Kelly Borth

Whether or not your message gets heard has a lot to do with the way you present it to the market.

We can all relate to how challenging it is to take in all the communication we receive on a daily basis — television, radio, billboards and other outdoor messaging, signage at the drive-through, e-mail, voice mail, newspaper, Twitter and Facebook — just to name a few that impact me by 6:15 in the morning.

As consumers both personally and professionally, we make numerous decisions each day on what we will spend time reading and what we will ignore due to lack of time or interest. Our available time to review and receive messages continues to be challenged by the sheer number of messages we receive, not to mention the myriad of other demands on our time.

With the birth of social media, the 30-second rule has become at best the three-second rule. This challenges our ability to capture the attention of our audience members, engage them and convey a meaningful message.

Relevancy of message

It should go without saying that before we can communicate our message, we first need to understand what the customer is looking for, what we intend to communicate and why it matters to the customer. Without that, there is little hope that our message will be successfully delivered, no matter how we present it.

Concise messaging

Learning how to capture your message in three seconds is an art. Public relations professionals mastered this years ago when learning how to write an effective press release: present the news story in the first paragraph of the release. That way, reporters could quickly review the release and determine interest.

To help you keep your message concise, keep it focused on communicating one main thought. The strength of a message can easily be clouded by too much information and become ineffective. Use a good headline and a lead-in sentence or two with a link to the rest of the story in case the customer wants more information. Frame the message so that it appears to be an easy read: “Three easy ways to save...”, then present them in three easy-to-read bullets with links to more information.

Use graphics

According to one source, graphics communicate up to 60,000 times faster than text and increase the odds that you will win work by 43 percent. Graphics can be very effective in delivering a clear message very quickly. Infographics have become all the rage in presenting all kinds of data — survey results, research data and statistics to name a few.

The more complex the messaging, the more helpful graphics can be to simplify the communication. Creating graphics forces us to clarify our message to the intended audience. A word of caution, however; more is not better. Beware of trying to convey too much information with a single graphic. It may make more sense to have several graphics. The use of graphics as sales tools can be very effective in delivering a compelling message and an argument for why your company is the best choice.

Use videos

Video is a preferred way to receive information today, thanks to YouTube. We have become conditioned to watching short videos that convey information we are interested in or simply ones that entertain us.

Video is a great medium for thought leadership — a friendly way to share knowledge. It is more content and less advertising message or sales pitch. Think of it as a substitute for white papers. It is also a great medium for storytelling — your company story, your customers’ stories or case studies. It also helps your search engine optimization.

CEO dashboards

Why do CEOs love dashboards (web pages that collect information on a business)? Because they tell the story at a glance. In one place, the CEO can have his or her finger on the pulse of performance metrics they are responsible for managing. Concise information presented in an easy-to-view manner can be a powerful tool. It is an efficient and effective form of communication.

Consider what your organization can do to more effectively present information and communication to prospects and customers. The investment will be returned in improved sales and marketing results.

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 21-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, kborth@greencrest.com or @brandpro, or for more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

Understanding what transpires at every point of contact with your company can provide some great insights into why prospects and customers may or may not engage with your company. Sometimes it has more to do with the experience someone has than what solutions you have to offer.

The recruitment phase

To illustrate this principle, take my experience when I recently hired a roofing contractor. I conducted a Google search, ran off a list of BBB-affiliated companies in my area, selected a handful and made some calls. At 9:15 in the morning, if you can believe it, I reached only answering machines or had no answer at all. The one company that called me back within an hour was the contractor I ended up hiring.

Out of the gate, these six or so companies disengaged a prospective customer at one of the first points of contact. The company that did call back handled the rest of the call effectively. The staff was professional, communicated that they had the expertise to handle my problem and scheduled an appointment before the phone conversation ended, rounding out the recruitment phase of my experience.

The recruitment phase for most businesses is the most expensive. This phase encompasses advertising, lead generation, Internet presence and all that goes into building market awareness and reputation. It is here where you need to pay close attention to your outbound messaging, how easy you make it for customers to find you and how you respond to them when they do call for help.

Matters to measure success in this scenario might include tracking the source of the lead and ratio of inquiries received to appointments booked.

