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Brian Carroll

Why Servant Marketing Matters

Brian Carroll August 18th, 2014

As I talk to marketing and sales leaders, I hear this reoccurring theme: “I want to do something that really matters; I want to feel what I’m doing is really making a real difference.”

I feel the same way, but I’ve painfully learned that it’s futile to make changes outside before we make changes inside. This requires a different kind of thinking to drive a different way of marketing.

In our rush to obtain leads, drive opportunities and close sales to move the sales needle, it’s too easy to forget that we need to address the needs, wants, hopes and aspirations of our customers.

The problem with today’s customers

Today’s customers are weary of pitches, hype, buzzwords, corporate speak and manipulative messages, and as a result, they ignore them.

This is especially true for companies that have a complex sale where B2B buyers face daunting decisions that involve huge risks, and sellers struggle to articulate their value propositions and differentiate themselves from competitors.

Customers aren’t saying, “We need solutions.” Instead, they’re saying, “We need to solve a problem.”

So what would happen if we focused on helping them do just that?

Serve first and market second

With this in mind, I’ve been reflecting on servant leadership for the past year. Robert Greenleaf’s work on servant leadership states this: “Serve first and lead second.”servant-marketing

I believe this idea can also be applied to sales and marketing. Let’s call it servant marketing, which can be defined as “serve first and market second.”

Servant marketing works like this: How we sell and market informs customers of how we’re going to serve them. It’s not what we say; it’s what we actually do that matters.

I’d like your input to help me define this better. I think servant marketing is built on the following ideas:

  • Empathize with your customers and walk in their shoes to understand their problems
  • Think like your customers when they set out to solve a problem and understand each step they take to solve that problem
  • Learn how you can help make your customers lives better
  • Provide your customers what they want
  • Help customers identify and solve problems
  • Give customers content and expertise that helps them gain clarity
  • Empower employees who touch your customers with the resources, training and tools to really help them

Our customers are more sophisticated than ever and have access to more information and more options. There’s no room for game-playing or guessing. We have to know what they want and give that to them. If we can give them what they want, we can create a competitive advantage that will reap higher margins and profits.

I realize this may seem altruistic, but it’s not. It has an economic benefit. One company that I’m hoping to interview for a future blog post practices servant marketing and generates 200% more revenue per customer than their competitors.

I’m looking for more companies that practice servant marketing.

Do you know of any? Let me know in the comments section below. Please feel free share your thoughts on servant marketing.

Image Attribution: Adam Verspaget

You might also like

Guided by Buyers: 4 tactics to create a customer-centric sales and marketing strategy [MarketingSherpa how-to article]

B2B Marketing: Embracing customer centricity [More from the blogs]

Customer-centric Marketing: Using metaphors in your B2B strategy [More from the blogs]

Marketing Research Chart: Question your assumptions for true customer-centric marketing [MarketingSherpa Research Chart of the Week]

Marketing Strategy

Brian Carroll

How to Put the Customer First in Lead Generation

Brian Carroll August 11th, 2014

Putting customers first in lead generation.

As marketers, we have more ways to observe our customers’ behavior and can leverage tools like marketing automation, Web analytics and CRM systems to help us manage all this complexity.

Complexity found in things like Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs), Sales-qualified leads (SQLs), opportunities, lead engagement scores and other KPIs are helpful to see trends and measure what we deem important to us, but something is often missing.empathy

That missing piece is customer empathy.

Unfortunately, empathy is often ignored or lost when we start to become overly clever and complex with lead generation.

We can get so caught up in our systems, tools and investments that we lose sight of empathy.

To build that empathy, I recommend:

Push the acronyms aside and actually talk to your customers

Sadly, I’ve found that marketers don’t talk directly with the very people they are reaching out to with lead generation messages. All too often, customer service agents and sales reps are the only ones talking to customers live and/or in real life.

Here’s some ways to fix that:

  • Pick up the phone
  • Survey customers on your email list
  • Get out in the field with your sales team and meet customers face to face

It is critical to know what customers want in order to serve them better.

Businesses often take understanding the customer for granted when this is one thing that should be always valued. For ideas on the questions to ask your customers, read this post from the B2B Lead Roundable Blog: “8 Questions to Steer Your Marketing Priorities.”

Use those conversations to understand what customers care about

Instead of worrying about being interesting, you need to first be interested in your customer. Your goal is to understand your customer’s motivation (what they want) and make sure that’s aligned with what you can deliver.

