By Joe Martin

Starting a business is hard, but learning how to grow a business that’s already up and running is a challenge all of its own. So what’s the secret to success? Just like when you were first starting out, the secret to scaling is having a solid business plan and strong fundamentals.

What are the First Steps for Your New Business?

Beginning from scratch can be daunting, especially when you’re not sure about the first steps that must be taken. That’s why we created this guide to demystify the process of scaling and growing your business.

1. Research the Market

Scaling your business demands that you know the current market conditions inside and out. You need to know:

  • Whether there are enough potential customers
  • Who your ideal customers are
  • Where they’re located
  • How much they are willing to pay for your product or service

Start by establishing clear goals for the project, and then figure out which research methods will work best in helping you achieve those goals. Of course, your marketing will vary differently based on who you are as a business. For example, law firm marketing is very different than HVAC marketing, but they all start with researching your audience and knowing how to connect them to your business.

2. Analyse Your Product

To scale your business, you need to know what makes your product stand out from the crowd. If you can’t think of anything, you have some work to do before you scale.

Think about:

  • What does your product do?
  • How does it help your customers?
  • How does it compare with competitors?
  • Why should someone choose yours over theirs?

That last question is critical. Your unique selling point (USP) isn’t in your product itself but in how you market it or how it’s delivered.

3. Perform a Competitor Analysis

Competitor analysis is one of the most important things you can do to grow your business. To scale effectively, you need to know how others in your industry — your competitors, in particular — are faring.

A competitor analysis can help you gauge what’s working and what’s not in your market. It can help you spot opportunities and challenges before they arise or, even better, provide you with an advantage over others who don’t know as much as you do. Those who do it well can avoid blind spots and make wiser long-term decisions that benefit their business.

4. Build a Customized Sales Funnel

You likely already have some kind of sales funnel, but is it customized to your business’s needs? Developing a detailed customer journey helps you do just that. It’s a map of each customer’s steps before purchasing from your e-commerce store. The more information you have about where customers are coming from, what they’re doing on your site, and what ultimately persuades them to convert, the better prepared you’ll be for growth.

This can also help with your marketing and how you understand where your customers are coming from.

5. Employ a CRM System

Having an effective customer relationship management (CRM) system in place can help you keep all your data and relationships organized and accessible at any time, from anywhere — an essential tool when scaling.

CRM systems are extremely useful for managing contacts because they allow you to organize and analyse your customer data. This makes it easier to understand a customer’s history with your business. It also allows you to take advantage of automation to personalize how you do business with them. Most CRM systems offer automation features that let you set up rules and triggers based on specific events or actions, such as immediately after the customer makes a purchase.

6. Grow Your List

Your list is the core of your business, whether you know it or not. The people are most interested in what you do and are likely to buy from you. The more people on your list, the more money you can make. Scale your list to scale your business.

How? There are quite a few strategies you could apply to grow your business:

  • Offer a freebie, something so good that people will be willing to give up their email address for it.
  • Write a guest post to get in front of new audiences and gain authority by being featured on other blogs.
  • Write articles for high-traffic sites like ReadWrite, Medium, and LinkedIn Pulse — ending with a link back to your sign-up page, of course.

7. Establish a Customer Loyalty System

A customer loyalty system is a marketing strategy designed to encourage customers to continue to shop at or use the services of a business associated with the program. Customers typically receive points, which can be redeemed for rewards. Loyalty programs are used by small and large businesses alike, including both brick-and-mortar and online retailers.

8. Look for Partners

You should always be on the lookout for partnerships with companies that can help your business grow. If you’re new to e-commerce, that means looking for ways to get more people to hear about your products.

It’s important to choose partners who can play a role in growing your business. Pick partners with a broader distribution channel than your own, for example. Also, consider what kind of brand awareness a partnership would bring you.

9. License Related Products or Services

If partnering with another business isn’t on the table, you can nevertheless either license your products out or license someone else’s products. The point here is to increase awareness of your brand. Licensing helps you get the word out about your business while even making a little money in the process.

The economic benefits of licensing can result in significant revenue and profit growth. The cost of sales, marketing, and distribution can be shared with your partner while you also gain access to new markets and consumer bases. Whether you are a well-established business or a startup, licensing is an intelligent way to grow your business.

10. Diversify Your Product Offerings

Adding new product lines is an effective way to grow your business. It allows you to reach new customers, expand into new markets, and increase your brand awareness. Diversifying your product line is good for your business and good for your profit margins, and the customer experience you offer.

Businesses that rely on a single product or service are susceptible to market changes or unexpected events. By having multiple revenue streams in different markets and industries, your business becomes less vulnerable to such events and more capable of withstanding unforeseen challenges in the future.

11. Automate Everything That Makes Sense

It’s challenging to handle the entire scope of your business effectively. That’s why automation is so popular in the current business environment. It’s one of the best ways to take care of many tasks at once, letting you focus on more pressing issues.

The key is to automate everything that makes sense to grow your business while ensuring you don’t sacrifice quality. The easiest way to get started with automation is by using a scheduling tool to manage your social media accounts. For example, you can use the tool to schedule a week’s worth of posts in 10 minutes. Another easy task to automate is email marketing.

12. Hire New, Specialized People to Help You

When you’re just starting out, you do it all. You build a product or service, market it, sell it, and support it. But as your business grows, you need to focus on your main strengths and hire new people to help you scale.

This doesn’t always mean hiring someone full-time. Instead, you can bring on board specialized personnel, or teams, who can help you complete specific tasks. Scorpion, for instance, often helps new and emerging businesses scale up their presence on various social media platforms, improve their SEO, or get a grip on multiple other mission-critical tasks.

