Archive for category Marketing & Branding
Ever wonder what it takes to get to the top of a Google Page? Did you ever think about why some companies always seem to have all the business they need; and they don’t even have any outside sales people? How are these companies doing this? It seems to be some kind of black magic doesn’t it.
More often than not these days, when I ask someone how they are getting new customers, and increasing their sales, they tell me “SEO”. Now, I know that if you want to spend a lot of money you can buy your way to the top of that Google page. Some companies in our industry have been reported to have spent as much as two hundred and fifty thousand dollars a month…that’s a month! But, I know a number of companies who are telling me that they are not buying their way up the Google search engine. Leaving me wondering what it is they are doing? So, one day I decided that it was time to check into this strange new phenomena called SEO. And, since most of the people over the age of forty did not know what it was either, I thought it would be helpful to share my findings.
The first thing I did was to look for one of the largest SEO companies in the world and ask them to explain to me exactly what it is they do. I contacted DPA (Digital Promotion Agency), and asked James Nelson, their representative, to not only give me an explanation of what they do for their customers, but how they do it as well. Here is what he laid out for me.
From James Nelson:
First of all, SEO stands for Sales Engine Optimization and here is what it does:
Reviews and updates your web site which will ensure that your site:
- Ranks on the first page of Google and Bing.
- Gets high-grossing key words based on content to pull in more traffic.
- Achieves wider audience outreach with mobile and touchscreen ready design.
- Attains greater brand loyalty with social media optimization.
- Is more search engine compliant with on-page optimization.
In other words, SEO gets your company’s name and your company’s capabilities in front of the right potential customers. Making it easier for those companies that need your services to find you. Makes sense to me so far. Here are some of the exact things that DPA does to make sure the right people find you:
Here, in “SEO Speak” is how James listed what his company does to make sure you are in front of the right people at the right time, and yes, most importantly, easy to find. It’s all about being easy to find.
(Warning, some of this gets a little out there so I will try to be your interpreter:
- Full Onsite Optimization: Includes: Page, Meta-Description, H1, Alt Tags, and URL optimization up to 75 pages on your site.
Dan: This means they put the right words on your web site pages to make sure you are picked up by the Google and Bing search engines
- Citation – Link Building: Some consider Link Building the essence of SEO. We strive to build good quality links to send the right signals to the search engines.
Dan: Inserting the right links into your site and your content thus multiplying the ways your company name and capabilities is sent out on the web
- Mobile Marketing: Concentration on outreach to sites and other activities that empower mobile search. We will also provide a fast loading mobile site if desired.
Dan: Making your web site and all content available on all gadgets including phones and I-Pads etc.
- Ad Copy Creation: Will create ads that are engineered to get clicks. Will work on improving CTR rates.
Dan: Just what it says. Designing you advertising so that it will be recognized and picked up by the big search engines.
- Newsletter / Email Blast: Monthly newsletter or email blast will be sent out on your behalf. Sent to your own email list and email platform.
Dan: The same email blasts we do with Constant Contact but with an extra spicing of the right keywords and metatags
- ·Social Media: Facebook and Twitter Scope of work involves regular weekly postings to each platform.
Dan: Once again the same thing we do except more of it… and with the right keywords and metatags
- Click-Through Optimization: Work on improving click-through rates for targeted pages in the site.
Dan: Making it as easy as possible to move through your content and on to your site.
- Reporting: Interactive Reporting Using Google Docs with Information Gathered from Google Webmaster and Analytics!
Dan: And yes, most important of all, measure how all of this is working and make adjustments for maximum benefit.
See, It’s not that complicated….I think. But it does work, that I do know. I have seen evidence of it in some of the more successful companies I have worked with the past few years. These are companies that have little or no outside sales teams, yet, have a wide range of customers that would be the envy of any company. And they are using SEO to their full advantage, at only a fraction of what it would cost to buy their way to the top of the Google listing.
And to tell you the truth, they don’t really know how it works either, they just know it does. It’s only common sense.
To succeed in business today especially a custom business where you’re making products based on not your designs but the customers’ designs you have to be flexible. You have to listen to what your customers want today and what they are going to need tomorrow and customize your offerings to meet those needs.
This concept is pretty straight forward you are in the business of providing your customers with the products they need, with the products that they have designed so that they can produce their end products. It’s not rocket science…er well in some cases it is when you consider our business. So its Important we don’t niche ourselves out of the market.
