The 2 Most Deadly Sins of B2B Marketing

There are two major reasons why marketing is failing at your small- or medium-sized B2B firm:

You view marketing as business triage. Your company applies a collection of tactics (often labeled as a “marketing campaign”) only in response to a problem; typically involving the loss of a key client, or decline in revenue. When business is good, little or no time is invested in marketing. When business (inevitably) takes a dip, only then does marketing becomes a priority.

You expect marketing to deliver immediate results. Either because your company always views marketing on a “cause & effect” tactical basis, or because marketing triage must be applied quickly to revive an ailing company, the marketing function is given insufficient time to produce tangible results. It’s no surprise that marketing professionals have the shortest tenure of any corporate function in the asset management business.

The hard truth is that very few B2B business owners either understand the marketing function, or have the discipline to design, implement, measure and adhere to a consistent marketing approach that builds brand equity and market engagement over a sustained period.

To establish the infrastructure and internal culture necessary for the marketing discipline to succeed, we offer the following simple path:

  • Create a Written Marketing Plan. This need not be in a 3-inch binder; a two-page document is often sufficient. Include goals, strategies, responsibilities, timelines, budgets and ways to measure results. Without a Marketing Plan you’ll waste lots of time and money. And unless it’s a written document, you won’t have commitment or accountability.
  • Gain Senior Level Commitment. The honcho in corner office (which might be you) must understand, endorse and support the Marketing Plan. This involves more than lip service. If your Plan isn’t properly staffed and funded at the outset, there’s no real commitment to marketing.
  • Do a Few Things Very Well.Your marketing success will be based on the quality and effectiveness of a limited number of strategies / tactics. Firms sometimes go overboard, thinking there’s a correlation between the size of its marketing investment and business results. But less is usually more, in terms of marketing ROI.
  • Build and Nurture your Database.Direct and easy access to your company’s clients, prospects, referral sources and opinion leaders is essential. Without an email pipeline, the marketing value of the content you create is close to zero. If your firm’s thought leadership simply sits on its website or social media, you’re missing the opportunity to build relationships with people in your target audiences.
  • Create Meaningful Content. Self-serving, long-winded white papers and research reports have very limited appeal. Generate content that validates your company’s intellectual capital, that’s easy to read, and focuses on timely topics that people have a genuine interest in.
  • Drive Top-of-Mind Awareness. To be included on the short list of candidates for an assignment or sale, you need to build awareness with key decision-makers. To accomplish that goal, share your content directly with target audiences on a quarterly basis. (More frequently than that, and you may be viewed as a pest.)

Most importantly – with apologies to Glengarry Glen Ross – B2B firms must commit to:

A… Always

B… Be

M… Marketing

… for the discipline to be effective. Otherwise, the traditional short-term, hair-on-fire approach to business development will keep your company from ever reaching its full potential, regardless of its quality or reputation.

Marketing Public Library Services in Sierra Leone

Introduction

The concept of instituting marketing principles to non-profit institutions such as library and information Services is no longer a controversy. Organisations operate in an environment of change. Today we live in a global market for many goods and services in which technology, purchasing power and many factors change on a regular basis. One of the key functions of marketing is to find out how these changes affect clientele’s wants and needs and to develop organisational strategies and plans that will ensure that the library meets these challenges (Dransfield and Needham, 1995). It is therefore not surprising that public librarians are joining the marketing bandwagon. This article explores the marketing activities in the operations of the Sierra Leone Public Library services.

Public Libraries

A Public Library is funded wholly and partly from public funds and the use of which is not restricted to any class persons in the community but freely available to all. It is a major agency of enlightenment for adults, providing for children the recorded experiences of others which will help them grow into adults.

Usherhood (1981) defined Public Library as an organization established, supported and funded by the community, either through local, regional or national government or through some form of or other community organization. It provides access to knowledge, information and works of imagination through a range of resources and services and equally available to members of the public community regardless of race, nationality, economic and employment status and educational attainment.

The Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB)

The Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB) was established by Ordinance in June, 1959. The setting up of the Board was envisaged in the Government’s White Paper on Educational Development in 1958 and its functions outlined therein as follows:

• To provide a national/public library Service;
• To support and reinforce programmes of adult and fundamental education;
• To provide effective services for children and young adults including requisite services to schools;
• To provide much needed information and references services;
• To provide where needed adequate services for special groups, that is women and girls, language groups.

