Email Marketing is the Foundation of B2B Marketers

Email marketing is the foundation of customer communications for most B2B businesses. Recently email marketing ranked a 77% usage among B2B marketers above print direct marketing (at 69%) and social marketing (at 65%).

There’s a lot of attention on social media and search, but email marketing is still the workhorse of many marketing programs, according to Michael Thompson, chief deliverability officer at ClickSquared. “It’s because it works. It’s how B2B marketers deliver their primary messages and keep contacts in place,” he said. Especially in the B2B space, people are on it all the time. Yes, there are new social channels out there, but email is the channel that brings them all together. For example, if you’re getting noticed on social media, you’ll be notified by email that somebody has posted to your wall.

Email marketing is widely used and very effective for B2B marketers, but it still comes with its challenges. For one, there’s still a fine line between use and overuse of email.

Another issue that continues to dog many B2B marketers is when email is not integrated into their overall marketing efforts. “Email still sits in a silo in most organizations—or at least is considered separately from other marketing efforts,” said Kara Trivunovic, senior director of strategic services at StrongMail Systems, a provider of email marketing and social media solutions.

How to integrate email marketing with social media efforts is a particularly hot topic among B2B marketers. Achieving email engagement can feel a little like getting the attention of a busy bartender: it takes a lot of time and energy to be heard over all the other voices.

The good thing about email is it’s a push channel, something to get in front of customers and direct them to a website. To be effective, email must be both a sales channel and a conversation.

A few years ago, KFC introduced the Double Down sandwich. They chose to use email to introduce the sandwich to their market. The call to action was sharing the news on social media. There was no coupon or even store location in the email. The email generated a huge buzz! Social media got a win because of the huge exposure, and the email marketing was a great success because everyone interested clicked on sharing buttons. As a result of this, KFC was able to segment its email recipients according to how they shared the email and discovered new ways to effectively market to them.

How can B2B marketers measure an email recipient’s engagement level? Three ways are opens/clicks, conversion and behavior over time.

The open and click-through rates give you some insight as to how your recipients are engaging with a specific email message (no open=not engaged; opened and clicked-engaged).

As for conversion, being able to track from email through to your site, then to conversion, gets you closer to measuring engagement. Conversion definition is driven by your call to action and can vary from message to message. For example, “Call your account executive today.”

Looking at how customers act on your email, over time, will help you gain some real insight into engagement. You may find that 20% of your subscribers are driving 80% of the conversion in your email program. Those would be highly engaged folks and should be treated accordingly. You may also find that you have a group of people who consistently open but never advance. Determining why and making adjustments to correct this behavior can help drive engagement in the future.

Is your B2B email marketing a foundation for your marketing success? We know email marketing can make a difference and are ready to help you manage your. Contact us to find out how.


Alan Bagg helps manufacturers boost sales by getting more mileage from their current marketing budget.

Alan is happy to entertain more discussion via email or phone. Reach him at abagg@corporate-images.com or 262.633.7772. Or follow him on twitter @alanbagg. Find more information on Alan at his LinkedIn profile.

Should You Spin A Better Story or Build A Better Company?

Many companies are embracing corporate social responsibility—CSR—which includes issues like the environment, women, poverty, child abuse, natural disaster relief, etc. In today’s high-stakes competitive business climate, CSR can create great PR. But even PR pros like Edelman can misstep and become quickly mired in controversy. A company can become toast by the mainstream media overnight; their deeds getting magnified by social media posts. A company that mismanages orignores its image will likely pay the price—not only the loss of credibility, but also lost profits.

“Corporate image” describes how a company and its products or services are perceived by the marketplace (the general public and your key stakeholders—suppliers, customers, employees, etc.) It’s the company’s reputation. The question is: is it better to create and communicate a positive corporate image byspinning a better story or by investing in becoming a better company?

Leslie Dach, former executive vice president of corporate affairs at Walmart, says, “If a drumbeat of criticism starts up against your company, … I know what doesn’t work: thinking you can tell a better story without actually becoming a better company.”

