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Visiting New York on 9/11: A Note on Perspective

15 Sep

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Don’t Lose Sight of What Really Matters

I recently had the unique experience of traveling to New York City for a Business Marketing Association (BMA) meeting that coincided with the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Consequently, this year was a little different than past BMA meetings in that my trip was an opportunity not only to talk about the B2B marketing industry with some of the leading companies and agencies in the country, but also to gain some important and much needed perspective.

This year, I arrived on the day of September 11 and decided to visit the memorial and see the lights, which are illuminated only a couple of nights a year. As I walked around Ground Zero, I saw firemen in dress blues from Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Antonio, Las Vegas, Miami, and many other cities. These men and women had been at Ground Zero in the weeks and months after the attack, lending a hand with the recovery, clean up, and other support efforts for their brothers and sisters in the NYFD.

As I walked from the reflecting pools where the Twin Towers once stood, I saw a big crowd around the Irish pub next to the fire station. Approaching the pub, I realized this was the place to be for all the firemen and women. I wasn’t sure if I could even go in, but as I entered, I realized I was more than welcome.

The firemen and women in the pub and the streets surrounding it were all talking, hugging, laughing, and sometimes even crying with their brothers and sisters who work to serve so many Americans in different cities across the country. Several times I attempted to buy these amazing, everyday heroes a beer or a drink. But every time, they replied with, “No, let me buy you a drink.”

“What? You’re buying me a drink? I should be thanking you.”

But because of their honor and pride, they wouldn’t allow me to buy them one.

We don’t always value the relationships with the people we serve, or who serve us. If you were offered something by the very people you serve, would you accept—or refuse and offer them one instead? Do you say thank you enough to the people who work for you? How about the people you work for?

From the memorial itself to the people I met in the city on this day, the experience of being in New York on the anniversary of 9/11 is something I wish everyone could experience. While a somber reminder of the worst attack on American soil, it’s also the location where thousands of people perished on what should have been just another typical Tuesday at the office.

As marketers, we have lots of “typical days” in the office. They tend to involve helping our companies or clients sell their products and services—they don’t tend to involve saving lives.

For us, making a mistake means a painful meeting or a brutal phone call—it doesn’t mean life or death.

When every project is rushed, we say it’s hot—but it’s not actually on fire.

We might run into a crazy meeting—but it’s not a burning building.

There is always another “typical day” at the office. But as we recognize and recall the events that forever changed our world, let’s also keep our perspective and remember that we can always be more humble, more thankful, and more appreciative of the opportunities we have. In short, more kind.

Appreciate the people you work with and work for, and those who work for you.

Do good work, but remember that your work isn’t the only thing that matters.

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The 4 Cs of Change Communications

7 Sep

Communicate Cost-Cutting Measures with Care

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Guest Contributor:
Kate O’Neil Rauber, Vice President of Public Relations

It was a record year for mergers and acquisitions in 2015, and 2016 is expected to follow suit. Experts also say certain industries will be more susceptible to layoffs, including tech and oil.

Whether companies are thinning teams to avoid M&A duplication or right-sizing staff in order to regain financial footing, executives must communicate cost-cutting measures with care.

“Survivors,” or those who remain with a company after massive changes, tend to have three initial thoughts:

First, shock. They can’t believe it’s happening. They may even be worried about having lost a close work friend.

Next, survivor shock quickly shifts to me. As in: Am I next?

Finally, there’s workload. Meaning, how much more work will I have to do now that others are gone? Or, how will I get my current projects done without a critical member of the team?

Understanding the survivor mind frame, executives communicating tough change management messages should embrace the four “Cs”:

1. Compassion: Someone is either losing a job or getting more work — when they already feel overworked. Show compassion and appreciation for everyone impacted. Remember, you’re talking about someone’s livelihood.

2. Candor: The story behind why this change is being made must be crisp and paint a compelling business case. Fluff and spin have no place here. Remember, employees will be looking to executive leadership — you — for answers.

3. Clarity: Paint the vision for where the company is headed. The initial sting hurts. But, (most) survivors will get on board if they understand and believe your vision. Remember, jobs have been lost and workloads have ballooned. Overnight.

