Category Archives: Business Development

What is your business plan for 2017?

employees-entrepreneurs Now is the best time to review your successes in 2016, and begin to plan for 2017. This is especially true for start-ups and part-time or full-time entrepreneurs that would like to make this coming year a breakout one.

Here are some simple steps to fine tune your plans for 2017.

1) Eliminate waste. Review your monthly expenses. If there is any expense that is not critical to your operations, it must be eliminated or reduced. It is also wise to shop around for competitive services if you have not done so already. The smaller the size of your company, the more critical it is to examine and review any and all unnecessary expenses.

You can view any unnecessary expense as if someone were reaching into your wallet and stealing your hard earned profits. The problem is that you undoubtedly gave them permission to do so. A big problem for small entrepreneurs is recurring monthly expenditures that do not contribute substantially to their bottom line.

2) Make sure that the products and services you offer are top notch and that they meet the needs of your customers. Review each of your products and services, and examine ways to improve them in terms of functionality, quality, speed of execution, etc. Ask your customers directly by phone or by email how you can improve your products, or if there are additional products that they would like to see from you.

3) Based on the input you receive from your customers, make plans to expand your product offering. Above all, do not be a one-trick pony to your customers. Even if you have a main product, see if there isn’t a way to offer some kind of premium service or an extension to one of your products or services that might command a premium price that some customers would be willing to consider.

4) Consider outsourcing smaller tasks for which you may not have staff with the particular skills to accomplish the job. A good place to outsource micro-jobs is Fiverr. For a guide to Fiverr that will make your outsourcing job much easier, I have a free Fiverr Finesse – Outsourcing Guide for you.

Just send email to info@goldfinchdigitalpublishing.com with your request, and I will send it to you. It is a 250-page guide with text and data that will help you quickly locate Fiverr vendors in over 120 categories.

Here is a video that explains all about the course, but of course, you will not have to pay for it, It is completely free.

Fiverr Finesse – Outsourcing Guide video

I wish you the best possible success in all your endeavors for 2017.

Make sure you are a member of Markethive to help promote your business in 2017.  Login here —> Markethive

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Sales vs Business Development

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What’s the Difference?

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Sales and business development. Just two different ways to refer to the same activity — getting your company’s product into customers’ hands. Right? Actually, sales and business development should not be considered the same job at all.

Instead, think of the two roles as complementary halves of a whole.

It’s true that both positions exist to help grow your business, but they achieve this end in different ways. Read on to understand the division between sales and business development, and learn what parts of the sales process each team owns.

The Difference Between Sales and Business Development

1) What is business development?

First things first. There are two types of activity commonly referred to as “business development,” but they bear little resemblance to each other in both job function and importance within an organization.

In the traditional sense, business development refers to activities designed to expand your organization’s reach into a new market — for example, forming partnerships with other businesses to sell Company X’s product to Company Y’s customers.

The type of business development we’re talking about here, however — also known as sales development — is a specialized sales role. Business or sales development reps (BDRs or SDRs, respectively) are tasked with researching, prospecting, and qualifying leads before passing them off to the sales team to further develop and close.

This means that SDRs do not carry quotas — although they are responsible for bringing in enough qualified leads that generate a certain amount of business, they are not directly responsible for closing deals.

2) What is sales?

Sales is all about closing. After receiving a qualified lead from an SDR, sales reps take the deals across the finish line. Sales reps might perform some additional qualification in certain circumstances, but their primary objective is to close deals. Sales reps are also responsible for demonstrating the product, handling prospect objections, and drafting contracts.

3) Why the split?

According to Bryan Gonzalez, a sales development analyst at research and advisory group TOPO, there are two primary reasons why the sales process has been split into sales development and sales — the increased difficulty of reaching buyers and the benefits of specialization.

Reaching a buyer “now requires a larger effort by smarter people,” Gonzalez said. “More research and more touches on a lead are required to connect, and it’s not as valuable to have someone with a quota on their head doing that.”

So taking a cue from Henry Ford, companies have split the sales cycle into specialized areas of responsibility to maximize efficiency and output.

Closing is no easy feat, and it doesn’t make sense to have your top sales reps spend time researching companies and hunting for leads if they’re best at selling. In the same vein, prospecting and qualifying is neither a fast nor simple process. Separating prospecting from selling allows each team to focus all their energy on one task, instead of dividing their time between two different and time-consuming objectives.

Another advantage of splitting the two roles is the ability to mold reps from an early stage in their careers and cut down on hiring costs, says HubSpot’s global director of business development Justin Hiatt.

“A sales development team takes some of the prospects and qualifying burdens off your quota-carrying reps’ shoulders,” Hiatt writes. “But its grander purpose is to become a training ground for your sales organization. It’s a place for your SDRs to prove they can become quota-carrying reps and should feed new reps into your organization every year. ”

4) Are there any overlaps in the sales development rep (SDR)/sales rep role?

Yes and no. SDR and sales rep positions don’t have too much crossover when it comes to day-to-day activities unless your reps are also responsible for some of their own prospecting. However, the teams should be hyper-aligned. Both SDRs and sales reps must understand your organization’s ideal buyer persona and be able to spot good fit opportunities.

5) When should an SDR pass a lead to sales?

The point at which an SDR passes a lead to a salesperson will vary from company to company. It rests on how your sales team defines what makes a lead “sales qualified.”There are several different frameworks for sales qualification: BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline), ANUM (Authority, Need, Urgency, Money), and GPCT, to name a few.

But no matter what framework you use to qualify leads, SDRs should become adept at uncovering the following:

  • Whether they’re talking to a decision maker. If the contact is a low-level employee with no purchasing power, it’s imperative to figure that out sooner rather than later.
  • Whether the company could use your product. If your product or service solves a problem that doesn’t exist in your lead’s industry, it’s not a good idea to pass that lead along to a sales rep.
  • Whether the lead’s problems can be solved by your product. Every company has different needs. Digging a little deeper to find out exactly where a lead needs help is critical to determining whether or not your product can solve the problem.