The engagement phase

The roofer showed up when he said he would and fixed the problem. I was not home at the time of service. He did not leave a card or a service receipt. He never invoiced me. That type of experience does not encourage continued engagement.

What could the company have done differently? It could have left the name of the serviceperson who was sent or left a sticker to place somewhere in my garage to remind me of who serviced my roof. The company could have sent a thank-you note and certainly an invoice. It could have offered to do a thorough inspection of my roof and provided me with information related to structural concerns or a maintenance plan to ensure I get the longest life possible out of my existing roof.

Bottom line: The company could have engaged me in developing a lasting relationship.

The engagement phase for most businesses is about customer service and customer communication. Success during this phase rests on the ability to make the customer feel like a part of your family, that you will take great care of them and be there when they need you again.

Some success measurements in this scenario might include number of repeat customers, the number of full roof inspections completed and the number of maintenance agreements signed.

The post-engagement phase

Here are some examples of how this company might have improved its post-engagement relationship with me. It could have called me after the next rain to make sure the repair was successful. The company could have asked me for a referral. It could have shared its community involvement, new certifications earned, new products or services, or educated me about the warning signs of when a roof needs repair.

Also, the company could send me information on special offers — maybe even a customer loyalty incentive for my next service.

The post engagement phase for most businesses is about building a relationship to have a customer for life. As business owners, it is up to us to remind customers often that we are doing great things and that we will be there when they need us again.

Some success measures for this phase might include the number of services performed over the life of the customer, number of customer referrals, number of customer loyalty incentives redeemed or even the number of new roofs installed.

Consider doing a touch-point analysis to uncover some helpful insights to improving your business’ success at every point of contact. It is well worth the time investment.

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 21-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, kborth@greencrest.com or @brandpro, or for more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

While listening to a representative with a local food manufacturing company talk about his company’s success with leading innovation and being the first to bring new products to market, it piqued my interest and led me to do some research on whether or not this was a winning strategy across the board.

What I did not realize is that this concept has been bantered about for decades. What I uncovered were some good reminders about what it takes to successfully lead the market.

So while there may be an argument that being first-to-market leads to market dominance, the bigger truth is more about how an organization’s vision and commitment to obtain market dominance results in enduring market leadership.

To get noticed, stand out in the crowd

Why does someone need your product? How are you going to penetrate the market so that potential buyers learn about what you have to offer? A decade ago, research showed that making an advertising impact required seven touches — today it is 11 (and when I entered the marketing field it was three — that’s a huge change).

Obtaining market leadership is not a one-time spend or a short-term spend — it is a long-term commitment that requires access to resources for the long haul. Even the best-laid plans need to be tweaked to overcome unforeseen competitive obstacles, shifts in consumer behavior and periods of a weak economy, among other factors.

Revenues may not cover costs the first year or even for several years. Being underfinanced can lead to premature market pull-out and thus financial losses.

Get your product known by meeting an unmet need

Whether or not you are meeting a need and/or desire in the marketplace is paramount in succeeding and achieving market dominance. Have you obtained customer input in the development of your offering? Did you study competitive offerings and determine where customer needs or desires were not aligned with effective solutions?

Can you deliver what the market wants at a price consumers will pay? How do you know if your solution is going to bring customers the value they need to justify the purchase? Is it providing economic efficiency? Competitive advantage? Making a difficult process easier? Does it have an immediate or long-term return on investment?

An intensive study of the market and understanding what buyers need and how to leverage that need takes visionary thinking and resources to innovate products that can dominate the market.

Maintaining dominance in a market can also mean cannibalization of a company’s current product line — short-term loss to achieve long-term gain and market dominance, and encouraging that innovation remain constant, as to never being satisfied with status quo.

Deliver an outstanding experience to create rabid fans

If you build it, tell the world about it and answer an unmet need, you’re only half way to a home run. Brand experience leads to brand adoption which leads to brand dominance. Having a well-thought out “go to market strategy” means that you took the time to do it right — planning to dominate rather than blind luck or happenstance which would be much more difficult to endure long term, or worse — failure.

Operational execution is a key factor in sustaining market dominance. Brand trust is earned through the brand experience. Once lost, it can take years to regain. Getting it right creates brand ambassadors who help you grow the market share you need to become and remain the market leader.

