Author Archives: Chuck Sink

Furnish Two Primary Marketing Assets!

Furnish Facts and Photos!

If you want your campaigns and promotions to succeed, furnish the two things every marketing team or agency needs to do a bang-up job. Facts and Photos. That includes video. Of course, money can make the second thing happen but the facts (differentiated customer benefits) in most cases are contained in your head and in the experiences of your customers. It’s crucially important to articulate the factual or authentic benefit statements that set your brand apart from others.

“A picture is worth a thousand words” and so true! To learn what’s even more important about pictures when it comes to your brand, hop over to my article on LinkedIn to discover the plain truth about your marketing images.

The Two Ways to Grow Your Business

There are countless ways to grow your business! And it probably takes more than two of them to succeed, so what could we be talking about here?

Growing a B2B business starts with a net new client premise. If you own the business, you’re probably thinking a lot about how to grow it and maintain steady growth. I bet you have a few key prospects in mind and are thinking about when you might call them. When one of them calls you, you’re giddy!

Don’t worry, this isn’t about cold calling vs inbound marketing.

During a recent meeting, my colleague Matt Barden from Industrial Marketing distilled business development down to its essence and I may be paraphrasing. “New business comes in two ways; making calls or getting calls. You call or you get the call.” In both cases, the sale is up to you. Simple maybe, and simple is what works! I can’t count how many cold calls I’ve received from marketing automation companies in the last year but it was at least 5 or 6 and they all tell me they do it because it works. Ironically, their services promise more warm leads with fewer cold calls.

As a potential reseller, I’m a good target for their calls so I expect and welcome them.

This is not about cold calling nor is it about getting back to basics.  Rather, you need to start thinking about having the data/intelligence to make really effective outbound calls and get well-qualified inbound calls as well. Then your firing on all marketing cylinders!

Create and Use Intelligence!

You can have realtime market intelligence coming from individuals at known companies that tell you when to call the prospect and what they’re interested in. At the same time, you’ll be receiving inbound calls and leads based on your strategic online campaign that’s bringing intelligent content to your target audience.

Hopefully, you’ll close more deals when that happens.

The Digital-Human Nexus

Here’s the crux of it all. Boatloads of people are online right now either searching for products and services related to your business or they’re passively educating themselves on personal and work-related topics. They really want to find that ideal solution online and when they find it, they want you, a human being to help them get exactly what they want.

Small companies that decide to step it up with integrated search and content marketing campaigns tend to up-level their businesses faster than they expect.

When you discover the abundance of the realtime, electronically-connected marketplace, you can’t wait to get your message circulating in it. You want to personally connect with all those business prospects who are online. You can actually witness the digital-human nexus and experience it with a voice conversation once your communications jump from the screen to the phone or a meeting place.

Moving Out of the Desert

If you want to move your brand from nowhere land to the bustling bazaar of daily commerce, you’ll need to make a modest to perhaps moderate investment in a couple of digital platforms that will support your organic website – the hub of your brand. Costs for these services have settled at reasonable rates and the tools work better than ever! The best thing? Everything is fully transparent, measurable and accountable. You’ll be in the know!

You can see your investment working (or not) without any smoke and mirrors.  In other words, your marketing team won’t be using dubious analytics and vague forecasts. They’ll be giving you qualified sales leads and you’ll be measuring new business results from your campaigns. You’ll know the real bottom line.

Double your Sales Pleasure!

Do you want to grow? Call or be called. Better yet, make great calls and get great calls too. When your campaign is set up and integrated, all you really need to do is have the conversations that close new business.

If you have questions about how this program can help you grow your business, feel free to call us at 603-345-7223.

Knowing When to Advertise

Advertising is like insurance. Many don’t know they need it until they really need it. And, after buying it prudently, wouldn’t go without it. The good thing about advertising is that, unlike insurance, you reap its benefits when things are going well!

So, why is there so much reluctance among some businesses to develop and maintain an effective advertising campaign?

Jumping into paid advertising, especially in an untried medium, is a scary proposition to a lot of small business owners who must dig into their own back pockets to help fund an effective campaign. Aren’t you reluctant to spend a significant sum on a service whose success relies on the whims of other people, in other words, isn’t predictable? That’s what advertising is but thankfully, those whims can be effectively harnessed into buying action if you play your technology, data, messaging and media cards right.

