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October 17, 2011 | last updated December 16, 2011 5:17 pm

Tying the knot | What smarketing and an ideal marriage have in common

Founder and president, Mahoney Internet Marketing, Portland

I wrote a blog recently about what inbound marketing and gorgeous women have in common. I'd like to expand on that blog right here in Mainebiz.

Imagine a guy is going to a party. He showers, shaves and puts on clean clothes. Everyone else at the party smells bad. A gorgeous girl walks up to him and gives him her number and email address. That's inbound marketing.

The next day, our guy can't stop thinking about this girl. He emails her to say how it great it was to meet her. He asks if she wants to connect on Twitter. That's lead nurturing.

The girl follows the guy on Twitter. He does a happy dance, follows her back and starts combing through her tweets. He notices she tweets a lot about hiking, so he sends her his latest blog about a hike he did last weekend. That's behavior-based marketing.

Our guy also notices the girl checks into the same coffee shop almost every day. He calls her and asks her to meet for coffee there. That's a sales call.

They meet for coffee. Our guy says, "Tell me about yourself." The girl ends up doing most of the talking. By the end of the conversation, he knows she's looking for a relationship with a guy just like him. He asks her out for dinner and she says yes. That's consultative selling.

One night, many dinners later, our guy gets down on one knee, because his girl loves romance. He opens a little black box with the ring she always wanted. He asks her to marry him and she says yes. That's closing the sale.

And that's smarketing.

Smarketing is marketing and sales working together to meet prospects wherever they are in their buying processes and help them move more efficiently toward a decision to buy. Sales uncovers information about the prospect's business and personal needs, as well as their decision-making style. Marketing uses that information to create compelling content that speaks to people's needs in their language and moves them through (or kicks them out of) the sales funnel more quickly.

Here's how that works in our dating scenario. At every stage in the dating (or business) game, three things line up perfectly:

  1. Our guy always tests what the girl (the customer) is thinking and doing. Where is she in her decision-making process? Is she just looking? Is she ready to commit? How is she making her decisions?
  2. Our guy sends a consistent (marketing) message that he is the man of her dreams (the best solution for a customer's problem).
  3. Our guy asks plenty of questions (sales) to find out if she's the girl of his dreams (the "sweet spot" customer).

This is the secret sauce. Aligning marketing messaging and sales processes with the buying processes of your customers sets your business up for out-of-this-world success.

In fact, smarketing is so powerful that it comes with two disclaimers.

You have to want to grow your business. I've uncovered at least three reasons why business owners and executives are not motivated to grow their businesses.

First, some owners of very small businesses stay small as a lifestyle choice. Having a few regular clients keeps them on a part-time or low-stress work schedule. Second, many business people don't want to delegate. They might be afraid of risk. Maybe they can't handle investors, lenders, etc. They don't want to manage people, they're afraid to launch a buggy product or they want to get a haircut first. And finally, some business people don't want to grow their businesses because nothing bad will happen to them if they don't. They won't lose their jobs. Their spouses don't care. They have nothing to lose by maintaining the status quo.

You have to be able to handle the growth. This is about scalability. If smarketing helps you grow to the level you want within the time period you expect, do you have either the resources to handle it or the flexibility to grow as fast as your revenues? If the answer is no, you need to find the gaps.

Are they in sales processes? If smarketing fattened your lead pipeline by as much as you want, would your sales team be able to keep up? Are there gaps in operations? If your sales team closed as many sales as you want, would your company be able to deliver? Are there gaps in infrastructure? If your site traffic increased by 400% (like mine did when I drank my own Kool-Aid), would your server crash? Do you need better tools? Do you have software to help you track leads as they move through your sales funnel? Tie smarketing activities to revenues? Help you tweak the smarketing plan?

But if you can handle the growth — or close some of the gaps — if you do have a reason to grow your business, if you embrace change and if you are ready to commit to the high-growth lifestyle, then smarketing is for you and your business.

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