Many organizations have their SDRs go a step further than this basic qualification to get a better sense of whether a lead is ready to buy. They require SDRs to look for two additional pieces of information:

  • Whether the lead needs a solution in the near future. It’s possible that at the time your SDRs first make contact with a lead, their problems aren’t serious enough to warrant a purchase. This doesn’t mean the lead is dead, but passing it along too soon is a waste of sales reps’ time.
  • What kind of budget the lead is working with. This isn’t the time to get into specific pricing breakdowns or negotiations, but it’s important to know if your product is priced in the same ballpark as what a lead can afford.

Throughout the qualification process, SDRs should spend the majority of their time asking questions and listening to the prospect. However, it’s also important that they educate leads about what solutions your company offers and start demonstrating their value so any potential misalignment is rooted out early.

6) How should a sales development call differ from a sales call?

As outlined above, an SDR’s responsibility is to find out as much as possible about a lead’s company, pain points, and need for a solution. Early conversations should revolve around gathering this information.

A sales conversation should pick up where the SDR left off, with the endgame of getting a deal signed. Sales calls can cover a wide range of things — here are just a few examples:

  • Demonstrating how your value proposition applies to your prospect’s business pain
  • Comparing your product to your competitors’
  • Setting up a trial of your product, if applicable
  • Product demonstrations
  • Price breakdowns
  • Implementation plans
  • Contract terms

The degree of separation between business development and sales will vary from organization to organization. Especially in smaller companies, sales reps might be responsible for both prospecting and closing, and that’s okay. But as you grow, separating and clearly defining the roles of the two teams will allow each to focus on what they do best, and help your business reach new heights.

Chuck Reynolds

MarketHive

Business development Activities

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Business development activities extend across different departments, including sales, marketing, project management, product management and vendor management. Networking, negotiations, partnerships, and cost-savings efforts are also involved. All these different departments and activities are driven by and aligned to the business development goals.

Sales:

Sales personnel focus on a particular market or a particular (set of) client(s), often for a targeted revenue number. In this case, business development assesses the Brazilian markets and concludes that sales worth $1.5 billion can be achieved in three years. With such set goals, the sales department targets the customer base in the new market with their sales strategies.

Marketing:

Marketing involves promotion and advertising aimed towards the successful sale of products to the end-customers. Marketing plays a complementary role in achieving the sales targets. Business development initiatives may allocate an estimated marketing budget. Higher budgets allow aggressive marketing strategies like cold calling, personal visits, road shows, and free sample distribution. Lower budgets tend to result in passive marketing strategies, such as limited print and media ads, and billboards.

Strategic Initiatives or Partnerships:

To enter a new market, will it be worth going solo by clearing all required formalities, or will it be more pragmatic to strategically partner with local firms already operating in the region? Assisted by legal and finance teams, the business development team weighs all the pros and cons of the available options and selects which one best serves the business.

Project Management/Business Planning:

Does the business expansion requires a new facility in the new market, or will all the products be manufactured in the base country and then imported into the targeted market? Will the latter option require an additional facility in the base country? Such decisions are finalized by the business development team based on their cost-, time- and related assessments. Then project management/implementation team swings into action to work towards the desired goal.

Product Management:

Regulatory standards and market requirements vary across countries. A medicine of a certain composition may be allowed in India but not in the U.K., for example. Does the new market requires any customized version of the product? These requirements drive the work of product management and manufacturing departments, as decided by the business strategy. Cost consideration, legal approvals and regulatory adherence are all assessed as a part of a business development plan.

Vendor Management:

Will the new business need external vendors? For example, will shipping of product need a dedicated courier service? Or will the firm partner with any established retail chain for retail sales? What are the costs associated with these engagements? The business development team works through these questions.

Negotiations, Networking and Lobbying:

A few business initiatives may need expertise in soft skills. For example, lobbying is legal in some locales, and may become necessary for penetrating the market. Other soft skills like networking and negotiating may be needed with different third-parties such as vendors, agencies, government authorities, and regulators. All such initiatives are part of business development.

Cost Savings:

Business development is not just about increasing sales, products, and market reach. Strategic decisions are also needed to improve the bottom line, which includes cost-cutting measures. An internal assessment revealing high spending on travel, for instance, may lead to travel policy changes, such as hosting video conference calls instead of on-site meetings, or opting for less expensive transportation modes.

Chuck Reynolds

MarketHive

Business Development, What does it mean? Who is it for?

 
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Is it the same for everyone?

Having now worked in a number of roles that you might consider as business development (BD), I thought I’d start my publishing journey on LinkedIn (this is my first post) with a bit of reflection. I often get asked what the difference between straight selling and BD is, so I thought I’d try and define the differences (for my own sake, if nothing more!).

To some degree, they’re different sides of the same coin. Selling and BD go hand in hand. I’ve been in roles where I’ve been strictly selling, others where there is a combination of sales and BD, and also in roles that I would consider true and pure BD. In all, however, I’ve had some link to what would be considered BD within that particular business.

So the answer to the header title is no, I think; BD is different for everyone and every business, dependent on a number of factors – budget, the size of any workforce, attitude to BD, etc.

What is ‘true and pure’ BD?

The sales process is one that involves a lot of people – product development, designers, pricing, marketing, technical, management – ‘front-line’ salesmen and ‘top-end’ management need to combine forces to deliver a product that their customers want.

If you walk into a shop to buy a pair of trainers, for example, this has been designed from the early stages by trained footwear designers, manufactured from these designs in a production process of sorts (industrial or bespoke, depending on the brand), marketed in the appropriate manner to raise awareness of the product, eventually landing on the shelves of the shop you’re in, with a friendly guy/gal willing to help you transact some business when you make the decision to buy them.

