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When is Advertising Not the Answer?

Every business hits a stagnant time or even a decline. When that happens, oftentimes, our first instinct is to up our marketing budget to get in front of more people and increase leads. This might be a good solution. However, the answer may be that our advertising budget is fine, but you have an operational disconnect.

So where is this disconnect? Many times, it’s in the conversion process (a.k.a. your internal sales process). You can put a lot of money towards marketing and lead generation, but if you can’t convert and close, those are wasted marketing dollars. Or you can have an excellent close rate, but you aren’t servicing them well or your product isn’t what they need so they are walking right out your back door.

Follow these tips to identify if you have a disconnect and, if so, how to close the gap.

  1. Track the process. You can’t improve what you don’t know. This is the most important thing you can do to determine where there may be a disconnect. Depending on your business and goals, you should be tracking your key performance indicators (KPIs), which could include: total inquiries, appointments/registrations/enrollments, new customers, customers that left and any other pertinent information to your goals and revenue. This should be done at least monthly.
  2. Analyze the numbers. Once you have a few months of tracking, it’s time to review the numbers. Do you have a lot of leads, but hardly any conversions to new customers? If so, then your disconnect is in your internal sales process. Do you have a high closing rate but just not enough leads? If so, then your disconnect is marketing related.
  3. Process improvement. If your disconnect is in your internal sales process, it’s time to review your internal processes and improve. Who is responsible for follow-up? What is that follow-up? A phone call, email? How far apart? Arm your sales team with a process for nurturing and converting leads. If your disconnect is not enough leads, but high conversion, then it’s time to look at your marketing dollars and expand reach.

Once you’ve completed the above three steps, it’s important to have a quarterly review to see if those process improvements are helping you head in the right direction.

To learn more about our services and how we can help you close the gap, contact us today.

Print is Not Dead

The onset of social media and the detail we can capture from the digital world is truly quite amazing. Being able to pinpoint someone based on their social media behavior and the websites they visit seems like it should be out of some futuristic sci-fi movie, but the reality is this capability is here today.

As the digital world continues to develop it’s important not to forget about utilizing additional tried and true marketing methods, such as print, which has been around since 1440. (Actually, long before then, but not in mass form.)

We hear quite often that “print is dead”. We’re here to tell you, it’s not. Yes, publications are now offering online editions, but print itself is not dead. The only difference between using print now versus 15-20 years ago is the strategy behind how you use it.

As with every newer medium, it can also become saturated (and sometimes obnoxious) quickly. So we’ve put together just a few benefits to considering using print.

3 Benefits of Print Advertising:

  1. Longer shelf life. You’re probably not receiving as much mail as you used to? It’s most likely now all coming to you email inbox! Print mail is tangible, something people can hold onto, giving it a longer shelf life versus a digital ad which lasts up to 30 seconds at most.
  2. Sensory play. Print allows you to use an individual’s senses and engage with a piece. They hold it, feel it, maybe peel back an offer or remove a coupon to put in their purse or wallet. You can’t do that with digital. Everything from paper type to folds is engaging with your future customer, giving them an experience to talk about or better yet, bring into the office to show others!
  3. Full attention. Print allows you full focus of your audience’s attention. You don’t have to share your print add with another advertiser or compete for attention on a webpage or in your email inbox. It gives you more space (depending on what you’re mailing) to inform and educate. Apart from in-person or a phone call, direct mail is the next best medium for a sales pitch based on engagement and space to educate. Plus, you can always list your website to drive traffic.

3 Ways to Strategically Use Print Advertising:

  1. The same as digital, you can purchase lists based on just about every demographic available. The most effective print advertising is that which is targeted to your audiences. What do they enjoy doing? What do they read? How many kids do they have? What is their household income, etc.
  2. Marketing Mix. Your marketing plan shouldn’t be all or nothing. You need to have a marketing mix, which means using cross-channel mediums driving home the same message or call-to-action. Print should be combined with digital, email and other tactics depending on cost such as radio or billboard. A strong marketing mix will make you top of mind.
  3. Think out-of-the-box. Direct mail and print doesn’t have to be the oversized postcard. If you’re mailing a small number, think about spending a little more on the piece to create more engagement. Also consider the types of cues you use to open mail. Is the mailing address handwritten? Is it in a nice envelope? Is there more than one piece?

