What will 2022 Look Like?

Business owners have spent the past two years navigating a pandemic, supply shortages, employee shortages and cash flow issues. Many have survived by pivoting their service offerings, or pivoting again to meet more current demands. When it comes to running a small business, this is just part of the game, but if we are being honest, 2020 and 2021 have caused some ulcers. 

 

As we round the corner of Q4, we start to look at what the new year will look like - and many are afraid of what it might bring. While we are all hoping for some sense of previously known normalcy, it may not be in the cards. 

 

Trends predicted to continue well into next year and beyond include:

 

  • Hybrid events and Zoom meetings are just part of the way we meet with each other and communicate now. 
  • Work From Home/Hybrid options- More companies are offering more WFH options and will need to find more ways to engage virtually with their workforce.
  • Advances in AI and virtual technology will help companies combat shortages in labor, and help us all find new ways to escape.
  • Distance learning is part of our Educational system now. Many parents are finding better solutions for their children than the typical school day, and this changes their work/life balance dramatically. 

 

Small businesses have felt these pivots and changes more than the big guys, and that’s not about to change. Studies show that small businesses need to adapt faster, and embrace more technology and have a solid plan to move forward into 2022. 

 

The number one thing all this change has impacted? Revenue. Since the pandemic began, revenues have been falling, and business owners are cutting budgets and salaries to make up the difference. As we enter 2022, there is a better way.  

 

Now, as things begin to stabilize, business owners can look at the coming year as an opportunity to make up what missed revenue. How?  By being intentional. 

 

Intentional about what?

  • Goal Setting - I know, it’s been hard to set goals for a while, but now is the time to sit down, dig in and look at where we are realistically. Chances are your revenues have dipped and your big goals feel far away- but that’s no reason to panic or give up. Now is the time to think about what you really want to accomplish in the next year and put together a plan for getting there. 
  • Budgets- Now that you have a plan, the reality is that you have to figure out how to budget for that plan. Take into account your overhead and capital expenses and start looking at what areas you can give more budget to- remember to keep this focused on the areas that increase your revenue and help you meet your goals. 
  • Fractional Teams-  After you’ve realized there just isn’t enough money in the budget to do all the things you want to do (it’s inevitable- sorry). Don’t panic. Do some research on how working with fractional teams can save you money while increasing your bottom line. Some of the best fractional teams are accounting, and marketing teams who cost 30- 50% less than an in-house team and get you the same, if not better results.  Our fractional CMO offering provides senior level strategy and implementation, so you get more direct impact and revenue for the budget. 
  • CRM and Automations - If you don’t have a functional CRM that houses all of your sales pipeline and contacts, now is the time to invest in one. Getting all this organized and having a place to clearly see your financial forecasting is going to be a lifesaver. Additionally, many CRM systems have built in automations for reminders, appointment setting and follow up emails- all of which saves you a ton of time. 

 

The coming year shouldn’t be scary, it should be an opportunity to take a look at the bigger picture, and congratulate ourselves on our adaptability and success during these past two tumultuous years. Now we are in a space where we can set some intentions, and carry them forward. Finding the right partners to meet your goals is paramount. If you have questions about how a fractional marketing team can work with you to create an intentional marketing strategy that actually impacts your revenue goals - give us a call. 


5 Ways to Revamp Your Marketing Strategy

We’ve seen the effects of supply chain issues in restaurants, hardware stores, department stores, and more — and the promotional products industry is no exception.

 

The year of the pandemic saw nearly 20% decrease in distributor sales as events and trade shows were cancelled and swag bags went back on their shelves. Now, as these gatherings are reinstated, many of these same distributors are seeing order counts double and are struggling to meet the demand. 

 

Industry trends are showing strong projections for recovery, but it won’t happen overnight, and you’ve likely got some extra unused dollars that would usually be spent on these items that just can’t be supplied right now. 

 

So how do you solidify your marketing strategy when you can’t get your promotional products? Here are five ideas to get started.

Know your audience

Just as the corporate and bigger business sides of the professional world have pivoted and adapted during the pandemic, so have small businesses and individuals. Rediscover your audience and evaluate how your prospects and leads — and their needs — have changed. Understanding your buyer persona is crucial to your success, and you can earn their trust and loyalty by proving your business to be adaptable and sensitive to their experience.