It is most effective to actively listen with empathy to consciously try to understand and see the world from the other person’s perspective.

Avoid “hearing” through a filter formed by your own worldview as a marketer, and do not impose your preconceived ideas on what you hear, because doing so will inhibit your efforts to put yourself in your customers’ shoes.

Use that understanding to anticipate what they want next from your organization

You need to move from company logic to customer logic.

Customers want to work with people and companies that can step in their shoes and understand the results they are trying to achieve. But before you can do this, you must first actively listen to them and understand their situation and concerns.

At its core, lead generation is really about relationships.

I’m wondering what would happen if we stopped treating people as leads (dehumanizing) and instead treated them as human beings or future customers. What would happen if we put ourselves in our future customers’ shoes and looked at our messages from their perspective and trying to feel what they are feeling when they hear from us?

If you want to improve your influence and empathetic connection with people, watch this RSA short:

In this 3-minute animated video, Dr. Brené Brown reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathetic connection if we are brave enough to really get in touch with our own fragilities.

Image Attribution: Crystal Coleman

You might also like

Customer-centric Marketing: How transparency translates into trust [More from the blogs]

Customer-centric Marketing: Learning from customers helps increase lead quality 130%, Sales-accepted leads 40% [Case study]

Customer-centric Marketing: 7 triggers to engage customers and build loyalty [More from the blogs]

Creating Customer-centric Messaging for Optimal Lead Generation [Webinar replay]

Lead Generation

Brian Carroll

Why Empathetic Marketing Matters and 7 Steps to Achieve It

Brian Carroll March 3rd, 2014

I am at the earliest stages of developing a sequel to Lead Generation for the Complex Sale. It’s been a decade since the first draft and I’ve been contemplating how much business has changed since then.

Today’s sales and marketing environment is a paradox: There have never been more opportunities to reach customers; yet reaching them has never been more challenging.

We have more marketing channels than ever. We’ve moved from traditional advertising to social media, content marketing and beyond. But, I can’t help but wonder, as we have more ways to talk to our customers, are they really listening? Or are they shutting us out as we hurl more pitches at them from different angles?

I believe you can’t really answer that question unless you know precisely what your customers want. This requires letting go of our own assumptions of what we think they want and putting ourselves in their place.

This requires empathy, which according to Miriam-Webster, “is the ability to share someone else’s feeling.” To feel what they feel and think what they think.

Unfortunately, too many in corporate America believe sociopathic behavior – being laser-focused on getting what you want at the expense of everyone else – accelerates businesses and careers to success.

That’s so “Wolf of Wall Street.” What worked two decades ago won’t work today. Sociopathic behavior may be why too many businesses are struggling.

I believe to succeed in the new millennium, we must embrace empathy on every level with every customer – both internal and external. Our customers are more sophisticated than ever and have access to more information and more options. There’s no room for game-playing or guessing. We have to know what they want and give that to them.

Here’s an overview of what I believe can help achieve this. I plan on expanding on these points in future B2B Lead Roundtable Blog posts:

1. Put the customer first. Instead of worrying about being interesting, we need to first be interested. Understand the customer’s motivation (what they want) and make sure that’s aligned with what we can deliver.

2. Listen and seek to understand. Do we know why our customers say “yes”? Why are they buying from us? What are the steps they need take to say “yes”? What difference have we made for our customers because they bought our product or service?

3. Stop marketing, start conversing. Focus on developing conversations, not campaigns. Don’t err on the side of pushing our agenda rather than extending an invitation to converse. To the customer, it feels like “somebody wants something from me” rather than “maybe they can help me get what I want.” We need to demonstrate that we’re interested in their world and their motivations. Invite, listen, engage and recommend.

4. Help. The best marketing and sales doesn’t feel like marketing and sales at all. It feels like helping because it is. Our lead nurturing needs to be built on this concept.

5. Give them content they’ll want to share. This organically emerges from the first four points of placing the customer first, understanding them, conversing with them and helping them.

6. Remember that proximity is influence. Empower those closest to our customer – the sales team, inside sales team, sales engineers and customer service people – to be able to achieve the points above.

7. Practice empathy personally to set an example. Our customers are everyone we serve – including our staff and our coworkers. Show them how it’s done by practicing empathy yourself.