Here are a few out-of-the-box prospecting direct mail pieces we’ve helped put together that received great results!

Risk Game:

Slide6Purpose: AFR Insurance (now Gallagher Insurance) wanted to set-up meetings with new prospects. MI helped them identify their “Top 10” prospects and developed this campaign idea involving a vintage RISK game and a wrap band. The band said, “RISK is fun in a game, but not in life.”

Results: AFR Insurance sent 10 RISK games and set-up 9 meetings.

Umbrella Mailer: 

Purpose: Merit Resources wanted to set-up meetings with new prospects. MI helped them identify their “Top 10” prospects and developed this campaign idea involving an umbrella in a nice case. A card in the box said, “Merit Resources offers an umbrella of services to keep you protected.” The follow-up plan involved sending messages based on the daily weather patterns.

Results: Merit Resources sent 10 umbrellas and set-up 8 meetings.

The “Silver Bullet” of Marketing

Written By: Kathleen Riessen

Instant gratification is not a millennial trend – it is a way of life that businesses have adapted to for years. Here are a few examples:

  1. Baking a cake. How did your Grandma bake a cake? She collected the ingredients and baked it at home in her oven. Today’s cost to bake a cake from scratch is about $2 and takes roughly two hours. Then came the invention of cake mixes. For $5, I can add oil and eggs to make cake mix, bake in the oven and cover with store-bought frosting. An hour later, I have myself a cake. Then came the designer cake. I can order the size, flavor, frosting and decorations of my cake and even have it delivered to my house! If I’m not super picky, I can even pick one that’s already made so I don’t have to wait. This will cost me $30+ but I can have my cake instantly.
  2. Package delivery. In 2005, Amazon brought us Prime. For $79, I could select an item and have it delivered within two days. A mere 11 years later, 40 million people or 12.5% of the U.S. population now pays $99 a year for Amazon Prime. But that’s not good enough. In 2015, Amazon came out with a new service called Prime Now, which provides two-hour delivery on more than 10,000 items in 24 U.S. markets. For an additional $8, select food purchases will be delivered within one hour in key markets.
  3. I recently toured American Popcorn Company, home of Jolly Time popcorn. This is a booming industry but has been around since the 19th century. The simplest (and healthiest) way to prepare popcorn is by popping the kernels over a heat source taking roughly five minutes to prepare. Then came microwave popcorn full of butter and salt and then flavored microwave popcorn was added. Microwave popcorn takes roughly three minutes to prepare. Then came pre-popped popcorn. This is a shelf stable popcorn with preservatives that can be enjoyed instantly and costs roughly 100% more per kernel than the popped seeds. When I toured Jolly Time, I learned that people think microwave popcorn takes too long to pop!

You can see from the above examples how instant gratification has affected our lives and how we go to business.

When it comes to marketing, we often see people wanting quick results – the instant gratification. They want the “silver bullet”. The truth is there is no silver bullet. There are short-term tactics that will garner short-term results. Short-term tactics often get confused or replaced with long-term tactics. Short-term tactics do not garner long-term results. A bunch of short-term tactics combined together do not give you long-term results.

From employee recruitment and retention to selling a widget or promoting a professional service, the reality is that short-term tactics are more expensive and garner less results than if you had a balanced marketing strategy that included both short and long-term tactics.

So we leave you with the following question: Are you using a variety of short and long-term tactics in your go-to-market strategy? If not, contact us and let us help you develop a comprehensive strategic marketing plan.

What’s Your Why: Facing Death for Future Success

Thinking of your own death can be morbid and scary (for most of us anyway)! Most of us can’t even bear to write a will let alone write an obituary talking about ourselves in the past tense. Last week, however, we challenged about 40 business leaders to do just that as part of an introspective workshop designed to help them make sure their companies were living a life worth remembering.

