Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

We are excited to announce the launch of the long awaited self-setup version of Artistic Hub’s Contest Software. Artistic Hub is the official contest engine of the Deal Current Network. Our past and current clients which include the Oakland Raiders, Warner Bros Records, Active.com, and Wiley publishing have enjoyed Artistic Hub as a premium product but we are now excited to open this to the world.

Check out www.artistichub.com to launch your first contest.

Artistic Hub Contest Software

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I received an email from a past colleague and mentor of mine, Bob Shafer, and I wanted to share the article he sent me. Bob is by far one of the best business development gurus I have ever met. Bob is a currently a strategic partner consultant at the Active Network and previously was the Regional Sales Manager for Wilson Sporting Goods.  He has a way with people that is non intrusive, he is casual, friendly, and makes everyone he interacts with trust him and want to work with him.

Here is the message he sent me and the sections he pointed out in red. Use this in a sales meeting as a manager or in your approach to business development.

Building credibility with senior-level customer executives is a critical factor in developing lasting business relationships, according to two studies done by OnTarget and the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina and the Center for Business and Industrial Marketing at Georgia State University. (Steve Bistritz is the author)

These two studies focused on the relationships that professional salespeople developed with senior executives, from the perspective of C-level executives. The conclusion of the two studies: That becoming a trusted advisor to these executives should be a major objective for most salespeople involved in high value, complex sales campaigns.

So how is credibility developed over the long term? Credibility combines the building of trust at a personal level and proving capability in getting the job done at the business level.

People buy from people they like, is an old sales adage. However, that’s not exactly true when it comes to the way senior executives make buying decisions on major purchases of products and services. The surveys cited above clearly indicate that personal feelings were usually not the deciding factor in the decision-making processes embraced by most senior executives. Instead, buying decisions were based on trust. What an executive feels personally about a salesperson is clearly beside the point. They want to feel that they can trust a salesperson to create value for them, and for their organization as well. That isn’t to suggest that salespeople shouldn’t continue to build relationships with customer executives, but that they shouldn’t confuse being a friend with being a trusted advisor.

Too often, salespeople focus on either establishing capability or building a relationship based on trust. If salespeople only work to establish their capability for getting the job done, they often position themselves as a “technical expert or an extra pair of hands,” which does not offer much in the way of competitive advantage.

“Let’s pretend I have a problem that needs to be solved,” says one customer executive. “I know two people who have demonstrated expertise in that area: One I trust and respect. The other might actually have more expertise, but I don’t know him or her as well. If I call the one I trust, I’ll begin to act immediately on him advice. If I call the other person, I’ll probably double check and get a second opinion.”

On the other hand, a salesperson who focuses solely on building the personal side of the relationship may end up as a friend of the customer executive, while others who focus on both the personal and business aspects of the relationship will become viewed as trusted advisors. Executives examine both the trust and capability components of the relationship as they evaluate a salesperson’s credibility.

According to the executives surveyed, another essential factor in building trust was the salesperson’s candor. Executives can sense when someone is not giving them all the facts. Trust erodes very quickly when the executive feels that they are only receiving part of the story. Executives stated that salespeople who misled them make them “wonder what other problems weren’t being disclosed” and abhorred “last minute surprises” from solution providers. One executive stated that, ‘”There are always issues surrounding any potential solutions to business problems. I want to get as clear an indication as possible on what those issues are at the beginning of the project.”

Top performing salespeople understand that building credibility at the executive level comes from providing the executive with a sense that they understand the customer’s business, they have the capability and experience to help them solve business problems and their intention is in building lasting, long-term relationships. By operating in this fashion, a salesperson is able to enhance the relationship and become the executive’s trusted advisor.

Barriers to Success

Interviews with top salespeople confirm their fear of calling on senior-level customer executives. Fear of failure is often cited as their primary concern. They are absolutely right when they view this type of executive call as a high-stakes game and blowing a call at the executive level can deny them return access for an extended period of time.

