Great Inbound Marketing - The Silo Busting Imperative

    Posted by Ed Marsh on Dec 10, 2012 7:30:00 AM

    "Drop your business card in our fishbowl for a chance to win an iPad"

    b2b marketingHave you seen one of those signs at a trade show recently? I can't think of any more explicit manifestation of what's so completely sideways in B2B Sales & Marketing. I mean seriously.

    But let's back up. There once was a time when the T-Rex of the biz dev world was the rainmaker direct sales pro. Strutting his/her stuff with a massive rolodex and easy demeanor they knew that everyone else knew they were the force that sustained a business. And was the red-headed kid brother that was tolerated, every once in a while got picked for a team of pickup ball, and was expected to offer quiet admiration most of the time. In other words marketing had the easy task of generating leads - leads which then the big dawgs would massage and either dismiss or convert to revenue.

    And in that world, B2B buying processes relied on the direct sales folks. This reliance was so ingrained in the system that normally direct sales became involved in the buying process when it was less than 30% complete. So T-Rex had plenty of opportunity to thrash its tail and gnash its teeth - controlling much of the dynamic of the B2B purchase because ultimately they controlled the required information on solutions.

    Meteor strike or the internet?

    But along the way T-Rex became extinct. Everyone realizes that except for those direct sales folks who still think they are the T-Rexes of the business world...and some traditional business owners who haven't looked up from running their companies.

    inbound marketingToday direct sales is an afterthought. The coveted information which they used to control is now available anytime, anywhere. Buyers no longer need them, and therefore (surprise here for anyone?) they'd rather not deal with them. The typical B2B purchasing process now doesn't involve direct sales until it is more than 70% complete. The folks at Square2Marketing have distilled this evolution down into a simple graphic.

    The glory days of direct sales are over.

    So how do we sell now?

    Obviously this evolution begs this critical question. If you can't send your warriors forth to battle for sales (now they may be negotiating terms of transactions based on decisions made before they were even aware of the project) then you must sell using other methods.

    The answer lies in how buyers buy...and it's all about the web. 92% of all B2B purchases begin with an internet search. It stands to reason, therefore, that the fundamental objective of your marketing must be to present as compelling a presence as possible when folks search for solutions which you can provide.

    But more than that, you must replicate the direct sales engagement virtually. Your on-line presence must fulfill all the functions your direct sales T-Rex did in the past. Building credibility, forming bonds of trust, educating prospects on your solutions, distinguishing your offering from competitors', supporting justification analysis and preempting concerns and hesitation must all now be largely achieved through a virtual dialog with prospects.

    There's an app for that!

    The good news is that you someone's already thought through this for you. Inbound marketing is the solution that you haven't hear of but have been desperately seeking.

    The premise of inbound marketing is simple. Market and sell to folks they way they want to buy. The execution (at least if you are interested in doing it right for maximum effect) is complex - not because of any particularly complex element but because success takes an artfully integrated effort across a multitude of tools, disciplines and channels.

    The easy, hard and 'I'm not sure you're up for it' steps

    Deciding to change is easy. And when your banker or accountant keeps banging on you about slowing growth you'll be thrilled to have an answer. 

    Implementing the change is much harder. Again, not because any piece is terribly complicated, but because there are many moving pieces and lots of work to be done.

    But the real impediment? The one I'm not sure you can overcome? Your departmental structure and mindset are so ossified into Sales and Marketing silos that I am not convinced you can change. But now that marketing must do most of the selling and controls 70% of the buying process, you don't have a choice.

    Are you up to it?

    Learn more about the evolving roles of Sales and Marketing.

    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.
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    Topics: small business marketing, thought leadership, small business internet marketing, b2b lead generation

    Our B2B Marketing is solid - we already do all that "content" stuff

    Posted by Ed Marsh on Nov 26, 2012 7:30:00 AM

    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.
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    Topics: small business marketing, inbound marketing, content marketing, b2b lead generation

    Manufacturing Marketing Ideas for Advancing Manufacturing Technology

    Posted by Todd Hockenberry on Nov 20, 2012 7:47:00 AM

    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.

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    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.

