mardi 31 mars 2015

3 Reasons Your AdWords Performance Sucks

OK, so now I’ve got your attention I will make the bold but rather obvious assumption that you currently have a Google AdWords campaign live & you do not believe it’s performing to the best of its abilities.

Well, you are probably right.

So get your pen and paper ready, because the next 8 minutes of your life are going to help you save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in advertising spend, whilst improving ROI and driving more conversions to your business.

We all know how to set up a Google AdWords account, how to build a campaign, add keywords and go live. However, what a lot of people don’t realize is that there is much more to Google AdWords, there is a science behind it.

Over the next couple of minutes I am going to discuss 3 of the biggest money-draining issues that appear in Google AdWords accounts, and I can guarantee that you suffer from at least 1 of these.

1. Broad match keywords are sucking up all of your budgets

Pay Per Click

Google AdWords has 3 match types, right? Wrong – they have 4 match types these are – broad, broad match modified, phrase & exact.

To be honest, there are 7 but we are not going to include negative match types, as they are not relevant in this section.

Back to the matter in hand, one of the biggest mistakes most people make when using Google AdWords is utilizing the wrong match type.

One of the biggest mistakes most people make when using Google AdWords is utilizing the wrong match type.


Generally, because they are not fully aware of the options available and secondly, they don’t completely understand how the match types work.

So, let me just put it bluntly – do not use broad match type.

There, I said it and I am very happy to get that out. The reason I am telling you not to use broad match is simply because it’s well, too broad. It’s practically uncontrollable, unless you want to spend hours and hours of your day negative matching irrelevant keywords. Also, it’s just silly since you have a much more effective and efficient match type available called “broad match modified”.

What’s the difference between broad match & broad match modified?

There is a big difference between these two match types, broad match works like this:

Let’s say you are targeting the keyword “Apple iPad” on broad match. This technically means that you could appear for anything including the query “Apple” or “iPad” or both, such as:

• Red Apple

• iPad Help

• iPad Tips

• Applebottoms

• Apple iPad 3

If however, you chose to have “Apple iPad” on broad match modified, and you added the necessary “+” in front of each individual keyword within the query, you would limit yourself to queries such as:

• Apple iPad 3

• Apple iPad Sale

• Apple iPad Case

Therefore, restricting you from appearing for any irrelevant queries within the SERP.

Broad Match Modified allows for significantly more control whilst ensuring you get relevant exposure.

To summarize using broad match type is not recommended in almost any circumstance, broad match modified allows for significantly more control whilst ensuring you are getting the most relevant exposure. I recommend that you go and check your account right now for any broad keywords and change them immediately.

2. You don’t separate your match types into different ad groups or campaigns


Another big issue is when people don’t segment keywords by match type, this is absolutely crucial for those looking to grow their accounts and to reduce waste.

Whether you have a brand new account or a 5-year-old account, you should have separate campaigns or ad groups for each match type you are using. Allow me to explain this properly through the following example:

You are running a campaign for the promotion of the new Apple iPad 3 and you want to ensure you are getting maximum exposure, whilst targeting the most relevant keywords and having a tight control on the best performing keywords.

In this case you will want the following campaign structure:

Campaign 1: Apple iPad – Broad

Ad Groups: Broad

Keywords: +Apple +iPad

Campaign 2: Apple iPad – Exact

Ad Groups: Exact

Keywords: [Apple iPad]

OK the above is a really, really small example of how to structure campaigns and separate your match types, but I hope you get the picture.

Notice I didn’t use phrase match? Well, if you use broad match modified and exact match there is very little point for using phrase match. The whole idea of the broad match modified campaign is to fish for new queries. You then run a search query report that will highlight any winning keywords (those which convert at a target CPA or can be optimized to do so) and any poor keywords (those which spend, but never convert). With the winning keywords you add these to your exact match campaign and then cross-negative match them in your broad match campaign. The poor keywords are automatically negative matched in the broad match campaign.

Over time what you would expect to see is impressions and clicks decreasing in the broad match campaign, whilst in the exact match campaign, impressions and clicks would increase at a slower rate.

I realize the above was a lot to take in, but I urge you to go and check your accounts right now and check whether your keywords have been put in to separate campaigns based on their match type.

3. You do not take advantage of all the relevant ad extensions

Ad Extensions

Another big one, and even bigger since Google changed the algorithm to make it more compelling for AdWords users to actually implement as many relevant ad extensions as possible.

There are a variety of ad extensions, and the list continues to grow but the most obvious and probably most important for you to use are the enhanced sitelinks.

But first, before we get on to the different ad extensions available, let me tell you why it’s more important than ever to use them.

On the 22nd October 2013, Google quietly released an update to their AdWords Ad Rank algorithm that basically meant that ad extensions now factored in to the ad rank algorithm.

To put it simply, if you were trying to outrank a competitor and you didn’t use ad extensions but they did, then they would win. This is why it is now more important than ever to use ad extensions, although you should be using them anyway.

With that being said, take a look in to your account and see which ad extensions you are using, if you are not using the following ad extensions then add them.

Enhanced Sitelinks

These are an absolute essential for any Google AdWords account, I recommend adding 6-8 sitelinks per campaign, and ensuring that you add two lines of text to the description boxes for each sitelink.

Callout Extensions

This is one of the most recent ad extensions to be introduced, which allows you to add additional text about your business. It’s basically an area to highlight your company’s unique selling points or main areas of expertise.

Call Extensions

If you have a company phone number and you take enquiries over the phone then this is a must-have, especially if you are a lead generation business, or a phone call is required.

Location Extensions

If you have a physical location, a shop, a restaurant, a café or an office then consider adding location extensions so potential customers can easily locate you.

Review Extensions

Do you have a product that has been reviewed by a third party company? Then be sure to add review extensions to highlight any glowing reviews of your products or services.

App Extensions

If you have an app, then begin promoting it today through App Extensions.

If you were trying to outrank a competitor and didn’t use ad extensions but they did – they would win.

The point is, if any of the above ad extensions are relevant to you then add them; it will help improve your overall ad rank which will help to improve the positioning of your ad, the click through rate and therefore help to decrease your cost per click. Not only this, but each ad extension will help in its own unique way, whilst also bolstering your advertisement space, therefore creating a more overpowering and engaging advertisement with the SERPs.

Final Thoughts

If you have read this far then I hope you have made the relevant changes to your AdWords account. Now take a note of the date you made those changes and check your performance data over the next couple of days and weeks to see what difference it has made.

I just covered 3 of the biggest issues I find in Google AdWords accounts, but there are plenty more. If you want to optimize your AdWords account, improve the efficiency and generate a more effective advertising campaign then be sure to follow Google’s best practices, use their support website & follow the official AdWords blogspot.

3 Reasons Your AdWords Performance Sucks

Outbound vs. Inbound Marketing: Can You Have One Without the Other?

inbound versus outbound marketing methodsCan you run a successful inbound marketing strategy without any direct mail, offline events, or other forms of outbound marketing? Can you grow your company on outbound marketing alone without any inbound marketing efforts?

It may come as a serious disappointment to you, but the answer is both “not really” and “it really depends.”

As always, there are always edge cases where a business can thrive using exclusively old-fashioned or new-fangled marketing efforts. However, for the vast majority of us, a sense of balance is absolutely crucial. And here’s why:

What is the Difference Between Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing? You may know it better as interruption marketing, disruption marketing, or even non-permissive marketing. We’re talking about the types of disruptive marketing that may ruin your day. Television advertisements, radio ads, trade show booths, or other forms of highly disruptive marketing. Is it necessary? Well, that’s complicated.

According to John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing, over half of marketers identify outbound marketing as their primary lead source. This means half of your marketing peers are relying on factors like phone calls and magazine ad responses – as opposed to web form conversions – to bring new business in for their organizations. Is this effective, or does it simply feel like the path of least resistance?

