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Old 10-12-2005, 10:06 PM   #1
DougM
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Default Business plan for emarketing and sales

I'm in the middle of writing a business plan to create a new division for a company where a traditional, local outside sales force has been the primary method of selling to date. It's due just two days from now.

New products, services and distribution agreements allow for selling to many US states without any current sales force. I am proposing a small electronic marketing division where phone and internet will be the primary tools to develop new leads and sales from this vast, untouched region.

Like any good company, there is some healthy skepticism and question about this concept. The owners have a very limited grasp of what can be done on the net.

I've already read every business plan tutorial out there so no need to recap the "top 10 mistakes" again but I wanted to throw this out to the GV crowd since I know some here will come up with some tips that I'll miss, especially in selling emarketing and sales to those unfamiliar with it.

Thanks.

Last edited by DougM; 10-12-2005 at 10:12 PM.
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Old 10-13-2005, 12:15 PM   #2
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Interesting...

Assuming all the ducks are lined up properly I would tend to spend a great deal of time and energy on:

Customer Aquisition: This sounds like the deal is closed on the phone as opposed to a "cart" transaction? In any case, will you pay for leads and how much will they costs? If you decide to use a CPL Affiliate Network for leads I would be prepared for fraud in large doses. Because of this, I wouldn't try this at first.

Will you permit your Affiliates via the CPL Network to bid on your Trademark inside Google using AdWords? This has the potential to tarnish and taint your brand since your "Mark" may find it's way into sites you would never associate with. I wouldn't permit this.

Summary: Keep all your marketing efforts in house when you launch. Far safer, better control, easier to determine the real ROI. On the other side of the coin, it requires SEM skills, keyword research (AdWords/Organic ONLY), a site that sells with no leaks, etc.

HTH

Last edited by Steve_S; 10-13-2005 at 12:20 PM.
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Old 10-13-2005, 03:18 PM   #3
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In this business sales are never actually made on the phone or online, the cycle is typically 30-90 days per sale. It requires developing a large base of potential clients who know about you and choose you when the time comes to make a purchase which is done by way of establishing a credit account. It's strictly b2b.

I planned to keep all efforts in-house and have included a budget for advertising which will be PPC, probably AdWords. I already manage the website and will adjust it and add to it to suit my needs.

My greatest challenge seems to be satisfying the partner who asks, "Just tell how much revenue it will generate". This partner is not interested in the value of branding or marketing so I have to stay focused on sales. In the end that is what matters.

It's a real reality check, having an idea that you believe in and taking it apart in every detail to find the bottom line.

You have hit on one important thing for certain - my SEM and keyword research skills are weak for these particular products. This afternoon is dedicated to investigating those areas.

Thank you
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Old 10-13-2005, 04:26 PM   #4
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Quote:

...My greatest challenge seems to be satisfying the partner who asks, "Just tell how much revenue it will generate". This partner is not interested in the value of branding or marketing so I have to stay focused on sales. In the end that is what matters.

It's a real reality check, having an idea that you believe in and taking it apart in every detail to find the bottom line.
I got a nice chuckle out of your comment since that is exactly the role I used to play in Corporate America. I would often raise this issue and twist it and turn it to insure the other party had really thought the issue through. I let them babble and then after taking my notes, fire away with views from a different angle. I sometimes (cough) do it in GV to stimulate the gray matter. You will be a better person for all of this. I guarantee you

Returning to the issue in a more focused manner. Use the following to research and find keywords. Also, don't forget typoes:

http://www.wordtracker.com/
The Overture Bid per listing display
The AdWords way whcih I think Tribal Chief Czar documented someplace?

This sound like you will need at least one year to evaluate. Maybe even longer, depending on the avergae "sales price/invoice" in this B2B deal.

Ideas:

Allocate 5% for bad debt. They never pay the invoice

Go underground and into deep cover Happens all the time and for the most part it's just business so don't send me nasty PMs PLEASE . Determine what your competition is bidding per term, then contact them (without clicking the link which cost them) with your other email account (cough) and see how they handle it and exactly what they say and do. Play dumb and ask PLENTY of questions capish

Spend a lot of time on your competitors sites. Poke around. Look over everything and see if you can use this in combo with the other points I raised to "reverse engineer" the results and ROI.

Good luck and HTH
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Old 10-13-2005, 10:21 PM   #5
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Competitive research is definitely a key ingredient in any search marketing plan, since you're competing for the exact same real estate in many cases. That said, as well as identifying what the others in your space are doing, try to also locate gaps that your client can fill. Look at what the competition is not doing.

Sometimes, gaps are self-imposed by those who were first movers in the space when they found particular strategies to be frought with risk of failure. Sometimes, however, you'll locate gaps that others simply haven't thought about and this is where you'll see the best potential upside.