CEOs need to lead to dominate the market

The individual commitment and vision of CEOs such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jack Welch and others drove their organizations to market dominance — with the help of a lot of talented team members, no doubt, but it was the CEO who championed and led the charge.

They had long-term visions and long-term commitments. They infused their organizations with the financial strength needed to innovate, obtain market dominance and continue innovation to sustain market leadership — even during the best of times.

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 21-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 25 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614 885-7921) kborth@greencrest.com or for more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

Have you been in “protect mode” ? a little cautious about taking chances with your business? Have you been waiting for sure signs that it’s time to invest in your company’s future?

Then you are the company leader economist Brian Beaulieu of the Institute for Trend Research wants to reach. At a recent Vistage All City meeting in Columbus, he encouraged those in the room to get out of “protect mode” and start taking risks and acting like entrepreneurs again by upping their game and being aggressive while market conditions are favorable for doing so.

Beaulieu says business leaders have the next 14 months to strengthen their company’s market position during this current period of economic recovery ? leading indicators show the potential for a milder recession late in 2013 and early 2014, followed by three years of economic growth.

He addressed about 150 CEOs of midsized companies and challenged them to be smarter than the curve. His message that now is the right time stemmed from signs of a recovering economy, low interest rates and the fact that banks are lending again, among others.

Beaulieu’s suggestion that by the time 2015 rolls around and the economy moves into a three-year growth spurt, being ahead of the curve will put your business in a great market position to maximize business growth. It makes sense, and here are his tips on how to get started.

What businesses should do in a recovering economy

Getting out of protect mode in a sense means leaving your comfort zone. Beaulieu challenged the CEOs in the room to do that, to sell boldly where they have never sold before, to determine where they need to be so they can capture market share and identify new markets that they can create.

But it’s not as daunting as it seems, if you consider his company’s Phase Management Objectives for “late recovery” and “early growth” recessionary phases. His list was rather extensive, but here are some that caught my attention from a marketing perspective:

1. Establish tactical goals which lead to strategic achievement. 2. Review and uncover competitive advantages. 3. Invest in customer market research to understand what customers value. 4. Add sales staff. 5. Begin advertising and sales promotions. 6. Increase prices. 7. Find the answer to “What’s next?” 8. Open distribution centers. 9. Use cash to create new competitive advantages.

Time to plan for growth

Now that you have a list of potential steps to take, you should feel a lift in your own spirit and an eagerness to return to your entrepreneurial roots. I know I did. What I took away was that the next few months are not about being passive — they are about being aggressive, pioneering new territory and taking risks. The next 14 months are critical to business growth and success. If we don’t position our companies to excel during the 2015 through 2017 growth years, our businesses may not survive the next recession which is sure to come.

Now is the time to plan for growth and invest in our businesses future. It is time to kick in our entrepreneurial passion, which for some of us means removing our Band-Aids, clearing the dust from our eyes and emerging from the day-to-day minutiae so we can refocus and find renewed energy.

Clear the path for enthusiasm

We need to clear the way for strategic, visionary, innovative work — the stuff CEOs love to do. In Beaulieu’s words, it is time to stop focusing on all the recessionary chatter that zaps our enthusiasm. It’s time to get back to leading our companies toward the future.

Whatever you do, don’t wait. Now is the time to shore up your game to position your business to maximize its potential for growth in 2015 and the two following years. Even though 2015 may seem like a long way off, in reality, it is not.

Positioning our companies for growth is really about the action we take in the next 14 months as the current economy is in recovery. So invest the time and resources needed to make the most of these next few months. The time is now.

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 21-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 25 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921 or kborth@greencrest.com or for more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

Trademarks (™ or ®), trade names (Band-Aid or Kleenex), service marks (SM) and the like can be valuable brand assets of an organization or its CEO for that matter. They are not unlike patents that protect an inventor from someone duplicating an innovative process or product. The difference is that although you have to file post registration documentation at specified periods of time, trademarks do not have a limited right of use.

And like patents, the ownership of a trademark, trade name or service mark, as long as it is registered, can be assigned to anyone or anything: the person who created it, the shareholders or the company who markets the products and/or services.

So what defines a trademark?

By definition, trademarks, trade names or service marks are interchangeable terms and provide market differentiation, define proprietary processes, brand products and define ownership. The definition found at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, www.uspto.gov/faq/trademarks.jsp, states: “A trademark is a work, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination thereof that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of another.”

