Work the funnel, but sell to the buyer’s journey

Poppycock-HeroIt’s become trendy in B2B circles to say that the funnel is irrelevant.  That it isn’t valuable as a tool to track buyer behavior and the sales process.

Poppycock!

The sales funnel hasn’t just now become irrelevant.  It has always been a poor indicator of how buyer’s work.  But that’s not the point worth considering.

The funnel is still valuable, but primarily as a way of organizing our sales process and helping to direct what we do next, based generally on where the buyer is in their decision-making process.

But it’s asking too much of that funnel to hope it reflects both how we sell and how the buyer actually engages and buys.

I’d argue that you need two tools to manage sales.

First, you need a sales funnel that organizes your sales process, broken up into stages, that can help you consistently track progress across the team.  This is done based on common definitions, and drives accurate forecasts of future closed business.

Two, you need a deep, consistent understanding of the buyer’s journey – how they go through the stages of observing or experiencing pain, clarifying desired outcomes, eventually identifying and engaging with potential solutions, etc.  That journey has general stages, but the specifics are truly unique to each individual buyer.

Let’s not pretend that the sales funnel approach means every buyer is engaging in exactly the same way.  But if we tried to build a sales process that mirrored each individual buyer’s behavior, there’s no way we could ever create a consistent, accurate and useful sales strategy.

I believe we need sales funnels as selling tools, but the way we actually sell – the way we engage with, observe and respond to buyer’s – is based on an understanding of and adjustment to each individual buyer’s journey.

The trick is making those two work together.  Your sales process needs to be based on the most common buyer’s journey for your target market, but allow for interpretations based on the uniqueness of each buyer’s plight.

Work the funnel, but sell to the journey.

The ultimate guide to event-based content marketing

eventcontentmarketingSimply put, if you’re not actively leveraging content to accelerate the ROI of your events, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

Too often, when people think about events, they simply consider & plan for the event itself-  The booth, the room, on-site factors.  But great content, leveraged before, during and after the event can exponentially increase the reach, influence and conversion opportunity at every event you produce or attend moving forward.

In this extended blog post, we’ll cover a comprehensive look at why a content strategy for your events is so important, then walk through in detail exactly how you can leverage content before, during and after.

Event Content Objectives

One of the biggest challenges for content marketers in attempting to gain greater credibility for their craft inside organizations is that they too often measure the wrong things.

Content isn’t about impressions.  It’s not about traffic.  It’s about conversions.  I realize not every marketing channel or tactic can be directly measured to sales opportunities and the bottom line, but that doesn’t mean you can’t assign revenue-related objectives and align your strategy and execution accordingly.

Thus, event content objectives should include elements of the following:

  • Direct, qualified prospect engagement and interaction
  • Lead capture
  • Sales opportunity creation

It’s still fine to measure awareness and interest, especially related to exactly who is engaging (with or in?) your event content, but keep in mind that metrics like impressions, retweets and similar are means to an end.

Tracking ROI From Events

To more completely and accurately measure the business value and sales impact of your next trade show, define and measure success at three critical post-event milestones.

1. Immediately after the show
When you walk back into the office, what can you measure? How will you immediately know if the show was a success? Your likely measures for this include leads (or names) captured, meetings held, briefings or demos completed, etc..  Define these measures up front and drive your strategy and execution accordingly.

2. 30 days after the show
A month after the event you should have, at minimum, qualified all of the leads you captured and placed them in the appropriate stage in your pipeline. Many of the leads may go right into a nurture track. Some will require further qualification, and others may be actively engaged on a short path to purchase. But ideally, after a few weeks of working the immediate product of the event, you should have a sense for what pipeline expectations should be in the next few months.

3. Six months after the show
Depending on your average sales cycle length, this is the milestone at which you should start to expect closed business, booked sales and revenue recognition directly from the event. There will still be leads you’re nurturing, but six months should be enough time to see closed business and a solid pipeline of expected new sales in the subsequent six-month period.

Ideally, you establish goals for these three milestones not only before the event, but before you commit the resources in the first place. Because if the goals don’t add up to enough business to justify the event, save your time and money for something else.

Five reasons to prioritize content marketing at events

Some of these reasons may feel “basic” to advanced or experienced content marketers, but I’ve found them to be highly useful when explaining or justifying additional content investments with senior executives.

