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July 21, 2015

Marketing & Sales Advice from Leaders in our Industry, Part 5

Schlesinger logo 2This is the last of five posts in which we have interviewed noted business owners and leaders from across the Market Research industry to explore how top firms look at and utilize marketing & sales for their businesses.

This week, we talked with Steve Schlesinger, CEO at New York-based Schlesinger Associates.

Steve, tell us a little about your firm.

“Schlesinger Associates is a data collection firm specializing in both qualitative and quantitative research with operations in the US, UK, France and Germany and over 600 employees worldwide. And we’ll be celebrating our 50th anniversary in 2016!”

I’ve been saying for years that Market Research is an industry that does not embrace marketing & sales. Do you agree or disagree… and why?

“I disagree. It is not about a lack of embracing marketing and sales but more about a lack of focus on them. More recently we have seen more of a sales approach to research organizations as well as set strategies around their marketing efforts. I think years ago it might have been less of a priority but with added competition and the need to fight for business, we see more organizations embracing a sales process.”

Steve, give us an overview of the kinds of marketing & sales things that you do.

“We have a business development team in both the US and EU with a focus on building client relationships with existing clients… as well as prospecting for new clients. This team has grown each year and is a critical piece to our revenue generation efforts. At the same time, we have always been focused on our marketing and promotional efforts. We have always been believers in advertising in trade magazines and have added in the past few years a significant presence in the digital space through banner ads and our own e-blasts to our client roster of over 10,000 contacts. Also, our use of press releases about staff and new products has been very effective in getting our name and message out to clients and prospective clients.”

Of those, what have you found to be the most effective… and why?

“The promotion of new products through press releases, e-blasts and technology open houses in our facilities. It portrays us as “forward thinkers” and a valuable partner to our clients by bringing them more opportunities and tools for their research efforts.”

How do you manage marketing and sales?

“We have a Global marketing director who runs our marketing efforts and a Global client development director who overseas our business development team and efforts. In addition, we believe in using budgets and measuring our ROI. We also meet as a leadership group monthly for quick reviews and then quarterly for more in depth reviews of both functions.”

Does ‘strategy’ play a role in your marketing & sales? If so, how do you find the right strategies… and how do you use them?

“Strategy is critical as we have both short-term and long-term goals for our marketing and sales efforts. Strategies are constantly assessed and changed based upon business shifts which can include our own business as well as the ever-changing landscape of our industry and clients.”

The vast majority of firms in our industry use the same words when describing how they’re different. Does your firm have a true point of differentiation… and if so, how did you discover/establish it?

“I believe we do and it has been developed over time, continually evolving with our growth. We spend a lot of time talking about who we are in the industry, who we want to be, assessing our competition and also looking outside our industry to understand the successes and challenges of many types of businesses. We have built a learning organization with the hope that we continue to improve our business across many different metrics.”

As the MR industry changes, how do you see marketing & sales changing for us in the next 3-5 years?

“Not sure how it will change other than more efforts put forth in this area, especially that of sales. I think we will continue to move more toward digital marketing opportunities and we might see a decline in print advertising and mailers of any type. More face-to-face time with clients will be critical and that’s why conferences will always have a role in our sales efforts.”

Any final comments?

“Marketing and sales are critical components to long term success. If they are not part of your overall thought process, you are creating great risk to the health of your business.”

Thanks so much, Steve.

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