Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The future of marketing: Are skills keeping up with increasing demands?

As marketing grows ever more complex, are marketer training and skills keeping pace?

One recent study found wide-spread dissatisfaction among marketing and advertising executives with the skills of job applicants. According to the Online Marketing Institute's “State of Digital Marketing Talent,” 40% of respondents said they have more marketing positions open than they can fill with qualified talent, with analytics being the most desired skill. The OMI study was based on an August online poll of 747 companies.

But many observers say the focus on specific skills is misplaced, as tools and tactics evolve rapidly and become outdated quickly.

 “Future marketers will have to be worried more about the big picture, particularly the interfaces with other disciplines within the company,” said Ralph Oliva, executive director of the Institute for the Study of Business Markets at Penn State University's Smeal College of Business. “It doesn't matter about the latest thing you did on social media. What's important is understanding the principles for navigating what will always continue to be a new world of marketing tools."

The ISBM recently released a study on the future of b2b marketing, “The B2B Agenda: The Current State of B2B Marketing and a Look Ahead,” authored by ISBM Leadership Board Chairman Fred Wiersema. The study identified four key trends expected to dominate not only marketing but marketing hiring in the future:

* Marketing is becoming more strategic, with increasing responsibility for the organic growth strategy of companies.
* Marketers must recognize the importance of global markets and the challenges they represent. * Technology's “disruptive power” could make certain b2b practices obsolete.
* B2b companies must transition to “marketing realities,” including moving from a product focus to a market focus, or shifting from being operations-driven to customer-driven.

“We want to equip our students to have the principles to navigate the changing world rather than trying to tease out the last piece of analytics from the latest tool,” Oliva said.

This approach is being reflected in new hiring practices at b2b companies.

“We are hiring a new breed of marketers that recruiting firm Korn/Ferry coined "agile learners,' ” said Kathy Button Bell, VP-CMO at Emerson Electric Co. “Agile learners can be change agents to help companies become much more responsive in this age of transparency.”

Recruitment companies are finding a market for young marketers who understand the spectrum of channels and devices used by customers.

“When employers tell me what they're looking for in their marketing candidates, adaptability is right up there near the top,” said Jerry Bernhart, principal at marketing executive search company Bernhart Associates. “If you're looking to avoid data and math, marketing is not the career for you. But you also have to have a good dose of intellectual curiosity. You need to focus not just on the "what' and the "how' but also on the "why.' You must have a thirst for knowledge and be eager to learn and adopt new technology.”

Gary Slack, chairman-chief experience officer at b2b agency Slack & Co., Chicago, said: “B2b used to be the place where unsuccessful salespeople were dropped, or for college grads who couldn't get a job at bigger b-to-c agencies. But I think the profession has attracted better and smarter people.

“The rise of integrated marketing communications has produced many b2b marketers who aren't siloed in the way the traditional marketing profession used to be.”

Northwestern University business professor Don Schultz spearheaded integrated marketing communications in the 1980s. It is now the core of his work as emeritus professor at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.

“It's a holistic approach, based not on more campaigns but rather processes,” Schultz said. As part of this holistic approach, Schultz said tomorrow's marketers must be fully acquainted with analytics.

“Big ideas only occur if customers respond to them,” he said. “We're convinced that behavioral data is where the world is going to be, taking data and messages and making sense out of it.”

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

How to respond to a rude email

It’s known that reading abusive comments actually has more effect than hearing them. This is very relevant to email, which is the leading form of office communication. It’s interesting to note that for all its speed and effectiveness as a messaging tool, this sophisticated form of messaging has a flaw or two.

For example, without the emotional and facial cues a person uses when speaking, emails can come across as lifeless, blunt and curt. And when the rudeness is on purpose the effect is even worse. How many of us have experienced nasty emails? Not only do they tend to linger, but often cast a cloud over your day. What’s important is to evaluate the email calmly, and decide if the rudeness was intentional.

