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What’s your company’s promise?

What’s your company’s promise? 

Many business owners hear branding and think about their brand assets: logo, font, colors, website, etc.  Those are queues to trigger your brand promise.  Consistently using your brand assets make it easier for your people’s brains to trigger and have the thought of your promise (remember you).  The colors, fonts, name, logo and other brand assets work together to create a trigger that works more effectively with any target audience.  What the brand assets trigger though are not images of your logo.  Brand assets trigger emotions, beliefs, memories and attitudes about your company.  If you do not deliver to your brand promise to your customers, you are a liar. It’s hard to come back from that.  I put it this way to help you remember why we have brands and why they are not your assets. Logos, colors and fonts can’t lie or make promises.  Your brand is your promise to the world about who you are, how you deliver, what you deliver, why you care, why they should care, and what about you is “brand-worthy”.

Branding is about your employees making a connection with your audience in your unique way. 

Most customers can source their products and services from any number of companies that are probably very similar to yours.  Customers “self-group” based on how they identify themselves and tend to do so with companies that support their self-image.  If your company is the best choice according to their self-image then you must let them know it through branding.  If you have provided your promise to the market, your people found it, and you delivered as promised, and they choose you again, that’s your brand working!  Brand is raw and emotional.  It’s why they chose you.

Do your employees all know it and work every day to deliver your promise?  Why would they?  Have you made it a priority in their day?  Are they incented to maintain your brand?  Your company has probably spent tens or hundreds of thousands training sales people to talk to your product capabilities, features and benefits.  You train engineers on an ongoing basis.  Has your brand team ever sat down your sales, marketing, finance, support, manufacturing teams and explained your brand promise to them?  Have you explained why it’s important to them, the company, their paychecks?  Probably not.  Marketing is probably working for sales delivering cheat sheets and product specs.  Delivery people busy delivering packages, sales spouting features and benefits that change every year.  Not your promise, and seldomly what makes your company truly special. 

So, what’s your company’s promise? 

What are people supposed to think about your company?  How do your people find you?  You tell them your promise.  If it resonates with your people, they come to you.  If not, they go to the company whose promises resonate with them. 

Branding is about your employees making a connection with your audience in your unique way.  Branding people come up with the messaging that best describes why you got in this business in the first place and why that is important. Your crowd wants to know who you are (behind the products or services) and usually some part of that includes your brand promise.     If you speak their language and deliver what is meaningful to them, you are the right company for them.

Now it is your job to put your message out there so your people can find you.  Branding is more about creating your community based on who you are to your core. It probably says a lot about who you are and why you got in the business of serving them in your unique way to begin with.  When your people hear your honest story about wanting to help them in the way you thought they would appreciate, it will resonate with them in ways competitors never will be able to. Your unique promise to help your crowd based on your truth is a powerful message.

What’s better than right place, right time, right message?

What’s better than right place, right time, right message?  Trusted Advisor Status, because then when it is the right time, they will come looking for you.   Not your company…you.  We all know to do our homework, but I am here to tell you that if necessary the best marketers will do their client’s homework too.  

If failure is not an option, you need to do whatever it takes to make informed decisions on your client’s behalf and to help them understand why you are making the recommendations you are.  After all, their success is your success, and their failure is your failure.  When you start thinking in terms outlined below you will have a better understanding of your client’s business in every setting and meeting moving forward.  You become a trusted advisor, not only regarding your services, or industry trends, but regarding their business, and their greedy needs.  If you are able to address the greedy needs of every key stakeholder as your roll out your programs, they are going to get behind you.  The client contact you are working with every day may not know this stuff, but their executives holding the purse strings think this way so you had better be prepared to discuss your activities in the context they will understand and appreciate.

If you are an above average marketer, you think through your process from beginning to end before you ever lift a finger to execute marketing activities for your own company. You already know your own gatekeepers, naysayers, and champions. You know your company’s culture and capabilities, SWOT, KPIs, sales, and fulfillment capabilities. You know your customers, personas, buying journey, and even which of your reps can handle complex sales and which cannot.  Since you know all the important details regarding your own business’ internal and external environment, you are in a good position to market your company. Sometimes it may feel like you are doing so intuitively.  It is easier to be “intuitive” when you have all the necessary information.  The official term for this process is, conducting a “situational analysis.”  It is part of your strategic planning process.  Simply put, you also have to gather all the internal and external factors that may blindside your marketing efforts for your client’s company same as you would if you were marketing for your own company. 

Sometimes in quarterly reviews, you will hear marketing managers suggest that the things that caused their campaign or program to fail could not have been anticipated.  Yes, they could have been anticipated, and worse if they do not stop and go back to gather situational analysis information they are probably going to run into similar failures moving forward for a lot of the same reasons. That is what we are going to talk about here. 

Conducting Situational Analysis

Most marketing consulting firms have standard checklists they send over to help capture this information. They know it is important to capture but usually will not spend a lot of effort collecting it (time is money).  Unfortunately, your average employee at any company does not stay current on these metrics because they do not appear to affect their daily job, so it is likely no one you are talking with will have all of these answers unless their marketing team is already staying on top of it.  If their internal marketing team already thinks this way, they would probably not need your help.  Even if they do know this information they will not have your context to connect important dots.  You will have to help them.   Most employees do not think about that stuff; it does not seem like their job to have that view.  It is yours.  When it comes time to collect (the information you need to do your job) they will make excuses, whine, complain, suggest they are not going to do your job for you, etc. 

