OOH, Electronic Billboards

More than six thousand digital billboards light up America’s roadways, yet, we’re still in the dark![1]

We thought that—with the explosion of social media, the long (waning?) reign of broadcast advertising, Internet advertising, and more—billboards, like sandwich boards, were becoming a thing of the past. Yet, according to the association, there are more than 158,000 standard billboards (also known as “bulletins” in the trade) and 165,500 posters (the slightly smaller sized billboard common in urban settings). Then there’s “billboards” on the sides of trucks, 2,700, and wrapped around buses, 205,000. That’s a lot of OOH (Out of Home) advertising!

This exemplifies something that Marketing Strategy, book one in the SMstudy® Guide series, says: “Rather than viewing the changes as completely replacing the earlier practices, Sales and Marketing approaches should be viewed as a continuum where recent innovations can co-exist with earlier practices.”

If you have been following our posts at SMstudy, you may remember that we have addressed the idea that old ways stay and can continue to be profitable even in the midst of great innovation.[2] OOH advertising offers two examples of not only how older approaches can remain relevant but also co-exist in symbiotic relationships.

As the numbers quoted above show, billboard advertising is alive and kicking in today’s innovative age. One cause of this is that “the brevity of OOH’s copy is ideal for driving traffic to a website,” according to OAAA. In cities with the fifty worst commutes, Americans spend from 32 minutes (with 8 percent of this city’s commuters spending more than an hour) to 42.6 minutes (and 25 percent spending more than one hour) one way.[3] That’s a lot of time spent slowly moving with the traffic flow. The vast majority of Americans spend from 30 minutes to an hour driving to and from work. Include the time they spend traveling for other purposes and that’s like having an arena’s worth of people idling past every billboard.

Co-existing can be more than just parallel existence at a distance. For example, “OOH reinforces television messages when viewers are away from their homes during the course of daily activities,” says to OAAA adding, “Television is expensive. OOH improves the efficiency of a television campaign buy by driving down CPM costs. OOH reaches light TV viewers who are younger, mobile, and more affluent than heavy TV viewers.”

OAAA points out that “younger, mobile, and more affluent than heavy TV viewers” also describes Internet users. This becomes an important insight when the marketing team considers its product’s marketing mix. “In a differentiated targeting strategy, a company directs its marketing efforts towards two or more segments by creating a different marketing mix for each segment. Each marketing mix for this strategy typically varies depending on product features, distribution methods, promotion methods, and pricing,” according to Marketing Strategy. As each market segment is targeted, the team develops a mix of “promotion methods.” These methods can include conventional mass media marketing and fragmented new-age marketing (aimed at channels such as Internet, social media, and mobile devices).

The old and the new not only can exist side-by-side but they can flourish. And that’s something to OOH and ah about!

 

For more interesting and informative articles on sales and marketing, visit SMstudy.com/articles

 

 

[1] This datum is according to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) in their OOH (Out of Home) Formats on the OAAA site at https://www.oaaa.org/OutofHomeAdvertising/OOHMediaFormats/OOHMediaFormats.aspx

[2] As in our recent blog, “Pushing the Envelope: The Case for Paper,” http://www.smstudy.com/Article/pushing-the-envelope-the-case-for-paper

[3] “The 50 Worst Commutes in America.” (1/28/16) MSN; News. Retrieved on 4/12/16 from http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/the-50-worst-commutes-in-america/ss-AAakiJv#image=51

Inventions from 1900-1910: Deja vu All Over Again

There are some things I never do on social media. When I get a post with a picture of an old-fashioned pencil sharpener, apple corer or slide rule and it says “If you’ve ever used one of these, Like and Share,” I never do. And it’s not just because I don’t want to admit how old I am.

Looking back in history can be much more helpful than trying to get one up on “those young people today” by showing how difficult you had it and they should be glad they have it as easy as they do! Looking back in history can actually help people deal with the present.

With this in mind we thought we would take a quick look at the first decade of the Twentieth Century and draw some inferences relating to the first two decades of the Twenty-first.

We researched several websites and found that a lot of things happened from 1900 to 1910, inclusive. From the frivolous to the profound, some of the inventions and advances still affect America and the world today. In 1905, the American form of football allowed the forward pass to stop injuries and deaths caused by brute-force tactics such as the “flying wedge.” Today, the National Football League is trying to make reforms that will minimize, or do away with concussions. Also in 1905, Albert Einstein published a paper introducing the idea that the formula for determining energy is a direct ratio with the combined characteristics of mass and the speed of light squared, e=mc2. In that same year, he published a fuller elucidation, his theory of relativity. (We felt like we could use phrases like “fuller elucidation” when we’re talking about such heady stuff.) From those papers have risen arsenals, energy generation, medical uses of radiation, and advances in the physics that run our televisions and computers, among other things.