Should you feel so, there are ways to deal with it.

Let’s see how.

Don’t answer right away
Being offended by a rude email is natural; and perhaps lashing back too. But often it’s best to wait a while before you answer. Get some perspective, let your anger cool, and try not to dwell on it.

This should help you come up with a civil response. Chances are the sender was also a bit hasty and will return with an apology even before you mention it. It will also help you to get your ducks in a row should blame be directed at you, and you need to check your facts first in case you might be in the wrong.

Of course, there’s never a right time for rudeness, but being sure of your case will prevent it from getting worse.

Create a standard answer template

Getting into the details of why an email offended you can sap your energy. Save yourself time and aggravation by replying with a pre-prepared template that informs the sender of his rudeness, and that you will only consider more nicely phrased letters. Here’s an example:

I'm open to hearing what people have to say, unless they take a malicious approach to conversation. I felt your previous email applies to this, and if you'd like to try again with a nicer approach, I'd be happy to have a conversation with you.

This should give the person pause, and perhaps even draw out on an apology. At the very least, this avoids getting into an unproductive slugging match of trading insults.
Should it draw out no response, let the dust settle for a while. Then perhaps follow up with another message, kindly reminding them that you are still open for discussion.

What is important to note is that a template such as this might not always be appropriate given the situation, culture or person it is aimed at – and might be seen as a rude email in its own right! Use prudence before deciding to send it, and remember that the key is to distance yourself with an impersonal – if polite – writing tone. Which leads us to the next point…

Kill them with kindness

Sometimes, simple politeness can deflate the abuse coming your way, even if you don’t feel like being nice. First, make an effort to understand their grievance and acknowledge it. Better yet, try to solve it, and if you can’t, explain why you can’t. The voice of reason goes a long way in making the sender of a rude mail aware how they’re stepping over the line.

If the abuse continues, you might have a real problem on your hands. But before escalating it, take a step back, or step out completely. The next point explains how.

Get a cool-headed friend to respond

The problem with directed, written communication is that it’s difficult not to take personally. Distance yourself by getting an outside opinion, as well as a response.

Of course, the trick is to be fair and even-handed – as you will have to outline the situation to a third party, who is not involved in the situation. Ask them to write a response that’s impartial, then tweak it if needed and send it off. This could also help you gain perspective on the situation and set you on the road to resolving it.

When words fail

Make peace with the fact that there will always be rude people. And that we all have bad days. Based on the instance you’re facing, decide if wasting energy on an abusive person is worth it. Make sure you’ve done your best to solve the situation, but should there be no developments, move on and get on to other things. If you feel stressed by the mail, take a breather, or set your mind somewhere else. Best is then just to forget it.

After all, nicer people deserve your attention too.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

From a salesman to CEO

Rado chief executive officer Matthias Breschan reveals how luck and passion played a part in charting his career.

Who would have thought that a calculator salesman would one day end up as CEO of a prestigious timepiece brand?

Matthias Breschan, who was in Kuala Lumpur recently for the launch of the Rado Hyperchrome collection, tells how he got his big break in the watch industry.

An Austrian native schooled in Vienna, the economics degree graduate landed his first job with Texas Instruments in France as a product manager at age 26.

"I was in charge of sales for new product development and this was the first time the European market had broken away from traditional black calculators to come up with colourful ones. Our target then was the mass market where we sold to big European department stores and mail orders. It was a far cry from the luxury goods market," recalls Breschan.

His first job eventually readied him for another managerial post with Alcatel, a mobile phone company in the 90s. Coincidently, the Swatch group, which also owns Rado, was making attempts to diversify into the telecommunications field. It had a joint venture with Siemens to integrate a chip within a watch to act as a ticketing device. One area of target was to be the skiing stations in Europe at which a wearer could download their tickets via readers and wireless contacts. Today, it is a huge success. But from an early stage, Swatch chose to give up.

