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Get a jump on your 2013 marketing planning in this “meeting of the minds” afternoon in Austin, Texas. Bulldog Solutions, where I work, is one of the sponsors of this event along with many other well known companies in the B2B marketing space.
Join us for an educational summit in Austin, Texas, hosted by the Marketing Cloud™ and featuring Jay Gaines of SiriusDecisions, who will present “2013 Planning Methodology to Maximize Revenue,” SiriusDecisions’ ground-breaking marketing planning methodology. Customers and partners of the Marketing Cloud will then present real-world case studies that illustrate the planning assumptions offered by Jay.
You’ll learn why:
Your marketing must be a BLEND
FOCUS on the persona is critical
It really is time to MOBILIZE
You must ELEVATE to be relevant
BALANCE is everything
Who should attend: Marketing and sales leaders responsible for delivering revenue in 2013 in the areas of strategy, infrastructure or programs.
Date: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Time: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. CST (followed by a cocktail reception)
Place: Hilton Austin, 500 E. 4th St. Austin, Texas 78701
Today I attended the Marketo Social Marketing Rockstar Tour event in Austin for my company, Bulldog Solutions. Marketo sells one of the leading marketing automation platforms that helps companies manage their marketing efforts and evaluate how qualified their leads are before they hit the sales pipeline. It looks like they still have London and Sydney left on their tour. It was really well attended…a packed room with 95% women attendees. I was surprised because pretty much all of the conferences/summits I’ve attended since my career began have had 60 to 95% male attendees, unless it was a women’s conference. That observation gelled for me the fact that I’m now working for a company that caters to the marketing industry, a field with a high percentage of women in key positions.
During the event, they focused quite a bit on the metrics related to measuring success when using social media to drive leads into your pipeline. My accounting background made me wonder why measurement has not been a key focus until recently and my creative side said “Wow, this is really a perfect opportunity blend for my operations/numeric skills and my interest in the B2B/relationship selling experience.” Even better was the fact that their company/logo color is purple, which is my favorite color, so I was happy to get a bunch of purple SWAG (sun glasses, speakers, cookies, water bags, etc.).
Following is a post called Demand Creation 101 that I wrote for the blog at my company, Bulldog Solutions:
The following was authored by Aruni S. Gunasegaram, Account Director. Aruni joined Bulldog in June 2012 with a background in technology entrepreneurship, B2B sales, consulting, and operations.
I had the opportunity to take an online course created by SiriusDecisions called “Foundations for Best Practices in Demand Creation.” I have overseen the marketing function in the past but needed and wanted a refresher in the terminology used by the thought leaders, SiriusDecisions, in the demand creation area. I was glad that Bulldog Solutions invested in my skill refresh.
The online course was a very useful primer on the elements of Demand Generation (Wikipedia – the focus of targeted marketing programs to drive awareness and interest in a company’s products and/or services. Commonly used in business to business, business to government, or longer 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.). The course was simple to navigate, interspersed with videos, quizzes and even included worksheets that you can use internally to assess your own companies strengths and weaknesses in the area of demand generation. If you pass the final exam (which I did) you can claim certification on that topic which will hopefully benefit me and Bulldog Solutions going forward.
The 6 basic elements that the course revolves around are: Demand Type, Relative Targeting, Lead Taxonomy, Buying Cycle, Portfolio Marketing, and the Demand Waterfall. It was a very informative primer with the only thing I would have liked to see more of was real life case studies of companies who used the methodology and what specific successes they achieved.
I’ve been able to use and share the concepts internally so that I can help my team and my clients better understand the Demand Creation lifecycle. I’m looking forward to taking my next online training course on a different B2B Pipeline topic with them soon. Thanks SiriusDecisions!
Following is a guest post by Taylor Laurents, a twenty something freelance writer from Lincoln, NE. She was bitten early by the entrepreneurial bug, selling Girl Scout cookies like many young girls, and hopes one day to run her own business and be her own boss.
