I recently finished reading a 2-part blog post by Mary Planding, owner of Inbound Marketing Squad (@inboundsquad) and my editor for this blog. I think you'll find the articles useful as you try to determine which marketing strategies you should implement in your business.
Her first article declares that marketing strategies are a dime a dozen—finding lots of choices isn't hard. But picking the right strategy for your business can be very difficult. Mary's point of view is that a marketing strategy should help you filter out the thousands of distracting (yet enticing) ideas that can keep you from reaching your goal. And she uses a really cool analogy about racing in the America's Cup to explain marketing strategies and making choices. It's a great analogy because in both situations - your marketing and the America's Cup racers - there are limited resources and unpredictable conditions that make it hard to 'cross the finish line'.
Here are some excerpts:
• The world will always be filled with endless possibilities. But in the end, you want to focus on the most effective marketing strategies that help you achieve your desired goal.
• Sometimes Mother Nature can surprise you and then you're scrambling to improvise, drawing upon your experience, knowledge, the conditions and your resources to help you win the race.
• Whenever you try to sail directly into the wind, you're not only dead in the water, you can even be pushed backwards.
• Regardless of which leg of the course you're on, the more often you tack, the more time and distance you have to make up. And you can't change that dynamic. Physics, after all, is physics.
In her second article, which I found even more useful, Mary and her guest experts, share 5 tips for how to sort through and then choose the marketing strategies that are right for your business.
Here are some highlights:
• Understanding why you're marketing is the key to defining a successful path to your goals. (Jeff Mason, Hero Design Studio)
• You can't pick a strategy if you aren't specific about what the strategy is supposed to help you achieve. (Mary Planding, Inbound Marketing Squad)
• You want to pick a marketing strategy that allows you to acquire new customers and still remain profitable. (Dan Swanson, Exit Rich)
• Think about "no" as a personal lifejacket. Taking on certain projects can be like taking on water as you sail. (Ilene Rosenthal, White Space Marketing Group)
• Often people choose a strategy that's cool, neat, hot, but instead of playing to their strengths, it draws unwanted attention to their weaknesses. The result is their efforts negate any potential gains they've made. (Mary Planding, Inbound Marketing Squad)
Go read the articles. It should help you create a stronger marketing plan for 2013.
What do golf legend Jack Nicklaus, basketball great Michael Jordan and decorated Olympian Michael Phelps all have in common? They have all embraced creative visualization to become better athletes.
In fact, visualization is widely embraced by athletes in nearly every sport. Terry Orlick, a noted sports psychologist and high-performance coach to thousands of Olympic and professional athletes in more than 30 sports, states in his book, In Pursuit of Excellence, that most Olympic athletes and world champions practice at least 15 minutes of visualization daily.
Don’t mistake visualization for hokey, self-help speak. It is one of the most widely accepted methods in sports psychology and is supported by significant scientific evidence. And it isn’t only applicable to sports--visualization is a practice used by successful people across a broad range of professions.
We use visualization technique to drive our strategic planning and the planning of inbound campaigns for clients and ourselves. Why? We’re all busy. And many of us get sucked into tactics all too frequently – sacrificing the planning team that can bring our marketing to the next level.
What is Visualization?
Most simply put, visualization is a technique for creating a mental image of a future event. It involves focusing your mind to visualize yourself in a certain situation and succeeding in that particular situation. Through the practice of visualization, we train our brain to believe that attaining a desired goal is possible. For instance, a golfer may visualize the perfect stroke over and over again to mentally train muscle memory.
According to David Yukelson, Ph.D, sports psychologist for Penn State University, “when you vividly imagine yourself getting ready for competition, your central nervous system becomes programmed for success. It's as if the activity you visualized has already happened.”
Apply this to inbound marketing planning and it means visualizing the metrics that will yield a successful campaign – literally seeing those results in Hubspot or whatever analytics tools you use.
How Does Visualization Work?
Research done using brain imagery suggests that visualization works because the neurons in our brains interpret imagery as the equivalent to taking a real-life action. When a person visualizes an act, the brain generates an impulse that tells their neurons to “perform” the movement. So when an athlete imagines him or herself performing their sport to perfection, he or she is physiologically training their mind and thus teaching their muscles to perform exactly how he or she wants them to.
Using Visualization to Become a Better Marketer
In today’s fast-paced business environment, so many marketers are guilty of getting wrapped up in the day-to-day minutia that it becomes difficult to focus on long-term planning and strategy development that will ultimately lead to our success. Visualization techniques could help you achieve your ultimate goals by improving your planning skills.
We’re all short on time but we can easily incorporate visualization into our marketing daily routines. It's something you’ll need to do outside of the office, where you can be alone and get deep into your thoughts. Try doing it on your morning run, in your yoga or spin class, when you take the dog on a walk or even on your daily commute. If you’re in California like we are, some time at the beach for lunch is a great way to isolate your mind and your thinking.
So once you have your alone time, how do you get started?
1. Pick a specific goal: That can be anything from increasing sales by 30% to becoming the leading blogger in your field to improving your lead conversion rate.
