Demystifying Marketing Myths

In a world with “alternative facts” and the ability to make your own truth, there is a lot of miss-information out there. @revenue is here to shed light and truth on some of the most common marketing myths and why they just aren’t facts. These misconceptions are dangerous and can seriously impact your business.

Marketing Myth #1: My business is so incredibly unique, it is too complex for anyone outside of our firm to communicate.

Why it’s false: Look, no marketer will ever be able to know your business better than you,  but do you know what they are experts at? Communicating with your audience. How you translate that expertise and unique offering to the masses to best connect and engage is critical for generating sales.

Marketing Myth #2: I received an email from someone who says he can get my site to page 1 on Google.  For just $99!

Why it’s false: Really? Are you going to fall for that one? SEO takes time and is a long-term strategy. Don't fall for some cheap tricks that may work today, but will leave you burned in the long run.

Marketing Myth #2.5: My cousin is an insta-star.

This goes right next to “the millennial on the team will do social media.” Leaving your brand, reputation, and marketing strategy to someone that knows how to use a tool is not enough. They need to have a strategy, plan and know how to generate ROI, not “likes”, from their efforts.

Marketing Myth #3: It doesn't need any marketing, really. It sells itself.

Why it’s false: Nothing sells itself. Even Apple's greatest products require the right placement at the right time communicated by the right people to the right audience.

Marketing Myth #4: The client is always right.

Why it’s false: I get it, we are in the service industry, but really? How does this develop trust and good recommendations? If the client was always right, why are they asking for help? Because they tried something one way and it didn't work perhaps? So, let's stop putting them on high platforms as always right and work with them as partners.

Marketing Myth #5: I don't need marketing to target my offering. Anybody and everybody can use my services.

Why it’s false: Because if anybody and everybody actually showed up at your doorstep tomorrow, you couldn't possibly service them anyway.

Marketing Myth #6: Word of mouth and a website is enough -

Why it’s false: Delivering quality, targeted and convertible traffic to your website takes a strategy, a budget, execution and some time. Don't wait for the pipeline to inevitably dry up. You need to be proactive instead of waiting by your inbox for a lead to come in.

Marketing Myth #7: Facebook is the only valid way to get your message across to people anymore.

Why it’s false: HA! That’s like saying, “The only way to get protein is to eat a lot of eggs.” There are TONS of channels, groups, mediums and tools to get your message across. If you believe this, you might be a little narrow-minded. Let an experienced marketer show you some solutions.

We all know first hand how annoying it can be to get the same assumption and miss-information driving networking conversations and sales calls. For many experienced professionals, they never had the opportunity to learn about marketing, so they get bad information from the internet, sleazy marketers pumping out misinformation that they take as truth. If you have a question or assumption about marketing, contact @revenue to explain more.


The GIF is a Gift!

First, I believe we need to address a very important issue. Deep breath because there will be a lot of emotions here. Do you pronounce if GIF or JIF?

via GIPHY

Allow me to settle the battle for once and for all. It doesn’t stinking matter. 

The Psych

Now that we have that out of the way let’s talk about this novel little addition is changing the face of business. As always, the first thing I get excited about is the psychology behind the form of communication. An easy piece to understand is the mere-exposure effect. This phenomenon explains that we have a preference for things that we are already familiar with. In our society, media is the most common denominator. I know, there are always going to be outliers. There is generally at least one in every crowd that wants to loudly tell you how they have never watched TV or that they keep themselves pure of the mind pollution of popular media (Uh….ok...cool. I’m gonna talk to this other 99.999 % of people). Most people have some common experience and when you can use that commonality to express a thought or emotion it has more resonance for the recipient.

Most of the time GIFs are used to communicate emotion. EMOTION, the cornerstone of communication! Take into account  Albert Mehrabian’s 7-38-55 Rule of Personal Communication.

If you are relying only on words to communicate your message you are leaving 93% of your ability to communicate on the table. We also know that people make decisions (about everything) based on emotion and back it up with logic, so if you are effectively communicating to and connecting with emotion, are you doing your level best to get the recipient engaged with your message?

The Culture

As a company that uses GIFs heavily in our communication, I reached out to some of our newest members. Here were some of their responses:

Well, gosh. Who wouldn't want to be around some humor in a company culture? I think a little mechanism like a GIF goes a long way, more than people probably might give it credit for. It shows that you're among friends, or at least that we're all in this together. Without it, you might risk the communication feeling like a cold directive. There's SO much room for the tone of an email to be misinterpreted. Using humor within that communication makes you appear warmer, friendlier and more accessible. All good things that any company culture should want to have.” -Dan Gershenson

“Using a gif is like finding that perfect Hallmark card at the store. Couldn't have said it better myself. It just sends the perfect message, unlike texts. It adds inflection and there is usually no denying what the other person is trying to say. More often than not, it puts a smile on my face and lifts my mood." -Laura Wilson

“First, my lack of knowledge about pop-culture and trivia made me hesitant to follow, but after just my first few experiences, using GIFs takes a weight off my shoulders as a writer. I can lean more on my GIF selection to set the tone. I don't have to be funny - I can just find something funny instead.

