Optimizing Content Marketing Strategy with White Papers

You have in your possession a well-researched, highly engaging white paper— now what? White papers are not intrinsically beneficial to your overall content marketing strategy if you do not promote and leverage them properly. When it comes to successfully using your white paper to generate leads and secure sales, there are three necessary steps you should follow:

Step 1: Create a Proper Landing Page

More often than not, a company’s white papers are deeply hidden within their website. To even reach the white paper, potential buyers are forced to navigate through several web pages. Once buyers find the white paper landing page, it is often lackluster: failing to provide any compelling reasons for downloading and reading the paper.

To maximize your content marketing strategy, it is important to dedicate a page to your white paper. This landing page should highlight the benefits of reading the white paper, assuring potential buyers that downloading and reading your insights is worth their time and energy.

An impactful and effective white paper landing page should have the following elements:

  • Keywords – it is well-known that SEO optimization is key to drawing traffic to your website, . Begin  by selecting the keyword of your company’s choice and ensuring that it is included multiple times on your website’s various pages. Once you have selected your relevant keyword, a rough guide for your white paper landing page is to aim for a keyword density of between 2-7%.
  • Minimal text – The biggest bulk of text on your white paper landing page should be the introduction paragraph. This paragraph should include a catchy and attention-grabbing headline to draw the reader in, as well as a sentence or two outlining the contents of your white paper
  • Emphasize benefits – All other text on your landing page, excluding your introduction paragraph, should be bulleted. Bullets provide readers with essential information in a quick, streamlined way. These bullets should focus on emphasizing the “what” of your white paper— what are the benefits of downloading and reading this paper? If you cannot convince visitors on your landing page that they will be better off having read your white paper, they will not bother to download it.

Step 2: Collect Information for Content Marketing

When it comes to granting access to your white paper, you have two options: a direct link or gating your content with a form. The smartest option for boosting your content marketing strategy is to offer your white paper in exchange for personal information.

Asking your visitors for information allows you to generate valuable leads. By gathering the names and e-mail addresses of your visitors, you can more easily convince them to opt-into your marketing efforts— your future emails, newsletters, and blog posts. Acquiring your visitors’ information and establishing a relationship with them through sharing your marketing content results in a greater likelihood of successfully incorporating them into your sales funnel.

It is tempting to ask potential buyers for as much personal information as possible— resist the urge. Asking visitors for too much information up front, risks alienating them. Since first time visitors to your company’s website have no personal connection with your company, they most likely wouldn’t want to spend too much time filling out forms.

To increase the prospect of collecting visitors’ information and connecting with them in the future, keep it simple— only ask for their name, company, and e-mail address.

Step 3: Bring Content Marketing to Social Media

As of 2018, there are over 3 billion active social media users worldwide— that’s nearly 40% of the global population. With such a large, easily accessible pool of potential leads, you would be remiss to not include social media in your white paper’s content marketing strategy.

Social media marketing is vastly important in gaining visibility and driving traffic to your website. 90% of marketers claim that white paper social media marketing has generated immense exposure for their company [i]. By posting engaging and informative content on social media, businesses are more likely to see click-throughs to their website. This increased visibility yields a greater number of leads generated and conversions, as over 66% of marketers see lead generation benefits with social media usage [ii].

The best approach to promoting your white paper in addition to attracting attention to your business as a whole is through the adoption of social media into your content marketing strategy.

The Four Quadrants Model of High Growth

The Four Quadrants of High Growth is a highly effective sales strategy that enables B2B companies to optimally deploy their limited marketing and sales resources to maximize revenues. The model divides a company’s total addressable market—first vertically into two halves of customers and non-customers, and then by product into existing products and new ones.

Unlike other segmentation strategies that mostly focus on non-customers and can be difficult to implement, this system ensures that Sellers look at the entire potential market for growth–including their existing customers, and new markets that they can enter.

https://www.somametrics.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=4484&action=edit
SOMAmetrics Four Quadrants – click to enlarge

 

We discuss each of these highly targeted strategies in the sections below. The end result is four quadrants representing different levels of risks and relationships:

Quadrant 1: Increase Customer Base
Increase customer base using the Four Funnels Sales Methodology.

Quadrant 2: Increase Usage
Make it simple for existing customers to order more of what they already use.

Quadrant 3: Introduce New Products
Sell to current customers products they are not currently using by upgrading, up-selling, and cross-selling new products.

