Target Your Ideal Customer To Improve Margins

focus-rockmanOne of our current customers manages of multi-family properties in the Dallas area.

They came to us looking for ways to improve their margins. What we realized upon a cursory analysis was that their business was getting bogged down by two things.

1. They were trying to track to may variables in identifying their ideal customer and

2. They weren’t automating anything.

The lack of automation might seem forgivable, but to analyze the variables that will help you target your ideal customer automation will be necessary.

To begin, we did something no one else had. We applied our experience in retail optimization to the multi-family industry.

Let’s look in depth at one example:

Our multi-family client tracked 34 variables. That yields a staggering number of possible outcomes and is impossible to track without automation. It’s also unnecessary. Most of what they needed to know could be determined by narrowing down the variables to 7 key elements.

Next we did some competitive analysis to determine how successful properties market. We then compared that with what our client was currently doing.

We also met with key stakeholders to assess their current plans.

Data Driven Decisions

Our client had recently ruled out opening a new apartment complex in Frisco, Tx. Despite the fact that Frisco is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Based on their initial analysis, Frisco didn’t fit the model. But when we narrowed down the variables and looked at what their more successful properties were doing, it turned out Frisco was the perfect opportunity. Unfortunately, they missed the window, however we could now be sure that wouldn’t happen again.

This was a case study in making decisions based on data rather than opinion.

The Process of Automating

Now that we had a good idea of where the optimal positioning was for this client we could present them with several options for approaching the situation.

In each case, automation played a key role. The ability to look at several variables, including those beyond standard demographics, require it.

Once you know what the metrics you’re measuring against, and the external variables that effect the outcome, you can determine what’s best by creating a formula that takes them all into account.

So we built a formula upon which we could perform further analysis and began discussing the results. Much of which was well outside what is assumed by the opinions of the management company.

One of the initial finds was the need to stop cannibalizing their own business. Keep in mind, the goal was to increase margins, not necessarily gain market share.

The FLAME strategic performance assessment is our secret weapon, by encompassing marketing, delivery, services, finance, operations, proactive management, and CRM to help you develop and keep the right audience.

What About Cannibalizing vs. Competition?

One of the key concerns was tenant cannibalization. So far they had been building or acquiring apartment complexes too close together, and in doing so, cannibalizing their own market. The question arose as to whether it was better to cannibalize themselves or allow competition to come in to play. It was an easy question to answer once we’d analyzed things.

The short answer in their case was don’t cannibalize, but….

Cannibalization was affecting profit margins negatively and causing investor ROI to decline.

However, this only became clear once the analysis was performed and wasn’t a blanket recommendation. Rather, it was advisable to grow market share but without as much overlap in physical geography as in the past.

Bringing It All TogetherColorMapMarginBlog_06_09_15

Once you understand your buyer and target… what do you then do to market to that buyer and how do you improve margins?

To begin with, we eliminated or re-engineered low margin products. Depending on your cash flow needs this may need to take place over time.

Second, don’t cannibalize your own market. It might seem preferable to allowing in competition but it will often hurt margins and may come as a huge opportunity cost.

Thrid, focus your marketing efforts straight at the identified audience. There is a natural tendency to want to go broad, but often, focused efforts will outperform, particularly when margins are the KPI.

Finally create feedback loops. Client satisfaction surveys and other means of collecting data will help you be proactive in managing the needs of your customers. That feedback is also instrumental in evaluating the day-to-day management of your business.

And only automation has the power to allow you to track, measure, and manage those things effectively.

How Rockman Advisory Drives Social Media ROI

roi-chartA marketing program isn’t complete without social media. You may be familiar with the common myths about the lack of return on investment in social media or that the ROI  isn’t measurable…. We beg to differ.

But before we can begin talking about social media ROI, we need to set the stage and make sure you’re engaged in the first place. If you are, then we need to make sure you’re focused on the right people, channels, and messaging.

Are You Using Social Media?

