Looks like the hot home improvement marketplace isn’t going away. How can marketers capitalize?

The Blog

Dan Diveley
VP of Business Development

Looks like the hot home improvement marketplace isn’t going away. How can marketers capitalize?

The home improvement market has been on fire for more than a year, and it doesn’t appear to be cooling down.   

Retailers reported big jumps in sales for the first quarter of this year. Home Depot® saw a 31% jump in sales over the previous year and Lowe’s® was not far behind with a 24.4% increase compared to Q1 2020. Consumer spending is 20% higher today that it was in 2019 according to Bank of America’s CEO, and the future looks bright. For example, Snap-On Tool CEO predicted that the economic boom will continue and with an ongoing positive impact on home improvement-related companies associated with DIY products.

So it seems like there’s more good times ahead, but how can marketers ensure that our companies and clients are included?  

Surveys by leading research firms such as Kantar have shown that consumers have the highest level of trust in information about a brand when it comes from their friends and family, review sites, and news and information websites. Consumers place trust in these and other third-party, credible sources.

Based on this information and our experience in supporting tool brands and the advanced DIY market, here are a few recommendations we tell our clients.

Influencer Marketing

We are not an ‘Influencer’ agency, but we often work with influencers as part of our service to our clients. While an influencer may not have the same impact on a consumer’s decision as family member or friend, the influencer is a third-party who may be approachable and willing to work with you.

There are a lot complicated ways to get involved in Influencer marketing, but if you aren’t working with a network of influencers now, try testing it. The approach we found effective is working with clients to identify the ‘up and comers’ in their industries. You don’t need a celebrity or one with a huge following. Find those that are passionate about his/her trade and who are already posting on social media sites. Then reach out to them. If it makes sense to start a relationship, decide what content your audience is wanting, and then match it to the influencer. Send the influencer a few products and ask them to create videos or take photos using the product. We don’t ask them to endorse our products, we just request honest reviews. According to a recent Marketing Charts article, consumers trust reviews more than influencer endorsements and value them highly in their buying process.  

Review Sites

There are many great online articles about review sites. Some of the better known review sites include Amazon Customer Reviews, Qura and Trustpilot. A widely used site for product reviews is YouTube, especially for tools and equipment. YouTube’s search capabilities makes it easy for consumers to find product reviews when making a purchasing decision. We post product review videos in our clients’ channels and ask the influencers to post them on their sites. The review videos typically receive more views than product promotional videos, and they generate user response and conversations. So make it easy for your customers and upload those product reviews from your influencers and create a playlist for any other review videos found on YouTube.

And speaking of YouTube – it’s a not a one-way street. Tradesman and consumers aren’t watching your videos to be entertained, they want knowledge so monitor the chatter. As we manage our clients’ sites, we respond quickly to questions and comments that our videos receive. (This is also a “win” for all parties when done properly. We have had several viewers who have written back thanking us for our answers and report that they have bought the products.)  

Public Relations

According to the Kantar survey, news and information websites are the 3rd most trusted source of information for consumers after product reviews. Trade publications are a natural fit for your efforts, but you should also consider ways to attract consumer media. There are many simple activities that can generate press mentions and also benefit others. Perhaps donate products to a community organization or trade school, or schedule training sessions with trade schools. These types of stories might be of interest to the local consumer media and could help expand your PR outreach.

Social Media

You use social media, but with a good influencer program in place, a well-organized PR program and development of video, you have everything you need to feed the social media machine.  

Channel Marketing

Wholesalers, distributors, and retailers all need support and like most companies, are always searching for information to pass along to their customer. Have a discussion with your channel partners to determine the content your brand could provide. The retail and wholesale space for tools is crowded and competitive, so helping channel partners with content that serves their customers is a win-win proposition.

With the economy moving in an upward direction, you have an opportunity to connect with huge numbers of contractors and DIYers who are doing improvement projects and are in need of your products and services. If you are looking for ways to make that connection, let’s talk. We have experience in developing marketing communications to support your sales efforts.