To me, GIFs establish a shared emotional connection through pop culture. As humans, our brains connect differently with faces, naturally assimilating to other's perceived emotions. When we see someone happy, we feel happy. This is two-fold when we connect with another through shared experiences of favorite comedians or movie scenes. The art of GIF-giving is selecting one that your audience will 'get' and can easily connect with.” -Megan Robinson

Just last week we entered a NEW client intake meeting (not yet full clients) and they mentioned that they were so happy when I used a GIF in the email because they automatically knew that we were cool (read that as ‘we are like you’), we have a sense of joy and humor, and that we were going to be fun to work with. A tip of my hat the Mr. Sinatra dancing in the rain!

If your internal staff and your new clients appreciate it, how can you create a GIF-embracing culture of your own? Well, start with a few rules and tools.

  1. Use an email plug-in tool like https://giphy.com/ that will allow your team to add images on the fly. They simply need type in a search term like excited, happy, or raining and a small list of images will pop up for them to click on and add to the email, slack channel or the like.
  2. Encourage common sense! This is not a place for profanity or lewdness just like ANY OTHER part of your work.
  3. Know thy audience! If it is your initial conversation with someone and you don’t know if they have a sense of humor to speak of it’s probably not what you want to lead with. You need to have a few exchanges with someone before you will know if this is something that is a fit for them.

The Business Plan

According to Forbes ‘[Other] businesses have had success using  GIFs in email marketing campaigns. A case study of Dell’s GIF-centric marketing campaign was done by MarketSherpa. They compared metrics of the  GIF campaign with other quarterly campaign reports and found that Dell saw a 42% increase in their click rate and a 109% increase in revenue.’

To meet the demand, many of the tools you already use are adding GIF searches to their services. Facebook, Twitter, Mailchimp just to name a few have adopted the movement.  Want to create one of your own?

Forbes even gives you a step-by-step so that you can show off a product or even a great part of a speech.

At the end of the day you have to decide if it is brand congruous for your internal team and your external communication, but for me and my house….we will GIF IT UP!

via GIPHY

 


How to Do Email Marketing Effectively When You’re a Small Marketing Department

 

If you want to learn how to do email marketing effectively, then understand there is no one thing that will ensure success. It’s a balance of strategy, techniques and execution. Here is an overview specifically designed for 1- to 3-person marketing departments.

Email is such an ubiquitous part of our lives that it’s often overlooked by marketers. There are bigger, shinier strategies and tactics that always seem to command the lion’s share of attention.

But email marketing should be an integral part of your approach — the numbers say it’s the most important.  Let’s shed some light on why email is so critical, and the steps a small marketing department can take to make your approach effective.

For this post, I received some great insights from folks who really know their email marketing (listed in order of appearance):

Jessica Best, Director of Data-Driven Marketing, Barkley
Gini Dietrich, Founder and author of Spin Sucks
Megan Robinson, VP Marketing of @revenue

How effective is email marketing?

Throughout this post, we’re going to use the word “effective.”  That’s because “effective” is defined as “successful at producing a desired or intended result.”  And that’s what this stuff called marketing is all about — results, right?

Consider some of the industry statistics that reveal how widespread email usage is, and how effective email marketing can be:

  • According to Statista, a total of 96% of agencies were going to either increase (48%) or maintain (48%) their spending on email in 2017.
  • The number of email users worldwide is expected to rise to 2.9 billion users by 2019, according to Statisa.  (In comparison, there are 2 billion Facebook users as of Q3 2017.)

When agencies increase spending, you know it's working.

What do the numbers tell me?  When 96% of agencies increase or maintain their spending on email marketing, you know it’s working.  And when a medium is 2.9 times bigger than Facebook, that tells you that it is still the biggest game in town.

Effective strategies, tips and techniques for email marketing

In creating a post about how to do email marketing effectively, you can’t possibly include everything. What we’ve attempted to do in this post is focus on the critical elements a small marketing department should focus on; you can build on this to refine your approach.

1. Don’t buy a list — EVER

Let’s cross off the first thing that comes to many marketers’ minds:  Should I buy a list of email addresses and email them?

According to Jessica Best, the answer is quite simple: NO. Besides this being ridiculously intrusive for the end user, you also run a big risk of being labeled a spammer by email service providers, which means you could be blacklisted and your emails will go NOWHERE.

The spammer threshold is .1%

(Read more from Jessica in What Email Marketers (Still) Don’t Know They Don’t Know.)

If you really want to build a list, provide content and information that is of value to the customer.  Share with them how you’ll solve their problems. People want answers, not SPAM.

