To begin this blog post, I want to start with the fact that Nancy, our keyword research specialist, okay’ed me writing occasional blog posts that are random thoughts and not strategically optimized with keywords. According to her, “it’s okay not to always be keyword focused; putting out fresh content is always good.” So here we go…
A couple of weeks ago I had dinner with my stepson Sam and nephew Michael at University of South Carolina (at a really cool restaurant called Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Cafe). We were with several other family members but I sat with them at the end of the table and we were able to get into deep conversation. We covered a lot of topics including college life, sports, travel, and what it takes to make it in today’s world.
As we delved into this topic, I told them that one of the soft skills that they should teach in college, for any major, is how to be responsive and on-the-ball in all dealings in the business world and in life. I told them that it’s one of the top things I look for when I am interviewing new employees, freelancers, vendors, etc. If someone isn’t responsive and can’t demonstrate that they have their act together, they strike out with me and my team very quickly. We have no patience and tolerance for bringing people into our fold who aren’t on-the-ball. I could see that when I expressed this point that their eyes were wide open and they were paying attention.
College students today are looking for a leg up in the business world in any way they can find it because it is tough out there and they know it. I told them that responsiveness has been one of the keys to my success in the business world. I believe this is absolutely true. It’s competitive out there in Marketing Land and my secret weapon has always been good (but not overdone) communication. I told them to think about a good customer service experience at a restaurant. The waiter anticipates your needs and is there to meet them just the right amount. They’re not coming over excessively so as to be annoying but they make your experience seamless and enjoyable. I also told them I waited A LOT of tables in my early twenties and it did me a lot of good in my career. Plus, the money was good.
So to bring this random thought (or wave of thoughts) full circle, as we head into Thanksgiving, I want to express my gratitude for the incredibly on-the-ball team at Pomerantz including our internal staff, freelancers and vendors. I am very lucky to work with such a focused, dedicated team of professionals.
Example #6: Graphic Design That Is a Part of Overall Brand Strategy and Identity
When you think about your company and how you present it to customers and potential customers, what stands out to you? If you’ve developed a good brand identity, this picture should develop clearly. Your brand should express what you provide to your customers, including their experience, your products or services, what makes your company unique and the values behind it. Now, think about the visual pieces you have to back this up – this is where graphic design strategy comes in. Do your presentations, your logo, your website and even your packaging fit in with that overall brand? For companies that really succeed with their branding, graphic design is an essential part of their overall strategy.
As an element of your branding, graphic design is the visual representation. Choices of colors and fonts can convey a playful image or a more serious one. A great logo can communicate so much about what you do and how you do it in an instant. Companies that appreciate this take it seriously and hire the right professionals to help produce the right designs.
An excellent graphic designer can take your brand identity and values into account and develop a visual representation that helps convey that message. You should be able to put into words what makes your company special – and a graphic designer can put that into imagery. The key distinction here? You’re not the designer, and the designer is not you. You must work together to understand each other’s knowledge base and skillset to come up with the ideal graphic design for your brand.
A professional designer who is part of your marketing team (whether in-house or part of an agency) that truly understands your brand is key to success. Hiring a freelancer for a one-off design may work in the short-term, but it’s not the best strategy for building and maintaining your brand identity. Here are a few of the main benefits of working with a great designer who understands your company:
- The right amount of push back = future brand success. In this situation, the designer is comfortable enough with who you are to tell you you’re getting it wrong and to ask the right questions in order to get it right. They make sure they’re not just giving you what you want but that their designs fit in with your overall messaging.
- Long-term cost savings. By hitting the design nail on the head early on, you won’t waste time or money on designs that don’t pay off or fit into your brand strategy.
- Consistency. By working to develop the right graphic design for your brand from the beginning, you’ll have brand consistency well into the future. Of course individual designs will evolve, but with a strong base, your graphics will always represent who you are.
