Rethinking Marketing

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It’s easy to be a lazy marketer. It can be tempting to cut corners because no one is looking. It can be tempting because a lot of the tasks are mundane. And yes sometimes lazy can lead to an extra boost – in traffic, in sign-ups, in visits…

But really, lazy is a way to hide. It’s a way to avoid doing work that matters. It’s a way to avoid showing up and building something that can last.

The thing is that lazy begets lazy. The more you do it, the more you get unimpressive results, the less inclined you are to do something great. “Why try, it just won’t work.” Lazy has a way of shading the world and make you believe that it isn’t worth trying.

Better get started on the right foot. Do work that matters now.

(Photo credit: Hèctor Garcìa)

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I don’t think you can do without a marketing/prospecting model in the B2B space. Others, like David Skok , have written about the topic in detail, better than I ever could. I’ll add this to the conversation through… There are corporate efforts that can benefit both the sales and marketing teams.

Content

Content is, by far, the biggest thing. I don’t know how far a company can go anymore simply on the brute force of cold calling and it’s marketing equivalent: advertising. Content is more sustainable, cheaper in the long run and builds trust with the audience. In the 1970s when Hare Krishnas walked around airports giving out roses which in turn increased donations, they demonstrated the power of gifts.

Articles, white papers, webinars, videos, infographics are all gifts prospective clients enjoy/seek.

Cold calling and advertising are still part of mix. Sometimes you need that boost; that short term influx of leads. But whether it’s marketing or prospecting, there’s more impact calling someone offering a gift than calling for a sale.

The content game has gotten tougher. There’s more out there than ever before. The content needs to resonate. That’s where definitions come in.

Definitions

At the core both the sales team and the marketing team need common definitions of what a lead is, what a warm lead is, what a hot lead is and what an opportunity is.

In my experience this is the toughest thing to accomplish. Some just want to execute, others love the theory a little too much. A great coach is the best person to lead this. I say a coach, because the best analogy I can think of is a sports one: the definitions, how you identify where a prospect lies and how you bring them closer to a sale is theory – it’s the game plan, the team’s system. A good execution only happens when the team members follow the system.

Automation

Whether they’ve been prospected or found by marketing, some leads go cold. Instead of dropping them, engaging them in an automated process of emails and other reach out points, can help convert them and reduce the strain on the sales team. That process is 100% scalable.

Team building

As Jeffrey Gitomer says,

“All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. All things being not quite so equal, people STILL want to do business with their friends.”

Work on getting the two teams to be friends. They’ll buy more from each other. It’s better they both point fingers at the system and its flaws than each other.

Prospecting and marketing go hand in hand. Work on supporting both.

(Photo credit: Hilde Skjølberg)

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All the talk of ROI, measurements, analytics, reach and more hides one element that makes an organization stand above the rest. That’s exceptional customer service.

I signed up for a Wistia account. During my initial research, I asked which accounts allowed the integration with HubSpot. In the few weeks between the exchange with customer service and when I actually signed up, Wistia changed their pricing and account features. The account I signed up for no longer allowed for the integration.

The thing is… Customer Support, without hesitation, honored our initial conversation and gave me the access I needed. They could have forced me to upgrade. I might have canceled or, worst, started the relationship on a wrong foot.

Of course there’s nothing new here. We’ve heard about it before. There are companies like Zappos. Yet it’s often overlooked. Even if it works. Making your customers feel like they matter is ground zero. There is now real growth without low customer turnover.

What if every conversation or policy started with something like “how does this benefit our customers?” I’m not sure how you can measure the ROI of that, but it is a competitive advantage for sure.

The customer matters. Show it.

(Photo credit: Pawet)

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Marketing practitioners need to be able to clearly articulate their vision for how marketing will work at a company…

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Traditionally the role of the marketer is to make us believe that what’s new is better than what we have now. A new phone, a new service, an upgrade, an add on, a new car, a new job…

Traditionally, at the other end of the spectrum, the role of customer service is to conserve what we have: “Let me send the repairman,” “try unplugging it and plugging it back,” “that’s a simple issue to fix”…

Of course the tools do matter and sometimes new is necessary, but today the roles are merging. Becoming one. The role of the marketer is increasingly to serve the customer, make sure we don’t need to promote the new because what we have is still the best. The new features are available to you because you’re our client.