Speaking of televisions and computers, both of these have their roots in Lee De Forest’s invention of the vacuum tube triode in 1907. “The three terminal setup could serve as an electrical switch. When you changed the voltage traveling to one terminal, you could reduce the current following between the other two terminals. In this way, you could turn it ‘on’ and ‘off.’ That’s your 1 and your 0,” says Wired.com in reference to the binary code used in programming.[1]

The more immediate use of the vacuum tube was in building the sets needed to receive that new-fangled thing called radio. De Forest used his vacuum tube to transform “those taps and clicks [of Marconi’s wireless telegraph transmissions] into the broadcast communication system we know today,” according to Wired, adding, “Forest, who also coined the name ‘radio,’ used his invention to send the first over-the-air public broadcast on January 12, 1910.”

From all this, it becomes apparent that first decade of the twentieth century saw the new arrivals of more than twenty inventions that reshaped life and business. Mercedes (1901) and Ford (1908) took the automobile from the showcase and exhibition track to the roads of America and Europe in mass numbers. Along the way, they also invented the car salesman.

These inventions made their creators wealthy through marketing. In 1908, Dr. Julius Neubronner combined invention and marketing into one operation. He fitted “tiny timer-driven cameras to pigeons and developed and printed the photos immediately upon the birds’ return, selling them as postcards on the spot,” says Wired. They also say, “Take that, UAV cams!”

Apple Computers is the modern poster child for this symbiotic relationship between innovation and marketing. And that brings us to Digital Marketing, book three in the SMstudy® Guide series, “Today, consumers have multiple ways of searching, learning about, and purchasing various products and services, and e-commerce technology has offered the convenience of secure and instant transactions.”

In 1901, the vacuum cleaner was invented and was soon followed by the door-to-door vacuum salesman. The invention of the radio brought radio advertising, which was one of the methods inventor and businessman George Louis Washington used to turn his 1909 invention of instant coffee into a mansion in Brooklyn and a lodge by the beach in Belford.[2]

Automobiles brought roadside signs and billboards. Walls in every major urban setting became festooned with advertising aimed at the motoring masses. The marketing messages were everywhere. Conventional mass marketing made sure they even arrived in peoples’ mailboxes.

Today’s market seems filled with innovation and invention on steroids. “Consumers can receive messages from any of the several hundred television and radio channels, a variety of print media, including newspapers, magazines, and trade publications; and, online, it’s difficult to check e-mail without various banner ads popping up. The messages are constant,” saysDigital Marketing.

“For businesses, in this age where consumers are continuously provided with choice, the challenge is finding ways to stand out.” SMstudy and the SMstudy® Guide are designed to help sales and marketing professionals and entrepreneurs handle the change in ways that make them stars.[3]

 

For more informative and interesting articles on sales and marketing, visit SMstudy.com.

 

 

[1] “The Decades that Invented the Future, Part 1: 1900-1910.” (10/12/12) WIRED. Retrieve on 4/13/16 from http://www.wired.com/2012/10/12-decades-of-geek-part-1/

[2] Janie (4/13/2015) “20 Influential Inventions from 1900-1910” JellyShare Retrieved on 4/13/16 from http://www.jellyshare.com/article-194/20-influential-inventions-from-1900-1910.htm

[3] For more information about the SMstudy® Guide, visit http://smstudy.com/SMBOKGuide

Back Talk Can Be Good for You; Customer-Centric Differentiation and SMstudy

“I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you…”

– Allen Ginsberg, “A Supermarket in California”

When potential customers “wander in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans,” what sets your product apart from all of the others on the shelf? What makes buyers begin following you?

Is it the need that you meet? Or the value proposition you offer? Is it your product’s packaging? Or placement on the shelf? Is it the reputation of your company that shines a special spotlight on your offering?  If your answer is, “Yes,” then you’re ready for a trip into the sometimes puzzling world of creating a product’s differentiated positioning. Grab your cape, Alice; you never know what you’ll run into down the rabbit hole.