13. Improve Your Customer Service Offerings

Customer service is the backbone of any business. It’s a crucial element for increasing sales and gaining customer loyalty. As your business grows, so must your customer service capabilities.

Handling customer service takes time, effort, and dedication. The best customer service takes advantage of the internet and social networking platforms already part of your business. Your customers are likely to be online and will have access to the same tools you do. Ensure that your customers have an easy way to reach you when they need help.

14. Develop Passive Income Sources

As a business owner, you need to make the most of your time — and there are only so many hours in the day. So while it’s probably impossible to generate 100% passive income, it is possible to develop a strategy to generate additional revenue streams that require less effort from you.

There are a variety of ways you can generate passive income as an entrepreneur, but all of them tie into one thing: selling products or services that require little upkeep after the sale, such as:

  • Expanding into new products or services
  • Creating and selling informational products
  • Selling physical products online

15. Become a Thought Leader in Your Field

Thought leadership is a marketing strategy that focuses on creating and sharing content that shows that you are knowledgeable, credible, and trustworthy. It aims to inform and educate audiences to win their trust, and it can be a great way to grow your business.

Specifically, you can use thought leadership to differentiate yourself from your competitors and build your own authority. This can be done through social media, blogging (including guest blog posts), speaking at events, and even writing books to attract new customers.

Growing Your Business Is Exciting

These strategies won’t transform your business overnight, but even implementing a few of them can yield impressive results. And the sooner you do that, the sooner you’ll watch your business become what you’ve always dreamed it would be.

Inner Image Credit: Provided by the Author; Thank you!

Top Image Credit: by fauxels; Pexels; Thank you!

By Joe Martin

VP of Marketing

Joe Martin is currently the VP of marketing at Scorpion, a leading provider of technology and marketing to help small businesses grow. Formerly he was CloudApp’s GM and CMO and a Head of Marketing at Adobe. With over 15 years of experience in the industry and tech that makes it run, he provides strategic guidance on how to build and use the right stack and marketing for businesses to grow. Joe believes marketers need smart training and leadership to scale company growth. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @joeDmarti.

Sourced from readwrite

By Tom Gil

Different parts of the sales funnel need different content types. Here’s how to make them.

We often talk about content creation and repurposing it using different channels, like blogs and social media. What isn’t often mentioned is how to create different types of content for different stages of the sales funnel: branding, sales, and retention.

Every end goal can call for a different kind of content. For example, you might need content that’s designed to move people closer to a sale, make you more memorable (branding), or help you maintain clients (retention). Usually, in your marketing funnel, your target audience is within one of these three stages:

  1. Awareness (made aware of your brand)
  2. Consideration (considering your solution)
  3. Decision (moving towards buying from you)

What content the customer needs to consume in each stage differs. But the first hurdle, as Devin Reed, head of content strategy at Gong, notes, is simply making all your marketing messages relevant to the consumer: “When it comes to actually creating engaging content, it needs to be relevant, insightful, and actionable. This is critical if you want to grab — and keep — their attention. Unfortunately, most B2B companies focus on themselves, specifically their product/service, and as a result, their content is boring and fails to influence how their audience thinks or acts.”


Your end goal shouldn’t be to simply make a sale. Instead, it should be to create loyal, long-term customers. Here are three methods you can implement today for better retention content:

  1. Use storytelling in your marketing: Customer-focused stories win. Describe how your product or service empowered a business with a solution that yielded results.
  2. Publish quality content consistently: Creating a blog is crucial nowadays. Aside from helping you rank higher on search engines, it enables you to build trust with your ideal customers and craft a unique voice for your brand.
  3. Continue to educate your audience: Having a separate section for unique studies and stories (not blogs) is a way to stand out, and is one of the best ways to show up for your audience consistently. Try different mediums, like podcasts, vlogs, guides, and case studies.

Now, let’s focus on a topic that is often ignored. Retention branding.

Are you pleasantly waving customers good-bye when they choose to leave or are you pointing a sword at their backs, making them walk the plank while they gaze at sharks below?

Even after you lost the battle — when a client cancels their membership or unsubscribes — the psychology of user offboarding is paramount. Just like the aftertaste a drink can leave you with, the offboarding experience can make or break your brand’s reputation. An unreasonable layer to a journey’s end can cause friction and leave a bitter taste.

Making it hard for customers to leave your product is unethical, and usually does more harm than good. There is a way to make a person smile even as they’re about to unsubscribe. AppSumo‘s messaging around cancelling a subscription is a good example: The unsubscribe screen says “It looks like you’ve had enough of us (tough but fair).” A small thing like that can take a stressful process and make it more enjoyable. It’s a reminder of what brands should do: let you leave with a smile, remembering them positively.

That’s retention branding. If you still want to leave, at least you left smiling. If you changed your mind, you stayed smiling. You smiled either way, and that matters.

Feature Image Credit: Getty Images

By Tom Gil

Certified real estate copywriter & marketing consultant

Sourced from Inc.

By Mark Hamstra

Optimizing sales and promotions via tech will be a key goal for businesses going forward to price right and maximize margins.

Why it matters:

  • Amid a changed economic landscape, traditional brands can no longer rely on pricing strategies based on an annual seasonal calendar.
  • Many consumers will continue to feel economic pressure, while others have savings and pent-up demand.
  • Against that backdrop, brands can use this time to go back to the drawing board to optimize their pricing and promotional strategies via data analytics.