This introduces another paradox: We’ve never been more advanced with ways to connect with prospects, but we’re still not communicating effectively with them. A good start to doing that effectively begins with empathy.

What are your thoughts? Do you think empathetic marketing is achievable for your organization, why or why not?

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Content Marketing, Lead Generation, Lead Nurturing, Marketing Strategy, Thought Leadership

Brian Carroll

3 Important Lessons for Lead Gen and Life

Brian Carroll December 16th, 2013

This year, more than ever, has been humbling for me.

People look to me as an expert at lead generation because I wrote a book and speak about it. But it seems the more I learn, the less I think I know.

I probably am more acutely aware of this because I work for MECLABS, an organization that is laser-focused on learning and teaching others – including many global organizations – about how to continuously improve marketing.

Consequently, I’m constantly learning and constantly discovering how much more I have to learn. Read on for three important lessons instilled in me this year.

Use your knowledge resources

I have to confess: I began 2013 feeling behind. I’m charged with helping MECLABS attain Research Partnerships. This is more complex than standard lead generation – we’re not trying to sell. Instead, we’re trying to identify organizations that can fit our specific research model. We end up turning away prospects far more than we accept.

Frankly, back in January, I wanted to have more momentum in this process, but I felt like I had far too much to accomplish and far too little time to accomplish it. So, in that situation, who has time to review case studies and reports?

Who has time to strategize?

Reflecting on it 12 months later, I realize that smart, effective people do, because that’s when they discover the solutions to help them accomplish their goals.

Practice what you preach

I finally allowed myself the time to examine our organization’s vast knowledge of online testing to determine how this knowledge could be applied to conversations over the phone.

You see, much of our process for accepting Research Partner applications transpires via the phone channel. In this process, our first goal is to make sure our prospects are delighted that we contacted them; our second is to identify a potential Research Partner.

Of course, the steps to test online cannot be simply layered over the phone conversations. The human touch is different than the virtual one.

However, we successfully applied the patented Conversion Heuristic, created by MarketingExperiments, a division of MECLABS, that has typically been used as a systematic framework to analyze a conversion process.

Learn more about our experience with that here: “Lead Generation: How using science increased teleprospecting sales handoffs 304%.”

Through these efforts, we are now doing significantly more teleprospecting in less time. Here’s just one example: We wanted to learn how to structure a voicemail to attract the highest rate of callbacks.

We discovered that immediately mentioning a free Benchmark Report, as opposed to waiting until the next sentence, increased call backs by 182% – that’s nearly double! Consider the increased productivity: those are 182% fewer people our analysts have to call back.

If I had practiced what MECLABS preached earlier in the year, I could have been up to speed much more quickly in achieving my goals.

Simplicity is the true sign of expertise

As I continually learn new methods to improve my own lead generation, I understand the process better. In fact, a few years ago, I wrote this e-book: Eight Critical Success Factors for Lead Generation. If I wrote this book today, I would boil it down to just three:

  • Engaging the right people in the right companies
  • With the right message
  • And nurturing that conversation until the right time

A true measure of expertise, I realize, is the ability to make the seemingly complex so simple that anyone can understand it.

Einstein was right when he proclaimed that if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t know it well enough. Once again, I now realize how much I didn’t know a year ago, how much I know today, and how much more – really, so much more – I still need to learn.

What lead gen and life lessons did you learn in 2013? I’d love to hear about them. Let me know in the comments below.

Related Resources

Lead Management: 4 principles to follow

B2B Marketing: What an 11% drop in conversion taught a live audience about lead gen

Lead Nurturing: How a social business strategy can help you move from selling to helping your prospects

Thought Leadership, Uncategorized

Brian Carroll

Lead Generation: How using science increased teleprospecting sales handoffs 304%

Brian Carroll September 23rd, 2013

I have a confession to make.

There’s something I wish I would have known when I wrote my best-seller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale.

It’s this:

This is a patented Conversion Heuristic created by MarketingExperiments, a division of MECLABS, that’s typically been used as a systematic framework to analyze a conversion process.

So, I wanted to see if this heuristic could be applied to lead generation through teleprospecting.

After all, we’re trying to convert people, convince them to say “yes” to whatever we’re selling, but we’re doing it in the real world, not the virtual one.

Anyone who has worked in inside sales knows that sales professionals are always informally testing to learn what works and what doesn’t.

The heuristic just applies scientific principles to that testing process.

