1. My customers don’t use social media

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    This post is for my current and future clients who think they won’t deal with social media because their customers don’t “use” it.  This thinking is the first cousin to the “we’re different” thinking that every vendor encounters when they try to bring proven solutions to new prospects. Both limit easily achievable possibilities. What does that mean, “use social media”? Is Twitter or Facebook the image you carry? OK, but ask yourself these questions: do your customers conduct online research, do they use Google? Then, you need to deal with social media. Social media, in part because of the buzz word nature and related hype, is intimidating. I suggest you replace the words social media, with online channels. There are two primary ways to think of using social media: to listen and to promote. Start By Listening Social media is a terrific, low cost (time and effort only) way to...
  2. No Marketing Momentum? What Now?

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    Competitive athletes know that momentum can make all the difference in winning games.  You develop momentum by either executing a well thought out strategy or making a spectacular play that shakes up the competition.  When you have momentum you play your game and emphasize your strengths.  When you lose momentum, you have to figure out how to get it back by making adjustments.  Marketing momentum in a competitive environment has many similarities.  You can develop it through a well thought out strategy followed by focused execution. Depending upon spectacular big events to develop marketing momentum is risky and hard to do but not unheard of.    The big difference between sports and B2B marketing is timing.  Games are over in minutes or hours.  Marketing takes months to deliver outcomes. Understanding marketing momentum is important to developing a marketing strategy.  Marketing activities build upon one another to develop and sustain momentum.  Multiple...
  3. Got “content” challenges? Apply the problem-cause model

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    Serious practitioners of content marketing inevitably face significant content challenges. But sales professionals do as well — especially to conduct effective change conversations with customers. Surveys, as well as client discussions about top content challenges, reveal the operational nature of the underlying causes of many of content related problems. Operational Issues However, I seldom see content strategy guidelines address operational issues. This is a major shortcoming of current thinking. Content strategy and planning for content marketing is a different and complex task for most newcomers. But if you look at the challenges early practitioners have faced, you will want to figure this out quickly. One of the most useful models we use we call the “problem-cause model”. Like many powerful ideas, this idea is simple. But work with it and you will experience important insights that will help with your content strategy and execution. Problem-Cause Model Explained In this 4...
  4. Content Marketing Discussion With Marketing Made Simple TV

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    This week I had the privilege of joining Joe Pulizzi of Junta42 and Doug Kessler of Velocity Partners on an online video discussion hosted by Jeff Ogden‘s Marketing Made Simple TV online show. Takeaways and Insights Content Strategy — This is the starting point and essential first step for an effective and efficient content marketing initiative. We must get this right or we will experience weak and misaligned work products, delayed and inefficient execution, and limited results. There are clear and agreed upon models for content strategy. Disciplined work is required. Operations Model — Content strategy must extend to define an operations model that deals with new requirements of content marketing, especially for a constant stream of buyer-relevant and useful content that applies to the entire buying journey. This impacts the scale of content and operational resources. Execution is a major challenge and risk. One (of many) reason is an...
  5. Selling to On-Demand Buyers

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    Most of us are well aware the world of B2B buying has gone through fundamental shifts in the last five to ten years. Why hasn’t the way we sell fundamentally changed as well? We all feel the perception from buyers that, to them, all vendors and their products look pretty much the same (undifferentiated value). We know too well the difficulty of identifying and engaging new prospects in sales conversations (generating leads). Our CRM monitored sales process reveals protracted buying timeframes (longer sales cycles and higher costs). I am amazed that for many senior executives I meet, a deeper appreciation of the implications of this transformation hasn’t occurred and isn’t translating into different strategies . If you are a CEO, CFO or VP of Sales with over twenty years of experience, you come from an era of thinking about B2B marketing as famously described by John Wanamaker: “Half the money...
  6. 35 Days to Great First Sales Meetings