In the companies we serve, we see a few social media tendencies:

  1. No social presence at all.  If you’re active on social media channels, it might seem hard to believe that many companies are not.  But we run into business all the time that have completely neglected social media as a part of their marketing strategy. If you’re one of those companies, we’re here to convince you to reconsider.
  2. No continuity across social channels.  Many of our customer are using social media but are not doing so effectively or efficiently. Often, their attempts at social media marketing are ad-hoc and lack congruence across channels. We’ll get into the “why” in more detail below. But the reasons stem from a lack of focus on a particular buyer persona and the channels on which they’re active.

Why even bother with Social Media?

Because sales is no longer just “sales.”  Business is about connection, conversations, and relationships.

For many companies, by the time a decision-maker contacts you, they’re already well on their way to making up their mind to buy. They’ve done their research and socialized themselves to the idea of buying from YOU.  But, only if you’ve been present and there to communicate with them in the social sphere.

So, if you aren’t using social media, you’re missing out on the conversations. Remember, even if a social media conversation is happening about you, it’s still about your customer.

Either way, if you’re not there, you’re not participating in the conversation. Which means you’re missing the sales opportunities you’re looking for.

When would-be customers are doing their research, they’re doing much more than reading reviews. They’re getting to know you, your brand voice, and your attitudes and opinions. And that includes the company and individuals who are a part of the organization.

They’re looking at at you on LinkedIn and measuring you up.

They’re watching you on Facebook and seeing how you interact.

They’re following you on Twitter to see what you share.

It’s time to get into the game.

Here’s What To Do Now

Step 1. Determine your account names if you don’t already have them.

Step 2. Determine your audience. Build buyer personas and get to know who it is you’re targeting.

Step 3. Know the distinct personalities of each social media channel and determine the right channels for you to be on. You don’t need to be on every channel. In fact, that usually ends up being counter productive. But you do need to know which channels your target audience is on so you can be there too.

Here’s a quick guide to the top six channel’s personality and goals of the users on them:

  • Facebook = high school reunion catch-up and brag fest
  • Twitter = drive by a billboard at 70 miles an hour
  • LinkedIn = business networking event
  • Pinterest = visually motivated female with penchant for aspirational lifestyle products
  • Instagram = skews Millennial and female with taste for single images that tell a story
  • Google+ = intelligent adults at round-table dinner party gathering

Step 4. Determine what types of campaigns you’re going to run. Campaigns come in a variety of durations and types. Once you know the audience you’re going after, and the goals of the campaign, then you can determine the type.

Step 5. Plan your content. Plan it well. Create a calendar, and get to creating. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is cranking out your content ad-hoc and at the last minute.

No matter what stage you’re at in your social presence, we’re here to connect you with the right people on the right social media channel.

When it comes to figuring out the right channel we use marketing automation tools to maximize efforts.

Your Social Media Plan and ROI

Now that we know what to do, it’s time to just do it! But we want to make sure we’re paying attention to what we spend and what we get in return.

To do that we need to determine our key performance indicators (KPI’s), or those things that we measure success by.

Common social media KPI’s include:

  • Engagement (likes, shares, comments)
  • Revenue generated
  • Impressions
  • Website Traffic

Once we know how we’re going to measure success, and who we’re targeting, it’s time to roll out the content we planned for in Step 5. As we roll that content out over time, we monitor it’s performance and measure the results.

One of the ways we make measuring success is through the use of marketing automation tools, some of which are unique to Rockman Advisory. Our marketing automation tool allows us to put a dollar value on specific activities. That means we can measure the value delivered against that activity.

For example, assume one step in your social media marketing program is to create a blog post. If it costs you $100 to have that post written and edited, we can measure the impact of that post against the $100 spent to create it, and in doing so we’re able to determine the ROI.

On average, we’re experiencing an ROI of $18 – $22 per $1 spent.

As your campaign continues, it’s important to pivot based on the results and how things are trending. But that’s a discussion for another time.

Want to have a deeper discussion about social media? Give us a call so we can point you in the right direction.

 

How Customer Centric Thinking Fans the FLAME of Business

rockman spiralIt’s one of the great classic marketing mistakes…assuming you are the customer.