Get the information even if you have to do it all yourself.  You will not regret it!  Whatever information and insights you imagine you need to market for yourself, you will also need regarding your client’s circumstances as well, it just makes sense.  That means you will have to go online and research their company on a site like hoovers.com or Yahoo financial.  These sites will also help you read their financials and provide insights you may not have caught on your own.  They will list financials, competitors, and recent news that may affect your efforts as well.   Next, you can read any publically traded company’s quarterly and annual reports here: https://www.sec.gov/fast-answers/answers-form10khtm.html for very deep insights like KPIs and executive salaries.  This will help you see the decisions their company is making at a high level.  These decisions do not have to be a mystery; the information is all there if you know how to read it.


Real Life Example

I recently got a call from a young friend doing marketing for his company’s reseller partners.  He worked for a Fortune 500 marketing team.  He wanted me to help him brainstorm some new demand generation activities to recommend to one of their largest reseller partners.  His programs required joint funding so he needed to pitch his ideas at an upcoming quarterly business review (QBR) to obtain funding.  My programs were doing great so he asked me to share some ideas with him.  I appreciate his faith in my results, but those results are because of proven processes, and the first step is to do my homework. 

I started asking him the kinds of questions I would have asked his client.  Without the big picture, anything we create could be hit or miss and could fail for any number of reasons not presently identified.  He is working with low-level marketers at their firm, but the QBR is with executives who do know all this stuff.  I suggested he better know it too. 

I asked him what he knew about the partners KPIs, SWOT, mission statement, current go-to-market activities compared to his client’s competition.  How do their sales reps receive leads, are they tracked after the marketing handoff, what is going on in their industry, have they created their customer personas, do they know their buyer’s journey, how does their client currently go to market, their budget, how they measure success, ROI measuring tools, timing, their bandwidth to accept new leads, upcoming announcements, events, sales rep’s ability to field different types of leads? And a dozen other questions that needed answering (tactically and strategically) before he should attempt to recommend anything.  Once he obtained the big picture and allowed me a few hours to study it, I would be happy to recommend activities with a high likelihood of success.  

I saw from his face that my friend thought I was just being a dick or didn’t want to give him ideas.  He was not happy that I gave him homework when all he wanted was a few wiz-bang marketing ideas.  There are infinite ways to market, but only one chance to start correctly out of the gate.  The more work you put into your preparation, the less work you will have to put into this account every day and every project moving forward.   Every meeting and every conversation after you obtain this insight will have a much higher rate of success.   

In summary here is what I was asking him to put together:

From Principles of Marketing v2.0 by Jeff Tanner and Mary Anne Raymond

He answered that he had not talked with his customer about “any of this stuff” (see my field of dreams marketing blog).  They had asked him to present some ideas and he wanted to do that.  He was working for them and was not comfortable giving an assignment to the client.  I think his client was being lazy and he was being lazy, either that or stupid.   I understand that it is not easy, but it is the most important part of my process and to what I attribute any small success of my own activities to.  I am not willing to throw out ideas even ones that were wildly successful for other clients because depending on the client, the same idea may not work at their company. 

Below Is a simple flowchart showing the steps in creating a Marketing Plan that I borrowed from the book, Principles of Marketing v2.0 by Jeff Tanner and Mary Anne Raymond

See the big red box all the arrows are pointing to?  That is the part I am specifically talking about here that many marketers skip because it does not seem relevant, or is just too much work.  I am here to tell you, three hours on this before you begin, will save you untold hours of work producing hit or miss activities moving forward.    

From Principles of Marketing v2.0 by Jeff Tanner and Mary Anne Raymond

I have also noticed that in the process of helping you collecting this information about their company, your contact will also develop a deeper understanding of what you together should be trying to accomplish.  You will have better conversations and better results.  Moving forward whatever you develop for them will already have this going for it.  I gave my friend a few basic templates to fill out that I found online and suggested he get on a call with the partner to discuss these items before he even starts thinking about go-to-market activities. 

I told him that once he puts some basic information together and spends an hour studying it himself, good ideas would start to make themselves known.  He will have the context needed to design a truly amazing activity that fits the client’s culture and capabilities.  

The best part of this story (bet you saw this coming) is that after my friend and his client started working together to answer the long list of questions, discussed marketing and non-marketing elements that could affect their strategy, talked about the partner’s clients, reps, sales and all…they didn’t need me anymore.  I got an email that several great ideas came to them while completing the forms, and my input was no longer needed.  Yay!  Thought him to fish instead of giving him a fish.  He may still think I’m a dick, but he can do a better job now.


Free Download “Principles of Marketing v2.0”

So what was in the list of questions?  Nothing magical. For a deeper dive into the process, here is an easy read that provides much more context and detail about this (and other marketing best practices) than I can go into here.  You can download it as a pdf for free here (normally sells for $75):   Principles of Marketing v2.0 by Jeff Tanner and Mary Anne Raymond

Probably the same stuff that you would have put on your list right?  Whatever it takes to get a foundational understanding of your client’s important metrics from your client’s perspective is helpful here.  The conversations your list evokes is the real magic, not the questions themselves.  Get clear on their company goals, culture, mission statements, value prop, KPIs, SWOT, sales process, current tools, existing collateral, customer persona, journey of customers, existing analytics (or lack of), so many great “connect the dots” ideas will arise.  When you start talking about what they have tried, what their competition is doing, what has run them afoul before, you often will have many great ideas filtering up. Give it a couple days for your subconscious to work on it and make sure you keep a notepad by your bed because great ideas are going to make themselves known.  Be ready to catch them.  Creativity happens when it happens.  With research, you can lay the foundation for your inspiration’s success.  