So where does BD fit into this process? What’s it all about then? I think the foremost word that comes up in the BD world is ‘relationships’. That’s pretty much what it’s all about.Good business development will help identify, maintain and encourage relationship building within a firm, building rapport with both suppliers and customers.

It helps strengthen the bonds between these links, supporting the marketing copy and material that establishes your product in the relevant marketplace.

It helps provide information as to what the client needs to the ‘front line’ sales team, assisting them in closing the deal at the end of the process.

It helps inform management as to how the market is moving, providing insights into new developments of technology, social media and other digital avenues that the firm can take advantage of, to build and maintain loyalty.

It helps small companies access bigger markets and large companies engage newcomers.

So the definition of ‘true and pure’ BD is ‘helping a business to develop its relationships’.

Plain and simple.

It’s networking on a daily basis; attending cutting-edge events to learn about the industry you’re working in; finding (er… stalking?) people on LinkedIn to see what events they’re attending and making sure you meet them there, in person, so that you can have that all-important introductory chat; it’s offering your loyal customers something more than a newsletter – why not run a seminar and invite them along to it? They might be happy to be invited.

The personal touch is always a winner. We hear more and more now about relationships marketing, social currency, engagement, etc. BD is the platform that most of this is built on.

Who is it for?

What this has shown me is that BD has a place in every business. You can’t ‘develop’ your business without a good BD strategy.

So whether you’re encouraging your front-line staff to sign up to a few newsletters, or get yourself down to a few networking events, or join a LinkedIn group and start up a discussion, BD is something that can’t be overlooked.

It’s all very well to have a great product and a nicely designed website, with some great leaflets and a slick business card but, without the right approach to BD, no one is going to see it in the way you want to.

Having worked as a supplier to a lot of startups and growing SMEs, the one thing that I’ve noticed which has set apart the successes from the failures is their approach to BD.

Develop the relationships – build a community around your business and your product just needs to do what it says on the tin. The rest will fall into place and you’ll have a strong, loyal customer base who are happy to sing your praises.

For that reason alone, if nothing else, BD is essential for pretty much any business going.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

MarketHive

Improving Conversion by Building Business Relationships

building business relationships

building business relationships

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Trying to sell a visitor on a first visit is like asking someone to marry you the first time you meet. To improve your chances of closing the sale, first seek to build a business relationship with the prospect. Building rapport can be done in the following ways.

1) Educating

Explain a process or concept. Give step-by-step instructions and advice.

2) Problem solving

If there is a common problem your prospects face, develop a creative solution. Provide a simple, quick, and easy way to fix it.

3) Adding value

Provide something of value to your prospects. Ideally, use digital products and systems so that once the product is created, it does not cost you any extra to distribute it to 1,000 or 1,000,000.

Practically, these methods of business relationship building are conducted through the following ways:

4) Articles

Writing articles about your area of expertise can allow you to dramatically increase your influence. By submitting articles you have written to relevant directories, you could get republished to dozens of publications and reach thousands of prospects. You will be positioned as an expert to these people, and they will come to you looking for answers.

5) Blogging

The benefits of building and maintaining a blog are similar to those of publishing articles. Posting new, interesting content will help you market yourself by educating others. It attracts inbound links from other websites, and can often boost your website traffic.

6) E-course

An email e-course can be built by taking 3-5 of your articles and setting up a newsletter publishing tool to send 1 article per day to each person that signs up. You will get the benefits of marketing through education, and the repetition of one article per day will further market yourself.

Since the recipients have chosen to receive this from you, you can also include a message at the end of each email promoting your product or service.

7) Free tools & downloads

Building free tools that help your potential customers in some way is a powerful strategy to building traffic and relationships. Examples include calculators, generators, eBooks, and plugins. Often, these do not cost much time or effort to create, but provide a lot of value to your target audience.

Build relationships by sharing knowledge and giving away value before you try to close the sale. Doing so will not only improve your sales conversion rate, but will win you loyal customers and clients.

 

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You might be curious about how much actually does MarketHive charge for these amazing online marketing tools, well the answer really is these Internet marketing tools are totally free of charge for life, no strings attached. Basically these online marketing tools would cost you hundreds of dollars per month, not at MarketHive. This is the good news for the beginner as well as the veteran Internet marketer.

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If you have any questions please do not hesitate to call me. My telephone number is 609-641-6594 – Eastern Time Zone

 

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★Tips for Successful Business Development★

Tips for Successful Business Development

“We need to hire a Business Development Person”

Many founders and CEOs come asking, “we need to hire a biz dev person, do you know anyone?” Few roles have more varied job descriptions than business development. It’s no wonder why it is hard to figure out who to hire, what this person should do and how to measure success. Read below for tips on successful business development for startups, including how to avoid many of the typical frustrations with business development.

 

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1. Hire the Right Person at the Right Time

A person with deep industry knowledge and strong network ready to “do deals” can turn into a disaster if it is too early in a company’s product lifecycle. There are three stages in the commercialization process and not everyone is suited for every stage.

  • Scouting: The earliest stage of a company. At this point, business development is about identifying various routes to market, points of leverage and providing the internal team early market feedback. The ability to work with product and engineering teams is a key skill.
  • Testing: At this stage, biz dev will close a few deals to test assumptions and provide measureable input before you scale the business. Analytical skills to set up a framework for what to measure, and examining the data, will determine if and where to scale based on the company’s strengths and vision.
  • Scaling: After gathering data from early deals and validating a path to achieve your goals, business development is ready to start replicating deals and putting a support structure in place.

2. Business Development Is Not Sales

In general, business development will identify and create partnerships that enable leverage for driving revenue, distribution or that enhance the product. Sales is focused almost exclusively on driving revenue. Similar distinctions will apply when hiring a sales leader for an early stage company versus a more mature organization.

