, is that there are practically no rep companies paying any attention to marketing their companies, this means that the company that invests some time and a maybe a little money will be sure to stand out. And the even better news is that it’s not that hard to do.

Finding your company’s brand and then marketing that brand is one of the best things you can do to make your company stand out. But there is also another added feature to marketing your company is that the very first step of any marketing plan is deciding who you are, what you are going to do and who you are going to do it for. What niche are you going to fill? And why are you going to do it better than anyone else. The process of the self-examination it takes to answer these questions will make you a better company from the get go.

Here then, are seven steps to effectively building and implementing a successful marketing plan for your rep company.

  1. Whats in a name? Deciding what the name of your company is going to be is critical. You can go the easy route and just name it after yourself. Or, you can get a little creative and come up with a name that will not only mean something but be memorable as well. The name should mean something and represent not only who you are but what you do and the way you do it. Something like “Sales Sparks” will give the impression of a really hot and aggressive firm. While something like “Critical sales” will denote something a bit more serious and important. The important thing is to come up with a name that fits your company’s brand and conveys the image you want to get across.
  2. Getting your name out there. Once you have the name you must to come up with ways to get your name out to the marketplace, a way to make sure that you get noticed, a way that will lift your firm above all of the others. Come up with a plan to get your name out there.
  3. Traditional marketing is the first step to getting your name into the marketplace. This does not have to be expensive. Press releases for example are free and a great way to get exposure, write press releases for just about anything significant that you do from signing with a new principal to hiring a new sales person. Makes sure your press releases are professional in both appearance and content and make sure that they always carry your company’s message, your five-minute elevator talk if you will. Collect a list of all the publications pertinent to your market and send all of them each of your press release. Advertising is also good but expensive so spend your ad dollars very carefully. Make sure you are in the right trades, the ones with the right audience for your business. And make sure your ads carry your message.
  4. Content marketing is another important way to get your name and your message out there. Write all the time. Getting your writing published is the best way to get amplify your message. Writing a regular sales column in one of the trade magazines will get you well-known very quickly and will also establish you as an industry expert and leader. Articles on sales and marketing are also a wonderful way to establish your professional presence as an industry leading rep firm.
  5. Social media is here to stay so you might as well accept it and jump in with both feet. Whether you like it or not social media is here to stay. Please don’t say you don’t believe in social media it makes you sound old and out of touch. Instead get on it. If you are in fact old get your kids or your grand kids to show you how to do it. LinkedIn is great, Twitter is fun and easy and blogging is really just a shorter social media column. One of the good things about content marketing and social media is that you can “repurpose” everything you write. Shorten that column and make it a blog. Post in on LinkedIn and tweet about it on twitter you get a great deal of bang for the buck.
  6. Networking is important as well. Your goal should be to become the most famous sales representative in the best-known rep firm in your territory if not the country. Talk to everyone. Help as many people out as possible. Be the “go to” person when it comes to helping people out. Be as helpful as possible and people will start turning to you for help and advice. And most of the time they will return the favor.
  7. Speak up. Become the spokesperson of your industry. Take every opportunity you can to speak up. Join the right groups on Linkedin or start your own group or do both, Get involved in as many panel discussions as possible. Give talks, give webinars, present papers, these are all great ways to become the most famous rep in your business not to mention the fact that you will also become the best informed just by virtue of putting these talks and presentations together.

And one more, always under promise and over deliver, be a joiner, participate in as many business- related organizations as possible; Chamber of commerce, ERA, IPC, SMTA and any other organization that will help your business. Then when you have joined these organizations take on leadership roles when they are available. Remember the better you are known in your own market the better known your firm will be and the more successful it will be. All of these things tie together to create a great brand image for your firm and that’s what it’s all about. It’s only common sense.

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