2. Choose your mental image: Really visualize your campaigns and their specific outcomes. Imagine writing your strategy; envision the steps you took to achieve this successful marketing campaign. See the words, the content and the metrics that drove your success. Hear the call where you share your success with your team, your boss or clients. Imagine yourself celebrating your success with your colleagues and imagine how it will feel to have reached your goal.
3. Visualize daily: See that image of success you painted in your mind and make that feeling very real.
4. Write it down: When you’re done, write down the key success factors you see and build them into your daily routine. Make them part of your planning.
Once you visualize all of the steps that it took to achieve your success, and the specific outcomes of each of those steps, you have a clear plan for your activities and how to create a successful campaign. Think of each of those steps and work backwards to what has to happen and it will help you develop your marketing goals, strategy and objectives, so that you can create a plan that will help you to become incredibly successful.
Keep in mind that just visualizing your success isn’t going to get you to your final goal, but what it will do is give you an effective way to begin planning. And planning is something that a lot of us don’t do well. But if we can improve planning skills, we can stop wasting time on the little things and start spending time on the specific actions we know will help us reach success.
What ways could you use creative visualization to improve your marketing planning? Leave your comments below.
About the author: Ryan Malone is the founder of SmartBug Media, a California inbound marketing agency and Silver Hubspot Partner that help companies increase revenue and marketing ROI.
The Paradox of Content Marketing Success
Content marketing is gaining traction.
In practice that is unalloyed great news for B2B marketers. Those who embrace best practices and diligently craft a fabric woven on a warp of amazing content will generate really remarkable results.
But as a buzzword it has potentially disastrous potential. Well meaning but ignorant interpretations abound and self-anointed experts are being birthed at an alarming rate.
Each "expert" who fails to effectively structure an inbound marketing program jeopardizes the future viability of a company which will move forward to compete in increasingly competitive markets at a distinct disadvantage. And in each case that will be tragic because the desire was there, but opportunity will have been squandered through poor execution.
Collectively the risk is even greater. A small number of companies that have realized the potential of well crafted inbound marketing will proselytize regarding the benefits of inbound marketing. But a much larger group that casually implemented a poorly conceived or incomplete program, and received commensurate returns, will join in a chorus of frustration - discounting the potential for B2B marketing success.
"We're already doing that"
If you sell to businesses you've certainly heard this before. And you've probably thought to yourself. "No way. You don't even have a clue what I'm talking about."
Now there are two possibilities in that situation. The prospect may be right. Perhaps they're doing something that is similar to what you propose, in a way that is good enough for them. Alternatively, you could be right. They may be just blowing you off, or perhaps they think they are leveraging a similar solution to good effect without really understanding the nuance or even the foundational principles of the concept.
So assuming you have at least adequate sales skills, and still can't overcome the myopic intransigence of the prospect, what's at play?
If you're selling to huge companies you could simply be bumping into junior execs or administrators who validate the "Peter Principle" or are protecting their turf. But if you're speaking to senior executives in SMBs, you're probably caught in a sensitivity trap!
Extroverts, sensitivity and recognition of threats
What we're really talking about here is a threat. In the case of a company adopting a comprehensive, strategically sound inbound marketing program the threat to which they would respond would be one of diminished marketing effectiveness, stagnating sales and enterprise decay.
But what if......the sort of person most likely to boldly start, grow and manage a business is the sort least likely to intuit or even account for subtle and uncertain threats? That's precisely one of the hypothesis of Susan Cain's (@susancain
) book Quiet
. Controversial? Certainly. Conclusive? Perhaps not. Make sense based on personal experience? Probably. The hard charging business founder who has launched despite the horrific odds and persevered through situations which would have brought others to their knees simply can't afford to worry about ghosts behind trees. And therefore they overlook potential legitimate threats too, and discount seemingly insignificant differences in approaches to problems.
Inbound marketing's "Achiles' Heel"
Therein lies the biggest risk to inbound marketing success. When executed properly the payoff in B2B marketing success is huge. But if it's not done right, the payoff is negligible. And too many extroverted, 'insensitive' (don't get pissed off, read the book instead to understand) types can point to a couple activities (maybe occasional press releases published on a website under the title of 'blog', or a company LinkedIn page or Twitter handle) and dismissively assert "We already do that."
But you can be different! Seriously! Don't let your hard charging business blinders obscure the seemingly minor details that are critically important. In inbound marketing "the Devil (really) is in the details."
And a good place to start is with an easy to digest overview of how your business sales and marketing environment is evolving. Understanding where we came from, where we are and where we're going is critical to mapping the route to success. And a step by step strategy goes a long way toward demystifying something that is far more complicated than you imagined.
So change your tune! Instead of "We already do that" try responding with "We have to do that!" and embrace the potential of B2B marketing success.
About the Author: Ed Marsh is co-founder of Consilium Global Business Advisors, an international marketing consulting agency focused on developing strategic global business development and channel programs.
Let's be honest. Using HubSpot and practicing inbound marketing isn't the easy solution. It takes practice, it takes training and it takes hard work. It's alot easier to buy some ads, cross our fingers and hope the phone rings. But we know that's not the right advice for our clients.
