Marketing & Sales

A lot of people surprisingly think sales is the heart of marketing, but sales and marketing really exist entirely independently.

The reality is that sales are vital to any profitable operation and marketing is typically used to maximize sales, increase conversions, reduce unnecessary costs, land partnerships, demonstrate value or just to spread an idea. Sales are often the result of marketing; however, both are separate processes.

It is, unfortunately, more common than one might think to find sales teams that lack any kind of communication with a marketing team other than to automate leads. Marketing can mean anything that isn’t directly a sale such as advertising, CRM, tests, product development, price adjustments, reviews, research and development, account management or campaigns.

Some salespeople are excellent at landing sales consistently enough to where marketing is secondary, but not every type of product can survive that way. The more expensive a product or service is, the more patient and direct a business has to be making salespeople more vital than in a situation where very little pressure is part of the decision process. The approach is different too. Closing a sale is no longer an objective with modern sales techniques; at least not conventionally.

Marketing has become so driven by data, it’s almost unnecessary to learn how and why the methods work (almost). Of course, once the data is collected, utilizing it is the tricky part. Understanding the consumer’s needs and wants is still the heart of marketing. The right data can reflect consumption and can be organized any way needed.

Algorithms and machine learning can simplify analytics and produce a wider array of information. The purpose of better information is to optimize processes from ad to sale to review to repurchase.

In the past, the cycle was less data dependent because people were more trusting of advertising. Ad blindness is to blame for the aggressive advances in marketing. Some call modern practices invasive due to the accuracy of ad placements.

It is possible to survive as a business without much marketing but at the very least, leads must be generated and qualified. The reality is that everything varies from industry to industry.

Things You Can Automate

When you’re just starting off, it’s practical to consider all the ways you can improve your organizational structure, marketing rates and customer satisfaction. Every day, new software is released announcing the latest and greatest capabilities of artificial intelligence. Here are some things you can automate with software, bots and hardware.

The top companies are very on top of staying up to date, especially with competition hot on their tail. The last thing they want is to fall behind. Taking note from the greats, consider using SaaS (software as a service) to email dozens of contacts at a time. With the time you save, you can either double your productivity or enjoy the temporary freedom.

Some services are now fully able to automate

  • market tests,
  • landing pages,
  • analytics,
  • automatic segmentation,
  • A|B tests,
  • email campaigns,
  • scheduled content,
  • keyword data,
  • competition reports,
  • proofreading,
  • database backup,
  • IT security and
  • alarm systems.

Without a doubt there are more that are not on this list. Automation becomes more important as a business prepares to scale. Without cash-flow, it might be hard to justify spending money on services every month.

Not every business needs every kind of automation. Before software, business owners used training processes to automate operations. Now that the world has become a loosely unified service economy, less time is needed to accomplish repetitive tasks.

While it can be scary falling behind, relying too heavily on software has its liabilities. Be modern, but be smart.

The Producer, Distributor, Advertiser Relationship

The world runs on a system of marketing that boils down to a relationship between those who produce, those who distribute products to gain an audience and those who seek to capitalize on those audiences.

While it might seem exclusive to consumer industries, the relationship extends to just about every conventional business one can think of. Some business to business models combine advertiser and distributor processes as advertising involves distribution.

Creating original products typically leaves two options: handle distribution or find a distributor. Being a distributor is almost entirely logistics and not much creative work.

Advertisers depend on distribution to get brand awareness through existing channels. Since distribution can only exist if there is a demand for a product, producers are vital as well as distributors and advertisers to one another.

Producers do not always need to advertise. Many have one or a handful of contracts. Distributors advertise if the products are consumer based. Advertisers place client ads strategically according to data, targets or groups.

An example:

  • We produce content.
  • WordPress handles distribution.
  • Advertisers pay blogs for shared target audiences.

“We” might be both producers and advertisers if we want to see growth happen a little more rapidly, but even a blog can grow too quickly.

Consider whether an organization falls under the producer, distributor or advertiser category. Understanding the relationship between them is often the first step towards systematic progress.

The Speed of Financial Growth

Contrary to popular belief, business can grow too fast. When it does, things like loss of quality, over expansion and poor customer satisfaction can happen very easily.

The more of something that needs to be made by a deadline, the less attention individual products can be given logically.

The less time that exists for planning, the more likely it is to make mistakes and have to compensate financially for poor planning.

The faster the growth of sales, the less time and effort can be given to each customer.

A combination of these problems is fatal to a business of any kind. The solution is either to prepare very well for when the rain pours or to limit the amount of units that consumers can buy.

By learning limitations early on, problems can be avoided more simply and the business can scale at a realistic and credible rate.

Limiting sales may seem counterintuitive for a successful business model; however, keeping commitments and deadlines are vital to any professional process and requires resources proportional to sales.

Research and development analysts suggest a ratio exists within every industry. Consider figuring out how fast or slow your business should be growing. It can be motivational.

How to Change the World with $20

You might think it’s pretty bold to assume anything impactful could happen for twenty dollars. You might even think this is going to be about generosity and giving a little each day or whatever. No, it’s not that, but this is a two layered article. I will be using Plant-Based Munchies as my example because it’s my product. What this is not is an empty plug for a new product. What it is, at least primarily, is an example of how real passion and inspiration can transform almost any product.