HubSpot reports that over 12 million searches per web are performed in the US alone each month. Even more staggeringly, 54% more leads are generated through inbound marketing methods, like blogs, social media, and whitepapers, than outbound marketing methods alone. Inbound marketing produces more leads at a lower cost per lead than traditional advertising methodologies. So what gives? Why are so many of your peers focusing their efforts and budget on outbound marketing methodologies? Is it because outbound marketing is more effective, and even cheaper? Unlikely!

The Truth About Outbound Marketing

What is the absolute truth about outbound marketing? Are television commercials, radio advertisements, and magazine advertorials a completely worthless way to market your organization? Not quite. The short answer is “not quite,” and the long answer is “it depends on the sophistication of your ideal customer.”

In essence, outbound marketing can be an extreme compliment to your inbound marketing strategy. Content Marketing Institute, citing VentureBeat’s commentary on the “rise of the content economy” reports that offline events remain a highly effective way for sophisticated marketers to generate leads,win new customers, and maintain high satisfaction among existing client bases. Could this marketing methodology see extreme success without inbound marketing? Unlikely.

Between Eventbrite and Meetup, the web remains a highly popular way for modern professionals to connect with event opportunities and networking events. Without social media, it would be far more challenging for news to travel far among professionals within any given industry. The truth is, even given well-established industry events that are primarily focused on outbound marketing such as trade shows, you simply can’t deny the role of inbound marketing.

Outbound marketing isn’t useless. There’s no question that it’s still got a role; especially in conservative niches, industries, and regions. However, there are very, very few specialties where inbound marketing, from email marketing to white papers to social media, hasn’t played some role. The point? Inbound marketing is absolutely the future. However, anyone who plays the role of a purist and tells you that all outbound marketing methodologies are dead is almost certainly mistaken. In an ideal world (and marketing strategy, if we’re being honest), inbound marketing and outbound marketing would peacefully coexist. Does that sound challenging or even impossible? Well, I promise you that it simply isn’t.

How Can Inbound and Outbound Marketing Coexist?

At the end of the day, here is the absolute truth about marketing as a science, methodology, and practice.

“A happy customer is an informed customer,” as marketing expert Chris Goward puts it.

Anyone who’s spent much of their career in either marketing or sales can attest to the significant risk that surround customers who’ve been either oversold or undersold. Customers who haven’t been educated on the true value of the product or service they’re about to receive could run the risk of being underappreciative. Customers who are oversold are a major risk for disappointment; which can lead to short-term disappointment and low customer satisfaction; and long term risks for customer retention, and even worse, some serious damage to word-of-mouth referrals. What gives?

Inbound Marketing = Informed Customers

Inbound marketing is an education tool. Pure and simple. It’s the most effective marketing methodology available to today’s business development professionals, but it’s also a major education tool. Today’s consumers have every bit of information they could ever want or need just a few clicks away, via their laptop, tablet or smartphone. If your organization has the savvy to position themselves as an industry resource via best-of-class content marketing; they’ll position themselves as a resource for curious researchers who are Googling related search terms to their industry. If you’re being honest and approaching your content marketing strategy correctly, the stars will align perfectly and you’ll generate extraordinarily well-qualified leads for your organization.

Is Modern Marketing Really as Simple as High Quality Content Creation?

Sorry to say it, but not quite. The speed and velocity at which your organization will generate high-quality, ready-to-purchase leads depends on quite a few factors. Your product or service, the sophistication and authority of your buyer personas, and factors like price point and competition can all have a major effect on your Marketing (sales and marketing) funnel that channel leads into customers for your brand. There are no simple answers, but effective research on your customer base can reveal the answers for you.

In essence, the right combination of inbound and outbound marketing methodologies are most likely the perfect answer for your organization. Using inbound marketing methodologies, including educational content resources and well-optimized landing pages, can prepare your business to make the most of limited use of outbound marketing methodologies, such as print advertisement and offline events. If your ideal customers tend towards the young and highly tech-savvy, minimal outbound marketing is probably correct for you. If your typical buyers have been attending trade shows and reading industry publications for the duration of their careers, a marketing strategy which relies more heavily on outbound methodologies will more likely yield optimal results.

While there is simply no easy or correct answer to the whole outbound vs. inbound marketing methodology debate, it’s crucial for you to realize the following: marketing is the science of compelling and convincing humans. No individual would ever attempt to argue the truism that humans are a remarkably complex species. While we can’t answer the debacle of inbound vs. outbound for your organization without additional customer insights or data, the most likely answer is “mostly inbound, but don’t ignore outbound!” Purism is rarely the answer, and the world’s most intelligent marketers realize the value of nuance.

Are you marketing your business using purely inbound or outbound marketing methodologies? Why or why not?

Lead Generation eBook

header image credit: afireinwinter/flickr

Outbound vs. Inbound Marketing: Can You Have One Without the Other?

6 Key Steps to Global (Marketing) Domination

Global Communication

Seven billion. According to most estimates, our global population currently stands at a little more than seven billion people. English is the third most widely spoken language, but it’s only the native language for about 5% of the world’s population. In fact, only about 30% of the world’s population speaks English with some degree of competency.

This reality may make the idea of extending into global markets seem daunting for marketers, but it’s worth the effort. Localizing your company’s marketing, product, and sales content can have a hugely positive impact on demand generation, company growth, brand recognition, and revenue creation. Indeed, according to a Forbes Insights survey, 33% of senior executives at companies with annual worldwide sales of +$500 million consider “expanding into global and new markets” as their top strategic priority.

How are these proclamations of global priorities transformed into actual results? Through the actions of marketers, like you, who serve on the front lines of global expansion!

By tapping into multilingual markets and engaging new groups of consumers, you’re on the cutting edge of demand generation. You’re spearheading a better, faster, approach to world domination (the nicest kind, of course), and will help grow global revenues. Regardless of where you are on the multilingual marketing learning curve, here are six steps to help you get started and capitalize on global marketing opportunities:

Step 1: Think Big and Plan Globally

You probably saw this one coming a mile away, but global marketing requires a global mindset! This may seem like an obvious a point, but you’d be surprised how often I see that deer-in-the-headlight expression when I ask global marketers for details about how they execute against their global strategy.

Implementing global delivery of marketing campaigns, programs, and messaging does come with its fair share of challenges, but it also offers the potential for huge gains that no global marketer can afford to ignore. And yet, developing a marketing strategy that is inherently global is less common than you might think.

Go-to-market activities must be justified by the revenue potential of each market, the degree to which competition exists in those countries, and the market demand data. To that end, it’s critical to conduct extensive market research to evaluate and prioritize which global markets to enter.

Having a global approach from day one will help your company capture more revenue using the least amount of resources by ensuring that:

  • People and budgets are utilized most effectively and efficiently

  • The right corporate and local stakeholders are involved from the start, and all in-country expertise is leveraged

  • Pre-sales content is delivered in the required languages and formats to best position your products in each target market

  • Your brand is communicated consistently across the globe

  • Your culturally and linguistically diverse audience enjoys a uniform customer experience.

Some companies treat localization as an afterthought, tacking it at the end of the marketing content delivery process. Others who do think globally up front often don’t execute fully on a global strategy because they’re convinced they don’t have enough time or resources to do so. Either way, the failure to execute a marketing plan from a global perspective jeopardizes valuable opportunities to gain market share in international markets and often has business leaders throwing good money after bad.

Step 2: Allocate Resources for the Best Localization and Biggest Global Impact

Now that you’ve identified your target markets and formulated a strategy to conquer them, it’s time to determine the localization plan to best support your strategy. The goal is to localize all marketing materials into the languages that matter to your business. Not surprisingly, data shows that translating materials to reach multilingual audiences contributes significantly to the attainment of business goals. According to industry research firm Common Sense Advisory (CSA), Fortune 500 companies that translated communications to engage customers in their own language were nearly three times more likely to experience revenue increases. Moreover, another CSA study found that consumers are six times more likely to buy when they see localized marketing.