A well-planned and executed differentiated positioning of a product sets it apart and attracts buyers. The process of creating a differentiated positioning “involves creating a positioning statement that clearly articulates, in a succinct sentence, how the company wants the customers in its selected target markets to perceive its products,” says Marketing Strategy, book one in theSMstudyGuide series.[1]

In our previous article, “What Turns a Ford into a Lincoln,” we looked at the use of features to set one product apart from another, to make it attractive to targeted market segments. This same list of features is used when writing the positioning statement. In this blog we consider the influence of the target segment itself and customer feedback on preparing that “succinct sentence.”

Once your company has completed the process of selecting a target segment, it will have “detailed information…, such as specific wants and needs, customer personas, segment size, and so forth,” according to Marketing Strategy. The company then can “analyze the target segment information to determine areas where it has, or can, create a competitive advantage when positioning its products.”

Where does a company get a clear statement of the “specific wants and needs” of their potential customers? From customer feedback, of course. “But, they’re potential customers!” someone is saying, “How can we get feedback from customers that aren’t customers, yet?” There are ways down this rabbit hole.

One way is to use industry benchmarks and Key Performance Indicators (KPI). “Comparing the company’s performance against industry benchmarks and KPIs helps prevent a company from focusing its positioning efforts on creating differentiators that are of little importance to customers in the industry,” the SMstudyGuide says. Your potential customers will have significant similarities with others in the targeted segment for similar products.

Closely related to benchmarks and KPIs, are existing marketing research reports. Your company or an industry group may have already conducted research that is relevant. “This research can help identify the best possible product features and associated product positioning based on how purchase intentions vary with changes to particular product characteristics. Furthermore, analyzing customers’ attitudes toward competitors’ products provides additional insights into how well the positioning strategies of competitors are working, and whether there are some gaps in their positioning that the company can exploit,” says the SMstudyGuide.

Another way is to talk to your company’s present customers. “No one can articulate your strengths better than your clients,” writes Cidnee Stephen in her article “How to Differentiate Your Business from the Competition.”[2]

As the SMstudyGuide puts it, “Understanding the customer experience and obtaining customer feedback about a company’s existing products (a concept referred to as the “Voice of the Customer”) helps a company to determine the positioning of its products. Such customer feedback includes improvement suggestions, compliments, and complaints.” Your company has probably been collecting feedback of this nature through post-purchase surveys, product registration processes, and the “Contact Us” tab on its website. This data is usually reviewed through a product or service improvement filter. Now is the time to look at that data with a filter emphasizing positioning.

Product piloting and conducting focus groups are two additional ways to collect feedback on a product or service that is not yet in wide distribution.

Our trip seems to use product and company differentiation interchangeably. Does that make sense? Down this rabbit hole, it does. The two are membrane on membrane close. The differentiated positioning of the company as a whole should guide all positioning of the company’s products and services.

Does this article say it all about creating differentiated positioning? Absolutely not! In fact, the part of our treatment of this topic will discuss using SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).

As good as back talk can be, so can a good SWOT across the backside … or at least, across the corporate office!

For more interesting and informative articles on sales and marketing, visit SMstudy.com/articles

[1] The SMstudyGuide is available at http://www.smstudy.com/SMBOKGuide.

[2] Cidnee Stephen. “How to differentiate Your Business from the Competition.” Bplans; Starting a Business Made Easy. Retrieved on 4/5/16 from http://articles.bplans.com/how-to-differentiate-your-business-from-the-competition/#.VwLfWKs56mM.linkedin

Eye-to-Eye on IT Value, Marketing and SMstudy

When designing a marketing strategy should you start where you want to be, or where you are?

If you’re a motivational speaker, you’re probably saying, “Start where you want to be.” If you’re a process engineer, you’re likely to say, “Start where you are.” If you’re a marketing strategist, you’re probably saying, “Yes.”

“But it’s an ‘either/or’ question!” they might remind you.

“True, but the answer is still ‘Yes,’” you would answer.

In sales and marketing, there must be a strong focus on goals and objectives, the “where you want to be”bit. “The Corporate Marketing Strategy is defined at a corporate level. It defines the overall marketing goals for the company. These general marketing goals drive more specific marketing strategies for each of the company’s business units or geographies,” saysMarketing Strategy, book one of the SMstudy™ Guide.

Can the company meet these goals? The answer to this lies in the “where you are.” “The strengths and weaknesses of a company determine its internal capabilities to compete in a market and to fulfill customer expectations,” says the SMstudyGuide. “Strengths provide the company with a competitive advantage and weaknesses place the company at a disadvantage.”