So let’s say you want to make sure your corporate image is congruent—truly aligned with what your company is. That’s the most authentic position your companycan hold. What they see is what you are. The goal is to show what you are as a company throughout all its facets, all its touch points with people. Pretending to be something you aren’t is just putting a phony “spin” on your company. There’s got to be some real substance behind the image. No matter how you massage the surface, people will eventually see the truth. Either you showcase it or try to hide it, but eventually your audience will discover what lies behind the exterior image. Your stakeholders get their impressions from things like:

  • How your employees treat each other and in turn treat your customers or potential customers.
  • How your company deals with your vendors. Are your transactions straightforward, honest or ethical or is it a constant power struggle? (“We’ll beat them down on price just for the fun of it or because we don’t trust them.”)

What if better performance, worse image?
What if you discover your corporate image doesn’t match reality? If the company is actually performing better than the image held by stakeholders, this image problem is best dealt with by solutions that come from the “branding side.” This organization needs to improve its image by making its true strengths known to the stakeholders, by aligning its image with its performance. Remedies need to come from the branding or reputation improvement side. They need to come from marketing, public relations, and sales.

If your company has high moral values, identify them and communicate them. To whom? To everyone who can make a difference, everyone who matters. This becomes the banner your organization flies high; what it stands for. Companies that manage a strong reputation enjoy loyal customers, productive employees, and higher profits than the industry average.

What if better image, worse performance?
If the company is not measuring up to the perception that stakeholders hold, this company needs to improve its operation and boost performance to realign with its elevated reputation. Symptoms of misalignment may be that sales are falling off, or there are increasing customer complaints about your products or service. Employees may be dissatisfied or are slowing down in productivity, or absenteeism is on the increase. Of course, there could be lots of other symptoms, but you get the idea. To determine the proper course of action, look at the situation from your customers or stakeholders’ vantage point.

Concentrate on either area
At Corporate Images, we believe the solution can be isolated into branding or peak performance arenas. These represent the most potent means to remedy the problem and bring about better business results. These two areas need to be in balance throughout the company or enterprise. By concentrating efforts in the primary category that needs alignment, the whole company improves. If companies try to focus on both simultaneously, they don’t focus. Focus on the area of most need and direct energy and resources to it, until it improves.

So what’s better: working to improve your company so it stands above the crowd on a solid, well earned reputation, or simply “putting lipstick on a pig”— spinning your story so the reputation sounds better but in reality it is not? We believe you need to take your company to better performance rather than spinning a better story.

Call me if you think you could use aid in your re-alignment process.

Alan Bagg is President/CEO of Corporate Images, Inc. and works with companies and organizations large and small to enhance their corporate image through strategic thinking and creating effective marketing communication solutions. He can be reached at abagg@corporate-images.com or (262) 633-7772

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Alan Bagg helps manufacturers boost sales by getting more mileage from their current marketing budget.

Alan is happy to entertain more discussion via email or phone. Reach him at abagg@corporate-images.com or 262.633.7772. Or follow him on twitter @alanbagg. Find more information on Alan at his LinkedIn profile.

Content Marketing. It’s What Your Customers Care About.

The other day a new client asked me, “What do you mean by ‘content’ (as in content marketing)?”

I was slightly stunned. Doesn’t everyone know by now that “content” means information people are hungry to know (meaning your clients and customers).

“Content marketing is what Corporate Images was founded on,” I said. But back then, the term content marketing hadn’t been coined yet. I first started seeing articles about content in 2008, when Seth Godin re-coined the term. You can read a short but interesting history of content on Wikipedia.

Content marketing helps shorten the long buying cycles that business-to-business marketers must endure to educate their potential customers about the seller’s products and services. It functions to give greater depth of information delivered in a variety of formats, including: news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, Q & A articles, photos, etc.

Content marketing is all about giving customers and prospects trustworthy information they want, not the stuff you want them to know about you (sales pitch). And what do customers care about? “Your customers don’t care about you, your products or your services. They care about themselves, their wants and their needs,” says Joe Pulizzi in his book, Epic Content Marketing. “Content marketing is about creating interesting information your customers are passionate about so they actually pay attention to you.”

Recently Paul Nolan, editor of salesandmarketing.com, said in a column, “As near as I can tell, the key difference between today’s content marketing and the stuff (whether in print, spoken word or digital format) that has served for so many years as sales and promotion content is the subject being discussed.” Nolan ends his column with, “content marketing is an ongoing conversation.”

This conversation helps build a solid relationship between you and the buyer.