Localization goes well beyond word-for-word translation: it takes into account the nuances of regional audiences and customs to get the tone, phrases, and even images correct so that materials read naturally in each target audience’s own language, and do not convey unintended messages. Research and knowledge of your target market may reveal cultural differences and beliefs that can have a big impact on how marketing messages are perceived. Use professional translators that not only speak the language in the market, but also understand the subtleties of the region and culture, so that your messages truly resonate as intended with your entire global audience. Getting it right is vital—giving the wrong impression will jeopardize your entire global investment.

Step 3: It Takes a (Marketing) Village

When you’re implementing marketing campaigns and programs that reach beyond your company’s headquarters, it doesn’t always work to simply translate the exact same content used by your corporate teams. Instead, work with your teams cross-functionally and globally to ensure that you not only understand and incorporate the language nuances into your global campaigns, but that you also provide the right content. To do this, leverage your global teams’ unique skills and perspectives and find the right balance of centralization for your organization.

Also, make sure that your global marketing plan allows for regional teams to make adjustments to campaign materials to increase their effectiveness in the local market. At the same time, the localization process should allow teams to test, implement, and retest marketing materials so that they meet regional teams’ and customer needs.

Step 4: Use Your Secret Weapon: Translation Memory

There’s an extremely valuable secret weapon in your localization arsenal that’s so secret even you might not know about it. What is it? Your translation memory. It’s a database of a company’s previously translated words and phrases.

Our survey of 500 global marketers found that 80% were completely unaware of this valuable tool. By using a translation memory software solution, once you’ve translated a word or phrase, you will never have to pay or wait to have those words translated again.

You’re probably asking—how is it possible to know nothing about this tool? Chances are, unless you’re using a marketing globalization solution with a unified translation memory capability, your language service providers and translation vendors control it—and there are likely multiple versions of it if you’re using several vendors.

If you’re not in control of your own translation memory, you’re spending more time and money on translation projects than you need to, and aren’t ensuring global consistency of messaging across your global campaigns.

Step 5: Automate your Global Demand Creation #FTW

It’s time to start thinking about marketing globalization the same way you think about marketing automation—as a business process that can be optimized. Take a critical look at your organization to understand how marketing assets, pre-sales materials, and campaigns are created and delivered across your tools and technologies. Now is the time to optimize your global content operation just like you would any other business process.

For example, your marketing content moves through your content management system, web content management, and marketing automation technologies. To quickly and easily deliver all the localized materials your markets demand—and benefit from an efficient, cost-effective way to go after global opportunities—you don’t want to be stuck in copy-and-paste purgatory. Rather, you need a solution that integrates these critical technologies and lets them work together to help you execute against your goals. Use technology to your advantage and avoid old school manual processes and project management tools.

By eliminating inefficiencies in your local campaign creation process, you can create more local marketing campaigns. That means more MQLs, which means more opportunities, which means more revenue for your company.

Step 6. Capture More Global Revenue Faster

In an increasingly competitive global economy, companies are continually improving their marketing campaigns to stay ahead of the competition and engage consumers through multiple channels to generate leads and grow revenue. However, many companies fail to engage successfully in international markets because their global marketing strategy and localization processes haven’t been optimized to reflect new advances in technology to deliver those campaigns on a global scale.

Whether your objectives are to increase brand awareness, expand into new markets, or grow your existing ones, it all boils down to being able to deliver compelling, effective messages to the marketplace that engage global audiences. By integrating the localization process with your marketing automation and taking a new approach to the way global marketing is done, you can engage and sell to your target audiences better and faster than ever before.

Companies with global-minded marketers who leverage the best tools available to them and collaborate well with their global peers will be the ones who dominate their markets in the end. The world is waiting for you. Go for it!

6 Key Steps to Global (Marketing) Domination

Content Warfare: The Content Marketing Book I Wish I Wrote

Content Warfare BookThis is the content marketing book that I want to write.

This isn’t normally a place for book reviews and I’ve never written a book review before in my life (outside of a quick Amazon review or something). But this book has actually energized me to the point of words coming out of my fingertips onto the keyboard and feeling the need to spread the word that this book is a must-read for marketing professionals (or those responsible for marketing at their company).

Though in Ryan Hanley’s voice, tone, and vernacular, supported by his experiences and stories (which are extremely similar to my own), it is the content marketing book that I have in my head.

Content Warfare: How to find your audience, tell your story and win the battle for attention online

“Life changes when we make ourselves available to creativity.”

Content Warfare starts off with a rather poetic introduction, which honestly caught me as a pleasant surprise, then builds a foundation of necessary understanding, followed by more in-depth information on leveraging content marketing to grow your audience and your business.

The book shifts through gears at the perfect RPM, just like his spot-on analogy for scaling your content marketing efforts.

If you are a business owner or marketer who wants to learn more about shifting to content marketing for your business or even someone who has been involved in (online) content marketing you’ll find tremendous value in this as a read-through and to keep on the shelf for referencing.

For those not yet involved in digital content marketing efforts, this will serve as an excellent introduction and foundation of information as well as provide guidance on how to start and what to do.

More veteran “Content Warriors” will find themselves re-focused, re-energized, and armed with more ammo to get buy-in when necessary.

It took me a week (about 4 real “sittings”) to get through this, and the reason I had such a hard time was because I had to keep stopping to take notes or was actually so inspired that I had to get up and take action on something.

A Few Key Takeaways From The Book

There are far too many gems to really give justice here, but here are a few key takeaways on content marketing and life in general that can give you a glimpse into what to expect from Content Warfare:

The Connected Generation Is Not About What Year You Were Born

Today, there is the connected generation or the unconnected generation, regardless of what year a person was born. The connected generation is open to communicating and building relationships and make buying decisions based on digital content and interactions. The unconnected generation is not.

Know Your Audience: What information do they want? Talk About It In their Language.

“Valuable content educates, entertains, inspires (preferably all three), and does so in the language of the consumer.”

Creating content that actually makes sense to the people you are writing for is a necessity in them actually receiving value from what you are offering. It also helps you when showing up in Google search results because customers don’t know to search for worn out calipers, but they know their wheel squeaks when they make a sharp right turn.

Just Start

strategy vs execution

The Pick Crew’s take on Derek Sivers’ multiply philosophy. (Not from the book, just relevant to it.)

“You get as many opportunities as you make for yourself.”

Yes, you want to be wise with your efforts, but putting off execution until you can be perfect means you’ll never do it.

Start. Fail. Learn. Adjust.

You’ll get far greater impact with that sequence then not doing anything.

Create Quality

“Frequency of publishing is not a variable in the equation of content value.”

My philosophy has always been that high quality content is the cost of entry, and that frequency is the force multiplier. People often get confused for some reason when asking “should I post a lot or should I post quality” when the two options here are not mutually exclusive. You should first be creating something that your audience wants and will love, then the more frequently you can do that, the more impact you will see.

You can’t publish a bunch of garbage every day and think you’ll see results, particularly if you’re comparing it to publishing something awesome but less frequently.

Set Goals

“The goal dictates mechanics.”

They say a goal without a plan is just a wish. Creating that plan to turn your wish into a goal means knowing where you want to be. Once you have a defined goal, you can create a road map for getting there. Trying to execute tactics without a goal will just have you wasting time and effort.

Your goal dictates your tactics, don’t let the urge to try different tactics dictate your goal.

Have You Read Content Warfare Yet?

Join the conversation around the Content Warfare book with #contentwarfare on Twitter, Google Plus, or Instagram.

Content Warfare: The Content Marketing Book I Wish I Wrote

Translate Your Killer Plan into Day-to-Day Marketing Tactics

In a previous blog post Creating a Marketing Plan That Won’t Die a Slow, Miserable Death, we looked into how to go about planning for an upcomingPlanning year or quarter. In this post, we will focus on how to bring all these planning efforts into reality through day-to-day activities. Many companies miss this crucial step. Their good plans sit on the shelf (or the server) untouched, becoming the major reason why most planning exercises go to waste.