Run a brand audit

Does your visual identity accurately reflect your business’s mission and goals? Once you’ve evaluated your buyer and how they’ve changed over the last eighteen months, perhaps your brand might need a little revamping in order to stay aligned with your mission while still attracting your evolved audience. 

Invest in A/B testing

Increase your ROI from existing traffic, reduce your bounce rate, and establish successful conversion rates through extra A/B testing. With one control and one variable group, modify your CTAs, content length, email subject lines, email frequency, or any details that may affect your content, social, or website performance. With each of these tests, you’ll learn more about your consumer and which strategies to more fully invest in for success.

Develop your SEO and social media strategy

Increase your Google ranking by investing in your Search Engine Optimization strategy with both organic and paid strategies. Remember, too, that YouTube processes billions of searches each month, and, as a result, optimizing your video content can help you rank higher on the biggest search engines. 

 

While you’re optimizing videos, translate that same energy into your social media strategy as a whole. With the rise in influencer marketing, social partnerships, and sponsored feed content, both paid and organic social media strategies will help get your content in front of relevant audiences.

Target your campaigns

Once you have a clear understanding of the new pains, fears, and gains of your prospective clients, you’ll be able to run more thoroughly targeted campaigns and meet your audience through very specific touchpoints. Use your newly optimized SEO and social media strategies to implement these audience traits and speak directly to your compatible prospects.

 

Promotional products are not the lifeblood of your marketing strategy! With the absence of these items — and the wiggle room that may leave in your budget — this is the perfect time to dive into the core structure of your marketing plan and make sure that when the frills and gimmicks are peeled away, the bones of your business’s messaging are solid and representative of your mission and goals.


How to Get Investors' Attention

How to Get Investors' Attention

 

For over a decade I worked in business financial services with a focus on helping companies find funding. In that time, I worked with various small businesses from big manufacturers to solo entrepreneurs with great new products. What I was actually doing was a form of marketing: developing a strategy for “selling” the company to the right investor partner. While I continued to work with hundreds of companies and business owners, I kept hearing the same things. Over time, as these issues kept coming up, I was able to pinpoint 3 key must-haves that investors need to see from new products and startups that signal they are ready for funding.

The first became a hard rule for my strategies and recommendations, and that rule stands to this day. If you want someone to invest in you and your business, you had better be ready to put some skin in the game yourself and invest in a solid marketing strategy and brand. Without it, you may be a great company or product—but perception is real, and you have to “look the part.”

Skin in the Game. 

You mean other than my hard work day in and day out? YES. 

One of the first questions every single potential investor asks is, “How much have you invested in this idea?” And no matter how you slice it, what you believe your time is worth and the calculation you came up with for how much time you have spent thus far—is NOT the answer they want. They want to hear a dollar amount you have personally put into this and what happened to it and why you need more. You need to have concise, real (verifiable) answers here. 

Brand.  

It turns out that a hand-drawn logo on a napkin that your next-door neighbor made isn’t enough to convince anyone that you have a real brand. The perception of you, your company and your products or services is predicated on what emotions your brand evokes in your audience and what they think about you as a result. Here are some often heard examples:

  • Hand Drawn logo: This person doesn’t know what they are doing and they don’t have a real business
  • Rudimentary logo by a “friend:” There’s no money behind this project and it’s just a hobby
  • Outdated logo: This logo looks like it has been recycled from something else and feels like they aren’t in touch with current trends
  • Complicated logo design or explanation: Trying to be clever or having a full 3-page story about your logo turns off investors. They want to see a clean, easy-to-understand brand. Not something that is overly complicated or has a detailed backstory that only means something to you. 

Secondly, you need to get out of your own way. There comes a point in every entrepreneur’s life where they must realize that even though they built this company or product to solve a problem they themselves were experiencing, they are not their own target audience. 

Target Audience.  

As the owner of the company, your target audience may be patterned after you. They are probably very much like you in many ways. They likely have similar problems to yours, have a similar occupation and experience many of the same issues you are trying to solve. However, they are not you. Your personal taste in design or content or color does not necessarily appeal to everyone you are targeting. That is why it is important to remember who your audience is and appeal to them, not yourself. 

Does this typically mean that you will end up with a brand that is broader than you originally thought? Yes. Does it work better? Also yes. Working to find something that appeals to the larger audience will not only work in the long run for your brand, but it will also help you get the positive attention of the investors that you want—because you are demonstrating your solid understanding that your company/service/product is not for YOU. 

Go Get Funded.

