Biz Tips: From their lips to your business

Biz Tips: From their lips to your business

GROWTH:

From their lips to your business

Be great at telling stories and getting others to tell your stories to build a Goldmine.

It’s the dream of small-business owners, especially those with tight budgets: Grow sales without spending a dime on marketing.

Jon Ferrara makes those dreams a reality, as he explained to Ivana Taylor and Iva Ignjatovic.

The CEO of Nimble, Ferrara is a pioneer and creator of customer relationship management solutions. He also is CEO and founder of Goldmine, a comprehensive CRM software used by organizations of all sizes to manage their sales pipeline and marketing programs, and deliver customer support.

Taylor owns DIYMarketers, a company “committed to helping small business owners get out of overwhelm.” Ignjatovic is a marketing, strategy, leadership and business consultant.

“Marketing publicizes your business well,” Ferrara said in his thumbnail description.

Sales and marketing are somewhat related, and companies have tried to combine them.

“I used to fight the battle that sales and marketing were separate,” Taylor said. “In a small business, sales and marketing are usually integrated.”

Ferrara favors having the entities at least work closer together.

“Sales and marketing are walled off silos in most companies,” he said. “They should be combined into one cohesive team.

“Most sales people complain that marketing leads stink,” Ferrara said. “Marketing says salespeople don’t effectively follow up on marketing leads. Clearly there is a misalignment.”

For his part, Ferrara and his team are busy marketing their business.

“Nimble has been heavily investing around its influencer marketing program since our inception,” he said. “Some examples include our bi-monthly growth-hacking webinars, our recently published influencer marketing eBook and our #MSInspire Top 60 Thought Leader promotion.

“Nimble works in social media to highlight influencers we have relationships with currently — and those we’d like to — by sharing and retweeting their content and thought leadership,” Ferrara said. “We also promote their conversations or mentions made by others.”

That helps people other than your own to keep up the chatter.

“It’s more powerful when other people talk about you than when you talk about yourself,” Ferrara said. “Find influencers of the promise of your products and share their content at scale to build brand and awareness.”

He referred to his 5 E’s of social selling: educate, enchant, engage, embrace and empower.

“This year, I’m really focused on search engine optimized content,” Taylor said. “That’s because of artificial intelligence and voice search as well as mobile.”

Low-cost marketing also can lead to converting strangers to customers. Ferrara cited word of mouth and influencer marketing. Taylor agreed that “it’s all about relationships.”

“Being in marketing for 20 years, I’m actually difficult,” Ignjatovic said. “I don’t pay attention to ads. I pay attention to value — with the right timing.”

Many times, marketing is the first to go when it comes to cutting budgets. Taylor contended that happens because marketing often doesn’t deliver on its promises.

“Marketing is expensive and many times not seen as much of a critical component as sales,” Ferrara said. “The answer is better tracking and analytics to educate the C-Suite on marketing’s contribution to revenue.

“Align the promises you make to the experiences you deliver, and you can build a Goldmine,” he said. “Even better, empower your team to build their personal and professional brand as the group builds the company brand.”

Taylor feels marketing can be expensive “because there is no guarantee that it will work.”

“Building and managing all the components of a successful marketing program — including social media, content and influencer marketing, website, mobile, advertising, search engine optimization, public relations, video, design — require a myriad of specialists to orchestrate on a daily basis,” Ferrara said.

“Every company should empower, train and reward their team on building personal and professional brand and professional networks,” he said.

Time and money for marketing should be invested where it can give best results.

“Establish yourself or company as a trusted advisor,” Ferrara said. “When people need your products or services, they not only call you but drag their friends with them.

“Develop and showcase authentic pay-it-forward relationships with prospects, customers and especially influencers,” he said.

“To me, your time and money is best spent in understanding who your customers are and how you help them,” Taylor said.

When identifying the critical components of their marketing programs, business owners should ask themselves key questions.

“What am I really selling?” Ignjatovic said. “Why would someone care about my product or service?”

Taylor would ask, “What are the trigger events that start your customer thinking about the problem that you solve?”

Ferrara focused on hurt: “What are your customers’ largest challenges and pain points? How can you display thought leadership and use content to solve their biggest issues?”

Sometimes entrepreneurs can only invest their time and money in one sales or marketing activity.

“Develop and share content from others that establishes myself or my company as an expert advisor in and around the areas of promise of my products and services,” Ferrara said. “My motto is, If You Teach People to Fish, They Will Figure Out You Sell Fishing Poles.”

“The one sales and marketing activity I would invest in is connecting with and helping people,” Taylor said.

Ignjatovic favors social selling.

“It takes time and money — more time than money — but I know it works,” she said. “It’s a good investment.”

Then there’s the quandary of those who hate — or are bad at — sales and marketing. What to do if they need customers and don’t have money to spend?

Taylor went to the crux of the problem.

“If you can’t do sales and marketing, you should not run a business,” she said.

Ignjatovic suggested that such owners should “sell the business, or get a loan and hire a professional.”

“Follow my 5 E’s of Social Selling,” Ferrara said. “If you hate sales and marketing but need to build your brand and network to grow your business, educate, enchant, engage, embrace and empower your customers.”

About The Author

Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services and worked in public affairs for the Air Force and federal government. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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From their lips to your business was originally published in Marketing And Growth Hacking on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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