3 Tips To Become Better At Project Management

Whether you’re working as a project manager over a group of people or you’re just trying to stay on top of all the projects you have going on yourself, being a great project manager isn’t something that can just happen overnight. To become a proficient project manager, you have to really understand how work best gets done and what tactics can be used to help streamline these processes.

To help you see how this can be done, here are three ways to become better at project management

Complete Work In The Proper Order

For any project, there are certain steps or processes that need to be done first before you can move on. And when you get behind on those first few steps, the whole rest of your project can get thrown off.

Knowing this, it’s worth your time to sit down and hammer out the details of your project and what each step entails before you get started. If you’re working with multiple people on a project, make sure each person knows exactly what they’re responsible for and when they need to be finished in order for the project to move on. And if it’s just your personal project, create a detailed to-do list so that you can get everything completed in the right order and on time. 

Use The Right Collaboration Tools

If there is going to be more than one person involved in your project, which there usually is, it’s important that you use the right collaboration tools. Without them, you might spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get in communication with the people you’re working with rather than completing your project.

Luckily, there are plenty of software platforms out there to help you work on projects with a team and keep everyone up-to-date. If you aren’t using one of these platforms already, or the platform you have isn’t serving your needs as well as it should be, consider trying out something new to see what improvements might be made. 

Track Time Spent On Specific Tasks

When you’re working on your specific part of the task that’s been allocated to you, or if you’re trying to manage a large project with a lot of moving parts, tracking your time can be a very useful habit.

While you might feel like tracking your time is a little too much like micromanagement, it’s only through tracking how much time you’re spending on specific tasks that you can know if you’re prioritizing things correctly and will end up getting everything completed on time. So if you’re not already tracking your time, this may be something you should start doing. 

If you’ve been struggling managing the projects you have on your plate, consider using the tips mentioned above to help you find ways to improve in this area.

5 Most Common Reasons Why Businesses Fail

All it takes is a short walk in the heart of a city to see at least one sign in a window announcing the closure of a business. The truth is that more businesses fail than succeed, and the reasons for why are usually quite similar. 

The best way to ensure that your business will stand the test of time is to understand the most common reasons for businesses going under. Take a look at some of the reasons why most businesses fail and what you can do to avoid them. 

Poor Hiring  

A business is only as strong as the employees behind it. Businesses that fail to hire the right people and train them adequately are the ones that usually end up falling behind. It’s essential that you are extremely selective during your hiring process and choose the best possible people for the job. 

Not only is hiring good employees important but also retaining them. Good employees are the backbone of success. Make sure that you place a huge priority on this important area of running a business. 

Lack of Planning 

In the world of business, planning is everything. It’s crucial that your team has a plan in place; otherwise, you’re wandering through the dark. A business plan is one of the first things that they teach you when you go to business school. It covers everything from how you plan to finance your business to how you plan on carrying out your day-to-day operations. When you have the right business plan in hand, you’re much more likely to succeed. 

Poor Handling of Finances 

It’s critical that you have an eagle eye view of everything that’s coming in and going out of your business. A close eye on your money is the only way to ensure that you won’t go out of business without even seeing it coming. As a business, it’s important that you pay close attention to your money so that you know where you need to make adjustments and improvements. 

No Leadership 

You can think of your business like a sports team. The only way to win is to have an effective coach. Leadership is everything when it comes to succeeding as a company. Make sure that there is an effective manager in place who can motivate your employees and give them the right tools to succeed at their job. A good leader knows the importance of communication and effective feedback. 

Not Paying Attention to the Competition 

Even though there’s something to be said about focusing on your own path and not letting others distract you, it’s important that you pay close attention to your competitors. If you’re not looking at what’s going on around you, then it’s only a matter of time until you get crushed by your competition. Always keep a close eye on those in your industry. 

Digital Marketing Tools For Your Business

If you’re looking to build a more comprehensive digital marketing campaign, you need to know what tools you have at your disposal.  Understanding what you have to work with will grant you a more versatile ability to market your business online.  

Lucky for you, everything you need to know can be found with the right search inquiry online.  Start by checking out a few digital marketing tools for your business.  Here is a quick look at some of the most influential ways to craft a winning digital marketing campaign.  

