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Marketing and Sales Must Work in Unison

Follow these tips for creating promotional materials that work as hard as you do.
March 3, 2010
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/205316

Great marketing materials lower the cost of selling and raise the return on your marketing investment. Does your new business have a family of sales and marketing tools you can be proud of? If not, you have to learn to create them, tools that touch prospects throughout the sales cycle and motivate them to buy.

Like your most professional business suit, your tools have to make the right impression--the first time, every time. And they need to be ready and waiting the moment you need them at each sales and marketing touch point. These are all the places and times your prospects come into direct contact with your materials, from when you first present a business card to the moment your direct-mail postcard hits a top prospect's desk.

Follow these important tips for great materials that work as hard as you do.

Support sales with marketing. There's a big difference between sales and marketing. Selling encompasses all the one-on-one interpersonal contact, including meetings, phone calls, individual e-mails and networking. Marketing tactics, on the other hand, touch large groups of prospects, such as via direct mail or radio advertising.

Marketing exists to support sales and can reduce your customer acquisition costs over pure selling alone. Consider this: What would it cost in time and cash if you were to visit 500 prospects, trying to sell each one individually? Now contrast that with the budget required to send a postcard to the same 500 people. The marketing tactic would cost dramatically less, take considerably less time, produce leads and convey a selling message with the potential to move the prospects closer to a buying decision. Sales and marketing work together, and you need a combination of tools and tactics for a well-rounded campaign.

Think like a customer. Each time they touch a prospect, your materials should reinforce your brand message and identity. What kind of image do you want to create for your new business? Who will be your best prospects? What benefits do they expect your business to deliver? Answering these important questions will help you choose everything from the right colors, paper stocks and fonts for your visual identity, to the text of your company's positioning statement or slogan.

Too many entrepreneurs make the mistake of creating the look, feel and creative messaging for their company or brand based on what they like. But for materials to work, they have to reflect the recipients' tastes and preferences. To get on track, put together informal roundtables with members of your target audience and show them a couple of different branding identity ideas for your new company. Test colors, designs, positioning statements and even product names if they're in question. Then use the feedback to guide unbiased development of your family of tools.

Touch prospects at key points. Make a list of all the points in your selling process at which you expect to touch prospects and the tools you'll need to facilitate those touches. For example, your list might include all of the following and more:

Plan marketing tactics that help boost prospects from one step in the sales cycle to another, and carry your company's visual identity and positioning content into each of its campaigns. For example, you might support your sales effort with direct mail to prospects in targeted ZIP codes, a terrific website, search engine advertising and customer retention e-mails to your in-house database.

This cohesive family of sales and marketing tools and tactics will successfully move prospects through your sales cycle. And they'll tell a compelling story that motivates prospects to buy.