Marketing Reports

The more I have become addicted to marketing metrics the more I find that it is important to step back and take a big picture look at the reports I am running.  When I first began developing marketing metrics many years ago it seemed that I was generating great data, but it was not always actionable data.  Over time I have learned how to focus on developing data and metrics that drive better decisions and revenue. This past week I have been thinking about the reports that I will be running over the next 12 months with a focus on producing data that can be acted on to help drive profits. Below is a listing of some of those reports and I hope many of you will find the list beneficial. I would love to hear if you have additional reports that you are running to help drive top line growth.

Monthly Reports

  • Revenue Forecasting
    • Lead Reporting
    • Pipeline Reports (Fee proposals and  qualification based proposals)
    • New Business Reports (New work signed by month)
    • Backlog Report  (Volume of contracts signed but not yet billed)

Quarterly Reports

  • Marketing/BD Costs by group, division, and companywide
    • Marketing Labor Costs (Marketing personnel Only)
    • Marketing Labor Costs (Non-marketing personnel)
    • Business Development Labor Costs
    • Marketing/BD Non-Labor Costs
  • Hit Rates by group, division, companywide, and most importantly by opportunity owner
    • Proposal to Awarded
    • Shortlisted to Awarded

Bi-Annual Reports (1/1 and 7/1)

  • Revenue Comparison Report (Compare revenues for Top 100 clients to prior 3 years revenues from those same clients)
    • Identify growth and losses for top clients
      • Reversible or Inevitable?
  • Identify Client Managers and set meetings regarding relationships that are losing ground

Annual Reports

  • Project Size Report
    • Project profitability by project size and as portion of total profitability
    • Project size as portion of total revenue
    • Repeat Clientele Percentage (percentage of clients that are New vs. Repeat)

Proposal Development Secrets

It isn’t every day that I promote a book here on CofeBuz, but I believe I have found a great book worth sharing. Several weeks ago AEC marketing guru Matt Handal published the book “Proposal Development Secrets: Win More, Work Smarter, and Get Home On Time” as an Amazon Whispernet exclusive book. It quickly moved up the ranks to a “Top 100” Marketing book, even rising as high as the Top 10 for a period of time. After reading it I know why, in it Matt provides a comprehensive overview how to win proposals while providing anecdotal “secrets” that are easy to understand and even easier to implement. This engaging book was a win for me, providing far more value than many other much more expensive books. (It only costs $3.99) Be certain to check it out, and also keep an eye out for my latest video set to release on Monday here at CofeBuz!

QR Codes: Rules, Response Rates, and Opportunity

I recently began testing the use of QR (Quick Reference) Codes in an effort to see how they could be leveraged as a new marketing tool. I have scanned these square barcode style codes using my smart phone plenty of times before, but usually when reading an advertisement or brochure in an effort to learn more about the product or service being sold. My objective, however, was a bit different: I wanted to see what it would take to transform these codes into a tool that could help me build relationships more effectively for our company, and ultimately bring more work in the door.

If you aren’t familiar with Quick Reference or QR Codes, they were created in 1994 by a Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave. You have probably seen these square codes numerous times even if you haven’t ever scanned one. The rapid increase in the use of the codes for marketing is, in part, a result of their ease of use, and because Denso Wave chose to make the codes available for free without licensing requirements. As a result, QR Codes can be easily implemented into a marketing program with less effort than it takes to ensure you have the proper licensing to use a stock photographic image.

Common uses for QR Codes

You have probably seen the codes in numerous places, but throughout our industry and others QR Codes are being leveraged in a number of marketing platforms to provide an additional connection point with clients. The most common uses include:

  • Brochures – QR Codes are often used in brochures as a way for the reader to find additional information. Recently I scanned a code that led to a short YouTube video with additional images and information.
  • Post Cards – An effective post card traditionally has an action for the reader to take. QR Codes can help the reader take those actions even if they don’t have immediate access to a computer.
  • Advertising – Including QR codes in print advertising is increasingly being used to direct potential clients to additional information imbedded in videos or websites. Hickok Cole Architects in Washington, D.C. even started an industry scavenger hunt with QR Codes in a recent advertising campaign.
  • Business Cards – Including a QR Code on the back of your business card can create an easy way for contacts to download your vCard or to connect using social media.
  • Promotional Products – Many companies are having QR Codes printed on promotional products such as t-shirts that are given away at special events and trade shows.