Once you have some skin in the game, a real, thoughtfully developed brand and some insight on your target audience, your investors will start to look at your offering more seriously. If they are going to bet on you, they want to know that their chances at success (meaning yours) are good. Making sure these elements are integral to your pitch shows potential investors that you’re committed to your idea, you know there’s an audience out there that wants to buy your product and that you know how you’re going to sell it to them.

Need some help putting the pieces together? Let’s get in touch.


How to Succeed in Retail in the Age of Amazon

How to Succeed in Retail in the Age of Amazon

 

So you had some extra time on your hands during quarantine and came up with the “next big thing” for retail. Maybe it’s a new premium direct-to-consumer item or a platform for social shopping. Whatever the case may be, in the current age of retail, every business team needs to ask themselves the trillion-dollar question: How do we compete with Amazon?

Amazon’s Corner on the Retail Market

Like Walmart did for brick-and-mortar big box stores, the retail giant has hoarded market share by offering lower prices on thousands of retail products in virtually every industry, and it’s paid off. Amazon reached the trillion-dollar mark in 2018, being only the second company to do so (Apple was first just a month before).

 

You may be wondering how Jeff Bezos grew his operation to the giant it is today from its humble beginnings in his garage in Bellevue, WA, but consider this: Amazon has been at the forefront of innovation when it comes to online shopping and shipping to your home. It revolutionized shipping speeds with Prime memberships, paved the way for the use of delivery drones and even built more warehouses to accommodate large metro areas.

 

And that's not all: Amazon is always looking at the big picture and making highly intelligent organizational moves and acquisitions. For example, healthy eating and finding organic food choices are trends that have been on the rise for some time now, and consumers have been willing to pay more for those choices. So what did Amazon do? It bought Whole Foods, the largest, fastest-growing organic food chain. No wonder it reached the trillion-dollar mark.

 

Paying attention to what consumers want outside of the online arena and giving it to them in a new format is brilliant, and something to think about if you are trying to compete in the e-commerce space.

The Customer-Centric Business Model

As a rule, once a company obtains a certain level of success, the customer satisfaction rating will slowly decline as the corporation has bigger things to deal with. Amazon has only gotten more “customer-obsessed” with their exponential growth. A list of their company leadership principles explicitly states that at Amazon, “Leaders start with the customer and work backwards.” Earlier this year, in a Harris Poll on corporate reputation, Amazon was ranked in the top 3 for the 8th year in a row and the top 10 for the 12th consecutive year. And Amazon topped the ACSI Retail Report for the eleventh year in a row. Clearly they are onto something when it comes to customer satisfaction.

 

Smaller businesses have an advantage because they have always been better at building relationships. However, they can hold onto customer satisfaction as a top priority by posting crystal clear return policies and by offering one-on-one assistance when needed. Live chat is a fast-growing trend in customer support. We all feel more appreciated when we feel a connection with someone, so allowing your customers to make a personal connection with you and your business can go a long way.

The Coronavirus Effect: Recovering from a Spending Freeze

As in all other sectors, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail. E-commerce sales are forecasted to jump 18% by the end of 2020, but brick and mortar sales will drop by 14%. This TechCrunch article points out that the bump in e-commerce will not make up for the expected 10.5% drop in overall retail sales to $4.894 trillion—a level not seen since 2016. E-commerce may be enjoying a boost, but when all is said and done, Americans are technically spending less and gravitating to the top two in the category, Amazon and Walmart, for only the most essential purchases.

The Bottom Line For Small Businesses

While most new small businesses won't be able to directly compete with Amazon, there are ways you can be successful without feeling like you need to overcome the impossible.

 

Here are two ways of staying relevant in the space:

 

  • Go where consumers already are: that is, Amazon. For some, this is a classic “if you can’t beat 'em, join 'em” scenario in which a business foregoes fulfillment hassles by distributing directly through Amazon. For many, this has proven to be a successful strategy, turning a profit by letting Amazon take all the credit.

 

  • Create highly specialized products and services. Another new rule of thumb emerging across multiple industries, narrowing your niche and focusing on a very small percentage of the market can help you gain loyal consumers who know you are the only place to get what they need. Now that Americans are spending less, and Amazon has proven to be resilient, the retail behemoth is sure to keep its market share for the time being.

 

What may have worked for small businesses two years ago likely won’t work today, and what works today may not work tomorrow. Being nimble and finding small (but bright) windows of opportunity may be just the thing you need in order to survive.

