This week I’m going to a seminar on marketing for SMEs and entrepreneurs run by Ulster Bank in conjunction with SmallBusinessCan which promises to be an interesting affair. Some of the topics under discussion on the SmallBusinessCan website will be addressed, such as:
Marketing or sales?
E-commerce, designing your website, app or website?
Cloud, social media, software and systems
I’m looking forward to hearing what the panel will say about the first topic. One of SmallBusinessCan’s founders says “My personal view is that a good sales person is worth 10 marketers.”
First of all it should never be an either/or. Both disciplines have their place in any organisation and, at their best, complement each other well. I wrote about this before (and not just so I could post a photo of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant in full flow).
Secondly, it is better to make selling everyone’s job rather than marketing. Developing everyone’s ability to spot a sales opportunity and nurture it to a certain point before passing to the sales team will reap more dividends. The same cannot necessarily be said for marketing though. It’s a rare outfit that allows everyone in the organisation to contribute to the Facebook page or Twitter account although hats off to those who do. This requires good training, trust and a blame free culture.
A recent survey by The Channel Partnership in conjunction with The Leadership Foundation found that over 80% of sales and marketing professionals believe their activities are not aligned, no doubt having a significant impact on the bottom line. More than half said that the lack of a clear strategy was a key factor in the development of co-ordinated plans, as was lack of time, budgets, structured processes and senior direction.
I’ve always loved all kinds of music and, since the days of listening to Desert Island Discs on Radio 4 when growing up (that programme, together with the shipping forecast, transports me right back to childhood), I’ve pondered what would go on my list.
Invariably I’ve dismissed it as too difficult a task. What on earth would you leave out? Which, of course, is the whole point.
When I was little I used to write out the Top 40 singles chart in an exercise book when it was played on Radio 1 each Sunday evening. Wonder where those old books are now? This must have been about 1980 ish because I remember Rainbow’s I Surrender being number 3 and really wishing it would get to number 1. But John Lennon put paid to that.
We used to sit and watch Sunday evening TV eating egg and cress sandwiches for tea. I listened to the Top 40 on the headphones while everyone else watched the Antiques Roadshow or The Professionals.
This was Abba’s One of Us which I bought in Boots in Warrington with a gift voucher that I must have got for Christmas. But I really wanted to buy Adam and the Ants’ Antrap which had just been released. Says a lot about my middle-child, 11 year old self that I plumped for the safe option.
What song always gets you dancing?
A very hard question, as it invariably depends on my mood, who I’m with and how many glasses of wine I’ve had. However, a safe bet would be Stevie Wonder’s Masterblaster which I remember hearing for the first time after swimming at Stockton Heath pool while waiting to be picked up. Either that or Superstition.
I also clearly remember going to WH Smiths in Warrington with my very excited Mum to buy Led Zeppelin’s In Through The Out Door on its release date in summer of 1979. It came in a special brown paper envelope.
But the most memorable song is In The Evening, again by Led Zeppelin. This was the first song played at the Knebworth gig that we all went to as a family, en route to camping in Cornwall. We kids stayed outside in the tent as Mum and Dad went into the arena and, whenever I hear the eery, wailing first few bars of the song, I’m transported back to that time, expecting to hear the massive roar of the crowd when they realised it was show time.
I should have been doing my homework but I remember listening to Duran Duran’s The Reflex (and thinking it was rubbish) when I was taking in a pair of new jeans that just weren’t tight enough. I must have been about 14.
What song best evokes your experience of a study or work trip?
In the 4th year at secondary school our whole year, it seems, had a thing for the soft rock album, American Heartbeat, long since unavailable. It used to get played to death and sung loudly on the back of the bus going home each day. I still know all the words to each song. Wang Chung, anyone?
Later on we went on a college trip to London one time and ended up at the Astoria to see Sisters of Mercy, I remember them playing This Corrosion, fantastic. And then the same gang used to go to the Sugarhouse in Lancaster where we saw The Men They Couldn’t Hang – that was a mad gig.
Which song is most likely to bring a tear to your eye (or to make you weep copiously)?
What is the best song to kickstart your most creative thinking?