Response Rates and Opportunity

As with any new marketing tool, it is important to start with research into the associated hit rate. A recent study at the Harvard campus showed a response rate of 0.3% when 160 signs that were distributed to gauge a response to the QR code experiment. For comparison purposes, this rate is analogous to the hit rate on your average post card mailing. For the study, half of the signs had instructions on the use of QR Codes and half did not. Notably 60% of the activated codes were from the versions with detailed instruction on how to use the QR Code, indicating that the awareness about QR code usage is still in an embryonic stage. Therein lies the opportunity for marketers to take advantage of this new tool, but it also shows that in order to increase your hit rates it is highly advantageous to provide detailed instructions on the use of QR Codes when using them in marketing.

Knowing the QR Code Rules

As with every marketing tool there are a handful of best practices that every marketer should know to effectively implement the tool. For QR Codes consider the following 5 rules:

  1. Smart-phone friendly – QR Codes are designed to be scanned by smart phones. Don’t send out a post card with a QR Code that leads to a website that is not smart phone friendly.
  2. Keep it short – Every character that you place into a QR Code must be translated into the code, thus be certain you shorten links before creating your code by using a website such as http://bit.ly If you want to use the QR Code for a complex function such as sharing a vCard consider developing a smart-phone friendly webpage that you can embed the vCard in since QR Codes with too many characters will not be readable by every smart-phone.
  3. Provide value – Don’t use QR Codes just because they exist, instead ensure that they provide value or your hit ratio will suffer.
  4. Instructions – Remember the Harvard campus study and give instructions on how to use QR Codes until you are certain that your target audience knows how to use them.
  5. Have fun – Get outside the box with designer QR codes. Check out www.customqrcodes.com for unique QR Code graphics that will set you apart from others in the industry.

Building Relationships: Scan Here to Connect

As I have been experimenting with QR Codes, one of the most successful ways I have used the code is on my business cards. For an industry built on relationships it didn’t take long to discover that using the codes to focus on individuals quickly led to new connections and new project leads. For testing purposes I created a quick smart-phone friendly website (www.TimKlabunde.com) that contains links to all of my social media connect points including LinkedIn, Twitter, Plaxo, my blog Cofebuz, and YouTube. In addition, I created an easy link for visitors to download my vCard. I then created a QR Code at http://qrcode.kaywa.com and imprinted it on the back of my business cards.

The results have been intriguing to say the least. From a website analytics perspective, the hits have been much better than I expected and far better than the Harvard campus study: about 1 in 4 recipients have scanned the code. The true success of the experiment, however, has been the conversations that hatched when I first handed someone my business card. The QR Code has become a topic in-and-of itself, as it opens discussions related to the most effective uses of technology in marketing.

Technology as a Tool

As marketers, we often see new technology like QR Codes and begin to use it just because it exists. The problem is that technology for technology’s sake does not create great marketing. Great marketing happens when tools are leveraged together to meet a predetermined set of objectives, and in our industry that objective must be the establishment and furthering of great relationships.

This article, written by CofeBuz author Tim Klabunde, was published in the August edition of Marketer magazine.

The Relationship Development Process

Success in business starts with successful relationships. Because of this, the relationship development process is often the guide that is used to govern the marketing and business development roles in companies. As you look at these stages of the relationship development process note that marketing plays the pivotal role of effectively laying the foundation for relationships, while business development facilitates the initiation of those relationships.