To recap from the previous blog:

  • Step one: Your executive team has identified business objectives for the upcoming year or quarter.

  • Step two: Marketing leadership has come up with marketing initiatives that drive towards each business objective.

Now we have to finalize the third component of the planning and operationalizing process – the actual tactics. Here’s how we differentiate the three components:

Business objectives: What do you want to get done?

Marketing initiatives: How are you going to do it?

Marketing tactics: What exactly are you going to do?

Thus, tactics are the marketing programs that will bring the broadly defined marketing initiatives to life. Examples of tactics include:

  • Advertising campaigns

  • Email campaigns

  • Promotions

  • Product improvements

  • Public relations

Connecting tactics with marketing initiatives and business objectives is important. That’s usually accomplished using a “tactics table.”

Tactics Tables

In preparation for the marketing planning meeting (typically scheduled at the beginning of every quarter), the head of marketing planning should distribute templates to each team lead participating in the planning meeting. As a required exercise prior to the meeting, each team has to fill in the marketing tactics that they plan to perform in the upcoming quarter towards the determined marketing initiatives. Here’s an example:

Make a Tactics Table

Prior to the planning meeting, you should compile all these inputs into one master table. In the planning meeting, the group should discuss one marketing initiative at a time, focusing on the tactics filled in by teams for that quarter. Refine the tactics in the master table based on the following considerations:

  • Combine tactics that are similar but created by different teams. Assign one team overall responsibility of the combined tactics.

  • If a tactic from one team is merely a supporting activity for a tactic from another team, remove it with the understanding that teams will support each other in accomplishing the primary tactic.

  • Remove any tactics that cannot be worked on in the quarter, and put them as placeholders for future quarters. (Note: tactics that span multiple quarters are totally acceptable.)

After these refinements, you should have a crisp list of tactics corresponding to each initiative, with each tactic assigned to a team that is primarily responsible for accomplishing it.

Tactics in a quarter by team

After the marketing meeting, distribute the refined tactics master table to the entire marketing group. Each marketing team member should use this tactics table to create his or her own quarterly personal objectives. This way, each team member’s personal goals are tied to those business objectives that we ultimately want to accomplish.

Agile Task Lists

The final step of translating marketing plan to day-to-day business activities is creating an agile task list. This list is the centerpiece of regular (we recommend weekly) operational meetings that help marketing executives gauge teams’ progress.

The agile task list is created and maintained by referencing the master tactics table explained earlier. Each tactic would translate to one or more of the tasks in the agile task list. Each task in the list should have the following elements at a minimum: a marketing initiative, a target date, and an owner. Here’s an example of an agile task list

plan marketing initiatives

The operational meetings should have representatives from all marketing teams. In the meeting, review the agile task list with emphasis on the progression of ongoing tasks and an overview of planned tasks. If a planned task has no relationship to any of the planned marketing initiatives, the meeting facilitator and participants should call it out and review its priority. This helps to make sure that everybody is rowing in the same direction, and that projects are evaluated according to whether (and how much) they will contribute to achieving the overarching business objectives.

Don’t forget to measure results

In the previous blog post, we discussed the need to identify key metrics to track progression on different marketing initiatives. These metrics should be tracked throughout the quarter so that tactics can be adjusted if the needle is not moving as expected. The “before” and “after” metric is the most powerful evidence that marketing can show, to prove the difference the team has made on specific marketing initiatives. Without this metric, all the hard work your team did can too easily be forgotten (or ignored) by the rest of the organization.eBook: The New Marketing Metrics for B2B

For more information on determining which metrics you should be measuring, take a look at our eBook, “The New Marketing Metrics for B2B.” This will give you an in-depth look at the new metrics you should be focused on today, including how to track the right data at the right time.

Closing Thoughts

We hope we’ve laid out a framework you can follow on planning and executing on objectives that matter to your business. We look forward to your feedback on the methodology. Do you have a different framework that works in your organization? Do you have tips or hints that can make the framework outlined here even more potent? Please share it in the comments section below!

Translate Your Killer Plan into Day-to-Day Marketing Tactics

Should You Be Reshaping Your Social Media Strategy?

There are so many do’s and don’ts in the social media marketing handbook these days, it’s hard to know how to get the most out of your channels. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about brands that treat their social platforms as extended sales funnels, with a closer eye on their ROI than their brand marketing. That’s a shame and a waste, since social media is the ideal platform for humanizing your brand and sharing your awesome branding with new people. It’s really not the ideal platform for selling, although it can absolutely serve that purpose as well.

brand marketing

There will always be other channels for very salesy content (and email marketing is almost always going to be a better bet for ROI), but social media specifically has a huge capacity for friendly branding that many are ignoring for the most part. One social media expert who is not ignoring this, however, is Jason Falls – which is why he caught my eye online.

Social Media for Business: Are You Missing the Point?

Jason is a digital strategist who has co-authored two books on marketing; the most recent focuses on taking the BS (my euphemism) out of social media marketing. Below you’ll find my questions for Jason and his thoughts on what makes for great social media that doesn’t feel forced or over the top – social media that focuses on and takes advantage of direct communication with fans, as opposed to direct marketing to potential buyers.

What is the worst mistake that small businesses make using social media?

Assuming that it’s free and easy. This is a marketing channel. It may or may not be one that works well for every business, but it’s a path to your customer. If you don’t invest the time, money and energy into it, then you’re failing your customers there. They are valuable – don’t shrug them off to some intern or refuse to invest any money because you don’t see a direct response return. If anything, use it as a place for customer service and feedback so you can see intrinsic value.

How can brands strike a balance between brand marketing and direct marketing when using social media?

Just genuinely participating, sharing content, engaging in conversations and showing your human side is brand marketing in and of itself. That’s what makes me want to engage with you, trust you and perhaps even predisposes me to purchase from you. I buy Charmin because their social content cracks me up: it’s not about selling toilet paper, it’s about offering a humorous aside for people during the day. That’s great brand marketing. If they dropped a coupon every now and then, I wouldn’t mind. But that’s not why I follow them.

brand marketing

What are your thoughts on sharing the same content across different social channels?

Each audience and platform is slightly different, so the logic is that you should prepare content specifically for that audience. Obviously Twitter is shorter, and not as image or video friendly (yet). So if you post the same thing on Facebook, you’re missing an opportunity to add images, video, longer text and so on. That doesn’t mean you have to invest a great deal of time in creating separate content, but massaging it a bit for the type of responses and user you have on each platform makes sense. In the case of LinkedIn, for instance, you might have a B2B focus there, while focusing on a consumer audience on Facebook – so the messages should be different.

What do you think about the 80/20 rule (80% other content, 20% self promotional content) for social media marketing?

That’s a good rule of thumb, but it’s not such a hard number for everyone. Every audience is different, and some will tolerate more direct calls to action than others. You certainly want to engage and keep people’s attention – and spamming isn’t a great way to do that. But many B2B followers are actually looking for product information and company expertise, and don’t really care about some trade article that doesn’t have anything to do with you. You have to test the ratio with your own audience to find the right mix.

Related Class: B2B Social Media Strategy

What is the biggest missed opportunity that most businesses aren’t taking advantage of on social media?

Most business simply aren’t seeing this as a human communications channel. They’re too busy trying to monetize it and spam audiences with ads and offers. There are channels for that. Social media can be one, but it’s inherently more useful if you just have someone there to answer questions, serve the customers and show you have a human side to what you do.

Jason Falls is a digital strategist, author and public speaker. His work has touched a number of large brands including Maker’s Mark, AT&T, Cafepress and Humana. To find out more about Jason visit his website.

To learn more about boosting your brand through smart social media use and well-tailored content, check out this class: How To Manage a Brand in a Social Media World.

