Topic: 3) Ventures
Two recent articles and a couple of sales and marketing meetings related to eCommerce and software businesses led me to write this blog entry. In the first article I read, comments were made that even companies like McDonald's are having trouble getting their marketing dollars to rise above the nit. In the second article, Phillip Kotler (marketing academic and guru) characterized the world as still using old marketing concepts. He went on to mention that companies haven't yet figured out how to combine technology with high-touch marketing. Kotler's core point was that businesses don't spend enough time 1) getting a map of the customer's mind and 2) mapping back how a company's processes and operations should be optimized about customer awareness, preference, and choice. In any case, both articles touch on getting through noise and the relationship of customer prospects with business operations.
Now entrepreneurs are generally very concerned about marketing and sales so this is not new news. However, I often find that entrepreneurs are often stretched and need to make choices quickly. Based on a typical psyche of entrepreneurs where they are more inclined to try to maximize all resources at their disposal as opposed to taking a trustee's primary orientation of protecting assets, well this just fuels the need to make quick, and sometimes improper, decisions.
Where things can go awry is in the implementation of marketing and sales operations, and I'll only address two activities for brevity: cold calling and networking. A popular saying is that networking is the most effective way to generate sales. While I think this is true, I think that such thinking ignores some underlying core concepts. Better understanding the core concepts is helpful because a spectrum of marketing and sales techniques may be used in an organization.
On one end of the spectrum, cold calling operations are generally better for those types of offerings that are more commoditized, common, and well-defined. Cold calling operations are also better for those cases where the customer's problems are not that confidential. Thus, as you can imagine, since customer prospects can be contacted at any moment by telemarketers (aside from do not call regulations), if the prospect has a common and well-defined problem, there is very little risk to having an unknown, telemarketer give the sales pitch to them.
On the other end of the spectrum, problems of an infrequent nature and with a confidential slant to them (e.g., merger integration, company turnaround, new business launch) - these types of problems are better matched to sales and marketing processes involving networks. Use of networks and trusted people are the people that get invited to the party. Since problems faced by customer prospects are more confidential and infrequent, networks serve as feelers into the marketplace for suppliers.
So this is just another way of thinking about sales and marketing. At which end of the spectrum do your products and services sit? Do you have multiple products that require different operations? Does a blend apply? What should the balance be?
S4 Management Group