Category Archives: Marketing

The Winning Formula For Content Creation

When I was growing up in the 1980s and ’90s, information was a valued possession. It was rare and hard to get. You had to go to the library if you wanted to find information in any vast quantities. In the late ’90s, I got my first computer with a modem, and within a few chirps, beeps and other strange noises, I was blazing across the internet at 14.4k speed.

At the time, domain names were still $75 per year, and online video was not even on the average person’s radar. Now that the internet has been changing our lives for more than 20 years, information has gone from a rare resource to a commodity. It is freely and cheaply available almost 100 percent of our waking lives.

So that begs the question, in a world of cheap and free information, how do you stand out? How do you get people to take notice of you?

You could Google it.

But when I did just now, I didn’t get the answers I was looking for, which is all too common a problem with such a vast amount of information. Another problem with free information is that you often get garbage answers.

How many times have you clicked on a business article only to find that the “Top 5 Ways to Do XYZ” is a really list of the most basic ways to accomplish XYZ? Solving this problem is a big deal, and I guess that’s one reason Google makes the big bucks — they are the best of the worst at this. But all of that still leaves us with the original question.

How do small businesses stand out and get others to take notice of them? The simple answer to this complicated question is content. You must create content that is unique and adds value to the conversation. This is much easier said than done, though.

Content creation is a skill, not a task.

It takes time and effort to learn how to write well or sound good on a podcast. There’s not much most of us can do to look good on video, but at least we can make sure we don’t hurt ourselves by looking worse.

When you create content, your goals should be:

  • Entertainment: People want to be entertained, and injecting your personality into any content you create can be one way to entertain people as well as to make your content unique to you.
  • Information: I’m constantly asking content creators to make sure when they write they have strong points and don’t waste my time. I don’t want to read fluff. I want answers to my questions in a definitive way.
  • Consistency: So many people start creating content and can’t keep up with a regular schedule. No one wants to read the same information over and over again. Everyone wants something new, so give it to them.
  • To accomplish one thing: You should create very focused content with the goal of narrowing in on one subject. So many people record a video or write an article and want to go over 20 different topics, but that’s insane! Make those topics into 20 different articles and videos.
  • To tell them what’s next: The final goal of content creation should point the consumer of the content to what’s next. This could be more articles, a call to action, etc.

One question I often get is, how long should my content be? There is no magic number. The content needs to be as long as necessary to cover the information needed. Of course, there are people who will tell you the best length of time for a video is 3–5 minutes. Some magazines want 700–800-word articles. Entrepreneur wants 600–900-words.

Everyone has a different opinion of what the best length or time is. Many will quote stats about drop off points in videos after two minutes, but the truth of the matter is, the person likely dropped off because they found out they were in the wrong place, you answered their question, or you were boring. People will watch and consume content, but not if you are boring.

With the world literally at our fingertips, boring doesn’t work — unless, of course, your target market is members of the Dull Man’s Club ( If that is the case, people may consume all of your content, regardless of the boredom factor.

That is a much more complicated topic, because it depends on the type of business you’re in, and answering that question here would violate our goal to accomplish one thing on our should list.But to stay in compliance with the goal that follows (tell them what’s next), I can point you to my blog where I ask, is your content marketing selling before it’s helping?



What Aristotle Can Teach You About Marketing

Thousands of years ago, a guy named Aristotle had lots of ideas about everything from religion and ethics to medicine and science.

He also happened to be a very persuasive speaker — so persuasive that his teachings still shape the way we think about the world today.

But what does this all have to do with marketing?

 Aristotle developed an interesting theory about the art of persuasion. He believed that every persuasive argument relied on three pillars: ethos, pathos and logos. He believed that if you missed, or were deficient, in any one of these pillars no one would believe you or care about what you had to say.

His theory has been called  “the most important single work on persuasion ever written.” Here’s what Aristotle had to teach modern marketers 2,300 years ago:


Ethos is all about credibility. Aristotle believed that it doesn’t matter how well-reasoned or logical an argument is if the audience doesn’t trust the person who’s delivering the message.

This means that true persuasion starts before you even open your mouth. If you haven’t established yourself as an authority, you’ve lost before you’ve even begun.

Modern-day influencers like Seth Godin and Neil Patel have spent years regularly putting out valuable content to establish their authority. Major brands all over the world spend millions on public relations to ensure their credibility remains as intact as possible, otherwise all of the goodwill and trust they’ve carefully built over the years will be destroyed.