1. Low cost and high leverage way of expanding at-event reach

Think about the cost of doing taxi cab advertisements.  Banners hung outside of the convention hall.  All events still offer these kind of opportunities (some formal, some guerilla) but many of them are still prohibitively expensive.

All too often, you can garner the same impact with your target audience with some smartly-created content at a fraction of the cost.  Plus, it has a shelf life and value well beyond when the banners are taken down and (most likely) just thrown away.

2. Extended lifetime and value well beyond the event itself

Just because the event is over, doesn’t mean people will stop engaging with your event-related content.  I guarantee you’ll be able to recycle and repurpose much of your event content in the weeks and months ahead to expand its reach, influence, and conversion potential.  And next year, when the event happens again, much of that content can be dusted off and used in almost the exact same way with next to zero incremental work or cost.

3. Participate even if you’re not there, and make your presence look significantly larger than it actually is

We’ll cover “remote” event content participation and strategy later in this chapter, but I’ve lost count of the times we’ve “participated” in events from afar, only to have people assume we were not only on site, but also a major sponsor given our presence in content, Twitter and elsewhere.

But even if you are in fact at the event, significant content coverage can make your presence look that much more impressive.  Many events, after all, are in part about perception.  It might be your once-a-year opportunity to make a solid impression with the majority of decision makers in your industry all at one time.  Why not take advantage and use content to heighten that impression and opportunity?

4. Tap into the budgets, tactics and audiences of your fellow exhibitors more effectively

Every event that includes other sponsors, exhibitors and presenters means you have a significant opportunity to cross-promote and cross-market your services with each other.  And when you actively use content, you can work with content marketers at peer organizations to exponentially increase coverage with the overall audience, and conversion metrics with the targets you care about most.

5. Impact and convert everyone who wishes they could attend but didn’t make it

For every one person to who attends almost any event, there are at least 4-5 who wanted to be there but couldn’t make it.  They didn’t have the budget for travel, had a schedule conflict, whatever.  But in the age of social media, hashtags and on-demand video, our ability to follow conferences from afar has been significantly enhanced.

When you create and execute great content before, during and after an event, you’re reaching many times more people that matter than who attend the event directly.

Ten pre-event content marketing best practices

I could easily argue that the greatest content marketing opportunity for events is before and after the event itself.  This is the time when most other sponsors and exhibitors aren’t doing much if anything, and your attendees are actually back at work paying more attention to content channels (vs. walking the halls and breakout sessions of the event in person).

Great event content marketing starts weeks if not months before the event actually begins.  Here are ten pre-event best practices to get your brain rolling.  This is far from comprehensive, but should give you a solid flavor of what’s possible.

1. Develop an editorial calendar

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail – right?  So if you do your homework in advance for the event itself –Who’s going to be there, what they care about, why they’re attending, etc. – you should be able to convert those insights into a solid editorial calendar that lays out the content before, during and after the event.

2. Find the influencers

Figure out who has attended these events in the past that have the most influence over other attendees.  Run a report through Little Bird (www.getlittlebird.com) based on the conference name and/or hashtag to see who shows up first.  Look for “most influential” lists within your industry and start there.

Then, create a plan to engage the influencers in advance of the event.  Make sure they know who you are and what you’re presenting.  Get their help to crowd-source or at least share to their audiences your pre-event content.  Ask them to grab a quick coffee with you during the show.

3. Engage past attendees

Use last year’s hashtag as a means of collecting those who either attended or at least watched/participated from afar.  Make sure you’re following those folks to engage with this year.  Ask them what they’re looking forward to this year and create a crowd-sourced blog post featuring their feedback.

4. Engage the presenters

Anyone presenting at an event likely also wants to make sure their room is full of attendees.  Why not reach out to those presenters and ask if you can interview them for some pre-show “teaser” content?  I bet most of them say “yes”.

5. Help first-time attendees know what to expect

Could you create new-attendee orientation content?  How to “survive” the crowds, where to find the best outlets to recharge cell phones, which parties are mandatory attendance, etc.

This can be in the form of blog posts, interviews, videos, etc.  Newbies will love it.

6. Make session recommendations

The bigger the event, the more breakout session choices there are.  Even veteran event attendees can get confused or intimidated by the choices.  Why not create content recommending the sessions and speakers you most recommend attending?

With content like this, you encourage participation.  Get people adding their own content to the comments section wherever your content is published.