Maybe your client’s internal marketing team has already have done a great job of gathering and providing this information (probably for their investor’s page).  Maybe you have to think about your questions and put some together that are relevant in addition to what you find.  The information itself is crucial, but it was more important that they got together to talk and have that “big picture” perspective in place before trying to come up with any ideas.   Honestly, when you get talking with them, they will not know many of these answers themselves.  They should, most don’t, you need to.  You will likely need input from several folks there to get enough of a picture to have solutions start presenting themselves to you.  Learn enough about their business and strategy so that when you add your marketing perspective into the mix, you become an extremely valuable resource and made privy to conversations their “marketing firm” would normally never have access to.   There are a thousand paths to success, and they are all dependant on this information.  


Trusted Advisor status is a responsibility

What’s better than people finding your amazing content online and following it back to your landing pages?  Them picking up the phone and calling you because they know you are actually able to help them.  Understanding their business like you do, you are probably the best person to go to for insight and perspective about their company and situation as it applies to marketing.  Your outsider perspective plus your marketing expertise makes you a very valuable resource. People come to you when they believe you understand them and sincerely want to help them.  The checklist will show them you are willing to do the work to understand them.  Your conversations afterward will prove it.  Deserve that trust. First, strive to understand aspects of their business that are important to success better than they understand them, then use your expertise to always advise them honestly, even when it is not advantageous to your sale. You may lose sales that are not the best fit for your company, but you will win all of the deals that are.   It makes for more human relationships and leads to mutual success.  

With inbound marketing, your goal is to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right message.  However, add a face they trust, and a voice they can talk to when they really need someone, and you have advanced your relationship way past “right place right time.”  They will come looking for you specifically next time they have a problem.  These people are not nearly as likely to go ask a bunch of “professional” strangers online (with hidden, but obvious agendas).  They are going to move heaven and earth to find you specifically.  

What’s that worth to your customers, your company, to your career?


But what if people use our social media sites to say bad things about us?

We all love to find out that our prospects and customers are saying great things about our company and products online.  Yeah, that feels great.  But, what if they are saying bad things about you online?  Even worse, what if they are true?  What if someone dropped the ball and no one knows to pick it up until you receive a very angry support email.  The time to resolve an issue isn’t after they have gotten really upset with you.  After you resolve their issue people are less inclined to then go back in and update their post. Better to address it then and there in such a wonderful way that anyone reading thier post is won over with the resolution itself.  Chances are if you are getting flamed online there is an opportunity for you to improve your processes and then brag about that online.   The good news is that you can learn about issues before they blow up now, the bad news is you might learn about an issue for the first time online.

I recently had a conversation with a small business owner whose company was finally (thinking about) getting their social media marketing in order.  He was concerned about approving the project because it would allow customers and prospects to write comments and replies to his company’s blog posts and other social media vehicles.  “What if they say bad things about us?” He had been hesitant to launch anything that might allow this to occur. 

I explained the obvious, that their customers and prospects are going to talk about his company regardless of his social media policies.  If you allow them to vent on sites which you monitor and have control over, it gives you an opportunity to interact with them, help them, and improve your online reputation.  With sincere and positive communication, it is possible to turn even your most upset customers into your biggest fans.  People like being heard and helping to improve your company…if you let them.  So, let them.


Social Media Monitoring Tools

Using a tool can help you quickly see where you are being talked about and what was said.  You can do something as simple as plugging in your search terms into a site like Social Mention: http://www.socialmention.com/  or a more complete solution like Mention that adds competitive analysis, finding influencers, custom insights and automated reports.  You can find out more about them here: https://mention.com/en/.  If those aren’t enough here are 15 free social media monitoring tools listed and summarized: https://www.brandwatch.com/blog/top-10-free-social-media-monitoring-tools/







Add Social CRM

We talked about Social CRM to help his team track and deal with problems much earlier than they ever otherwise would have heard about them.  He liked that.  He agreed with the philosophy that “a stitch in time saves nine” and having the tools to act proactively appealed to him.  The more he educated himself on the changes in buyer behaviors the more onboard he got, until at one point he became the biggest proponent for getting the changes incorporated into their marketing and sales processes.  For more information about Social Marketing CRM basics see our blog here: TinyURL.com/DamageContol



One of the best instances of social media changing buyer behavior that I have experienced was on Amazon.com.  I was looking for a software product.  Reading the customer reviews (which I always do). I came across a customer who gave the product I was considering a single star and then ranted for two paragraphs about how hard the product was to install and how poor the support was at helping him. 

The next entry was from the company’s support manager.  He gave his personal email and phone number and told the guy to call him and he would walk him through the installation process personally.   I bought the product right there.  I was impressed that they were monitoring the site and that the very next day they responded positively.  The support guy didn’t care that he was posting his personal information and name on the web.  He took the chance to fix the problem.



Your customers and prospects are going to talk.  They are probably talking about you right now.  The question is, will you see their comments and take the opportunity to help them,  or hide your head in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening?  

Fresh Graphics in 2017

Good design is good design, and that never changes.  But in marketing, we need more than just good, solid design.  It’s our job to grab attention, and to do that our graphics also need to be fresh and on-trend.  So let’s dig in to the most hip elements of today’s graphic design.


