Tag Archives: marketing

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.

17 Email Marketing Rules You Must Break

Email marketing has the potential of being the cheapest, easiest, most focused type of marketing when done right.  The challenge is that it is almost never done right!  Courtesy of Marketo.com, here is a list of 17 “Rules” we suggest you consider breaking, challenging what you think you know about email marketing.

When it comes to email marketing, there are a lot of purists out there who say you should ALWAYS do this or NEVER do that.  Consider all the “best practices” that are floating around online.  From PowerPoint presentations to old white papers, archaic eBooks and other resources that are just plain outdated, they promote rules that used to be true.  The reality is, as long as you aren’t breaking any rules, not much is black and white.  (That said, we do strongly encourage you to consult counsel for anything legal; we are not attorneys!)

That’s why we made a list of 17 email marketing “rules” that you absolutely, 100% must break*!

  1. NEVER use words like “free” or “deal” or “discount” in an email subject line.
  2. ALWAYS keep your email subject lines between 30 and 50 characters.
  3. ALWAYS use double opt-in when growing your list.
  4. NEVER use a pop-up (or pop-over) to collect email addresses.
  5. NEVER send a mostly text email.
  6. NEVER send a mostly image email.
  7. NEVER send an email with one big image.
  8. ALWAYS have a good balance of images to text.
  9. NEVER send “ugly” emails.
  10. NEVER buy a list.
  11. NEVER have fun.
  12. NEVER use all caps in an email subject line.
  13. NEVER use animated gifs in the body of an email.
  14. NEVER put the unsubscribe button at the top of an email (or make it obvious).
  15. ALWAYS send an email in the middle of the week.
  16. NEVER send an email at the end of the day.
  17. NEVER send more than one email per day.

* “Break” is a fancy way of saying test to see what works best for your audience.  Don’t assume that all these rules will work for you simply because they worked for someone else.  Test. Tweak.  Then, break the rules.  Figure out the best approach for your community.



For a great pdf of the above, click here: email marketing rules

The Language of Marketing

Marketing Terms Defined

First let’s discuss some marketing basics so we are speaking the same language (and feel free to call me on anything you do not agree with). Marketing is such a huge area and means so many things to so many different people. At the end of the day, I would like to walk away with a consensus that provides the “groupthink” perspective on the various subjects we want to explore. Also, feel free to comment on any additional commonly misunderstood marketing topics you have come across.


BANT Qualified Lead

A BANT qualified lead suggests the prospect you are talking to has:
Budget (There is a project with a designated budget),
Authority (they are a decision maker or at least an influencer on the project),
Need (they actually need or are looking for what your rep sells)
Timeframe (planned timeframe in which the project will be started)

Basically this is a “real” sales opportunity. If a lead is BANT qualified you have put your sales rep in the right place, at the right time, talking to the right person, about the right thing.


Bottom line and “net-net”

“The bottom line” is that line in a financial statement that shows net income or loss. On an income statement, “Net Income” is physically located at the very bottom of the form and is the last line on the form, thus it gets its name “the bottom line.” Net income (the bottom line) is the final accounting showing company profit or loss. The bottom line has come to mean “the final word on the subject” “get to the point,” or “I am about to say the only part of my long winded sales pitch that you will actually care about.” Bottom line should not be used in formal business accounting communication as it is a somewhat vague term when used in that context.

“Net-net” means to get to the point or “the bottom line”. It is the net result after removing all unimportant details. I may be over-thinking it, but I tend to use “the bottom line” when talking about reducing all the details for one subject. When providing a summary of multiple concepts and “giving the bottom line of several bottom lines,” the final result of those combined concepts would be “net-net.”

If a rep feels that a long-winded buildup is necessary in a consultative sale, you are either talking to the wrong person or have not done your homework. Your goal is to consult with a decision maker regarding the things that person is responsible for. If you are talking “speeds and feeds” to a CFO you are having the wrong conversation with the wrong person. If your bottom line is increasing their bottom line, a long-winded build up will not be necessary. You are in the right place having the right conversation with the right person.


Closed Loop Sales and Marketing

Monitoring the life of a lead in all its possible outcomes and acting optimally throughout its lifecycle. I.e. Lead entered in CRM by marketing, followed up by sales rep, determined “not ready to buy”, nurtured by marketing until ready to buy, followed up again by sales rep, sales lost, reason for lost sale determined and reported, information flows back to marketing where it can create better campaigns based on updated data.