As the economy slowly lurches back toward what many describe as a “new normal,” brands will have to deploy their pricing strategies carefully amid a minefield of variables that could impact consumer behaviour.

One strategy that brands remain committed to is promotional optimization. With production costs rising, and pent-up demand for many products rising as well, companies need to protect their profit margins and make sure they are not using promotional pricing unnecessarily to drive sales that might have occurred anyway at full price.

There are also opportunities to use promotional analytics to drive sales of “affinity” items, which are those products that are associated with the promoted items. Some companies, including Kohl’s, have cut back on promotional activity and instead focused more on everyday value and more personalized offers.

The year ahead also poses other unique challenges for businesses pricing strategists. Traditionally, brands base their pricing on annual patterns that are adjusted for changes in their costs and tweaked to reflect other considerations, such as competitive activity in the market. This year, however, comparisons with last year — or any previous year, for that matter — are irrelevant.

“Companies can’t go back to that whole one-year model,” Ellen Kan, partner in the New York office of consulting firm Simon-Kucher & Partners, told CO—. “Decisions can’t be made with a long lead time. Companies, especially big companies, have to think about more ways to be agile and nimble.”

In addition, she said, companies will have to make some assumptions about which consumer shopping behaviours that changed during the pandemic, such as relying more heavily on e-commerce, will continue in the years ahead.

Food retailers, for example, saw sales surge last spring and fall as consumers stocked up on shelf-stable items, made fewer trips overall to the store and shopped online more often. Those companies will need to decide how they will use pricing as a tool to drive traffic back into the stores or to retain those online shoppers.

[Read here on how to set a pricing strategy.]

It’s a brave new world. You can create your own future, and the best retailers are doing that.

Matthew Pavich, managing director of global strategic consulting, Revionics, an Aptos company

New approaches to optimizing promotions

One grocery chain, 80-unit Shop ’n Save, is implementing a new pricing analytics solutions from Daisy Intelligence that seeks to optimize promotions from the perspective of their total-store impact, rather than the impact on the item itself.

Daisy’s “Halo Merchandising” approach considers the sales and margins gained from the addition of products to the shopping basket that are affiliated with the items promoted, for a more holistic view of the impact of promotions. A promotion on hot dogs, for example, might lead to additional sales of buns, relish, ketchup and mustard.

“Prior to bringing on Daisy, like all retailers, we made decisions on what items to promote based on single-item movement,” said Tom Charley, vice president of Shop ’n Save operator Charley Family Shop ’n Save. “While we have done the best that we can based on our tools, we understand there are more advanced ways of going to market today.”

Another retailer that has adopted a new promotional strategy is Dick’s Sporting Goods, which recently implemented the PromoSmart solution from Impact Analytics. With 850 store locations and thousands of promotions each month, Dick’s was seeking to move away from the repetitive promotions that it said were causing a decline in margins, according to a case study provided by Impact Analytics.

The new solution uses multiple machine learning models that analyse historical data to generate promotional recommendations that take into account seasonality and trends, as well as product affinities and cannibalization.

Implementing PromoSmart “helped us eliminate the toxic promos, adding millions to our bottom line,” the retailer said.

[Read here on five pricing strategies to woo customers.]

Leaning into an everyday value strategy

Kohl’s Corp. is another retailer that revamped its pricing and promotional strategy during the past year in an effort to improve profit margins, leaning into an everyday value strategy.

“We continue to reduce the number of general promotional offers and stackable offers [combined discounts], while increasing usage of price-led events to offer more value every day,” said Michelle Gass in the company’s recent year-end earnings call with analysts. “We are also leaning into more targeted and personalized offers to drive efficiencies.”

Chuck Davenport, a partner in the Atlanta office of Bain & Co., cited one example of a retailer, which he declined to identify, that took advantage of the changes in customer behaviour during the pandemic to reduce its promotional and discounting activities, and align its promotions between online and in-store.

In addition, the retailer added more premium lines, but made an effort to make sure there was a clear distinction between its higher-end brands and its legacy offerings.

“Because of the tightening of their promotional policies, they’re actually keeping each one of those categories stratified, and keeping the premium products in the premium lane and the lower-end products in the lower-end lane,” said Davenport. “It will be interesting to see if that is successful, but I’m glad to see that companies are starting to experiment with doing that.”

Other pricing strategies he sees emerging include B2B brands using technology to better control pricing, rather than leaving it in the hands of their sales teams, who are often incentivized to offer reduced prices to drive volume.

 Adidas display section inside a Kohl's location. Kohl’s Corp. also revamped its pricing strategy, placing a heavier focus on everyday value along with targeted and personalized offers. — Kohl’s

One key pricing consideration: Rising production costs

A key metric underlying pricing decisions is rising inflation in the cost of commodities and other raw materials, which comes as a large portion of consumers are struggling financially to recover from the pandemic.

A recent report from data analytics firm dunnhumby found that 43% of U.S. consumers surveyed said they were paying more for food than they were before the pandemic, and many of those said they were taking some action because of it, including shopping at stores with everyday low prices, searching online for sales and coupons, buying larger pack sizes and stocking up on products that are on sale.

Some makers of consumer-packaged goods, including Procter & Gamble, have said that increases in the cost of ingredients are forcing retail price increases. P&G said in late April that it would implement price increases on certain products in September.

Many observers believe, however, that a large portion of the population has pent-up demand for goods and services, which will give some brands the ability to pass along higher prices without fear of hurting their margins.

