Shared posts

26 Mar 17:27

Google's $150 Nik Collection of Photo Editing Software Is Now Completely Free

by Patrick Allan

Nik Collection, seven powerful photo editing desktop plug-ins from Google, has dropped its price from $150 to being completely free for everyone.

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26 Mar 17:27

Remains of the Day: Universal Skype App Coming Soon to Windows Insiders

by Andy Orin

Microsoft is on a slow march towards a unified mobile, tablet, and desktop platform, and soon they’ll release their new version of Skype that works everywhere. And remember the Foursquare spinoff Swarm? It has some new features. No flipping!

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26 Mar 17:09

Clayton Christensen: What I’ll Miss About Andy Grove

by Clayton M. Christensen
mar16-24-grove02
Federico Beccari

I am easily a foot taller than Andy Grove. But whenever I was with him, I felt that he was the giant.

There are four elements of this giant that I will miss. First, he never believed that he and his colleagues had the answer. They always were arguing about everything. He knew that they needed to make decisions, of course. But he viewed each decision simply as a road marker that noted progress along the path of argument about how to improve.

He was passionate about finding new ways to think about the business. When Intel’s microprocessor business was being threatened by low-cost competitors, he asked me what to do about it. But instead of telling him how to respond, I gave him what he really wanted: I laid out the theory of disruption for him and his team so that they could predict the next threat — or opportunity — in their path. Andy understood that he couldn’t stand still. It seemed that the day after they made a decision, Andy and his colleagues would start to argue again. That is why Intel under Andy Grove was continuously improving. They were always trying to improve everything — and I will miss this.

Second, I will miss Andy Grove’s humility. He had a high level of self-esteem, of course. He was confident in his abilities. But this confidence served as a platform that allowed Andy to learn important things from every person — even Clayton Christensen. Andy strengthened the people he worked with by building their confidence; he gave me credit for things that I don’t deserve and helped me believe that I could contribute in important ways.

Third, I will miss Andy Grove’s sense for how the world works. Just as he could map the ways electrons zipped around the pathways on a microprocessor, Andy could describe how incentives, decisions, pricing, debates, second-guessing, prioritizing, delays, and overhead allocations actually work in a complex organization like Intel. He was a powerful executive because he understood how organizations really operate and could harness this knowledge.

Finally, I will miss Andy Grove as a teacher. In his long career at Intel and at Stanford Business School, he passed along his deep wisdom with uncommon generosity, touching generations of managers and leaders.

26 Mar 17:09

Email Spike Drives Conversions

by Miles Austin

Take Advantage of the TWO Highest Converting Marketing Tactics, All Done Within the Power of Email

Email Spike is a combination of two powerful tools for email marketing : Video Spike and Timer Spike

With the release of this new tool, you can add embedded videos & animated GIFs to any email campaign. No longer stuck with including a link to a video that takes the reader to some other website, or to show a date of your event or announcement, you are now able to include either video and/or a countdown timer  to your emails. Video is a proven winner when compared to other methods of conveying your message so this is good news for anyone in sales or marketing.

Add Embedded Videos & Animated GIFs to Any Email Campaign

  • Embed Playable Video – if the email client doesn’t support video, a animated GIF is automatically created.
  • Create any MP4 Video to Embed
  • Use Animated YouTube Videos – from any YouTube video to copy and paste a clickable “video” into your emails
  • PowerPoint Style Videos – Create Multiple slides into an animated GIF image
  • At a Glance Dashboard- for all your included videos
  • HTML 5 Browsers supported
  • Selectable Video Dimensions – including 16:9 and HD formats
  • Simple Copy and Paste – a few lines of code into your email

Add Embedded Countdown Timers to Any Email Campaign

  • At a Glance Dashboard – of all your activity and expired timers
  • Professional Designs – select from a large library of countdown timers and timer expiration designs
  • Full Customization – full control and customization of the Font Type, Font Size, Font Color, Background Color, GIF Size and Day Display.
  • Language Translation – can be translated into 50+of the most popular languages
  • Accurate Analytics – impressions count for each timer
  • Fully Hosted in the Cloud – nothing to install
  • Mobile Devices Supported – iPad, iPhone and Android devices
  • Works in All Email Clients – including Gmail, Outlook, AOL, Yahoo! Mail, Thunderbird, Live Mail, Apple Mail and more.

This is currently in the Launch Pricing window, so check it out now and save yourself some serious cash.

Get Charter Pricing During Launch Window

 

Original article: Email Spike Drives Conversions

©2016 Fill the Funnel. All Rights Reserved.

The post Email Spike Drives Conversions appeared first on Fill the Funnel.

        
26 Mar 17:08

Three ways to optimize for Amazon's pricing strategy

by Arie Shpanya

Amazon has become synonymous with great deals.

Retailers using the marketplace have spoken out about drastic undercutting from Amazon as a retailer, especially because they reprice with such high frequency (changing the price of the bible 100 times in five years).

But what's Amazon’s actual strategy when it comes to pricing?

Read more...

26 Mar 17:08

Time Available For Selling

by Dave Brock

Do your people have enough time available to sell?

Some of you are thinking, “Dave, this is crazy, that’s how my people are supposed to be spending their time!”

But a variety of research reports indicate typical time available for selling is 30-40%. We’ve conducted studies of Global 100 companies and found time available for selling as low as 17%!

This data is alarming. What are sales people doing? How are they spending their time?

Let’s lay some groundwork first.

As we look at time available for selling, we need to look at several things. The most obvious, is the time actually spent with customers–in meetings, on the phone, on video conferences. We also have to include the time they spend preparing for those meetings and in follow up. These are all critical to their success in selling.

There are non selling activities that are important to doing the job. Training and coaching meetings with managers are critical (if you are doing well). I’ve written about my friend who insists on daily training meetings of 45 minutes. He knows how much it drives the effectiveness of his sales people, so it is a highly leveraged investment in their time.

There are a number of other activities that are just part of the job, there’s always a certain amount of reporting and administrivia every sales person has to do. Ideally, we’ve developed systems, processes, and tools to minimize this. After all, we don’t want our sales people spending all their time at data entry or generating reports (Nor do we want sales managers spending their time that way.)

Yes, there are vacations and holidays–all work and no play makes sales people even duller.

But then there are the subversive or hidden time drains. Each, in itself may be small, but cumulatively, they suck away the time available for selling.

There seem to be two different sets of issues: Those for people in small or start up companies, those for people in large companies.

For the small/start-up companies, the reality is that everyone wears several hats. Sales people may spend time developing marketing programs, or in customer service or support. They get drafted into helping get the new product launched or jumping onto a new strategic initiative, or addressing a big problem customers or the rest of the sales organization faces.

Someone has to do these things and there aren’t enough people to get the work done. Inevitably, time gets sucked away from sales people in doing important, but nonsales related activities. There aren’t simple answers to this issue. Often it’s an issue of affordability, the companies simply can’t afford to fully staff out all the functions, so everyone must wear multiple hats.

It’s critical that we constantly pay attention to this. That we make conscious decisions about how our people spend time. No CEO of a SaaS or other technology start-up wants to see programmers and developers diverted from product development. Likewise, we can’t divert sales from revenue generation.

While it may be necessary in the short term, management has to proactively look to changing this as quickly as possible–freeing up the time for sales people to do their jobs–generate revenue.

Sometimes in fast-growing companies, the organizational capability and capacity is there, people just fall into bad habits–doing what they’ve always done. Sales people may have gotten great joy in developing new marketing programs, in doing customer service and support. As those capabilities shift to other people, sales has to stop–focusing their time on selling.

With larger companies, the issue is completely different. There are people who are responsible for all those non-sales function. But as we get more people in any organization, the number of people we have to deal with gets larger. We now have legal, contracts, pricing, marketing, order management, customer service, product management…There is an inevitable formalization of how things get done and various levels of bureaucracy get in place. All of these are time drains to sales people.

Let me be clear, usually these people aren’t maliciously trying to steal sales time, they are just doing their jobs. The case I mentioned at the beginning of the post, a Global 100 company, where sales people only had 17% of their time available for selling was a great example. Marketing, product management, customer service were all very customer focused. Since sales people knew more about customers than anyone else, they were asked to participate in lots of meetings. All good, meaningful stuff, but it sucked the sales time away from people.

When we look at time drains, too often we are looking for where people “waste” time. None of the time drains I’ve mentioned are “wastes of time,” so we would tend to overlook them. It’s always critical to look at these “organizationally imposed,” or even “culturally imposed” time drains.

Now where’s the payoff to this discussion.

Here it is, the fastest way to improve sales productivity it to make more time available for selling!

Well, duuuggghhh…….

But think about it. Let’s take a pretty good case, let’s say your team has 40% of their time available for selling. If you increase the time available for selling from 40 to 44%, you have the ability to drive a 10% increase in sales! It doesn’t involve changing anything about how they sell. They don’t have to become challengers, they don’t have to become better prospectors, negotiators, or closers. Just freeing up time and letting them sell can drive huge increases in revenue!

Flash back to the company where the sales people had only 17% of their time available to sell; within 18 months, we got them to 30%, just by eliminating organizational time drains. With that change, we almost doubled sales productivity!

Managers, it’s your responsibility to protect your sales people’s time. Watch for these time drains. Some can’t be avoided, but do everything you can to maximize their time available to sell.

Sales people, it’s easier to make your numbers if you spend more time selling—simple. Don’t waste your time! Don’t let others steal your time!

26 Mar 17:08

7 New “Must Have” Skills for Digital Marketers Today

by Tahir Akbar

In January 2016, LinkedIn had published a study offering insight into the most in-demand skills for the year head. Titled as “The 25 Skills That Can Get You Hired in 2016”, it offered a great insight into the hiring trends of the New Year. It provided a comprehensive list of the hottest skills by country, by market, by industry and also shared the global trends.

If we look at the top 10 in the chart, the list is as follows:

  1. Cloud computing
  2. Statistical analysis & data mining
  3. Marketing campaigns management
  4. SEO/SEM Marketing
  5. Middle-ware & integration software
  6. Mobile development
  7. Information security
  8. Storage system management
  9. Web development
  10. User interface design

However if we look at the entire list, most of the skills are technical and majority relates to information technology. From a marketer’s perspective, we find the following as hottest skills in the study.

  • Marketing campaign management
  • SEO and SEM
  • Reporting & Analytics
  • Business intelligence
  • Economics

This indicates that companies are willing to and will invest more in digital assets, digital economy and digital marketing resources. But is the market willing to reciprocate similarly? Are digital marketers willing to prove out themselves as truly valuable investments for the companies and businesses?

Unfortunately, the situation isn’t that good. A survey by technology training company Grovo indicates that that 90% of marketers are (reportedly) suffering from shortage of digital skills and only 8% of the surveyed organizations feel confident about their digital marketing campaigns. This is one of the reasons why 80% of the CEOs do not trust their Chief Marketing Officer with regards to actual capability of the department to drive revenue and prove its worth. They consider CMO’s too away from financial realities and goals of the organization.

So there is a problem and I’ve tried to briefly explain it. But what’s the solution?

In this article, I’ll try to look at those 7 key skills that can help you (as a marketer) to win your boss’s trust by performing up to the mark. Even if you enjoy good repute at work, polishing these skills will increase your worth as digital marketing professional. Let’s get into it.

1. Financial Realities or Marketing Finance:

Since the biggest issue (identified) with the marketer’s is their inability to follow financial realities and goals of the organization; we need to start from here. A marketer needs to understand the basics of financial indicators. Obviously I don’t ask you to prepare financial statements of the company but you should be able to interpret them briefly. Understanding the balance sheet, income statement, cost of actions, financial goals, stock pricing trends, assets and liabilities ratio etc. will enable you to quantify your actions and think in the terms of ‘numbers’.

With discovery of new ways and techniques of teaching mathematics, finance, and managerial accounts; you can easily improve your fundamentals of marketing finance. A good understanding of numbers, will enable you to prepare financially viable marketing plans, allocate budget rationally, determine measurable KPIs, and calculate marketing return on investment.

2. Data Analysis & Data-Driven Marketing:

As I’ve explained in the previous post on Business2Community, the modern age is all about data collection, its interpretation, and making sound business decisions. IDC predicts a shortfall of 1.5 million data-savvy managers by 2018, which is going to great huge demand for data-driven marketers and data analyzers.

We can see data & analytics in the top sought after skills in LinkedIn survey; therefore, working on data analysis and interpretation is going to be way in demand.

Jay_baer_quote_on_marketing

3. Integrated Campaigns Management:

As LinkedIn survey denotes; marketing campaign management is the 4th hottest skill worldwide. In today’s marketing campaign management, there are two fundamental challenges that a marketer needs to work on. First, how to integrate cross-channel marketing to optimize resources allocation and return. Secondly, how to avoid spam and losing prospects’ trust.

Since there are multiple branches of marketing, and each of them has its own worth. However, the best results are achieved only, when a CMO is able to integrate different channels to optimize their content’s performance. So you need to work on your integrated marketing skills by taking courses or applying self-help tactics. To avoid SPAM, read about the industry’s best practices and mechanics to avoid SPAM. Here’s an infographic which thoroughly explains spammers’ economy and spam practices to avoid. Moreover, keep following authority blogs, Google’s releases, and digital marketing surveys. They are your constant learning sources.

4. Communication:

Marketers are only as successful as their ability to communicate their vision, goals and strategy. In organizational structure, communicating with other people is likely to be the most important skill of any professional. Knowing what to say—when to say –and when not say determines the difference between a successful and unsuccessful professional. I’ve seen many SEO guys who couldn’t write a ‘formal email’ to some online publication for some collaboration. Some PPC resources cannot get desired budget simply because they cannot explain their campaign’s vision effectively.

Communication also involves client management and understanding international market’s differences. Respecting cultural, linguistic, religious, and political sensitives is very important is also part of the same. Since you’ll have to communicate with the clients on behalf of the company, it’s important that you understand the sensitive nature of the job. This is one of those 9 key professional lessons that you learn from Silicon Valley. But you don’t have to be too much scared. One cannot be a perfect communicator at any professional level; you always need to learn and improve your skills.

Just don’t hesitate to take advice. Consult with friends and mentors and watch some lectures by motivational speakers and communication specialists. YouTube and Lynda.com can be extremely useful.

5. Team Work:

Though there is a separate list of soft skills that modern business professionals should possess; however, ability to work in the team will top for sure. As marketing has different channels and each channel might have different team lead; therefore, a person’s ability to work with the team will count a lot. If a resource is able to work as team player and also help out other fellows in the department, it’s going to impact the organizational performance. Numerous studies endorse that 9 out of 10 job-fires are result of poor behaviour or inability to work with the team.

6. Combination of SEO & SEM:

SEO is not dead but it certainly has changed very much and you have to learn ‘how’. In modern search engine optimization, you cannot rely on old practices of link building and posting a 400 word article in a particular directory. Modern SEO largely depends on authoritative and engaging pieces of content alongside a fair share of paid advertisement. If you want to rely only on organic reach, it’s not going to work in the long-run. Be it social media or search, organic reach has to be fueled with advertisements and sponsorship.

