Why Storytelling Will Continue to Be the Go-To Marketing Strategy in 2018

For 2018 trends, we asked an expert on what entrepreneurs can expect this coming year in marketing.

Traditionally, you raised money from friends and family, bootstrapped, lost money for one to three years and then you became profitable and got acquired or went public. That was the cadence of entrepreneurship. But because Amazon for its entire life has made no money, and is the fourth most valuable company in the world, that has reshaped entrepreneurship. Now the path looks like this: Raise as much capital as cheaply as possible, and quickly establish a leadership position. There is a race to identify yourself as the leader in every sector. You don’t brag about profits. You brag about year-on-year revenue growth, mindshare and leadership position.

What this means is that the core competency in building value now is not operations, not data — it’s storytelling. It’s painting a really compelling vision for markets, then making progress against it every day. You can’t be an effective CEO today without being an effective communicator and storyteller.

Of course, you still do need a much better product than your competitors’. Then you need to use new channels of distribution and marketing to scale fast, and use that scale to raise capital. Also, get to a city. Two-thirds of the growth is in cities, and two-thirds of that is in New York and San Francisco. There’s one venture capitalist in St. Louis, and even if your company does take off there, you’re going to spend the majority of your time on planes to San Francisco and New York.

To be an entrepreneur, you have to be comfortable with tireless, obnoxious self-promotion. Some people are comfortable with it; some people are not comfortable with it but will do it. Most people would never dream of doing it; those people go to work for other people. You’re in the business of constantly telling your brand’s story.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

 

The One Strategy That Could More Than Double Your Sales

There are two basic ways you can increase sales: Close more often or close bigger deals. Most salespeople focus on trying to close more sales, but the truly successful among them instead sell to the “top dogs” in their industries.

There’s a catch, of course. If you want to reach high-level prospects at big organizations, you can’t simply make haphazard phone calls and send random sales emails. You need to implement one can’t-fail strategy: an organized sales-prospecting campaign.

Have you ever gone after a big fish in your industry before? What was the result? (If you’re unsure where to start, my free 1-Minute Sales Strength-Finder Quiz could help you focus on how your skills best match with a strategy to improve your track record.)

 Setting up the perfect campaign plan will help you more than double your sales and dominate your competition:

1. List your 10 ideal prospects.

It’s fine to start by listing the top organizations you’d like to convert to customers. But you need to be more strategic in your approach. Identify specific people you’ll need to meet within each company so you can secure the sale. Don’t waste your time with low- or mid-level management. Go after the VPs, CEOs and C-suite executives who have the power to invest in your offering.

2. Plan ahead for every point of contact.

Cold-calling doesn’t work when you’re going after valuable prospects. These people often get hundreds of sales calls every week. To stand out from the crowd, map out your plan for every prospecting touch before you ever make a call or send a prospecting email.

3. Think outside the box.

Next, brainstorm seven different ways you can “touch” your prospect. Calls and emails don’t count. Plan unique ways to offer something of real value so you can catch your prospect’s attention and stay on her or his radar.

4. Send personalized packages.

When you’re brainstorming those seven touches, look for ways to send something of value and personalize it to your prospect. Special reports, samples, case studies, handwritten notes and invitations to events all are examples. As a bonus, these valuable, information-packed offerings position you as an expert in what you’re selling. When you’re working toward a massive sale, you can afford to invest time and money in these personalized packages.

5. Send everything through FedEx.

No, I don’t get paid by FedEx to say this. I’ve simply found that everyone opens a FedEx box or envelope. Not even CEOs at large organizations can resist the curiosity. It’s a great method to ensure your prospect will open your package and actually lay eyes on the gift you’ve so carefully planned and customized.

6. Now you can call and email.

Once you’ve sent your package, follow up with a phone call or email. Because your prospect has seen your name on something of value, he or she will be far more likely to know who you are. That makes it much easier to start a conversation than a cold call ever could.

7. Don’t give up.

Some prospects will be responsive right away. Others will not. Just stick to your planned touches and rinse, wash, repeat. If you never get a response, move to another high-level prospect within the same organization and try again. Closing big sales takes persistence and patience, but doubling your sales certainly is worth the effort.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

Stop Spending So Much Money on Lead Generation and Do This Instead

You’re tricked into thinking you want more sales, more leads and more customers.

But, you don’t want more sales — you want more profit. You don’t want more leads — you want more calls. You don’t want more customers — you want more people to buy your stuff, come back again and again, and talk about how amazing you are with their friends.

This is how to become an influencer in your industry.

With this outlook, it isn’t about the simple want of more, but rather your desire to have a greater impact (on their lives and yours). But, this doesn’t just happen. As human beings, we need intimacy and connection. We need to believe what we’re buying (and who we’re buying it from) is the real deal.

Yet, if you’re like most entrepreneurs, you dedicate most of your time and money toward getting more leads and sales, using the standard online marketing tricks to do so.

But, what if you didn’t? What if instead of spending so much money on lead generation, you spent it on getting in front of your audience more often? Not with the same ad or video, but with different pieces of content each time that ensure you remain top of mind, all the time.

While your competitors are busy putting people into one funnel after another, you can prove you are the most relevant person in your industry. You can seem to appear everywhere in their lives: their Facebook feed, inbox, YouTube, large publications, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

The best part is, this approach will save you money because you no longer focus on lead generation or webinar registrations, but instead on becoming “top of mind” (which is much cheaper).