"The main reason was to preserve the value perception of the brand. Then, mobile phones were sold at very low prices, due to heavy subsidisation. When this happened, consumers lost perception to the right price for the watch and the danger of destroying the brand became too big.

"As you know, the Swatch brand is aimed at the lower price segment which made it accessible to everybody. Realising this will be difficult to do outside of the watch market, they stopped," reveals Breschan who was then heading the department overseeing Swatch's diversification attempt.

When the merger broke up, it was not hard for Breschan to choose where to go.
"It is so easy to get passionate with watches," he says.

Two experiences sealed his decision.

"One was in a training class conducted by Swatch in which we had to disassemble and reassemble the movement of a pocket watch. This was when I not only developed a respect and appreciation for watchmakers, but an emotional link to mechanical watches," recalls Breschan.

The second has to do with the Rado brand itself. When he went to see the manufacturing process, he saw the strength of the group's industrial base. Seeing their capabilities to manufacture their own movements, mechanisms, cases, dials and ceramic, blew him away. One would be the high-tech ceramic composite Rado has researched and developed. Made by heating the mixed powders of the ceramic formula, this was the very component that pushed the brand to the forefront as the world's first scratch-proof watch.

In 2003, to test Breschan's merits, superiors put him in charge of Hamilton, an American brand they had just moved to Switzerland.

"My responsibility was to turn the brand around. Then, Hamilton was only present in the United States, Italy, Spain and Japan. The ambition was for it to grow from a small niche player to a worldwide brand. So, we started restructuring for international expansion by developing a new portfolio and reworking the marketing strategy. At that time, Hamilton had two lines - Khaki, which had a very military feel and Classic, an evocation of Hollywood glamour. We used these themes for the planning of product placement. Today, the brand is in over 70 countries," enthuses Breschan.

When asked if this had impressed his superiors, Breschan modestly quips the answer should come from the horse's mouth.

Breschan was handed the reins to Rado in 2010 as part of a succession plan. He has seen to three collection launches since then, namely the Centrix, Thin Line and Hyperchrome. Interestingly, the Hyperchrome is inspired by the discontinued Golden Horse collection dated from the 1970s.

At that time, Rado had yet to develop the monobloc technology, creating a seamless integration with the lugs and surrounding components. As a result, past models felt heavy to wearers. Today, the lightweight monobloc technology has allowed for greater freedom in design.

Speaking of the future, Breschan says manufacturing advancements in Rado's plasma ceramic cases have allowed for the creation of finishes similar to metallic surfaces without the use of any metal.

The latest technological development is seen in the crownless Rado Esenza Ceramic Touch, a ladies' watch sporting touch sensitive devices. Powered by a quartz movement, the Esenza is governed by software which detects fingertip movement, allowing time to be set through touch.

This is how it works: Four electrodes, at the 2, 4, 8 and 10 o'clock positions, are nestled between the movement and the monobloc ceramic case. When a fingertip influences the electrode through the ceramic case, it acts as a stray capacitor, modifying the frequency of an oscillating circuit.

Amazing technology aside, Breschan's philosophy is: Never be too in love with your own strategy. Or underestimate the presence of Lady Luck, especially when it comes to material development. In his experience, R&D may take as long as 10 years. In some cases, a breakthrough was achieved in only two.

"In the end, no CEO is better than his team. Without the competences of different departments to do the research and development of the movements, materials and electronics, one can never bring out a production. The constant challenge is to push oneself to move forward, to continuously innovate and invent. The day you stop is the day you will kill the brand," he concludes.

[Source : Asia  News Network]

Monday, 11 November 2013

10 Questions to Ask When Preparing for a Trade Show

If you are one of the regular participants at international trade shows, the following article is definitely a must read.