Your return on investment depends on a few simple factors – reach, frequency and relevance. These are the crucial elements of a campaign and if you put effort into all three, you should see a positive ROI.

After some experience, you’ll have the confidence to invest more as you begin to measure the results based on actual response rates. The great thing with digital is that results get better and better as you dial in your data-driven campaign to more qualified prospects!

When do you advertise?

Ask yourself a couple of questions.

  • Have traditional business channels like word-of-mouth, networking and direct sales taken a pause or lagged in bringing in enough new business?
  • Are you unable to devote sufficient amounts of time to develop your sales & marketing channels due to other business priorities?

These are key questions that should lead you in the direction of at least a test marketing campaign with a sufficient advertising budget to move the needle in revenues. Determining the campaign scope and duration depends largely on your sales cycle. The goal is always a profitable return on investment and you can accurately calculate the cost per lead and cost per sale in real dollars & cents.

How do you measure success?

Let’s say your average new customer takes about one month from an initial inquiry to placing an order. In as little as 60 days from a campaign launch, you should be closing on some new business and have a bevy of leads in your sales pipeline. Unfortunately, there’s no surefire way to forecast your actual advertising ROI until you have sufficient data gathered from the digitally tracked campaign. But you can begin to make educated calculations within the first 90 days in most cases.

Hitting Paydirt

After a few months of dialing in your messaging and target market based on specific interests, you will begin to have a throttle-like ability to manage business growth and it can be very profitable!

Digital advertising campaigns using Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms work fast because they actively find the people you’re looking for while those people are happy to see your ad pop up, answering their current need.

Campaign effectiveness and tracking accuracy are the two reasons so many corporate marketing budgets are moving out of traditional print and broadcast, which are expensive and hard to measure, to digital which can predictively deliver results when it’s professionally managed. That’s how advertising works in the 21st Century!

Quality Sales Promotion

Rat Race Selling Anxiety 

When I was a young, aggressive salesman, I worked my tail off to get new business and produced enough to be valued. I cold called like crazy, set appointments and made presentations day after day. It was a constant struggle, though, to sustain business growth as it ebbed and flowed in spite of continuous and mighty selling efforts.

Meet Richard

There was one senior guy on the team named Richard who had all the giant accounts and he just sat there on the phone discussing business and taking big, fat orders. Either that or he would meet with his clients at the plant and entertain them as they kept an eye on their work. I suspect they also enjoyed Richard’s company and getting out of their own office for vendor meetings with a trusted, high-quality supplier.

His cup runneth over!

The real kicker about Richard was this. In spite of his already abundant sales success, most of the new business inquiries calling in would ask for Richard, and it drove me nuts! He never cold called and he never had to bang the phone for appointments like the rest of us. The biggest and most profitable business just flowed to Richard.

I liked Richard and we became fast friends but I also envied his ability to take in lucrative business without seeming to compete for it. What did he have that the rest of us didn’t?

Over the course of time and even a few career moves, it finally became clear why Richard excelled. He understood quality and he never cut corners. While I was trying to figure out ways to lower costs or match competitive price quotes just to win an order, Richard was increasing the prices his clients would pay while at the same time adding value to the total package.

No Surprises!

The primary value that Richard added was quality-assurance. Richard’s clients knew that if they worked with him, they would get the best quality products available. No shortcuts, no surprises; just predictable high quality at a fair, negotiated price.

Meanwhile, the corners I cut in quality specs to compete on price were making some customers question the value they could expect from me in the future. It took me far too long to realize that not everyone wants more for less. I assumed price meant everything and I was trying to appease prospects I assumed were cheapskates.

Give back… to your competition!

True, there are plenty of cheapskates out there but in reality, there are lots of good people in the business world who understand what things cost. “You get what you pay for.” Those were Richard’s people! They knew that Richard understood the vital nature of high quality in manufacturing. When other people like them heard of Richard’s business approach and they needed our products, they called Richard, who else? And when Richard sensed cheapness or price challenges from a new business prospect, he would cheerfully (and wisely) refer them to competing manufacturers whom he knew would cut profits just to keep their machines running.

Be the person you would call!

The lesson here is that if you’re looking for more qualified sales leads, maybe you need to focus less on sales promotions and more on delivering premium quality to all your customers every single time you do business. Quality reputations can only be earned. If you’ve earned yours, go ahead and promote it!

