Marketing is not all about spending loads of money. I managed to grow the products I handled before and hone my marketing skills with almost no budget at all.
Let me tell you my secret.
I took the wrong course in college, so I had to learn the ropes of marketing on my own and the hard way. Six years ago I was product manager of a niche online directory for exporters. The back-end of the product is Colorado-based World Access Network of Directories, managed by PCCW for the South East Asia region and they expected the product to be promoted big time. Yeah right, as if I had the budget.
Anyway, so I had to be the most creative product manager in the group. My trade show recommendations were approved with a catch – immediate ROI. So, I carefully chose the events that I joined. That’s were defining your target market accurately comes in. Know who needs your product, this way you won’t be wasting any time barking on the wrong tree.
One of the most memorable events I joined where I spent only PhP17,000 was the Philippine Furniture Fair organized by the Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines (CFIP) held at the Clark Expo Pilipino, Pampanga. I was forced to bundle in two other services with my product. So that meant having to sell at a higher price. Armed with 2 sales people, we were off to Pampanga. My collaterals then were only a couple of brochures and the tarps for the booth. Now that’s what you call being frugal.
Know how to sell your product yourself. As product manager, the best way to learn how to sell your product is to sell it yourself. I hate selling (that’s why I’m in marketing). I don’t like being rejected (ayaw mo eh di huwag!) and I don’t really have that much patience in doing follow-ups. I was off to the National Trade Fair one time and waited for my AE. I waited and waited and waited. He didn’t show up. I ended up doing the pitches myself (booth to booth) and was surprised to have 5 signed contracts in just an hour!
Value proposition and strategy. Aside from showing your client what kind of value your product has, impart to them where your product fits in their strategy. It may be branding, expansion, diversification, revenue generation or whatever. Be their partner and be open.
Teach your salespeople how to market and not to sell. You can motivate your salespeople with all the incentives you can give, but without a person-to-person relationship you won’t really get any support. The only sales experience I had during that time was from Smart (my previous job) and I can say I sucked at it. My boss was adamant that I could handle sales people and pushed hard for me to succeed. At the end of the day it will just be you and your staff who has the responsibility to make your product succeed. Work as a team.
Anyway, going back to that event I had at Clark, Pampanga, we just had 2 days to sell. We first targeted to get 7 closed accounts. So, I went around with my AEs for the first few presentations, teaching them how to pitch and then I left them to be the ‘promo girl’ at the booth. We closed a total of 27 accounts in 2 days. I was giving my boss then SMS updates and by mid-morning on the second day he was saying “I love you” already. Did we get ROI? Mega-duper kita!
Another show I did with 8 sales people was the Manila FAME International. 3 were veteran AEs and 5 were still under training. Using the same formula, I spent PhP10,000 for the booth plus an insignificant amount for food. We closed 54 accounts in 2 days.
We were so successful, me and my whole team were moved to the bigger directory :)
The secret? People skills, accurate target marketing, exact product positioning, cowboy marketing (a.k.a. huwag maarte) and being creative.
tubong gulaman - profiting at almost no cost
ayaw mo eh di huwag – if you don’t want it, then don’t!
Mega-duper kita! – we profited!
cowboy marketing – marketing simply, without fanfare but effective
huwag maarte – be simple