Those of us with big business ideas operating on small budgets don’t exactly have the bankroll it takes to recruit a talented market research team to help us. But then again, we don’t necessarily have to. Do-it-yourself research and inexpensive alternatives to highly-tuned studies can provide small businesses with all the market information they need. It can be the difference between continuing to run a company with limited connectivity to the customer and establishing an enterprise with an intimate relationship with its clients.
Soak Up Secondary Sources of Information
Market research isn’t strictly a matter of drawing data directly from public opinion. It can involve getting to know the competition, reading up on the history of the industry you find yourself in, and accessing available public data in the form of demographics. Many things that can help you boost market prowess can be found by merely visiting the local library or doing Internet research. The only thing you have to worry about is making sure the source of your information is correct, which so long as you don’t navigate too far from government agencies and academic institutions, shouldn’t be a problem.
Seek Out Cost-Effective Surveys
If you offer a product or service, then direct market research involving primary sources (i.e., regular opinion) is absolutely essential. But it’s typically not cheap. With that said, there are companies online that manage paid surveys, wherein the operational costs are greatly reduced. An example of such a survey site is Survey Head, which simply entices individuals to partake in surveys in exchange for payment. Small businesses interested in knowing how their particular market feels about their particular product or service can collaborate with these sites to create surveys that will be filled by those in the relative demographics.
Satisfy Your Thirst for Data
It’s neither glamorous nor the tactics of a noble enterprise, but if you’re serious about market research and have limited funds to outsource the effort, then self-driven data mining is the smartest way to go. Software like Microsoft Access, Lotus Approach, and the popular MyDatabase offer small businesses simple ways to keep track of customer data as it flows through their websites and payment systems. These programs are benign as far as the customer’s satisfaction is concerned because the customer is unlikely to be privy to their existence.
Advanced analysis of the market isn’t just for those who’ve already experienced their capitalistic windfall. Market research is a requirement for any small business to grow, so what are you waiting for?
Note: I was compensated to review, edit and post this article.
It’s finally here! I have a new blog design and it’s really cool. It’s simple, it’s clean, it’s pretty, it’s fabulous and it was designed by Brian Hurdle, IT/network guy by day, wedding photographer extraordinaire by night/weekends. I’ve changed the subtitle from “babbling about business, babies, and parenthood” to “babbling about business, parenting, and music.” My kids aren’t babies anymore. I realized it’s been closer to 4 years since I started blogging (thanks to Connie Reece) and a blog redesign was way overdue! And my current entrepreneurial endeavor is music related.
The design incorporates musical notes, buildings, paisley type designs, and of course elephants! Elephants are my favorite animals, and I have a collection of various elephant figurines. My songwriting partner and I have been making progress on music creation, and we have 5 songs in various stages of completion. We even have a band name, a facebook page (if you are really curious to know the name, you’ll just have to click that link), and a YouTube channel.
We haven’t done much promotion of any of these because our songs aren’t ready to publish, but we may begin promoting at least the facebook page so we can get support from folks to help us make sure we do complete what we set out to do. This will be no easy task given both of our busy schedules and different worlds. He’s a professional musician and I’m a professional “wondering what to do with my life next while wreaking havoc in some small business” type of person.
Thanks Brian for exercising your creative muscles to come up with a design that makes me happy! Next he’ll be updating my twitter page (which I rarely use but may one day be worth something since I was a fairly early adopter) to match the blog design.
Following is a guest post by Maria Rainier. Maria is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online universities, and what an online degree means in an increasingly technological world. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.
As the only employee of an entrepreneur who has recently started renting space for her growing business, I know how important marketing can be. She’s still at the small business stage and wants to keep it that way, but her increased sales can be traced directly to recently implemented marketing strategies that every small business can use. I have been responsible for the majority of the marketing ploys we’ve been using and would like to share the top five with you. Even with a low (or nonexistent) marketing budget, you can still use these tips to generate more sales for your small business.
1. Get a Professional Logo & Letterhead
You might already have a logo in mind, but consulting with a graphic artist is the best way to ensure that you start things off well. You don’t want to use a half-baked logo that ends up being changed a year or two down the road. Commit time and energy to getting the perfect logo and letterhead designs because this decision will pay off for years to come. If you don’t have enough of a marketing budget to hire a graphic designer, try bartering. Talk to friends to see if they know any graphic artists who could use your services in return for theirs. You can even post an ad on Craigslist to see if you get any takers. No matter how you make it happen, having a professional logo and letterhead is an important priority.