So instead of just hiring someone to fire off a new graphic for your company quick and dirty, think bigger. Think about how that design fits into your brand, and find the right marketing team and team members to execute that.
Don’t Let Your Company’s Marketing Suck.
Example #6: Barely Keeping Your Brand Afloat by Refusing to Hire Graphic Design Experts
Successful business people often think – correctly – that they know their business best. This sometimes translates into the assumption that they can thus do everything for their business better than outsiders. Guess what? Those people are wrong. Especially when it comes to marketing specialties like graphic design, which is an essential part of brand positioning, you really need to lose the ego and hire graphic design experts.
Here’s an example – I recently met with a company that is, by all accounts, very successful in their industry. But in order for them to really compete at the highest level for their business, their brand, particularly their graphic design, needed an overhaul. Their website, collateral, logo and more all looked out-of-date. They smartly decided they needed to hire a marketing team to help them move forward.
Then, they not-so-smartly ignored much of what we said and proceeded to share their own logo mockups and branding ideas. Their team members, none of whom have a background in marketing, let alone design, had sketched up some rough ideas. While there is, of course, value in hearing from the team, their mistake was in thinking they could do better than marketing and design professionals.
The takeaway? Just because you know your business well does not mean you can think like a marketer and create beautiful brand imagery like professional graphic design experts.
This team is still trying to make the badly needed updates to their brand, but because they’ve refused the help of marketing pros, they are behind on their deadline and still stuck where they were. So while they may be able to keep their brand afloat on their own, they’re definitely not going to make any waves in their industry.
Don’t Let Your Company’s Marketing Suck.
Example #5: Tracking and Proving That Your B2B Marketing Plan Works
It takes a lot of time and effort to set up a successful B2B marketing plan, so once you’ve got those building blocks in place, track that success and prove that your strategy is solid. The most successful marketers are able to show what their strategy has achieved for their companies, and even more importantly, fix and improve on what could be better. Despite this, less than half of B2B marketers use analytics effectively.
With the tools available today, from Google Analytics to marketing automation software to call tracking, there are countless ways to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. It’s easy to get busy with the day-to-day implementation and planning, but tracking is important. Make sure that your team formalizes what it measures, and set up metrics for both overall performance, such as YTD numbers, as well as metrics for individual program or specific campaign performance.
Here’s a pretty comprehensive list of metrics that you could be (should be) giving your attention. You can track everything from form fill-outs on your website, content downloads, demo requests and event sign-ups to calls via tracking numbers, which emails work better (try A/B testing a couple of different versions) and which banner ads or remarketing campaigns are succeeding. Successful marketers stay aware of the metrics that matter to their businesses, and they use the tools available to them to analyze and shift their strategies.
That leads to the second, and most important, part of this message: once you know what is and isn’t working, tweak and change your B2B marketing strategy and plans based on the data gathered. What’s the point in learning something isn’t working if you don’t make it better?
Constant improvement should be a key component of your B2B marketing plan. By measuring and paying attention to the metrics, you’ll see where you have gaps in your strategy or where a campaign has missed the mark. You can also show what is working, and apply the strategy behind those wins to other areas. This will allow you to align your strategy with industry benchmarks and meet the demands of marketplace.
This also means that you’ll spend your money wisely, refocusing resources where you know you’ll succeed. Your budget will thank you, and so will your CEO! Proving the value of your work also proves the value of you and your entire marketing team. Sounds like a win!
Need help tracking and proving the success of your B2B marketing campaign?
Example #5: Businesses That Give in to the Chaos and Don’t Implement a B2B Marketing Strategy
If you’re in charge of your company’s B2B marketing strategy, you know how complicated it can be to get it right. After all, you’re not just trying to convince one guy to buy this one product. You have to prove the worth of your company’s service or product to multiple people on different teams within your target market (or markets!). Many companies find it difficult to nail it all down, so they just end up making marketing mistakes and wasting money. This is why you need a B2B marketing strategy that takes into account the many factors that go into a sale or new contract.