True, the tools matter, but the quest to only sell new is a race to the bottom.

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There’s a common misperception that drip marketing as Seth Godin puts it, means sitting back crafting the product, building quality, crossing t’s and dotting i’s. “There’s no time to sell or market, that would compromise the quality. Besides, the core group of customers will find it because they’re looking for what we’ve built.”

That’s a way to hide. A way to avoid launching or shipping. To continue with Seth Godin’s words – relentless focus on product at the detriment of sales and marketing is giving in to the resistance.

Sure, work on a great product. That’s a must. But then, put in the time to find your tribe, grow that base, encourage sharing and referrals, ship more product, build iterations…

Quality is vital, but growth is how you ship.

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The next frontier for marketers is the last meter (or the last 3.28 feet if you prefer). Every marketer knows the Target story. Through predictive analytics and analysis of shopping behavior, they know when you are pregnant (sometimes before your father does). Some marketer at Target figured the best thing was to send coupons to moms-to-be to generate sales. The backlash that ensued (“how do you know I’m pregnant and why are you sending me coupons!”) led the marketers to rethink the approach (“let’s send unrelated coupons along with pregnancy ones to pretend we don’t know they are pregnant”). It worked, and it clearly outlines the next marketing frontier.

We’ve slowly gotten closer and closer to the customer. We started quite far away with TV, print and radio ads, then we got closer with digital marketing and our customers’ online shopping. Then came social media and finally, predictive analytics tracking in person behavior.

Gary Vaynerchuk said your grand-parents were better suited to survive in today’s business context because they have a local, mom and pop shop, mentality. The question then becomes what do we do with that data? Do we pretend we don’t know what we know or do we find a way to empower the last meter – the sales people in the asiles and at the cash? To we figure out how to build true rapport with our clients?

(Photo credit: Karl-Ludwig Poggemann)

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Most advertising agencies and marketing firms don’t put their names on the products they deliver. Sure, they pick some of their best projects and submit them to win industry awards. But over all you and I don’t know who came up with that last campaign, designed that site or helped with that strategy.

I understand why. Most clients wouldn’t want the name to appear either. I don’t know if i would want the names Bye Bye Bambi, Market8 and Jean Blais to be prominently featured on TIMC‘s website even though they did the design, development and photography and I am quite proud of the end result and would work with anyone of them again. It’s a mutually agreed upon arrangement.

But what would happen to the work if you did put your name on it? If you had to sign off for all to see – you did that.

The same question applies for any industry. In a way, that’s what Uber and Airbnb have done to transportation and room reservations. They’ve allowed drivers, room owners and even passengers and guests to put their name on it. They’ve made us accountable.

They’ve forced us to be ourselves. To deliver an experience we can be proud of. What would happen if you delivered service as though your name was stamped on? How would that affect the quality, imagination? How daring would it be?

(Photo credit: Tian Chew Lim)

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The rise of analytics, measuring tools, optimization and real-time advertising would make seams as though marketing as taken a 180 degree departure from the days of Mad Men: The numbers speak for themselves, no need for intuition, gut feelings and emotions. Marketing is a science, no longer an art.

But really, what art is, is it’s something that bothers, that encourages question and discussion, that pushes for change. And so just like the photographer and sculptor, the accountant can be an artist, so can the quality control representative and the compliance officer. An artist is someone who takes her craft and turns it into something more than what the text books, teachers prescribe, so yes, the marketer can be an artist.

The data, the A/B testing, the reports are all important. They’re extra tools the artist can use just like the HB, the 2B, the 5B and the 9B pencils the sketch artist can use.

That’s why I’ve always enjoyed The Art of Marketing conferences. I don’t go to many marketing events so I can’t compare, but to me the Art of Marketing conferences are hands down the best on the topic. I would encourage anyone in Montreal on November 25th to attend. Last time the conference was in town, I attended. I paid to go even if I wasn’t working at the time. Here is what I learned then and I’m looking forward to hearing from Malcom Gladwell, Marc Ecko, Charles Duhigg, Jackie Hubba and Eric Ryan this time around.

See you there?

(I should note that this time around, I was offered some ticket by the organizers, but I was not asked to write about the event)

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(Photo credit: Ian Mutto)

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