A resource who’s good in both; SEO and PPC will have greater chances of employment than those with only organic skills-set. Moreover, a modern SEO has to be a good content strategist (if not writer) because whatever may happen; content is the king of search marketing.

7. Direct Response:

Whether it’s a content marketing campaign or an email; the ultimate purpose is to drive business. One of the leading deficiencies in the modern marketers is said to be lack of grip on direct response. Their ability to generate some immediate and favourable response from consumers is highly questionable. The rule is simple; companies need resources who could bring the business and money. American companies send an average of 1.47 million emails per month (CMO Council, Jan 2015) but how many of those are successful?

Here’s a tip; if you really want to increase your income and earn more rewards, work on direct response. People with good selling skills are the most valuable assets for any company because they drive revenue.

I hope the given list will give you an idea to assess yourself as marketing professional and also help in improving your skills-set. If you think I’ve missed out any particular skill or area, don’t forget to get in touch on twitter or comment box below.

26 Mar 17:06

5 Ways the Internet of Things Will Change Big Data

by Carey Wodehouse

5 Ways the Internet of Things Will Change Big Data

Before the Internet of Things (IoT) came along—billions of networked sensors and devices capable of generating enormous amounts of new, unstructured real-time data—big data was already really, really big. To tackle this, businesses small and large have taken to the cloud and reworked their IT architectures to create more flexible, scalable ways to manage their data.

However, for those businesses and data scientists looking to capitalize on the high-value, target-rich data the IoT will be churning out over the next decade, there will be even more to consider when it comes to data architecture. And the data scientists equipped to turn this data into meaningful insights with advanced analytics will be in even greater demand.

So how much bigger is data going to get with the IoT, and how will this change the way businesses gather, store, compute, and consume data?

Five ways to overcome common data-related barriers to IoT adoption

IoT data presents a number of challenges for companies. Here are a few ways companies can meet these challenges head-on.

1. More data means companies will have to rethink their IT and data center infrastructures.

For all of its potential, effective IoT data analytics will hinge on better IT infrastructures—data centers, server clusters, cloud-based computing, and more. Businesses that want to leverage IoT data will need to invest in long-term IT architecture planning. Why? Because this new influx of data from sensors and devices will put more pressure on existing networks and data centers and require more power to process it. Before data experts can even begin applying analytics, data needs to be aggregated and organized—and this will be no small feat.

Whether it’s a consumer company gathering data from wearables and mobile devices, or enterprise organizations processing data from industrial sensors and manufacturing equipment, upgrades will be inevitable. Services like Hadoop, with its distributed server clusters and parallel processing, will be important, as will the people who know how to set it up and work with its more tricky aspects.

Data centers themselves will most likely lean toward a more distributed approach, with tiered mini centers that pull data, then send it on to be processed further in second- and third-tier clusters. Obviously, this approach will have an impact on data storage, bandwidth, and backup.

2. With the IoT, quality data will be actionable data.

The key to all this new data? Finding the information that’s actionable and capable of creating real, meaningful change. More isn’t always more, and many companies collecting automated data from sensors will likely have more data than they know what to do with.

Complex estimations aside, the 20+ billion devices predicted to be around by 2020 are going to have an inevitable effect on the three V’s of big data: volume, velocity, and variety. More, faster, and less structured data will be pouring in from sensored devices. But is all of this data going to be valuable?

IoT data is unique in that it’s only really valuable to us if it’s actionable, and that percentage of the massive–and totally new streams of data coming in–will be a bit easier to manage. Sifting through this data will be the job of business analysts who know what questions they want their data to answer, and of data scientists who know how to get those answers.

A car equipped with various sensors constantly transmitting data points about its performance, for example, can create a lot of noise. Being able to hone in on the data and patterns that can yield valuable information that’s helpful to consumers and manufacturers will be the key.

3. NoSQL databases will most likely outpace traditional RDBMSs.

Much of this IoT data will be unstructured, meaning it can’t be easily sorted into tables like a relational database management system (RDBMS). NoSQL databases like Couchbase, Cassandra, and MongoDB will be able to offer IoT data scientists the flexibility they need to organize data in a way that makes the data usable.

More data means we’ll need more places to aggregate the data, and more power to process it—often in real-time scenarios. Microsoft Azure, Cloudera, Amazon, and Apache’s cloud-based computing platform Hadoop, with its Hive and Pig components and Spark processing engines, are all poised to take on this surge of new IoT data.

4. Beyond collecting data, businesses need to choose a software stack for preprocessing and analyzing IoT data.

Once this massive amount of data is collected and organized, businesses need to have the right plan and software stack in place to analyze it. Carefully choosing a stack of software and databases will ensure the system can handle the types and the scale of the data anticipated.

First, because much of this data will be raw and unstandardized, it needs to be transformed and preprocessed with tools like Hadoop’s Pig component, then stored in a database. Analytics tools like Apache Storm, which is especially suited for the continuous streams of real-time data the IoT will generate, should be put in place for analytics. The overall analytics solution should be strategic specifically for IoT data, its speed, and its volume.

5. We’ll need more—and more skilled—data analysts to make IoT data valuable.

Companies will need to have the right people in place to analyze and make all of this structured, unstructured, or semi-structured data into valuable business insights.

To make the most of your data, you’ll need skilled business analysts who know what they’re looking for from the data, what questions to ask of it, and how that data will translate into value for the company. Then, it’s up to the data scientist to do the looking, answer those questions, and deliver that value, through a combination of:

  • Data infrastructure and processing: Hadoop’s file system computing (and Spark) can be challenging even for seasoned data scientists and architects. Having a large-scale Hadoop cluster requires a lot of assembly, so anyone who knows their way around Hadoop will be in demand.
  • The R data programming language and modeling package: This powerful big data analytics tool will be an in-demand skill for data scientists who will need to provide deep learning. R is a popular software package and open-source statistical modeling language that allows statisticians to undertake specialized tasks, including text analysis, speech analysis, and tools for genomic sciences, with add-on packages for handling big datasets and parallel processing techniques.
  • Other skills to look for:
    • Deep learning
    • Data mining
    • Algorithms
    • Machine learning
    • Complex event processing

Ready to take on the big data of the Internet of Things?

Browse freelance data scientists, analysts, and Hadoop experts on Upwork today.

The Secret to Building a Team of Top-Notch Distributed Engineers: Download Now

26 Mar 17:06

5 Mistakes You’re Making With Influencer Campaigns

by Aaron Gouveia

 

Deciding to create and implement an influencer campaign for your client is a great thing — right up until you make one or more of these all-too-common mistakes.

I have a unique vantage point when it comes to these campaigns because I’ve been on both sides — the influencer who is pitched and the PR guy doing the pitching. Ask PR people about bloggers and you’ll get stories of divas who vastly overestimate their worth and make unreasonable demands. Conversely, mentioning PR folks to bloggers will often end with horror stories of micromanagers, a reliance on unreliable metrics and forms of payment that include everything but actual pay.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

It is entirely possible for influencers and PR folks to live in blissful harmony, creating branded content that resonates with the writer’s audience while also creating buzz for the client and driving sales/lead generation/brand awareness. The trick is avoiding these five main pitfalls:

5. Mailing in Your Pitch
Look, I get it. You need influencers for your campaign, the client wants them yesterday, and mass emails are by far the fastest way to reach people and gauge interest. But mailing in a pitch and creating a horrible first impression is the quickest way to alienate potential brand ambassadors. First of all, make sure you get their names and affiliations correct. I can’t tell you how many PR people have pitched me using the wrong name and site, or started emails off with “Hello mom” while trying to talk me into a campaign about the latest bra I just HAVE to try. And while I have put on a few pounds and could, quite frankly, use the support, I refuse to work with people who couldn’t even be bothered to figure out my sex. So do yourself a favor and do a little research. Read the latest piece of content and talk about it in your pitch so they know you’re paying attention. Personalization takes a few minutes longer, but that extra bit of personal attention goes a long way when building these relationships.

4. Failing to Work WITH Them
I knew of a national campaign with a bunch of other dads for a big time brand and while the company’s idea was good, the hashtag and messaging they wanted to use was a flop. It felt forced and if the dad influencers had to use it, they all agreed it would be something that gets mentioned once and never again because it didn’t fit their brands. They brought up these concerns and the company listened, and ultimately changed it after a quick brainstorm. The campaign turned out to be a huge success, thanks largely to the influencers feeling involved and part of the process. That equaled more shares, organic engagement, and genuine enthusiasm from the people taking part.

3. Focusing on the Wrong Metrics
Pageviews, UMV, and number of followers are all important — but they’re not the end all be all. I’ve seen influencers with hundreds of thousands of Facebook likes and Twitter followers, but barely any engagement on the things they post. Beware influencers who have purchased followers and have little to no organic interaction on their posts. Instead, I’ll take the people with fewer Facebook fans who have off the charts engagement and tons of comments and likes when they issue calls to action. It’s tough to get clients to see past the follower count, but I’ve found engagement and quality content are the biggest drivers of a successful influencer campaign.

2. Lack of Trust
The influencers you’re hiring have the talent and the built-in audience, so let them create. Sure it’s good to talk about things like specific messaging, links that need to be included, and overall tone, but once you start forcing them to copy and paste large swaths of text and policing their copy, pictures, and videos, you’re hurting your own cause. They know their audience and you hired them for a reason, so trust them with a wide berth. They’re much more likely to come up with something great if you’re not riding them, questioning their every move, and forcing things on them they know their audience will reject.

1. Not Paying Them
I can’t stress this enough — pay your influencers. Too many companies think a “content for exposure” deal is perfectly acceptable, but it’s not. Branded content is a form of advertising, and if you want to leverage a valuable audience and take up space on someone else’s website and social media accounts, you need to show them you’re serious by taking them seriously — with actual payment for services. It is possible for some companies to pay influencers with experiences (tickets to athletic events, vacations, free hotel stays, celebrity meet and greets, etc), but make sure the people you’re approaching value those experiences before you offer. But if you’re not in a position to offer those things, offering monetary payment affords you good will and generally attracts a higher caliber influencer. You get what you pay for.

At Schneider Associates, we take pride in our influencer campaigns and we’ve had great success because of it. If you’d like to learn more, check out our case studies.

The post 5 Mistakes You’re Making With Influencer Campaigns appeared first on Schneider Associates.

26 Mar 17:05

How To Pitch, Part II

by Callie Oettinger

I left a few pieces out of my last post, “How to Pitch.” What follows is a round-up of items that should have made a showing in that first round.

Research the Individual You’re Pitching

Check the individual’s status. A few years ago I managed a history web site. Three years after the gig ended, publicists were still sending me books — and I’m still receiving e-mail pitches.

When you research that individual, make sure they’re still doing what you think they’re doing. Don’t rely on the Internet. Pick up the phone. The receptionists at news outlets won’t always put you through to the person, but often they will confirm if the person is on staff, as well as the bureau and address of the building in which they work.

Know the Outlet

This past week I spoke with a publicist who asked if Steve would write a review of her client’s book and run it on Steve’s site. Her messaging made it clear that she hadn’t broken through the surface of Steve’s site. Had she gone deep, she would have known that reviews aren’t a part of the site.

Watch Your Word Count

My friend Denise McKee, always advises to KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Along these lines, Michael Thompson shared the following within the comments section of my last post:

My dad was in intelligence for the military for 30 years and a war strategy instructor for another 20. The best advice he ever received was when he just starting out and had to present in front of the big wigs and the biggest wig stopped him and said “you have one minute to tell me why I am here and one minute to tell me why I should stay.”

This is the version of the elevator pitches authors are advised to create — an explanation of their project that is short enough to be given within one elevator ride (between two floors, not between floor one and the top of a skyscraper). The minute Michael’s father mentioned is generous. Olympic athletes break records in a matter of seconds. What can you do in the same amount of time?

Don’t Name Drop, But Do Name Drop

Telling me you know God isn’t going to get me to watch your new movie, but if you tell me you know my mom . . . That’s a game-changer.

This is another one Michael Thompson reminded me I’d forgotten to include in the first post:

Another great piece of advice that I have used successfully when trying to meet new people is “My name is Michael. I think we have some friends/contacts in common.” Try walking around from that question. Of course you need to have a few contacts in common, but if it is for an elevator pitch you should already know about the people you are seeking out.

He’s right. If you have a personal connection, you’ll automatically have bonus time. But, you better make sure the connection is strong and appropriate. Telling a former-playboy-turned-born again-straight-edge politician that you’re friends with Lucifer, too, won’t likely help your cause.

Look Like A Yes

No one is waiting around for you to fill their day. If you make an ask, be ready to go. If what you’re requesting is half-baked, do not pass go.

Following is a good example of half-baked. The producer starts off making his case and then in the second paragraph notes that the host isn’t even on board. If you want someone to give you their time, make sure you’re ready to go before you ask.

I am the Producer for the podcast XXX and handle booking all of the guests. I wanted to reach out and see if you were interested and available to be on the podcast. XXX focuses on art, design, and the business surrounding it and also incorporates guests from various career paths. The show is hosted by ZZZ ZZZ whose sense of business and humor keeps each episode focused, but entertaining, with a conversational tone to each interview as opposed to a rigid question and answer format. We put up five episodes a week and each episode averages over 3,000 downloads from our listeners and paid subscribers. Our social media reach continues to expand every day with multiple posts for each episode promoting the guest and the show itself.

If you would like to be on the show please let me know. I think you would make a great guest and have a unique story to tell with your work. Once I know you are on board I will run everything by ZZZ, tell him your story and why I picked you to be on the show, and once I get his approval will email you back with a few dates we have available.

Know the Difference Between Want and Need

What’s the goal behind your pitch? What do you want to have happen and what do you need to have happen?

Do you want a Nobel Laureate to write an endorsement for your book? Sure, it would feel good to receive her stamp of approval, but what you really need is to sell books.

Do you want a journalist to write about your plan for world peace? Yes. Would be great to have your work in front of the journalist’s audience, but what you really need is for people to put your plan in action, rather than just changing their Facebook thumbnail to reflect the colors of different flags.

If you are going to ask something of someone else, make it about a need. Make it worthwhile.

Two things that are NOT worthwhile:

1) Asking well-known individuals to tweet or like or post about your project.

A few years ago, the marketing director for an organization run by one of my clients told me it was “unconscionable” not to pitch Huffington Post. His mentality was that the site has a huge audience, which in his book meant it was worth more than sites with smaller audiences. He was looking at the number without understanding what the number meant — that high numbers don’t equal high value.

What that marketing director — and YOU — need to consider is what investors consider when they look at market caps for various companies. Not familiar with market caps? The following is from Investopedia, which does a nice job of explaining market caps (and which you NEED to understand):

Market capitalization is just a fancy name for a straightforward concept: it is the market value of a company’s outstanding shares. This figure is found by taking the stock price and multiplying it by the total number of shares outstanding. For example, if Cory’s Tequila Corporation (CTC) was trading at $20 per share and had a million shares outstanding, then the market capitalization would be $20 million ($20 x 1 million shares). It’s that simple.

