A conversation with Jack Kraft, business consultant, venture capitalist and former executive at Leo Burnett.
Note: Jack is a long-time advisor to Element-R. Even a short conversation with him is thought-provoking — and always right on target. We got together recently to talk about one of his favorite topics – marketing.
ER: We’re expanding the purpose of No Silver Bullet to provide insight on marketing and on other business issues for SMBs. Obviously, with the recession, all of our clients are looking for ways to build sales – even the larger corporations.
Jack Kraft (JCK): In every business, there is a gateway activity to gaining new customers. For small firms in particular, the fundamental issue is managing resources. That’s the bane of effective management for most companies. And the one area that is most foreign is how to manage marketing resources.
Resources have to be managed. Clients have to be managed. And you need strategies for managing those resources, to ensure you are doing the right things right.
The highest result from managing resources is attracting clients.
ER: What are you seeing in all of your current consulting gigs?
JCK: The biggest marketing breakthrough, digital technology, is not really new any more. But, it continues to evolve and continues to reduce the cost and speed of communicating with the marketplace. It has never been easier.
The impact a company can have with even a modest investment is enormous. Digitally, you can reach more people; address specific market segments and measure the effects quickly, effectively and economically.
Exponential growth can be achieved using only digital tools. I continue to see it happen!
ER: In our B2B space, we see a fear of some of the newer social media tools – mainly out of misunderstanding. Plus, there is usually a lot of room for improving companies’ existing digital presence, so we generally start there, and add a set of basic social media tactics to get their feet wet. It’s a real shift in how you ‘do’ marketing.
JCK: Yes, it takes special skills to use digital technology effectively, and those skill sets are still evolving so rapidly that professional input makes a lot of sense.
ER: What should companies keep in mind as they approach – or delve deeper – into the digital world?
JCK: The same basics of marketing apply to using digital tools, but perhaps to an even greater extent than before because results are instantly measurable:
- Understanding your market
- Knowing what you’re selling from the customer’s perspective (not the product per se, but the soft stuff)
- Translate the sell into a compelling message that the market cares about and constantly measure results
Digital tools reach the market but produce results only if you know how to use them. If you don’t, find someone who does.
ER: Right. You can’t just go in and start Tweeting the same commercial messages you might place in an ad. It takes thought … listening … and planning good content.
JCK: I also see a strong need for PR planning in conjunction with social media. The more “right things” companies have to say, the more exposure they’ll receive on the web. The desired result is higher results in organic rankings.
So, the largest area of opportunity is how to use technology to build bridges to customers – how to create environments that invite conversations that lead to desired actions.