Here are five benefits to offering content to your customer:

1. Your website becomes a hub not a megaphone.
2. Populating your website with good content will improve your search engine rank on Google, Yahoo and Bing.
3. Good content attracts more inbound visitors to your website from searches and your off-line marketing activity.
4. Content keeps visitors on your site longer; they drill deeper into your site and learn more about your company and products.
5. Good content drives up the number of sales leads and revenue dollars.

Does it work? Here is an example:

Steelmaster, a pre-fabricated steel structure manufacturer, was struggling with a 39% drop in sales, coupled with a 49% decrease in lead volume. Steelmaster’s Director of Marketing, Michelle Wickum, adopted a content-centric strategy using content to answer key customer questions and grow engagement. She also used social media. Ultimately the combo of content and social media increased her lead volume 92%, which helped fuel a 79% growth in sales revenue. Wickum attributed 30 to 40% of the turnaround to social media.

Perhaps it’s time for you to explore how content marketing can directly benefit your company.


Alan Bagg helps manufacturers boost sales by getting more mileage from their current marketing budget.

Alan is happy to entertain more discussion via email or phone. Reach him at abagg@corporate-images.com or 262.633.7772. Or follow him on twitter @alanbagg. Find more information on Alan at his LinkedIn profile.

successful-selling-traits

Were You Born with Successful Selling Traits?

Were you popular, outgoing, and positive in elementary and high school? Did you grow up in a comfortable (middle class) family in the city or suburbs? Did you have to earn your own spending money or play competitive sports? If you answered yes, you were probably born to sell, equipped with some natural successful selling traits since birth.

When sales-I (Sales-i.com), a sales intelligence software company, asked 250 salespeople to describe their childhoods, a clear picture of confidence and competitiveness emerged. “These results revealed an unmistakable personality type for sales people. They are social, competitive and driven, with a positive outlook on life, not just in their work and career,” says Cary Cooper a professor of organizational psychology.

So just what are these successful selling traits? On average, respondents to the survey met their monthly sales target nine times and exceeded them in seven of the twelve months. Seventy-four percent of them were male; 71 percent competed on at least one sports team, and most described themselves as “social,” “driven,” and “positive,” as childhood characteristics.

What helped them get to their success today? “Competitive, driven personalities are rarely developed in adulthood,” says Paul Black, Sales-i’s CEO. “They exist within salespeople from a young age,” he says.

I found the most surprising result of the study was the fact that less than 22 percent pursued sales as their first career choice. The study found 64 percent of the respondents come from middle-class homes where, as Cary Cooper notes, the youth’s goal is to attend a university and then choose one of the professions.

That mirrors my experience in early career development. While attending Butler University, some of my college buddies and I were recruited for a summer of selling books door-to-door in southern Indiana, an experience so terrible that I vowed I’d never become a salesman. When I graduated, I pursued a journalist career starting as a reporter for the Kenosha News.

Some years later I moved to a publicity agency where I met salespeople who sold advertising space for trade magazines. That’s when I learned sales could be a noble profession. I learned selling was more about building relationships, not coercing people to buy your service against their will.

Today at Corporate Images, I’m involved in selling ideas. There isn’t a more complex sales situation that comes to my mind. Understanding client needs at the highest levels and developing unique solutions with creative programs is what we have delivered for more than three decades.

We have found many of our employees were initially turned off by the thought of being involved in “sales.” But when they realized good sales is providing good solutions to a client’s unique needs, they were able to embrace our style of selling and rise to the challenge.

Having personally gone full circle in my selling profession, I can see how my early childhood experiences match up well to the survey’s findings. So were you born to sell with successful selling traits?

We’d like to hear about your journey into sales. Please share it below.


Alan Bagg helps manufacturers boost sales by getting more mileage from their current marketing budget.

Alan is happy to entertain more discussion via email or phone. Reach him at abagg@corporate-images.com or 262.633.7772. Or follow him on twitter @alanbagg. Find more information on Alan at his LinkedIn profile.

Good Marketing Strategy

Good Marketing Strategy Turns Your Company Into a Powerhouse

Here are three good marketing strategies that will make your company stronger and more competitive: become market driven, focus on the customer and attract the right customers.

Strategy #1. Become market driven

The role of a good marketing strategy is to create the right conditions for sales to take place—to make selling easier. Marketers ask:

  • “What does the customer want?”
  • “What does the customer expect?”
  • “What conditions do we need to create so customers want to do business with us?

good-marketing-strategy-market-drivenGood marketing strategy shapes the way your customers think about you and how they buy from you. If prospects and customers know you, respect you and trust you, sales will come naturally.

