Competing On Credibility And Substance

Keeping it Real
Flickr Photo By Georgette

I found Seth Godin’s article on bonus content and multimedia spot on (as usual). The experimentation with using multimedia inside a book has large possibilities. We are enamored with our mobile devices and tablets and their special effects. Seeing bigger budget special effects in movies continues to awe us. However, tampering with the medium of a book and seeking to monetize it with heavy embellishments lacks economic sensibility.

Books are about ideas that change us. At their core, this is what the value proposition is. The lure of using technology and media to augment the book is naturally appealing. However, these can also be toys and distractions without a true return on investment.

Just because we have access to amazing innovation does not mean that it makes our offering more special. It can be distracting, costly and damaging. If you blast the world with spam, post on trivial matters on your Twitter and Facebook and go overboard with Photoshop, you can create more noise than true value.

When I read a book, I want to engage deeply and read the content. I want to learn something.

When buyers engage your brand, they are looking for something beyond hype. They want to know if they can trust you and if you are for real. They want to mitigate risk. Your credibility is critical to establish trust. Substance with style is important. What if you connected by:

  • Saying it simply and plainly?
  • Making it easy to find out what you do?
  • Provide convenience at every touchpoint?
  • Emphasizing what you stand for?
  • Being real?

We are all buyers and we have seen a lot of embellished marketing. There’s a temptation to add on more bells and whistles as they become available. The social media bubble has created a craze for companies. So has email marketing, ghost blogging and YouTube video production. It may be social, but is it building a relationship and trust?

You are one of thousands of choices. Stand out by focusing on the content and substance of your message and value proposition. Let others pollute with the noise and chaos of the latest fad. It is a lasting and working strategy for success.

What are some areas you can focus and get more substantive on?

Beware Of The Marketer

megaphoneEveryone is a marketer today. As the ability to distribute your message has become much easier than in times past, there has been much more noise. Anyone can post, tweet or blog. Thus, everyone is marketing something, whether it is their goods or themselves.

While it may feel good to market because of the power and the tools available, is it really good overall? Aren’t buyers (like yourself) keen on what is marketing and what is substance? We know how to block out the noise.

If someone pitches you on vanity metrics such as:

  • How many likes you have
  • Retweets
  • Opens
  • List size

then think twice. Marketing is a feel good and the numbers are often about you, not your buyer. The sleight of hand of focusing on activities rather than results is the tool of the marketer.

Inbound Marketing Is Strategic

On the other hand, inbound marketing accounts for how the buyer moves through a systematic process that they like. You are making it convenient for them to get what they want. You present substance not noise.

Of course, this approach is hard work. You have to pay attention and truly understand who your fans are and what they really want. You block out the noise of the marketer and lead instead. Lead them with your value and conviction.

There is thinking around process and being helpful. If you get this kind of permission, then your process produces fans, sales and loyalty. Tuning in requires an intense focus to help people buy.

Just because you have a microphone with every social media system available, should you spam the world? I would say to leave that for the salesmen who don’t have a strategy. Beware of them and do the hard work of connecting, providing value and telling your story. That is what makes tools powerful.

What kind of marketing are you running?

Marketing Process Not Hyped Outcomes

Hype - for a future blog post

It is all too frequent to witness companies who are caught up in the frenzy of the social bubble. Seth warns about this in his article on social media noise. It’s a good read to hopefully focus people on the substance of connecting and delivering value rather than driving metrics that have nothing to do with revenue.

We preach the gospel of marketing process and systems and our customers that understand this realize that there are not shortcuts. They often learn this after trying all kinds of marketing schemes. Likes, connects, and tweets may be high, but sales are not. It’s a typical story. The problem lies in the fact that marketers miss what buyers actually want and do. It’s about them, not about the buyer, and therein lies the blind spot.

Instead of jumping into the next social fad, consider building something that produces a predictable and repeatable result:

  • Understand your funnel. We do not like being sold. We do buy, however. And when we buy, we walk through a process. If you can understand the distinct steps of a buyer’s process, then you can identify the process of your marketing funnel.
  • Provide value at each step. As a buyer takes a step, ensure there is appropriate value. Make it about them, not you. The right value packaged at the right time enables your process to create a memorable and trust-building experience with prospects.
  • Identify conversion points. There is a right time for selling to begin. Your system should measure and deliver actions for your sales team at the right time. By doing so, a relevant conversation ensues with the buyer.
  • Continually refine. You can manage and change what you can measure. As your process works to service your leads, refine it to increase conversions and deliver increased value.

