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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

Marketing and sales recruitment

Marketing and sales recruitment is a vital part of building a marketing and sales team that can take your business forward. Whether you use a recruitment agency or recruit directly, effective marketing recruitment relies on understanding how to find and attract the right candidates for your business

Your marketing recruitment needs

Base your sales and marketing recruitment plans on your business needs. Think about what you are trying to achieve in terms of sales and customer service. Look at your plans for entering new markets or boosting sales. Assess any marketing weaknesses and areas of underperformance. Consider alternatives to recruitment, such as outsourcing marketing projects or training existing employees.

Sales recruitment often focuses on recruiting salespeople to bring in new customers, but your analysis may well highlight other recruitment needs. Growing businesses often decide to recruit additional marketing skills - for example, in internet or social media marketing - to fill roles that have previously been contracted out to external suppliers. Weaknesses in overall sales and marketing performance may point to the need to recruit expertise rather than expecting junior employees to provide marketing support as part of general administrative duties.

You can use your analysis of your sales and marketing recruitment needs to define the roles you need to fill and the knowledge, skills and attitude you are looking for. For sales recruitment, existing relationships with your target customers may be a prime requirement. Junior sales roles, particularly in areas such as telesales, often demand a positive attitude and a thick skin. In other marketing roles, specific expertise - for example, experience in market research - can be essential. Knowledge of your business sector can also be a major advantage.

Finding marketing and sales recruitment candidates

Personal contacts, recommendations and networking may help you find suitable sales and marketing candidates. But most recruiters rely on advertising or using recruitment agencies.

Recruitment advertising must reach the right people. National newspapers and websites are an obvious option for sales jobs. Marketing publications or the trade press for your business sector can be a better place to attract specialists. Local publications may suit recruitment ads for relatively low-level jobs. Publications that carry recruitment ads for similar jobs tend to be relatively promising.

Using a recruitment consultancy rather than advertising directly can have advantages. The right recruitment agency will typically have promising candidates on their books - often including individuals who are not actively looking for a job. A good recruitment consultant can also screen applicants for you so that you only interview promising candidates.

Attracting and assessing sales and marketing recruits

The way your job is advertised needs to attract the right candidates. Spelling out essential requirements helps explain the role you are offering and avoid time-wasters.

Even among sales professionals, relatively few enjoy spending most of their time cold calling in pursuit of new business. It's worth stressing any other elements of sales jobs: for example, developing existing relationships and repeat business. The remuneration package can be a key ingredient of the offer; potential applicants can often understand the nature and level of job being offered by looking at the remuneration details.

Look for evidence that candidates can deliver: for example, a record of achievement in previous roles or a relevant marketing qualification. Tests such as role playing a sales scenario or discussing market opportunities can help reveal an applicant's true ability.

Be prepared to sell the job to applicants, highlighting the competitive strengths of your business. Salespeople in particular will want to be convinced about the likely level of sales and commission they can achieve.

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