An earlier version of this article was published on Forbes.


The Click to Purchase Myth.

When small brands roll out big dreams.

There are billions of marketing books, articles and gurus all claiming they have a silver bullet to generate leads while you sleep and get you that beach house in a matter of months. Like most things, what you read will rarely transform your life. Why is that? One word: execution. So, after a couple of attempts on your own, you hire a marketing agency, armed with the knowledge by experts and prepared to make an investment that will generate high returns.

This may seem like an exaggeration, but in reality, it isn’t too far from the truth. Businesses see the opportunity and desire a “click to purchase” product or service. This is where you build your digital marketing machine with paid ads to generate leads and a website to purchase. Sounds simple and the books will give you formula after formula to make it happen. And then they hit the wall- where are sales?

Assuming that marketing will be your sole driver for revenue is one of the biggest mistakes we see business owners make.

If you are ready to launch a product or a click to purchase service, here are a couple of things you should keep in mind and be prepared for. Consider this your reality check:

  1. If you want to build a digital empire be prepared to have deep pockets. It takes a lot of money to get enough traction and analytics to make a dent and even that first sale will take time and refinement. Know that you will learn lessons along the way, and they will be expensive.
  2. It will take time. Nothing worth having comes easily or instantaneously. It takes a lot of testing, refining and optimizing to get your targeting and message right. It takes at least 3 months to create baselines, understand the market and get a good feel for where you want to go. Even those digital marketing gurus had thousands of things that didn’t work out until they found their golden goose; even if that’s all they talk about. Know that it will take you time too.

If that sounds unappealing, know that there is another way to get your click to purchase solution launched. Take the uncertainty out of the equation and build a business that lasts, not just until the next Google algorithm change.

You are going to need to sell the first several solutions or products. Yes, it’s true. You will need to talk to people, understand what motivates them and how your digital solution solves their challenges. By skipping these early sales conversations you will need to invest much more time and money in marketing proving out different hypothesis. By having the conversations and connecting with these customers, you gain valuable insights and feedback that will help your business exponentially.

Let’s face it, a consultative sales process where you get to understand your customer, build a relationship and find solutions is at odds with a digital play. On the internet, you have to guess at what their challenges are,and feed them information, facts, proof that you are awesome. When you have a consultation you build connection and learn about your clients. This just can’t be done authentically digitally until you understand it in the real world.

What this boils down to is sales process. The more complex the offering, the more complex the sale. Make sure you aren’t just building a marketing machine, but a sales process that aligns with your values, your business, and your customers needs.

Depending on marketing to solely drive your revenue from the get-go is a risky business. We believe in creating sustainable programs that support elevate and grow businesses, not that ARE the business. If you would like to learn more about what a sales and marketing strategy looks like for you- it's time for us to talk! info@atrevenue.com


The difference between a marketing plan and a sales plan

Business plans often glaze over sales and marketing very quickly. They want to know what the overall revenue goals are sure but the HOW is grossly underrepresented. That’s the problem of setting targets, goals, and dreams without understanding what it will take to get there.

We often find that sales and marketing are still the wild west of strategic planning. They get some top-level attention to help define key principles such as your target audience or your core values, but rarely include any of the actionable items. So how do we blend the strategy and plan to achieve that ultimate goal: more revenue?

Before you make the goals, check to make sure that you are incorporating all of the below:

Your marketing plan should include:

- Your key messaging concepts: What are you going to say that will capture your audience’s attention? What problem do you solve, what are the motivating factors, why does your customer care Your marketing plan should clearly and concisely be able to articulate your core message.

- The channels you plan to use: Once you know what you are saying, where you will say it is the next step. Each platform, channel, and community might need a different message and a different way of expressing it.

- Your investments (financial, time and frequency): Marketing is going to cost you one way or another, even free channels on social media are becoming more of a pay to play platform. Your marketing plan needs to map out your commitment.

- Your goals and KPIs. For each channel: It is critical that your plan includes clear expectations so you can measure your ROI, make adjustments and improve.

Your sales plan should include:

- Prospecting: where are you going to find new prospects and leads? Where and how are you networking? How does your personal brand show up on social media?

- Strategic Partners: Who are your business friends who send you more business?  Building and developing great strategic partnerships is not only good business sense, but great for your pipeline.

