The New Sales Weapon for Corporate Writers

Ask a marketing director which additional skill she wishes she had, and you’ll inevitably hear, “better understanding of finance.” Yes, corporate writing friends, CMOs and CFOs everywhere are becoming better friends–because they have to. Welcome to the New Normal of Marketing.

An October 12th article in Advertising Age spells it all out: “Marketers are facing persistent headwinds and expect them to become a permanent condition. A recent study by Accenture suggested that pessimism is widespread, and almost all CMOs surveyed said they expect their marketing budgets to shrink and reflect market austerity. This likely permanent squeeze on budgets will become the new normal. It will force marketers to reassess every practice and reset their approaches.”

This is good for corporate writers who become expert at the pervasive blind spot of marketing: metrics. If you’re a direct marketer, this is old hat. You’re accustomed to measuring everything you do. But for the rest of us, it’s new–perhaps even frightening–territory. But you needn’t approach marketing metrics with trepidation. It’s not all about numbers; in fact, much of it is just plain common sense–recognizing the evolution taking placing in the marketing landscape, and then adjusting your corporate writing sales approach to take advantage of the shift. Start by acknowledging what’s happening:

> The community is king: More resources are being invested in building customer communities via social media and other online applications. Offline media aren’t dead; they’re just headed to the retirement home. Beware: “Marketing no longer controls the conversation with the customer,” according to Ad Age, “and occasionally is even banned from it.” The key is to listen, measure what you’re hearing, and use those insights to adjust your sales messaging.

> Be relevant, or be left behind: The direct marketer’s traditional rule-of-thumb is to expect a 1% response on any given cold-call prospecting effort. Forget it: That’s old-school thinking. Today, most prospects are too savvy to be sold–and too distracted to listen to someone they don’t know or care about. Says Ad Age, “the emergence of an attention economy has made consumers hard to reach.” I’ll say.

Recently, I was speaking with a top insurance agent for one of America’s strongest consumer insurance brands. His company regularly provides him with direct mail campaigns (at a sizable cost), which he mails to local prospects. “You can expect a 1% response from these mailings,” the corporate office says. My friend laughs, “The last letter I mailed had a 1/10 of 1% response. Didn’t even cover the cost of postage for the campaign.”

Moral of the story: No one listens to boilerplate pablum like they used to: You need a highly differentiated and relevant sales message that’s based on listening to what customers want. To develop an effective sales message, you need metrics: not annually, not on occasion, but all the time.

> Focus on lifetime value: Who knows how much money is wasted on customer acquisition every day, when the more effective approach is customer retention. A sales pro will tell you that current customers are always your best source of new business–either through cross-selling, up selling or new customer referral.

If you don’t already, learn to see your current customer database as the most valuable new-sales opportunity you have. Then, assign a projected, monetary value to every relationship based not on short-term thinking, but long-term relationship. Says Ad Age, “Analytics will become the foundation of the emerging new marketing model, ensuring ROI and efficiencies.” Prioritize your sales efforts based on who represents the highest value, then take advantage of every opportunity those relationships offer.

Okay, I hear you: If you were great at math, you would have been a rocket scientist and not a corporate writer. But, here’s the key: There are plenty of math whizzes that you can hire to crunch the numbers. But as the sales messaging strategist, only you can know what to measure. Take the lead and learn how to use metrics to improve customer engagement. Doing so “will provide marketers with greater precision… and it will result in better creative ideas and less waste.”

> The first step: Build a Corporate Messaging Platform. It’s a proven way to create more effective sales messaging that’s customized for every audience, while saving 20 – 30% of your time, effort and money with every communications project. Best of all, these platforms are built to be measured–and to evolve to keep pace with changes in customer conversation. In my next post, I’ll show you how.


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5 Comments for this entry

  • Ben Waugh

    October 17th, 2010 on 10:54 am

    Very interesting posts and well written.
    I will put your site on my blogroll.
    🙂

  • Andy Bartling

    October 17th, 2010 on 11:47 am

    From Patricia of Linked In’s eMarketing Association Network:

    “Great content. When pitching to a new client, I often forget how important the measurement factor can be. If we believe in our ability to succeed for our client, we should be willing to embrace measurement. This can be turned into an effective close. I await with interest the next part of your article.”

  • Andy Bartling

    October 18th, 2010 on 7:53 am

    From Linked In’s Copywriters’ Beat group:

    “I am eager to get the next part of this blog also.This blog is quite interesting.”

  • Daniel Rubenstein

    October 18th, 2010 on 9:16 am

    Andy is so right – without a platform you can spin your wheels trying to guess what are your most important value propositions. You do need to be relevant and different … or it is just noise.

  • Tracey Dooley

    October 19th, 2010 on 6:15 am

    Great post, Andy.

    It’s a well-known fact that it is 5-7 times more expensive to acquire a new client (or customer) than it is to get a repeat sale from an existing or even ‘ex’ client.

    Yet business-owners are all too often so busy chasing new clients that they completely overlook what they already have: a gold mine of neglected sales. And even if they don’t ignore their former clients, most companies never properly implement or even consider a follow-up strategy.

    So, yes, one’s current client or customer list is a goldmine. ‘Mine’ it carefully and mine it well!