Quadrant 4: Enter New Markets
Selling new products to new customers. This is the same as entering a new market.

Download this white paper to learn how to sell effectively in all four quadrants!

Quadrant 2 has the lowest perceived risk from the buyer’s perspective, followed by Quadrant 3. Quadrant 4 has the highest risk since there are no references yet, and Quadrant 3 is selling to non-customers who don’t really know the company. What we need to do in terms of marketing and selling is, therefore, quite different from one quadrant to the next.

In Quadrant 2, the seller hardly needs to educate customers on the company or product since they are already very familiar with both. At the other extreme is Quadrant 4. This is a totally different market from the one(s) to which the seller has traditionally sold, and the likelihood that Quadrant 4 buyers have adequate familiarity the company or its products is quite low.

Therefore, using the same approach for all quadrants will not work—marketing and sales efforts will likely be overkill in Quadrants 2 and 3 while insufficient in Quadrants 1 and 4.

By segmenting our total addressable market into these quadrants and optimizing our messaging, offerings, and resources for each, we are more likely to maximize revenues at the lowest costs possible, thereby maximizing our net income.

This approach is one of the foundational strategies of the Predictable Revenue Model; it’s designed to position a company to achieve a consistent High Growth rate.

Strategy Matters

Companies that out-perform their competitors do so primarily because they execute a defined strategy. They don’t try to go after everyone with the same message, product, or offering. They segment — then tailor everything they do to fit that segment.

Segmentation makes it easier to isolate the right opportunities for a given company and highlights the right strategies to win those opportunities. Because you have the right message and the right offering for the right customer, you can shorten your sales cycles and increase your closing ratios. Effective B2B marketing naturally leads to effective B2B selling.

This is the essence of strategy – focusing limited resources on the best opportunities in the most optimal way to maximize results.

This strategy makes the segmentation process more intuitive. It also makes execution simpler and more full-proof.

Each Quadrant is Different

We all know that if we really want to sell our products and services, we have to tailor them to our customers’ preferences. What we tend to forget is that this is just as true regarding how we market and sell our products. We must tailor our sales and marketing according to how customers want to buy.

Marketing/selling to existing customers is totally different from marketing/selling to non-customers. And even for existing customers, the kind of marketing/selling necessary to get them to order more of what they already purchase is different from the strategy that gets them to try new products they haven’t used before. We know this is true from our own direct experience as customers.

Sometimes the right strategy is just to automate and make it simple for customers to order whenever they want. Why slow them down by having them talk to a sales rep?

At other times, there is a great need for consultation before sales can happen. Case studies, demos, and references are all a necessary part of reassuring a skeptical buyer that she won’t regret her purchase. And while the high-powered consultative sales rep is essential with a new customer buying for the first time, he would be expensive overkill for a simple reorder of a product a customer has purchased dozens of times before.

The essence of this approach is matching a company’s limited resources to the type of selling opportunities a company has and doing this as an everyday process – increasing sales, while keeping the costs of selling low.

  • There is only so much you can sell to existing customers. And sooner or later, for one reason or another, you are going to lose some customers. You must acquire new customers not only to continue to grow but also to replace those you lose. That’s what growth in Quadrant 1 is all about. What is the best way to achieve this?
  • Quadrant 2 is about customers who buy a given product. Your goal is simple — get them to buy more of what they are already buying. How do you get them to do that?
  • Once you have maximized your revenue from Quadrant 2, the only way you can get more business from existing customers is to get them to buy some of the other products you sell. That is how you get growth in Quadrant 3. What is the best way for you to do that?
  • And if you are very successful and grow fast, you will eventually saturate a given market segment and can’t sell more there. You will need to find a new market segment where you can continue to expand, which is what Quadrant 4 is about. How do you do that?

When you look at it this way, it is apparent that your sales and marketing strategies in each quadrant need to be sufficiently different.

However, it is not just the strategies that need to be different. Systems, processes, assets, and people you use in each quadrant also need to be optimized for that quadrant to achieve the best result in that quadrant. Just as you look for a specialist when you want to see an eye or heart doctor, you also need specialists if you need to grow each sector on a consistent basis. You need people who are experts in each quadrant.

End Goal–Predictable Revenue Growth

If you have one-size-fits-all marketing and sales strategy, you will see mixed results. You want reliable, predictable revenue growth. That is why you have to optimize sales and marketing for each Quadrant.