An attorney who specializes in trademark law can best guide you on securing a trademark or you can go to the aforementioned website and manage the registration process yourself. The good news is it as long as there are not any complications, the process generally takes two years or less.

My focus on the importance of writing on this subject really promotes the marketing side of why using trademarks can provide a strong competitive advantage, lead to market differentiation and become an extremely valuable asset. The power of a name, phrase or company mark can be a game changer for some companies.

Using trademarks as a smart marketing strategy

Not unlike the days of sticking a flag in the ground to lay claim to a tract of land, using trademarks, trade names and/or service marks lays claim to company names, product and service names, positioning taglines, characters and artwork and more.

A good example of this would be McDonald’s. Try using a “Mc” in front of anything and see what happens. As consumers, when we hear something with the prefix “Mc,” we automatically connect with McDonald’s because of the way the company has branded its products.

What would happen if McDonald’s had not claimed that as is distinguishable mark? An example of a phrase, “It’s The Real Thing” was claimed by Coke, whose product, wave symbol and company name, Coca-Cola, are all registered trademarks. Laying claim protects the advertising investment these companies are putting into building name recognition and product differentiation.

What’s involved in making a claim?

So how does this apply to your company? You can benefit in very much in the same way.  Take an inventory of your marketing assets. What is trademarked? What should be trademarked? Do you have product and service names for what you offer the marketplace? If you do, how could that change your market position and brand preference? Do you have a logo mark? What about brand-defining graphics? All you need to do to make a claim is add a “™” or “SM.”

If you decide to complete the paperwork, pay the fee and register the trademark with the USPTO. Once approved, you can (and should) use the ® or registered symbol. Not using the symbols associated with evidence of claim of your trademarks can put them at risk.

Trademarks have hard asset value

I find that this point is best expressed by John Stuart, former CEO of Quaker Oats: “If this business were split up, I would give you the land and the bricks and mortar, and I would take the brands and trademarks, and I would fare better than you.”

Trademarks are marketing assets, and those assets can be owned by either you or by your company.

A smart transition strategy for business owners shared in a Vistage meeting by presenter Patrick Ungashick, author of “Dance in the End Zone,” suggested taking your company name and intellectual property and assigning them to a separate LLC. And since ownership of registered marks is transferable, that’s one smart business idea.

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 21-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 25 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921 or kborth@greencrest.com, or for more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

In the digital era, content is king. No matter what type of product or service your business represents, your potential customers are searching for information to solve a problem or fulfill a desire online. These are savvy shoppers. They look for content that is meaningful and relevant. And more times than not, they find what they are looking for — at least enough information to select who they will contact as a result of what they found in their search.

The question you need to answer is whether or not these prospectors will find what they are looking for at your place of business.

Putting it out there

This is the new age of information sharing. Some industry experts label this as “content creation.” It involves everything from the way your website is written to all other forms of communication such as white papers, blogs, case studies, articles, videos, e-books, press releases, FAQs, tips and newsletters and the list goes on.

The most important components of this new way of communicating include information optimization, placement and relevance. There is even an organization with this specialized focus, the Custom Content Council. It is a big business, and if your business is not on board, it is sure to lose out.

In a poll conducted by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research of CMOs and other senior executives at large and midsize companies in 20 industries on behalf of the Custom Content Council, it found that the average marketing budget allocated to custom content was 20 percent. The top three channels for custom content included websites, e-newsletters and printed newsletters followed by social media (which is a plethora of options including blogs, YouTube, SlideShare, StumbleUpon and the like) and video.

More important was the response from more than 1,000 consumers also surveyed about their attitudes toward custom content. In all cases, the overwhelming majority appreciated custom content, viewed it as a service to customers, believed that companies that provide it are interested in building customer relationships and did not mind that companies were also selling something as long as the information was valuable.

Making custom content work for you

To get started on your custom content journey, take an inventory of the information experts you have within your organization: product managers, engineers, production specialists, research experts, certified professionals, customer service staff, board members and consultants to name a few. Ask your sales team to identify information your customers are looking for when they are searching for a solution provider. Do an Internet search to see what types of information prospectors can already find online and make note of the communication vehicles used to share information.