Winning new customers is a long, time consuming and expensive process. You have to invest lietrally thousands of dollars on every new customer you attain. So once you have that customer you have to do everything to nurture your relationship with him, you have to do everything in your power to keep that customer. The better you are at this the better your company will do. The more long lasting customer relationships you have the longer you will successfully stay in business.
So then why would you not grow with your customers? Why would you not do everything in your power to provide these good hopefully customers for life with everything they need to stay your customers for life?
And once again we get back to understanding what your customers’ needs are today and what they are going to be in the future and then adapting your company’s offerings accordingly.
This means asking them to share their technology road map with you. This means asking them to share their future plans for their future products with you. This means asking them what they are going to be looking for from you as a supplier in terms of Quality, Technology and other special capabilities in the future. If you are willing to do this and if with great honesty, sincerity and credibility you can express to your customers that you are in fact willing to do this, they will be happy to work with you helping you to set up your company to work with their company in the future.
This means that if whatever direction they are heading in you will be there for them
If in the future they are going to need boards with very fine lines you are going to be there for them.
If in the future they are going to need flex and rigid flex boards you are going to be there for them.
If in the future they are going to need boards with CTE materials you will be there for them
And if they are going to need something that is impossible for you to provide say for example large volume orders at the best value possible you, as their PCB expert provider will find a source for them and if you have a been a true partner they will want you to handle that source. Since you’re selling service, credibility and trust and solutions there is nothing wrong in fact there is everything right in your providing your customers with all the solutions they need even if you have to sub out the ones you do not directly provide yourself.
If you can do all of these things. If you can offer your very good customer partners on complete one source solution you will succeed, you will have customer for life and you will become your industry’s “go to” supplier for all of their PCB needs.
And here’s an added bonus, just a little secret here for you to consider; no one is doing this at this time. We are all so niched out that we are limiting ourselves in terms of what we can provide or should I say allow ourselves to provide to our customers. There are many cases right now where the customers particularly the high end customers are looking for some to handle all of their PCB needs. They just want someone they can rely on to handle our product for them. Now I warn you these high end customers and the current world game changers to they are very demanding and their needs hard to keep up with. In some cases their board requirements can be beyond what most board shops can handle but I don’t look at this as a stopper but rather an opportunity for a good open minded board provider to instill itself as their board supplier, to act as their true partner into the future and with great patience, deliberation and endurance find a way to meet their needs and help them to create the products that are yes in fact actually putting a dent in the universe.
Those PCB companies who are willing to do that are the companies who are going to be around for a while joining these companies of the future in that future. Its only common sense
In order to successfully market your company, you have to make sure that your company is marketable. You have to have something to market and that is the entire customer experience not just the product. Yes, you can have a great product but if you don’t treat your customers right when they are buying that product they will go somewhere else.
What good is it to have the best product on the market if your customers hate dealing with you so much that they will not buy it from you? The original Apple M3 player, the original IPod, was not the best on the or the first player on the market, but it was the easiest to use and Apple was the easiest company to deal with, not to mention, probably the most fun.
Thinking about marketing, and making yourself an attractive company to your customers and would be customers, here are ten things that will help you develop and implement the best marketing plan in your industry:
- Make sure you are customer focused. Business is not about you it’s about your customers. Always work at figuring out their needs and then meeting or exceeding those needs.
- Digging deeper, define exactly who your target customers are and what it will take to win them, develop an ideal customer plan.
- Check out what your competitors are doing. The best place to find what is going on in your marketplace is to monitor what your competitors are doing. You don’t have to imitate them but you can study them in terms of what is working and what is not. This is a also a good time to discover what solutions are not being provided and provide them.
- Marketing is all about planning., You have to plan for the future, not just today, but next week and the month after that and the year after that. You should develop an ongoing live marketing plan and live with it every day, making adjustments, as needed.
- Make sure that all of your company’s policies are customer friendly. Go over them and make sure that in all cases they are not offensive to your customers.
- Develop your company’s story and make sure that not only everyone in your company knows it but that everyone in your market knows it as well.
- From this story develop your brand and from your brand develop your advertising.