For any small business, trade shows can provide an effective means of spreading brand awareness, getting your product out in front of a target audience and meeting with current or potential clients. But there’s much more to it than reserving your space and signing on the dotted line.
While preparing to attend any show, consider these 10 key questions to ask before exhibiting:
1. Why am I participating in this show? “There really has to be a why,” says D.J. Heckes, CEO of trade show management company Exhib-it and author of Full Brain Marketing.

People sign up for a show for a number of reasons: It can serve as a launching pad for new products or concepts, a way to build up your brand and distribution, a means of nurturing relationships or even a place to position your company for sale.

Once you nail down a clear motive that aligns with your business strategy, reach out to customers and find out if they are attending and if the show fits their timing and needs.

2. Am I organized for the show? Preparing for a show well in advance can save you both time and money.

For example, if you sign up early, you can take advantage of discounted rates, which can be considerably less than prices charged within 60 or 30 days of an event.
On the other side of the spectrum, if you are disorganized, you may incur additional costs. One instance where you might get penalized is if you forget to bring something and need to have it delivered to the show. You not only will have to pay for shipping and handling but the show may slap on hidden costs.

You can be surprised at the add-on costs if you don’t meet certain deadlines,” Heckes says. “If you follow a budget and a timeline, you won’t forget things.”

3. How much space will I need? While it’s nice to have a large footprint on a trade show floor, those who can’t afford it shouldn’t worry, says Michael Brody-Waite, CEO of InQuicker, a health-tech company focused on connecting consumers with services.

Brody-Waite's approach is to invest in a simple booth presentation and then doing everything he can to capture contact information and follow-up with these leads after the show. For him, it is more about these meaningful connections, conversations and ability to covert prospects to actual customers than the complexity of a booth.

“The way we look at it, if we can't have impactful conversations with a single booth space, simply adding more real estate probably isn't the right solution,” he says.

4. Does it matter who my neighbors are? Absolutely. But how you view your neighbors is where views diverge.

Maureen Burke isn't a fan of being placed next to a show-stopping booth. The senior account director at Nth Degree, an event marketing and management company, warns against having your small booth next to an extravagant presentation (think lots of signage and activity). This kind of placement can distract potential customers from your message and products.

“You’re not just competing against other companies who make the same product, but everyone who is exhibiting there,” she says.

However, Brody-Waite has a different perspective. He likes to secure a booth near flashier ones that will likely attract a lot of foot traffic. If another company is doing the heavy lifting to get people in a certain area, why not capitalize on it, he says.

“As a young company, we can count on any number of booths having better production value than ours, even if they belong to our competitors, he says. "It's just another opportunity to be enterprising.”

5. Should I sponsor events in conjunction with the trade show? Brody-Waite believes in attending trade shows not only as an exhibitor, but also as a sponsor or presenter, as it affords the best opportunity to inform and educate an audience.

“We keep a calendar of speaking opportunity deadlines and make sure to pitch fresh, relevant session topics every year," he says. “Speaking and exhibiting at a trade show is the ultimate one-two punch, as it maximizes your budget to get in front of as many people as possible.”

6. Who am I targeting at the show? A show might have tens of thousands of attendees trekking through the event but participants need to figure out who specifically they are targeting and how they plan on reeling them in. Some companies get stuck on the number of people who stop by the booth, instead of looking at whether they are qualified buyers of your goods and services.

“Are you looking for 1,500 basic leads or 200 well-qualified leads? Are you looking for shallow and wide exposure or narrow and deep?” Burke of Nth Degree says.

By qualifying the type of people you hope to reach, you can plan your presentation more effectively.

7. How am I going to measure my attendance and presence at the show? In addition to counting leads, it’s important to measure marketing impressions at the show. Just like you can see how many people view an ad in a magazine, you want to know how many people are viewing your marketing materials like signage on the show floor. Burke suggests working with the show organizer to get numbers.

For example, if your signage is at the front of an entrance on the west side, find out how many people entered the show floor from that door. This can help you plan for future shows and decide whether they’re worth attending.