7. Write a “what to do around town” guide

Even if you don’t know the city the event is hosted in very well, work with others who live or used to live there to get recommendations on where to eat, drink, hang out, get a good breakfast, etc.

The more eclectic and “off the beaten path” recommendations, the better.  Where do the locals hang out?  Where’s the best “take a picture of the city” location that nobody knows about?

This is another great opportunity to crowd-source content, and when you feature the opinions of others, they’re far more likely to spread the word with/for you as well. 

8. Crowd-source more event recommendations from past attendees

Capture and publish the “wisdom of the crowds” in a variety of contexts, featuring survival tips from those that have been there before.  This can be about anything – hotels, transportation, bathroom breaks, etc..

9. Start using the hashtag early and often

Literally, as soon as you see one published, start posting pre-event content.  That way, at minimum, those reading the feed early are going to see you.  Add value, of course.  Solicit feedback and input for your crowd-sourced content.  Share other people’s pre-event content via your Twitter and social channels as well.

In essence, treat the event hashtag as one of your primary publications.  It’s a direct feed to a significant portion of the attendees and followers you want to leverage well before and well after the event to maximize coverage, reach and impact.

10. Develop your at-show plan

The next section will dig into at-event tactics & best practices more specifically, but make sure you create that plan well in advance.  What’s your at-show editorial calendar likely to look like?  What resources will you need to create in-the-moment, live content?  In what formats will they be produced ?

Answer these questions well in advance so you’re ready to capitalize on the event in real-time, make adjustments on the fly based on immediately identified opportunities, and have the resources to get it all done.

Five at-event content marketing best practices

This is by far the hardest section to nail.  Once you’re at an event, chaos reigns.  Things go wrong.  You’re pulled into 12 different directions at once.

But if you created your at-show plan in advance and have both secured the resources required to execute, and allowed some buffer for opportunistic content on-the-fly, all that’s required is focus and discipline to get it all done.

And remember, if it’s hard for you with a plan, it’s next to impossible for your competitors without one.  Nail the at-show content and you’re highly likely to stand out even greater, and take advantage of opportunities to make your presence far larger (and look far more expensive) than it actually is.

1. Live-tweet the key sessions

Tweet the big keynotes and special speakers in particular and make sure someone on your team is live-tweeting the highlights using the hashtag.  Keep watch on similar live-tweets from the conference’s influencers and retweet their content frequently.  This makes it more likely they’ll do the same for you and expand your reach beyond your own direct network.

2. Retweet the most influential other attendees

Sometimes it’s more than just the “known” influencers.  At every event, new influencers pop up.  Unknown attendees get highly-active on the hashtag feeds and make a name for themselves.  Keep an eye out for these opportunities you might not have known about beforehand, and take advantage in real-time.

3. Assign “summary” content from key sessions and keynotes to get published ASAP

This is where an editorial calendar and resource plan comes in really handy.  Know exactly which sessions you’ll want to “summarize” in a blog post afterward, ensure someone attends and takes notes, and carve out time right afterward to draft and publish the piece.

This is important for at least a couple reasons.  One, you’ll have some incredibly valuable content to share with the exponentially-larger group of people who couldn’t attend live but are trying to follow from afar.  And two,at the end of the show, you’ll have a collection of fully-written summaries of key content you can aggregate into “key takeaways” content summaries, or even an e-book behind a registration wall.

4. Shoot “on scene” video

Doesn’t have to be fancy.  Carry around a basic camera to shoot video and get “man on the street” reaction of the event from attendees.  Schedule time with influencers and get them on camera as well.

Get good at publishing these snippets in real-time into the hashtag feed, and reserve time at the end of each day to stitch good quotes together into slightly longer, curated videos that can go up and get viewership traction right away.

5. Work with content producers from the event itself

Most events have their own content team now.  Get to know them before the show, volunteer to be part of their coverage team, and make sure they’re following and sharing the content you create for the show as well.

In most cases, they’ll be thrilled that you’re expanding the reach of their event through your own content, and will be happy to share that with their audience as well.

Five post-event content marketing best practices

It is incredibly easy to get back from an event and simply move onto the next one.  Or the next fire drill.  Or the massive pile of work and emails and emergencies you need to deal with.

But after the event is when attendees are back in their own offices and likely paying more attention to content like yours.  It’s your opportunity to continue building upon the awareness, interest and momentum you generated at the event itself.

