Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Secret To Creating A Value Proposition That Resonates.

Every business provides a unique value to their customers. But articulating that advantage in a compelling narrative—one that pinpoints what sets your business apart from competitors, and how that benefit impacts your customers—can be a challenging exercise.

These are the elements that create a powerful value proposition, which is an important first step before approaching marketing, branding, content creation, etc.  A value proposition serves as a guide for your brand. And it’s essential to targeted, well-crafted brand messaging. Different from a mission statement, tagline or slogan, a value proposition explains the “why” behind your service or product.

Here’s an example: I was working with a new client on value statement development; they kept coming back to their initial position: “We help our customers solve problems.” Zoom out and think about that statement: It can apply to most any company, from a software developer to an industrial grease manufacturer.
Click here to view infographic

The key to creating a powerful value prop is to keep digging deeper: It must speak to what you do that others can’t, the benefits that (your service or product) provides—and further, what your service or product enables your customers to do. That’s the sweet spot that you’re looking to hit when developing your value proposition.

HubSpot sums it up perfectly: “Your value proposition is your unique identifier. Without it, people don't have a reason to work with you over somebody else.” This article from HubSpot offers five prompts for value prop development:
  1. Identify all the benefits your product offers.
  2. Describe what makes these benefits valuable.
  3. Identify your customer's main problem.
  4. Connect this value to your buyer's problem.
  5. Differentiate yourself as the preferred provider of this value.
After your brainstorm the answers to these prompts, it’s time to draft your statement. But what makes a strong or a well-composed value proposition? Here are a few guidelines from QuickSprout:
  • Clarity—easy to understand
  • Communicates specific results customers will get
  • Explains how the product or service is different/better
  • Succinct: Can be quickly read and understood—1 to 3 sentences 
This graphic from the HubSpot article offers some great examples.

If you’d like some help drafting your value proposition—or if you’d just like to bounce your ideas off of me, email me at

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Optimize Your Co-op Marketing Program. We’ll Show You How.

Consistency is important to establishing and maintaining brand integrity. As companies grow and establish new locations or franchises, that brand consistency often becomes increasingly difficult to manage. It’s a struggle that I’ve helped many clients manage.

At Shamrock, we help companies manage their brands—and their marketing budgets—using a smart co-op marketing platform. Whether a company has two locations or 200, this online tool helps protect brand standards while creating efficiencies that reduce administrative time, and ultimately, save money.

Click to read the full story
The genius of this online tool is that it automates everyday co-op marketing program management. Because the platform is modular by design, it allows companies to use only the functions that they need, while implementing and managing those brand-driven touches (think product brochures, email campaigns, approved display ads, promotional items, etc.) directly from their desktops.

This easy-to-implement co-op marketing platform provided big results for one of our clients—a major international heavy equipment manufacturer—helping them grow the promotional segment of their business by 200%. If you’re interested in learning more about this co-op management tool, click the link to read the full story:

Are you struggling to manage marketing or co-op programs at multiple locations? If you’re interested in learning more about Shamrock’s co-op tool, I’m happy to provide a quick demo. Connect with me at

Kathy Lawlor 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Challenge Yourself with a Self-Assessment

There is tremendous power in self-reflection. I’ve found that implementing the practice as part of an annual performance review can be incredibly insightful and productive.

Our assessment challenges individuals to not only take stock of their personal performance and best practices, but also to look at their performance through the lens of their customers and co-workers. The way that I use this assessment tool is to ask each sales rep to either write their answers, or just prepare for a discussion with me. During a meeting to review, I offer my feedback and opinions on some of the questions; but the true value of the exercise is challenging them to look in the mirror. The questions are outlined below:

Self-Assessment for Sales Team

  • In general, do you enjoy sales? Why?
  • Do you enjoy your job: Selling the products and services Shamrock provides?
  • What do you like/dislike about working for Shamrock?
  • How do you assess your attitude? What would your co-workers say about your attitude?
  • How do you assess your work ethic? How would your sales team define your work ethic?
  • How do you assess your ambition and drive? What drives/motivates you?
Sales Skills:
  • Strengths: What are you good at? What would your customers say they value most about you?
  • Weaknesses: Where do you think you can improve? If your customers had one complaint, what would that be?
  • Messaging: Are you comfortable communicating Shamrock's/your value to clients and prospects? Are there additional marketing tools you need?
  • How do you assess your presentation skills?
  • Relationship Building: Do your clients like, respect, and trust you? Why?

Strategy & Execution:
  • How do you feel about your strategic plan to achieve success?
  • How well do you execute your plan? What systems/tools do you use to gauge progress?