As Warren Buffett said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

For marketers, that means taking a good, hard look at your brand and the authority you have in your industry. The easiest way for a brand to develop ethos is to find common ground with your audience and establish your empathy with their problems. Aristotle himself believed the first part of any argument should be confirming your authority.


The second of Aristotle’s three pillars of persuasion is pathos, or the appeal to emotion. At the very core of our being, we are emotional creatures. Ignoring that fact can undermine your entire message, no matter how reasonable it may be.

Aristotle theorized that, to persuade someone, you can’t simply rely on reason and logic. You have to find a way to make your audience feel. Whether it’s hope, anger or even humor, marketers must connect their message to an emotion.

Advertisers have long understood the power of emotion in marketing. On the surface, Red Bull is just like any other energy drink on the market, but their marketing strategy is what truly makes them special.

Red Bull has invested heavily in extreme sports and organizing  highly-publicized stunts to connect the emotions of excitement and fun to their brand. Making audiences genuinely feel excited and thinking they can harness that emotion by purchasing a can of Red Bull.

For the average marketer who doesn’t have the ad budget of a multimillion dollar company, there are also less expensive ways to establish pathos with an audience.

Modern marketers should aim to present stories with characters and conflicts that can immediately capture an audience’s imagination and emotion. They should always be on the lookout for stories they can tell about themselves or their customers to tap into Aristotle’s emotional pillar of persuasion.


Aristotle’s final pillar is logos, which is all about logic and reason. While the philosopher believed that logos is the most persuasive of the three pillars, he also understood that logic alone would not be enough to persuade an audience.

For example, saying a product is going to improve someone’s life isn’t enough. As true as that statement might be, you have to show the logical reasoning behind why that product is useful and beneficial.

Too many marketers get caught up in the idea of “features-based selling.” They try to make a sale by focusing solely on the features of the product. Their mistake is that they assume their audience will be able to immediately understand exactly how useful those features are.

Marketers can’t simply tell people their products are awesome; they have to be able to show them.

Apple was a master at showcasing just exactly how their new products and features would help their audience. They’d combine storytelling with logic to create ads where audiences could see for themselves just how useful the new iPhone was, or why the Mac was better than a PC.

Marketers can take advantage of logos by learning how to better showcase the logic behind their messages. This can be achieved by explaining the context behind their logic, giving demonstrations of their product, or showcasing testimonials of happy customers to prove their logic is sound.


You may not need to apply all three pillars in every situation, and there are some occasions where it wouldn’t make sense to tap into all three. But most savvy marketers know they need to give every persuasive pitch all they’ve got, and more often than not, applying Aristotle’s three-prong approach to persuasion will get you and your business the results you’re seeking.


These #3 Experts Will Help You Understand the Differences between Push and Pull Marketing

Worldwide marketing tactic is slotted into two categories – Push or Pull. Push marketing takes the product directly to the client via diverse channels, making sure the customer is conscious of your brand at the point of purchase. Also called direct response marketing or general advertising, push tactics target a particular group with messages and offers. Email, print and air are chief instances of this type of marketing.

A pull strategy involves making customers look out for your product by actively and ‘pulls’ buyers towards your website or social media pages. Today’s consumers have an enthusiastic online presence and read reviews, type keyword searches and inquire online others for suggestions. Your pull strategy enables you to draw the researcher by providing answers. For instance, when prospective clients locate an e-book, white paper or blog about a subject they are interested in, pull marketing is at work.

However, push and pull marketing are at variance in conception and function. Read on as marketing experts delineate the five main differences.


Pravin Shah, founder, Six Inches Communications, agency for brand consulting, design, communication and digital marketing, considers push tactic as outbound marketing since it pushes marketing out to prospects and customers. “Push Marketing is when you get your clients and they ‘raise their hands’ as and when they develop interest,” he adds.

Pull on the other hand is more inbound marketing, where the expression, ‘inbound’, indicates to your strategic efforts which make your consumers locate you as and when they happen to have an interest. In their quest for answers, they come to you.


When it comes to strategies push marketing is all about cultivating methods of placing your products or service offerings in front of your target market. According to Chintan Vora, co-founder, Digital Latte, a 360-degree Creative Digital Agency, this approach typically includes paid advertising in print, TV and radio ads or direct mails. Email also falls under the ambit of push marketing as well.