10 Reasonable Ideas On How To Use 360 Videos In Your Marketing Mix

The Blog

Dan Diveley
VP of Business Development

10 Reasonable Ideas On How To Use 360 Videos In Your Marketing Mix

Lots of people talk about 360 degree videos and how great they are, but they use it as little more than a buzzword—like “social media” or “gluten free”—without providing information you can actually use. We’re here to fix that! Here’s ten practical ways you can incorporate 360 videos into your marketing mix:

  1. Universities – share the experience! Prospective students want to know more about your school than your degree programs, national rankings or tuition assistance. If your campus is worth showing, then show it!
  2. Take your customers on a virtual plant tour! So many companies brag about how their products are made by hard-working employees—but they don’t showcase these hard workers. Introduce these hard workers to the world by showing them build the products that make your company great.
  3. Relieve some of apprehension of visiting your medical facilities! Take some of the mystery out of a patient’s visit by showing these patients what a visit will look like. Show them around and introduce friendly nurses, caring staff, and maybe even a few of your docs … but keep it Hipaa Compliant!
  4. Got something to excite manufacturing engineers? They love to take a deep dive into your new products when designing theirs. Show them the product, how it fits into a production environment, and augment their knowledge beyond specs and diagrams.
  5. Are your products loved by fanatical DIYers? Hobbyists of all stripes love meeting others enthusiastic about their craft. And they love hanging out in their home work areas. Let viewers check out the workshop while your happy customer is using—and praising—your product.
  6. Looking to raise funds for a charitable cause? Pull the heartstrings of potential donors by letting them experience the need. Let them take a virtual tour and the much needed funding should start flowing in.
  7. Bring your case studies to life! Did you install something amazing in a plant or building that could help other companies? Give your case histories a “real-life” feel by letting your viewers take an unguided tour. Nothing proves a point than actually seeing it in action.
  8. Motivate your sales teams. Want to add pizazz to your award programs? Instead of relying on travel brochures to promote award destinations, entice your sales force (and their significant others) with 360 videos that help their imaginations (and sales) to soar.
  9. Don’t just preach safety, show it! Let your employees take a tour and find the safety violations. Include a survey and ask them to point out the problems and how to fix them.
  10. Showcase your corporate campus! Corporations spend lots of money to make their headquarters look impressive. And why not? A swanky office space gives the impression of a successful company – one that customers and employees would be attracted to. Not everyone can take a trip just to see your digs, so bring your digs to them.

Want an idea for your marketing program? Give me a call at 314-727-5850.

 

 

Healthcare Marketing Blogs

The Blog

Dan Diveley
VP of Business Development

Healthcare Marketing Blogs

At G/L, we’ve worked on a variety of healthcare marketing projects. Through our years of experience and research, we’ve become something of an expert on the subject, so we’ve compiled all of our relevant insights of the healthcare market in one convenient location. Just click on the headline to view the blog.

Be Disruptive In Everything You Do – Especially Your Healthcare Marketing

When your company brings something unique to the table, it can disrupt the status quo of an entire market. Discover how one of our clients, Metro Imaging, managed to do just that by offering a little extra transparency.

How Effective Healthcare Marketing Can Limit Patient Outmigration

It happens time and time again in the healthcare industry: patients are leaving local hospitals behind for what they (mis)perceive as greener pastures. We take a deeper look into why patients are migrating from their local hospitals and hone in on how hospitals can limit patient outmigration with the right message.

Marketing Accountable Care Organizations – A New Approach

As Accountable Care Organizations trend more towards the mainstream, patients now have a choice for more affordable healthcare solutions. But with a shift in organizational structure comes the need to re-optimize your marketing. If you’ve recently become an ACO or are considering making the jump, we offer you our insights for a clean transition.

Real Price Transparency in Healthcare – I’ve seen it! 

With high-deductible medical insurance on the rise and patient satisfaction falling due to unaddressed price concerns, there’s never been a better time to offer your patients transparency. We examine how much patients value price transparency in healthcare (hint: it’s a lot) and show you how offering true transparency can make your brand stand out.

7 Key Components to Developing a Strategic Healthcare Marketing Plan

Planning ahead for next year? You should be! Here are a few key components you should focus on to maximize your marketing efforts in 2017.

Consumer Engagement: Think Your Marketing is Tough? Try Selling Heart Attacks.

Anyone can make a burger and fries look appetizing or sell you a new sports car. But marketing heart attacks? That’s a whole different animal. Our very own Dave Geile gives his insight on how healthcare marketers can produce viable messaging, even with such serious subject matter.

Creating Effective Healthcare Messaging

Getting the right message out at the right time for the right audience is key for your brand’s success. But how does that translate to healthcare marketing? We take a closer look at what patients are looking for in healthcare and translate their needs into more effective messaging. 

Increasing Patient Volume Requires Thinking Like a Patient

You know the old phrase: “You can’t truly understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Well, that’s true in healthcare marketing too. We explore what it means to think like a patient and translate that insight into optimized messaging.

Programmatic Buying: How Media Is Changing

The media landscape is ever changing. Are you keeping up? It’s okay; we’ll fill you in.