2. Don’t just say “subscribe” or “get updates”

How many websites have you seen that ask for your email for “updates,” but don’t tell you what you’ll get in return?

Be sure you give them a solid reason to sign up, especially telling them the frequency of the emails. People like to get their Sunday morning paper on Sunday, after all. (I’m referring to newspapers – do people get newspapers anymore?)

Give them a reason to subscribe

3. If you automate, use “value forward” content to aid in the buying decision and stay in front of prospects

If someone signed up for an email, it’s likely that they are in the early stages of the buying process.  You can use automation to set up a string of emails that will go out right after someone signs up for a download.

However, these emails need to be “value forward,” as Jessica Best puts it. Sure you can sell product, but think about your customer and their buying process.  What would add value to their decision?  Knowing more about you?  Seeing customer reviews, or comparisons to your competition?

Any types of follow-ups should lead them through their Customer Journey, ultimately to a purchase. But you have to present something of value each step of the way.

You also can’t wait to follow up, as Gini Dietrich tells us:

A good majority of organizations have an email sign-up on their site without a single email that follows. Sure, you may send a monthly email, but what if that’s 29 days from now? Will the person remember who you are 29 days from now? It’s doubtful. Create a 7- or 10-day email campaign for your new subscribers. The first one should be delivered immediately after they subscribe.

Create a new subscriber email campaign.

4. Segment your list and personalize your messages

Different offers on your website can mean different things.  Create different email lists based on the reason why people signed up.  Do they just want to read your new blog posts?  Are they interested in buying your product or service?

If you have different segments, you can tailor your emails to those segments.  For a small marketing department, this is the first step toward speaking directly to what your target needs.

Segmentation is different than personalization, as noted in this great post by Jason Grunberg, who explains the difference between personalization and segmentation.

True personalization, beyond just inserting a contact’s name, involves delivering email content based on a client’s past actions, as explained by Active Campaign’s Brian Gadu in this post. Ultimately, this improves your deliverability and your standing in the eyes of email providers.

Grunberg and Gadu both indicate that personalized emails (one version for one person) are going to overtake grouped segmented emails.

For a small marketing department, this granularity should be the ultimate goal, but it won’t happen overnight. Start by segmenting your list, then work toward personalization.

(Check out more examples in Jessica’s post on 6 Steps to Putting Data to Work in Email Marketing.)

5. Let unsubscribe rates dictate how much you should send

A common question among marketers: How much email is too much?  We’re all inundated with email, and you want to be sure your email gets opened and that you’re not annoying.

Whatever you do, don’t make your decision based on what YOU think is too much.  Let your prospects make the decision.

Reevaluate if unsubscribes get too high.

You can do this by focusing on your unsubscribe rate.  You want your unsubscribe rates to be below 1% of your list. If your rates creep north of that number, it’s time to reevaluate your content and the rate at which you’re emailing.

6. Use your blog content to make an eNewsletter

Creating a monthly eNewsletter can produce numerous benefits.  As Megan Robinson of @revenue details in this post (with stats to back up her point), those benefits include:

  • Keeps your business top of mind
  • Engages your audience
  • Deepens your relationship with customers

But sending out regular emails — at the very least, once a month — can seem tedious if you’re trying to create new content all the time.

One method that’s effective is to turn off the auto notification from your blog, and instead route sign-ups to a special list on your email service.  Then, once a month, compile your blog posts into a newsletter and send it to prospects.

It’s a great way to share content for prospects just entering the sales funnel, or add in some new product promos to keep them posted on new sales.

An eNewsletter is a great way to share content.

7. Deliver your downloadable offer via email

Let’s say you’re providing a piece of content for a visitor to download, like a PDF guide. Should you make that available on a thank you page, after the person signs up for the offer?

Jessica recommends sending it out via your follow-up email.  The recipient is very likely to open and engage with your email, and that helps Google recognize that the recipient wants your content. They’ll more likely “green light” your future emails, so always deliver your offers by email!

8. Build your list using different techniques

There are a million ways to build your list, but here are a few that have proven effective for us:

Feature a downloadable offer with a sign-up form as well: Many will argue that all your content should be ungated, but Jessica believes that you still should have lead forms in front of a valuable piece.  “As long as it’s valuable, it doesn’t cost that person a whole lot to give up their email in exchange for the content,” she said.

Co-Op/Ad Swap: Partner with a relevant/complementary business or product. Create an email for a partner or complementary business. They will mail your message to their email list, then you respond in-kind.

These are just foundational suggestions.  To really drive email sign-ups, check out this amazing post from Robbie Richards.

9. Feature an email sign-up in your website’s footer

We get a surprising amount of sign-ups with our email subscriber box in the footer, and it’s pretty logical when you think about it. A person reads the page, likes the content, and when they scroll to the bottom, BLAM, you’ve got the sign-up form.

Because it’s in the footer, you also have an automatic guarantee it’s on every page of your site.

