Creating a Marketing Strategy – Part II

November 24, 2009

Last week, we talked about defining your marketing strategy. Now, let’s define the requirements and process to fulfill the strategy. When you think about it, we’re essentially going through the similar methodology that you mighy use for your techincal projects. The better you can define the scope, requirements, and test criterion, the better your chance for success.

Develop a Campaign

A campaign is a series of integrated marketing activities that you often structure around a product launch or company vision, and that support a higher-level goal. When you roll out, or execute, a campaign, you should:

  1. Set attainable goals
  2. Determine your target audience
  3. Plan marketing activities that support those goals and target your specific audience
  4. Capture leads and drive them through the sales process
  5. Track and measure success to determine future activities

Ideally, each marketing activity meets a different need during the campaign. At the very top level, all of the inquiries represent the first stage of the marketing and sales cycle – awareness. As the leads move through the marketing cycle, they become more qualified. Customers evolve through awareness, interest, trial, and purchase stages.

Set Goals and Metrics

To define meaningful goals, you have to define how marketing will impact the bottom line, which is called marketing return on investment (ROI). You need to measure each marketing venture based on:

  1. Ability to capture. How many new leads have been established as a result of the activity?
  2. Maintenance. How many target customer contacts have responded to this specific communication?
  3. Upgrade factor. How many target customer contacts have responded in a way that gives you permission to take the dialogue to the next level?
  4. Cost. What was the cost of each of the above?

Follow Through to Sales

A key marketing strategy involves following leads through the marketing process to sales. While it can be a difficult process, it helps the company to see what marketing activities are effective and generating revenue.

To maintain a lead, marketers must create a feedback loop with sales to reflect the customer path. For example:

  • Did the customer generate revenue?
  • Why did we lose the potential sale?
  • Are there closed-loop marketing activities that you can continue to do with that customer?

Creating a Marketing Strategy – Part I

November 17, 2009

After spending the last couple of weeks diving into some tactics for various marketing activities, and I realized that I should back up to consider the overall marketing strategy. Actually, that is a common mistake. So, here is the process we recommend to get you started:

  • Set the Strategy
  • Develop a Campaign
  • Set Goals and Metrics
  • Follow Through to Sales

Set the Strategy

Marketing success means having a competitive advantage such as location, historical establishment, and market-specific vertical expertise. To target customers, divide them into segments – customer groups who respond differently to competitive strategies. By segmenting your customers, you can tailor your strategy to meet their unmet needs. You must also consider your competitors and your corporate strengths and weaknesses in your approach.

Once you have decided your business goals and identified both customers and prospective customers, you are ready to create your marketing plan. The plan should encompass multiple campaigns that target the appropriate customer groups. With your marketing plan, you can:

  1. Track your expenditures. You can budget marketing expenses, keep control of your expenditures, manage your cash flow, track sales-to-marketing expense ratio, and measure your marketing effort success. You also ensure that you don’t waste product development dollars.
  2. Focus your marketing plan to give the company something to rally behind. It helps staff understand goals and focus on customers.
  3. Achieve success by charting your destination point and providing a step-by-step guide for your company’s success.
  4. See the big picture – in the daily routine of putting out fires, it is hard to turn your attention to the big picture. Writing your marketing plan helps determine your current business status and provides a roadmap for business goals.
  5. Improve and reuse it. Once the plan is complete, it will serve as a template and benchmark as you define your objectives and strategies for each coming year. It becomes a living document for measuring sales success, customer retention, product development, and sales initiatives.

Next week, we’ll talk about designing the campaign, goals, and metrics to ensure that your marketing strategy is successful.

Stating Your Case (Study)

November 10, 2009
For service-oriented companies that don’t have a ‘product’ to market, case studies about successful applications are often the most effective way to demonstrate your capabilities to prospective clients. Here’s what National Instruments considers when we choose to publish a technical case study on
1. Is the customer, or end-user of the application, a company that is recognized globally? What better way to prove yourself than to have big companies like Ford and Sony document a success.

