Marketing vs. Sales

While they are similar and very much the yin and yang of a successful sales cycle for a business, there are quite a few differences between marketing and sales. While they both work together and share many of the same messages, marketing and sales often differ in things like length of cycle and size of audience. 

Marketing is often the longer term cycle of the two and it works to distribute the tone and brand of the organization as well as raise awareness of the company’s offerings. With marketing, so often we are focusing on and speaking to the masses (our target market). 

With sales, we aren’t so focused on the masses, but rather on one person as we go through the final ordering, revisions, and ultimate exchange of monies. The sales cycle is typically a much shorter cycle than the full marketing cycle. 

To put it in a nutshell, marketing is all the instances you see a McDonald’s commercial on TV, hear the ad on the radio, and see the #42 car in a NASCAR race that is sponsored by McDonald’s. Sales is when you’re at the counter and the employee asks, “Would you like fries with that?” in addition to collecting the money and handing you your food. Marketing is often the things we see (be it TV commercials, billboards, websites, etc.) and sales is the experience of making the purchase. 

Which one is more important? Obviously that’s a trick question with no correct answer. If there is no quality marketing, no one will be there to make a purchase. If your sales team is lacking, there’s no marketing in the world that will save the company.

Hard and Soft Bounces

One of the great things about online marketing, such as email newsletters, is that there are so many great statistics that can be tracked and monitored. The downside to that is that there can be so much data and so many terms that it can be overwhelming. One term you’ll likely hear about in your newsletter analytics, is “bounce” – specifically, “soft bounce” and “hard bounce”. Let’s take a quick look at each and see what they might mean for your campaigns.

A “bounce” is an email delivery attempt that didn’t go through. What separates a soft bounce and a hard bounce, is whether or not it pays to keep sending emails to that email address. A soft bounce occurs when an email is sent to an email address, but for one reason or another it wasn’t able to deliver that email. If the user’s inbox was full and they’re maxed out on storage space, that would return as a soft bounce. Another example of a soft bounce would be if the recipient’s email server was down for a period of time.

While we may not know exactly why an email bounced, what we do know is that the email address is valid; the user just can’t accept email at that time. Most email newsletter systems such as Campaign Monitor will attempt to deliver to an email address a few times after it’s returned as a bounced email. If the problem was that the email server of the recipient was rebooting, when the newsletter campaign system sends the email a second time, it could potentially still be delivered.

Alternatively, a hard bounce is an email that will never get delivered because the email address itself is either no longer in use, or, was never valid to begin with – an invalid username. For example, if John Smith signed up for your email newsletter with the email address john.smith@company.com, but John is no longer employed by “company”, his email address will likely be deleted. This would result in a hard bounce. If someone signs up for your newsletter using a fake email address that doesn’t exist, this will also result in a hard bounce. For many email newsletter systems, an email that has a hard bounce will automatically be deleted from your list so you don’t send to that email anymore.

For many email newsletter systems, once an email address has experienced a soft bounce a few times, that email will automatically be converted to a hard bounce. For our Full Scope Creative newsletters, if an email address has a soft bounce 5 times in a row, it is then converted to a hard bounce and the email address is removed. If there is a soft bounce 4 times but the 5th time it’s opened, the count resets to 0.

It’s worthwhile to note that neither soft or hard bounces have anything to do with the spam folder. If your newsletter ends up in someone’s spam or junk folder, that is NOT reported as a bounce of either kind.

Soft bounces and hard bounces are really just two sides of a simple metric to see if your emails are being delivered to your users. Sending regular monthly or quarterly e-newsletters are a good tool in your online marketing toolkit, a great way to communicate with your customers, and a valuable component of any business’ marketing plan.

Don’t Chase the Extremes

My great aunt loves Mountain Dew. Let me clarify: my soon-to-be 100-year-old great aunt LOVES Mountain Dew. Do you remember that one commercial Mountain Dew had that really zeroed in on the 90+ crowd? Nope. You don’t. Why not? Because it never happened. Mountain Dew has their target demographic and they don’t chase the extremes.

