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Newest Book Released on Tuesday: Business Transformation: A Path to Profit for In-Plant Facilities

We officially released my latest book in my “Business Transformation” series on Tuesday. Business Transformation: A Path to Profit for In-Plant Facilities focuses on how in-plant facilities can expand their traditional services to set themselves up to thrive in the future.

Generously printed by Canon U.S.A., Inc., my latest book asks the questions; what does it mean to be an in-plant marketing service provider? How does an organization become more than just an in-plant printer? How is our organization’s infrastructure going to change? and more.

I am very excited to get this book out there to members of in-plant facilities. Many in-plants are capable of transforming their business if they have the right tools and plan in place. It’s a big step, but I believe my book provides a comprehensive plan for a successful transformation.

In this in-depth and insightful guide to transformation, I clarify what it means to be a marketing service provider, how to transform your in-plant facility, what type of personnel adjustments are necessary and most importantly, how to successfully market your new services to your audience.

in plantEquipped with a full online resource center, Business Transformation: A Path to Profit for In-Plant Facilities, provides in-plants with everything they need to undertake a successful transformation.

Approximately 150 attendees at the 2015 IPMA Conference received a signed, early-edition copy. Anyone interested in a copy of the early edition of Business Transformation: A Path to Profit for In-Plant Facilities, is encouraged to visit http://ilink.me/EarlyEd. Copies will be distributed as they are available.

 

Purchase John’s Other Books in the Business Transformation series on Amazon.com:

Business Transformation: A Path to Profitability for the Mailing and Fulfillment Industries

Business Transformation: A New Path to Profit for the Printing Industry

4 Statements To Assess Your Fulfillment Company

Taking stock of your fulfillment company is an important part of achieving and maintaining success. You rely on your fulfillment company to fill orders, and to do so with a high degree of speed and accuracy. Even if things seem to be going well, it’s always a good idea to take some time to assess your fulfillment company and make certain that it’s the right “fit” for your needs.

Head Back to School

Well, not really. But if you remember back to business classes, your instructor likely had you do at least one quasi-SWOT analysis. Need a refresher? SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats and Opportunities. And a great way to evaluate your fulfillment company would be to look at the strengths and weaknesses. We’ll call it a SW analysis.

Working on an in-depth SW analysis of your fulfillment company requires you to dig deep. This isn’t the time for listing superficial issues or problems. This is when you really get to the nitty-gritty of what’s working and what’s not. What strengths your fulfillment company consistently displays, such as efficiencies within their systems and what weaknesses (such as order inaccuracies) have popped up on your radar.

Don’t forget to do some basic research. Things may have easily changed over the time you have been working with your fulfillment company. Look for customer testimonials. Search for reviews or forum threads that may dish on your fulfillment company. If a former customer is not happy, you may want to know why, so that you can try to prevent any similar issues occurring for you.

If you have never physically evaluated the facility, or it’s been a long time, then you should take a tour. This isn’t time for a white glove test. It’s not about being squeaky clean, but you most definitely want an orderly and organized warehouse for your materials. You want to know that it’s OSHA compliant. That safety is taken seriously and policies are in place. You also want a secure location and a warehouse that has security in place to deter theft. You want to know what your fulfillment company is doing to protect your inventory.

Check the Data

You should have metrics in place. If you don’t, you need to put them in place now, though it’s hard to make a true assessment of how things are going if you haven’t been tracking anything.

Look at costs. Have any costs been reduced since working with your fulfillment company? Is your fulfillment company working towards reducing costs? Have they identified ways to reduce costs and made it clear to you what needs to happen in order to achieve those numbers?

Your fulfillment company should have a clear organizational structure and should be set up to optimize the ROI on everything from employees to inventory to fulfillment software.

Here are some measurements and information you should ask your fulfillment company for:

  • Delivery / distribution speed (broken down at points such as picking, packing, shipping)
  • Number of errors per day (in order fulfillment process)
  • Length of time inventory sits
  • How often inventory is tracked / updated
  • Who is accountable for data, and how is accuracy of data confirmed

Click the image to receive a free white paper on integrated marketing!

