There is an old adage that says, “Never trust a chef that doesn’t eat his own cooking.” You might think that the problem for the cook would be making sure that they don’t eat too much of their own cooking. But, if you’ve ever been a professional cook or chef as I was many moons ago, you know that sometimes you get so tired of being around food you don’t eat. I once cooked for an Italian restaurant, Café Amalfi, and I couldn’t eat red sauce for about a year after I left.
I have to wonder if printers and agencies feel the same way. They spend all day cranking out communications for clients and rarely do any marketing for themselves. It’s amazing to me how few companies, desperately seeking to deliver marketing services for clients, actually conduct ongoing campaigns for themselves.
Service providers – it’s time to eat your own cooking!
In prepping for this post, I called several service providers around the country, primarily regional firms that I’ve known for a while. I tried to focus on companies that used to mail to me when I was with Art Plus Technology or at Insight Forums. I started working on this thinking I would get a whole bunch of great examples to show. Instead, I got several types of responses to my request to “speak to the person who handles internal marketing for the company rather than marketing services for clients:”
- A receptionist who told me that “we don’t have any one here who does that.” (Folks – an unhappy receptionist is not a good thing for your business – but I digress.)
- A receptionist who told me that there was one person (sometimes two people) who does that, “but he spends most of his time on the road.” You know what? That sounds like a sales person – not a marketing person.
- If I made it past the receptionist (typically by cheating and calling someone I already knew there) the answer was, “we used to do that – but we haven’t in a long time.”
Wow! “We used to.”
Used to have more business too – hmmm? See a corollary there? Sarcasm aside, I do understand. The economy is slow. Maybe you’re short staffed. The cobblers children have no shoes etc. etc. But haven’t we been telling our clients and prospects that a downturn is the right time to get more attention for your marketing dollars because there is less activity out there? Telling them that you can’t afford to go silent just because things are slow? Telling them that direct marketing is important for maintaining your brand equity?
I repeat. Service providers. EAT. YOUR. OWN. COOKING! (and stop whining about the vegetables.)
One bright spot in my research efforts was Wilde – one of my local suppliers here in Boston (ironically I know them through restaurant connections as well – go figure.) I had been to a marketing seminar that Wilde offered in partnership with 3 other agencies last year (held at a restaurant ‘cause they’re foodies.) and I called to find out how often they did that kind of stuff. Clearly they are not only doing a lot – but tracking it too because Julie Sullivan and Liz Swanson were able to get info to me within hours of my request (and lookee – two live marketing people actually in the office –even during a snow storm!) Here’s what I found out:
Wilde has a formal lead generation program to support their sales force. For the past year, they have had campaigns dropping every four to six weeks,
The campaigns promote downloadable content (white papers, tips sheets), webinars, and in-person seminars that showcase their direct marketing capabilities though thought-leadership (from creative strategies to operations best practices).
They use email, direct mail pieces and are branching into inbound marketing channels, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and their blog (and providing content to 3rd party blogs such as thedigitalnirvana.)
70% of leads generated in 2010 were deemed “marketing qualified,” meaning they met the ideal customer/ prospect profile. Almost 30% of qualified leads led to a sales opportunity and half of those 2010 opportunities have already led to closed business (and more may convert since the sales cycle can be as long as two years).
One of the other, less quantifiable benefits of this marketing effort has been an overall perception lift for Wilde. Because their lead gen campaigns centered on value-added direct marketing content, as opposed to pushing products, clients are recognizing them as being experts in direct marketing—not just your run-of-the-mill lettershop.
That, my friends, is the value of eating your own cooking!
I am sure that there are other companies out there investing in their own marketing well-being, but I sure couldn’t find them last week. If you’ve got some good examples to share – please get in touch.