A good marketing strategy pays results over time. Adopt a long-range focus and cultivate customers, getting them ready to buy from you. Don’t try to “sell them” before they are ready to buy. Being market driven is an investment in customer cultivation making sure you are delivering what customers need and want. The payoff comes later when they buy regularly from you.

Strategy #2. Focus on the Customer – Build an enduring relationship

good-marketing-strategy-customer-focusedIt’s not what you want to sell that counts. What matters is what your customers need and want to buy. When you cultivate a relationship, focus on the customer by helping them solve his/her problems. Then your product/service will be seen as a good fit.

Long-term you’ll gain the trust of your customer so when he is ready to buy, your company can be top of mind. When your goal is to build an enduring relationship, you can keep offering your customer more insightful information he will find useful.

Strategy #3. Attract the right customers

good-marketing-strategy-attract-right-customersBe careful whom you are cultivating. Attract the right customers so the relationships will generate sales for your company. Figure out who your ideal customer is. Then go deep into that understanding by building a persona—a customer archetype— who will be a great fit for your products/services.

When you apply these three marketing strategies, you will turn your company into a powerhouse.


Alan Bagg helps manufacturers boost sales by getting more mileage from their current marketing budget.

Alan is happy to entertain more discussion via email or phone. Reach him at abagg@corporate-images.com or 262.633.7772. Or follow him on twitter @alanbagg. Find more information on Alan at his LinkedIn profile.

5 Telltale Signs your Sales/Marketing Program is in the Ditch

In a previous blog I called attention to the need to separate the marketing and sales functions. Today I highlight five typical problem areas troubling sales and marketing executives in every industry. See if your company suffers from any of these 5 telltale signs.

Telltale Sign #1: Price is the driving force
Telltale Sign #2: Disconnected sales tactics called “strategy”
Telltale Sign #3: Sales staff generates most leads
Telltale Sign #4: Customers unaware of what you do
Telltale Sign #5: Inadequate marketing database


5-TellTale-Sign-1

Telltale Sign #1

Price is the driving force in your sales/marketing program.

“Having the lowest price” is not a strategy. It’s suicide. The company that can only sell its goods and services when they are the lowest prices has a serious marketing problem.

Deep discounts, special concession and eternal “special sales” indicate the company has no marketing program and hasn’t educated the customer on why the customer should buy other than price.
The customers have reduced the lowest price company to commodity selling like toilet paper or dish soap. The customer’s mind asks, “Why should I pay more for the same thing?”

Until the low price company finds the value proposition to offer to the customer and starts educating the customer, they will always be reduced to vending machine status and will probably go broke trying.


5-TellTale-Sign-2

Telltale Sign #2

A bunch of disconnected sales tactics are what you call your “strategy.”

A well designed marketing program with solid objectives tied to real desired results will better serve your company than a batch of activities like contests, campaigns, blitzes, sell-ins, and “this week only” sales.

In reality, this “strategy” amounts to little more than a collection of desperate moves, which don’t communicate a real reason for buying.


5-TellTale-Sign-3

Telltale Sign #3

Most of your leads are coming from your sales staff.

Leads are the lifeblood of your new prospects becoming customers. If they only come from your sales staff, marketing is failing in its role. Marketing’s role is to educate potential customers and move them toward readiness to buy so the sales staff can write the order and make sure the customers get what they expect.

A solid marketing program yields a constant flow of new business leads. If sales people are forced to take up the slack, their best skill (making sure the sales is consummated properly) is wasted on dialing the phone, hunting up names, generating information, and generally filling the sales funnel. These are tasks that the marketing department should do.

It’s the job of the sales person to be ready to close the sale when the buyer is ready to buy! Marketing will educate the buyer and move them along the journey to purchase.


5-TellTale-Sign-4

Telltale Sign #4

Your customers often say, “I didn’t know you did that.”

Marketing’s job is to keep customers and prospects properly informed. Without a constant reminder with information aimed specifically at them, customers will simply assume you cannot fulfill their needs and will seek another supplier who has told them they can.

The more touch points that encourage dialog with your customers/ prospects, the more they will look to you for answers.