Would You Like Fries With That?

Everyone knows that fast food chains are notorious for upselling when a customer places a food order. Sure, you were only there to pick up a soda, but those fries sound pretty tasty. And hey, it’s easy to say “Yes.” The point is, your fulfillment company should have value-added services they can offer you. And they should make you aware of them, whether you need them or not.

Imagine working with your fulfillment center for a couple of years and not knowing that they have additional services that would have made your working relationship easier or more advantageous for you. Something like this would make you question whether your fulfillment company has your best interests in mind. They should always be thinking about ways to make your working relationship better and more advantageous on both ends. And leaving out important information like other services they could offer you is a huge oversight.

Pull Out a Scorecard

Scoring your fulfillment company may sound hokey, but it’s not. When you assess your fulfillment company and look over the strength and weaknesses of that company, keep score. It can be as simple as a range of 1-10, and then developing 5 to 10 key components of your relationship and their ability to provide accurate and on-time fulfillment. As you score each component, you may have a little light bulb going off over your head. Maybe things haven’t been going as smoothly as you thought. Or maybe things aren’t as bad as you imagined. It’s easy for one or two situations (especially bad ones) to really cloud your vision.

At the very least, you should score your fulfillment company in the areas of customer service, inventory management and tracking, warehousing and shipping. But you may want to drill it down to more specific components in order to better see where the issues (if any) are.

Keeping score and then coming up with the overall tally can paint the big picture for you. If your fulfillment company is hitting mid-range scores on every key component then you really need to decide if mediocre work is going to cut it. In fact, as you create your scorecard, you should determine an overall score that will mean it’s time for some major changes, time for a meeting of the minds or time for a big high five for all involved. In the end you want to feel 100% confident that you are getting what you are paying for and that you’re not paying for more than you actually need.

 

Drive The Sales Process With Marketing Automation

driving leads, marketing automation, the sales funnelA sales department can only sell to the prospects that the marketing department leads to their doorstep. Think about it…if the marketing department falls short and fails to deliver the marketing message to the target market, then the whole sales process crumbles. The marketing department finds the prospects and lures them in and the sales department seals the deal. With marketing automation, a sales department can rest assured that a campaign is working like clockwork to bring the target market to the doorstep. For sales, lead generation is essential.

We have all the info to selling marketing services in our handy guide. Download your copy by clicking here! >

With marketing automation, everything is tracked and managed from one central spot. Instead of the right arm (sales) not knowing what the left arm (marketing) is doing, the two arms are working in conjunction, as a team. And with an automated marketing system, tasks and contacts are managed, and prospects can be touched multiple times without feeling overwhelmed and turned off by a pushy company. For example, your sales team exhibits at the local home expo. Several people fill out the form requesting more information on your products. Day one after the expo, each are emailed links to the online brochures regarding the products the prospects were interested in. The sales team receives the information on which emails were opened, when they were opened and whether the link within the email was clicked.

sales funnel, lead generation, marketing automation, interlinkone

Two days later, an automated email is sent to each of the prospects asking them if they would like a trial of the company’s product. A couple days after that, thank you notes are sent out via snail mail to each of the prospects thanking them for stopping by the booth during the expo. On day seven, the sales team is notified of which prospects have clicked on the link requesting the product trial, and are assigned phone calls to follow-up. On day nine, those prospects who did not request a free product trial are emailed a survey about their expo experience and about their thoughts on the company’s products. On day 12, the sales team learns of the survey results and are assigned follow-up calls to any prospects who have indicated they still need more information about the products. Can you see where the marketing automation leads the prospects by the hand and directly into the sales team’s waiting arms? It’s automated but still personalized every step of the way. Everything is tracked so no lead will fall between the cracks. Prospects receive the information they need according to their responses. And by the time the sales team contacts them, they are already interested in what they have to offer. Automated marketing making life easier. For everyone.

