Happy Mondays (no, not the band, although I do hear that they are reforming for a tour one month this year).

As I got in the car to drive to work on Monday, it was with a sense of relief after surviving the usual chaos of getting everyone out of the house on time and in the correct clothing and the right bags and kit for the day.  My thoughts then turned to the day ahead and what it might bring.  I am lucky enough to be doing a job I really enjoy, that is providing marketing advice and support to small businesses in the area.

Some days of course bring challenges and it can still be hard to summon enough positive energy for the day ahead, particularly on a Monday.  What does make this easier for me though, is that the clients I work with are a really positive group of people.  We work with business owners who are facing these seemingly tough times, but are amazingly positive about how they are going to make their businesses successful.  This positivity really does have a knock-on effect on us, and how we go about giving them the best marketing advice we can.  But we are constantly reminded about how hard life is at the moment, with no apparent easy way out of it, all of which we find far too negative.  The subject of recession and tough economic times is actually banned in our office.

It was interesting then to hear on the radio, during my journey in, that it was ‘Happy Monday’, apparently the happiest day of the year.  According to psychologists, the combination of getting the first pay cheque of the year and booking a summer holiday makes Monday 31st January the highpoint of the year.

‘We each experience an average of ten major happy days every year but none is happier than January 31, or Happy Monday,’ said Dr David Holmes, senior psychologist at Manchester Metropolitan University.

So, I thought are my clients going to be extra happy today?  Perhaps not, but what it did make me appreciate is that although the people I work with do face challenging times, they work hard to be positive.

Building your own business, brand or company takes time, energy, and a lot of work. Why do I think my clients are so positive? One reason I believe is that they all set realistic goals and a schedule to work towards them.  We work with them to create a marketing plan with realistic business growth objectives.  Our services provide the marketing activities which helps work towards those goals. The reward from the time and energy spent on their businesses is realised through those goals being accomplished.  If small steps are taken to maintain or grow your business, you are more likely to continue that cycle of hard work, commitment and achievement.  With achievement and reward comes positivity, whatever the challenges faced along the way.

So let’s all keep positive, and have a few more Happy Mondays this year, or any other day of the week for that matter.

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Which is more important, Sales or Marketing?

Chantal

Which is more important, Sales or Marketing? Can you effectively grow your business using one and not the other? If you’re on a tight budget, do you put your resources into just one activity? And if so, which one?

Marketing is more important because …

… without Marketing you can’t generate leads and enquiries into your business. If you don’t generate new leads, you can’t sell to them. Marketing is about telling the world what you can do to help solve other people’s problems. It’s about finding out what issues other people and businesses are struggling with and what they want to achieve. Then it’s about you creating services and products that solve those challenges, which people are prepared to invest in. Selling without Marketing is like phoning someone who lives in a first floor flat and trying to sell them a conservatory!

Marketing is about creating a reputation for your business and getting people to talk about you. Without Marketing, how will anyone know that you exist?

Sales is more important because …

… you can generate all the leads you want, but if you can’t sell and close the deal, how will those prospects become clients? Sales is about helping prospective customers identify a gap in what they have – their turnover or number of clients, for instance. It’s about helping them to see the opportunity to fill that gap and then about you creating a solution that you can provide to fill that gap. If they can’t recognize the opportunity to change, they will never buy what you’re offering. Sales is about presenting the best solution that meets the needs of your prospective client – both their business and their personal needs. It’s about showing why your solution is perfectly aligned to them and why it’s the best solution.

Sales is about gaining the trust of a prospect – without that trust they will never sign the deal.

Sales and Marketing working together

As a Marketing Consultant, I might be tempted to say that Marketing is definitely more important than Sales. However, I’ve helped clients create great marketing materials, raise their business profile and generate lots of leads, only to see all the hard work come to nothing because they’re not comfortable closing the sale.

On the other hand, I can see how important Sales is, because I’ve received many phone calls from complete strangers wanting to sell me something, who make no attempt to help me realize I have a need for what they can sell. They don’t get very far!

I think the real answer is that Marketing and Sales have to work hand in hand. One without the other will cost a lot of money and produce fewer returns. To really maximise your efforts and investment, you need to make sure your Marketing and Sales activity (and people, if you work in a company large enough to have different departments) are working together. Companies who get their Marketing and Sales Strategy to work in unison can create really powerful results.

What do you think? Have you grown your business through Sales alone? Or do you think you can create a successful business just with Marketing? Is one more important than the other, or should they work together in equal measures?

What do you think of thought leadership?

Chantal

According to one internet source, it is “… about delivering new ideas and content to your target publics based on deep insights into the business issues and challenges they face.”

Craig Badings, who blogs about thought leadership goes on to say “In the process, the value you deliver should go well beyond merely selling your product or service. Your thought leadership point of view should differentiate you from your competitors, establish you as the ‘go to’ expert in that field and position you as a trusted advisor – all with the intent of underpinning the sale.”

According to another internet source, while five years ago thought leadership wasn’t considered as a marketing tool, today, across numerous B2B surveys, thought leadership is ranked one or two as the area of most significance for marketers.

So why should you use thought leadership?

Thought leadership can be used to grow your business reputation, if you develop your material carefully and plan how you’re going to use it. When it’s used in this way, thought leadership can become your new sales pitch, because no one wants to be sold to anymore. Instead you can use thought leadership to create a value proposition, so that your customers come to you.

But my products and services are so great that we can easily flog them to anyone we call.

Thought leadership is customer-focused; it should concentrate on evidence-based views and opinions that deliver insights and knowledge to your customers or prospects, about the challenges they face today.

Who cares about my customers? I only care about my business.

Thought leadership is not about you and it is not about bragging about how great your products and services are.

But like I said, my products are great, my business is great, we’ve won loads of awards …

Thought leadership is not about charging people for your ideas and advice, but about sharing the information you have with other people. It is about helping other people to overcome their challenges and issues, without them having to pay a fortune for your time.

Why on earth would I want to give away my advice? I’m not going to help anyone unless they pay me.

Thought leadership is about showing people that you know what’s going on around you and looking at what might happen down the line. This helps your clients and prospects trust you as the one who will be able to help their business now and in the future.

I’m not interested in the future. I want clients now!

 Is thought leadership for you?

Thought leadership as a marketing tool is not for everyone. Its ideal for businesses that provide services that need some explaining. It can also be used very effectively for low value products that need to be sold in high quantities. The key is whether or not you think it will work and then how you package it take it to your market. You can use research to generate great content. You can write all sorts of material, including newsletters, blogs, books, articles, web pages and social media content. You can talk about it. The possibilities are currently endless.