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Integrated Marketing Is More Important Than Ever

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Jul, 11, 2016 @ 08:07 AM

 

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When I started in marketing and advertising years ago, I learned the importance of integrated marketing - ensure there's consistency of message across TV, radio, print, direct mail and out-of-home. Today, integration is more important than ever given the addition of web, social, email, mobile, and SEO/SEM.

Consistency builds trust. Inconsistency builds confusion and distrust.

Given the number of channels across which our messaging is disseminated, it's easy for marketing communications campaigns to fail.

  1. Message are fragmented, or incongruent, across media channels.
  2. There's little to no strategic planning, let alone messaging planning.
  3. The campaign process is slow, or non-existent, and uncoordinated.
  4. Companies are unprepared to share information across the organization (i.e. silos) and the information is frequently inconsistent.
  5. There's a lack of transparency and cross-channel communication.
  6. There's no on-going dialog across the organization, sharing insights, how the customer interacted with tthe communications, what worked and what didn't.

Integrated marketing today menas collecting all customer information from all channels and integrating it to provide a 360-degree view of the customer so you can meet their needs and wants without asking them to tell you what they've already told someone else in your company.

Incorporating all online and offline data provides you the opportunity to personalize your communications with customers and ensuring you are providing information of value that's relevant to them and where they arein the buying cycle. You can answer the customer's question before they ask it. You will save them time and become easier to do business with, thereby earning their trust.

More knowledge, greater segmentation, more consistent and relevant will lead to more conversions in shorter sales cycles.

In addition, tracking the customer experience (CX) after the sale, across multiple touch points, enables your to build an ongoing relationship with the customer and gives you a better opportunity to create a "customer for life" rather than a single sales event.

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: customers for life, customer experience, consistent messaging, integrated marketing

6 Steps to Creating Relationships Using Social Media

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Dec, 05, 2014 @ 00:12 AM

social media is about relationships

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good white paper from Astute entitled, "Holistic Social Relationships: Breaking down social media silos and enabling a coordinated brand voice."

Lesson #1: The majority of social media conversations aren’t relevant to the business, but those that are can be incredibly valuable. Listen intensely to find relevant conversations. Those that are not relevant to business can be a good way of building relationships and putting a human face on your company.

Lesson # 2: Social isn’t something you can own, it needs to be leveraged as an integral, vital and strategic channel. Getting access to relevant information is important. Delivering it to key stakeholders is critical. Strive to create relationships in social media. Provide information of value. Answer questions before they are asked. Be a trusted, transparent source of information.

Lesson #3: It’s not enough to simply monitor social media. You must be able to find and act on critical issues in real-time. Responsiveness is key. The more timely the response the more trust you build.

Lesson #4: Consumers want to tell you more about what they like and don’t like. They’ll tell you in great detail about how they use your products and services. Make their feedback a strategic part of your organization and engage them further to understand the emotional connection they have with your products and services.

Lesson #5: Integration is important and connecting of all parts of the organization to social systems is critical. Build a common platform based upon the needs of your service origination and you’ll find more flexibility and access to the most important information.  It's critical that everyone speaking for the firm in different social media channels are delivering a consistent message that is "on brand." Consistency breeds trust. Inconsistency breeds confusion and distrust.

Lesson #6: Collecting data is terrific, but look closely for actionable feedback from consumers AND act on it! Train your firm's social media participants what is "actionable feedback" and why it's important. This is their, and you firm's, opportunity, to be "awesome," be responsive and provide an outstanding customer experience. 

By empowering your employees to engage with customers via social media, you are putting a human face on your company.

To ensure you are delivering an integrated message, make sure your employees understand the vision, mission, values and strategic positioning of the firm and are able to articulate them in the appropriate manner via social media.

Have a "go to" person for any potentially problematic situations and get everyone participating in social media together on a regular basis to share what they are seeing, hearing and learning.

How are you leveraging social media in your organization?

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Tags: customer experience, be responsive, consistent messaging, listen intensely, social media

10 Places Consumers Look for Information of Value. . .

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Nov, 25, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

content resized 600

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

. . . Before contacting you.

 

I am frequently asked if content marketing is important even though there's more and more content being posted every day.

 

It is because your customer, or prospect, B2C or B2B, is doing a lot of research on the internet, and other places, prior to contacting you or a sales person.

 

At a recent conference, speakers consistently said that consumers were anywhere between 55 to 75% through the buying cycle before contacting a potential supplier.

