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Preparing Your Sales Team to Go Global

Small businesses aren’t all “mom and pop” shops anymore. Many are now internet-driven, global phenomena with customers all over the world. In fact, 58 percent of small businesses already have international customers, and 72 percent are focusing on expanding their international customer base before the end of 2016.

But it takes more than a simple commitment to growing your company’s potential to actually profit from global expansion. While most companies recognize the importance of overcoming language barriers, for example, other important requirements often go unheeded.

If you want to profit from an international customer base, you need to turn your sales teams into lean, mean, global revenue-driving machines. Here are three steps you can take to do just that:

1. Face-to-face interaction is rare — train your team to build virtual relationships.

Eighty-five percent of executives think online meetings with prospective customers are less effective than those conducted in person, and 63 percent feel the same about virtual interactions with existing customers. But that disparity is unacceptable when you’re on a global scale.

Establishing rapport and trust with clients is essential to sales success, so your teams must intentionally structure virtual meetings to foster those relationships. Each meeting should start with a catch-up type of chat, and using first names is a must. Teaching your salespeople how to employ a more personal touch will go a long way toward building confidence in your salespeople.

On the other hand, that confidence can evaporate quickly if a salesperson doesn’t understand the technology he or she is using. Whether it’s GoToMeeting, WebEx, Skype or Zoom, every salesperson needs to be trained to use every tool your company uses. Even slight stumbles will make your entire business look amateur and inexperienced in handling global deals.

Try to extend the connections created beyond the virtual universe, too. Integrating direct mail into the process and sending books, small physical gifts or mementos can help to remind customers that the salesperson is a real person working for a real potential partner, not just some gal or guy on the internet.

For example, Lemonly, a company specializing in infographics, sends out a small packet of lemon bars to every new client it signs. And when a project is completed, the company’s designers send handwritten thank-you notes. What special, company-related treat could you send to your new clients?

2. You like po-tay-toes and I like po-tah-toes — keep cultural differences in mind.

Take note of differences, and observe the norms of clients’ cultures. For instance, starting an email with “Hey, William” might fly in the United States, but it would be considered a bit rude in the U.K. Another thing: Learning the correct pronunciation of your prospect’s hometown might seem like a little thing, but it can have a big effect on rapport.

So, remember Melbourne is Mel-burn, not Mel-born. Mispronouncing a city like that seems trivial, but it makes a difference. And be especially vigilant about this when working with Brits — cities such as Leicester, Gloucester, Edinburgh and Peterborough present potential minefields.

Overall, researching differences is essential. The Lewis Model is a great place to start when moving into a new market. You should also take advantage of the wealth of information your existing clients can provide on how to interact with people from their home countries.

And don’t just pander to cultural differences; find playful and disarming ways to acknowledge them. Exploring “soccer” versus “football,” for example, is a goldmine of fun banter.

3. Help your sales team stay balanced as they bite the bullet on unconventional hours.

International time differences are a killer. Asking clients to meet at odd times is a major error, so your global sales team must bend over backward to adapt to international needs. At my own company, for example, we often end up taking calls late in the evening to accommodate clients in Australia.

A crucial element to making those late meetings work well? A balanced day for your team. A nutritious meal can raise productivity levels by 20 percent, and an evening workout before the meeting will get the blood pumping and improve mental and physical health.

The prescribed behaviors mentioned shouldn’t be micromanaged, but you can provide guidance on how and why healthy and sustainable lifestyles are so essential to developing and maintaining a good work-life balance for global work. In my experience, whatever will keep salespeople in this country dynamic and effective as the sun comes up in Australia is the best way to go.

An effective sales team is the backbone of any global expansion. Metaphorically speaking, it should resemble the human spine: flexible and connected.

Doing your part to promote a balanced work-life dynamic will enable any sacrifices team members make to accommodate global audiences to be relatively painless. And by making your salespeople as socially conscious of their new territories as possible, you can keep things personal and kick cultural faux pas to the curb.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

Focus Is the Secret Weapon of the Business Sharpshooter

You’re running 20 minutes early this morning, Starbuck’s coffee in hand; it’s going to be a good day. You’re feeling motivated and ready to get the ball rolling, having every intention of kicking off your Monday with a bang.