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      35 Days to First Conversation — do the math For prospects who actively engage your content, assuming a two day lag in viewing, here is a possible sequence to your first call appointment (elapse time not work days) (“your mileage may vary”): Day 1 – send initial invitation touch with vmail call Day 3 – prospect views email content Day 5 – send Touch #2 automatically, no call Day 7 – prospect views content Day 14 – send Touch #3 mail, vmail call Day 16 – prospect views content Day 23 – send Touch #4 mail, vmail call Day 25 – prospect views content Days 25, 26, 27 – email & call to request introduction conversation Day 35 – have first introduction call For a detailed, comprehensive explanation of each step, download this document.  
  7. What “Job” Do You Want Content to Do?

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      Marketing professionals who are trying to understand the principle behind content marketing can take a lesson from Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School and his “jobs-to-be-done” marketing ideas. This core Christensen idea is presented in the HBS Working Knowledge article, Milkshake Marketing. The article describes a fascinating study his team conducted on behalf of a fast food chain that wanted to improve milkshake sales. The company initially applied a typical market research approach before it engaged “one of Christensen’s fellow researchers, who approached the situation by trying to deduce the ‘job’ that customers were ‘hiring’ a milkshake to do.”   Parallels Between Product Design and Content Strategy Consider this comparison between product design and content strategy. Both product design and content share similar problems. Product design challenges are revealed in the low success rate of new product introductions. Marketing content issues are revealed in the low usefulness to marketing campaigns, sales...
  8. Content and Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2011

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    I’ve just read this compilation of insights and predictions published by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). Two strategic insights I found especially helpful: Must have a real-time mindset (David Meerman Scott) The “consumerization” of B2B marketing (Tom Pisello) This summary of especially salient points looks like a pretty good content checklist: Content will get shorter (Doug Kessler) Relevance will become the new standard (Sandra Zoratti) Must become better storytellers – Some brands will understand that they are nothing more than a story and brands that tell their story will win (Simon Kelly) Create original high value content (think unique) (Valeria Maltoni) Education oriented better than humor (Russ Henneberry) Frequency, quality and relevancy not only matter, but will be essential to maintaining a competitive edge (Barbara Rozgonyi)   Ability to generate content that engages audiences and motivates them to take action (Paul Roetzer) Quality over quantity Content strategy and planning–By the end of 2011,...
  9. Another Case for Marketing and Sales Collaboration

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    We have to be careful not to take words too literally. Consider the idea that marketing delivers sales ready leads to sales. By doing this, marketing has moved the buyer X% (30% -70%?) of the way through the sales process, right? Well, maybe, but maybe not. Let’s look at what has to happen with that “lead” on the sales side. (Reminder, we’re talking complex not transaction oriented sales here.) In most B2B sales processes 4-15 stakeholders are engaged. (A top technology company selling a multimillion dollar solution has 30-50 people on their People Map). When we say marketing has delivered a sales ready lead, do we mean the 4-15 stakeholders to a specific opportunity, or a single individual? Obviously, waiting for marketing to get an entire buying team to sales ready status introduces serious risk factors of being late to apply the critical sales professional resource. After all, people progress individually...
  10. New B2B Marketing and Selling Truisms

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    This is my list of new marketing and selling truisms for B2B selling organizations. They provide context for most of our services and writing. I post them prominently here so as to not have to repeat them in any conversation or material I create. If you agree with these truisms, please join the conversation. If you have additional, please help me grow a comprehensive list. Thanks to those who have provided suggestions, some of which I’ve added. Buyers are more in control of the B2B buying process than ever before. For buyers, all sellers look and sound alike. Products and services appear undifferentiated. Therefore, the way we sell is a critical area of differentiation and value add. The Internet changes everything, by providing instant access to virtually unlimited information. This requires new ways of thinking about marketing and sales, as well as new processes, skills, resources and investments. “It’s not...
  11. Content Strategy for the Web

