marketing posts

8 Ways to Listen to Your Market

Look OUT, not IN! If you’re following our CEO Challenge articles, speaking or consulting work, you’ve heard this mantra a lot. More often than not, answers to your most important business questions aren’t inside your organization; the answers lie out there with your customers. What problems are they facing? How is your firm REALLY doing at solving those problems? How do they make decisions? What’s the image they have of your firm versus your competitors? How much value do you really bring? How consistent and predictable is your service? Do you know what your customers wish you did better? But how can you gather this research? This action plan provides 8 ways to listen without breaking the bank.

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What are you selling? The answers may surprise you.

Pop quiz! Right now, right after you finish reading this article, go to each member of your leadership team and ask them this question: What are we selling?

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Have the Courage to Create a Brand!

Branding is a tricky subject to discuss with small to mid-size companies. It’s a concept that’s more easily associated with consumer products, packaged goods, or the Fortune 500. Branding books use examples like Starbucks, Apple or Dell – examples that don’t resonate with midsize service companies, B2B companies, or industrial product companies.

Many of these types of businesses think of a brand their logo, the look & feel of their web site, or their slogan. Unfortunately, a brand is none of those things. Instead, we define a brand as the combination of what you sell, how you sell it, and to whom. The result is an experience that your customers trust, and it can create substantial value because the right customers will be willing to pay a premium for that experience.

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How to Survive an Investor’s Due Diligence

This isn’t a good time to raise capital for your company. But surprisingly, it may be a good time to sell. An August 2009 New York Times article (“As Deal-Making Returns, Midsize Companies Are Seen as Prime Targets” by Brent Bowers) proclaimed “The United States is ripe for a boom in acquisitions of privately held companies.” But can your company survive an investor’s due diligence?

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“We have plenty of leads but can’t seem to convert!”

Recognize this sales funnel? I call it “the desperate pipeline” because it’s wide enough to catch any breathing soul who meanders by! You know what it’s like to be caught in one, receiving endless calls and emails because sometime, somewhere, you accidentally crossed a seller’s path.

Don’t be one of those desperate companies. A fat sales funnel has dramatic hidden costs and creates a barrier for consistent, profitable revenue growth. Marketing programs that focus on attracting as many leads as possible are no different from aggressive salespeople who pitch every breathing soul at every trade show, networking meeting and playground.

The solution? Shrink your pipeline!

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