Sales, Marketing And the Digital World
While sales and marketing departments in linen, uniform and facility services companies sometimes struggle to work together, in today’s digital world, the traditional line separating these two forces is increasingly blurred.
The sales team can physically visit a prospect and obtain real-time feedback. The marketing department can create research and strategy for those sales interactions. Now, the digital world has changed the way we do business. Every cultural shift is predicated on communication. Efficient business communication recently has shifted to social media channels and personal branding. Now is the time for sales and marketing to set aside their differences and focus on how they can work together to reach even more people in the digital world.
If you can create value for a particular audience (think customers, prospects, or potential employees), the digital world offers a way to reach thousands or even millions of people in seconds. Previously, the major networks, publishers and agencies dictated what appeared on television, the radio and in newspapers. They told us what television shows were going to air and who was the next hottest musician. Now, anyone with talent or a vision can create a following of their own and get known without signing on with an agency or spending an arm and leg for a 30-second Superbowl ad.
The digital world today is a land of opportunities. But to turn online media to your company’s advantage takes a commitment and focus. In business, if you’re not willing to adapt to a changing world, you soon become irrelevant.
The fastest way to adapt is to start producing content, especially on platforms such as LinkedIn, that are designed to help business professionals. LinkedIn began as a place for job seekers, but it too has evolved.
LinkedIn has gone from people posting resumes and connecting with professionals already in their network to now when people have started reaching out and connecting with others that they don’t know. Consequently, LinkedIn has become a faster way to meet and connect with new people.
A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT
Everyone knows that if you want to have six-pack abs, it takes commitment and a focus from the gym to the kitchen. More importantly, we know that following this philosophy for one day, or one week, doesn’t deliver immediate results. If you put all of your focus into the gym but don’t eat properly, your progress stalls.
The same goes for using LinkedIn as a sales and marketing tool. The six-pack-ab-seeking dieter stays committed and patient to both the gym and the kitchen. These qualities are comparable to the ones essential to managing a successful online-branding campaign. It’s critical that you create a strategy and framework for communicating a message (marketing) and execute on the delivery of the message to the right people at the right time (sales).
THE FIRST STEPS TO MARATHON SUCCESS
- Understand Yourself
There are many people out there that are working a job they’re not passionate about. In today’s society, if you don’t love your job, of course, it’s going to be hard to stay committed and put in the time necessary for success. Start with understanding yourself and find something you’re passionate about. Self-awareness is the foundation of future success.
- Put in the Time and Effort
If you aren’t producing content around yourself and your business, you’re vulnerable. This weakness could lead to a loss of leverage in your market, while someone in a similar space will produce content and will gain leverage with their brand. It’s that simple. There are no shortcuts. Put in the time to understand your audience’s needs and reverse engineer your process so that all of your content brings value to those particular audiences’ needs.
- Go All In
Industry experts have compared the current organic reach on LinkedIn to that of Facebook several years ago. Now that Facebook is a mature platform, the cost and organic reach has declined. It’s time to go all-in on a platform that’s evolving around user experience such as that with LinkedIn. We all know the importance of what Facebook’s reach created during its prime. Examples include the e-commerce site, Wish.com, which has brought in $2.9 billion in revenue this year, according to Forbes.com, after using Facebook ads as their only source of marketing. Now is the time to go all-in on LinkedIn content, whether it’s the written word, audio, video, graphics, etc.
- Learn From Mistakes
By going all in, you’re going to make mistakes. But it’s important to not be paralyzed by them. Trying to make the perfect piece of content every time is unrealistic. Everything happens for a reason, and you can’t always control events. If you really want to make something happen, then you’ll find the time to make it happen. The sooner you realize that there’s no such thing as a perfect piece of content, the better off you’ll be. And if you do stumble across a mistake, you can delete content just as easy as you can post it.
- Hold Yourself and Your Team Accountable
Building your brand online is not a one-time, one-project action. Rather, it’s the sum of all of the marketing you do for your business, all of the interactions your business has with anyone—day-in and day-out. In order to maximize your exposure, the key is to hold yourself and your team accountable to act consistently. In the long-run, keeping a tight rein on consistently produced content enhances your brand recognition.
IT TAKES A TEAM
A lot of people won’t do what it takes to get recognized online because there are no short cuts. Creating opportunities for yourself and your business in the mass digital age is a marathon. The formula for creating any great marathon runner is training and most importantly, support. The gym has to be supported in the kitchen. Sales has to be supported by marketing. It takes a perfect blend. Create the marketing strategy; then let sales execute it.
Marketing and sales traditionally have a reputation for competing with each other to get the same results. Who gets credit for the big sale? Was it marketing’s strategic content that drew them in, or was it the in-person relationship that the sales representative built? Instead of going head to head, it’s more important to use each other’s strengths and build off of each other.
With today’s cultural shift to the digital world, there are billions of messages being thrown at our ideal prospects daily. The only way to be heard is to use the quick-sales feedback and the market research to come up with a strategic branding campaign that benefits both sales and marketing. There’s only one way to make a statement and be heard above the noise online, and that takes teamwork, patience, and a cohesive unit.
Emily Hauber is the marketing manager for CITY Clean & Simple, Oelwein, IA. She and CITY colleague Chriss Carsello presented on the topic of sales/marketing departmental collaboration on Dec. 5 at TRSA’s 2nd Annual Marketing & Sales Summit in Tampa, FL.