You arrive at the office, your head is buzzing lightly from the extra shot of espresso you had the barista slip into this morning’s cup of Joe. You stretch and crack your knuckles, the way pianists do before repping out a masterpiece.

You begin tackling emails, chipping away at the many that have accumulated over the weekend. Mid process, you receive a notification email that your favorite business magazine, Entrepreneur, recently published some great content on overcoming everyday business struggles. You go check it out. It ends up being a good read.

You now return to your email and… Wait, where did you leave off? You can’t remember… That’s right, the upcoming luncheon. After firing off a few sentences, you see on your iPhone that your company’s last Instagram post is receiving a crazy amount of attention. You go check it out, distracted once again.

When 5 p.m. rolls around, you’re exhausted, I mean you literally feel as though you were going 100 miles an hour all day. But at the same time, you can’t think of anything big you got done… You think to yourself, “What exactly did I accomplish?”

Sound familiar?

Imagine a Basset hound in a cubicle, wrapped from head to tail with raw bacon, having the appearance of some type of weird meaty dog-mummy. Now imagine this same basset hound mummy in the same cubicle, except dozens of squirrels are scurrying to and fro as he sits in his swivel chair.

Now, you get the bright idea to throw a ball in the cubicle and tell the dog to fetch. And when the dog never retrieves the ball, you scratch your head with a finger of utter perplexity. Instead of completing the simple task of retrieving the ball, the Basset is barking through mouthfuls of bacon at the tornado of squirrels destroying the cubicle.

And we wonder why we don’t get anything done; when Twitter, Instagram and Facebook notifications are lighting up our phones like the 4th of July, and emails fire into our inboxes as if Al Pacino were wielding some sort of weird email shooting Tommy Gun.

Here is the deal, we are no different from the bacon mummified basset hound, paws deep in a squirrel storm. The only difference is that our distractions come in the forms of dings, buzzes and boisterous light flickers. All of which make us feel as though we are staying busy, but in reality we are just staying busy not doing what needs to be done.

Answering emails and responding to social media notifications is busy work, it’s not productive work. Business sharpshooters complete their daily “Three Bullets,” and they don’t allow busy work to get in the way. Business sharpshooters are ultra successful, laser focused individuals striving to make brilliant disruptions in their industry.

Stay focused.

After work today, go purchase 365 index cards. When you get home, place the cards, along with your favorite ink pen, on your nightstand. Every morning when your alarm goes off and you kick off your routine, first write down three major objectives you would like to accomplish that day:

Monday Objectives:

  • Schedule & organize creative team think tank
  • Conduct remaining interviews for market research
  • Set-up Mail Chimp account & send out first campaign

After you have completed your list of “Monday Objectives,” fold the index card in half and place it in the same pocket you generally stow your phone in. Now every time you reach in your pocket to check Facebook, emails and other distractions… you will feel you index card brush against your fingertips. This will act as a friendly reminder that you should be working to accomplish your “Three Bullets”, not partaking in busy work.

Let’s face it, while the bacon wrapped Basset is adorable, everyone wants to be an ultra successful, laser focused Business sharpshooter — leave the squirrels for the amateurs.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

How To Find Right Investor For Your Startup

Raising the right amount of capital from the correct investor is perhaps one of the most crucial tasks for an entrepreneur. Analogous to matrimony, while finding the right investor would ensure the longevity of the enterprise, a wrong match may provide to be completely detrimental for your business.

The task becomes further cumbersome, for it is the natural instinct of an entrepreneur to work on the concept and strengthen the platform, instead of polishing their sales skills for securing investment. However, in addition to polishing the pitch, it is also paramount for entrepreneurs to approach the right investors or capitalists. Here are a few things to keep in mind for attracting the perfect investor for the startup:

Explore investors with similar wavelength

 While looking for the perfect match, you should look for the investor sharing the same vision as yours. Go through the enterprises they have invested in before and understand their reasons behind doing the same. If an investor places weightage on the people behind the startup and is familiar with the product that your startup is creating, the solutions you are offering or the technology you are deploying, then there are higher chances of long-term partnership.

There is a common notion that entrepreneurs cannot be picky while seeking investments, especially with the startup funding drying up. However, several startups have been successful in closing the rounds of funding, raising the desired investment. It is because they believed in the product they were creating and refused to settle down for anything less.