Pull enables researchers to find you easily. The spotlight is on developing awareness, growing brand visibility and lead generations, predominantly online with the apt use of content that your website puts forth.


Push Marketing essentially begins offline. However, there are few exceptions. A typical example of offline marketing is the direct mail postcard. The aim is to drive customers to a location/place, a landing page/website/ or to inbound phone numbers. Email offers are also examples of how this type of marketing drives responders to desired places, real or virtual.

‘Pull,’ believes Vora, is more or less wholly an on technique. “Your Online content is intended to take the audience to a distinct landing page in order to fill-up a form or make a call to an inbound number mentioned on that page,” he informs.


Push Marketing, if done accurately, can work wonders. “Using customer data in developing personal and relevant communiqué can make your buyers feel special. It also motivates them to act to your benefit sooner or later!” thinks Tirthankar Banerjee, Founder, Cygnus Advertising (India) Pvt Ltd, an 18-year-old agency offering a whole gamut of communication services including web and digital marketing solutions.

Marketing gets particularly rewarding when prospective clients and customers approach you on their own. However, it takes a lot of hard work and time. Pull marketing usually benefits from a higher level of engagement as customers show interest and take actions without any prompting from your end.

It has been seen that Pull Marketing often fails as the content is not planned around the characters and identity of targeted customers. Also attracting clients in the early buying stage demands a longer-term conversion scheme. Push marketing devices including email, direct mail, phone calls and personal meetings play a significant role here.

You need both

Marketers with high success records depend on the potential of both the approaches and are often found to employ them simultaneously. “You could do with Push in order to communicate with the ones yet to know about your service or product. Push approach also engenders communication with qualified leads, erstwhile clientele and active patrons to boost sales,” explains Shah.

“You will have to implement the Pull technique to catch the fancy of those in the research or buying phase who are looking for products or services you make or offer and to endorse your business as a thought leader,” concludes Banerjee.


Today’s Savvy Branding Mixes Traditional and Modern Brand Strategies

There is an ongoing discussion about the benefits of traditional branding versus modern strategies of branding. In the past, marketers used to think that all you needed was a quality product, strong logo, mission statement or a catchy tagline in order to establish a brand. Big brands thought that having an effective website or buying a Super Bowl commercial became what separated their marketing efforts from smaller competitors.

Nowadays, most of these things are still important (apart from the Super Bowl commercial), but they work to support your other branding efforts. Traditional branding is all about consistency, while modern branding is about authenticity combined with consistency.

Leverage tech for branding.

Technology enables a brand and its content to have a greater reach. There are 7 billion people on Earth and approximately 3.6 billion of them are using the internet.

As an individual among these billions, you might not have the name recognition, but now there are several opportunities, provided by technology, to help connect you with consumers. We have the ability to access information from individuals as well as to communicate with them, and the number of options is increasing faster than ever.

Be social.

Social media is an essential facet of branding in today’s business culture. By effectively utilizing social media , it can be an inexpensive tool to showcase yourself to an audience of billions. It is important for you to learn how to promote your brand across multiple mediums and make sure to focus on the metrics of each of those audiences.

Crawl before you walk, before you run. By doing so, and evaluating the mediums that your audience prefers to use, you will be able to better distribute the information that you convey. Listen to the people who are already listening to you and learn what content they want, and enjoy.

Be ready to mix it up.

We still need traditional marketing, such as logos, websites and missions, to combine with the other branding tools provided by technology today. In order to be the most effective, do your own branding experimentation to help you decide where to best allocate your time, as well as your money.

Try using different mediums to communicate, focusing on those that provide the greatest returns for you and the best value for your target market. Learn where your brand (and its content) gets the most engagement.

Put podcasts on blast.

For example, podcasts are one of the go-to mediums for helping to elevate an individual brand or even a company’s profile in 2017 (or 2018). In fact,studies show  that the number of people who listen to podcasts monthly is increasing among men and women. This is something that many are trying to capitalize on, especially since the studies also report that podcast listeners tend to have a higher household income, in general.

A podcast gives the opportunity to create fantastic and easily digestible audio content and gives you the opportunity to incorporate video for marketing purposes, as well. You need to focus on branding something unique in this increasingly competitive medium , so play to your strengths. Know your message or mission.

Brand your expertise.

Make the most of your situational knowledge and relationship capital in order to find your own niche and share the value that you have. Sharing the valuable insights that you possess will allow your brand to make the greatest impact on your audience.