“Start where you are” is one of the “Practitioner 9 Guiding Principles” identified by Axelos, the people responsible for publications coming from the Information Technology and Infrastructure Library (ITIL) of the British Home Office. These principles are designed to help IT practitioners succeed in an increasingly customer- and market-oriented service environment.

One of the key “Practitioner Guiding Principles” is “focus on value.” This is something marketing professionals know very well: their product’s or service’s value proposition. “All successful products or brands need well-planned marketing strategies in place to ensure that they satisfy the goals set by the corresponding Business Unit or Geographic level, and in turn the overall Corporate Marketing Strategy. Marketing Strategy is therefore one of the most crucial Aspects of Sales and Marketing. It defines a product or brand’s unique value proposition, target markets, and the specific strategies to be used to connect with defined audiences,” according to the SMstudyGuide.

Arriving at a value proposition involves identifying the target market segment: what are the people that make up this group like? What do they do for a living? For recreation? How do they spend their money? These are very similar to questions that IT developers ask and answer when creating personas for their end users and customers. How will they use this service? When will they most likely access it? What will it do for them? How much is this worth to them? The confluence of service development and marketing is becoming greater and greater.

With the decreasing time between product development and its “hitting the shelves,” it seems inevitable that marketing interests and elements would enter product lifecycles earlier. Which ties in well with “Practitioner Guiding Principle” number 8: collaborate. The real value that developers put into a product after conferring with marketing and management becomes the real value that the sales and marketing people communicate to the customers, who buy that value, take it home and cherish it. Everyone is working together and the world’s a happier place.

 

For more informative articles on Sales and Marketing, visit SMstudy.com.

Paying Attention: A New Metric for Advertising on Mobile

Since the demise of newspaper’s great hegemonic grip on advertising, news media minds have been banging their big brains together, trying to come up with ways that not only monetize their content, but also generate some of the sweet ad revenue they used to have the luxury of enjoying. This is, of course, much harder in the infinite space and freedom of the Internet. (limited space and information gatekeeping was a true friend to print news.)

It’s been a bit of a slog and news outlets have been in “trial and error” mode for a while and still haven’t quite gotten it fully figured out. That being said, over the last year or so, user trends have been offering great nuggets of insight that are changing the way marketers and news sites are adapting to trends in mobile news consumption.

The landscape for mobile news outlets was important enough to make it to the front page of The Pew Research State of the Media 2015. What was the big deal? That 39 out of 50 legacy news outlets get more traffic from mobile devices than from desktop computers!

Full list (stats provided by comScore)…http://www.journalism.org/media-indicators/digital-top-50-online-news-entities-2015/

In the digital-only “newsscape,” a similar trend was noted.

The report states, “similar to the larger list of top 50 digital news entities, just a minority of these digital-only sites, 11 in all, had audiences that spent more time with them via a mobile device than a desktop.”

Here’s the complete list of digital native sites… http://www.journalism.org/media-indicators/digital-top-50-digital-native-news-sites-2015/

This preference for mobile news consumption is only mildly tempered by the fact that longer times were spent on news sites when being read on desktop computers.

Nevertheless, it matters.

Believe it or not, tracking consumer behavior has been one of the main problems with news outlets and marketers alike when considering ad dollars for mobile. Now we know that people are preferring their mobile devices for their news both while in on-the-go situations as well as in the down time of “Netflix and chill” moments.

In addition, we appear to be in a “mobile ad desert” where despite a rapid increase year over year in mobile advertising spending, there’s still a gap between advertising dollars spent on TV and other marketing channels and those spent on mobile. It seems that marketers haven’t quite picked up on the huge leap mobile viewership has taken. As an example, Adobe Digital Index reported in July 2015 that media has risen by two hours a day over the last five years, but advertisers have been slow to respond.

The article states, “Just as internet advertising once experienced a lag between the number of unique users and advertising spend, a gulf now exists between the growing amount of time consumers spend viewing content on mobile devices and the relatively small investment brands are making in the channel. But it’s just a matter of time until the numbers match.”

When confronted with new information, a new approach is often required. And this positive mobile news usage data begs for new solutions.

