Help Prospects See The Inconsistencies In Their Thinking To Break Status Quo
By Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, Corporate Visions, Inc.
Gary Klein, scientist and author of “The Power of Intuition” and “Seeing What Others Don’t,” argues that to get people to change their status quo you must first help them see the inconsistencies in their thinking.
When it comes to making a decision, everyone has “go-to” frames. As a new problem presents itself, you and I default to familiar mental models. But if you want a prospect to do something different,you’ll need to help them break down these engrained patterns, and change the stories they are using to weigh their options and make choices.
Changing someone’s mind “isn’t a question of pushing new information on people and trying to explain it in words. It’s more about helping people see the inconsistency in themselves and then all of a sudden the mental model will shift naturally and easily,” says Klein.
Disrupting Old Patterns
To disrupt the old pattern matching that’s happening subconsciously in your prospect’s head, you must help them mentally simulate how a new industry fact, or some other argument,impacts their status quo. Help them “try on” the new factoid in such a way they can literally feel how their current assumptions may be inappropriate for the decision at hand.
However, in sharing these factoids, make sure that they are real insights. Many companies today share“insights,” but they merely serve to confirm a prospect’s intuition about their key objectives or critical business issues. Trust me, your prospects already know they need to generate more revenue, cut costs, streamline processes, hire the best people, increase their competitiveness, shorten their time to market and expand their global footprint. Go beyond these considered arguments. Create urgency, discourage the mental models that perpetuate the status quo, and share true insights to move your prospects to a decision.
Building and Implementing Stories Based on “Unconsidered Needs”
To do this, you’ll need to go a layer deeper. You should aim to expose a gap or deficiency that your prospect didn’t know about, or amplify a challenge they don’t fully appreciate. Factoids alone will fall short in disrupting the old models, but if you put it in a context that defies your prospect’s typical decision-making patterns, you will see greater results. Here’s what you should focus on:
- Under-valued needs — These are needs that your prospects or customers don’t appreciate. They are bigger or coming faster than they believe — so prove it. For example, these could be looming regulatory, competitive or global market issues that your customer is aware of, but isn’t prioritizing. In this case you need to “amplify” the size and speed of those needs with third-party stats and research, and show your customer the unexpected risk this creates for their desired outcomes. Then, reveal what new considerations they should be looking to solve. This will of course lead to one of your previously unspecified strengths.
- Un-met needs — These are needs your audience doesn’t even realize they have, or if they do, they presume it’s simply an annoyance that can’t be fixed because they are unaware of any solution. It’s like when you used to jog with a Sony Discman on your hip and the CDs would skip when your feet hit the pavement. You accepted this issue as something that happened, but you were still so thrilled with the quality of a CD over a cassette tape that you didn’t seek to declare it as a problem. You just worked around it (okay, maybe you jogged slower). As a sales person, your job is to let the runner, or prospect, know the problem is real and unacceptable, or at least unsustainable, as well as how it makes their status quo unsafe. Once you’ve had this discussion, lead them to the fact that you have developed a valuable and tenable resolution.
- Unknown needs — These are the problems under the surface or off the radar that your buyer doesn’t even know is a problem they have — until you point it out. Typically, these occur when a company has a fix for something the customer doesn’t even know they need. For example, over the years, the music industry forced you to pay for an entire album when you really only liked two or three songs on the album. To get these preferred songs, you ended up wasting 70-80 percent of your music dollar on songs you also didn’t want. But, did you complain? No. In fact, you just assumed that’s the way it is. Until someone came along and said, “That’s not fair. You should be able to preview all of the music on an album, decide the ones you like and then only buy the songs you want.”As a result, today, 100 percent of your music dollar can be spent exclusively on music you want and like. Can you build a case for how your prospects have a problem they didn’t even know about, and get them to realize it?
Today, to have more effective and successful conversations with prospects and customers, you need to note what they’re currently doing, and which behaviors may be harmful to their businesses. From there, determine what evidence you can provide to show them their pre-existing assumptions are holding them back – not helping them. By making sure that your salespeople are armed with the stats and facts to share real insight and confirm the counterintuitive concepts outlined above, you’ll be ready to ace the test.