There is one step you can take to make inbound marketing a little simpler, a little more organized, and a little more planned out. That one step includes creating a comprehensive marketing strategy before you start implementing any of the inbound marketing tactics.
By thinking out your client's marketing startegy before you start implementing the tactics you help them with some of the heavy lifting.
Here are some of the advantages of a strategy before tactics approach.
When you take the time to help them create the personas for their target market, you can identify all the places the people in their target market hang out; the websites they visit, blogs they read, emails they subscribe to. This makes sourcing content out to these properties much easier and much more efficient when it's time to do this task.
Next, you help them create more effective messaging that emotionally connects with the client's target prospects. Landing pages are great. But if you improve their overall marketing messages, they'll see the impact across all aspects of their business.
You help them differentiate their business. This is usually undervalued but if you don't have anything interesting or remarkable to say...why say anything? Why invest any money in marketing?
You know the “whys” behind your client's business. Not the “whats” or “hows” associated with their delivery but the emotional back story as to why they are even in business to begin with. That is what people are buying and you need to be able to help your clients articulate it.
You help them create an editorial calendar for all their content for the life of your retainer— further demonstrating your partnership and long term commitment to their business. Blog titles, email subject lines, "free report" titles, topics for videos, ebooks, webinars, infographics, you name it. Planning these out over time makes deciding which ones to create and when to publish them much easier. We introduce all our clients to the Trio of Offers. No Risk, Low Risk, and Offer to Do Business. These have to be planned out, approved, and implemented over time. For more info on the Trio of Offers, click here.
You help to benchmark marketing performance and track improvements weekly, monthly and quarterly. Setting performance expectations helps you establish you and your team as the authority on inbound marketing. While you might not hit the targets every time, you will know when you need to make a change, select new tactics, or double down on tactics that are outperforming your expectations.
Honestly, the marketing planning part of the engagement isn't the easiest or the fastest work you can do, but if you are interested in long-term, retainer-based, strategic partnerships with your clients, this is work you have to strongly consider as a core offering.
To learn more about how an inbound marketing strategy helps the implementation of an inbound marketing program, click here to download an e-book titled Strategy Before Tactics--How Marketing Strategy Improves The Performance of Inbound Marketing--An Agency’s Guide.
About the Author: Mike Lieberman is co-founder and president of Square 2 Marketing, an inbound marketing agency, HubSpot partner and creators of Reality Marketing™ that helps entrepreneurial-oriented business owners change the way they think about marketing.
To hell with unicorns and rainbows
Are you as sick as I am of hearing that we need to "participate and engage" in social media? I want to get some concrete tips and specific actions to take, not some feel-good social media theories.
If you're an old school, press-the-flesh kind of guy or gal, you don't want to waste a lot of time with ten different social media platforms hoping for leads to land in your lap. You want to take some positive actions that you know will bring you new prospects.
If it feels good, do it
You need online tools that help to supplement your already successful relationship networking efforts. I like to steer relationship networkers towards LinkedIn because it's based on the professional relationships that they have been cultivating for years.
And I have a specific tactic that I like for them to use with LinkedIn. It's worked so well for me as a member of my BNI chapter that I made a video for all my chapter members: How to Use LinkedIn to Get More Referrals in BNI
The premise is simple. On LinkedIn, connect to the people that you know, and then ask them to introduce you to their connections as a way of getting an easy foot in the door with potential prospects. The trick is knowing who to ask your LinkedIn connections to introduce you to.
I see a lot of people who will go to each of their connections' profile pages on LinkedIn to look through their list of connections and pick out the ones who are a good prospect. This is effective, but a big time waster. Instead, I use LinkedIn's search feature to quickly find just the prospects who are a good fit for me.
Concrete tips and specific actions
[Watch the video walk through of this LinkedIn tactic "How to Get Leads with LinkedIn" below]
In my example, I want introductions to local CPA firms here in Las Vegas. So I go to the LinkedIn home page and in the search box (upper right area of the page) I type "CPA" and click the magnifying glass button to run the search.
This generates over 400,000 CPAs in the results. So next I use the filters in the left hand side of the page to narrow down my search results.
The most important filter option to select is "2nd Connections" in the Relationship filter group. The 2nd tier connections are people who are directly connected to one of my direct connections on LinkedIn. A friend of a friend, so to speak. These 2nd tier connections are all people that one of my connections can introduce me to. This cuts my search results down to 1101 CPAs.
Next I'll use some of the other filters to find the 2nd tier connection CPAs who are the best fit as a prospect. So I choose a physical location. I mentioned earlier that I want to find CPA firms in Las Vegas. Because Las Vegas is not one of the choices with a check box in the Locations filter, I'll manually type it into the Locations text field. I now have 180 CPAs in the search results.
Since I want to find CPAs working in accounting firms, rather than CPAs in big companies like the Las Vegas gaming corporations, I check the box for "Accounting" in the Industries filter. That brings me down to 96 CPAs in the search results.
For me to sell my consulting services to a CPA firm, I'm looking for firms with at least 10 employees, but I don't want to pitch very large companies. From the Company Size filter, I check both 11-50 and 51-200 employees. Now I see 30 CPAs in my search results.
