Category Archives: Partners

4 Marketing Budget Beaters

It’s that time of year. You’re fighting for every marketing dollar and yet expectations are that you’ll beat your lead and qualified lead (and thereby revenue) projections.

Here are a few tips to extend your marketing budget, make your CMO happy and meet those revenue expectations.

1. Do webinars!

budget beatersMost marketing departments rely on those leads and qualified leads you get from webinars. Not only that, but you’re extending your content strategy significantly, repurposing content and determining where there’s engagement. So chances are that webinars were already part of your budget. Good!

But did you know that webinars can be replayed as if live to extend your reach to new, international audiences while you do other revenue-generating things? It’s true.

See more about webinars

2. Make friends with social media.

Social media is your best friend. Your BFF! There’s no cheaper or more effective marketing platform than interacting with potential consumers or clients over Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other sites. This is an excellent way to attract a younger customer base as well.

Most marketing departments aren’t giving their social media strategy justice though. Don’t be that organization! Paid and organic social with sharing embedded into your website extends your budget significantly. Don’t overlook it, even though things are tight. If necessary, enlist other employees to help your social media strategy, especially implementation.

3. Brush off your email list.

Email marketing still remains as one of the most successful forms of marketing available for companies of any size. This provides regular, meaningful content straight to prospects’ inboxes. Use promotions and specials to draw them in time and time again.

4. Partner up to extend your strategy.

Strategic partners fill in gaps by giving you access to new audiences, new companies and possibly new products and services. Be upfront with your potential partner to provide information about what you hope to gain as well as what you might have to offer. Read more.

What Is Value-Based Pricing?

Maybe you’ve heard the term value-based pricing before, but don’t know how it applies to your business or why it may matter to your customers. It may seem cliche’, but this pricing model is as much a philosophy as a way to determine how much to charge for your services.

What is value-based pricing?

value-based pricingThe Harvard Business Review defines it as “the method of setting a price by which a company calculates and tries to earn the differentiated worth of its product for a particular customer segment when compared to its competitor.”

How this works is that you sit down with your prospective clients and discuss an agreed-upon fee based on your level of experience, knowledge about the subject and more. Essentially, you are removing the stigma of industry-set prices, and determining the price of your services based on the value you will provide your client.

Why value-based pricing may help your organization

As a busy consultant, lawyer or other professional service provider, you likely charge the traditional “hourly rate” for your clients. While familiar for them and easy to measure against your competitors, you may find you’re not raking in as much profit as you used to be. Also, although customers will appreciate your time based on the hourly rate, they may not appreciate your expertise.

To increase your profit margins, you may be contemplating sleeping less or working long hours on the weekends just to make ends meet. Though there’s nothing wrong with hard work, maybe it’s time to consider switching to a value-based pricing model instead.

Value first, not service

With traditional hourly rates, your price focuses on the service first, not quality of your work. If you create a model for this method in terms of descending importance, it would show service first, then cost for that service, followed by the price needed to make a profit, then the value perceived for this service and finally, attention to the clients’ needs, according to BiggerProfits.

On the other hand, value-based pricing relies on you and the clients coming together to determine the precise value they will receive from your service, and then agreeing on a price. This method will not only bring clients’ voices back into the equation, but also allow you to be compensated based on your quality of services, not just on an industry-recommended hourly rate.

9 Ways to Meet Your Deadlines and Commitments

Oh no! It’s Thursday night and you just remembered you promised you’d have something complete by Friday at 8 a.m.. There’s no way you’re going to get the work done.

Everyone’s been there … but there are some of us struggle more than others. Whether you need help getting over that procrastination, figuring out the right organization, or sticking to a plan, here are some tips that might prove helpful.

Before you agree

Euler’s diagram is often referred to in project management where people are invited to pick two: good, fast, or cheap. The idea being you can’t have it all. If deadlines are tight, something probably will suffer. Maybe you can produce something faster and cheaper, but it’s of low quality. Maybe it’s good and fast, but it’s expensive. As you’re thinking about the deadline, keep this in mind.

1. Keep it clear

Make sure exactly what’s being asked of you. Clarify the necessary deliverables, exactly when they’re due, and if there are any intermediate steps that need to be taken.

2. Look for options and say, “No” if you have to

If it looks unlikely, figure out other alternatives and discuss them. Can the work be done differently? Can you get help? Can it be done by someone else? Does it have to be high quality? Is the deadline a hard date, requiring completion by then?

No one relishes saying, “No.” But after you’ve exhausted options, it might be the only thing left to say.

When you do have to say, “No,” let the person know up front. It shouldn’t feel impetuous or apathetic, because in reality, you’re saving all parties involved time and stress. Explain the situation, and explain that you don’t feel you can offer quality work after already agreeing to so many responsibilities.