One pricing case study to watch in the food industry will be how the plant-based meat alternative manufacturers, including Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, price their products now that they are ubiquitous, said Kan of Simon Kucher & Partners. The products have seen their sales continue to climb during the pandemic, even though they carry a premium price tag.

Now that they are gaining enough scale to lower their prices to be more competitive with traditional meat items, it will be interesting to see if even more consumers try these alternative proteins, she said.

Disruption in demand

Matthew Pavich, managing director of global strategic consulting at Revionics, an Aptos company, and provider of automated pricing solutions, said the disruption in consumer demand caused by the pandemic has had broad ramifications for pricing strategies. Some product categories, such as shelf-stable grocery items and cleaning essentials, have seen soaring demand, while others, such as fashion, have seen demand curve sharply in the other direction.

“We have a whole lot of different things going on, and it’s about being able to capture that and deliver a pricing strategy that translates to a customer’s need now in this moment,” said Pavich. “That’s the fundamental challenge, and it looks different for different retailers.”

Some retailers will use aggressive pricing to drive consumers back into their stores with greater frequency, and others will streamline their promotions. For many retailers, the new operating environment presents an opportunity to update their omnichannel pricing strategies.

“Companies have this unique opportunity to start from scratch and rebuild their pricing strategy,” said Pavich. “Whether they already had a fairly robust strategy with some analytics and some optimization and some consumer insights, or they are starting from scratch, there’s an opportunity now to take their data, take best practices, take what consumers are telling them and really invest.

“It’s a brave new world,” he said. “You can create your own future, and the best retailers are doing that.”

In general, the enormous challenges presented by current market conditions will force all companies to take a step back to carefully examine their pricing strategies, rather than pursuing business as usual.

“When everything’s good and the sun is shining on all companies, and everyone’s growing, [companies] can get a little lazy,” said Davenport of Bain & Co. “But when business tightens, and the supply tightens, it gives people a real motivation to get sharp.”

Feature Image Credit: Dick’s Sporting Goods’ new pricing strategy taps multiple machine learning models that analyze historical data to generate promotional recommendations. — Dick’s Sporting Goods 

By Mark Hamstra

Sourced form CO

By Louis Columbus

Bottom Line: Understanding which pricing strategies cause buyers to progress through buying processes in a downturn still isn’t completely understood, but AI-based pricing can help remove blind spots in how pricing drives more sales during recessionary times.

The Struggle To Make Quota Is Real

Even in stable, healthy economic conditions, just 42% of sales professionals are making quota based on Salesforce’s State of Sales Report. Only 16% will be over 100% of quota in a given year. In an economic downturn, these numbers shrink, making the struggle very real to make quota in a recession. Here’s what it’s like to compete on pricing during a downturn:

  • Go-to pricing strategies that worked in better economic times fall flat and don’t generate 10% of what they before, with B2B-based selling teams seeing this most often.
  • Sales reps’ email in-boxes are either silent or filling up with requests for lower pricing, price protection, discounts, stock balancing or worse, returns.
  • Many CEOs, senior management teams, and sales reps’ initial goodwill calls to the top 20% of customers offering their complete support are now turning into returned calls asking for price breaks and permanent re-negotiated pricing.
  • Low-priced competitors surviving on single-digit margins continue their price wars, trying to keep production operating with orders while trimming staff.
  • Videoconferences are keeping deals alive in B2B pipelines, but when it comes to pricing, deals often stall as CFOs and their staffs review every new expense, introducing new members of the buying process at the last minute.

CROs say that sales cycles vary by industry, with automotive being the slowest and medical device manufacturing, medical plastics including PPE production, and consumer packaged goods manufacturers being the fastest. Getting pricing right has never been more critical or challenging, according to the CROs I’ve had conference calls with. When asked where AI is making a difference, several said automating special pricing requests, taking the drudgery out of managing co-op reimbursements, or researching sales prospects using automated services. Generating fully-priced quotes faster than competitors is where AI is most paying off according to the CROs I spoke with and is contributing to more won deals.

5 Ways AI Can Help Close More Deals In A Downturn

It’s counterintuitive to consider a downturn as a good time to find new ways to improve margins with more effective pricing. But that’s just what distributors, discrete and process manufacturing CROs are looking to accomplish today.  A 1% price increase can deliver a 22% increase in EBITDA margins and a 25% uplift in stock price according to McKinsey’s recent pricing research provided in the article, Pricing: Distributors’ most powerful value-creation lever. CROs are looking at when, how, and if they will increase prices on the most price-inelastic products they have. The logic behind prioritizing price-inelastic products is that selling on quality, availability, and build-to-order flexibility for customers buying these products is the goal to stabilize and grow margins. The smartest CROs I’ve met realize that engaging in price wars on price-inelastic products cost everyone margin, and no one wins. They’re also benchmarking their recovery efforts using EBITDA. The following graphic illustrates why pricing is so powerful, especially for distribution-centric businesses. Source: Pricing: Distributors’ most powerful value-creation lever. McKinsey & Company,  September 16, 2019

The following are five of the many ways AI can help close more deals in a downturn:

1.    Knowing why specific pricing strategies succeed or fail on a deal-by-deal basis in a downturn often defies easy explanation, which is why commercial analytics are so important now. Combining traditional win/loss deal analysis and AI-based commercial analytics provides new insights into what’s working in a downturn. Commercial Analytics suites that are the most effective combine transactional analysis with product and service mix, price, and volume analysis. Vendavo’s approach to providing commercial analytics is noteworthy for its streamlined, intuitive interface design that supports drag-and-drop report customization, real-time configurable alerts, integration to the price management module, pricing localization, and more. The following is an example of how Vendavo’s PricePoint works:

2.    By using AI’s supervised and unsupervised machine learning algorithms to improve risk scoring, only pursue opportunities that show the greatest margin growth and least downside risk.  CROs see the potential for AI to improve the cognitive functioning of sales, sales operations, and pricing working together to price and win the most profitable deals that have the least risk. The challenge is to take into account entirely new buying groups comprised of personas sales teams haven’t interacted with that much in the past. The pandemic and resulting downturn have completed changed group buying dynamics and introduced new risk factors into sales cycles not seen before. When the data is available, it’s possible to quantify the impact of risk factors on margin, price, and revenue gains.

