Profit or Non-Profit – Just Satisfy The Customer

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Too many entrepreneurs with a social conscience truly believe that they want to launch a non-profit organization to enhance their business. Aligning with a nonprofit organization potentially enhances the business’ branding because of the good feelings attached to their perceived social awareness. The strategy creates better storytelling as it connects with their audience. Undoubtedly, non-profit organizations have an explicit purpose. That structure provides specific accounting advantages in accomplishing that explicit purpose. Having the ability to beg for money and only answer to hand-picked cronies is clearly not the explicit purpose. In fact, fundraising is hard work which often takes leadership’s focus away from delivering maximum value to customers. So, should non-profit and for-profit organizations work together?

COLLABORATE
Organizations who wish to operate values-driven businesses with a social conscious have assorted options for business structures. The most essential component is navigating the ability to deliver tangible value to a target market, as opposed to begging for money to run a social program. To execute an effective business model with feel-good outcomes, collaboration between organizations with explicit and complimentary missions is a winning tactic. Connecting two complimentary organizations with aligned goals allows both organizations to accomplish more together. They also can meet the individual goals of their stakeholders.

The story that both organizations present to the marketplace must be aligned from a marketing perspective. Beyond showing up at press events hand-in-hand, their combined messaging, target markets, and services has to be intentionally coordinated. Equally important, identifying opportunities to leverage resources maximize the joint contribution. Particularly concerning marketing efforts, communicating more broadly toward two separate, yet aligned audiences, grow opportunities to increase awareness for both entities. For example, if both organizations involve education, then combining for-profit services that improve students’ academic performance along with philanthropic advocacy for parental rights creates synergy that builds family values in a community.

PARTNER
In some cases, a specific joint structure, like a formal partnership may be the best solution. A nonprofit organization that receives funding based on the quantity of people they serve, can reasonably sub-contract with a for-profit, service providing partner to deliver the service efficiently. Considering that the non-profit may need to pay taxes and benefits for having in-house resources, the outsourced partner can be positioned to offset many other operating costs. Furthermore, the for-profit entity may be designed to drive increased awareness leading to more individuals receiving the services. Cost effectively delivering more services is clearly a win-win.

Key to effective partnering is recognizing that a non-profit organization is a tax status, not a business model. From a partnering perspective, non-profits can contribute built-in advantages with regards to storytelling. Successful nonprofit organizations understand that with respect to contributors, they cannot pull the purse strings until they tug at the heartstrings. The emotional connection in operating with their mission at the forefront, reflects another advantage. A sense of community results among clients from the feel-good perspective of working with a non-profit. This belief offsets the typical assumption that only profits drive conventional business activities. Optimally, the joint businesses both prioritize delivering cost effective service within their operations. The non-profit partnership allows the message to be accepted more easily.

TAKEAWAY
Ultimately, the customers’ perspective prevails! The benefit of the collaboration’s nonprofit piece is the operation’s inherent emotional connection. From a marketing perspective, better storytelling directly links to effective fund-raising, in addition to attracting customers for the organizations’ services. Combining warm feelings in messaging with a for-profit partner delivering great results allows both entities to maximize each other’s strengths. Fundamentally, bringing the two structures together intentionally to maximize value is the goal! Combining individual strengths in terms of storytelling, branding, and operations achieves the goal most powerfully. The profit or non-profit business model becomes less relevant when the customer is best served and more value benefits the organizations, customers and community.

 

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

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Self-Promotion or Referral Promotion

Marketing Retail Crowd Millenial

Businesses want attention. They want to be easy to find. Elaborate branding strategies generate marketplace awareness. Logos on skyscrapers, searchlights reflecting off clouds, key words to increase SEO, promotions featuring A-List celebrities are recognizable tactics that attract customers. When promotional activity performs well, either the business itself or a credible source, is responsible for communicating superior attributes that drive the desired attention. Whether, the attention starts internally or externally, raising awareness is promotion’s purpose.

My Story (What I Say About Me)
Self-promotion’s foundation features tactics where businesses draw attention to themselves. Storytelling is the heart of this approach. The enterprise creates a favorable narrative by controlling the story. Fundamentally, the business or product communicates why a particular selection is the superior choice. In this case, the business gets to pick its favorite attribute, then impose its benefits on the marketplace. While the facts may be biased, the posture is that the products superiority dominates counterarguments. Starbucks positions itself as the best coffee place because the masses flock to it, and the group must be smarter than the individual.