To illustrate what’s happening in advertising, graphics and marketing right now, I invented a pretend brand, Perspective, a unisex clothing line targeting consumers 18-24. I then created this faux ad campaign featuring my very own daughter, Lauren.  (Hi, Lauren!)  First off, I want to point out how very different these three graphics are, and yet they hold together due to the similar vibe.  Let’s break down why this works:

  • Native Images: As 2017 progresses and rolls into 2018, you’re going to see a lot fewer perfect stock images and a lot more native, natural photography.  (I “liberated” these selfies from Lauren’s Instagram page.)  Brands like Urban Outfitters and American Apparel are paying big money for professionally-shot campaigns that mimic a native look.
  • Text-based Logos: Our faux brand has a logo that is simply the name of the brand in all caps Ostrich Sans Medium with a double underline.  That’s it.  No picture. Nothing tricky. It looks sharp, clean, spare, minimal.  It looks very 2017.
  • Minimal Design: One image. One logo. One branding color. Nothing extra at all.  Right now, this is the height of design chic.
  • Bright Colors: For years, we’ve been confusing minimalism with neutral color palettes.  All hail the return of REAL minimal design, featuring gorgeous rich pop-art colors.  This super-bright pink is perfect.  It’s just edgy enough to feel new.
  • Tone on Tone: The center image is the best example of this trend, utilizing a gray scale image and sheer overlay of the brand color (shifted to a darker version).  We’re left with a pink tonal image.  Then we added the text logo in the pure brand color.  It pops.
  • Sheer Overlays: You can’t get away from semi-transparent shapes.  They are everywhere.  Use them to divide space, add a brand color or offset text without losing the single-image impact. Or, as in image three, do all of those things at once.  

Take these tips to your own drawing board and see how they can freshen up your marketing efforts!

Is Your Vision Drivng Your Brand?

As a marketing consultant, I often work with people who are a little bit uncomfortable with the idea of branding and marketing themselves.  I very often hear things like:

  • I don’t like marketing and advertising.  It feels manipulative.
  • Spending time on marketing means I’m not putting my energy into my real work.
  • Promoting myself feels egotistical, like I’m out to get something.
  • I don’t want to shove my name or my product in people’s face.

I get it.  I really do.  If you are coming from a place of trying to convince someone to buy something they neither want nor need, marketing can come across as manipulative.  If you are trying to decide what to make or sell based on what the market says people want, that can feel like a distraction from your real work or a dilution of your vision.  But here’s my question:

Is your brand driving your vision? Or is your vision driving your brand?

In good marketing, vision comes first.  Brand is used to communicate the vision, to raise the real work into a place of visibility and public awareness.  Who you are, when communicated beautifully and authentically, sells itself.  Then marketing becomes simply a use of tools to help people find that authentic vision-driven brand that they so resonate with.  It becomes about creating content that inspires your natural audience, whether they ever hire you or not.  It becomes about presenting every aspect of your business is a voice, style and method that says something about who you are and why they might benefit from getting to know your brand.  When vision drives the brand, marketing is a two-way communication and the product sells itself.  All you have to do is be yourself.

So, here’s the call to action:

Get really, really clear on your vision.  

  • Who are you, as a business?
  • What do you do?
  • How do you benefit your clients?
  • What makes what you do special or different from your competitors?
  • What’s the highest experience you envision for your clients?
  • Who are the ideal clients for you?
  • What do they want and need, and how does that match up with who you are?

When you know the answers to these questions, branding is easy and marketing is a joy.

Struggling to Think of Blog Topics

Repeat after me, folks: Blogging is not hard.  Thinking of things to blog about is not hard.  After all, your blog should be on a topic you know a lot about.  Hopefully, you’re passionate about it.  You might even consider yourself an expert.  So relax.  You already know how to do this.  You just don’t know that you know.

Let’s try an example.  Say I have a blog about pet dogs.  I love dogs.  I love taking care of my dogs. I love taking pictures of my dogs.  And I know a lot about dog care, dog grooming and doggy love. What could I blog about?

There are a zillion angles you could take on any topic.  Like…

  • My favorite thing about ________ is…
  • I can sometimes struggle with …..
  • The 5 Best (products/activities/etc)…
  • 10 Facts You Should Know About….
  • Did you know that…
  • How to choose the right…

I bet you can already see how this is going to work out.  

  • My favorite thing about walking my dog is…
  • I can sometimes struggle with doggie separation issues…
  • The 5 Best Puppy Schools in Portland…
  • 10 Facts You Should Know About Chew Toys
  • Did You Know That A Pit Bull Has a Bite Pressure of 1,200 Pounds per Square Inch? 
  • How to Choose the Right Harness for your Dog…


But what if my blog is about gardening?  Then what can I write about?  The logic holds…

  • My Favorite Thing About Perennials Is…
  • I Can Sometimes Struggle With Allergies when Gardening…
  • The 5 Best Natural Weeding Products…
  • 10 Facts Your Should Know About Succulents
  • Did you Know That Some Plants are Poisonous to Pets?
  • How to Choose the Right Mulch for your Garden…

The truth is that you could write a thousand blog posts on your topic of choice.  You just need to pick an angle and get started.  Happy blogging!

Adding Social to your CRM

Why Social CRM?

Knowing where your prospects came from (and why) out there in the big world wide web will help marketing fine tune its social campaigns and double down on the ones that are working.  This will lead to your prospects getting the answers they are asking (where they are asking them), then track them all the way through sales and customer support for a 360-degree view of your customer’s journey through your company.  This of course leads to happier customers and better reporting, accountability, and ROI.   It will help your sales get insight into their prospects from their very first interaction with your company up to and including theirs. 

Everything you know and love about your current CRM is still useful and relevant.  Now they have just allowed you to add your social efforts into the mix to make more educated decisions and provide better reporting for all your programs instead of just outbound campaigns.

These same tools can help you track and improve your branding efforts and make your responses more effective.  They can be used to better track your interactions with brand leaders and other influencers to improve those relationships as well. 

Before marketers jump into a big data discussion and shell out a great deal of money, I suggest coming up with a list of questions you want answered first, and then look for the best app to do those things first.   After all, analytics is all about making the best of the data that we have, and there are plenty of sources to obtain that data. 


