Top Ways to Stop Wasting Your Marketing Dollars – Part 2: Sales

Get the most from your marketing expenditures, so you can stop wasting marketing dollars.  Make sure every dollar counts.

This is Part 2 in a three part series on how to stop wasting marketing dollars.  Click here for Part 1 discussing The Basics.

There’s an old saying that goes “I think we are wasting half of our marketing budget, I just don’t know which half.” Many of us have felt that way, even those of us who have spent our careers in marketing. Marketing expenses occur by their nature before the sale and it takes a bit of faith to believe “if you build it they will come.

So the trick is then to get the most from your marketing expenditures, so you can stop wasting marketing dollars. To make sure every dollar counts. Thankfully, there are some steps that almost every company can take to ensure that marketing budget is well-spent and will produce the desired results. Here are 8 ways to increase the results and lower the risks of your marketing spend.

Stop Wasting Marketing Dollars: Bring your sales support materials up to date

Whether your business sells product primarily on the web, in retail locations or through a sales force, “sales support” materials and content are required. Depending on the size of an average sale and the length the sales cycle, each sale may require significant support content. These materials and content will seek to answer the potential customer’s questions about the product and provide proof points that the product will meet the needs your customer has.

In almost every situation, one of the most effective sales support items is the customer testimonial.

Stories from actually happy customers are one of the best ways to suggest to the potential customer that he or she will also be happy after the purchase. The closer the testimonial customer’s world looks to the potential purchasers’, the stronger the belief in the message. These are often called “success stories” and are once again, a fixed cost. You find the customers and write the story up and derive benefit for years.

Other sales support materials include basic brochures, product spec sheets, FAQs, competitive comparisons and third-party reviews. In a business with a longer and more involved sales cycle, there may be content created for each stage of the sales cycle. Sales support materials need to represent the company when your sales staff is not there and answer as many questions potential customers have as possible.

Stop Wasting Marketing Dollars: See that marketing and sales “get along”

There are many important and even critical relationships within your business. However, one of the most important is the relationship between marketing and sales. It really can stunt the company’s growth for years if not done properly. It is also a relationship that has many built-in pressures placed upon it. In short it’s easy for the two parties to blame the other when overall success is not achieved.

Since one of the core aspects of this stage the life cycle is that there is movement from “sales-driven” to “marketing driven,” if not managed properly this can add tension and stress to the organization. One of the symptoms of a poor relation is the age-old mantra by sales “all the leads marketing gives us are crap” while marketing separately whines that “sales never follows up on the leads we give them.”

That situation must be managed right up front, as to allow it to fester is a cancer on the marketing sales hand-off. The two sides must work together to establish clear rules for lead quality, readiness, follow up and reporting. The actual results should be reviewed frequently by both marketing and sales together and changes made to the lead flow and definitions as needed. Incentive programs for both executive management and line sales and marketing staff should be adjusted to reflect the metrics surrounding the hand-off. These incentives must reflect the fact that sales and marketing are partners in the growth of the business.

Stop Wasting Marketing Dollars: Beware of “sales leakage”

As a business grows and matures and after the core marketing infrastructure is in place, a more robust lead development and qualification process can be put in place. This way, investment in additional marketing vehicles can pay off, because the back-end tracking and consistent effort on all campaigns can be implemented.

Most businesses follow some version of the “suspects to prospects, prospects to leads and leads to customers” conversion process or something similar. You must have clear rules as to the specifics of each stage and clear identification of these stages within the CRM system is critical. Clear responsibilities on the development of “leads” as they pass through the process helps minimize the conflict between marketing and sales.

Once a lead engine and reporting standardization is in place, multiple in-bound marketing campaigns can be executed and their prospects fed into the lead engine. In many cases, telemarketing can be used at this stage to qualify the prospects and convert them into leads. Using dedicated telemarketers to “qualify” leads allows you to get a consistent measurement of different marketing programs. These leads are then distributed to the sales team for conversion into customers.

Depending on the sales cycle, marketing campaigns can be judged on the number of conversions, the numbers of sales or the dollar value of the resulting sales. Frequently the most “accurate” metric on which to base marketing campaigns is the conversion to qualified leads. The longer your sales cycle is, the more chance that multiple marketing touches before can muddy the results.

Other strategies in discussed in Part 1 and the upcoming Part 3 of this series:

  • Make sure your message is clear
  • Get some press
  • Ensure that your website is “all that it can be”
  • Use a targeted social media strategy
  • Be on the right horse – prioritizing your spend

Stop Wasting Marketing Dollars: Bringing it all together

Executing effective marketing to stimulate a company’s full growth potential is not simple.

It involves careful prioritization and the establishment of a solid foundation of basic fixed cost marketing vehicles.

It’s not rocket-science either. With proper consideration of the target markets, the message and the marketing vehicles and their timing, backed up by careful and consistent measurement of the results, companies can look to marketing to establish goals, chart the strategy to meet them and execute with full visibility as to what is working and what is not. This transparency will increase marketing’s stature and allow all stakeholders to see for themselves how things are working.

At the end of the day, marketing can only be an effective leader in steering a company’s growth when it has the full support of all parts of the team. If the steps outlined in this paper are followed, marketing can earn the confidence of the entire organization and lead the company to higher levels of growth.

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