Podcast advertising 

Branch your marketing efforts out with podcast advertising to engage your target audience online.  Podcasting keeps people interested with visual engagement and the opportunity to learn something new.  

With a strong podcast marketing effort, your business stands to experience a range of benefits.  Increased sales, hyper targeting abilities, and a small boost in SEO make podcasting a tool to consider.  

Social media management

Social media is a huge part of running a successful marketing campaign online.  You go where the people are, and the people love their social media.  

However, your business needs more than one platform to cast the widest net, and managing all those social media profiles can become quite challenging.  

The good news is that there’s a long list of programs that will help you manage your social media profiles in one place.  Check into what Hootsuite can do for your business.  

Google marketing tools

Google gives business owners a bone with their array of marketing tools.  If you’re not in tune with what Google has to offer your digital marketing efforts, today is a good day to check it out.  

Google offers the ability to analyze the performance of your digital content, keyword assistance, and much more.  The best part about using Google tools is that you can do it all for free.  

Email marketing 

Email marketing is another influential element when carving a path in digital marketing.  Your business can get a lot out of keeping the conversation moving via email.  

Managing a successful email marketing effort is much easier when you have the help of a program like MailChimp.  Send emails out to hundreds of people in a fraction of the time it would take to do the work manually.  

Tools for collaboration

Keeping everyone within your operation on the same page is also an essential part of running a successful digital marketing campaign.  Your business professionals can collaborate on projects and keep track of progress along the way with the help of a capable tool like Trello.  

Overall, if you find the right collection of marketing tools, your business will make a more memorable impression on your digital audience.  Take the time to find the programs that best complement your operation.  

4 Biggest Marketing Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

Guest Post!

Marketing your business is an essential part of finding customers. A strong campaign will help connect you with the right people who will get a buzz going about your business. However, not all marketing is created equally. It’s important that you put the right kind of marketing efforts forward if you hope to reap the benefits. 

Above all, it’s important that you avoid some of the most damaging mistakes. Take a look at some of the most important errors that you should steer clear of when marketing your business

Lack Of Research 

A critical part of marketing is knowing exactly who you’re trying to market to. Research and testing don’t just save you money in the long run but also time. You should have a basic understanding of how your products will perform based on your research. Research helps you have an idea of how much you should be investing in your marketing campaign and how the public will respond

No Focus 

Focus is important anytime that you’re trying to stand out from your competitors. Having a clear understanding of your brand helps you stay focused and catch the attention of your audience. A lot of companies miss the mark when it comes to developing a strategy for their brand. 

As a result, they have to start over each time that they start a new campaign.  You can avoid this mistake by staying focused on how you plan to pitch your product to customers. Everything that you do should relate back to your one single focus. 

Not Focusing On Current Customers 

A lot of companies are so focused on trying to acquire new customers that they forget to focus on the ones they already have. Unfortunately, statistics show that a repeat customer is worth significantly more money than a new one. The more that a customer buys from you, the more that they are likely to keep coming back. Make sure that your strategies are directed not only at bringing in new people but also keeping your current customers happy and loyal. 

Not Listening To Customer Feedback 

A lot of businesses forget along the way that the customer is always right. They assume that they know best and forget to listen to their customers’ feedback. However, there is nothing more valuable than what your customers want. In order to understand what they need, you need to take their feedback to heart. Ask for their feedback regularly and implement their suggestions into your business plan. 

When customers feel listened to, they become much more loyal to your brand. Fulfill your customers’ needs better than anyone else can, and you’ll have people lining up out the door. 

Why Sending Cold Emails For New Business Actually Works

Not many things are more controversial in the marketing world than cold email.

"You mean SPAM?!"

“You mean SPAM?!”

No, actually, we have laws like CAN-SPAM, CCPA, CASL and GDPR that are very specific about when and where and how you can email new contacts without it being spam or illegal. In most of the U.S., you can email anyone as long as you include a street address and an unsubscribe option.

"But have they opted in?"

“But have they opted in?”

Right, if it’s an opt-in list, those are people you’ve already done some marketing to (even if they just viewed your website), so that’s not a cold list. Those aren’t net new contacts. And opt-in is not required by law everywhere for every purpose. Including an opt-out method is all you need to do for this in most of the U.S.