The Relationship Development Process

Name Recognition – During the name recognition phase of the relationship development process a company or an individual goes from being an unknown, to being known. This foundation sets the groundwork for a relationship as others are at least aware that you or your company exists. Name recognition is one of the primary objectives of a strong marketing department and it often takes the form of advertising, promotions, mailers, and press. It is also handled in business development and sales when a new relationship starts. A common introduction when you meet someone new for the first time often builds name recognition: for example: “I’m John Adams with ABC company.” Note: I have found that if your company is an unknown, prior to initiating a new relationship, your chances of turning the relationship into a sale are reduced significantly.

Develop Understanding – During this part of the relationship development process, a company or individual goes from just being a name, to being recognized for how they fit into the world. This stage establishes a thorough understanding of your company, the services you provide, and how others see you in the industry. Most importantly, it is during this stage that others will learn how your company can be of benefit to another individual or company. This stage should be handled by marketing at the company level and business development at the relationship level. In marketing, this often takes the form of websites, brochures, newsletters, and articles. In business development, it often happens during conversation and should include how the individual fits into the corporate structure.

Interactive Communication – During this part of the relationship development process you must begin to engage at the human level. This is no longer about facts or information, it is about building a personal relationship. Because of this, business development should take the lead at this stage with minimal marketing support.

Solidify Relationship – Relationships are solidified when you engage in mutually beneficial action. When you call someone that you have solidified a relationship with, communication is easy and most of the time you will be able to quickly find direct and indirect topics of conversation. This stage should be headed by your business development staff in conjunction with your project management staff. Often, this is the point at which new work or projects are begun with your new client.

How are you doing?

Looking at this process, you can see the importance of both business development and marketing in the sales process. Take a moment to identify the areas that you need to strengthen in order to improve the effectiveness of your sales process. Is your marketing department truly laying a foundation with name recognition and developing understanding, or are they just producing glossy brochures? Is your business development staff regularly initiating interactive communication with important potential relationships, or have you yet to identify who is responsible for business development at your company? As you think about these questions, I hope you can see the steps you need to make to improve your sales process.

Warming Up a COLD Contact

I greatly dislike making cold calls, so several years ago I decided that I was going to change my approach to calling someone I didn’t don’t know: I decide to start “warming-up” calls before I made them. For years now I have successfully implemented a simple three step process to warming up a cold contact when other traditional methods such as referrals and introductions are not readily available. The process takes time, but when followed completely, I have found that it increases my success seven to eight times more than making a cold contact. I hope you find it helpful:

Step one: Name Recognition
I initiate name recognition by sending out two post cards exactly one week apart to the person I want to contact. Note two things here; one is that I always know the name of an individual I want to speak with before I start this process (not simply a company name), the second is that the information I send them is memorable. Oftentimes this will be done to a group of people I want to connect with to minimize effort. This first step provides me with name recognition, and the excuse to implement step two.

Step two: Develop Understanding
One week after I send out the second post card I call the individual to tell them who I am and to ask one simple question. It sounds something like this: “Hi, I am Tim Klabunde from Gordon. You should have received two post cards from me recently and I was wondering if I could send you some more information about what I referenced in my post cards.” Of the hundreds of times I have made this call I have only been told “no” once.

Note a couple of things that make this step successful: First it is an excessively short conversation, in other words I am very respectful of their time. Second, I never leave a voice message; I keep calling back at different times of the day if I miss them until I get through. Third, I fully expect that many of the people that receive my step two packet will discard it, but I have ensured through the phone call that they will at least look at it before they throw it away and remember it.

Step three: Initiate the Relationship
Step three is simply a warm follow-up call one week after I send out the additional information. By this point I have developed name recognition and they understand who I am and how I fit into their world. When I call, I reference our last conversation and information I have sent so they recognize who I am. With this foundation I initiate a conversation and relationship. Setting up lunch or a meeting becomes easy because a foundation has been laid for our relationship over the past month.

Building Relationships
Remember when you are working a cold contact that most people fail because they call someone else for personal gain, rather than laying a foundation for a mutually beneficial relationship. Instead of focusing on your personal objectives consider helping your new friend to reach their objectives. The result will be a relationship based on trust and and an individual that wants to help you succeed.