The Central Library is designed to give public services to Freetown and also to function as headquarter of the National/Public Library services and to provide accommodation for a growing collection of book and non-book materials in the country. It does all technical processing of stock for the Regional and Branch Libraries and has an Adult Lending Reference and a Children’s department.

Libraries are charged with responsibility to provide information service to support educational, recreation and personal endeavours of the members of their respective communities and the Sierra Leone Library Board is not an exception to that. The following services are provided at the Sierra Leone Library Board to Clientele:

Children Services

The Sierra Leone Library Board provides information services to children by the provision of books and other materials for children which are often housed in a special section known as the Children’s Library. A special service for children known as child orientated educational programme specially designed for younger library users is included in the children’s library services. They also provide services to children through storytelling, drama/play and reading aloud.

Book Borrowing and Lending Service

The main task of Sierra Leone Library Board is to provide the public with access to books and periodicals. The Sierra Leone Library Board typically offers access to a variety of books which are available for borrowing by anyone with the appropriate library card.

Current Awareness Service

At the Sierra Leone Library Board, current awareness service is aimed at bringing to the notice of potential users, newly available documents and information services. This is done by collating information and producing new secondary sources, circulating current periodicals or other documents acquired and producing and distributing one or more forms of bulletins.

Selective Dissemination of Information

A more personal information service is being run at the Sierra Leone Library Board in which the library constantly notifies library users about particular information/materials matching them in a profile of the information needs and research pre-occupation of their clientele. This is done by either bringing references to relevant items to the notice of their clients and by obtaining copies and then supply the documents themselves to library users.

Outreach Services

The Sierra Leone Library Board provides outreach information services which is committed to developing library outreach programmes for non-users, the undeserved, and people with special needs in the communities in restricted areas.

Computer and Internet Services

In an attempt to bridge the digital divide, information resources and government services are being provided online by the Sierra Leone Library Board. This is done by providing access to the Internet and public computers for users who otherwise would not be able to connect to these services.

Library Marketing

Marketing is often viewed as a set of strategies and techniques that belongs to administrators outside of librarianship. But, librarians are also involved in the marketing process. The essence of marketing involves finding out users needs and want, then setting out to meet these needs.

Marketing according to Weingand (1995) “can be viewed as a process of exchange and a way to foster partnership between the library and its community” (p.296). In order to maintain the relationship between the public library and the community, marketing strategies have to be employed as effective tool.

Marketing in the public library means more than simply promotion or selling. It is more concerned about user needs. Marketing the Public Library is a social and managerial process by which products and services as well as values are exchanged in order to fulfill individuals or group needs. Marketing refers to those instruments through which information, both raw and processed, are transmitted to its members. Promotion or campaigning is but two activities in the broader exercise of marketing

Planning Library Marketing Programmes

The continued existence of libraries, if not their survivals, may well depend upon the use of marketing and planning strategies, communicated through effective public relations, to significantly alter the perceived role and position of the library in society.

In a real sense, Public Relation is the promotion component of a full marketing plan of library programmes. It can be seen as the communicated module which serves the promotion function; conversely, it may be easily depicted as a philosophical relationship between library and community which serves as a guiding light for promotion activities.

Both communication and research skills serve well in the marketing planning process of which Public Relations is an important component. Specific skills and knowledge are also needed in marketing planning programs for libraries. It goes without saying that both ongoing marketing planning and programmes, and in particular, how the needs of different groups of users differ from each other. Library and information services are complex entities, as are the human users and potential users of these services.

Planning, promotion and campaigning are but all activities in the boarder exercise of marketing. User studies therefore, have a very wide range of uses in relation to the planning of library marketing programmes of a service. They contribute in the planning, promotion and development of library services. In their contribution they help in the understanding of different user group behaviour and their needs, and can assist in effective campaigning and planning process.

Three steps to planning library marketing programmes are:

• Knowing what your beliefs are and therefore what you want to achieve;
• Communicating these beliefs as practical objectives to the people with whom you work, in order that these objectives can be fulfilled; and
• Creating a vehicle which allows this to happen. This can only be achieved by defining the basic components and through organization.

Methods of marketing in Sierra Leone Library Board

Book Displays and Exhibitions

Displays and exhibitions are widely used in most public libraries as a marketing strategy to sell their products or items. The SLLB displays jackets of new books which are not yet included in the lending department for easy access by users and to increase usage. It is also a means of drawing the attention of users and non-users to particular aspects of library resources and services.