One of the more interesting examples of calculating an accurate measure was put forward by the Financial Times. The FT has switched to a time-based metric, one that places attention front and center in their value assessment. Other news outlets are also recognizing the truer value of an attention-based metric, as well. I’ve begun calling this the “after the fold” ad as it appears when I’ve stayed on a story long enough to show I’m committed. This strategy bets squarely on the contents ability to hold attention. And so far, so good.

Although various solutions abound, no silver bullet has yet been discovered (and perhaps never will). Serious impediments to accurate metrics (and hence, the flow of ad dollars) include bots that inflate the numbers and the easy accessibility to, and preference for, ad-blocking. This trend is particularly noted among millennials.

But even so, a new approach based on time as opposed to volume (number of clicks) could be the way forward for news outlets. Getting a handle on what they have to offer marketers may be the thing to lead news outlets out of the red and back into the black.

For more on sales and marketing, visit SMstudy.com

 

Sources:

The Pew Research State of the Medial 2015

State of the News Media 2015

“How mobile metrics fall short for news outlets and advertisers,” James Breiner, July 13, 2015 https://ijnet.org/en/blog/how-mobile-metrics-fall-short-news-outlets-and-advertisers

“Is Digital Advertising Ready to Ditch the Click?”  Michael Sebastian. September 29, 2014. http://adage.com/article/media/digital-advertising-ready-ditch-click/295143/

“ADI: Advertisers Must Prepare To Follow Increasing Eyeballs On Mobile Video,” June 21, 2015. http://www.cmo.com/articles/2015/6/21/adi-advertisers-must-prepare-to-follow-increasing-eyeballs-on-mobile-video.html

“When Will Mobile Marketers Move Beyond Basic Measurement?”  June 15, 2015 http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Will-Mobile-Marketers-Move-Beyond-Basic-Measurement/1012600?ecid=NL1001#sthash.B8b4GxdM.dpuf

SMstudy Breaking News: Facebook and You, Live in 3, 2, 1

Recently, Facebook announced the release of new features for Facebook Live– a live-streaming video feature that saw a soft release last summer and was opened up to all Facebook users a couple of months ago. The addition of new interactive features reveals the social network’s belief in the big future of video.

From its vantage point, Facebook has noted that video consumption, in particular on mobile devices, has increased greatly over the last two years. The release of Facebook Live and its new features backs up their confidence in the trend towards video and live streaming. David Pierson, of the LA Times, reports that since 2014, Facebook has seen daily video views rise to 8 billion, an eightfold increase.

“The new features underscore the company’s deepening commitment to video, which is gaining a growing share of digital audiences, especially on mobile devices…” Pierson said.

The increase in mobile video consumption has also been on the radar of the Adobe Digital Index. In a July 21, 2015 article, “Advertisers Must Be Prepared to Follow Increasing Eyeballs on Mobile Video,” they acknowledged a two-hour-a-day increase over the past five years.

They state, “It is clear that there is a consumer shift towards watching video across multiple media, with mobile viewing accounting for the largest gains.”

Here’s their chart on mobile video usage…

Acting on the observance that people are 10 times more likely to comment on live-streaming video compared with pre-recorded video, Facebook’s newly released features are all about interaction, connection and reaction. Brand new features include Live Groups that allows the user to broadcast to specific friends and groups, Live Events that allows the same for those attending a specific Facebook event and an extra-special new feature called Live Reactions that allows viewers to comment in real time and offer the Facebook-style reactions such as love, wow, angry and sad. (No word on Like yet?)

Facebook Live (now with added features) is replete with possibilities and opportunities, in particular, for marketers. The ability to take the temperature of an audience by monitoring viewer reactions seems to open the door for a variety of testing as marketers begin to use the tool for forecasting public reaction to products and campaigns. And as we reported back in February, social media insights such as these “are filling the role of the modern-day focus group and allow for adjustment before launching, saving money and perhaps even preventing a catastrophic mistake.”

Of course, marketers and advertisers would also love to get in on this action. Pierson points out that advertisers are extremely interested in this new feature given Facebook’s advertising growth of close to 50% in 2015 to roughly $17 billion. But that bit will have to wait. Facebook has no intentions of opening this nascent channel to advertising… at least not yet.

“For now, the company is mainly interested in learning how users interact with its new tool and whether a vibrant ecosystem of user-generated videos can drive its growth,” Pierson says.

That being said, once it’s been proven viable, advertising will surely follow.

