Category : Marketing Plan Creation

Helping Your Salespeople Develop a Real Marketing Plan

Although many salespeople may balk at creating and scheduling their marketing activities and materials months in advance, I’ve found that if the work is done up-front, it is far more likely to be implemented that if it is simply scheduled for future design and development.

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Even though salespeople may have all the good intentions in the world to follow through with their marketing calendars, seldom do these items get done unless they are already in existence.  Consequently, it is to their advantage for them to go ahead, spend the time now and create all of the marketing pieces they will be using, at least for the first half of the year.

Depending on the number of marketing channels they intend to market into and the type of marketing they determine to use, this process may take two or three weeks to complete.

Their first task to establish their general marketing needs for each channel.  Let’s assume that one marketing channel will be their existing current and past client database.  Further, let’s assume that they have decided they want to “touch” each person in their database 12 times during the course of the year.  Their first task is to determine what these 12 touches will be.  After consideration, they have developed a touch campaign that includes:  2 snail mail letters, 4 quarterly newsletters, 4 emails, one phone call and one holiday card.  Next, they must schedule each of these.  The first task is to pick the holiday they want to send a card for.  Let’s assume Christmas.  Now, we have 11 touches.  How do we space them?  Quarterly newsletters can go the second month of each quarter.  Now we have a touch in Feb, May, Aug, Nov and Dec.  A year summary letter would be appropriate for Jan.  The salesperson determines that their slow time of the year is early summer, so a phone call would work then,  Personal phone call in June.  Now we have something scheduled for Jan, Feb, May, June, Aug, Nov and Dec.  Let’s take an email and disperse them into March, July, Sept.  If we put an email in October we’ll have two emails back-to-back.  Nothing particularly wrong with that, but maybe we can do something else.  They take their second snail mail letter and decide to put it in October.  That leaves April as the month we need to concentrate on.  After considerable thought, they decide they don’t have the money for an additional snail mail campaign, there really isn’t a holiday to send a card, it is a busy time of the year, so a phone call is out.  They are left with an email or possibly a postcard.  A postcard would cost almost as much as a snail mail letter, so that’s out.  They are left with sending an email.  But what would be an effective email in April?  An email with tax prep tips, of course.

So, now they have their 12 touch program set out in terms of what format each touch will be.  Now, they must go a step further and write each of these items–right now.  If they simply schedule them, they will fail to follow through.  Guaranteed.

They should take each of their touches and decide right now exactly what each will communicate and write each one.  You may alllow them to only do the first 6 months if you want, but then you have to be sure to make them create the second half of the year during the second quarter.

Salespeople, being salespeople, will balk at creating all of their marketing pieces up front.  Yet, time and experinece has proven that if they don’t, it doesn’t get done.  The objection that they don’t know what will be happening 6 months from now is a canard.  If, in fact, the world has changed in 6 months, the piece can be re-written just prior to its scheduled send date.  More than likely, what is written now, will still be the message then.

The salesperson should design and write each and every communication for each of their marketing channels.  General items such as personal brochures and the like should be redesigned at this time also (if the salesperson is intending to redesign).  If there are pieces to be implemented during the course of the year–say the salesperson does not expect to have the funds to acquire a personal brochure until May, those pieces should also be designed at this point.  Don’t let anything wait until just prior to its scheduled execution date or it won’t get done.

To date, the salesperson has analyzed their past performance, analyzed their potential marketing channels and then chosen those they intend to target in the coming year, have determined a 12 time touch schedule and have designed their touch pieces, as well as their general marketing pieces.  In the next couple of bolg entries we’ll look at determining and scheduling follow up, specifically how the rep is going to spend their time and energy, creating projections and creating a viable system for determining success or failure.

Are You Afflicated?

One of the most common complaints I receive from salespeople, managers and professionals is that their lead generation programs don’t work well. No matter what they try—cold calling, direct mail, email campaigns, advertising, generating word-of-mouth, attending trade shows, networking through organizations, or any other format, their results are substantially less than they had anticipated.

Most of the time when questioned, I discover, not surprisingly, that the root causes are a lack of long-term commitment to the program combined with a lack of experimentation to find the optimal message format.

Lead-Generation-for-New-BusinessLead generation programs typically are not overnight successes. No matter the formats you choose to utilize, it takes time and effort to make a lead generation program work. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic formula. But there are lessons that can be learned and applied from the major companies that will work—over time:

First, know who your prospects are and where they are. Although basic, many forget to analyze their lead generation program for its ability to reach exactly whom they want to reach. You hear about a lead generation format that has worked well for someone and you get excited and decide to implement a similar plan without thinking through the issue. What works for your best friend’s product or service may not work for yours. Define your ideal prospect and target them—where they are.

Second, use a combination of formats. Don’t rely on one prospecting method. Prospects are not all the same. Some will respond to one media while others will respond to a different prospecting method. Try to integrate two, three or four prospecting methods into a unified whole.

Third, be consistent in your message. For each target group, keep your message consistent throughout your marketing campaigns. If you have several different target groups, you can certainly have different messages to each group, but even then you must keep your message consistent within your lead generation program to that market.

Fourth, give your campaign time to mature and payoff. Running one or two ads isn’t going to produce results. Sending a series of three letters isn’t either. Marketing is a long-term commitment. It has been estimated that it takes at least 7 exposures to a prospect before they begin to act. Plan your campaign to generate a number of touches to the same prospect over a period of time that acclimates your prospect to who you are and what you do. This is where the consistency of message really begins to payoff.

Fifth, don’t be afraid to experiment with your format. If you are establishing a combination mail and email campaign, experiment with different lengths of letters, different days of the week and times of the month for your letters and emails to go out. The message is the same; you’re simply experimenting with the variables within the format you have chosen.
Sixth, keep track of what you do and the response you get. Over time you’ll begin to see patterns that you can take advantage of. You may find that a two page letter works better than a one page letter. You may find that sending you mailings to arrive early in the week works better than late week arrivals. Maybe your response is better with communications in mid-month than early or late month.

Seventh, be consistent. Don’t send out three communications and then give up because the response isn’t what you hoped for. Whatever your chosen methods of prospecting are, set out a campaign with a definite duration and schedule and stick to it. Consistency doesn’t mean you don’t experiment within the method—it means you plan and carry out the campaign to its end, giving it time to work.

The secret is simply to be diligent, consistent and creative. If you carefully analyze whom your prospect is and how to reach him or her and then carry your plan out over a reasonable period of time, you will begin to see the results you are seeking. Expecting overnight results will kill your efforts and waste the time, money and effort you’ve invested.