Make note of directory services that come up in your search results that profile companies like yours. Create a matrix of experts and information customers are seeking and begin to match experts with information.

Then determine the top three ways for you to share information with your intended target audience. Decide how you are going to create this content — in-house or hired out. If the answer is in-house, don’t overlook the importance of what I stated above: optimization, placement and relevancy. You want to make sure that when a prospect is searching for a solution that your company offers, your information has been optimized and effectively placed so that it is found.

And by all means, give them something of value for free. If necessary, and if there is an interest, a prospect will jump through some hurdles to get what they are looking for, but they must first be engaged and trust that what you have might answer their need.

Also of note from the Roper/Content Creation Council poll, a significant proportion of marketers cite using 15 different channels to disseminate information. But, don’t let that stop you from getting the ball rolling. The sooner you get your company into the game, the sooner you will benefit. Start small and work your way up to becoming an information powerhouse.

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 21-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 25 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921 or kborth@greencrest.com, or for more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

To remain competitive and relevant, CEOs need to see far into the future and implement change in their organizations long before trends become mainstream. So how do CEOs find this vision? How do they prepare their businesses for the next big change so they don’t miss the next big opportunity?

Many seek advice from trend analysts. Some engage their leadership team to be innovative. Most are voracious readers of trade journals and business books. Still others spend time researching the marketplace and assessing trends to find insight and inspiration.

A backward glance says it all

The advertising industry has seen an enormous degree of change over the 21 years that I have led my company. The industry has been on a virtual treadmill.

We have eliminated complex processes such as art boards with Rubylith to computer files transferred via FTP sites. We’ve retooled our businesses with the birth of the Internet and the market demand for commerce websites. We have witnessed the proliferation of media channels, the impact that technology has had on consumers choosing what they watch and listen to and when they watch, the change from analog to digital formats, the wildfire adoption of social media and now the mobile revolution.

We used to have a one- to two-year lead time before some of this change hit the mainstream. Today, we are lucky if we have six months. And the rate of change seems to be coming nonstop at an accelerating pace. Looking back, it is easy to see the degree of change. But looking forward, the vision is not as crystal clear. It takes commitment, time and resources to help see what the future may hold.

Focusing toward the future

I belong to industry peer groups led by consultants who are charged with helping agency owners grow businesses and stay ahead of the curve. These consultants stay current with industry analysts and bring speaker resources to meetings to enlighten us on what we need to know.

In addition, I belong to business peer groups such as Vistage, an international peer organization that, for instance, put out an article at the end of 2010 entitled, “12 Trends That Will Define Business in the New Normal,” based on a book written by noted trend analyst William Higham, “The Next Big Thing — Spotting & Forecasting Consumer Trends for Profit.”

Higham’s top five vital trends include brand aid, simplicity, short termism, conscious consumerism and customer profiling. At a local level, Vistage hired a speaker who led us through a trends exercise to help us analyze how social change, technology, business processes, education, geopolitical and green energy trends would affect our businesses.

These types of experiences along with reports from futurists such as “The World in 2020: The Business Challenges of the Future,” published by The Futures Co., which cites eight contours of the 2020 global landscape, help me to understand trends that will impact the vitality of my business into the future. All this takes a tremendous commitment of time and resources, but it prepares me to lead my company into the future.

Bringing that vision to your internal team

As a discipline, CEOs need to find the time to analyze trends annually and determine which ones are likely to impact their businesses going forward. Focusing on the top three to five will allow CEOs to share these with their internal teams and brainstorm on innovations and solutions their company can bring to the marketplace.

I have found it helpful to prepare an annual vision report to paint the landscape of where we’ve been, where we need to go ? and to challenge the team to engage in what we need to do to get there and profit once we do.

I have been amazed by how this process has turbo-powered our ability to stay relevant and ahead of the curve.

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 21-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 25 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921 or kborth@greencrest.com, or for more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

The mobile revolution is here and skyrocketing. It reminds me of social media in 2009 —it was no longer something to ponder, but rather to embrace.

One of the biggest adjustments businesses have had to make in the first decade of the millennium to remain relevant has been to adapt to the major shift in the way people communicate. Well, it’s time to crank it up another notch and join the mobile revolution.