Outcome thinking is disjointed and without focus. Process thinking is about building something that is personal, relevant and timely. It is harder work, and thus, perhaps why so few pay the brain bill to make it work. If there were a shortcut, everyone would be taking it. The truth is that a good sound process will always deliver above the latest marketing hype.

What are your thoughts? Feel free to comment below.

Marketing With The Back Story

Melvin The Magical Mixed Media Machine from HEYHEYHEY on Vimeo.

There is a video which has an immense following. It is not about a person. It is about a machine, a Rube Goldberg machine, which promotes itself via Twitter, Facebook, video and a website.

Some passionate artists and technicians did the work of creating a show which told a story. The video above is astounding and speaks for itself to the creativity, hard work and genius of the project. The story draws you in even further. It is marketing at work behind the product.

Ironically, the automation developed in the machinery is one part of the project. The marketing which works to self-promote the machine is another process in itself. The story behind what we see draws us in further to discover the background.

Show And Tell

Seeing your product or service in action is an immense part of communicating your value to the world. New customers want to get their minds around how you work, what they are getting and how you deliver. You don’t necessarily have to build a Rube Goldberg machine, but there needs to be a show which helps them see what happens when they do business with you. It is part of the show which makes the tell easier.

The tell is the part which helps to bring color, description and intrigue to your value proposition. It is the back story which answers the questions:

  • How do you do what you do?
  • Why do you do what you do?

Telling your story is what makes you unique in the mind of the buyer. It is your own and noone else’s. We relate to story. It fills in the missing pieces for motivation, desire, and inspiration.

Melvin The Machine is a remarkable piece of machinery designed with patience, care and attention to detail. See how you get pulled into the back story and think about what your product or service would benefit from with a better tell.

How can your show and tell improve?

Refining Content For Your Marketing Funnel

Your site visitors communicate a lot of valuable marketing information to help you drive online search results.  It takes continuous vigilance to be able to monitor how your visitors and leads are attracted to your content and how they navigate your site.  This is known as digital body language.  Their interests and reactions to your brand are online and an effective marketing automation program works to decipher the movements of the various buying profiles on your site.

Of specific focus should be how your site pages are consumed and what people are looking at.  This helps you to refine further content as well as reposition past articles and pages on your site.  Here are some areas of focus which require analysis ongoing:

  1. Keyword search terms.  Ensure your analytics reporting shows real-time information and can prioritize keywords that are getting results.  These are working for you.  Cross-check these with Google keyword search to see what overall market traffic you are getting.
  2. Page content which is working.  Seeing which pages are effective helps to focus your future writing.  Use similar topics and keywords.  Also, there may be best practices you can establish from seeing what has worked.  Take your time examining this.  Try to make all your web pages count towards being found and consumed.
  3. Incoming links.  Knowing which pages have a direct link to popular blogs helps you combined with the time people are staying to read will help you assess how valuable the content is.  Furthermore, seeing more inbound links shows that others are finding value in the relevance of your content.
  4. Social media mentions.  Your content should have social media metrics which show how much something has been Tweeted, Facebooked, Google +1 and Trackbacked.  This is a trail which others will later follow.  Your content was worth mentioning and thereby being promoted.
There are many other aspects.  These are a few.  The analysis should focus your future content to become highly relevant.  If it is not happening, then your strategy needs to be examined.  You should be getting found. You should have people reading a lot of your website content.  You should get customers.  Those who provide value and are relevant reap such rewards.
How is your content doing?

Marketing With Story

We are all tied into story.  It is part of being human and can be found in cultures across time and space.  It is what resonates.