Hillary And Calendars Cause A Stir In The Marketo Marketing Nation
By Kim Ann Zimmermann, Managing Editor
Marketo CEO Phil Fernandez kicked off his conversation with keynote speaker Hillary Clinton with a very direct question: Does she like purple, Marketo’s signature color? She assured him that she adores purple.
Prior to sitting down for a one-on-one exchange with Fernandez, Clinton spoke about the role of technology at the State Department and in organizing protests in Turkey, among other issues. She described Vladimir Putin as a “tough guy with a thin skin” who would hurl insults her way during meetings.
But when Fernandez eventually got to “the” question, she said she was giving a run for president serious consideration. As cameras were rolling, the media picked up on her comment and it made the news.
While Hillary got the audience on their feet, there were also steady rounds of applause — and lots of love on Twitter — for some of the new features Fernandez announced.
The Marketo Marketing Calendar — which makes it possible to make changes and adjust programs based on data in real-time, while helping marketing teams coordinate execution and share activities with internal audiences in a single place — generated an outpouring of Tweets. Most had this similar sentiment: “Drag and drop calendar to change send date without going into the program?! TAKE MY MONEY NOW.”
Fernandez also announced two other features:
Marketo Real-Time Personalization, which enables marketers to present users with web pages tailored to their industry, role or even specific company; and
Marketo Search Engine Optimization, a tool that helps marketers without specialized knowledge make it easier for buyers searching the web to discover their site content, analyzing keyword rankings, suggesting new keywords and recommending web page optimization.
Clearly, Hillary, and a calendar, were a hit in the Marketing Nation.
4 Persona Pitfalls To Avoid
by Tonya Vinas
This blog originally appeared on Content4Demand.
Persona development is a crucial precursor to creating content that converts. No one has a perfect formula for every need—and there might never be one. But these four mistakes are common pitfalls that can undermine persona development.
1. Title Tunnel Vision
We filter targeted buyers by titles early on. This is a good practice, but it also can limit your reach to decision-makers. Ask not only who makes the final decision to buy, but also how decisions are made. In flattened management hierarchies, such Zappos and ZTE, input from multiple people in different functions drives decisions. Also, some companies push decision-making down from the corporate level to the site or unit level, where C titles aren’t as involved.
2. Data for Data’s Sake
Not all data is equal. Use the best possible research on roles, industries, customers, companies, etc. Optimally, data comes from the work of professional researchers, has been released in the past 12 months and was gathered using sound research methodology. This doesn’t mean data that doesn’t meet all three benchmarks is bad, but the farther away it gets, the less good it is.
3. Nothing New Here
Don’t build personas based only on what’s already known. Aim to find out something new about personas each time you revisit them. The only constant in business is that everything changes all the time. Merger and acquisition activity, demand spikes, new technology or advanced technology, global economic shifts, capital market fluctuations, even materials shortages—these factors and others can cause big changes in roles and responsibilities and organizational strategies.
4. Eyes Off The Prize
While it can be helpful to include personal attributes in a persona, it can also be misleading and distracting if taken too far, especially in B2B marketing. Business is about money. Yes, content should be “fun,” but fun in a business context. If you think your personas are too lengthy, review the content for information most directly linked to sales, cash flow and profits. In the business world, these are the three things that either cause pain or alleviate it.
Persona development is an evolving science, but avoiding these four pitfalls is a common-sense way to lay a solid foundation for personas that lead to good results from content marketing.
Tonya Vinas is Senior Editor at Content4Demand.
5 Tips to Boost your SEO in a Competitive Online Environment
While rankings are an important part of an SEO campaign, there are other areas that merit your attention. Eric Covino, President of Creative Signals, a full-service digital marketing agency, offers some tips.
Tip 1: Use The Free Tools
Google provides free tools for website marketers to use to help understand how visitors are finding your site and interacting with it. You should sign up for Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools (Bing also offers a Webmaster Tools product that you should utilize as well). Google Analytics and webmaster tools will help you understand how your traffic is getting to you and what it is doing once it arrives.