Healthcare Marketing Includes Understanding the Cares of Patients 

Tired of marketing that just keeps missing the mark? We break it down for you right here, with our own research and insights into healthcare marketing trends and unique solutions. Grab a snack and get comfortable. It’s a longer read, but well worth your time.

Inbound Marketing

Your Digital Budget: How Much Interactive Do I Need? – A G/L Executive Brief

Move over, traditional advertising! The digital world is expanding at an incredible rate, so how much should you spend on marketing in it? We have you covered.

Integrate Inbound Marketing into your next Website and Social Media campaign 

Inbound marketing helps keep the conversation going between you and your target audience, engaging them in a way that traditional advertising just can’t. It’s relatively inexpensive and any company can do it­—we’re doing it right now! Check out how inbound can work for your company’s website and social communications.

A Step-by-Step Guide to implementing an Inbound Marketing Program

So you’re thinking about implementing a little inbound, eh? Lucky for you, we have an easy, step-by-step guide on creating an effective inbound campaign. What are you waiting for? Let’s get the ball rolling!

Target Audience

Example Personas to Improve Messaging

Marketers deal in general target audiences all the time, but sometimes it helps drive the message home if we can put a name and face to that audience. That’s where personas come in. We humanize our target audience by showing them as real people with real dreams and aspirations. See for yourself how your messaging can improve with your own personas in mind!

Why Target Audiences Don’t Work

Your target audience is more than data and research; they’re real people. To get messages that resonate, you have to see them as more than a bunch of numbers.

5 Tips to Remember When Marketing to Moms

We love moms. Our moms, your mom, any moms. They’re all great in their own way! And they’re huge decision makers in their homes, according to our research. So here are 5 tips on how to show them some love in your marketing efforts.

Key Elements to Creating Personas

Personas help make your target audience feel a bit more personal than charts, graphs, and raw data. We feel that creating personas for our target audiences is an integral part of our creative process, and we give you the rundown on how you can incorporate them into your marketing efforts as well.

The Importance Of Personas in Shaping Targeted Messaging

You know what sucks? Getting treated like a number. You know what rocks? When advertisers see you for who you really are! Try using personas to create messaging that hits home with your target audience as a person, not a dataset. [snark: It’s so important to us, we wrote four whole blogs on it!]

Internal Branding/Communications

Minimize Medicare Penalties with Internal Communications

Show of hands: who likes paying Medicare sanctions? Anyone? Yeah, that’s what we thought. So what if we told you that your hospital could reduce their risk of having to pay Medicare sanctions with the brand messaging, both internally and externally? Read on and save!

6 Steps to Building a Brand from the Inside Out

Putting your brand on display for the entire world to see is great, but it means nothing if you ignore one vital ingredient: your people. As we discuss here, a great brand is backed by people who truly believe in the brand they represent on a daily basis. Make it a full team effort!

Healthcare Case Studies

Hannibal Regional Healthcare System – “Guiding You to Better”

We talk a big game about our expertise in healthcare marketing. Fortunately, we have the results to back it up. Check out the work we’ve done with Hannibal Regional Hospital. 

Metro Imaging – The Clear Choice 

Our client, Metro Imaging, has a few innovations up their sleeves that could disrupt the healthcare market, and they wanted us to help show them off. We were happy to oblige.

Have any questions? Contact me (Dan) at [email protected] or fill out the form below.

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Behind the Scenes: Product Videos for Major Retailers (with Lincoln Electric)

The Blog

Dan Diveley
VP of Business Development

Behind the Scenes: Product Videos for Major Retailers (with Lincoln Electric)

Product videos on retailer sites lead to greater sales. I’m guessing that’s why retailers like Home Depot®, Lowe’s®, Northern® Tool and others are encouraging their suppliers to provide video and other assets. We recently had the opportunity to jump in the retail video phenomenon for our client, Lincoln Electric, a major manufacturer of welding products and related accessories.

We work with Lincoln Electric’s WTCA division, the retail side of the business. We produced several product videos, 360° videos and more than 150 still photographs which will be posted on a variety of retailer sites, big box stores, farm/ranch dealers, etc.

While my agency has produced many videos and TV spots throughout our 27 years, this was our first where the director and videographer weren’t able to directly watch the shot without eye protection.

I got a chuckle out of seeing our team in welding helmets as they directed the shots.

Lincoln Electric

Our client sells through a variety of retail outlets but not all carry the same helmets, clothing and equipment. So while shooting the videos, we had to keep track of the clothes and other items used by the talent so each video contained only the products sold by each retailer.

Welding is one of those specializations where a true welder would be quick to catch any discrepancies regarding technique, skill level or applications that a novice welder like me would not notice. So we sourced a professional welder who now teaches high schoolers the skills of the trade. Our clients at Lincoln Electric were so impressed with him and his knowledge that they donated helmets and gloves to the school as a way to help his students. Thank you Lincoln Electric!