- Pay attention to your advertising, yes I know you think you do but most of the time all you’re really doing is talking about how much you spend on advertising. Let me give you a hint, whatever you are spending on advertising is not enough, you should be spending more. If you truly intend to be the leading company in your industry then you have to make sure that everyone in that industry knows what you do and why you are the best at it.
- Always be selling and always be marketing. Without customers, you will have no sales and without sales you will have no company. That is all there is to it. You can buy all the equipment you want, you can have all the technology you think you need but what good are those things if you don’t have any customers?
- Use any tool you can to help your sales and marketing team. This includes social media, value content newsletters, lunch and learns, seminars and webinars and whatever other new thing comes down the road. Do anything, learn anything, buy anything that will give you an edge over your competition when it comes to getting your name out there.
And one more, always under promise and over deliver. Make sure that everyone in your company is on board with your marketing effort. That everyone knows and respects your customers and considers the customer in everything they do. Empower your customer service people to be on the customers’ side. Give them some latitude to make the right decisions when they are dealing with customer issues. In short, have everyone ready to put the customer first at all times.
Great marketing, great customer service and great sales service are all key ingredients in developing and sustaining a great customer focused company. Pay attention to this and make sure you are always purposely driven in your sales and marketing efforts, and in the end, you will have an industry leading company.
It’s only common sense.
Here are some of the dumber things I have heard from people about marketing and sales:
- I think I’ll place one ad in a trade magazine do you think that will be worth the money?
- I sent out a hundred sales letters and only received ten responses and five orders.
- We decided to make this offering to one thousand customers and made twelve sales but two people said they didn’t like the offer so we have stopped doing it.
- My husband doesn’t like ads with flags on them so I do not want to go with this graphic even if it is the fourth of July.
- I’m only going to do this once and if it doesn’t work that’s it, I’m done.
- What if we send this flyer out and hundreds of people respond? We could flood the shop with business!
- We stopped offering that product, too many people wanted it.
- If we delivered good product on time we would not need advertising.
- If we delivered good product on time we would not need sales people.
- We’re going to concentrate on making the shop run perfectly and then we’ll start doing some marketing.
- Once we buy our LDI we can start advertising.
- We sent out a sales flyer and got 500 responses but we cannot find the time to follow them up.
- If we don’t go to that trade show people will think we are out of business.
- There is no need to market we have all the business we need.
- Our customers are going to be with us forever.
- We only want high tech customers
- I told all our lower end customers to take a walk we don’t need them anymore.
- We don’t deal with customers who are hard to deal with.
- We don’t deal with customers who want special treatment
- Our business would be great if it wasn’t for those darn customers
- Everybody knows us we don’t have to advertise.
- All our customers know what we do we don’t have to keep telling them.
- We fired all our reps, they were making too much money.
- We’re not bothering with social media, that’s just for kids
- I don’t need a web site designer; the kid next door is doing it for me.
- I don’t understand all this connection stuff, so what if someone across the country knows my name.
- If we got rid of this global market stuff we’d be thriving.
- I know a good deal when I see it.
- We’re way to busy right now to get out and get new business.
- This worked in 1974 and I know it will work today.
- Putting more than one part number on a panel is not doable.
- Putting five part numbers on one panel is unethical.
- Our boss decides our marketing message, it’s his company.
- When it’s time to talk to our customers we shove the sales person out of the way and talk directly.
- All anyone wants is the lowest price.
- I’m not going to do that it makes me too nervous
- What will happen if too many people want to buy from us?
- I remember once in 1984 when we had too much business. I never want to go through that again.
- We’re way behind in the shop so are going to stop booking business until we catch up.
- Once we catch up we’ll send the sales team out to get business flowing again.
- Why should I read a business book? I’ve been out of college for twenty years.
- We get all our business from word of mouth.
- I hired that sales person a month ago and all he has brought me are quotes so far.
- I going to fire that new sales person. It’s been five weeks and we only have two new customers.
- I’m going to hire that sales person, he will bring me all the business from his old company.
- I have my sales people make hundred calls a day every day.
- No wonder sales are down, it’s a school holiday.
- No wonder sales are down we have a new president.
- No wonder sales are up we have a new president.
- Did you see what the stock market did yesterday? That will boost our business.
And the dumbest thing I ever heard someone say about sales and marketing…drum roll please…”Build it and they will come.”
It’s only common sense.
You’d better love what you sell.
That’s what successful salespeople do.
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.
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.
One 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.