It’s also perhaps your best opportunity to use content to not just engage but convert event participants into qualified leads and opportunities.

Here are five specific best practices after an event to leverage content to increase pipeline-building metrics.

1. Publish a great “key takeaways” post

This may sound basic and fundamental, but I’ve found it can also be the single-most important piece of the entire event content marketing strategy.  Summarize the session highlights coverage you created during the event, highlight some of the themes that came across overall, and link to some of the other takeaways blog posts being created.

Once it’s published, send it with those who are covered or mentioned in your takeaways.  Send a copy to the influencers.  Help it start spreading, use the hashtag, and watch what happens.  It can be magical.

2. Crowd-source other takeaways from other attendees

It’s actually a great away to engage leads immediately after the event.  If you want your sales team to increase qualification conversations from booth attendees, have them start with a simple question to capture a key takeaway for your blog post.

Great way to break the ice, then transition into more of a needs-qualification discussion overall.

3. Keep engaging the hashtag

Just because the event is over doesn’t mean people stop watching the hashtag feed.  In fact, those who create a custom column in Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to follow a hashtag tend to leave it there for days if not weeks after the event is over.  This is mostly due to laziness, but it still means your content will be in front of them for much longer.

4. Do an internal postmortem, and make adjustments for your next event

Take a quick look at what worked (especially related to the immediate post-show key metrics you’re tracking) and figure out what you might do differently next time.

5. Create a templated process for content marketing at future events

No matter how you just executed your event content, take what worked and make it a precedent for future events.  Much easier than recreating the wheel each time.  I recommend literally writing down the whole process so that, in case you’re not directly in charge of execution next time, someone can pick up where you left off and continue successful execution.

Matt’s App of the Week: Doodle

appoftheweek-300x284This is the latest in a series of weekend posts highlighting a wide variety of applications we think are pretty cool. Most have to do with sales, marketing and productivity. Check out past featured apps here.

Coordinating meetings is enough of a hassle inside a company.  Yes, with the right tools you can see which windows of time exist for your colleagues, but what if you want to do the same for people across multiple companies?  Or determine the best day & time to have your next board meeting?  Or what if you’re just trying to figure out which weekend this summer everybody can get together for a BBQ?

If you’ve endured the endless email threads of “nope, can’t do that” and “hey what about this date” back and forth, you’ll love Doodle.

Simple but brilliant.  Create a page, add several options (days & times) and send an invite email to everyone that you want to be there.  Then each person can essentially click a link and “vote” for the days & times that work for them.  You’ll be able to see which windows work for everyone, or at least work for the highest # or % of people.

No more reply-all back-and-forth email threads.  And I bet you reach consensus much faster too.

Worth a look.

B2B Reads: Value-Based Marketing, Millennials & a BS-Free Guide

best-blogsIn addition to our Sunday App of the Week feature, we also summarize some of our favorite B2B sales & marketing posts from around the Web each week.

We’ll miss a ton of great stuff, so if you found something you think is worth sharing please add it to the comments below.

In the meantime, here’s some of what we’re reading:

How Your Family Affects Creativity and Your Content Marketing Success
Justin P Lambert agrees content marketing requires a skill set that fuses creative and non-creative elements.  Check out his article to see what your family of origin has to do with your ability to do it well.

How to build your business with Content Marketing: a BS-free guide to Content Marketing Strategy
Ross Beard shares a guide created specifically for the small business owner or startup founder who wants an actionable look at how to grow their business with content marketing strategy.  Here’s a quick look at what he covers:  Step 1: Understanding your audience, Step 2: Developing a content strategy, Step 3: Creating compelling content, Step 4: Promoting content and increasing reach. Packed with great info. and examples.

6 Reasons Why Your Social Marketing Efforts Are Failing
Lewis Bertolucci knows we don’t always succeed and failure is nearly inevitable. He says, “If you do fail, fail smart, quickly and learn from it”.  Start by reading these six well laid out reasons social marketing sometimes fails and some key questions to ask.  

Value-Based Marketing: Sources of Content Inspiration
Michael Bird gives us some great sources of inspiration for quality content.  After all, No amount of SEO, keyword lacing, or fancy gimmicks can replace high-quality content.

The 3 Gifts of Content Marketing
Elyse Dupre puts it simply:  Content brings dialogue, emotion, and relevance to the brand-customer relationship.  I like how she frames these as gifts— check it out.  