 

lincoln electric

Alongside the product videos, we produced 25 360° videos that allow customers a view of the entire product. It’s amazing what requirements retailers have for these. Some are actual videos and others are up to 27 still shots stitched together. To accomplish these, our videographer, Steve Parisi from Frame Four Studios, built a turntable strong enough to hold the equipment, some which weigh hundreds of pounds.

PortaTorch – Lincoln Electric

To view more examples in this series, visit Retail Product Videos.

This was an amazing project for a great client that appreciates quality work. If you are needing videos to support your retail or distribution sales, please give me a call – Dan Diveley, 314-727-5850 or email me at [email protected] or fill out the form below.

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You’re Never Too Small for Inbound Marketing

The Blog

Dan Diveley
VP of Business Development

You’re Never Too Small for Inbound Marketing

So much has been written about using social media to support inbound marketing. Day-to-day I speak with all size marketers, and I understand that the use of inbound marketing for smaller companies gets a little confusing. Because of this, I thought I’d pass along a real world example that was successful.

I was conducting an interview to prepare for a meeting with a manufacturer who was considering working with Geile/Leon. The prospective client provided me with several distributors to talk to, and all but one were well established in their territories and had a steady line of business generated from the traditional sales process.

One distributor I spoke with told me he contracted to sell this manufacturer’s product line two years ago. His assigned territory had not been a hot sales zone for many years, so in a way it was similar to the challenges of a new market for the manufacturer.

His first year was tough. The manufacturer’s brand wasn’t very well known in the territory—mostly due to a lack of advertising support—so it was up to the distributors to build the brand. Another issue was that there is little difference in quality, cost, and performance of this brand and the other comparable products in this category. He had considered adding more sales people, but worried about adding this additional expense while waiting for sales to grow.

Then, over the Christmas holiday he was talking to his son who was home from college. They discussed the challenges he was facing and his son said, “Most people go online to find stuff, so why don’t you do something to get them to find you?”

This was an epiphany for him – as a small marketer in a very specific business, he didn’t consider this option.

After doing some research, he decided to take the plunge and create an inbound marketing strategy, despite the fact that his distributorship is small, with just one location serving a two state area. With some marketing agency help, an inbound  marketing strategy was outlined that includes:

  • Developing personas of his customers so he had a clear understanding of who he was targeting
  • Using online ads to drive traffic to his site and increase his search placements
  • Incorporating the appropriate social media sites to promote content and interact with the target audience
  • Developing a list of key words and phrases and constantly monitoring how they are performing
  • Creating content (videos, blogs, white papers) about issues important to his target audience
  • Making the website more user-friendly, allowing customers to easily respond to offerings
  • Initiating a sales strategy to turn prospects into customers

After just six months, his new program began to bear fruit. Website visitors increased 300%, while leads from visitors resulted in increased sales – in fact, many of those leads were from companies he hadn’t pursued. And now, thanks to increasing content and improving online traffic, he has reduced his spend on online ads and pay-for-clicks because search engines are listing his site on the first page now.

This is just one example of how success can come from inbound marketing – even if you think your business is too small to benefit from it. If you dive deeper into who your audience truly is and what they are looking for, a strategic digital marketing strategy takes shape.

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The Value of a Strong Brand

The Blog

Dan Diveley
VP of Business Development

The Value of a Strong Brand

As we continually tell clients: Even the best products and services often get lost in a crowded marketplace. Trends come and go but a strong brand plays a vital role in a company’s long-term success.

But what is the value of a strong brand?

We who work in marketing already know that companies that work to build a distinct and strong brand enjoy many benefits. These include how customers feel about the organization, reasons why the company’s products/services are distinct from the competition, and even how it affects employee morale. But these are intangible benefits and their values are often hard to measure.

However, there are tangible values associated with a strong brand, according Trevor Hulett, Managing Director of Investment Banking for R.L. Hulett, a well-established financial services firm that offers a variety of services including assistance with mergers and acquisitions. Simply put, Trevor says a stronger brand leads to a higher gross margin on sales of products/services which equates to a higher valuation of an enterprise.

For example, to determine the value of a business to sell or purchase, Hulett considers the enterprise value. The enterprise value includes asset value (tangible values) plus working/current liabilities and all intangible goodwill, which may include its brand, a strong management team, unique technologies or innovations. A major aspect of goodwill comes from its brand.