What do they track?

All your social media interactions.

Imagine someone is really upset with your product and needs help, is frustrated and complaining online.  Social CRM can show you where, what is going on with them and why.  This allows online activities to be routed to your best resource to help them, and tells them where to go (twitter, Facebook, blog attack, or rant. You need to be there where your customers are, not waiting to read about it. 

Most of the commercial social CRM packages serve up the information with a full view of all that person’s online activity in one location.  They will make recommendations, and serve up actionable information.  I have used Nimble and Salesforce IQ, and I have to say I loved them both.  Both were about $25/mo. Since my marketing budget at this company was next to nothing, so cost was one of my main considerations in that instance.


Where do I start?

There are so many Social CRM applications out there to choose from, so many in fact that everyone answering that question online suggests you need to first sit down and figure out what questions you need answered. What problems are you trying to solve? What new opportunities do you think you are missing out on?   What does management want you to track?  How are you doing it today?

With your requirements in hand you will be better able to start narrowing down your selections.  There are dozens of great tools in each category to help with gathering, rating, sorting, and analyzing.  It will be much easier to start with the dozen tools that provide your most needed capabilities and go from there. 

So, the first step is to figure out what information you are looking for.  What problems are you trying to solve?

Example: Say you decide you want to start tracking your prospects much earlier in the sales cycle.  Instead of waiting for prospects to contact your sales. you want to start tracking them the moment they click on your online content.  You want to then follow them through their journeys toward deciding on a solution. 

Here are some other things you may want to discover with a new Social CRM solution:

  • What did the prospect click on first? What did they do next?  And after that?
  • Did they go straight to your online offer and get it, land on your website, or did they call sales?
  • Where did they spend time on your website before clicking the buy button?
  • Are they asking questions online that are going unanswered?
  • How many of your social media contacts turned into leads? What was the ROI for that social media campaign?
  • What is your social marketing effectiveness?

With this information you can now track the success of your social media programs, provide ROI to management, as well as allow your sales to observe your buyer’s journey from their first click onto your content page.  You know with this sales could better gauge where prospects are in their journey to make it possible to provide the right information at the right time.  This is the difference between inbound marketing and “spray and pray” marketing (which we all agreed was inefficient and annoying a decade ago). 


I have my list of data that I want to track with my new Social CRM app…what now?

Say you have a great CRM and everyone at your company already knows how to use it, but today it is only capturing outbound information, or lists of contacts to spam, or prospect contact info after they have talked with sales and have been entered into your sales cycle.  It is great at everything a CRM should be great at, but you are missing the entire first part of your marketing lead cycle and are having a hard time tying the ROI to the campaign it came from.  First thing you should do is contact whoever sold you your existing CRM to see if they have an add-on for social media.  If they have it and it provides what you need it should not be a tough sale to your management. No retraining, no rip and replace.  Just an upgrade or add-on depending on your provider.   Many of the existing CRMs are playing catchup so chances are if your CRM provider does not have it, they will soon.  If you are using salesforce.com for instance they now have add-ons, you can buy to capture social media results.  Sales IQ is only $25 a month and provides CRM capabilities as well as some basic social media tracking and information about your prospect’s online activities.    If your current CRM solution provider does not have social CRM capabilities, then you will have to look at some new apps.


So which ones should I start with?

With many social marketers still trying to figure out which metrics to track and which metrics management is looking for coupled with the fact that there are literally hundreds of new companies providing marketing/social media analytics solutions.  How do I start?  Which ones should I focus on?

With your social CRM wish list in hand you can review a few product matrices like these below to see if any have the feature sets you need.   I put together a shortlist here focusing on the ones I have been asked about in interviews (which I totally hadn’t heard of at the time), or which have overwhelming market share in this space so would be remiss to not mention.

Here is a short list I pulled off Capterra’s website Capterra.com  that takes the top 10 Social CRM software solutions and shows you what each contains.  I provided this because it helps you see at-a-glance an overview of what is included in these commonly used Social CRM packages.


Let’s take a look at the categories common to these applications: 

  • Type of deployment (PC or cloud)
  • Contact management (duh!)
  • Customer Support module (so you can see 360 degrees of your prospect’s experience)
  • Email Marketing
  • Interaction tracking – Manage all your social conversations. Make real-time responses to prospect posts when they happen. Move from sharing content to having conversations to closing deals, right from the Social Tab. (from Zoho.com)
  • Lead Management
  • Marketing automation

Nothing new here except for Interaction tracking right? A couple new categories, but nothing you can’t pick up easily. And wait until you see Interaction training.  Very cool stuff! 

And here is another shortlist of popular Social CRM applications This one is from Megan Adam’s LinkedIn skills online training. Her course takes an hour and makes Social Marketing CRM easy to understand from the perspective of a traditional marketer.  It was very informative and engaging enough to hold my interest even with The Big Bang Theory playing in the background.    That’s a pretty good training!

So with your list in hand Google Social CRM plus a few tags from your “must have” list.  Just past the ads should be your short list to start with.  Click on a few of them and notice how well those companies all start tracking and interacting with you from the second you land on their first page.  Try a few free trials to get comfortable with the genre and see what you like.  Most have really good online training and people happy to help you with your education.  You are well on your way.








Regaining Relevance with New Marketing Technologies

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Do not despair if you blinked and missed out on the last four years of changes that have happened in the marketing industry. A lot has happened, a 180° from push marketing to pull marketing.  Maybe you are asking, “how has that effected the job market?” “What’s up with all these new applications and terminology?  There’s just so many of them! How much of it is applicable to whatever will be my next position?  Which of it am I likely to run into out there?  Will I even like these new methodologies, much less embrace them? 