Furthermore, you may also want to explore the investors who would be able to relate directly with the solutions you are providing. They may either be operating in the adjacent segment or may have a soft spot for the industry you are enterprising to venture into.

Prove your caliber by bootstrapping

Regardless of whether you are aiming for angel investment or venture capital, you need to have a functioning model and traction details, in order to arrest the attention of interested buyers. For the same reason, you need to invest the resources you currently possess, in order to yield the desired numbers.

By bootstrapping, you display your own commitment towards the startup and the idea behind it. Besides, since bootstrapping is difficult, it sets the culture of the organization right. When startups have bootstrapped in the beginning, they remain grounded even after receiving the funding and continue to focus on the solutions they are providing.

Even if you raise money, always think of reaching to positive cash flow to remove dependence on investors. Investors themselves have constraints, reflected in their mandates. Be aware that they may not be able to deposit cash in your bank account, even after they have signed term sheet with the investee and paid some portion of the total committed amount to the investee.

Grow your network, ask for recommendations

Investors are bombarded with requests for pitch meeting, majority of which goes unnoticed. In order to receive their undivided attention, you would need a stronger network. Make it a point to attend startup events and interact with the investors, before asking for a pitch meeting.

Grow your own personal network, interact with alumni and mentors. Don’t let that be a superficial interaction, but discuss ideas, give and receive feedback and develop the relationship further. Investors are more likely to invest in people than simply in ideas. Hence, let people work for your startup, simply by developing stronger relations. Explore the profile of desired investors on LinkedIn; should you have the common connection, ask for a recommendation. You can take this offline as well by personally asking for a recommendation with a particular investor or a capital firm.

With investment, also seek future growth

An investor doesn’t bring in just the money on-board. You should typically be looking for an investor who holds the promise for future growth. As you pursue investment for your venture, you would come across people who will inspire you to think out of the box, discuss the strategy to scale up and simply ask the right questions. Moreover, look for investors, who, with their skill set, network and understanding of the knowledge, are able to take your idea to the next level. Never stop looking for new investors even though you have cash in the bank. Additionally, avoid opting for investors who may give you the desired capital, but are in just for the smooth ride and offer no value addition of any sorts.

Prepare your pitch accordingly!

Once you have screened the investors and have an idea as to the investor you are looking for, it is important to pitch accordingly. Refine your pitch on the basis of the key information your suitable investor would typically by interested in. Sieve through your network and continue to attend the events to meet the investor you have in mind. With the refined pitch and clarity in your thought, you will discover the right investor for your startup.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

‘We Believed In An Idea And Made It A Brand Name’

Just Dial started out of a rented apartment. Our first office or my first desk was a centre table, which was right in the corner of the house. We believed in the idea and made it a brand name. It is important for an entrepreneur to have faith in their idea and then work accordingly.

Building reputation in ecosystem

Entrepreneurs must understand the fact that ultimately the product will be used by people, and it takes time to build reputation. Just Dial is 20 years old and it took time for us to find a place. Normally it’s perceived that any technological product from India, is actually inspired rather copied from something similar, developed in US or somewhere else. But Just Dial was our brain child. When Just Dial was born, the country functioned differently. There was no internet penetration and telecom penetration was about 1 per cent. We were quite courageous to think of starting a telephonic information service then. We could envision the fact that there is going to be telecom revolution happening. In fact, business is all about looking at the future.

Keep changing and innovating in business

Innovation is a way to go, otherwise ideas will grow old. Till recently, Just Dial concentrated on providing information. Like where you can get a certain product, at the best price. But now, the costomers can even buy these products using Just Dial’s automatic transaction system. By using the Just Dial app, you can order a product and get it delivered.

Key to any business is profitability

Business is run to earn a profit and every businessman should remember this. Focus should always be on profit. We grew organically; it took us 20 years to be what we are today. In 2000, when dot com boom came in India, experts said, “Internet is a way to go and you guys are going to be over soon.” But we believed in our product and services and knew telephonic information service will revolutionize.

Just Dial was started with zero funds, we did not have any money to start this business. But, we were never in a hurry to create something big immediately. We wanted to bring about change in the society by creating a service to make information accessible across the country, round the clock. We used to work day in and day out, improving everyday. However, profits came right from the Day 1. But entrepreneurs today don’t need to wait that long.