A common misconception is that the higher the stock price, the larger the company. Stock price, however, may misrepresent a company’s actual worth. If we look at two fairly large companies, IBM and Microsoft, on February 15, 2013 stock prices were $199.98 and $28.05 respectively. Although IBM’s stock price was higher, we can see that MSFT’s market cap of $234.6 billion was actually larger than IBM’s $225.1 billion. If we compared the two companies by solely looking at their stock prices, we would not be comparing their true values, which are affected by the number of outstanding shares each company has.

A large circulation or Twitter following or whatever other number you’re looking at is just a number. It isn’t a golden ticket. What you need are numbers that have value — that might not be as large as other numbers, but which have greater value and do create movement. The example I always give of this is from a few years ago, when a project Steve shared on his site was mentioned by Crossfit, and how that mention moved the needle more than mentions in the New York Times or Washington Post.

2) Do not ask a stranger to make a decision for you.

Steve routinely receives e-mails like this one:

I really enjoy your work! You’re the reason I got into living my life as a warrior. ‘The Warrior Ethos’ has changed how I look at life everyday.I’m also diving into “The War of Art” at the time I’m writing this email. I realize your time is very valuable, so I was wondering if you could answer a quick question I’m struggling with.

I’m writing my first book. It’s a book I’ve always wanted to read. It’s been pouring out of my head and it’s even been helping myself out with some of my own problems! I want to share this book with people, but I don’t know where to start.

“In your professional opinion, should I self-publish my first book and market it myself through my blog, or try to go with a publishing company?”

And this one:

“So my question to you, Steve, is how long should I stay at bay before I get going on the next project? The next day? The next week? Or the next month? I know the sooner I get on it, the better. However the last project took a ton out of me, and I’m simply out of ideas. So in other words, what can I do when the creative well runs dry?”

And this one:

This email is choppy im sorry mostly because it’s difficult to say what I want to say. I hate school and I’m wondering if sticking it out is what should be done or should I take a left turn off the highway into no mans land and try to reach my goals another way.

I have only a few months left, I graduate in August. Most people say to stick it out.. Because it is the logical thing to do- it’s true, it is. However… That’s months of my life that I am going to feel very pissed off and stressed over whether or not I used APA format properly… Months that I could be using to enjoy learning valuable things rather than meeting deadlines.

I’m sorry if this email is all over the map! You seem to have a good grasp on things and I would just like to hear your perspective… If you have the time.”

Two ships can sail the exact same course, but depending on the make of the vessel, the time of year, the crew on board, the number of storms, and other variables, the decisions in need of making and the experiences will be different. For this reason, only you can answer questions that relate to your life.

Along these lines, in his article “Cheat Sheet,” Shawn wrote about sharing a business idea with a respected business leader. What he realized after their exchange was that his ask was really an ask for a cheat sheet, for the leader to tell him exactly which decisions to make.

In Shawn’s words:

So after my thirty-minute spiel about my concept of a “Book Black List” and becoming the publisher dedicated to building one, the powerful acquaintance was quiet for about thirty seconds.

That doesn’t sound all that long a time, but just sit quietly for thirty seconds right now and you’ll see that it’s an eternity between two people.

When he finally spoke, here’s what he said:

“It’s a good idea. With dedication and enough time and money to buy a few breaks, it will work.”

That’s all? That’s it? That’s all this genius had to tell me?

I pushed him a bit… “Well, if you were to start up something like that, how would you do it?”

“How I would do it isn’t going to help you. I would not build that company because there are other projects in my life that I find more interesting. If this idea consumes you, I say plunge right in…but there is one question I’d ask of yourself before you jump… Why do you want to do it?”

(Read the entire post. It’s one of my favorites from Shawn.)

Another example lives within a scene from the film Field of Dreams, via the character Terence Mann. Terence is an award-winning author and former activist who left the spotlight decades before we were introduced to him. He and the main character Ray Kinsella are at Fenway Park, where Ray promised something great would happen:

Ray Kinsella: So what do you want?

Terence Mann: I want them to stop looking to me for answers, begging me to speak again, write again, be a leader. I want them to start thinking for themselves. I want my privacy.

Ray Kinsella: No, I mean, what do you WANT?

[Gestures to the concession stand they’re in front of]

Terence Mann: Oh. Dog and a beer.

Let the artists you admire do their work. Don’t ask them to think for you. You have a brain. Use it. And if you make a request, make it something that is really worthwhile — something you really need.

Try Wearing Their Shoes

Think about how you’d respond to your own pitch.

The someone you are pitching is receiving other pitches just like yours. Like you, he has a family and deals with the same highs and lows of all families. When he’s not with family, he’s working (which is most of the time), trying to carve out some time at the gym, helping friends and colleagues, and dealing with water-pipe breaks, broken refrigerators, flat tires, and all the day-to-day crap the rest of us deal with. People magazine might make it look like the famous have someone handling everything for them, but that’s not always the case. They aren’t all Randolph and Mortimer Duke, with servants available to address every need. They change diapers and take out the trash, too. There’s actually a great story of Larry Bird mowing his own lawn in the documentary A Courtship of Rivals, about Bird and Magic Johnson. Point is, he’s taking care of his own stuff and fans are wasting time, watching him, finding it hard to believe that someone at the top of his game mows his own lawn. Imagine that!

Bottom line: Bird and others are busy. Why should they pay attention to your pitch? Why should they want to work with you?

When you answer that question, be clear to answer what you both get out of it — and PLEASE DO NOT self-talk your way into suggesting that you offer more to the person than he or she offers to you. There will be some exceptions, but in general, the person doing the requesting will always receive a greater benefit than the one being pitched. I hit this one in the previous post, but it’s worth repeating:

Do not infer that someone will benefit if they work with you unless you can prove it — and guarantee it — in advance. And DON’T tell them what a great opportunity it will be for them. That’s an old — and often brimming-with-bullshit — line. (more on “opportunities” via Jon Acuff).

Here’s an example from the music industry:

A friend of mine is the tour manager for a music legend — while shepherding an up-and-coming band on the side. The latter has led my friend back to her start, of setting up small-venue events. She likes the intimate feeling of some of these venues and suggested that the legend do a few — that they’d be a great way to connect with fans.

The legend said no.

This was a story shared a few years ago, so don’t quote me, but it came down to the fact that the legend spent years at the beginning of her own career doing the grueling small-venue route. A lot of time goes into planning and traveling and performing. It’s tiring and will knock the life out of you — and it takes away time from family and art.

Larger venues offer more bang for the investment of time and money, leaving the legend available to be with friends and family, and new projects.

It has nothing to do with not wanting to meet fans (which the legend does all the time) — or with not wanting to support small, up-and-coming indie venues. It has to do with her time. She’s older, which means saying a permanent goodbye to older family members and spending time with the younger ones. Then there are all of her projects.

Saying no isn’t about those venues, it is about her life. It makes more sense to say yes to opportunities that will offer larger returns when it comes to her work, so she can have personal time available.

So when you pitch her, or someone like her, you HAVE TO understand what you are asking within the context of her life.

When you ask her to read your book and send you her thoughts on it, you’re asking her for a two-day-minimum commitment. Why should she do that for a stranger when she barely gets time to see her own kids?

Why should she do an interview with you just because you feel like she should support up-and-comers? Do you understand that she’s receiving hundreds of requests from other up-and-comers every week, and has supported up-and-comers her entire career?

Bottom line: Think of what you’d be willing to do for a stranger and then say no to yourself — and then figure out what would have to happen for you to say yes. And: don’t play the pity card. I’d bet big in Vegas that there’s someone in this world who is worse of than you. Stick to the facts and reality.

Rejection

I hit what “no” means and your reaction to “no” in the previous post, but … A few loose strings to tie:

I don’t have any scientific proof to back this, but my experience is that “no” hurts whether you like what you’re doing or not — but is easier to handle when you’re passionate, because you know a yes exists somewhere.

Robin Fletcher left a comment on my last post, which led me to ask about her experience with rejection. The first part of her answer:

I’m selling a software technology that is good and could genuinely help this business that I’m contacting, but I’m not super passionate about the product personally. This particular individual, after hearing my pitch, was cutting and criticizing to the point of being mean. It was as if he gave me the time of day just so he could cut me down for his enjoyment. Quite painful. After the conversation, I shrunk in my seat, feeling not only belittled by his comments, but ashamed that my coworkers witnessed my response to it. After some reflection, I realized that while he was a pill of a person and I shouldn’t take it personally, what really bothered me most was that I didn’t really care about the thing I was selling. Soon after, I quit the job, preferring to put my ego on the line for something that I cared about.

I’ve been there.

In 2000, when I was on staff in a publishing marketing department, I was pitching books on aromatherapy and Wiccans. I knew there was an audience, but it wasn’t my “thing.” It was what my boss had assigned. Painful work.

I still cringe when I think of pitching the one naked image of the Wiccan Witch author to Howard Stern. It wasn’t porn, but a tastefully done picture of the author, doing her thing in nature. Howard Stern was one of the author’s targets, which in hindsight wasn’t realistic. Wiccan Witches weren’t his thing, but he’d had a few naked women on, so… I should have pushed back on my boss — and should NEVER have pitched Stern. His team didn’t bite and eventually the project ended and I could move onto the next book on aromatherapy for horses… It was a lesson on how hard it is to pitch something you aren’t passionate about — something you’re just doing for a paycheck.

Think of all the telemarketers. When they catch you on the phone, some have it together, but most don’t know how to counter your questions. Instead, they quit. They don’t have it in them to fight for something in which they don’t believe.

No Sometimes Means This Isn’t The Right Time

In the second part of her answer to my question, Robin shared that after she quit her job:

I started a project called “Peace Puppets” a couple of years ago in response to the war between Israel and Gaza. After collecting hundreds of puppets and creating a fair amount of buzz in the media, the biggest challenge was getting someone to help get those puppets across the border between Israel and Gaza. I contacted at least 30-40 NGO’s (here and abroad), gov’t agencies and non-profits, all of whom told me that it was impossible to do. But I just couldn’t accept that its impossible to get loving and gentle puppets into the arms of children at a time like this. In other words – the thinking of the adults in power is unacceptable at the cost of a child’s joy. Whether I was wrong or right, this mission became my `why’, that made it impossible for me to give up, regardless of feeling rejected over and over.

I finally did find an organization (called Rebuilding Alliance) who agreed to help ship those puppets along with items for survival. But the key to this was the connection I had with the org’s founder. She got my pitch immediately. There was no “selling” going on because we were so quickly aligned…I just had to find her.

This is a good example of why it’s important to research the individuals and organizations you’re pitching. If you approach someone whose beliefs and actions are aligned with yours, you’re more likely to get to yes.

The Chase

I used to joke that I’d pitch someone until I received a “yes” or a restraining order. I learned that in some cases it works, and in others it backfires.

In my last post, I mentioned T.X. Hammes’ book The Sling and the Stone and how it was in almost every edition of The Atlantic for a year. Much of this was because of James Fallows, who at that time was writing about topics about which T.X. was an expert. I bugged the hell out of Jim until one day he wrote, “uncle” in an e-mail and said he was interested in connecting with T.X. Within about two years, though… Jim headed to China, and wasn’t writing about the same topics. I know because I tried to pitch him similar authors and subjects in the years that followed. At that point, I could have channeled Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption and written a letter a week, but it wouldn’t have worked. His work changed.

You’ve got to know when to push and when to back-off. And, as in Robin’s example above, you’ve got to realize that sometimes it is a matter of time, not a matter of worth.

There’s a nice quote from Will Smith that sums up our experience with the chase and how it relates to Steve’s The War of Art in particular:

Don’t chase people. Be yourself, do your own thing, and work hard. The right people… the ones who really belong in your life, will come to you. And stay.

~Will Smith

The War of Art sells more now than it did when it was released almost 15 years ago. Oprah had her own show when it was released, but she and Steve didn’t connect until over a decade after the book hit shelves. For me, the interview they did together is an example of what working hard and doing your own thing can lead to — for both of them. Oprah’s success wasn’t achieved overnight any more than Steve’s was.

Don’t Be Greedy

We send free books all the time. What bothers me is when I receive a “Yes, please send free books — and by the way, can you sign them all?” No.

A few years ago that tour manager friend of mine was working with a musician that a friend of a friend was obsessed with. The friend asked if I could obtain a signed picture of the artist. My tour manager friend said yes, but her boss wouldn’t do anything personalized. It takes time to sign your signature. Imagine the time to personalize every picture. Becomes a full-time job.

Another example from Field of Dreams:

Ray Kinsella: I did it all. I listened to the voices, I did what they told me, and not once did I ask what’s in it for me.

Shoeless Joe Jackson: What are you saying, Ray?

Ray Kinsella: I’m saying, what’s in it for me?

I’m not saying the people you want to pitch are sitting around asking “what’s in it for me?” every time they are pitched, but… That question exists. It’s probably a good one to ask yourself before you write that pitch letter.

What’s in it for me? What do I really want and what do I really need?

Next up: What you should include with your pitch letter or e-mail.

26 Mar 17:03

6 Steps to Reduce Email Unsubscribe Rates

by Megan Smith

Email unsubscribe tips

Email unsubscribes are like death and taxes. You can’t avoid any of them, but some smart moves now can help you improve your situation with each one.

You can’t stop people from unsubscribing. It’s against the law, for one thing, and it annoys your subscribers to the extent that they either report your messages as spam or disengage from your brands and company.

You can, however, make unsubscribing easy and trustworthy for those who really want to go; then, tune up your email program to reduce the causes that prompt most subscribers to bail out.

We covered the basics of a good email unsubscribe experience in an earlier post. Next, we’ll look at some easy tune-ups aimed at stemming your tide of unsubscribes below.

1. Know your email unsubscribe rate

Look for your email unsubscribe rate (the percentage of subscribers who opted out in that delivery) in the delivery report generated after each send. Don’t just glance at this statistic, though, when you scan your delivery reports. Instead, track it over time.

  • Is it trending up or down?
  • Does it spike at certain times of the year?
  • Do some campaigns generate higher-than-usual rates?

Compare acquisition sources and email unsubscribe rates. See how opt-ins from your website form compare with co-registration sites, your social channels, print media, and transactional messages.

Why care about your email unsubscribe rate?

In reality, relatively few subscribers will opt out per campaign. A 2015 study by Silverpop/IBM Marketing Cloud found the average email unsubscribe rate was well under 1 percent across all industries and global regions.

Aside from the insight you get into your email program’s health, reducing unsubscribes helps you retain more subscribers and waste less money on acquisition.

Reducing your email unsubscribe rate by just 0.1 percent would save 1,000 subscribers every time you send to a database of 1 million people. That’s more than 100,000 contacts retained over a year if you send four emails per week.

2. Head off email unsubscribes at opt-in

Captain obvious

As Captain Obvious might say, list growth happens when you attract a steady supply of new addresses while reducing unsubscribes. What is less obvious, however, is that your opt-in program is the place to start working on reducing unsubscribes.

Begin with a welcome email

  • Always state your email value proposition and frequency in your opt-in invitation.
  • Then, send at least one welcome message ASAP after opt-in.

These start the subscriber experience on the right foot. Restate your email’s value proposition and reaffirm what you’ll send and how often. Offer reasons to send new subscribers back to your website to browse, download, get information, and use new accounts.