Promote the one thing that separates your quality from the rest. Promote it everywhere you can.  If a prospect happens to see your company promotion and call you after also getting a referral, the sale is yours! And that was Richard’s secret to easygoing sales success. He promoted quality assurance and all his customers backed him up.

Make best-in-class quality your goal. Communicate what that really costs and clearly demonstrate its value. Then deliver the best quality consistently to build your reputation. Your marketing and sales efforts will work better as the quality seekers in your market find from you the really good stuff they’re looking for.

So first ask, is your stuff really that good?

Online User Experience: How much do you control?

There is only one place on the Internet over which you alone have control.

Every online platform except for one can modify, add to, or even ban your company messages. Your brand can be all over the place; Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Google, YouTube, directories, blogs, guest landing pages, etc.

You can maximize your presence in all these online media and the brand experience visitors have will be limited and in many cases disappointing. Why? Because these spaces don’t belong to you and you are being used by them, not the other way around!

The hard truth of social media marketing: Your company information and, very likely, personal employee information are actually the product of social media companies, sold through advertising to other marketers. Your data (which is cumulatively collected with each login) belongs to them as much as it belongs to you. And if you want more than 5 or 6 people to see your posts, you must pay to have it distributed, even to your own friends, followers and connections!

So where is this one place on the Internet that you control completely? Hopefully, it’s the one in which you invest the most time and money – Your Website.

Your own Company Website gets top priority in all matters concerning online marketing. You can totally customize the experience for your specific target audiences. Social platforms, search engines and other channels are fine for distributing Your Website content, but they are not where your brand resides. Metaphorically, you should be entertaining your customers right inside your Home rather than having a quick chat inside a Starbucks.

Content Marketing at Work

I suggest getting busy writing about how you solve specific problems better than your competition. Take pictures and shoot video! At a minimum, hunt down some appropriate stock images for your campaign messages (just know how to choose them).

My company website has been producing higher quality leads in recent months following a content marketing campaign that resides, guess where?  Right where your eyes are focused now. This blog.

Questions? Ask a content marketing expert at
Chuck Sink Link.

Lead Generation or Seed Germination?

Stop demanding leads!

Every business owner and salesperson wants qualified new business leads that they can close, add to the client list and so build their business empire. If they could reduce their time spent prospecting and just focus on closing more deals, business would be sooooo much better! But is that realistic? Probably not.

There are all kinds of lead generation programs out there that vary in firepower and sophistication. Most of them utilize a combination of digital platforms that, when integrated, allow you to target demographic and interest-specific audiences, and follow them around on the web and with emails. They include various levels of personalization, even to the point of feeling creepy and intrusive.

The B2B Marketing Reality

You can definitely increase your website traffic and generate inbound “leads” with a well-programmed campaign. Up to a point. There’s a point at which message saturation occurs and no amount of great marketing will deliver new customers when there aren’t a bevy of needy prospects in your market during your campaign. This is the reality of most B2B marketing!

You hit up the same finite universe of potential buyers with a drip campaign hoping some will just peel away from their current business relationships, open an account and place an order with you. But the real qualified leads are few and far between, so what can you do?

The Crux of Business Growth

Unless your messages are relevant to their thinking and well-timed to their needs, prospective business customers couldn’t care less about your drips and drabs following them around in browsers and delivered in emails. But when they’re ready for change, you need to have readied them to think of your brand first. So the question becomes, how do you maximize your current market share and position your company as the category leader when the market expands?

You build trusted relationships based on an authentic brand. And these relationships can begin with simple awareness and grow from there. Yes, it’s about branding again!

What do you do better than most if not all of your competition? Figure out how to make that fact resonate in every company message. Make it the foundation of your sales, marketing and PR. Don’t stray!

As your prospects notice the consistency in your value proposition and hear about your work in media or word of mouth, they might actually become excited about the chance to do business with you when the time comes. You may be unaware of any relationship brewing with your prospects as they are mindfully starting to develop a relationship with you. Then your phone rings and it’s them!

The B2B Marketing Bonus

Each new relationship offers additional marketing and sales momentum!