"But isn't it just wrong to send email to people who haven't opted in?"

“But isn’t it just wrong to send email to people who haven’t opted in?”

Well, morality is a bigger question… but if it’s not wrong to show ads to people who didn’t ask for ads, then cold emailing isn’t any different. If you do believe advertising is wrong, well, you’re in the minority of business people, and most successful businesses do some kind of advertising somewhere. Some companies rely on door-to-door sales, and you don’t get to opt-in before they knock on your door.

"But don't people just ignore spam anyway?"

“But don’t people just ignore spam anyway?”

Well, again, spam is really just two things: illegal email, and/or email that your email server thinks is spam. Let’s just call it unrequested email. We call a lot of snail mail “junk mail,” but it’s suddenly not junk mail if you decide to use the pizza delivery discount your mailbox got “spammed” with, is it? And this is the most important point:

It’s not spam if it has value to the receiver.

"WHAT?! How can SPAM be valuable?"

“WHAT?! How can SPAM be valuable?”

As in the pizza coupon example, if I send you info about a problem you need solved, and you reply and we get it fixed, then I’ve created value. We’re more likely to call it “spam” if we receive something irrelevant to us. So again, as in much of marketing, relevance is key, and creating value is how we prove relevance.

"How do you write relevant cold emails?"

“How do you write relevant cold emails?”

As with all marketing, you start with the targeting- who fits what you offer, and what are the problems you solve? The more accurately you can target those people, and the more compelling your value message is, the more response you’ll get, and you can do so well that you don’t get ANY spam reports. We have cold email campaigns for ourselves and clients that are getting 44-75% open rates due to high degrees of targeting and deliverability, plus really compelling messaging. Most companies don’t do that well with their warm, opt-in emails.

"But does it really work?"

“But does it really work?”

One company we worked with during COVID-19 got 353 leads (responses to cold emails), setting over 150 sales appointments and capturing 3 new sales. I’m certain we would have had many more sales in normal times, but unfortunately COVID really slashed most people’s budgets. Point being, this process does work very well, and even in difficult times.

"How do you get it to work so well?"

“How do you get it to work so well?”

I can’t reveal all our strategies and tactics here, because we need to keep a competitive advantage! But the keys are targeting (quality list acquisition), ensuring high levels of deliverability, and staying in the inbox (of course staying out of the spam box, but also staying out of Gmail’s categories like updates, social, and promotions. Your cold emails are wasted if most people don’t see them.

And then there are the messaging strategies- most people aren’t great at getting a response with their marketing, and cold emails are even more difficult. Not only “why should I open this?” but also, “who the heck are you?” and “why should I care?” If people’s response to your cold email is, “Not opening that- looks like spam!” or “Some rando salesperson with a lame message not relevant to me,” then you’re not going to get any traction with them.

"Don't some salespeople send cold emails all the time?"

“Don’t some salespeople send cold email all the time?”

Typically, salespeople write bad emails that don’t work. Getting sales appointments is a marketing job and salespeople usually suck at marketing. But salespeople THINK they’re great at marketing. If that’s true why do they have so much trouble getting leads?

Sales and marketing go together like PB&J. We understand sales (because we do it, too), but we’re brilliant at marketing. We’ll get you the leads. You close them. But don’t make us send some salesperson’s crappy emails, because they won’t work.

And most of the decision-makers in sales know about these problems.

"So how do you acquire good emails?"

“So how do you acquire good emails?”

Hopefully it’s not by scraping or guessing! A lot of services out there do scrape, but not everyone’s email is online, obviously, so that won’t work very well, or in every industry, or for every job title. 

Or they guess people’s emails by knowing what formula a company uses for its email addresses. But this isn’t the best way. 

Having a good email database requires a lot of data input, and it needs to be updated regularly, especially in a time like COVID-19 where many people are changing jobs or being fired or furloughed. So, it’s best to get your emails from a really big source, a company that mainly does that, because it’s a big effort with lots of government compliance issues to consider. We work with a partner, Brothers Data, with a database of over 140 million people just in the U.S. 

“How do you maximize deliverability?”

“How do you maximize deliverability?”

There are some key things to avoid doing, like sending way too many cold emails at once from a new account, sending lots of emails to low quality email lists, not validating emails ahead of time, certain keywords you need to avoid putting in your messaging, and of course, sending boring, long, hard to read, or irrelevant emails that people will get annoyed with and mark as spam. 