4. Confidence: Survivors need to believe you. They want to know that in your bones, you believe this change is the best thing for the company. Remember, confidence is not the same as arrogance; one attracts — the other detracts.

Cost-cutting measures should be communicated with care — whether it’s a right-sizing, restructuring, downsizing, or another corporate code word for layoffs. You can’t merge corporate cultures or right the financial ship without your survivors on board.

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Measure Value, Not Activity

30 Aug

Are You Measuring the Right Results?
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Open rates, click through rates (CTRs), and conversions are just a few of the metrics most B2B marketers tend to use when determining the results of their work. But are those really the best metrics for determining success?

According to new data from Forrester, not necessarily. More and more B2B marketers are now struggling to tie these results to revenue. The truth is that while the metrics described above do a good job in a vacuum of helping marketers determine whether their marketing is working, they don’t necessarily shed light on whether or not the marketing efforts are generating real dollars for the business as a whole.

Increasingly, it’s not just CMOs who are looking at marketing results, it’s the CEOs. They want to see a direct correlation between marketing spend and sales generation. If the numbers don’t work out, then the marketing department or creative agency might not work out either.

Despite the demand for revenue-based results looming above them, B2B marketers are still struggling to deliver these types of results. So what is complicating their efforts? According to the article, there are several main challenges:

  •  Internal data is difficult to collect, connect, and analyze given the silos that exist in many workplaces.
  • Too much data! Marketers have access to more than ever before, and sometimes it is difficult to cut through the clutter.
  • Marketers aren’t always “numbers people.” Think of the best ones you know—they’re usually creative types who may not have developed the analytical skills necessary to excel—no pun intended.
    Marketing is a subjective field, but by looking at the right numbers and presenting them to the right people, B2B marketers can convert numbers into usable information that can drive real results for the business. (For some fabulous tips about presenting results to others, read this blog by an account service professional at ER Marketing, Matt Bartlett.)

Testing subject lines and measuring open rates and CTRs is great, but only insofar as it improves your approach to your marketing goals. If it helps you fine tune your approach, all the better. To prove your worth as a B2B marketer, you need to start measuring the value of what you do, not just the activity.

To read the full article about the Forrester findings, click here.

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Swim Against the Tide

14 Jul

Avoid the Trendy Inbound-Only Approach

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Although inbound marketing has become quite the buzzword recently, B2B marketers need to strengthen their outbound marketing efforts for lead generation as well. Inbound marketing can be a great tool for short term results, but the only way your organization can generate successful leads is if you have a balanced combination of both inbound and outbound marketing efforts.

According to a report from Act-On Software and Demand Metric, B2B marketers should focus equally on growing their inbound and outbound marketing tactics in order to optimize their revenue. With 43% of revenue generation coming from outbound approaches and 41% coming from inbound approaches, it is quite clear that marketers cannot solely rely upon the trending inbound efforts.

When used correctly, inbound and outbound marketing efforts complement each other and support one another at every step. Outbound tactics make your presence known, and its content motivates leads to invest in a professional partnership with your company. It can allow you to approach anyone within an organization and target influencers within the company. Inbound creates fast results and a clear path to brand visibility because it encourages new leads to come to you; however, they may not have the same level of influence as those approached in outbound tactics.

The combination of inbound and outbound is preferable to simply choosing one approach, because they lend strengths to one another. Outbound efforts require a higher level of research in order to identify customer profiles, which can come in handy when dealing with inbound leads. Conversely, inbound marketing content can be recycled for outbound strategies and repurposed to fit specific customer profiles. This will further engage your outbound leads, and make them feel that you understand their wants and needs with fresh content instead of staunch and more traditional approaches.

Your inbound and outbound marketing mix will depend on how your consumers behave. Some strategies may rely more heavily on lead generation through inbound efforts with a coupling of outbound. Other, larger companies may rely solely on outbound. Some are now looking to incorporate new strategies to keep up with changing demands of the market. In today’s market it is a poor decision to neglect one approach for the other, instead of having a balance of each because the market is seeking more thoughtful and personalized information. This will also effect increased ROI challenges for marketers as the market becomes more competitive and fragmented.