Printed materials and Publications

In order to make a very good image of the public library and for public librarians to establish better communication between the library and users, publicity programmes are put in place by the management of the Sierra Leone Library Board through news release. The management also considers annual reports and newspapers as basic publicity techniques. Publications such as bibliographies, guides and brochures are used by the library to communicate with the wider public.

Public Relations Office

Public relations according to Usherhood (1981) is concerned with gaining of public support for an activity, cause, movement or institution. It is a process that furthers mental understanding and cooperation between a government; or any organisation and its various publics. The Sierra Leone Library Board has a Public Relations Office charged with the responsibility to enhance a smooth system of communication.

User Education/Readers Advisory Service

This could be described as training a group of users in the effective use of the library and its resources. It is used to stimulate the users to make greater use of the library and introduces library staff to clientele who might be reluctant to seek their assistance. This is the principal means through which library staff can learn about readers’ needs, opinions and habits. Good communication with readers enables staff to inform and influence readers.

The Media

These involve printed and audio-visual forms of communication and any necessary equipment to render them usable. The Press, radio and television are important means of publicising information service, since they offer potential of reaching many people from all walks of life. The media are cultivated so that messages are distributed with regularity. Publicity mechanism such as news releases, special events and brochures can also be employed.

The Social Media Groups (SMG)

The Sierra Leone Library Board makes use of the Social media groups such as ‘Facebook’ and ‘Watsapp’ as an effective way for publicity in order to put their messages across to users of their services.

Challenges of Marketing Library and Information Services at the SLLB

A lot of challenges have militated against the effective planning and implementation of library marketing programs at SLLB. The following are some of the challenges:

• Inadequate Staff: Although staff numbers have been maintained, the ratio of professional staff is very low. The library is manned mostly by paraprofessionals who mostly lack the skills to plan and implement marketing programmes.

• Finance: The library depends heavily on government subsidy. The government has no specific or substantial funds for the running of the library thus the library administration has to foot most of the bills that have to do with marketing. The irregular flow of funds has served as a barrier to the progress of marketing library and information services at the SLLB.

• Lack of standard printed materials and publications: The SLLB lacks most standard printed materials and publications due to poor planning of marketing programmes. This negligence has made the library handicapped of public relations tools in the form of printed materials and publications such as newsletters, questionnaires, diaries and calendars.

• Displays are improper and exhibitions seem almost absent: The library depends mostly on donations and most of the books are acquired without jackets. Therefore displaying book jackets in inconsistent. In fact exhibition programmes are yet to survive as they are only recently introduced. The library lacks relevant display and exhibition materials to mount these activities.

• Inability to organize frequent Radio Programs: The SLLB lacks media communication facilities. The library cannot frequently organise radio programmes on its own because of lack of funds. The absence of radio programmes stands out as an acute problem to the progress of marketing programs in the library.

Conclusively, marketing is the instrument that libraries use to transform their aims and objectives into operational plans of action. In most developing countries’ public libraries such as the SLLB, marketing strategies cannot operate properly due to the existence of bottlenecks in planning programmes. Good marketing programmes actualise the plans and measures necessary for the achievement of goals and objectives.

The Top 5 Referral Marketing Ideas for New Businesses

Do you have a brilliant business idea that’s taking off? Are you at a point where you have a product and your customers love everything about it? Have you considered leveraging the power of referral marketing to help even more people discover your product? There are numerous referral marketing ideas that can help you increase your sales.

Consider this – nowadays, a business has to sell more than just a product. You have to sell a full customer experience; An experience that has inspired your customer to share your products with friends and family.

Marketing conditions are continually changing. Unlike a decade ago, businesses these days do not only sell a product or service to customers, but also an experience. They are given a full experience that will inspire them to share the product or service with friends and family – all of whom are potential customers. Word-of-mouth referrals are the most effective way to grow your business, and this is especially true when you are just getting started as a business.

According to Entrepreneur, an ever increasing number of businesses in 2015 and beyond will try to be more open to feedback from their customers. Here are a few referral marketing ideas on how you can make the most out of your customer referrals.

1. IMPROVE YOUR REFERRAL MARKETING STRATEGY

A Nielsen Trust Study from 2013 showed that referrals are the most trusted form of advertising. This information should be good motivation to establish a solid referral strategy, one based on various referral marketing ideas.