There are more than blacklists out there you want to avoid getting put on – there’s also sender reputation on various servers. Big email-sending providers like Gmail and Outlook pool all their info together to prevent spam and phishing. If you do it wrong, your email account will get shut down, or, at best, everything you send will go into spam mailboxes that no one reads.

So you can maximize deliverability with good email lists, good sending practices, and good messaging. Again, we have some campaigns where emails are opened at over 70% open rates, and that’s partly because we maintain great deliverability. Without deliverability, you won’t get opens, because people won’t even see the emails.

“Wow, Brian, how can we hire you to do all this?”

“Wow, Brian, how can we hire you to do all this?”

Just reach out.

7 Keys to Adapting Your Business to What’s Happening Right Now

Hi, I hope you and yours are safe and well during this COVID-19 crisis. And that this post helps you!

These are difficult times. While many people are literally risking their lives as front-line medical workers, grocery store employees, first responders and more, many others are out of work, and still others are able to continue work, but have to quickly come to terms with remote work, focusing despite increased distraction, and adapting to a quickly changing market and economy.

It’s the definition of change management. It touches on so many topics I’ve been concerned with the last few years, like safety, teamwork and leadership). And we’ve experienced many changes in our digital advertising clients who are adjusting to changing conditions.

Here are some things we see that are changing:

  • EVENTS: Many live events are postponed or going virtual rather than in-person, at least until June, and possibly longer. Virtual events are a way to bring together a suddenly virtual team, get them focused and increase inspiration and productivity. They might help your employees adjust quicker.
  • FOOD: Restaurants are either closing or switching to take-out and delivery. We’ve seen very good results driving carryout and delivery orders with digital ads, so that’s something to consider. Groceries are the biggest talked about essential other than medical care, and groceries need employees right now.
  • CONSUMER SPENDING: People are spending money mainly on essentials. People are refinancing their mortgages. Unemployment, layoff and furloughs mean that people will be prioritizing survival, not discretionary spending. A lot of companies are offering discounts as a way to both help the economy and induce people to try something new while purse-strings are tight.
  • ESSENTIAL INDUSTRIES: Essential industries that are dealing with COVID-19 are staffing and recruiting more. It’s a good time to be in food, medical, logistics, transportation, and manufacturing. These companies can help us all get through this crisis and they need more people to make it happen.
  • EMPLOYMENT: There are big changes here, obviously. We’ve been helping with digital ads to driving staffing and recruiting for years, and the focus of the jobs needed has definitely shifted. Safety is a big deal for people that have to work in-person right now, and how to be efficient and effective at remote work is important to the rest.
  • MARKETING & SALES: How do you market and sell during COVID-19? Should you? I have struggled with this topic myself, because it can feel especially self-centered right now to try to market or sell anything in such a dire time. However, I just go back to the basics, which are that marketing and sales are just a way to help people get what they need. In a way, they are just communication. If you are helping to make people aware of something that will help them right now, then you’re helping. The only thing you need to watch out for is advertising, marketing or selling something not so essential- I think any company can make the argument that what they offer is essential, but we need to be especially sensitive right now and make sure we are not being selfish, and don’t come off that way.
  • DEMAND GENERATION: It’s a good idea to look at where demand has shifted. Trying to create demand for something not essential right now is especially tough. There are other key industries like web conferencing and entertainment that need to make sure that all their prospects have them top of mind. Companies like Zoom, Webex, and others are going to be fighting (with advertising and marketing) for a larger market right now. The same is true for channels like STAR that are offering bigger discounts than normal right now- but how many people know that? Just because you have something people want does not mean everyone knows it!

That’s just a short brief on some of the changes we’re seeing. What else are you seeing?

It’s a time for major change and adaptation. We need to stay informed and stay healthy. And we can’t neglect our psychological health at this time, either. Constant news and adaptation can be stressful and stress can lower immune resistance- so be nice to yourself and those around you!

I’m confident that we will get through this. We will adapt and create solutions. And things will get better.

10 Critical Items for Your Next Marketing Plan Audit

When’s the last time you had your marketing plan audited by an outside expert?