Finally, I use the Seniority Level filter to find only owners, directors, CxOs, and partners. That way I'll get the decision makers. In the search results, I see 15 very promising prospects who my LinkedIn connections can introduce me to!
Now this is networking!
We have our short list of ideal prospects, so I look at the first one and see a link that says we have "9 shared connections". That means that I have nine different LinkedIn connections who I can ask to introduce me to this prospect. I click on this link and instantly see the first three of our shared connections.
Below those, I click on the link "View all 9 shared" and a new browser tab opens that shows me a list of all nine of my connections who are also directly connected to this prospect. I can start reaching out to my connections and asking for introductions to this prospect. And I have 14 more CPA prospects to whom I will ask my connections to introduce me!
So old school relationship networkers can use LinkedIn as a tool to help them do their networking more efficiently! The lesson here is that when you're starting out with online marketing, stay within your comfort zone. There's plenty of time for broadening horizons and spreading
About the Author: High Mobley is the founder of 13 Pages Internet Marketing, an online marketing firm and HubSpot partner that helps business owners increase their profitability.
Manufacturing is getting a lot of attention in this political season. One of the few things both sides of the aisle can agree on is that everyone wants to see the number of manufacturing jobs increase, either new jobs or returning jobs from overseas. But with all of this focus on manufacturing, very few people seem to be talking about inbound marketing for manufacturing.
This baffles me. Inbound marketing offers a new way to think about publicizing new technologies and engaging potential beneficiaries of those technologies in productive conversations.
Inbound marketing can be used to market emerging technologies and increase awareness and adoption of those new technologies. Most of our clients are in the manufacturing industry and we've noticed a few key areas we consistently address to start these companies on the road to successful inbound marketing campaigns.
Thinking like a marketer and not just a manufacturer
Thinking like a marketer puts you in the shoes of your ideal customer. The mindset is much like an engineer designing a feature in a product that solves a particular problem. The key is in translating that technical, product, problem-solving thinking into content for your marketing efforts. The benefits the customer receives are the fuel for your marketing. Manufacturers tend to think in terms of features and specifications and not in terms of the results the customer receives from the benefits.
For example, producing a top notch product may be what you think seals the deal on sales, but it isn't usually enough in and of itself. You need to be able to attract leads first before you can dazzle them with an amazing product. If your competition is offering a lesser product but are highly visible in the market, they are going to keep getting sales that your superior product could have landed. When you market the benefits of your product using stories, case studies, testimonials, and industry information you give your company and sales team a much better chance of being heard.
Website – not a catalog but a community
When a manufacturer has built a "catalog website", it usually means they are thinking like a manufacturer and not a marketer. Listing products and descriptions, maybe throwing in a picture or two, speaks to the manufacturing side of the business but leaves the marketing side lacking. If you want your website to attract leads you need to have more on it than your catalog.
Your website should help you start the sales process by attracting prospects and showing them that your product or service is targeted to them, helps them solve their problems, and delivers the proof that you should be taken seriously.
A good website is a community with forums for interaction between you and your prospects and customers, and offers interesting and relevant information they want to download. Manufacturing is full of highly intelligent people with specialized knowledge and your goal should be to build a website that showcases that knowledge.
Social Media – create interest and ongoing engagement
Social media might not seem like it's designed for manufacturing, but there is a place for it in your marketing mix. Manufacturers should not expect millions of followers, but for those people who are interested in manufacturing and technology, social media outlets provide fertile ground for researching new companies, products, and processes. Social media is a great way to easily share industry news and articles and to open up a dialogue with potential leads.
Cool stuff like the 3D printing in this video are ripe for sharing and driving traffic to your site and in generating interest in your company.
Reaching just a few influential prospects or industry experts will make your social media efforts worth the effort.
Email – outreach and information
Email is another great marketing tool for keeping interest and engagement up. With all of the tools that are available now, it's very easy to create multiple versions of an email specifically targeted at different segments of your email list. This gives companies a great opportunity for introducing new products, technologies, and offers in the best way possible to the people that want to consume information targeted to their stated needs.
Manufacturing companies tend to have long buying cycles so using timed and automated lead nurturing campaigns to stay in touch with prospects throughout the buying cycle helps keep your company top of mind and gives the prospect a chance to stay engaged when they may have tuned your sales people and overt sales pitches out. Many manufacturing sales have a dead space in the buying process between initial and option research and final specification determination. Lead nurturing using email can keep you in front of prospects when they will not take your salespeople’s calls.
Inbound marketing isn't going to magically fix the economy, but the more sales manufacturers can land the more people they can hire and that's good news for everyone.
About the Author: Todd Hockenberry is the founder of Top Line Results, an inbound marketing agency that specializes in leading top line revenue growth at small and medium-sized companies with a focus on manufacturing, technology and capital equipment.
This is a guest blog post by David Weinhaus, author of the Inbound Agency Selling blog and a member of my Agency Account Management team @HubSpot.
