From the February 1999 issue of Startups

The word connotes pulling things off with a certain flair. Having a unique air. But did you know your sales and marketing styles can have a big impact on the way your company is perceived--and ultimately on your bottom line?

At least six key components work together to create your company's overall marketing style. These include your logo; typestyles; paper stocks; visual images such as illustrations and photography; colors; and presentation tools or electronics. These marketing elements convey your company's style to prospects and customers each time they see your materials.

Equally important is your personal selling style, reflected in how you interact with prospects and customers. The way your marketing and sales styles combine can make the difference between strong sales for your new company and a slow start. How does your style add up? Take the quiz to find out. Then check out your score and read the tips on the following pages to help shape up the way you present your company to the world.

Pop Quiz

What's your marketing style quotient? Circle one answer per question.

1. Does the logo on your stationery and cards look exactly the same as the logo on your company brochure, sell sheets and all other materials?
A. Yes
B. No
C. NA

2. Does your logo function equally well in black and white and color?
A. Yes
B. No
C. Unsure

3. Is the typestyle used in your materials consistent:
A. On most printed pieces
B. On all printed pieces
C. It varies from piece to piece.

4. Does the thickness of the paper used on your company brochure, fliers, and/or sell sheets feel:
A. Flimsy
B. About average
C. Thick and heavy

5. Do your materials include photography, illustrations or both?
A. Photography
B. Illustrations
C. Both

6. Where solid colors are used, the colors were chosen because:
A. They reflect the nature of the company.
B. They appeal to prospects.
C. They're your favorites.

7. Do your company's proposal or presentation tools meet or beat those of the competition:
A. All the time
B. Sometimes
C. NA

8. When meeting with a business prospect, who does most of the talking?
A. You
B. The prospect
C. It's about 50/50

9. When meeting with prospects who offer challenging objections, how often can you suggest customized solutions to meet their needs?
A. Most of the time
B. All the time
C. Sometimes

10. When it comes to follow-through, you make follow-up calls and send literature:
A. When you have time
B. On exactly the date specified
C. Within a few days of when promised

How do you rate?

1) a.5 b.0 c.0 2) a.5 b.0 c.0 3) a.3 b.5 c.0 4) a.0 b.3 c.5 5) a.5 b.5 c.0

6) a.3 b.5 c.0 7) a.5 b.0 c.0 8) a.0 b.5 c.0 9) a.3 b.5 c.0 10) a.0 b.5 c.0

Perfect score = 50: You have impeccable style!

Score = 25-49: Some fine-tuning is needed.

Under 25: You have work to do.

Tune Up Your Marketing Materials

Try these tips to tune up the company image your six marketing elements convey.

First, create a logo that works equally well in color and black and white, is easily readable and conveys an appropriate image. A cute, homespun logo would be inappropriate for a company that wants to create a high-tech, hard-edged image, for example.

Each time someone is exposed to your company's materials and messages, they should get a consistent image. That means the logo applications, typestyles and paper stocks you choose for each and every tool must be consistent from one piece to the next. Avoid lightweight, low-cost paper stocks. They may save you pennies but could cost you thousands in lost customers.

When choosing visual elements, it's best to use either photography or illustrations throughout your materials--not both. If you're introducing a new product, using an illustration indicates that your product may still be on the drawing board, while a photograph communicates the product is complete and ready for sale.

Don't be tempted to choose your favorite colors when putting together your company's marketing materials. Instead, select colors that appeal to your target audience. Colors convey feelings, emotions and strong associations for most of us. Blue, a cool color that suggests conservative stability, is often used on corporate materials in the banking industry, for example. Ever wonder why the seats in many fast-food restaurants are orange? It's because orange suggests what's being sold is affordable and available to everyone. Select colors that appeal to your target audience first, and reflect the unique tone of your company second.

If you prepare proposals or presentations, particularly in a competitive situation, the quality of your tools and equipment is vital. Your proposals and leave-behinds must work to convince prospects your company is the right choice long after the presentation's over. So carry through all the elements of style--logo, good paper stocks and on-target colors--into your proposals and leave-behinds. It pays to use the latest presentation equipment and software too, so if you're not already a PowerPoint pro, brush up on your skills.

Polishing Your Personal Selling Style

The key to success when meeting with prospects is being a good listener. If you're doing all the talking, chances are you're missing out on opportunities to uncover your prospects' needs. Ask questions, then listen carefully to the answers so you can come up with reasonable solutions to your prospects' challenges.

Be sure to follow through on your promises. That means quickly responding to requests for information and making follow-up calls exactly when promised. Even with the informal nature of many businesses and the ubiquity of dress-down Fridays, it's still crucial to be polished and professional. Use the same friendly and polite demeanor with your prospect's receptionist as you use with her or his boss. Never forget: Every person in a prospect's company has the potential to help or hinder you.

A little personal polish goes a long way. If you open your briefcase or organizer and dozens of scraps of paper fall out, you've got work to do! Coordinate your appearance, your personal selling style and all your marketing tools to convey a single, cohesive image all your own.

Word!

By Shara Lessley

You won't spot a Jared M 24K leather jacket on the tube anytime soon--that is, unless you happen to see Indiana Pacers star Jalen Rose wearing one during a post-game interview. That's because the company's president and founder, Jared Margolis, doesn't do commercial advertising. "My clients are walking billboards--ones who get paid millions of dollars to endorse other products," explains the 25-year-old entrepreneur. "Basically, they are my marketing strategy."

OK, we know most of you don't list celebrities like Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa on your client roster. We also know Margolis' designs--custom-made suits costing from $900 to $25,000 and leather jackets that hit the $50,000 mark--aren't within the average consumer budget. So what's to be gained from looking at this entrepreneur's anti-marketing approach? Something you can afford: A lesson in generating business through referrals.

Since fitting his first client in 1993, Margolis has relied on his "straight-up, honest" business approach to bring in new clients. In every deal, he makes customer satisfaction a top priority. Take, for instance, an order Margolis received from NY Knicks point guard Chris Childs. "He needed me to make him a linen suit in one day," says Margolis, "and that's pretty much what we did."

Margolis' positive attitude pushes him to go the extra mile. If a prospect can't make it to his Bay Harbor Islands, Florida, showroom for a fitting, the entrepreneur isn't fazed: "If it's necessary to go to them, it's my pleasure to do so," he says.

Margolis' advice: "You can count on one person only . . . yourself. You start something, you finish it. Never take a [customer] for granted because you don't know who [you] may be dealing with and what that person could bring you." For Margolis, it's just that simple.

Contact Source

Jared M, (305) 867-1544, jaredm@shadow.net