Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, has provided inspiration to countless numbers of people since it was released over two decades ago. The seventh and final habit in the book focuses on continuous improvement, what Covey calls “sharpening the saw”.
What are the best ways for marketers to build and sustain their own expertise? Which books, which blogs, and which conferences, and which individuals drive us towards excellence?
Join us this Thursday for our next #B2Bchat event where we dive into these questions.
Q. What is the best marketing-related book you’ve read recently?
Q. Name a blog that you regularly draw inspiration from.
Q. Have you encouraged professional development for people you lead? What is your approach?
Q. What role can mentors play in a marketers’ professional development?
Q. How has social media changed the way marketers learn?
I’ve worked with several website designs and website redesigns over the years, and one thing that always strikes me about B2B sites is how much they all look the same. With a few exceptions, you’ll most often find a polished, sterile, brochure-like presence which is sure to appease the discerning B2B buyer. But is this what is really needed? Why do B2B websites follow a similar pattern, and are there opportunities to break the mould and still be successful?
Join us for our latest Twitter chat where we’ll discuss these questions and more. “Why are so many B2B website designs… Boring?” on #B2Bchat this Thursday, April 28 at 5:00pm Pacific. We look forward to your input!
Q. What are the first things that prospects look for on a B2B website?
Q. Does fun mean unprofessional? Which B2B companies have found the right balance?
Q. How often should a B2B site be redesigned?
Q. What is the fastest way to spice up your current B2B site?
Q. Who should give input into a site redesign?
Q. Are corporate websites losing out to the Facebook page?
I recently had the pleasure of reading Seth Godin’s latest book, Poke the Box. It’s a nice, light read and something that can be fit into an afternoon visit to your favorite coffee shop.
As with other Seth Godin books that I’ve read, the message first strikes you as self evident. “Of course this makes sense. Who wouldn’t know that?” But Seth has a way of taking the obvious, and using it as a means to teach a lesson.
I’d like to share some of the things that have stuck with me from this book. Incidentally, as I was reading it, Twitter provided a temporary outlet to tell the rest of the world what I was gleaning from the pages. There were a lot of bite-sized pieces of information, perfect for the 140 character limit on Twitter.
The basic premise of the book is that a lot of people are afraid of starting, of experimenting with new ideas, of ‘poking the box’ to see what happens.
“There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth.
Not going all the way, and not starting.”
The Starbucks story provides an example of how it’s ok to start, and be wrong at first. One of the founders, Jerry Baldwin, had a vision of a company that would sell coffee beans and tea leaves. His vision turned out to be wrong, and it was only after his business partner Howard Schultz visited Italy and developed a passion for espresso, that the company took the direction for which it is known today. Jerry Baldwin was wrong, but because he started, it allowed for the company to know it was wrong, then change direction.
The person who fails the most usually wins
Talk to any person who is successful and they will share with you their list of failures that helped bring them to where they are. If you fail only once, i.e. fail big, it’s game over. If you never fail, you’re either very lucky, or you’ve never tried succeeding. It is in allowing yourself multiple smaller failures, and learning from them, that you move forward to successes. Poke the box, figure out which ideas resonate, and then ship them.
Why is this message relevant now?
Today’s market is obsessed with novelty. In a world where information can spread quickly, the most remarkable ideas win.
Quora, made available to the public in June 2010, was co-founded by Facebook’s former CTO Adam D’Angleo, and at first glance appears similar to LinkedIn Answers, Wikipedia, Focus.com or Yahoo Answers. But do we need another Q&A site? And why is Quora getting so much attention lately?
B2B Marketers are starting to cross paths ever more frequently with this knowledge market site, whether it is a Quora listing on a Google search results page, or going to the site itself to exercise thought leadership.
In this Thursday’s B2Bchat, we dive into Quora’s role in B2B marketing.
Q. Which ‘knowledge market sites’ do B2B buyers go to for information?
Q. As a marketer, what is the best way to get involved with Quora or similar sites?
Q. Will Quora kill blogging?
Q. How can you manage brand reputation in the ‘knowledge market’?
Q. What is the future of Quora?
Join us on February 24 at 5:00pm Pacific for a live #B2Bchat on the relevance of Quora for B2B marketing!
Marketing and public relations departments tend to be the ones driving social media within companies. But what about Sales? How can they best contribute to carrying the brand message and communicating with prospective customers?