Preference center?

If yours is lightly traveled, promote it more actively with emails asking customers to set or manage their preferences. Also, add alternatives to opting out such as changing lists, updating preferences or changing frequency. Then, use that data to set up segmentation.

3. Make your messages more relevant and valuable

Everybody talks about relevance, but how do you deliver on it?

Engaging content

Use whatever data you have to segment your database and create messages that reflect your customers’ interests and behavior. Be sure your content matches what you promised at opt-in!

Beyond this basic guidance, however, consider what kinds of offers you send out regularly. Is it the same “Buy Now/20% off” message? Or do you mix in informational content with sales offers? Be sure you aren’t boring your subscribers into unsubscribing.

  • Track click, open, and conversion behavior to see how your content resonates among your subscribers.
  • In addition, test different copy and image combinations, subject lines, CTAs, and other elements.

Break down your one-size-fits-all email program into a cafeteria plan that lets subscribers choose among several options: daily deals, weekly summaries, specific product lines, company news, and other special-interest content.

4. Find the right frequencies

There’s no such thing as a single “right” frequency. What works for some subscribers will be overkill to others if they aren’t engaged in your emails the same way. What you sell dictates frequency to some extent. For retailers, flash sales on frequent-purchase items lend themselves to higher frequency messages than luxury goods.

Use testing and segmentation to create customer segments that respond to different frequencies: higher for the most engaged customers and lower for those who open, purchase, or otherwise interact less often.

5. Add an ECOA link to your emails

Many unsubscribers really just want to change their addresses. Make this easier by adding an email change-of-address link to all of your email templates, and call it to subscribers’ attention in the link text or a button.

6. Survey unsubscribers

As a last step, add a short survey to the email unsubscribe process. Offer several possible reasons like address changes, no longer needing the information, frequency, and quality of content.

Again, don’t assume that no comments mean all is well. As with email unsubscribe rates, watch for trends and what reasons people cite most often.

The takeaway

Minimizing unsubscribes takes work, but it delivers a double benefit! You reduce the load on your acquisition efforts by not having to replace as many lost subscribers, and you also tune up your email program to make it more engaging and compelling. In the end, everyone wins.

Email List Churn Whitepaper

26 Mar 17:03

The No-Fuss Chart Design Cheat Sheet

by Sara McGuire

Content has become increasingly data-driven. Articles written for every industry are peppered with statistics to attest to the writer’s credibility and the amount of research they put in. More than ever, too, will points be accompanied by an illustrative chart or graph.

When done well, a chart does two big things: one, it presents data in a way that is quick and easy for readers to understand, and two, it offers some visual variety to the article, breaking up the text and maintaining readers’ attention.

When done poorly, however, a chart skews or misrepresents data, confuses readers, and tarnishes the credibility of the writer. Nobody wants that. Remember, the purpose of a graph is to make data easier to understand, not more difficult. That’s why it’s important to understand the basics of good chart design.

This article is going to walk you through the no-fuss, quick and dirty design principles of the four most commonly used types of charts and graphs. They are:

  1. Pie charts.
  2. Line charts.
  3. Horizontal bar graphs.
  4. Vertical bar graphs.

Pie Charts

Pie charts are the most fun (and most tasty) type of chart. That being said, they should be used with consideration, as they are easy to mess up. Pie charts should be used to visualize portions of a whole. They should not, however, be used to illustrate complicated relationships between many segments. In those cases, it’s better to use a bar graph.

Pie chart best practices:

  1. Don’t use more than five slices. It’s difficult for readers to compare too many segments. If you have more than five segments, label the fifth slice “Other.”
  1. Place the largest segment on the right at 12 o’clock. Then place the second largest segment on the left side at 12 o’clock and order it from largest to smallest on the left. The exception to this rule is when all the slices are close in value, in which case you order them from largest to smallest in clockwise order.

pie chart example

  1. Don’t use any embellishment that isn’t relevant to the data. For example, don’t highlight one segment with more than one effect (i.e don’t separate a segment from the rest of the chart and also use a bright color). Don’t use three-dimensional effects, as they can misrepresent data.
  1. When using proportional pie charts, make sure the ratios are correct. Proportional pie charts show not only the segments within the pies, but also the relative aggregate values between each chart. Don’t size circles based on their radii, as this will lead to inaccurate proportions. Rather, size circles based on their surface area.

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Line Charts

The ideal use for a line chart is to show continuous data over a period of time. Line charts highlight trends, acceleration or deceleration, and volatility like peaks or troughs. They’re also very dramatic. They can show great success stories and plummeting failures. But because line charts are so dramatic, they have the potential to misrepresent data.

Line chart best practices:

  1. Use a line width that isn’t too thin or too thick. This is particularly important if your chart is showing multiple points. Too thin and it will be difficult the read; too thick and it will be difficult to distinguish between points. Pick a width that stands out against the grid lines but that still separate each individual point.
  1. Don’t shade below the trend line unless your chart has a baseline of zero. That’s because shading below a trend line turns the chart into an area chart, which measures discrete quantities. When a line chart does not have a baseline of zero, shading below the trend line truncates the data.
  1. Scale your y-axis so that the height of the trend line occupies two-thirds of the chart area. This prevents the trend lines from being too flat (obscures the data) and two steep (overstates the data).
  1. Use simple increments that people think of intuitively, such as increments of 5 or 100. This will make it easier for them to understand the data quickly, rather than trying to decipher increments.

line chart example

  1. Don’t plot more than four lines on a single chart. Too many overlapping lines is confusing and, honestly, pretty stressful. This might mean you have to be picky with which data series you choose to graph. Contrast three or four data series that show a difference or create a panel of individual line charts to compare data series.
  1. Don’t use a bunch of different line styles, like dashed lines and different shape markers. Your best bet is to stick to solid lines.
  1. Label lines directly. This allows readers to identify lines quickly, rather than looking for the corresponding values in a legend. Also, don’t label points with big blocks of text. It’s messy.
  1. If you’re comparing two graphs, make sure the scales are comparable. Otherwise, you risk misrepresenting the data.

Vertical Bar Graphs

Also known as column graphs, vertical bar graphs, simply put, demonstrate discrete quantities. These are aerguably your most reliable and diverse graphs.

Vertical bar graph best practices:

  1. Don’t use three-dimensional bars. Just don’t. They don’t add any information and they make it difficult to determine where the top of the bar is on the grid.
  1. Start the baseline at zero. Because vertical bar charts show discrete quantities, starting it at a higher value truncates the data. Moreover, make the baseline width thicker than the grid lines.

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  1. Leave space between single bars. The bars should be about twice the width of the space between them.
  1. To include estimates and projections beside actual values, simply use a different shade for that one bar.
  1. If the bar values are too close and the height differences are hard to distinguish, present the value differently. You could, for example, plot percentages changes instead.
  1. If measuring multiple variable, don’t alternate between light and dark bars. It’s confusing and distracts from the data, rendering comparisons virtually impossible. Instead, color them from lightest to darkest.
  1. For multi-bar graphs, make sure your legend is in order. Your legend should not follow a different order than your bars.
  1. Keep multi-bar charts to no more than four categories. Otherwise, it will become difficult to compare bars, even if you use different colors.

Horizontal Bar Graphs

Cousins to vertical bar graphs, have the unique quality of ranking items by the same attributes (for example, ranking states by their population).

Horizontal bar graph best practices:

  1. If measuring multiple variables, don’t alternate between light and dark bars. Same as the case for vertical bar graphs.
  1. Order your lines from largest to smallest. If you want to highlight a specific bar, make it a different color. The exception to this rule is when you are ordering values alphabetically for easier reading.
  1. Don’t use grid lines and a scale, if possible. This makes it harder to eyeball the relative lengths of the bars. Directly labelling the bars is a clearer and more straight-forward approach.
  1. When plotting values by units of time, order bars from most recent at the top to oldest at the bottom. Don’t break up the linearity of time.
  1. For graphs with long lists of bars, break up the bars into sections of three to five using a thin horizontal line. This simply makes them easier to read.
  1. If your graph contains negatives, make sure they are on the left side of the zero line. Moreover, if your graph contains more negatives than positives, consider using a vertical bar graph instead, as it will be more impactful. Avoid creating a totally two-way horizontal bar graph–instead, create two charts to compare.

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Where to Make Free Charts In a Pinch

Ok, so sometimes you don’t have the time to spend painstakingly designing charts for your article. You shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to augment your content with data visualizations. Luckily, there are tools out there that you can use to make charts quickly and easily. Here are a couple of places where you can make charts for free:

Beam

Beam is completely free to use and allows you to download your image directly to your device. It offers four types of charts (Pie, Line, Bar, Horizontal Vertical Bar) and four pre-set themes. All you have to do is paste your data in the slide-out table. Beam’s new and fresh design also sets it apart from older tools.

ChartGo

ChartGo also free to use, offers four types of charts (Vertical Bar, Line, Pie, Area) with customizable styles and also allows you to download directly to your device. You input your data into a text box.

amCharts

You will need to make an account to save your chart and the process for exporting your chart as a PDF is less direct than the two previous tools. That being said, amCharts allows you to personalize every element of your design and they offer over ten chart types.

26 Mar 17:03

How to Structure Your Team for Account-Based Sales Development Success

by Brandon Redlinger

If you’ve been keeping a pulse on the sales and sales development space, then there’s no doubt you’ve heard of “account-based sales development” (ABSD). You may have even begun implementing your own version of ABSD with your team.

The account-based sales development model has caused a fundamental shift in the way prospecting and outbound sales is performed for companies selling in the mid-market and enterprise space. Comparing lead-based sales to ABSD is like trying to move a pile of sand with a spoon – why not use a bulldozer?

If you’re new to ABSD, there are the Cliff’s Notes. In this model, sales reps are focused on creating new qualified pipeline by prospecting at the account level rather than at the lead level. Both are ultimately focused on generating pipeline, but the difference lies in the way this is accomplished. Previously under the lead-based model, reps had to meet their goals with high volume efforts: engaging in more sales activities, sending more emails, making more dials, and moving on to the next prospect as quickly as possible. Since the average contract size of a targeted account in the ABSD model is much larger and more valuable, the focus is on high quality efforts; targeting high value accounts by following up multiple times, using numerous channels, and moving across decision makers within the account. This approach not only allows for more time researching and creating highly personalized messaging, but demands it.

However, with all the hype around ABSD, I’ve seen sales leaders jump into trying to implement this strategy without all the proper information and preparation required to set themselves up for success. The single most detrimental factor that I see sales teams overlook or completely miss before implementing ABSD is organizational alignment. Do you have the right people involved, is the organization prepared, and does everyone know how to work together?

The Account-Based Marketing and Account-Based Sales Development Misconception

Account-based marketing has been around for a while and has gained more popularity in the last few years. It’s thought of as the process of targeting specific individuals within accounts and using marketing techniques (such as targeted ad buying, content marketing, retargeting, etc.) to bring them through the marketing funnel. It was a process that marketing and only marketing owned.

Now, separately, sales teams have decided to take on prospecting and selling at the account level, thus the rise of ABSD.

The misconception is that one function is responsible for the activity of targeting and breaking into accounts. It shouldn’t be thought of as a marketing campaign or sales campaign, but rather a strategic business initiative that involves your entire organization.

Once your entire team is aligned with your growth initiatives, having marketing, sales, customer success and everyone else on the same page will be the best thing for your growth.

Company Alignment via a Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Traditionally (and unfortunately), marketing and sales teams have not always seen eye to eye. Mark Roberge puts it well in his book, The Sales Acceleration Formula, “Marketing sits in one corner of the office, harboring the perception that the sales team is a group of overpaid, self-centered brats who fail to see the big picture strategy. Sales is in the other corner of the office thinking the marketing team sits around doing arts and crafts all day, and has no idea what qualified leads look like.” Obviously, this is not good for the bottom line.

Roberge advises for a Service Level Agreement (SLA), which is meant to establish similarly quantified agreements between the two teams and aims to put them on similar revenue quota. Establish an SLA that defines what a qualified lead is, when that lead should be passed to the sales team, and how the sales team should then go about contacting and converting the lead. This way sales is accountable to marketing just like marketing is accountable to sales. Roberge further recommends sending out daily reports to keep each team motivated and on track.

This SLA should include:

  • Agreed upon definitions and criteria for
    • A contact
    • A qualified opportunity
    • A qualified account
    • A customer
    • A customer at risk, etc.
  • Account management process
    • An agreed upon definition of what success looks like, which includes
    • KPIs
    • Benchmarks
    • Monthly, quarterly and annual goals for Sales, Marketing and Customer Service
  • Reporting – dashboards and in-depth reports for each team and how stakeholders can access the information

Only once sales and marketing are fully aligned, can you begin to implement an effective ABSD strategy.

Tactical Team Structure for ABSD

In lead-based selling, every rep was for him or herself. However, that doesn’t work within ABSD. Selling at the account level takes a team consisting of Sales Development Representatives, Account Executives and Account Managers /Customer Success Managers. For enterprise sales on the inside sales team, the SDR to AE or to AM/CSM ratio should be around 1:1:1.

As a general rule of thumb for enterprise level prospecting, a team should only be prospecting about 50 accounts at any given time. Only after an account is closed won or dead lost does a sales development rep add another account. The sales development team become true experts about their assigned accounts and the unique problems facing each account.

Once you have cooperation at an organizational level, you still need to make sure you have cooperation at an operational level. Here’s what we mean. Up until now, we’ve talked at a high level of getting your teams on the same page. In theory, that’s all good. However, when you begin to execute at the tactical level, your teams may not know how to coordinate day-to-day activities and communicate progress. Our solution is the Daily Team Stand-up.

It sounds simple because…well, it is. At PersistIQ, we’ve implemented a daily team stand-up between our marketing, sales and customer success teams. We start every meeting at the top of the funnel and work our way down. Each member reports on their one metric that matters most and the activity related to that metric. This way, each member of the sales team knows what I’m doing on the marketing side, and I know the objections everyone is encountering in the field when they’re out talking to prospects and customers. Don’t confuse this with a time to give an update, but rather a time to report on major changes, challenges and progress on target accounts (if any). This should take only between 5-7 minutes.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, account-based sales development requires a more strategic, thoughtful and collaborative approach. Only when you get buy-in from your sales, marketing and customer success team can you begin to develop a winning strategy. Once everyone is on the same page, you can start to coordinate the efforts of the individual team members.

Of course, this is only the beginning of account-based sales development. We’ve only scratched the surface. Each topic discussed here can even be broken down further, not to mention we haven’t yet touched on other important structural changes your team has to make, such as:

  • When taking an ABSD approach can be harmful rather than helpful
  • How ABSD KPIs and benchmarks are different
  • How to re-structure, organize and manage your database for ABSD success
  • Methodologies and best practice for executing ABSD
  • What the best tools and technologies are to help you accelerate ABSD

To cover that, we’ve teamed up with QuotaFactory to give you The Account-Based Sales Development for Revenue-Driven Team. This free eBook covers all this and more. Download it here.