It’s no wonder it was easy for us to find a client who allowed us to make a guinea pig of their teleprospecting program, and they’re glad they did because we increased sales handoffs by 304%.

Below is an outline of how we made it happen.

Here’s the problem we were solving for:

What messaging creates increased lead conversion and maximizes return on energy?

Simply stated …

How can we get the most sales handoffs with the least effort?

You see, salespeople are always struggling with having enough time to sell. You can only put your energy in so many places.

Test #1. We adjusted the call guide from being product-focused to customer-focused

The heuristic begins with motivation (or 4m) as the most heavily weighted element impacting the likelihood of a conversion.

Therefore, we hypothesized the more our call guide could match a prospect’s motivation for being interested in our services, the more likely they would move forward in the sales cycle.

Instead of launching a call by talking about the product and how it can help – in this case, it was professional services – we began by asking prospects about what motivated their engagement.

As an incentive, we also offered content addressing that motivation.

The result: After pulling a baseline of activities from the previous month using the same manpower and then comparing the outcomes, we concluded that we spoke directly with decision makers 46.3% more often.

But, here’s a little conundrum

While we were speaking with more decision makers, our sales handoffs didn’t have an equally marked increase.

Our hypothesis for the lack of equal increase: we were engaging candidates earlier, but they just weren’t ready to buy.

Test #2. We radically redesigned our approach

We developed a completely new call guide focusing on two objectives:

  1. Delight the prospect by focusing completely on their needs. This was the priority because by doing so, they’ll eventually turn into a sales-ready lead.
  2. Uncover a sales-ready lead.

We achieved these by also focusing on three areas that subconsciously motivated prospects to say, “Yes, I want to move forward.” Essentially, we were working toward building the ultimate yes with our prospects.

The three areas we focused on were:

Urgency: Give prospects a good reason to talk to us immediately.

In their mind, the prospect asks, “Who are you and why should I talk to you?” and we answered by:

  • Reviewing our client’s customer relationship management system to see how prospects most recently engaged.
  • Building our conversation around that knowledge.

Relevancy: In their mind, the prospect is asking, “Are you relevant to me and my company?”

We made it clear how the client’s brand is relevant by focusing on the prospects’ needs based on:

  • How they most recently engaged with the organization.
  • Only focusing on prospects who were the best fit for the client and disregarding the rest.

Importance: In their mind, the prospect asks, “Why should I talk you to you now?”

We increased their motivation to engage by offering an even more compelling incentive that matched or exceeded their motivation – in this case, it was a report worth hundreds of dollars.

Urgency, relevancy and importance were reinforced by both direct contact and follow-up emails.

The result: We increased decision-maker contacts and helped build a pipeline for future sales. But while sales handoffs increased, we wanted to see even more of a lift.

Test #3. We changed the call guides and added compelling follow-up emails to intensify urgency

We keenly focused on discovering our prospects’ most pressing challenges and responded to them.

An important difference between using the heuristic for landing page optimization and teleprospecting is with telesprospecting, you can immediately adjust the message in real time to match prospect motivations.

This test took full advantage of that opportunity.

When prospects talked about specific issues – issues that may not have been the focus of our initial conversation – we shifted our conversation to match their motivation.

We also added an email to follow-up voicemails.

The email heightened urgency and relevancy by giving prospects multiple incentives.

This was usually in the form of reports worth hundreds of dollars – but if they wanted to get the incentive, they had to call us back and let us know their issues so we could match the report to their needs.

This gave us an opportunity to learn more about their organization and identify how to increase their motivation.

The result: We increased sales handoffs by 138% and made the compounded sales handoff increase across all three tests by 304%.

Was the heuristic applicable to teleprospecting?

For me, these tests confirm my curiosity that the Conversion Heuristic would work both online and offline to improve lead generation.

It sets the foundation for creating a repeatable, scalable telesprospecting process to will help you achieve the highest ROI.

Rest assured, this is just the beginning of our discussion about the value of the Conversion Heuristic, we’ll be writing more blog posts on this subject to help you apply it to your organization.

In the meantime, feel free to join the conversation about lead generation in the comments, or if you want to learn more, check out some of the resources also below.

Related Resources:

Lead Gen: A proposed replacement for BANT

Landing page Optimization online course

Customer Connection: Does your entire marketing process connect to your customers’ motivations?