With a booming telecom and internet industry, a company like Just Dial can be built in five to seven years. It used to take ages to to get connected through the dial up connections, which were available at that time. Then, it was a struggle to open a page. We could not believe that internet had the power to change the future. Though we had a website, JustDial. com, but we did not have guts to plunge into internet business immediately. We continued with what we were doing earlier. Entrepreneurship is also about not getting distracted. Friends and well wishers will give you lot of ideas and suggestions to improve things, but you should not get distracted. Focus and continue to do what you are good at.

Have a strong foundation

And then came telecom revolution. Cellphone prices dropped, incoming calls became free and outgoing charges cheaper. It gave us the oppertuanity to grow. We continued to build the service further. Around 2006, we thought venturing into internet more seriously as internet penetration was now 2 to 3 per cent. But our main focus was our telephonic service.

Believe in your idea and product

If funding comes, then they should come to you, you should not go to them. We were a highly profitable company. We started with zero fund and then in 2007, a pea company wanted to invest. We did not require funds because we already profiting. However, they offered us around Rs 250 crores and we agreed to it. That’s when the money started pouring in, however, it is lying in the bank and e are yet to use it.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

How Transparency Can Slash Your Churn Rate by 89%

If you run a software-as-a-service (SaaS) business, you probably know how difficult it can be to achieve a low and stable churn rate. Simply put, a business’s churn rate is its average customer lifespan. A low churn rate means your customers typically stick with your software for a long period of time. Alternatively, a high churn rate may be the reason you tend to end each month with a bunch of new customers, but about the same revenue. Despite it being a crucial performance metric, not only for SaaS companies but also any B2B service-oriented business, a high churn rate is incredibly difficult to overcome.

SaaS businesses are constantly trying to improve their customer acquisition percentages and decrease customer churn rate. Google the term “churn rate,” and you’ll pull up a slew of advice on how to lower your own rate: provide consistent value reminders, perform cohort analyses, and more. These are all great suggestions, but some businesses prefer a different type of solution, like Boaz Grinvald’s BrightInfo — a content personalization tool.

Recently, leadership at BrightInfo performed research that revealed that while many customers loved their product, many were under the false impression that the product was delivering diminishing value over time.

Boaz and his team decided to do something extreme in turn. They injected “radical transparency” into their product. They wanted to make sure that the BrightInfo experience would be infused with irrefutable evidence that it was driving ROI.

Now, every BrightInfo account automatically runs A/B tests, comparing KPIs for site visitors who don’t see BrightInfo’s content recommendations with those that do. The product dashboard demonstrates the lift that BrightInfo drives. As a result of this change, they reduced churn from 4.4 percent to .5 percent.

I was fortunate to be able to speak with Boaz about his software, which has helped increase on-site engagement and conversions for companies like HubSpot and Cisco. Here Boaz talks about the relationship between transparency and churn, the state of the SaaS industry, and more.

What do companies get wrong in curbing churn?

When looking to curb churn, it all comes down to the delicate balancing act of the three value elements that resonate with customers: product, user experience and level of service.

The problem starts when you need to prioritize resources: for example, when releasing a new feature that a major customer is requesting. You make sure it works perfectly, you pay attention to the usability and you communicate the value this feature brings to your services and accounts team. That’s how you minimize the gap between true and perceived value, or better yet, increase the perceived value.

For us specifically, we lost sight of the gap between perceived value and value delivered. When we realized our customers were under the impression that we deliver less value than we actually do, we rolled out the ongoing A/B testing as a constant proof of value.

What is the relationship between vendors and value?

The honeymoon effect (the novelty of something exciting and new) definitely plays a role, but that’s not all. Each company, with its own unique product, faces different obstacles in this regard. By recognizing these obstacles, you can start to figure out how to hurdle them.

We are in the business of personalized content recommendations, and the end result of what our algorithm does is an increase in engagement and conversion. So, after a few months of using our product, customers tend to forget the numbers pre-BrightInfo and this becomes their new baseline. On top of that, our customers are often busy with various inbound marketing efforts. At the end of the day, how can you distinguish between the different drivers of growth? Many of our customers used to ask us, “How can we attribute the growth in leads to you? It could have been our new Instagram campaign.

This is the obstacle we recognized. By running continuous A/B tests, we’ve been able to overcome this obstacle — we’ve made sure our customers are always reminded of the real baseline performance of their website as far as conversion rate, and who gets the credit for conversion growth.

