Marketing Tools of Enablement for Accelerated Growth
Accelerated Growth has a bevy of tools that can be used to enable your efforts but they all require strategy and planning and quite a bit of coordination to execute. Marketing, Sales, Finance and Executive often play the key roles in deploying tools of enablement to drive Accelerated Growth, at TBG Marketing, we talk about the following methods that we have used or seen used effectively.
Accelerate Growth with Vertical Market Insights
There is little doubt in our minds that attacking an entire market at once is like Don Quixote charging a windmill, it seemed like a good idea in practice but in reality you were doomed from the start. All markets have some vertical strategy component to them whether that is assigned geographically, using business financial metrics, growth metrics, differences in business strategy or barriers to entry the core point that Accelerated Growth comes from focusing on vertical niche markets is undeniable. This is a core strategy that was outlined in Crossing the Chasm where the author, Geoffrey Moore, vary astutely mapped the lifecycle of technology adoption and identified the “gap” between early adopters and mainstream markets as a critical failure point for products. Early adopters are a vertical market that can be defined by looking at companies who are current on technical capabilities and strive to acquire early mover advantages using technology. So attacking a market without knowing early adopters and product leaders can lead to frustration and banging your head against a brick wall when the slower adopters are asking for references and you have none. Early adopters look for advantages in products or services and are less influenced by what everyone else is doing.
The Accelerated Growth Placemat
The “Placemat” was one of the funniest and most effective Accelerated Growth Strategy tools I have seen. In 2008, Bill Me Later (BML), a provider of on-line promotional credit products, was in a heated battle with PayPal, Google Money, Apple Pay and other companies entering the payments market. Payments, as a market, may be the largest market on Earth considering that all goods are bought and sold multiple times. Bill Me Later built a strategy to win the rising behemoth in the market – Amazon. But they knew they could not walk into Bezos’ office and get a contract. They had to prove the product was viable and cross the chasm. AOL was an early adopter but the strategy that drove the business was the “Placemat.” The Placemat was a large (and I am talking 11×17 large) over-engineered Excel WorkBook that had the top 500 e-tailers in the country sorted by annual online revenues and into semi-geographic markets and e-tail verticals (e.g. direct response multi-channel catalogers vs. fashion apparel). BML aligned the sales force into 3 teams: enterprise, midmarket and inside sales and attacked the placemat using sales strategists to help pave the way, LinkedIn to profile target customers and their networks to ease the transition and reviews of earnings statements and media posts describing the business strategy of every client. The Placemat then fed into Salesforce.com and the sales pipeline was created by estimating BML payment volumes derived from estimated penetration rates in varying verticals. The Placemat was the subject of weekly sales, marketing and finance calls and led to an aggressive strategy that accelerated growth. Bill Me Later hosted Amazon in July 2008 and was purchased by eBay in October 2008 for $950MM.
Marketing Planning and Strategy
Marketing has the role of opening the door in accelerated growth. Aside from connections that sales representatives bring with them, Marketing identifies buyers, spies, apostles and helps to pave the way for sales to make introductory contacts that are nothing close to cold calls. Marketing also provides market insights to understand drivers of behavior and decision making. One of the drivers BML discovered in their pitched battle with PayPal was not the amount of money being driven by alternative payments but for many of the strong influencers, it was the degree of difficulty of the integration of the alternative payments into checkout and the financial accounting process. BML approached the market with a hosted iFrame vs. PayPal’s more extensive integration enabling BML to beat PayPal to the punch with speed.
Marketing also leverages a number of tools that are key in the success function of Features, Benefits and Real Reason to Believe that is critical to Accelerated Growth:
- Branded Content – Case Studies, Infographics, Video Testimonials, Reference Clients and White Papers. Branded content delivered the “real reason to believe” that clients who implement BML saw an XX% increase in average order value. That number was researched and certified and built for the various vertical markets.
- Timed PR Releases – In tightly competitive vertical markets, a “me too” strategy is often followed when one company picks up a competitive advantage that others feel compelled to follow. Private label credit cards were historically the rulers of promotional financing, but on-line PLCC adoption was not as high as consumers bought from more brands. BML stepped into that gap and brought 90 Day Same as Cash and 6 Month No No’s that improved basket sizes or supported the sale of higher ticket items. Customers were no longer locked into a single brand for financing offers. The timed releases of new accounts often drove adoption and call-backs to sales as companies in the vertical fell behind and had to play catch up.
- Impact Mailings – The volume of “noise” that large business executives endure is overwhelming and the volume of deleted and unread emails is equally daunting. For high value clients, impact mailings ranging from a customized presentation deck and e-book to an iPod with a product video are all acceptable means to break the clutter and get a conversation going
- Marketing Automation –automated branded e-mail content that comes from the sales person and is integrated into CRM has become an invaluable tool to smooth the path to getting a customer to respond. Varying subject lines, variable content that is specific to a vertical market and variable timings and offerings along with links to calendars are all useful tools that are also cost effective solutions that enable lead scoring and movement in the Placemat as well as segmentation on the file.
- Webinars and Video Advertising – webinars stormed into the market in mid-2000’s and is now a go to resource to work with customers about a “complex” product or service to help them see the product before they buy it. Any more, webinars are giving way to SAAS platforms that simply let the customer login for free and test features before buying after 7-14 day free trial periods. Webinars and Video Advertising still have SEO value for opening the sales funnel and driving customers to your site for conversion.
- Rich Media Advertising – The Ad Networks have enabled re-marketing efforts to track customers looking at your products and services and to “surround” prospects with marketing messages reinforcing value propositions. Rich Media Ads are interactive ads in the networks like DoubleClick and Taboola and Outbrain to enable customers to interact with the ads to drive adoption.
The end goal for marketing is to encircle the targeted customer with branded messages that relate to the value proposition for the product or service that is most relevant to them to get the target to convert to a lead. Building a better mousetrap to support Accelerated Growth requires planning, coordination, creative execution, timing and alignment across sales, marketing and finance. A core understanding of targeted Vertical Markets is essential to breakthrough growth that exceeds market growth and drives business value and product adoption. Get started on your growth planning with TBG Marketing and let us build a strategy that will enable your business to grow faster more profitably.