So, if you want to know how to become an influencerand your industry’s “go-to” expert, this is how.

1. Value customers as human, not leads.

Your first step to becoming an omnipresent and relevant force is to treat your audience as human beings, not as leads. Your competitors have set the bar so low. You know this already, because every time you log into Facebook you’re bombarded with the same lead-gen driven messages.

There’s so much content these days that everyone panics. Your competitors worry about not getting leads and sales, and forget about why they want these leads and sales in the first place.

Not you; not if you want to know how to become an influencer in your industry. For this, you need to prove you are relevant — and this begins with building a meaningful connection with your audience. If every post, email and message you publish is about your products and services, you are not treating customers as humans. Share your story and life with them, ask them questions and invite them to share their own thoughts and feedback. Conversations are not a one-way street, so start speaking with your audience, not at them.Once you have, you’re ready to take them down the rabbit hole.

2. Be relevant at the right time.

Here’s an idea — instead of manipulating your audience and using scarcity tactics, how about you hit them with the right message at the right time (and in the right place)?

I’ve been guilty of this in the past. I’ve used every marketing tactic we’re told to use. And although they do work, they do not create the long term success you crave.

And let’s face it, people are onto us. They know there aren’t 100 seats in your webinar. They know you will take their money, even if the 24-hour deadline passes. They’re not idiots, and you need to stop treating them like they are.

Relevance begins with trust. Engage your audience, and spark conversations. Listen to what they say, and take note of when they are saying it. For instance, before I create any sort of guide, product or service, I ask my audience if they want it (and invite them to get early access).

If engagement is high, I create it. If not, I create new content until I find the most relevant “thing” that will help them right now. With this approach, you won’t have to stoop to scarcity tactics ever again, which is when you’re ready for the next step.

3. Illuminate their pain.

Although you don’t need to use scarcity tactics, you do need to illuminate your audience’s pain, and explain why they feel it.

Unlike your competitors, you don’t have to manipulate them or build on their fear. You simply say they hurt, and that there’s an alternative. I often do this by writing a Facebook post that highlights some of the common issues and pains they may be feeling, and what I’ve personally done to change this. You don’t need to ram it down their throat. Be relevant and speak to them (not at them). They are not idiots, and if they are the right person for what you’re building, they will relate to what you’re saying.

Trust builds. Relevance explodes. And all the while, you remain a constant force in their lives who continues to give, give, give. You are now top of mind, which allows you to complete the final step.

4. Show them you can help.

The final piece of the puzzle is to show your audience how you can help. You still need to sell. You still need to tell your audience when to buy. You still need to push your products and services, and you still need to place your audience into certain funnels. The difference now is, it’s easier to complete the process — in fact, you will often find they come direct to you and ask, “I’m ready … what’s the next step?”

This happens to me all the time. I publish a short post hinting at the offer when a product is almost live, and soon have people message me to ask how they can buy. They are ready to pull the trigger, and just need me to say how.

For most entrepreneurs, this is the hardest part of the process, but with this approach it becomes the easiest.

This is not rocket science. You don’t have to be a genius to do this. But, most people don’t (and most people won’t) because it doesn’t bring overnight success. But, overnight success does not exist!

So, stop begging for leads and treating your audience as idiots. Instead, treat them as human beings and provide a lot of value (often). Continue to show up with relevance every day, and give them the right message at the right time. Build trust and illuminate their pain, not with scarcity or fear, but with a solution to their problem. Finally, show them how you can help — they will do the rest.

This is how you become a big fish in a small pond, and this is how you become an omnipresent and relevant force that sets you apart from everyone else. With this approach, you become top of mind.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

Understanding the Risks of Wall Street Investing

As individuals, we have little to no control over the investments made with our money on Wall Street. That said, when we do have the opportunity, wouldn’t we like to make the best choices and decisions as to how it is invested?

Understanding that there’s no such thing as a perfect investment, I think you’d agree that it’s only prudent to learn about some fundamental strategies to improve your odds of winning on Wall Street. Let’s consider three key concepts: drawdown, decumulation and sequence of withdrawal.

Drawdown

Drawdown is the historical loss of an investment that’s calculated by subtracting that investment’s lowest value from its highest value over a market cycle. (It’s important to note that the recovery from drawdown isn’t linear, which is why the average rate of return of an investment can be markedly different from the real rate of return.)

As the definition states, recovering from a loss isn’t linear — it’s exponential. So if I lose 50 percent and then earn 50 percent, I am not whole. I need to earn 2 x 50 percent, or 100 percent, to make up for a 50 percent loss.

The other thing that’s important to note is why it’s more reasonable to accept more risk when you’re younger. With more time to recover, your returns can be much smaller but will still grow your investments. For instance, let’s say you were about to retire in 2008 and the market crashed. You could have lost 50 percent of your retirement nest egg right before you planned to access that money. Many people did find themselves in that exact situation and had to postpone their retirement as a result, hoping the market would recover in the next five years and the value of their accounts would be restored. But, that would take a 20 percent return every year for each of those five years. Do you know how many times the stock market earned 20 percent for five years in a row? Never! What if you don’t have time? What if you’re going to retire and need to spend down your nest egg?