Recently I offered to review an email sent by BayCreative, an Inbound Marketing Agency in the Bay Area, to introduce a new service to a former client. The email was representative of many I’ve seen agencies use when doing so. Below, with the agency's permission, I’ve shared the email along with some thoughts and recommendations for turning what is not a bad email, but one with a low chance of success, into one that can gain significantly better results.
Read the email below and put yourself in the shoes of the recipient, a business owner who has done business with the agency in the past. (Note that actual identifying prospect information has been modified.)
The Agency Email
Our agency is offering a set of new lead generation-oriented services that I thought Smith Enterprises would greatly benefit from learning more about.
These services can enable Smith Enterprise to leverage an end-to-end marketing program for generating more qualified leads and reducing the sales cycle. It delivers visibility to the performance of all your search engine marketing, SEO, email marketing, blogging, social media, website visits, and landing pages. And, it centralizes and tracks performance and activity so you can rapidly measure the return on your investments, identify where tweaks to campaigns should be made, and nurture prospects until their ready to make a buying decision.
Are you available at 3pm Monday or Tuesday week to speak with me about lead generation? I'll come prepared to offer some suggestions based on what we’ve identified from your website, as well as a competitive analysis.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Name of individual from agency"
Business Owners Skim
Here are my first impressions.
I read the first paragraph, skimmed the entirely of the second paragraph, and read the third paragraph. I did this on instinct, but it happens to align with the value in the email.
The first paragraph is good because it describes exactly why the agency is writing. "Our agency is offering a set of new lead generation-oriented services that I thought Smith Enterprises would greatly benefit from learning more about."
The third paragraph is valuable because it describes exactly what the agency is requesting and what they are offering. "Are you available at 3pm Monday or Tuesday week to speak with me about lead generation? I'll come prepared to offer some suggestions based on what we’ve identified from your website, as well as a competitive analysis."
Keep the Focus on the Prospect
However, the second paragraph does not deliver in the same way. In it, the agency succumbs to the temptation to make the agency and the service offering the focus. Rather than attempting to identify the goals and challenges of the prospect, it suggests a laundry list of services, relying on the prospect to attach those services to some meaningful objectives of the business. Most of the time, business owners won't make that connection themselves.
5 Tips For Improving Your Email's Success Rate
If there is a good relationship and a compelling need, this email might be good enough to get the job done. It is professional and clearly conveys the offer. However, in my experience, the odds are low.
There are a few things that can significantly improve the odds. Here they are - in order of increasing importance.
1. Make it Topical and Current
If you can, relate with something current and topical in the business. It shows you are paying attention and that you care. It also shows that you can connect the dots between what is going on in the business and what your agency has to offer.
Here is an example:
Congrats on your recent recognition in the Springfield Business Journal about Smith Enterprise's excellent customer service. I know that you have created a company culture where excellent customer service is rewarded. It is great to see that you are being rewarded for it too!">>
2. Use a Positioning Statement
Turn around the second paragraph of the email above by using a positioning statement. Mark Gibson of Advanced Marketing Concepts has a great article about this: Positioning Statement - Best New Sales Technique of the Year.
A positioning statement is all about identifying the problem - not presenting a solution. At the early stages of the sales process, this has a much higher chance of resonating than does a solution.
Here is an example:
<<Lately, we've been working with clients who are frustrated that they're not getting more prospects finding them online. When we started working with them, their exact words were, "We do an amazing job for our clients. They love us. Our customer service and product quality is second to none. We're just not getting people finding us." >>
3. Include a Clear Call to Action
The example agency letter does a pretty good job of ending with a call to action. Here is another example. Both leave no doubt as to what is being requested. It may also be just a style thing, but I prefer not pressing for a specific time in an introductory email if they haven't agreed that they have a problem. I like the more open ended "Is this something that you'd be interested in speaking about?"
If it's an existing or previous client where there's a solid relationship, I'd also suggest just asking them if they'd like to catch up and discuss how things are going.
Tips 4 & 5 don’t relate directly to the email, but to activities that will help the overall success. They are every bit as important.
4. Don't Send it Until You've Left a Voice Mail
At Hubspot, we don't send a prospect email without first picking up the phone. You want to actually speak to your prospect right? Nothing says that less than an email attempt without a phone call. The purpose of the call is not just the hope of a live connection. It is also to add emphasis and importance to attempted connection.
You will be tempted to dismiss this. DON'T. Compose an email in draft, make the call, and if you don't get through leave a voice mail. Then, and only then, hit send on your email. Conveniently enough, the email you have composed ahead of time will make a great script for your voicemail if you need it.
5. Plan on a Sequence of Calls/Emails
At Hubspot, when prospecting, we make 8 touches, including 4 calls, and 4 emails before giving up. The sequence typically goes something like this.
Business Day 1 - voice mail/email #1
Business Day 3 - voice mail/email #2
Business Day 6 - voice mail/email #3
Business Day 10 - final voice mail/email
Even more important than the content of each email and voice mail is the cadence you are establishing. Through your actions you are showing you care about connecting (far more than if you were to send one email and call it a day) and that you have something valuable to offer. As far as the content, make each attempt emphasize a different point of value. For instance, at Hubspot, for our second attempt we frequently reference a company's Marketing Grader score, and offer to review the results with them.