You do have a marketing plan, right?

Why would you need an audit?

  • Sometimes an organization’s ideas can get a bit stale, over time
  • A company can develop an echo chamber in their own culture, and convince themselves of things that may or may not be true
  • Not everybody has heard of all the latest greatest best practices

And when you’re out of touch, that’s a recipe for

  • Losing business to the competition
  • Losing the interest of your customers
  • People starting to think you’re no longer relevant

Unfortunately, if you aren’t current, people may question everything else about your business.

“If they’re not doing THIS great idea, what other good things are they not doing?”

The marketing plan audit we did for The Perfect Workout led to them discovering a new source of leads and sales, and a 400% ROI.

So, in the spirit of making sure that your marketing plan is up-to-date, here are 10 things you need to have SOMEBODY from the outside take a look at:

  1. Are you 100% sure that your pixels and tracking are installed correctly and that your data is accurate?
  2. According to your website analytics, what marketing source is driving the most conversions? What landing pages drive the most conversions? Is your organic traffic increasing over time?
  3. Are you aware of all the third party performance benchmark reports (on things like advertising, email and landing pages) out there, and is your performance at least average, if not better?
  4. Are you on the most important social platforms for your target customers? Are you advertising there? In your social advertising, are you creating new ad ideas each month? Have you tested new targeting this quarter?
  5. Are your email open rates hitting industry standard levels? Are you split-testing new subject lines? Have you checked on deliverability and blacklist issues to be sure you’re OK?
  6. Do you have someone who loves writing creative copy and is constantly testing new ideas on your audience through ads, emails, and landing pages?
  7. How many people do you need to reach to achieve your lead gen or sales goals, and are you actually reaching that many people?
  8. Are you using all the advanced Google ad technologies that make sense, like responsive ads, site links and other extensions, and call tracking?
  9. Does your website look and function equally well on every mobile device as it does on desktop, and do your analytics support that answer?
  10. Do you have a content plan that fits your platforms and goals? Is your brand flexible enough to allow the creation of diverse and compelling content? Is your content plan informed by SEO research? If you have a content calendar, is it flexible enough to change based on what your analytics insights tell you? Have you found a way to create at least some kind of new video with some frequency for use in social media and ads?

These are a few of the questions that a good marketing plan audit will answer.

And from there, you can revise and improve your marketing plan, and get better results for your business!

10 Reasons You’re Not Getting More Business

Do you want more new business?

Let’s face it- if you’re not getting new business, you’re at risk. The existing customers could dry up. A recession could hit. Who knows what could happen!

So, if your new business growth is not where you’d like it to be, what’s wrong?

Here are 10 things that could be blocking your organization’s customer growth.

BUSINESS BLOCKER #1: You’re not getting enough attention

If not enough people are giving you money, or buying from you, or inquiring, or coming into your store… do they even know you exist? Do they remember you exist?

You need to get people’s attention, then interest, then desire, and only then will they take action.

How many people’s attention does your business have right now?

  • How many ad impressions do you get a month? How many people do you reach?
  • How many emails from you do people open?
  • How many outbound sales calls does your org make?
  • How many leads do you get?

Even more importantly- how much is enough?

A simple rule is that you need to reach 1,000x as many people as you want customers, and you need to get their attention 5x before you can expect anything from them.

BUSINESS BLOCKER #2: You’re not getting enough traffic

Most businesses rely on website, store or phone activity to get new business.

  • How much website traffic are you getting per day?
  • How many people call a day?
  • How many people are visiting your store daily?

You need 100x as much traffic as however many customers you want.

BUSINESS BLOCKER #3: Your website doesn’t convert people to leads or sales

A lot of people have nice looking but ineffective websites. They don’t even know what their website conversion rate is. That’s like driving without knowing how fast you’re going.

And even worse, if you don’t generate enough traffic, you can’t find out if your website is the problem.

BUSINESS BLOCKER #4: Nobody wants what you offer

For newer businesses, if they’ve never sold at volume, they have an unproven product or service.

The first question to answer is- does anybody want this? Will they pay for it?

Then you can answer WHO will pay for it.

And in order to find out if they want it you have to get in front of them or get people to it.

BUSINESS BLOCKER #5: You’re not aggressive enough about promotion

If you build it, and that’s all, they won’t come.