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    Topics: small business marketing, marketing for manufacturing, Top Line Results

    Introducing HubSpot Owner: Integrated Online Marketing and Website Platform for Small Businesses

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Sep 18, 2008 9:27:00 AM

    Preface: These are my thoughts and things from my perspective and don't necessarily represent the views and experiences of others at HubSpot. I'm guessing that people, especially our founders and management, from HubSpot will add more perspective in the comments.

    When I joined HubSpot in November '07, I was extremely excited. HubSpot was a perfect fit for my passions at the intersection of online marketing, small business marketing services and software as a service. I had a conversation with Auren Hoffman shortly afterwards telling him what HubSpot was doing. He remarked, you really are attracted to business models that help small business owners grow their business. I hadn't thought of it in that light. But, he was right. I love helping small business owners with what is usually their most pressing problem: lead generation.

    Being in a fast growing business in a rapidly evolving industry, however, I quickly grew a bit concerned about some of the sentiment internally about selling our services to small business owners. Every decision HubSpot makes is based on analysis and numbers. And the first few months, while I was there, a larger % of small business owners had cancelled their subscriptions (even though it was only a small number and usually because they were going out of business or changing direction). Also, previous to joining HubSpot, the majority of the sales team had sold larger products to larger companies. So, they all pretty much preferred selling to marketing teams with established budgets, instead of small business owners that needed a lot more education and had to decide between buying HubSpot and taking their family out to dinner each month.  The marketing team was also making large strides at attracting marketing professionals to our site and converting them into sales ready leads. They recommended those leads get priority in our queues and most of the sales team happily obliged. Further, the development team was developing more advanced inbound marketing capabilities like closed loop marketing and lead scoring and focussing less on solving the problems of small business owners. We even starting requiring small businesses to start paying for a year long subscription in advance, to ensure that they were committed. 

    In short, it seemed like we were raising hurdles that prevented us from helping small businesses, while shifting the company focus up stream towards larger small businesses. 

    A few months into my time at HubSpot, though, things started to change.

    I started selling our content management system to small business owners as a primary reason why they should start with us. I specifically remember some early clients like Dr. Edward Kwak, Darcy Cook and Dave Lima where HubSpot had an immediate and extremely positive impact on their lead generation and business growth because they now had control over their site. 

    A few months later, we instituted an internal scoring system to determine our most successful, most engaged and most improved clients. In aggregate, my clients, many of them small businesses were getting the highest scores.  

    Around this time, the numbers were crunched and it was determined that small businesses who use our Content Management System (CMS) were almost always successful.

    Things started to turn around internally. Management realized that we could serve both small and mid sized businesses successfully. But, it was quickly becoming apparent that they had different needs. 

    As a result, on September 1st, HubSpot Owner and HubSpot Marketer were launched. HubSpot owner is a complete system for small businesses to manage their website, blog, traffic acquisition and lead capture. It also includes our internet marketing training program which teaches internet marketing practices in SEO, PPC, blogging for business, social media marketing, etc.  It includes all of the SEO tools, social media marketing and blog analytics tools, marketing analytics, lead intelligence, etc. It sounds a bit complex to the average small business owner, but the brilliant thing is that this is all they need to make the web work for them. It actually makes the process simpler by putting everything into one package. 

    Altogether, HubSpot Owner provides a complete low cost turn key lead generation system for small businesses, as long as they are willing to dedicate the time to making it work. It removes the need for a technical webmaster. It removes the need for external costly custom web development. It lessons the need for hiring external marketing resources that most small businesses and solopreneurs cannot afford and who rarely generate a measurable ROI.  It makes it possible for small businesses to be in control of their website, online marketing, their online lead generation and ultimately the growth of their company. 

    As you can tell, I'm pretty excited. By the end of August, we signed on 155 new clients bringing us to 750+ clients in total. When I started in November '07, we had <100 clients altogether. It's been an absolutely amazing ride. We're helping so many small businesses generate leads. I'm very confident, with the new product streamlined for business owners, we'll help many many more in the future.

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    Topics: small business marketing, small business websites, small business internet marketing

    The Story of Starting a Brew On Premises Business

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Apr 23, 2008 3:48:00 PM

    A few weeks back, Ray Schavone, owner of Deja Brew, sent me a great guest post "how to" article about starting a brew it yourself business. It was a great post with a lot of lessons for any business.