These products can help you tailor content, products, and services for your target market. The insights given to you by Google help you create a great user experience which can lead to more and more people talking about your site, sharing your content, and linking to you (all of which help with your search engine rankings).
The Webmaster Tool products give you insight into how a search engine interacts with your site. The data from this piece will help you identify and fix key technical issues which also helps your SEO.
Tip 2: Seek Out The Influencers
Forget “link building” and start “relationships” with your market and key influencers in your market. Search on Google, Bing, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+ to find key influencers in your market and start building relationships with them.
Treat it like a typical networking scenario. Talk about how you can help each other and each others’ customers rather than emailing hundreds of strangers per day and asking them to link to your website. Much like the offline world networking is one of the biggest keys to success in SEO today.
Good, honest, relevant recommendations of products, services, and information to your potential customers from influencers in your marketplace are better than any “link” you might acquire.
Tip 3: Make The Feedback Process Painless
Make it easy for your customers to leave reviews on various business platforms like Google+ for Business (http://www.google.com/+/business/) and Bing Places for Business (https://www.bingplaces.com). As search engines continue to pull in data from multiple sources to present to searchers, you should do the same for major review sites across the web (like Yelp)
This will help you with getting the attention of searchers when you show up in a search result amongst your competition.
Tip 4: Avoid Trying To Game Google
Google has a tough job to do in policing its search engine. The quality and user experience of Google’s search engine is something they (rightly) take very seriously.
Taking shortcuts will only hurt you in the long term. Stick to high-quality, ethical marketing practices online and you will be more likely to succeed in the long run than those who are constantly looking for shortcuts.
Tip 5: Fix Your Mobile Experience
Google expects mobile searches to outnumber desktop searches by next year! It is super important to make sure your site functions correctly on mobile devices and does not rely on outdated technology.
The world is going mobile. In a short period of time desktop searches are going to become the minority. You will need to be sure that all parts of your website function correctly and elegantly on a mobile device to ensure a great user experience. Keeping up with delivering a great user experience across all online devices is perhaps one of the more important tips in this article. Having a “mobile-friendly” site is not simply a nice thing to have at this point, it is a requirement.
Good SEO is a sum of many parts. Start incorporating these tips in your SEO campaign and you are likely to earn quality, sustainable traffic from search engines.
Does Your Content Cut Through All The Noise?
By Brian Anderson
It’s quite amazing how much content the world creates, let alone the marketing industry. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt even stated at a Techonomy conference a couple years ago that we produce as much information in two days as we did from the beginning of human civilization up until 2003.
Now THAT’S a lot of content.
An upcoming webinar, with representatives from Curata and Marketo, brings up a big question for content marketers: how can my content be seen/heard over all of the noise? Here’s are a few things I noticed successful content marketers doing to produce effective, eye-catching content:
1. Setup An Internal Game Plan
Having a plan that helps make the content personalized to customers at certain areas of the buying cycle is a key to making effective content, and keeping brand top-of-mind. However, only 43% of companies have a content marketing strategy executive, meaning that the content these companies are producing may only be contributing to all the noise.
2. Curate! Curate! Curate!
You don’t need to create original content all of the time in order to be successful. Curating content can establish your brand as a thought leader in the industry, all while generating more leads for your business. And last but not least, content curation costs less money.
For more info on how to “Rise Above The Noise,” attend the upcoming webinar with Curata and Marketo on Thursday, March 20th at 1pm ET/10am PT.
Three Ways Retargeting Personalizes The Nurture Experience
By Brian Anderson
Personalization is a must-have when it comes to engaging with buyers. While email marketing is an effective tool for reaching prospects that your organization already knows about, new engagement methods — like display advertising — offer retargeting capabilities that can reach the prospects that are not on your company’s radar.
In preparation for an upcoming Bizo webinar that will cover various best practices for implementing “always-on” strategies into your marketing efforts, here are three ways that retargeting can make a positive impact on your personalization capabilities and help add more value to your nurture experience.