Web 2.0: Marketing by Providing Value

As I noted in a previous post on Web 2.0, marketing on the “new” web is about providing value to prospective customers. I was recently able to connect with Kwame Kuadey of Gift Card Rescue to discuss his web 2.0 strategy.  What I found is that, regardless of your industry, the basic principles of web 2.0 apply.

Kwame began marketing Gift Card Rescue through traditional means: he set-up a website, initiated a branding campaign, and “put a stake in the world wide web’s ground.” What he learned was that the old theory of ‘build it and they will come’ is only partially true. In an effort to increase traffic to Gift Card Rescue’s website he began a blog, Gift Card Blogger. Instead of focusing on his company and what he wanted, he instead decided to provide relevant and important information on gift cards. That’s right, he started providing value to potential customers instead of just his services of buying and selling gift cards without the risk of fraud.

Providing Value Builds Success
Today, over 35% of Gift Card Rescue’s traffic comes directly through his blog, and he believes that a large majority of his other hits are a result of the increased traffic, resulting in better search ratings, due to his blog. In addition, through his blogging and writings Kwame has positioned himself as a leading expert in the gift card industry, a move that will pay public relations rewards many times over throughout the busy holiday seasons.

What you can learn from Gift Card Rescue
Regardless of if you are in marketing in a professional services company, a construction company, or a non-for-profit, you can look at the Gift Card Rescue model and learn three things that will help you to be successful in the Web 2.0 marketing world:

  1. You must begin by developing a strong website, brand, and an easy to navigate web presence.
  2. You need to provide value to your potential customers: You can do this through posting white papers, starting a blog, sending out weekly tips, or just explain the best way to engage a firm that provides your type of product or service. Remember, DO NOT SELL, rather provide relevant and helpful information.
  3. Leverage the value that you are developing and sharing through your website, blog, or network to establish yourself, your company, and/or your product as the best in the field.

Success in a Web 2.0 world
Success in Web 2.0 strategy, be it on LinkedIn, blogging, or as part of an online community such as Civil Engineering Central, must be defined differently than in traditional marketing. For me it is the relationships that I have made as a result of this blog, for others it is public relations, and still for others it is increased name recognition. What is important is that you identify your objectives and then focus your Web 2.0 presence to meet those objectives.

Leveraging your marketing dollar

iswm_logoThe following article written by Tim Klabunde was published by the International Society of Weighing & Measuring.

“It’s not that I am cheep, it is just that I like getting a lot of value for my money.” 

I believe many people feel this way when it comes to their marketing budget.  We all want to figure out what is going to give us value when it comes to getting work in the door.  To that end here is a list of the three “cheapest” ways to get more work.

  1. Existing Clients – Ever wonder why the cable company is always trying to up sell you a 100-movie channel package?  It is because the least expensive way to bring in more revenue is to expand service to your existing clients.  This same model is utilized in almost all service industries.  So when you are looking to get more work in the door start by trying to solve more of your current clients problems first. 
  2. Referrals – When I had the siding redone on my home this last year I received 3 quotes for the job.  The most expensive was a national company, the least expensive was a company I saw on a yard sign in our neighborhood, and the middle bid was a referral from a trusted friend that had their siding redone a couple of years prior.  I paid the extra money for the middle quote because I felt comfortable and trusted the advise of my friend.  Did you catch that? The referral transferred the trust that I had in my friend into the company she endorsed!  Firms that use referrals make more money and their clients begin the relationship with confidence in their ability to do the job right.
  3. New Relationships – Note that I didn’t say clients I said relationships. Clients are expensive to get, but a network is not.  Networks of relationships in your industry allow others to provide you with leads that you can follow up on for minimal cost.  Here are some examples: the attorney that passes along leads to an accountant; the brink layer that that tells the roofer what projects he’s working on; the civil engineer that tells the architect which developers are considering building on a piece of land.  Your network can provide leads must faster and for less expensive than trying to find them yourself.