So now you've seen my 5 recommendations to get better results from emails when introducing a new agency service. To see an example email putting it together, check out - A Sample Email for Introducing New Agency Services.
What other successful techniques have you found?
Photo Credit: RambergMediaImages
To create successful inbound marketing campaigns, it's important to create processes to ensure that multiple lead nurturing efforts can be launched in the most efficient way. Furthermore, it's crucial to embrace continuous improvement so these campaigns bring in the greatest number of sales qualified leads possible. These practices help make your marketing agency, or any company, run more efficiently while attracting more clients and more talent.
As we continue to implement these standards and practices, we wondered what some specific things we—and you— could do to enhance these processes on a daily basis. First, let's identify some simple goals your team can rally around to make your shop a better place to work.
Goals to Help Us Strive for Excellence on a Daily Basis
- Our team and clients understand what we are saying
- We can clearly see the relationship between effort and success
- Every day we seem to be getting better at what we do
- We see ourselves as winners, and our customers do too
- When we have problems, we fix them right away and move on
Here, we brainstorm easy steps each of us can take to achieve these goals:
- Resist the temptation to speak right away when asked a question. Think about your response and how to say it clearly.
- Create a plan, just a simple to-do list, for every day. Execute the plan and review your progress before you go home. Then create tomorrow's plan.
- When you run into a roadblock, add a to-do item to your list to solve it. You don't necessarily have to drop what you're doing now. Just commit to solving it later.
- Prioritize your to-do list, and don't let things slide more than a day or two at the most.
- Discuss your challenges and successes with your peers and bosses. Ask for their opinions and recommendations.
- Set aside time every day during work to think. Yes, think. Take your most challenging to-do item and go somewhere quiet and think. Let your work neighbor know that's what you're doing in case you're needed. Let your boss know that's what you want to do and negotiate a reasonable amount of time.
- Identify what's holding you back from becoming a genuine rockstar at your job. Talk to your peers and your boss about it and figure out a plan to get there. Work those steps into your daily plan.
- Blur the lines between work and play. If your job is challenging and rewarding, both personally and professionally, why worry about how much time you spend on each part? When work is stressful, play hard to balance it. When work is awesome, celebrate with your teammates.
- Own something. Strive to be a leader in your project, your field, your social network, your company. Leadership is hard to find and even harder to teach. You know what it means to be a leader, you just have remember to be one every day.
- Write a couple of blog posts every week. Your company definitely needs your help, so you'll make an immediate impact. The big benefit is personal. Expressing your ideas, getting published and getting feedback from outsiders is one of the most rewarding things you can do—and it's out there, on the record for everyone to see. Pretty cool.
Make Your Own Top 10 List
We wanted to let you know that continuous improvement isn't necessarily an organizational thing, nor is it simply a formula with statistical measurements. It starts with our own daily habits and attitudes. By working on just a few things each day, we can improve ourselves and be better team members, and those things have a profound impact on success at every level.
About the Author: John McTigue is the Executive Vice President and Co-Owner of Kuno Creative, an industry-leading inbound marketing agency and certified Gold HubSpot partner.
photo credit: Pompeychuck
Are you looking for creative ways to use the iPad for business? Have you ever wanted to do more with your LinkedIn Connections? In this article, I'll share some ideas on how you can do both to help grow your network and strengthen relationships with your current customers.
I had the opportunity to interview Tom Boudreau of R&R Insurance (a client of ours). Tom is a Commercial Insurance Account Executive who was looking to provide better resources for his current and prospective customers. Tom was kind enough to share his thoughts and process in how he's using his iPad and LinkedIn network to do a "52 in 52" video interview series featuring Wisconsin business professionals.
Below is a recap of my interview with Tom:
Q: Tom, what is "52 in 52"?
A: "52 in 52" is a video interview series where I'm interviewing 52 Wisconsin Business Professionals, with nothing but my iPad, over a time period of 52 weeks. I've wanted to do this "52 in 52" initiative for years, but it took time to build my network of Wisconsin experts. I am now in a position in my career to leverage the collective expertise of my network. They are a great group of people and I'm happy to be able to share their knowledge in a way that can help all of us grow our businesses.
Q: Where did the idea come from?
A: I sell business insurance like a lot of individuals. But my goal is not only to be the best at that, but to also help my clients build their businesses — whether it's insurance related or not. "52 in 52" is my attempt at putting the "social" back in my social networking.
I really wanted to offer my clients and prospective clients something of value. I also wanted to do something with my LinkedIn Connections. In the past, I was simply accepting new connection requests on LinkedIn and then not doing much more with it. I wanted to reach out to my network and learn more about what their businesses do to see if they could help my clients. Ultimately, my goal of "52 in 52" is to share knowledge.
Q: How has this worked for you?
A: It's been great! I'm spending an hour with each individual for the interview - and prior to that we're communicating about what we'll be discussing in that interview and what we can provide the audience as a leave-behind.