We discuss these highly targeted strategies in the sections below:

Selling More to Existing Customers (Quadrant 2)

crew members assisting existing customers

This article is part of our “Four Quadrants for High Growth Quick Start Guide”.  Click here to access the full series.

Quadrant 2 Goal: Increase Usage from Existing Customers

Overall Goal: Increase usage of existing customers by an average of 5-10%

SOMAmetrics-Quadrant-2
Four Quadrants- Quadrant 2

 

Quadrant 2 consists of existing customers who already buy a particular product. The goal here is to influence these customers to order more of what they are already buying. If you sell software licenses, can you persuade them to subscribe to more licenses? If they buy boxes of widgets, can you get them to order more boxes?

Regardless of the product your aim is to increase customers’ consumption of that product by a targeted amount. If you are selling software licenses, can you increase the average license purchase per customer by ‘x’ amount? If your customer orders 100 boxes of widgets a year from you, can you increase that to 110 boxes? And how do you do that?

This is a low-touch sales environment. You want to simplify and standardize your operations, automating as much of it as you can. Your sales operations should  resemble a self-serve portal in which customers can order what they want, when they want. Ensuring this kind of consumer behavior requires continual and targeted marketing strategies

Below you will find some important tips on optimizing sales and marketing in this quadrant.

Marketing Optimization

GOAL

To reiterate, the objective  is to automate all marketing to continually touch existing customers and give them new reasons to buy more of the products they are already using.

KEY OPTIMIZATION ACTION ITEMS
  • Continually envision new ways for customers to use your existing products
  • Constantly update customers about new features that increase ease of use and efficiency
  • Offer additional promotional incentives to increase usage–price savings on additional purchases, discounts on other products, etc.
  • Make certain premium services free for customers who purchase  higher volumes
  • Send at least one promotional email campaign each month to make sure you stay front-of-mind

 

Sales Optimization

GOAL

Increase Sales of existing products to existing customers

Ideally, Quadrant 2 sales can be completed without the help or involvement of a sales rep.

KEY OPTIMIZATION ACTION ITEMS
  • Make it very simple for customers to order more and for orders to be fulfilled immediately
  • Automate price quotes, contracts, and ordering
  • Automate workflows to send orders to fulfillment as soon as contracts are signed

Selling New Products to Existing Customers (Quadrant 3)

two people discussion how to sell new products to existing customers over coffee

“How to Sell New Products to Existing Customers” is part of our “Four Quadrants for High Growth Quick Start Guide”.  To access the full series click here

 

Quadrant 3: Introduce new products

Overall Goal: Increase the number of products that each customer uses by 15-20% each year.

SOMAmetrics Quadrant 3
Four Quadrants- Quadrant 3

Quadrant 3 is all about selling products and services you offer that your customers have not yet purchased. The most important of these are Upgrades, Add-ons, and Bundles or Packages. Quadrant 3 offers some highly attractive growth opportunities for a company that is set up to take advantage of it.

Below you will find a Best Practices checklist for optimizing high growth within Quadrant 3 for Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and Innovation.

 

Marketing Checklist

GOAL

Continually market to current customers by demonstrating how the value of their existing products increases significantly when used with another product that you sell, but that they don’t currently use.

KEY OPTIMIZATION ACTION ITEMS
  • Have an accurate database of which customer has which products installed.
  • Build an automated marketing strategy? system? that works on the logic: “If a customer has product A, then use Campaign X. If a customer has products A and B, then use campaign Y”, and so on.

 

Sales Checklist

GOAL

Build an effective account management team that excels at selling new products to existing customers with the goal of increasing revenue per customer.

KEY OPTIMIZATION ACTION ITEMS
  • Set up an account management system that uses the marketing database to call on customers to cross-sell and upgrade them to higher tier products.
  • Build your compensation plan to reward such account penetration.

 

Customer Support Checklist

GOAL

Make customers highly successful at using your new products within 30 days of acquiring them.

KEY OPTIMIZATION ACTION ITEMS
  • Build a library of training material and resources to enable customers to teach themselves to use new products.
  • Build scalable support infrastructure such as chat and self-help portals to provide quality customer support with less impact on the Support organization.

 

Innovation Checklist

GOAL

Introduce new products and services on a regular schedule—at least every 2-3 years.