Join us for our upcoming #B2Bchat session on Thursday, December 16 at 5:00pm Pacific, where we’ll dive in to: Aligning B2B Sales and Marketing Efforts in Social Media.
Q. What are the do’s and don’t's of posting for members of the sales team?
Q. What can marketing can do to help the sales team be more effective with social media?
Q. How much time should sales people spend on social? does the answer vary based on level of skill, experience or responsibilities?
Q. What guidelines, if any, are helpful for sales and marketing so each can become more effective in their use of social media?
Q. How can sales and marketing avoid conflict in their use of social that might negate each other’s efforts?
Q. What is “social CRM” and is it mostly a consumer thing or does it also apply to B2B?
Q. What is the dividing line between sales and marketing’s “ownership” or responsibility for a social relationship? Is it the hand-off of a qualified lead? does it have to be defined?
A big thanks to Steven Parker, @sparker9, for suggesting this topic and these questions!
How many social media sites do you update on a regular basis?
Perhaps it would be better to rephrase the question as: How many social media sites would you like to update on a regular basis?
Ping.fm is a useful aggregation service which allows you to do just that: post content simultaneously to a large group of social media sites. It covers dozens of sites and includes these better known social networks:
There are other services, such as the popular Twitter client Hootsuite, that allow you to post to the biggest social networks. But if your social media strategy involves reaching audiences on a diverse set of social networks, ping.fm is definitely worth a closer look.
More and more B2B marketers are turning to lead scoring as a way of optimizing lead management. Many of us will remember when we used to process raw Excel lists, handing over hundreds of names with job titles and companies to our sales department, only to find that leads weren’t being followed up on. It wasn’t possible to know which leads were the most interested in your company, and wasn’t easy to see which matched your target buyer.
Recent advances in marketing automation and sales CRM software have made it easier to streamline the whole process. Marketing and sales professionals can apply lead scoring algorithms to leads, effectively sorting and prioritizing them for nurturing programs and sales follow-up.
In a recent episode of the weekly #B2Bchat on Twitter, we dug into questions surrounding lead scoring. Here is a summary of the questions and comments, compiled:
Q. What is lead scoring?
There are a lot of online resources on the topic lead scoring. We’ve posted a couple of articles on lead scoring including The 5 Basics of Lead Scoring on B2Bbloggers.com.
Here are a couple of definitions of lead scoring in 140 characters or less: Lead scoring is assigning a probability/weight to a lead based on its online behavior while interacting with your digital assets (via @joezuc) and Lead scoring is giving a rating system to prospects so more time spent with qualified leads (via @NuSparkMktg)
Q. What do you need in order to get started with lead scoring?
A marketing automation system. Vendors that were mentioned by name in the session included Marketo, Vtrenz, Eloqua, Genius, Marketbright and Silverpop. @jepc referred us to a comprehensive list of marketing automation systems that he has compiled.
You need a list of the possible paths/interactions a customer can have with your digital assets. This can be quite complex, depending on the type of product/service.
A target audience definition is needed, and an understanding of your buyer personas.
You need to understand your customer buying behavior. Talk to sales in order to learn buying behaviors, and look at previous activities associated with closed deals.
An agreement on the definition of a lead is essential. Sales and marketing need to come up with the definition together. Any discussion of lead scoring helps sales and marketing connect better with goals.
Executive buy-in from sales & marketing leadership is needed.
Q. What advice would you give to marketers that want to take lead scoring to the next level?
Normalize job titles to get better scoring, or restrict job titles to a pick list.
If possible, include consideration of offline activities as well.
The following high-value interactions should be weighted accordingly: E.g. “How We Help” page = higher score
The combo of product page w. case study or contact us page = bonus points
More visits from more people in one company within a shorter time frame = bonus points
Use negative scoring for certain job titles, e.g. consultant, student and assistant.
Review lead scores of closed sales to assess the validity of your scoring assumptions
Greetings! I'm Andrew Spoeth, and here you'll find a mix-match of gems on B2B marketing, social media, PR and technology. My day job has me working with the marketing team at Marketo, one of the hottest SaaS companies in Silicon Valley. You'll also occasionally find me speaking at industry events, and co-moderating a weekly chat on Twitter for marketers called #B2Bchat.