Their second fear is lack of self-confidence. This is hard for many salespeople to admit. Their ability to review the technical details of their solution at lower levels in the customer organization is typically beyond reproach; however, they are, at times, intimidated calling at higher levels. The fact is that many salespeople are out of their comfort zone when they get to the top levels of the customer organization.

The third fear is their lack of equivalent position. At times they feel they have to be of “like rank” in order to call on senior-level executives. To compensate, they bring one of their company’s executives without briefing them beforehand. The result is a “glad-hand” call that simply wasted the time of the customer executive.

The three fears cited above can all be mitigated by effective preparation for that critical first call on a customer executive. A salesperson should focus on three areas of acquiring knowledge about the customer; namely, the customer’s industry, the customer’s company and the customer executive. Knowing how to access and acquire this information on the internet is today’s new skill that is a requirement of being a professional salesperson.

When the Chief Information Officer of a large technology corporation was asked: “Why would someone at your level meet with salespeople?” his reply was, “because salespeople can often offer solutions to my business problems that even people in my own organization can’t address. I want to meet with them because of their experience in solving problems in other organizations and the subsequent value they can offer to me.”

Only when salespeople demonstrate that they are willing to understand and listen to the executive’s key business issues, articulate the business value they can deliver to them and demonstrate a consistent ability to be perceived as a trusted adviser can they begin to overcome their own fears of calling on executives at that level.

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We want to thank Entercom Digital for posting an amazing Artistic Hub photo contest testimonial and blog.

Read the original post here.

We had the opportunity to use Artistic Hub’s photo contesting software again for a Pet Pageant in market, and it was another runaway success. I thought I’d share the stats and the process again on our last day of submissions, in case anyone wants to check them out further.

We basically work directly with the provider, Artistic Hub, and I design on top of their contesting templates. They then slice up my design and place it on their software. We work out a contest timeline (submission deadline, winner date, etc.), fill out the auto-email copy, and then hit the ground running on our specified launch date. Easy, no hassle, and they are great to work with.

As of today the contest has a little shy of 90,000 pageviews for about a 2 week period, accounting for around 52% of our total site traffic for 98.5 KRZ. We have had 1,053 submissions with a total of 948 images in voting, and a total of 1.6 million votes!

We still have another week or so of voting, but this has really been a tried-and-true solution for us as far as rock solid photo contesting goes. Our sponsor for the contest, EasyPetStore.com, was a perfect fit. They offered free shipping on orders over $50 for all WKRZ listeners, and tossed up a grand prize of $500 to the winner.

Great sponsor, solid stats, phenomenal social media integration (Facebook referred back about 15% of our total traffic) and the best photo contesting software I’ve used, this is a definite win for us here. Check out the contest for yourself!

Happy Friday!

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I just read a great article about media publishers entering the daily deal market on Business Insider written by Jim Moran at Yipit.

The article title reads:

Groupon’s Biggest Threat? Local Publishers

The article covers some great points, but here is the most important part in my opinion for our clients and other media publishers.

Four keys for local publisher success

Focus on email. A page on a publisher’s site may fall short in effectiveness compared to a dedicated email subscriber base. Local content creators should drive dedicated email subscribers and leverage their existing email lists in their crafting their deal experience. The ones that already understand this, such as email newsletters, may have an easier time entering the fray. To this point, on the online sample front, DailyCandy already operates Swirl, and Thrillist recently acquired JackThreads. We may soon see these companies and others enter the local daily deal space as well.

Leverage legacy content. Local newspapers and magazines have a library of restaurant, bar, shop and service recommendations they made in the past. Just as studios leverage their film and television assets through DVDs, local publishers can point to past reviews in their daily deal offerings. Focusing on previously reviewed business may facilitate the sales process – local business who received sales boosts around their initial review would jump at the opportunity to be featured once more. Most importantly, utilizing historical endorsements maintains separation of editorial and commercial content.

Outsource. Some publishers face major internal hurdles to reorienting their web experience and marshaling their sales staff to roll out a full service group buying solution. Hosted group buying solutions, such as Group Commerce and others, who provide technology and/or sales solutions to publishers looking to present daily deal offerings to their consumers. Many of the publishers above pursue partnerships with existing deal services (such as four of the six above). Those may be an effective solution, but owning those email addresses for the long term will be key.