KEY OPTIMIZATION ACTION ITEMS
  • Set up a Product strategy team that continually reviews the product pipeline and prioritizes new projects.
  • Set up agile development practices to enable rapid and iterative releases of products to enable quick changes based on shifts in customer priorities and preferences.
  • Set up Product Management to translate big initiatives that come from Product Strategy into clearly defined tasks that are implemented through the agile development process.

Increasing Your Customer Base (Quadrant 1)

two motivated people working hard on their laptop and tablet

“How to Increase Your Customer Base with 4 Handy Checklists” is part of our “Four Quadrants for High Growth Quick Start Guide”.  To access the full series click here

 

Quadrant 1: Increase Customer Base

Overall Goal: Increase the number of your customers by 15%-20% per year

SOMAmetrics-Quadrant-1
Four Quadrants- Quadrant 1

 

Quadrant 1 Sales is what most companies think of when they talk about revenue growth—increasing your customer base numbers. In fact, many of the companies we work with invest so much time, effort, and money into Quadrant 1 that they neglect Quadrants 2 and  3.

At the same time, most of these companies do not use the most critical strategy for farming in Quadrant 3: Four Funnel Framework. This is the most important strategy for winning new customers because it ensures tight integration of Sales and Marketing efforts. We will discuss the Four Funnels Framework in more detail in the next section.

Below you will find a Best Practices checklist for optimizing high growth within Quadrant 3 for Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and Innovation. 

Marketing Checklist

GOAL: Deliver the necessary number of Marketing Qualified Leads.

KEY OPTIMIZATION ACTION ITEMS:

  • Define the marketing content (assets) necessary to drive prospects through the various levels of interest: awareness, understanding, acceptance, preference, and conviction. The marketing assets must deliver the first three stages to generate Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)
  • Build the automation that scores the activities of very early prospects and provides them with more marketing assets until they score high enough to be MQLs ready for handoff to the Tele-prospecting team

Sales Checklist

GOAL: Increase the number of customers by 15-20% per year.
KEY OPTIMIZATION ACTION ITEMS:
  • Define the qualification criteria that makes a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL).
  • Develop the qualification and SQL acceptance process and build it into the Sales Operations and Sales Automation system.
  • Automate the handoff and notification process so that Sales immediately follows up on SQLs.
  • Build the right compensation plan that rewards progress through the Sales Cycle so that deals do not get stalled in the middle.
  • Build the right comp plan that rewards hunters for getting even small deals in key accounts that have significant upside potential.

Customer Support Checklist

GOAL: Convert new customers to happy and fully satisfied ones within the first 2-3 weeks.
KEY OPTIMIZATION ACTION ITEMS
  • Design the new customer onboarding process to be as quick and as painless as possible.
  • Develop a scorecard that identifies the components of onboarding a new customer and rates the new customer onboarding team along each component.
  • Map the components of the scorecard into the customer support system and processes so that agents can do their work with a high level of efficiency and accuracy.

Innovation Checklist

GOAL: Make your products easy to learn, use, and support in order to free up scarce resources for new products.
KEY OPTIMIZATION ACTION ITEMS
  • Review your current products and determine how they can be centralized, standardized, componentized, and optimized so that they are easy to sell, support, and use.

Predicting Revenue with the Four Funnels Framework

The Four Funnels Framework is a systematic methodology for generating high-quality B2B leads that deliver predictable revenue. This framework helps to overcome the “missing link” that sometimes develops between a company’s marketing and sales functions. Businesses can bridge this gap by implementing the following four funnels.

SOMAmetrics Four Funnels Framework

 

Funnel 1: Build Awareness

In order to sell to buyers, companies must first build awareness with their target market. The constant noise and crowding of increased market flooding creates buyers who are habituated to tuning out. Due to this, it takes nearly 16 distinct touches to sway prospective buyers to purchase; and this number only continues to rise.

Regardless of this tune out, businesses must still sell. To do so, they must first generate attention from prospective buyers. Buyers cannot purchase what they do not know exists. The most effective way to generate attention is by generating and publishing genuine marketing content. B2B sellers need to display knowledge of the pains and problems faced by their targeted buyers. Only when buyers feel that sellers understand their troubles will they consider entering into a purchasing transaction.

The goal of Funnel 1 is to drive a high number of the target buyers to where they can find out more and deepen the engagement with the seller.