Why is Reputation Management Key to Digital Marketing ?

Reputation management is a key part of digital marketing for any business whether it’s large or small.

For growing a business in the right way, it is essential to know what customers are saying about your business and how to respond to their comments. For this, you need to have a proper understanding of reputation management.

What is Reputation Management?

Reputation management involves checking various websites for reviews of your business and further responding to those accordingly.

There are a large number of different review sites available online such as Trip Advisor, Yelp, Google+, Facebook etc. Everyone has access to these sites and it only takes a few minutes for a customer to leave a review.

As a business owner, it’s essential to check these social sites every day for reviews. You can manage your online reputation on your own or you can also hire an organization that will help you to build a good reputation in the market for boosting your business growth.

Who Needs Reputation Management?

Any business with an online presence needs a reputation management service. To know about your online reputation, all you need to do is just Google your business and if you have a Google business page then surely you must have got reviews.

How to Manage Online Reputation?

  • Assess What Customers are Saying

There are various tools such as Tagboard, SocialMention, which you can use to identify keywords and hashtags related to your organization. You can also take help from Google alerts. It can help you to set up a function which will notify you when your brand is mentioned online.

  • First Page of Google

One of the best ways to make sure that the first page of Google is filled with neutral or positive company information is by signing up for as many social media channels as possible. Backlinks and quality content are also essential towards ranking higher.

  • Google URL Removal Tool

If in case there is something offensive on the domain which you want to control then Google removal tool will help you to remove it from the search results.

  • Positive Content

Pushing the negative content downwards to the next page by uploading excessive amounts of positive content is also helpful in hiding negative reviews.

  • Being Linked to Reputable Websites

Being affiliated with other reputable websites and organizations will not only help you to get the attention of consumers but will also increase your Google rankING.

  • Carry Yourself Well in the Online Community

While sharing content or commenting on other people’s posts, be consistent and maintain a professional and positive profile.

For a digital marketing agency, along with focusing on search engine optimization, social media marketing, website design, it is important to focus on reputation management of an organization.

As an organization, it is not easy to have a good online presence nowadays. But, with the right practices and tools, you can manage your reputation.


4 Marketing Strategies Every Startup Can Afford

Do your products sell themselves?

Having a great product is essential, but that alone isn’t enough to make your startup successful. Aside from your fantastic product, you’ll also need a stellar marketing strategy to grow your startup. But for many entrepreneurs, it’s simply not realistic to spend a lot of money to acquire new business.

Instead, consider a few of these cost-effective marketing strategies that can help generate early successes.

Affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is the most cost-effective marketing strategy that works. I believe all businesses — regardless of size — should adopt referral, or affiliate, marketing. I’ve used it with a good deal of success and put it to work in all my online businesses.

Here’s how it works: Encourage people to recommend your products to others, and pay a commission only when someone purchases your products through those referrals.

Start by setting up an affiliate program though networks such as ShareASale or ImpactRadius. You then can promote your affiliate program by featuring it prominently on your website and inviting customers to join the program. Additionally, you can choose the right reward structure — one that’s compelling enough for your network’s members to engage.

Email outreach also can serve as an efficient tool when communicating with influencers:

Create a list of influencers and experts in your industry,

Send an outreach email requesting they try your product for free, and

Explain the monetary rewards they could earn by referring a user.

Content marketing.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, nearly 90 percent of brands use content marketing to grow their businesses. It’s the perfect marketing strategy for startups and small businesses because it works within the confines of limited resources.

Even though content marketing is extremely popular, not everyone finds success with this tactic. Lack of a documented content strategy is one of the primary causes. Without this crucial piece, your efforts will be less effective. As a result, you could face significant challenges when you attempt to implement content-marketing tactics.

Streamline your content-marketing process by creating an editorial calendar. Identify any bottlenecks and evaluate your content planning. Measure your strategy’s progress, tracking how well your content is performing to attract the audience.

Related: How to Produce Content That Doubles Your Sales-Funnel Conversion Rate

Do-it-yourself PR.

More than 540,000 new businesses launch each month. That means you’ll encounter some serious competition to grab your target market’s attention. If you want to generate favorable and frequent public-relations mentions, build quality relationships with the journalists and bloggers in your industry.

