Category

Business

STRYDE | The Best Content Types for Each Stage of the B2B Sales Cycle 2

The Best Content Types for Each Stage of the B2B Sales Cycle

By | Business, Content Marketing | No Comments

As content marketing moves from an industry-specific jargon to a widely-accepted business tactic, we’re privileged and excited to be on the forefront of a new frontier. More firms dipping their toes into the content marketing pool means even more brilliant minds taking stock of the landscape.

One firm doing just that is Eccolo Media. Eccolo recently published results from an extensive survey among technology buyers. The firm surveyed over 100 individuals who influence or make technology buying decisions.

Respondents ran the gamut from engineers to C-level executives. Here’s a breakdown of the respondents demographics:

B2B Content Survey Respondent Demographics

Eccolo’s survey sample size is minimal, but the breadth of job roles and industries gives an excellent snapshot of what business-to-business buyers are looking for when it comes to content consumption.

Eccolo Media’s 2015 B2B Technology Content Survey Report Findings

The goal of Eccolo’s survey was to determine what content is most helpful in each of the four sales cycle phases: pre-sales, initial sales, mid-sales, and final sales.

Here is the Eccolo Media 2015 B2B Technology Content Survey Report, Eccolo Media Inc. infographic. After the infographic, we’ll really dig into the survey findings and what they mean for your firm.

eccolo_buying_cycle_infographic-FINAL

Digging into the Infographic

Creating content is a common content marketing stumbling block for organizations. The best way to overcome it is to totally understand your consumers buying journey. After you understand their journey and questions that guide the search, you can create content based on the Content Marketing Pyramid.

The buyer’s core questions along her journey create the crux of the sales process. These questions then help to form what content customers crave and consume at each stage.

Now, let’s really dig into Eccolo’s findings on content types for each stage of the B2B sales cycle.

Phase One – Unaware of the Problem

Before the consumer enters the buying process, she is understandably unaware of the problem at hand. The most effective way to spark a problem recognition is through visually-focused and succinct methods of communication.

E-newsletters – Email is an essential content type in your overall content marketing strategy. Through an email newsletter, consumers are able to quickly identify a problem they’re facing. With short copy and a clear call-to-action, consumers can easily identify the gaps they need filled.

Blogs – As with email, blogs provide a perfect stage to communicate a concise message. Unless consumers are subscribers to your blog, they will most likely end up at your blog through social channels or search results. This is the perfect place to herd customers into your funnel, since these channels are built for first-touch interactions.

Brochures/Data Sheets – Again, the common theme with stage one content consumption is visually appealing and succinct. Brochures and data sheets are the perfect way to quickly communicate an overview of a problem to consumers.

Phase Two – Understand the Problem

In the second phase of the buying process, the customer is full-on understanding mode. Here, she’s trying to collect and synthesize as much information on her specific problem as possible. Not surprisingly, consumers crave content that is very detailed and descriptive in this stage.

White Paper – White papers are a great content choice in the second stage of the sales process because they are lengthy, detailed, unbiased, and informative. White papers provide objective and thorough information that customers love to read at this phase.

Case Studies – Similarly to white papers, case studies are detailed and informative. The customer here is looking for similarities between firms you have already served, and the subsequent successes in that interaction. Remember, at this phase, consumers WANT lengthy and detailed content.

Phase Three – Identify Solutions, Consider Vendors

Now that the consumer fully understands every element of her problem, she will begin to consider solutions and vendors that provide those solutions. Here is where your firm should shift from complete objectivity to really showcasing what sets your firm’s solution apart from your competitors.

Detailed Tech Guides – Technical guides go much more in-depth into problem-solution scenarios than white papers or case studies. With tech guides, the problem and solution are described in meticulous detail. This is precisely what consumers crave here, so give it to them!

Videos – We all know that images are processed faster than text. In fact, 50% of our brain is dedicated to visual functions. Cater to your consumers preferences here by describing more complicated solutions through a video. Videos provide a great opportunity to speak directly to your customers and explain more complicated concepts through voice rather than text.

Webinars – Webinars provide a one-two punch to customers in the third phase of the sales process. Not only can you provide crazy-detailed information, but you provide it in a visually appealing manner. What’s also great about webinars is that they allow you to communicate in real-time with your consumers and answer questions directly.