 

So where are prospects and customers going to find information of value?

 

  1. Attending events -- tradeshows, invitation only, open houses, educational events, luncheons with speakers.

  2. Searching the web -- Google currently has 66% U.S. market share.

  3. Scanning social media to see what others are saying about a product or service.

  4. Asking colleagues -- I find LinkedIn Groups particularly effective for this.

  5. FAQs -- answer prospects' questions in FAQs before they ask it to save them time and make their life simpler.

  6. Downloading a SlideShare presentation, eBook or white paper.

  7. Visits discussion forums or groups and monitors or asks for input.

  8. Reads about the company online.

  9. Calls one of your employees and is not entered into the CRM.

  10. Attends a webinar

 

Have you asked your customers how they found you?

 

Do you know which websites propsect are visiting before visiting yours?

 

Is your site optimized for search engines and for mobile search?

 

Are you and your firm providing information of value in all of the places your prospects are looking?

 

Click Here for an Evaluation of Your Website

Tags: information of value, consistent messaging, customer journey, content marketing

Use Content Calendars to Improve Your Content Marketing Efforts

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Nov, 20, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

content marketing

 

 

 

 

 

Great presentation by Arnie Kuenn, CEO of Vertical Measures, at Internet Summit 2014 (#isum14).

 

Arnie conducted a content marketing workshop in which he shared a couple of keys to improving your content marketing.

 

Content calendars -- by year and by month.

 

If you have not put together your plan for 2015 yet, get your marketing, sales and customer service teams together before the end of the year and go through the following process.

 

For the annual calendar identify by month:

  • Business quarter focus or goal
  • Selling cycles
  • Seasons
  • Holidays
  • Events -- national, industry specific, company specific
  • Product launches
  • Deadlines
  • Company goals
  • Metrics -- what are the definitions of success of your content marketing efforts?

 

For the montly calendar by day list:

  • Title or description of the content to be produced
  • Status
  • Due date
  • Publish date
  • Type of content (blog post, ebook, white paper, infographic, FAQ, video, testimonial, case study)
  • Producer/designer
  • Editor
  • Target audience/persona
  • Distribution channels for the content produced
  • Promotion
  • Metadata tags
  • Metrics to be measured daily, weekly and monthly

 

By getting everyone in the room you will accomplish a couple of things:

  1. You'll generate enough ideas for content that will last you an entire year.
  2. You'll be inculcating and content marketing and generation mindset among others in the company who will begin to see content opportunities where they had not seen them before.

If you need a facilitator for your content calendar meetings, let me know. I'm happy to help.

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues 

Tags: trust, information of value, consistent messaging, content marketing, content

Answer These Questions to Document Your Content Marketing Strategy

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Nov, 18, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

content marketing institute

 

 

 

 

Most B2B marketers have a content marketing strategy — but only 35% have documented it -- Content Marketing Institute

Here are the questions the Content Marketing Institute suggest you answer to get your content marketing strategy in order:

Business Plan for Innovation:


❑ What challenges are we trying to solve?
❑ What is our dream outcome with this process?
❑ What is the risk if we fail?
❑ Whose unique perspectives do we want to involve? If internal, what permissions do we need from their managers to participate?
❑ What is our budget?
❑ How often do we want to produce deliverables?
❑ If life or business issues get in the way, how can we push a “big red button” without
disbanding the idea of the business plan?
❑ How will we execute each experimental idea, and how long will we give it to work?

 

Business Case for Content Marketing:


❑ What is the need? What do we hope to accomplish with our content marketing?
❑ How big of a need is it? Do we have a big enough audience to justify a plan?
❑ What is the business model? How does it work? What do we have to do?
❑ What is our differentiating value? Why is this more important than other things we are
spending time on?
❑ What are the risks? What’s in our way of success – or what happens if we fail?

 

Persona Development and Content Mapping:


❑ What are the details of each of our personas?
❑ What does our sales funnel look like?
❑ What does the customer’s buying cycle look like?
❑ What content do we need to create based on the engagement cycle?

❑ What is the customer context?