If you don’t have a story, you don’t have a business.  There is too much noise and your buyer cannot differentiate your offering from others.  When we work with our clients on positioning their brand and automating their marketing systems, the story is what has to come through to bring life to the otherwise devoid value proposition.  Why you do what you do has to come through or there is not a connection with the customer.  Your backstory is part of what makes you unique and valuable.  Here are some areas which are vital for building your audience:

  • Make it personal.  How did you arrive to where you are?  Share the journey.  What is the background to how you came into existence?  It is unique to you and needs to be told.
  • Share the process. If you deliver a service or a product, share how it is made.  Illustrate the steps.  Talk about the meticulous care you take in sourcing raw materials or working through the finer points of process so quality can shine through.
  • Illustrate problems and success. Your customers need to see themselves in the testimonials of customers you have.  The customers you have provide a mirror for prospective customers.  Tell their adventure in a way which highlights their problems and how you solved it.
  • Paint the vision. Do you want to have 50 million people using your product?  Are you wanting to bring water to every village in southern Africa?  How does what you do connect with something larger than all of us.  Your story helps the customer know what they are a part of by participating.
  • Create meaning. Whether you use symbols or imagery, make a connection with something simple that stands front and center in the customer experience.  Help them think about your story through something ubiquitous and frequent.  Make meaning happen.
  • Talk from the heart. Leave out the corporate speak and connect with authenticity.  Ensure your tone and copy shine your humanity through.  Faceless, sterile corporate identities leave little for the emotions or to build trust.

Every touchpoint you have with the marketplace should be laden with your story.  Let it resound with conviction.  The stories we hear help us identify with people and brands.

What is your story?

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I Am The Buyer, Sellers Beware

If you call me and I don’t answer because I can see your caller ID, then will you just keep interrupting me?  Will you spam me?  Invade my social media space?  Or worse, call again?

We don’t want to be sold.  It’s easy to block all the unwelcome old school techniques.  If you continue to interrupt, then your brand will be damaged.  The opportunity is lost.

However, every day, I am buying.  I am looking for solutions to problems I have today.  Are you able to be found?  If I can find you because you connect with my pain, then I’ll click.

Clicks To Sales

After the click, I am not going to buy immediately.  You may want it to happen, but it’s a low probability.  I am going to be looking for knowledge to see if I have my problem framed correctly.

So, the question is whether you can educate me and help me feel empowered.  This will help me to be an intelligible buyer that grows confidence and trust to engage with you.

If your brand and your systems allow me the freedom to self-service while I am buying, then as trust is built, I will take the step to connect for your full-service selling.  It will be on my time, my readiness and my initiative.  I am the buyer.  Sellers beware.

If you could not interrupt people, how would you propose to sell?


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5 Reasons Marketing Automation Fails

Marketing automation works.  Engaging and nurturing leads with a real-time, personal process keeps attention, builds trust and wins business.  Our team has built many successful marketing automation systems and campaigns.  It becomes a vital asset to the business of our customers.

But, not all marketing automation works.  Typically, a company hears about the promises that marketing automation brings and then proceeds to try and make it work.  Here are a few reasons why failure happens and how you can avoid them:

1. Lack of Talent

If you only have traditional marketing people on your team that are adept at advertising or PR campaigns, then this is the number one reason for failure.  Marketing automation is hard, not easy.  It requires a combination of skills including IT, developers, copywriters, analysts, copyeditors, project managers, graphic designers, web developers, video editors and creative strategists.

It is an expensive payroll to bring all these roles together.  It is hard to find this all in one person.  Choosing self-service rather than full-service may already doom your project to failure if you don’t have the right talent.

2. Poor Marketing Strategy

We approach our marketing automation projects with strategy first.  A marketing automation campaign roadmap needs to be well established to define what the buying process looks like.

Putting a bunch of forms together that do a bit of lead scoring is like driving a race car at 35 to the grocery store every day.  It was designed for so much more.

3. Fear Of Failure

The likelihood that your marketing automation campaign will immediately convert leads to customers is rare.  We are dealing with human beings and seeking to get to their motivations and decisions.  The goal is not to launch something perfect.  The goal is to launch something that is measurable and connects.  In so doing, you can continue optimizing and refining.

If we see a major drop in a lead process for downloading content, then we address that step with both art and science to drive the next step.  Marketing automation teaches you what works and connects.  It is an iterative process which requires commitment.

4. Silos Of Marketing And Sales

When the salesperson engages and with what message is a critical component.  If there has been a tradition of marketing and sales working separately – the former creating demand and the latter closing deals – then this has to be quickly overcome in the project scope and implementation.

Sales team members need to be brought into the project for launching a campaign and understand the experience prospective buyers are undergoing before they call for a meeting.  They have to be able to read their digital footprints in the team CRM system, not just the analog outbound sales activities.

5. Leadership Gap

Give me a leader over a marketer any day.  This is a critical component to making marketing automation work.  There is a team of talent that has to be managed, business processes to be defined and systems that need engineering.  A creative, technical, business leader will drive success.