Phase Four – Finalizing vendor, purchasing solution

As the infographic points out, fewer consumers digest content in the final phase of the sales cycle. Nearly 50% of consumers utilized content in the second and third stage, but by the fourth stage that drops to just under 20%. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create content for that 20%. Quite the opposite, actually. By providing useful content at the final stage, you could greatly increase your firm’s chances of being selected.

EBooks – B2B consumers utilize eBooks in the final phase of purchasing. Quite separate from white papers, eBooks are conversational, highly visual, and easy-to-read. EBooks highlight what kind of firm is providing the solution, and how the firm itself views the solution options.

The Sales Cycle, The Buying Process, & Your Firm’s Content

What we loved most about Eccolo’s survey findings was that it reinforced the concept of consumer-driven content at each stage of the sales cycle. For B2B companies, it can be easy to dismiss content creation as a strictly B2C endeavor.

But, that could not be further from the truth! Whether you’re B2B or B2C, you’re always talking to people.

Let these people dictate what they do and do not want to see at each step in their buying process, and adjust your sales cycle around that. By simply putting yourself in the shoes of your consumer and answering each question that could arise along her journey, you’ll effectively create content for every stage of the sales cycle.

STRYDE | What Social Commerce Trends Can We Expect To See In 2015? 1

What Social Commerce Trends Can We Expect To See In 2015?

By | Business | No Comments

It’s rare to see a consumer purchase a product or service directly from a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., post, today. It’s also hard to track the impact social channels have on the path to purchase due to the fact that social media is seen as the marketing channel that builds awareness, consideration, and intent early in the customer journey.  Social media is rarely a channel that helps consumers during the final purchase.

But that could drastically change in the near future. In 2015, social commerce in the U.S. is expected to garner $14 billion in sales and represent 5% of all online retail revenue for the year. Social networking sites understand this trend and are making changes to make it even easier to purchase directly from within their platform.

Social Commerce Today

Social commerce is when a commercial transaction happens due to social interaction, i.e. a friend of yours posts how much they like these new running shoes they recently bought. They provide a link on Facebook, which you then click on and proceed to buy the same pair of shoes. Look familiar?

social commerce

Other examples of social commerce include:

Social Sharing of Content:

An individual likes a product or service so they share it with their friends on social networking sites. This content leads traffic back to the site that results in sales or transactions.

Advocate Marketing:

Also called incentive social sharing, this is where consumers are rewarded (typically with an affiliate commission) for sharing a link to a product or service. Obviously, this can come across as less authentic than sharing things because they are excited about their recent purchase. However, this still has an impact similar to the running shoes example above.

Customer Reviews:

Consumers trust their friends’ opinions and recommendations more than a brand’s recommendation, so brands that encourage and get customers to share reviews of their products or services socially have the potential to generate sales.

Social Commerce Possibilities For 2015

In 2015 social media will become a bigger marketing channel for a lot of industries since customers will have the option to do more than simply share content or recommend products to their friends.

While social commerce is not news for some social platforms, 2015 will be the year social commerce sees a big impact in direct sales from social channels. Part of the reason for this growth is the increasing use of mobile devices.

Twitter Commerce

Twitter is one platform that’s been rolling out its social commerce plans. In the early part of 2014, Twitter partnered with Stripe, a company providing all the back-end payment processing for Twitter. Twitter, and other social networks, haven’t wanted to store users’ credit card details, so Stripe is taking on the challenge. You can view and buy a product directly within your Twitter feed by simply clicking a “Buy” button that will appear alongside an image of the item that’s for sale. Twitter’s head of commerce Nathan Hubbard told The Verge in an interview, “Anything with a perishable component, temporal nature, or limited supply, is going to thrive on Twitter. Given the speed at which word can spread across our network, it feels like an opportunity to create a new kind of sales.”

Image Source: The Verge

Image Source: The Verge

Snapchat Commerce

Another platform making strides with social commerce is Snapchat. Snapchat partnered with Square to deliver a transfer system it’s calling SquareCash. With this system, users can register their debit cards and then transfer and receive money — which is being called Snapchash — to and from their friends on Snapchat. While it’s currently a free service, Snapchat plans are to allow its users to buy products from its platform.