Feature email sign-up in your site's footer

10. Include an opt-in checkbox on your contact form

Besides the sign-up forms on your site, you can also add an opt-in checkbox to your contact forms. You may think these people want info. right away, but this gives you a method to follow up with them and keep them on the list. It also puts them in control of whether or not they want to receive more information.

opt-in form

(Opt-in form courtesy of Pinpointe.com.)

11. Control when notifications are sent out about a new blog post

When your developer sets up your blog subscription form, don’t use a plug-in from the content management system. Keep all of your subscribers in your email marketing platform so you can control when and how they see your latest.

Auto-notification plug-ins just grab the headline of your post and make it the headline of the article. But your article headline might not make for a good email headline, and you may also want to include a teaser message to your readers to get them to check it out.

Andy Crestodina does a great job with this. Notice his email has a headline written specifically for email. His blog post title, which likely includes very specific keywords and structure, probably would not be as effective.

Article headline may not match email headline

12. Avoid getting labeled a SPAMMER

It’s very easy for someone to label you a SPAMMER, and as we touched on earlier, that’s someplace you definitely don’t want to go.

So how do you do it?  First of all, play nice. Use common sense tactics not to SPAM. If someone gives you a business card at a lunch, that’s not an automatic OK to add them to your eNewsletter list.  Send them the link to subscribe, and let them take it from there.

Some other tactics include:

Always include an unsubscribe link and a physical mailing address with your emails. Most email services will build this into your template, in compliance with CAN-SPAM law.

Be sure you’re sending from a professional SMTP server. Any email marketing platform like Active Campaign, MailChimp, Constant Contact will be compliant.

Easy on the images: Include enough text that a spam filter can “read” what your email is about. Too many images can get a can of SPAM thrown at you.

Avoid the SPAMMY words:  Using these words in moderation won’t get you labeled a spammer, but too many can land you in trouble.  Here’s a great list from Karen Rubin of HubSpot.

13. Ensure it’s mobile-friendly

Litmus’ Email Analytics tracks open emails from over 1.4 billion sent emails. They reported that emails opened on mobile devices was 56% of all emails sent.  Make sure your emails, and the service you’re sending them from, are mobile-friendly!

Megan Robinson, @revenue

Check out Megan’s article on Google’s Mobile First Initiative:

14. Create a great email – include excellent content

Oh yeah!  That stuff.  What you want to, you know, say to people. I guess that matters too, right?

Back in the days of direct mail, there was a 40-40-20 rule. Your success was determined by: 40% by the list; 40% by the offer; and 20% by the creative. Here’s a great post by Eunice Brownlee that refines that formula for email marketing today, but essentially the idea remains the same.

So what makes for an effective email?

Focus on the subject line:  If you want people to get into your email, you need to open that front door. So create an excellent subject line. Check out insights from Charlie Meyerson on how to do it right!

Keep it short and focused: You want a clear intent with your email, and you want someone to take an action as a result of it. Keep your content skimmable; 1-3 lines of copy, and avoid the bulky paragraphs.

These shorter segments can then link out to longer content.

“One of the biggest mistakes people make with email is sending all of the content in the email. Don’t do that! It doesn’t encourage engagement, nor can you track effectiveness,” says Gini Dietrich.

“And always remember: Your email content is about THEM, not you. No one cares about your new hires, your new contracts, or your awards. What they do care about is how you can help them.”

15. Make Call-To-Action prominent

You want to take them somewhere, give them a big, bold CTA.  And use a contrasting color, so it really stands out.

Make the CTA button big and bold

16. Metrics: How do you measure email marketing success

Here are the big ones we really keep an eye on:

Click-through rates: Really, at the end of the day, it’s all about sales, right?  So you’d ultimately want to see how many people are clicking through to your site.  Open rates are great and could potentially generate some brand equity, but you want people to get to your site.

If you can track the email traffic all the way to a conversion in the form of a lead or purchase, that’s the ultimate goal!

Unsubscribe rates:  You definitely don’t want that number to incline. It’s a good indication you’re either sending out too frequently, or your content quality is off.  According to Jessica Best, the average unsubscribe rate is .5%, and just make sure you don’t creep north of 1%.

Track through UTM tagging:  This isn’t a metric, but a methodology to track your email visits from Google analytics. If you don’t use UTM tagging on your links, then GA will count the visit as “Direct” and not an email.

17. Test, test and test some more

Hate to date myself (someone’s got to), but when I was writing direct mail copy for a big insurance company, we would roll out $10,000 tests on a changed headline.  That’s still done today, but with email, you can make instant changes and improve your open rate.

Megan Robinson digs deeper into the subject for us:

Most email service providers have subject line testing already built in and can be one of the best ways to immediately improve your email. A/B Testing is when you send a percentage of your audience 2 different subject lines. After a predetermined time (~4 hours) the subject line that received the highest open rate within the test group will be sent automatically to the remaining audience.