On the other hand, problems with controlling the narrative features balancing benefits with truth. Self-promotion’s challenge is that both advocates and adversaries have individual truths wrestling for credibility. Sellers consistently delivering on promises seize a huge advantage. Quickly acknowledging mistakes and correcting them helps, too. Ultimately, self-promotion requires integrity, credibility and consistency. If the story is false, then customers will not patiently wait for the improvement or correction before selecting a competitor.

My Brand (What You Say About Me)
Branding aligns with referral promotion. Even when a business obsessively controls its brand, the marketplace still has a loud voice regarding acceptance. In N’ Out Burger can claim its California roots and fresh ingredients loudly and clearly. But, not until its customers choose to wait in long lines at all hours of the day or night does the claim drive value. Nothing says great marketing like most drive-thru customers ordering Monster-Style fries, despite they are nowhere on the menu. Furthermore, every customer in that eternal line leaves tremendously satisfied because their meal is only available to insiders.

When great branding works, customers are satisfied in their superior selection. Referral promotion suggests that a brand loyalist has invited the next customer into the inner circle for a superior experience. Essentially, the seller has cultivated defenders of the product’s superiority, who explicitly encourage more fans to embrace the brand and shun competitors. These raving fans now assume responsibility for recruiting like-minded purchasers to join established agents who willingly reinforce the brand’s embedded supporters. Referral promotion induces others to tell the stories of the brand’s superiority so that the enterprise does not have to do it. Such agents willingly embrace this role to proclaim their adopted brand’s superiority to the public.

Takeaway
Driving business growth demands superior storytelling and branding. Understanding the difference in their similar, yet distinct, functions is key to effective and successful marketing. The marketplace’s voice assumes tremendous power because of its implied, unbiased perspective. To build on that foundation, embrace others to broadcast the sellers’ brand superiority. Then, consistently deliver on customers’ expectations. Storytelling works because self-promotion clearly communicates the brand’s story, and typically tells it better. Referral promotion benefits by building a movement that will own the brand’s success because they have determined that the brand reflects the greater good. Ultimately, voices, telling a story, elevate a brand that delivers on its promises. Marketing success results from such voices generating attention, then maximizing credibility.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

 

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Targeting High Performance Biz Results

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Sitting in a swanky hotel lobby, a marketing consultant waits for a sales professional to arrive for their meeting. The two professionals are actually old friends who have been looking forward to reconnecting. They typically start by arguing whether the meeting’ purpose is networking or accountability. Regardless, the real focus is sharing individual business challenges, exchanging high performance strategies, and retelling old jokes. Once the sales guy arrives, he immediately gripes about his unreasonable goals. A debate starts regarding strategy versus execution, leading to the classic question whether the best marketing solutions maximize sales results. Or, do marketing and sales serve different masters?

Alignment
The marketing pro calmly asks about friction between sales’ and marketing’s input in determining the targets. Too often, sales targets are missed because information driving projections is inconsistent with activities that salespeople actually perform. When marketing departments deploy strategies requiring interacting with the broad marketplace in ways that conflict with sales professionals’ ability to engage prospects and customers, poor results are inevitable. Coordinating practices where sales brings back customer intelligence to integrate into marketing’s analysis, leads to understanding customer demands better. Consequently, better analysis of attractive target markets’ trends results in sustainable sales advantages.

This advantage only comes to fruition when tactics and strategies align among the sales and marketing functions. Replicating success with specific solutions sustain sales growth for a time. Eventually, communicating new applications for established products and service are necessary to satisfy dynamic customers’ evolving demands. What retailer does not want to introduce broader, faster, personalized selections accompanied by quicker delivery to their target market? When current and future customer desires align, as marketing intelligence and sales execution cooperate, epic results happen! Effective internal communication quickly executing on anecdotal evidence and strategic analysis wins every time.

Incentive
Unfortunately, striving for sustainable advantages often results in incentives and commissions rewarding common results from routine activities. The trap where leaders stumble is paying sales people for routine results that they regularly deliver. Clearly compensation is important. Business professionals tend to like money: everyone loves the color and it always fits. However, at some high performance level better rewards evolve. Recognition, opportunities, self-fulfillment begin to enter the equation. Just like the business wants to grow in new and fascinating ways, so do the professionals who ignite that growth.