While B2B marketing may seem a bit humdrum compared with consumer or lifestyle campaigns, business clients tend to be much higher stakes customers who depend heavily on your services. The relationship is important because they are trusting some part of their business to your care, and as they grow to enjoy working with you and your team, your best form of advertising comes free; a testimonial, a kind word… a referral and another new client.

When you’ve been at this game a while, you realize that without a brand name – one that people in your market have reasons to talk about – your sales will remain flat. But if your company works hard on consistent brand awareness, sales growth becomes less of a challenge and more of a fulfillment – an answer to your market’s call.

Your Other Team

They Have Your Back

Loyal employee engagement shores up company strength more than perhaps any other factor. That’s why it’s constantly on every responsible executive’s mind. Your team must execute your business operations with a purpose or your product and service quality will quickly slide downhill. Following the slide, morale sinks and you’ve got deeper problems.

We all need people to show up each day with an eager willingness to collaborate, do their part and be mutually rewarded by our companies’ success.

You can read a lot about employee engagement in comprehensive HR literature as well as top strategic business books. There’s another kind of human engagement that’s almost as vital to your business as that of your key employees. How are your relationships with suppliers and contractors? How’s your supplier engagement going?

“You didn’t build that!” (LOL)

If your company is like most, you probably don’t manufacture every product component or implement every service you deliver to your clients. At a minimum, you probably rely on parts suppliers or subcontractors, whatever your company does. What if suddenly, a couple of them decided they didn’t really care about your business, maybe ran into some issues and ceased to serve your “account.” What if that’s all you and your team were thought of by critical suppliers, an “account?”

The people who run the businesses you partner with need to be solidly grounded and totally dedicated to their clients’ needs. Simply stated, their people need to care about your people. And your independent contractors need to follow your directions as if you’re the boss. You need strong, trusted relationships with your “vendors.” I try to refer to each of my suppliers as a “business partner” or else simply by their name, and my clients get to know me on a personal level as we work together.

We’re (independently) in this together!

Who can say their business runs smoothly every single day? We all know the answer! Whenever my company has run into production or communication problems, every one of my reliable “business partners” has jumped in with both feet through the thick of the issue until it was solved. I’m extremely grateful for my contractor relationships. If you happen to be one of the men and women contributing your talents to our premium marketing services, thank you!

When you are experiencing challenges together with your solution partners, and you sense real dedication and mutual trust among yourselves, that’s engagement!

Call it vendor engagement, supplier engagement or business partner engagement, it’s priceless, just like earning and keeping the quality work of your best employees. Always remember to nurture your relationships for better engagement – both inside and outside your company.

The Sanctuary of Business Life

I enjoy escaping the falsely portrayed world in the media by tuning it out and getting real. It’s really wonderful to get out in the real world and work with familiar people, collaborating on various endeavors with them. It’s nice to live in a peaceful and prosperous place where people work together every day to help each other out. This is what is normal.

Most people in this country get along great! What you see “in the news” is largely fabricated or distorted for ratings as well as political and personal agendas.

Shutting off broadcast news and social media gives you a much better and more accurate survey of reality, which is right where you stand. And hopefully, nobody else standing there hates you. If they do, they should probably seek some help for that.

My point is that the business world functions much better than the politically charged, agenda driven media world but is too boring to make headlines and lead broadcasts. Discord seems to sell, so many prominent media figures sow it as we see in much inaccurate, biased reporting based on opinion, groupthink and hearsay. Now, even entertainment reeks of politics as we keep hearing from former comedians on late night television.

In my opinion, journalistic standards have never been lower so it’s best to treat all initial reporting in most media with a high degree of skepticism or at least inquisitive curiosity.

We’ve heard the phrase, “If it bleeds it leads.” Today’s media rule seems to be, “If it makes them pissed, it tops the list!” What kind of journalistic standard is that? The lowest kind.

Time to raise the standards!

Keep marketing simple!

For marketing communications, keep complexity and sophistication in storage.

There are those in business who relish sophistication in processes and systems. The more thinking and creative engineering that go into technology, products and services, the better they will perform (or be perceived to perform). But when it comes to marketing, sophisticated ideas just muddy up your messages.

If you have a brand identity or important message to convey, keep it simple, even if there are nuances. Why? Because the rest of us are mostly babes in the woods. Remember that only you think exactly the way you do and can perfectly connect your own dots. Those dots you so easily connect may appear disparate to the rest of us so it’s your responsibility to make certain that we know what dot #1 is all about before you start confusing us with dots 2 through 17 all at once.