2. Start and Regularly Update a Business Blog
A blog is one of the best marketing tools a small business can have, but like most online marketing strategies, it requires regular attention if it’s going to be truly successful. It’s pretty tough to update a blog too often, but many people make the mistake of updating too infrequently. Let your readers know about you, your staff, your business, and even your life philosophy. With small businesses, it’s all about being personable and putting a face (or several faces) on your products and services. Include regular photo updates, write a few survey posts to find out how customers are reacting to your products and services, and request topics from readers so you can write about what they want to know. You’ll be surprised at how well your membership starts to grow.
3. Use Social Media Consistently
Get a Facebook page, start using Twitter, and add yourself to LinkedIn. Spend a few minutes every day on each of these so you can connect with users, let them know that you’re available to answer questions, and update your status or send a quick Tweet to get some attention. Increasing your visibility on these sites can encourage existing customers to interact with you, purchase more products and services, and recommend you to others. It can also attract new customers who search for you on these sites or see your activity on friends’ pages.
4. Send a Monthly Newsletter with Discounts & Special Offers
You can use any email marketing site to do this, but in my experience with Constant Contact, I’ve been impressed with the quantity and quality of newsletters and other emails I can send to customers for a low membership rate. You can try it free of charge for 60 days to see if you think you would use it on a regular basis. If not, there’s no commitment. The most inexpensive plan, which is the one I use, costs $15 per month and lets you send emails to a maximum of 500 contacts. Simply put together a monthly newsletter, preferably with at least one photo and a special offer or coupon code along with an interesting bit of news about your business, then send it to your contacts. To build your contact list, collect email addresses and permission to send a newsletter when customers place orders with you.
5. Synthesize and Brand
Now, connect the dots. Use that logo and letterhead to brand the banner of your blog and website along with the top section of your newsletter. Use the free ColorCop tool to pull the exact colors from your logo so you can use them in HTML for your blog, website, and newsletters. These details really do matter and will increase the likelihood of recognition for your business based on a certain color palette and logo. You should also link to your social media pages from your blog, website, and newsletter so current customers can easily find and “follow” or “like” your business. Finally, create an email signature with links to your social media sites, your website, and your blog. It’s also a good idea to insert a link that takes customers to a sign-up page for your newsletter. These strategies will generate new revenue as well as increased profit from existing customers, so get started today and do something great for your small business.
I mentioned I had a post brewing in my head about this fortune cookie “statement” (i.e., not a fortune) in a prior post. I actually did see a real fortune the other day that said something like “The love of your life is just around the corner,” but sadly I did not open that cookie, our office manager (who has been married almost 20 years) at work did, so maybe she is re-discovering the love of her life.
Love is a strange emotion or thing or state of being. It can be like a drug just like in the movie Love and Other Drugs I just saw. It doesn’t often make sense. People love Apple’s iPhone but if you did the practical analysis, the Google Android phone might be better. In other words people’s imagination of the iPhone triumphs over hard data (i.e., intelligence). Or there might even be a better phone option than that. But people fall in love seemingly all of a sudden and sometimes there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why but some people like Steve Jobs seem to know how to push the buttons of a significant enough portion of the population and get them to fall in love with his ideas/products. Selling to consumers is a tough job because we are fickle. We can fall in and out of love (or is that “like”) of products pretty easily. Probably because society doesn’t look kindly on us falling in and out of love with people, so we project that piece of our humanity onto objects. No one will judge you or make you feel guilty for falling in and out of love with certain products. I just came up with that piece of philosophy/wisdom so take it for what it’s worth!
Hugh McLeod (@gapingvoid) loves to cartoon about LOVE and I love the poignancy of his love cartoons. Jeffrey Fry sent out a quote recently: “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” –Mother Teresa.