Should You Be Reshaping Your Social Media Strategy?

Don’t Wait for Legislative Internet Sales Tax to Pass; State-Level Compliance Requirements Already Exist


Is the third time a charm? It’s hard to say if that will be the case for online sales tax legislation. After nearly two years on the Congressional bench, the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) is once again up to bat, but it’s still too early to tell if will cross home plate this time.

First introduced in 2011 and again in 2013, the MFA is an attempt by federal lawmakers to level the playing field for brick-and-mortar stores going up against ecommerce businesses. If the bill passes, states that meet tax code simplification requirements can opt-in to require out-of-state sellers to collect sales tax on purchases made online.

The MFA had teeth for a while, making the industry news rounds as opponents and proponents hashed it out over whether the internet should remain a tax-free zone. After initially passing the Senate in May 2013, the bill stalled in the House, where it’s remained for the last 22 months.

So, what’s new in 2015? Not much. MFA 3.0 is virtually identical to versions 2.0 and 1.0. As are the arguments for and against. At this point, a federal ruling may be moot anyway. Tired of waiting on MFA’s fate, several states took matters into their own hands, broadening the rules around nexus (criteria for creating a sales tax obligation) to extend beyond a physical presence to include marketplace selling, click-through and affiliate marketing and Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). More than 20 states now have laws requiring out-of-state sellers to collect and remit sales and use taxes if they have created sales relationships through these channels. And Amazon, the U.S.’s largest online retailer, now collects sales tax in 23 states.

The States Aren’t Waiting; Neither Should You

Given the states’ actions, merchants shouldn’t wait for a formal invitation from Congress to address the impact of internet sales tax on their business. With 12,000 taxing jurisdictions in the U.S. and more than 14,000 changes to tax rates, rules and boundaries in 2014 alone, sales tax is already complicated and burdensome to manage. With ecommerce sales added to the mix, that complexity will only increase and companies will need to quickly become experts in the sales tax laws of 46 states — no small feat! Faced with an onslaught of new and disparate tax compliance regulations, the odds of overlooking nexus obligations or miscalculating rates are exponentially greater.

Furthermore, in an effort to enforce these new rules, some states are increasing their audit activity; California announced it would add 100 new auditors to its payroll in 2013 in an effort to collect on unpaid internet taxes. This move is not surprising, given what’s at stake: by last count, states are losing out on $23 billion in uncollected sales tax on ecommerce purchases according to the National Conference of State Legislators. There’s no knowing when or even if you’ll be subjected to a state sales tax audit, but a “wait and see” approach may not be the best strategy.

Automate Now or Lose Later

What should you do? Consider automation. Whether or not you need to charge sales tax isn’t something you want to manually decide every time a customer makes a purchase. It’s also not wise to hedge your bets by making a blanket choice to charge or not charge sales tax or to charge a flat rate. Rather, employ tax automation software integrated into your shopping cart or ecommerce system to make those complicated and nuanced decisions for you.

Ecommerce systems and shopping carts are designed to make online sales easier to manage and ensure the business processes specific to your web store are centralized with other areas of your business. When you have better insight and control over inventory, purchases, delivery and shipping it’s easier to make informed decisions about your business. Sales tax automation should be part of this process. When you’re confident the right rates and rules are being applied to every transaction and can easily pull data to support that, it’s much easier to prove compliance and a lot less work for your financial team.

It’s also likely that your customers aren’t following MFA as closely as you are and may still believe they can buy online without paying sales tax. While you can’t magnanimously decide to not charge sales tax to customers, you can ensure that sales tax isn’t a surprise to them. Unexpected costs are the number one reason customers abandon a shopping cart — this includes not knowing the costs of shipping and sales tax at checkout. With sales tax automation integrated into your ecommerce system, shopping cart or point-of-sale system, the correct rate is instantly calculated and applied to taxable purchases.

In the end, the passage or failure of MFA shouldn’t be the catalyst for changing how you handle tax compliance in your business. Enough is happening already at the state level that industry experts and analysts advocate automation as a best practice to protect your business and stay on top of sales tax.

Photo: Flickr, Jason Dirks

Don’t Wait for Legislative Internet Sales Tax to Pass; State-Level Compliance Requirements Already Exist

This Week in Small Business: Customer Service in the Digital Age

Shutterstock_158689703This week, we saw a lot of articles about how technology both helps and hinders customer service efforts. Learn more about how to navigate this changing field to deliver a better customer experience.

  • Sustainability + Growth: Greenvelope is a rapidly growing electronic invitation, ticketing, and event management company for people looking to celebrate in eco-friendly ways. They stop by to discusses their commitment to sustainability and how customer service goes beyond just being fast and helpful. (Hint: it’s more of a total customer experience)

  • What’s Cobrowsing? Chat, phone and email support are good ways for providing humanized customer service, but what if your customer service agent was literally on the same page as your customer? With cobrowsing, agents can be on the same webpage, able to view and interact with customer’s browsers and delivering personalized guidance. It works both way; agents can also share their screens with customers to provide demos or teach them how to use products. Find out more about what cobrowsing is in this article. [via Medium]

  • The Forgotten Demographic: While there are a ton of articles on how to engage the millennial customer, little attention is paid to senior citizens. As a demographic that is set to explode with baby boomers retiring, this a segment with purchasing power that shouldn’t be ignored. Check out the 5 Ways to improve Customer Service for Seniors. [via Entrepreneur]

  • Going Omni-Channel: Delivering top customer service will always be a challenge for companies. More than ever, customers demand fast, quality responses in multiple channels. Learn how your company can become more agile and responsive with our 8 Steps to Tackling Customer Service in the Digital Age.

  • New Ways to Know Your Customer: Fraud instances are at an all-time high. It’s important for growing businesses to have know-your-customer policies in place to verify identity and prevent fraud. This article discusses some nontraditional ways to know your customer. Strategies include setting up automated processes that identify suspicious behaviors, and capturing customer data history in order to spot questionable transactions. [via Entrepreneur]

CRM Ebook

This Week in Small Business: Customer Service in the Digital Age

How Marketing Automation Can Improve Your Customer Service

How Marketing Automation Can Improve Your Customer Service

A recent nightmare situation caused me to end a long term relationship with my hosting service.

Like many break ups, better communication and an earlier response time may have saved us.

But they chose to go old school.

Long wait times, calls to an ever rotating support team, the failure to solve a problem they know about.

Long story short, my site was hacked.

It happened either three times in a month or they didn’t clean it up the first time…who knows. What I do know is I’ve lost hours on the phone trying to resolve the issue of the malware and an apparent related issue of email undeliverabilty.

Hundreds of dollars and three trusted tech sources later and my site is back up and moved to a new host.

A Fictional Case Study

It didn’t go like this but could have.

Let’s imagine the hosting company in question had applied modern technology to their customer service and saved all of us time, money, headaches and perhaps our relationship.

First, the problem.

Imagine, you open your email and find the following from your hosting company…

“Web hosting account deactivated for ______. Reason, Malware/Virus which is against the Terms of Service.”

As if I did it on purpose.

When I call, one of the support staff calmly says something to the effect of yes, your site is disabled due to malware. It could be a lack of updates, a rogue plug in or something else. Once you get it cleaned, we’ll reactivate your site.

Me: How do I get it cleaned?

Them: You pay us $50 to use our service and we’ll clean it.

Me: Ok, let’s do it.

30 days later, we’re having the same conversation, of course, now I’m furious because my tech guy has told me for a month that he didn’t think they got it cleaned completely and that’s why the site has gone down again. AND now, I have to pay ANOTHER $50 for them to “clean” it again.

Something sounds fishy to me.

Of course, I’m changing hosting providers and upping my security.

But what I want to know is why security an “extra” charge? It seems to me that’s pretty important and should simply be part of the hosting fee. (It’s ok with me if you charge me the extra $40/ year.) Really.