8 Tips for Improving Open Rates for B2B Sales and Marketing Emails
Janelle Johnson explains how to put what we know works into practice for our customers.  No easy task.  These eight tips should help.

How to Use Forms for Lead Generation
James Patterson offers up a number of  best practices that will help you create user-friendly forms for lead generation that motivate individuals to hit the submit button – and after all, getting a submission is the first goal for any form.

Millennials Are Not Impressed With Your Content Marketing
So what do you do?  Dawn Papandrea Says “You’ll need to bring your A-game because millennials expect you to understand their needs, their preferences, and their passions. It’s all about them – they are a generation of selfie-takers, after all.” Take a look at some best practices for winning over Gen Y as well as some other content marketing thought leaders.

The Great Content Checklist: Tips, Tools, and Examples
I’m a fan of checklists.  Mike Murray has a great one here.  He says “If you want to produce great content, it’s time to leave ordinary in the dust”.  Use this checklist to affirm your current best practices for producing great content and try out some new ideas you can use to increase your content marketing success right away.

Today’s CMO: More Renaissance Man Than ‘Mad Man’
Don’t worry if you’ve never seen the TV show because, Jose Sanchez is talking about today’s CMO being more of a Renaissance Man.  Read it to see what he means.  He gives a great breakdown of the skills and traits affected by the turbulence of changes in this important role.  Included are five points worth reading and some nice graphics to illustrate his points.

Five B2B Marketing Trends for 2015 That You Can Put To Work Now
Liz Staplefoote says “We may have barely crossed into the second half of 2014, but if you want to have a big year in 2015, you should jump on your game plan now. As you lay the foundation of your 2015 marketing strategy, here are five marketing trends to give you a jump start on your big projects for the rest of this year and next.”   Back to school sales are already happening!  Crazy!  As fast as this year has gone, it’s a good idea to be looking ahead.  2015 will be here before you know it.  

You are a thought leader

thought-leadership2Don’t worry about followers or retweet or likes or page views.

None of that really matters anyway.

What you know, what you’ve learned, what you believe – that’s what makes you a thought leader.

What you’ve done is worth its weight in gold to those who haven’t done it yet.  What’s worked (and particularly what’s not worked) for you is more important than textbooks, more important than trade publications, more important than an MBA whose half-life is shortening by the day.

Maybe you don’t have time to share.  Don’t feel like you’re a good writer.  Don’t feel like enough people are listening.

That’s a marketing challenge.  And you should know by now there’s a huge difference between value and amplification.

Your direct experience makes you a thought leader.  Every single one of you.  Some maybe more than others based on experience, but certainly not based on reach.

There are plenty of blow-hards with reach.  I’d argue that your experience, your lessons learned, your insights may be multitudes more valuable than those with multiples of your reach.

So, which of you is the real thought leader?  The one with the reach, or the one with the value?

Don’t sell yourself short.  Don’t assume your insights and value are based on who’s listening.

You are a thought leader.  Teach us. Believe me, we’re listening.

 

“How I Work”: Amanda Kahlow, founder, 6Sense Inc

amanda-kahlow-fullsq“How I Work” is one of my favorite recurring features in Inc Magazine as well as via Lifehacker’s This Is How I Work Series, and recently several sales experts (including  Anthony IannarinoDave Brock and Trish Bertuzzi) participated as well.

Periodically moving forward we will feature a new B2B sales, marketing or business leader here answering what have become the standard “How I Work” questions.  You can catch up on everyone we’ve featured thus far in the “How I Work” series here.

This week I’m excited to feature Amanda Kahlow, founder and CEO of 6Sense Inc.  Her company is on the cutting edge of helping companies leverage big data to predict what customers and prospects want and need next.

She’s up at 4:30 a.m. every day, manages a fast-growing business, and still finds time for her family, pets and mid-day naps.

Amanda, suffice it to say, gets stuff done.  Here, in her own words, is how she works.

Location:
San Francisco, California.

Current mobile devices:
I use an iPad (I like the big screen) and an iPhone 5, complete with a 6Sense case!

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Twitter: It’s an especially useful tool to use during industry conferences. I check event hashtags to keep a pulse on the conversations going on, and can easily connect with people to arrange meetups between sessions. You can connect with me @AmandaKahlow ☺

Outlook for Mac: I tried Gmail, but I can’t get behind it. I have lots of meetings, so it’s important for me to have a calendar program that’s easy to use.