To illustrate the reality of the stock market, Wall Street uses the expression “No tree grows to the sky,” meaning the stock market doesn’t go up forever. Eventually, it goes down, referred to as a “correction,” and what that means is you lose money. Drawdown has a profound impact on earnings. The problem is only exacerbated if you make withdrawals. This situation is referred to as “decumulation.”

Decumulation

Decumulation is a condition whereby investment withdrawals occur while, simultaneously, the principal remains invested. Therefore, as withdrawals are made, there’s still potential for ongoing gains. There’s also the risk of ongoing losses.

Decumulation is what every retiree faces with their retirement nest egg. After all, one has to take some risk. With no risk, there are no earnings, no rate of return. We need to invest with Wall Street. It’s almost impossible to avoid it. Yet, even modest losses at the wrong time can blow up a retirement plan completely over a short period time.

Can I paint a bleaker picture? Of course I can. Let’s talk about one last concept: the “sequence of withdrawal” risk.

Sequence of Withdrawal Risk

If an investment isn’t protected from losses while withdrawals are made during a down market, that investment is subjected to profound negative effects, which are exacerbated by those withdrawals. If one takes withdrawals and simultaneously experiences serious losses, then there’s very little chance of recovery and the investment will likely be depleted entirely over a relatively short period. That’s the sequence of withdrawal risk.

The solution to this problem is simple. Simply, never choose to retire immediately prior to a market downturn. As long as you can predict the future accurately, then you can avoid the sequence of withdrawal risk altogether.

But, unless you’re a fortune-teller, there’s no way you can correctly predict just what will happen in the market. So now you’re probably asking yourself, “What the heck should I do about investing in Wall Street?”

  1. Be smart and do your homework. Understand the true risks involved with your investment options.
  2. Be realistic and understand that there’s no such thing as the perfect investment.
  3. Plan ahead, creating a long-term financial plan to better under­stand your financial needs and the time horizon you face.
  4. Do something, because doing nothing will guarantee failure. Get involved, learn and be willing to take an appropriate amount of risk.                                                                                                                                                                          Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

Creating Advertising Hooks That Work on Facebook

The following excerpt is from Perry MarshallKeith Krance and Thomas Meloche’s book Ultimate Guide to Facebook AdvertisingBuy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound A hook is the front-facing message that your would-be customers see prior to becoming customers. It’s the thing that intrigues them and reels them in. It’s the primary reason why people want to take you up on your offer.

That first line that’s the prospects’ first point of contact with you has to be so knock-their-socks-off good that they feel compelled to read all the way to the end. At that point, they do what you ask next in your call to action, namely, give up their contact information (become a lead) or plunk down their credit card and buy (become a customer).

How to find the right hook

First and foremost, to write a good hook for your product or service, you must first identify your target market. For established businesses, this is fairly straightforward and can be answered in one question: Who are my customers?

We also ask ourselves an alternate question, which is “Who is our most valuable customer?” Your most valuable customer is usually your best customer. Your best customers are people that you’ll actually pay more to acquire. They become your best customers because they spend far more and generate the highest number of referrals.

Once you’ve answered these questions, your next job is to figure out what they want the most. What are their pain points, what are their fears? Then identify an easy-to-implement solution that you provide in your product portfolio that will immediately solve that problem or fulfill that desire.

The reason why it’s so important to identify your ideal customers is that a hook has to be highly specific. The more specific your hook is to your audience, the better. You’re going to have a very hard time selling a “Learn to play like Eddie Van Halen” guitar product to someone who wants to learn how to play classical guitar. But, put a “Learn to play Eddie Van Halen’s Top 10 Guitar Licks” message in front of a guitarist who loves to play hard rock guitar, and you probably have a pretty good hook.

Move toward desire

To get even deeper into the mind of your prospect, ask a follow-up question on why they really want your product or service. Ask it enough times until you get to the desire behind the desire.

When you’ve identified the specific desire behind the desire, think about the end benefit that fulfilling that desire brings. From our rough ad copy above, this now becomes: “Learn how to play like Eddie Van Halen so you can impress your friends” or “Learn how to play like Eddie Van Halen so you can steal the show at the next family reunion.”

You’re now starting to craft the actual ad copy you’ll be using in your ads. The formula looks like this:

They want [specific desire] so they can [benefit].

Write out about a dozen of these and keep writing — even if they’re really bad at first. With enough brainstorming, you’ll find the perfect match of a specific desire and benefit you can use for your hook.

Move away from pain points

What is your target market’s greatest problems? As motivational speaker Tony Robbins once said, “People will do more to avoid pain then they will do to gain pleasure.” Keep this in mind when you’re researching and writing your hook.

Going back to the guitar player target market, one of the simplest problems could be: “I don’t know where to go next on the fret board after the A note.” This is a problem because maybe Fred, the solo guitar player, wants to play the Bob the Builder theme song to his kids, but he doesn’t know what to do after the A note and because of this, both he and his kids are frustrated.

This brings us to the second question, “What are they most afraid of?” In this case, Fred might feel afraid that he won’t live up to be the father he wants to be for his kids if he doesn’t learn this part of the song and his legacy as a great dad will be tarnished.

I’m being somewhat obviously melodramatic, but you should always ask this question with regard to your target market’s biggest pain: Why do they want to change? At the end of all this, Fred wants to be able to play the song because that would make him and his kids happy, and at a very deep level, he would then feel like he’s being the father he always wanted to be.