3. Post-Deal Management Is Crucial

All successful deals are a result of accountability and proactive management — by both biz dev and account management. In most cases, the account manager is a different person than the biz dev person who did the deal. Ideally, the account manager has variable compensation or incentives tied to meeting the goals established by both parties. If you are not ready to allocate the resources to support a deal, think twice before signing it.

4. Qualitative Versus Quantitative

Companies sometimes try to build a business purely around a qualitative value proposition, which is difficult and has a higher likelihood of failure. The market is less willing to pay for a better user experience or the promise of increased engagement, even if they like the product and find it useful. A quantitative value (lowers cost, drives revenue, more customers, etc.) dramatically increases the odds of success. One way to remember this rule is the pacemaker versus the hearing aid analogy: If you could only have one, which one would you choose?

5. Support for Business Development Is Essential

A good business developer will engage internal resources along the way to ensure the company can meet the goals and expectations of a partnership. A lack of support will almost certainly lead to finger pointing and blaming when things go south. Everyone should own part of the success or failure from the start.

6. Establish a Framework for Assessing Opportunity

In order to gain support from your team, everyone needs to understand why the deal makes sense for your company. Does it drive revenue, lead to new users or enable the company to enter a new market or vertical? When the goal is clear and measurable, it makes it easier to address issues like, “Why are we converting below projections?”

7. Make Deals Carefully

There is a difference between doing deals and doing the right deals. A good dealmaker can help identify a false signal –- when there is just enough market momentum and revenue to mask the greater opportunity. Conversely, a less experienced dealmaker or one with the wrong incentives can generate enough momentum and distract the company from the bigger opportunity. Many companies have been weighed down by a bad deal they later regretted -– this is where you want to develop a level of understanding and trust with your business development person.

8. There Are No Legal Issues

A legal agreement codifies a business arrangement and includes commercial terms as well as what happens if things do not work out. This requires business development and legal counsel to assess the business opportunity versus the business risk and explain the trade-offs to management.

Building a company is hard and requires a lot of things to go well including having a great product and team. Watching an idea become a product and a product generate revenue that becomes a successful company makes it all worthwhile. Bringing in the right business development person at the right stage, and following these other guidelines, will keep your company on the right track.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

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Some Common Reasons a Small Business Fails

 

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The Basics of Business Development

 

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A Marketing Plan for More Traffic, More Leads, and Higher Customer Retention

Are you up against competition that has deep pockets and can outspend you using traditional advertising methods?

Does it seem like a losing battle to go head-to-head with them to get new prospects?

Particularly for start-up companies, using traditional advertising and marketing methods can get expensive…especially if you’re up against an established company with more money than you. This is why you need to use marketing channels that will bring you the attention and customers you need without breaking your bank. Fortunately, you have an entire group of channels that you can use…

 Inbound Marketing.

This diagram explains all the techniques behind inbound marketing:

Traditional outbound marketing can end up being a poor investment. You have to rely on channels like cold-calling, paid branding and print advertising.

All of those channels can get really expensive really fast.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, will help you capture attention, generate leads, convert customers and keep those customers…all at a lower cost to you than your competition.

So, if you need help getting more traffic, more leads and retaining customers, then let’s look at a few steps you need to take to get there.

Step #1 – Ignore Sales And Focus On Marketing

Before you accuse me of losing my mind, let me explain. While hiring a killer sales team is very important, it’s much better to create a marketing strategy that feeds that team qualified, warm leads, instead of cold, and possibly dead leads. This way your sales team doesn’t spend their time chasing down unqualified prospects and following up on bad leads.

Instead, your efforts should be focused on building a marketing team with excellent marketing skills. Like::

  • Hire brilliant marketers – Look for talented men and women who have a reputation for building a huge fan base, generating qualified leads and using the tools that are involved in inbound marketing (SEO, social media, and content marketing) to bring brand exposure. It’s also better to find those who have worked with a startup company before.
  • Focus on tightly targeted markets – Understand your audience, break them down into relevant segments and then create tailor-made campaigns for each segment. This narrow approach will also raise your conversion rates.
  • Close qualified leads –What does a qualified sales lead look like? It comes down to the answer of these three questions:
    • Do they have the authority to buy?
    • Do they have the budget to buy?
    • When do they plan on buying?

You want your sales team to avoid leads that are NINAs—no influence, no authority. You want to just send them mostly A leads (is ready to buy in 3 months or less), some B leads (is ready to buy in three to twelve months). The C leads marketing can keep. This process should make the sales team’s job seem like they are shooting fish in a barrel.

Step #2. Focus On Multiple Inbound Channels

The key behind an effective inbound marketing strategy is to create and deliver valuable content. This strategy gives you a lot of different channels to use.

Here is a template that you can use for your own inbound marketing strategy:

  • Blog – Your team should focus on publishing quality content two to five times a week. By quality I mean it is search-engine friendly, highly-researched and compelling.
  • Engage in comment marketing – Someone on your team should focus on visiting sites within your industry to interact with bloggers and readers in the comment section. Commenting is a great SEO strategy too, but more importantly, it will bring you attention, help build you up as an authority and prepare you to write guest blog posts.
  • Publish guest blog posts – Guest blogging is one of the fastest ways to grow your subscriber base. Fortunately, because of the high demand for content many blogs are looking for guest writers.
  • Produce online video – Video can help improve your search rankings, to raise the amount of time, people stay on your page and even boost conversion rates on your landings pages.
  • Interact in the social bookmarking world – While this isn’t one of the most popular ways to generate leads, it is definitely one you shouldn’t ignore. In fact, certain industries include heavy users of social bookmarks sites like delicious.com or Readability.
  • Establish authority on Q+A sites – Quora has really established itself as a place for a professional exchange of ideas. Search for questions related to your industry, leave thoughtful answers and interact with other contributors. This process will help build your credibility.
  • Design brilliant infographics – Some companies like Wordstream use a heavy dose of infographics to generate traffic and back links to their sites. But making a great infographic is not easy. A bad infographic can set you back, so get this one right. Visual.ly, a one-stop shop for infographic creation, also has this inbound marketing technique nailed.
  • Build a social media audience on the big four – Focus your audience-building efforts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. If your target audience is on Pinterest or Tumblr, then use those sites as well. Keep in mind—don’t spread yourself too thin. Pick two or three that you can maximize your exposure.
  • Implement a solid startup SEO plan – If you run a startup, then you are in an excellent position to take advantage of everything that SEO has to offer.the Cool thing is if you are doing all the things above…you are halfway into a great SEO plan. Now you just need to cover some other basics like on-page optimization.