Well, good news!  If you have studied pull marketing for the consultative sales rep in a past life, then you will be happy to know that the rest of the world has finally caught up to what we knew back then was a better way to sell and market.  The tools back in the day would not accommodate our needs.  Back in the day, even if we could theoretically get access to the data, it was cumbersome and untimely to obtain.  Now we have great new tools available and every marketing management platform has grabbed onto inbound marketing methodology.  It is mainstream enough now that you may be reading and hearing about “new marketing” techniques everywhere you look.  Once you dig in you will realize you already know 80% of this stuff.   


To get started there are a few important high level marketing terms you will run into on job descriptions for marketing positions now.  There is a new skillset expected even for marketing titles you used to rock.  Now these are all part of every marketer’s job description.    

  • Digital Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Inbound Marketing
  • Marketing Analytics (not your college marketing analytics)

There are things you can do today to be more efficient on a modern marketing team.  You have to learn the language modern teams are using, but your years of experience are more valuable than anyone is taking into account here.  We have had to learn a new technology every four years since dinosaurs and spam.  Probably because not enough old marketers are embracing the technology, to be on those teams, to show their value-add.  

You can be caught up with the concepts and applications in a couple months of online training and free trials.  I am happy to talk through my journey in case it can help.  The information provided is my opinion as a newb to a lot of these applications and classes.

Be careful when taking online training to use common sense to separate each provider’s subtly inserted product hype, from the sound marketing practices to be learned by their courses.  Side note: I think it is interesting that the coursework screams education early and product info when they are ready to buy, but HubSpot cleverly peppers all their training with information that will be helpful later to select their product.  An additional but lesson in the lesson.  


Spray and pray was always bad.  Now it’s a crime

The main story here is that sales and marketing had to stop trying to shove content down potential client’s throats in hopes that they might someday be interested in your product (what we used to call “spray and pray”).  Instead, we are expected to start providing educational content for future prospects much earlier in the sales cycle (what we used to call consultative sales and marketing) so your content is out there waiting for them at each stage of their purchasing journey (now called the buyer’s journey). 

Since customer buying habits have changed, sales and marketing have to change or get left behind in this new buyer’s world where online education is now king. 


Right content, right place, right time according to the buyer’s journey is the order of the day

This idea of being where your customers are already at (since they start their buying cycle when they do their first search to figure out what their problem is called) enables you to better guide the sales cycle and become a trusted adviser earlier in the process.  If you are waiting for them to need your product, then you are missing 2/3 of their buyer’s cycle (called the buyer’s journey). 

Graphic below includes language and methodology examples borrowed from HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Certification course.  I have summarized several concepts into the two graphics below to explain these concepts using terminology traditional marketers should already know. 

Their line of reasoning is that your competition is out there advising prospects and creating their buying criteria before you even learn about them as a possible future opportunity.  Sound like your team?  If so, please keep reading.    These rehashed concepts, plus some awesome tools, better hand-off between sales and marketing are the foundations of what is called inbound marketing. 



Better Handoff between marketing and sales leads

Another big shift (that I just love) is that the best in class marketing methodologies like HubSpot and Marketo both have beefed up that ever problematic lead handoff from marketing to sales.  Hubspot uses a definition and supports it with their software around what a “Marketing Quality Lead (MQL) is, and what a Sales ready lead (SQL) is.  Both teams are involved in the handoff criteria, qualification, and are responsible for that MQL/SQL area of the funnel.  Both teams are accountable for this handoff and thus have better insight into the complete sales cycle. 

Marketing is tracking what happens to their leads after sales gets them to continually improve their leads, and sales has more control over the lead criteria and acceptance of a MQL as a SQL.  Prospects are more closely tracked by both teams and receive content when they need it now.  I really like this process and software from preliminarily checking out their free version online. 

Marketo has a “Marketing qualified / Sales accepted closed loop process at the handoff stage that keeps leads in marketing until they are determined sales ready and thereafter treated with respect by sales.  That’s the plan anyway.

You have heard all this before right?  Well, at least now many (to most) companies are using one of these two marketing platforms that seems to enforce, or at least supports this behavior.  Thank God, it’s about freaking time!


Meet the new boss, he’s a lot like the old boss

Marketing for the consultative sales rep is fashionable again.  Pull marketing is better defined and supported. Remember back in 2005 when great marketing books like “Lead generation for the Complex Sale,” by Brian Carroll, or Marketing Led Sales Driven by Ajay Sirsi were first out?  Mr. Carroll’s methods assumed sales reps were selling in a consultative fashion already, and lays the groundwork for much of what has been incorporated into the two most popular marketing platforms today HubSpot and Marketo.  

That is something good that started out old school and has received a fresh coat of paint.  Back in the day, even behemoths like HP trained every direct or reseller sales rep in Mercury’s consultative selling training programs.  Avnet, NetApp, and reseller sales reps were taking consultative selling training in order to participate in any of my programs ten years ago.   methodology training and tools a decade ago.  More marketers are being asked to assist in helping their sales reps sell in a more customer centric fashion.  They are selling in a more consultative fashion and are solely focused on pull marketing techniques, you are already well on your way.


Plenty of great marketing apps to learn

Here are the main categories and tools that companies want you to be able to use now.  Fortunately, if you go online, take their training courses and a free trial and within a week you are good to go.  Tools today are much easier to learn and use.  Here is an example of digital marketing tools from Smart Insights at http://www.smartinsights.com/


All these apps are created to help you put your content where your prospects are looking for it, earn trusted advisor status, make it fun, and to track it.   It is assumed you have created and provided product information to your sales team for the convert stage.  To gain better insights into your buyer’s persona and journey.  And to leverage it at every stage of the buyer’s journey.  Most of these tools are intuitive to use, low cost, and fun to create with. 