5-TellTale-Sign-5

Telltale Sign #5

Your marketing database is inadequate.

Your company’s database may be the single most important way to evaluate your marketing program, yet few companies can produce a complete, up-to-date, accessible list.

If you wanted to send a personal email to everyone in a particular territory, could you do it? Easily, quickly, automatically?

Do you have a contact history for each entry in your database? Do you trust the information? Can you use it to take the next step in furthering the relationship with that customer?

If you lack actual persons’ names, and rely on titles like “purchasing manager,” “VP of sales,” etc., chances are you don’t have a person, just a title. It means you don’t know that person well enough or your database is inadequate. Whatever the specific problem, you are not getting close enough to real people to educate them with reasons to buy from your company.

Beef up these 5 telltale signs in your sales/marketing program and watch your sales improve exponentially. Get your program out of the ditch today. Need help? You know how to contact me.


Alan Bagg helps manufacturers boost sales by getting more mileage from their current marketing budget.

Alan is happy to entertain more discussion via email or phone. Reach him at abagg@corporate-images.com or 262.633.7772. Or follow him on twitter @alanbagg. Find more information on Alan at his LinkedIn profile.

37 Ways to Boost Profits

We all have our pet ideas on how to be more profitable. For example, I believe profitability is a by-product—a result—of doing the right things in the market (branding) and within the company (peak performance). The more things done well, the more profitable your company will be. But the activities necessary to generate higher profits can be tricky to pin down. Where do we start? By getting more productivity from each employee? By aggressively slashing costs? By buying low, selling high? Yes, yes, yes.

But is there a set of points we can focus on along the way—a sort of checklist? I offer here a list of 37 ways to boost profits in marketing that will lead to an increase in higher profits. These 37 ways determine whether a market offers a business the potential to make higher margins. In order to succeed, the business will need the business strengths required in its chosen market to become a major player. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but the ideas should give you some things to consider when determining whether a market or segment can become profitable to your company.

  • Pricing Sensitivity
  • Captive Customers
  • Customer Concentration
  • Economies of Scale
  • Barriers to Entry
  • Regulatory Exposure
  • Ability to Sell on the Internet
  • Ability to Promote off the Internet
  • Ability to Handle Customer Relations off the Internet
  • Ability to Buy off the Internet
  • Foreign Operations
  • Opportunity to Segment the Market
  • Stage of the Life Cycle
  • Number of Major Competitors
  • Level of Technology
  • Value Added (Percentage of Sales)
  • Manufacturing Costs (Percentage of Sales)
  • Investment Intensity (Percentage of Sales)
  • Inventory (Percentage of Sales)
  • Promotion Costs (Percentage of Sales)
  • Social Attitudes
  • Environmental Attitudes
  • Raw Materials Availability
  • Sales Costs (Percentage of Sales)
  • Distribution Costs
  • Customer Relations Costs
  • Service Costs
  • Demand Cyclicity
  • Demand Seasonality
  • Potential for Functional Substitution
  • Research & Development Costs
  • Gross Margins
  • Growth Rate
  • Size of Industry/Segment
  • Need for Capital
  • Aggressiveness of Competition
  • Trendiness

To keep this brief list items are not defined. Contact me at abagg@corporate-images.com for the white paper that defines each of the 37 ways to boost profits.


Alan Bagg helps manufacturers boost sales by getting more mileage from their current marketing budget.

Alan is happy to entertain more discussion via email or phone. Reach him at abagg@corporate-images.com or 262.633.7772. Or follow him on twitter @alanbagg. Find more information on Alan at his LinkedIn profile.

focal-points-marketing

7 Focal Points That Make Your Company #1

If you could blend the best traditional marketing and sales practices ever known to man with the best ways to reach your target audience today, you would have the best practices in the marketing world.

If then you would build or realign your whole company around seven focal points, you would have a powerful means to create one of the most successful companies on the planet.

It can be done.  But first, it requires that you offer great products that meet real needs, or that your services solve real problems and deliver a tangible value in your chosen field or marketplace.

Align the following seven key results areas to your great products/services and get ready to generate real gigantic strides to company supremacy.

When you have accomplished all of them, you will have created a rare powerhouse in your industry.