Be prepared that you might not always get a response when you make your pitch. You can increase the likelihood of getting coverage if you differentiate your pitch so the tone or angle of each is exclusive to the journalist and her or his publication. Do some research to discover which writers or videographers cover which aspects of your industry. Then, tailor your press release, teaser, or pitch-by-phone to fit those respective beats. Free tools such as Help a Reporter Out can assist in your quest to gain access to email addresses that belong to journalists looking for interviews in your space.

Piggyback a popular platform.

When you’re launching a bootstrapped startup, the real challenge is coming up with a marketing strategy that requires little to no funding. Piggybacking another well-grown platform is a great strategy to get your product in front of potential customers. Airbnb’s integration with Craigslist is a perfect example of ad hoc integration for user acquisition.

Craigslist doesn’t allow integration with any third-party services that cross-post listings to the site. To build a backlink and attract users, the team at Airbnb reverse-engineered how Craigslist’s forms worked — then made Airbnb’s own site compatible with that workflow. Just a few clicks allow users to easily cross-post a listing to Craigslist while also placing a backlink that points to their own site.

The general rule of thumb: Find the right platform you can leverage to grow your startup and create a strategy that works to acquire customers.


10 Offline Marketing Strategies That Still Work Today

Marketing has seen a paradigm shift with the rise of all things online and mobile. Creating a business Facebook page, tweeting about industry news, sending sale push notifications to customers… the channels we use to talk to leads and customers are evolving every day. While these platforms are remarkably effective — hey, we wouldn’t be in business if they weren’t — most successful businesses practice a combination of online and offline marketing strategies to generate leads and boost sales.

Sidewalk ads, branded giveaways (like pens or shirts), and local donations are all examples of offline guerrilla marketing. These simple actions are easy ways to spread the business name in subtle but effective ways. Below we pay tribute to the old-school marketing strategies that still do the job today.

1. Distribute business cards whenever possible.

This is perhaps the easiest and cheapest option, which is why it tops the list. You can pass business cards out to neighbors and businesses, pin them to public bulletin boards, slip them into relevant books or magazines at the doctor’s office, and do just about anything else you want with them. For such a tiny object, business cards hold huge potential.

2. Donate gift certificates or products as contest prizes.

Is the town high school holding a silent auction? Is there a charity event that offers prizes? Donate. This is a simple way to establish a personal connection with the public while participating in a good cause. At the very least, winners will put your product or service to use, and you might even gain referrals and visibility out of them.

3. Speak at events.

Find an event related to your industry, and prepare an educational and meaningful speech. This leaves a lasting impression with peers who share a position in your industry and creates a visual representation of your business. If you don’t feel you have enough industry authority to deliver a speech to peers, it’s still helpful to attend the events. Introduce yourself and network with others. The relationships you build could help move the marketing dial elsewhere.

4. Communicate with local print publications.

Despite the consistent rise in online media, print is still effective. Pitch a press release to a magazine or newspaper that targets your audience. Press releases are a simple way to showcase an important event or milestone for your business, and the right publication could land you valuable attention. Stay active and form as many relationships with the press as possible — they’ll come in handy.

5. Send snail mail.

Even in the age of email, snail mail is still an acceptable marketing method. You’d be surprised how many people prefer physical offers. It’s more costly and you miss out on the data you get from email campaigns, but you’ll stand out amongst your email-only competitors. Send coupons or new product updates, product samples, newsletters, or anything you think might promote your business the best. This is definitely a more personalized approach to marketing.

6. Make cold calls. 

Put together a list of potential customers and call them up. Well, first establish a cold-calling strategy, then call them up. Tailor the conversation to each customer and be mindful of their time and needs. Though it’s typically more of a sales move, cold-calling can help you build collaborative relationships with other businesses and potentially gain some new customers along the way.

7. Participate in trade shows.

Trade shows put you under the same roof as the competition. You can study their pitch, check out their marketing materials and generally gain real insight into their strategy. Of course, trade shows are also awesome opportunities to showcase your product and market your company. Network with other professionals and look for opportunities to grow by working together

8. Revamp your packaging or presentation

Strengthen your brand by reevaluating your presentation. How do you compare to the competition? Looks matter — your branding and store design speak volumes. Maybe it’s time to refresh outdated looks that aren’t sending the right message to potential customers. Take time to revisit and iterate; the slightest change could make a big difference.