    I love "how-to" articles, but I like stories even more. If there's one thing a blog lends itself well to - it is storytelling. And people tend to relate to them. Maybe it stems from when our parents read us stories. I know that my son loves it when we read to him. 

    So, here's Ray's story. It's certainly entertaining and it reveals some great lessons too: 

    So you want to start your own business? Why? It's a lot more work than you might suspect. You'll have a jerk for a boss, and get to deal with everything, EVERYTHING, related to your business. You won't be able to call in sick, or take time off because the day is nice. And nobody, nobody, will sweep the floor as well as you will. Everyone else in your company will be an employee, and you know how much you care as an employee.

    Yeah, I was told all this and more, but went ahead and did it anyway. In some ways, I was lucky in my choice of business (beer, who doesn't like beer?). So how did it all start?

    Back in the middle ages, 1996 to be exact, I was down sized, right sized, laid off, use whatever term works for you, from the company I had worked for, for over 23 years. The company had been down sizing since 1987, and it became a rather depressing environment. I had been traveling to Canada on company business and had walked past a brew-on-premises operation one evening. It was intriguing to me as a home brewer, so I stopped in. Everyone was talking, smiling, having a beer or beers, good music in the background, and I fell in love. What a different environment from what I had been experiencing. So, a little bit of research, I found that there were some of these businesses operating in the U.S., and decided to check them out. I found one relatively close by, and spent a bit of time brewing there to get the feel for it. Same feeling to what I had experienced in Canada. It was a lot of fun...

    But, that day in 1996 came, and it was time to find something new. So, with my wife's blessing, I embarked on the road to open my own business, a brew-on-premise. I contacted several of the BOPs operating in the U.S. and just started asking the questions I needed to ask, what equipment they were using, how they were doing, what they would do differently. I bought a software package to write a business plan, followed the directions, and Voila!, a business plan.

    And so, shiny faced, full of enthusiasm and optimism, my newly printed business plan in hand, I gave a copy to a banker friend of the family, and anxiously awaited my funds. Well, the short story is he didn't approve my request or give me the funds. But he did give me some good advice; he told me that I needed an SBA loan.

    So I called the SBA. They told me I needed to go to one of their regional Small Business Development Centers, and have them help me with my business plan (but I have one! And I paid damn good money for that s/w package too). Ok, so I called the SBDC at Clark University in Worcester. I met with a wonderful and enthusiastic lady there (unfortunately, I don't remember her name, it was 11 years and many beers ago), who said she'd help me.

    BTW, if you are considering starting a business, I highly recommend contacting the SBDC at your nearest business school. What an incredible service they provide. FREE!!!

    Away we go, this wonderful lady became my drill sergeant. Questioned me on everything I wrote in the plan. Ugh.. But, she did put me in touch with an excellent business tax accountant who spent hours with me developing the financials of my plan... FREE! America, what a country!

    After a couple of months, my drill sergeant declared my plan to be ready. And off to the banks they sent me. They gave me a list of banks, with contacts, and I started calling. My first rejections were disappointments, but I was not fazed. By the 20th rejection, I was beginning to wonder. And then I read a story about Walt Disney being rejected by banks over 200 times for his Disney Land theme park. Onward I cried!

    Eventually, I found a bank that was interested. About 6 months after I started with my first plan, I had a funding commitment. Before the bank would give me the commitment, I had to find a location, and have a lease in place.

    And so the build out of the space began. It was undeveloped warehouse space. The building owner decided to pay for the build out. Sweet! The owner was building the space out for a couple of retail operations, and mine was to be the first.

    I contact the local Board of Health to review my floor lay out. They are very confused. (What are you trying to do?) I provide them with contact names for the BOH where similar businesses are located. At our meeting I laid out my floor plans, build out plans and the sanitizing chemicals I'd be using. They look at me and say, you know if everyone who needed BOH approval for a business in town came to us first, like you did, our job would be soooo much easier, and their approvals would go much faster. We love what you're doing, and we think you need to put a mop sink in here. Meeting over, approved.

    Find out I need a zoning variance for the business. Ugh.. Petition for the variance, go to the town meeting with the landlord, and my hot BOH approval. Variance granted. Yesss!

    We started by measuring, and drawing chalk lines on the floor to separate the spaces. We took several half walls down, put metal studding up for the walls, and then one day... Bang! The brick façade came down, and windows and door went in. Hey, this is starting to look real!