I don’t use music to get creative. Fresh air and a brisk walk along the beach, listening to an old disco song to get the strides going would do it, mind you. A bit of Edwin Starr, Sly or early Jackson Five.
Which song helps you work when you really need to concentrate?
Anything Led Zeppelin. Every lyric, chord and note of all the songs they ever officially recorded are so familiar to me that, if turned to the right volume, I can just zone out whilst feeling secure and in a good place. But then there are times when that familiarity is also a bit annoying too.
When you’re angry, on which song do you want to turn up the volume?
Some hairy arsed rock like Motorhead or Deep Purple.
Which song sums up the person you would like to be?
I’m happy as I am but often wished I could sing, really belt it out, like Dusty Springfield on Son of a Preacher Man or the Dixie Chicks on Sin Wagon. It’s such a gift to be able to captivate a room by opening your mouth, taking a deep breath and singing to the rafters.
I recently had a conversation with someone who told me that they, quite frankly, didn’t think that any of the marketing activity I did had any impact whatsoever on sales. (Don’t worry, this wasn’t someone from Learning Pool).
So, after marvelling at the complete lack of appreciation of how to sell and nuturing a slightly bruised ego, I started wondering about the different roles that sales and marketing teams have to play.
I’d never had cause to question this before, having been fortunate enough to work with people who were either too polite to question the point of my work or who understand and value the role that marketing plays in a business.
How do the best marketing and sales people work in practice? Or are they best kept apart for fear of damaging sensitive egos?
Just what are the different roles of sales and marketing teams? And can you ever (whisper it) cut through the fluff of marketing and go straight to sales?
Here’s what I think marketing does:
develop the brand and messages
identify the target market and reach out to them
create the noise to get the company/product/service noticed
help the prospect to make the business case to buy
present, pitch, negotiate
close the sale!
So is it true that Sales teams are only interested in money and Marketing teams prefer pretty designs over tables of stats?
Maybe, in some companies.
The reality is that successful companies treat their sales and marketing teams as the opposite sides of the same coin. Each team has an equally important job to do and one can’t exist without the other.
It’s marketing’s job to lay the ground work, set the stage and provide support to the sales teams who can then go forth and do their thing.
In the same way that the best rock star partners work together, feed off each other and produce something ultimately more fantastic* than if they were just performing on their own, so too do the best sales and marketing partnerships perform.
Just like Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.
*no disrespect intended to Mr Plant’s illustrious solo career, not least his latest work with the wonderful Band of Joy.
Has anyone ever insulted your chosen career path or shown a complete lack of understanding about what you do? I’d love to hear your stories, please share in the comments below.
Here’s Mary and I with Sir Ken Robinson after his talk at the Unlocking Creativity event for the City of Culture 2013 in Derry this week.
It was lovely to meet Sir Ken Robinson at breakfast time on Monday – it turned out to be the best start to the working week that I’ve had for a while.
Judging by the laughs from the lady in the row behind me, I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed his witty, North of England humour (the best kind – I was born in Warrington).
Sir Ken, best selling author of Out of Your Mind and The Element, was born in Liverpool and now lives in LA with his wife, Terry, and their two children. He was joined at the session by his brother, John, one of his six siblings, who was as gallant and charming as Ken himself (and a big Led Zeppelin fan).
Introduced by Phil Redmond, Chair of the UK City of Culture 2013 judging panel and leading light from Liverpool’s successful City of Culture in 2008, Sir Ken talked about how he thinks Derry can unlock its creative potential.
The audience was made of over 200 people from Northern Ireland from the education, commerce and cultural sectors.
Whilst thoroughly entertaining and full of anecdotes about famous people he had met (Sir Paul McCartney, US gymnast Bart Connor, international pool player Ewa Laurance) Sir Ken was also pragmatic about the challenges faced by the city given to it by the City of Culture opportunity.
Getting people to believe in the vision and themselves, securing funding, getting organisations to work collaboratively when they never have before – all are issues to be tackled.
However, Sir Ken was keen to stress that everyone in the city has a contribution to make.
And while the title of City of Culture is only afforded to Derry for one year, 2013, Sir Ken is looking further ahead. Creating a lasting impact from the activities and not just having a year of festivals and parties is what the audience was encouraged to focus on.