9. Celebrate successes. 

Host a party, business gathering, or some form of celebratory event to share your success. Maybe you reached you landed a big partnership or launched a new service. Reach out to the local press to spread the word. Take the opportunity to acknowledge your team and encourage future successes. Your celebrations are bound to catch the attention of your target audience and secure you some future business

10. Sponsor a community event.

If finances allow, this is a phenomenal way to spread your name far and wide. Instead of just tabling at an event, take the lead and sponsor one. Plan a 5K or team up with a non-profit to host a fundraiser. When you’re the host, you can handle the merchandise. Give out branded goods, coupons and pamphlets and discount cards. This builds a positive brand image that people respect.


These tips range widely in cost and effort, but they can each impact your bottom line and mix up your marketing efforts. So welcome new technology and strategies, but don’t forget their offline roots! You can have a bit of fun along the way.

By Patrick Schock

 This story originally appeared on Bizness Apps

Facebook Messenger’s New Tools Are Game-Changing for Marketers

Major moves in the social space are being made this week; Twitter upped its character limit to 280 for all users and Tencent bought 12 percent more of Snap. But, the most interesting move was actually by Facebook, and it spans far beyond social.

On November 7, Facebook announced Customer Chat, a new Messenger plugin that lets businesses have conversations with customers on their own website. This move not only further strengthens Messenger as the top partner for brands to expand and serve their customer base through conversation, it also places Facebook head-to-head against B2B Silicon Valley darlings like Intercom, Drift and Salesforce.

What sets Messenger apart is its pivot from offering a no-frills chat functionality in 2008 into an end-to-end communications platform while acquiring 1.2 billion users along the way. As chatbots continue to become more elegant, personalization is quickly becoming the next main pillar of marketing. This is the perfect time for Facebook to transform Messenger into an immensely lucrative platform for businesses the same way it capitalized on the news feed to become the global leader in the digital advertising industry.

This is only the beginning of what will be a complete overhaul of the way marketers approach their digital strategies. The adoption of what is now both website and mobile integration for Messenger paves the way for Facebook to provide a platform that measures engagement and leads with pinpoint precision — similar to the current Facebook Ads platform that analyses every digital aspect of ad campaigns to maximize effectiveness. Salesforce and competitors should be wary; when it comes to adopting trends for the convenience and support of brands, Facebook leaves no stone unturned.

 The data backing up the transition is there. According to a report by Twilio, 90 percent of people said they prefer messaging directly with a brand. However, for many brands building an audience through paid and earned media is an uphill battle. With the release of Customer Chat, brands can take advantage of their websites and acquire new customers for free.

According to the Harvard Business Review, the single most important factor in customer loyalty is reduction of customer effort. Having an evergreen, automatic chat solution on-site can significantly ease this process. For example, after launching Facebook Messenger for customer care last year, Sprint saw an increase of 31 percent in private messages in only three months time. Simply by being where customers are can increase NPS. The days of collecting email addresses are becoming obsolete; customers prefer to communicate instantly and receive real-time updates and notifications instead of filling out lead-gen forms and be left unclear when they will get a reply.

Most importantly, with Customer Chat, brands can use the Messenger channel as a way to truly personalize marketing, going beyond just a new customer acquisition channel or customer support channel. When a person chats with a brand on Messenger, the brand immediately gets relevant information like their name, photo and location. If the brand builds an intelligent messaging experience from that first Customer Chat (meaning asking questions to better understand users), the brand can re-market to individuals at a future time.

Using AI or a conversational marketing automation engine to segment and engage customers eliminates future one-to-many blasts and tailors conversation. When brands incorporate automated personalization in chat, engagement can reach rates up to 80 percent WoW.

Platforms like iMessage are perfect for launching social messaging applications (will be exciting to see Apple enter the B2B battle with Business Chat in 2018. and Slack is uniquely situated for at-work messaging. But, as the Chat Wars continue, this strategic move from Facebook Messenger continues to position them as a leader in every front.


4 B2B Marketing Trends You Can’t Afford to Miss in 2018

The new year is coming fast, and the best way to prepare — and stay ahead of your competitors — is to anticipate upcoming trends in B2B marketing. Just like the previous years, marketers will have to continue to deal with tangible growth and ROI pressures in 2018 as well.

Here are four emerging marketing trends you need to integrate into your 2018 marketing plan.

1. Marketing automation.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could automate your everyday B2B marketing tasks to save time? With marketing automation, not only will you be able to automate repetitive tasks, you can also nurture prospects with highly personalized, useful content along the journey to purchase.

