1st Step to Catapult Conversions

New entries to business today tend to be fairly savvy. Anyone willing to do a bit of Google searching can learn some common terms and concepts. Everyone knows that conversions (sales) are the goal. So, why are so many being drained of their funds – month after month – by ineffective tactics?

Tactics without Strategy is the Noise before Defeat.

– Sun Tzu

As we know, being able to recognize a term like Branding does not mean that the value of the concept is automatically understood. Yet when it comes to business success, whether for a startup or an existing venture poised to climb to the next level, comprehending the value of a Brand – designed to resonate with the target audience – can literally enable a venture to thrive (or keep it from failing), particularly since effective Brands drive conversion.

Realizing the need to systematically implement foundational elements first, including a well-crafted Brand Identity as the bedrock for business growth, can indeed mean the difference between an operation struggling or failing → and catapulting forward. Ignoring the basics is not a shortcut. That choice, instead, costs volumes of wasted time and money.

Creating and implementing an effective Brand ID is as fundamental as vetting the business concept and model for viability before going to market. There are some core pieces that simply must be in place, setting a company on the right path, in order for add-ons to work at all.

Frequency of confusion about this – plagued by lack of understanding regarding the baseline importance of a systematized approach to the fundamentals – in fact, was the impetus for: Brand Identity – Foundation for Conversion. It highlights why and how the right design and use of a consistent Brand Message (visuals, talking points, alignment across all points of presence) sets the stage for converting new contacts to customers.

What came to light again this week, via a new prospect operation that has been struggling for more than 10 years, confirmed that one article was simply not enough. While clearly there is much more to know behind the scenes in order to create and leverage a Brand effectively, the main message requires more attention in order to arm business owners who are making these decisions.

Regardless of which tactical avenue a company thinks they should use – i.e. increased spending on channels like SEO, PR blasts, or social media ads – they typically expect it to instantly solve their problems and win them sales. In fact, many are led to believe that it can. Without the right foundation in place first, this is simply not true.

The enormous disconnect about ‘tactics first’ is tanking businesses that could otherwise thrive. Aimlessly throwing money around sets a stage for nothing except lost funds. Yet, somehow a dominant segment of eCommerce business owners seems to think that having a high Google rank will score them customers, regardless of how the website presents.

Naturally, this type of confused disconnect has a source. The source here is the deliberately misleading and rabid promotion online of: (1) high website rankings as a Holy Grail, (2) the notion that sweeping PR exposure equates to interest and conversion, and (3) belief that an ad format alone will drive sales.

On the other hand, once crucial foundational pieces are effectively in place, tactical campaigns – that actually align with the strategic business direction – can be introduced. When that occurs, the right tactical channels can be leveraged for beneficial outcomes.

Otherwise, who would expect to gain growth from spraying water at a wall? This is the effect without a system in place to create capture.

water at wall - logo

Until the ground has been prepared and treated, seeds have been planted, and the soil richly fed, nothing can be expected to grow. Throwing water around where no fertile business soil exists – not to mention seeds – causes only the water bill to skyrocket…rather than the intended sales or profits.

Instead, when a proven systematic approach is used, this positions a business to automate and consistently replicate processes that secure winning results. Vet the concept, develop an effective model, plan strategically, develop and implement the Brand Message, and prepare to choose the right promotional campaigns through a strategic channel selection that will distribute the message in the most favorable directions. All of this should be done prior to launch for optimal outcomes.

replicable, automated system

With a Brand Identity in place, those who encounter your business for the first time can recognize who you are and what makes you special (why they should do business with you instead of the competition) instantly. They will begin to recall your differentiated value each time they digest the consistent Brand Message and see the aligned visuals, leading to Brand Recognition.

Like irrigation, every tactical campaign layered on top of a properly established foundation: enhances your position, increases traction, and causes a higher rate of conversions. Now, the money invested in replicable tactics is getting your message to the right place, poised for effective outcomes, rather than falling into a vacuum.

If you were either unfamiliar with these distinctions prior, or were misled – having launched by trying one of many spray-the-wall methods (without a systematic and strategic foundation) – it is never too late to put the right pieces in place. Channel those valuable funds, and that crucial time, in a productive direction.

Strategy must precede tactics every time. Set the stage first. Look at the big picture. Consider the targets, goals, and resources available (budget, personnel, etc.). Taking time to put the right pieces in place will change the entire landscape, and favorably impact the outcomes: in this case, setting the stage for effective conversions, and setting a course for profitability.

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Designing and implementing effective positioning, tools, systems, and processes creates a solid foundation for effective growth. Time invested in planning always reaps richer dividends than attempting to go without, despite the fact that so many ventures casually do the latter.