To find the right marketing mix, you must first understand the need. With many B2B marketers growing more towards account-based marketing, outbound efforts will play a more important role than it has been given credit for recently. The way in which outbound will be used, however, will be more direct and original than more traditional, aggressive sales tactics.

Inbound marketing has by far set the standard for personalization and catering to your leads wants and needs. It allows for you to leave them wanting more while also informing them of what they need to know. Whitepapers, emails, and social media content has allowed for more approachable lead generation efforts, but again will be most effective in the long-run when paired with outbound tactics.

While inbound lead generation is the “next big thing,” there have been clear advantages that outbound efforts have proven to turn into revenue. Since we have recently seen success in different and more direct outbound tactics that have led to converting leads into new client relationships quickly, this challenges the notion that only inbound efforts will bring new leads into the sales funnel. Since there is less pressure applied and the viewership is more spread out, inbound is excellent at nurturing new leads, but it is not necessarily faster than the efforts of outbound lead generation. The important takeaway is that a balance of inbound and outbound marketing tactics will provide a more well-rounded lead generation strategy.

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3 Reasons to Renovate Your Website (And 3 Sites That Are Getting It Right)

18 May

An Outdated Website May Have Bigger Consequences Than You Think

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ChrisGuest Contributor:
Chris McCutcheon, Interactive Manager

Websites. We see and interact with them every day, and it seems there is one for just about everything. As an interactive manager at ER Marketing, I’ve seen it all when it comes to websites—the good, the bad, and the oh-so-ugly.

Not too long ago I had someone ask me to look at their website. I pulled it up on my phone and nothing showed up. Thinking it was a little strange, I waited until I got home and found it on my iPad. Still nothing. I knew then that something was definitely going on with this site. She said it was new, so why wouldn’t it come up? Turned out the entire site had been done in Flash, which I discovered after I pulled it up on my laptop. She was extremely disappointed and had no idea the person she hired to do her website built it using old technology.

So, ask yourself a few questions about your own website. Does it look good on mobile? Is the site built in Flash? Still using clipart from 1999? Still relying on misguided keyword stuffing? Is it supporting your brand? Unless it’s been updated recently, it might be time to rethink your website.

Here are 3 reasons why it may be time to renovate your website:

1. It’s not mobile friendly.

  • Two-thirds (64%) of adults own a smartphone, which means if your site doesn’t render properly, or delivers a bad user experience, potential customers may go elsewhere.
  • Google will ding you. They announced last year that sites will be penalized in the rankings if they aren’t mobile friendly. According to research by online ad network Chitika, Google page one results enjoy a whopping 95% of all search traffic, while 91% of searchers never reach page two.

2. Unknown security vulnerabilities.

  • Security flaws affecting an older website are much more likely, as these sites rely on older technology.
  • Even if you might not have confidential information you are worried about being stolen, there are other reasons you should be concerned, like letting unfiltered data insert into your database. This can cause a high risk of SQL Injection, which leads to your site being hacked—and unwanted links being injected into your site.
  • If you use any kind of third-party software—meaning your IT department didn’t code it—you must make sure it is always up-to-date. Any outdated software with security flaws can cause your site to be at risk.

3. High page abandonment rate.

  • Many older sites take forever to load. Sure, you may love the large images and the huge slideshow, but it’s probably making your site lag. 47% of consumers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. [1] Google values the length of time someone stays on your page, so if your website has a high abandonment rate, your SEO will be negatively impacted as Google puts delivering the best and most relevant content to users first and foremost above all else.
  • Poor navigation. If the user doesn’t know what to do or where to go, you are missing out simply because there isn’t any clear direction for the user.
  • Many websites fail to deliver a clear sense of what the company offers. Unless you are a well-known brand, you need to let people know who you are and what you can offer them in a way they can understand and easily access.

Here are a few sites in the building products industry to inspire you and get you thinking about your own site:

Blu Homes

  • Site is responsive and mobile friendly
  • Good user experience
  • Nice, easy to navigate design

Royal Building Products

  • Loads fairly quickly, even with a full screen slider
  • Offers a clear sense of who the company is and what they offer
  • Displays well on mobile devices

Guardian Building Products

  • Utilizes a card-style layout for chunks of content
  • Mobile friendly
  • Easy to navigate

[1] https://blog.kissmetrics.com/loading-time/

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