 

Our Brand Story:


❑ What does our marketing look like? Where are our competitors situated? What is the reality for our customers? Why do they currently identify with our brand?
❑ What would the world look like if we could realize the Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) that we set out for our brand? What is the “call to adventure” for our product?
❑ Why hasn’t this been done?
❑ Who will provide guidance for our brand as it makes this journey?
❑ What is our new idea? How will we lead our audience into this unknown with us?
❑ Who will our brand align with to help us move forward? Who will be the naysayers? What
challenges can we plan for?
❑ What will our brand ultimately achieve?
❑ Once our brand has changed, how will we show that differentiation?
❑ What ambush could – or will – our brand face now that it is different? How will we continue
to move on?

 

Channel Plan:


❑ What do we already have that helps us tell this story (e.g., an existing Web page, blog, etc.)?
❑ What must change for us to tell this story (e.g., do we need to add a blog; do we need to
create or revisit our social Web strategy?)
❑ What must stop (if anything) for us to tell this story (e.g., do we need to stop using Facebook and divert our energy to a blog?)
❑ What are the objectives for each channel as they relate to the engagement cycle?
❑ How will we map each channel to our story?
❑ What are our specific goals for each channel?
❑ Which channels apply to which persona(s)? (Note: You may want multiple accounts on the
same social network to address different personas.)
❑ How/who will manage the content and conversation on each channel?
❑ What is the velocity, tone, desired action and structure for the content on each channel?

 

Please let me know if I can help you and your firm develop a content marketing strategy.

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: information of value, alignment, consistent messaging, content marketing, content

3 Keys to Lead Generation

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Nov, 03, 2014 @ 10:11 AM

3 keys to lead generation

 

 

 

 

 

 

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

 

There are three keys communication that will help you generate more leads:

 

  1. Provide information of value
     
  2. Be consistent

  3. Be relevant

 

Providing information of value, not selling, builds awareness and trust of your products, services and company, as well as establishing you as a trusted-advisor on the subject about which you are sharing.

 

Start by answering all of your customers' and prospects' questions openly and in a transparent manner. Doing so will help establish you and your firm as someone who want to help solve a problem rather than just sell something.

 

What problem do you solve? How do you do it? How much does it cost? What are the benefits? What are the downsides?

 

By answering someone's question before they even ask you the question, you are saving them time and making their life easier. If you save someone time, or make their life easier, they're more likely to be a loyal, and long-term, customer.

 

Consistency is key. Consistency builds trust. Inconsistency confuses people which leads to distrust.

 

Ensure all of your communications, across all channels, are consistent -- the same information, the same tone.

 

I strive to be genuinely helpful by sharing information I think will be of value to business owners and marketing professionals.

 

Be relevant. This can be difficult if you're inwardly focused. It's much easier if you are customer-centric.

 

Find out what your customers and prospects have questions about and answer those questions.

 

Ask your sales force and your customer service reps what the objections, issues and questions they hear most frequently.

 

Map the customer journey identifying the questions received and the information needed at each step of the journey. Once you've done this, don't forget to share your journey maps and questions with customers for validation. 

 

By providing information of value that's consistent and relevant, you will drive greater awareness, traffic and leads while establishing you, and your brand, as trustworthy.

 

What questions can I answer for you about sharing information of value?

 

Click Here to Download Your Lead Generation eBook

 

Tags: transparency, trust, be real, information of value, alignment, consistent messaging, be relevant

10 Ways Manufacturing Companies Benefit from Marketing Automation

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Oct, 16, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

marketing automation for manufacturing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the past few years I've helped several manufacturing companies implement marketing automation solutions to improve their business and their marketing.

 

To date, 20% of larger companies (500+ employees) are using marketing automation, while firms with 20+ employees have a 4% adoption rate. 

 

Following are 10 benefits manufacturing companies can realize by using marketing automation:

 

  1. Save time. You can create marketing campaigns and posts for different products and target audiences ahead of time and schedule to run once the customer or prospect takes an action in the future.

    For example, if you're attending a tradeshow and having people visit your booth, you can have an automated message go out each evening when the show closes thanking them for coming by the booth and inviting them to reconnect if they need more information on a particular product.

  2. Ability to provide personalized, targeted relevant information to clients and prospects when and where they need it.

    If a channel partner needed a case study for an end-user customer, you are able to provide it instanteously.

  3. Marketing staffs are able to get more done in less time. One employee can execute complex and ongoing campaigns that can connect with many more customers and prospects than is possible to do manually.

    Marketing automation is very scalable and allows you to grow your business without the commensurate growth in your marketing department.

  4. Ensures consistent messaging across time and channels. You're able to ensure that all of your graphic standards are met as well as delivering consistent, relevant messages to the right target audience. Consistency builds trust. Inconsistency breeds confusion and distrust.

