Awhile ago, many used to believe marketing was fanciful and ineffective at producing results. Spending on marketing when everything was going well was considered acceptable. However, when things got tough, the marketing team becomes a victim to leave first.
However, the times have changed with technology at the heart of the transformation. This has enabled networking with the advent of the internet. Now, anyone, at any time and from any location, can access the internet and find and learn almost anything. This has, in turn, transformed the way businesses market their wares and services. Increasingly, it has become easy for businesses to find prospects and market themselves in better ways.
Nowadays, prospects research before they buy anything. They form opinions about your products and services without ever speaking with you. According to McKinsey & Company, approximately 65 percent of B2B businesses from various industries will be fully operating online by 2022. That is why you must make the most of marketing in your business development plan if you don’t want to fall behind.
Here, we attempt to investigate some robust and comprehensive marketing ways for a services firm, as well as an overview of the various marketing channels appropriate to services firms.
Marketing needs working hand in glove with sales
Business development deals with the complete customer experience, in addition to other issues. Whereas marketing deals with prospects who are interested in your products or services, and salespeople deal with buyers who intend to buy. As such, marketing is your company’s external identity. It conveys your identity, and how you address to solve their business issues, and the value addition you bring to them. Furthermore, marketing has a significant impact on the pre-buying phase, enabling sales easier, while gathering feedback pre-and-post buying phases. As a result, marketing must work alongside sales.
Regardless of the channel used to generate leads, marketing communicates with the prospects through messages. This messaging includes introductions to your company as well as information about its website and collateral. Events, sales presentations, mass emails, and offline and online advertising can all be used to communicate.
If marketing does its task, sales process becomes easier, quite focused, simplified, and productive. Marketing needs to work and provide qualified prospects leads which sales have to convert them into customers by closing the leads successfully. Sales and marketing alignment is a unifying theme in a truly successful services business. This is not an alternative, but it is a necessity.
Without sales, your company cannot grow. Small businesses must compete for every sale, and working as a salesperson is a demanding job. Sales are difficult to come by without marketing input. Because marketing puts the business plan in action and turns everything into meaningful actions to improve your firm’s market reputation and recognition. Marketing strategies control sales, allowing a small business to grow into a larger one with a team effort. Marketing puts strategy into action, growing your market share, identification compared to sales alone.
Marketing needs to provide leads to sales funnel
Marketing nurtures leads to become prospects that can be still months, if not years, away from making a purchase. Sales should team up with marketing and rely on them to generate a steady stream of leads through a few well-chosen channels. Sales should turn leads into customers.
Like sales, marketing holds responsibility for the results in the form of generating leads among other marketing functions. They have to attract more and more customers, roll it up around sales to make the latter as productive as possible.
How important is marketing in this? Consider how many qualifying leads a salesperson should have in order to convert them into prospects and move them down the sales funnel to closed deals. Assume marketing must provide 10 qualified leads to sales in a targeted time. For this, marketing must be very active in order to tap as many contacts as possible to convert at least 10 of them into qualified leads to pass on to sales. Sales must work hard to close as many qualified leads as possible and convert them into customers. This process by both marketing and sales is cyclical.
Remember that one role of a business development plan is to set goals or targets. As a result, it determines the goals for lead generation through marketing and business closure through sales in consultation with both.
Marketing-qualified lead vs. sales-qualified lead
A marketing-qualified lead (MQL) may not look the same as a sales-qualified lead (SQL) to sales. Sales may likely reject some leads as not ready for ready. Sales seeks leads (SQLs) ready to buy in a reasonable time, whereas marketing evaluates leads based on their engagement with marketing campaigns. These qualitative characteristics explain the disparity.
Salesmen generally employ channels like participating in local events, contacting their prior network, asking for referrals, collaborating with partners, using social networks, and cold calling to generate sales ready leads to conversion into prospects. Marketing can employ additional channels like inbound leads through website, online and offline advertising, automation, outbound leads through email marketing, and technology to reach a much larger audience.
The marketing and sales funnel looks like the following illustration:
The above type of funnel exists for more than a century and a quarter. However, the customer purchasing journey is not consistent, nor does it follow the exact steps outlined in the funnel. Customers today appear to be more unpredictable, leaping from social networks to web pages to webcasts to blog posts and often being in the middle of the pipeline in their first encounter with you. The point here is that customers have many channels available to them for information. They are, however, consistent in their buying cycle.
These days, marketing has the technological expertise to function as an integral part of the growth engine. Ensure that you understand marketing in order to use it and not fall behind. Marketing is a long-term strategy and a critical function of business development, and not a quick fix. Before you can see some returns, you must first invest. However, before you get too sophisticated, you can take some simple marketing steps to get you started.