Research is the foundation of any marketing strategy. When you want to craft a good referral marketing strategy, the initial research should include the basics, such as understanding customer desires and needs. But we also advise you to conduct research on any potential referral channels, such as news publications, influencers (bloggers and social media influencers), as well as finding all possibilities to produce customer reviews and opinions online.

Once your research is done, use the data to find the right referral marketing ideas, and then craft a successful strategy which includes:

– Exceptional customer service. Give customers or potential buyers a reason to engage, care about and tell others about your brand. Satisfied clients provide great referrals that are invaluable to small businesses

– The 80/20 rule of referral marketing

– Shareable product experiences. A simple Facebook post, Twitter tweet or Instagram selfie can now reach hundreds, if not thousands of potential customers in a few seconds.

– Referral marketing program. Consider including an obvious incentive in your referral marketing program. Customers are more likely to refer friends and family when there is a valuable incentive involved. If the incentives are worthless or undesirable to the company’s existing customer base, the customers won’t be interested enough to participate in the referral program. Make the program more visible by placing signs in stores and using any internet marketing tools that apply.

Influencer. Find a person who is sufficiently influential in your niche. It doesn’t have to be a celebrity; A popular blogger, YouTuber or Instagramer will do the job.

References. Use references as referrals because people consider other people’s opinions before determining whether they should purchase a product or not.

2. FOCUS ON ONLINE REFERRALS

Referral marketing can be highly effective in an online environment due to the popularity of social media and sharing sites. Internet referral marketing can potentially spread information faster and to a wider audience than most offline marketing strategies.

These days, average customer reach is much larger than ever before and for many people with strong social followings, it can be enormous. Customers now have the power to make or break a business by what they say about it online.

According to research carried out by social media experts, 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, whereas only 14% trust advertisements. Perhaps that’s why online communities are so good at generating business referrals.

Dropbox, an online file storage company, implemented a very successful referral program in 2009 asking users to tell their friends about the service. The program offered rewards for both sides in the form of additional free space.

This program came to be very fruitful. Namely, by 2010, 35% of daily sign-ups were the result of a referral, while signups had permanently increased by 60% overall. The company estimated that within a 30-day period (April 2010), their users had sent more than 2.8 million direct referral invitations.

Dropbox debuted as a Y Combinator startup in 2007. It now has 300 million users and more than 500 employees. Follow the trend and take advantage of the variety of social media approaches to increasing your referrals. Brainstorm on various referral marketing ideas and try them out.

3. USE CONTENT AS A REFERRAL TOOL TO FORGE STRONG REFERRAL RELATIONSHIPS

Most often, customers are too busy to leave referrals, even though they are satisfied with the product or service. In situations like this, valuable content can generate referral introductions in ways that are constructive and valuable as opposed to shallow and fruitless.

Valuable content is an effective tool for attracting strategic partnerships as well. While many business owners focus most of their referral efforts on customers, non-competing businesses that serve your target market can be one of the most potent sources of referrals.

4. CONNECT WITH RELATED PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

The old premise “It’s not what you know but who you know” is still very popular in the business world. Even though you may be skilled and dedicated to your new business, your chances of success will rise exponentially when you connect with the right people.

Many companies collaborate with complementary businesses and cross-promote to each other’s customer bases. In order to promote your business, identify a connection that would be interested in setting up a barter program with you, one in which you’ll work for them and refer new clients to their business and vice versa.

Networking is the key to obtaining more customers and earning brand trust. For this reason, view every moment as a potential networking opportunity and watch your business grow.

5. SEEK CREATIVITY IN REFERRAL MARKETING IDEAS

Having a variety of electronic devices available to you and your customers, you have infinite possibilities of creating inspirational referral marketing ideas. If your client is willing, try to capture a testimonial on video. This can be a really powerful asset. Offer them an incentive to motivate them to make a creative referral.

Another idea you can try is thinking of a witty way to ask for referrals. There is an interesting example of a computer repair company using stamps reading “We Crave Referrals” on every paper that customers receive – including newsletters, marketing material, and invoices.

Remember, the best referrals are the ones you don’t even have to ask for. Thus, provide your customers with an exceptional experience that will make them eager to share it with others. Try various referral marketing ideas and see how they work for your business.