    This capability is particuarly important if the company is going through a brand identity change as one company I worked with was doing.

  5. You receive detailed reports on the performance of each campaign by channel so you know what's working and where improvements can be made.

  6. You are able to A/B test different elements of a campaign like who an email is coming from, the subject line, the offer, the layout, the call-to-action, the landing page and the images.

    One marketing automation platform even enables you do do A/B/C/D testing.

  7. A tremendous benefit for manufacturing firms with sales forces or channel partners is the ability to score leads.

    Marketing and sales must sit down and agree upon what constitutes a marketing qualified lead (MQLs) versus a sales qualified lead (SQLs) and how the MQL is best nurtured into an SQL.

    This must be constantly monitored so the scoring and nuturing process can be refined over time.

  8. You are able to learn more about your customers and profiles through progressive profiling.

    By integrating your CRM and your marketing automation software, you are able to prepopulate forms for website visitors. This lets visitors know you know them and keep track of their valuable information. It also enables you to ask more relevant questions so you can better qualify them over time.
     
  9. You build a repository of marketing elements, supported by data, so your marketing team is not "reinventing the wheel" every time a campaign is needed.

    You also know what has worked in the past when a new campaign is needed.

  10. According to Aberdeen, firms that use marketing automation improve lead conversion 107%, have a greater average deal size of 40%, have a 20% higher attainment of quota and 17% beter forecast accuracy.

 

Is your manufacturing firm using marketing automation to increase productivity and sales?

 

If not, let me know if I can help you identify the right marketing automation platform for your firm.

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

 

Tags: trust, consistent messaging, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, content, MQL, SQL, marketing automation, call to action

10 Ways Marketing Automation Benefits IT Companies

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Oct, 08, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

marketing automation in information technology

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've been using marketing automation since 2009 when I went through HubSpot's Inbound Marketing University and became convinced of the benefits of inbound, content, marketing in conjunction with outbound marketing.

 

Here are the 10 benefits I've found using marketing automation:

 

  1. Save time by creating campaigns and posts ahead of time and schedule them for a time, event and target persona in the future. This ensures the right message is being delivered to the right person at the right time.

  2. Provide personalized, targeted relevant information of value. If I know what you are looking for and am able to provide the answer to your question or a case study that addresses your situation, I'm simplifying your buying process and your life.

  3. Improve marketing staff efficiency. One employee can create complex and ongoing campaigns that can connect with many more customers of prospects than is possible to do manually.

  4. Improve marketing operations efficiency as you define and document processes, technology, best practices and measurements so that you are constantly refining and improving rather than "reinventing the wheel."

  5. Ensure consistent messaging across all channels (traditional, digital and social) with regards to content, time and branding. This is critical since consistent messaging builds trust, while inconsistent messaging breeds confusion and distrust among customers and prospects.

  6. Access detailed reports on the performance of each campaign across each channel so you know what's working and where improvements are needed.

  7. Field A/B tests on different elements of your marketing campaign including -- subject lines, from addresses, primary messages, images, offers and calls-to-action. One marketing automation platform even enables you to execute A/B/C/D tests.

  8. Score and nurture leads so you can differentiate between marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs). This enables you to continue a lead nurturing campaign with MQLs while the sales team pursues SQLs.

  9. Learn more about your customers and prospects via progressive profiling whereby you ask them to provide additional, relevant, information based on the information you have already collected in your CRM. This is also a great way to ask customers and prospects to verify the information in your CRM which atrophies at the rate of 33% per year.

  10. Improve business results per the Aberdeen Group: lead conversion up 107%, average deal size up 40%, team attainment of quota up 20% and forecast accuracy up 17%.
IT companies are the most aggressive users of marketing automation.
It's easy to see why with the benefits they are realizing.
Is you IT firm using marketing automation?
Not sure, which platform is right for you and your team? 
Give me a call and I'll help you identify the right platform as I've done for several other firms.
Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: consistent messaging, CRM, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, MQL, SQL, marketing automation, integrated marketing, call to action

Use Social Media to Do More with Less

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Sep, 22, 2014 @ 10:09 AM

social media

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits (@ncnonprofits) for allowing me to serve as a "curbside consultant" for two of their member organizations yesterday.

 

The question I received from both organizations was "how can I do more with less?"

 

I am a strong believer that the internet and social media has leveled the playing field for small-medium sized businesses as well as not-for-profits.