It's really strengthening my relationship with these individuals. This process is kind of a bonding process. I share with them the analytics and they feel that I'm truly trying to help them - and that's my goal.
This has also resulted in new and additional business for me. I had a client that I was working with sign an 'Agency of Record' letter for additional services because he appreciated the fact that I was differentiating myself from other insurance agents and working hard to help my clients grow their businesses.
I've also had several opportunities present themselves in ways that I didn't expect. Just by staying in front of my clients, I'm having them refer opportunities my way, as well as introduce me to other professionals that help me strengthen my business network. Even beyond the sales, this has helped build brand awareness for me in a way that doesn't come across as salesy.
Q: How has this benefited your network?
A: It's been very beneficial for them as well. As an example, the interview I posted a couple weeks ago resulted in business leads for the individual being interviewed. A couple hours after I sent out the email to my network letting them know that I posted the new video, three people reached out to me asking to have my guest speaker contact them about quoting some business. It really was a win, win, win for all of us involved.
Q: From a production standpoint, how are you doing the video interviews?
A: I'm using nothing but my iPad set up on a tripod. My father-in-law was kind enough to let me set up a little studio at their office (Circular Marketing in Waukesha, WI). I purchased a couple lights and printed up a sign, but the rest of it is just setting up the iPad and shooting the interview.
I purchased the iMovie App for the iPad and do the editing right on my iPad. When completed, I upload the video to our YouTube Channel and then with your help (Stream Creative), we build out the blog post, create a landing page and upload the leave-behind piece.
When those pieces are in place, I create an email in SubscriberMail and send that out to my network. From start to finish, including the interview, the entire process takes about 4 hours.
Q: In closing, do you have anything else you'd like to share with readers?
A: As a sales person we try very hard to get that initial meeting to learn what our prospects' businesses are all about and where R&R Insurance can help them. Through these "52 in 52" interviews, I can ask these same questions through a totally different process that doesn't feel like I'm selling to them - which I'm not selling - I'm trying to help them reach a new audience, and they get a better value out of that.
If I had to do something different, it would be finding a way to shorten the final videos - but I just can't find a way to get them between three to five minutes without cutting out a lot of the content or sacrificing the personal element involved with these interviews.
Overall, this has been a great experience!
So how are you engaging with your LinkedIn Network? How are you using your iPad for business? Please share any of your ideas in the comment section below.
About the Author: Jeff Coon is a partner and creative director of Stream Creative, a certified HubSpot partner and full service digital marketing and design firm specializing in inbound marketing, web design and development, and social media.
As you embrace 2013 planning, thoroughly assess your marketing program as a means to identity opportunities and gaps in execution.
With an in-depth understanding of where you are today, and what you have the potential to do, it’s much easier to properly allocate time, talent and budgets, and create strategic plans that propel your program forward.
Wondering where to start? Below, I outline 10 areas within your organization that are worth a critical look during the planning process.
10 Marketing Assessment Considerations
Business Cores — To build a powerful marketing program and brand, it’s important that a strong business foundation is in place. Consider business cores such as financial health, customer service, product quality and culture, and how they relate to overall marketing efforts. Are there areas to improve or severe roadblocks that hinder your potential?
Audiences — How well does your organization communicate with key stakeholders such as employees, customers, media and prospects? Are there audiences that you are neglecting?
Marketing Performance — How do you track and report success (i.e. content downloads, customer retention rates, lead quality score, profitability, etc.)? How have your campaigns historically performed in these areas?
Marketing Cores — Do you have the foundational pieces in place that are necessary to truly execute an integrated inbound marketing program, or will much of your time be dedicated to builders that don’t drive immediate results?
Lead Sources — Where do you currently get leads? Can you better capitalize on these outlets? Are there other, more effective, lead-gen sources worth investigating?
Marketing Team Strength — How competent is your internal team in all areas of marketing strategy and execution? Do inadequacies justify hiring a new employee or bringing on an agency for support?
Marketing Technology Utilization — What marketing and sales technologies do you currently use? Are there technologies that would make your job more efficient, effective or track-able?
Social Media Marketing — How is your company currently using social media to connect with audiences, generate leads and raise your profile? Where can you improve?
Content Marketing — Is content creation and distribution a crucial piece of your marketing strategy? Do you regularly blog, and publish content like case studies, ebooks, whitepapers and webinars?
Public Relations — What have you historically done in terms of PR, and are there ways to enhance your program through social, speaking opportunities, content and networking?
Introducing a Marketing Intelligence Engine
The above categories are derived from PR 20/20’s new marketing intelligence engine, Net Marketing Score. As a free online tool, NMS assesses the strength of your business and marketing foundations, forecasts potential and aligns expectations.
Learn more about its origins on the PR 20/20 blog, and sign up for beta access.
What do you consider when planning for the new year? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
About the Author: Paul Roetzer is the founder and CEO of PR 20/20, a certified Gold HubSpot partner and inbound marketing agency that combines content, public relations, social media and search marketing into integrated campaigns.
I originally wrote this article in March 2008. It's another article that got stuck in the draft folder. It's still very relavent, so I'm publishing now.