Marketing and sales are about driving attention, interest and desire.

Some people aren’t aggressive enough- they choose only passive strategies like SEO or content creation.

If you’re not doing something outbound like advertising, networking, or outbound SDR, you’re going nowhere fast.

BUSINESS BLOCKER #6: You’re afraid to spend money

You have to spend money to make money. Why do you think all these new businesses want funding? Making money is expensive.

Attention, traffic and leads cost money. You have to spend it.

That can be hardest at the beginning, but even when times are tight, you have to keep investing. Businesses that pull back on promotion when things are down just end up going down even faster.

BUSINESS BLOCKER #7: You don’t have a creative solution

Content marketing is important for a lot of reasons, but it requires creating that content.

Ads and emails are powerful ways to get attention and traffic, but they require creative copywriting.

Ads, websites and landing pages are compelling ways to get new business, but you need to have an eye for graphic art, and an understanding of how creative affects customer psychology.

Creative skills and resources are critical. And they are often missing from many marketing plans and departments.

As a result, organizations show up in the marketplace looking and sounding mediocre, and fail to impress.

BUSINESS BLOCKER #8: You don’t have a scientific mindset

Business used to be a guessing game. But now we have data, especially online.

We get insights and reports that tell us what works and what doesn’t so that we waste less money and get a bigger response from customers.

If you’re not trying a lot of creative, copy, and new ideas, and learning from what the data says about the customer response, you’re stuck in the old paradigm, you won’t be able to be competitive, and eventually you’ll be replaced by newer companies and people.

BUSINESS BLOCKER #9: You don’t put enough time in

Sometimes we don’t have enough resources to do what needs to be done with sales and marketing.

Sometimes things are going well, so we coast.

The most talented people have drive. The best companies have lots of people who have drive. They are internally motivated to keep doing more and getting better everyday.

BUSINESS BLOCKER #10: You’re not continuously learning

The only constant is change.

Even when digital marketing and sales were young 10 years ago, there was a ton to learn in this space. But it doesn’t stop. Things continue to advance and get more complicated.

What worked 10 years ago may not work now- for example, SEO is much, much harder for new companies as a viable traffic source.

And what wasn’t a good idea 10 years ago might be now- for example, so many companies have gone online with lead gen, that fewer people are cold calling, and sometimes it works better than it did in 2000 or 2010.

You and your marketing and sales people must keep learning- must keep getting training, must keep reading, getting mentored, and going to conferences…

But only if you want to get and stay on top.

5 Signs You Need A Digital Marketing Plan Refresh

I hope you have a digital marketing plan.

If you don’t, it’s time….

Even if you do have a digital marketing plan:

  • Is it complete?
  • Is it up-to-date?
  • Is it on par with what your competitors are planning?
  • Have you had any new, outside ideas recently?
  • What are you missing?

Here are 5 signs you might need a refresh on your digital marketing plan:

WARNING SIGN #1: You Haven’t Done Anything Majorly New In Over A Year

Is it business as usual, or do you have new ideas?

Even if your ideas last year hit the ball out of the park, chances are, your competitors are aware and are catching up.

How are you going to stay ahead?

Business is like walking up an escalator the wrong way. When you stop moving, you’re going down.

When was the last time you analyzed all your data for insights?

When’s the last time you tried something new and big?

WARNING SIGN #2: You Aren’t Getting Significant Impact From One Of The Following: Facebook, Google, Email Newsletters, Outbound Email or Retargeting

These are all fundamental strategies for most companies today:

  • Facebook Ads
  • Google Ads
  • Email Newsletters
  • Outbound Email
  • Outbound Phone
  • Retargeting Ads

Every company uses each differently, and to different extents.

But for every one of these strategies, there’s a company that utterly relies on it.

So even if you’re checking the box by doing all of these, it’s time to ask about each one, “What more we could do? What might we be missing?”