Subject line testing is powerful.

Subject line testing allows for instant optimization, but can also teach a lot about your audience. Try testing with a specific hypothesis in mind. Does your audience like it when you use emojis? Are they more offer- or relationship-focused?”

Email marketing is a journey

Like everything in this digital marketing game, your success rate will be a function of time. No one expects you to hit it right out of the park, right from the start.

Use these foundations as your launchpad, then tap into the experts in this article to learn more and improve your efforts.  Effective emails are all about results — follow these tips, techniques and strategies and you’ll be on your way.

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 9.38.09 PM

For the original blog, click here.


Annoying or Appealing? 5 Ways Brands Get Unfollowed on Social Media

 

www.suekoch.com

Too many businesses come out of the gate on social media with no plan of attack. It’s a completely normal response, as even many Fortune 500 companies admit to shooting from the hip without a strategy when it comes to social media. The downside of that, however, is that you’re more likely to fall into habits that turn your target audience away instead of drawing them in.

Investing in a content strategy is the best way to make sure you develop relevant ideas, creative content and a delivery style that inspires a loyal community.

A Sprout Social study found that 86% of social media users want to follow brands. But when they do, there are particular social media habits that cause them to turn and walk away.

Over-promotion: If someone you’d never met before knocked on your door and told you to go to their new store down the street, would you? What if they did it every day? Or three times a day? No. You’re more likely to slam the door in their face and hide. But if they introduced themselves & demonstrated interest in your needs, and shared a bit about their story, you may stop by for a visit in support of them. Then, you may build a rapport and start to appreciate their brand. Soon, you buy something. And you tell your friends and they buy something.  And the cycle continues. It is better to have patience in the process to inspire relationships, referrals and longevity, instead of forcing a first date where someone leaves when you go to the bathroom.

Slang & jargon: If you said something like “I soo can’t with adulting right now, I’m getting turnt tonight!” Would your friends look at you like…

Yeah, then don’t…

Trying too hard: Have you ever watched a newbie comedian struggle, and curled up in your chair with discomfort & embarrassment for the poor entertainer? It’s kind of like that. You may not walk out on the show, but on social media, we have an unfollow button.

Be yourself. Don’t try to hard to force humor or a style of communication you think is going to appeal to your audience. If it feels weird, it probably is. Do research first. Follow other pages that appeal to a similar audience as your business. Watch their interactions and participate. This will help you get a better feel for how to be yourself while communicating successfully to grow an authentic following.

Obvious automation: Do you post every single day at 10:18 am? Does every post follow the same format in copy, link, and image? Is there no personalization to your conversation? We see you robot! There’s nothing wrong with scheduling your uniquely crafted content in advance. But it’s critical to show up and mix in some ‘in the moment’ content and participate. The days of “set it and forget it” are long gone, and people will move on to a more real experience.

Ignoring conversation: This can be a result of automation, missed notifications, or simply lack of awareness. Make sure to respond to your community. People expect a response on social media. It doesn’t need to be immediate, there is still some forgiveness mindset out there but never ignore them.

Especially if someone asks you a question in a comment, sends a private message to your business, or presents you with feedback. It is critical to makes sure the original poster and the rest of the community see you acknowledge, demonstrate care and follow up. People may be a bit forgiving about how long it takes for you to respond, but they are not forgiving about being completely ignored.

What you should do:

Edutain them! People crave new ideas, they want to learn, to be entertained, and yes, to get to know the humans behind a brand. Make them laugh! (In an authentic way of course. See: “Trying too hard” above…)

They will buy from you, but first, they need to… !!cliche alert!! know, like and trust you. 

Make notification and message review a part of your daily process. This will help you keep in touch with your community and also learn more about what they want to see from you.

How do you make that happen? A solid strategy and action plan. Unless you are a master of improv, shooting from the hip will never support you in truly crafting a message that meets your audience in a consistent, cohesive manner, and allow you to build a strong community.

Get in touch with Sue via Facebook Messenger at @SueKochCatalyst or via the contact form. Thank you!


The Power of Polish: Making the most out of 7 seconds

Those of you that know me know that I never show up underdressed. I wonder if you know why I take care in my appearance?  Let me create a little business case for you….

When I started my entrepreneurial career I was young, and I mean young young. That special age where you think you know everything and that at 30 you will be a real grown up. That’s where I started. Since I already knew everything, it was easy, right?  Um, not so much. I very quickly stepped into a public role as the leader of eWomenNetwork and needed to not only sell to but confidently lead, a group of women that were 20+ my seniors and provide them with true value.

If I had walked on stage with a side ponytail or the most up-to-date fashion atrocity, it would have skewed their view of me for many, many months, and I would have to earn that credibility back. Not happening. I had sales to close. At that age, it sometimes felt like more of a costume, but I was ok with playing a role until I achieved the goal. Your appearance is how others decide to view you as a person, which they do, within the first seven seconds of meeting you.