Is Mountain Dew upset that Auntie Stella drinks their soda? Not likely. Their target demographic is likely males ages 34 and under. A 99 year old drinking their soda would be considered an extreme, far removed from their target demographic. Every now and then I’ll see a local company we work with that is chasing after those extremes. They’ll rationalize it by saying, “You know that one time we had this one person who was well outside our target demographic buy our product – let’s go after more of them!” If it was more than a one-off purchase from non-targeted demographic and had some regularity to it, then maybe we could justify marketing to that extreme. But for a one-off purchase, or even just a few of them, it’s not wise to take your focus off your target demographic.

Think of it in another way: when you go to a concert, you might love that one rare, unreleased song off of an earlier album. You might be just one of three people in the crowd who loves that song. Chances are slim that the band will play that song for three people and jeopardize losing the rest of the masses. (I’m still hoping that one of these times I see Def Leppard I’ll get to hear, ‘When the Walls Came Tumbling Down’ from their first album, but being as I’m one of probably 2 people in a crowd of 10,000 that wants to hear that song, I’m not holding my breath.)

Your target demographic, your core group of consumers and purchasers, are the ones who helped build your company up to what it is and will help you build it into everything it can be. Focus on that core group; send them well-crafted messages and promotions tailored to their desires, and specific to their needs. Market to that group; don’t chase the extremes.

Customer Service is Not a Selling Point

There are a few things that really drive me bonkers: people talking in movies, ordering a regular large coffee at Starbucks, decaf coffee, and businesses boasting about how great their customer service is.

Just like decaf coffee isn’t really coffee, customer service isn’t really a marketing point for your business. Providing excellent customer service isn’t a marketing angle; offering your customers great service is simply something every business needs to do in order to be successful. The only way people will know if your customer service is really all that great is if they call several times – and that usually means your product or service wasn’t that great!

If you own a plumbing company and you can get a plumber out to a house or business in one hour or less, your selling point isn’t customer service – it’s your ability to have a plumber on the scene to get the problem fixed in an hour or less.

There is a coffee shop I like to frequent in Green Bay that does a great job with this. They don’t market that they have the best customer service. They market that they have the best baristas who are always happy to help you find the drink you are looking for.

Customer service is important for any business, but it isn’t a marketing point. Should you spend time, money, and other resources on developing great customer service? YES! Absolutely – but customer service isn’t your selling point. If you dig a little deeper, you’ll find an actually unique selling point that you can easily market and turn into sales.

Need More Readable Content?

Writing content can be a bit of a laborious chore. For many readers, reading the content we write can also be a laborious chore. If you simply write paragraph after paragraph of content, odds are your site users aren’t going to eagerly read through it all. However, there are a couple of things you can do to make your text more readable.

Hire a Copywriter

One of the obvious things is to have a skilled writer proofread your writing. When a professional copywriter proofreads your content, they’ll check for the big issues – spelling and grammar – but they can also identify ways to make your writing easier to read. For example, keep your sentences simple. Short, uncomplicated sentences are easier to read. The same principle applies to your words. You could say, “The region of the atmosphere and outer space seen from earth is sky is azure…” – or you can say, “The sky is blue.” Which one gets your point across in the most clear, concise way? That’s the one to use.

In addition, there are some great free tools out there that can help you improve your writing. Grammarly, Grammar Girl, and Virtual Writing Tutor are three that come to mind. You can go to most of these for writing tips as well as just to get an answer for a specific issue, like the differences between the words “there”, “their” and “they’re”, or “your” and “you’re”.

Use Images

If you don’t have access to a copywriter, there are a few other tricks that can help make your content easy to read. One thing you’ll find with just about every human being is that they’re visual beings. They would prefer to see something rather than read it. Even if it’s something as simple as including a photo to break up the content, the image can provide your user with something different to focus on for a moment. Images don’t have to mean strictly photos, either – charts and graphs are also a great way to reiterate the message you’re trying to get across.

Use Headings

Line after line of text can get a bit long. Doing something as simple as adding in headings with a larger or different font can be enough to break up content and make it more readable. Keep in mind that search engines tend to put greater significance on the words in a heading. Because of this, headings can be a great spot to add in some of your keywords for the given page as well.

On some pages, there might be certain portions of text that a user is looking for. By having specific headings set up, you can help those users more easily find exactly what they’re looking for on the page.

Some pages on your site might end up having a lot of content. If that content doesn’t need to be all on one page, it can be broken up to create additional pages, which helps visually and that can help, but sometimes it does need to all be on one page. Especially when you have pages with more information on them, working with a copywriter, using images, and using headings can help make your content more readable. More readable content tends to lead to higher conversion rates.