- Your process. Creating a sales strategy takes careful process mapping. How do leads go through your pipeline? What are the critical steps that need to be taken? How can this process be repeatable across your entire team? If sales are the first ambassador of your brand, it is critical that you have a brand congruous process.

- Your KPIs and goals. You need to track your activity just as much as your results. As a sales professional, you need to put in the calls, work, and effort into finding your leads and building the business. Once you are able to hone in on those key metrics you will be able to calculate how much you make every time you pick up the phone.

Building both your sales and marketing muscles is critical to developing more revenue for your business. To help achieve maximum impact, many businesses are hiring a CRO (Chief Revenue Officer) to ensure both of these departments are achieving their shared goal, reducing processes and investments that aren’t paying off and holding the team accountable to growth. If it’s time to see more revenue come in your business we are here to get you there! Contact @revenue today and let’s create a plan for your next milestone.


The Times They Are A-Changing: Managing Fear

By Emily Lonigro

Do you feel something is changing? I do. It’s everywhere and I can’t quite name it yet. It feels deep and systemic, something much bigger than just me or you. Are you feeling it too?

During the past 2 months, I’ve been feeling this big change coming and I’ve been working on managing fear. It’s like an undercurrent to every conversation I’ve had. Usually, I can turn up my entrepreneurial mojo and crank out a ton of work and just blast full steam ahead with a singular goal, and I’ve been doing that for about 4 weeks solid now. I’ve done it a million times over the past 15 years — you know how exciting it is to think up a new plan and start the wheels in motion. It’s the part of my job that I love the most.

This time, something is different, and it’s not just me this time. I’ve been talking to foundations, our competition, partner agencies, B Corp CEOs, women in my network, clients, and really anyone I can get for 15 minutes. Everyone is saying the same thing: something feels different and we’re not sure what it is.

I’m not sure either. But here are a few things I do know and I’m hearing from everyone else:

1. There is a clear shift to bring more purpose and intention into our day.

We don’t separate work and life. It’s one big thing and it can be overwhelming. The things we do and say make us who we are, so when one of those pieces doesn’t jive with the rest, we face big problems like self-doubt, anxiety, and anger. When you’re in charge of things, like a business, this can become extremely messy. Finding the right people to talk to, whether a network or a paid advisor is the way through. Because the only way out is through.

I’m seeing more consultants and small advisory practices focusing on self-care, mindfulness, and bringing intention and meaning to clients’ lives. There has been a big focus on the rise of the entrepreneur and the startup, the leader who grinds all day and has a singular vision of success through disruption. Are we getting burned out? Are we spending all of our time working and forgetting about what binds us together as human beings? Or are just spending too much time on Instagram?

I hear a collective need for coming back to mission, purpose, intent, and meaning, especially in the business world. There’s a desire to work less and experience more.

2. We are getting used to working and living in a climate of uncertainty.

The uncertain political climate destroys my business. When we didn’t have a budget in Illinois for a few years, almost all of our work dried up with our biggest client. We know the same happened for a lot of our consultant friends and nonprofits lost funding and resources across the board.

This new political uncertainty that we are all witnessing every day is something else. It is changing our spending habits; we’re less likely to sign up for something for a longer term. We’re hoarding cash because we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. We are hearing about a coming recession, and we’re all wondering what’s going to happen.

Most of my competitors are talking about this. Some of them are digging in, some are getting out, and some are changing. We’re wondering what’s going to happen to our business and a lot of us are making pivots in our service lines and pricing structures to get ahead of it. We’re taking bets.

What does this mean? It means we’re realizing that business, as usual, isn’t working as usual and it’s up to us to keep things moving and for the betterment of our communities. This climate of uncertainty is designed to separate us and keep us alone and scared. I think a lot of us are at the point where we recognize: “yes, those people in charge of policy and big business are bananas crazy, but I need to keep my enterprise going to support my staff and family, so I’m going to keep going and do what I need to do to do that.” We recognize we are part of a system and we’re better of joining forces than going it alone. So let those crazies be crazy and let’s stand for something more.

3. We are slowly getting over being afraid.

I don’t know about you, but I used to be afraid almost all the time up until maybe a few months ago when I got to a breaking point. I finally realized that all of this worrying about uncertainty and what I SHOULD be doing wasn’t making my life any better. In fact, it was killing me.