When people fall in love (infatuation), they certainly overlook the practical/potentially annoying things about something or someone (e.g., you have to keep re-booting the phone, but it looks pretty, it gives you good info on how to get places, and it gives you games to play or if it’s a person for some period of time you don’t see their flaws because he or she makes you feel special/noticed or it seems like they really see or understand you.).
The very few times I’ve fallen in romantic love in my life, I’ve been completely blind sided by it. Knocked over like a ton of bricks. Silly and stupid. And on some occasions, I never even had a relationship with the guy – guess I’m just a romantic at heart and they somehow happened to connect with the combination of my mind/heart, which is very hard to do. When I’ve fallen out of love, it seems to have happened over time and not suddenly after disappointment, disconnection, pain, and just the exhaustion that comes along with daily living. I’m not trying to say I believe in ‘love at first site’ because I don’t, but that moment when you realize you love someone or ‘something’ seems to just happen without any warning. One day you don’t have much feeling toward someone or you don’t know what you feel and the next you find you are in love with them. Which has led me to the conclusion that we are not meant to love just one person (romantically) our entire lives. I can see Jeffrey Fry reading this and thinking that I don’t know what true love is yet because he has studied it and apparently knows what it is. He’s probably right, I don’t know.
There are people in ‘arranged marriages’ who grow to love each other and there are people who had ‘love marriages’ that didn’t work out. It’s all that stuff that happens (and doesn’t happen) in between the years, the kids, the jobs, behind closed doors, etc. that I guess makes some marriages “work” and others don’t. The same is true for business start-ups but currently the odds of a marriage making it to “death do us part” is higher (4o to 50%) than a small business making it 50 years (< 10%). Plus, more people change their jobs and companies they work for now than they did 30+ years ago. Go figure.
But the closest I’ve come to experiencing true love is the love I feel for my children, and yes the intensity of my love for them did surprise me at first. And although they sometimes annoy the heck out of me (any parent who says their kids have not annoyed them at some point is a liar), I cannot even imagine a day where I would fall out of love with them. I can see a day I may not like them sometimes, especially if they do something naughty or talk back to me, but I believe that I will always love them and do my best to support them.
I wonder if it’s harder to fall in or out of love? That is the question.
Most people think the opposite of love is hate, but really it isn’t, and I think most people know this if they take the time to think about it. If people love your products, you do great. If you have a group of people who hate your products, you are still likely to do OK. Take for example the iPhone. People love it because Apple somehow convinced many of us of its greatness. Then there are those who hate it (see iPhone4 vs. HTC Evo YouTube video) and it still does great and its main competitor the Android phone is doing well because people love it. They just spread the word in a less visible/audible way. Another example is twitter or facebook. Some people love them and others think they are a complete waste of freaking time, but they are both doing well from an adoption if not a profitability standpoint.
The same is true of people. Some people love Steve Jobs (founder of Apple) and some hate him for his megalomaniac ways. More often than not people apparently hate Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle) but they still keep buying Oracle products. Some people love president Barack Obama but some hate him for the change he represents and for his sometimes questionable political decisions. The same goes for Rush Limbaugh and former president Bill Clinton for his promiscuous way. Everyone seemed to love Lady Diana and despise Prince Charles because he loved another woman not nearly as beautiful and sweet as Lady Di. The vast majority of people adored Mother Theresa and Gandhi. Some people love hard rock or country music and some can’t stand either. So the products, people, and genre’s that people don’t care about are the one’s that no one gets emotionally charged about either way, and they disappear or have a very small niche.
So the opposite of love is not hate, it’s apathy. What kind of company, product, person are you or do you represent? One that people love or hate? Do they not care enough to pay attention? Do they care if you throw your products into the sea or a landfill? Do they care if you throw yourself into the sea or a landfill? Will they notice if you walk out the door? If they don’t care and you are feeling like furniture (song lyric alert), then maybe it’s time to build another product, start/join another company, transform yourself so people notice you/your products, change your life situation, and/or buy new furniture! All of these things are much easier said than done except, of course, for ‘buying new furniture.’
I have sometimes wondered how a fad is created. In the tech/web world, there is all this talk about ‘viral’ this and ‘viral’ that about creating a gimmick that will cause adoption of your products/services to suddenly go through the roof. Us consumers are fickle and trying to predict what we will like in a mass scale is much more art & luck than science from my viewpoint.