Except now it’s not.

I can’t wait to move my site to another hosting company.

Yet, it didn’t have to be this way. We’ve been together for five years.

Here’s my idea for improved customer service that could have saved our relationship. Why not use marketing automation to send more personalized emails that offer a solution rather than a generic “you broke our terms of service” email?

Surely I’m not the only one who feels a little like I’m being sent to the principal’s office and I don’t know why.

Here’s my perfect world suggestion.

Instead of the unhelpful nastygram that was sent, the email would be more helpful and friendly. I’d feel better and they’d save money in saved customer service time. Here’s how it could go. Think something along the lines of:

“Hi Jen,

We hate to tell you this but it looks like your site was hacked. We’re so sorry. We’ve had to disable it to prevent it from infecting multiple other sites but we’d love to get you back up and running quickly.

Here’s what we suggest:

1–Our Site Doctor system can clean it for you and remove all traces of malware. It usually takes a couple of hours though it can take up to two days.

We’ll get rid of all traces of that nasty code to get you back up and running. The fee is $50. A small price I’m sure you’ll agree to keep your site back in working order as quickly as possible. Ready to do it? Click this link to purchase and we’ll get it started for you.

When it’s completed, we’ll send you an email letting you know and we’ll reactivate your site.

2– To prevent this from happening again, we recommend you take some serious security measures.

In addition to changing your passwords (and making them difficult), we recommend a security and monitoring program like or

These will monitor your site on a daily basis, and alert you to any problems. They will also clean your site of any malware automatically without you having to do a thing. Do you want to go ahead and add this to your service?

If you have any questions you can certainly call us at xxx-xxx-xxxx and we’ll be happy to answer them.


Your Support Team”

I don’t know about you but that approach feels friendlier and more action oriented rather than “we disabled your site because you violated the terms of service. Reason: Malware/Virus” with a large block of text about why this was against the TOS. (Again, why would I want to infect my site?)

The Click and Approve Approach

It would save time on both my end and the customer service side if I could simply click and approve the cleaning rather than having to call and wait on hold.

It would streamline the communication and the support team could help other people.

Instead, here’s what happened:

After I listen to the interminable wait music for upwards of 45 minutes(!), I explain my problem, the support rep repeats, “yep, you have malware” and then starts giving me complicated directions about how to remove it involving a public_html folder in the root directory. I don’t know about you, but that’s way advanced for my skillset.

Then, they tell me about the paid for “cleaning” service. Is the first direction to “presell” me on the cleaning service?

It’s all frustrating. Especially, when there are multiple calls involved over a period of weeks BEFORE the deactivation because my email wasn’t operating at 100%. It seems that should have been a sign and they could have helped prevent the deactivation.

The Second Deactivation Notice

Here’s another email automation to consider, when you see this is the second time this has happened in 30 days, you can offer a different message.

“Oh no Jen!

It looks like your site has been hacked again! Because we’re within a 30 day window, we’re going to go ahead and run our cleaning service on it for you. We’ll let you know when it’s completed and get you back up and running as soon as possible. It typically takes a couple of hours but sometimes up to two days.

Once that’s complete, we highly recommend additional security on your site such as our program xxxx here. It’s only $1.99/month. Would you like to add it to your cart here? That way, we can install it as soon as we’re done cleaning.

If you have any questions, please call us at xxx-xxx-xxxx and we’ll take care of it right away.


Your Support Team

I think they’d sell a lot of the security add on (why is it an “add-on”?) if they took this approach. Better yet, they’d sell a lot more of this “add on” at the outset if they made it clear to people what it was and how important it was.

Instead, I’ve called approximately 20 times during the course of the month and talked to a variety of support people. My email issue was never resolved the entire time and my web person said he suspected malware was still present after the first cleaning. but they told me no, the site looked clean.

However, my email still wasn’t working 100% so something was going on.

In my mind, my support ticket was never closed. I kept calling about the same issue over and over (not receiving emails through my domain address). Then, boom! My site is hacked again. They claim it’s a completely new hacking and therefore I have to pay to have it cleaned, again.

This company could use marketing automation to improve their customer service — and it may have saved our relationship.

How Marketing Automation Can Improve Your Customer Service

Is Your Business Information Protected from Cyber Terror Attacks?

Is Your Business Information Protected from Cyber Terror Attacks?

Think about the data and information you use daily in your business.

  • Your passwords

  • Confidential files

  • Online banking login information

  • Your accounting software, etc.

Now imagine getting to work one day and to see that your bank funds have been wiped out, your account information has been stolen, and all of your files have

It might be a fantasy now, but this horrific tale could become a reality if you don’t protect yourself and your business from cyber-terrorism.

Check out these statistics from the report on Cyber Terrorism:

  • Attacks against the Internet increase at an annual rate above 60%

  • At the time of publication, it was predicted that the average business would experience 32 break-in attempts that week

  • The reported number of vulnerabilities and security incidents represent an estimated 10% of the actual total

These hackers pose serious threats to your business.

In this article, we describe multiple cyber-security threats so you can be aware of the dangers you might be subject to. We also give you 8 different ways to protect yourself.

Keep reading to learn how to safeguard your business’s most important information.

4 Types of Cyber-Security Threats Every Business Owner Should be Aware Of

According to the California Attorney General, you need to be aware of 4 main types of cyber-security threats:

  1. Social Engineering Scams

  2. Network Breaches

  3. Physical Breaches

  4. Mobile Breaches

Social engineering scams involve a technique people use to access your device, network, or information.

These scams will often come in the form of emails pretending to be a trusted online store or entity. However, they’re actually fake personas trying to trick you into handing over your business information and/or money.

The Attorney General warns that “Small businesses may find themselves the victims of phishing (social engineering) attacks by criminals seeking access to their customer database or bank accounts.”

As the amount of information you input online continues to grow, you become more susceptible to these types of cyber attacks.

It sometimes only takes one employee to fall for a targeted attack and compromise their sensitive corporate credentials for an entire company to suffer” – The Attorney General

Network breaches involve malware (such as viruses, spyware, and trojans), unsecured internet connections, and weak passwords/encryptions.

Malware are programs that attempt to gain unauthorized access to your computer. They can track keystrokes, take screenshots, and even steal passwords and banking information from your browsing history.

In terms of unsecured internet connections, public wireless connections are the most common. If these connections lack the necessary security, your employees could be putting important business information at risk.

Hackers can also use software to guess passwords and decode encryptions.

Physical breaches involve the stealing or acquiring of physical items that contain sensitive information.

This includes laptops, mobile devices, and desktop computers. The increased usage of laptops and mobile devices for work means two things:

  1. It’s much more detrimental if these devices get into the wrong hands.

  2. They have become higher value targets for hackers and malicious individuals.

Also, if you or your employees travel frequently, it’s important to know that some countries have tighter search policies than others.

They can potentially require you to hand over your devices to be looked through, putting your business’s files and information at risk.

Mobile breaches specifically involve threats related to mobile devices. Just like desktop computers, these devices can be subject to malware attacks and attacks over unsecured internet connections.

Examples include mobile app breaches, web-based threats, and threats over an unsecured network connection.

How to Protect Your Business from Cyber-Terrorism

Now that you know the possible threats imposed, let’s delve into different ways to protect your business from them.

Secure Your Online Banking

First, online banking should only be done with a secure browser connection. This means you’ll see “https” in the address bar (instead of just “http”) and/or a lock symbol. This indicates that information entered on the site is relatively safe from hackers.

Here are 4 more ways to practice secure online banking:

  • Erase your browser cache, temp files, cookies, and history after each banking session. (Example of clearing your browser history in Google Chrome)


  • Use private (or incognito) browsing.

  • Use the security benefits your bank already provides you, such as security questions that must be answered to access your account.

  • Make sure you do not delegate one employee to approve banking transactions for your business. Implement a system of checks and balances that holds multiple people accountable.