The post How to Structure Your Team for Account-Based Sales Development Success appeared first on OpenView Labs.

26 Mar 17:02

How to schedule your day for maximum productivity when you run your own business

by Rachel Gillett

meeting, woman, work, boss

Time is a precious commodity, especially when you're a small-business owner and it feels like there are always a million things to do.

"Most small-business owners don't build time into their workdays for things that are not just run, run, run for the business," Laura Vanderkam, time-management expert and author of "I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time," tells Business Insider.

While the core production of doing things for your business will obviously take up the majority of your day, Vanderkam says it's also vital to make time for other high-value items, like networking, building skills, interacting with employees, and leisure.

While this routine may not be right for everyone, Vanderkam's sample schedule is a good jumping-off point for fitting it all in when you own a small business:

SEE ALSO: 12 chores small-business owners should pay someone else to do

DON'T MISS: Here are some of the best breakfasts to keep you going all day

6 a.m.: Wake up, throw on your gym shorts, and work out

Recent research out of Belgium suggests that working out early in the morning — before you've eaten breakfast — doesn't just help you meet your fitness goals, but could even give you more energy than those few extra minutes of shut-eye.



6:45 a.m.: Get ready for the day ahead

Time to hit the showers, eat a healthy breakfast, take care of family responsibilities, and get people where they need to go.



8:30 a.m.: Do the most important stuff

The first thing in the workday is your core production time, when you should focus on the day-to-day priorities that need to get done for your business to stay afloat.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
26 Mar 17:02

5 Foolproof Solopreneur Sales Tips (For Non-Salesy Types)

by Jeff Charles

Beautiful woman shaking hand with the background of business people

By the year 2020, 40 percent of the United States workforce will be freelancers. And the number is only expected to grow from there.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, solopreneur, or whatever-preneur, it’s going to become more and more critical for you to learn how to grow your business the right way. This means you will need to become better at influencing others.

Great solopreneurs need to be great salespeople. Regardless of the type of business you run, most of what you do on a daily basis will involve influencing others. The better you are at this, the easier it will be to get more customers.

As you already know, the issue isn’t whether or not you need to be able to sell more effectively. The issue is what you need to do in order to become even better at earning more business. How much easier will it be to grow your business when you know how to get others to do the things you want them to do?

Below are proven tips that will make you better at selling. If you practice these solopreneur sales tips consistently, you will find it much easier to earn and retain more customers.

Solopreneur Sales Tips

Be Helpful

Being great at sales means realizing how important it is to be as helpful as possible to your prospects and customers. By providing more value, you will be able to stand out from your competition.

When it comes to building profitable relationships with your prospects and customers, it’s all about giving value. The amount of influence you will ever have over a person is directly tied to the amount of value you provide. When you become valuable to your prospect, you establish a more favorable position in their minds.

This is what you want. The more they value you, the more you will be able to sell them.

Of course, when I talk about being helpful, I’m not talking about washing your prospects’ cars or picking up their dry cleaning. Unless of course, you’re into that kind of thing.

I’m talking about finding ways to make their lives easier that don’t necessarily involve selling them your product or service. There’s a few ways to do this, but the easiest way to provide value is to use your expertise. Since you’re already knowledgeable in your industry, you can use your knowledge to help your prospects.

One of the most effective ways to do this is by using content marketing. The reason content marketing works so well is because of the fact that it involves providing tons of value in a way that is easy for your prospect to consume.

If you have a website for your business (and you should), you would be well-served by consistently publishing content that can help your audience. Not only will this help your prospects, it will help you establish greater credibility. Content marketing is also a great way to show that you have authority in your field.

One important thing to remember about content marketing as a strategy is that it is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. It’s a more long-term approach. But when you do this right, you will stand out from your competition.

Focus On Relationships

Patricia Fripp said, “You don’t close a sale, you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise.”

Let’s face it. Consumers don’t want to deal with a company that is only interested in getting into their wallets. As an entrepreneur, you have to focus on something more than just winning the sale.

When you focus only on the sale, you are taking a short-sighted approach that will damage your sales efforts in the long run. It’s very likely that you’re robbing yourself of a great opportunity to earn more business and impact more people.

Here’s the thing. Your overall objective shouldn’t just be to make one sale. It should be to transform your prospect into a die-hard long-term customer who is eager to tell others about what you offer. While you may not be able to turn every single customer into a brand evangelist, focusing on the relationship will enable you to maximize the amount of people who are willing to tell others about your company.

What this means is that you have to learn how to sell without being pushy and impatient. This can be more difficult at first; many people become eager to start explaining the benefits of their offering.

But you have to be patient.

Build some rapport. Get to know your prospect. Let them get to know you. Anyone who is in sales know that people buy from those they know, like, and trust. Building this type of relationship takes time, but in the end, it’s well worth it.

Establish Your Online Presence

The fact that you will need to establish and develop a strong online presence goes without saying. Most businesses can’t survive if they don’t have a way for their prospects to interact with them online.

As I stated earlier content marketing is a great way to provide helpful information to your audience. But when it comes to actually engaging with them, you should consider using social media.

When developing a social media strategy, you need to create a viable strategy first. Here’s some questions you should answer before executing a social media strategy:

  • Who are my ideal clients? Why?
  • Where do these ideal clients “hang out” online?
  • What types of content would be the most helpful to them?

When you have an understanding of where your ideal clients spend their online time, you will know which social media platforms are the best for you.

Another key benefit of social media marketing is the ability to listen. Social listening involves watching various social media channels to see what your potential audience is saying. It’s a great way to find out what people are saying about you online.

Also, social listening gives you yet another opportunity to position yourself as an authority. Find out what questions your potential customers are asking. Find out what they are complaining about.

Then, use your expertise to answer their questions. Develop content that addresses their pain points. Remember, it’s all about being helpful.

What Is Your Value Proposition?

If you want to stand out from your competition, you have to offer something they don’t. You have to be able to do something better than the others.

When you don’t stand out from the other brands in your industry, you’re forced to try to beat your competition on price, which means you devalue your offering. It will be harder for you to grow your business.

If you want to succeed at sales, you need an attractive brand that your prospects can believe in. You need to find a way to make your business stand out from the competition.

One essential factor in this is your value proposition. You need to identify a value proposition that shows why your prospect should choose your company over your competition. There has to be something that you offer that sets you apart?

Does your offering do it better? Faster? Easier? Figure out how you want to distinguish yourself from your competition, and it will be easier to close more deals.

Determine Your Brand’s Purpose

A strong and distinct brand is absolutely crucial to your sales efforts. Without effective branding, you’re just another “me too” company that is indistinguishable from your competition. This isn’t what you want.

The most important part of building a strong brand is determining your purpose.

This is something all successful brands do well. You need to stand for something bigger than your product or service.

It’s all about your “why.”

In his book “Start With Why,” Simon Sinek continually makes the statement that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. When you’re trying to grow your business, the point isn’t to focus on doing business with those who need your product. The point is to do business with those who believe what you believe.

Purpose and belief transcend your offering. When you can effectively communicate why you do what you do, you give your prospects something to connect to.

People can’t connect to a product or service. But they can connect to the reason you do it. Why? Because everyone desires to feel a deep sense of purpose in what they do.

It’s part of being a self-actualized person. If you want your brand to become successful, you need to have a self-actualized brand.

Want an example?

What do you think of when you think of Nike?

Yes, you probably thought about shoes. But chances are, you also thought about their brand purpose without really even thinking about it.

Nike stands for excellent performance. It stands for pushing yourself beyond your limits and achieving things you never believed you could achieve. What phrase sums this idea up? “Just Do It.”

See what I mean?

Nike is about more than just making sneakers. It’s about inspiring people to overcome their challenges.

Determining your brand purpose can help you become a better salesperson. This is because when you have a deep purpose that motivates you, it enables you to sell with conviction.

This is important. When you sell with conviction, your prospects will pick up on your passion. It will become contagious and they’ll become excited to buy what you’re selling.

Understand Your Audience

Lastly, you need to understand who you’re trying to sell to. This seems like it should be obvious, but many people make the mistake of rushing directly into the sale without really understanding what their prospects want and need.

That’s a huge mistake.

But it’s a huge mistake that you won’t make because you’re reading this post! Here’s the bottom line: if you don’t know who your prospects are, you won’t succeed in your efforts at sales. You’re going to fail.

Why?

Because you can’t address your prospects’ needs if you’re not sure what they are. When it comes time to present your solution, you’ll be shooting in the dark. You may be able to get some sales this way, but not nearly as much as you could if you took the time to get into the minds of your prospects.

The issue isn’t just to ask a lot of questions. The issue is asking the right questions. The right questions will increase your chances of making a successful sale. The key is to encourage them to talk as much as possible.

The great thing about his is that it doesn’t just give you the information you need; asking good questions also helps you build more trust with your prospect. When they see that you’re genuinely interested in them as people, and not just a paycheck, they will trust you more.

When your prospects trust you more, they will be far more likely to buy from you. Do yourself a massive favor and start working on asking better questions. You’ll be glad you did.

Conclusion

With more and more people becoming solopreneurs, it’s going to become even more important to learn how to sell more effectively. The important thing to remember is that selling isn’t a skill that you have to be born with. It’s a skill that can be learned and honed over time.

If you follow the tips in this article, you will become a much better salesperson. This will make it much easier to grow your business the right way.

26 Mar 16:56

Make Your Most Difficult Sale with Dealstorming

by John Jantsch

Make Your Most Difficult Sale with Dealstorming written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

dealstorming

Marketing Podcast with Tim Sanders

Making the sale today is just a bit more complicated isn’t it?

Buyers are armed with more data than ever, more advice than ever and often a buying process that makes it easier to kill a deal than buy anything.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Tim Sanders, author of the new book Dealstorming: The Secret Weapon that can Solve Your Toughest Sales Challenges. We discuss his newest book and a new way to approach a difficult sale.

Sanders is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to overcoming tough sales challenges and the Dealstorming approach is an approach tailored to today’s buying environment no matter how bit of small the deal may be.

Questions I ask Tim:

  • What is Dealstorming?
  • Can this approach kill a deal that probably shouldn’t have happened?
  • Why should you ask more questions in a successful Dealstorm?

What you’ll learn if you get a listen:

  • Why you should always be looking to innovate in sales.
  • How involving customers in your brainstorming process is a positive thing, not a case of last resort.
  • The Dealstorm Sales Process.

You can find out more about Tim Sanders and his new book Dealstorming: The Secret Weapon that can Solve Your Toughest Sales Challenges at dealstorming.net. There, you can download a free chapter of the book and even signup for training when you buy a book.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by FreshBooks, small business accounting software for non-accountants. Freshbooks is offering a free month of unrestricted access just for Duct Tape Marketing podcast listeners. You don’t even need a credit card to register. To get your free month, go to freshbooks.com/ducttape and enter DuctTape in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section.

 

 

26 Mar 16:53

Chinese buyers responsible for one-third of value of Vancouver home sales: National Bank

A new report set tongues wagging Wednesday for its back-of-the-envelope calculation that estimated of the $38 billion in Vancouver real estate sales in 2015, Chinese buyers were responsible for a third.
26 Mar 16:52

Does Your Business Have a Story?

by Donna Drehmann

Everyone loves a good story. People can relate to a story, feel as though they have an understanding of you if you share your story.

I believe that a business should have a story. Your story is your history that is shared with everyone and that becomes a part of your brand.

One of the most popular and widely shared business stories is Apple. We have all heard the story about how Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created a computer in their garage and started Apple. It is a bit fantastical, but every entrepreneur can relate to it.

There is a story about a local Nashville business – LetterLogic that I hear often. Owner Sherri Deutschmann, wanting to improve the printing & mail industry, started her business in her basement. She now has a brick & mortar location with 53 employees, generating $36 million a year in revenue and is courted constantly by interested buyers.

If you are not sure if you have a story, or can tell it on your own, ask your customers to do it for you. Your customers can be a part of your story if you let them. They are your customers because you are solving a need/offering a product or service to them. Ask them to define what that is and use it as part of your story.

Customer testimonials are another way you can share your story. Testimonials let others know why customers do business with you and how they use your product or service. Customers are your word of mouth advertising to spread your story to others.

My story is simple – I have a passion for customer experience and believe that every business should be gathering and using customer feedback. It doesn’t matter what the size of your business is, what industry you are in, or how many employees you have, none of those things should keep you from listening to your customers. As such, I have created Listen Learn Live LLC, making myself available to any business owner who wants to learn about delivering a great customer experience.

I didn’t create anything in my garage, but I had a passion, an idea, and the desire to go for it, so I did.

What’s your story?

26 Mar 16:50

How We Generated Our First 100 Sales for Free (and How You Can Too)

by Guest Blogger

How to Generate Your First 100 Sales for Free

This is a guest contribution from Tom Buckland.

Getting your first 100 sales is a huge milestone for any online business, and one we’re all quite keen to reach.

This article outlines the strategy I used to generate more than 100 sales for my fitness business. The method itself can be extracted and used to promote your product or blog directly, and even if you don’t have a product this strategy can lead to a huge amount of traffic – all for free.

The strategy itself involves contacting influencers in your industry and offering something of value, then making use of  their following to get visitors to your website.

In my example I contacted fitness experts with a social following of between 500-500,000 followers or subscribers, not top-level fitness personalities with millions of followers, but people with large enough audiences to make it work.

I explain why in a moment.

Generate Your First 100 Sales

Firstly, we cover where to start:

Stage 1: Finding Industry Experts

Finding these influencers is very simple, with the tools now available. you can use sites such as Izea, Buzzsumo or you can manually find the individuals by searching through twitter or YouTube – often you’ll know who the big players are in your niche.

This also works for blogs, although it is more difficult to gauge the popularity of a blog. I recommend SEMrush to discover the worth of a blog if you are to be finding them manually.

Once you’ve gathered a list of influencers (I recommend around 100-200) you need to find their relevant contact information, websites, social accounts, everything they are associated with on the web.

Our end goal is going to be getting our product, service or website shared through these channels, so knowing how powerful or important someone can be for your business is essential. Getting their correct contact information is even more essential.

Once you have this information you can move onto stage 2.

Stage 2: Initial Connection

Never contact an influencer and just start pitching.

It’s likely they receive hundreds of emails a day, and anything considered self-promotion will just be deleted. Instead, you want to build a connection. You want to make your communication personal and personable.

I did this by asking a question, stating I was a fan of the blog/channel and explaining what we needed. For example opinions on product X or Y, or a quote for an article you’re putting together.

People like to talk about themselves, so ask for their opinion whilst also building a relationship with the individual. Talk about mutually interesting and beneficial things, and always let them know what’s in it for them.

Always keep these emails short and simple.

Stage 3: Give Value / Free Product

Once you’ve built a relationship with someone, the next step is give them something of value or a free product.

However.

This is where 95% of businesses get it wrong.

They will ask to send an influencer a free product in return for a shout-out or review, and this is not the correct way to go. It can even drastically reduce the number of people that will say “yes” to you.

Instead, you should write a positive email talking about how you’d like them to “test” the product you are creating and that you welcome their feedback. Let them know how taking the time to trial your product will benefit them. What are you offering that will be worth it?