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    If you’re accountable for creating content for marketing and sales I encourage you to immediately get copies of Kristina Halvorson’s Content Strategy for the Web for everyone on your team. There are many parallels and insights that apply to building non-website content. The core premise, that organizations must take a strategic approach to building content and think of content as important business assets, applies to content created for lead generation and nurturing programs, sales enablement and customer communications. The following are a few key excerpts from the book: “Only when we embrace our identities as publishers will we be able to commit to the necessary infrastructure to care for our content as a strategic business asset. For years, we’ve been spending millions of dollars on strategy and research, user experience design, visual design, and technical platforms. In other words, we’ve invested in everything we need to build the online vehicles...
  12. For a Stronger Content Strategy — Begin With Purpose

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    I remember reading about Norman Cousins. He developed a serious illness in the seventies and received a poor recovery prognosis. Convinced of the power of positive emotions, he used humor and laughing to support his recovery. He rented funny TV shows and movies. This experience was the basis for his popular book, Anatomy of An Illness. TEDTalks are part of my therapy today. Mostly because of their incredible inspirational value. Right at the top of the most popular TEDTalks is Simon Sinek. Sales and marketing must go beyond delivering information to customers. We’re about inspiring action. In this vein, all marketing and sales professionals should be familiar with this landmark talk, Start with Why — How Great Leaders Inspire Action. When organizations develop their content strategy, and begin with purpose – theirs and their audience’s purpose – the work is less daunting and results are more effective. This is not a...
  13. Sales VPs CEOs and the New Revenue Engine

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    Our business partner, Marketo, has been articulate promoting a shift in thinking in B2B selling organizations from a sales engine to a new revenue engine. This is an important read. The key impacts of this shift include: Lower Customer Acquisition Costs Reduce Wasteful Spending –(reducing cold calls, direct and email blasts –IDC estimates 25% of sales time is spent on unproductive prospecting) More Predictable Sales Forecasts Greater Pipeline Stability After many years of listening to the diatribe about the “marketing and sales disconnect,” it’s refreshing to hear solid discussion of a collaborative marketing and selling process that is focused on the common goal of revenue growth, aligned around the customer buying process, and addressing the questions customers must answer in order to solve their business problems and make a buying decision. In the past I was among those from the sales side of the equation who thought “marketing didn’t get...
  14. e-Marketing Strategies for the Complex Sale

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    When we look back at the past decade, I believe we will see a significant inflection point in the transformation of B2B marketing and selling. The rhetoric of the internet has become the reality of the internet. The web, along with digital media, web 2.0 technologies, and the proliferation of wireless and mobile computing have resulted in the long-awaited convergence. Even user adoption rates, traditionally the regulator on the velocity of technology impact, are accelerating noticeably. Of course, not all is perfect. We tend to implement new technologies using old processes and methodologies. True breakthrough occurs when we re-engineer these processes based upon the new technologies. To paraphrase an old line, to ask, “given my business, how should I use these new technologies?” is fundamentally the wrong question. A more helpful question is, “given the capabilities provided by new technologies, how should I design and run my business?” Ardath Albee...
  15. Re-consider PowerPoint — It’s not just a presentation tool

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    I love this idea, that it’s not “just PowerPoint” anymore. I think PowerPoint offers organizations untapped potential for improved sales messaging, knowledge sharing, and customer communications. A better PowerPoint strategy can drive significant content production efficiencies, rapid development and turnaround times, easy content tailoring, the ability to scale content requirements, and dramatically lower production costs compared to documents. PowerPoint is where the corporate communication process starts. When we stop thinking of it as a presentation tool, and think of it as a business graphic development tool to create visual support for conversations, a new world of possibilities opens. How Important is PowerPoint to Your Sales Organization? Several years ago we conducted a survey of 10 technology companies asking them what percent of the hits to their marketing and sales intranet were for the data type PowerPoint. For each company, the answer was between 55% and 62%. In each company, PowerPoint...

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