Thinking back to when I started my business in 2004, I did that because I was tired of selling people crap based on the fear of not being good enough, or having some “other” person take everything away, or the fear of not keeping up or missing out. I rebelled against that idea in marketing, but most of everyone else didn’t. And marketing embraced it. So part of the issue why we’re all feeling like we’re falling behind because we let the marketing get to us.

This fear and anxiety is created by marketers, either deliberately or accidentally. It’s why we love and hate Facebook and why we are addicted to knee-jerk spending on Amazon. It’s a quick fix to a bigger problem: we’re afraid. We’re buying things that fix it for a moment, but in the long term we’ll just end up deeper in debt and at the mercy of the 1%.

I’m seeing a new trend emerging: one of fearlessness. Slowly, I’m seeing more honest questions, more support networks, and more authentic marketing that’s about creating real conversations.

I’m not sure what will be the result of all this, but I do know there is a new way and an old way. The old way is based on exclusion, fear, and profit. The new way is based on collaboration, honesty, and impact.

This is where I’m really excited. I know that the methods of design thinking, when used deliberately and inclusively are perfect for getting at the heart of the matter. It’s not always easy, but the results are always honest and insightful. This has been our practice for a long time now — extending far beyond branding and web development — and I think we’re in the right place at the right time to help more people make real change.

For us, this is the path that’s unfolding: our practice is about uncovering truths, defining a path forward, and inspiring and including. It’s less about the things we produce and more about teaching the tools and practices that help make the world better.

I created this model for to you get a sense of where you are in this uncertain time. Is your org or business responding or reacting? Is it from fear or inspiration?

 

[button style="red" float="left" margin="" size="small" link="https://www.limeredstudio.com/download/6779/" target=""]Click here to download my FEAR or INSPIRATION, RESPOND or REACT Worksheet[/button]


6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a CRM

Still using Excel to track your networking connections? That might work, to a degree -- but it isn’t scalable. You easily lose track of contacts, you miss follow ups and you can do better. Do you dream of a tool that tracks your pipeline, stores all your notes and automatically reminds you to follow up, or even does it for you?

That tool exists. Enter the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system of your dreams.

You might be thinking, “Oh, great--another piece of technology to learn.” I hear you--technology is always changing, so it’s hard to keep up. Then, there’s the risk that picking up a new tool will just add complications, rather than clarity. Let me help you out. Here are six questions to ask yourself. Take the time to answer them, and odds are you’ll find the perfect CRM for you.

  1. What is your digital culture? Take a moment to list the email service, project management software, inbox and other programs you’re using. Are you a Microsoft Brain, or do you get down with Gmail? Tools like Zapier can help make the connections seamless.
  2. What does your network look like? Make sure that your CRM will allow for different sales pipelines and tagging structure so you can store all of the necessary data. A good CRM will track not just your leads, but your strategic partners, vendors and more. Avoid systems that consider everyone to be a ‘lead’.
  3. What kinds of automation will you be using? Look at what process flows you have.  Are you automating? Where might there be opportunities to automate? Things like email messages, task assignments, and reminders are critical for lasting CRM success.
  4. What do you need to track? Priorities vary from sales pro to sales pro. Consider what you truly need to measure and track in the future. Then, check to make sure the CRM you’re considering will accommodate. Things like weighted pipelines and varied sets of activity can help make your choice easy.
  5. How much time are you willing to dedicate to your CRM? No matter what platform you choose, a CRM is only as good as the information you put into it. If as an owner you aren’t the championing your CRM as part of your culture your team will not make it a priority.
  6. At the end of the day, does this make my business better? Simply put, if the answer is “no,” time to consider another CRM.

Now that you have been able to narrow the field by asking these questions, it’s time to take that new CRM out for a spin. Take advantage of a free trial to see how you like the interface. Once you settle on a perfect match, customize it.

Intimidated by the thought of putting together a sales process, automation, and contact structure? You’re not alone. It can seem even more daunting than choosing the CRM., Contact @revenue to get started.


The Impact of Values on Small Business

Value Statements, mission statements, retreats, and branding exercises are often considered luxuries that small business owners will simply slide off of their radar. After all, there are so many more important things to do, right?!?

The short answer is, yes. There are many important things to do. Until there is a crisis, conflict….or even a client interaction. Then, this collective verbalization of what is important to us, what we strive for, and what we can expect from our leaders and peers becomes the foundation for success.

There are always metrics that are analytically trackable: sales, financials, all the numbers, right? But when it comes to measuring the alignment of organizational values in a small business what are you supposed to look for?