 Here’s what to ask for your reference:
  • What are your target market’s greatest problems?
  • What are they most afraid of?
  • Why do they want to change?

When you find the reason behind the problem, behind what they are most afraid of and behind why they want to change, you can then embed your solution inside the hook and cure it with your offer.

Find a solution

Go back and review your notes on your market’s desires and pain points. When crafting a solid hook, this is the most logical starting point. Then, force-rank those pain points and desires. Next, start coming up with solutions that your hook will promise and your offer will fulfill. Be careful to separate out wants from needs. They’re not the same.

When you think about a solution that fulfills your target market’s desires or pain points, your end goal is for the offer to fulfill the promise of the hook, but in order for it to work for your business, it must be incomplete, so the bigger solution is the one your paid product delivers.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

Don’t Lose Good Employees to a Bad Commute

Most of us are familiar with the idea of flexible work because we’ve experienced it firsthand. Whether it’s checking emails from home in the morning so that you can come into the office a few hours late or booking a WeWork when you’re on the other side of town for a meeting, the daily routine for what people consider a productive employee has changed.

While employers have embraced flexible work trends, most haven’t paid much mind to the commute and how it’s impacting employee productivity, happiness and even retention.

New York’s governor declared this past summer the “summer of hell” for commuters, voicing the national disdain for frustrating commutes. And the commute conundrum is more than a personal annoyance — it’s also a business problem.

Already, 10 percent of employees spend their workday commuting and nearly 80 percent of people drive to work alone, according 2013 U.S. Census Bureau data. Time spent traveling continues to increase with commute times in 50 of the largest U.S. cities jumping by 3 percent between 2009 and 2014 and the average commute jumping 20 percent since 1980. More notably, the long commutes are on the rise. According to data from Pew Charitable Trust, between 2010 and 2015, the number of people who commute 90 minutes or more to work has skyrocketed.

There is a huge pool of untapped potential and lost productivity locked up in these commutes. Imagine this: A 45-minute, one-way commute equates to 1.5 hours a day on the road and over two full weeks of the year commuting. These added minutes come with added consequences with 17 percent quitting their jobs because of the commute, according to a survey by WorkplaceTrends.com.

It’s time for companies to rethink the daily commute.

How employees are getting to and from the office every day isn’t something most businesses spend a lot of time thinking about, but that could change soon. With employees’ new expectation for flexible work and the toll that commutes are taking on productivity and retention, it’s an issue that can no longer be ignored.

Offering free transportation to public transit hot spots not only shortens commutes and supports environmentally friendly modes of transportation; it also allows businesses to set up their headquarters in more locations.

With car ownership estimated to taper off over the next decade, perks like complimentary parking are no longer appealing or possible in metropolitan cities where parking space is limited.

Subsidizing commutes, whether on public transit, car-sharing services or free shuttles, takes some of the pain away. In some cases, when employees aren’t behind the wheel it allows for more time to take calls, work on projects, check email or simply relax.

Businesses should get ahead of these changes and set up the right protocols and technology to ease commuting pains. Most importantly, businesses need to consider their surroundings — what is most efficient in San Francisco may not succeed in Seattle or New York.

However, 80 percent of the country still drives alone to work every day. In some cases, employees may need to continue to rely on personal vehicles to get to work. If so, business can make employees’ lives easier and their days more productive by tweaking hours to avoid rush hour. Other options include allowing employees to work from home on certain days, providing satellite office access or compact workweeks.

With today’s pace of change, businesses can’t afford to hold on to outdated management structures and workplaces. As the workplace is reshaped and companies pursue new efficiencies, the best place to start is with one of the most inefficient aspects of workers’ lives — their daily commutes. Companies will thrive if they can adapt to the changing demands and habits of today’s workforce.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

Entrepreneurs, Here Are the 5 Ways to Throw the Best First Event Ever

Every business leader loves it when a marketing event goes off without a hitch, but the momentum shouldn’t end when the last guest leaves. Statista reports that 79 percent of marketers in the United States use events to drive sales. Events give a brand’s personality a platform to resonate with attendees.

Take Bud Light’s 2015 “Up for Whatever” campaign. The Anheuser-Busch brand used a festival-like atmosphere — including performances by Snoop Dogg — to attract Millennial consumers and encourage them to share their experience on social media. As Bud Light’s vice president Alex Lambrecht put it, “We want to reach more than the 1,000 people that are here.”

But companies selling a physical product aren’t the only ones that can benefit from event marketing. The Detroit Lions, a client of ours, turned to event marketing earlier this year to make sure the launch of the team’s new jersey went off without a hitch. That meant a massive lion head presiding over the stage, players hosting, cheerleaders performing, fog machines filling the stage, three vertical screens showcasing the team’s legacy, and a full lights and pyrotechnic show to accompany the unveiling of the new jerseys.

Wow everyone the first time around.

Events don’t come with a rewind option — a successful first event means the hosting company and audience alike will be eager for the next event. When a first event falls flat, the team behind it is likely to pull back and either avoid investing entirely or — worse still — cut corners in an effort to save capital. For many companies, events are the biggest area of marketing spend. In its Event Marketing 2018 Benchmarks and Trends report, Bizzabo found that the majority of companies devote between 20 percent and 50 percent of their total budget to hosting events.