What does your appearance say about you? Here are just a few possibilities:

  • Professionalism

  • Motivation

  • Experience

  • Attention to Detail

  • How you Represent your Brand

  • Trust

  • Like-Mindedness

So often we see business owners and employees that haven’t taken the time to put themselves together in a way that will not only help them open doors but help them close sales. A few years ago, one of my legal clients had a gorgeous baby face, not a wrinkle in sight. Before she went to court, she would pull her hair back into a simple high ponytail. How would you feel about a lawyer that looked like she was still in college? Not great was the answer for a lot of her clients. All it took was a different hairstyle to allow her to elevate her image to the professional kick-butt lawyer that she truly was! It simply took a little polish.

For the next week, I would like you to try a little experiment. Every morning, before you leave the house, take a look at yourself in the mirror and ask these three questions:

  1. Do I look like my brand (personal or business)?

  2. Is this a great fit for the meetings I have today?

  3. Does this convey my professionalism, my intent and my level of experience?

If the answer is always ‘uhhhhh maybe?’, it might be time to start putting together what your personal brand needs to be.

For questions or more information contact me at Marie@atrevenue.com


Permission-based Marketing: Where yes means yes, and no means no

Marketing can be powerful, impactful and even helpful; but it can also be annoying and unwanted. These days, marketers are trying to decipher through some blurred lines on whether their message is wanted, appropriate, and even legal.

This is where permission-based marketing can be so powerful.

“Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.”

As you can imagine, we believe permission-based marketing is the best kind of marketing because it targets the right audience, with the right message. To help you find your voice, below are several situations that are all “Yes” (full permission), and a couple of situations you don’t want to get caught in.

Yes means yes: Situations where your marketing can make a HUGE impact!

Your email list:

If someone is on your email list, it means that they have expressed specific interest in your business. A good email list if full of highly engaged contacts that are expecting you to send them something. **hint, EXPECTING** that’s right, when they signup, they are flat-out asking for it.

Social Media:

Your followers, likes, and community is another place where your audience is interested, engaged and looking for information. Social media platforms give you the voice and audience to kick your marketing into action.

No means no: Critical misses that burn marketers and brands.

Purchasing an audience: If you have a list or an audience that you purchased, you are walking some fine lines. These contacts have not expressed interest, so often your message will appear as unwanted and even intrusive. Because of this, your campaign performance will suffer and you won’t be getting the results you are capable of.

Promotion overload: Remember, you must treat your audience with respect and provide relevant information. If you are always talking about yourself and not providing value, this is a great way to get ignored and lose your audience.

Find your safe word: Just in case you are afraid of crossing a line, there are a couple universal safe words that you should know: “unsubscribe”, “opt-out” “unfollow” and “block”. Always respect your audience’s decision.

Rule of thumb- get permission where you can, and ensure that content is always relevant and interesting to your audience.

If you are looking to build your audience or need help finding the right words, we can help.


Google’s Mobile First Index Coming Soon

Google has just released a bit more information about, Mobile First, its upcoming change to how it indexes site content.

Currently, Google analyzes the desktop version of a website and then ranks the mobile version of the site based on what it learns from the desktop version. The opposite of this will happen when Mobile First takes effect.  Google will analyze, index and rank the site based on what it learns from the mobile site.

Google has been constantly reminding us that each day more and more site visits come through mobile devices. Today many mobile sites are just “lite” versions of the desktop site and do not provide the best user experience.  Mobile First is Google’s way of making sure that content on a mobile site is as robust, relevant and authoritative as a desktop version. When mobile rankings are tied to content on mobile sites Google can more easily serve up the best results in its search engine results.

In addition to site content, Google will also review a site’s load speed, user experience (UX), architecture, internal linking, and site data structure to determine page rankings. This in-depth review by Google makes it critical that your site is the best it can be from a technology, content quality and user experience point of view.

Google has hinted that Mobile First will be rolled out sometime in the second half of 2017.  In keeping with Google’s modus operandi, we expect Google to make the change first and then update us rather than giving us a go live date in advance.

For a complimentary review of how your site will fare when Mobile First is implemented please contact me at 224.595.1340 or at harry@atrevenue.com.


United Airlines and the Case of the Walking, Talking Brand

Nobody’s perfect, right?  Yep, nobody.  But when you’ve had a week like United had last week, you have to take a good long look in the mirror and decide what you really stand for…as a company.  In today’s reality of the constant state of video, social media, and public opinion, companies have to be careful about how they present themselves, especially when you are in the service industry.  It is not often we have a front row seat to what is sure to become a classic PR case study in what not to do, so let’s take advantage of this moment.