Facebook Commerce

This summer, Facebook shared a mobile screen of what its “Buy” button is going to look like. A suggested post will show up in your newsfeed with a product or service and an image of that product or service, which you can buy right then and there by simply clicking the “Buy” button in the post. I imagine Facebook will be rolling this out in 2015 after they figure out the payment and privacy details.

Image Source: Facebook

Image Source: Facebook

Ubokia Commerce

A lesser known site, Ubokia, currently works with Pinterest. This site provides a “Want It” button, which you can add as a bookmark in your web browser bar. It keeps track of all the items you really “want” that you see on Pinterest. Maybe in 2015 this will change to a “Buy It Now” button?

Fancy Commerce

This site has already beat Pinterest and Ubokia to the punch. Fancy, which you can get on your computer, phone, or tablet, lets you find, collect, and buy all the things you “fancy” that have been curated by its global community. It makes it easier for users because they can do everything they need to in one place.

Image source: Fancy Blog

Image source: Fancy Blog

Image source: Fancy Blog

Image source: Fancy Blog

Social media may not be the biggest marketing channel when it comes to getting consumers to purchase a product or service right from the site — for now. But you can guarantee that starting this year, social commerce is going to be bigger and more profitable than ever before.

What the 2014 B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Report Tells Us

By | Business, Digital Marketing, Industry News | No Comments

Last year I wrote a post recapping the findings from Software Advice’s 2013 Online B2B Buyer Behavior Report. This year marketing technology advisor Software Advice is at it again, but this time around they put together a 2014 B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Report.

Demand generation, which I’m sure most of you already know, is using targeted marketing programs to help drive more awareness of and interest in your company’s products or services. In this report, Software Advice surveyed 200 B2B marketing professionals, mostly senior-level marketers, and discovered what channels, offers, content types and technologies they used to power their demand gen programs, as well as which ones worked the most effectively for them. Three key takeaways stood out from this report:

  1. The best channels that brought in large numbers of high-quality leads were trade shows, referral marketing and in-house email marketing.
  2. Videos were the most used content type, used by 92% of those surveyed, and videos produced a large quantity of leads.
  3. 79% of the B2B marketers use at least 11 marketing software applications, and 97% use email marketing software.

Best Channels for Generating Leads

The B2B marketers surveyed were asked to rate channels based on the relative quantity and quality of leads generated by said channels. Trade shows and events were picked as generating the most leads and the best leads, which Michele Linn, content development director at CMI, credited to in-person events being meaningful and powerful today when basically everything we do is online.

SA graph

Other channels that did well were search engine advertising, in-house email marketing and TV, radio and print advertisements. If you want to run programs that focus on quantity, these are options you should look into if you aren’t already doing them. But steer clear of direct mail and display advertising, as these 2 finished last.

While trade shows and events brought in large amounts of promising leads, they were also picked as being the channels that had a high cost-per-lead. Low-cost channels included in-house email marketing, organic search and social media. Social media marketing, the campaigns and programs excluding ads, made the top of the list at being the lowest cost-per-lead.

Content Types and Number of Leads They Produce

Next, the marketers were asked to rank content types by their effectiveness with demand generation and lead generation. Of all surveyed, 92% said video was the most commonly used content type for demand gen programs. Videos ranked just ahead of surveys, white papers and case studies.

SA graph 2

Videos and surveys also ranked as the top-2 ways for generating the most quantity of leads. Videos have been most thought of as content that helps brands build trust with their consumers and is used to simply entertain them. But as this report shows, companies must be producing more actionable videos that are generating more and more quality leads.

Rounding out the list of content types given, e-books and case studies finished at the bottom.

Software Applications Used for Demand Generation Efforts

SA graph 3

Software Advice then provided 11 software systems and asked the marketers to select which ones they used to assist with their demand gen efforts. Almost all surveyed, 97%, use email marketing software. Following closing behind were CRM and marketing automation systems. But what should be noted is that 79% of those surveyed use all of the 11 software solutions they were shown, and more than 70% said all 11 were reasonably important with their demand gen efforts. This proves that B2B marketing departments rely heavily on information technology.

Demand Generation Expectations and Spending

The last two questions Software Advice asked were how the marketers’ demand gen programs were performing compared to their expectations and what their plans for demand gen spending were for 2015. Forty-four percent of small businesses, those with less than 100 employees, said their efforts performed below what they anticipated, while 27% of midsized companies and 29% of large companies said the same.

