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By Justin Zohn

Building Your Own Marketing System

In 2000, Havill & Company published a nationally syndicated market research study entitled: "The Commercial Fleet Market Forecast: 1999-2001."  The research was designed to profile business practices of transportation industry decision makers across the U.S. During the research we asked respondents which methods they use to research 

their purchases.  Only 16 percent reported a preference for face-to-face meetings with sales representatives.  However, when asked how they prefer to finalize their purchases, 74 percent of decision makers said they favor a face-to-face appointment.

Are You Paying Your Sales Reps to Market?

The message in this research study is clear.  Buyers want to research their purchase options themselves, without the outside influence of a sales rep.  But when they have narrowed down their list of options and suppliers, they want to meet with a sales rep to configure the final package, obtain a proposal, and negotiate the sale.   

In todayís soft economy, many executives have responded to falling corporate profits by cutting marketing and advertising budgets.  While fiscally necessary, this creates new problems.  Technology marches on, and the fierce survival instinct to generate sales creates a competitive environment where market communication is even more important than before.   

Unfortunately, what often happens is that the burden of marketing is transferred to the sales organization.  Sales associates face prospective buyers that donít understand the features and benefits of their companyís offering, and are confused by competitor claims.  As a result, sales associates find themselves educating prospects and attempting to establish points of differentiation rather than doing what they are suppose to be doing, configuring orders.  Although seemingly necessary, this is counterproductive.  This research shows that marketing through your sales organization is very expensive, and not particularly effective.  

Increase Sales by Cutting the Cost of Marketing

The return to fiscal health is not through reduced marketing.  Rather, competitive vitality will come from reducing the cost of marketing.  This can only be achieved through the adoption of Internet marketing technology.[1] When evaluating the cost of marketing, it is important to analyze the entire channel, from supplier to end-user.  From this perspective, the inefficiencies  inherent in traditional Business-to-Business (B2B) distribution channels are apparent.  B2B exchanges, such as Trade-Ranger and Covisint, have been established to avoid these costs.  As an example, it is estimated that these Internet technologies could cut 30% from the cost of a vehicle for auto companies.[2]

A virtual marketing system is not a B2B exchange.  Rather, it is technology that supports traditional channels by moving marketing communication to the Internet.  Marketers throughout the channel have access to a database of end users and a library of marketing materials through a web browser, enabling them to analyze their markets, target opportunities, and collaborate on sales.  This research shows that sales representation is important in B2B markets to configure orders and negotiate the sale.  Moving market communication activities to the Internet substantially reduces time and cost, and closes the gap with direct sales channels. 

Traditional market communication for promotions, new product announcements, and response to inquiries average $761 per thousand pieces.[3]  Preparation takes the better part of a day and requires:

  • Printing letters

  • Labeling and stuffing envelopes

  • Applying postage and mailing

e-MarketCommunication costs an average of $5 per thousand messages.[4]  In addition you are able to:

  • Send rich text HTML messages, with website links to product literature

  • Share letter templates with associates for their own marketing campaigns

  • Instantly share leads and referrals with sales and channel partners

  • Add notes to contact records and schedule follow-up activities

To see how companies can use Havill's e-Suite of e-MarketCommunication, e-SalesSupport, and e-MarketOpportunity to implement one-to-one marketing and improve their channel partner support, read the letter from the author.

[1] Note the distinction between Internet technology and client/server technologies.  Client/server technologies are one-to-many solutions that are appropriate for automating order entry and customer service within a company.  Markets, however, are made up of many-to-many relationships where a public medium is required, the Internet.

[2] Source: Charles H. Fine, Daniel M. G. Raff: Internet-Driven Innovation and Economic Performance in the American Automobile Industry (http://jonescenter.wharton.upenn.edu/papers/2001.htm)

[3] Source: The Industry Standard (www.thestandard.com/article/1,1902,28815,00.html)

[4] Based on an e-MarketCommunication subscription fee of $80 per month per company.

In 2000, Havill & Company published a nationally syndicated market research study entitled: "The Commercial Fleet Market Forecast: 1999-2001."  As a courtesy, you are receiving an excerpt from this syndicated study because you serve the transportation industry.  Please refer to our privacy policy if you do not wish to receive these market research report excerpts.

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