Schedule a no pressure demo of our marketing automation software > >

6 Tips For Marketing Spring Cleaning

Spring is the perfect time to make a proverbial clean sweep of your marketing efforts and see what needs to be cleaned up, decluttered or re-vamped. (Of course, scheduling something like this once a year, no matter what time of the year, can be a great thing). By springtime, all those resolutions you made at New Year’s have either started their implementation or have possibly been forgotten. 

Here Is Your Marketing Spring Cleaning Checklist:

– Dump The Old Stuff

Time to look at your materials, both online and offline. Anything that is old and out of date needs to go. If the material has some merit, then put it to the side and use it to repurpose later (after your spring cleaning efforts are done). But you may be surprised to find old brochures with incorrect contact information. Or web pages that show pictures and details of employees who no longer work for the company. Things like this make it appear as if you don’t pay attention to detail. So it’s imperative that you dump the old and make way for the new.

– Scrub Your Social Presence

Spruce up your avatars and cover photos. Make sure all the contact information and other details are current. Then look at the past year’s updates. Determine what the “hits” online casino were and what the “misses” with your audience were. Focus on the content that resonates and as you go over your editorial calendar for the year, make sure you are concentrating on the content that clicks. 

– Missing Anything?

While you’re working your social media profiles, make sure that you’re not missing another social media platform that would fit in with your goals and your audience. There are many, many social media options out there, and new ones popping up all the time. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to connect with your audience. And thankfully, it’s not like you have to take on additional work beyond setting up your profile. There are services available that allow you to synchronize your tweets, posts and updates so that everything can be scheduled out. (There are also companies who can do it all for you casino online – like Grow Socially – which makes it easy to stay on top of it all and reach your audience.)

– Time It Right

Content is important, but did you know timing is crucial as well? Pull out that editorial calendar again and look at what you have scheduled. Is it too little, too spaced out? Is it too much, information overload? You want to find the sweet spot of staying in front of your audience and being an informational resource, but not being the annoying know-it-all pest.

– Check The Search Results

Google is constantly tweaking the way it ranks pages. You should never get complacent about how your business is pulling up on searches. You want to see what’s ranking high and what’s not and figure out the “why” of both.

– Do A Little Redecorating

Maybe your website can change up from a 2-column to a 3-column. Maybe some of your online materials are due for a bit of a spruce-up. Taking some time for Marketing Spring Cleaning can help ensure your company stays on track and looks its best. It’s easy to let some of the little things slide, but you want to show your audience that you place high importance on even the smallest of details. A little cleaning goes a long way!

 

Allow our marketing team to spruce up your marketing > > > 

Literature Fulfillment – Electronic Vs. Physical

How long could your sales and marketing people last without sales and marketing literature? Crazy question, huh? Think about a business start-up. A business start-up with absolutely no sales or marketing collateral. How far would that business get? How many sales would be made? Maybe a couple, if it had some charming, fast talking sales people. Literature is crucial to your business. There is no way around it. You need the business cards, brochures, sales sheets…but do they always need to be in print form? That’s a really good question

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to pose to sales and marketing staff. Because odds are you could downsize some of your physical literature needs and save some time and money at the same time. Obviously there are advantages to electronic literature fulfillment. You don’t have to worry about keeping a physical inventory. Your budget for printing and shipping can be negligible. You can update consistently and then not worry about having outdated materials on hand. With tracking implemented, you can see when the recipient receives the materials, whether the materials are viewed or downloaded and so on. With those tracking capabilities, you can then create personalized follow-up.

But that’s not to say that providing physical materials is a crazy (or budget busting) way to go. The reality is businesses need some sort of physical literature to provide clients and prospects.