3.    Help sales teams be more effective by improving Deal Price Guidance with AI, reducing the heavy cognitive load many are dealing with as pricing changes happen several times a week, along with new bundles and promotions. No one is talking about how sales teams are struggling to make sense of the many pricing, promotional, and bundling offers that are increasing today. Chances are your sales teams are overwhelmed with pricing reports, new pricing updates, promotional programs, rebates and bundles as many are. In good economic times, sales reps are sending, on average, 27%, nearly a third of their week, on internal administrative activities according to a recent Forrester/SiriusDecisions study.

4.    Tailoring up-sell and cross-sell recommendations for each customer using AI to define the optimal series of options and alternatives increases the average deal size and only presents the most buildable, profitable products to them. AI-based product recommendation engines integrated with CRM, e-Commerce, ERP, and pricing systems recommend the products and services that have the highest propensity of being purchased. The most advanced AI recommendation engines take into account previous buying behavior and buying patterns in making their recommendations.

5.    Knowing how price, volume, and mix decisions over time impact sales across product lines, sales teams, and business units is another area where AI is helping to improve sales in this downturn. It’s common to find groups of Sales Analysts crunching this data using Excel, which is a time-consuming, iterative process that’s a perfect candidate for AI-based automation. Imagine if the many Sales Analysts crunching data had more time to analyze it and see why pricing decisions by product, region, business unit, and geography are outperforming median sales and profit levels? Finding the reasons why pricing decisions are working in a downturn is how every CRO I’ve known defines a recovery plan. Vendavo’s recently-announced Margin Bridge Analyzer is an example of how AI can be used to understand better what’s hidden in the thousands of Excel spreadsheets organizations use for tracking pricing effectiveness.


Achieving commercial excellence in a down economy needs to start by improving pricing effectiveness that delivers solid gains to EBITDA margins over time. Of the many ways AI is improving selling, pricing, and margin performance, the five key areas helping distributors, discrete and process manufacturers the most are discussed in this post. McKinsey finds that the best short-term/high-impact an organization can make is concentrating on pricing and promotions shown in the graphic below. Improving sales in a downturn is possible when AI is used to decipher the data this recent downturn is producing and find new margin opportunities fast.

Source: Rapid Revenue Recovery: A road map for postCOVID-19 growth, McKinsey & Company, May 7, 2020

Feature Image Credit: ISTOCK

By Louis Columbus

I am currently serving as Principal, IQMS, part of Dassault Systèmes. Previous positions include product management at Ingram Cloud, product marketing at iBASEt, Plex

Sourced from Forbes

By Eric J. Savitz

U.S. e-commerce activity recently spiked 25% from earlier in March, as Americans hunkered down in the face of the rapid spread of the coronavirus, new data from Adobe shows.

The Adobe Digital Economy Index reflects data from the software company’s analytics tools, which are used by 80 of the top 100 U.S. web retailers. The index tracks sales of 55 million individual products. Adobe (ticker: ADBE) said that from March 13-15, daily U.S. e-commerce sales jumped 25% from earlier in the month, largely driven by a doubling of daily online grocery sales.

One thing to note about the data is that each data point covers a different time period. “Many of these product categories are having their inflection points occur at different times, and that’s why the measurement windows are falling at varied time periods,” an Adobe representative said. “The computers category for instance, didn’t really see an increase until mid-March, while groceries experienced their boost in early February, and products like hand sanitizers were spiking as early as late January…so in order to profile the magnitude of the growth swing and consumer buying behavior, we’ve had to set measurement periods, during the time that they occurred, so that we don’t miss their growth trajectory and/or mischaracterize the impact in demand.”

Not surprisingly, Adobe found huge spikes in online purchases of some cleaning products and non-perishable foods.

  • From January to March 11, Adobe said, sales in the “virus protection” category, including hand sanitizers, gloves, masks, and anti-bacterial sprays surged 807%.
  • Purchases of over-the-counter cold, flu and pain medicines were up 217%.
  • Toilet paper sales spiked 231%.
  • Sales of non-perishable canned goods and shelf-stable goods increased 87%.
  • From March 11-15, daily orders for fitness equipment (such as kettlebells, dumbbells, treadmills, etc.) were up 55% from the first 10 days of the month.
  • Between March 11 and March 25, online orders for computers (laptop, desktop and more) increased 40% from March 1-10.
  • Adobe said average sales at online apparel stores dropped 13% in the March 12 to March 25 period, versus a baseline period of Feb. 1 to March 10. But the company said that overall apparel-category sales were running about flat compared with the period before the virus outbreak, attributable to promotional activity at several larger retailers.
  • Adobe found a spike in daily “buy online, pickup in store” transactions, up 62% from Feb. 24 to March 21.

