Successful Supply Chain Selling: Campaign Action

A well-planned business development program has the potential to build the organization only when implementation is equally strong. Once guidelines and controls are in place, campaign action comes next.

Last month, I covered the challenges of creating a well-understood business development program, including accountability for your company as sponsor and your marketing partners in part one. Now, I want to talk about launching a program.

Potential business development activities can run a gamut far broader than this article could address. Regardless of what you and your partners decide will help move your businesses in any circumstance, everything should hang from an overall marketing strategy, not just a collection of random tactics or someone's pet project.

I've talked about the significance of strategy often because it's so consistently missing from marketing or business development efforts. I strongly suggest incorporating Richard Rumelt’s three essential strategy components mentioned in my Avoiding ‘Ready, Fire, Aim’ post. If you do, you'll be heading in the right direction.

What's basic to clear communications strategy is twofold: 1) standing for something importantly different to customers compared to your competitors and 2) effectively delivering on that valued difference. By focusing on creating an effective strategy with appropriate tactic delivers a number of key benefits. For example, you'll spend considerably less time and money deciding what works and what won't. So time invested in pre-campaign strategy is more than covered by time and money saved later. Does the tactic support or reinforce your strategy or not? That's the tactical go/no go question that should be fairly obvious.

Tactical choices
The action plan possibilities or tactics available to you and your business development partners are frankly endless. Basic questions about what to do include:

  • How much time and money will it take to execute an idea?
  • Are we copying our competitors or doing something original? (Occasionally copying can be useful, especially if you can bring more or different benefits than competitors.)
  • Does the idea benefit both parties investing in it?
  • Will results be measurable in some meaningful way such as leads and sales? (Is there a mechanism for tracking business development actions to sales?)

Some of the more obvious shared tactical possibilities and related costs include:

  • Print advertising — Newspapers, journals and magazines, space and production
  • Collateral materials — Brochures, ad reprints, catalogues, and newsletters
  • Broadcast — Radio, TV air time, production
  • Direct mail — Mailing costs, fax blasts, email blasts, production
  • Demo CD or video — Scripting, production
  • Trade shows — Major national/international or regional attendance, booth space, exhibit, travel
  • Tabletop events — exhibit materials
  • Website or page development — Professional production, content development, graphics, coding
  • Sales promotions — Incentives, promotional print, or online
  • Special events or seminars — Announcements, invitations, telemarketing, presentation materials, guest speaker fees, meeting room charges
  • Product Sales/Technical Training — Participation fees, training materials, production, facility fees, A/V equipment rental, and group meal functions
  • Telemarketing — Script development, agency fees, lead follow-up, outbound fulfillment, list rental, and call fees.
  • Partner awards programs — Prizes, trophies, bonuses, and incentives
  • Joint speaking/authoring opportunities — Public and media relations support services and ghost writing services

You'll undoubtedly discover other possibilities worth considering. Other areas that should be part of a business development program: entertainment; company business cards, stationary, forms for the partner; gifts gratuities or entertainment for your employees; general partner business expenses; work time of your or partners' sales or technical personnel; alcohol; partner sales conferences or parties; and partner corporate awareness campaigns.

Bottom line
Your business development program will help grow sales success if a clear engagement structure, financial controls, and reasonable expectations for measurable results, including an overall strategy guiding tactical decision making, are all in place. Working with your business partners is somewhat more complex than flying solo, but the “multiplier effect” of having several partners on board working cooperatively shouldn't be ignored.

After all, your mutual success depends on how strongly linked your marketing efforts can be, just as your supply and distribution capabilities are. Investing well in partner marketing connections can create a clear, competitive difference.

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3 comments on “Successful Supply Chain Selling: Campaign Action

  1. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    October 3, 2013

    @Ford, thanks for all this advice and i'll ask for one more bit: In that list of tactical options (and costs), are there certain options that work better in today's global supply chain world? Are there combinations of things that work better than just one or the other?


    I imagine that being strategic about the tactical can yield big benefits. 🙂

  2. Ford Kanzler
    October 3, 2013

    In short, no. The tactical mix depends on the strategy being applied, which in turn depends on, available budget, competitive landscape, development stage of the company, skills and talents available within the company or the willingness to invest in external support (see budget above). There are undoubtedly other significant factors.

    The marketer's challenge is figuring out both an effective competitive strategy and appropriate tactics to execute. This challenge is quite often underestimated in the tech sector. What worked at another time or place is no guarantee of it being right the next time, even with the same company. Market conditions constantly evolve. Repetitie tactical actions wihtout any changes usually become notable failures. Some tactics concepts may be worth repeating but with changes that make them fresh.

    What does work consistently is being creative, trying alternatives, sometimes unconventional ones, measurement to understand what's working or not, as well as not being married to specific tactical actions such as social media, just because its in vogue. (Very many companies are utterly unprepared to effectively apply social media channels. Ones that are, still shouldn't put all their eggs in that basket.) Copying your competition is usually a bad idea. It's essentially saying, “The hell with any strategic thinking,” and just spending money and praying. Another bad one is attempting a costly tactic, like a NASCAR sponsorship, without adequate funding.

    At this point I'd refer interested readers to Jack Trout and Al Ries' 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing , <> which I suggest are still pretty darn immutable since they're written based on human behavior and we're still dealing with homo sapiens, no matter how digitally ADD they may now be.

  3. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    October 7, 2013

    @Ford, I like your point about trying things–and taking that leap of imagination. I see too much “me too” in the world of marketing… and then once in awhile a break away. Those are the ones that get my attention. I'm sure the same is true of channel partners.

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