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Marketing vs. Sales
Keeping Budgets Down
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September 2011
Cropped 2011 head shotSummer's Over 

First it was too hot, and then it was too wet. Will Mother Nature ever get it right?
Oh, well, it never pays to complain about the weather, but I hope you were not unduly impacted by Irene, and are "recovered" by now. So, upward and onward. It's getting busy again, with several proposals out there, but I'm sensing a hesitancy in the marketplace. People are either hesitant to commit or hesitant to commission even medium-size projects. I suppose the roller-coaster Market has something to do with it. 

Happy September, everyone!  
Marketing vs. Sales

Working Together for Success 


Marketing and Sales are two functions that should be symbiotic, and yet, in too many organizations, they are like sibling rivals; always fighting for attention and resources. What a waste!

In reality, if you have one without the other, or one function that gets most of the resources, while the other one is left wanting, you will have a very inefficient organization, at best, and a failure, at worst. Here's why.

  • Marketing opens the process. Done correctly, this group determines WHO the target audience is, WHAT to say to it, and WHERE to say it.
  • Sales closes the deal. If trained properly, they will understand HOW to use the marketing and collateral pieces designed and executed by Marketing, and WHY their subjects will say yes.

Why can't these two necessary parts of the Success Equation work and play well together? Did they get "F"s in kindergarten? Or, do these bad habits filter down from management? 


If senior management rose from the Sales Department, as many do, they may tend to place more emphasis on the part that group plays in the sales process. What they may not recognize is that, even a well-trained sales force must know on whose doors to knock. They must have SOMETHING to give out, besides a business card. They must have product literature, rate cards, or brochures. They must know where the company has been advertising, and they REALLY must be informed of the Brand Strategy endorsed by management. It is not sufficient to be a "glad-hander," a friendly person, an aggressive seller, or even a good closer. They have to know what they are closing. They also have to know the limits of what they can deliver.


Some marketers are snobbish about their part in this process. It's often more cerebral, creative, and deliberate. But the best advertising, public relations, or collateral pieces without a smart, well-trained sales force will go nowhere. What could be a bigger nightmare that having boxes of expensive brochures sitting around the office because the sales force doesn't know how to present them, or doesn't believe they are useful? Or because there aren't enough salespeople to begin with?


These two groups must work together like the proverbial well-oiled machine in order to achieve efficiency and success. Marketing needs to speak with Sales to find out what it's really like "out there." Sales needs to speak with Marketing to learn about product configuration, how the brand is to be positioned, and what communications vehicles and channels are being used for promotion. Then the sales force can be well-armed to meet with prospects and clients and present the products, the company, and the brand in ways that are consistent with advertising, public relations, other communications that are out there. Social media makes it even more challenging to keep up with the pace of communications, but if Marketing and Sales communicate with each other and "hang together," they can be more confident of success.

Keeping Budgets Down

Conducting Good, Cost Effective Research


In these volatile economic times, many people are looking to save money where they can. Even when marketers realize that they need to conduct research, they do not want to spend a fortune on it. Sometimes, they choose a research design solely on its cost, without giving due consideration to whether it is the RIGHT design for the objectives. That's a shame, because they wind up WASTING their money. But there are ways to accomplish both.


First, consult with a professional researcher to make sure that the study you want to conduct will achieve your objectives. Here are the questions you should be asking before deciding on a research method.

  • Are you testing a new product or communications campaign? Do you intend to make a go/no go decision?
  • Do you have several ideas for a new product or campaign, and you want to narrow down the choices, throwing out the "losers?"
  • Do you want to know the "WHY"s more than the "HOW MANY"s?
  • Do you want to establish baseline measurements for comparison following some kind of marketing initiative?
  • Do you have a large audience to research, or a very small one?
  • Are you evaluating a sales or marketing program?

Some people think that focus groups are cheaper than a quantitative survey. Not so. If you have just a few questions, you can use an omnibus survey for under $6,000, and achieve a reliable, projectable sample! A telephone survey can be fairly cost effective, too, if you keep it concise and if you can sample by demographic factors. Focus groups can cost from $6,000 to $8,000 each, depending on who the respondents are and how many groups you are doing. And it doesn't pay to do one or even two groups. Don't bother.


Online surveys can be very cost effective, too, unless you have to purchase a list. Email lists can be very expensive, and are notoriously unreliable. Expect no more than a 1%-2% response rate, though some panels can yield 10%; and make sure you buy a list that is an "opt-in" list or you risk a fine under the "anti-spam" laws.


In-depth interviews can be useful when the target audience is very small (too small for a survey and too diverse for focus groups), when it is a very competitive marketplace (you can't put these folks in the same room together!), when it is geographically diverse, or when the topic is sensitive (e.g., healthcare). But don't expect metrics--for that you really do need a survey.


Market research is an investment (check out my article on this subject), though many people view it as strictly an out-of-pocket expense. Like most marketing budgets, it should be geared to the size of the venture--whether that is a new product launch, the purchase of a company and change of brand, a media buy for an ad campaign, or getting feedback from customers and non-customers. Marketing budget estimates range from 1% to 5% of the product or campaign. Build the research into the overall budget.


The bottom line is: spend what you need to spend to do it right, but don't spend any more than that. If you don't do the former, you might as well just wing it; if you don't do the latter, call me.

Upcoming Events

September 14, 11:30am-1:30pm 

IABC/LI is kicking off its new "year" with Jenny Dervin, VP Corporate Communications for JetBlue, speaking about "Using Social Media for Crisis Communications." Ms. Dervin has been with JetBlue since 2005 and is in charge of internal, external, and social media strategies for the company. This meeting will be held at a NEW location--the Huntington Hilton, 598 Broadhollow Road, Melville. For more information and to register, visit the IABC/LI website.

September 24, 1:30-3:30pm


IABC/LI members Claire Meirowitz and Natalie Canavor are presenting a free workshop, "Get The Edge: Resumes and Cover Letters that Work For 2011 Jobs" at the Deer Park Library. Claire and Natalie are award-winning professional writers with extensive experience in journalism, editing, organizational communications and consulting. They are also the authors of "The Truth About The New Rules of Business Writing," published by Financial Times Press.
Reservations are necessary; please contact Kim by email or call her at 631-774-7576.


September 14, 8-10am


SMPS-LI is holding its first meeting on the same day as IABC, but in the morning, so, as a friend once said, "I only have to get 'dressed' once!" This important program, "Hang Your Hat on LI: Workforce Housing," will be held at Westbury Manor, Jericho Turnpike, Westbury (just East of Glen Cove Road). This panel program includes the CEO of Long Island Housing Partnership and the Principal of Kelly Development Corporation. For more information and registration, go to the SMPS-LI website.


September 22, 6-8pm


This one is for fun, and it benefits the Scholarship Foundation. New York Women In Communications, Inc. (WICI) is hosting Patrice Tanaka for An Evening of Ballroom Dancing and "Becoming Ginger Rogers." It is being held at the Taj Lounge in the Chelsea section of New York City. For more information and to register, visit this website.
This practice is dedicated to helping companies become knowledge-driven, rather than assumption driven about strategic and tactical decisions concerning lines of business, branding, communications, and various marketing activities. For more information about how we do this, case studies, frequently asked questions about marketing research, and testimonials, please visit our web site:

Ann Middleman