And there are ways to make physical literature fulfillment as pain free as possible. With the right program in place, you can manage the inventory and allow for ordering from unlimited locations. You can track the levels of your inventory and analyze the historical data in order to help you with future literature planning. There are aspects to literature fulfillment that remain the same regardless of their delivery method. Accuracy of materials is crucial. Mistakes are ugly to see, whether they are on a screen or on a piece of paper. Timing is also key. In this day and age, people want what they want, right now. (And sometimes they want it “yesterday”). You also want to keep a library of your collateral, whether it is a digital asset library or a physical library, so that you can have a historical collection of your work. It can help to ensure continuity, analyze the high and low points of your collateral, and help you plot out the future.

interlinkONE prides itself on being a leader in fulfillment technology >>>

The Top 5 Practices For Selling Marketing Services

Selling marketing services may seem like one of those “pie in the sky” endeavors at times. There is more of an emotional component to selling services (versus products), because the intangible is involved. And the results desired (after your awesome services have been utilized) may mean different things to different people. You aren’t selling an item, you are selling the idea of results and what those results mean to your prospects. Here are the top five practices for selling your marketing services: 1 – If you haven’t already, you need to narrow that target market. Let’s face it, you can’t be all things to all people. And you don’t want to work with everyone. You want to work with the “right” companies. Companies you can help. Companies that fit your brand and “get” your work. Companies that appreciate your expertise.

Graphic Courtesy of Grow Socially: Inbound Marketing and the Sales Funnel

  2 – Since you don’t have a product to offer as a sample to your prospective clients, you need to show them what you can do, without offering up your services for free. The best way to do this is to create an in-depth online portfolio of sorts that showcases your abilities. Make everything you put out – blog, white papers, newsletters, etc. do “double duty” in that they should be a promotional item that shows off your marketing capabilities, but also provides some information or tips that can help the prospect. 3 – Use testimonials and case studies to your advantage. Prospects like to see what others have to say. A great testimonial is good stuff. But don’t just stick with testimonials. Ask your current happy clients for referrals. Obviously they aren’t going to offer up their competition. But, since no business operates inside a bubble, your clients work with companies (perhaps on joint ventures) that likely need your help. And your clients, when happy with your work, may have a few suggestions on who you should contact and market your services to. 4 – Track down the decision maker – don’t get stuck with the gatekeeper. When you are given referrals, you typically get to go straight to the person who will make the decision whether or not to work with you. But when you acquire leads through other means it’s not unusual to get stuck with someone who doesn’t have the authority to make the decision. You need to determine who is in charge of saying yes to your marketing services and get to that person. Don’t waste your time with the employees who can’t give the green light. Be polite. Be business-like. But push past the keeper of the gate and get to the “right” person. 5 – Since results can be somewhat subjective, you need to pinpoint exactly what your prospective client’s individual needs and wants are. You may be promising them A, and they really want B. Or they may not understand that A will eventually lead to B. It’s up to you to make the possible results crystal clear. Explain how you can measure the results and what those results will translate into for your client’s business. In the end the prospect should believe in your abilities, understand what it is that you can do, and believe that you are worth every penny you charge for your services. To learn more, here is a free

White Paper from John!

Make Your CRM A Successful Collaboration

As technology has evolved, so has CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Historically, CRM tended to focus on internal operational effectiveness. It was all about providing easier access to information for employees and ideally help promote collaboration between departments within the company. It was a little black book on steroids, designed to help store a company’s valuable contact data and it grew to include the ability to generate automatic follow ups and beyond.

Today’s CRM has to take into account social media, mobile marketing and more. CRM captures the attention of prospects with relevant content and makes sure that content is available via multiple channels. It’s an integrated customer experience via various touch-points. It’s a much more social CRM model, using blog posts, videos, podcasts, tweets and other social media posts to disseminate information, educate prospects, invite conversation and develop relationships.

CRM is not only for the “big” guys in business. Today, businesses can find the right fit for their budget and their strategic needs with software products that streamline everything. Software as a service (SaaS) has created an even playing field, allowing companies of all sizes to implement CRM tools and strategies at a much more reduced cost than was required in the past.