How do you inject value transparency ?

Transparency works for both sides. Sure, our A/B testing program has helped us reduce churn in a big way, but we have gained much more from it. We are constantly on our toes, facing the performance of our product head on — no filters.

The best example for me is the finance industry. Whether it’s your pension, your investments or any other financial portfolio you hold, when these reports arrive every month, they always compare their own performance to that of the market or their competitors. It’s a fantastic way to communicate your value in the most transparent, direct manner.

FairFly is another great example. Their value is brilliantly and inherently a part of their product: after you purchase an airline ticket, they will find you a cheaper one and reimburse you for the difference. You are literally getting the value in the form of money.

Why is it easy to forget about demonstrating value?

It’s potentially a combination of two factors: the desire to make a profit and SaaS being more on the affordable side of the tech industry. It’s about combining the pressures of unit economics with SaaS revenues often based on monthly billing, which means potentially low margins, especially for companies focused on consumers or small businesses, where the per-month revenue is the smallest.

I believe that’s where the impression comes from. Being optimistic, I see lots of efforts in SaaS to improve perceived value, exactly like we’re doing with our ongoing proof of value and sharing this story.

What value can service providers demonstrate?

Here I would go back to the three elements of a value: product, experience and service. If, as a company, you are able to effectively communicate to your customers on these three levels simultaneously, then you have it. And these are the three stories that companies (also outside the SaaS space) need to tell their customers.

And by the way, I think that overarching value statements are a thing of the past. Don’t just tell me you’ll improve my life — tell me how you’ll do it.

What’s next for your “radical transparency”?

We are moving our offices to a glass house. Just kidding.

Look: we’re measured by raw leads. So the next logical step on our path to complete transparency is to be measured by the quality of our leads. Today we offer integration with marketing automation solutions like HubSpot, Marketo and Act-On and soon we’ll expand to Pardot and Eloqua as well. But in order to really make headway, we are looking into CRM integrations, with Salesforce obviously at the top of the list.

Our aim with this follows the industry trend of closing the loop of the entire buyer journey. We want to be able to report to our customers not only the number of leads we generate, but their quality as well. We want to break it down completely: how many eventually converted from leads into marketing-qualified leads, opportunities, customers; what content along the journey made them convert; what is the best nurturing content for each persona.

We are even tuning our algorithm from leads to deals.

There’s one more thing behind door number two. We believe that by doing this, we’ll also assist marketers to deliver better results internally. The same way we are measured by leads, so are they. Sales departments are breathing down marketing’s necks. Well, this is our way to not only prove our value, but also help marketers prove their own.

One of the hardest things about running a SaaS business is curbing your churn rate. With a little trial-and-error, A/B testing and the right software, you can lower your company’s churn rate and convert more leads to customers on your website’s front page.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

5 Steps to Creating Metrics That Matter for Your Company

Times have changed since 1998 when ConsumerAffairs was founded at the start of the dot-com boom. When I acquired the company more than 10 years later in 2010 from serial entrepreneur Jim Hood, there was no dashboard or metrics in place. My management team and I had to build all of it from scratch, which is not unusual given that the hyper focus on measurements and the ability for all companies to dashboard is a recent trend. Although I attended Dartmouth, it was at the private equity firm where I worked in San Francisco prior to acquiring my first fixer-upper that I initially heard about dashboarding and metrics. It was 2013 when I finally integrated the now popular mechanism into my starter business.

The impetus was that the ConsumerAffairs sales team had convinced itself that they were steadily working. For some strange reason, the team’s self-proclaimed effort was not translating into revenue. When I peeled back layers of the onion, the Dunning-Kruger effect stared me in the face. When there is no performance review mechanism in place, the Dunning-Kruger effect tends to set in where an individual mistakenly believes their output or performance is much higher than it actually is. Staff members were essentially fooling themselves, thinking they were working hard when they actually weren’t.

The lesson I learned from the hidden trend is that a CEO really can not build a business based on faith. Essentially, dashboarding eliminates faith. You build a successful business based on facts and figures that lead to conclusions. As we focused more on being data driven, our growth trajectory continued to rise but first, we needed tools and metrics that evaluated productivity at the individual sales rep level and at the sales team level. Once key performance indicators (KPIs) were implemented, an increase in profitability from the sales department began to set in.