I make a lot of calls to business owners and marketing professionals. Most business owners have a long list of lines they use to get salepeople off of the phone. I love getting this excuse: "The Timing isn't Right".
First of all, it's probably important to note that I do about 1.5 hours of free consulting and coaching for my prospects. So, anyone talking to me, given my years of experience at internet marketing, should be pretty damn grateful. My time is spent diagnosing their internet marketing and website mess, starting keyword research and competitive research for them and recommending how they can leverage SEO, PPC, blogging, social media, etc, etc to drive more traffic as well as use marketing analytics, lead capture tools and lead intelligence to convert more of their visitors to leads and sales.
Bottomline: they're going to learn a whole hell of a lot from me for free. No obligation.
So, when someone tells me that the timeing isn't right, they're really missing out.
Maybe the Timing Truly Isn't Right. Now, of course, sometimes the timing truly isn't right. Maybe they do not have the time to dedicate to online marketing. Maybe their time would be spent better elsewhere. Maybe they have a family or human resources emergency. Maybe they need to tighten up the operations side of the business. Maybe they have bad sales recruitment problems. There's all kinds of problems that would prevent an organization from stepping up their online marketing.
Maybe You Just Think the Timing Isn't Right
But usually, they think the timing isn't right because they think they know what they're talking about when it comes to online marketing. For example, the most common reason someone thinks that the timing isn't right is because "they're redoing their website right now". They think, and I can understand the logic, that you should worry about driving traffic after you launch a site. However, that's a big mistake.
Why? Well, keyword research and tracking should govern a site design or redesign: keyword research will help you find the keywords to use in your content, as well as affect what pages you have, what the name of the pages are, as well as what your navigation links should be. These are pretty important factors when it comes to launching a site. Also, if you really want to do SEO, you should launch a blog on your own domain and be able to add and edit pages on your site without technical help. That's less about "building the site" and more about "building the site on the right platform". Further, if you want to do PPC advertising down the road, you should have a system in place that lets you launch and tweak landing pages. Further, before you do any kind of relaunch, you should study how people arrive to your site and interact with it. You don't want to screw something up and take a hit on traffic because you didn't understand what search terms, referers people were coming from OR because you eliminated a page that almost every visitor read upon their site visit.
Another reason people think it's the wrong time is because "they want to figure this stuff out" first. They're doing their "homework" and "investigating" how to do online marketing. WTF? Why do you think companies like HubSpot have salepeople? Because we know this stuff. We are your cheat sheet. We've figured it out. It's our job to diagnose. Once someone's a client, we give them the curriculum. For some reason, when it comes to internet marketing, people feel they need to write the curriculum themselves.
What "The Timing Isn't Right" Really Means.
I don't make prospecting calls anymore. In fact, it's hard to get me on the phone without going through someone else these days. But, this article is certainly true of anyone on my team. We task our salespeople to be helpful first, and sell only if we can help someone. The next time you tell a salesperson that the timing isn't right, you should realize you're probably missing out on learning a better way of doing something.... especially if the salesperson is calling from HubSpot.
All of that said, I understand that people make this mistake of thinking that they should talk to me after they do "something". That's normal. And I understand they think I'm going to pitch them something they don't need. They've dealt with many bad salespeople. However, they should know that I won't sell them something unless I can solve a problem that's important to them.
I originally wrote this article in September 2008. For some reason, I never published it. It's still pretty relevant, so I'm putting it out there.
Every week, I generate one or two leads from my website. I've closed several deals from it. Every week, HubSpot's website generates a few thousand leads. I, and the other 11 inbound marketing advisors at HubSpot, close more than a few deals each week as a result of those leads.
In my case, If HubSpot's amazing marketing team wasn't generating leads for me, I could certainly work through my leads fairly quickly. Most companies can work through their internet generated sales leads very quickly.
But, at HubSpot, we have an entirely different problem. We have to figure out who to call first.
There are 3 really amazing things that HubSpot's software does that help me be a lot more efficient and helps me spend my time talking to the right people.
Before I get into it, I know that many people are suspect of salespeople. However, given that I have a Chemical Engineering degree, have run my own business, am a moderately successful internet marketer and can hack code with the best of them, I'm hoping you realize I'm not just a "sales guy". Most importantly, my philosophy in sales is to just "help people solve their problems, assuming I can". In other words, I'm not just pitching products. I'm doing my best to help people identify appropriate solutions to their problems.
That said, I do better when I am helping people who want my help. HubSpot's software helps me maximize the time I'm helping people.
Here are the things that the software does that enable me to do this:
- Leads are prioritized based on engagement with our website.
- When a lead revisits a site, I get notified.
- Track what pages a lead has viewed on our site. This helps me start a conversation by asking a question that I know interests the prospects. For example, if a lead has visited a bunch of seo resources, I know to start the conversation with a question like, "Are you trying to figure out how to improve your search rankings in order to attract more qualified visitors to your site through SEO?"
HubSpot's lead scoring, lead revisit notifications and lead intelligence work differently these days. The software is significantly slicker. But, the way we use them on the sales team has stayed the same. Don't have this capability? How are you prioritizing and timing your sales efforts?