Landing Page Optimization: Addressing customer anxiety

Landing Page Optimization: Test ideas for B2B lead capture page

Lead Generation

Brian Carroll

Marketing Optimization: 3 steps to gain C-suite buy-in

Brian Carroll June 24th, 2013

A few months ago in my blog post, “How Dissatisfied CEOs Push Marketers into the Future,” I responded to an article reporting that one in five CEOs believe marketers:

  • Provide a return on investment
  • Have “solid influence” within their organizations
  • Are candidates for senior management

These marketers have the respect of the C-suite because they connect their efforts to what their leadership wants most:

  • More leads
  • More sales
  • Shortened time to revenue
  • Reduced marketing-to-sales expense

I enjoyed meeting hundreds of marketers like this at MarketingSherpa and MarketingExperiments Optimization Summit 2013, held in Boston last month. I’ve never seen a group more passionate about making a positive, measurable impact on their organization.

It felt good that we could help them through the inspiration of speakers who shared their real-world optimization success, as well as through our training and certification programs that gave them what they needed to know to:

  • Create an optimization project plan and testing strategy
  • Optimize Web assets for more conversions, leads and sales
  • Communicate clear, consistent value across all marketing channels
  • Test their way into durable, long-term success

But this year, regardless of the obvious benefits of optimization, an overwhelming number of marketers had a common question:

“How do I get buy-in from the C-suite to expand optimization?”

I believe when leadership can connect to what Marketing is doing to drive revenue, buy-in isn’t a problem. So, I offered these steps to help marketers achieve C-suite support:

Step #1: Know your leadership’s objectives

Step #2: Identify how testing can help achieve key objectives

Step #3: Choose tests that will:

  • Make the greatest impact within the next 90 days
  • Produce results that will give you clear insight on how to improve your marketing efforts. As Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, has said, “The goal isn’t to get a lift – it’s to get a learning.”

A small, successful test can be all the proof your leadership needs to expand your budget to include testing and optimization. One of my favorite examples of small optimization tests is changing the copy of a call-to-action button or where it appears on the page.

Think that’s too small? Think again.

This type of test resulted in a 90% increase in traffic for one marketer.

So, if you need a few more ideas on what to test, check out this video from Optimization Summit 2012 – 30 Ideas in 30 Minutes: Rapid-fire tips and techniques to help you solve your most challenging problems.

If the feedback we received from participants is any indication, Optimization Summit 2013 was our best ever. But optimization isn’t just a one-time event. It’s an ongoing process of discovery, and I promise marketers who embrace it will:

  • Drive the highest returns from their time and resources
  • Firmly establish themselves among the 20% of marketers that CEOs adore

Flint sums it up best:

“There’s no such thing as expert marketers, only experienced marketers and expert testers.”

Related Resources:

Lead Gen Summit 2013, Sept. 30 – Oct. 3 in San Francisco

Testing: A discussion about SAP’s 27% lift in incremental sales leads

Optimization Summit 2013 Wrap-up: Top 5 takeaways for testing websites, pay-per-click ads and email

Optimization: A discussion about an e-commerce company’s 500% sales increase

Analytics and Testing: 3 tips to optimize your testing efforts

Marketing Strategy

Brian Carroll

Webinar: Inside Sales Virtual Summit reveals selling best practices

Brian Carroll June 17th, 2013

A top struggle for sales professionals is optimizing selling time and driving lead generation.

On Thursday, June 20, at the Inside Sales Virtual Summit, I will reveal how a billion-dollar telecommunications company addressed this situation by:

  • Bringing science and testing to their calling process, and
  • Reducing their time to lead by more than 60%

In the process, you’ll learn the data insight you need to drive success by making the most of every moment of your selling day.

Joining me at this free event will be 62 of the world’s leading sales and marketing professionals who will share their newest and best sales practices. They include:

Best Selling Sales Authors

- Guy Kawasaki, Art of the Start

- Jeffrey Gitomer, Little Red Book of Selling

- Matt Dixon, The Challenger Sale

- Mike Bosworth, Solution Selling

- Jill Konrath, SNAP Selling

Top Experts

- Brian Frank, LinkedIn

- David Elkington, InsideSales.com

- Liz Gelb-O’Connor, ADP

- Barry Trailer, CSO Insights

- Josh James, Domo

If you want to invest time that will provide the knowledge you need to produce better results faster, I strongly encourage you to attend.