The workshop, titled “What’s Your Why” was delivered at the Iowa Association of Business and Industry’s Annual Conference in Sioux City. We challenged ABI members to think about the end of their lives as well as the lives of their companies to identify key changes they needed to make to ensure their legacy, and that of their business, is one in which they will be proud.

The workshop was a combination of creepy morbidity and good-natured fun with a bit of acting and a few surprise celebrity death scenarios reenacted. Throughout, participants had the opportunity to reflect on their past experiences both personally and at their companies while setting new goals aimed at closing the gap between their ideal selves and the reality of their current actions.

Each participant was given a special surprise at the end – a personal note from someone close to them describing how they are viewed by others and detailing their impact on those around them.

Some participants left with giant smiles and many in tears.

“This was a fantastic experience, which genuinely impacted my life. What Measured Intentions gave us was so much more than could ever be expected from a convention breakout session,” says Dick Davidson, President of Thombert, Inc. in Newton, Iowa.

“This was the best breakout session I’ve ever been to,” said Bobbie Segura, Regional Manager of IWLC.

“When you can blend introspection, planning, and a range of emotions from humor to tears, you can really make an impact on a person and their organization,” says Kathleen Riessen, Partner at Measured Intentions. “This workshop touches people personally and professionally and we received numerous notes and emails about the changes people planned to make as a result of their attendance.”

Interested in looking death in the face and having the chance to change your life and your company’s while there is still time?

Contact us at 515.868.0240 to discuss hosting a “What’s Your Why” session at your organization!


Strengthening the Marketing and Sales Process

blue chain link

Written By: Kathleen Riessen

A few years ago I decided I wanted to give back to the local community so I called a well-known non-profit that had been asking for my help for years and offered my services. From serving on the board to performing tasks, I was up for anything. I waited and waited for a call back. No one called. Fast forward to a few months ago. I decided to give this non-profit another chance. I called and left them a message. Crickets. No one called me back. This time I was mad. Why would you send me all of these requests for help and then not return my calls?

In this example, the non-profits had great marketing. They established a need and a desire in me to help them, but when I took action, they failed miserably.

While it’s easy to understand that non-profits are stretched thin, generally have budget shortfalls and are understaffed, we can all think of examples in the government and for-profit industries where their marketing has worked, but their sales process or the hand-off from marketing to sales has failed.

How do we strengthen this hand-off between sales and marketing?

  1. Make sure the process is clearly documented. In the case of our non-profit, something as simple as answering the phone would have solved the problem.
  1. Identify the points that cause prospects to become uncomfortable or frustrated. Maybe the response time to get back to them is too long or there isn’t enough information on your website.
  1. Assign metrics to understand how the process is working. For example, how long should it take to respond to a phone call? If the answer is 24 hours, then create a log for all incoming calls and record the time and date in which you responded.

These simple steps will increase your marketing ROI and turn prospects into happy customers.


Part Seven: Measuring Effectiveness

Today’s topic concludes our blog series – how to build a successful strategic marketing plan.

We’ve covered the following steps in building out a strategic marketing plan:

Building a Successful Strategic Marketing Plan

Effective Marketing Strategy Part One: Research

Part Two: Data Analysis

Part Three: Identifying Your Business Goals

Part Four: Defining Your Target Audience

Part Five: Identifying Effective Marketing Tactics

Part Six: Implementing the Marketing Plan

So you’ve put all this work into researching, developing the plan, assigning roles and responsibilities and have started implementing the plan.

How will you know if your marketing plan is effective? By measuring your specific tactics.

Many times we hear, “I tried doing that and it didn’t work.” Our first question is “How do you know?” Without setting specific goals to measure your tactics, it becomes very subjective as to what did or did not work.