 

You have a tremendous opportunity to tell your story, and make an emotional connection, by using the resources you already have.

 

Here are five suggestions:

 

  1. Ensure that everyone in your organization is in alignment with regards to the vision, mission and values of the organization. If there is misalignment, or lack of agreement, you won't be able to deliver a clear, consistent and effective message. The less consistent your message, the less trust you and your organization will have.

  2. Identify your organization's story and make sure it makes an emotional connection with those you are trying to reach. Ensure everyone in the organization is telling the same story in the same way. Look for situations your organizations have facilitated to reinforce the message of the story.

  3. Share information of value -- don't sell, don't ask for money. Educate people on what your organization is doing and it accomplishments. Get testimonials, quotes and video clips from those you have helped. Ask them to tell their story.

  4. Identify your promoters and raving fans and ask you to help them spread message, and information of value, on the social media channels where they are most comfortable.

  5. Have a content marketing mindset. Look for content and then opportunities to use the content multiple times (on your website, in an email, on social media channels, in a slideshare). All of this content will help your grassroots SEO and generate more awareness and visits from people who are interested in helping your cause.

How are you and your team using social media to do more with less?
Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues
 

Tags: consistent messaging, raving fans, content, emotional connection, social media

5 Steps to Omnichannel Marketing and Customer Service

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Sep, 05, 2014 @ 10:09 AM

omnichannel marketing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great article by Perry Simpson in a recent edition of Direct Marketing News entitled "5 Ways to Evolve Your Marketing to Omnichannel."

 

 

I wanted to share the five steps and comment on them as well as share several points made in the article:

  • According to the Rightnow Customer Experience Impact Report, 89% of customers say they have stiopped doing business with a company after one poor customer experience.

  • Omnichannel marketing, and customer service, is the fundamental practice of providing a seamless marketing experience across multiple channels.

  • Marketers need to ask themselves, what can we do to simplify the lives of our customers and make them more loyal.
The more you can do to save your customers time and simplify their lives, the more loyalty you will earn.
We all know the frustration of having to repeat our information to different service reps on the same call or reenter data when we are dealing with online forms or chat.
What are you doing to make the lives of your customers and clients easier?
Here are the five steps:
  1. Think holistically. Think about the entire customer experience. Map it. Identify the gaps in service that exist between the silos of your organization. It's becoming more common for customers to complete a single transaction acrosss multiple channels. If you don't have a 360-degree view of the customer, you will not be able to provide a seamless, simple, transaction.

  2. Build collaboration. Silos exist in all organizations. It's important to collaborate across silos to identify what a seamless customer experience is and to make the commitment to everyone in the organization having a single view of the customer.

    While silos can still exist within the organization, data silos on customers cannot if you are committed to providing a seamless, omnichannel experience.

    You have to ensure all of the segments of the organizations can work together and share information for the good of the customer.

  3. Map the experience. Know how your customers went about becoming your customers. Sales and marketing need to sit in a room together and map the customer's buying journey and then share their findings with a few customers to ensure they haven't missed any steps or made incorrect assumptions about what the customers actually did and what they were thinking at the time.

    Do this by having one-on-one interviews with the customer about their buying process. They're more likely to provide personal insights in a one-on-one conversation versus a focus group.

    Ultimately, marketers need to define what experience they want their customers to have and then move them through the marketing and sales process in a way that's makes it easy for the customer to buy the product or service you are selling with confidence and trust.

  4. Explore low-tech solutions. Marketing automation and analytics have made omnichannel marketing more attainable. However, don't forget to engage your customers in a dialog about what works for them and what they consider to be an acceptable, as well as, an exceptional, customer experience.

    Providing an exceptional omnichannel customer experience is the best way to turn satisfied customers into "raving fans" that share their experience with friends, family, colleagues as well as all their social media "followers."
     
  5. Embrace transparency. Be real, be realiable, be responsive. Companies that provide an inconsistent customer experience acrosss channels confuse their prospects and customers.

    Consistency breeds trust. Inconsistency breeds distrust and causes your to lose leads, prospects and customers as evidenced by the opening statistic from Rightnow. 
 
What steps can you, and your firm, take to provide a seamless omnichannel experience for your customers?
The more you are able to do now, the more it will benefit your firm, and differentiate your firm from competitors, now.
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Tags: transparency, trust, be reliable, be responsive, be real, consistent messaging, omnichannel marketing and customer service