Present exclusive offers. As we mentioned in our analysis of Gilt Groupe’s daily deal offering, exclusivity can be a compelling aspect of a daily deal. Local publishers can present their offers as exclusive to their readers, reinforcing the value of the publication and adding excitement to their offer.

Groupon's Biggest Threat Local Publishers

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We haven’t focused on any press, but we know the word is getting out about our daily deal software, Deal Current.

Kiplinger, the personal finance magazine, recently mentioned us in their article “Online Daily Deals Help Firms Gain Traffic

It’s exciting to see our team get recognition for their work along side some of the more well known daily deal companies like Living Social.

Kiplinger Mag features Deal Current

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This title of this post is the first Google search people make when they come across our daily deal software product Deal Current.

I love the fact that Groupon, Living Social, and the hundred other daily deal sites are starting to pop up. From a business stand point the market is definitely being flooded, but I personally love it because Groupon has sparked entrepreneurship. It is obvious that most people are copying Groupon, but people are capitalizing on a new business model. This is pure capitalism. Some will succeed and many will fail, but the best practices will be defined through this process.

As a company we are focused on serving one market niche with our daily deal product Deal Current. As a result, we turn away some incoming leads, but I wanted to share my knowledge with people or companies looking to start a daily deal program.

First! – Running a daily deal site is much harder than most entrepreneurs realize. The software and website are the easy part. The operations, systems, and brand are the most important.

Second, here is a list of questions and things you need to think about when deciding if you should start a daily deal site or if you are interviewing a daily deal software provider.

What is your distribution or marketing plan? The number one thing once you have a brand is distribution. How many emails do you have? What partnerships can you put in place? Do you have a marketing budget?

What is your daily deal brand? Are you going to center your site around a niche? Are you going to tie into local city culture? Think hard on this. It will define your future.

Are you going to build or license software? We license our software. This is great for media partners and large organizations who want to plug a program into their existing organization. If you are an entrepreneur, it means you don’t own the proprietary platform. So you should probably invest 10-15k into your own software. This takes more time and commitment, but entrepreneurship is not easy.

If you are working with a software provider, what other services and support do they provide? Here is what we provide to clients as a reference of services for you to ask about when you talk to vendors.

  • Technology, management center, and reporting
  • Design support (paid)
  • Sales training and sales collateral
  • Merchant agreements
  • Customer support
  • Merchant payment and accounting
  • Credit card processing
  • Writers
  • Market research

Lastly, what research have you done? We researched 50+ competitors in 66 markets and interviewed over 100 merchants who ran a daily deal with various sites to develop our daily deal software. To run an effective program and be successful you need to invest time and money in research. Do you have this commitment and patience?  In a very competitive market, knowledge is key, so do your research.

Daily Deal Software Design

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As we start to work with merchants and publishers on a daily basis with our daily deal software, one of the things we didn’t know is how merchants measured success.

We wondered whether we needed to generate 50 sales or 300 sales to make a merchant happy. Last week our question was answered. It really is just more customers. Small businesses felt the economic squeeze just like all of us and every customer is valuable.

Here is a review we received in third person from San Diego News Network after they ran a deal for Club Pilates San Diego. As a team it made us love what we do even more.

I just got a rave review on SDNN Daily Deal from a very satisfied Merchant, Allison from San Diego Pilates. She informed me that her 16 new clients from Daily Deal have already come to some of her classes and are absolutely loving it.

Some of her clients were so pleased with the class, they let Allison know they would be letting their friends and family know what a great class it is.

Allison went out of her way to let me know how pleased she is with the Daily Deal, and that she would be interested in doing another one in the future. On top of that, she had two walk-ins come in and pay for the Deal based on what they read about it on SDNN.

Allison is insisting we take a commission from these two of $30, because according to her, they would not have come in and joined had it not been for SDNN Daily Deal. This is a story of success that I know will be happening more often as our Daily Deals continue to grow!

~ Brandon, SDNN

Deal Current Daily Deal Software

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