Feature Image Credit: Adobe found a spike in daily “buy online, pickup in store” transactions, up 62% from Feb. 24 to March 21. Photograph by Matt Cardy/Getty Images

By Eric J. Savitz

Sourced from Barron’s


You might think that public relations and sales are two separate facets of your business, but you may be surprised to hear that PR works best in direct collaboration with sales to create one congruent experience for your customer. Here are a few ways in which PR and sales can work together.

Sharing Information: Your sales team is out in the field every day getting tremendous feedback and insight into your target market. Why let all that good information remain siloed? Let your sales team help inform the PR strategy by sharing insights, such as what your target market cares about, what they’re reading and what resonates with them. This might help develop a pitch, drive story angles and even identify new media outlets.

Exposure Is Good For All: It’s hard being a salesperson, especially when initially getting in the door to introduce the company. However, PR can lay the groundwork by helping your company get exposure. Instead of getting, “You’re calling from where?” from customers, how refreshing would it be for your salespeople to reach out to a target market that’s already familiar with the brand?

Building Credibility: Thought leadership is the name, and credibility is the game! When your leaders are featured in reputable publications, it can open the door for sales, as it proves that the company is at the top of its game and knows what it’s talking about.

Following Up: Coming up with a reason to follow up can be a struggle for your sales team. However, a PR win, such as a placement in a publication or thought leadership feature, can be a great lead-in to reopening a conversation. Sales teams can forward these wins with a note saying they thought the client might be interested in the information.

Creating Social Content: PR wins are also a great item to promote on social media. Because they provide such valuable third-party credibility, most companies will share their media placements online to increase exposure for wins. Many also invest in “boosting” the posts to reach specific target audiences or decision-makers. Right message, right audiences, right time.

Website Content: Any articles that don’t secure placement in a publication can be featured on your website. This type of content can become a part of the lead generation funnel, guiding potential customers to your website, helping to collect emails and providing more leads for your sales team.

As Seen On: When a PR firm secures a placement that has a big name attached, such as being featured in Oprah’s magazine or on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the company will be able to include that in their marketing. This can be a very high-performing strategy that can really help the sales team tie everything together for the customer.

PR And Sales, Unite!

Gather the team, and start generating some business. These are just a few ways in which PR and sales can work together to help grow revenue and build business. Make sure that your sales team knows what placements are at their disposal and how they can use PR content to their advantage. Additionally, any insights your sales team would like to provide will surely be appreciated.


Co-Founder of Beyond Fifteen Communications, a SoCal PR and communications firm known for taking clients beyond their 15 minutes of fame.

Sourced from Forbes


I’m sure you’ve heard the famous phrase, you don’t get a second chance to make a great first impression.

It’s true about life… and it’s definitely true about business.

A well-crafted personal brand speaks FOR you even before you say a word. It helps you attract ideal customers and clients who are inspired and motivated by who you are and how you show up in the world.

And it demonstrates to your clients and customers that you can do what you say you can do and that they can rely on you to deliver on the promises…

And when that happens, you’ll easily make an awesome first impression in any situation.

From working the room at networking events, to connecting with random website visitors and people watching your FB Lives and reading your blog posts, a powerful personal brand will do pretty much all the hard work of grabbing attention in all the right ways.

But there’s more to a successful personal brand than creating a great first impression.

Personal branding is also about consistency.

It’s about making an awesome “first impression” again and again and again.

I’ve helped countless clients and students build out powerful brands using my Personal Brand Power Framework (I share exactly how to do this in my Ultimate Guide to a Powerful Personal Brand).

And not to be overly dramatic, but a personal brand is a sink or swim kind of deal.

Create a great brand that works for you and it quickly leads to lucrative business connections, steady growth, lots of sales and happy customers.

But get it wrong and you could damage your reputation and demolish your bottom line.

And so many gifted entrepreneurs get it wrong (and don’t even know it).

So,  I’m sharing hidden traps to avoid if you want to create a personal brand that powerfully and consistently establishes your reputation and your expertise.

Brand Trap #1: Being a Jack of All Trades

When you want to build a personal brand that seals your reputation, grows your client base and your income, it’s about lasering in on who you are and what you want to be known for.

But that’s not what most entrepreneurs do.

They try to be all things to all people and this mindset often shows up in their title or designation.

I’ve seen it happen and you probably have too…

I’m talking about people who call themselves a “speaker-coach-author-designer” or something to that effect!

Then there are those who focus on a bunch of different niches and areas of expertise…

I’ve seen super talented designers offering copywriting services and business coaches selling crystals.

They do this thinking that it’s a great idea to get  their “name out there” or they just want to make a quick buck any way possible.

But the result is a confused, uncertain audience and a damaged reputation and credibility because nobody is going to believe that one person can be truly great at so many different things!

When it comes to your personal brand you don’t want to be a “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

You want to laser in on one or two products or services that will establish your expertise so you can get to the top of the charts in specific industry or niche… especially if you’re a new entrepreneur. 

For instance, 2 of the most successful online entrepreneurs around — Jeff Walker and Ryan Levesque — did exactly that…

They focused on a single area of expertise from day one and they’ve stuck to that one thing for years.

Jeff is known as the “launch expert” and he’s built his entire business around the Product Launch Formula while Ryan is known for his wildly successful marketing funnel methodology and software called the Ask Method.

So trying to be an “expert” in a whole bunch of niches right out of the gate — this is one of the biggest personal branding traps entrepreneurs fall into.

Brand Trap #2: Drowning Your Audience 

If you want a powerful personal brand start by focusing on just one thing… your reputation.

A powerful personal brand is built on a rock-solid reputation but it’s where lots of entrepreneurs go wrong…

They think a great reputation is about “overdelivering.”