Overall, the most important aspect of evaluating performance in sales is determining a leading indicator from a lagging one. A common leading sales indicator that’s also used at ConsumerAffairs is the weighted pipeline, which displays sales transactions and where the transaction is in the process of closing according to their phase in the cycle. However, it can be more difficult to determine leading vs. lagging indicators in company divisions like human resources and engineering. The ConsumerAffairs employee net promoter score, which measures employee churn, is a leading indicator we’ve developed to evaluate human resources. The net promoter score reveals on a monthly basis whether employees love working at our company.

Armed with the employee net promoter score as a KPI, we can enhance employee retention much more effectively. In this case, improving the rate of employee churn required developing a plan that would enhance the net employee promoter score. To increase the score, we looked at comments, we asked our employees for more information on why they were unhappy and we paid attention to what they were asking for whether it was a vacation stipend, a nursing room for new moms to pump breast milk or implementing a 401K match.

Our philosophy is that employees are customers too and the company is a product.

In other words, if you’re not measuring performance, you can not improve it. Like dieting, losing weight is a lot more effective when you’re counting calories than when you’re not because if you don’t know how many calories are in a particular meal, you cannot calculate them to determine the outcome of pounds. What’s different today is the evolution of business intelligence and data visualization platforms that help to aggregate data.

Typically, a company’s sales department stores data in its own system, the financial division’s data is in its own system and the human resource team’s data is in its own system. Previously, it has been a challenge to centralize this data and glean business intelligence from the various silos. But connections of data across functional groups is now possible because of business intelligence technology where in the past, business intelligence to this degree was available only to corporations that could afford global management consulting firms like McKinsey & Company. Better yet, learn from my experience compliments of ConsumerAffairs. Below are six keys that helped my company to get its groove back after the dot-com bust.

1. Get your data together.

Uncertainty is only increasing in the world. So having an understanding of how the plates shift underneath you is only getting more important tomorrow than it is today. Companies that are not data-drive will miss opportunities to improve and understanding the leading indicators that underlie the success of your departments is the key to being data driven.

2. Dedicate a team.

Organize a group of workers committed to enabling business intelligence. It cannot be something you think you’re buying off the shelf. Our team consists of six people that are all engineers. Even the product managers are engineers.

3. No off the shelf product will solve your problem.

We all know there’s no such thing as a true plug and play BI resource. Business intelligence tools like DOMO allow us to connect all of our data into a singular repository then visualize and query from different data sources based on each team’s unique needs. The data, which includes the employee net promoter score, sales data, financial data, product data and website data, is disseminated internally to everyone on staff so individuals can look at the metrics most important to their own roles.

4. Define what success means for each division.

From each defined marker of success, establish leading indicators to understand how each team is performing day to day, week to week and month to month. Measuring and building dashboards within an organization around the metrics that actually predict success in any functional group will help management keep their finger on the pulse of each department in order.

5. Make sense of it all.

Consultants can come in, figure it out for you and be helpful but more successful companies are just automatic about determining this themselves and making it part of their corporate culture.

original article:www.entrepreneur.com

The Dark Side of Content Marketing

“Create awesome content.” “Deliver value.” “WOW your users.” “Master the art of storytelling.” “Users will find your content online.” “Build relationships with customers first, they will buy when they need.”

We’ve all heard it and it all sounds great.

In marketing conferences, we often hear “Brands today need to act like publishers”. At a recent event, I heard speakers encouraging businesses to hire journalists to work full-time to build “journalist-standard content.” Seth Godin, one of the finest marketing minds of our time, said “Content marketing is the only marketing left.” That’s aggressive.

But, there are some hidden problems in this picture. First, the cost to make awesome content, on an on-going basis, and the cost to promote that content, could be extremely expensive for many businesses. Second, the ROI of content may not validate the cost.

If you’re considering launching content marketing initiatives, ask yourself these four questions first:

1. How frequently will you publish content?

Many marketers write a nice blog post once in a while, add in some keywords, and hope the post will find its way to the “top of Google search” or go viral. That’s unlikely to happen. Writing one to two blog posts a week is like dropping a cup of salt into the ocean. It makes no difference.