My kids came home after a birthday party with these little plastic toys that mostly look like junk and a waste of petroleum based products to me. I asked them what they wanted to do with them and if I should recycle them or throw them away, but they both were like ‘no way, we need those!‘ Of course need and want in a child’s mind is the same thing. My son then proceeded to take them and line them up on top of the TV. For some reason I thought his enthusiasm and interest in doing something with them was cute so now they adorn the top of the TV and will probably be there for quite some time because that’s where they ‘need‘ to be. I have to admit that I smile when I see them mostly because in my mind I see his excitement of finding a place for them that made sense to him, and I remember him smiling while he was putting them up there. (See photos of these little toys to the left and right in this post.)
They are also into these things called Silly Bandz, which are basically colored rubber bands in all sorts of different shapes and sizes (e.g., dinosaurs, sea animals, princesses, pets, etc.). I don’t know where they first got them but my son just showed up with them one day and said he got them from a friend. I think their dad bought them a bunch more. My son is pretty good at getting more of them but my daughter ends up giving hers away to other kids and then gets upset and wants more from her brother.
They both have seemingly opposite ways of dealing with these things. I remember my son would come home with a bunch of Pokemon cards, and I’d ask him where he got them. He would say “they gave them to me.“ I would ask him who gave them to him and he would say some friends at school. I would then ask him what he gave them and he said “nothing.” I said how can that be that they just gave you these and you didn’t give them anything and he said “I dunno, they just wanted to give them to me.“ I was perplexed at that but I really couldn’t ask him anything else because I know that he gets along well with other kids. I find myself wondering if this is a talent of his I should encourage or not! Now my daughter is the one who wants to give her things to people and I’ve seen her give things to her brother when he asks, but I’ve also seen him give her stuff when she asks. If someone likes her Silly Bandz and asks her for them she’ll gladly give them away, but I don’t think she really wants too but feels she has to because later (as I mentioned) she will go try to get some from her brother because she thinks it’s unfair that he now has more than she does. I try to explain to her (she’s only 5) that it’s not her brother’s fault that she has less but she doesn’t get that and then eventually her brother will let her have a few of the ones he doesn’t want. The end result is that I’ve decided they can’t take the Silly Bandz to summer camp. We’ll see how long that lasts.
So I wonder how these fads are created and I wonder when these particular ones will subside. Us humans ebb and flow in our desire for things whether they be big, life changing things or silly things like rubber bands in the shape of a dolphin.
Brian Clark at Copyblogger did a post recently called How to Tell the Truth that was just spot on. I LOVED it because it is so true. It’s a short post and I was trying to think about how to summarize it, but I just can’t because it’s so perfect. So I hope Brian doesn’t get upset with me for quoting it verbatim here:
“Everyone wants the truth, right?
Ask your spouse or your boss or your employees or your customers… they’ll tell you all they want is the truth.
But that’s a lie.
We hate the truth. Our reaction to real truth is hostility and fear.
Do we really want to hear the truth about why we’re fat, or why we’re broke, or why our kids are under-achieving? Tough stuff to process for most.
And yet telling the simple raw truth is one of the most effective attention and persuasion tactics available. Especially these days, with people sick to death of being lied to and betrayed.
But if people reject what you say, truth or not, you’re back where you started.
Guys like Buddha and Jesus had this problem.
The solution remains the same.
Tell a story.”
I sent the post to my friend, Robb Lanum (a screen writer), and he liked it too and added “Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.”
My big problem is that I have a tendency to tell the truth good or bad, and I don’t always have a great story behind it. It usually turns out great if the truth is good (e.g., our product is awesome and will save your life, you look great, you did a fabulous job) but if the truth is not so good (e.g., our product is good but you need to have xyz to make it work, I screwed up, you screwed up) it’s hard to recover. Sometimes I wish I could keep my mouth shut but fear, Southern Baptist guilt, and feeling like I should do and say the right thing (because I would want to hear the truth) usually overcome me. A strong conscience sucks to deal with sometimes, but I selfishly hope my kids inherit it without having to feel the hell, fire, and brimstone in their minds!