Matt Heinz, president of Heinz Marketing, believes these results are because many marketers set foolish expectations. Marketers want things right now, but they forget their prospects don’t function exactly how they want.

“Across the board, we too often expect marketing programs to work immediately,” he said. “We want qualified leads, now! But our prospects don’t work that way.”

As for spending with demand gen efforts, 41% of the marketers surveyed said they were going to increase their yearly spending, 43% said they were going to spend the same amount and 17% said they were going to decrease spending for the upcoming year.

SA graph 4

Linn said it’s no surprise at all that more marketers are planning to spend more for 2015.

“People realize now that having a demand generation strategy is so critical,” she said. “They need to plan content along the entire customer lifecycle. And it can be very time-intensive and resource-intensive. So, from that perspective, it’s not surprising that people are increasing spend at all. It’s an engine that constantly needs to be fed.”

STRYDE | Why You Shouldn’t Be Everything To Everyone

Why You Shouldn’t Be Everything To Everyone

By | Business | No Comments

You may have the desire to provide as much as you can to as many people as you can. But with that kind of thinking, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. It’s impossible to be everything to everyone. You can try, but you will fail 100% of the time.

Everyone isn’t your target market (or they shouldn’t be), so why should you try and be everything to everyone?

Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. If you needed a lawyer to handle your personal injury case, would you choose a personal injury lawyer who specializes in these types of cases or would you go with a lawyer who handles these cases among their many others? You’d go with the first. Why? Because they have a set focus and niche and only spend their time within that area of focus, meaning they’re highly skilled and knowledgeable in that area. This is exactly what you need to be doing if you want to be considered a thought leader in your industry.

When you try to be everything to everyone, you face several challenges and dangers. Here’s the hazardous road you’ll drive down if you choose this method of thinking:

  • Your brand message becomes lost because you’re straying from it.
  • Lose value to your brand.
  • Slows down your business growth.
  • Takes away the time you could be spending providing better, more meaningful efforts.
  • The more you try and do, the less consistent you are with your work so you deliver mediocre instead of great work.
  • Gives off a sense of desperation.
  • Get easily burnt out.

Basically, trying to be everything to everyone means you’ll be nothing to no one.

The only way to be a thought leader in your industry is to focus and go narrow and deep into a niche. You earn more from this method of thinking, and can offer more to your target audience. It’s much easier and more profitable to connect with a smaller, more focused niche in a bigger way than it is to try and connect with a large, broad audience in a big way. Your mind and efforts aren’t being pulled in every direction, so you have the time and capability to offer a higher value to your audience. When you focus and go more narrow and deep, you offer the less-is-more method, which works greatly for you and is appreciated by your customers.

Your brand is stronger and your business grows faster when you’re focused. When you offer concentrated services to a target audience, 3 things happen: it’s easier to find your customers, it’s easier to convince potential customers to become loyal customers and your expertise in your industry grows, which in turn attracts more customers your way.

It’s human nature to not want to limit yourself and your abilities or turn away someone who could be a potential customer. But you will actually find more customers and more easily find them and turn them into loyal customers when you focus and go narrow and deep into a niche. You become indispensible, needed and highly sought after for your skills in your niche area. You turn yourself into the go-to thought leader in your industry, and that’s exactly what your goal should be.

Why October Is The Best Time To Ramp Up Your Inbound Marketing Efforts

By | Business | No Comments

Inbound Marketing October

Well, hello October! For the first time in weeks, it finally feels like a brisk fall day here in Utah. Hallelujah!!!

Who’s excited for October besides me? Honestly, I hope everyone in the agency space is! Why? Because history has shown that October is usually a huge sales month. Woot! Woot!

If you’re relatively new to the agency space, you’re probably asking yourself “why on earth are sales good in October”? I believe the answer is two fold.

The first contributing factor is that businesses of all sizes are planning marketing strategy with projected returns for 2015, and they realize they need more, qualified inbound leads. So, they invest heavily in Q4 to build momentum.

The second reason for the business boom in October is a reason you might not be quite ready to hear yet. Yes folks, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas are looming ever closer. Creating, as the events do every year, many opportunities to capture market share and generate new revenue.

Just how big will the holiday season be this year, and how can you prepare for it? Read on to find out!

2014 Holiday Outlook

According to eMarketer, we can expect to see a 16.6% rise in US retail eCommerce this season. The firm sites consumer confidence and comfort with mobile shopping as well as a general improvement of overall retail sales as the reason for this increase.