2. Is the application an extraordinary example of capabilities? Cool, cutting-edge, never-been-done-before. If it’s something that could get some mainstream attention, it might be a bonus. Or perhaps it is a novel solution. Well, having documented success help infiltrate a new business area.

3. Does the application address an identified marketing gap? You may have a lot of success in a certain application area, but might not have the case studies to prove it. So, identify the gaps and proactively try to find customers who are willing to share your success.

What matters most? Always make sure your case study has a clear and concise testimonial. Make sure every case study has a benefits statement for the end customer in addition to the technical details of application. Don’t just tell a technical story of “how.” Make sure you reveal the “why” behind the problem solving decisions.


Shout out to the Graphical System Design Achievement Awards

National Instruments will being call for papers in January, so now is a great time to start documenting those applications. You can find out more info:


Direct Marketing

November 3, 2009

60-30-10. The success of a direct mail is 60 percent based on using the right list, 30 percent on making the right offer, and 10 percent on having the right look. So, consider the following key aspects of direct marketing when creating a direct mail campaign.

Your List

First, and most important, is the list. Determining who receives your offer is the single most important determinant of direct marketing success. When preparing a target list, use the characteristics of existing clients as a profile guide. According to Bob Stone, one of the founders of direct mail, the right list can account for 60 percent, or more, of direct marketing success. Companies have better luck when sending to their own database, or at least to companies that are familiar with them. Direct mail aims at ultimately making a sale. To accomplish this, you need to assess:

  • Where you are in the selling process. Is this your first interaction? Are you moving them closer to the sale? Are you asking them for repeat purchases?
  • Who is your audience? You can base this on product line, geographic location, special interests, and more.
  • What are you trying to tell this audience?
  • Why is a mailing the best way to reach this audience?
  • How to limit your audience – ZIP codes, area codes, cities, and other location qualifiers to 10 per mailing.

Many trade organizations, magazines, and shows offer lists for a price, and may provide a better target audience for your offer. The easiest way to get a targeted list of names and addresses is from a data record company that specializes in providing the right target list for your direct mail campaign. There are significant benefits with purchasing a mailing list, particularly if you can source a defined number of leads according to industry and location.

Your Offer

Second, what offer are you going to make? Can you package the offer as a compelling call to action that will incite the recipient of the direct marketing piece to take action? We often suggest that the call to action be something that customers can easily get their hands on, such as an example program, a tutorial, or other actionable offer. In your direct mail campaign:

  • Make a definite offer, which means having at least one response mechanism – we prefer as many response mechanisms as possible (including Web, telephone, fax, mail, and e-mail).
  • Provide all the necessary information for your reader to make a decision.
  • Eliminate the fear of risk. Ask yourself:
    • What are you giving the audience?
    • What is that worth?
    • Why is the offer special or unique?

Your Delivery

Third, how will you deliver this offer? E-mail is popular because of its inexpensive price tag, its ability to target, its almost instantaneous results, and its pass-along appeal and ease. However, a plethora of offers are delivered to the average business person every day, so be careful not to send spam. Often, mail may be a better option, and research shows that a regular-sized, plain business envelope is what recipients prefer to receive. To ensure an effective appearance:

  • Keep your budget in mind when designing your piece.
  • Explain to the audience why they are getting this piece and why it is beneficial to them.
  • Design based on the goal of the piece. Ask yourself:
    • Has the audience heard of you? If not, you may need a “flashy” piece.
    • Do you have a lot of information to convey? If so, you may need a cover letter and a data sheet. Or send a cover letter that drives the reader to a Web site.
    • Are you reminding readers about your services? A simple postcard may do the trick. You may want to include a pass-along card because word-of-mouth is the best way to gain new customers.

Finally, when executing a direct mail campaign, recognize that the average return rate on direct mail is about 3 to 5 percent and about 1 to 3 percent on e-mail. It is important not to set expectations too high, have reasonable goals, and establish the right objectives to reach them.