As business success increases, expanding incentives becomes more important. Opportunities to grow, influence, and control emerge as priorities to key contributors. Rewarding accordingly becomes a necessity. Regardless whether the reward is financial, experiential, or status-based, the value needs to be communicated in a timely and personally desirable fashion. As business environments evolve more quickly than ever, recognition must match the pace, or else competitors will match it. For business leaders to perpetuate contributor’s success, incentives must be clear, attainable and meaningful. Culture determines the specifics. Effective leaders deliver on the explicit expectation.

Takeaway
Returning to the initial meeting, the two professionals never do agree on whether the purpose is networking or accountability. They do agree that: “Efforts are applauded. Results are rewarded.”. Clearly articulating what constitutes outstanding results is essential for establishing proper alignment and subsequently incentives. However, before effectively distributing rewards, expectations must be clearly and fairly established. Communication is a first, yet essential step toward alignment. Ultimately, success criteria must be measurable and identifiable to structure effective incentives. Getting business results represents a timeless aspiration that unites marketing strategies and sales tactics. Ultimately executing internal coordination and trust results in organizational value, which is the primary purpose.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

 

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Storytelling to Sales

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“Stop! Don’t Skip this Ad!” is the stereotypical pitch promoting online sales. The personality then flexes their storytelling muscles explaining how they skyrocketed from humble beginnings. Often, sales trainers teach, “People buy with emotion and justify with logic.” In both cases, the delivered marketing message is that their product, service, or point of view must emotionally connect with the marketplace. Furthermore, to communicate with large marketplaces, effective marketers will segment potential customers. Effective storytelling results in sales when messaging reaches segmented niches desiring specific products or services. Consequently, storytelling that strengthens emotional bonds lead to better business results! So, what is the foundation of emotional bonds in business?

Networking
Relationships form in the marketplace to establish like and trust which lead to transactions. Value is the currency. The more value that a seller communicates and exchanges, the stronger the bonds. Once those bonds are strong enough for buyers to share benefits with like-minded professionals, then a network is born. Fundamentally, networking is the platform where like and trust is traded. Whether it is virtual, personal, or reputational, when people and entities are willing to share experiences to either facilitate benefits or avoid costly errors, the network performs as an exchange where value – based transactions happen.

The most amazing aspect of networking is the many ways that information moves. Countless coffee meetings, webinars, lunch dates and happy hours occur specifically to facilitate networking. Groups emerge, dissolve, change missions, dates, locations, and members. Nevertheless, functioning networks have a few simple, common traits. Individuals interact with other individuals. Common values are established so that goals are clearly identified. Trust evolves so that communal beliefs exist that whatever currency is exchanged has value. Essentially, common goals, like, and trust are more important than location, rules, dues, territories, titles, names, or members.

Niches
When exchanging value, it is equally important to understand what the parties will not do, as it is to determine what they will do. Niches reflect the boundaries for what transactions are acceptable in creating value. Beyond interacting with the right individuals, organizations, and entities, establishing identifiably specific targets are necessary to maximize success. Beyond a target industry or territory for a sales force, a niche represents the boundaries where excellence can be demonstrated. With regards to leveraging storytelling to maximize value, the niche represents the environmental language and culture where the story will be most appreciated.

Great sales professionals who can sell ice cream to Eskimos are a myth, in addition to being inappropriate. To establish greater sales, or other business results, the environment where transactions occur must value the delivered goods, services and benefits. The niche represents that environment. Cultivating that environment for individual business benefit is equally important as having great training, product knowledge, or personality. Success requires bringing value where it will be rewarded. Essentially, niches are targets that maximize expectations for success using advantages that individual sales efforts provide.

Takeaways
Storytelling establishes a clear path toward successful business growth. Networking sets foundational connections for groups with common values to grow. Niches identify environments where mutual benefits can be harvested. In coordinating these business success factors, individuals and organizations must maintain focus on the ultimate goal. Achieving specific, measurable business targets is the purpose. Sales drive enterprises. Storytelling is fundamentally an effective tactic leading to success. But, never confuse the journey with the destination. Do what works! Efforts are applauded; results are rewarded! Ultimately, let the story proclaim the results.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

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The Grind Goes On And On

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Business professionals love winning the big deal! It reinforces their individual branding as superior performers. Such exploits fuel the storytelling that drives their growing reputations and results in even more successful business. Revenue growth confirms individual progress toward a future of more impressive wins. The resulting narrative then leads to greater opportunities. Subsequently, emerging reputations and ongoing communication within marketplaces require repeated excellence. Once the thrill of victory is over, rainmakers resume the lonely work of igniting progress for the next opportunity. This relationship is not linear. As one deal concludes, the next one is already in progress. The grind continues.