  • Focal point #1 — Gain more business growth by capturing emerging markets—reach new ones you are not currently serving.
  • Focal point #2 — Be the top company (the leader—the numero uno) in your chosen market.
  • Focal point #3 — Perfect your ideal customer experience. Continually make your buyer’s journey easier and easier to buy from you.
  • Focal point #4 — Develop seamless, efficient mechanisms between your marketing and sales functions. Make each perform better with better alignment.
  • Focal point #5 — Let digital innovation support your company, not drive it crazy. Stop chasing fads, but don’t miss real solutions the Internet and the computer age can bring to you. Learn which is which.
  • Focal point #6 — Build a strong, socially responsible company reputation while growing powerful, profitable brands.
  • Focal point #7 — Build your company around attracting and keeping the best employees  ( Hint: It doesn’t require paying the most salary).  “Best” means motivated, engaged—your brand evangelists inside and throughout the company. “Best” means having a management system and company culture that effectively supports both internal and external customers 24/7.

Contact me at abagg@corporate-images.com to further discuss any one or all of these key results areas.


Alan Bagg helps manufacturers boost sales by getting more mileage from their current marketing budget.

Alan is happy to entertain more discussion via email or phone. Reach him at abagg@corporate-images.com or 262.633.7772. Or follow him on twitter @alanbagg. Find more information on Alan at his LinkedIn profile.

post-know-the-difference-between-marketing-and-sales

Does Your Company Understand the Difference Between Marketing and Sales?

Many companies do not understand the role of marketing in the sales process, and salespeople are struggling because of it.  But there IS a difference between marketing and sales. Here is an excerpt from the book The New Magnet Marketing by John R. Graham. Graham explains a belief we hold dear at Corporate Images—that marketing and sales are not the same function.

After reading his comments, let us know if you agree.

Too many companies lump “sales and marketing” into one division, one department, or one functional area. Two problems with this “sales and marketing” approach. First, the words “sales” and “marketing” are not synonyms. Each has its own unique role to play. Second, it is never “sales and marketing.” That’s backward, since marketing must always precede sales if a company is to enjoy solid, cost-effective growth. Marketing’s role is to create the right buying environment so that customers are primed when either salespeople call or the customers themselves call.

The goal of marketing is to create leads for the sales force. The job of the salesperson is making the sale, closing the deal. But this generally doesn’t happen. Instead, sales-people are goaded into finding their own leads! What a waste of time and talent.

Another result of confusing marketing and sales functions is the time-honored tradition of price-cutting. “If we don’t get the price down, we’ll lose the sale.” In order to get the business, they cut the price again, and again, and again. Companies then get the need for an even higher sales volume to compensate for the losses. The truth is, if the company really had something worth buying, and its marketing people did their jobs, the firm wouldn’t have to give up a dime.

If marketing creates the right expectation, when the salesperson walks through the door, the customer is primed. In this situation, the salesperson is the expert, the consultant, and a valuable resource. And all this marketing must happen long before the salesperson knocks on the door.

If the above paragraphs describe your company, it’s time to change. We have tools that will revolutionize your sales and marketing department. We will show you ways to quickly bring sales revenues up to the levels you desire. Call Alan Bagg at 262.633.7772 or email abagg@corporate-images.com


Alan Bagg helps manufacturers boost sales by getting more mileage from their current marketing budget.

Alan is happy to entertain more discussion via email or phone. Reach him at abagg@corporate-images.com or 262.633.7772. Or follow him on twitter @alanbagg. Find more information on Alan at his LinkedIn profile.

Sales meeting tip for success

Sales Meeting Tip for Success

When you begin planning your next sales meeting, start with the end of your meeting in mind. Imagine at the end of your national sales meeting as attendees are leaving the meeting, several interns will ask each of your salespeople to describe in detail what they specifically took away from the meeting.

How would you want your salespeople to respond?

Your answer becomes your meeting objective(s), says sales trainer Jim Meisenheimer, as reported on salesandmarketing.com. Focus on the outcomes you want to achieve, and your planning sessions will become more effective, your meetings more productive, and your organization more profitable.


Alan Bagg helps manufacturers boost sales by getting more mileage from their current marketing budget.

Alan is happy to entertain more discussion via email or phone. Reach him at abagg@corporate-images.com or 262.633.7772. Or follow him on twitter @alanbagg. Find more information on Alan at his LinkedIn profile.

Can Good Design Solve Business Problems?

Can Good Design Solve Business Problems?