When the events of April 9th first hit social media, United’s CEO, who had just the month before won an award as Communicator of the Year, responded quickly.  His first reaction was to say he was sorry that the airline had to “re-accommodate” passengers on the flight.  Then, he announced that United employees had simply followed policy.  Finally, he expressed what seemed like sincere regret for the way the whole debacle had been handled.  Now, the company is changing firm policy regarding how passengers are handled in cases of overbooking, especially when employees are the ones bumping paying customers.

I absorbed all of these events with utter astonishment.  United is a big company, with presumably many of the “best and brightest” in every facet of the industry working there, EVEN in public relations.  I couldn’t believe that at every stage of this event, the actions leading up to it, and the actions that preceded it, they had made such obvious mistakes.  For the sake of argument, let’s assume that customers have an adequate number of potential airlines to choose from when traveling, and United doesn’t currently benefit from an airline-favorable oligopoly where customer service falls way down on the priority list because customers ultimately have to choose from only a handful of less than desirable options.  So basically, let’s assume that United wants to please customers to grow revenues and has to actually compete.

In that light, how do you process the actions of United? Can you?  In the book of everything I know about business, coupled with common sense, I cannot.  But the good news is, we get to benefit from the lessons of their (giant) mistakes.

I’ve been saying for a long time that service businesses are more complicated and require far greater leadership than product companies do.  Your brand isn’t just your logo or your website design.  It is walking around in every single employee you hire, mentor and train.  When you run a flourishing service business, your brand is constantly working.  Growth in a service business means that you cannot separate the brand from the people like you can in a product business.  You have to get it right every day.

So, let’s cover the ways in which United failed to get it right and how they could have done it better:

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Stop relying on “Random Acts of Sales & Marketing”!

Three weeks ago, Marie and I each had two prospect meetings. As we debriefed, it was as if we had the same meeting but on two different topics. Marie’s was marketing and mine was sales. In both cases what we heard was a lot of wishful thinking, and lots of money spent with virtually no real strategy, process, or plan to ensure 2017 is better than 2016. Guess what the 3 musts to success in sales and marketing are?

1. Strategy

My business partner, Marie uses the phrase ‘random acts of marketing’. I sure know what those look like and you might be doing some of them yourself. It’s that knee-jerk reaction to the so-called social selling craze. The MUST to be on Twitter, Periscope, Snapchat, etc. It’s the belief of “if I only had a better website, then they would call me.” Producing videos that don’t speak to the audience and futilely grasping at the latest and greatest. Or worst of all, handing over a fist full of cash to the nice guy in your networking group that convinced you he had the magic wand, but now you want to punch him every time you see him!

These investments rarely work and can almost always guarantee to be a waste of money, time, resources, emotions, and opportunity costs. Unfortunately, businesses run like this all the time and the ownership wonders why they struggle with market awareness, consistent messaging, and real Marketing Qualified Leads.

How do I fix it? Take the time to get QUALIFIED consultation and recommendations for strategy. Then, be sure to understand the strategy and make a commitment to follow through on the complete strategy. Marie has a hard and fast rule: it’s a no-go if it has to be done in under 6 weeks. That goes for a conference, an email campaign, or anything else that you want ROI from.  We offer our clients strategy, implementation, ongoing execution, automation, and ultimately TRACKABLE and QUANTIFIABLE REVENUE. Isn’t that what marketing should be doing?

2. Process

I take tremendous pride in doing my job to the best of my ability, both selling and teaching sales. It makes me sad when I hear my profession be diminished and criticized. Then I quickly realize that we have no one to blame but ourselves because most salespeople are ill-equipped to succeed. They are often poorly trained (if at all), poorly led, poorly coached, poorly managed, and incentivized in horribly outdated ways.

Simply ask yourself, would you go to a dentist that wasn’t trained or had no plan? Send your kids to a teacher with no certificate? Trust a doctor, mechanic, jeweler, dry cleaner, or a pilot who is ‘winging it’?

Of course not! So what makes anyone think that you want to buy from an untrained and unprofessional sales person who lacked a process? What makes us think we should be selling when we’re not properly equipped with a process? Look, sales is a profession - one that should be respected and appreciated by those of us who sell (EVERYONE READING THIS) and those of us who buy (EVERYONE READING THIS). If you’re a lawyer, accountant, chiropractor, plumber, or any other professional service, stop your ‘random acts of sales’ and get trained to be the best you can at client acquisition.

3. Plan

Are you set for 2017? Do you expect 2017 to look like 2016 or does your plan insist that it will be better? Listen, don’t get caught looking back at the end of Q1 and see that you’ve done nothing new to ensure your success. Here are a few points to consider:

A. Is my networking really working or do I waste my time ‘net-eating’, ‘net-drinking’, and ‘net-chatting’? Networking needs to bring you ROI! If it doesn’t then stop, re-evaluate, and realign to a new group. If you need help, let me know.

B. Set very specific goals and then set the course to achieve them. There is nothing worse than being on the hamster wheel of business only to run and run but fail to advance.