All of the efforts behind a good inbound marketing plan won’t cost you a dime except for the sweat equity you invest. This means you can compete with bigger competition that is better funded.

For each of the inbound marketing efforts above you’ll want to break them down into steps. To show you how to do that we’ll break down one of these techniques into detailed steps. And we’ll choose a social media strategy where there is little competition so you can take advantage of this strategy now.

Step #3. Dominate LinkedIn Groups

While the big three social media sites get all the attention, LinkedIn is quietly becoming a powerhouse. With over 150 million users, you have a lot of opportunities to generate some serious attention. The specific strategy I want to focus on is with Groups. Contribute and engage with LinkedIn Groups with this quick 5-step strategy and you’ll generate some high-quality leads.

  • Find the best Group to join – LinkedIn has lots of groups that are divided into categories. Find three to five small groups that most accurately represent your target demographic. The reason you want to join small groups is there will be less competition and easier opportunity to get attention.
  • Target popular discussions – You’ll waste your time if you simply try to join every discussion. Instead, search for the most popular discussions—these will have the most visibility. These discussions usually involve hot button issues, and attract a lot of members. You’ll find these discussions on the top of the group discussion page. Read the post, review some of the comments and jump in!
  • Start a new discussion – Before you start your own discussion, make sure you spend some time in other discussions. Get a feel for the culture of the group and find out what is important to them.
  • Follow up – It’s not easy keeping track of discussions, so you’ll have to be proactively visit your groups and monitor the discussions—especially the ones you started.
  • Start a Group – This is a perfect way to establish your authority. But you have to be strategic here. Make this group center on your brand and how your message is different than the competition. Brands That Defy Gravity is a great example of a group that stands out in a crowded market.

Let’s look closely at another strategy.

Step #4. Never Attend A Trade Show Again

If your industry has a lot of trade shows, you may be tempted to attend a few. Why not? Trade shows are a great place to meet new people, build relationships and build your brand. But trade shows can be very expensive. From buying the ticket to the show (which can cost upward of a thousand dollars), to flying to and from the show, buying food and spending money on a room…you could easily drop ten thousand dollars a year. There is a more effective—and cheaper—way to leverage the power of trade shows.

Most conferences are online in some way, so you don’t actually have to go or even pay. In fact a lot of these conferences share so much content during the show that you can tweet about it as if you are actually there, using the conference related hashtags, of course.

Here’s what you could do also:

  • Blog about the main points of each speaker – During an event you can check the website and pull down the points that he is sharing. Then publish a blog post as soon as possible and promote it on your social site. This will engage you with those who are actually at the conference!
  • Summarize the conference – The day after the event create a blog post or white paper about the conference. Include points from each speaker and even offer take away lessons that you learned. This is effective because you were building a captive audience while you were tweeting and blogging during the event.

“Attending” conferences and trade shows via the internet will probably give you more insight than those who are actually attending since you’ll have a 30,000 foot view. Make sure you are engaging both attendees and speakers at these events, and notifying them when you share content.

Conclusion

Inbound marketing is truly a gift to startups who are strapped for cash. Depending upon how big your team is, you will all probably end up working like a slave to get it all done…but it will be worth the effort. Dozens of companies like Mashable and SEOmoz got tremendous exposure for their companies from their tireless inbound marketing efforts. What other inbound marketing techniques have you used?

Chuck Reynolds
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The Most Overlooked Strategy for Business Development

The Most Overlooked Strategy for

Business Development

There are plenty of good ways to feed your pipeline — from public speaking to online advertising to content creation and direct mail. But one of the most satisfying methods of bringing in new business is through involvement in charitable causes. Too often, entrepreneurs think of charitable involvement as a non-essential “nice way to give back.” But in a busy world, it’s a lot easier to justify donating your time and talents if you recognize that it’s also a business development strategy.

In a new book Stand Out, I profile Thalia Tringo, a realtor in Somerville, Mass., just outside Boston. I got to know her when we served together on the board of East Somerville Main Streets, a civic improvement group. But that wasn’t the only cause she supported. She’s an active board member of the Somerville Homeless Coalition and donates $250 to charity for every real estate transaction she completes. “I’m not a religious person,” she says, “but I try to tithe a percentage of my income. That’s hard to do when you’re a realtor [because of the variable income stream], so when I started, I decided I’d give a certain amount for every transaction, and that way I’ll know I’ll have done my giving.”

Her reputation for civic-mindedness has become a core part of her brand, and her client base draws on many people she’s met through her volunteering. “Today, I had a closing with somebody I would never have met, except we serve on the board of the Homeless Coalition together,” she told me. Her charitable involvement “was never really a marketing strategy,” she says. “It’s a good marketing strategy, but that wasn’t the intent.”

If you’d like to make charitable involvement a prong in your business development strategy, here are three key principles to follow.

Choose a cause you’re passionate about.

Volunteering isn’t always sexy, and you’ll likely be called upon to do menial or boring tasks sometimes, from setting up for events to making phone calls. Commitment to the cause can get you through, even if you wouldn’t otherwise choose to spend your nights and weekends doing those tasks.

Go deep, not wide.

It might seem like a good idea to get involved in many charities, because you’ll be meeting a large variety of people. But when it comes to developing new business contacts, deep is better than wide. I know plenty of realtors from social events around town, but I chose Thalia to handle my condo sale because of the depth of relationship we’d created by working together for several years.