Use Multiple Solutions to Protect Your Computer and Web Browsing Activity

Install a firewall and keep it updated. Also make sure employees use a firewall if they access any type of work-related material at home.

Install anti-virus software and set it to check for updates daily. You may also want to let it run in real time, rather than scheduled scans or manual scans, so you can catch a cyber-attack at soon as it happens.

Secure your network by:

  1. Installing a hardware firewall between your internal network and the internet

  2. Regularly changing the admin password and admin name of your connection

Educate Your Employees

Your employees might not be 100% enthusiastic, but it’s important to hold semi-regular meetings about cyber-security.

Make sure everyone is on the same page about why these measures need to be in place, and how to protect themselves at work, at home, and on-the-go on their mobile devices.

Look Into Cyber Insurance

While it isn’t a staple in most general liability insurance plans, cyber insurance is starting to become a more popular way for businesses to protect credit card information, customer addresses and names, and other crucial data (Business News Daily).

Secure and Safeguard Your Data

Use an encryption service to make it harder for hackers to access your data.

The California Attorney General states that encryption “scrambles the data so that it is unreadable by anyone without a special key.”

You should also backup your data just in case it gets stolen or your hardware malfunctions.

Finally, dispose of your old data in a secure way by destroying any hard disks that are no longer being used.

Create Smart Passwords

Often, your password is the last line of defense from hackers.

Follow these best practices to make a final stand:

  • Make your passwords at least 8 characters longlastpass-logo

  • Use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters

  • Change your passwords every three months

  • Avoid using personal information

  • Avoid using the same password over and over againdashlane

If you have many passwords to keep track of use a password manager software program like Dashlane or LastPass. Both offer free versions

Secure Your Operating System

Keep your operating system up to date with the latest patches and improvements.

Only install software that you specifically meant to install yourself (so if you get a pop-up saying an unfamiliar program wants to make changes to your computer, consult someone else before allowing it).

Update your anti-virus software.

Update other programs to help them remain secure.

Use The FCCs Small Biz Cyber Planner

Simply input your company name, city, state, and the type of security you’re after into the FCC Small Biz Cyber Planner, and it will generate a cyber security plan for your company.

To Recap:

Your business can be subject to 4 main types of cyber-terrorism threats:

  1. Social Engineering Scams

  2. Network Breaches

  3. Physical Breaches

  4. Mobile Breaches

Each of these pose a different danger to the well-being of your business.

However, you can also protect your business by engaging in preventative measures, like securing your online banking, looking into cyber insurance, and encrypting your data.

The cyber-terrorism threat is growing steadily, especially as businesses gravitate more and more too online resources to conduct their operations.

Don’t let your business become another victim.

Protect it before it’s too late.

Is Your Business Information Protected from Cyber Terror Attacks?

7 Steps to Stop Trading Time for Money

We were all lied to.

Growing up, we were sold the dream of following the traditional career path of working 50-hour weeks to receive our stable paycheck.

Get in the office early, stay late, and even come in on weekends — then maybe, just maybe we’ll get a raise one day.

Hopefully, if we worked “long” enough, we’ll save enough money to retire at the age of 65.

Who the hell invented that?

Since when was there a rule that we have to trade our time for money?

It’s one of the biggest misconceptions in our society. Time is our most important commodity, and all the money in the world cannot replace time.

Your income is limited

When you’re trading time for money, your income will always be limited.

The first reason is — there’s only 24 hours in a day.

Most of us need 8 hours to sleep, 2 hours to commute to and from work, 2 to 4 hours to cook, eat, wash up, relax, and spend time with friends/family.

That leaves us with 10 to 12 hours to trade our time in for income. That’s it.

No matter how much your time is worth to your organization: $20, $30, $50, there will always be a limit. Your time.

Here’s another question.

How many of us can simply ask for more because we want to? Not many.

We have to wait years before asking for a promotion to increase our income, and there’s a fair chance that we may not get that promotion.

The second reason is — the more more we make, the more we’ll lose.

Employee tax is the most heavily taxed income there is, and the more income we earn, the more tax we’ll face. Which means, when someone goes from making $60,000 to $100,000 due to a promotion, they’re not actually making $40,000 more.

Your impact is limited

When we’re continuously trading time for money throughout our lives, our time is limited to pursue the things we’re passionate about.

This could be a hobby you love, giving back to the community, or building something that could have a real impact in the world.

Simply put, with limited time comes limited impact.

The question is, how do we stop trading time for money?

Note: There are other methods that will give you passive income, but this is one clear, sustainable pathway to help you make the transition.

7 Steps to Stop Trading Time for Money

1. Change Your Mindset

The first thing we must do is change our beliefs. When we rid our mindset of believing that in order to make money, we have to trade it for time — our mind opens up to the possibilities.

There’s no rule for everyone that in order to make X dollars, we have to work X hours. Get that out of your head. In this situation, it’s more important to spend time “un-learning” the old than “learning” the new.

Think about trading value for money, not time.

Think about what value you can create for other people, and how you can deliver that value.

What assets, skills, knowledge, connections, or ideas do you have that people value?

Recognize your strengths and competency, then go all-in.

2. Build your expertise and authority

Now that we understand the strengths and value we can bring to others, we need to build expertise around it. Developing expertise translates into larger value creation for yourself and others, because we can now solve problems that very few people can solve.

However, being recognized as an expert takes time and work, which is why building authority is just as important.

Building authority around your expertise is what will help people discover your expertise in the first place. You could be the best in the world at something, but if no one has heard about you, then it doesn’t matter.

Authority has many factors to it, but the most effective are testimonials, press & media, influencer association, and case studies. Give people the confidence to realize that you know what you’re talking about.

Developing expertise & authority will immediately increase the value of your time, and will allow opportunities to come to you.

3. 10x the Value of Your Time

Not all of us can leap into entrepreneurship in the blink of an eye.

This is why if you’re freelancing or providing professional services for your time — 10x the value of your time.

Instead of working with 10 clients that are going to pay you $2/month, find 2 clients that will pay you $20/month — then drop the rest. This is easier said than done of course, but the logic here is to be focused on the few that deliver the most results.

Now, you’re working fewer hours for the same, if not more income.

Which gives you more time to…

4. Focus on creating a product

In order to stop trading time for money, we need to create an offer that we can sell and deliver without us having to be there.

A powerful way to do this is to create an online product — ebook, training program, membership program, software apps, etc. You could also sell physical products online, but you’ll have to find someone who can manufacture and deliver the product to your customers (through dropshippping).

The reason why creating an online product is powerful is because you can create it once, then focus the rest of your time on selling it. Yes, you’ll have to improve and optimize the product, but it’ll be on your own time.

This means you could be on vacation, spending time with friends, or sleeping, and have the ability for customers to purchase your offerings.

5. Automate everything

Figure out a way to automate and systemize everything you can in your business. From how you acquire customers, how you deliver your products, how you drive traffic — everything you can.

Whether it’s your content calendar, automated email series, webinars, social media posts, facebook ads, etc.

The more you can systemize, the more time you’ll have to focus on the business, not in the business. Your time should be spent on long-term strategy, building relationships, and growing the business — the drivers that will make your business thrive.

Now we can’t automate and systemize everything in the business.

So what do we do?

6. Hire Someone

Eventually, it just makes sense to hire someone to help you in certain areas of the business.

How do we know which areas? Create your 3 Lists to Freedom.

This list designed by Chris Ducker, will change the way you look at your time.

Here’s how it works.

Create 3 columns with the titles:

1. HATE doing


3. CAN’T do

Hire an employee (assistant, intern, etc.) and get them to start doing the tasks you HATE doing first.

Getting someone to do what you hate doing will not only help you appreciate the value of outsourcing tasks, but it will maximize the strengths you already have, rather than focusing on your weaknesses.

7. Build your next offering

You’ve built authority, your product, and figured out a way to automate and hire someone to grow your business.