What’s your workspace like?
That depends on the day and time. The 6Sense office has an open loft-style concept, so everyone on the team, including me, has a sit-stand desk in the main area. When I’m not at my desk you can find me working on one of the various couches throughout the office or taking calls in my private office upstairs, which has big windows and a bed for naps.

On weekends, when I’m not out running, I work from my living room table.

Current computers:
I use them all! I have a Macbook Air, Macbook Pro and an IBM ThinkPad. Don’t ask me why I have so many, who knows!

What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack?
Naps! I’m at the office 12 hours a day, so I try to take an hour-long nap every afternoon in the office. I have a new lease on the day when I wake up.

What everyday thing are you better at than anybody else?
I’m incredibly disciplined when it comes to working out every day, if not several times a day. I’m also good at staying positive, which helps to keep the team motivated and optimistic during long days of hard work.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?
Evernote.

What do you listen to while at work?
Pharrell’s song Happy! Unfortunately (or fortunately?) for my team I’ve made them listen to it over and over again. You could say it’s the 6Sense theme song.

What are you currently reading?
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. It’s an incredible book, made even more incredible by the fact that Horowitz is donating all of the proceeds to women’s rights, which is a passion of mine. I’ve been posting my favorite quotes of his over at my blog (6.5Sense). Here’s one of them: “Remember that this is what separates the women from the girls. If you want to be great, this is the challenge. If you don’t want to be great, then you never should have started a company.”

What’s your sleep routine like?
Because I wake up early I also head to bed early, usually around 8-9 pm. On weekdays I wake up between 4:30 and 5:00 am. (On weekends I “sleep in” until 6 am.) Waking up early allows me to read, have a cup of coffee, meditate, and walk my dog (Calvin). Then around 6 am I change into workout clothes and run the four miles to 6Sense headquarters in SoMa.

At the end of my day I head home by 8:00 pm, where I go straight to bed. Rinse, repeat.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Here are a few of my favorite bits of wisdom that have been imparted to me:
• Nothing is permanent.
• Life is about the journey, not the destination.
• You control what happens to you! You are your thoughts, so think positive thoughts.

Anything else you want to add?
I meditate daily and repeat affirmations each morning, which means saying, “I am (fill in the blank)” statements. It’s important to believe in and feel the things which you most desire, and imagine life as if you already have them.

Fill in the Blank: I’d love to see BLANK answer these questions.
Gavin Newsom. I recently had lunch with him and a few other CEOs. He’s incredible.

More than attendees: 4 steps to get more long-term value out of your events

By Meghan Bardwell, marketing consultant for Heinz Marketing

We need a new way to look at the success and value of events. Rather than focusing on the typical success measures—registration / attendance rate, number of face-to-face conversations held and opportunities developed during the event—we need to look at the long-term value that comes from the event marketing. The actual event is just one piece of the big picture.

When I say long-term value, I mean website traffic, lead generation, social growth—all things that the marketing before and after an event can influence and drive. Let’s take Heinz Marketing events for example. By looking at the months we marketed our events, both before and after the actual event, we can see a marked difference in site sessions, leads, and Twitter followers. Take a look at the graph below (click on the picture to enlarge).

Event Marketing graph

The blue line represents website traffic, the red line website leads, and the olive green Twitter follower growth. The orange line marks the average—any point that falls below the orange line had less than average growth for the month, and any point that rises above had above average growth for the month. The neon green circles show months where we had event marketing. You’ll see that each period of event marketing sparked a period of above average monthly site visits, leads, and Twitter follower growth, showing that the marketing was just as valuable as or more so than the event itself.

So, what’s the strategy behind effective event marketing? Get more long-term value out of your event marketing with these four steps:

1. Stay branded
Be strategic about where you drive people for event registration. If you can, create your event landing pages on your company’s main website domain. This will drive traffic and increase user engagement for your main site, improving your site’s SEO. Plus, people new to your company will have the chance to mosey around your site and learn more about your capabilities, which can go a long way for increasing the likelihood of attendance and remembrance.

If you need to use a different platform for event registration, get creative. See if you can redirect people to a thank-you page on your domain after the sign-up process is complete. Or provide a separate link to your company site or a blog if no redirects are possible. No matter what you do, always make sure that people have a way to get to your main site after registering for your event. Take it step further by adding links to your social pages and encourage people to follow you for special tips and hand-selected articles.

