Tag Archives: Customer

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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Book Review 3: The Fred Factor (Part 2/2)

12 May

4 Steps to Find and Develop “Freds” in Your Organization

fred-factor

I recently wrote a blog post on Mark Sanborn’s book, The Fred Factor. While that post focused on explaining what a Fred is (long story short: a passionate employee who delivers an extraordinary customer/client experience) and how to identify one, this blog post will dig into how you can find and develop Freds within your own organization.
But first, why go to the effort? Quite simply, Freds—the most passionate people in your organization—are different. They do ordinary things extraordinarily well. Not surprisingly, Freds are also generally happier because people doing good work feel good, and people doing exceptional work feel, well, exceptional.

Sanborn uses the acronym FRED to explain how to develop “Freds”:

  • Find: There are three main avenues for finding Freds within and for your organization:
    1. Let Freds find you. If you really want your company to be world-class, it must become the kind of place that attracts Freds. To accomplish that, you must empower the Freds you have so their impact will be felt not only in the work your company does externally, but also in your internal culture.
    2. Discover “Dormant Freds.” There are many employees, also known as Dormant Freds, whose inner Fred has yet to blossom. To find them, watch for people that do things with flair (not to be confused with showing off or trying to attract attention)—an exceptionally well-done project, an elegant client meeting, or a clever suggestion are all possible tip-offs that a Dormant Fred is hiding in plain sight. Here are some questions to ask yourself about a potential Dormant Fred:
      • What do I remember about this person?
      • What’s the most extraordinary thing he or she has ever done?
      • How badly would this person be missed if he or she left his or her current position?
    3. Recruit and hire Freds. When you have exhausted your internal Fred pool, you may have to look externally to find them. Here are some great interview questions to find those prospective Freds:
      • Who are your heroes? Why?
      • Why would anyone do more than necessary?
      • Tell me three things that you think would delight most customers/clients/consumers.
      • What’s the coolest thing that has happened to you as a customer?
      • What is service?
  • Reward – Implement a rewards program to make sure Freds are recognized and appreciated, even if you are only recognizing good intentions and not a good final result. While nobody likes to fail, it is important to encourage employees to take chances. When people feel like their contributions are unappreciated, they will stop trying. And when that happens, innovation dies. My company, ER Marketing, recently implemented an award system in which employees nominate each other for exceptional work and attitude. This is meant to encourage employees who live up to the ER Marketing values of Curiosity, Respect, Accountability, and Performance (yes, we know what that acronym spells) with peer and management-level recognition.
  • Educate – Find examples of “Freds,” (both inside and outside of your organization), analyze those examples for commonalities that others can learn from, teach others to act extraordinary everyday—not just when there is a crisis—and set an example (invite others to act similarly).
  • Demonstrate – Set an example by inspiring, involving, initiating, and improvising. Here are some ways you can set an example and inspire employees to better serve your customers, vendors, and fellow employees better:
    • Inspire, but don’t intimidate.
    • Involve by creating a “Team Fred” of leaders in your organization.
    • Don’t wait for the “right” moment. It will never come—you have to make it.

One final, important thought from the book: Pull, Don’t Push. You can’t command someone to be a Fred. You can’t require someone to practice the Fred Factor. Command-and-control short-circuits the spirit of the Fred Factor, which is about opportunity, not obligation.

Invite people to join you. The most powerful tool you have to spread the Fred Factor throughout your organization is your own behavior—the example of your life and the effect it has on others. The best “Freducators” are themselves Freds. As John Maxwell says, “You teach what you know, you reproduce who you are.”

 

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Palate Cleanser: Why Building Products Marketing Matters

24 Nov

Now More Than Ever, Marketing Still Matters to the Bottom Line

Bruce Case

Those of us who have been in the building products industry for many years know that when times get tough, marketing can be one of the first things to get cut. The simple, undeniable truth is that B2B marketing is often underrated, and sometimes under-appreciated—but still effective and important to sales strategy in 2016 and beyond.

I recently came across a video from the 2015 Remodeling Leadership Summit and Big50 Awards ceremony, in which Bruce Case, the President/CEO of Case Remodeling, discusses the importance of marketing to his business. It’s a simple little palate cleanser, but worth watching. Here are a few quotes I pulled if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing:

“The marketing plan is the lifeblood of the business…[yet] a lot of people are tempted to cut that expense. But then that begins the ‘death spiral’ because the calls stop. In today’s world of social and digital marketing, you can do it in creative and less expensive ways.”