Ensuring this investment pays dividends is critical to future buy-in and success. That may be why 63 percent of the event marketers Bizzabo surveyed are putting more resources into hosting live events. Businesses following suit to maximize visibility and lead generation from the very first event should keep the following tips in mind:

1. Communicate every step of the way.

Whether sponsoring a bag drop at a trade show, sending an email to a customer or employee list, or filling social channels with chatter about the event, it’s crucial to do just that: Talk about the event. It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. Bizzabo reported last year that marketers spend only 10 percent of their budgets on marketing for an event.

Social media is a great tool for keeping event marketing costs down while maximizing awareness. Creating awareness early on and building up to the event day will ultimately drive traffic. This gives any company time to dazzle existing and potential customers with its passion, excitement and hosting abilities.

2. Provide live updates during the event.

Once the event has started, social channels still play a vital role in visibility and attracting more traffic. In today’s digitally focused world, it’s fairly common for event attendees to be monitoring the event’s hashtag just to keep up with what’s going on. In fact, Event Manager Blog reports that 60 percent of people with smartphones use them when at events.

For events in line with a brand activation or a pop-up shop, social posts that leverage local hashtags can spread the word about the destination experience that everyone in the area should check out. It boils down to this: Providing content or commentary can help bring attention to both the event and the company behind it.

3. Bring the right personalities.

Bizzabo found in its 2018 event marketing report that 95 percent of marketers find live events to be great opportunities to form in-person connections. The context of an event will determine which types of personalities should be on deck. If the aim of the event is sales, more outgoing personalities are probably the right call. If the event is more about a product demonstration or sharing knowledge, an engineer is going to be needed.

Not everybody fares well in social settings — remember that. A marketing event planner may be great with logistics, but she might not be well-suited for helping out on the day of the event itself. So make sure to choose the right person to be present on the day of.

4. Follow the framework: content, space and technology.

Content is the most important element of an event, followed next by the details of the space or location of the event, and finally, the technology being used to amplify the message. As with Bud Light’s event, content is the core component of any event — whether it’s video, text or images. Over the weekend of the “Up for Whatever” 2015 event, 37,000 content items were created. And only 50 of those were created by Bud Light.

The order of these three elements is critical to ensure the right message is being spread in the right place with just the right amount of disruption to capture everyone’s attention. Tech may be advancing and gaining attention, but most of the tech used at events is about increasing the audience’s awareness of the brand and its message. Event Manager Blog reports that 30 percent of event-specific tech created in recent years is focused on live interactions.

5. Keep it simple.

When the focus of an event is on capturing leads, the key is to keep things simple. Scanning badges, exchanging business cards or having attendees provide their info through a survey of some sort are all valuable ways of gathering info and capturing leads.

Make sure not to ask for too much info or create an information exchange that’s too complicated. Too much of anything will push attendees away from providing the information that turns them into valuable leads.

Event marketing presents companies of all sizes with a great opportunity for exposure and capturing leads, but there are no second chances for knocking the first event out of the park. Follow these five tips to ensure your event is unforgettable — in a good way.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

 

5 Tricks to Instantly Connect With Any Sales Prospect

Old-school sales trainers love to tell salespeople that they need to build rapport with prospects. These gurus say things like, “Your prospects need to like you. People only buy from people they like.” This approach is not only shallow — it’s also completely untrue.

People buy from those they trust and respect. If you can quickly connect with your prospects on a deeper level than just making them like you, you’ll start to build genuine relationships based on trust and respect. And those genuine relationships will lead to more sales.

Here are five tricks to instantly connect with any sales prospect so you can start to crush your sales goals. Check them out:

1. Ask a provocative question.

When you’re trying to get someone to like you, you’ll do or say anything to make the other person happy. Prospects don’t trust salespeople like that, whether they like them or not. Instead, they trust salespeople who challenge them to look at their problems and objectives in a new way. The best way to do that is by asking your prospects provocative questions.

Start your next conversation by mentioning two or three challenges you’ve observed in the industry, and then ask your prospect if any of those challenges resonate. If the answer is yes, the prospect will immediately view you as an expert and someone to be trusted. If the answer is no, and your prospect isn’t experiencing challenges you can solve, then you know right away that it’s not a good fit. This frees you up to move onto another prospect who will actually need your product or service.

2. Turn off your enthusiasm.

The typical salesperson greeting is one we’re all familiar with. “Hey! How are you today? I’m so excited to meet you and tell you all about how we can help your company!” This over-eager, cheesy greeting is the kiss of death for sales, yet most salespeople don’t even realize they’re doing it.

To see what I mean, try recording your next few prospecting phone calls. Play them back and listen carefully. Does your voice go up a few octaves when talking to prospects? If so, you need to drop the sales voice. Prospects pick up on that immediately, and it destroys any trust or respect you might have been able to establish. Instead, focus on being genuine. There’s no need to sound smooth or polished. Prospects find it refreshing to talk with a real person, and they’ll be more open to truly connecting with you.

3. Make it all about the prospect.

Prospects only care about themselves. But what do most salespeople focus on? Their products and services. This is a huge disconnect that prevents salespeople from establishing strong relationships with prospects.