  • What organizational system do you use to manage a large workload? Are there any areas that are lacking?
  • Do you think you choose to spend your time in high-impact areas? Flip it: What is the biggest drain on your time?

  • Are you satisfied with your sales results?
  • Where do you see your results in 1, 3 and 5 years?

These self-assessment questions will work well for some our sales reps, but perhaps not for all. Either way, it’s a great exercise of self-discovery that can be tweaked to use as you see fit. If there are other questions you’d add to the list, I’d appreciate your input.

Bob De Garmo

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

How Account-Based Marketing Is A Lot Like The Cleveland Browns

The energy in Cleveland is electric: With the Browns’ training camp in full swing, we can’t get enough of the pre-season preparation as we look forward to that first gameday kickoff. In order for the Browns to be successful, each player must do his job as it relates to the shared team goal. But if individual players don’t buy into that goal or plan—if they work independently toward their own singular visions—the entire team suffers.

The same is true in business: If your sales and marketing team goals are not aligned, you’ll be less effective. According to Forrester Research, organizations with aligned sales and marketing teams see an average of 32% annual revenue growth, while less-aligned companies see a 7% decline in growth.

Like an all-in team effort, account-based marketing (ABM) is one way to connect the two and drive more effective marketing outcomes. It’s a strategy that targets the relevant people who influence the sales cycle: ABM focuses on an account (i.e., a list of highly relevant prospects). By aligning sales and marketing through all parts of a company’s sales funnel, ABM yields a more personalized approach by making connections with key decision makers and offering content based on their specific role/responsibility or pain point, rather than the same general message blanketing the entire decision-making chain.

While we’ve been loosely using this targeted approach for years, ABM has gained recent momentum because today’s digital tools make it easier than ever to combine sales and marketing in one seamless effort without wasting time and energy bouncing back and forth between departments. 

The genius behind ABM is that it treats individual prospects and customers as their very own market—not as an entire industry. It’s a laser-focused B2B strategy that allows us, as marketers, to focus on potential/existing customers within a market, and then deliver personalized messaging that resonates with them, using specific and relevant channels.

This summarizes the basic ABM steps:
  1. Define high-value accounts/prospects and prioritize based on revenue potential 
  2. Identify key players and decision makers within each organization (do your research)
  3. Create a content strategy (don’t overlook the value of re-purposed content) for each account 
  4. Develop messaging that speaks to each of these audiences and their specific business challenges; make a personal connection 
  5. Identify key channels best used to communicate with your targets 
  6. Launch coordinated account-specific campaigns that are consistent across all delivery channels 
  7. Test, measure and re-deploy as needed   
If you’re not currently using ABM, don’t panic: It can be implemented in conjunction with traditional inbound marketing strategies: When you cast that inbound net and bring in a wide array of contacts, use ABM to help refine that list to high-priority prospects, and then take it from there.

If you’re interested in learning more about ABM connect with me at

Good luck,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Nonprofit Marketing Tips

While most nonprofit organizations are strapped with doing a lot more with a lot less, among their greatest challenges is to stand out among other nonprofits vying for donors’ attention—and dollars.

In today’s digital age, there are a host of simple and inexpensive ways for nonprofits to stretch their budget, while optimizing marketing efforts to promote their brand, connect with donors, amplify fundraising efforts, and increase donations. 

An article from Forbes magazine offers five tips for nonprofits to reach donors:

1. Use social media. To reach donors, connect with them where they are—and Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn is where they reside. Post content and place ads on these channels and take advantage of analytics to ensure the best ROI.

2. Make your message clear. Transparency is important: Donors want to understand exactly how their money being spent and the impact it will have.

3. Use content. Content marketing is a powerful way to demonstrate to donors what you stand for and to make them passionate about your goals. Use video or link back to a landing page to gain more traction for your message.

4. Take SEO seriously. In order for donors to give money, they have to be able to find you online—so embed social media feeds, ads, blogs and key words to boost SEO.

5. Write a blog. This platform gives you the opportunity to share more about your cause and to tell your brand story.

Also popular among our nonprofit clients is the use of custom and turnkey digital apps. These apps can include a host of event or campaign-specific functions such as push notifications, GPS/map features, schedule of events, social media tags, response polling, video links, program updates—the list goes on.

As with any brand-promoting effort, the key to nonprofit marketing success is to use an integrated strategy that employs multiple channels as part of one seamless campaign that works as part of your overarching marketing strategy. HubSpot touts the SMART approach—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound—a methodology that helps you establish achievable marketing goals. The link below offers a free download of their SMART planning template:

Download your free marketing goal-setting template here.