Review your tactics and decide how you are going to track its “effectiveness” to reach your business goals. Know your baseline (current state) and put a value on each tactic. How valuable are new leads – $50, $100? What is the cost of a product or service? Knowing this value will help you determine your ROI for each metric, which will answer the question “is it effective?”

Examples of metrics to use include:

  1. 30% monthly open rate of newsletter
  2. 10 new leads from email blast
  3. 10% new visitors to website
  4. 8 monthly purchases of product or service
  5. 12 new registrants for event

Let’s look at a quick example for metric #2 listed above – sending out an email blast.

Say the cost of sending out the email is $500. If you value a new lead at $100, you’ll need at least five new leads to cover your cost. Ten new leads and you’ve got a good ROI.

The true effectiveness is the value you put on it. Some may consider covering the cost effective enough, while others may view the engagement with the content effective. These are values you will need to determine based on your business goals.

There may be some situations in which a tactic cannot necessarily be tracked, for instance a brand awareness billboard. In these cases, we recommend training your employees to get in the habit of asking people where they heard about your company, your products/services. It could be as simple as asking them to check a box from a list of choices.

Lastly, and more importantly, we need to remind you that there’s no one-time silver bullet for engaging response or gaining leads. Many times tactics need a specific length of time to run to become effective or need to be tweaked. You just need to start somewhere to start gaining those insights and seeing those patterns to make adjustments to continually improve.

So this concludes our blog series – how to build an effective strategic marketing plan! We hope you found these posts helpful and insightful. When it comes time to plan your marketing, make sure to refer to these posts or contact us to help!







Part Six: Implementing the Marketing Plan

Whomever pulls the sword from the stone will lead this project comic

There’s nothing worse than taking the time to research, develop and create a full marketing plan and then not following through on implementing it.

In this series, we’ve reviewed the following steps to building a successful marketing plan:

Building a Successful Strategic Marketing Plan

Part One: Research

Part Two: Data Analysis

Part Three: Identifying Your Business Goals

Part Four: Defining Your Target Audience

Part Five: Identifying Effective Marketing Tactics

Even if you do all of the above, a marketing plan is only effective if you actually follow it . . . and measure it (which we’ll get to in our next post).

Assigning roles and responsibilities to each of the tactics you included in your plan is essential.

This could be one person, a marketing department, a marketing firm or a combination of all.

For some clients, we will help to the point of creating the strategic marketing plan and then turn it over to them to implement and track. For others, they want us to help with some implementation, or even all implementation.

It really boils down to time and resources to assure it happens.

After you have finalized each of the tactics within your marketing plan, add a column or note next to each to add in the name of the person responsible for completing and monitoring that specific tactic. In addition to the name of the responsible party, add the due date of this task so they understand when it needs to be completed by. This adds accountability and eliminates any “assumptions” that someone else is handling it.

This is a simple step, but a crucial one that is often overlooked.

Make sure to follow us for the last part in this series – measuring success!

Part Five: Identifying Effective Marketing Tactics

multi channel marketing tactics

We’re over halfway complete with our series: how to build a successful marketing plan!

So far, we’ve covered the following steps:

Part One: Research

Part Two: Data Analysis

Part Three: Identifying Your Business Goals

Part Four: Defining Your Target Audience

Now that we know our target audience, or audiences, we need to identify how best to reach them.

Some tactics may have been discovered during your research and data analysis, such as a specific publication, trade show or newspaper, but many times this will need further research by your marketing team.

As with all marketing plans, it’s important to be as comprehensive as possible in your marketing mix. You want to find tactics to reach your target audience, or as we like to call them “clones”.

The easiest way to get started is to first identify your basic marketing categories. This usually includes the following:

  • Print
  • Digital
  • Radio
  • Public Relations
  • Email
  • Social Media
  • Outdoor
  • Events (Trade shows, community events, etc.)

Before you start including specific tactics, consider the following:

  • Do you need consumer-facing tactics?
  • Do you need Business to Business (B2B) tactics?
  • Do you need both?
  • Do you need internal tactics to current employees, customers, leads or past customers?
  • Do you need all?