8. Am I familiar with the host city and venue? When you’re planning to exhibit at a show, it’s important to know about the city you’re visiting, as well as the rules and regulations of the convention center, including the associated unions and contractors.

“Not only is this going to affect your budget but also how you meet deadlines,” Burke says. “Going to Orlando is totally different animal than going to San Francisco, Chicago and other union-driven convention centers.”

9. Have I backed up my presence through social media? Keeping your customers informed about your company’s activities before, during and after the trade show is crucial, Heckes of Exhib-it says. In addition to sending out a press release, you can post tweets about why people should come see you at the show. Possible incentives include a new technology, a prize drawing or a gift for stopping by.
Other relevant social media efforts can include blogging from the show floor, making regular updates on Facebook and posting videos of customers visiting your booth on your website.

10. Do I have a post-show plan? It takes a lot of money to plan and exhibit at a show. Don't let all your effort go to the wayside by not being active after the event is over. In this competitive world, if you don’t respond to leads within two or three days, your competitors will,” Heckes says She recommends having a sound plan for following up with people immediately after the show is over. If you have an app where you can send out information in real time at the event, all the better.

“If you wait two or three weeks, you’ve missed your window,” Heckes says.

Monday, 4 November 2013

6 Ways to Take The Chill Out of Cold Calling

As a salesperson, you already understand the cold call is necessary and unavoidable. As long as you need something in business -- more clients, a permit, a loan or a favor, you will have to get to the right person, get their attention and convince them to take action.

When I started my first business, no one knew me. I had some sales experience and almost no cold calling experience, but I did have a lot of guts and an idea I was 100 percent sold on. I made 500 to 750 cold calls a week and followed up in-person with people who had hung up on me just days before. The number of successes were few and far between. I thought -- if I can cold call and not be negatively effected, I could do anything.

I still have to cold call in business today. Here are the six key ways to go about it successfully:

1. Confidence is key. Be sold on what you have to offer so much that it would be unethical not to tell the prospect about it. I'm serious. Think of your product or service as a solution to a problem. "I hope I'm not bothering you" should be changed to "I have something that will help you make (or save) more money and quickly impact your business."

2. Open with your reason for calling. It's about the customer. “John, this is Grant Cardone, and the reason I am calling you is....” Open with enthusiasm, excited about why you're calling. This helps get their attention without meandering. Be clear and concise.

3. Make a monster-size claim early in the call. "The reason I am calling is to save you money, lower your rate, show you a way to increase sales." If you aren't able to make that big claim with conviction, go back and resell yourself.

4. Anticipate questions, complaints and objections. You must be able to predict every possible response from the person you are calling. Make a list of possible responses, questions, complaints and objections with answers that you can offer quickly.

5. Maintain a great attitude. If they're rude or dismissive, stay positive no matter what. I get cold calls all the time. My receptionist gathers information about callers to determine how best to help them. She's polite and professional. I wasn't available and one caller got frustrated because they wanted to speak with me directly. They didn't get their way and abruptly hung up. If the caller maintained a great attitude he'd probably have a better chance winning over the staff and getting his goal accomplished. Instead, he took a tone with my receptionist and never met his goal.

6. Be polite, professional, positive and persistent (the 4 p's). I once had a guy cold call me every day to get a job. Each time he called, he was polite and professional to my receptionist and managers. He was committed and made it clear in a professional manner that he wouldn't stop calling until he got a meeting with me. By the third week, anyone at my office who answered his call, knew who he was. We even talked about him in meetings and my staff was starting to vouch for him. He used these 4 p's, got to me, got hired and is now my VP of Sales.

Cold calling is one of those things an entrepreneur must learn to master. The sooner you start to cold call as a way to promote your business, the better off you will be. Set your targets incredibly high, ten times higher than you would normally and then get dialing. The more calls you have to make, the quicker you'll deal with rejection. And with all those calls to make, you have no time to dwell.

[Source: Grant Cardone, an international sales motivator]