Good design is a whole lot more than art.  I believe good design is good problem solving. This concept rests at the heart of Corporate Images’ goal to create smart solutions that achieve powerful business results for our clients.

A recent Fast Company magazine article stated “there is broad recognition that a well designed business—one that delivers customer delight—has a significant competitive advantage.” They went on to say, “It can be argued that the best CEOs are effectively designers—grappling with ambiguous challenges, probing for creative solutions—even though few would accept that moniker.”

We agree.

Exciting design to be really good must solve a problem or create a bold new opportunity even if it’s ahead of its time, or initially rejected. In reality, consumers will rarely alert us to opportunities they have not yet seen. The best designers can divine those opportunities from the gaps in user experience. It starts with a big idea.

But what if this big idea bucks convention. Like when Apple retail stores first envisioned their Genius Bar. This key element of every Apple store soaks up 20 percent of the floor sales staff. Originally when this idea was bounced off then CFO Michael Kramer, he first refused to consider it. Today Apple boasts the highest sales per square foot of any retailer. Never hesitate to reconsider a great idea.

But, what if the big idea is ahead of its time? Leonardo da Vinci, whose life crossed the Fifteenth and Sixteenth centuries, designed the helicopter and tank long before the technology of the day could actually construct them.

The brilliant architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed large window panels of Pyrex glass tubes for the Johnson Wax building in the late 1930s that could be built, but leaked profusely when exposed to rain and snow. Later technology caught up and the windows could be retrofitted so they didn’t leak.

Apple’s introduction of the Cube flopped in 2000. But because Apple engineers learned about curved plastics, touch switches, special glass and other materials from the Cube, it led to the technology advances used in the iPod to the iPad.

Consider every “flop” as just a practice round, another iteration of your eventual successful achievement.

Do great ideas come out of thin air, or from musing over the contours of a wine glass? Maybe. Sometimes. But, we have found that more often than not, a big idea comes from following a process and can be arrived at in steps. The first step is to clearly define the problem or state the opportunity. At Corporate Images we use an array of tools that help us get to the heart of the design solution. One of the most powerful is a dialog producing “creative learning session.” It allows us to quickly assess all the elements of the client’s problem or challenge so we can generate the creative solution.

We then can restate the problem succinctly in a creative brief, which puts the creative team on point with the same understanding. It is only then that the creative juices can safely be set loose to arrive at the most novel yet results laden solution possible.


Alan Bagg helps manufacturers boost sales by getting more mileage from their current marketing budget.

Alan is happy to entertain more discussion via email or phone. Reach him at abagg@corporate-images.com or 262.633.7772. Or follow him on twitter @alanbagg. Find more information on Alan at his LinkedIn profile.

Own Your Chosen Market

The company that owns its markets enjoys a special place that competitors can only dream about. Consider the following benefits of market ownership. The market leader:

Is the First Choice
The company that owns its market is usually “brand dominant”—the first to be considered. It is the “logical choice” or one of only a few considered in the purchase process. This is the company that is usually thought of as the category leader for a particular product or service type or generally thought of as best for solving a specific problem. If a particular company or product is on everyone’s lips, it clearly owns the market. The company with a strong image dominates its chosen markets.

Selects New Customers
The dominant company can afford to be selective in picking its new business partners. While most companies want rapid growth or very high market shares, the company that owns its market may continue its growth by being selective. Although a company that owns its market may have only a single digit share of the overall product/service category, its “ownership” of its chosen market segment may be 50 to 90 percent. This company restrains its solicitation outside its chosen markets and sticks to a clearly defined market strategy.

Owns Strong Brand Equity
Throughout the sales/service process, competitors have a long way to go to overcome the strong credibility of the company that owns its market. Much more than merely brand awareness, the company that owns brand equity owns the premier spot in the minds of customers and prospects. The company may spend a great deal on advertising, but it uses advertising to enhance its success model and usually spends far less on advertising per dollar of sales than does its average competitor.

It can do so because it carries an image of trust—the perception of being a safe purchase because it follows through on promises. Often, the company with market ownership dominates highly profitable and attractive market segments, leaving the larger companies to compete for the less attractive segments and to do so on the basis of price competition.