But to make an impact, you usually need to create 10 to 20 articles a week, if not a lot more. A mattress company launched a content platform as its core marketing strategy. They prepared over 100 to 200 articles before launch and maintained a speed of eight articles a day for almost a year. They employed a team of four full-time writers, plus an editor. It paid off for them, but not every business can easily allocate such resources for content initiatives.

Elite Daily, in its early days, created around 100 posts a day for its millennial readers. Imagine you’re a brand that wants “act like a publisher” to reach millennials through content marketing, think about outpacing those publishers to get your customers’ attention.

2. Who will create that awesome content?

You have three choices. You could write great content yourself, have your internal team create content or hire outside copywriters or agencies.

If you’re considering writing “awesome content” yourself, because nobody knows your business better than you, remember this: Writing great content takes serious commitment.

You may have great expertise, but your writing skills may not be as good. If you are lucky to have both expertise and writing talent, you may simply not have the dedicated time required for writing.

If you are assigning content copywriting to an internal staff, or a freelancer, or an agency, there is a rule to know: A piece of content is only as good as the person who wrote it.”

Hiring an intern to write gives you intern-level content. Hiring an experienced freelance copywriter may cost you $100 to $300 per post (now think of 20 posts a week). An agency or high-profile expert may charge you $15,000 to $30,000 just for creating a content strategy.

3. How will you promote your content?

Most content marketers today agree on the fact is organic visibility is dead. Facebook recently announced that their users are unlikely to see brand posts in their feeds, but more from their family and friends. Long gone the days that consumers find you on the Internet via search engines and social shares. Even the best content needs paid promotion to fire.

So, on top of the ongoing content creation costs, you need to add ongoing content promotion costs. Taboola, Outbrain, Facebook promoted posts and Google Adwords all cost money to drive eyeballs to your content.

4. How will you measure ROI?

Isn’t the goal of marketing to increase revenue? At least, most CEOs and CMOs think so. But be careful if you start content marketing with that revenue goal in mind.

Content marketers talk about various types of metrics, like pageviews, time-on-site, likes, shares, downloads and form submissions, but they often speak softly on ROI.

If you’re a brand that pours millions into TV and offline ads, these metrics may be familiar. But if you’re a performance-driven company that watches sales numbers each day like a hawk, you may want to think twice.

ROI conversations are less popular because it’s harder to measure the direct ROI of content marketing, as well as the impact of content marketing to other marketing channels.

And even if you can, the numbers don’t always look good, so many agencies just take it off the grid. I’ve seen countless blogs and company Web pages that have no call-to-actions to motivate readers to act. And many brand and corporate websites don’t set conversion tracking for their campaigns.

Know the road ahead.

Content marketing could be very costly, and difficult to measure returns. But this doesn’t mean that content marketing never works.

Companies like American Express, GE, and Hubspot brilliantly use helpful and fascinating content to reach their target audience and generate amazing outcomes. But you need to be practical. You have to know what you are getting yourself into. You must know the investment behind the greatness.

  • First, consider if content marketing is a solid marketing choice for your business. Given a limited marketing budget, some other marketing channels can boost your bottom-line faster. A strong PR article on GQ launched Warby Parker onto their success track. Optimizing their shopping experience helped Seltzer Goodsnational stationery supplier achieve over a 4 percent Ecommerce conversion rate and almost double its online revenue. Could content marketing outperform other marketing channels for your business?
  • Second, look at content marketing from within the big picture of your marketing mix. How strong can content marketing support your other marketing channels and boost results? For example, if you are a retailer or online marketplace that relies heavily on SEO to generate online revenue, content marketing will be a great catalyst for your search success.
  • Third, check if the direct and indirect return of content marketing can surpass the investment and the effort. Given that the cost to execute an effective content marketing strategy is high, small business may find it harder to get the return they expect. But for medium and big-size businesses, it could be easier to validate the return as the lever is longer.
  • Last, if you decide to go with content marketing, go strong.Make sure you allocate resources and time for content marketing to work. In the era of information overload, you’ll need to create both awesome content and in a consistent frequency to truly reach and influence your audience. Fire up your content marketing with paid promotion to generate organic momentum later on.                                                                                                                                               original article:www.entrepreneur.com

ONE CHANGE THAT DRAMATICALLY IMPROVED B2B MARKETING RESULTS

You can’t rely on your own data.

Your prospects spend the vast majority of their time doing everything except opening your emails, visiting your site or viewing your content.