What’s next?

Often, it’s not enough to have one offering out there in the market. The biggest businesses expand into different products/services they offer, or they find a way to upsell their current customers.

Is there a product idea that your customers have been nagging you about? Or a set of features that you can add to provide a premium pricing package?

Understand what your current customers are looking for and figure out a way to deliver it using the systems and resources you already have in place.

Reward yourself

The final step is to reward ourselves.

What’s the point of having more time, if we’re not able to enjoy it?

Spend time with your loved ones, learn something new, or travel the world.

We must be able to visualize and reward the results we have achieved in order to associate the notion of having more time as a positive result.

Take the time to recharge, reconnect, and do more of what you love.

Time is only worth having, if you spend its worth.

“At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent.”

— Barbara Bush

7 Steps to Stop Trading Time for Money

Three Marketing Truths For An Information Dense World

marketing truths

I recently gave a speech at SXSW about my new book The Content Code and have been asked by a few people if I could re-cap it in a post. I’d like to cover three big ideas I discussed from my research that I think are essential truths for this new marketing world.

1. Content is the starting line, not the finish line.

Most of the marketing conversation today is about content, more content, better content, optimized content…but today we need something more than that to cut through the noise and become the signal with our customers.

We face a menacing wall of information competition and if you think it’s bad now, it is going to soon become much, much worse. By 2020, the amount of information on the web is expected to increase by 500 percent — and that’s the low side of the projection. How are you going to win in a world with five times more information than what we have now?

Now of course everything starts with great content. But in addition to having a content strategy and a network strategy (focused on building a relevant audience), today you need to have an ignition strategy. The economics of content marketing only derive from content that MOVES. So we must understand this complicated mechanism, gear up for it, and master it. The Content Code book describes the six possible ignition strategies a business can use.

2. You’re probably focused on the wrong audience.

An essential part of any marketing program is connecting to the right audience. Maybe this is in the form of personas, perhaps through research…maybe even through instinct. But I want to challenge you to reflect on the marketing realities of today and ask you if you’re still discovering and rewarding the RIGHT audience?

Focusing on ignition is not only a strategic imperative, it is an economic one. More than 70 percent of adults say that content shared by their friends influences what they buy, a number surely to go up in a millennial generation who basically only trusts what they tell each other. Eighty-five percent of those who share content say that the time they spend reading it helps them understand a brand or service. The act of sharing is creating advocacy.

Here’s the bad news is — most people don’t share content. Facebook tells us that one-half of one percent of a brand’s fans share their content. Twitter reports that on average, its users only share one out of every 318 tweets they see.

So you can begin to understand that once you find those amazing people who do share, you better hold on to them! The people sharing your content are the ones creating true economic value for your content marketing effort. This may fit into a traditional “persona” or it may not. You need to adopt a new mindset and embrace your sharers, whoever they are.

This may represent as little as two percent of your total online audience — I call it your Alpha Audience — and this is the true bedrock of your business. It is your proprietary audience in a way, a group of people who are raising their hands and saying “market to me!”

Are you still focused on mentions, sentiment, and followers, or are you focused like a laser on finding, nurturing, and rewarding your precious Alpha Audience?

3. You can trick people to click, but you can’t trick them to share.

People share content for three primary reasons.

  1. It is an extension of their self-identity. It makes them look cool, smart, or funny, for example.

  2. It is an act of kindness and generosity. They want to help others by sharing relevant content.

  3. It has nothing to do with the content at all and everything to do with the brand or person behind the content. This entity has created a Heroic Brand beyond content, SEO, and promotion. People share because of who they are and what they represent.

Notice that coupons, deals and SEO are not on this list. People share content for intrinsic and emotional reasons, not necessarily because of economic incentives. Yet, the first thing brands do to try to ignite their content is invest in SEO and promotions, right?

Of course there is a place for that, but if people share because of emotional reasons and love for a brand, shouldn’t we be investing in marketing activities that generate trust, not just “traffic?” Traffic equals “tourists.” The people who share your content are the ones who will actually buy something. And that demands a focus on building reliability, consistency and trust.

SEO and advertising are easy and familiar. But we are in a competitive age that will not reward the easy and familiar. It is going to reward those who create trust, and even love for their brand and content. You can trick people to click but to get them to share you need to create something more meaningful that demands that it be shared.

This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. To learn more about tech news and analysis visit Tech Page One Dell sponsored this article and my book, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.

Illustration courtesy: Flickr CC and Travis Wise

Three Marketing Truths For An Information Dense World

lundi 30 mars 2015

The Strategic Value of Customer Feedback

Strategic Value of VOCMost companies solicit customer feedback on their products or services in various forms, even though it is hard to find evidence of any strategic benefits derived from its use. Most commonly used methods, surveys and focus groups, are tightly controlled by companies through the selection of the subjects of inquiry and carefully formulated questions that require a quantitative response. These efforts are focused on validation of hypotheses about a product or service’s adoption by target market segments. However, they do little to help the discovery of unmet customer needs or to support construction of alternative hypotheses.

Unsolicited customer feedback, found “in the wild” at online customer reviews sites and forums, is an excellent source of insights comparable to the ones discovered by ethnographic research (by observation). Both methods share the focus on the customer’s outside-in perspective, but “in the wild” feedback provides more statistically representative samples at a much lower cost.

“The only truly unbiased voice-of-customer feedback, I believe, is the feedback you find “in the wild,” that is, by simply observing the comments made by your customers in social media.” Don Pepper

It is a common practice today for many companies to collect and/or monitor both types of customer feedback. The problem is what they do with it. Ultimately, the quality of business outcome trumps what types of customer feedback or methodologies were used to produce it. There is a growing body of evidence that puts a very high value on the use of “in the wild” customer feedback for strategic innovation efforts. Yet, most companies use social media comments to focus on the resolution of public complaints by responding to them at a micro level.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Ben Franklin

The goal should be discovery and elimination of systemic process/product failures that impact customer experience. However, companies are often skeptical to consider unsolicited customer feedback as a reliable and fertile ore for mining strategic insights. Their management seemingly prefers the comfort of familiar, if not effective, evaluations by the “house” customers at the expense of their brand’s degradation by “in the wild” social consumers. The use of Band-Aids is not effective to stop heavy bleeding.

Since most “tamed” customer feedback is used for validation, and most “in the wild” customer feedback is used for firefighting, the relative ROI should be examined closely. Perhaps a better model would be to start using unsolicited Voice of Customer for selection of subjects for validation.

The Strategic Value of Customer Feedback

Creating A Presentation

When you’re creating your PowerPoint, you want to make a presentation that will captivate the audience. Think about the age of the people who are viewing the presentation and the information that is being relayed. The slides need to match what you are trying to convey. Start with the general PowerPoint slide design. Once you have a general layout, you can add details to other slides that you create. Avoid using a lot of motion unless it’s the same type. This can be confusing to the people who view the presentation. You also want to use as little music as possible. While sounds can be an accent to some pictures, you don’t need a lot of sound as it takes away from the pictures and bullet points that are used.

Try to keep each slide to about five or six points. Use a font that is easy to read, and make sure the colors contrast well against the background. Avoid using yellow, orange and red as these colors can be hard to read. Your title slide should give a short description of what viewers can expect to see. When using pictures, avoid changing from clipart to photographs. Use the same type of picture so that your presentation is fluid. Instead of using several small pictures on each slide, it’s best to introduce a new slide with a picture or give one large picture that wraps up what is said on the individual slides.

One of the things to keep in mind is that you will likely have to stand in the front of the room to give the presentation. Consider getting a remote mouse so that you can move around the room. This will allow your audience to see the presentation without any distractions. Remember that less is more. If the presentation is for a school assignment, then you have probably written a report to go along with the PowerPoint. All you need to do is give the basic points of what you want to say. However, the slides need to have the same information as the report.

Creating A Presentation