What is the most memorable non-profit marketing campaign that caught your attention? Chime in on our Shamrock Facebook page.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Successful Marketing on Pinterest: Lessons from 5 Leading Brands

With more than 291 million active monthly users, Pinterest has become the go-to resource for everything from recipes, to makeup tutorials, to vacation destinations. Pinterest positions itself as the world’s catalog of ideas—but it’s also a prime channel for brand marketing: In a recent survey, 96% of pinners said they use Pinterest to research purchases—and 87% have purchased a product because of a pin.

If you’re marketing to women, then make sure Pinterest is part of your strategy: As of 2019, 79.5% of Pinterest users are female (Statista), which is significant: Women ages 25 to 54 make 80% of the buying decisions in U.S. households—and Pinterest is a valuable part of their purchasing journey.
  • 83% of women on Pinterest use it to plan life moments, compared to 44% for Instagram and 53% for Facebook
  • 43% plan on getting their ideal home within the next five years
  • 50% plan on taking a vacation in the next 6 months
So, what does it take to be a standout on Pinterest among the more than 75 billion pins? Following are five lessons from top brands that are killing it on the social media channel, building brand loyalty one pin at a time.

1. Offer variety. Don’t pigeon-hole your brand. With 4.5 million followers, upscale fashion retailer Nordstrom is one of Pinterest’s most recognizable brands. They’ve created a devoted following by casting a wide net—men’s fashion, prom, handbags, denim, baby. With 443,000+ pins on 78 boards, you’re sure to find something that speaks to you at Nordstrom.

2. Find a common thread. Specialty retailer L.L. Bean is a great example of how to make a brand connection by appealing to your audience and their interests. With 5 million followers, they’re doing it right: Boards like Outdoor Fun and Take Me Fishing draw pinners to the brand based on lifestyle, activities, pursuits, etc.

3. Provide value. Give them more, and they’ll keep coming back: Home improvement retailer Lowes goes above and beyond basic product info—they also provide step-by-step tutorials to show pinners how to use those products to complete DIY-projects.

4. Make it user-friendly. How many times have you searched for an item online but then struggled to find a retailer to make the purchase? Global marketplace Etsy simplifies the process, allowing you to search, pin and purchase products directly from your digital device.

5. Keep it subtle. Instead of leading with a product pitch, why not welcome your audience in like a good friend? Lauren Conrad does just that—her Pinterest page feels like that of any user, rather than that of a brand. With 1 million+ followers, she shares inspiration and introduces new ideas and products with fellow pinners without making a hard sell.

Which brands are most prominent on your Pinterest feed? I’d be interested in your feedback.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

It’s time to realign your 2019 business goals.

We’re now past this year’s half-way point: So, how are you doing with your business goals for 2019?

Even though I’m in the practice of regularly reviewing and refreshing my goals, I use this annual half-way mark as a prompt to realign and re-motivate myself. Instead of looking at my yet-to-be-accomplished goals as failures, I see the next six months as my opportunity to get better. If you’re ready to do the same, here are five tips to help you hit your target before the year’s end:

1. Re-evaluate and reprioritize. Make sure it’s the right goal at the right time. Have there been recent changes in your industry or supply chain? Have you made operational changes that have had an effect on outcomes? Conduct an honest assessment and make sure the timing is right for your goal. Be realistic about what you can counter—and what you need to let go.  

Getty Images
2. Refine your goals. Your time is now limited, so be specific about what you want to accomplish. If your initial goals were broad in scope, consider getting more specific, i.e., instead of growing sales by 5 percent, focus on increasing existing-customer sales by 5 percent. Refining or distilling your goals will help create greater focus and, likely, a more manageable workload.

3. Re-establish your timeline and to-do list. After you’ve recalibrated your goals, identify the steps you need to take to get there with an updated to-do list and accelerated timeline.

4. Get motivated. There is psychology behind motivation and human behavior. The quarter, six-month and annual marks are fiscal calendar intervals that we equate with posting sales, gains, returns, etc. If you find yourself lacking motivation, use these date triggers to push yourself. Consider using daily life inspiration practices and habits—like meditating, exercising or reading/listening to motivational content—to keep you engaged and focused.
5. Spend your time wisely. Delegate tasks to free up your time to focus on the actionable items that will get you closer to meeting your goals. Incorporate technology, such as a CRM or marketing asset management platform, to help drive efficiency in your workday.

These are mindful practices that help me keep on track. Do you have tips to add to the list? Join the discussion on our Shamrock Facebook page.

Tim Connor