Funnel 2: Build Trust

B2B buyers have little to no care about sellers’ particular products and services. Their primary concern is how to identify and address the problems they face in their companies and industries. To capture potential clients, B2B sellers must demonstrate care and understanding by freely providing the information required by prospects to solve their concerns and complications.

While such actions may appear to be giving away something for little to no return, providing this information establishes trust in the vendor. Trust generates quality leads that are more likely to transition into loyal clients.

The goal of the second funnel in the Four Funnels Framework is to feed the pipeline for Funnel 3—where Business Development Reps (BDRs) call those that have shown marketing engagement, qualify these, and pass on to Sales.

Funnel 3: Qualify

Until this point, seller engagement with buyers has primarily occurred electronically through the sellers’ websites, social media, and email campaigns. Now that contact information has been exchanged, it is time to qualify the potential buyer to determine if they are ready for engagement with Sales.

The object of this third funnel is to create a sales pipeline for the fourth funnel. In order to achieve this, sellers must ensure that the first point of in-person contact is done a professional, senior-level staff.

Many sellers have the mistaken notion that this is “telemarketing” and believe this is an entry-level job. Nothing can be further from the truth.

The task here is to interrupt a busy senior level buyer and in a matter of 20 seconds intrigue her enough to agree to a longer call or meeting at a later time. Most of the time, this requires not only knowledge of the subject matter and industry of the prospective buyer, but also an ability to know when to push and not, when to chat and when to get down to the point, all in a matter of seconds and over the phone. This is a task for an experienced Business Development Rep (BDR).

If the buyer agrees to talk for a bit, the BDR’s job is to make sure this buyer is qualified and then set an appointment with a sales rep as soon as possible.

A predictable revenue stream depends on two qualities of the Sales Pipeline:

  1. High Quality leads that close at a higher rate and close faster
  2. Sufficient number of HQLs to meet the company’s new revenue targets

Funnel 3 is responsible for achieving these objectives.

Funnel 4: Engage

With BDRs focusing on keeping the sales team’s pipeline full, sales reps can now focus on their primary role— deeply understanding the buyer’s world and building a partnership in solving the buyer’s issues, leading towards a successful close of the opportunity.

This is the primary function of salespeople—to work closely with motivated potential buyers and place their full attention on solving the issues of the buyer. Holding them responsible for both Funnels 3 and 4, while it may seem reasonable, is actually counterproductive.

In fact, a survey of sales professionals by Sales Insights showed that they spend over 26% of their time on average trying to generate a qualified lead. This is clearly a demanding task and takes a great deal of time away from a sales rep primary role.

Once a healthy sales pipeline and a quality sales lead has been established, the sales team can focus on continuing to qualify prospects while integrating them into the buying cycle.

The Four Funnels Framework provides a methodology for consistently achieving predictable revenues by generating High Quality Leads through a process that integrates marketing, prospecting, and sales. This integration removes duplication and waste, significantly lowering the total cost new customer acquisition.

Developing New Business (Quadrant 4)

develop new business

“How to Develop New Business and Break Into New Industry Sectors” is part of our “Four Quadrants for High Growth Quick Start Guide”.  To access the full series click here

 

Quadrant 4: Develop New Business Outside your Industry

Overall Goal: Find a new customer type for each new product every two years, thereby increasing sales by product by another 10%-20% every two years.

SOMAmetrics-Quadrant-4
Four Quadrants – Quadrant 4

 

By now, it may be apparent that the first three quadrants are very similar to each other. Quadrants 2 and 3 are closely related  since they consist of your existing customers, and Quadrant 1 addresses the same industry as your existing customers.

Quadrant 4, however, is different. It consists of non-customers from different industry sectors than those you normally market to. It is actually an exercise in new business development.

The right approach to developing Quadrant 4 is to follow Geoffrey Moore’s advice in Crossing the Chasm and first establish a beachhead.  Assemble a team of your best people to target a few selected accounts that will generate key wins for you within the new industry, allowing you to establish credibility early on. Your team members should be highly entrepreneurial and have a very strong “whatever it takes’’ attitude to winning these new customer types in an industry that no one in your company is familiar with.

In Quadrant 4, your objective to sell a product you first developed for a different market segment, with some modification and customization. You have some idea of what that customization might look like, but in truth you won’t really know until you are trying to make your first sale in that segment. This is more like a custom project, which is why you need a team that is highly entrepreneurial— capable of building something from the ground up and finding  solutions for problems that you have never really addressed before.