Many tactics may be used twice, for instant an email campaign. You could have a consumer-facing email blast for a product as well as a B2B email blast about a new service. These would be two individual tactics within your marketing plan.

Now it’s time to get to work and start adding your individual tactics. As you do so, be sure to include whether it’s a tactic for brand awareness, lead nurturing or lead generation

For example, a billboard might be for “brand awareness” while an email blast would typically be “lead generation” based on your call to action.

Why do you need to know this? It helps set the expectation of each tactic and will help you measure ROI based on its purpose in supporting your overall business goals you identified.

To learn more you’ll have to follow our blog as we’ll discuss this topic in an upcoming series post!




Part Four: Defining Your Target Audience

defining your target audience

Welcome back to our blog series: Building a Successful Strategic Marketing Plan!

In case you’ve missed them, you can catch up with our previous posts by clicking the links below:

Building a Successful Strategic Marketing Plan

Part One: Research

Part Two: Data Analysis

Part Three: Identifying Your Business Goals

Now that we’re actually building our marketing plan, it’s time to define your target audience. We hear quite often, “Everyone is our target audience!” As much as we wish that were true, it’s not. Check out a recent post we did specifically about this topic!

Identifying your target audience(s) in your marketing plan enables you to align your tactics with that audience for a better marketing spend ROI. Think of it as the rifle vs. shotgun approach. Knowing your audience will make you a smarter marketer, attracting the same audience to achieve your business goals.

Let’s walk through an example.

A business goal is to increase attendance at a specific event. From your research, you know that the majority of attendees to your event are females between the ages of 35 and 55.

You want to find more attendees like these (we refer to them as “clones”) to increase those event registrations. So “females between ages 35 – 55” is a target audience.

Your research may or may not have also told you how these individuals like to be communicated to or their interests. If it did not, you may need to do some additional research to find these things out. For instance, do they read specific publications? Which publications? Do they prefer snail mail to email? How much time do they spend on social media and which channels?

The more you know and can pinpoint about your target audience, the smarter you can be with your marketing dollars and attracting them into the sales funnel as a lead and potential new customer.

You may have one target audience or many depending on the business goals identified. Regardless of the number, make sure to include who they are within your marketing plan as a reminder of who you are trying to attract.

Stop by next week for part five!







Part Three: Identifying Your Business Goals

Welcome to our blog series: Building a Successful Strategic Marketing Plan! If you haven’t been following along, we’re walking you through the importance of having a marketing plan and how to best create, implement and measure marketing success through a strategic plan.

Check out our first few posts to catch up!

Building a Successful Strategic Marketing Plan

Part One: Research

Part Two: Data Analysis

On to part three! You’ve completed your research and data analysis. Now you get to start building your strategic marketing plan.

Before getting too excited about what tactics you’re going to use, you need to identify your business goals. There could be one overarching goal, or many, smaller goals. Regardless of whether you have one or many, they need to be outlined in your marketing plan. shutterstock_70201246

Some of these business goals you may have already known before you even conducted your research. Maybe you wanted to increase revenue (who doesn’t!) or enter a new market.

Other goals you may have been unaware of and were gleaned from your research and data analysis, such as improving a specific product/service or building a better sense of community for employee recruitment purposes.

Ask yourself (or your team) the following questions when reviewing and determining your business goals:

  1. Are these short-term or long-term goals?
  2. What metrics are we going to use to determine if we succeed at these goals?
  3. Are these goals tangible (selling actual products) or perception-based (increasing brand awareness or feelings toward a product or your company)?

Below are a few examples of some different types of business goals:

  1. Increase number of registrants from 10 to 20 for class or event.
  2. Increase brand awareness of product XYZ in X market by end of year.
  3. Become top 3 in market for XYZ product.
  4. Increase annual sales revenue by XX%.

Once finalized, write these business goals into your marketing plan along with the metrics that will be used to track them.

Make sure to stop back next week for the next part in our series: defining your target audience!