Instead of the influencer feeling used or leveraged solely for their audience, they may feel now that they are helping to shape the product and its marketing, particularly if you take their feedback on board.

If they like your product they will probably naturally share it with their audience.

Pro tip:

This is why we also didn’t bother with anyone that has over 500k followers or subscribers and tended to reach out to people around the 10-50,000 mark as they may be more amenable to this way of working. Someone with more followers might perhaps be represented by an agent or have sponsorship deals in place that would not allow them to work with you.  

Bear in mind, though, that bloggers may indeed want compensation other than a free product for their time, effort, and access to their audience.

smartphone-friends-internet-connection

Stage 4: Follow up & Re-connecting

Following up is key, especially if you’ve physically mailed a product to someone.

The easiest way to do this is this is to simply ask if they have received the product. You can also take this 1 step further by asking what they thought, without any pressure (especially if they’ve not had time to look at your product yet). A gentle reminder that you’ll be emailing again soon for their opinion would work really well.

Again you can take this another step further by asking if they would recommend it. If they say yes, then you can politely ask them to share through social. If they say no, then ask why and how you could improve the product – market research on your doorstep!

How can this work for a blog?

If you’ve been reading this article thinking you don’t have a product to offer, yet you have an established blog, I’m going to explain why this strategy can work to generate you thousands of visitors, which in turn can lead to ad revenue or growing your email list and a whole host of other benefits.

Stage 1 (influencer prospecting) should be exactly the same, you are looking for influencers with a large but not overly large following. You should also aim to keep these people niche relevant to your blog if possible.

Stage 2 (outreach) is similar but slightly different: as well as introducing yourself and mentioning benefits, you should also ask for their opinion on a key issue, or ask if you can get a quote for an article you’re writing while you have them. Chances are they will say yes and give you a quick sentence or couple of paragraphs on the issue.

This means you can now create an amazing piece of content around this topic or issue, which can be used as your gateway into more of your blog content.

Stage 3 (value / free) can be added, although this tends to be difficult, usually it’s easier to simply respond with a thank you email explaining you’re here to help if they need anything, and also remember to state you will email them once the article is live. You can offer to share on your own social and email list as much as possible.

Stage 4 (Re-connecting) once the piece of content is live, you should individually reach out to these people stating the content is live, thanking them again for their contribution. Also remember to add the following sentence – “If you share this on social, remember to tag us on [twitter username] [Facebook URL] so we can re-tweet/share.” This works perfectly as you’re not asking them to share directly but you’re reminding them that it would be helpful to your cause!

These pieces of content generally get shared by the influencers you’ve contacted and hence you get a flood of targeted visitors to your site. This leads to more followers across social channels and usually new email subscribers too.

The below traffic screenshot shows how we utilised the expert round-up (on a relatively unloved blog) and the spike it received in traffic in November 2015.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 1.36.16 pm

Tom Buckland is the CEO of HQ SEO and marketing director of My Local Services. A UK-based digital marketing consultant Tom works with businesses to create online marketing strategies to generate more clients.

The post How We Generated Our First 100 Sales for Free (and How You Can Too) appeared first on ProBlogger.

26 Mar 16:50

Are You Putting Buyers on the Defensive?

by PFPS
Constructive Intent. Seller is thoughtful in delivering sensitive messages, giving feedback and challenging assumptions, is able to avoid putting buyers on the defensive. Seller’s communication motives are not self-serving.

These 12 Dimensions of Trust represent the 12 ways a seller can build or erode trust with buyers. Each associated action creates a connection or causes a disconnection. Knowing about all 12 Dimensions of Trust empowers a seller who wants strong connections founded in trust. Not knowing leads to buyer mistrust and seller confusion. Missing out on this dimension of trust — constructive intent — can inadvertently lead to putting buyers on the defensive.

Constructive Intent“Seller shares sensitive messages without putting buyers on the defensive”

In an age of Challenger Selling and empowered buyers who are in a hurry, this dimension of trust gets sidelined as sellers scramble and take short-cuts in attempt to get through to buyers. Without meaning to, sellers can come across as insensitive because they haven’t learned what triggers defensiveness or emotional responses in their buyers. This can happen when questions are poorly sequenced, ill-conceived or badly crafted. It’s important to understand how to craft questions so a seller’s constructive intent is conveyed.

Questions asked to uncover past issues between the buyer and seller companies, pet peeves the buyer may have and preferred service protocols help a seller to be proactive and avoid causing unproductive buyer reactions.

Next Steps:
  • To learn more about DISCOVER Questions® and how to get connected in meaningful ways with your buyers, order your copy of this bestseller from Amazon.com
  • For more tools, resources and content about connecting with your buyers and advancing the sale, visit our website. You’ll find lots of free webinars, infographics and podcasts.
  • For individual sales coaching, group sales training, bulk book orders, or other services and products, call us today at 408-779-PFPS or e-mail deb.calvert@peoplefirstps.com

This blog pocover for site 2015st features an excerpt from the best-seller “DISCOVER Questions® Get You Connected.”  To learn more about how to connect with buyers and gain their trust, buy the full copy of this award-winning book from Amazon.com as a paperback or e-book. Author Deb Calvert is also available to speak at your next sales conference or to provide training for your sales team on how you can become the ONE seller that buyers actually WANT to talk to.

 

 

The post Are You Putting Buyers on the Defensive? appeared first on People First.

26 Mar 16:49

Email Writing Tips to a Better Lead Generation Campaign

by Jayden Chu

Email-Writing-Tips-to-a-Better-Lead-Generation-Campaign

Email marketing is already known within B2B circles as an effective means of getting high quality leads. But for some reason, companies struggle to realize the full potential of this platform in terms of getting prospects to engage or in other words, compel them to open an email and cultivate interest. We know for a fact though that content has a lot to do with these areas.

Below, Really B2B’s Libby Morgan lists some very effective tips for creating highly effective and engaging emails for a better B2B lead generation campaign.

  1. Know your audience

Make use of buyer persona research to really get to know your target audience. Think about not only their pain points and challenges, but how they talk and the language they use. This knowledge will naturally shape the style of your own writing. If you keep your tone genuine and understanding, you’ll start to build trust.

  1. Focus on the subject line

33% of email recipients open email based on subject line alone – Adestra

Subject lines are serious business. If the subject line doesn’t immediately engage, the email will never get opened and the body copy is irrelevant. The best ones are short, personalised and targeted, and incentivise readers to open the email.

  1. Make it personal

Personalised emails improve clickthrough rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10% – Aberdeen

Tailor the email to each individual and discuss the issues that specifically affect them. Today’s technology makes personalisation more achievable; use variable fields to include the recipient’s first name, company name, location, job function and so on, and continue to use these throughout (sparingly!). Ensure the ‘From’ address is that of an individual, not the brand, and finish the email with your own name.

  1. Keep it straightforward and to the point

Emails should be no more than 300 words, and ideally 250 or less – Funnel Envy

Leads and prospects receive huge amounts of email every day. Keep your content short and focused on the prospect and their pain points. Address their issues in the first few sentences, so they’re immediately engaged and more inclined to continue reading. By showing the prospect you have a good understanding of their pain points and what motivates them, you’re in a better position to offer advice and solutions that could help them.

  1. Spend time crafting your CTA

To move leads further into the sales funnel, your actions need to guide them. Make sure the CTA is prominent on the page and give your prospect a step to take next i.e. calling your direct number within the next week in order to set up a short meeting. It’s a good idea to manage their expectations by reiterating what they can expect to receive in return for this contact, and also the next steps you’ll be taking.

26 Mar 16:49

5 Ways to Use LinkedIn Publisher for Business

by Viveka von Rosen
vvr-linkedin-publisher-business-560

Looking for a way to promote your business to a professional audience? Have you considered LinkedIn Publisher? Using a few simple tactics, LinkedIn Publisher can support business owners in their efforts to get more referrals, leads, and sales. In this article you’ll discover five ways LinkedIn Publisher can help you grow your business. #1: Create [...]

This post 5 Ways to Use LinkedIn Publisher for Business first appeared on .
- Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

26 Mar 16:49

How to Achieve Expert Status in B2B Marketing and Sales

by Christopher Ryan

On my last post, I talked about the huge difference between companies and individuals who are considered experts, versus those who are perceived as being competent or proficient. The difference between these categories may not seem great but the rewards in terms of compensation, respect and self-determination can be substantial. This principle is true in sports, entertainment, medicine, law, business, and equally true in B2B marketing and sales. Expert status has a large economic payoff.

Today, we are going to discuss the factors that can cause you to be perceived as an expert, and thus, worthy of greater recognition and compensation. I acknowledge that many experts are not considered as such, and many non-experts are thought of as experts. This is unfortunate but the reality is that no matter how good you are, the marketplace validates your expert status. You know what I mean if you have ever had the thought: “I know more than that person about my craft. Why is he/she rewarded more richly? Probably it is because they have created the perception – whether or not backed up by reality – that they know more and achieve better results.

In Malcom Gladwell’s book, Outliers, he explains the 10,000-hour rule. This rule states that people don’t become “masters” at complex things (programming, music, painting, free throws) until they have accrued 10,000-hours of practice. This would mean practicing your craft every working hour for five years. But the truth is that in an average work week, we spend only a fraction of our time practicing our actual craft (e.g. B2B marketing) and many hours doing repetitive tasks, going to meetings, research, administration, etc. Have you ever told someone, “Sorry but I can’t go to the weekly staff meeting because I need to get in more expert practice?” I think not.

The good news is that you probably don’t need to spend 10,000 hours to gain expert status. You just have to practice the right strategies. Here are six that can help you get to acknowledged expert status.

1. Narrow focus. It is hard to gain expert status as a generalist. Figure out what you can be good at within a fairly narrow band. Doing this, you can often catapult to the top of the expert category much faster than presenting yourself as an expert generalist.

2. Continual learning. B2B marketing and sales is a fast moving environment. You need to keep up with what is happening in your industry and devote at least part of your working hours to following thought leaders about new strategies, technologies and media.

3. Expert practice. Note that I said “expert practice”, not just practice with the goal of always optimizing, streamlining and applying the latest techniques to stay at the top of your game.

4. Credentials. These are the proof points that back up your claims of expertise. Such credentials can include university education, industry certifications, publications (books, papers, video, audio, blogs) and presentations at industry conferences. Testimonials and five star reviews are also good credibility boosters.

5. Results. Nothing will catapult you into the expert category faster than a reputation for producing strong results. This is true for a Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, and it is equally true in the B2B marketing and sales world. A reputation for generating awareness, leads and revenue will keep you employed and attract plenty of clients, especially if you have an important and needed niche.

6. Self-Promotion. Assuming you execute on the five previous steps, you need to let the world know about what you are doing and why it is special. You can showcase your expertise through publications, social media and your website, and whenever possible by speaking at industry conferences and online events.

26 Mar 16:48

How Amazon’s Alexa is bringing intelligent assistance into the mainstream

by Dan Miller, Opus Research
Intelligent Assistance Lanscape

GUEST:

To paraphrase William Gibson, “The future is already here and, thanks to intelligent assistants (IA), it is more evenly distributed than ever before.”

Based on our spoken input, mobile personal assistants (like Siri and Google Now) answer questions, navigate routes, and organize meetings. Close cousin Alexa, running on the Echo, understands our utterances when we order pizza, hail an Uber, or complete an order from Amazon. Meanwhile, a large set of distant cousins – call them text ‘bots – understand “plain English” requests and can recommend restaurants, movies, or even bridal fashions.

We humans are learning to take over our digital lives using our own words and our choice of digital device. We’re also finding that we’re more comfortable than ever before communicating with technological devices through spoken words.

Intelligent assistance reaches its tipping point

According to the “User Adoption Survey” commissioned by predictive speech analytics specialist MindMeld, use of voice-based intelligent assistants has reached a tipping point and is heading toward mass acceptance. More people are talking to their smartphones and making spoken queries in their automobiles and at home — through TV remotes, wireless speakers (Amazon Echo), and a variety of wearables — all of which is accelerating the adoption of IA.
MindMeld Adoption
More than 50 percent of respondents have tried voice assistants and more than  30 percent are “regular users” (daily or weekly). Fifty percent of those who use the assistants are “satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with their experience, compared with less than 20 percent who consider themselves dissatisfied with the technology. Thus, the technology has entered the mainstream and acceptance is accelerating. That means that 60 percent of the respondents said they adopted IA in the past year (40 percent within the past six months). For context, home computers took nearly 30 years to reach 60 percent of U.S. households, and the Internet achieved that level in 15 years.

The Echo effect: Getting an IA ecosystem into homes

Amazon Echo, with its Super Bowl TV commercials, has made a conspicuous splash in the IA world. Using relatively inexpensive wireless speakers as a platform, the company made its investment in speech recognition and life-like speech rendering into the basis of Alexa, a tour de force in speech-enabled device control, information retrieval, voice search, and ecommerce. After claiming the lion’s share of wireless speaker sales in 2015, Amazon doubled down on the home to introduce two form factors for the voice-activated Alexa. The $130 Tap is a Bluetooth Speaker that can handshake with Wi-Fi and offer Alexa’s intelligent voice activation (IVA) services throughout the home. The $90 Dot is a skinnied-down Echo designed to serve primarily as a “remote outpost” for Alexa — meaning that you can place several of them around the house as “voice command” centers.

Amazon is further conditioning the market by adding several commerce partners to its Alexa Voice Service. For instance, there’s Uber and Dominos Pizza, as well as music-streaming service Spotify. The Amazon team is also entering financial services, a promising sign that IA can offer robust security and privacy controls. Capital One credit card holders can ask Alexa to check their balance, pay a bill, or track spending. Capital One has close to 65 million cards in circulation, a rather healthy potential customer base. Ford Motor Company is another partner. The automaker has enabled its Sync service to access and control devices in the so-called Smart Home. Sync customers can arm or disarm their security systems or turn lights on or off, all under Alexa’s control.

Smaller firms benefit from the Echo effect, too. For instance, smart assistant EasilyDo powers a number of functions surrounding calendar appointments and mail reading. Integration with Amazon’s IA platform is made possible through Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), which amounts to a Software Development Kit (SDK) that enables digital commerce companies to make their services Alexa-compatible.

Intelligent Assistance Lanscape

A high-resolution version of the landscape is available here.

 

Bots everywhere and the growth of conversational commerce

In addition to Echo’s expanding ecosystem, the pool of companies entering the IA field is growing, thanks to messaging platforms like Slack, WeChat, and Facebook Messenger. These new entrants are accelerating the rise of bots for text-based communication. Scheduling bots, like x.ai and Meekan are natural companions to collaboration platforms. Other tools, like Conversica (sales appointment scheduling and followup), offer additional, specific benefits for their users. As automated bots add particular, vertical expertise, these are the most likely to evolve into “Personal Advisors” that can intervene when people need feedback or assistance on both phone and text-based messaging networks. This is where consumers can expect to see a plethora of special purpose resources ready to book travel plans, compare and purchase hard-to-find items, calculate mortgage payments, and the like.