For more interesting information on sales and marketing, visit SMstudy.com/articles

Sources:

The Search for Social Media Insights,” SMstudy.com, Feb. 18, 2016. http://smstudy.com/Article/the-search-for-social-media-insights

ADI: Advertisers Must Prepare To Follow Increasing Eyeballs On Mobile Video,” June 21, 2015. http://www.cmo.com/articles/2015/6/21/adi-advertisers-must-prepare-to-follow-increasing-eyeballs-on-mobile-video.html

Facebook bolsters its video streaming tool with new features,”David Pierson, April 6, 2016 http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-facebook-live-20160406-story.html

Facebook Press Release, April 6, 2016 http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2016/04/introducing-new-ways-to-create-share-and-discover-live-video-on-facebook/

Paying Attention: A New Metric for Advertising on Mobile

Since the demise of newspaper’s great hegemonic grip on advertising, news media minds have been banging their big brains together, trying to come up with ways that not only monetize their content, but also generate some of the sweet ad revenue they used to have the luxury of enjoying. This is, of course, much harder in the infinite space and freedom of the Internet. (limited space and information gatekeeping was a true friend to print news.)

It’s been a bit of a slog and news outlets have been in “trial and error” mode for a while and still haven’t quite gotten it fully figured out. That being said, over the last year or so, user trends have been offering great nuggets of insight that are changing the way marketers and news sites are adapting to trends in mobile news consumption.

The landscape for mobile news outlets was important enough to make it to the front page of The Pew Research State of the Media 2015. What was the big deal? That 39 out of 50 legacy news outlets get more traffic from mobile devices than from desktop computers!

Full list (stats provided by comScore)…http://www.journalism.org/media-indicators/digital-top-50-online-news-entities-2015/

In the digital-only “newsscape,” a similar trend was noted.

The report states, “similar to the larger list of top 50 digital news entities, just a minority of these digital-only sites, 11 in all, had audiences that spent more time with them via a mobile device than a desktop.”

Here’s the complete list of digital native sites… http://www.journalism.org/media-indicators/digital-top-50-digital-native-news-sites-2015/

This preference for mobile news consumption is only mildly tempered by the fact that longer times were spent on news sites when being read on desktop computers.

Nevertheless, it matters.

Believe it or not, tracking consumer behavior has been one of the main problems with news outlets and marketers alike when considering ad dollars for mobile. Now we know that people are preferring their mobile devices for their news both while in on-the-go situations as well as in the down time of “Netflix and chill” moments.

In addition, we appear to be in a “mobile ad desert” where despite a rapid increase year over year in mobile advertising spending, there’s still a gap between advertising dollars spent on TV and other marketing channels and those spent on mobile. It seems that marketers haven’t quite picked up on the huge leap mobile viewership has taken. As an example, Adobe Digital Index reported in July 2015 that media has risen by two hours a day over the last five years, but advertisers have been slow to respond.

The article states, “Just as internet advertising once experienced a lag between the number of unique users and advertising spend, a gulf now exists between the growing amount of time consumers spend viewing content on mobile devices and the relatively small investment brands are making in the channel. But it’s just a matter of time until the numbers match.”

When confronted with new information, a new approach is often required. And this positive mobile news usage data begs for new solutions.

One of the more interesting examples of calculating an accurate measure was put forward by the Financial Times. The FT has switched to a time-based metric, one that places attention front and center in their value assessment. Other news outlets are also recognizing the truer value of an attention-based metric, as well. I’ve begun calling this the “after the fold” ad as it appears when I’ve stayed on a story long enough to show I’m committed. This strategy bets squarely on the contents ability to hold attention. And so far, so good.

Although various solutions abound, no silver bullet has yet been discovered (and perhaps never will). Serious impediments to accurate metrics (and hence, the flow of ad dollars) include bots that inflate the numbers and the easy accessibility to, and preference for, ad-blocking. This trend is particularly noted among millennials.

But even so, a new approach based on time as opposed to volume (number of clicks) could be the way forward for news outlets. Getting a handle on what they have to offer marketers may be the thing to lead news outlets out of the red and back into the black.