Volunteer your talents.

Sometimes what’s needed most is simply a pair of hands; if you’re willing to pick up trash on a Saturday or check tickets at the door of a fundraiser that may be a valuable contribution to an organization. But in order to stay engaged and motivated over time, make an effort to volunteer on projects that will utilize your unique skills. If you’re a graphic designer, it’s far more meaningful to design a brochure for a charity — a task where you can excel and share your gifts — than it is to keep stuffing envelopes week after week.

Volunteering for nonprofits you believe in is a great way to help others. But it’s also a win-win, with real business benefits to you. If you can figure out how to live out your values in every aspect of your business, the relationships you build as a result will be among the strongest and best you have, because they’re founded on a shared commitment to something larger than yourself.

Chuck Reynolds
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Business Development – What does it mean?

Is it the same for everyone?

Having now worked in a number of roles that you might consider as business development (BD), I thought I’d start my publishing journey on LinkedIn (this is my first post) with a bit of reflection. I often get asked what the difference between straight selling and BD is, so I thought I’d try and define the differences (for my own sake, if nothing more!). To some degree, they’re different sides of the same coin.

Selling and BD go hand in hand.

There have been in roles where there’s been strictly selling, others where there is a combination of sales and BD, and also in roles that would be considered true and pure BD. In all, however, some could be linked to what would be considered BD within that particular business. So the answer to the header title is no, I think; BD is different for everyone and every business, dependent on a number of factors – budget, size of workforce, attitude to BD, etc.

What is ‘true and pure’ BD?

The sales process is one that involves a lot of people – product development, designers, pricing, marketing, technical, management – ‘front-line’ salesmen and ‘top-end’ management need to combine forces to deliver a product that their customers want.

If you walk into a shop to buy a pair of trainers, for example, this has been designed from the early stages by trained footwear designers, manufactured from these designs in a production process of sorts (industrial or bespoke, depending on the brand), marketed in the appropriate manner to raise awareness of the product, eventually landing on the shelves of the shop you’re in, with a friendly guy/gal willing to help you transact some business when you make the decision to buy them.

So where does BD fit into this process? What’s it all about then? The foremost word that comes up in the BD world is ‘relationships’. That’s pretty much what it’s all about. Good business development will help identify, maintain and encourage relationship building within a firm, building rapport with both suppliers and customers. It helps strengthen the bonds between these links, supporting the marketing copy and material that establishes your product in the relevant marketplace.

It helps provide information as to what the client needs to the ‘front line’ sales team, assisting them in closing the deal at the end of the process. It helps inform management as to how the market is moving, providing insights into new developments of technology, social media and other digital avenues that the firm can take advantage of, to build and maintain loyalty. It helps small companies access bigger markets and large companies engage newcomers. So my definition of ‘true and pure’ BD is ‘helping a business to develop its relationships’.

Plain and simple.

It’s networking on a daily basis; attending cutting-edge events to learn about the industry you’re working in; finding (er… stalking?) people on LinkedIn to see what events they’re attending and making sure you meet them there, in person, so that you can have that all-important introductory chat; it’s offering your loyal customers something more than a newsletter – why not run a seminar and invite them along to it? They might be happy to be invited.

The personal touch is always a winner. We hear more and more now about relationships marketing, social currency, engagement, etc. BD is the platform that most of this is built on.

Who is it for?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve worked in roles that have been classed as BD but have really been sales. I’ve worked in hybrid roles where you might do a bit of both. What this has shown me is that BD has a place in every business. You can’t ‘develop’ your business without a good BD strategy. So whether you’re encouraging your front-line staff to sign up to a few newsletters, or get yourself down to a few networking events, or join a LinkedIn group and start up a discussion, BD is something that can’t be overlooked.

It’s all very well to have a great product and a nicely designed website, with some great leaflets and a slick business card but, without the right approach to BD, no one is going to see it in the way you want to. Having worked as a supplier to a lot of startups and growing SMEs, the one thing that I’ve noticed which has set apart the successes from the failures is their approach to BD.

Develop the relationships – build a community around your business and your product just needs to do what it says on the tin. The rest will fall into place and you’ll have a strong, loyal customer base who are happy to sing your praises.For that reason alone, if nothing else, BD is essential for pretty much any business going.

Chuck Reynolds
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The Difference Between Sales and Business Development

The Difference Between Sales and Business Development

Almost daily, I run into the misconception that the function of sales and business development are interchangeable, from co-workers to industry peers. This stems primarily, I believe, from the shift in titles of salespeople to business development — which has been done in an effort to avoid the negative connotation that surrounds it.

In reality, the two are very different. Hence, this tweet. But 140 characters just isn’t enough to explain of the subtleties, so here we are. When you think about the function of business development, it should be thought of as a marketing function. Yes, there are some soft sales skills (qualification, negotiation, etc.) that are necessary to become a good business development professional, but at the end of the day, it’s a marketing function. If you were to think about it on a sliding scale between a pure function of sales or marketing, it would wind up somewhere around here.

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 8.24.31 PM.png

The reason behind this is that typical goals of business development include brand placement, market expansion, new user acquisition, and awareness — all of which are shared goals of marketing. The slight slide towards sales is simply because of the tactics business development employs to achieve those goals.

Which is where we get into the meat of it. Regardless of the company, business development tends to hold the same structure, which I sketched up quickly below.

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 8.42.03 PM.png

Simply stated, the function of sales is to sell directly to the end customer. The function of business development is to work with partners to sell to the end customer, in a scalable way.

That last part is key.

Scalability is the differentiator. It allows a company to use pre-existing sales teams or communities that a partner has developed to reach new audiences. Sales is very much an equation of capacity, which is why sales teams tend to grow so large. Business development teams, on the other hand, are typically very small, maintaining their small size by working through existing partner infrastructures. The art of business development comes in identifying partners that fit that description, while finding a way to provide value to the partner’s end customer and business.