What Services Firms Need to Know About Marketing
People nowadays have to deal with marketing daily. You get daily messages designed to persuade you to buy something. Insightful marketing can sell you anything without you even realising it. When buying a sophisticated or expensive item, such as a car or a laptop, the vendor usually deploys sales people to help customer make the right decision. Customer does not need a salesperson if he is buying something that is not technical or expensive needs.
Consumer marketing is done on a daily or frequent basis. For such consumer, buying is most often is done without the intervention of salespeople. However, this does not apply to services marketing, which is typically done on a business-to-business (B2B) basis. The B2B buying process is often lengthy, as several people involve in the decision-making process. The sale is simply more complicated in B2B.
As part of business development, services businesses must consider marketing basics. Such as selecting techniques that work for them, forming a talented team, recognising the critical role played by technology. They should understand the significance of just using connections and forming partnerships in their business development activities.
Right marketing tactics for services
Because you spend so much time convincing customers to buy, invest your money and resources primarily in appropriate marketing practises and channels for your business. Begin by identifying where to find customers, information they need, and how they find that information. It can be from events, thought leaders, websites and perhaps publications, etc. Our previous articles, new ways of marketing, and align business development with customer experience may give you some insight.
First, you must lay the groundwork before you can create the marketing ways that contacts can use to become leads and then meaningful prospects/customers. The following are some possible foundation elements for such groundwork.
Build groundwork foundation for your services business with at least four elements. First one is what problems your services solve and what you offer. Your messaging and value addition you provide with your services to the customer is the second one. The third one is having your website and social media presence. And the fourth one is brochures, content, testimonials, white papers, eBooks, customers’ stories, case studies, etc.
From time to time, evaluate your foundation elements and add additional foundation elements if necessary. Consider if your foundational elements have been clearly communicating with the customers and showing how you can meet their needs. If not, rework on them.
Engage your internal team if you need to work or rework on your foundations. Gather team members involved in the business development lifecycle, such as marketing, sales, delivery, quality, and management. All can have some ideas to contribute.
Networking and Partnership
Your network, as well as the networks of your entire company, and the networks of all those connected persons combined, is your hidden marketing tool. So, how do you tap into that larger community?
To start with, look into your own network, like in LinkedIn and Facebook, your friends and acquaintances and relatives. Begin by reviewing the people and businesses with whom you are connected, online or offline, and identify the promising contacts as potential for your services marketing. Meet with as many networked people as possible and share your business information. And tell them what you wish from them and what you can do for them. Try to entice them to work together for mutual benefit.
Explore possibilities of partnerships or alliances. Your services may complement what some businesses are already offering. Or together you can sell bigger deals, and refer work to each other. In partnerships, both can benefit.
Alliances are also partnerships, but progressed into a more binding agreement. It is a smart move when there is a need to enhance customer relations, cost sharing, do work together, or use one another’s resources.
Technology and online engagement
People are increasingly turning to the Internet to purchase things. Moreover, prospective customers growingly do online research for the things they seek. Most prospects are more than halfway in making their buying decision before they even encounter a prospective seller. If you can capture the attention of such prospective buyers before they reach the halfway point in their decision-making process, you have a better chance of making a deal.
The online connecting is becoming increasingly complex. And now online is linking with offline in novel ways as well. More than halfway through the decision-making process, the prospect buyer is gathering information to supplement their decision-making, and the rest of the shopping is done offline with the seller. The prospect may tap anyone or two or as many as following online engagement tools he feels necessary for making his decision, but not necessarily in the same order.
You must start with the basics and determine where your prospects stay on online, where your competitors interact, and where your partners appear. Use social media tools like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to track prospects and see what groups there are in their following/followers. Find out their social media activities and blogs they follow or contribute to. Find out what problems they are attempting to solve with service(s) similar to yours.
Create your online and offline presence similar to the following illustration:
The above representation is only for illustration purpose. Your imagination is the limitation to add as much presence as possible offline and online. You can find thousands of business groups on social media channels such as LinkedIn and Facebook. You can explore as many social media channels that are workable for your business.
Three winning marketing areas
Use outbound email marketing for your advantage. Create a newsletter and use it to inform people about your company and the value you provide by solving customer problems.
Create some customer centric content such as return on investment estimator, and specific stories relating to your industry. You can distribute such content through email newsletter or blogs to people, or to the targeted customers.
Boost your social media presence, such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Create your personal as well as your business profile pages. Explore their paid versions to leverage beyond your network.
Follow the above tactics regularly and rigorously, if not daily.
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