For more on sales and marketing, visit SMstudy.com/articles

 

Sources:

The Pew Research State of the Medial 2015

State of the News Media 2015

“How mobile metrics fall short for news outlets and advertisers,” James Breiner, July 13, 2015 https://ijnet.org/en/blog/how-mobile-metrics-fall-short-news-outlets-and-advertisers

“Is Digital Advertising Ready to Ditch the Click?”  Michael Sebastian. September 29, 2014. http://adage.com/article/media/digital-advertising-ready-ditch-click/295143/

“ADI: Advertisers Must Prepare To Follow Increasing Eyeballs On Mobile Video,” June 21, 2015. http://www.cmo.com/articles/2015/6/21/adi-advertisers-must-prepare-to-follow-increasing-eyeballs-on-mobile-video.html

“When Will Mobile Marketers Move Beyond Basic Measurement?”  June 15, 2015 http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Will-Mobile-Marketers-Move-Beyond-Basic-Measurement/1012600?ecid=NL1001#sthash.B8b4GxdM.dpuf

 

Understanding the Sales Process

In this competitive age an effective sales organization is supported by marketing assets and includes a proper sales structure. The sales organization and governance must be designed to optimally support sales targets and create visibility into the sales team’s performance to allow for adjustments and course corrections as necessary to ensure that the business meets its sales revenue objectives. Since sales targets are directly linked to all sales and marketing and financial objectives, they are essential components in the achievement of company’s overall objectives.

Most experienced sales teams have an existing sales process. If this is the case, it is important to constantly evaluate, improve, and fine tune different components of the process. A new company, however, must define a sales process by adapting established frameworks to suit the specific needs of the business, leveraging identified strengths, and identifying and filling gaps.

Five Basic Steps in Sales Process

  1. Pre-sales—This first step in the sales process involves reviewing the current activities and selling processes. These activities include those carried out from the initial contact with a customer to the final delivery of a product or service. This step allows a developing company to assess its organizational capabilities to carry out the sales process. It includes understanding and strengthening the value proposition for customers. The different channels required to sell products in the future are also determined. Planning sales governance, setting sales targets, setting up the incentive structure for the sales team, and creating the marketing assets is also done at this stage. The sales team is also trained on products as well as the sales process and negotiation to prepare for selling activities.
  2. Profiling of Target Customers—The first step in the prospecting stage, profiling target customers and decision makers, involves identifying and benchmarking profiling criteria for prospects, as well as decision makers. Characteristics of ideal customers, such as annual budget, are used to benchmark the profiling criteria.
  3. Lead Generation and Qualification—The second step in the prospecting stage, lead generation, is the act of identifying prospective customers and generating ways to gain new customers. Profiled criteria and benchmarks are used to generate better leads. Lead generation uses various offline and online techniques and can be inbound or outbound.
  4. Needs Assessment—Conversion starts with understanding customer needs for products or services. This understanding of needs is vital in the conversion process and enables the sales team to demonstrate to the customer how their product can fulfill the customer’s requirements.
  5. Presentation, Negotiation, and Closure—This is the final stage in the conversion cycle. The corporate sales team presents the features, benefits, and advantages of the proposed products or services that can fulfill the needs of the prospects. At this stage, prospects present their objections to the sales proposal. It is the job of the corporate sales team to overcome these objections to close the deal.

Understanding these five steps and adapting them to suit the business requirements will help establish a framework for a comprehensive and effective sales process.

To learn more about the sales process, visit www.smstudy.com/articles

Branding America and SMstudy – Part One

shutterstock_141158833_brand

Presidential candidates want to unite America, make it strong again, give it a future to believe in, balance its budget and pass its dream onto the next generation. Each, in his or her own way, paints a picture of what’s wrong with America, but which of them grasps what is right about America, what its value proposition is to its citizens and to the world? Which one has a real grasp of its brand?

A recent commentary by Merrie Carole Powers in The World Post [1] compared candidate Donald Trump as a brand to America as represented in the Declaration of Independence—arguably the quintessential statement of America the brand.  This got us at SMstudy thinking about America the brand. What does the Declaration tell its citizens and the world about its brand?

A concise definition of branding states that it “is the process of creating a distinct image of a product or range of products in the customer’s mind. This image communicates the promise of value the customer will receive from the product or products,” according to the SMstudy® Guide: Marketing Strategy.[2]

So, what distinct image of America comes readily to mind? For many the dominant image is the American Dream. Every presidential candidate mentions the American Dream, and their versions range from the ability to achieve anything through hard work and determination to having a job coupled with raised wages and health for people and their surroundings.[3]

What image springs from the pages of the country’s cry to be itself, to be independent?