You can see this relationship in a few of the examples I laid out in a previous post on the role of business development at a startup.

Now, all of this isn’t meant to devalue the function of sales. Truth be told, I really respect good salespeople. It’s an extremely difficult career, one with constant denial and pressure to succeed. Sales is hard, and should be respected when it’s done at a high level.

But the two are very different, despite their apparent overlap.

Chuck Reynolds
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The Help in Organizing for Growth

The Help in Organizing for Growth

Marketing has become too important to be left just to the marketers in a company. We say this not to disparage marketers but to underscore how holistic marketing now is. To deliver a seamless experience, one informed by data and imbued with brand purpose, all employees in the company, from store clerks and phone center reps to IT specialists and the marketing team itself, must share a common vision.

Our research has identified five drivers of organizational effectiveness. The leaders of high-performing companies connect marketing to the business strategy and to the rest of the organization; inspire their organizations by engaging all levels with the brand purpose; focus their people on a few key priorities; organize agile, cross-functional teams; and build the internal capabilities needed for success.

 

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Connecting.

In our work with marketing organizations, we have seen case after case of dysfunctional teamwork, suboptimal collaboration, and lack of shared purpose and trust.

Despite cultural and geographic obstacles, our high-performing marketers avoid such breakdowns for the most part. Their leaders excel at linking their departments to general management and other functions. They create a tight relationship with the CEO, making certain that marketing goals support company goals; bridge organizational silos by integrating marketing and other disciplines; and ensure that global, regional, and local marketing teams work interdependently.

Marketing historically has marched to its own drummer, at best unevenly supporting strategy handed down from headquarters and, more commonly, pursuing brand or marketing goals (such as growing brand equity) that were not directly related to the overall business strategy. Today high-performing marketing leaders don’t just align their department’s activities with company strategy; they actively engage in creating it. From 2006 to 2013, our surveys show, marketing’s influence on strategy development increased by 20 percentage points. And when marketing demonstrates that it is fighting for the same business objectives as its peers, trust and communication strengthen across all functions and, as we shall see, enable the collaboration required for high performance.

Another way companies foster connections is by putting marketing and other functions under a single leader. Motorola’s Eduardo Conrado is the senior VP of both marketing and IT. A year after Antonio Lucio was appointed CMO of Visa, he was invited to also lead HR and tighten the alignment between the company’s strategy and how employees were recruited, developed, retained, and rewarded. Marketing has become too important to be left just to the marketers. All employees, from store clerks to IT specialists, must be engaged in it.

Inspiring.

Inspiration is one of the most underused drivers of effective marketing—and one of the most powerful. Our research shows that high-performing marketers are more likely to engage customers and employees with their brand purpose—and that employees in those organizations are more likely to express pride in the brand.

Inspiration strengthens commitment, of course, but when it’s rooted in a respected brand purpose, all employees will be motivated by the same mission. This enhances collaboration and, as more and more employees come into contact with customers, also helps ensure consistent customer experiences. The payoff is that everyone in the company becomes a de facto member of the marketing team.

The key to inspiring the organization is to do internally what marketing does best externally: create irresistible messages and programs that get everyone on board. At Dulux, that involved handing paint and brushes to thousands of employees and setting them loose on neighborhoods around the world. Unilever’s leadership conducts a quarterly live broadcast with most of the company’s 6,500 marketers to celebrate best brand practices and introduce new tools. In addition, Unilever holds a series of globally coordinated and locally delivered internal and external communications events, called Big Moments, to engage employees and opinion leaders companywide directly with the broader purpose of making sustainable living commonplace. Research shows this has led to a significant increase in employee commitment. Nike has a marketing staffer whose sole job is to tell the original Nike story to all new employees.

Inspiration is so important that many companies, Unilever among them, have begun measuring employees’ brand engagement as a key performance indicator. Google does this by assessing employees’ “Googliness” in performance appraisals to determine how fully people embrace the company’s culture and purpose. And Zappos famously offers new hires $3,000 to leave after four weeks, effectively cutting loose anyone who is not inspired by the company’s obsessive customer focus.

Focusing.

When we asked eight global marketing executives in one organization to list their top five marketing objectives, only two goals made it onto everyone’s list. The remainder was a motley assortment of personal or local objectives. Such misalignment, our data show, increases the farther teams are from an organization’s center of power. With marketing activities ever more dispersed across global companies, that risk must be carefully managed.

By a wide margin, respondents in overperforming companies agreed with the statements “Local marketing understands the global strategy” and “Global marketing understands the local marketing reality.” Winning companies were more likely to measure brands’ success against key performance indicators such as revenue growth and profit and to tie incentives at the local level directly to those KPIs. Ironically, almost all companies were meticulous in planning and executing consumer communication campaigns but failed to devote the same care to internal communications about strategy. That’s a dangerous oversight.

Marc Schroeder, the global marketing head for PepsiCo’s Quaker brand, understood the need for internal cohesiveness when he led a cross-regional “marketing council” to develop and communicate the brand’s first global growth strategy. The council defined a purposeful positioning, nailed down the brand’s global objectives, set a prioritized growth agenda, created clear lines of accountability and incentives, and adopted a performance dashboard that tracked industry measures such as market share and revenue growth. The council communicated the strategy through regional and local team meetings, including those with agencies and retail customers worldwide, and hosted a first-ever global brand stewardship event to educate colleagues. As a result of those efforts, all Quaker marketing plans are now explicitly linked to one overall strategy.

Organizing for agility.

Our research consistently shows that organizational structure, roles, and processes are among the toughest leadership challenges—and that the need for clarity about them is consistently underestimated or even ignored.