This is probably one of the reasons why I’ll never be a great classical marketer. As Seth Godin recently wrote in a post called Is Marketing Evil?, the best marketers know how to create a great story about their companies and products and then they know how to get it out to the universe (usually with a reasonable budget!). He ends the post with:
“Just because you can market something doesn’t mean you should. You’ve got the power, so you’re responsible, regardless of what your boss tells you to do.
The good news is that I’m not in charge of what’s evil and what’s not. You, your customers and their neighbors are. The even better news is that ethical, public marketing will eventually defeat the kind that depends on the shadows. Just ask Bernie Madoff.”
We recently finished our first ever marketing survey for Babble Soft. And we announced the winners on our blog on a post called Babble Soft Survey Winners (yes, I get points for coming up with such an original title!). Should I have done one earlier? Yes, of course. But what one should do and what one does in an entrepreneurial endeavor don’t always match up…especially when you are doing the business on your own (before I found Nicole Johnson), part time, and/or after hours. The process went smoothly enough, I learned a few things, and of course I love sharing with fellow entrepreneurs so here it goes…
We first decided we needed to do a quarterly newsletter to our existing users and announce the survey there. We used Vertical Response to deliver our newsletter because between them and the leading competitor, Aweber, they were the only one who offered ‘pay as you go’ emailing. Since we only plan to send a newsletter once per quarter, we felt it would be better to pay by the email address instead of signing up for a monthly ongoing service which we wouldn’t end up using 8 out of the 12 months of the year. I posted the newsletter on this blog and on our new Babble Soft blog where we emphasized the great prizes people would win for filling out the survey that we created on the fabulous free survey tool called Survey Monkey. We only had 10 questions so we were able to use their free services which I have to say is pretty darn cool. If I ever had a need to do a more sophisticated survey, I would definitely pay to use their service. It’s pretty easy to analyze the results.
We received a good response rate but because we also published the link to the survey on what we thought would be a good competition sites for parents, we had quite a few people who filled out the survey who had never used our applications or had even heard of us. On one hand, it was good additional exposure, but on the other hand, I don’t think it ended up being from the right crowd of people. However, we did get some good data from existing users and new parents that affirmed some of our current product development decisions. Overall, I was amazed at how many people are out there who spend their time trying to win prizes! I was also amazed at how some people didn’t really care who you were, they just wanted their prize.
It’s a good idea to do a short survey (7 to 10 minutes to complete) from time to time. Offering prizes guarantees more responses but not necessarily the right responses.
Have some independent people review your survey to make sure it’s understandable. We had a few people review it and it helped us word our survey more effectively.
Using cost-effective or free tools like Vertical Response and Survey Monkey will make your life easier.
Be really careful where you publicize your survey because if you don’t it’s highly likely you’ll end up with some yahoo’s (i.e., those out for a quick buck) answering your survey. Then you’ll have to give prizes to people who really have no idea what you do. It’s kind of painful actually…especially when it’s your company and products that you’ve created from scratch.
Don’t do a ‘random winner’ selection. We did a ‘random winner’ contest. This may cut down on the quantity of people who complete the survey, but if you can figure out a way to select people who have either used your products or would have been great potential users or end up giving you wonderful feedback, you’ll feel much better. I’m guessing the quality of responses might increase even if the quantity decreases.
Make sure to follow up with the people who respond by informing them of who won and where to see the results. It can result in additional exposure.
I don’t have a 7th takeaway but I like the #7 so if you read this far, thank you. Plus, I’m annoyed that although I have selected the number button in WordPress when creating this list, it’s displaying bullets in both Firefox and IE. So you’ll just have to take my word (or count) that this is the 7th takeaway!
We have identified some key users from our survey who we have either engaged with or will engage with to help us with some internet marketing. This will be a new experience for both Nicole and myself since we will be taking a little bit of a risk because most of our users are not traditional internet marketers…which I’m crossing my fingers that will end up being a good thing!
If you have any experience with marketing survey’s please share your discoveries in the comment section below.