What about those subtle nuances that really differentiate us, you might ask? If a nuance is what differentiates your product or service then your messages should be all about the nuance. If that nuance must be fully understood by your audience, make it the primary message.

If the value proposition is complex, build your case in understandable stages.

Once you add more than two or three ancillary features or components to your main value proposition, you dilute, spread around and complicate your main idea. By all means, be well prepared to articulate every granular detail of your value delivery but save those details until your audience wants or needs to know them.

A Simple 4-Step Approach

If you need to make your message understandable and actionable, there’s a methodology you can use called AIDA (Attention – Interest – Desire – Action). To apply AIDA in your marketing messages and throughout your selling process, take your prospect through these communication stages:

Attention – First you need them to notice you and listen. Make a bold, singular promise.

Interest – Once listening, build interest in how you will enrich your customer. Begin to reveal some key features that will help them. You can further differentiate your offering with nuance and sophistication as long as your prospect wants to remain engaged. This is really the make or break stage because interest can be lost as quickly as gained. You must move them into wanting your product, or there’s no sale.

Desire – One way to know if your prospect has reached the desire stage is by the questions they ask. If the questions focus on recommended service levels, budget ranges, or what actual implementation involves, you and your prospect have reached the closing stage of the sale and are ready for…

ACTION – Unless your message is acted upon, why bother with branding, great web design and advertising? Why have salespeople? Marketing and sales cost a lot of money so they have to work! Your calls to action can be anything from e-commerce or direct contact links on your website to full-blown presentations and contract negotiations, depending on what you’re selling.

It’s best to hold your most sophisticated or complex product/service benefits for when you may need them, such as convincing a senior engineering team that your technology is superior. Give them the building blocks to decide for themselves.

In marketing, the complex features do belong somewhere on your website with a clear navigation path. If your home and landing pages have a strong primary message, your visitors will go deeper to learn what they need to know, and hopefully place an order or call you with questions.

Content is gold. You have limited mind space and attention spans to work with. Avoid muddying the water by keeping your initial marketing message simple. A powerful first impression can set the ball rolling from attention to ACTION faster than you expect.

Stick to your business and stay out of the pulpit.

Gillette (Proctor & Gamble) wants to be the corporate hero of the day as they roll out their “shaving toxic masculinity” ad. If you haven’t seen the spot, it’s all about how men often act like jerks, are bullies and treat women badly. Its message is actually age-old and classic; that men should act like gentlemen and teach boys about respect and kindness to all, regardless of our differences.

Gillette blew it in my opinion. Their marketing group projected their own cultural and political bias onto their target audience and many of us are turned off by their overt condemnation of all masculinity as “toxic.”

The message of respect and kindness itself is good but the thrust of the ad presupposes that disciplined respect by men is a new, progressive idea and that men need to clean up their act, never mind our unshaven faces. If there’s a positive side for Gillette, the brand will gain additional support from the market segment in which the message resonates, but that would be a hard segment to measure.

The Marketing Risks

I believe the risks for Gillette are twofold. 1) They have annoyed a sizable portion of their customer base because the ad’s tone implies that most men have been jerks all along but things are different now and they better get with the times! 2) The ad’s video news clip collage panders to progressive political leanings and the #MeToo movement. It will be seen as an insincere play on promoting social justice.

As a longtime Gillette customer, I’m very annoyed! Why did this corporation jump headlong for no apparent reason into a politically charged cultural movement, attempting to shame men and correct their behavior?

The only behavior of mine that Gillette has any business in whatsoever is my grooming behavior.

As for social behavior, I will look to my Church, family, friends, neighbors and colleagues for feedback and correction, and so should the rest of Gillette’s audience in my opinion. There are no moral and spiritual leaders in the marketing team at Gillette or all of Proctor and Gamble and they have no business assuming moral authority in their advertising campaigns.

Here’s the Marketing Kicker

My advice is to keep all of your business messages on point. Attempting to use your company’s platform to influence the culture will only divert your attention and resources away from your primary business purpose – serving your customers.

I believe the best marketing is sincere marketing. So far, my best shaves have been with Gillette razors. They make excellent shaving products and that’s the only message I want to hear from a razor company that profits from my continued patronage.