Message Positioning functions as a crucial, consistent building block of all involved promotional efforts. This essential component of Brand Identity, combined with appropriate visual cues, enables recognizable elements of a differentiated Brand to be established. Such a system of aligned talking points and images sets the opportunity for capturing and retaining residual passive market share, in addition to the direct active captures: thereby maximizing the outcomes of reach, enhancing traction, increasing conversion ratios, and ultimately optimizing revenue streams and potential profitability.

Capture for conversion in eCommerce and other digital platforms requires additional tactics beyond those used for traditional business models. Because the opportunity for direct contact is eliminated, deferred, or reduced (as per the corresponding Sales and other Distribution Channels) – particularly in the case of a new spontaneous site visit – alternative means to establish and maintain a line of receptive communication and follow-up are necessary. SEO, SEM, and other rank or keyword level visitor attraction (passive, pull) systems only become viable and begin to generate impact after traction and awareness have already been established at significant thresholds. Therefore, pivotal tools – including landing pages and loss-leader conversion incentives – become leverage points through which value-added prospect relationships can be seized and shaped in the early stages: broadening both…the modes of reach, and leverage toward conversion.

Funnel Management demands consistent and efficient activity and results tracking, as well as systematized organization of the most vital business resource: properly qualified prospects. While analytics can contribute to the assessment of volumes, flow, data accuracy, and even conversion ratios, the fact remains that both active and passive tactics must be implemented in order to ensure consistent early-stage customer – and true revenue – growth. A reliable database containing accurate and timely updates can then serve the individual or team responsible for active follow-up: impacting increased conversion.

Awareness Campaigns provide systematized avenues of direct reach for Marketing messages. The first step in marketing an emerging operation involves educating the target audiences about the existing presence of the solution (product/service offering) and its USP (value proposition and key differentiators). Ultimately: why they want, need, and will prefer this solution over other options that currently exist…as well as those as not yet available or developed. Systematized repeat campaigns layer additional necessary information into the awareness of the target markets, and add more trigger points into each subsequent cycle: simultaneously beginning to build Brand Recognition within these initial target prospects as well, which will foster grassroots and potential social media expansion toward traction points.

Public Relations (PR) & Media complements the direct, active, and specifically targeted promotional Educational & Awareness Campaigns by reaching a broad scope of the target segments with concise, concentrated messages that reinforce the direct touch of Awareness Campaigns from converging angles. These alternative angles also enhance company credibility via affiliation with known traditional and social media circles (social proof). This also serves to compound and expand reach beyond existing points of contact (known prospects & customers) in the organization’s CRM database.

Customer Support falls into the Sales & Marketing realm as well, though technically operational in nature: the absorbed cost of acquiring and retaining customers attributed to these teams. Customer churn is expensive, even – or especially – in eCommerce, where effective points of communication can be more difficult to establish and maintain as compared to more traditional business models. Ideally, conversion of a website visitor into an active customer is only the first step.

In order for a small or mid-sized (SMB) business to survive, and ultimately thrive, minimizing churn while maximizing repeat business is the overarching goal. Amazon’s trend shaping pattern-analytic based automated shopping suggestions offer a relevant example of the power gained by leveraging the traction of repeat business from an existing base.

Replicable and reliable systems for Customer Support and follow-up must be effectively established and available – from the time the first customer is secured – in order to achieve optimal success, revenue generation, and sustain profitability.

Tactical Plans, implemented from an effective long-term Strategy, focus on immediate tasks that intend to catapult next-stage growth, awareness, and revenue generation. Additional considerations addressed in review during the fiscal Quarters following implementation of these components, as a priority, should consider how substantially both short-term and long-term objectives were met. Strategic Planning and implementation must precede tactics for optimal effectiveness, conversion, growth, and profitability.

How much growth, revenue, and  profit can your venture hope to create in 2016?

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STRATEGY Global Business Development

PLAN | PROMOTE | PROFIT ©

→ Top 1% Transformational Consulting, 2001 – 2016

From Business Plan to Brand Identity (including website front-end), Marketing Strategy to Sales Optimization, Demand Analysis to Product Launch → gain gap-closing & results-producing expertise: decades of cross-industry, global, MBA-level insights for funded emerging Startups to Fortune 500.

Award-Winning dealings with more than 1/3 of the Fortune 500 launched the Consulting Practice, and our consistently 5-star ranked range of Growth Initiatives, in 2001.

→ Clients in more than a dozen countries & territories worldwide.

→ Celebrating 15 years of contributions to emerging and mid-sized business success!

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