Below you will find a Best Practices checklist for optimizing high growth within Quadrant 4 for Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and Innovation.

 

Marketing Checklist

GOAL

Identify other market segments similar enough to your current market segment so you will be able to leverage many of the capabilities you already have.

KEY OPTIMIZATION ACTION ITEMS
  • Set up a Market Strategy team that explores applications of your current products in solving problems outside your current market.
  • Build a disciplined market segment analysis approach to identify the best opportunities.

 

Sales Checklist

GOAL

Find the early adopters and key accounts in the new market segment

KEY OPTIMIZATION ACTION ITEMS
  • Set up a New Business Development unit charged with finding the right entry points within the selected potential growth area.
  • Define the compensation plan for rewarding success.

 

Customer Support Checklist

GOAL

Do everything necessary to create highly satisfied and referenceable customers.

KEY OPTIMIZATION ACTION ITEMS

Set up a “Special Accounts” team whose priority is to do whatever it takes to make these early adopters highly successful with your products.

 

Innovation Checklist

GOAL

Make it easy to custom fit your products to new market needs within 90 days.

KEY OPTIMIZATION ACTION ITEMS
  • Create a platform for your products that enables you to customize and support various versions of your products.
  • Rapidly complete Proof of Concept (POC) projects.
  • Rapidly convert approved POC into stable products.
 

Does Strategy Impact Revenue Growth?

The answer is  “maybe”. When strategy doesn’t deliver growth, the issue appears to be more on alignment than anything else. And yet, companies spend ample time on crafting go-to-market strategies without first investigating possible roadblocks to execution. In our experience, the number one roadblock to execution tends to be lack of commitment by senior management, typically due to inconsistencies between what the company is all about and how it presents itself in the marketplace. Here is why.

What is Strategy?

Strategy is defined as the thought process of focusing limited resources on a few well-chosen activities that are most likely to produce the best results. It is the process of deciding what to do and what NOT to do.

It turns out, however, that strategy is not a single process, but actually consists  of two components that must work well together. In addition,there is arguably a right and wrong sequence to strategy formulation, and getting that sequence wrong is typically what leads to poor execution.

Business Strategy

The first component is Business Strategy, which involves the internal DNA of the business. It addresses the following questions:  What are we really good at? Are we a product company, an operationally excellent company, or a highly customized service company that provide unique services to a very select clientele?

These three types of companies require  very different strategies. A company cannot excel at all three—nor will it need to. Mac buyers are not in the same market as Dell Inspiron buyers, for example. They buy different things and are willing to pay different prices for what they want. Neither are BMW and Toyota buyers in the same market, or DHL and UPS customers. Each company has a different value proposition based on its DNA.

Market Strategy

The second component is Market Strategy, which deals with the questions:  Where do we want to compete? Who cares most about the issues that we are the best at addressing?  It is about finding the right customer for whom the company’s value proposition is a painkiller (must have) rather than a vitamin (nice to have).

Go-to-market strategy deals with the selection of a market segment with a specific compelling need that the company can address. That means specifically targeted competitors, partners, and distribution strategy. It also entails a carefully selected pricing model that works for that market segment, as well as a positioning that guides all communication. Though all of these factors may be carefully assembled, they may still not be aligned with the core business strategy of the company, which can result in  friction and hurdles.

Getting these two equally critical, very different and yet complementary facets of strategy right is not trivial. Executing flawlessly on both is extremely challenging. The companies that figure out a highly viable strategy (for both business and market) and execute well on this strategy will have the best chance of becoming market leaders.

The Challenge of Strategy Execution

Strategy seems to work best when it starts internally (business strategy) and works outward (market strategy).

Most likely, the biggest reason why execution fails is due to lack of commitment—financial and emotional. This lack of commitment arises when senior management is not in agreement on how to proceed. Sales and Marketing managers? are typically externally focused and want to execute on go-to-market strategies that may not be in alignment with the core identity of the company. Because product companies are quite different from service or operations companies, their go-to-market strategies need to be different.

Misalignment occurs most often when a highly accomplished senior executive is hired and asserts his or her will to shape the company after an image this executive understands very well—the go-to-market strategy that he or she has previously executed with great success. The question here is: Is the go-to-market strategy the right one for this company’s DNA?

