• "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena..."

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What if marketing’s biggest problem and challenge wasn’t the onslaught of new social platforms or edgerank, Google’s changing search algorithm or even inbound marketing or marketing automation? What if the biggest problem and challenge was its definition?

There are some differences, some tasks that change from company to company, but overall, you know what Accounting does, you know what Sales does, you know what HR does, you know what Customer Service does. But what does marketing do? It markets your product, but what does that mean? Does marketing guide product development or does the Product team do that? Does marketing find leads or does Sales do that? Does marketing do media outreach or does PR do that? Does marketing guide design?

Maybe it’s because I’ve been doing marketing for roughly 15 years and I have a better understanding of its nuts and bolts, but it feels to me like marketing is the least well defined group. it’s the group that has found it’s work. So often it ends up with a long grocery list of to dos and very little input. On the other hand Marketing sometimes sits at the table and pushes the agenda forward along with our friends in Sales, Biz Dev and Finance.

I think, in part, this explains the increasing popularity of Growth Hacking and the “growth” team.

True, the fact that Growth Hacking is based on efficient, scalable growth is appealing to say the least. But I believe that the fact it’s so mission driven has something to do with its appeal.

And maybe that’s what we need, the end of marketing and the beginning of growth. Who gets the leads (or even customers if you’re a SaaS company)? The growth team.

Let the President and CEO decide who the company is, the values, the culture and the big picture stuff and let HR find the right people to execute, let Sales close the right clients. Let the Growth increase the user base, by focusing on efficient and scalable tactics?

(Photo credit: Efrén)

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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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What if no one could see or hear? What if there was no way we’d ever find out? Would you cut corners? Would you cut corners? Would you spam? Would you embellish the click-through rates? Would you omit a detail?

One of Steve Jobs’ defining characteristics was his obsession with the way products were crafted. Something he picked up from his father, according to his biography. A mechanic who “loved doing things right. He even cared about the look of the (car) parts you couldn’t see.”

When working around the house his father would refuse to use poor wood for the back of cabinets. “For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”

A marketer is often faced with the possibility to cut corners. No one will see the workflow you built or the campaign tracking you implemented. It would be so easy to plough through. Who would know?

Sure it’s easy to cut corners when nobody’s looking. But we owe it to ourselves to raise our game.

An expert doesn’t need to cut corners. She knows that the short term gain of a cut corner, will always pale compared to the long term gain of carrying the aesthetics all the way though, so to speak.

(Photo credit: Liv)

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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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Today marks the beginning of a brief hiatus in my writing here on fabricecalando.com. I decided a break was necessary because I’m not thrilled about the direction this site has taken. A writer publishes to be read and the readership has steadily gone down over the past few years. I have a few dedicated readers and I’m grateful for that, but the truth is, writing here used to pretty much be the highlight of my professional day and now it’s a chore; almost an annoyance. It’s gotten to the point where I’m completely ignoring the health of this site. It got hacked over the holidays and I feel I’ve barely put a band aid over the wounds.

But the declining readership is only a symptom. There’s more to it…

A brief history
When I first started writing regularly, 5+ years ago, social media marketing was really taking off and I was working for a prominent advertising agency here in Montreal. We were often recommending blogging to our clients, but truth is none of us really knew what that entailed. So I took it up myself to understand what I was proposing.

From that point on it became a learning tool. I got to experiment with writing schedules, different topics, web analytics, SEO and SEM, social media marketing and frankly it was great. Even though the “writing about social media and marketing” space is crowded, it propulsed my career to new and greater places. I was known in the industry here. I got a lot of inbound requests for expertise, speaking gigs and more. On top of that, I got to meet great people like Ray, Jeff and Chris down I’m Atlanta to name just a few. I got to meet and exchange with Julien Smith and other heroes of sorts: Chris Brogan, C.C. Chapman and others.

Then I stopped working in the advertising/consulting space and made the conscious decision to stop writing about social media and marketing to focus on business in general as well as what it takes to push through and do work that matters.

That was a mistake.

It’s a broad topic dominated by kings, and slowly but surely, it has gotten me away from the initial purpose of learning and furthering my knowledge.

And I think that’s why writing has gotten to be a chore. The adventure and discovery is gone.

What’s next
I’m not looking to return to what was. I’m different: I have more experience now, more knowledge. I’ve seen and lived more. But truth is I’m a marketer. I’m good at what I do. Most of what I propose and implement works. But I feel the new direction has thrown me off my game. I’m spending too much time reading, writing and listening to topics unrelated to what I am at the core and I need to focus on what sets me apart not add a sprinkling of this and that.

Some things I need to think about:

  • What do I want to write about? Does the world really need another marketing blog?
  • If I had to describe the site in a sentence or two, what would it be? Would that description be unique? Something that would be missed if I stopped?
  • Should I continue powering the site with WordPress or do I switch to a platform like Squarespace that will allow me to focus more on the writing and promotion of the site and less on the technical.
  • Should I just switch everything over to a platform that already has an audience, like LinkedIn or Medium?
  • Do I want to continue with shorter form or do I want to write more substantial pieces?
  • I currently write on the train, on my way to work. Does that still make sense?

My goal is to be back up and running in no more than a month.

I want to thank all of you who continue coming back post after post. If you have any questions, just hit reply…

Regards,
Fabrice

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Sometimes small is everything. You want your processors to be smaller and smaller to power your iPhone longer and better. The details matter because that’s where the devil is. You want to focus on small incremental steps to change a behavior because Little Bets work better.

But other times small doesn’t cut it. When you’re setting out to change your customer. Bold moves are required. When you’re going to challenge the status quo, we need to notice. When you’ve decided to step into the arena and they come at you with all they got, standing tall is the only response.

Being small is a way to hide, a way to give in to the lizard brain. Sure small feels safe. “Maybe they’ll overlook me if they can’t see me.” Or “if I don’t look threatening they won’t bother.”

But this is precisely when small won’t work.

Sure we need to be humble. And sometimes we need to “speak softly and carry a big stick” as Teddy Roosevelt would say. I’m not saying we need to boast and cry wolf. But when you’ve made the choice to no longer be a cog, to step out from shadows and be different, you’ve made the choice to take hits and consequently you’ve made the choice that small won’t work.

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For marketers, work that matters takes time. Work that’s done to make a difference – no matter how big or small – is not an overnight thing. It’s a slow, consistent process (only to be sometimes sprinkled with big bursts).

The analogy often given is “how does water cut through rock? One drip at a time.”

Of course working at it drip by drip is frustrating. It tests out limits. It triggers our fear responses. It invites the lizard brain in to play the doubt game:
“Do you have what it takes?
Do you have the resources to continue?
This will probably fail.
Who do you even think you are to try this?
Look how others are so much better than you at this…
You are a fake, a cheat and an impostor just waiting to be found out.
You should stop…”

So it’s tempting to jump the fence. Forget the drip, open the floodgates. Let’s put some fuel on that fire. And that’s usually where we get in trouble.

In the frantic effort to fan the flame, we tend to blow it out. We spend all the energy on efforts that don’t matter.

Sure it feels good: “We’re doing something!”

But the only thing that does is please the lizard brain. Lot’s of fuss to do nothing much.

Growth matters. We need to move forward. We need to thrive for progress. But not at the detriment of the consitent drip.

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