Logic is the enemy of ambition (or at least in advertising it is).

All you need to know about Plant-based Munchies in this particular case is that it’s a pretty simple vegan game that is currently priced at twenty dollars (hence the title.)

On the outside, it looks like any other game. In reality, other games are lot more polished and their packaging looks more professional but that can and does work as an advantage.

Unlike most games, this one does not aim to give you an escape from reality. Instead, it invites you into reality by making the world as wholesome as it can possibly get.

It is the funnest way to save the world. It is a symbol for all that is good. It’s the best defense against ignorance in a dissonant world.

It paves a revolutionary path to better health for the human race. Plant-based Munchies is the perfect way to introduce someone to veganism.

The potential is beyond anything anyone can imagine.

In the world of veganism, there is a pressure to limit yourself to only vegan products. While the people who accomplish this incredibly disciplined act are impressive, the battle Plant-based Munchies fights is not one that demands limitations.

Today, the omnivorous are being addressed. You set the examples for others who have not yet considered the challenge of exploring your dietary biases. You are the hero who inspires friends, family and bystanders to make a healthier decision, even if just for a moment.

When you suggest playing Plant-based Munchies, you alone contribute to a better future. The real most valuable players are those of you who are honest about your dietary and cognitive struggles and are still trying to include vegan products in your life.

If disciplined vegans can’t appreciate how much good you can do on a daily basis, the people you save will. It will never be easy but your perseverance will be remembered.

Maybe not anyone, but you can without a doubt change the world with the right intentions.

PR Anecdote: Minimalist Van Life with Randy A. Lewis

You can rest assured that this is not an ad but a summary of what I learned recently from releasing a video that is supposed to spark the beginning of a great new series but instead primarily resulted in this lesson.

First off, you won’t find the video here but you can search for it if you want.

My name is Joshua Autrey Serrano and to put things into context, a hobby of mine is publishing the photos and videos I take of local restaurants, hotels and attractions on my website about Southern California.

“Minimalist Van Life” is a documentary series for that website about a best friend of mine, Randy A. Lewis, who has expressed a desire to free himself financially through minimalism and a nomadic lifestyle.

So the lesson starts here: I took a risk and started production far too early. It has not created problems but the mark made is permanent. There is no way to remove the distributed releases from other people’s websites. There is no way to erase people’s first impressions. Fortunately, the first mistake I made has a silver lining.

In an attempt to invoke an emotional response, the message implied the series might be useful to people in certain financial circumstances. In retrospect, that was a mistake for two reasons. One, sponsors do not want the attention of irrelevant audiences and the content of that release implied a primarily low-income audience. Two, there is already an aspiring van life community that was not only not addressed but negatively associated with hardship.

Honestly, the first lesson is to stick to the truth. In reality, I admire people who live in vehicles for the reason that lifestyles like their’s have an adventurous tone with an entirely different set of risks than traditional home dwellers. I should have said that instead.

On top of that, the goal was to associate the series back to the host website because it all ties into the plan we have for marketing. What happened was that the plan somehow got ignored. What was supposed to set this series apart from other series is its involvement in local communities. Everything is still set up to execute as planned but the opportunity to tell people that in the release has sailed.

A secondary lesson is that the best marketing is accomplished by knowing the industry you intend to work with well enough. People hate marketers so take that into consideration.

Industry Fame vs. Being Famous

There are many popular people in the world but to classify their fame in the same way would not make sense. It’s very possible to be known by millions of people and never be recognized on the streets. It’s also possible to be recognized on the streets without being famous at all.

What separates fame and industry notoriety is interest. Generally speaking, popular celebrities are entertainers. A majority of people enjoy entertainment so it makes sense that everyone might know who a rising musician is but not an industry famous stock trader. If you trade, you’re more than likely to care slightly more about the celebrity stock trader.

What good is it to be well-known in the wrong industries? What it can end up doing is backfiring.

Networking is useful for the same reason being a celebrity is: Marketing and connections. You just might end up networking with your competition which means you just might end up with a spotlight on you. That does not guarantee leads that convert to sales.

What ends up happening is that people who need your service need you because they have no idea how to describe the problem let alone fix it. The implications are that they rarely will ever be able to search for you using the correct words.

Think entry level. The inability to communicate what you do to someone who has never heard of what you do can be detrimental.

A personal anecdote: while trying to obtain momentum for my marketing services online, I opened an article up for syndication. Because of the jargon I used, even though what was said can be considered newsworthy, it ended up reaching industry-based SEO blogs and news stations. The competition became well aware of my accomplishments but my target audience did not. The results ended up bittersweet.

The purpose of that short story is that you have to address the people you plan to sell to. If you have no idea how to do that, ask for help. Time is valuable. Not wasting money on trying things over and over is valuable. Writing for people who understand what you do already will make you more notorious in your industry but not with your target audiences. Being industry famous has its perks once you reach the level of authority. Fortunately, that can be obtained with diligence and success.

(Not everyone is, or should be, a copywriter. Let a professional sales writer do what they do best while you focus on what you do best. There are no guarantees in marketing but you can minimize losses. )

Being industry famous is perfect for people with industrial products but knowing your target industries is the goal in most cases.