When you combine the current philosophy of social CRM and the right software package, you can have a match made in heaven. You have the process in place to help coordinate efforts, but you have the strategies that embrace the conversational nature of CRM that helps develop relationships. It is sort of a yin-yang thing. You want to balance the internal operational efforts with your outside lead development.

With today’s CRM, if you get a complaint on Facebook, you face it head on and contact the customer. You work out a solution. But it doesn’t end there. You make sure the practices and procedures casino online are in place internally so that the issue doesn’t arise again. And, you may even turn the whole situation into a case study, versus yesteryear’s sweeping issues under the proverbial rug.

Look at the little things – talk to your current clients and prospects via your website blog by inviting comments, on your YouTube channel and other social media profiles. Ask and engage. What are their likes and dislikes? What are their suggestions? Thoughtful or stupid, they all may at least have a little merit.

In the end, successful CRM is all about a synchronistic collaboration – between sales, marketing, customer service, social media, and a great software platform. Every company (well, the ones that want to make money and stand the test of time) wants to develop strong, lasting relationships with their customers. And in order to do that, a company needs to understand their customers’ needs and behaviors. How can you cross-sell or upsell if you don’t fully understand your customer’s needs? You can’t.

You need all the pieces in place in order to succeed.

Learn more about interlinkONE”s CRM tool here. 

Making Business Communications Interactive

The following is an excerpt from my book, “Business Transformation: A Path To Profitability For The Mailing And Fulfillment Industries.” To read more, visit the book’s official website here. One way to ensure that legacy revenue continues to roll in as you make this transition is to work with your clients on ways they can make their business communications more interactive. As marketers increasingly turn to electronic media, they are seduced by the instantaneous response and tracking and the ability to more rapidly get a dialog going with recipients when using digital media. Your job is to educate them on how to effectively blend direct mail or other printed output into that mix, making their campaigns even more effective than they might be with digital alone. That means making print interactive – giving it the ability to deliver a more effective means of tracking results and a simpler path to getting that dialog going. Most marketers consider print to be a static medium. It is expensive to produce and time-consuming to distribute. It can be difficult to track results of a print-only campaign, and even more difficult to change or refine strategies midstream. This is a misconception. Print can be interactive, cost-effective, trackable and flexible when implemented properly in a multi-touch campaign. The most common means of making print interactive is by including coupons. If they are appropriately marked with offer codes, bar codes or other means of tracking their source, marketers can measure their effectiveness. But it can take time to tally the results. There are two other tools available right now that can include coupons (or not), but also deliver a richer set of results against a wider variety of metrics:

Personalized URLS or pURLS –

These are URLs, or internet addresses, that are personalized to the recipient (e.g., www.johndoe.retailoutlet.com). The recipient is directed to a personalized web microsite directly related to the promotional piece she received, whether by mail or email. The site generally has a similar look and feel to the original communication and can be personalized not only with her name, but also by using demographic, psychographic and other known data about the recipient to make it a relevant experience. The pURL establishes a direct link between printed direct mail and the Internet. As soon as a recipient hits her pURL, the dialog begins, as does the tracking. It not only provides an opportunity for the recipient to take advantage of a relevant offer, but it also gives the marketer an opportunity to collect more information about the recipient in order that future communications can be even more finely tuned.

QR Codes –

The disadvantage of a pURL on a printed piece is that recipients have to key in an address into a web browser. This may involve waiting until they get home or have a break from work, and that may result in the action being sidelined. This can also be true of coupons. This is one reason that QR Codes are becoming more popular in the U.S. (they have already penetrated the market more deeply in Asia and Europe). By placing a QR Code instead of or in addition to a pURL on a printed piece, you provide the recipient with two options: Either type the pURL into a browser, or simply point and click the QR Code with your phone camera to be taken to the exact same destination in a mobile-friendly format. It is easier than typing in the address, it can be done on the run, and it is still unique enough in the U.S. to make people curious enough to check it out. Once that QR Code is snapped, the tracking of the campaign results begins. Thanks for reading! Want more information on QR Codes? My companies can help!