We have seen too many junior people try and take the reigns and they are the root cause of failure.  The vision, strategy and execution all have to come together for success.

Beyond Features And Benefits

Note that there was not commentary on the features and benefits of individual marketing automation software systems.  Marketers like to look at those because it takes the lens off of ourselves.  After all, technology cannot fight back.

We can interchange marketing automation campaigns between systems easily and make them work.  The systems today are remarkable and are far above the thresholds for effective strategy for results.  It is unlikely the features will be exhausted in the array of different software available today.

It comes down to whether you can drive any of these systems, connect with the buyer and create a buying experience which is personal, relevant and timely.  Avoid the failure points and ensure your team, whether in-house or via partnership, can take this powerful instrument and make music rather than noise.

Feel free to comment below.

Selling Harder Is Old School

Nobody likes to be sold.  We do not like it when we feel the pressure build and a feeling of manipulation from another.

Yet, millions of transactions are done despite this dislike.  It largely happens because people are buying.  Every day people buy because they want things when they need them or feel compelled by desire.

If you are trying to sell today, helping a person buy is about helping them come to a conclusion as an educated buyer.  This strategy helps your conversation move away from selling and into buying.  It empowers prospects to be in the right conversation with you when they are ready.

The Educated Buyer

If your buyer is able to articulate the words that are peculiar to your industry and value proposition, they are buying.  If they can articulate their problem specifically with clarity, then your marketing systems have prepared your buyer to be in a relevant dialogue.

Education should happen long before the sales meeting.  Today, buyers educate themselves via self-service.  Your content which tells stories, illuminates your value and communicates problem solving help to embolden the buyer to be in a peer conversation with you in the sales process.

A litmus test for a ready buyer can be done by listening to the questions and statements they make when they are engaging you.  If you have equipped them with valuable content, then you will hear this content come back to you in dialogue.  This is an indicator that your prospective customer has moved down the sales funnel.

Education Marketing Systems

Your strategy should be focused heavily on packaged and distributed content which educates.  Help them know what questions to ask.  Develop materials which illuminate the issues in your industry and how your competitors even stack up.  This helps the buyer get oriented and think through your value proposition with a focused lens.  Help shape that lens.

Your system should be set up with process in place to deliver the right content at the right time.  In so doing, your buyer is able to better absorb the information and think through what you are presenting.

Your education marketing system becomes a valuable assistant to your sales process.  Keep tuning it based on how prepared the buyer is to converse and engage with you.

Selling your buyer hard is a lost cause.  Buyers do not want to feel inadequate.  They want to feel empowered and confident in the sales conversation.  Be sure your systems handle this with relevant, personal and timely content that connects.

What do you notice about a well educated buyer compared to uneducated buyers?

What Matters? Marketing or Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation has been growing because marketing in the new economy has changed from a selling process to a buying process.  Marketing Automation Software Guide sent me an article on a new acronym, RPM, or Revenue Performance Management.  There has been millions of dollars already invested in the shorthand for marketing automation.  It’s expensive to change.  It’s a branding effort which translates into how we search for what we are looking for.

While corporate speak has continuous internal eddy currents focused on nomenclature and smart talk, results are what will matter at the end of the day.  Repositioning how marketing automation sounds may make it more amenable to certain high level executives.  However, at the end of the day, what matters is less about automating marketing processes and more about marketing in the new economy.

The problems persist:

  • Buyers buy when they are ready
  • We do not like to be interrupted
  • Advertising is dead
  • Buying is self-service
  • Selling is typically a formality
  • Products and services are bought, not sold
  • Buying can be quantified
  • Traditional marketers cannot hide

It’s a brave new world.  Your marketing automation tool is not going to grow revenue by itself.  The team behind the system has more to do with success than which tool they use.  How your content is presented and how you iterate to create a logical, relevant and personal path for the buyer is what will create the value from such systems.

As you are seeking to adopt or implement a marketing automation system, remember the strategy is a thousand times more important than your tool.  Tools make for great psychological pillars.  They comfort us and buttress us with comfort.  However, you still have to build campaigns, content and logic which connects and helps buyers buy.  Design, writing, analysis and leadership are the costs which should truly be captured in the discussion.

Call it what you may, but I will take a great marketing strategy over a marketing automation system any day.  With talent, I can make many of the systems get the same result.

What are your thoughts?

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