Hulett says that a company’s enterprise value is increased through a strong brand, as well as its value in attracting potential investors or buyers. These investors and buyers are willing to pay more for a company with a strong brand because after all, a strong brand leads to: better name recognition that breaks through a cluttered market; “word of mouth” endorsements; better customer loyalty; and an engaged and excited workforce. These benefits add to a company’s success and therefore, the overall value.

Companies, regardless of size and industry, that have services or products that are perceived as being higher in the value chain in terms of strong brand, can charge more. That enhances the gross margin, according to Hulett. Strong brands are good for ongoing business, therefore, but they are also advantageous when it attracting and negotiating with investors, he explains.

Brand is a major aspect of the goodwill or “multiples” that can be assigned to company’s worth in addition to the EBITA (earnings before interest taxes depreciation amortization). A higher gross margin attracts more potential buyers, which will drive a higher multiple on the earnings and a higher purchase price.

Companies who can position themselves better than their competitors will benefit from better pricing leverage. And, as buyers conduct their due diligence with customers, good brand feedback can drive up the multiple on a higher EBITA.

While having a strong brand can add to a company’s value, it is important that be “institutionalized” and not too dependent on the founder or other individuals, so that it can be transferred to new owners with minimum interference.

Hulett cites the importance of companies partnering with strategic marketers who can help to create and shape their brands so that they can be leveraged to grow and enter new markets and new relationships. Successful brands should be clearly defined and well communicated, he says, but also should be “scalable” so that a local brand can grow nationally, or a national brand can become a global brand.

And, like tangible assets, brands must be continually monitored and maintained. They are dynamic, not static. If the opinions of industry leaders and customers change in a negative way, the value of a brand can be reduced.

If you are considering selling, purchasing or investing in a company, I’m sure Trevor Hulett could offer you some good advice. He can be reached at 314.721.0607.

And if your company has the best products and services but is lost in a crowded marketplace, we’d be happy to share our approach to building strong brands. Give me a call at 314.727-5850 or fill out the form below.

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How Effective Healthcare Marketing can limit Patient Outmigration

The Blog

Dan Diveley
VP of Business Development

How Effective Healthcare Marketing can limit Patient Outmigration

How often do you, as a rural hospital marketer, think this about lost patients?

“Come back!  This is where you need to be!”

I still remember these words by Sister Eilleen. I was 16 and waiting for an evening teen religion school class at my church to begin. Out of the window I saw Jeff, a friend, being dropped off by his mother. Jeff got out of the car and proceeded to walk towards the church. But as soon as his mother drove away, he quickly changed directions and headed towards the foosball arcade. When the nun saw this, she quickly opened the window and yelled,

“Come back. This is where you need to be!”

How often do you hear yourself, like Sister Eilleen, nearly screaming this to lost patients? Outlying hospitals seem to face an all too similar problem: local residents leaving their city to visit a hospital in a larger community.

Patient Outmigration is a big concern for rural hospitals. The National Research Corporation surveyed 200 U. S. hospitals and published some of the results in their article, The Case of the Impatient Patient. According to the research, 37% of those that travel to a distant hospital report doing so because of the reputation of the provider outside of their locale. These people travel an average of 66 to 90 miles for a variety of services including Heart Care (13.9 percent), Orthopedic Treatment and Surgery (13 percent), Neurology (11.5 percent), and Cancer Treatment (9.5 percent).

And another interesting outcome from the research was the household income level of these outmigrators. Conventional wisdom may lead to thinking those with high household income are more likely traveling to other cities. However, the opposite seems to be true – the lower the HHI, the higher rate of percentage of patient outmigration. As the report notes, the poorest households had the highest outmigration rate, while those earning over $100k had the lowest outmigration rate of all.

We here at Geile/Leon speak with many outlying hospitals. What we hear is that often the local hospital offers the same level of care, outcomes and amenities as a big city hospital, all located within a very short drive, yet some patients insist on going further for their care. So if it’s not better care that attracts patients to larger hospitals, maybe it’s a perception problem (This is one of the many issues facing the healthcare industry as you can read more in our Healthcare Marketing Whitepaper).

Are your local residents making the long drive to other cities when they could receive the help they need close by at your hospital?  Do you have a good story to tell but not getting the results you hoped for?

If patient outmigration is a concern, give us a call at 314-727-5850 and ask for Tim Leon. We would love to hear about the issues you are facing and maybe show you a few relevant examples of how we helped our clients with similar challenges. At Geile/Leon, we enjoy working with rural hospitals ranging from 80-200 beds. We’ve helped them refine their brands, improve their messaging, and increase patient visits.

Maybe with a few adjustments to your MarCom will keep you from yelling:

“Come back! This is where you need to be!”