Other additions to the IA landscape include two companies aiming to improve and expand the presence of natural language interfaces across the Internet of Things (IoT). One is VoiceBox Technologies, which has been in the Voice User Interface (VUI) business for over a decade and has made significant inroads into the automotive and mobile entertainment domains, with partners or customers that include Toyota, Pioneer, Chrysler, Dodge, Renault, Fiat, and TomTom. The company is poised to rival Alexa and Amazon in the world of “zero UI.”

Semantic Machines is another new addition to the IA pantheon. It raised more than $20 million in venture funding last year from investors like Catalyst and Bain Capital. Since then, it has assembled a cadre of top experts in natural language processing, semantic understanding, and conversational computing. The company has embarked on a multi-year path toward cultivating the sort of verbal user interface that truly understands each person’s intent, even as the user jumps around from topic to topic or provides the sorts of incomplete or incoherent statements that all of us are prone to deliver in the course of a discussion with an intelligent companion.

Dan Roth, the company’s founder and CEO, leads a team that is tackling some of the longest-standing challenges of human-to-machine conversations. When ready, the technology will be incorporated into offerings from a limited number of partners. The results, in his words, will be “breathtaking,” especially for those of us with a deep grasp of the challenges of conversational understanding. For the rest of mankind, talking to an intelligent assistant may feel routine and as comfortable as putting on a well-worn pair of running shoes.

Such routine and comfort will be here soon, as IA acceptance and use continue to accelerate. What started as a novelty and source of marketing differentiation from a smartphone manufacturer has become the most convenient user interface for the Internet of Things, as well as a plain-spoken yet empathetic controller of our digital existence.

Dan Miller is founder and lead analyst at Opus Research, a market research firm focused on Intelligent Assistance. You can track his Intelligent Assistance Landscape on VBProfiles.com.

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26 Mar 16:48

B2B Lead Generation: How to Craft Buyer Personas in One Afternoon

by Wendy Marx

How to boost b2b lead generation with buyer personas. Plus, a free buyer persona template!

Perhaps you loved creating imaginary friends as a kid. You probably gave them names, personalities, and maybe even a little backstory. Little did you know that your ability to create fictitious people would come in handy years down the road as part of your lead-building process.

In my month-long series on B2B lead generation, I’ve talked about how to generate more leads with press releases, landing pages, CTAs, and webinars. Next, we’ll talk about buyer personas and:

  • What buyer personas are
  • Why buyer personas are necessary
  • How to easily craft your buyer personas

What Are Buyer Personas?

Simply put, buyer personas are fictional people that represent your ideal customer. They’re imaginary customers — the grown-up version of imaginary friends.

Buyer personas include business-related and personal details about your fictitious customer that help you to understand and meet the challenges your typical buyer faces.

Why You Need to Create Buyer Personas

You may think that creating buyer personas is a waste of time. After all, you know your customers, right? Perhaps. But, you may not know them as well as you think you do. And you may not connect the dots between how similar (or different) your customers are.

“The same principles that make a good fisherman also apply to marketing. You’ll need the right bait, the right rig, even the right time of day. You have to do your research.” ~ Charles E Gaudet II

For instance, if you are selling cloud-based accounting software, you might create a buyer persona named Shawn, who runs a small business out of his house. Shawn’s company isn’t large enough to have an accounting department, so he does most of his accounting himself. He has little time so he needs a product that’s intuitive and doesn’t have a steep learning curve.

Do you see how creating Shawn’s fictitious character helps to shift your thinking from what your product features to how you can help Shawn face his daily challenges? Sure, you may know that your accounting software might be just what he needs. However, Shawn isn’t convinced. He just knows that he has very little time and that he needs a program that will help keep his small business rolling.

Using this information, you may decide to offer a 24-hour support line so that after Shawn puts the kids to bed and sits down to do his books, you’ll be there to help him. Or, you might offer a free one-hour one-on-one webinar to help him understand the basics of accounting.

Now you’re not only offering him a product that he needs, but you’re giving him tools to help his business succeed.

Joe Pulizzi, in his recent post, Demystifying Content Strategy: Key Takeaways from Intelligent Content Conference 2016, wrote that “targeting content to personas is a more feasible way to increase our ability to get the right content to the right people at the right time.”

How to Create Buyer Personas

So now you can see the benefit of creating buyer personas. But, where do you start? How do you create buyer personas that increase B2B lead generation?

Creating buyer personas is easier that you might think. You’ll want to start with gathering information from your current pool of clients. Here are a few ways you can gather info:

  • Surveys
  • Interviews with current customers
  • Trends uncovered in your database (location, age, content downloads, etc.)
  • Forms used on your website (ask about company size, income, challenges faced)
  • Feedback from your sales team

Now that you have a bit of info about your buyers, let’s organize it into 7 categories that will round out your buyer personas.

1. Defining Factors

Think of these as the way a person introduces himself to a stranger. “I’m head of human resources for X Company.” Or, “I’m a father of three children.”

These bits of information are usually the first to come out in a conversation with a stranger.

2. Personal Details

These are the types of details that you might include on a loan application. They include household income, whether or not you own or rent your home, your age, and other personal details that the average person may not readily share with a stranger.

“Put the “person” back in persona.” ~ Mark Evertz

3. Personality as It Relates to the Work Environment

Is your average client a high-strung executive, or a quiet and calm manager? Does a client like to give due diligence and exhaust every piece of research before making a decision, or does the person trust his gut and make lightning-quick decisions?

Although your customers no doubt have varied personalities, there are likely some dominant types that you’ll be able to identify.

These are the kinds of details that you’ll want to know regarding your buyer’s personality.

4. Work Load

Are clients responsible for 100 employees, or sole proprietors? What types of responsibilities do they have within the company?

5. Pain Points

What are some common challenges that your customers face? This is where your sales team really comes into play. People may not readily share which challenges they are facing, but it often comes up in the course of conversation.

You may find that a common problem for your clients is not having enough time to train to new people, or that corporate doesn’t understand that they need more resources.

6. Objections

What are some common objections that slow down the sales process? Are customers worried about the cost of transitioning to your software and the added time it will take to train employees on it? Are they concerned about investing in a long-term relationship with your company and what that might entail?

7. Your Response

Round off your buyer persona with how you can best meet the needs and face the objections of your buyers. Remember, that you don’t want to come off sounding like a telemarketer reading from a script, but you want to be fully prepared to understand the challenges your buyers face and how you can help them.

Seven easy steps… that’s all it takes to create your buyer personas! Now you’re able to get a clear picture of your ideal customer, understand what their needs and challenges are and how to meet them, and thus drive leads.

Ready to get even more empowered to drive leads and increase visibility? Check out my 90-Day Proof of Concept Program. It’s a great way to boost your PR without a long-term commitment or a high price tag.

In just 90 days, I’ll help you put your company in the spotlight with increased media attention, more social media engagement, and custom content that delivers leads to your doorstep.

90 Days to better B2B PR

26 Mar 16:48

The Crazy Simple Formula For Writing Sales Email Subject Lines That Buyers Love

by apowell@hubspot.com (Ali Powell)

subject-lines.jpeg

One of the hardest things about being a sales rep is just getting someone to talk to you. In order to do what you love as a sales rep -- that is, sell -- you first need to get buyers to want to talk to you in the first place.

Getting someone to engage with you takes effort. It takes setting yourself apart from all the other sales reps reaching out to the prospect. You need to be unique, show that you did research, and demonstrate that you care.

When sending sales emails, you of course need to carefully customize and tailor the body copy to the buyer's unique situation. But there's just one problem -- if you have a terrible subject line, they'll never get to your beautiful body copy.

For this reason, the success or failure of a sales email often comes down to the subject line.

How to Write Sales Email Subject Lines That Grab Buyers' Attention

First and foremost, always be real. Be human. Be yourself and reach out that way. If you approach sales with this hat on, you really can't go wrong. 

In regard to emails, think: How would you reach out to a friend or personal acquaintance? Would you write a subject line all about yourself, or would you try to make it about the person you were writing to? I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this ...

My number one rule for writing sales email subject lines: Make sure it's about them, not you.

This sounds simple, but not many reps do it. Why? Time. If you're personalizing each and every subject line to the recipient, you can't mass blast out emails to hundreds of prospects with a personalization token inserted here and there. But I can assure you -- the time you invest personalizing your emails to this level will pay off. 

To write subject lines that speak to my buyers, I research my prospects. Some ideas of where to look for subject line-worthy insights:

  • Search LinkedIn, Medium, their company website, or any other blogging channels for articles written by the person you are reaching out to. Then feature an insight or tidbit from one of their articles in your subject line.
  • Go to your prospect's LinkedIn profile and review their recent activity. Have they contributed a comment in a group or on a post thread? If so, use that as subject line inspiration.
  • Read the description of their role on LinkedIn. Analyze how they've described what they do, think about how your product or service aligns with those responsibilities, and then create your subject line connecting those two insights.
  • Search their company website bio page for attention-grabbing information. Did they write something random and quirky, like their favorite baseball team or hobby? Rule of thumb: Always highlight the weird and quirky in your subject line instead of waiting for the body copy.
  • Visit the company's Twitter account and review their tweets. Then refer to a recent post in your email subject line.

Here are some examples of personalized email subject lines I've used in the past:

  • "love that you were in a band"
  • "Someone from your Myrtle Beach location"
  • "This article could have lots of leads coming in"

Each of these subject lines started a conversation. Real response from a prospect: "You nailed me with that headline." 

The easy part of sales is finding those diamonds in the rough that you really want to help. The hard part is getting them to realize this.

By writing personalized subject lines, you show that you are different than all the other sales reps out there. Just by doing research you set yourself apart from the vast majority of sales reps who spam anyone and everyone. Make this level of care painfully clear to your buyer by incorporating a personal insight in the very first thing they see: the subject line. 

What are your best sales email subject lines? Join HubSpot's Slack channel to share your thoughts and engage with fellow reps in real time.

HubSpot CRM

Editor's note: Ali Powell is an inbound marketing specialist at HubSpot. Join the Women in Sales Slack channel to connect with like-minded ladies in sales here.

26 Mar 16:47

How to Truly Engage Your Prospects with Your Next Piece of Content

by Bob Murphy

Are you seeing fewer inbound leads than you should be? Are your marketing emails consistently achieving open rates in the single digits? Are the e-books and whitepapers you’ve painstakingly developed gathering “dust” on the digital shelf?

The reason for all of these problems may be that you’re not sufficiently addressing your prospects’ pain points with your content, giving them little incentive to invest their time or money in your brand. If you feel this could be the case, it may be time to rethink both the form and function of your content.

The good news? Improving your content to properly address your prospects’ pain points is not as difficult as it may sound. We’d like to share Moveo’s proven approach of planning, drafting and placing content and to ensure it is uniquely tailored to the things your target customers care about most. Next time you need to develop a new piece of marketing content, try this step-by-step process and see how it impacts your results.

Step one: use data to determine existing pain points

Your initial problem may be that you don’t fully understand your prospects’ challenges and pain points. Reflect back on where you got the information that informs your buyer personas: was it based in real-world research you and your marketing team conducted or received, or did you fall back on semi-educated guesses?

You’ve already got a wealth of information at your fingertips, so there is no reason not to ground your buyer personas on actionable data. The content your website visitors search for, download and consume can tell you about their pain points—as well as what they’re looking for in a solution. Use Google Analytics and website visitor tracking to determine what pages of your website, existing gated content and emails are most popular, and work from there to glean information about where your prospects might be seeking solutions to their problems. Then, schedule a meeting with the sales team to see if your insights align with their in-the-field experiences. In conversations with prospects, they may find there are certain needs that just aren’t being met.

After you have this information, you can start planning content pieces that directly address your prospects’ most common pain points. However, there’s more initial work that needs to be done.

Step two: define the goal of the content

What is the most important thing you hope your new piece of content will achieve? Are you looking to move a lead from awareness to consideration? Do you want to compel them to contact a sales representative, or are you simply looking for a prospect to give you their contact information?

Your content will look radically different depending on what you hope to achieve. A piece for prospects at the top of the funnel should be accessible and easy to consume. It should let your audience know about your solution and compel them to continue exploring your site and other content to learn more. On the flip side, a piece for those who are almost ready to make a purchase needs to address specific pain points and go into depth on why your business is uniquely positioned to address them. It should also end with a call-to-action to contact your sales team to move forward.

Step three: determine why your solution is unique

Driving prospects to buy requires setting yourself apart from the competition. Keep your key differentiators at the top of your prospects’ minds and make sure they come through in every content piece. How will your solution help them save more money, more time or both?

If you’re not clear on your key differentiators, go back to the data. Look at your existing customers, and assess what it was that made them choose you over your competitors. Was it a particular feature, your reputation, your pricing or something else entirely? Find out by revisiting the content that led prospects to become leads and, again, by staying in active communication with the sales department. Since they’re the ones who close the leads you bring through, they have a wealth of information on what’s moving the needle.

Step four: determine how your content will be delivered.

How will prospects find your content? Do you intend for it to be discovered via an internet search, site search, drip nurture marketing workflows, advertising, lead generation campaigns or some combination of those channels and others?

The best content finds customers where they are already spending their time. Where do they go to seek out solutions to their challenges and pain points? Again, rely on data from past efforts to build your strategy. Are many of your current customers active on social media? If so, a strategy that revolves around sharing whitepapers on LinkedIn and posting testimonials on Twitter may make sense. Have your marketing emails historically led to sales? Consider building more email campaigns into your content marketing strategy. Are users who arrive at your site via organic search converting into leads and sales? Invest more in SEO. The best campaigns rely on a strategic mix of channels like these, and allocate budgets and efforts based on data about what has driven results in the past.

Look at every prospective customer as a person who is looking for a solution to a business challenge, and develop your content accordingly. Use data to gain a deeper understanding of their pain points, differentiate your offering from others, and meet your prospective customers when and where they’re seeking information. They’ll be happy to further investigate your solution to their problems, and you’ll be happy to watch your pipeline fill with new leads.

Redefining what an “advertising agency” can be, Movéo uses data-driven insight to help business-to-business and healthcare brands quantifiably improve marketing performance. For more information, visit moveo.com

26 Mar 16:47

Everything You Need To Know About Marketing Channels In 5 Minutes Or Less

by Guest Post

Everything You Need To Know About Marketing Channels In 5 Minutes Or Less written by Guest Post read more at Duct Tape Marketing

In this article, you’ll discover everything you need to know about marketing channels. You’ll learn 19 different marketing channels, the goals for each, and how “conversation funnels” will help you convert prospects into customers.

First, let’s take a look at the most popular marketing channels. In the book Traction, authors Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares identify 19 channels you can use to grow your business.

Those 19 channels are:

  • Targeting Blogs
  • Publicity
  • Unconventional PR
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Social and Display Ads
  • Offline Ads
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Viral Marketing
  • Sales
  • Engineering as Marketing (e.g. building useful tools; e.g. Hubspot’s Website Grader or Mint)
  • Business Development
  • Affiliate Programs
  • Existing Platforms
  • Trade Shows
  • Offline Events
  • Speaking Engagements
  • Community Building

How to measure the success of each channel

To measure success, I’ll channel (pun intended) Jay Abraham, who often said there are only three ways to grow a business:

  • get more customers;
  • get customers to buy more frequently; or
  • get customers to spend more each time they buy

For each channel, you need to determine which of those three goals you’re trying to achieve. For example, emailing your list of current customers will hopefully convince them to buy more frequently, and spend more each time—but it’s not going to get you any new customers.