Register here

Date: Thursday, June 20, 2013

Time: 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Pacific / 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Eastern

Related Resources:

How IntraLinks Used Social Media to Generate Twice as Many Sales-ready Leads as Any Other Channel

B2B Sales Cycle: 4 steps to avoid the wasteful ‘no decision’

Lead Generation: Phone calls turn first-time webinar into million-dollar leads

Sales

Brian Carroll

Email Marketing: 4 steps to relevancy 85% of B2B businesses probably aren’t taking

Brian Carroll April 22nd, 2013

Email marketing is a mature marketing tactic, yet I don’t believe B2B organizations are capitalizing on its potential to generate leads.

I realized this when I read MarketingSherpa’s just-released 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report. They surveyed 594 B2B and B2G marketers, of which just about half send out 10,000 to 10 million emails every month. The top priority for the entire group is to deliver highly relevant emails – it ranks above even driving website traffic and revenue.

This makes sense, considering highly relevant email will achieve the other two goals.

But, I wonder how easily they can create highly relevant emails when only 15% reported they have dedicated resources to produce content for each stage of the buying process, as you can see in the below chart, Chart 3.32 – Tactics utilized to improve email relevance and engagement:

Q: Which of the following tactics is your organization using to improve the relevance and engagement of email content delivered to subscribers?


This makes me wonder what is being sent in those 10,000-plus emails each month:

  • Do they know what information their prospects want at each stage of the buying cycle?
  • Do they know how they want to consume that information?
  • Do they have the means to provide that information through their emails?

If they can’t confidently answer “yes” to these questions, how do they expect to achieve their goal of producing emails that are relevant to their marketplace?

I discussed this with my colleague Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS, and he agreed with my concern and related a conversation he had with one of our company’s Research Partners. They, too, wanted to send emails that were relevant and didn’t know where to begin. Typically, as a matter of rote, they blasted out an email every week about one of their products. The marketing team knew it wasn’t the optimal approach, but didn’t have the time to think it through – the emails had become merely another part of their weekly list of activities.

Daniel advised them to ask these questions before any email send:

  • What is the goal they’re trying to achieve? What is the pain they’re trying to ease? Essentially, know your audience. (I know this is Marketing 101, but when the vast majority of B2B organizations aren’t dedicating the resources to respond to these issues in emails, I thought it needed to be pointed out.)
  • Is this a content-focused or promotional email? If it’s content-focused, then what content do you have that’s going to help them ease their pain or achieve their goals? And remember, good content doesn’t sell – it provides information to help prospects regardless of whether they buy from you.  (Promotional emails may teeter way too much on the brink of spam unless they can directly relieve a prospects’ pain point or help them achieve a goal.)
  • Why should they open your email? Does the subject line clearly and concisely convey why it’s worth it for them to use their precious time to read it? Are you making a promise you can deliver on?
  • Why should they want to engage with you further after reading the email? If you’re directing your audience to a landing page, what in the email should compel them to click through to read it? What’s in it for them if they do? Does that landing page deliver the promised value? Is it crystal clear what their next step should be? Again, what’s in it for them if they take that next step?

Taking Daniel’s advice will put marketers well on their way to achieving their goal of email relevancy, and all of the benefits that come with it.

Related Resources:

Email Marketing: How to maintain low opt-out rates

Email Marketing: Only 21% of marketers integrating mobile with email

Email Deliverability: Only 39% of marketers maintain an opt-in only subscriber list

Email Marketing: 3 overlooked aspects of automated messages

Email Marketing

Brian Carroll

Email Marketing: How to maintain low opt-out rates

Brian Carroll March 25th, 2013

I had the pleasure of attending MarketingSherpa’s Email Summit 2013 a couple of weeks ago, and while I was there, Jim Ducharme, Community Director, GetResponse, an email marketing vendor, asked me how to maintain low email-marketing opt-out rates.

My answer, in a word, was relevance. Watch the video below to find out more.

Relevance is the foundation of lead generation, which is, at its core, a series of conversations. Like real-time conversations, we can’t bore the recipients of our emails by talking about ourselves all the time – we have to discuss what they care about.

  • If all we do is focus on winning the sale, they’re going to tune out or opt out.
  • If we focus on how we can help them, we’re going to build trust, and when they trust you, they’ll stick around and likely buy whatever it is you’re selling.