Continuous Activity
Success in this dynamic environment is process-driven. Success demands sustained focus. To maximize success, these overachieving professionals learn and execute at a deeper level in specific niches. The more that established practices can be replicated, the quicker new revenue can be recognized. The continuous activity requires purpose and structure. Fortunately, it perpetuates patterns of success and rewards.

Meanwhile, complex markets feature constantly changing innovations, regulations, competitors, and customers. Still, certain fundamentals remain consistent. Even in the face of new applications for given goods and services, old applications do not typically vanish overnight. In fact, the most effective sales professionals develop personally strong rapport with incumbent customers who often share potential competitors and under-development intelligence. Conflicts of interests ethically must be honored. However, new opportunities through superior intelligence gathering provide legitimate competitive advantages.

Periodic Results
Another essential success characteristic for growing revenue involves recording progress of all sales processes. Besides utilizing sales funnel applications to monitor potential sales opportunities and process discipline, incorporate competitors’ opportunities and intelligence to identify growth possibilities. By documenting these strategic insights, great sales professionals flex their ability to detect trends and innovations as new users begin exploring them. To remain ahead of the curve, routine progress checks of possibilities and intelligence must be part of the sales process.

Furthermore, monitoring metrics regarding sales cycles, product availability, and communication patterns with all prospects is an essential success tactic. The more available data that a sales professional accesses, the easier it is to identify discrepancies in projected sales cycle. While any two transactions may not be identical, especially regarding commercial sales, trends still emerge through meaningful data resulting from sufficiently full pipelines. Embrace superior efforts to deliver superior results. Likewise, superior data analysis feeds superior efforts. The equation is clear. Better data analysis leads to better execution and consequently better results!

Takeaways
Regardless of the thrill of victory, continue performing the daily work. Respect the process. Enjoy the small wins. Celebrate the big wins. Every conquest leads to new territory to claim. Accept that after every huge feast, hunger returns again. Successful processes will keep feeding that hunger for success. Furthermore, stay focused on areas of expertise that align with consistently articulated branding. Dominate specific niches. Serve the type of customers that willingly accept individualized, singular excellence. Likewise, allow future excellence to grow on the foundation of previous success. Simultaneously, repeat what works while innovating. If the desire is for successful business growth to continue, then the grind must go on!

 
By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

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Followers, Customers, Value – What’s First?

BusinessmanAgainstTheGrain

In a world with hundreds of channels and thousands of websites, how does anyone ever decide on any single entertainment option? Marketers endure the same dilemma in establishing communication with their marketplace. Marketing campaigns have innumerable options to connect with influencers, prospects, and customers. Determining who to talk to first is just as important as what to stay. So much media, such limited budget! Consequently, the marketer’s key question is, “Which communication channel delivers the best revenue results?”. Setting priorities is a great strategy, deciding the best path to maximize value is much, much trickier.

Connection
Tactically, connecting with a designated target audience is a proven first step. Realize that connecting requires two-way communication. For instance, readers accept information in written form. Alternatively, talkers thrive in interpersonal exchanges and best receive information verbally. Something as simple as understanding the specific industry’s acronyms and buzz words can dictate effective communication. Regardless of what media a marketer uses, successful communication depends on the listener being able to receive information in the same manner the speaker delivers.

However, connection gets harder when communicating a similar message across multiple media. Explaining superior benefits during a sales call is much different than on an Instagram video. A message as straightforward as communicating pricing can easily be received much differently across any two channels. The message must be consistent with the connection to create the right emotional bond so that both facts and credibility transfer from the speaker to the receiver. Benefits may be universal, but messaging gets very specific regarding prospects. Connection demands sending information such that it is received properly.

Value
Superior communication helps transform followers into prospects. Nevertheless, business only happens upon transitioning prospects to customers. Value dictates this step. Superior marketing uses various communication channels to ensure that the journey concludes with a mutually satisfying deal. Fundamentally, every customer wants more satisfaction from their purchase, than they would have enjoyed had they spent their money elsewhere. Whether acquiring commercial raw materials or personal luxury items, the value comes down to doing better because of the purchase, instead of holding onto the money. Consequently, the seller must input as much utility into the product or service as possible.