Smartphones are leading the charge

According to Google, approximately 25 percent of the U.S. population has smartphones. By 2013, the smartphone market is predicted to grow by 233 percent. The Nielson Co. reported earlier this year that recent smartphone purchases consisted of 50 percent Android, 25 percent Apple and 15 percent BlackBerry devices.

Mobile now affects all digital channels: search, e-mail, display ads, social, games, Web and commerce. Smartphones are changing consumer behavior with loyalty programs, comparison shopping apps and WiFi capability, among others.

According to Google, in a week’s time, 81 percent of us browsed, 77 percent searched and 48 percent watched a video via our smartphones. Additionally, 74 percent made a purchase from information we got from our smartphones.

Businesses need to get mobile-smart

Getting your business mobile-smart starts with conducting a simple audit. Begin with your Web analytics report to see how many visitors are coming to your website via mobile, where they are going and what percent are iPhone, Android or BlackBerry users. This will tell you that the mobile revolution is not a myth.

Next, with your mobile phone in your hand, type your website address into your phone. What do you see? Try to find information on your website. Is it easy or impossible to navigate? This will tell you how mobile-ready your company is.

Now analyze a typical customer. Are they executives, consumers, what age group, etc.? With your customer in mind, think about when your company sends out an e-mail blast, where do your customers open that e-mail? This will tell you how important it is for you to get on board.

Then do a little research to uncover what your competitors are doing and where opportunities may exist to differentiate your company so you can move ahead of the pack. This will show you why it is important from a strategic perspective. If your business is one of the 80 percent that are not mobile-ready, this should be high on your priority list.

The difference between mobile app and mobile site

Mobile applications are developed for specific mobile operating systems. This is why it’s important to know if customers are using Android, iPhone or BlackBerry devices. Unfortunately, one app does not fit all. Each operating system requires its own app. Each app must be approved by the operating system gatekeepers to be added to its suite of downloadable apps.

Mobile apps are expensive to create. They are software applications built for the mobile environment. They provide access to specific data even when there is no Web connection. Not all businesses need a mobile app.

A mobile site is built similar to a website only for a mobile environment, and just as there are Web standards for the development of websites, there are standards for mobile sites. Unlike mobile apps, I would argue that nearly all businesses need a mobile site. There are some ways to offer a more friendly mobile experience using your current website, but they are temporary at best.

Check your company’s mobile IQ

Make sure your marketing team is up to speed on mobile marketing: mobile pay-per-click, mobile optimization, short message service/multimedia messaging service, mobile display ads, mobile e-mail, QR codes, etc.

Just as with website marketing, there are metrics for tracking mobile apps use, mobile sites and mobile searches. With this information in hand, you can begin developing clearly defined goals and objectives to obtain success.

KELLY BORTH is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 20-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 25 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921 or kborth@greencrest.com, or for more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

I don’t profess to be a sales expert, but in working closely with CEOs for the past 20 years, I have in too many times witnessed that no one is managing sales. Every company needs to have someone managing the sales process. It is a process and a numbers game, and we rely on sales for growth. As the CEO, you need to oversee the management of the process to realize the results. It is about holding people accountable, which I know is easier said than done.

Companies I have worked with tend to have a sales force made up of customer relationship management people rather than new business development people. There is nothing wrong with that, but companies need both. It is hard to find salespeople who excel at both new business and current customer relationships as they often require different skill sets, but it is possible to manage your salespeople to do both.

Laying the foundation for new business development

Recognizing that CEOs need help overseeing the sales process, the development of what I label an Accountable New Business Program, accomplishes five important steps for success: First, it identifies for the CEO how much new business activity is needed based on the company’s sales metrics to ensure the company will meet its year-end sales goal. Second, it lays the foundation for a new business development process and implementation milestones. Third, it establishes a target list of prospects to pursue. Fourth, it provides tools like a script, prequalification survey and sample prospecting letters. Fifth, it includes prospect profiles and contact reports so the CEO can verify and manage progress-to-goal and make adjustments as needed. Even armed with this information, most CEOs have a difficult time managing accountability.

Marketing’s role in the sales process

Most CEOs have heard of the sales funnel process that uses Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action (AIDA). Marketing’s job is make the brand known within the marketplace —the awareness quotient of the formula. Research has proven that when brand awareness is high, new customer acquisition is high. Prospects want to associate with top brands in the marketplace. If the brand is not known, a prospect cannot give it purchase consideration.