On the marketing side we focus on launching and executing the activity that will hopefully lead to interest and orders. We compile research, customer data, demographics, results, BANT criteria resulting opportunities and whom they were funneled out to. On the sales side they see some of your information (the more the better) and have time to digest some of it. They track the stage of the opportunity (new, assess, design propose, closed won, closed lost, or call back later). They track the opportunity dollar amount by estimating in the early stages and looking at the proposal amount or closed order amount in later stages.

A closed loop system allows information to flow between your Marketing system and your CRM system so marketing can evaluate its effectiveness, adjust where needed and provide more value. Marketing can take deals that did not buy today and continue to maintain a relationship (lead nurturing) so the prospect will buy from your rep when they are finally ready. Marketing typically has various investors and interested parties looking for ROI for their investment and chasing down that information can become a full time job in itself. On the sales side there is a requirement to obtain the most useful ongoing touches and as much useful information as possible when going back into the account to follow-up.
Many marketing and sales systems do not provide the 360-degree view needed for the sales and marketing teams to work together to most effectively turn prospects into customers and report that success to necessary constituents.


Consultative Selling

Is focused on:
• Working with the customer to understand their goals, objectives, and challenges.
• Taking that information back to an expert team to determine the optimum solution.
• Explaining the solution in a manner that addresses each of the key influencers in their own language.
There are many formulas, acronyms and methods to help sales reps learn and remember all the steps in a consultative sales engagement, but these are the main three areas in which consultative sales reps are typically trained.


Demand Generation a.k.a. “Demand Gen”

Demand generation is conducted to bring awareness and interest of your company’s offering. A good demand generation effort from the prospect’s side matches the prospect’s need to an offering that fulfills their requirements. An ideal demand generation effort for your sales rep perspective is one that puts them in front of the right person at the right time with the right offering to provide a service that pays them.
Commonly used in business to business, business to government, or longer sales cycle business to consumer sales cycles, demand generation involves multiple areas of marketing and is really the marriage of marketing programs coupled with a structured sales process.


FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt)

Where you are selling fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) you are trying to play on your prospect’s FUD to “scare” them into buying your product or service. Many reps are good at twisting a prospect’s perception of a situation to convince the prospect that whatever they are selling will save their career, life, sex appeal or marriage. The more knowledgeable your prospects are about their situation, the less successful this method will be. Companies selling Tasers during riots may do well with this method, but if you paint an inaccurate “doom and gloom” scenario to someone who knows better, you lose all credibility as a marketing or sales rep.

There is a difference between apprising a prospects of the facts that will help them avoid danger that they may not have otherwise been aware of (education = good) and painting a worst-case scenario to manipulate them into buying (FUD = questionable).


KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)

Key Performance Indicators “KPIs” are a measure of performance for a company or group within a company. KPIs can be hard to measure compared to units produced or dollars saved but are key to a company’s success. As an example if your Board of Directors suggests to your CEO that the company must increase wallet share, cut costs, improve employee morale and become the leading company in your industry, some of these things are easier to measure than others. These would be the KPIs for the company that the Board wants to see the CEO deliver. It is how they will measure success. Successful movement toward these long-term organizational goals over a specific period of time defines how valuable the CEO is to the Board. The act of monitoring KPIs in real-time is known as business activity monitoring (BAM). This is where you will find the details regarding measurement, ROI, timeframes, decision makers…BANT stuff.


Lead Nurturing

Maintaining contact with a prospect that is not buying from you today, but which you believe may have a need for you in the future. Marketing can put processes in place that continue to follow up in a meaningful way until the prospect is ready to talk with the sales rep. There is a BIG difference between spamming and nurturing an opportunity. The more customized your subsequent follow-ups are, the more well received your efforts will be and the more likely your communication effort will put your reps at the right place, with the right message, at the right time to close the deal.

Sometimes marketing just gets there too early or sometimes the rep can see that the prospect will be ready at a later date. When there is a closed loop process in place marketing can take this activity on for the sales rep. When there is no process in place the rep must constantly remember to continue to follow up with the prospect until they are ready. Most sales reps do not have the time to do this and are not able to provide the most polished and relevant information on a regular basis.



At the most basic level I believe marketing is “anything and everything you can do to help your sales team sell”. This includes: making their selling easier (market awareness, sales tools/kits/collateral, training, certifications), selling faster (door openers, more qualified sales engagements, compelling product positioning, competitive differentiation) and helping them sell more (lead nurturing, better processes, enablement to present the right product message in the right place, at the right time, to the right person. (BANT qualified leads).