Here is another one I like from Cheifmartec.com.  Instead of splitting everything out by RACE (which is very cool), it sorts them by marketing category / task, kind of lines them up by where it falls in the marketing cycle for each marketing discipline.



Way back in the day I was an Air Force Finance troop.  If you have been a marketing pro for ten or more years you probably have had to take an accounting class at some point as well.  Everything was manual and they used debits and credits on ledgers to balance.  When learning that crap you couldn’t imagine it ever being useful unless you planned to become a CPA.  Then out came QuickBooks.  It was transaction based and it could do all your basic accounting tasks without requiring the user to use debits and credits anymore.  They weren’t missed, and small business everywhere could get rid of their paperbound and expensive accounting person.  If the owner herself was too busy to do the books on QuickBooks themselves, they could hire a computer savvy college graduate to come in and use QuickBooks for a fraction what they were paying before.  So, let’s call the old accountant Agnes and the new QuickBooks using graduate “Betty”.  Agnes got the boot after ten years of doing the books manually.  Life is good for Betty and management for a while.  Salary expenses were down, everything was getting done, the reports looked great, and everyone was busy.  One day the books were off by a hundred dollars.  Something got off somewhere.  Betty looked at every transaction, but was not able to understand anything going on in QuickBooks underneath the graphical user interface (GUI) to dig into those debits and credits listed on the internal QuickBooks source forms.  All that old school accounting was still in there buy QuickBooks hid them and used them internally to serve up its information to the GUI that Betty had learned to use.  Now everything they loved about QB was exactly what was wrong with QB now.   

When Agnes came in to do her “old cheapskate of a boss” a solid favor, she could easily understand the source documents and internal forms QuickBooks was pulling from.  They looked exactly like old school balance sheets and ledgers that Agnes had been doing everything on.  Agnes and the new hire quickly found the problem together, Agnes charged her former boss a butt load of money, and Agnes learned how to use QuickBooks and with the new skill and old ledger experience was able to get a new job making a whole lot more money.  Sound familiar?  It should. Your skills will all still be useful.  You have hard earned experience and perspective.  If you can pick up some new concepts, vocabulary, and skills you will be more capable than members of your team who read about it in books and never had to deal with some of the craziness we have. 

The Job Search (What I Didn’t Know that I Didn’t Know)

The Job Search

They say to tell your stories in blogs without mentioning yourself in them, make them about the audience.  Well this my story, for you to judge and decide if any of this relates to you.  I’m going to tell you what I did, how I prepared, what I studied, then what happened.  The search, the training, the interviews, putting myself in front of dozens of companies to get to the “real scoop” of what they were looking for and asking about.  Then the time consuming process I worked through to go get the education I should have had before applying to even a single job.  Now, you can learn from my mistakes and hopefully shave two months off your next marketing job search.   

After my marketing consulting gig for a small Japanese software company finished recently, I started looking for a full-time position in which I could work as part of a team again for a high-tech company.   I love managing a team of like-minded marketers more than anything.  I mean, contract work from my home office is great -when it is great.  At times though I found myself putting in 16 hour days, falling out of touch with industry best practices, I stopped attending or being able to afford all the affiliations to great marketing organizations like the Business Marketing Association (BMA) and Gartner that I had become accustomed to.  Working for myself kind of sucked because my boss was a slave driver. Plus, with the healthcare scene what it is today, I decided to go to work again as part of a marketing team again.   I started applying for jobs online.


I initially did the following that everyone does:

  • Brushed off my resume, looked up resume best practices for 2017, and updated everything.   
  • Applied for no fewer than 30 positions per day spending extra time to make sure each application, list of skills, and cover letter had been optimized according to the position I was applying for.   
  • Made sure examples of my work are available on my website MadScinceConsulting.com, included my portfolio, and included links.
  • Called former bosses and referrals to make sure they are still happy to receive calls.
  • Updated my LinkedIn page and upgraded my LinkedIn account to LinkedIn pro.
  • Added my information to more than two dozen job boards like: LinkedIn Pro, Marketing Ladders, Virtual Vocations, Indeed, Glass Doors, Dice, Beyond, and many more.
  • Posted my resume and information on to more than 50 company career sections for consideration at all the places I wanted to work.
  • Submitted all my information to the local recruiters.
  • Notified my network of professional friends know I was available. If I find a position at their company, I would send them my information and the job to forward to their HR for me.  


As a result

I have had twenty-five phone interviews and seven face-to-face interviews.  Every one of the interviews went very well until they started asking me about my experience with new marketing technology, concepts, and applications.  I had heard or read about them all, but I would not lie and say I was an expert in marketing analytics, agile / scrum, inbound marketing, or digital marketing or social media marketing management experience. 

So, here was an opportunity.  On my resume I have listed several marketing titles so I was interviewing for a nice sampling of open marketing positions.  My last interview was with the President of a local high-tech product reseller.  He told me he had to cut off the applications for the one position at 250 resumes.  He selected the nine best to talk with.  I made that cut.  He said he would pick the three best out of the nine to come in and interview in person.  That’s some serious competition.  I was easily making it to the top 3% of the list for call backs for an interview, but had not made the final cut yet.

I kept hearing requests for tools I had never used, or asked about terms that no longer mean what they used to.  They say not to list things on your resume that will date you if you are in the younger or older spectrum of applicants.  I am here to tell you that this extends into the tools you are familiar with and certificates you keep current.


Put up or shut up

When I didn’t get any of those positions, I decided to do something about it.  I needed to not only become a subject matter expert in many new concepts and best practices, but I also needed to become proficient at using the tools that support these methodologies. 