Here it comes….feelings.

OH, YOU KNOW HOW I LOVE TALKING ABOUT FEELINGS!

Check in with your team, and at different times:

To understand the adoption of values in your business it’s critical to check in with your team and learn if what you thought would be important about your values is resonating with them. As a leader, when you set the values for your org you set them through one filter - yours. But your values, have no guarantee of aligning with the person across the table. When we asked our new admin, who had been with us for about 90 days, Song said, “The concept of professional love was completely new to me. very few of my past employers have been as kind and invested in me and my goals in life, not just professionally but personally as well.”

Wow. After 90 days one of our team members knew that we cared about her as a whole person. Professional Love. Check.

When we asked another team member how he was impacted, Ben’s response was, “I am excited about the creativity that I have experienced with how @revenue works with clients. Developing ways to creatively collaborate with clients fuels innovation and brings excitement to the marketing strategies that we provide.”
This felt like a completely different view of the same question, but it gave us an understanding of how he was absorbing what we thought we were communicating clearly.

Having those conversations and getting feedback gives you a place to open yourself to getting better. Speaking better. Professionally loving them better. So what is the impact of those values? They are a measuring stick for the leadership of your organization and an opportunity to openly communicate over more than just ‘is the task complete?'.

The deeper the understanding and engagement your team has around your values sets the tone for how they care for and communicate with your clients. Give them something to believe in...and then believe in them.

We would love it if you would share your organization’s values with us! Visit us on Facebook or LinkedIn and share your vision - we are all ears!


Sales Sabotage: How Internal Communication is Hurting Your Bottom Line

In an ideal world, your sales and marketing teams would be best friends. Sadly, they don’t always see eye to eye--sometimes, they go head to head. The truth is, only 8% of companies report a strong alignment between their sales and marketing departments (source).

What’s the deal with this disconnect? As we discussed previously, sales and marketing can benefit and learn a lot from each other when they’re in sync. Heck, they both have the same goal--to drive revenue! Let’s take a look at just how disjointed these two efforts are, and what we can do to turn the situation around.

LEADS:

Did you know that sales reps ignore 50% of marketing leads (source)? WHAT!?!? It’s true--half the hard-earned leads sent their way are going to waste.

Do you wanna guess what the team is doing instead? About 50% of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting (source) Not only are they tossing aside the leads marketing is providing them, but they are wasting time on bad leads!

So if sales is only taking 50% of your leads, and wasting 50% of their time, that’s 100% failure. The sales team has reasons for passing on those leads--instead of ignoring the problem or guessing why, the marketing side should ask them what they want and need. Why aren’t they using these leads? What about these leads doesn’t appeal? How can you shift your strategy to ensure you are providing more qualified prospects into the pipeline? Making that shift means way more to the bottom line.

CONTENT:

We can’t lay the blame solely at the feet of the sales teams. Marketers could stand to make some changes to improve their impact.. Approximately 60-70% of B2B content created is never used. In many cases, this is because the topic is irrelevant to the buyer audience (source). Isn’t that just great? Writing for the sake of writing. If you are wondering why your content isn’t getting any traction, consider bringing in the sales team. They talk to your customers all the time and know exactly what their challenges and pains are. Make sure to address those and craft compelling and valuable content.

And let’s face it, content is still king. 47% of buyers viewed three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. (source). Be sure to engage your sales team so you're putting the right 3-5 pieces in front of them.

TOOLS:

If it seems that sales and marketing teams are speaking a different language, sometimes it’s because they are. All too often, marketing reporting and systems aren’t in line with sales processes and leads, and each team uses applications, tools and processes the other is unfamiliar with. In fact, B2B companies’ inability to align sales and marketing teams around the right processes and technologies eats up 10% or more of revenue per year (source). I bet you don’t spend 10% of your revenue on tools.

To get on the same page, consider bringing together both departments to your results meetings. When the marketing team learns where the sales are coming from, and sales learns about what’s working in the market, both parties produce better results. Don’t let the communication gap go on, because it’s only going to be more critical that you are in lockstep. By 2020, B2B buyers won’t contact vendors until 80% of the way through a purchasing decision. That’s going to put more and more pressure on the marketing team to reach, engage and convert more qualified buyers.

If your sales and marketing teams keep butting heads, it’s time to bring in outside help. Contact @revenue to look at both your sales process and marketing strategy to align everyone's efforts and create the revenue you deserve.