You may be thinking, “No, not me. I’m always focused on the prospect.” But there’s a very good chance you’re wrong. If you ever talk about your product or service, then you’re not always focused on the prospect. It’s as simple as that. Great salespeople gain prospects’ trust by focusing on them 100 percent of the time.

4. Seek to understand key challenges.

As I said before, prospects only care about themselves. More specifically, they only care about the problems they’re currently facing. When you’re talking to a prospect, you’re only relevant to them if you can demonstrate how you can help solve those challenges.

Ask intentional questions that focus completely on your prospect’s biggest frustrations. Dig deep to understand how those frustrations are affecting the prospect. You can even try to get a dollar value for how much those challenges cost. Few salespeople are willing to dig in here, but when you do, you’ll start to nurture a relationship built on trust and respect.

5. Talk less.

This is straightforward and simple. Talk less and listen more. However much you talk during a conversation with prospects now, it’s safe to say you can stand to talk even less. Prospects should do the vast majority of the talking in any conversation. Keep this in mind while you’re engaging with new prospects, and you’ll set more meetings for successful sales.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

18 Marketing Trends to Watch in 2018

This year saw the release of new technologies like Google Home and the iPhone X. Digital advertising expanded gains made last year over television advertising, and markets rewarded brands that bet big on innovation and customer service (think Teslaand Amazon).

As 2018 approaches, there are a number of new marketing trends poised to make a significant impact on go-to-market strategy. Here are 18 of the most important trends to look for in the coming year.

1. AI takes over website messaging.

Thanks to tools like Intercom and Drift, marketers can already use artificial-intelligence-powered live-chat tools to communicate with customers. As this technology gets ironed out, it is likely that more brands will embrace AI live chat to better service website visitors.

2. Personalization goes to the next level.

A key tenet of account-based marketing (ABM) is providing content tailored to specific accounts or account types. As ABM principles go mainstream, look for content personalization to proliferate. Platforms provided by Adobe and Optimizely make it possible for marketers to recommend specific pieces of content similar to the way Netflix suggests shows.

3. Quant marketing goes mainstream.

The rise of quantitative-based marketing is upon us. Organizations like Unilever and Kraft, which previously relied on marketing “soft skills,” are now taking a playbook out of the tech world by building data-science teams to work hand-in-hand with marketers. Next year, quantitative-based marketing will continue to surge as organizations that focus on the data find it easier to grow.

4. Marketers begin developing augmented-reality content.

With the release of the iPhone eight and iPhone X, Apple has made it clear that they are betting on augmented reality (AR). As these new devices go mainstream, brands will begin experimenting with AR-sponsored and -branded content.

5. In-car ads become a new marketing channel for some.

Self-driving cars are on the horizon. The Waymo fleet of self-driving cars has driven three million autonomous miles and simulated over one billion miles. Uber recently ordered 24,000 Volvo SUVs to be outfitted with the latest self-driving tech. The Tesla Models S, X and 3, the Audi A8 and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class are all self-driving to some degree.

What will happen when drivers no longer need to pay attention to the road? They’ll consume content, of course, and with that content will come in-car ads. Watch for some brands to begin experimenting with this new marketing channel in the coming year.

6. Brands start to develop voice-optimized content.

Last year 20 percent of online searches were conducted through voice search. By 2020, that number is expected to increase to 50 percent. Just as marketers have optimized content for web 2.0 and mobile, they will start optimizing content for voice search as well.

For example, because voice search is easier than typing, searches tend to surface more long-tail content. By comparison, text search tends to surface sorter phrases.

7. Privacy protection becomes a major selling point.

There have been a number of high-profile data breaches in 2017. From the DNC email hack to the Equifax breach, cyber security has had a considerable impact on many aspects of our world. Moving forward, consumers will begin to favor products that protect their privacy.

If consumers don’t prioritize privacy, some government associations will, and many are already doing so. For example, a new law passed by the European Union called GDPR will have a major impact on what businesses must do to protect user data. Because of a confluence of factors, marketers will begin using privacy protection and data security as a value proposition across industries.

8. Instagram becomes a more valuable channel than Facebook.

Instagram is growing at an incredible clip. In 2017, Instagram announced that approximately 800 million people use the platform each month. Their latest tool, Instagram Stories, became more popular than Snapchat just one year after going live.

Since brands tend to see better engagement on Instagram than any other social media platform, and because of great advertising controls, Instagram is poised to become the go-to channel for brands interested in social media marketing.

9. Leading brands invest in live events.

Approximately two-thirds of marketers say that they will increase the number of live events they host in 2018. This is because marketers recognize that live events are one of the most effective marketing channels.

There is a reason that some of the world’s most successful organizations, including Salesforce, Airbnb and Google, host an annual event designed to bring existing customers, prospective customers and the press together under one roof.

10. B2B marketers create multichannel cold-outreach campaigns.

The average cold email response rate is low, and it will continue to decline as email clients get better at filtering out junk mail. The best marketers develop integrated marketing campaigns that use a combination of email, digital ads and other channels to engage prospects in new and exciting ways.

For example, by using Twilio marketers can send text messages in addition to email. They can then retarget highly qualified prospects with custom audience ads offered by platforms like Facebook and Google AdWords.

11. Twitter dies a quiet death.

Twitter has been unable to grow users in 2017. The platform has focused on user acquisition rather than on making improvements to their ad platform. As a result, marketers are already using other social media platforms to connect with prospects. This trend will continue in 2018 as Twitter continues to struggle.