Gains Profitability on Customer Loyalty
A company with exceptional customer retention usually has strong market ownership. Even in highly volatile, price-sensitive markets where average customer defection rate may be as high as 20 percent per year, the company that owns its market may lose only five percent of its customers annually. Raising customer retention rate by just five percent can increase the customer lifetime values by as much as 25 percent. In some sectors, an increase of customer loyalty of just two percent is equivalent to a 10 percent cost reduction.

Sees Larger Purchases; Higher Cross-selling Ratios
This high degree of customer loyalty and trust manifests itself in other ways too. The company with market ownership often has deeper relationships that generate both larger sales for existing products and high cross-sell ratios for new ones. While competitors try new cross-selling strategies with only mixed success, the company with market ownership appears to cross-sell effortlessly.
Its strategies succeed when most of the industry has written off the cross-sell strategy as a flawed concept.

Gains More Referrals From Existing Customers
Another sign a company owns its market is its higher referral rate. Referral business is highly attractive. The referral customer is a buyer who is strongly predisposed to select the company and undoubtedly believes that he or she is buying the best.

Enjoys Great Corporate Image and Reputation
Much of the company’s success in furthering customer relationship is attributable to the “halo effect.” Halo effect grants the company’s new strategies and product introductions the same credibility and trust earned by the original strategies on its products. This “self- endorsement” has a big impact. Customers who believe they have received high value and reliability in the past automatically believe that new products will deliver the same. In addition, the company with market ownership doesn’t have to be the industry innovator.

The market-owner company can wait and learn from the mistakes of the product innovator company. The market leader’s customers are willing to wait for its new product release, and once those products are introduced, sales are likely to surpass those achieved by the first product innovators.

The halo effect also extends to the company’s perceived quality of service. Customers often believe that the company’s capabilities are stronger than they might actually be. This can be very frustrating to competitors who can prove to themselves, through benchmarking their internal performance, that they are better in some areas, yet they still score lower in perception with customers than the company with the halo effect.

If your goal is to become the chosen company in a chosen market, our success model is quite powerful and offers a better way to compete.

Our model is firmly linked to providing higher value to the customer. It can be replicated by companies with insightful leaders who are willing to focus on select market segments and to deliver exceptional value to customers. It requires your commitment to:
•    Carefully redefine your business and your chosen market segment(s).
•    Research, so you know the market better.
•    Focus your existing resources on maximizing customer value.
•    Pursue appropriate focused marketing strategies to penetrate the market deeply,and to ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty.

If you want to dominate your markets, I would be happy to explore this process further with you. For more details please call me at 262.633.7772 or email abagg@corporate-images.com


Alan Bagg helps manufacturers boost sales by getting more mileage from their current marketing budget.

Alan is happy to entertain more discussion via email or phone. Reach him at abagg@corporate-images.com or 262.633.7772. Or follow him on twitter @alanbagg. Find more information on Alan at his LinkedIn profile.

In the Digital Age Print Collateral Still Matters!

In today’s technologically advanced marketing arena printed promotional materials (print collateral) are still a mainstay of your total marketing efforts. Print collateral’s role in getting you more business is as important as it has always been.

While it is true more customers are accessing information on their computers, tablets or smart phones, many consumers still want hard copies of information. A brochure, sell sheet, print ad, flyer, mailer, billboard, signage, poster or pamphlet are still necessities for fulfilling your marketing plan. Your sales force still needs some leave behind materials for your customers or their prospective customers when making personal contact.

When your collateral materials are created to reinforce your brand, they will assist you in sharing valuable information with your various publics. These materials, when designed correctly, will also drive traffic to your website where you can deliver more interactive knowledge about your company and its products.

Good print collateral relays a visual impression that evokes a positive and memorable response. Excellent print collateral drives a viewer to want to get more information. Print collateral acts as a handshake and can be the first step in intercepting customers.

Print is not dead. Great collateral is integral to converting your prospects into customers.

You may be using less print collateral than you did years lessened but it still is an important part your overall messaging and establishing a stronger relationship with your customers and prospects.

Corporate Images can get the ball rolling for you. The beginning of great collateral materials is just a call away 262.633.7772


Alan Bagg helps manufacturers boost sales by getting more mileage from their current marketing budget.

Alan is happy to entertain more discussion via email or phone. Reach him at abagg@corporate-images.com or 262.633.7772. Or follow him on twitter @alanbagg. Find more information on Alan at his LinkedIn profile.