What I want you to do now is simply decide: are you going to try something new and talk to with a successful sales and marketing team or do you want to forge ahead on your own? @Revenue offers a variety of training, education, and full consulting services. So the real question is: are you failing to plan, or planning to fail?

 


Let's talk about Six

After years of working with SMB business owners/leaders and their salespeople, I have realized that there are at least six, oftentimes more but we’re going to talk about the prevalent six, critical areas that are neglected entirely or have weak plans and structure. My hope is for you to identify and address any and all of these areas in your business.

1. Go-To-Market strategy - As businesses look to grow they often times have the Field of Dreams syndrome; “Build it and they will come”. This rarely works unless your business is a Starbucks on seemingly any corner in the Loop. Other than that, a strong actionable go-to-market (GTM) strategy is required. You must have specific actions formulated to access and influence your buying market. No matter what your services, from accounting offices to chiropractic practices, every business requires strategy to maintain growth. There are some great GTM examples online, but a word to the wise, make it your GTM strategy. Unless you own it, embrace it and believe in it, it will simply be another document that collects dust in a drawer. Seek the outside perspective that is required and then do it! Try it, track it and then you will know how to change it.

TASK: Read the examples, step away from your business for an afternoon (If you think you can’t do that, you don’t have a business you have an obsession) take the best minds you have from within your business and a few from the outside then start talking long term strategy. You’ll need to set some goals for the strategy but goals without a strategy of achievement are only hopes and wishes.

2. Automate, Delegate, Duplicate - The biggest hurdle that business owners face is the habit of being the COE, Chief of Everything, instead of a CEO. As you build your service offerings and identify how you care for your clients make sure that you document repetitive behaviors. Everything from how you onboard a customer to the follow up that happens with your inbound marketing can be automated, or if automation is not an option you can document the process and delegate it. Make it a full time focus to effectively hand off as many tasks as possible. There are a litany of tools on the market (insightly and mailchimp are my favorite go-to products) that can function as a project management tool, empower your marketing automation and drip marketing campaigns, and integrate with your accounting software.

TASK: Do a time audit to understand where you are investing your time. When you have a solid view of where your hours are going you will be able to assess what truly should be on your plate and what can be handed off. Begin to document how each task is done and create activity sets that can guide a support person through the process. You can find a virtual assistant or on site part timer to help you in the beginning, and then do your level best to touch things once and hand them off!

3. Documented and Disciplined Client Acquisition Process - Each phase in the client acquisition process needs to be documents and measurable. I’ve seen many businesses that simply have fields such as: LEAD<PROSPECT< OPPORTUNITY< CLOSED WON as their funnel. This will not suffice if you take your business development seriously. Here is an example of one I built for a past client. As you can see, there are VERY SPECIFIC qualifications that must be met before the prospective client transitions from Marketing Lead to Sales Lead and then MORE VERY SPECIFIC qualifications that must be met before the salespeople can assign a phase and percentage of probability. With this process, my client could easily identify the marketing effectiveness and where along the process they had the greatest lost rate. WIth this information, I was able to coach, develop and train with laser like focus.

TASK: Move outside of the generic sales funnel fields and assign what makes sense. Then, within each category assign the qualification points that must be met to achieve the threshold. This gives you a true “process” to follow. Think of it like a recipe: step by step, timed accordingly, baked properly, etc. When you omit ingredients or make other mistakes you inevitably get a dismal outcome.

4. Consistent and effective 1:1 meetings with staff and leaders. I already wrote about this topic so I won’t repeat myself. I encourage you to read it if you haven’t already. One addition, few business owners have someone to give them consistent and honest feedback.

TASK: Follow the tips in the article! If you as a business leader don’t have someone, find someone. It’s not that hard these days to find a coach. Your obligation is to find one that fit’s with you but will push you. Oh, and make sure they’re qualified, there are a lot of jokers out there.

5. An understanding of Emotional-Intelligence, Dr. Travis Bradberry’s book is a smart but easy read that is far and away one of the best out there. I will only impress upon you that the world is shifting, carrot/stick is a motivation of the past for most businesses. You must lead with emotional intelligence in this day and age.

TASK: READ THE BOOK!

6. Working toward your exit vs. running in place- This seems to be the big winner! In a May 2016 CNBC story it was sited that almost two-thirds of businesses have no plan for exit. Thus, people run on their hamster wheel day after day and never get to their goal. Simply said, without the goal of exit, it’s rarely achieved.

TASK: This one is more fluid. It depends a lot on from where you are starting. But a few musts are: Timeline goals, financial goals, a decision on what will happen to the business when you exit, strategy to pursue your goals, support to achieve your goals.

So, now what? Take stock, don’t be discouraged and start to make the changes needed to address these Six often neglected areas. Listen, it’s hard! The days fly by and business owners have a few thousand distractions a day. Step back, get perspective and set a plan into action. Let us know if you need help.