The foundation of relevance is knowledge of your marketplace:

  • Know what keeps your prospect up at night,
  • Know what makes their lives easier or harder and
  • Know how your value proposition helps.

This knowledge provides the context for compelling, relevant conversations your prospects will be eager to be a part of. Below are a handful of articles from the B2B Lead Roundtable blog to help you generate these kinds of conversations with your customers.

8 Questions to Steer Your Marketing Priorities – Find out the value of asking a handful of customers questions directly – not through surveys, focus groups, digital body language or social media.

Lead Nurturing: Build trust, win more deals by helping prospects – not selling them – Find out how to execute a relevant conversation.

3 Steps that Helped Skyline Exhibits Increase New Product Sales by 18% – Learn how Skyline Exhibits identifies and responds to problems in a way that improves its value to customers.

Sales-Marketing Alignment: How consistent messaging helped ADP engage customers at a faster pace – ADP reveals how Marketing and Sales align themselves to enhance the value proposition by identifying and responding to unmet customer needs.

Content Marketing: Slow, steady pay off for manufacturer – Find out how a manufacturer’s simple email campaign, featuring one piece of relevant content a month, is producing more leads than trade shows at a fraction of the price.

Related Resources:

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013 Wrap-up: Top 5 takeaways for email marketers

Mining Gold through Email Integration: 3 lessons from MarketingSherpa Email Awards 2013 winners

Email Marketing: 142% higher open rate, 15% bigger list from retailer’s strategy

Marketing Automation: 25% more engagement, 0% unsubscribe in 4-email series

Email Marketing

Brian Carroll

How Dissatisfied CEOs Push Marketers into the Future

Brian Carroll February 25th, 2013

I feel very fortunate to work with some of the world’s most progressive marketers.  Whether they’re MECLABS Research Partners or attendees at one of our Summits, these marketers are driven to prove to their leadership that their efforts drive a return on investment.

They focus on measurable outcomes that translate into revenue, not vague notions like “brand awareness” that were the cornerstone of marketing back in the day. This is why they are attracted to us: We don’t believe there are expert marketers, only expert testers.  At MECLABS, we approach marketing more as a science than an art.

So, when I saw this article in MarketingWeek, 70% of CEOs Have Lost Trust in Marketers, it gave me pause. Interviews with 1,200 CEOs across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia revealed they believe marketers have “continuously failed” to prove marketing strategies deliver on business growth.

Are CEOs disappointed, or are they just waking up?

The article concerned me because these findings are completely incongruous with what I witness among the marketers I come in contact with every day. I believe the results are merely a snapshot: A static picture of what is happening right now.

It misses the point of a massive trend developing. CEOs are waking up. They’re seeing opportunity to align key performance indicators (KPIs) with clear marketing objectives. This is probably why doing a better job of acting on data to improve marketing performance is the goal of 66% of the 1,260 marketers surveyed as part of MarketingSherpa’s 2013 Marketing Analytics Benchmark Report. (Check out the report’s free excerpt.)

The Internet has closed down old-school marketing

The old-school approach to marketing, with the fuzziness associated with measuring the brand impact of traditional media like television, is running its course. The Internet has changed the playing field.

However, the Internet is more than a channel – it’s a laboratory to get into the customer’s mind and close the gap between the customer’s reality and ours. We use the Internet to focus on the customer, not the product, and to translate those findings across online and offline marketing so the organization is fully aligned with customers’ desires.

A return to true marketing

When this happens, so does effective marketing. To paraphrase Peter Drucker, the aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.

How well you’re able to do this is measured in marketing KPIs like conversions and clickthrough rates, but those need to be translated into what matters most to CEOs:

  • More leads
  • More revenue
  • Shorter time to revenue
  • Improved marketing-to-sales expense

Fortunately, that’s what the marketers we work with are mastering through leveraging the Internet. They’re testing what’s most resonating with customers, and what isn’t, and then revising campaigns accordingly to drive the best results.

I believe these marketers represent the other end of the CEO spectrum: The 20% featured in the article who believe their marketers provide a return on investment, have “solid influence” within their organizations, and are candidates for senior management.

These marketers represent the future of the profession.

Related Resources:

How to Get the CEO to Support Your Next Marketing Plan

Most important B2B Marketing Metrics For CEOs

Is Revenue Contribution the Best Executive Metric for Demand Generation Investments?

Marketing Data: Using predictive analytics to make sense of big data

Marketing Strategy