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  • /Articles /Support Your Sales Priorities Aggressively –

Support Your Sales Priorities Aggressively –

Choose marketing tools that align with your immediate sales goals

By Richard Rutigliano, PriMedia Inc.

In today’s economy, money is tight, and marketers need to allocate marketing budgets with care to deliver immediate results in sales.

Start with what you want to achieve. Are you looking to add new customers for a specific product? Is there profitable opportunity in a new branch of your field? Have you launched new services that you can cross-sell in your base?

Before identifying the right tools for the various jobs, let’s look a take a moment to consider where your website and overall web presence fit in this kind of targeted approach to marketing. With the rise of Internet-centric marketing, the company website is a keystone of your success. After the absolute operational essentials of employees, vehicles and inventory, nothing is more instrumental than a professional, interactive website.

The website is where new customers find you and current customers prefer to interact with you. As such, website deployments belong in the capital investments discussion, not in the operational budget conversation. Many companies still need to improve their websites and address their overall web presence. If you fall in that category, think about waiting another year to buy that additional piece of equipment to find the money, or delay improving your offices so you can address the website this month.

Place the same kind of priority on your web presence. You need to be highly visible on the web to compete in today’s market, so make sure you take advantage of every visibility opportunity from Google Maps to Yelp to Yahoo Local and beyond. Mobile websites and social media presence are also approaching indispensable status. Without a professional, dynamic presence on the web, virtually any marketing move you make will be less effective.

As you allocate this year’s marketing dollars, be sure to pick the right tools. Here is a look at some likely company priorities and the tools that support them most effectively.

Recruiting Full-Service Customers

Declining market share makes it difficult to find new customers, so a company needs to make itself very attractive and visible. Develop a clear idea of what kind of customers might be available; how (and whether) they can benefit your bottom line; and what it would take to attract them.

Full-service customers are the top priority, and they might be available in decent numbers this year if you are offering a new product or if any of your competitors fall on hard times and disappoint or desert their customers. Estimate how many customers might become available and what they might be looking for. If you sense opportunity, get in recruitment mode now.

Here are some steps that might make sense for you this year.

  • Prepare a sound, flexible sales program that will make it easy for customers to appreciate you, regardless of what they have in mind. The customers you want most are the ones that are shopping for a new, long-term relationship. Don’t rush them or try to fit them into a one-size-fits-all program. Provide training for your CSRs on the new sales program.
  • Advertise in the most popular local media outlets, whether radio, newspapers or cable TV. Project an image that is professional and friendly. Extend a compelling special offer if you are selling a new product.
  • Develop postcards and mail them to non-customers in your area. If you believe in special offers for new customers, offer a good one. If not, focus on the value that your company delivers.
  • Prepare a company brochure that casts you as a friendly, knowledgeable company and tout your value and expertise. Have those ready to mail to prospects immediately when they call. You can also print extra copies of the company newsletter and distribute those to prospects.
  • Prepare a complete sales kit that your salespeople can share with prospective customers to explain your value proposition in depth.
  • Refresh your customer referral program with a compelling offer and communicate it to your entire customer base with a letter or an article in the company newsletter.
  • Increase your investment in pay-per-click advertising.

Recruiting COD Customers

If you have a way to make a satisfactory margin selling your products COD, or charge on delivery, through a subsidiary company, try to increase your market share.

  • Create a highly convenient website for ordering fuel so it’s easy for customers to order and requires a minimum of administrative work on your end. Be innovative.
  • Mail postcards to non-customers that emphasize your convenient online buying.
  • Promote your COD service with pay-per-click advertising.

Recruiting New Service-Only Customers

If you offer specific service, why not see how much market share you can capture? Develop a service program that includes plenty of profit for you and then promote it aggressively.

  • Develop a service plan brochure that you can mail to prospects who inquire.
  • Send a letter to former customers offering your new services.
  • Develop a postcard promoting your service plan and mail it to non-customers.
  • Promote your  service in a new page on your website and run a pay-per-click ad campaign that links to that page.

Selling additional products to the Customer Base

If you make a good margin selling your products and there is good opportunity within your base, hit the additional sales.

  • Work with your sales team to develop compelling offers that make it easy for customers to say yes. Use innovative financing and payment plans and brand your program with a catchy name to grab customers’ attention and make them think. Use a good-better-best format and enable customers to make a choice online without even requiring a sales visit.
  • Publish a special edition company newsletter that is focused entirely on the benefits of your systems as a whole. Highlight your special offers and one or two products.
  • Develop strong, concise supporting materials to get customers enthused about the savings they can achieve about with these new products. Use them on the website, in company newsletters, in the message on hold and in direct mail pieces.
  • Provide a quick training program for your sales team to familiarize them with the program and install a more effective sales approach.

Cross-Selling New Products and Services

If you have launched new products or services, or you want to improve sales with a service that you have under-promoted in the past, target your base with an aggressive campaign.

  • Develop attractive special offers that make it easy for salespeople to up-sell, but avoid being too rigid, because there is some consumer backlash against heavy-handed bundling. Work closely with the sales team in this process, as they have a good sense of how customer sentiment is evolving.
  • Develop and execute a strong outreach campaign that mixes newsletters, e-mails, letters and postcards. Communicate repeatedly with clear, consistent messages so customers get the point and warm up to your ideas.
  • Provide information to help customers understand the value of your new products and services. Publish it consistently across all channels, and make sure salespeople are voicing the same information.
  • Develop a brief training program for your sales staff to familiarize them with the new products and services and get them “on message.”
  • Update your message-on-hold with information and offers about the products and services.

The marketing toolbox contains dozens of options. If you’re operating on a smaller budget than you’d like this year, choose with care and select the strategies that offer the most direct and immediate support for sales.

Richard Rutigliano is President of PriMedia, Inc., a full-service Advertising/Integrated Marketing Communications/New Media firm with offices in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.