We are looking forward to meeting you. And if you’re not ready to meet right at this moment, that’s totally fine. But we’d definitely recommend checking out our Special Report for Healthcare Marketers in the meantime by filling out the form below:

Healthcare Trends

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Mobile Apps in 2016 – The fad is over, but the market is still there

The Blog

Dan Diveley
VP of Business Development

Mobile Apps in 2016 – The fad is over, but the market is still there

The tipping point for mobile apps probably happened in October 2010 when Apple started the trademarking process for the phrase, “There’s an App for That.” Many thought apps were just a fad.

But now they have become part of the ordinary. According to technology author, Sam Castello, as of June 2015 there were 1.5 million apps available for iPhone, the iPad.

So where does that leave mobile apps?

Well, the age of weird mobile apps for the sake of being weird is probably over. Cuddlr, Cat Paint, and of course, Yo, were part of that phase. It was fun. It was weird. But people got tired of it.

Now we are living in the age of practical apps – those that can support a variety of business and marketing functions.

Something that has been growing in popularity over recent years is the idea of eCommerce – head to somewhere like Cell Phone Deal to learn more about these statistics yourself. You see, those who run physical businesses are now making the transition online, meaning that they need the relevant technology and software to be able to do this.

Are you looking for ways to reach more customers and boost the profitability of your business? If so, a mobile app may be the answer. Developing a mobile app for your business by engaging firms like https://www.expedition.co/services/design/mobile-app could prove to be a lifeline for those who want to integrate more features into the running of their businesses.

So how are companies using apps in a more practical way?

A few examples include:

Customer service

According to a survey by mobile marketing automation vendor FollowAnalytics, 38 percent of the respondents said their primarily purpose in creating an app was improving customer service. Another 12 percent said it was to foster customer loyalty, and slightly more than a quarter wanted to extend their customer experiences beyond the Web. “Customer service is the primary purpose of brands’ mobile presence,” said FollowAnalytics’ CEO Samir Addamine. Especially in eCommerce, empowering the business across multiple platforms including mobile, web, in-store, and social can work well. E-Commerce platform solutions like Demandware B2B (Salesforce Commerce Cloud) can give customers a unique and interactive shopping experience. In Salesforce, there are built-in AI and multi-lingual capabilities across all channels.

Employee engagement

As noted in a recent Forbes magazine article, “With more workers predicted to access business applications via their mobile devices in the future, HR leaders have an opportunity to use mobile technology to simplify administrative tasks, boost engagement and drive organizational effectiveness,” observed Glen Chambers in the Society for Human Resource Management’s HR Magazine.

Technical Data

Technicians in many fields could use better access to data. For example, our client, Parker Hannifin – Sporlan Division, developed a mobile app as part of their new line of Smart Tools. HVAC contractors can now read temperature and pressure levels of the air conditioning units they are servicing without bulky gauges and hoses. The app runs on a phone or tablet and displays these readings.

Is it time to make Mobile Apps your reality?

The possibilities for mobile apps to support business processes seems infinite. But before you jump into developing an app for your business, there are some important points to consider. Tom Swip, president of Swip Systems, an intelligent technology solutions company, has compiled a list of barriers to consider in his article ‘It’s Time to Make That Mobile App a Reality.’

Barrier #1 – People believe that creating a mobile app is more expensive than it really is.

Barrier #2 – People believe that their app won’t get approved in the associated app store.

Barrier #3 – People aren’t sure what platform to commit to.

Barrier #4 – People aren’t sure what type of mobile app they should build.

Swip Systems has developed several apps. If you need a help, you can contact Tom at 877.377.SWIP..

Are you ready to take the step?

As Tom states in his blog, ‘The bottom line is this. Your customers (or vendors, or employees) are waiting for you to create mobile apps that will make their lives easier. Holding back on these apps may make it appear as though you are not a forward thinking organization. We both know this isn’t true, so what are you waiting for?’

If you are considering a mobile app, here is an informative video “Making Mobile Apps a Reality

Need help promoting your app?

And if you are developing a consumer-facing app and need help promoting it, give us a call. We’d love to show you an example of a mobile advertising program we developed to help a consumer products company successfully promote their app. Just give us a call Dan Diveley a call – 314-727-5850 – or fill out the form below.

Make 2016 your tipping point for exploring how mobile apps can move your business forward!

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From the Expert: How to Use LinkedIn Effectively

The Blog

Dan Diveley
VP of Business Development

From the Expert: How to Use LinkedIn Effectively

This blog goes to the millions of people on LinkedIn, and the millions of others that should be. 