3. Negotiate a cushion

Sometimes deadlines are set in stone, but most of the time you can find a little wiggle room, especially at the beginning of a discussion. Keep it reasonable, but always see how much time you really have so you can accommodate for surprises, unexpected delays, and accidents.

4. Understand priorities and re-prioritize if necessary

Is the new deadline more important than other work. Negotiate on other deadlines as you need, explaining that a priority item came in. Talk about how this item helps your department and the company, too.

During

5. Make the master list

Create and maintain a collection of all deadlines. When you receive a new deadline, break it up into action items, and estimate how long each item will take to complete. Plot each action item on your calendar in sequential order, and give yourself enough time to complete them. Setting start dates and completion dates for each item can help you measure your progress.

6. Take one step at a time

9 ways to meet deadlinesBig projects can sometimes seem so overwhelming they’re difficult to start. On the other hand, a large project with a distant deadline can give the illusion that you have more time than you really do, and make it easy to put off until the last moment. In both cases it’s important to focus on the day-to-day; don’t think about the final product. You’ve already broken your task down into action items – all you have to do is take it step by step until you reach the goal.

7. Meet your commitments

If you’ve already agreed to the deadline, it’s important to meet it. If you need help, ask for it or maybe even hire it. Re-prioritize. Check in and make sure you understand what needs to be done with your manager or the client, sharing what you’ve already committed to.

8. Last resort: push it back

Things happen. If there’s no possible way to deliver on time, notify the person you promised. The earlier you notify them, the better they’ll be able to plan for the delay, and the less upset they’ll be.

After

9. Reflect

What went well? What didn’t go well? Should you have asked for more time? Was there some part you didn’t understand well enough that waylaid you? Asking for feedback from your manager and the people you had a deadline with may help you be more successful next time.

Have other ideas?

Let us know! We’d love to read them.

Why Integrate? Think Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

I like tools that serve multiple purposes. I like the Swiss Army knife or Leatherman because you can do multiple things with that one tool. You can fix stuff, eat, cut and more with this tool. I kinda like the spork for the same reason — it’s a spoon, it’s a fork, it’s a spork!

Integration helps software systems go together like peanut butter and jellyIt’s like finding that last puzzle piece to a puzzle you decided not to finish because there were a few missing parts. You know, that “Eureka!” moment. It’s like adding jelly to a peanut butter sandwich. It’s like getting into your car and driving to work when there’s no traffic. It’s like drinking ice-cold water after a great hike. It’s like a Star Wars movie without Jar Jar Binks. Too far?

Integration just makes things better.

Save time

That’s what integration is to me. It’s those tools that can do a little bit more than what you originally bought them for. They’re multi-purpose, saving you time. Standalone software solutions aren’t nearly as useful as those that integrate with other systems. I dislike, for example, when I open my Outlook and see a calendar item that doesn’t immediately pull in related documents. It’s inefficient.

Save errors

When your marketing solutions, like your webinar, don’t integrate with your marketing automation system or your CRM, not only is it inefficient — it’s causing you to re-enter data. This increases the chances for errors.

Save money and resources

Not only are you increasing the chance of errors, you’re occupying resources — that’s money. What’s worse is that you want those resources focused on driving revenue or reducing cost, not entering the same data multiple times in multiple different systems.

Good software companies are trying to make your life easier

These days integration and plugins are everywhere. Good software companies realize everything stated above and are geared toward solving these problems for customers. It’s in their best interests to solve these issues. Having software you can maximize builds trust and usage among those that use their products.

If your software company isn’t integrating what other systems you use, it might be time to dump them. They may be trying to end-of-life (the software company term for kill slowly) that product anyway.

Stop settling for software that isn’t making your life better. That’s really the intention of it. And if you’re not getting everything you need from your software — like integration — it’s probably time to rethink which software company you’re using.

After all, Star Wars was better without Jar Jar Binks. And peanut butter without jelly isn’t nearly as good.

Moving your Organization to a Strategic Demand Generation Strategy [Guest Post]

Today's post is provided by Carlos Hidalgo, CEO and Principal at ANNUITAS. You can follow Carlos on Twitter, @cahidalgo.

I had the privilege to present on a webinar sponsored by ReadyTalk and the American Marketing Association.  The topic of the webinar was Strategic Demand Generation.  My favorite part of any speaking engagement is the questions that come in from the audience.  The questions challenge me to think deeper about the recommended approaches and also give me insight as to the day-to-day world of marketing practitioners.  

To recap the webinar, each of the questions that were submitted are below with a corresponding answer on how your organization can move to a Strategic Demand Generation Strategy.