12. LinkedIn sees new life among B2B marketers.

While Twitter struggles, LinkedIn has made a number of great improvements to their platform. A site-wide revamp refreshed the LinkedIn user interface in 2017. The platform also saw good improvements to the LinkedIn ad platform. Thanks to these and other changes, B2B marketers will utilize LinkedIn more in the coming year.

13. Machine learning changes how marketers manage ads.

Why pay a digital marketing agency thousands to manage ads when a machine-learningplatform can do it better? New platforms like Acquisio and Trapica promise to optimize ad spend through advanced machine-learning algorithms. Marketers simply need to set basic campaign parameters, and the platforms then do the work of identifying ideal audiences and effective creatives.

14. Predictive lead scoring makes marketers rethink lead routing.

Using predictive lead scoring, marketers can identify the prospects that are most likely to convert to customers. All that’s needed is an email address, and tools like Infer crawl the web looking for buying signals. Leads are then scored and sorted, so that only the most qualified people are passed to sales

15. Virtual reality is called into question.

A few years ago, virtual reality was predicted to be the next big thing in content. While VR is popular in the videogame community, it has not gone mainstream. This is probably for the best, as it can be difficult for brands to produce content with a controlled point of view. Instead of virtual reality, augmented reality is slated to make waves next year. Look no further than Apple’s rumored AR glasses.

16. Consumers expect more from brands.

Thanks to a confluence of services, consumers will have increased expectations from brands of all kinds. Voice assistants, same-day delivery and on-demand content will mean that both B2C and B2B marketers must find innovative new ways to delight prospects and customers with nearly instant service.

17. Influencer marketing remains a useful strategy.

Nearly 95 percent of marketers who use an influencer marketing strategy believe it is effective. Brands interested in connecting with prospects via social media will continue to turn to influencer marketing. Influencers create compelling content that appears to be organic in many cases.

Consumers, especially younger ones, prefer content that feels less “staged” and more natural. The world of advertising is changing. It is moving toward subtle sponsored content promoted by influencers or micro-influencers.

18. Gated content falls out of vogue.

In the B2B world, gated content is how many marketers generate leads. But, some of the best brands, including Hubspot and Zendesk, are un-gating content in order to develop a stronger organic search presence in an increasingly crowded content landscape.

Conclusion

Unknown marketing surprises await in 2018, and some of these predictions will probably fail to come to fruition as technology and the expectations of consumers change. Nevertheless, many of the trends outlined here are likely to come to pass.

Based on current trends, marketing is likely to become more analytical, and more focused on digital marketing through organic search, voice and social media. In addition, new content formats like augmented reality and in-car ads will probably go mainstream.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

Why This Media Entrepreneur Wants You to Rethink Your Definition of Legacy

In this series, Open Every DoorEntrepreneur staff writer Nina Zipkin shares her conversations with leaders about understanding what you have to offer, navigating the obstacles that will block your path, identifying opportunity and creating it for yourself and for others.

Beatriz Acevedo has been a fixture of the entertainment world since she was just eight years old. Driven and goal-oriented as a young girl, she got her start as radio announcer in her native Mexico by marshalling her father’s connection to a local station and getting herself an interview.

“I had a crush on Ricky Martin when he was a kid in this group called Menudo. I had a plan. I thought if I get a show at the radio station when Menudo comes to town I can interview them. So I can meet Ricky, we’ll fall in love and marry each other,” she recalls to Entrepreneur. “So I brought my demo tape of my McDonald’s and Toys ‘R’ Us commercials that I had done voiceover for. And I made a plea to [the station owner] that I was the demographic that they were trying to reach. Why did they have an old guy being the deejay?” Acevedo’s moxie made an impression, and she became the station’s young sidekick, learning the ropes of what would become her career every day after school.

In 1995, she founded a production company called HIP Entertainment Group, where for more than 20 years, Acevedo created and produced more than 1,000 hours of television programming in English, Spanish and Portuguese for networks like the Travel Channel, PBS and MTV. Her work across genres, ranging from documentaries to game shows to music specials, won her three Emmy Awards.

Acevedo is on a mission to empower the voices of Latino creators and change how Latinos are represented in the media. To that end, in 2012 she launched her latest venture, a digital media company called mitu , to make content for and by Latinos, especially for U.S.-born millennials.

Over the course of five years, the company’s programming has grown to reach nearly 100 million people in the U.S. each month. Every month, the work she and her team produce generates 400 million content views and over 120 million video views. The company has partnerships with platforms like Spotify, YouTube Red and Paramount TV, and brand partners such as Honda, Toyota, Pizza Hut and State Farm. In the US, the company has 111 employees, of which 51 percent are female. Her team has produced seven original series this year with plans to double that figure in 2018.

Today, her goal is simply to pay it forward. “The creative community that didn’t have have a place to go, we’ll take a chance on them,” explains Acevedo. “We actually have a program called the mitu accelerator, where we find the next generation of [creatives] from animators to writers to directors. We are building a brand that stands for a community, that opens doors and provides opportunity.”

Acevedo shared her insights about the importance of not going for the obvious choice and always taking chances.

Why is your work with mitu meaningful for you?