Image from eMarketer

Image from eMarketer

The rising tide of brick-and-mortar retail sales is looking like it’s going to lift all ships. Even if individuals don’t plan on purchasing online, many will take the ROPO route (research online, purchase offline).

Even service-providing firms need to be prepared for the influx of leads and sales that will occur from those readying themselves for 2015.

So, how does the expert inbound marketer prepare?

5 Steps For A Stellar Inbound-Marketing October

You can prepare by starting now! If you’re planning on beginning to think about holiday campaigns in November, you’ll be far too late.

There are 5 key steps to get your inbound marketing holiday-ready. Conveniently, there are 5 weeks in October! It’s meant to be.

1. Finalize and understand your Q4 goals.

Number 1 is kind of a no brainer, right? Before you embark on your holiday journey, you must solidify your goals for Q4. How much do you want to increase revenue by? What about leads? Nail down these finer points and use them as your North Star to navigate the holiday season.

2. Prepare your Content Marketing calendar.

Planning out every piece of content until 2015 not only gives you a concrete direction in your inbound marketing efforts, but it takes a huge load off of the rest of your year. Creating a calendar with each piece of content (including it’s type, target audience, anchor text, keywords, etc.) will only prove to make your content marketing efforts more effective.

3. Prepare holiday social campaigns.

This step includes both paid and unpaid social campaigns. After you’ve created your content calendar, now is the time to construct a supporting social calendar. If you’re planning unpaid social campaigns, curate relevant 3rd party content that supports your owned content and publish via your social platforms. If you’re embarking on a paid campaign, set your budget and goals, and get all of your content in order (images, copy, etc.)

4. Prepare your PPC campaigns.

Creating your PPC campaign now enables you to simply say “go” when you’re ready to begin the actual campaign itself. If you can begin the campaign early, you’ll have a jump-start on the competition. In addition, you’ll have more time to optimize your campaign and bidding strategy.

PPC newbie? Check out this introduction to PPC campaigns.

5. Prepare your PLAs.

PLAs (or Product Listing Advertisements) are essential to any merchant’s inbound marketing strategy. Kenshoo found that on average, PLAs receive a 73% higher click through rate than text search ads, a 35% higher conversion rate, a 36% lower average cost per click rate, and a 46 percent higher return on ad spend. To read more about this study and PLAs, check out an introduction to PLAs here.

You’re Ready For An Awesome October!

Preparing for the holiday season now will not only give you a jump on your competition, but it might also make this holiday season less stressful. Isn’t that all we could really ask for?

Have you begun preparations for Q4 and into 2015? We’d love to lend a hand with any inbound marketing questions you may have.

STRYDE | The NFL: Is This How You Would Run A Business?

The NFL: Is This How You Would Run A Business?

By | Business | No Comments

It’s been difficult to avoid the current NFL saga. The issues that have risen in the past few months are some of the most troubling to society as a whole: domestic violence and child abuse. These issues are so divisive, so polarizing, that it seems like it’s on the radar of the entire nation.

Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on with these issues, there’s another question at hand. A question that is not nearly as somber, or important to overall humankind, but is worthy of addressing. The question is this: Would you run a business as the NFL has in a time of crisis?

Why is it worthy of addressing? In 2013, the NFL raked in more than $9 billion. That’s billion. With a B. Enough said.

Let’s take a look at the recent timeline of NFL missteps, and see if we can figure out how we, as savvy business folk, could have handled it better.

Timeline of Poor Decisions

The timeline of the coexisting scandals begin many months ago…

February 19, 2014

TMZ releases video of Ray Race dragging then fiancé Janay Palmer out of an elevator in Atlantic City.

What did the NFL do?

Nothing.

March 27, 2014

Ray Rice is indicted for aggravated assault by the Atlantic City County prosecutor’s office.

What did the NFL do?

Nothing.

April 2014

The NFL, according to the Associate Press, allegedly receives the full tape of the Ray Rice Atlantic City incident.

What did the NFL do?

Nothing.

May 1, 2014

Ray Rice pleaded not guilty to the assault charges filed.

What did the NFL do?

Nothing.

May 18, 2014

Police report is filed that describes Adrian Peterson disciplining his son to the point of bruising and broken skin with a thin stick used whipping. This beating resulted in lacerations on the 4 year olds body.

