Forbes Agency Council members work with a diverse set of clients across numerous fields. To share their expertise on everything from marketing to branding and more, we’re profiling Forbes Agency Council members here on the blog. This week: Craig Klein.
Craig Klein is CEO of SalesNexus.com, an online CRM software solution based in Texas. Founded 15 years ago by Craig, SalesNexus is a service that combines sales pipeline management, CRM, email marketing, lead nurturing and lead generation. Craig has 25 years of sales experience and now helps small and medium-sized businesses improve their direct marketing, their marketing ROI and their sales operations.
How did your career as an agency executive take off, and what do you attribute your success to most?
We’re a technology company that became an agency as a means of providing a more valuable solution to our clients. Our marketing services have now become a huge competitive advantage for us. Prior to starting SalesNexus, I spent 15 years in sales leadership roles for a few small and medium-sized B2B brands. Our customers were telling us they loved our technology but just didn’t have the expertise to create content that gets results. They needed help, and so we helped. And we found we were pretty good at it. Our first lead generation campaigns produced better results than expected. Our background in managing selling processes allows us to craft campaigns that integrate into and support the sales process.
How do you keep yourself creative and driven regardless of how busy you are day to day?
I’m an engineer by training. From turning the grape arbor in the backyard into a fort to wiring my bedroom with sensors to detect family members entering, as a kid I was always “inventing” things in my mind. Coming up with creative solutions to the challenges and opportunities I see every day is just natural to me. Early in my sales career, I learned the value of consultative selling and digging deep to find the customer’s true needs and motivations. After 15 years in business, I’ve found that the greatest joy is in identifying a challenge a customer is struggling with, developing solutions and campaigns and helping them implement them and find the success they’re seeking. That reward keeps me excited about what we do every day!
What do you see as the future of media strategy or advertising?
The balance of power has shifted in the marketing world. The customer is in complete control now. Technologies are developing to provide an ever more tailored experience for the customer, in order to keep them engaged and entertained. Marketers are competing on two fronts: To create rich, engaging content and to mine data sources to know the customers’ needs more precisely and more personally. I believe we’ll see tremendous evolution of technology to personalize the experience of every customer, even in very rich media environments. Imagine if product placement were personalized for every viewer: You see a Coke on the table and I see a Pepsi, but we’re watching the same show. Marketing strategy and messaging will evolve to be far more fluid to enable this type of personalization in an automated way.
Customers will be able to find what they want and need more easily because brands understand their preferences in advance. Brands will win by segmenting deeply, based on data and leverage that deep understanding of the customer into unique experiences and even unique products and services.
What is your best PR, marketing or advertising tip for businesses?
Double down on who you are. Don’t try to be like your larger competitors. Why do customers choose you instead of the more well-known choices? Build your marketing around that even if it doesn’t seem like a strength. Identify and understand what sets you apart and use it to your advantage. It’s common that a smaller business will hear customers saying that they prefer them because they’re small. They feel like they get better service, know the staff, etc. To a brand that has aspirations of being much bigger, that might seem more like a weakness than a strength. It’s not. Be David to their Goliath, and be honest and authentic about who you are.