Being a woman, a Latina and an immigrant entrepreneur, I was always pretty puzzled about the disconnect between the Latino creative community and Hollywood buyers. I was lucky enough to get these meetings with networks and studio heads, and they would say, ‘We can’t find the writers, and we can’t find the talent.’ Then, I would go back to my office, and there’s 20 people that are so talented, who tell me, ‘Nobody takes our calls. We can’t get an agent, we can’t get a meeting.’ That broken bridge was always pretty puzzling to me. Even when I would make an introduction, [the buyers] wouldn’t know what to make of them. [If they met with] a writer that had a really authentic story to tell, they’d be like, ‘We don’t know if this will be commercial enough, or it’s going to turn off our core audience.’

So with mitu, I think what we do really matters and can really change the narrative. Thanks to digital, you have a phone, you have an opportunity. We see these kids making movies from their phones and uploading them and finding audiences that have been so underserved for so many years. But, we can’t just be waiting for somebody to give us a chance. My dream is that mitu becomes the voice for this generation. It’s a very big and hefty dream. But, every day we try to do it. We’ve found an incredibly loyal audience who always say, ‘Oh, finally, a brand that gets me, where have you been all my life?’ We’re striking a chord.

Can you talk about a moment in your career that you had to advocate for yourself? How did you approach it?

I’m always advocating for myself and for my community. I’m usually one of the few token female Latinas speaking at these [industry] conferences. I feel that every time they invite me, they sort of want like the quick three tips on how to not be embarrassed as a company [if it isn’t] diverse. You have to stop thinking about multiculturalism or diversity as a good deed or charity. Because you are really missing out on a big economic opportunity. Women represent half of the population in the U.S. How could any company think that without their insights, you are going to be able to thrive and survive? It’s the same with Latinos. [I’m asked] ‘how do we up our numbers? How do we make it not look so bad?’ But, you’re completely missing out.

[You need these] diverse ways of thinking in order to thrive and survive as a company. That is something that I’m constantly advocating. Don’t invite me [to speak on a panel], because you have a panel of all white men that look the same, and you’re desperate to have a woman. Oh, and double check: She’s a Latina, and we know she’s vocal. It’s almost like a show. So my plea always is: I, or any of my colleagues who are not here, could add to this conversation [beyond my presence] making you not look bad on a panel. I’m educating the marketplace all the time about why this matters to them as a business.

What was a mistake you made and how did you move forward from it?

Five years ago, when we started the company, the biggest mistake mistake we made was to do the obvious. We thought we’re building a digital media brand for Latinos, so we’re going to do it in Spanish. So we assumed that because we were going on digital platforms, we would have a very young audience based in the U.S., because we were based in Los Angeles. Very quickly, we discovered we would get 50 plus-year-old people in the U.S. [and younger viewers in Latin America].

We felt we knew the market really well. But, this demographic is U.S. born and speaks English [first] and consumes their content in English. So, we quickly pivoted into doing our content in English and really addressing U.S.-born Latinos who were the most underserved. Univision and Telemundo do a really good job of catering to [the older demographic] and that’s a generation that’s TV-first, Spanish-first. Now, we fully know we want to be English-first and digital-first. We’re trying to superserve a demographic here that’s not served at all.

How have you grown and changed as a leader throughout your career?

I’ve learned to be less of a perfectionist. And I’m doing my best everyday to learn to delegate. I think that I come from being a very scrappy, money-conscious and creative entrepreneur from my own country of origin, where you have to make a lot with very little. So I’m used to filling 10 roles and not one. I’ve tried to trust that people can do their jobs and be there for anything that I can support. But that’s definitely been my biggest challenge. As I come from a very let-me-roll-up-my-sleeves-and-do-everything mentality. I can’t say that I’ve mastered it fully but I try every day to be to be more of a delegator and a support. Hopefully, I’ll continue to learn, and people will feel empowered to do their job without me helping them out.

Over time, how has your view of success and failure changed?

I won my first Emmy when I was in my early 20s, which nobody in Mexico had ever won. For me, success back then, was all about me. Today, now that I am much older, it’s so different. I see the kids in my office, and now, for me, success is seeing them succeed. I have such pride, especially for the women in our company, who are so amazing, talented and smart. As much as I can, I bring [my female employees to the company’s] board as a spotlight, so they can talk about what they’re working on. It makes me beam with pride.

My view of success is, If I can be that catalyst, if I can be that person that opens doors for the next generation of Latino leaders, with a very close place in my heart for women, that’s success to me. In my 20s, it used to be, ‘How do I win another award? How do get on another cover of a magazine?’ It was all me. And, now, it’s all about seeing how I can have a hand in opening doors, mentoring the next generation.

What do you say to yourself to keep going during tough moments?

For me, it’s very hard to balance work and personal life, especially because I have 12- year-old twins that would love for me to be there for them and pick them up at school, like all the other moms do. For me, what makes me feel like the tradeoffs are worth it is knowing that what I do everyday potentially can really make a difference.

And I see it everyday, whether it’s a kid from a very low-income community who is so deserving of an opportunity that nobody else was giving him, and we see how we can change lives by giving [that kid] opportunities and [him] giving back to us, as a company. Building a company that matters, that stands for my community, that can really change the narrative of how we’re perceived — that keeps me going for sure. As hard as it is, knowing that you have that power to contribute is really exciting.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com