Although the technology is in its early stage of maturity, marketers are pushing themselves to exploit the possibilities to deliver relevant and timely communications to prospects to nurture leads.

 Marketing automation is more about nurturing your prospects than selling to them. It helps you streamline your inbound marketing strategy and enhance the communication by delivering content at the exact time your prospects need it.

2. Content marketing.

For many years, content marketing has been a popular technique to nurture and acquire leads in the B2B industry. As the customer journey becomes longer, businesses will need to deploy plenty of research on different stages of the customer lifecycle. Content marketing is highly effective for B2B marketers to educate potential customers about best practices for their industry.

 Although nearly 90 percent of B2B marketers use content marketing as a core component of their online marketing strategy, only 37 percent of them have a documented content strategy, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 benchmarks. According to those same benchmarks, lack of strategy is the primary reasons why content initiatives fail.

To make your content initiative effective, aside from having a documented content strategy, it is vital to measure content marketing ROI as well.

Set the goals you want to achieve through content marketing and measure them through KPIs. Although content marketing is cheaper, it’s not certainly free. To measure ROI, you need to calculate the cost of content production and editing. You’ll also need to measure various factors like traffic, brand awareness and customer engagement that you acquired through content marketing along with sales and revenue.

3. Content personalization.

While web content personalization is a well-established marketing tactic among B2C websites, B2B businesses are still slow to adopt it. That’s quite surprising because personalization of emails is a common tactic across all industries.

study by Seismic and Demand Metric looked at the reasons why B2B business were not implementing personalization and found that a lack of resources, technology and data were cited more often than not. They also found that effectiveness of content personalization strategy is resoundingly high for those who have adopted it.

With automation tools like Evergage, real time 1:1 personalization becomes more affordable for small companies. It helps you to supercharge your account-based marketing initiatives and provide personalized experience based on various customer demographics including company name, industry and other data.

It goes without saying, in order to make your content initiative enticing in 2018, you need to provide dynamic content on your website.

4. LinkedIn marketing.

Traditionally, social media was considered as a lead generation channel for B2C marketing, but more and more marketers shift their focus towards social media to educate and communicate with potential prospects.

Just like the previous years, LinkedIn is expected to outperform other social channels for B2B businesses.

After being acquired by Microsoft in 2016, LinkedIn has released tons of features that are geared towards making LinkedIn the most efficient and cost-effective platform for reaching B2B audience. For example, the recently released InMail Analytics features help you get more response and improve your entire team’s performance. B2B marketers are making more data driven decisions with LinkedIn than ever before, and the trend is expected to continue in 2018 as well.

If you haven’t invested in LinkedIn marketing, you’re already falling behind. Social selling is no longer an experimental strategy. It’s the new industry standards for B2B sales.

With technology on the rise, the possibilities for B2B businesses to engage with their potential prospects are endless. If you haven’t incorporated the new trends in your strategic planning for 2018, now is the right time. By getting well-prepared beforehand and embracing changes early, you’ll be the first to reap the benefits of the new trends.


Why You Should Treat Your Marketing Budget Like a Poker Bankroll

Just as the richest players in poker can still lose it all, even brands with the biggest marketing budgets can still lose millions on a bad play.

Pepsi discovered that truth firsthand after running a tone-deaf YouTube ad in April featuring people marching down a city street with generic protest signs. Kendall Jenner suddenly joined in, then stepped out of the crowd to make a stone-faced police officer smile by handing him a can of Pepsi. This left some viewers wondering whether the ad might be a belated (and expensive) April Fools’ Day joke. Harsher criticism led Pepsi to pull it the very next day.

The viral outrage hurt the company’s potential revenue and damaged Pepsi’s brand sentiment, especially on social media. Industry experts estimate the cost of production, Jenner’s fee and the media buy might have run into the hundreds of millions. Although such a huge, global brand could afford to take the hit, it should never have taken such a risk in the first place.

When a small ad can become a big story within hours, every bet is a big bet. Poker players avoid losing too much at once by calculating risks and managing their bankroll. That means a player with $2 million in the bank isn’t sitting down at a table with $2 million in chips, and then going all-in on a bad hand.

Your business should play by the same rules. In marketing, as in poker, disciplined bankroll management and calculated risks are the keys to staying on budget while seizing opportunities that provide high return on investment.