So, here I am, an innovative, award winning corporate marketer.  I have made a lot companies a whole lot of money.  I’m talking hundreds of millions here.  Won a full ride scholarship for an MBA in Global Management with a concentration in International Marketing.  I won Phoenix Marketer of the year in 2012.  Also, through my company Mad Science Consulting I have implemented sales and marketing processes and best practices successfully for SMBs, mid-sized, and large enterprise customers internationally and domestically.  I have always stayed on top of the marketing industry and monitored the changes happening in sales and marketing practices, but obviously I had not been paying close enough attention.  I thought there would be social media marketers and traditional marketers and that companies might want both.  Aink!  Wrong answer.  I was unaware how quickly and how extensive the changes were.  New marketing methodologies are being practiced wholeheartedly by most companies now.  Even traditional marketing roles like Product and Channel marketing now require healthy understanding of inbound, digital, social media and analytics.  I have also come across requirements for agile marketing and SCRUM experience for product marketing positions. 

In tomorrow’s blog, I’ll share some of the amazing things I’ve found as well as ways to get yourself up to date and stay relevant in this fast-moving market.

Why TraDigital Marketing?

There is a lot of great marketing going on in both traditional and digital marketing disciplines, but people tend to stick to their own camp — either you are an old-school traditional marketer, obsessed with metrics and controlling the conversation, or you are a new-school marketer, putting up flashy social media campaigns and blowing past the old, boring techniques of the past.  Here’s the deal, though — in this new marketing landscape, it’s no longer enough to be one or the other.  It’s essential to become what we call a TraDigital Marketer, pairing traditional and digital methodologies to build something new and powerful.

So this blog is for you, traditional marketer that wants to learn more about new marketing techniques put into a context that should be easy to pick up for someone familiar with old-school traditional marketing techniques.  You can stay relevant in this new economy.  New marketer who may be interested in some nuggets of ancient marketing wisdom, well TraDigital Marketing is for you too. You can become more grounded in business concepts that broaden your marketability Let me tell you how:

For Traditional Marketers

The more I study current marketing techniques, the more relevant I see the experience we have as Traditional marketers is.  Concepts such as marketing for consultative sales reps is very in demand.  BANT is still relevant to the sales reps.  Inbound marketing is a deepening of what we used to call pull marketing (now married to current technology capabilities).  So many of the concepts I studied in HubSpot’s inbound marketing certification was stuff I had heard before, peppered with a new philosophy.  It’s a whole lot less mysterious than I thought it would be. 

If you are like me, a corporate marketing expert trying to bring myself up to speed on all new technologies and overcome decades of legacy internal sales and marketing processes at your company, the numbers and ROI are there and it all makes perfect sense.  If only you could get your legacy CMO to pull their head out of “the good old days” just long enough to see the world has changed and their methods have not.

I cannot tell you how many business owners I talk to that are desperately trying to re-swizzle and double down on their outbound efforts.  They keep getting less results, their teams are more discouraged trying to cold call or spam people that just keep getting less and less patient with them. 

Remember “pull marketing” vs. “push marketing” techniques that we all studied and mastered a decade ago?  Then remember “marketing for the consultative sales rep” studies we all started about the same time?  Well, just take all the cool technology available today and apply those concepts to it and you pretty much have what HubSpot and others are calling “Inbound” marketing today.  There are a lot of easy to use tools to help you get there.  Think about how much effort your teenage kid will put into learning a new app.  Well that’s the target market for these new apps, so how hard do you think it is going to be to pick it up?  Not hard at all! 

Like most of us, we can list old courses taken or old technology used, speak to a plethora of examples of relevant experience, but the next round of job interview questioning involves the names of current applications they use that they want the next marketing person to be experienced in.  Those questions stopped me cold every time. 

I did not recognize even the names of most of the applications they are asking for me to know.  To make myself relevant again, I have spent the last two months studying applications, downloading free trials, and obtaining new certs.    I will take you along on that journey and continue to report in how my job search is progressing to hopefully help other old school marketers shave months off their search by preparing beforehand, before you actually need it. Of course we should all be staying on top of this stuff anyway, but if you are reading this I imagine you are a fellow marketer who wants to read about this stuff.

For digital/Inbound/social media marketers

You are on the cutting edge, you know the hottest applications and you make it all look great.  That’s awesome!  That said, I too often see splashy new media marketing folks who don’t understand essential marketing and business concepts.  You can throw a lot of gorgeous stuff out there and get literally no response.  Or you can get a great response and miss it, because you aren’t checking metrics or don’t understand setting up KPIs (key performance indicators) or tracking ROI (return on investment). Okay, there is a lot of good stuff, great stories, and “foundations of marketing stuff” to be learned from traditional marketing. Pairing what you know with traditional marketing knowledge will make you formidable. A true TraDigital Marketer is priceless in the new marketing landscape.

There are many lessons to be learned from other’s mistakes, or the grey areas between push and pull marketing.  You have the benefit of new tools and better methodologies, but when it gets messy that is where traditional marketing techniques can help. There were books, seminars, trainings, and analysis that laid the groundwork for the new sales and marketing models that are every bit as relevant and useful for filling gaps today as they were 10-15 years ago. 

In future blogs, I will list my favorite traditional marketing resources, along with the modern marketing concepts they were laying the groundwork for.  Also, feel free to help a marketer out.  If you have firsthand experience regarding anything I am struggling with in this forum, please speak up.  I am doing my best to take something new to me and make it comfortable for others to learn from.  I am sure any traditional marketer reading this blog would welcome your insights and perspective as well.