7 Responsive Web Development Tips

Starting to wrap your mind around the idea of developing a responsive website? It can be overwhelming and not just a little exciting when you think about how you can create a site that can be so utterly flexible and awesome. Here are seven tips on responsive web development:

1. Target / Context = Result

The above calculation is one you will come across a lot when you read about responsive web development and design. The target is the element being worked with. The context is the default font size for the “container.” The result is now expressed in a proportion. Don’t worry. There won’t be any major mathematical problems for you to work out in your head. Nor will we quiz you at the end. But the point is, that responsive web design requires you to wrap your brain around the idea that everything needs to be proportionate for your website to be responsive and flexible across different screens, with different users.

2. Do not get consumed by the idea of design = layout.

Because in responsive web design, it goes far beyond layout. It’s about anticipating your audience. Their devices. Their needs. The content. The images. How it can all come together to provide a seamless experience for the desktop and the mobile users alike.

3. Look into scalable vector graphics.

The highlights – they have really small file sizes, they stay crisp and clear no matter what the size, no

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pixels and they are totally scalable. Cool stuff. But, we get it. You like pretty pictures. Your audience probably likes them too. Want flexible images? Then you need to place parameters – max width: 100%. Though it will look like this: img { max-width: 100%; }

4. Use flexible grids.

You want the ability to scale up or scale down. A flexible grid will allow you to do this.

5. Do not forget to add breakpoints.

These will range in width from 480px to 1200px from small screens up to wide screens. Yes, you can create major and minor breakpoints, by creating media queries inside of media queries. Major breakpoints would be the serious layout changes and minor breakpoints would be the parts dealing with content or device specific issues. But there is no set rule on how you go about deciding where these breakpoints are. It is very much based upon your particular content, your audience and your goals.

6. Content is the major player in responsive web development.

You should be thinking and planning content from the very start, if you want to create a website that is truly responsive. As you brainstorm your layout, you should already have thought about the message and branding and how you will convey that to your audience.

7. Unlearn all your bad habits.

Responsive web development does not involve weird or complicated work-arounds to get things patched up or “working.” Want to learn more about Responsive Web Design? Our friends at Grow Socially can help with that.   Photo Credit

3 (More) Mobile Marketing Must-Haves: Part III

Here it is, the final installment of my mobile marketing must-haves series. We”ve covered a lot of ground of the past couple weeks, and hopefully these final three tips will steer your business to mobile success. Last week, we learned about getting social media integrated into your mobile strategy, as well as tips on measuring and analyzing your data. Thanks for reading!

7. Bridge From Print To Mobile

Ensure that you bridge the gap between your marketing efforts, from print to online to mobile. There is no reason for your efforts to be separated, and no campaign should feel like the proverbial red-headed stepchild. Coordinate your marketing and keep your branding intact. Brainstorm about how you can engage an audience member from print to online or print to mobile. Print QR codes on materials that direct to a mobile app or site. Have links to mobile friendly destinations in your emails. Mobile marketing shouldn”t exist in a bubble, especially if you want a great return on your investment.

8. Understand Your Hardware

As you develop your mobile marketing campaigns, take a closer look at typical casino online mobile devices. Look at their features and see what could be exploited (in a good way, of course) to create a more interactive experience between your marketing efforts and the audience member. Can you integrate the calendar or contact

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info features? The camera?

9. Strike A Balance

Make sure, as you work your mobile marketing plan and reach for those goals that you strike a balance. You don’t want to bombard your audience with SMS messages, mobile marketing ads and the like, but you don’t want to remain silent for long either. You want to be engaged and responsive, and you will find that you will get some major bang out of your mobile marketing work. Miss the first couple of posts? Click the links below to get caught up on tips 1-6. Part I Part II