Ben Kniffen, director of campaign management for LinkedSelling.com, was the featured speaker at a recent meeting hosted by the BMA-St. Louis. He and his team help organizations increase sales by teaching them how to use LinkedIn effectively.

Ben presented his company’s successful approach for using LinkedIn for business development efforts which I list below. I want to stress that this plan is based on building trust and not about spamming your connections. By providing useful information you can become a valued source. However, if you use LinkedIn as another way to push your sales messages, your efforts will result in offending your targets and, in my opinion, lead to minimizing LinkedIn’s potential for everyone else. Some of Ben’s top suggestions are included below.

Targets and optimization


Develop a profile of who you want to reach.

Decide who could best benefit from your products/services and build a list. LinkedIn has a powerful Advance Search feature that will allow you to target individuals by title, industry, and location – even if you don’t have a Premium subscription.

Join groups.

If you are not a paid subscriber, LinkedIn is limiting the number of profiles you can view when using the Search feature. Because of this, Ben suggests joining groups that match your target’s interests. Once accepted into a group, you have access to all group members. Click on the Members feature within the group and then you can search to find titles and locations that appeal to you.

Develop a target list.

Select a reasonable number of people you would like to get to know. LinkedIn doesn’t have a way to store these names so you will have to copy/paste their names and profile url to a separate list. With this list developed, now it is time to decide what information you can provide that will benefit these individuals and develop a content calendar.

 Lead Generation

 

With your targets selected and your profile optimized, now it’s time to start your Lead Generation efforts.

Work on your own profile.

Just as in the off-line world, people want to know people that are likeable and who they perceive as being someone worth knowing. Ben states the two most important aspects of your profile are your photo and headline. He recommends a photo that looks friendly, and not foolish. He showed several profile images that he felt were not appropriate for a business forum. Regarding headlines – most people list job titles. This does nothing to differentiate these people from the thousands of other people with the same title. So Ben recommends creating a title that is different and implies some benefit to why people should engage with you.

Since attending this presentation, I updated my profile and would love to hear your feedback. Please visit me at https://www.linkedin.com/in/dandiveley and let’s connect!

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Develop a content calendar.

Spend time to determine what issues are important to your target audience and then find information that will provide knowledge to help them. A content calendar should be developed that includes the subjects, links and the dates you want to post this information. This will help you stay on track and ensure you are communicating consistently with groups and individuals.

Share content with your groups.

People join these groups to advance their knowledge. It is important to contribute to the group’s discussions to build trust and name recognition. Read the discussions and respond to any that you can provide useful information to – either your original content or a link to a relevant article. Ben suggests posting a discussion one or two times a week in each group. His rule of thumb is: 90% of the time you should repost someone else’s content, and 10% your original content.

Be careful to not push sales messages. Decision-makers are smart and they can recognize a sales pitch. Posting sales messages will not only turn away people who might have a need for your product, but also if you are posting in a locked group, the group’s owner may not publish your content.

Ask your targets for a connection.

If you are truly providing valuable information, and if your profile implies that you can help, reach out to your targets and request to connect. You will need a short explanation of why you want to connect and make sure there are no ‘sales’ messages in this first request. Once you make the connection, use the content calendar to push useful information to these new contacts. Ben suggests you continue to send information and monitor if you get any response before asking for a meeting. Use your best judgment to decide the frequency that you communicate with these new connections – don’t over-do it and definitely don’t spam them!

Monitoring and maintenance.

If your company does offer something unique that will benefit your target audience, and if you follow the steps listed, this system should work to help you engage in the types of organizations that fit your criteria. Monitor your results and adjust your approach as needed. Not all prospects will respond so move these names off your list and continue to find new targets.

For more help using LinkedIn

LinkedinSelling.com works with sales organizations throughout the US and in several other countries. They provide a range of services that can help you organize your LinkedIn efforts. If you are looking for ways to improve your outreach, or that of your company, please fill out the form below and I will connect you with Ben.

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ProductCamp 2015 – Consumer Insight, Product Launches and Outsourced Manufacturing

The Blog

Dan Diveley
VP of Business Development

ProductCamp 2015 – Consumer Insight, Product Launches and Outsourced Manufacturing

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The Event

I recently attended ProductCamp 2015, organized by the St. Louis Product Management Group, a not-for-profit organization based in Saint Louis that coordinates regular in-person meetings and events focused on product management among other product related topics. Out of hundreds of attendees, most of the ones I met are involved in product management.

The Twist

Attendees selected which presentations would be included by casting votes for four of the forty-six proposed presentations. The top thirty made it on the schedule. Of these, I attended several presentations and have several key points to share.