Marketing can also assist with the second quotient by maintaining and growing interest through frequent and meaningful messages or touches with prospects. This activity can help to build brand recognition and value, increasing brand reputation.

In addition, marketing can equally assist the sales team with the third quotient to transition interest into brand preference. Getting to a position of brand presence takes an understanding of what brand has market dominance and what needs to occur to get the market to take a risk and buy your brand. That leads us to the fourth and final quotient —action. Marketing can help the sales process by presenting the marketplace with offers that elicit action.

Here’s the catch: Marketing works in tandem with new business development efforts. They both need to be performing at a high level. If marketing is doing its job and sales is not making new contacts, thus filling the funnel, whatever marketing is doing will have less success.

Likewise, if sales is doing its job but there is no marketing effort to build awareness and help maintain the sales funnel, whatever sales is doing will have less success. Research has proven that when the two work together, sales success is exponential.

If you struggle to manage and hold your sales team accountable to results, I would recommend you hire someone to help manage this for you. That’s what I am doing.

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 20-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 25 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921 or kborth@greencrest.com, or for more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

Sunday, 31 July 2011 20:01

Kelly Borth; Leading Results

At the recent strategic planning discussion that I facilitated for the Entrepreneurship Institute’s Columbus President’s Forum, several of the 40 top leaders of companies who attended were either going through or had recently been through the strategic planning process and were stuck on how to implement the plan.

It was a question — and a frustration ? around execution. Here is some insight on how to get from vision to execution.

Getting to halfway

Based on my personal experience of participating in more than 30 strategic planning discussions for nonprofit groups, trade organizations and business advisory boards during my 35-year career, too often the strategic planning process stops when the four-hour or so “planning retreat” ends. We walk away with a strategic direction and the facilitator’s documented notes, but due to time, we do not finish the planning process.

To finish requires that we establish action steps, determine resources and responsible parties and define how we are going to measure progress and celebrate our success. Sure, getting through the first half feels a lot like running a marathon, but you’re only halfway there. To finish takes one or two additional four-hour sessions. It is the second half that we never get around to. To move on to execution we have to address some issues.

Changing vision into action

Most anything can be made to happen if it is broken down in bite-size chunks.

You’ve finished the visionary portion of the strategic planning process and now you need to translate that vision into a list of action items in order to realize that vision. Identifying action items is an exercise in prioritization. Understanding the tasks at hand helps leaders and managers have a clear perspective of order and what realistically can be accomplished with the existing team and workload.

Who and how much?

Assessing available resources — human and financial — will drive how quickly an organization can achieve its end goal.

Does the needed talent exist within the organization or does it makes economic sense to “hire in” or “hire out” the expertise? If the talent exists, how can workload be shifted to allow for time to focus on these new initiatives?

It can also be a question of available budget or cash needed. Understanding resources needed to get the job done helps leaders and managers define who will do the work, how much can be accomplished and how quickly.

Measures of progress and timelines

In successful implementation, timelines are not always met. Often, unexpected interruptions occur — some of which are not under our control. If there are mission critical timelines to reach, focus on those.

Establish measures of progress or milestones and adjust as needed in order to achieve those critical deadlines. For initiatives that are more quality-driven, you may have to adjust the timeline several times. In either case, establishing milestones will help responsible parties determine the right course of action to take as you drive the execution process.

Posturing for execution

If we, as organizational leaders, have led our teams through the second half of the strategic planning process, the path for execution should be well-paved.

Along with our managers and associates, we have worked through the critical thinking needed to understand how we get to the end goal. We have removed all known obstacles and provided the necessary resources to accomplish the action steps by the required timeline. We have a clear plan with the proper leadership in place to carry out our organizational mission.

Celebrate the accomplishments

As a part of your planning process, define with team members what their accomplishments will mean to the organization and plan for how they will share in that reward.

Then dance in the end zone.

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 20-year old brand development and strategic marketing firm that turns market players into market leaders. Kelly has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 25 certified brand strategists in the U.S. Reach her at (614) 885-7921 or kborth@greencrest.com, or for more information www.greencrest.com.

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