By Colin Linneweber
Middle-market companies have special marketing challenges. They are too small to employ large marketing departments and too large to rely solely on salespeople to grow. Because of this, these are the top four challenges mid-market companies face in marketing their businesses and the solutions to overcome them.
Problem 1 - They can't explain how they are better than their competition.
Many business leaders and salespeople struggle to explain how their product or service differs from competitors. For example, in the IT sector, many IT company websites have near identical messages. Oftentimes, IT executives and sales professionals haven’t reviewed their offerings systematically and instead rely on interactions they’ve previously had with customers to create unique value. Regrettably, such feedback is subjective and possibly no longer relevant.
To distinguish your company and its products and services, interview your best customers to learn what they value, and to understand their buying processes. Subsequently, use their feedback and language in your marketing materials. When interviewing your best customers, be certain to ask the “right” questions. After all, if you ask the “wrong” questions, you’ll receive bad feedback. Accordingly, ask questions like the ones below:
● “What factors do you consider during the buying process?”● “Why did you hire us?”● “How did you learn about our firm and what made our company appeal to you?” ● “Is there anything we can do to improve your customer experience?”● “What do you like about working with us?”● “If you were to hire someone else, what would you look for?”● “Is there anything that I can do to improve?”
To show appreciation for your partnership, invite your client to lunch and pose these questions to them then. You may be shocked at how positive an impact this small gesture can have. Essentially, it indicates that you are devoted to them and their success.
Problem 2 - They are constantly trying new approaches to marketing - with little to no success.
Many business leaders and salespeople are inclined to continually launch marketing initiatives using the newest technology. When selecting marcomm technology, many individuals take the advice of a friend or associate who enjoyed success using a specific gadget. However, while that tool may be useful for others, it could be utterly worthless for you. In addition to regularly trying the latest technologies, many executives fail to establish goals, a strategy, and consistent messaging—three things that are essential before any technology is chosen.
Create a written marketing plan that outlines your goals, strategy, target audience, messaging, and budget. Establishing these fundamentals will help you get the right message to the right people at the right time. Eliminate useless approaches and focus on high-impact ones. With a more strategic, deliberate plan your marketing efforts will secure better results.
Problem 3 - They are not basing their marketing goals on their business goals.
Many companies don't have defined objectives. It's not uncommon for a company to set marketing goals that are completely unrelated to its overall business initiatives. This frequently leads to fruitless marketing campaigns that can adversely impact a company on multiple levels.
Ensure your marketing goals align with your business goals by reviewing your SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis with colleagues. Discuss what the company goals should be given the company SWOT. Next, determine what you want to achieve in the next 12 months and develop a plan to do it. Any goals that require communicating with customers, prospects, employees, potential employees or other stakeholders must be translated into marketing goals. That’s how you tie your marketing goals to your overall business objectives.
Problem 4 - Inconsistent Sales Pipeline Due to Poor Communication
Why do sales pipelines dwindle? It’s typically because of ineffective communication resulting from not understanding the prospects’ needs and the challenges they are facing and not knowing how to create marketing messages that resonate with those challenges. If you don’t understand the buyer’s emotional and logistical path to purchase, you won’t send the “right” message at the right time and your pipeline will dry up. Salespeople often don’t have the marketing skills or time to develop sales assets that address the buyer’s concerns and questions at each stage of the path to purchase. Without sales assets deployed in the right channels, salespeople are stuck having one-to-one conversations and growth becomes stagnant.
To achieve consistent leads, review your pipeline and identify its holes and issues. Conduct research into the prospect’s path to purchase. Use the knowledge you glean to create a map of the buyer’s journey. Make a plan to create sales assets that answer their needs at every stage of it. Middle market companies have the worst of both worlds when it comes to marketing and sales. They are too small to hire a full-team of sales and marketing experts to build out an amazing lead generation system and too large to rely solely on salespeople anymore. Hopefully, using these four solutions will help you conquer your top challenges.
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