Sales Enablement

Sales Enablement is providing the tools and technology your sales force needs to be successful. When a successful lead puts your rep in the right place with the right message at the right time; sales enablement puts the right information in the most useable format into the reps hands at the right time. They are the tools your rep will need to execute a successful consultative sale. Traditionally, marketing would throw a lead over the fence and expect the rep to pick up the ball and run with it. If you think about it though, the marketing person already has done much of the research and has obtained much of the enabling information the rep will need to approach the prospect intelligently. They just need to get that information into the reps hands in a format they can use.

Marketing can provide enablement material in a general fashion: sales content, collateral, case studies, competitive information, best practices, and product and solution materials. Taking enablement to the next step for a consultative sales rep would include: key financial information, identifying: decision makers, projects, champions, internal politics, determining that there is a budget and timeframe for purchase and that the interest for the meeting matches your offering. Basically, to really enable a consultative sales rep you want to provide a sales ready lead (BANT) and the information about that lead that will help them close the deal.


“Speeds and Feeds”

In a technical sales some reps try to focus on product features and benefits to impress the prospect. The words “technobabble” and “geek speak” come to mind. When this is done with little regard for the needs and interests of the person in front of you it falls into the “spray and pray” or “field of dreams” marketing categories. This technical barrage of facts and figures about your offering is meant to impress the prospect with “how fast” your product cycles or “how much pipe it can push.” Since competitive products typically leapfrog over one another every six months, counting on speeds and feed can work against you as competitors come out with new features and benefits. A better approach is to find out what your prospect needs (even at levels deeper than they do themselves) and match them to the offering that best solves their problem.

An onslaught of technical facts about your offering probably will not impress the “C” level person you are in the room with anyway unless they happen to be the CTO or CIO. Trying to establish a competitive advantage based on “speeds and feeds” shows you know a lot about your product, but probably is your way of filling the void left from not knowing your prospect. As stated earlier competitive advantage based only on today’s processing speed of low cost of disk space leaves you with nothing to say every six months when the competition comes out with their faster model, however focusing on the customer’s issues and solving their business problems never becomes a dated and limiting approach. This is the difference between selling “speeds and feeds” and a more consultative approach.

Additionally we all know that you want to meet with decision makers as high up the food chain as possible (where the approvers and check signers live). When you speak to a decision maker who does not understand or care about what you are saying, they will invariably push you off to the person in their company you sound the most like (especially if they have no idea what you are talking about). If you do not wish to be herded off to a lower level engineer to argue “feeds and speeds” or to try to convince a worker bee that your application is better than the one they are using, then to try to climb you way back to the decision maker at a later date, you need to focus on solving the problems that interest the person you are meeting with. How do you determine what that is? Listen to them and study them. Typically a “C” or “VP” level individual is much more interested in addressing their: KPIs, ROI, bottom line, top line, profitability, cost control, compliance, competition, or their board of directors. Bottom line…you should be speaking their language


“Spray and Pray”

The closer you get to the decision maker within a company the less time or patience they have for this type of marketing or selling. It is the opposite consultative selling.
Spray and pray, from a marketing perspective, is conducting a campaign to the masses in hopes of having a small number of them care enough about what you are selling to contact you to hear more. This is the opposite of targeted marketing, in which you are sending information to the select group you believe will care or benefit from your message.
This is not an ideal lead generating scenario for a consultative sales rep unless you somehow collect information from the “spamee.” The reps do not have the time to research, qualify and then explain to a large number of prospects information and relevance that (had your campaign been conducted correctly) should have been handled by marketing in the first place. The more targeted your audience is, the better you explain your offering, and the better you qualify in advance for the consultative rep, the more meaningful the engagement will be for both parties.

Spray and pray marketing is fine for younger reps searching for any contact with a potential prospect to practice their pitch. It is, however, a complete waste of time for more senior consultative sales reps.

From a sales perspective “spray and pray” happens when a rep has not taken the time to determine exactly what aspects of their offering would be most valuable to the prospect and proceeds with a “canned” sales pitch or script that they hope will have some relevance to the prospects. Unless your company is offering the fountain of youth in a can, it is rare that every company is an ideal candidate or that every person you talk to in that company will respond to the same features and benefits of your offering. We have all been on the receiving end of an eager sales rep trying to drone on about their product before finding out if you need, want or care about what they are selling.