Most of the time, the businesses we build serve customers who have needs that are different from ours. So it’s important, if we are to best serve our customers, we need to put ourselves in their shoes.

But it’s also easy to forget, to get caught up in building products and services we think they need. It’s all done with the best of intentions, but often still fails because it isn’t a customer centric approach.

In the earliest stages of building Rockman Advisory, we decided to make a conscious effort to be sure we practice what we preach by putting ourselves in your shoes.

Knowing how challenging it can be to remember to do so, we knew we had found an important business calling.

By taking a customer centric approach with our clients, we guide you to do the same with yours, and avoid that classic pitfall.

The method we came up with is FLAME, and it’s designed to keep you in touch with your clients and their needs.

What is FLAME?

FLAME stands for “Full Life-cycle for client Account Management End-to-end method.”

Yes, it’s a mouthful! But FLAME puts your client smack in the middle of your thinking and gives you the tools to make your customers happier and keep them longer.

servicesFLAME accomplishes that goal by wrapping CRM (Customer Relationship Management) around all aspects of your client relationship including:

  • Marketing
  • Sales Support
  • Product & Service Delivery
  • Finance & Operations
  • Managing & Monitoring

in an endless business loop.

That means more revenue for you, better service for them, and a much healthier business relationship.

You already know it costs less to keep a client than get a new one.

So if you’re ready to spend less time chasing clients, more time cultivating relationships, and building the products and services your clients want, talk to us about FLAME.

Increase Revenue by Improving Efficiency In The Sales Process

flameOne of the more common challenges we help our clients tackle is improving efficiency in sales. The easier we can make it for our current and prospective customers to decide to purchase from us, the more likely they will. And that means more revenue, and often, more profit.

But, when not enough attention is paid to streamlining the sales process, gears get rusty, resistance builds up, and efficiency drops, in the same way it does in a machine that isn’t maintained.

When we look for ways to improve efficiency in the sales process we start by analyzing three things:

  1. Process Friction
  2. Manual vs Automated Processes
  3. Account Management

Let’s take a closer look at all three and how they impact sales.

Process Friction

With regard to sales, process friction is anything that interrupts a buyer’s decision journey. But it can also be any area which can be made to run more smoothly.

For example, in the world of eCommerce every step in the check-out process is another opportunity for a customer to get distracted, have their browser crash, or, for any other number of unexpected reasons, fail to complete their transaction. Long checkout processes have lots of friction, shorter ones, less.

And that is precisely why companies like Amazon have invested so much in making the process as simple as a single click.

But they didn’t stop there as most companies would have. Amazon introduced programs like Amazon Prime which offers free 2-day shipping. Now, you’re less likely to hesitate on a single click purchase because you’re not worried about paying a lot for shipping.

Your company may or may not be suited to single-click purchases, but that kind of efficiency thinking can improve your sales process.

Manual vs Automated Processes

The second place we look for opportunities to smooth out the sales process is by automating where possible. Manual processes are prone to error and are often unnecessary.

By automating processes we not only reduce opportunities for error, but we also free up people to do things which aren’t as easily automated. Analyzing what can be automated provides a perfect opportunity to assess those processes and simplify them, thereby reducing friction overall.

There are many things which can (and should) be automated. A few examples include:

  • Reporting
  • Forecasting
  • Sales Triggers
  • Pre-sales & Follow-Up communications
  • Feedback Loops

 Account Management

There are a lot of tools available that make it much easier to keep track of what is happening and with whom. Most commonly, CRM systems are used, but not all CRMs are created equal.

More to the point, your company should be looking at the right CRM for your needs. While all CRMs serve the same basic function, the needs of your specific sales process, growth plans, and budget all play a factor in choosing the right CRM.

Reducing friction in the sales process is just one aspect of how Rockman Advisory helps our customers improve efficiency in order to increase revenue growth.

Our process is called FLAME (Full Life cycle for client Account Managment End-to-end method).

Learn how we can help fuel your business. Contact us to learn more.