  • On the importance of marketing.

“What we’re really trying to do is drive people to our website, use the website, get people educated, and then get them come to us.”

“We need to look to where we’re going to be in five years. With Houzz and Porch, things are going to be vastly different in five years. And it’s trying to figure out how we’re going to be in the wave, not in front of the wave so the wave crashes over. Look at other industries. Taxis were bowled over by Uber in a short time.”

  • On why the building industry needs to always look ahead and innovate. As marketers, we will get pushback on this, but he’s right—it’s not enough for us to address current challenges; we have to be that much smarter and look ahead to tomorrow’s challenges as well. Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?

Those were just a few of my favorite quotes from the video, but check out the whole clip here. (Don’t worry—it’s only about two minutes.)

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Proving B2B ROI Is Hard, But You’re Still Responsible for It

19 Nov

Don’t Ditch Lead Generation—Do Lead Generation Better

Marketing Strategy

As B2B marketers, how do we quantify the results of our work? How do we prove the effectiveness? The ROI. That’s the constant challenge we face, especially when it comes to the building industry, where we have to be that much smarter. The numbers prove it: 32% of B2B marketers can’t even name the digital marketing tactic that generates the most revenue for their company. (Elton wrote an article about that here.)

Nonetheless, the challenge of quantifying B2B marketing results does not absolve B2B marketers of the responsibility to provide them. I came across an article earlier this week that argues too many people are placing lead generation as their #1 measure of effectiveness when it comes to their content marketing, but because sales teams often do not use marketing qualified leads effectively, that might not be the best option. Instead, according to the article, engagement should be the most important measure of success.

They’re talking about a lot of the same things Elton and I have been discussing on Navigate-the-Channel regarding the buyer journey and the tools prospects need as they self-educate their way through the sales funnel—basically, the idea that buyers need good content at various stops through the buyer journey. Their argument, therefore, is that engagement rather than lead gen is the most important metric.

I don’t know how much I agree. The article fails to mention how one measures “engagement” vs. “lead gen” (Do we just measure web traffic? Social?) and how you justify the effectiveness of those results as a marketer.

My take: if we’re saying we need a different measure of effectiveness because sales teams are no longer utilizing our MQLs from lead generation efforts, maybe the question needs to become not how else we can measure effectiveness, but rather, how we can better incorporate the sales team in the early stages by working with them to develop a follow-up plan for what happens after the lead is generated. I’ve blogged about the importance of that here.

As B2B marketers, we have a responsibility to provide results; vague metrics might work in the B2C world, but B2B can’t afford not to know specifically where the money is going and whether or not every dollar is being put to good use. The simple truth is that, in B2B, marketing is often the first expense that gets cut. Delivering to results that can be measured is the single best way to prevent that from happening.

But don’t let that influence you—read the article yourself and see what you think.

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There’s a Word for Doing Something Just to Please Yourself…And It’s Not “Customer-Centric”

6 Nov

Content Marketing Must Be Customer-Centric, Not Company-Centric

You know what I just love? Reading content by a business about their business. In my time as a marketer, I’ve learned that most of the world’s best writing comes when the writer completely disregards the audience’s needs. If I can read an entire history of a company in whitepaper form, I feel like I’ve won the lotto. And I think most people feel the same.

Did you detect any sarcasm there? Because you should.

Self Centered

Here’s why: company-centric content sucks. You would think that enough B2B marketers would have figured that out by now and I wouldn’t have to state the obvious, but here I go: the only good content is content that solves a problem—not sells a product. (Customer-centric means “Help, don’t sell.”)

And yet, a recent survey by B2B Marketing and the UK-based agency Tomorrow People, found that only 38% of marketers consider their content to be “customer-centric.” Let’s think about that for a second, because that means a full 62% of marketers admit that they basically created content to please themselves. (I think there’s a word for that…)

And considering the survey is based on self-reporting, the problem could be even more widespread than the numbers indicate.

How many of us are ignoring our customers’ problems to talk our companies up via content marketing? It’s hard to know exactly, but here’s one thing that isn’t: as B2B marketers, we must start focusing on the Buyer 360—that specific combination of understanding your audience via Buyer Personas and understanding their challenges via the Buyer Journey—if we hope to make an impact with our content marketing efforts and close more sales.

For full findings from the study, read the article at Business2Community.

 

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