We have helped design dozens of marketing organizations. Typically we enter the scene after a traditional business consultancy has done preliminary strategy, cost, and head-count analyses, and our role is to work with the CMO to create and implement a new structure, operating model, and capability-building program. Though we believe there is no ideal organizational blueprint, our experience does suggest a set of operational and design principles that any organization can apply.

Today marketing organizations must leverage global scale but also be nimble, able to plan and execute in a matter of weeks or a few months—and, increasingly, instantaneously. Oreo famously took to Twitter during the blackout at the 2013 Super Bowl, reminding consumers, “You can still dunk in the dark,” making the brand a trending topic during one of the world’s biggest sporting events. That the tweet was designed and approved in minutes was no accident; Oreo deliberately organized and empowered its marketing team for the occasion, bringing agency and brand teams together in a “mission control” room and authorizing them to engage with their audience in real time.

Complex matrixed organizational structures—like those captured in traditional, rigid “Christmas tree” org charts—are giving way to networked organizations characterized by flexible roles, fluid responsibilities, and more-relaxed sign-off processes designed for speed. The new structures allow leaders to tap talent as needed from across the organization and assemble teams for specific, often short-term, marketing initiatives. The teams may form, execute, and disband in a matter of weeks or months, depending on the task.

New marketing roles.

As companies expand internationally, they inevitably reorganize to better balance the benefits of global scale with the need for local relevance. Our research shows that, as a result, the vast majority of brands are led much more centrally today than they were a few years ago. Companies are removing middle, often regional, layers and creating specialized “centers of excellence” that guide strategy and share best practices while drawing on needed resources wherever, and at whatever level, they exist in the organization. As companies pursue this approach, rules and processes need to be adapted.

Marketing organizations traditionally have been populated by generalists, but particularly with the rise of social and digital marketing, a profusion of new specialist roles—such as digital privacy analysts and native content editors—are emerging. We have found it useful to categorize marketing roles not by title (as the variety seems infinite) but as belonging to one of three broad types: “think” marketers, who apply analytic capabilities to tasks like data mining, media-mix modeling, and ROI optimization; “do” marketers, who develop content and design and lead production; and “feel” marketers, who focus on consumer interaction and engagement in roles from customer service to social media and online communities.

The networked organization.

A broad array of skills and organizational tiers and functions are represented within each category. CMOs and other marketing executives such as chief experience officers and global brand managers increasingly operate as the orchestrators, assembling cross-functional teams from these three classes of talent to tackle initiatives. Orchestrators brief the teams, ensure that they have the capabilities and resources they need, and oversee performance tracking. To populate a team, the orchestrator and team leader draw from marketing and other functions as well as from outside agencies and consulting firms, balancing the mix of think, do, and feel capabilities in accordance with the team’s mission. (See the interactive exhibit “The Orchestrator Model.”)

Companies are using this model to create task forces for a range of marketing programs, from integrating online and physical retail experiences to introducing new products. When Unilever launched Project Sunlight—a consumer-engagement program connected with its sustainable living initiative—the team drew talent from seven expertise areas. The international cable company Liberty Global uses task forces to optimize the customer experience at key engagement points—such as when customers receive a bill. These teams are led by managers from a variety of marketing and nonmarketing functions, have different durations, and draw from each of the three talent pools in different measure.

The task-force model is both agile and disciplined. It requires a culture in which central leadership is confident that local teams understand the strategy and will collaborate to execute it. This works well only when everyone in the organization is inspired by the brand purpose and is clear about the goals. Google, Nike, Red Bull, and Amazon all embrace this philosophy. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos captured the ethos when he said at a shareholders’ meeting, “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details.”

Building capabilities.

As we have shown, the most effective marketers lead by connecting, inspiring, focusing, and organizing for agility. But none of those activities can be fully accomplished, or sustained, without the continual building of capabilities. Our research shows pronounced differences in training between high- and low-performing companies, in terms of both quantity and quality.

At a minimum, the marketing staff needs expertise in traditional marketing and communications functions—market research, competitive intelligence, media planning, and so forth. But we’ve seen that sometimes even those basic capabilities are lacking. Courses to onboard new staff and teach targeted skills are just the price of entry. The best marketing organizations, including those at Coca-Cola, Unilever, and the Japanese beauty company Shiseido, have invested in dedicated internal marketing academies to create a single marketing language and way of doing marketing.

Senior managers across the company can benefit from programs for sharing expertise on consumer habits, competitor strategy, and retail dynamics. Virgin, Starbucks, and other corporations have created intensive “immersion” programs for this purpose. Executives at the director level can profit from advanced courses that focus on strategic considerations such as portfolio management and partnering. We find that senior leaders often gain a lot from digital and social media training, as they’re frequently less well versed in those areas than their junior colleagues are. Appreciating this, companies including Unilever and Diageo have taken their senior leaders to Facebook for training. We’ve collaborated with partners at Google, MSN, and AOL to develop similar programs, including “reverse mentoring,” which pairs very senior managers with younger staffers. Even the CMO can benefit from continued, targeted training. Visa’s Antonio Lucio, for instance, hired a digital native to teach him about social media and monitor his progress.

Underperforming marketers, on the other hand, underinvest in training. Their employees receive just over half a day of training a year, on average, while overperformers give people nearly two full days of tailored, practical training by external experts. At first blush, the Marketing2020 study reveals what you might expect: Marketers must leverage customer insight, imbue their brands with a brand purpose, and deliver a rich customer experience. They must connect, inspire, focus, organize, and build, as detailed here. The finding that’s striking—and should serve as both a warning and a call to arms—is that most organizations haven’t been able to put all those pieces together. Our data show that only half of even high-performing organizations excel on some of these capabilities. But that shouldn’t be discouraging; rather, it illuminates where there’s work to do. Regardless of how marketing delivers its messages in the future, the fundamental human motivations that marketers must satisfy won’t change. The challenge now is to create organizations that can truly speak to those needs.

Chuck Reynolds
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