    Rough plumbing goes in. Hey! Why's the plumbing for the toilets next to the door, and the sink is on the far wall? Answer: We didn't want to jack hammer through 8 inches of re-enforced concrete to put the toilets on the back wall. BTW, did I mention the landlord was doing the build out? You get what you pay for.

    The brewing equipment starts to arrive. Yeehaw! Time to get my contractors in and get everything connected. My brother in law is a plumber and he's doing the job. Free! Cost of materials only. Great stuff! And what a maze of plumbing is needed. Carpenter arrives, and my specific build out starts. Oh, I'm getting excited now...

    Plumbing is complete. Get the plumbing inspector out.. Who did the plumbing? I tell him. He says, "Boy, those are great guys aren't they?" Confused look on my face. Yeah they sure are... Ok, so what does this do, what does that do type questions. I go through the entire water flow with him. Jeez, they do great work, he says.. Plumbing approval in hand.. I'm getting more excited every day.

    My build out is finished, sign is up. It's spring time in New England, and I'm feeling good... I'm outside sitting on the tail gate of my pick up truck, eating a sub, and a man walked over to me and says "hey, you know what's going on here?" Sure do, and I proceed to explain it to him. He hands me his card. He's an advertising exec from a regional newspaper. We talk a bit, and off he goes. Now that the sign is up, this becomes a daily occurrence. Some one stops in, asks what's going on, and proceeds to tell me I *need* to advertise with them, it'll be great for my business. Oh boy, this is getting old fast.

    So, I call the first advertising guy that stopped by, and talk to him for a bit. (BTW, if you haven't figured this out, this is a very unique business. I'm the only one in Mass doing this, and one of 50 in the U.S.) So, I play the news worthiness of my venture to him. He let's me know editorial and advertising departments are somewhat separate, but he'll talk to one of his friends who's a reporter for the town I'm in. He drops by, and writes an article on us. A very nice article too. About a half page in the paper. The phone starts ringing. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy... So, I call the advertising exec up, and let him know what happened, and that clearly, advertising in his paper would do me good. We set up a year long advertising campaign.

    And so, I start this approach with everyone else that tells me I *need* to advertise with them. I'm very unique, do a story on me first. If I get a response, then you're a good advertising vehicle for me. Some are willing to do this, some are not. It's ok with me, if they want my money, they play by my rules. Hey, I'm really starting to like this owner position.

    Last item is the fire inspection before we can open. They want additional sprinklers installed. Landlord calls the plumber to install them. Plumber cuts the water main to install the sprinklers, stops in the store and says, Sorry Ray, but we're not installing anything until we get paid for the rough work we did... OMG... We have no water, period. No flushing, no washing of hands, and certainly no brewing. Issue resolved, 2 days later the new sprinklers are in, and the fire department completes their inspection.

    We are good to go!

    We have a soft opening, testing the systems, brewing some beer to sample at our Grand Opening.

    Grand opening arrives, it's a pretty nice turnout, and about 200 people come through the door to see what we're about and sample the wares.

    Day 1.. Do I hear crickets chirping? That's ok, we've just opened.

    Day 2.. Damn those crickets are loud. Hey, it's just day 2.

    Day 3.. Turn up the music, and can't hear the crickets. But, I'm thinking, what have I done? I've got a loan payment due the end of the month

    Day 4.. Hey, let's play some cards, the music sounds good, and we've got some beer & wine.

    Day 5... The phone rings! Our first appointment!! Another appointment and another!

    Day 6.. More appointments.. This is starting to feel better..

    10 years and 10 months later.. We're still here. We still have local towns people stop in and ask us how long we've been opened. Really? I've never noticed you before!

    And oh, the stories we could tell over those 10 years. I do want to say, that the local town officials were incredibly supportive of us during our start up, and continue to be so. And we've got a great landlord, very responsive if there's a problem. We got to profitability pretty quickly, and remain so. One of the best things about our business is the people we get to meet. Our customers are with us for 2 hours during the brewing cycle, and two weeks later, are in for another two hours to bottle. We've made some wonderful friends over the years. Thank you all for all your support!

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    Topics: small business marketing, storytelling, marketing a small business, blogging for business, business ownership

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