B-to-B Cataloging: Four Ways to Coordinate Marketing and Outbound Sales
Want to increase sales? Increase the frequency of contact with your customers, and coordinate catalog marketing and outbound sales efforts. In B-to-B especially, it can be a powerful, one-two punch. But without a well-planned strategy, one effort can unintentionally undermine the other.
Here are four key ways to ensure your sales and marketing efforts are in sync.
1. Brand. Controlling brand in print and online can be relatively easy compared to controlling it in outbound sales efforts. Use gatekeepers to assure that you maintain a consistent look and voice in your catalog and on your Web site. If a wrong font or color slips into a design, make the correction in a preliminary layout before you publish the error.
Phone channels require gatekeepers, too. Sales goals, training levels and employee understanding of your brand promise can all create “brand drift.” This is a subtle and unintended change of brand positioning that’s introduced to answer a perceived need.
In print, brand drift can occur because copywriters get bored and introduce a new copy voice. In outbound sales channels, your brand can appear to have multiple personalities, taking on the personalities of the individuals in the department.
If this is the case, you may need some internal brand-washing in which you create employee buy-in to your brand promise. Consistent, credible and sincere communication from your senior management team, backed by action and training are key. Your sales staff has to know that what it’s saying is true. It must feel confident that it’ll be supported by the product and service.
If your brand promise is to match the lowest price anywhere, your sales staff buy-in is straightforward. Set parameters for confirming prices and give your staff the authority to match it. For another example:
Brand-washing Checklist for Cataloger XYZ
Brand Promise: Innovative solutions for the lawn irrigation industry
Ask the following:
• What does the phrase “innovative solutions” mean?
• What are the benefits of your solutions?
• How do your solutions differ from the competition’s?
• What is the higher-order benefit that your brand offers?
• What personal benefit does a customer receive by purchasing from your company, compared to the competition?
A columnist for Retail Online Integration, George founded HAGUEdirect, a marketing agency. Previously he was a member of the Shawnee Mission, Kan.-based consulting and creative agency J. Schmid & Assoc. He has more than 10 years of experience in circulation, advertising, consulting and financial strategy in the catalog/retail industry. George's expertise includes circulation strategy, mailing execution, response analysis and financial planning. Before joining J. Schmid, George worked as catalog marketing director at Dynamic Resource Group, where he was responsible for marketing and merchandising for the Annie's Attic Needlecraft catalog, the Clotilde Sewing Notions catalog, the House of White Birches Quilter's catalog and three book clubs. George also worked on corporate acquisitions.