Time and time again I note that it is people that provide the biggest return on our marketing investment dollar.  Whatever you do, however, don’t give up on your advertising budget.  Advertising, networking, press releases, etc… are each only one tool in your marketing toolbox.  Every marketing tool has its place and must be used appropriately in order to achieve true marketing success.

Social Media as a Marketing Tool

web20logosFrank Casale of The Outsourcing Institute sent me a great Wall Street Journal article this weekend entitled “How Facebook Ruins Friendships.” It was informative and humorous, but what I found most interesting were the social media tools at the bottom of the page: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Digg, etc…  While it is ironic that an article making fun of social media tools would have them embedded in the article, it is a sign of the times. Today it seems that everyone, even the Wall Street Journal, recognizes the effectiveness of social media as a marketing tool.

We use Eventbrite to promote the Design and Construction Network events primarily because no other event registration website has such an extensive social media arsenal. Even Cofebuz now has a “tweet this post” link at the bottom of every article, and many of our most involved readers are from LinkedIn article referrals.

Social Media as a Marketing Tool

So we all get it, social media is powerful. But the real question is how to capture social media as a marketing tool. Let me give you the four secrets that I have found effective in turning the web into a powerful marketing tool. I’m certain many of you have your own insights as well so feel free to use the comments section at the end to add them.

Four secrets to turning social media into a marketing tool:

  1. Social media works when real value has been created – Try posting a tweet about last week’s weather and see how many people retweet it or reply. Start a blog about your journey selecting carpet color for your home and see how many people sign-up for your e-mail updates. The same is true for your company, make certain what you write creates value for others and they will be drawn to the value you are providing.
  2. Social media works when it isn’t selfish – Ever been turned off by a salesman that told you they really needed a sale because of XYZ reason? Online those that are selfish generally lose and those that are selfless typically win.
  3. Social media works when you can create a “buzz” – If you have successfully achieved the first two social media secrets you are positioned for creating a buzz, known as viral marketing. Viral marketing is the idea that others, even people you don’t know, will promote your idea for you because they think it deserves recognition and attention. The results? The greatest return you’ll ever see for your marketing dollar.
  4. Social media works when you have friends – Frank Casale (the individual that sent me the article above) is not only the CEO of one of the largest outsourcing associations in the world, he also has focused on building amazing friendships. I have found that real success comes not when someone pushes to achieve their own dreams, but when we push together to achieve our dreams. At a minimum, we have people to enjoy the journey with and to toast when we reach the top.

Recession Marketing

How we respond to a recession dictates our success (or failure) not only during, but more importantly after, the market downturn. Companies that can hold their ground through a downturn often become market leaders afterward.

In hard times businesses often look to eliminate expenses, but what about marketing expenses? If a marketing department is properly functioning there should be a direct correlation between our marketing budget and our accounts receivable. Based on this we would all agree that cutting the marketing budget would be a poor idea in a recession. What recessions often remind us, however, is that the expenses of many marketing departments do not have a direct correlation to our accounts receivable. Often marketing departments focus on producing glossy brochures and professional websites that do not necessarily function to support the bottom line.

Refining and Reshaping Marketing
This said, down turns in the economy are not the time to cut our marketing budgets; rather it is the time to refine and reshape our marketing expenditures to truly focus on bringing work in the door. This refining and reshaping should yield an increase in the return on our marketing investment dollars, increasing the correlation between those expenditures and our accounts receivable.  Here are some common changes that you can evaluate to achieve this goal:

  1. Increase your advertising dollars instead of giving your website a facelift.
  2. Incentivize your sales staff instead of getting more mugs with your logo on them.
  3. Cross-train a key person on your marketing staff to provide business development support instead of redesigning your company logo.
  4. Target some new relationships before RFPs and proposals come out instead of using the shotgun approach to pursue proposals (pursing RFPs and proposals that you have no business pursuing).