Q1. How Do You Define “Strategic” Demand Generation?

A.  As stated in the webinar, Strategic Demand Generation Consists of the following elements:

  • A perpetual,  always-on process
  • A process that Engages, Nurtures, Converts buyers aligned to their buying process not that of a sales funnel (there is a big difference)
  • A discipline that must be practiced for both prospects and customers
  • It must be Buying-Process-driven and aligned
  • It is designed to both educate and qualify buyers through their purchase process
  • Strategic Demand Generation includes the work of both marketing and sales
  • It must be Operationalized and optimized across People, Process, Content & Technology
  • Strategic Demand Generation is designed to drive sustainable revenue and maximize Customer Lifetime Value.

Q2.  What are some of the most effective Demand Generation campaigns you've seen?

A.  The most effective Demand Generation programs are those that begin with a deep understanding of your target buyers.  Understanding their challenges, pain points, responsibilities, what triggers their buying process, content consumption patterns, etc.  And then designing content that not only Engages your buyers, but makes Nurturing a holistic part of the entire program.  This is when Demand Generation will be effective – it is all about the Buyer and not our products and services.

Q3. What are some examples of how you've seen sales and marketing efforts aligned effectively?

A.  The best approach to have marketing and sales align is to simply work together.  Too many marketing organizations are in the practice of designing their Demand Generation programs and then as a final step “informing sales” of what is to come.  This is a fatal flaw in the execution by marketers.  It is necessary to have sales be part of the development of buyer personas, review of content and input into defining the buying process.  Also having common goals and objectives that are measured ensures collaboration in the design of these programs.  As these steps are taken, alignment begins to happen between the two teams.

Q4.  Can you talk a little more about Nurture content?

A.  Any Strategic Demand Generation program must consist of content that Engages, Nurtures and Converts. 

Engagement Content is written to build trust, address the buyers top of mind issues, educate the buyer on challenges and how to address their pain points.  It is designed to assure the buyer that the vendor is an expert and understands what the buyer is experiencing.

Nurture Content is a bit more specific in that it that is addresses solution categories and to specific offerings within these solutions as the nurturing process continues.  This process is perpetual and allows the buyer to consume the content on their terms and cadence, not by a time-based, pre-determined drip approach.

Conversion Content is focused on the close of the prospect and is more direct and is a mix of automated and live interactions from your sales team.  This underscores the importance of sales enablement and providing and educating them on product level content that they buyer is now ready for given their progression through Engage and Nurture content.

Q5. What is the difference between nurture and drip?

A.  As mentioned previously, Nurturing is a perpetual activity that is aligned to the buyer and allows them to move at their cadence.  A buyer can consume multiple pieces of content in any given timeframe and receive communications so long as there is continual action.  Drip is a time-based sequence often spaced out over a period of days or weeks.  Drip is determined by the vendor not the buyer and therefore is not buyer-centric. 

Drip can be useful and effective when used to target those buyers who may have stopped progressing through a program and it’s intent should be to send periodic content to them in an attempt to get them re-engaged.

Q6. How does a long sales cycle impact Demand Generation?

A.  There is truly no impact to Demand Generation with a longer sales cycle as long as the content developed and delivered aligns to that buying process. Too many organizations look at their sales cycle as synonymous with the buying process, which is so far from factual.  The key is to uncover the detailed approach your buyers take to purchasing and align content to that process.  If it is a 45-day process or 18-month process, ensure your content aligns to it, as that’s what the buyers need and require.

Q7. What's the most important thing for marketers to do to engage buying committees?

A.  It is important to note that most B2B purchase decisions are conducted by committee.  CEB reports that there are five plus stakeholders in the average B2B purchase each with their own view and biases.

In order to engage these buying committees, marketers must understand the dynamics of each role in the buying process and do the work to collect the needed buyer insights – getting into the mind of each buyer on the committee.  This is when relevant content can then be developed. 

At the same time, it is important for marketers to understand the common views of those on the committee and produce content that can be used to align the buying committee around that of the purchase.  Again, this can only be done by speaking to your buyers and collecting the insights on what is driving their purchases.

As B2B marketers look to improve, it is vital that the time is spent to make Demand Generation a Strategic endeavor.  Executing on tactical campaigns is not effective and does not align to the buyer.  It will not be fixed overnight, but it will be more effective and drive customer lifetime value.

 

Carlos is an innovative thought-leader with over 20 years’ experience as a B2B marketing practitioner and industry visionary. Carlos is widely recognized for his expertise in strategic content marketing, Demand Generation, Demand Process Transformation℠ and marketing automation.  As CEO and Principal of ANNUITAS, Carlos drives strategy and leads core practice teams to Transform Demand℠ for enterprise clients globally.