A Call To Action (for Fleet Providers)

Published in Fleet Management Weekly, June 2, 2014 – http://www.fleetmanagementweekly.com

W. Edward Pierce, Principal, It’s The Arts Marketing

(This is the first Fleet Management Weekly-exclusive column written by branding and marketing authority Ed Pierce expressly for product and service providers who want to connect and influence fleet decision-makers.)

Having just eclipsed 21 years of fleet industry marketing and 40 years in marketing, I can confidently say this is the most exciting time to market your company, products and services to fleet decision-makers. As fast as technology is changing the fleet products and services you are promoting, it is changing the media that you use to promote them.

Twenty years ago, Marketing supported sales by creating awareness. No sales rep wanted to make a cold call or go to a meeting and hear, “Who is (name of company)?” Today, studies show that about 71 percent of enterprise purchase decisions in the U.S. begin with research conducted online. More so, business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57 percent of the purchase process is complete.

Obviously, awareness is now just the first of several critical marketing goals. In this age of the well-informed buyer, earning a great reputation, creating a differentiated position, providing quantifiable value, building a strong base of customer “advocates,” and delivering those messages effectively through multiple channels are your other important marketing goals.

Multiple Channels
Not that long ago, there was just one media channel, that was, “earned”. Companies either paid (advertising) for access or earned editorial coverage based on newsworthiness (public relations). Yes, you could disseminate a customer newsletter, but distribution was limited to customers and possibly a prospect list.

In today’s digital world, “earned” media has expanded to include banner advertising, Google Ads (AdWords), native advertising and more. Fleet Management Weekly was one of the digital media pioneers in any industry, and it is still a great example of how “earned” media must be an important part of your marketing mix. But the web has ushered in a second media channel, that is, “owned.” The “owned” channel includes your own corporate website, microsites, landing pages, video, blogs, social media presence, back links, and content marketing The “owned” channel provides completely new opportunities to effectively reach fleet decision-makers.

In the next column, we’ll take a look at trends and opportunities related to the “earned” media channel as they pertain to the fleet industry. I welcome feedback, questions, suggestions, experiences and differing points of view from fleet product and service providers as well as from fleet managers, corporate buyers, consultants, trade association and media representatives who want to help build better connections. Just send an email to EdPierce@ItsTheArts.com.

Shedding Light on Prismatic Marketing for Black-and-White Executives

W. Edward Pierce, Principal, It’s The Arts Marketing

ImageIt isn’t surprising to any Chief Marketing Officer who might deal with a CEO or CFO as a peer, but most executives are focused on the black, as in the profits, the bottom line.  Yes, they can distinguish red, like a bull sees red.  Little wonder then that marketing people who report up through an organization seldom understand the lack of interest, and sometimes, the distain for marketing plans, rationales, and experts.

Marketers live in a world of refraction and diffraction. Prismatic marketing reflects the complex nature of the calling. Straight lines seldom go anywhere. Target markets aren’t homogeneous.  Marketing channels are as varied as a fluvial landforms, and as hard to navigate.  User needs are as complicated as the topic of persuasion psychology.

However, since good marketers always consider persuasion psychology in their work, they should remember to employ those techniques in dealing with C-level executives.  What are their prime motivations?  Know the company’s strategic plan.  What do they hope to gain?  Power. Prestige. Profits. What do they want to reduce?  Costs. Waste. What do they want to be?  Recognized.  Authoritative. Respected.  What do they want to do?  Win!

After having climbed up with corporate ladder for many years or fought to start a successful business, a savvy executive is nothing if not focused.  In order to be persuasive, a successful marketer will “un-refract” the rainbow hues of marketing strategies and messages.  An argument must shed light on the black.

Colors may abound, but how does the plan deliver more sales and more profits?  How does marketing increase share value?  And, how much?  Why is native advertising more efficient than print?  How will the recommended marketing support the strategic plan?

For us, marketing is a never-ending source of excitement, lessons and conversation.  The colors reflect the possibilities.  For an executive trying to lead a business, marketing is overhead.  There’s your starting point for that next pitch!