The Common Recession Mistake
Some functions/expenses of marketing can, and should, be put aside during a recession so that those funds can be spent on marketing functions that are more effective at bringing work in the door. A common mistake during a market downturn is to eliminate the ‘extra’ marketing expenses, but failing to redirect the money towards marketing that will enable you to compete in the highly competitive recession market.

What to do
A recession is the perfect time to sit down with the head of your marketing department to reshape your marketing approach.  Focusing on the marketing functions and expenses can help support your bottom line.

A Last Note
So, why are firms that market heavily during a recession positioned to succeed post-recession? Because people are our most valuable assets, and providing them a place of security during a recession ensures that your best employees will be around as the market picks up momentum. Also, a recession provides a great opportunity to hire the best and brightest from your competition if you are able to keep your bottom line intact. After the recession you then have a foundation for growth and the ability to become a market leader.

It’s Back to the BD Basics

itsbacktothebdbasicsRecessions have a tendency to remind us about business fundamentals. It is through the refinement of a recession that wasteful spending is eliminated and that we again focus on the core capabilities that make our companies successful. It is also recessions that remind us that marketing and business development are not the functions of just one or two departments. When company backlogs decrease we recapture the essence of our mutual corporate responsibility to bring new projects in the door. 

Focusing on existing clients and services
It is easy to want to expand into new markets during a recession. The problem is that during a recession work is much harder to come by, both in the markets you currently serve as well as in markets that you don’t serve. Expanding into a new market requires both time and money to enter the market – two things that are not readily available during a recession. As a result, a recession is not the time to expand into new markets, but rather it is the time to focus on your existing clients and services.

The goal during a recession is to focus on bringing work in the door immediately. Most marketers will tell you that the fastest, least expensive, and easiest way to bring in new work is to focus on your existing clientele. This includes people you have sold to previously and others in the industry that are familiar with your work. So what can you do? Here are several things that you can do during a recession that will position you to succeed: 

  1. Don’t Wait, step-up your current marketing: When faced with the possibility of a decline in your workload initiate action immediately. Often when the slowdown reaches your doorstep firms find themselves among a large group of competitors that are competing for work. The idea is to immediately step-up the everyday marketing efforts that you have found to be successful in an effort to build your backlog going into the recession. In our industry this usually includes follow-up on outstanding proposals, using qualifications to bolster the effectiveness of your fee proposals, and pre-marketing RFPs.
  2. Call your existing clients: Especially at service firms, the “last line of defense” when you are in need of work is to pick up the phone and call your best clients to ask for work. Firms often hesitate making these calls because they are afraid of what others will think. Simply put, get over it! Calling your existing clients and asking for work is the most effective way to get work in the door in a down market.
  3. Focus on being the best: Now is the time to set-aside change orders and additional work authorizations (within reason) and give all of your clients 1,000 reasons why they should never even consider another firm. Begin by asking yourself, “What can I do to help this person that is above and beyond what they hired me to do?” Remember that focusing on being the best isn’t something that just one person or a group of people can do, it is a company-wide focus that requires buy-in to be successful.
  4. Diversify within your current markets: Pursue relationships and work in market sectors in which you are currently working that are stable. Generally in a downturn these markets include the federal and healthcare markets. As discussed above, now is not the time to pursue new sectors, but it is a great time to place emphasis on some of your markets that will handle the downturn better. This does not mean that you should simply respond to more RFPs, rather initiate new relationships and build inroads that will position you to win.
  5. Be Patient: Markets change. Just when you think you will run out of work the markets will start moving again. Firms that survive this economic cycle will again experience an upswing as industry and opportunity prevail in the free market.

Building your Marketing Culture

In marketing and business, recessions provide us the opportunity to unite our companies for future growth. The proceeding actions are just a handful of things that can be done to empower everyone in your company to be a part of the sales process. In addition to these, think about how you can leverage today’s challenges to develop a culture that embraces marketing and business development. Firms that succeed in building this culture today will reap the rewards of growth in the future.


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It’s Back to the BD Basics by Tim Klabunde was published in the February 2009 edition of Marketer.