2. Build excitement around the idea
Don’t just get people excited for your event—get them excited for the idea behind the event. The purpose of the event is much more important than the event itself! Think of the power of bringing together a group of people excited about a common idea; if your new app improves sales productivity, build enthusiasm in the sales community about improving processes. Your event will be a conduit that brings a community together, positioning your company as a leader and building trust. When you show your demo at the event, people will be primed and ready to listen and learn.

3. Create extra value
As you plan the marketing for your event, find ways to deliver extra value to your audience. Give them actionable, sneak-peaks of what they’ll learn by attending your event. On the thank-you page after registration, give them a free soft copy of one of your articles or books. Hold a special webinar for registrants as an event warm-up. Create a series of value-add blog posts focused on your event topic so everyone, not just attendees, can benefit. Give attendees a free copy of your latest book when they show up at the event. The possibilities really are endless. The more value you provide, the more people will remember your company and trust your brand.

4. Focus on content longevity
If I wanted to be super succinct, the first three steps could be wrapped up into this fourth one: think long-term with your event marketing. You’re not holding an event just for the one-time experience; you’re holding it so you can drive qualified sales leads and opportunities. So, when you’re promoting the event, think about how you can create content and value that not only drives event registrations, but builds far-reaching awareness and trust for your brand. Each piece of content, whether it’s an email or blog post or webinar, should be timeless and hold enough long-term value that if you took the event out of the content, the content could still be repurposed and effective.

Don’t create content just for the sake of content, and don’t event-market just for the sake of the event.

How to Get Great Sales Ideas With “Cognitive Relaxation”

Lounge chairs with umbrellas on white sand beach, MauritiusGuest post by Jamie Shanks, managing partner, Sales for Life.

I’m writing this blog from the Azul Sensatori resort in Cancun, Mexico. I’m having cognitive relaxation to the point that I woke myself up from a nap as I was dreaming about not thinking about anything. That’s when you know your brain has shut down.

It took my brain about 48 hours before I cracked open the laptop and started checking emails and writing blogs during “siesta time”.

This blog is for the workaholic sales “quota crusher”, the sales professional that lives to sell.  If you’re reading this as a sales rep, sales leader or business owner, take my advice. Follow the Bill Gates method and shut your brain down at the end of a quarter or year.  Bill Gates has been known to take a “Think Week” off each year to reflect on his business.  No distractions.  The result was the amazing gifts that Microsoft gave us for 25 years.

Why should you do this?

Ten years ago, a late friend of mine, Jeff Wylie, was writing his PH.D thesis on Blackberry, and the cognitive destruction it was having on innovation.  At the time, we all rolled our eyes and thought he was silly (as we were only 25 years old, and just wanted another beer).

Well, ten years later, with the integration of mobile and social into our world, his thesis couldn’t be more accurate!  As a business owner, I can tell you that when I’m working Monday to Friday, I’m so enthralled with my day-to-day, that I can’t think any further than my next task.  It’s not until Saturday afternoon at the cottage that my brain has sub-consciously shut down and presents brilliant ideas.

As I mentioned about Mexico, the first 48 hours I was brain dead, but afterwards, the ideas started flowing in! I’ve been a business owner for so long, that I know the flow of ideas will always follow after the first 48 hours.  I’m now better prepared for it.  I have a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with pen, and I can take notes instantly when I have a thought.  I record these thoughts into Evernote.

How does this apply to sales?

Over the last 5 years, these subconscious ideas have:

  1. Helped tackle stuck accounts
  2. Generated new prospecting methods
  3. Created innovative ways to bring together all the decision-makers on a deal
  4. Fought through competitor objections

Heck, many parts of our social selling curriculum came from these moments.  These are some of the most important parts to my business!

Here’s what I’ve learned.  The answers are always there.  They are just buried behind 1,000 emails, phone calls, social posts and meetings.  Escape this (yes, even social selling) for a brief period, and let your mind go.  You’ll be in the shower, or swimming, or eating a great meal, and then pow!  The eureka moment will come!

Your biggest, most powerful competitor is apathy

lazyMost of your lost deals don’t go to a competitor.  They go to nothing.

Literally.

Your prospect doesn’t choose someone else.  They choose to do nothing.