Conversely, trade shows are great at landing new customers, but you’re unlikely to increase the frequency of orders when dealing with new customers. (An exception would be if you upsell new customers to a subscription plan; this instantly increases buying frequency because your new customer will buy from you again and again.)

The two metrics you need to determine a channel’s success

The three goals we’ve discussed can be measured by two simple metrics:

  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV); and
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

Your Customer Lifetime Value is how much money your average customer will spend with you over your entire relationship.

Once you know your CLV, you can set your maximum Customer Acquisition Cost (i.e. how much you are willing to spend to acquire a new customer). Your max CAC is up to you though it’s common to have a CLV of 2-3 times your CAC. For example, if your CLV is $600, your max CAC should be no higher than $200-300.

Here’s a simple equation to remind you:

photo credit: Adam Costa

photo credit: Adam Costa

Armed with these two numbers, you can easily test channels to determine if they are profitable or not.

For example, let’s say you’re interested in testing a new channel: Facebook ads. You know your max CAC is $250; therefore, when testing this channel you can spend up to $250 to acquire a new customer.

Rather than focus on just one channel, however, you’re likely to use 3–4 channels together to help keep the conversation going.

Speaking of conversations, let’s discuss…

Lead funnels vs. conversation funnels—and how they apply to your marketing channels

Danny Iny recently discussed the differences between a lead funnel and  conversation funnel.

With conversation funnels, we reach out to prospects by developing content that will bring them closer to our product or services.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at each of these marketing channels and how they tie into the overall conversation funnel.

At the top of the funnel, you will find paid advertising and other forms of search engine marketing. These are effective channels for driving traffic to your site, where you can develop a relationship with them over time. This process—called lead nurturing—is a proven method for increasing conversion rates from leads to sales. Lead nurturing lets you build a relationship with your list first—and boost sales later.

Two examples of channels and how they tie into the conversation funnel

1. Content marketing > Social media > Email marketing

On KeepInspiring.me we create loads of content that feature inspirational quotes.

Sharing quotes is inherently social and people are likely to share these quotes via social channels.

In addition to social sharing, we include an opt-in form asking for people’s email address so we can follow up with them later.

As you can see, the three main channels we use are:

  • content marketing,
  • social media, and
  • email marketing

These three channels are what we’ll use to continue the conversation with our audience and provide value over time. The main long-term goal is to increase our number of leads and, ultimately, new customers. By increasing our leads through content marketing and social media, we reduce our customer acquisition cost; and by creating additional products and services to sell to customers via email, we increase our Customer Lifetime Value.

Here’s another example:

2. Existing platform > Viral marketing > Community building

Instagram got big for three reasons: they leveraged an existing platform, built virality into their product, and built a community.

With Instagram, people can share their photos on Facebook (the existing platform). By sharing on Facebook, users automatically encouraged other Facebook users to visit Instagram and join the community. Once they joined Instagram, they would post their pictures on Facebook, and start the cycle all over again (virality).

Instagram’s goal for these channels was—and is—to grow their user base as quickly as possible. This approach creates a very low customer acquisition cost, which allows them to scale.

What you need to do next

Review the 19 channels we’ve outlined in this post. If you haven’t already, choose three that you’d like to test.

Determine your goal for each channel. Your goal should be to either decrease your Customer Acquisition Cost or to increase your Customer Lifetime Value.

Test each new channel based on your main goal. If they don’t work, fine; simply move on to the next channel that makes sense for your business.

 

Adam Costa

Adam Costa is a conversion optimization consultant, and the co-founder of 10xToday.com, a personal development program that helps people define and achieve their goals. He and his wife, Darcie, love to travel and have lived in over 20 countries on 5 continents. They also run KeepInspiring.me, one of the web’s largest collection of inspirational quotes.

26 Mar 16:47

10 Reasons Your Lead Generation Is Turning To The Dark Side

by Caitie Gonzalez

Darth Vader

As a digital marketer, you’re the Obi Wan Kenobi of online lead generation. You’ve been doing it for years. You know the secrets of compelling landing pages with the most inviting lead forms, and you’re the master of tracking conversions to their source.

But there is a great disturbance in the force, and your lead gen strategies/Jedi mind tricks are not as effective as you may think. Search your feelings, these aren’t the quality leads you’re looking for. In fact, 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales.

It’s time to turn this around and figure out why so many of your leads are going straight into the garbage compactor. Take a look at the 10 reasons why your lead gen strategy isn’t delivering the heroic results you’d hoped for:

1. Low contact rates

Fraudulent information, poor quality leads, and plain bad timing all lead to low contact rates with web leads. In fact, only 27% of leads ever get contacted by a sales rep! That’s a lower contact rate than a stormtrooper at target practice.

Lead forms can be a great way to convert your digital traffic, but remember that getting someone’s information doesn’t guarantee your company will ever get in touch with them. If your lead gen strategy is completely dependent on form submissions, you’re not only throwing away most of those leads, you could be turning away a huge segment of your audience. Think about letting prospects call you — phone calls come with 100% contact rates.

2. Follow-up time is too slow

On average, sales teams take nearly 47 hours to pick up the phone and respond to a web lead. With the internet shortening our attention spans, waiting too long to contact leads is hurting contact rates and conversion rates. A sales rep is 100 times less likely to make contact if the first call is made a mere 30 minutes after submission of the online lead form. In fact, the shelf-life of these online lead forms is 5 minutes. That’s not even enough time for the millennium falcon to reach light speed.

3. Bad conversations

What happens when a customer finally gets in contact with your sales rep? Is it worse than talking to a Tatooine cantina bartender? You might be turning away valuable customers with a poor call experience. The truth is 74% of people say they are very likely to choose another business after a poor caller experience.

Use call intelligence to test sales scripts, measure the performance of your sales reps, and to better understand the needs and concerns of your callers. With call intelligence you have access to rich caller profiles that include their engagement history. All this information can be used to guide the conversation so it is highly relevant and effective.

4. People just want to talk

Nearly three times more people choose to call a business rather than fill out a form. If you’re pushing an online-only experience, you’re losing a lot of conversions from people who want to talk to someone immediately. In today’s customer-centric world, you have to give people the chance to connect how and when they want. Why not put a phone number at the top of your lead forms to give people the option?

5. Small screens and thumbs are mortal enemies

Copying and pasting your desktop strategy for mobile devices is not a winning strategy. Web forms aren’t optimal for mobile users — we’ve all endured the painful struggle of filling out tiny forms on touch screens. It just doesn’t work, and the mobile device is so much more than a miniature computer, it’s a communications device. It’s time to rethink “Submit Now” CTAs.

6. Your retargeting strategy is missing the mark

If your retargeting strategy is based solely on the digital experience, you might as well be pod racing with your eyes closed! For example, a customer who clicked through a search ad to your landing page may have actually converted over the phone. But if you aren’t using call intelligence, it would look like an abandoned click and your retargeting platform would begin showing them ads with completely irrelevant messages designed for an unconverted prospect. Talk about a poor customer experience.

7. Missing or fraudulent information

No one likes going through the painful task of attempting to qualify an online lead only to find out the information provided is fraudulent or missing. Since only about 25% of leads are legitimate, your sales reps are wasting time trying to contact leads with false information. It’s like finding out the evil guy in a black costume with a breathing problem is your dad, nobody wins.

When you encourage prospects to call you, sales reps don’t have to worry about sorting through leads with fake names and phone numbers. Your sales reps get to talk to real people in real time.

8. Lack of personalization

Today’s customers demand personalization. In fact, 74% of people say they are frustrated with non-personalized websites. While many marketers are upping their personalization game and investing in RTP (real-time personalization) platforms, many still aren’t using call intelligence to personalize the online and offline customer experience. How can you personalize the online experience if you have no idea when and why a prospect picked up the phone? You’ve got to know what’s happening over the phone. If you don’t, it’s like bringing a blaster to a lightsaber battle.

9. People need personal assistance

Technology has made it possible for humans to connect with one another in an endless number of ways, from sending quick a Snapchat to writing a full novel in installments of 140 characters or less, but there is one form of contact that will never go out of style — the phone call. It is immediate, direct, and highly personal.

In fact, according to Invoca’s State of the Mobile Experience, the top three reasons people choose to call a business are to:

  • get a quick answer
  • express their concern to a live person
  • get expert advice

Looks like technology hasn’t completely erased the need for humans.

10. Uneducated optimizations

Your mind is clouded by the dark side if you are ignoring the offline performance of your marketing efforts. Without call data, you can’t optimize your campaigns or strategies to their full potential. The customer journey is omnichannel, weaving online and offline like never before, and to create a more cohesive and effective customer experience, you need to understand what efforts are driving phone calls and include call data in your website optimizations.

Join the rebel alliance with clicks and calls

In order to become a true Jedi Master, you need to include clicks and calls in your lead generation strategy. Landing pages, CTA buttons, and forms have their place, but in a mobile world, where everyone always carries a phone that doubles as a computer, calls make sense. When you drive calls you benefit from 100% contact rates, quality prospects, and the best part is you can have total visibility and control over your calls with call intelligence.

Either you do or do not add phone calls to your marketing, there is no try.

26 Mar 16:47

Sales coaching session with Steli: Exomatch

by ramin@close.io (Ramin Assemi)

SaaS-startup-sales-advice

Ever wanted a celebrity to pitch your product?

Exomatch makes that happen by connecting advertisers with influencers. Their platform allows companies to pitch their marketing campaigns to influential Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook personalities, who then bid on the campaigns.

influencer-marketing-startup

We spoke with Exomatch’s head of sales, Philippe Takama, and head of customer relations, Lukas Urbaum, about how to manage a successful cold email campaign. Here are the results.

How to pick the cold email approach that’s right for you

You have two options when you begin a cold emailing campaign: Direct or indirect email.

Which approach you use depends on your target market. Let’s take a closer look at each method.

Direct email

This is the standard approach of directly emailing the most relevant decision-maker.

For example, if you were selling a social media tool, you would send an email to the social media manager.

This approach is most effective when your primary customer base is made up of small businesses. In these environments, it’s easy to identify and reach key decision-makers.

Here’s a template for inspiration:

cold-email-template-direct

Above the relevant decision maker

This approach gained popularity after Aaron Ross’ best-selling book, Predictable Revenue. You email someone one or two levels above the relevant decision-maker and ask for introductions down.

For example, if you were selling a social media tool, you would contact the VP of Marketing and ask to be introduced to the appropriate person.

This approach is most effective when your primary customer base is made up of large businesses. In these environments, you often don’t know who to speak to. An introduction speeds up the sales process and gets your name in front of the high-level managers.

Here’s a template for inspiration:

cold-email-template-indirect

What works, works

Experiment with both approaches and see what’s most effective in your market.

Measure your results with a CRM like Close.io that’s capable of tracking open and response rates, then use that data to run A/B tests to improve your campaign.

Want more templates like the two above? Check out three more cold email templates here.

How often do I follow up with someone who doesn’t reply?

This is one of the most important things you need to get right about cold emailing: the follow-up! How often depends on what type of lead you’re pursuing.

Cold leads

A cold lead is one you’ve never had any sort of interaction with. Follow up with these leads a total of three times over a two-week span. Here’s the schedule we use at Close.io.

Day one: Initial contact. Send your first cold email.

Day three: First follow-up. Restate your original message in a more concise manner. Send this email at a different time of day. If your prospect didn’t respond to the email you sent at 9:00 A.M., it may just mean they have busy mornings. Send your follow-up later in the afternoon to circumvent this.

Day seven: Second follow-up. Again, follow up at a different time of day. This email should restate your call-to-action. For example, “Hey, this is Ramin with Close.io. I’m just checking in again to see if you have time for a 5-minute phone call on Tuesday at 10:00 A.M.”

Day fourteen: Third follow-up. Still no response? Break up with your prospect. You’ll be amazed how many deals you close when you take them away. Your break-up email should communicate the following points:

  • I’ve repeatedly tried to provide value but you haven’t replied.
  • This is the last time I’ll contact you.
  • If you’d like to pursue our solution, here’s my contact information.

If you don’t receive a response to your break-up email, move on to more promising prospects.

cold-email-follow-up-schedule

Warm leads

A warm lead is one you’ve had a positive interaction with. If your prospect has ever expressed interest in your product, follow up indefinitely.

Use the plan above, but don’t send the break-up email. Just check back in with your prospect like usual. After day fourteen, you should check in once a month until you get a clear response.

That response may be a “no”, but “no” is always better than “maybe”.

How to reply to, “Sounds interesting. We’ll look into it and get back to you.”

When your prospect says, “We’ll get back to you”, 90% of the time they won’t.

They may intend to, but if you leave the decision to them, it’ll never happen. Here’s how to turn that non-commitment into a commitment.

How to respond over the phone

If they included a signature with a phone number, consider that an open invitation. Call them and say something like this:

Hey, this is ______ from ______. I’m just following up on your email. You’d mentioned that you wanted to look into our product more and I wanted to reach out and see if I could be valuable to you. Do you have five minutes for a quick question so I can send you relevant information?

[Insert powerful sales questions]

Most prospects will be willing to give you five minutes, which you can turn into a full conversation with the right questions.

How to respond over email

If you get this response often, counter it pre-emptively by including this in your email:

At this point, you’re probably going to hit “reply” and say something like, “This looks interesting, I’ll get back to you.”

I get it, you’re busy. But I also know how much value we can provide you and I don’t want you to miss out. To help us move forward, these are the four scenarios as I see them:

  • You aren’t really interested, but don’t want to hurt my feelings (I’ll be okay, I promise)
  • You are interested, but won’t be moving forward in the foreseeable future
  • You are interested and want to talk about this further
  • You are interested and would like me to send you relevant information

Go ahead and hit “reply” and just tell me which it is, and we’ll move forward from there.

Take back control

When a prospect says they’ll “get back to you”, you’ve lost full control of the conversation. Use these two strategies to take back control and move the conversation toward a commitment.

Turn your cold emailing campaign into a powerful conversion funnel

A successful cold email campaign is powered by the same principle as a successful cold calling campaign: The follow-up. If you aren’t willing to send at least three emails, you shouldn’t even send one.

But if you negotiate with friendly strength and fight for the value your product provides, you can turn your cold emailing campaign into a powerful conversion funnel.

Recommended reading:

Follow up like a champ: How to win every deal with the amazing power of the follow-up!
Learn how to close more deals and make more sales by following up more and better. Boost up your follow-up strategy and hustle.

A/B testing cold emails (without a statistically-significant sample size)
Trial and error is the best way to improve your cold email campaign. Pair that experimentation with A/B tests to identify what’s working and fix what isn’t.

How to write subject lines that get your sales emails opened
The subject line is the most important part of any cold email, but most salespeople don’t have a clue how to write them. Check out these keys to writing compelling subject lines.