Repetition Repetition Repetition

Let’s see how you can do on a simple little quiz! Fill in the blanks below.

Bye, bye Miss American _____
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was _____
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and _____
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I _____

Did you answer pie, dry, rye, die? I’m guessing you can recognize the song pretty easily as, “American Pie” by Don McLean. When was the last time you heard that song on the radio? When was the last time you had “American Pie” come up on your iPod? I’m guessing it’s been a while. Even though you probably haven’t heard it recently, you likely knew the missing words to the song. Why? Because of repetition. You’ve simply heard the song over and over again, countless times. Repetition helps your brain hold onto the words of a famous song that charted in 1972. Repetition is also key to the marketing messages of your business.

I’ve heard a few business owners complain that their radio or TV commercial didn’t generate any interest for their business. Sure, sometimes it’s a poorly worded or structured ad, but more often it’s because the ad wasn’t allowed to run long enough to generate any repetition. I’m not saying all of your commercials need to stick in your audience’s head like a hit song will, but it does takes more than a few exposures to an ad for it to “click” with a user.

The same principle applies to online ads that you might run. Whether it is a Google AdWords campaign or a Facebook post, it is repetition that will make your message stick. I’m by no means saying to make the same post on Facebook every day, but on the other hand, don’t think that making a few random posts will provide you with a successful social media presence.

Ensuring that your marketing message gets through to potential customers requires more than just thorough ads. Using a consistent tagline through your business cards, brochures, flyers, letterhead, email signatures, and anywhere else it can be used, is a big help as well.

If you see that your marketing message doesn’t seem to be catching on, before you scrap the message you are sending, look at how often you are sending out that message. Very few consumers will catch on to marketing messages at their first exposure. Keep delivering that message over and over again through a wide variety of different delivery methods.

Everyone Is In Sales

Whichever company someone works for, whatever position they hold: everyone works in sales. Whether directly or indirectly, the actions of any member of a company will lead to increased or decreased business transactions. No matter the role, from barista to a janitor, everyone is in sales. Let me give you a couple of examples of both good and bad sales people.

Let’s start with an example of someone in sales who didn’t do such a great job. I stopped at a well known nationwide coffee shop, one of the supposed stars of the industry. After waiting for what seemed like 3 hours in line I finally got up front to the barista to place my order. Problem was, I really didn’t know what I wanted. Simple solution: I asked the salesperson (the barista) what she recommended. Her response was not what I was looking for. She awkwardly replied, “The menu is on the board…” as she pointed to the 100,000,000 (probably an exaggeration) options they had for drinks. She could have recommended something liked the a grande vanilla latte with soy milk with caramel drizzle and I would have ordered it. Instead, I simply took a small coffee to go. I realize that not too many people go to a coffee shop and don’t know what they want, but they missed a chance to sell me a $7.00 drink; instead, I took a $1.50 coffee to go

So what does a good sales person (that isn’t really a salesperson) look like? I’m in California right now for a training program, and the hotel has a continental breakfast. Here in the hotel, I met an employee, a janitor/maintenance worker who is an amazing salesperson. Sitting at a table across from me was a group of people that didn’t push their chairs back in as nicely as some of the other tables’ customers did. The maintenance guy came and moved the chairs to how they should be. When I was getting up to put my plate in the collection bin and throw my trash away, he very quickly said, “No no, please, let me.” and took the plate. Is he in sales? Nope. I saw him earlier in the morning doing some work on a piece of trim on the wall that wasn’t quite right. I’ve since then seen him doing other maintenance and repair projects around the hotel, and while his job title might not say it, his actions gave an excellent example of someone being a great salesperson. Based, in part, on his actions, if I’m back in Ontario, California at some point int he future, I would have no problem staying at the Azure Hotel, and would recommend it to anyone.

The lesson here is that even if your title or your business card doesn’t say that you are in sales, you are! Whether it’s directly involved with calling customers or knocking on doors, everyone is in sales.

Branding Through Facebook Alone

Most of us have used Facebook at one point or another, and it’s great for a lot of things. For personal use, it’s great for keeping in touch with friends and family and/or sharing photos of a grumpy cat. For business, it’s a great way to showcase your products and services, provide helpful and useful information, and establish yourself as an industry leader. One thing it’s not particularly good for is establishing and showcasing your business brand.