Despite the magic of marketing automation and the ability to collect information on every mouse movement on every page of our sites, we only get a tiny window into the lives of our prospects. And that tiny window can turn out to be very misleading.

What happens when we start to fill in the picture? We have a better understanding of what people are interested in and our marketing performs significantly better.

Here are a few recently published results:

Case 1: Email click rates increased 279%.
Case 2: A 463% increase in email click rate. (Wow)
Case 3: You say clicks don’t matter? I won’t disagree, so how about a 200% increase in whitepaper downloads.

Tractor-in-the-Sky-Image

A little bit more data can completely change our view!

There are many new ways B2B marketers can use data and when we look only at what someone does on our own site, we miss most of the picture. Of course we get it wrong!

The results above, all of which were published by Madison Logic, show how just a little more data can make a huge difference, and by extension, just how little relevant data many marketers actually have today.

Imagine for a moment: you have a database with thousands of contacts that haven’t engaged with you in at least six months. You had some indication of what they might be interested in six to 18 months ago. But you don’t know if their interest has since changed!

For your email marketing to be relevant, you need to know what they are interested in now, not six months ago.

For me, that’s pretty easy to imagine because it hit close to home. We all have a marketing database with high quality contact data (for at least part of it), and yet we don’t know what many of the people in our database actually care about today.

original article:www.foxnews.com

HOW TO SOLVE THE MARKETING SKILLS GAP IN YOUR COMPANY

A few weeks ago I was talking to Maureen Blandford about marketers, marketing technology, and the need for all of us to move faster.

Our conversation turned to skill sets and the current digital and technology skills gap in marketing today. A thought I had in that conversation has been gnawing at me since: “Today’s marketers don’t have the aptitude for marketing technology.”

We continue to hear about the skills gap in marketing today and marketers are continuing to get trained on technology. But it isn’t closing the gap. If anything, as we rely more on technology in marketing, the gap is actually getting worse! Why?

Because today’s marketers don’t want to deal with technology.

I complete my time sheets because I have to. It is a requirement, and I’ll here about it from my boss if I don’t. I don’t love doing my timesheets. I have no passion for it. (Well, actually I do, but it isn’t a good kind).

Many marketers approach technology the way I approach timesheets. It is a functional requirement. Just one more thing they need to deal with in their day. This is why we are facing a shortage of the skills we need today, and the situation continues to get worse.

The solution to today’s marketing skills gap isn’t training. It is hiring people who are genuinely interested in and curious about marketing technology. People that look for ways technology can solve their challenges and aren’t phased by using technology in new or unexpected ways.

Training many marketers today to use technology is a band-aid that just briefly covers up the problem, until our marketing technology changes again a few months later.

So let’s stop focusing on training the wrong people and start focusing on hiring people with the interest in and aptitude for the technology we will use today and into the future.

original article:www.foxnews.com

HOW TO SOLVE THE MARKETING SKILLS GAP IN YOUR COMPANY

A few weeks ago I was talking to Maureen Blandford about marketers, marketing technology, and the need for all of us to move faster.

Our conversation turned to skill sets and the current digital and technology skills gap in marketing today. A thought I had in that conversation has been gnawing at me since: “Today’s marketers don’t have the aptitude for marketing technology.”

We continue to hear about the skills gap in marketing today and marketers are continuing to get trained on technology. But it isn’t closing the gap. If anything, as we rely more on technology in marketing, the gap is actually getting worse! Why?

Because today’s marketers don’t want to deal with technology.

I complete my time sheets because I have to. It is a requirement, and I’ll here about it from my boss if I don’t. I don’t love doing my timesheets. I have no passion for it. (Well, actually I do, but it isn’t a good kind).

Many marketers approach technology the way I approach timesheets. It is a functional requirement. Just one more thing they need to deal with in their day. This is why we are facing a shortage of the skills we need today, and the situation continues to get worse.

The solution to today’s marketing skills gap isn’t training. It is hiring people who are genuinely interested in and curious about marketing technology. People that look for ways technology can solve their challenges and aren’t phased by using technology in new or unexpected ways.

Training many marketers today to use technology is a band-aid that just briefly covers up the problem, until our marketing technology changes again a few months later.

So let’s stop focusing on training the wrong people and start focusing on hiring people with the interest in and aptitude for the technology we will use today and into the future.