Superior marketing establishes terms so that sellers benefit from that dynamic. The multi-media component means that consistent, or at least complimentary, messaging resonates across airwaves, through websites, and via influencers so that diverse buyers can emotionally justify buying. Marketing across various media works best when consistent themes inspire specific audiences to extract individual benefits. Communicating exclusivity appeals to a specific target market regardless of the media. That customer simply wants to be satisfied that they have something that most people do not. This target, regardless of marketing channel, wishes to buy obvious evidence of their superiority.

Takeaway
Regarding successful marketing strategies, what gets targeted first: followers, customers, or values? The specific target audience depends on how effectively the seller can communicate with them. Any marketer who answers the question, “Who is my target customer?”, with the answer, “Everyone”, fundamentally loses! Multi-media marketing helps solve that riddle. The target customer is no longer a person, it is a mindset. The magic is in the message and how it reaches the individual. Marketers that communicate consistent attributes to an audience who clearly hears what they personally find attractive will succeed. Consequently, effective messaging uses superior storytelling so that each customer hears exactly what they want. Then, they are willing to buy.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

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What Brand Stands Alone?

Stand Alone Skyscraper

Why do jingles stay in customers’ heads for years? How do families ignore price or quality because of branding? So many questions, so many dollars relying on these answers. Brand loyalty can easily morph into cultural tradition. In some parts of the country, buying a Chevy truck instead of a Ford can jeopardize an inheritance! Fundamentally, great branding leads to extreme behaviors in customers, and consequently, more dollars into corporate coffers! Beyond features and benefits, buying decisions ultimately reveal cultural identity and credible influencers. So, how does a marketer develop such brand loyalty and emotional connectivity?

Declare Value
Products and services deliver specific sets of features, solving certain problems in the marketplace. Business occurs when someone pays for that outcome. Brands create value when that marketplace anticipates satisfaction and believes the purchase will deliver it. Value is obvious when premium products have high prices because of the purchase’s emotional gratification. But, it is equally true at lower prices, when basic satisfaction is enough. Being cheapest can be a recognized value!

But, no product regardless of cheapness relies on price as the only reason to buy. Quality can drop to low, low levels. Ultimately, even minimal value can result simply from endorsements or clever marketing. While celebrity endorsements create widespread buzz, a local presence reinforcing community loyalty serves the same goal. In local supermarket aisles, a generic cola has to communicate at some level that its bargain basement price provides better satisfaction per dollar than Coke. At the bare minimum, “No-name” cola is brown, sugary and fizzy enough.

Continue Communication
Low prices do not mean that products get to claim their value. The marketplace declares value! Brands simply get to manipulate prices to reflect value. Take the example of low-end cigarettes in urban communities. Superior benefits and attributes become irrelevant in the face of feeding a nicotine fix or identifying with the popular brand on the block. Essentially, trend-setting influencers, advocates and images dictate purchase choices and that reality exists completely up the value chain.

In certain categories of consumer brands, regional preferences favor specific competitors. In the northeastern United States, taste, sweetness, freshness are irrelevant characteristics in who dominates the donut market. Krispy Kreme empirically wins handily in these key characteristics, but Dunkin’ Donuts dominates the cash register. Local tastes defies the tongue in this competitive category. Image makers, channel partners, and credible influencers have effectively communicated better attributes associated with Dunkin’ Donuts. The brand embraces the story, the marketing channels perpetuate it such that targeted consumers believe it.

Takeaways
The question remains, “Who needs partners when they have a great brand?” The answer continues to be, “Everyone!” Branding extends beyond sellers shouting their superiority from rooftops. Effectiveness requires building trust through intermediaries and delivering value at every point in the sales channel. Guaranties must be honored. Upgrades must be easily available. Options must be communicated. Beyond the point of sale, every part of the customer experience must be seamlessly executed. Branding is not what is said. It is what is done! Businesses at all levels build brands representing their persona to the marketplace. Ongoing sales success demands every step of the customer experience, whether through collaboration or a singular value chain, executes and communicates directly to the customer. Branding takes teamwork. And, earned trust leads to premium profits.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

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