1. It Keeps Your Brand Top-Of-Mind
Of all the benefits that retargeting can offer B2B marketers, keeping the company top-of-mind in the eyes of prospected buyers is a major factor.
Retargeting techniques such as display advertising offer companies the brand awareness they need to make a positive (and personalized) impact on prospects at the top of the sales funnel
2. It Educates And Engages Prospects
Retargeting not only offers B2B marketers an opening to engage with prospects early-on in the buyer’s journey, but also offers prospects the opportunity to promote further engagement with educational content.
Educational content engages prospects on topics that personally interest them, while also nudging them further down the funnel towards a possible purchase.
3. It Helps Your Colleagues Do Their Jobs Better
In the end, nothing makes a B2B company run in perfect harmony like good, old-fashioned teamwork. With retargeting tactics in your arsenal, you are helping other departments in the company (like sales and lead generation) do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. The results include highly detailed and qualified leads, and more opportunities to convert sales.
For more info on how retargeting can boost your lead nurture experience, attend the upcoming webinar sponsored by Bizo on March 6th at 1pm ET/10AM PT.
Good News And Bad About Social Media Spending
by Kim Ann Zimmermann, Managing Editor
The February 2014 CMO Survey came out this week, and it was a little bit of good news and quite a bit of bad news, and the bad news was rather shocking.
First, the good news.
The 408 chief marketing officers who took part in the CMO Survey said social media spending is expected to more than double in the next five years — from 7.4% of their total marketing budget to 18.1% by 2019. The survey, which was sent to 4,582 top U.S. marketers between Jan. 14 and Feb. 4, is sponsored by McKinsey & Company, the American Marketing Association and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.
Now, the bad news. CMOs STILL don’t know if all this social media spending is paying off.
Nearly half (49.2%) of marketing leaders state they do not have proof that social media is helping their performance. Only 15.9% of firms said they could show quantitatively that social media impacted performance, while 34.8% said they have a good qualitative sense of the impact.
"Spending on social media has outpaced its measurement,” said Christine Moorman, a professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and director of The CMO Survey. “As we enter the next chapter in the evolution of this emerging area of marketing, I predict that we will see more companies designing research to give them insights into what is and is not working. CMOs report they spend 3.5% of their budgets on measuring return on investment. This level will increase over time as will the number of companies using experiments and sophisticated econometric models."
I’m sure more than a few CMOs heard from their CEOs and CFOs after this survey was released, indicating that they need to step up their social media measurement strategies. And honesty, I don’t blame the C-suite for putting some added pressure on their marketing teams. I wouldn’t want to admit that my company was spending more money in social, but couldn’t determine the ROI of the investment. Because social media is become an integral part of communication and engagement strategies, it is about time that CMOs have an answer.
Three Rules For Writing Good Survey Questions
By Tonya Vinas, Senior Editor, Content4Demand
Good surveys can produce great content, but surveys themselves are a type of content and so require the same attention to language and writing.
Usually, a marketing team will believe something is true based on customer feedback and sales insight and want a survey to verify the knowledge and serve as a launching pad for a content tract on the topic. Something like, “Employee wellness programs are good for business.”
Let’s assume we’ve landed on this topic and don’t need to ask any demographic questions because we’ve pre-qualified the survey pool. Where do we start?
These three rules provide a good foundation to begin.
1. Start at the finish line. Generally identify the topics of the resulting content pieces. A good way to do this is with a placeholder headline such as: “Employee Wellness Programs Reduce Costs.” This gives you some guidance on what you need to measure and therefore, ask: i.e., How has your company benefited from having a wellness program? Choose all that apply. a. Less Turnover, b. Higher Productivity, c. Lower Health Insurance Costs, and d. Fewer Absences.
The next placeholder headline might be a deeper diver: “Wellness Programs Reduce Turnover.” Now you have more questions to ask: What are your top three workforce challenges (turnover would be one of the choices)? What was your employee turnover in the past 12 months? What was it in the 12 months prior to having a wellness program? What is your average turnover cost per position?
