By Eve Gumpel, California Business Journal
Strategy and success in execution is what leads to marketing results. So says marketing specialist Jennifer Beever of New Incite, which focuses on B2B companies, including manufacturers, technology companies, service companies and ad agencies.
“A lot of businesses think about tactics before strategy,” she says. “There’s a certain way to execute on all of these platforms. Your messaging should be optimized to reach your target audience, and that requires a strategy. A lot of folks don’t realize that.”
Rather than develop a strategy, however, many companies “get on Twitter and start saying things. That’s usually not helpful,” she asserts.
Beever calls herself “the chief marketing officer for hire for geeks, scientists and engineers.” She chose that specialty after more than a dozen years performing sales and marketing for software companies. “I like technology types and that space,” she says, smiling.
A common obstacle for New Incite inventor clients, for instance, is failure to do due diligence before launching a product. “They say, ‘We invented this great thing. Why aren’t people buying it?’ They had the idea, they created something – they didn’t do market research, didn’t do focus groups,” Beever says. “They didn’t do needs analyses or their due diligence before they launched, and now they’re in a dilemma trying to sell this thing.”
One example is a client with a formula for industrial lubricants. The product was fine, but the company wanted to sell it to retailers such as Home Depot and automotive shops – a non-starter. As Beever notes, “It’s really difficult to get on the shelf of the big-box stores.”
With advice from a strategic business consultant, the client shifted their focus from retail to companies that use the product and purchase it in bulk. Beever’s job was to quickly launch two industrial brands. “The new target market and fast execution was the trick,” she says. “Within six months, they had a $2 million test order from a major oil company.”
That’s the beauty of strategy.
“Sometimes if you can find a new channel that will allow you to sell in greater quantities or to groups at a time, you can grow that much faster,” she says.
Business owners must take an essential step to get there, though – step back from the day-to-day and do the critical work of strategic planning, analyzing the competition, analyzing the industry, and identifying future opportunities.
A lifelong learner, Beever is adamant about keeping up with changing marketing technology and techniques. When she started her marketing consultancy in 1997 (Google didn’t exist yet), she quickly discovered that the web designers of the day lacked knowledge about search engine optimization. “I rolled up my sleeves, researched it, and started getting results for my clients” she says. “I was doing client work during the day and researching at night.”
Ten years later came social media. HubSpot introduced its rigorous social media certification program in 2009. Beever dived in and graduated with honors, ranking among the five percent of students in the 90th percentile or above. “I applied it to my own business and it really worked,” she says.
Beever never intended to become a marketing connoisseur. She studied English and American studies at Colby College in Maine and considered a career as an editor in the publishing industry. But a friend in publishing sales raved about her job and her travel schedule. When Boston software company Marcam Corp. came to campus recruiting salespeople, Beever jumped at it.
“It was a wonderful company – ex-IBMers who had left the IBM world and started their own software company. It was a really great opportunity – really fun and dynamic,” she says.
Beever earned her MBA while working full-time at her second post, JB Systems, where she sold and marketed software systems nationwide, eventually becoming marketing director. Her work with a local ad agency updating the company’s brand and marketing program with successful results was her inspiration for starting her marketing consulting firm.
Motivation comes quite easy. “My favorite part of marketing consulting is doing what I call a ‘deep dive.’ Getting immersed in this industry, this product,” she says. “Who are these people and how do we make this grow? I really love it.”
To date, Beever has helped hundreds of businesses grow with New Incite.
“I have clients that have been with me since I started; every few years we look at their situation and implement a new marketing program to help them grow.”
She also enjoys the flexibility and variety in her chosen profession. “I can do the research, write a plan and then train the client’s staff to execute – or I can do some of the execution myself to get them started.” Then she works with the company to measure results.
When UCLA Extension approached her to teach a course on ethics in marketing and advertising, Beever accepted with enthusiasm. “I had always wanted to teach,” she says. “I thought it would be a good way to give back.”
She also taught Strategic Marketing at UCLA and at the Graziadio School of Business Entrepreneurship Program at Pepperdine University, where she earned her MBA.
Characteristically, Beever devoted copious amounts of time and energy to her teaching duties. She brought in representatives from various companies to speak about real-world situations. At UCLA, she selected a nonprofit and developed a curriculum that called on students to develop and present a strategic marketing plan for the nonprofit organization. “One student was so motivated he offered to build them a new website for free. That was a fun outcome,” she says.
Beever has two top marketing tips for businesses: The first is getting to know your customer, in detail. That’s changed a lot, evolving from demographics to psychographics – what customers believe and how their attitudes matter – and on to complete “marketing personas.”
That involves putting yourself in the customer’s shoes, creating a marketing persona to make the customer come alive in the eyes of the business. In a couple of client situations when Beever presented personas, “All of a sudden I’ve seen the lights go on, and they’ll say, ‘I know how to talk to that person now; I understand where they’re coming from.’”
The second tip is that the focus today is on a business’s brand story. “Consumers, especially millennials, are buying into stories,” Beever says. “They’re really interested in the ‘why’ of a business. Identifying who you are as a business and telling that story effectively is critical. And not only telling the story but living it – making sure every experience your customers have also conveys the story of your brand.”
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