A successful B2B marketing plan should start with basics and build from there. So what are those basics? Here are four building blocks that should be part of every B2B company’s marketing strategy:
1. Know your audience.
What’s the point of trying to sell your business if you don’t know the buyer? B2C companies can often identify their target easily, but like I mentioned above, in the B2B world you’re selling to various decision makers in multiple industries. So think it through, and write it down. Pay attention to everyone in the decision chain, and note what makes each one different. What’s important to the procurement department may not matter to the CEO or the end user of your product or service.
2. Provide value to that audience.
Once you’ve fine-tuned your list of audience members, think about what they want or need to hear. Some members of the audience may care about cost savings while another just wants a product that’s easy to use. Your marketing messages should reflect these various perspectives.
3. Explain how your offerings are unique.
Match your company’s strengths and differentiators to those value messages. You’re not just telling your audience what they want to hear – you’re explaining why your company is the one that can deliver.
4. Convert that message into new leads…and new business.
Your message resonated with your target audience – congrats! But now what? You need a solid platform in place to convert that into concrete leads. That could be a) a well-designed responsive website, b) a sales team supported by stellar marketing materials, c) a social media presence that makes it easy to get in touch, or d) all of the above (and more)!
That sounds like quite a lot of balls to keep up in the air at once, doesn’t it? Add to that brand positioning, content marketing, event marketing, and all of the other pieces that go into a comprehensive B2B marketing strategy, and it’s beyond overwhelming. Don’t be that company that ends up in marketing chaos. Get started on your strategy, and reach out to the experts (I’m raising my hand!) if you need help.
Don’t Let Your Company’s Marketing Suck (and stop being mean to your Marketing Manager).
As a small business owner, I needed business coaching to maintain my sanity and to fuel my drive. I started my marketing agency in my 20s after working as the right hand to the owner of a small agency. I was relatively clueless about what it really takes to be a small business owner. Now I have 20 years — two freaking decades —of successfully riding the rollercoaster of small business ownership. Let me tell you, it ain’t for the faint of heart. Eating what you kill is a whole lot different than getting a guaranteed bi-weekly paycheck direct deposited into your bank account. The way I’ve learned to cope over the years is due, in large part, to seeking out and working with various small business coaches. This has made such a significant difference in my personal and business life, that I decided to become a small business coach in order to help other small business owners in, what can be, a very isolating, lonely journey.
My main coach provided me with a hybrid of life and business coaching. This made the most significant difference in my world because when you’re a small business owner, business and life are one. About seven years ago, I started studying with him to become a certified coach. This process took me several years to complete because it wasn’t a quickie online certification program. I trained with him one-on-one, took tests and wrote papers. I was also supervised while coaching three clients — all small business owners — for several months. It wasn’t easy fitting this training program into my life but I discovered that I love coaching small business owners. It lights me up inside. Small business owners desperately need a strategic support system. I know this because I am one. The fact that I now have years of experience successfully running my own business and I am still living it every day, makes me uniquely qualified to be a highly effective business coach.
For the last couple of years, I’ve been working with a handful of small business coaching clients. I look for clients who really want to work on both themselves and their businesses because I know you cannot move the needle in one area without the other. I am no financial whiz but I do know what every business owner should know about their numbers. I also know when it make sense to tap an expert for more skilled financial guidance.
My core strength as a small business coach is that I can quickly assess a small business owner and their business situation and identify what’s getting in their way of peace and success. Then, I can help them systematically optimize their situation in order to make it work better and achieve their business and life goals. Most importantly, while all of this is going on, I provide small business owners with a much needed strategic support system. I’m not a spouse, family or friend. I am a small business coach whose entire purpose is to listen and help them maximize their personal and business potential.
If you are or know a small business owner who could use a small business coach, please reach out or share my information. I’d be happy to schedule a complimentary consultation to see if there is potential for a good fit.