They want customers and clients to feel like they received a TON of value and got their money’s worth… and then some.

So, they go out there and build massive A to Z, 12-week courses or programs in their area of expertise… maybe for you that’s web design or internet marketing or copywriting or whatever it happens to be.


When you teach people everything you know — when you overshare or “overdeliver”  — what you’re really doing is creating anxiety, overwhelm and confusion for your clients and customers… hit ‘em with everything you’ve got and they won’t know what hit ‘em!

Instead, you need to hone in on one specific thing inside your zone of genius that helps people complete a project or achieve a goal.

If you’re a designer, for example, you could teach your customers how to create a gorgeous logo for their business.

If you’re a copywriter you could show them how to write an effective sales page.

If you’re an internet marketer or business mentor, you could teach them how to create kicka$$ courses that sell (that’s exactly what we did with Experience Product Masterclass and it’s one of our most popular courses of all time!).

And if you’re a transformational life coach, you could teach them how to laser in on and overcome their limiting beliefs around achieving success in business or finding true love.

Whatever you do, don’t drown your customers in value.

The trick is to keep things simple so that they get the results they’re looking for — this is the path to building trust, creating transformation, establishing that awesome reputation and  building a powerful personal brand that works for you.

Brand Trap #3: Focusing on the What 

Most entrepreneurs believe customers and clients want to work with them and buy from them based on what they know

But the most successful personal brands in the world — think Michelle Obama or Oprah or Gary Vaynerchuk — are built on how they make people feel.

The internet changed the world and how it works. Knowledge is SO cheap right now, it’s literally free.

Anything and everything you want to know is at your fingertips and available to you faster than you can say “Google.”

But your energy, your essence, your values and how you share and teach that’s unique because YOU’RE unique.

And that’s what people want…

They want what they can’t find on the internet and that’s who you are and how you make them feel NOT what you know.

So, give yourself permission to be yourself… focus on being vulnerable, authentic and real.

At different touch points in your business — your content, your website, your products and services — ask yourself…

How do you make them feel? 

That’s the #1 thing to think about in personal branding and we’ve helped clients and students build multi-million dollar brands starting with that one question.

So, powerful personal branding starts with focusing on becoming a hit-maker versus throwing a bunch of products and services at your audience to see what sticks…

It’s about creating results over drowning them in value…

It’s about becoming more YOU and how you want people to feel when they connect with you and your business.

That’s how you build a  personal brand that works for you and your business, a brand that projects who you are and how you want to show up in the world, a brand that matters, and creates the income and impact you want.

Feature Image Credit: pixabay


Sourced from live your message

By Kay Kienast

Traditionally, sales and marketing — both important in their own right — have operated as separate silos. Sales is a direct process, requiring one-to-one interaction with customers, whether it’s using email, the phone, in-person meetings or social media. Marketing, on the other hand, drives leads through brand or product awareness with potential customers as a group and is a more holistic process.

Something as simple as developing a capabilities presentation demonstrates how sales (direct) and marketing (holistic) can be at odds. Marketers may create a presentation that ensures the message is on target and consistent across customers, but the sales team may deliver it directly to specific customers. Here comes the push-pull relationship.

This may seem like a simple example, but it is indicative of the dynamics behind the sales and marketing relationship. Both entities, while seemingly at odds, have much to gain by learning to work together in a cooperative way. After all, both want to increase quality leads, reduce sales cycles to close more leads, and generate more revenue.

While the sales process has not changed significantly over time, marketing methods and channels have evolved dramatically over the last decade. Today’s marketer relies on content marketing, pay-per-click (PPC) ads, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), organic traffic and influencer marketing.

Another significant shift is in the buying process, which has undergone a major transformation. Customers often spend more time educating themselves before purchasing and are looking for more information. Indeed, according to Forrester, “Today’s business buyers are increasingly self-directed: 60% prefer not to interact with a sales rep as the primary source of information; 68% prefer to research on their own, online; and 62% say they can now develop selection criteria or finalize a vendor list — based solely on digital content.”

This change in the purchase process puts more power in the hands of the buyer, and more weight on marketers to guide the buyer through the buying journey.

Sales and marketing have also historically had different processes, different software — customer relationship managers (CRMs) versus marketing automation platforms (MAPs) — and different goals, resulting in a competitive, rather than collaborative, relationship. Even further, marketing has been responsible at the beginning of the customer life cycle, with sales involved later.

But customers don’t care about where marketing and sales begin and end — they expect one seamless experience. This means that the two departments need to foster a parallel relationship where both co-own the lead and the ongoing process to qualify that lead. There is one customer pipeline and it belongs to both marketing and sales.

How do sales and marketing make this push-pull relationship work successfully?

Learning how to communicate is a critical step. What often happens is that marketing will talk to sales, but sales won’t listen, and vice versa. You need to establish a regime for communicating, and the best way to do that is to find common ground and acknowledge what you are both trying to accomplish. Sometimes there are multiple issues at stake, and you have to untangle them one at a time. That may mean putting the other issues on hold until you reach an agreement on one. Then you’ve proven you can work things out, which sets you up to succeed at resolving the next topic.

It should be noted that working in tandem is ultimately best for the customer. If marketing and sales are synched up on messaging, it facilitates the customer’s understanding of the value you provide today and where you’re headed. It makes it easier for the customer to work with you.