For example:

  • Facebook Ads: Are you using them for leads? For online sales? For increased awareness? To get a video message about your brand out? How are you advertising on Instagram? Do you have the right sized images and length of videos to take advantage of all 12 placements?
  • Google Ads: Are you doing responsive ads? Gmail ads? Do you have phone number extensions in place? Sitelinks? Are you using YouTube for Action ads?
  • Email Newsletters: Are you split-testing subject lines? Have you tested text vs. graphic emails for deliverability? Are your open rates beating industry benchmarks? Are you segmenting and personalizing?
  • Outbound Email: How’s your deliverability? Are your lists good enough? Have you optimized send rates and pacing?
  • Outbound Phone: Are you using a web dashboard? Can you listen in to calls easily? Are you optimizing your script based on the calls you review?
  • Retargeting Ads: Are you using them? Are you using video reach ads to grow another type of retargeting audience? Have you analyzed the difference between your most effective retargeting and cold ads for insights? Do you have a full-funnel ad strategy with different creative for each segment?

WARNING SIGN #3: Your Results Are Below Industry Benchmarks

Every year, a bunch of great organizations post benchmarks for advertising, email and outbound sales.

Do you have those benchmarks at your fingertips?

Are you beating them, or falling behind?

WARNING SIGN #4: You’re Doing Well But You Want To Raise The Bar

Everyone gets comfortable.

The bigger your company gets, the more that seems to happen.

But every good organization also has drivers who push everyone to stay current and get further ahead.

If you’re a driver, you may be hearing from within your company, “Things are good!”

But you want them to be great.

You might be told, “Our marketing is competitive,” but you want to destroy the competition.

In cases like this, you sometimes have to go outside your organization for new viewpoints to shake things up.

WARNING SIGN #5: Big Changes Are Happening In Your Industry, Niche Or Area

Life is a story of never-ending adaptation. Change is constant.

We have to keep up, and get ahead.

At any one time, certain industries are going through big changes. Some companies are quicker to respond. Some are slower. Those that are too slow may not survive.

Changes come from many things:

  • Government
  • Economy
  • Culture
  • Technology
  • And more…

Sometimes the change is regulatory. Sometimes it’s globalization or culture. Sometimes tech outsiders disrupt the status quo and change how business is done. It might be something else entirely.

Regardless of the source, we have to adapt, and our marketing, advertising and sales has to adapt with it.

Refresh Your Plan

These are just a few of the reasons that a digital marketing plan can fall out-of-date.

When the plan is wrong, so is execution, and you may end up in the wrong place.

Check on your marketing plan today, and give it a refresh!

go-to market strategy + rocket launching graphic

5 Steps to Create a Killer Go-To-Market Brand For Big Customer Response

I recently walked a small company through creating a new Go-To-Market (GTM) plan. They had struggled for years with multiple marketers and salespeople and had struggled to develop their own pipeline.

They were getting a ho-hum response from prospects because:

  • They hadn’t committed to who they were,
  • Prospects didn’t understand what they did, and
  • They hadn’t proven that there was a market that fit their product!

That’s a pretty serious situation. Fortunately, they had a good revenue source for other reasons.

But the priority was to establish a new pipeline so that they could be more secure and independent, and that all the development work they’d done on their unique offering would pay off. 

The cool thing was that they were a Google Partner and we got to work with some Stanford M.B.A.’s who worked at Google on this new GTM plan.

And, look, I’m no noob…

I’ve helped a lot of new businesses and created a lot of marketing plans before, but this experience helped me hone my process and finally figure out something that had been vexing me for years…

The Problem With Old Ways of Branding

As a digital marketer focused on driving leads and sales (they call that a direct marketing or direct response marketer) I’ve had several run-ins with traditional branding folks that had bugged the hell out of me!

Their brand definitions were too narrow and didn’t allow us to fully leverage modern marketing, social media and advertising. It seemed like such a missed opportunity, and “branding” seemed like this holy priesthood based in who-knows-what. I couldn’t figure out why they had so much power and why they hadn’t gotten in step with digital marketing.

I’d even been through a number of branding exercises with different facilitators that left me feeling confused, like, “OK, but what about the rest of the info and clarity I need to do real, current digital marketing? There’s so much undefined and we have no foundation!”

The Solution

Now, I’ve finally figured out how to create a brand definition that works for digital and social and isn’t stuck in 1995.

Here are my top 5 steps for how to create a digital brand that drives a big customer response.

STEP 1: Start Either With Your Strengths or Your Ideal Customer

You can start one of two places. I’m not going to tell you which. I’ve seen both situations. You may be more certain: 

  1. Who you are as a company and what you do well, what makes you exceptionally valuable to customers, or
  2. Who your customer is. Who do you want to serve?