What did the NFL do?

Nothing.

June 17, 2014

Ray Rice and Janay Palmer (now Rice) have a sit down meeting with Rodger Goodell.

What did the NFL do?

As far as we can tell, nothing too much beyond meeting with Ray and Janay Rice. Which violates almost every school of thought regarding appropriate domestic violence proceedings.

July 24, 2014

Amid intense public scrutiny, Rodger Goodell suspends Ray Rice for two games.

What did the NFL do?

Suspends Ray Rice for two games.

August 28, 2014

After even more public scrutiny, Goodell announces changes to the domestic violence policy. It now includes a six-game suspension following the first offense.

What did the NFL do?

Changed the policy, changed nothing of Ray Rice’s punishment.

September 8, 2014

TMZ returns with the full video from that fateful night in an Atlantic City elevator, showing Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancé unconscious.

What does the NFL do?

Goodell remains silent, while the Ravens terminate Rice’s contract.

September 9, 2014

Goodell claims he didn’t see the video (no one in the league saw the video until it was released by TMZ).

What does the NFL do?

Nothing.

September 10, 2014

Associated Press claims that the NFL was sent a full copy of the Ray Rice type by law enforcement officials in April.

What does the NFL do?

Nothing.

September 12, 2014

Adrian Peterson is indicted for reckless or negligent injury to a child in Montgomery County.

What does the NFL do?

The Minnesota Vikings “deactivate” Peterson for their next game against the New England Patriots.

September 13, 2014

Adrian Peterson turns himself in to Montgomery County and posts his $15k bail.

What does the NFL do?

Nothing.

September 15, 2014

Goodell hires four female advisers to help shape the NFL’s domestic violence policies.

Vikings reinstate Peterson after losing the game in which he sat out, they believe he was just “disciplining a child.”

Another child abuse allegation surfaces involving Peterson and a different 4 year old son.

Radisson Hotels suspends sponsorship of the Vikings.

What does the NFL do?

The NFL faces scrutiny for its selection of advisers, with some vocalizing concerns over the lack of African American representation.

The NFL does nothing regarding the Vikings reinstatement of Peterson. 

September 16, 2014

The governer of Minnesota releases a statement saying that if Peterson is proven guilty, he is a “public embarrassment.”

More sponsors, including Anheuser-Busch, express concern over the handling of Peterson’s legal issues.

What does the NFL do?

Nothing.

September 17, 2014

The Vikings place Adrian Peterson on the exempt list, indicating that he will not play until the legal case is resolved.

Nike and Castrol suspend sponsorship of Peterson.

What does the NFL do?

The NFL either finally convince the Vikings to not let Peterson play, or the Vikings finally succumb to sponsorship pressures.

Why did I just go to the trouble of listing that extensive timeline for you and what on earth does that have to do with business?

I have a reason,  I promise.

“To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.” ― Elie Wiesel

In 9 out of the 16 incidents above, the NFL was given the opportunity to do right, to make the right decision, and they did nothing.  And that’s just on the days when they first were made aware of developments in both of these cases.

The NFL had 159 days from when TMZ first released the footage of Ray Rice dragging the unconscious body of his fiance out of a hotel elevator to when they first publicly acted to take a stand against domestic violence.

The NFL had 117 days from when the police report was filed against Adrian Peterson for allegedly beating his 4 year old son to take a stand against child abuse.

They did nothing. A corporation which brings in $9 billion a year did nothing to uphold values that most would consider paramount.

Would you run your business this way? Do you believe that given every opportunity to do the right thing, you would remain silent?

Running a Business in Times of Crisis

There is a common theme among corporations that handle crises with tact and manage to maintain good public favor. These corporations act swiftly, confidently, and in the best interest of the consumer.

Think way back to 1982 when Johnson & Johnson was faced with a tragic crisis: cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules. Seven people lost their lives and the killer was never found. However, Johnson & Johnson acted with purpose. It immediately pulled $100 million worth of Tylenol off of the shelves and stopped all promotion and advertising of Tylenol. The company partnered with local police, the FBI, and the FDA to help search for the tamperer. After the crisis was over, Johnson & Johnson released new tamper-resistant packaging, which is now the industry norm.