Staying in the game

A great poker player who puts himself in situations he should win 90 percent of the time could still lose 100 times in a row. It’s not guaranteed, but the longer a person plays, the more likely an abnormally long streak of bad luck will occur.

Not every marketing campaign or investment will bear fruit, and sometimes multiple endeavors in a row fall flat. Companies that bet too much on these investments will struggle to survive; those that budget to outlast unlucky streaks will stay on track.

The best approach is to ride the ebb and flow between optimizing for expected ROI and maintaining a position of safety. When limited opportunities start paying immediate dividends, companies that practice bankroll management can double down — while others lack the funds to capitalize on the opportunity.

Betting on the best hands

Marketing budgets are typically created in vacuums with their numbers based on static assumptions and long lists of hypotheticals. If poker players bet on “what ifs” the way most marketers do, they would go broke within a month.

Smart companies look at past performance data and create fluid budgets that leave wiggle room for unexpected turns of events. By leaving some money behind for the best opportunities, marketers can react quicker to recent data and adjust spending based on real-time information.

At Ladder, we budget according to the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of our marketing budget goes to proven winners, such as our B2B ad campaigns and Facebook lead ad campaigns. The other 20 percent always goes to a new channel, creative construct, audience or copy test. We see opportunities all the time, so rather than spend all our budget on potential big wins (or all on past successes), we spend small amounts to test. When the risk doesn’t pay off, no harm done. When the investment shows promise, we try to scale it.

How to win big without going broke

The 80/20 rule helps us, but it’s not the only way for companies to practice good bankroll management. Just as the best poker players continually adjust their styles, marketers can follow a few basic steps to maximize ROI and weather down periods.

1. Hold enough cash to ante up.

Always hold back enough budget to continue along a successful path and invest more when necessary. We set a target budget each month and never contribute the entire budget to a single campaign because we have learned that big wins can come from small spends.

According to research recently published in the Harvard Business Review, as challenging as it is to evaluate new ideas, running many inexpensive tests at once is the key. Authors Ron Kohavi and Stefan Thomke explored the outcome of a simple A/B test conducted at Microsoft, for example, to see how changing ad headlines in its Bing search engine would affect revenue.

This initiative had been languishing on the back burner until one eager engineer suddenly decided to spearhead a few, cheap online experiments to test a few different possibilities. Incredibly, just hours later, analysis showed that a single variation in one headline had resulted in a 12 percent increase in revenue — in the United States alone, that would amount to more than $100 million annually.

As this story shows, even small marketing plays can turn into massive wins. According to the results of “The CMO Survey” from August 2017, marketing budgets now account for around 11 percent of the average company’s total budget, no matter the size of the company.

With so much at stake, founders must pick their battles wisely.

2. Keep testing and investing.

“The CMO Survey” also discovered companies of all sizes, across all industries, that rely most heavily on analytics in decision-making typically have marketing budgets 70 percent larger than the competition. Are those companies analyzing data to make sounder bets seeing more success, and therefore bigger budgets?

If an analytics department isn’t within your reach, you can still pour a percentage of your resources into new opportunities that demonstrate promise. Limited tests of small investments can provide powerful information.

Our Facebook lead ads might be part of our 80 percent “proven winners” budget today, but for three months, we used our 20 percent exploration budget to test different formats and creative approaches. Once we realized we could replicate the results, we shifted our budget to invest regularly in Facebook ads and began using that 20 percent to test other options.

3. Create a fluid budget.

Keep marketing plans and finances fluid from month to month. New opportunities appear all the time, but they disappear just as quickly. Build wiggle room into the budget to avoid betting too much on a single strategy.

We always double down on what works — such as our Facebook lead ads. Those big wins from small spends are only possible when we build fluid budgets that can accommodate new ideas on a moment’s notice. Just as a poker player wants to have cash on hand when wealthy, inexperienced opponents sit down at the table, marketers need to be ready to adjust their priorities when golden opportunities arise.

The battle between Snapchat and Instagram proves how quickly marketing channels can shift. Instagram users woke up one day to find Instagram Stories — almost a carbon copy of Snapchat’s functionality — on their feeds. Although Snapchat beat Instagram to the punch, Instagram’s Stories feature quickly overtook its rival, currently boasting more than 300 million users, according to TechCrunch.

Poker players and marketers alike strive to not win big once, but to develop a replicable strategy that will lead to more sustainable, scalable successes. Heed these lessons from savvy poker pros to practice perfect bankroll management and be ready when it’s time to go all-in.