You’ll notice I don’t talk about “Starting with why,” but if you have a “why,” that’s great! Use it to clarify your strengths and your ideal customer.

STEP 2: Look At The Other Thing From Step 1 That You Didn’t Do Yet

Given what you clarified in the first step, let’s look at the other!

If you have a very clear strength, you need to look at who has the biggest need for that, and who doesn’t.  Who really wants what you have?

Or, as my friend Garrison Wynn likes to say, “Go where people suck.” Who sucks at what you’re great at?  

If you know exactly who you want to serve, what is their biggest pain point? Let’s talk shark bites- what is causing them to bleed in a mortally wounded way? Don’t try to solve mosquito bites. For example, in our business, clients are more motivated to go from no exposure to awareness than to lower their post promotion costs. And many companies are more motivated to improve their revenue than to improve their breakroom. What is keeping your ideal customer up at night?

Or, what is your ideal customer’s biggest goal? What do they want to achieve? Whatever that is, you need to have the ability or strength to make that valuable thing happen for them.

STEP 3: Figure Out Your UNIQUE Value To That Ideal Target Customer

Make sure you got the foregoing down in writing: Who’s your ideal customer? What are your unique strengths that provide a tourniquet to their shark bites or will rocket them to their goals? These absolutely have to match and make sense.

Now, put all of this into a value proposition that’s no more than 2-3 sentences. If you have trouble, use this formula:

[BRAND NAME] helps [IDEAL CUSTOMERS] with [WHAT?] so that they an [CONCRETE CUSTOMER GOAL OR ACHIEVEMENT].

STEP 4: Turn Your UNIQUE Strengths Into 5 Brand Words

Now you want to make sure that you have good words for who you are and what you do. You’re not quite writing copy yet with this, but you’re getting close.

What 5 words best describe your company’s strengths? These are things like: professional, bold, agile, creative, plucky, systematic… et cetera. If you have trouble coming up with them, there are many lists of strengths and values online you can start from.

Next, take a look at your competitors and see what words and value propositions they’re using on their websites. By now you should know what keywords people might be searching for what you offer. Google them. When you check out 5 competitors websites, what words do they use to describe themselves? If you’re seeing the same words you just wrote, then chances are, you haven’t found a unique position or strength. You’ll need to go deeper or get more specific or make some tough choices.

It’s OK if 1 or 2 of your words are used by competitors, but try to get 3 that are unique. Use thesaurus.com and see if you can find variations that seem to apply to you even more. The synonyms you see should make a difference- some will look wrong and others right. If they all seem the same to you, you may have the wrong word, or you may not have a clear enough idea of who your are and how you’re unique.

STEP 5: Choose Fonts, Colors, Images, etc. According To Your 5 Brand Words

Take your five brand words:

  1. Check out Google’s fonts, and look for fonts that fit your 5 brand words. You can choose your sample text for the fonts, so I like to type in the 5 words. First choose a possibility list of 10 fonts or so, and then narrow it down – if you used your 5 words as the text, you should see if the font is consistent with them or not. Does each font fit all of the brand words? Keep eliminating fonts until you have the best one.
  2. Use this color-generating website to look for colors that fit your brand words. Keep in mind that even if you have 5 colors, you may mainly use 2 or 3 and the others may just be accents.
  3. Use Google’s image search to find images that fit your brand words. Start putting them into a Powerpoint / Google Slide deck / Keynote deck as examples of what you like.

Relax, Now You Have a Killer Brand

Now you have come a long way. You have:

  • Uniqueness that sets you apart in the marketplace and provides a competitive advantage.
  • A brand core that is directly tied to what your customers need and what will drive you revenue.
  • Basic fonts, colors and images that will make your website and ads more powerful and more aligned with your brand.

You can use this core to hire designers to come up with a new logo, new website, and whatever else you want. And now your brand can be extended in all the ways we need to today with 100’s of social media posts and ads and emails and content pieces.

As long as you keep asking these questions about what you have created, you’ll be fine:

  • Does this fit our brand words?
  • Does this fit our value prop?
  • Does it fit out font and colors?

Rock on!