It’s also important to understand how sales and marketing are going to work together — akin to establishing a sales and marketing service level agreement to state each department’s role and clear definitions on things like buyer personas and ideal leads. This starts with determining who they are going to target together and creating a coverage map. If marketing sends leads to follow up on and sales doesn’t act on them, then money has been wasted on leads. You have to create a model together that defines how to cross-sell and up-sell opportunities together, how to acquire new customers together and how to retain your current customers together.

Adding to these complexities is the fact that each department has its own budget. Sales has to meet one key performance indicator (KPI) while marketing has a different KPI, and conflict can arise as a result. Instead of fighting a marketing and sales war, cooler heads are needed to prevail, and that means coming together and establishing an agreement. Reaching an agreement requires a give and take by both parties.

In the end, it comes down to honest communication and arriving at a set of agreements that define how to work together.

Working more in collaboration can have immediate benefits, but I still find that most organizations have separate sales and marketing teams with their own leadership and targets. Changing the structure and mindset of those teams requires strong leadership at the top of the organization. Leaders need to set the vision and ensure that the reasons for change are understood by all.

In my next article, I’ll continue to address the “push-pull” aspect of the sales and marketing relationship and how leaders can bring about this much-needed alignment from the top down.

Feature Image Credit: Getty

By Kay Kienast

Chief Marketing Officer for True Influence, responsible for all company marketing including data, demand generation, SEO/SEM and PR.

Sourced from Forbes

Here’s why you need to get your advertising to zoom in.

By MediaStreet Staff Writers

The relationship between desire and attention was long thought to only work in one direction: When a person desires something, they focus their attention on it.

Now, new research reveals this relationship works the other way, too. Increasing a person’s focus on a desirable object makes them want the object even more – a finding with important implications for marketers seeking to influence behaviour.

The study, published in the journal Motivation and Emotion, is the first to demonstrate a two-way relationship.

“People will block out distraction and narrow their attention on something they want,” said Anne Kotynski, author of the study. “Now we know this works in the opposite direction, too.”

In marketing, advertisements with a hyper focus on a product’s desirable aspect – say zooming in on the texture of icing and frosting – might help sell a certain brand of cake.

Findings suggest the ad could be targeted to people who have shown an interest in a similar product, such as running the cake commercial during a baking show.

This finding also works in other areas outside advertising too. For example, doctors could potentially help their patients develop a stronger focus on healthy activities that they may desire but otherwise resist, such as exercising or eating a balanced diet.

The study’s findings also add a wrinkle to knowledge of focus and emotion. According to a spate of previous research, positive emotions, such as happiness and joy, widen a person’s attention span, while negative emotions such as disgust and fear, do the opposite: narrowing a person’s focus.

“We conceptualise fear as drastically different from desire,” Kotynski said. “But our findings contribute to growing evidence that these different emotions have something key in common: They both narrow our focus in similar ways.”

The findings also fit the notion that both of these emotions – fear (negative) and desire (positive) – are associated with evolutionarily pursuits that narrowed our ancestors’ attentions.

For example, fear of predators motivated attention focused on an escape route, while an urge to mate motivated focus on a sexual partner.

“If a person has a strong desire, research says this positive emotion would make them have a wide attention span,” Kotynski said. “Our research shows we developed a more beneficial behaviour around desire: focusing our mental energy on the important object, much like fear would.”

The study

Study participants were shown images of desserts mixed in with mundane items. They were instructed to pull a joystick toward them if the image was tilted one direction and push the stick away if it was tilted the opposite direction. Researchers recorded the reaction time of each.

Participants who responded fastest to pull the images of desserts were those whose attention had been narrowed. Responses were much slower to the mundane, and for participants whose attention was broad, suggesting narrowed attention increases desire for desserts but not for everyday objects.

The study used dessert pictures to measure reaction time because such images have been shown to increase desire across individuals, most likely due to a motivation to seek high fat, high calorie foods that is rooted in evolution.

There you go people. If people love cars and you can get them to focus on the car you are hawking, you’ll have a better chance of converting that to a sale. May the ROI forever be in your favour.


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More than a third of millennials use their phones for personal activities up to 2 hours during the workday.

By MediaStreet Staff Writers

Technology is now on the verge of making us utterly unproductive. This is according to a new report from Udemy.

The study measured how distracted employees are during work hours, how they’re responding to distractions, and the price of distraction for employers and the economy at large. The research found a strong correlation between increased levels of distraction, decreased productivity, and a lack of proper training at work.

Workers can’t resist the pull of social media
Most survey respondents (58%) said they don’t need social media to do their jobs, but they still can’t make it through the day without it. When asked to rank various social media sites and communication tools by degree of distraction, Facebook came in first (65%), followed distantly by Instagram (9%), Snapchat (7%), and Twitter (7%).

In addition to recognising how workplace distraction can hurt productivity and diminish quality of work, companies need to be aware of the very real damage to employee morale and retention. Among millennials and Gen Z, 22% feel distractions prevent them from reaching their full potential and advancing in their careers, and overall, 34% say they like their jobs less as a result.

When people are engaged, they report being more motivated, confident, and happy, and feel they deliver higher quality work. And, based on the survey, opportunities around learning and development are the top drivers of engagement.


Workers want training but are reluctant to ask for it
Though 69% of full-time employees surveyed report being distracted at work and 70% agree that training could help them learn to focus and manage their time better, 66% have never brought this up to their managers. Younger workers, in particular, are also having trouble balancing work and personal activities on devices they use for both; 78% of millennials/Gen Z say using technology for personal activity is more distracting than work-related tools like email and chat.

Let’s face it, we are all suckers for social media. The good news for marketers is that with highly engaged audiences comes a lot of places to put targeting advertising and reach these audiences.


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