Move on to another sub-topic, and another, and soon you’ll have a batch of questions to consider for the final survey. The questions don’t have to be perfectly written yet. The language and grammar can be refined once you’ve narrowed down your list to the final questions.
2. Build in redundancy for verification. These days, it’s easy to think something is happening when in fact it might not be. Just because a topic is trending on social media doesn’t mean it’s an actual trend that translates into better sales or profits.
One way to check foundational assumptions is to ask the same question in different ways. This takes some skill with language but if you are working from a premise that must be quantified, it’s a good idea to quantify it more than once. For example, you could take the attrition question in a different direction and ask, Based on your employee satisfaction surveys, what are the top three non-compensation benefits that long-term employees value most (wellness programs would be one of the choices)?
3. Get out of your own head. Survey questions need to be written for maximum clarity and inclusiveness. Using jargon, trademarked names and business catch phrases can work against you. You can always explain your company’s differentiators in the content-tract pieces, which will be more targeted and specifically branded. To get there though, you’ll need a wide dock to take in the content raw materials, which are the survey responses. Don’t narrow the opening with unfamiliar language.
Getting survey questions right is a precursor to creating great content from survey results. Keep the end in mind, verify critical assumptions with redundancy and use welcoming, familiar language. Following these three rules is a great start to a great survey.
A Few Thoughts About The Coming Content Marketing Apocalypse
By Matthew S. McKenzie
There’s been a lot of speculation lately that the end Is near for content marketing as we know it. Call it what you want: a bubble, a backlash, a shock, or some term I can’t repeat here.
But apparently, if you’re relying on content marketing, it’s time to start hoarding canned goods and boarding up the windows.
I’ve come across at least two recent blog posts that illustrate the trend. They’re both worth reading, but here’s the gist of the problem as they see it. First, from Mark Schaefer’s post on content shock:
Like any good discussion on economics, this is rooted in the very simple concept of supply and demand. When supply exceeds demand, prices fall. But in the world of content marketing, the prices cannot fall because the “price” of the content is already zero — we give it away for free. So, to get people to consume our content, we actually have to pay them to do it, and as the supply of content explodes, we will have to pay our customers increasing amounts to the point where it is not feasible any more.
Rand Fishkin makes a similar point in his post about “content fatigue” (with a nod towards Schaefer’s post). He’s got a great graphic that sums up the problem nicely:
I agree with this position — at least to a point.
If you’re selling burritos or energy drinks (to use two examples Schaefer singles out), content shock is a plausible concept. There’s a tremendous amount of content in play in the consumer space, and most of it is of very low value. Consumer brands are going to have some long, hard conversations about the benefits they’re getting from content marketing. Not everyone will fail, and certainly not everyone will quit, but the challenges are apparent.
In the B2B market, however, it’s a very different story.
Your customers and prospects are tasked with solving business problems. Their jobs depend on their ability to solve these problems. If your B2B content marketing is targeting the right audience, and if your content is addressing the buyer’s needs, then your buyers will recognize and respond to the value of this content.
Today’s B2B buyers also conduct more extensive research — about their business problems, possible solutions, and vendor options — than ever before. We know these buyers wait longer before engaging with vendor sales reps. And we know exactly what they’re doing with that time: finding and evaluating the information they need to make buying decisions. The right content, at the right time, is inherently valuable to these buyers.
I’m not saying that the B2B market gets to play an automatic “get out of the apocalypse free” card here. In some ways, the stakes are higher: The state of the art for B2B content involves content that reflects a deep understanding of your buyers. You can’t afford not to engage your buyers with content, but you also can’t afford to use content marketing that’s sloppy, pushy, poorly timed and irrelevant.
Here’s a final thought: Best-in-class B2B marketers don’t have to guess at the value of their content. They track and measure that value through every step of the buyer’s journey. They have hard numbers to tell them what works and what doesn’t. If you want to create an apocalypse-proof content marketing strategy, that’s an important piece of the puzzle.