Above is an example of a crisis so heinous that it would be more than enough to completely devastate an ill-prepared corporation. But, Johnson & Johnson was not ill-prepared and it remains a successful company today, 32 years later.

Why Couldn’t the NFL Respond In This Manner?

The NFL wasn’t faced with it’s product indirectly causing the death of 7 people (we’ll leave the concussion scandal for another day). But, it was still faced with violent crimes against women and children. Does the NFL believe that women and children are not football fans? It’s estimated that women encompass at least 45% of NFL fans. What’s more, every day more children are being brought up as football fans. Most of our own children are wearing our favorite team’s insignia before they can even walk.

By refusing to act, the NFL sent a message to women and children fans. This message was loud and it was clear: “You don’t matter to the NFL.”

What does matter to NFL? Sponsorships. When the sponsors began vocalizing concerns, most condemning the behavior, then the NFL takes a stand. Money talks. Apparently, women and children do not.

The Take-to-Works

I truly hope that this does not come off as a long-winded scrutiny of the NFL. I was raised in the suburbs of Chicago in the 1990s, the era of the ’85 Bears was still palpable. We even learned the words to the Super Bowl Shuffle in school, for crying out loud. The impact that the NFL and its teams have on American culture is widespread, undeniable, and inescapable. Which is why this is so important.

The real lesson I hope we can learn as business people, and as humans, is that when we’re given the opportunity to do what’s right, we take it. That when you act in the best interest of your consumer, you are in fact acting in the best possible way.

So please, take that to work with you today and tomorrow and every day after. Take it home with you. Do not allow injustice to occur for over 100 days before you take a stand against it. Do not let it occur for 50, 20, even 2 days before you take a stand against it.

What are your thoughts on the NFL’s “handling” of these situations?

*After I finished writing this yesterday, yet another NFL player, Johnathan Dwyer of the Arizona Cardinals, was arrested for assault. The Arizona Cardinals promptly deactivated him. Good move.

5 Steps To Creating Bullet Proof Relationships With Bloggers, and Journalists

By | Business | One Comment

handshakeBlogger and journalist outreach is broken. No matter the number of processes you have in place or the tools you have to help you develop prospect lists and and manage email outreach, it’s still less effective.

In today’s post, I want to talk about something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, creating true relationships with people… you know, real human beings. There’s no secret formula for building relationships with others, but there are certain things you can do to help improve your chances of creating a real relationship with another person.

In this post I will run through five steps to help you create deep, meaningful relationships and hopefully, at some point in time, you’ll be able to leverage those relationships to create thought leadership content, increase linking root domains, and ultimately increase search engine rankings… the right way. Let’s dive in.

Treat People Like People

The first step in building meaningful relationships is seeing and treating people like people. This first step is critical, plays a huge role in the following four steps, and comes from a book which I recently finished reading called Leadership and Self-Deception. It’s a fantastic book, and I encourage everyone to read it, ponder it, and implement in their lives. In fact, our team here at Stryde, will be listening to this next month as soon as our audible credits are reloaded. It’s that powerful!

I would be willing to bet, that 99.9% of all marketers see journalists, authoritative bloggers, and industry influencers as “obstacles” in their way, keeping them from publishing content on the websites they own or write for. They don’t view them as real people, with real problems, and real need that need to be fulfilled. The minute we put this thinking aside, and focus on them as people we will begin to break down the strongest barriers and connect with them one on one.

Chat About Things Other Than Business

Now that you’re on the same playing field as other people, you must take great care to spend time chatting about things other than business. Why you ask? Think about how many times bloggers, journalists, and webmasters get “pitch” emails about why they should let you tell your story or publish your content. Several, sometimes dozens per day. Stop it! Right now! When I’ve created meaningful relationships with people in or out of my industry, it’s been through discussing similar interests, discussing family and kids, discussing sports, etc.

Let’s take an example from this weekend. Jeremy Dearringer from Relevance reached out to me to share a kickstarter project that Aaron Aders is running. It’s a long board that feels like your snowboarding on asphalt or pavement. I love long boarding and snowboarding and was excited to check it out and discuss further.

Now, I’ve never met Jeremy in real life. I’ve only exchanged emails, tweets, and had a few phone conversations with him, but consider him a good friend. I’d do just about anything for him and I’d be willing to bet that he’d do the same. Why? Because we’ve built a strong relationship and can share things we probably wouldn’t share with others that we don’t know as well.

