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Get Back To Basics

16 Jan, 2002 By: Wes Phillips imageSource

Get Back To Basics

our firm had the unusual privilege of working with an individual many consider
to be one of the most influential and successful marketers of the twentieth
century Lee Iaccoca. After we completed our project together, we took
advantage of the interaction to get his response to the following question: 
"What do you think is the biggest area of marketing opportunity
available to companies as we enter 2002?" His response was intriguing and
interesting. He said, "In the late 90’s, many companies (particularly those
who become involved with the internet and dot-com craze) began to expect
customers to come to them! The truth is that companies must get back to basics
and proactively work to be in front of the customer. However, I am not just
talking about new customers, I am also talking about staying in front of
existing customers."

Iaccoca’s response reminds me of the movie "Field of Dreams" where the
premise was, "If you build it, they will come." Well, what we may have
learned from the dot-com fiasco of the late 90’s (at least as far as business
and marketing is concerned) is that what works in a "Field of Dreams," does
not necessarily work in business and marketing reality.

The Reins

given that 2002 is just getting started and the current economic picture is
clouded, now is a good time to grab the reins of marketing leadership and ensure
you are getting the best return-on-investment on your advertising expenditure.
One powerful action is to get back to basics with a correct recognition of how
advertising should be used, what objectives it will achieve and how it can help
you ensure your company is in front of new and existing customers.

office technology professionals view advertising as a costly, yet magical
solution to generating more leads. In reality, advertising in not a magical
answer to this objective or any other business objective. Advertising produces a
more efficient business process and selling cycle. An effective advertising
strategy strengthens and supports a good sales marketing program by putting the
sales force into more selling situations and helping the sales force produce
superior results. An effective advertising strategy also improves and makes
sales training more efficient. It also helps recruit a higher caliber of people
for sales, service and administration and it helps office technology companies
incorporate new digital products which become available, as well as introduce
new service and supply programs.

the current economic challenge, the first objective should be to maximize sales
and profits from your existing marketing efforts and existing customers, and
then look to advertising programs to meet new objectives. However, those new
objectives should be specifically defined in order to design and implement an
effective advertising program.

The Right Questions

many of the readers of this publication believe, a fundamental key to effective
leadership and success is knowing the right questions to ask. Once you begin
addressing the right questions, the answers always seem to fall into place. In
reality, this pertains to developing a new and effective advertising program.

advertising has the capability to create a more effective process, the first
question you should ask is, "Do I have the correct sales marketing structure
to handle the impact of an effective advertising program?" For this question
to be accurately answered, several other questions need to be asked and
answered. For example:

Do you have a sufficient number of trained and well-managed salespeople to meet
your sales goal for 2002?

Do you have an effective sales recruitment and sales training program?


Sales turnover is a fact of business life, however, is your turnover too high?
If so, why and what can you do about it in the next 90 to 120 days?

Are you and your managers willing to set appropriate sales goals and are you
able to specifically structure the tactics necessary to achieve the sales goals?

Do you have a system whereby progress towards the attainment of the sales goals
is monitored on a monthly and quarterly basis?

Are the products that your salespeople sell the products that they should be
selling? This involves more than just looking at the ratio of sales of low-end
versus high-end digital product. For example, do you know exactly how many
digital products you sold that were actually connected to a network or how many
digital products were sold without a corresponding service/supply program?

Who administers a system to farm or nurture, on a regular basis or schedule,
your existing customer base for new products?

If you are the owner, principal or sales manager, how long has it been since you
have been out in the field developing leads, conducting demonstrations and
writing orders (remember Iacocca’s encouragement; get in front of the

Is your service department staffed with the appropriate types of professionals?
Moreover, are they trained and managed in a manner that assures customer
satisfaction? It is important to remember that many of your existing customers
(those you are currently servicing) bought from your company because they were
dissatisfied with their previous vendor.

Do you have a system to track and reward administrative and service personnel
for upgrade, new equipment, or new product leads?


you have answered each of these questions connected with the sales marketing
structure, you will discover an interesting perspective. Specifically, you will
see a need to have your sales marketing structure in place and finely tuned to
take advantage of the benefits of a powerful advertising program. In addition,
you should discover how you could maximize sales and profits by simply improving
your existing sales marketing efforts. In other words, there are many situations
where a substantial amount of revenue and profit "falls through the cracks,"
while an office technology company is looking for external solutions (such as
advertising), rather than first improving internal systems.

taking these appropriate measures internally, to ensure maximum productivity
from your existing staff and systems, you will have accomplished two powerful
goals: One, you will be prepared to implement a well-planned advertising program
and be in a position to take advantage of the results. Two, you will have taken
Lee Iacocca’s advice by putting yourself in front of new and existing
customers, creating tremendous sales opportunities and positioning yourself as a
real marketplace leader.

encourage you and your team to spend some time in your next planning meeting
investigating your responses to the questions posed in this article. You may be
surprised by the results you produce by getting back to the basics and by
proactively being in front of the customer. So, to paraphrase one of Iacocca’s
famous lines, "If you can find better marketing advice, take it."

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