Google+ The Marketing Survivalist: February 2009

No Training Budget? No problem!

If your marketing budget is being squeezed (and whose isn't?) your training budget was probably one of the first things you probably saw go down the drain. Of course, that assumes that your employer actually values on-going learning and people development. Sadly, not every organization does.

If I were in marketing management twenty years ago, I would have seen this as a problem. Now, I’m not so sure it is. Thanks to the current trend of generating leads through thought-leadership papers and webinars, and the internet, most of us have easy access to tons of free learning materials.

Here are a few marketing organizations that have free downloaded webinars on marketing:

Jigsaw – The webinars on this site tend to be oriented more toward sales, but since many marketers have a hybrid role, some will find it helpful. Plus, what better way to understand sales than by studying what they study!
Conversion University – I just found this one while Googling a few phrases to see what turned up. It has free tools and information developed by Google designed to help you use their other free tools better. Looks pretty cool.
Pragmatic Marketing

If any of you have a site you would like to plug, just leave us a comment.

Those are just a few sites that offer webinars and white papers. Blogs are also a great place to gather inspiration, ideas for improving your marketing and building your career. Almost all of these sites have their own blogs and there are many, many independent blogs. Think of any well-known (or not so-well-known) marketing guru, Google them, and you will undoubtedly find their blog.

Of course, there are many sites that also offer webinars as part of a subscription to their service. MarketProfs and MarketingSherpa are two that come to mind. These both offer excellent content, often deeper and less salesy than the typical free webinars, for a very reasonable price.

Finally, some of you may be asking, “Is it right for me to take advantage of someone’s free content if I’m not a prospect?”

Hopefully, these organizations have a well-defined sales process that will quickly qualify you out and you won’t be bombarded with sales pitches. By downloading their materials, however, you are inherently giving them permission to continue marketing to you. Hopefully, they do this in a way that “nurtures” you into someone who believes in their product offering, their expertise, and gives you a reason to become a customer someday.

All the best!

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This is the Thanks I Get?

I wrote a post recently suggesting that salespeople should show a little more gratitude in order to get what they need out of the rest of the organization—especially marketing. I must have been feeling a little grumpy that day. I still believe it, but hopefully it didn’t come across as too whiny!

Another friend of mine who is also in marketing was grousing a bit about salespeople not respecting her time. I’m not sure she took it so well when I suggested that it’s just the way it is. Perhaps she wasn’t looking for my advice.

But, that is just the way it is. Marketing is not the profession to be in if you are motivated only (or even primarily) by gratitude and respect from others.
I listened to a lot of Zig Ziglar early in my career when I was in sales and spending a lot of time in the car. The phrase that probably stuck with me the most was, “You can get everything you want in life if you just help enough other people get what they want.”

It’s one of the really cool things about marketing. I can achieve my goals and aspirations if I just help enough salespeople achieve their goals. However, over the years, I’ve learned not to expect them to be grateful nor even to really give it much thought. Unless, of course, their sales are down and they need to defer blame. It’s why I’ve learned to live by the numbers! For more on that, click here.

But salespeople are salespeople - and we need them to be! When it comes to your time, you have to understand that you take second fiddle to customers. I wouldn’t have it any other way. If I’ve generated a qualified lead for them, I’d rather have them reschedule our meeting so they can win the business.

And, it’s not just those of us who generate pipeline. If you’re in branding forget it. Most of the salespeople I’ve worked with think branding is theoretical B.S. and a complete waste of money. If you’re working on design, don’t expect them to like your work. Everybody thinks their sense of color and style qualifies them to be a critic of marketing design. If you’re trying to create anything from positioning statements that resonate or ads that bring in customers, sales (and everybody else) will be happy to give you their opinion forgetting that they are not the audience!

Hopefully, your manager respects the job you do and can give you the kudos that you deserve. If not, you’ll have to work doubly hard at celebrating your own successes and being satisfied with knowing that you are contributing to the success of others – even if they don’t acknowledge it. (Assuming that you are, of course!)

If you really can’t be satisfied with that and you need appreciation to keep going, I encourage you to get out before your attitude starts to crumble. I’m not sure what a good second choice to marketing is, but I do know that marketing is also not the profession to be in if your attitude stinks.

All the best!

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Less is More

If you are responsible for generating leads for your sales team, I’ll bet you are facing demands for more and better leads. And, if you base your lead generation goals based on what your sales team needs to reach its goals, it makes sense. Sales cycles are lengthening significantly, and in some cases project budgets that seemed like a sure thing, are cut completely. Sales needs more leads to reach their goals, right?

But, can you really market your way out of a recession? I wouldn’t go that far, but smart marketing can get you through a recession with your sanity in tact.

What not to do
The last thing you want to do is just market harder. It’s likely to be the thing that your sales team wants to see. They want to see more campaigns, more direct mail pieces sent, more email marketing, more trade shows, more, more, more….

You can tell if your sales team is really desperate if they start threatening to just do it themselves. Forget arguing CAN-SPAM or marketing theory. So far, I have yet to work with anyone in sales who gives a darn what the CAN-SPAM laws allow you to do or whether their latest idea is a good one or not.

The downside of just doing more is significant:
- As mentioned, you run the risk of violating CanSpam, especially if your sales team starts sending bulk email themselves.
- You run the risk of irritating your regular customers. Here’s a great example on the Get to the Point! Marketing blog.
- If you’re not thinking and “just doing” you waste time and money on tactics that may not be working anymore.
- It sucks all the fun out of marketing.

What you can do
Now more than ever is the time to market smarter. There are a lot of things you can do to market smarter, but the first thing you must do is refine your target market. Instead of trying to reach everybody, focus your dollars and efforts on those target markets where you know you can be successful. These are the markets where your product fits, you have plenty of references, your current salespeople have experience in, and your competitors don’t.

The last one can be a bit tough as it seems that every market is dominated by one or two major competitors. But, while you may not win a war with your competitors, you can win individuals battles by micro-targeting. For example, if your major competitor is focused on “retailers”, you might want to focus your efforts on gift shops, or boutiques, or small independent shops… there are many different ways you could refine “retailers” into a sub-segment that you could own.

Finally, for as much as I am in favor of testing, refining your target market is not something you test. You might have more than one micro-market defined as all industries go trough ups and downs. But, once you decide on your targets there’s too much work involved to not commit whole-heartedly.

I wish everyone luck in weathering the current storm.

All the best!

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