SALES & MARKETING INSIGHTS
Is Your Creative Department Cooped Up?
By David Aeschliman
Having spent years inside an ad agency as a copywriter, account manager and owner as well as more years riding with ag salespeople, I have some serious concerns about today’s creative elements. Don’t get me wrong…there is some brilliant work being done, but…
That leaves a couple questions I’d like agency owners and company sales managers to think about.
1. Crossing the agency side to client-side sales, getting into their vehicles and riding with them while selling, I can assure you of this: most don’t understand marketing or creative efforts. That goes primarily to client company sales managers NOT relating “here’s what we’re strategically trying to accomplish with our marketing AND here’s how you fit into that overall picture”. Rather, what I tend to hear from most salespeople actively working on the front line with customers is “what a waste of money”. Makes me sigh.
Sales and marketing efforts should all be strategically and creatively developed and implemented in a well-coordinated effort of integration to resell customers and attract new ones. Marketers and salespeople should be very, very integrated as they each play out their respective roles.
2. Inversely, I think agency employees, including owners, account managers and certainly strategists and creative teams RARELY spend time riding with salespeople, listening to what they say, how they position the brand and products or even who salespeople are talking to. That “in the field” speak is usually far removed from any marketing strategies being deployed. Yet, the irony here is salespeople see more people and are directly asked more often than any other group “why your brand”, “why switch” and other questions about what marketing is attempting to answer.
My thought is get out of the creative cubicles and spend a week or two riding with your client salespeople. It’s an amazing experience that provides you with their insights, perspectives and input. Impact? You gain an entirely new outlook on what can be said better, more appropriately and perhaps more effectively.
3. Agencies and companies usually don’t communicate segregated financial, media or other creative directions for either prospecting or retaining and growing businesses. Clearly, customers are further down the road of commitment than “who are you”, “why switch”, etc that prospects must go through mentally. Yet, most companies send the same message to ALL audiences. I assure you that doesn’t happen out in the sales field.
Again, two separate efforts with salespeople probably doing a better job of prospective talk than companies
4. There are two problems here: one is agency and client company management don’t spend nearly enough time analyzing business strategy re: where will future growth come from, what is our customer retention from year to year, who are we targeting, what is our uniqueness in the market that is compelling, etc. Deciding those issues in full discussion WITH salespeople and managers throws a whole new light on strategy and creative fulfillment. That full team understanding of end results begins with full team planning of desired end results. Instead, I see too many companies say, “time to put together next year’s campaign” in the same casual tone used to light a cigarette.
5. Most client company management tends to do a very poor job of explaining all this to salespeople as a group. High-impact sales and marketing efforts represent a mutual understanding of the mission. Marketing fails miserably if it isn’t adopted by salespeople strategically and in their everyday interactions with prospects and clients…and sales tend to struggle if marketing isn’t targeted at what salespeople are trying to accomplish.
6. Marketing and selling attempts to accomplish three things: keep current customers, attempt an upsell and/or a cross-sell to gain volume or attract new customers. Marketing outperforms salespeople in developing awareness, familiarity and intrigue, but somewhere down this line, I think salespeople do a better job of providing details for further investigation, consideration and ultimately, decision making.
THAT requires an intensive training of how these steps fit together, how to read where each prospect or customer is on this timeline of purchasing steps and how to keep the process moving forward with each message and/or personal visit.
There is simply no way to divide these steps up and follow them if they aren’t all aligned with every single message those recipients receive.
In one company I work with, I asked employees, including the CEO, to write down what the company’s biggest asset was. Among 32 employees, there were NO like answers. Same with the questions “why switch to your brand” and “what’s the first thing you’d tell people about this firm”. That’s not an employee problem; that’s a lack of comprehensive sales and marketing coaching. It does little good to have a salesperson telling prospects the biggest reason to switch to our brand is this and marketing never mentions it…or vice versa.
It’s up to all of us in marketing communication to begin our efforts with our own internal teams and our client teams…integrated from the start.
David Aeschliman is the CEO of Growth Work with expertise in developing growth strategies in selling and marketing. He has worked with more than 200 businesses across the country. He teaches details about the above column in his course titled “7 Steps To Purchasing”. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule further discussion.