In her brand analysis of Trump-the-Brand, Powers used the “unique positioning, clearly defined purpose, truly held values, an authentic personality and a compelling message” elements of a strong brand. Marketing Strategy says that a product’s or service’s value proposition is crucial to its branding. We’ll use several of these to consider Brand America in the Declaration of Independence.[4]

The Declaration’s preamble is well known to many—having had to memorize it at some time during their school days—and it is the place to find the introduction of America’s brand image. In its first sentence the brand begins to take shape unassumingly—almost off-handedly as mere conditions for actions that follow—“it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…”  The Brand claims for itself “the separate and equal station” “among the powers of the earth” “that the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” says it has the right to. That’s a strong positioning statement, even if it is not unique for countries.

The Brand has a great purpose: to “assume … the separate and equal station,” that is, to step up and take possession of equality among the nations of the entire world.  It is an ennobling purpose. Kouze and Posner said in their work The Leadership Challenge that one of the best practices among successful leaders was the ability to inspire “an ennobling vision of the future.” People want to follow a leader that can do this. And they want to be identified with a brand that does this, too. Perhaps, this is one brand element that explains why so many people emigrate to America.

In Part Two of “Branding America and SMstudy,” we’ll look at Brand America’s compelling message and alluring value proposition.

For more informative and thought-provoking articles on sales and marketing, visit www.SMstudy.com/articles

[1] Powers, Merry Carole. (4/1/16) “Donald Trump vs America: Side-by-Side Brand Analysis.” The World Post. Retrieved on 4/4/16 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/merry-carole-powers/donald-trump-vs-america-a_b_9592180.html

[2] A Guide to the Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge, also referred to as the “SMstudy® Guide,” is a series of books that provide guidelines for the Sales and Marketing of products and services. It is available at SMstudy.

[3] Ted Cruz says that he and “his entire family have been blessed to live the American Dream — the idea that anyone, through hard work and determination, can achieve anything. And he is committed to ensuring every family has that same opportunity.” For Bernie Sanders, the American Dream includes an “economic agenda that creates jobs, raises wages, protects the environment and provides health care for all.” These quotes come from the respective candidate’s website.

[4] All quotes from the Declaration of Independence come from “the Charters of Freedom” collection of the U.S National Archives at http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html.

Effective Methods of Determining Sales Force Size

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In most companies, the sales force is the most critical part of the business; thus determining the sales force size is critical in planning for sales governance. Although the corporate sales team is one of the most valued assets of the company, it can also be expensive to maintain. Increasing the size of the sales force may increase sales volume but at a higher cost to the company. It is therefore necessary to determine the optimal sales force size. The size of the sales force will also affect territory design.

The three most commonly used methods to determine sales force size are as follows:

Breakdown Method

This is the simplest method among the three. In this method, each member of the corporate sales team is assumed to possess the same level of productivity. In order to determine the size of the sales force needed, the total sales figure forecasted for the company is divided by the sales likely to be generated by each individual.

However, this method fails to account for differences in the ability of salespeople and the difference in potential of each market or territory. It treats the sales force as a function of the sales volume, and does not take profitability into account.

Workload Method

The workload method is also known as the buildup method. In this method, the total workload (i.e., the number of hours required to serve the entire market) is estimated. This is divided by the selling time available per salesperson to forecast the size of the sales force. This method is commonly used since it is easy to understand and to recognize the effort required to serve different categories of customers.

However, this method also has some shortcomings. It assumes that all accounts in the same category require the same effort. Other differentiating factors such as cost of servicing, gross margins, etc. are not considered after the accounts are categorized. It also assumes that sales persons are equally efficient, which is generally not true.  One way to overcome this shortcoming is to adjust the sales force size, determined in the last step, for efficiency. The sales force can be classified into different categories based on their efficiency and the actual number of sales persons required can then be calculated with this adjusted number.

Incremental Method

The incremental method is the most precise method to calculate the sales force size. The underlying concept is to compare the marginal profit contribution with the incremental cost for each sales person. The optimal sales force size as per the incremental method is when the marginal profit becomes equal to the marginal cost and the total profit is maximized. Beyond the optimal sales force size, the profit reduces on addition of an extra sales person. Therefore, sales people need to be added as long as the incremental profit exceeds the incremental cost of adding sales people. The main shortcoming associated with this approach is that it is difficult to estimate the additional profit generated by the addition of one salesperson and is therefore difficult to develop.

Thus sales force needs to be properly organized, motivated and compensated in order to have the right size to do the workload, alignment to cover all needs, and keeping them happy and selling. At the end of the day, they are the ones who get the customer to give up their money for the company’s product or service.

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