Oftentimes this is for a good reason.  Timing isn’t right, budget has dried up, other initiatives are a priority.  This is going to happen.  It’s why we call it a sales funnel, not a sales cylinder.

But I guarantee you’re also losing deals to nothing because you’ve failed to communicate the value translation.  The prospect doesn’t understand that what you’re selling is a need to have vs. a nice to have based on the outcomes you represent.

If you’re confusing them with features instead of clearly communicating how you can make them better, they might choose to do nothing.

If you assume that they’re translating your story effectively to others who require approval or hold the purse strings, you’ve lost control of that value translation with the decision makers that matter most.

If you assume prospects got your email, if you assume they’re thinking rationally, if you assume they know what you know….you get where this is going.

Unless the cost of change is lower than the cost of staying the same, you will lose.  Flip that balance and you’ll start closing more deals.

B2B Reads: Beer & Content, Rock Star Marketers, Scanner or Reader?

 

best-blogsIn addition to our Sunday App of the Week feature, we also summarize some of our favorite B2B sales & marketing posts from around the Web each week.

We’ll miss a ton of great stuff, so if you found something you think is worth sharing please add it to the comments below.

In the meantime, here’s some of what we’re reading:

What Beer and Content Have in Common [Infographic]
Anne Murphy  has a fantastic infographic that explains how good content can feel as good as a cold beer on a hot summer day.  You’re gonna love this one.

Thou Shalt Not Tweet Thy Breakfast: The ELEVEN Commandments of #Social #Media #Marketing
Gary Schirr actually gives a bonus Twelfth Commandment.  What started out as an assignment for seven MBA students to come up with ten principles, turned into commandments.  This is a great list.

The Future of Content Marketing in 3 Tweets?
Adrian Lurssen gives her perspective on and highlights 3 noteworthy tweets by Joe Pulizzi which, each in their own way, provides a window into what the future might hold for this ever-changing digital marketing landscape. For each tweet she offers up a great takeaway.

Four Tips to Accelerate Sales Through the b2B Content Funnel
Paul Gustafson asks “Does your content do most of the selling for your company? It should. And as a B2B marketer in today’s world, you’re on the hook to make it happen.”  Check out his four tips and great graphics.

5 Content Marketing Lessons You Don’t Want to Learn the Hard Way
Kevin Cain urges marketers not to “fall into the analysis paralysis trap. Instead, start creating some content straight away and testing it in the market. Learn from that experience and evolve your strategy and processes as you do. Not only will you have something tangible to point to when you talk about your content marketing program, you will also have some opportunities to gain actual insights about what you’ve done and to adjust accordingly.  Some great advice here in these 5 tips.

8 Insights on How to Optimize Your Social Media Marketing: Study
If you want to be effective on social media, consider these eight insights provided here by Jeff Bullas along with some great visuals.  Some really valuable things to consider.

How Psychology Will Shape the Future of Social Media Marketing
Jayson DeMers says “Social media marketing is still a relatively new field, but basic psychological concepts still apply. The best way to succeed in reaching your customer base is to begin to see things as they do. Study your online results and make notes on which behaviors get the best response and soon, you’ll have a roadmap for getting better results.”  Check out Jayson’ article for six excellent takeaways.

Content Marketing Traits That are Crucial to Success
Is your content marketing team a “dream team”?  Kudos to Michael Gerard for bringing not only this great infographic, but breaking it down into smaller parts with some great detail.  Here he gives us the anatomy of a “dream”content marketing person.  Check it out to see what skillsets and characteristics make up a rock star content marketer.

How To Create Content for Internet “Scanners” Instead of “Readers
Author Kelly Kranz admits to being a scanner (me too).  In this article she looks (no pun intended) at some ways to create content that is scanner friendly and yet still gets your main points across.  So whether you’re a scanner or a reader, you can do either one and enjoy this!

7 Social Media Tricks You Haven’t Heard Before
Danielle Cormier claims “These social media tricks are not complicated and can help you enhance your business’s social media presence, improve your engagement rate, and help you reach new customers.”  Do you agree?

Top 4 Professional Skills Mastered When Working in B2B Inside Sales
Both young and experienced sales professionals must have the drive to learn, grow, and perform in order to succeed in inside sales.  Patrice Morrison shares just some of the benefits of an inside sales career found in these four professional skills that come along with the territory (get it? territory?).  They are:   Autonomy, Independence, Flexibility, and Communication.  Is a sales job right for you?