Definitely start with straight SEO/SEM first before asking your tech-averse clients to put faith in too many new fangled concepts and platforms, such as interactive media, affiliate programs, viral marketing, video streaming and all the other bits and pieces that are often associated with large online campaigns. AdWords and Yahoo SMS will be your best avenues initially.

Yahoo's keyword suggestion tools may be found here:
http://inventory.overture.com
and here:
http://uv.bidtool.overture.com/d/search/tools/bidtool/

Google's tool is also free to use, but is available only to AdWords advertisers, so you'll have to sign up for an account to tap into their knowledgebank.

It's hard for us to gauge what response rate you're likely to attract from your search marketing efforts without knowing your client's product/service range and industry, but if you structure a plan that is designed simply to attract qualified leads that ties in:
- Organic search optimisation
- Link acquisition
- Website redesign with usability and conversion ratio enhancement
- Landing page development to simplify for specific campaigns
- Mailing list development and email newsletter delivery
- Paid search placement
- Analytics/reporting/evaluation
- Customer relationship management
- Consultation and ongoing management
- Hints at your ability to tap into new geographical markets via search and affiliate programs if a greater quantity of leads are required.

Keep the initial plan simple. You can still make mention of any advanced work that you'd like to see the company embrace, but if your task is focused entirely on generating leads and on fostering pre and post-sale relationships, the company should be able to forecast how many conversions are likely to result from your acquisition efforts.

Hope this helps.
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Old 10-13-2005, 11:35 PM   #6
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I hope you understand why I am somewhat vague about this plan. I know it would be easier if all the details were typed out.

Quote:
Hope this helps.
Heck yes this helps. Your and Steve's tips are super. More than I hoped for. I have been an AdWords user for years but not in a true business capacity, just to grab some traffic for new key sites or pages.

Quote:
... that is exactly the role I used to play in Corporate America. I would often raise this issue and twist it and turn it to insure the other party had really thought the issue through. I let them babble and then ...
That is sadly hilarious Steve. In my initial (and informal) proposal only a few months ago, that is exactly what I did... babble, I see that only now. I am trying to look at this from the "if it were my money at stake" perspective more. This is already a most valuable learning experience.

I received a most welcomed "take a few more days" call today. My final plan will be brief and written knowing that key decision makers will turn first to the last page - Financials. I still truly believe that electronic/web-based marketing can effectively tap this market. I'll just keep the techno-fluff out of the final draft and stick to the tangible nuts and bolts of how it will be accomplished.
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Old 10-14-2005, 01:08 PM   #7
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Not to worry. You will do fine and at the end of the day, a far better person

Tribal Chief Czar really hit the nail on the head with some outstanding ideas I would like to reinforce just 2 of them:

1. KIS is critical. I have seen plenty of folks who effectively "oversell" the pitch/presentation/plan by inserting stuff thats really not helpfull to the core issue and often only serves to confuse management. They often use the "I just through that in..." when attemting to defend their thoughts. When in reality, it actually dilutes the presentation.

2. A close examination of your competition and looking for areas where you can effectively "exploit" and or execute a similar strategy in a significantly more effective way (as Czar mentioned) certainly does not stop after you launch. I suggest a healthy dose of "paranoia" via continully visiting your competition to see how they may react and slight tweaks, depending on what they may or may not do.

Good luck!

Last edited by Steve_S; 10-14-2005 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 10-27-2005, 06:46 AM   #8
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The presentation was last week. Even the president was impressed and had ideas to take my plan further than I hoped for. All good ... except. He looked at me and said "we're going to make sure you succeed". I knew what this meant.

I had proposed employee status with benefits. I received an offer for independent contractor status with a much higher commission but I'm on my own if I accept. I am so tempted to take it on. I believe the plan will work.

It is tough, very tough. Good medical insurance alone is quite high. How do independent contractors do it? I'm estimating my expenses and they're through the roof.

We're still negotiating but I have few days left. Advice welcome.
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Old 10-31-2005, 08:36 AM   #9
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The good thing about operating as a contractor if often greater flexibility concerning hourly commitments and operating location. If you are allowed to work off-site and if your remuneration and contract are not linked to a fixed hourly commitment, you'll have the ability to pick up a few smaller contracts with other firms to help fuel further growth and to increase your total revenues.

Operating as a contractor does carry far heftier risks than standard employment, so I'm not about to suggest that the decision is easy to make (particularly if you do have dependents), but the rewards can be significantly greater than those available through standard employment channels if things work out.
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Old 11-02-2005, 07:44 AM   #10
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We arrived at an agreement. I will become an independent contractor under the negotiated terms of my business plan on January 1st, 2006. I could not be happier. A bit stressed but happy and optimistic.
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Old 11-03-2005, 08:19 PM   #11
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Congratulations Doug. That's fantastic news! You must have swept them off their feet.

Be sure to keep us abreast of developments in your career and if you do run into any obstacles or windfalls, please consider sharing them with the Geek/Talk community.
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