The Takeaways

1. Win Or Lose, You Can Still Get Valuable Consumer Insight

Product managers can still reap value even when their products/services are not the winners in a sales effort.

Shelly Azar, principal of Insight Researchers, presented her approach to Win/Loss Analysis and showed how, if done correctly, product managers can get insights into the minds of B2B customers. By having a process to consistently survey customers after a win or loss, companies can measure how their products are comparing to the competitors’, what is important to the buyer, how decisions are made, etc.

For Example:

  • One of the questions she often includes in her surveys determines how far removed the main contact at the prospect’s organization is from the final decision-maker. This will tell you if your sales efforts are targeting the best level instead of some lower level function.
  • Another recommendation was that someone other than sales should conduct the interviews to remove any bias. Interviewees may not be as forthcoming with important information when they are talking to the sales person.

After seeing Shelly’s methodical approach to data collection, I’m convinced that companies should work with a trained researcher to help them determine what information to collect, conduct the interviews and report the findings. This should be an ongoing process to look for trends and make any adjustments needed.

2. Not All Product Launches Are the Same

Jeff Lash, Director of the Product Management advisory service at SiriusDecisions, gave a presentation I think all product managers should see: B2B Product Launch — You’re Doing It Wrong. His company has a very organized approach to helping project managers plan and execute product launches and they present it in a detailed way that would impress any technically minded person.

One take-away is to establish a formal set of tiers for product launches. Launches in lower tiers may not need the full product launch process, while upper tiers would require the full support of the organization. Jeff recommends establishing criteria for the tiers and then deciding the steps for each tier even before a revised or new product is proposed. This could help shorten the time to launch because now a process is established and procedures are in place for strategy, execution and growth.

Another suggestion is to view the goal of the launch in terms of what outcomes are needed. Jeff recommends assembling a cross-functional team to brainstorm the desired outcomes. The main goal is not just simply to introduce a product but instead, to accomplish a set of outcomes. Outcomes should be metrics that relate or contribute to how you define commercial success such as the number of distributors needed to carry the product, or how many end-user demonstrations need to be presented, etc. – these are small steps to accomplish the ultimate goal of increased sales.

Since research shows that peer-to-peer reviews are often the number one influence on the buying decision, Jeff stresses the importance of including a process to ensure your customers’ influencers are included in the launch package.

SiriusDecisions has many free resources relating to product launches, including this helpful article: Leveraging Buyer Insight to Impact Launch

3. Beware of Outsourced Manufacturing

Steve Matthews, IP attorney at Matthews Edwards, presented a very thorough set of concerns and safeguards when dealing with Asian outsourced manufacturing. I’ve sat in many meetings with clients who manufacture products and a common concern is that inexpensive, imported knock-offs are digging into their market share. This presentation really helped me to understand how difficult and problematic it can be for our clients.

Outsourced manufacturing to Asia can lower costs, but there are many factors to consider to protect against fraud. Most companies have a Manufacturing Agreement, however, often these offer little protection. Once the product is in the shipping container it is owned by the purchaser so it is imperative to have a systematic way to make sure the products are manufactured to spec before accepting them.

Steve recommends that before entering into an agreement, you should first find a Buyer’s Agent who is knowledgeable about the customs, laws and manufacturing facilities in the source country. He also warns manufacturers to carefully scrutinize the agent and take legal steps to ensure the agent is responsible for all aspects including product quality.

Other steps can and should be taken to help prevent production for fraudulent buyers:

  • Patent and trademark the product, not only in your country of origin, but in the source country as well.
    This provides a course for legal action against the counterfeiter, whether duplicating your product or using the trademark on other goods. While this may not prevent fraud, it ensures legal action can be taken if fraudulent behavior occurs to halt the sales of the offending goods.
  • Monitor the manufacturing.
    A fellow attendee’s company assigns its U.S. based engineers to live in the source country and visit the plant every day to monitor the manufacturing. They also take some of the dies back to their hotel room each night to protect against having the product unscrupulously made. These engineers rotate on a three-week basis, which provides a way to consistently monitor production while keeping the engineers based in the U.S.

After hearing many horror stories about issues associated with manufacturing in Asia, I believe that though not every manufacturer is corrupt, it is always a best practice to invest in the safety of your products before entering into a manufacturing agreement. A good way to do this is by speaking with an attorney, or, if you want to speak with Steve, please contact me and I can provide his information.

It is important for communication agencies to understand the way a client’s product management process works. To advise our clients to the best of our ability, and ultimately assist in increasing sales, we must know the ins and outs of a successful process.

If you have any questions or comments about my key takeaways, about any of the speakers or the St. Louis Product Management Group, please fill out the form below and I will be sure to connect with you.

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