There are many things that go into establishing your business brand and brand image. Too often, we still see businesses that opt to have Facebook as the only online face of their business – and as I mentioned earlier, Facebook is pretty horrible at establishing a brand. There are several reasons for this.

One of the obvious issues with having Facebook as the only online existence for your company is that the posts you make on Facebook have a rather short lifetime. Within a few hours, that post is irrelevant. Even if someone marks your page to have it show first, if the content is too old (merely a few hours), that post won’t show up. Plus, when your followers do see your post, they are very possibly seeing another post from a competitor right away.

The biggest issue with attempting to brand your business through Facebook alone is that you have very little control over the presentation. Yes, you can add in your own photos, but you’re oftentimes only adding one photo per post. Additionally, you’re probably only posting once or twice a day. You have no control over things like background colors, font selection, font color or slideshow images, and only limited options for a strong call to action.

I’m by no means arguing against having a Facebook business page or using one on a regular basis. It serves as a great avenue for building a connection with an audience and your page’s followers, but at the end of the day, Facebook alone is a very poor avenue for establishing a company brand and image: there really is no social media platform that will replace your business website for that purpose. Social media platforms can certainly enhance your brand and image, but a dedicated website is needed to help establish that brand in the first place.

KIS Your Banner Stands

Going to trade shows and expos can be a lot of fun for a business owner. They are a great way to introduce your company to potential clients. When you’re in that crowded expo hall and fighting to be noticed by attendees, having a retractable banner stand is a great way to draw attention to your booth. The key, is to “KIS” your business stands – Keep It Simple.

We’ve designed plenty of banner stands at Full Scope Creative. Banner stands provide one more opportunity for you to reach out and grab interest from passers-by. For one client, we used colors not commonly seen in their line of work or industry. In that instance, just one subtle difference – a new color being added to the room – was enough to draw noticeable interest.

While the idea is to catch the eye and draw attention to your booth, many clients want to add too much text to their banners. A banner stand functions like a small billboard: more of a simple hello and less of a sales pitch. They can provide something for the attendee to look at if you’re busy talking to someone else, but they should not function as a large brochure.

Once a potential customer walks into your booth, the focus should come off the banner stand and be directed to a knowledgeable company representative armed with detailed marketing materials. We can fit much more content into those pieces than we possibly could on the banner stand, and really, take-home brochures, flyers or swag work much better as selling tools – the attendee can take them home.

There are no defined rules for how much text to put on a banner stand, but it is certainly a “less is more” sort of situation. Images work great. Icons work great. Splashes of color that will grab an attendee’s attention work great. Numerous lines of text will not be seen, much less grab anyone’s attention, from across the expo hall.

Banner stands are a great item to have as part of your trade show or business expo booth, but they need to be kept simple. We may live in a “social media” world, but at these events, people are looking to interact with another person – not a banner stand. “KIS” your banner stands by remembering to “Keep It Simple,” and have a knowledgeable person with plenty of takeaway printed materials do the selling.

Social Media Isn’t Just for “Marketing”

Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock, you’ve heard about how social media can be used for marketing your business. One side of marketing that is often overlooked is taking action to maintain your clientele. Social media is not just about marketing; it’s about building and maintaining relationships.

Most business owners know that it’s about 10 times more expensive to find a new client than to maintain a current client. There’s no perfect method to keep a client forever, but a great way is to build a strong relationship with them. Social media is a great way to build and maintain that relationship. By effectively using social media, we can do so much more than just advertise different aspects of business – we can have a full conversation and interaction with clients.

One of the leading reasons many clients take their business somewhere else isn’t because of price changes, but rather because they no longer feel appreciated – or perhaps they simply forget about the business. Many businesses score great reviews from clients for the work they do. The problem is that for some companies, it could be years between business transactions. While the client might be happy with the product or service they received, they could very easily forget about their experience, especially if there is no relationship.

With social media, that relationship can be built and developed. Social media isn’t just about promoting your business, it’s about having conversations between your business and your existing clients. By utilizing social media, you can build a strong relationship between your business and clients, therefore avoiding the added expense of needing to find a new client.