In the world of product marketing, it is not unusual for there to be a little tension between marketing and sales. Marketing revolves around words and images. Sales involve building relationships and closing on contracts. Sales often have immediate needs and a sense of urgency. Marketing is in it for the long haul. Tension.
The solution to combating that tension is for brand managers to always keep sales goals front and center of campaign development, and then communicate campaign plans in ways that acknowledge the sales team’s goals and foster alignment with marketing.
Before you start planning a marketing campaign, be sure to include sales goals within the framework of the four fundamentals listed below:
This article is focused on the fourth bullet: sales. When your marketing team understands what the sales team has been tasked with, i.e., “grow retail contracts by X%” or “sign X new dealers by Q3," then everything from social media and PR to package design and point of sale displays can become a more effective tool in reaching those sales goals. In this article, I’ll go over how to tie specific marketing tactics to your bottom line.
Grow Sales with Social Media
Social media can be highly effective in the early phases of the customer journey. Most shoppers turn to the web when they need to research a product or a problem they're having, but they follow the advice of friends, too. Shoppers also accept advice from people “in the know.” Companies can grow brand awareness by leveraging social media influencers who guide shoppers about purchase decisions.
Marketers should approach social content strategically, with a plan that demonstrates its role in the conversion process. All social content should be engineered to move the shopper through these phases of the journey: attract, then engage and inform, and finally point to them to the point of sale.
Maintaining a consistent posting schedule is crucial, but you should also constantly test and measure the performance of your social content. This course of action will result in metrics that directly tie social media efforts to your company's bottom line. Social media’s impact on online sales can be tracked with click-through rates. Use geotagging and regional campaigns to drive shoppers to new retail partners. Measure brick-and-mortar sales with coupon codes, loyalty card offers, or digital coupon apps, like iBotta®.
Social media is also an advertising platform. It is a way to announce new products, link posts to online shopping carts, and direct shoppers to new brick and mortar locations, but you should keep in mind that each social platform is best suited for types of communication and you should use them wisely.
Use PR for Effective Inbound Traffic
Many corporations keep press releases to a minimum, preferring to focus instead on business initiatives and stock performance. But a well-crafted press release that includes a compelling product story, something that your target audience actually cares about, can drive a lot of traffic to your website.
Good press releases are particularly powerful in the current news climate. Media outlets are losing writers but still have an appetite for content. We’ve seen the launch announcement of a simple foodservice wipe get picked up by hundreds of news outlets, garnering over 2 million views, because the narrative was framed to address the health and safety benefits of proper cleaning protocols in a commercial food environment.
A good press release can do much more for sales than just alerting industry media about the launch of a new product. High media placement across all news outlets can generate hundreds of back-links to your landing page, which improves organic SEO and drives a product page up in the results for relevant terms. Your product will appear in search results without ad fees. High page views and high time-on-page statistics mean the product story is reaching a wide audience, increasing consumer awareness. Even for a commercial product, this is pull marketing at its best. When small business owners create demand for a product, it becomes attractive for distributors and retailers to carry and promote it.
Even if your products are only sold at brick-and-mortar locations, a manufacturer’s website is a strong tool for growing sales. Research begins online and a well-designed manufacturer’s site can direct shoppers to sales locations and provide additional tools and insight about the product.
More and more, shoppers are looking up brands on their phones while they stand in front of the store shelves to get the best deal or learn more about a product. A brand should prioritize mobile design for web, and create content that is easily accessible and extends product information beyond what fits on the package front.
Whether you’re selling online through Amazon or another digital storefront, product searches on those sites don’t happen in isolation. Shoppers will jump from the shopping cart app to the brand website as part of their decision process. Make sure your site aids the purchase decision by providing all the details your shopping cart entry may not allow. A clunky, non-functional website will hurt your conversion rate. Consumers spend a sizable percentage of their lives online and are used to websites that follow a certain logical hierarchy.
Landing Pages Support Channel Sales
If your sales team is charged with growing sales in a particular channel, a landing page with specific details about your brand's benefits positioned to be relevant to that channel can be a very effective tool. At a minimum, sales reps can include a link to that page in their email correspondence to channel partners. At their best performance, landing pages will extend the reach of your existing sales team, getting your product information in front of new channel partners and opening up new revenue streams.
A landing page combined with an inbound campaign can draw prospective buyers to your products and nurture the sale until a sales rep can take over the communication. For instance, a brand with a small but profitable channel of sales from coffee shops could maximize that selling opportunity by targeting coffee shop owners within an expanded delivery region. Content about your brand’s add-on sales for breakfast or lunch orders shared through digital ads and other partner placements will drive traffic to a landing page. Once a lead is captured, it triggers an automated email campaign to nurture prospects to the point of sale. If your buyer has a seamless shopping cart experience with excellent customer support, you may see increased sales with minimal involvement from a sales rep.
Good Package Design Drives Sales
Marketing, sales, and product development should be working in tandem to address opportunities for growth across all sales channels. You can attract new accounts or boost existing relationships by offering new portion sizes or special product delivery systems.
Here’s an example from leveraging existing relationships from Pierce Foods®. The chicken brand had a foodservice contract with Wal-Mart® to provide ready-to-reheat bite-size Popcorn Chicken and Popcorn Shrimp in convenient cups that allowed guests to snack while shopping at many of their Supercenter retail locations.
In test markets, shopper feedback to the bite-size chicken and shrimp snacks was so positive that Pierce went back to Wal-Mart with a proposal for take-home versions sold in the frozen food aisle. Reimagining a popular in-store treat as a six-pack of single-serving microwave snacks helped Pierce Foods leverage a foodservice product by expanding sales opportunities to the frozen food aisle.
These are the elements we prioritized to transform a foodservice item to an in-home snack:
Brand recognition: The bold graphics shoppers recognized from in-store snack cups and promotional items in the snack area were carried over to the take-home packaging
Snack size: Shoppers loved the smaller, convenient size. It felt like a real snack, not a dinner entree. The 6-pack of cartons kept the popcorn chicken as single-serving portions.
Easy preparation: We worked with the carton manufacturer to create microwave packs with a “browning” lining to deliver fast, hot, and crispy chicken and shrimp portions.
Another example of package design driving sales is this redesign of P&G's Fairy dish soap. They dropped packaging production costs by 50%, and in nine months increased sales across Europe by 4%, a healthy boost to an already billion-dollar brand.
When P&G's designer tackled new shelf-ready packaging for Fairy, these three decisions were key to this product’s package redesign success:
Pack surfaces: The design uses all surfaces to communicate the brand story from every viewing angle, even when looking down from above to low shelf placement.
Key messaging: The package content has been distilled to one top-level selling point: Fairy’s claim of “50% more power” is very prominent.
Brand selection: This impactful design helps shoppers recognize the brand and make a decision to buy without distraction.
Steady Marketing Equals Steady Sales
Marketing is your silent salesman: laying the groundwork by telling your brand story and delivering data-based customer insights. The materials produced should back up sales relationships with the details. A solid content strategy will ease the points of friction in the sales funnel and ensure all your campaign efforts are contributing to sales growth. Including sales goals as a part of content development –any content development–is critical to maximizing your marketing spend.