For example, in the 90’s, manufacturing companies tried to hire ex-Toyota managers in hopes of achieving zero quality defects and operational efficiency. However, in a number of instances, this tactic didn’t work well and was frustrating to both the hiring company and the ex-Toyota manager. How a product company achieves zero quality defects may radically differ from how an operations company achieves it–and strategy is always about answering the “how” with the resources available to the company.

Executing strategy requires discipline, which involves a commitment to do certain things and not others. Operationally excellent companies make different choices from product excellence companies. The entire management team needs to be in strong agreement on what those choices are, which is what business strategy is all about. With that in place, the work of finding the right market in which the company’s competencies allow it to dominate becomes more intuitive.

Market Strategy Flow

However, things can break down at this step as well. Market strategy has a certain flow to it. It starts with identifying a compelling need that a company has the best chance of solving more effectively than alternatives. Again, the idea is to find a market space where the company’s capabilities provide a painkiller (must have) rather than a vitamin (nice to have).

It then examines market segments with that compelling need and determines which one is the most accessible in terms of its decision makers and decision making process. Understanding the value chain of how goods and services flow from the company to the end user helps the company see how many stakeholders must be convinced to make a sale. The level and type of competition has significant impact. There are always competing alternatives. The question is how entrenched these are and how hard it will be to dislodge them.

With that knowledge, the company can position itself attractively against both a direct and market alternative. Whatever distribution channel is selected must meet the aforementioned requirements . It must be able to access the decision makers and know how to support the entire product that the customer wants to receive. Moreover,  it must be able to do this at a cost that leaves a healthy margin for the company while simultaneously showing strong ROI for the customer.

What we have described above is how to arrive at the right strategy for your business— one that is practical and executable. While this process is not easy, it aims to avoid major hurdles that can turn out to be showstoppers.

The SOMAmetrics Approach

At SOMAmetrics, we help our clients define a coherent strategy that is built on who they are and focuses on target markets with compelling needs that our clients can fulfill better than their competitors. Furthermore, we supplement our client’s resources with additional ones—from building marketing content to lead generation and qualification, and then delivering these sales qualified leads to our clients’ sales teams.

Our approach of aligning strategy with best practices makes execution smoother by shortening sales cycles and improving closing ratios, which leads to accelerated revenue growth.

Contact us today for a short conversation to see how we may be able to help.

A Culture of Continous Recognition

Modern work place

Why do people work? Do people work only to earn money, pay bills, and live in some comfort? Or might they also work for a more inherent reason?

We all need money to live in comfort and to support our families. However, I believe that most human beings thrive in environments that provide recognition for their accomplishments. While you can assist your roommates or family members at home, whether or not they will notice and appreciate your efforts is often a crapshoot.

On the other hand, I believe that a place in which we can be recognized consistently is at work. When we are at work, we are measured for our contributions toward revenue growth, or for our efforts that increase net profits. Revenue growth and net profits can be measured, and their increases are easy to appreciate because increases in these areas impress investors.

It is important that all individual employees be given a set of metrics or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that they can be measured on. If everyone is held accountable for their jobs and measured accordingly, they have a framework by which they can be recognized.

Once you have created the metrics and KPIs, you have the framework to build a consistent recognition process for every contributing member of the company which can be implemented across the organization. As I mentioned earlier, I believe that people thrive on recognition. To help your employees thrive, your company should consider building a continuous recognition program.

A continuous recognition program may recognize those individuals who consistently meet their objectives. This is an easy place to start. To get your entire organization to flourish, however, your company might consider recognizing employees who have made incremental improvements. You may want to recognize people who contribute to the greater community, for example. The continuous recognition program can be run as often as you’d like — monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, etc.

Give Managers the opportunity to do “spot” recognition, on the fly and in front of their teams. This type of recognition will prevent complacency. Imagine how you might feel if, out-of-the-blue, your manager recognized you and gave you the rest of the day off because of your contribution to the company.

The method of recognition can take many forms. As a company, decide if you will give days off, gift cards, cash, etc. However, don’t let these be the only forms used for recognizing your team members. A nice letter, on company letterhead, or a note of thanks can go a long way in motivating your team and building a “thriving” organizational culture.

Once you design a continuous recognition program and implement it, you will watch your team members and organization prosper