Resolve to Communicate Better

Why is it that organizations have no trouble focusing on revenue in the fourth quarter?  Okay, that was too easy.  But if it’s patently obvious why we have to hit our targets in Q4, why is it so hard for us to focus on the marketing behaviors that will drive revenue in Q1?

Over the next few weeks, we will offer a few simple steps any organization can take to drastically improve their marketing efforts in the new year.  Let’s start with this:  Reevaluate your communications channels.

Every contact you have with your marketplace – whether intentional or not – will affect your sales effort.  Moreover, every touch-point between you and your customer will either build or erode your brand.  It’s no secret.  In fact, it’s so basic that it’s one of the “Four Ps” of marketing: promotion.  And it’s the only “P” that every marketing manager has control over.  We aren’t all given free reign over product design and development, or placement issues, or even pricing, but virtually every marketing manager has a say in promotion.  Perhaps that’s why so many people who don’t understand marketing think that promotion is marketing.

In the B2B space, “promotion” typically encompasses a selling effort (through a sales force or through distributors), a body of company and product information (sales collateral) and a website.  If that describes your organization, it’s time to get in the game.  Today’s B2B communications channels are broader and more robust than yesterday’s.  Successful B2B marketers are exploiting whitepapers, distributed articles, e-books, YouTube videos, viral marketing, and email campaigns.  And these new channels work.

The new year is a perfect time to challenge your assumptions about communications – a perfect time to try new channels.  Use your knowledge of the marketplace as a litmus test for evaluating your communications options.  Talk to marketers with experience in these new media.  Examine your customer and prospect databases to determine which channels you can implement.  Start collecting data (and gaining permission) to use as a basis for future campaigns.

But don’t lose your focus.  It’s easy to bite off more than your organization can chew – or, for that matter, to choose the wrong channels entirely.  Pick one or two new channels strategically and keep your messages consistent.  Remember: you can only tell one story at a time, so whatever you say must promote your brand.