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I grew up in a neighborhood where kickball ruled.  One day a bunch of us boys were playing when suddenly the ball bounced down a drainage ditch. Within seconds it got jammed halfway inside a long, skinny concrete pipe under Mr. Stewart’s driveway. We tried to pry the ball out with long sticks and rocks but finally gave up. A couple of guys mumbled about Plan B – bike riding, Monopoly or even checkers.

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I’m not a football player, and I don’t fully understand the rules. If a penalty flag flies on a play, I usually have to wait for the ref to explain it. I’m clueless about the finer points of blocking and tackling, and I certainly can’t predict which team is likely to win a tight match.

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Recently, we recorded a series of informal conversations with several of VantagePoint Marketing’s key staff discussing how to help our B2B customers create greater value for their customers. If you’ve got 12 minutes, I think you might find these interesting and helpful. The three brief videos are available below, or you can watch them in HD on VantagePoint’s YouTube channel. Each video addresses a different way to increase your value to your customer. Here’s a brief summary of each:

1. Improve customer loyalty. In this video, our team discusses:

  • the use of customer research and the Net Promoter Score
  • how to follow up with appropriate action
  • the increase in market share that will follow when you understand what matters most to your customers
  • a case study where a doubled Net Promoters Score led to record profit growth

2. Stay relevant to your customers. This 4-minute clip covers:

  • the importance of your product or service’s  relevance to both customers and non-customers
  • talking about what your customers are interested in, not just trumpeting your great new widget
  • letting relevance drive your strategy and marketing communication
  • creating specific communications for specific audiences
  • how you can help your customers’ business

3. Improve sales effectiveness. This video clip explores:

  • the importance of sales’ competence, confidence, comfort, and communication
  • how VantagePoint helps customers train their sales force and sales channels
  • the importance of understanding the buying cycle and all influencers in the B2B purchase process
  • how a feedback loop can help sales provide marketing with the intelligence to modify products and messaging

At VantagePoint, we want to provide the best value to you, which is one of the reasons we created these videos. Of course, we can only convey a limited amount of information in 4 minutes, so if there is any way we can help explain these topics further to you, we’d love to be of help. Please contact VantagePoint Marketing, and we’ll be happy to set up a time to talk.

Wednesday night I attended the 2011 Marketing Forecast event at Charlotte’s Uptown EpiCentre. Although the local panel of marketing pros stopped short of sketching out key trends for the coming year, they did offer bits of useful advice. Here are some takeaways from my little black book:

  • Social media is a tool, not a toy. The “gee whiz” factor is fading, and effective marketers know that social media must be used as a business tool to justify the commitment of time and financial resources. The good news is that technology has enabled connections and relationships with customers that weren’t possible before. For example, some companies are using twitter to answer customer questions quickly – versus having people dial an 800 number and go through a frustrating phone tree.

  • Talk with customers and prospects, not at them. Whether employing social media or more traditional channels, it’s high time to engage your community with great content. Let your target market become part of your narrative.  Get them to participate. Transform communication into conversation – and don’t just talk about yourself.

  • Market aggressively even if your budget is limited. Pulling back on marketing during the present economy is not the best move. As one panelist put it, “budget conservatively – market aggressively.” That said, it makes good sense to pilot ideas and understand the potential before making a bigger investment.  From a resource standpoint, sharpen the focus on your core mission and bring in outside help if they can provide superior marketing expertise.

  • Creativity solves problems even when budget cannot. Be creative with what you’ve got. See what solutions your team members can come up with on their own.  Maybe there’s a whole new way to tackle obstacles that stand in the way of forward progress. Examples might be creating a special event to build prospect interest and awareness – or analyzing your customer data more thoroughly to explore buying patterns and new marketing insights.

Let’s get real. A 2011 marketing forecast it’s not – but street-smart advice is always welcome.

I am a lifelong boater that loves to cruise on any body of water. As I was planning a cruise recently, I was thinking of some of the similarities between my planning on my boat and market planning. Yes, I know it sounds a little far-fetched, but I believe there are valid comparisons.  Read the rest of this entry »

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About VantagePoint

VantagePoint's integrated approach to b-to-b marketing combines keen insight with bright ideas to strengthen your brand's market impact, no matter what the economy. Let us help you get a fresh perspective.

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