Seriously, it works. I know it’s hard to put aside your business interest and your ego, but do it. You won’t regret it!

Help Your New Friend With One of Their Challenges

Another thing you’ll learn in Leadership & Self-Deception is that other people’s problems and concerns are just as important as yours. When you realize this and see people as people, you suddenly want to help them, which creates stronger bonds with your new friends. I can’t tell you how many times I see people asking questions or complaining about something on Twitter. I’ve done it and I guarantee you have too. When someone takes time out of their busy schedule to help you, how do you see that person? As more a friend or less?

So slow down and take time to listen and pay attention to those who you consider to be your friends. When you’re able to step in and solve a problem for them, your relationships becomes that much stronger.

Don’t Forget To Say Thank You & I’m Sorry

Sounds super easy AND super cheesy, but you should always express your gratitude when someone else helps you with one of your challenges. Along the same lines, if you screw up… and you will, apologize, FAST! Nothing hurts relationships faster than failing to say thank you and failing to apologize. Enough said.

Stay In Touch Often

The last thing you need to do to create amazing relationships with others is stay in touch often. As with saying thank you and I’m sorry, there’s not much else to say about staying in touch. Just make sure you take the time to keep up on what your friends are up to and communicate with them regularly.

Put these all together and what do you have? The recipe for a perfect relationship that you can use to help you satisfy your needs, whether you trying to place content, generate backlinks, or whatever.

Image Credit: https://www.flazingo.com

A Nap To Replace Your Caffeine

By | Business | No Comments

It’s 2:30 p.m. and my eyes have a little burn to them from being open since 6:45 a.m. Man, were those lights that bright this morning? My thoughts start to slow down with a haze surrounding what I thought at one point were great ideas and direction to take for a project. I already drank a 32 oz. Mountain Dew with a squirt of berry in it at 9:30 a.m. to get me up and awake for the morning and afternoon, but now it is starting to wear off. What I wouldn’t give for a 15-minute nap to recharge myself…

Cat nap

The Culture Of Naps Overseas

A few years ago I lived in the central Philippines islands for two years, and the culture was literally a world of difference. One thing that stuck out to me right away after arriving and being there just a day or two was at lunchtime everything closes down and everyone takes a nap! Yes, most shops and stores close, and everyone either naps in their small shop or heads home for an hour or so. It amazed me to see this as a business move and as a part of the Filipino culture. I enjoyed this time as well! I would head home from my morning activities and for about two hours had time to nap 15-30 minutes and clean myself up a little from the jungle-like sweat I had going on at the time. I can truly say that the little nap and break in the day was a real relaxer and energizer for my afternoon and evening. 

What’s The Big Idea?!

I have often imagined what the productivity level would be like in this country if companies would allow a 15- to 30-minute nap during the day to give our bodies a break and recharge from the long morning of already being up for seven to eight hours. If you can believe it, it is actually becoming a more popular idea among larger companies, such as Google, AOL, Ben & Jerry’s, Nike and British Airways. In an article written earlier this year for the Medical Daily, Vincent Walsh, a professor of human brain research at University College London, told Cheltenham Science Festival, “It’s best to give your brain downtime.” He said, “I have a nap every afternoon. It’s only since the industrial revolution we have been obsessed with squeezing all our sleep into the night rather than having one or two sleeps through the day.”

Do You Have A Doctor’s Note?

Did you know there are actually different types of naps depending on how long the nap is? According to WebMD, these types are:

  • 20-minute power nap – Good for alertness and motor learning skills like typing and playing the piano.
  • 30 to 60 minute power nap – Good for decision-making skills, such as memorizing vocabulary or recalling directions.
  • 60 to 90 minute power nap – This plays a key role in making new connections in the brain and solving creative problems.

Aaaaaaand She’s Out

My wife and I were talking the other night about our 6-month-old daughter and how she gets fussy right before she falls asleep. My wife posed this question to me, “Why do you think we don’t need a couple of naps a day?” My first quick thought was to respond with a, “Because we aren’t babies.” But as I thought about it more I simply said that I didn’t know and maybe because our bodies are bigger which can handle more of the day without a break in activity… Wrong. Looking into it further, the Mayo Clinic actually has a little section in Adult Health suggesting that no matter the age, our body’s benefit from short naps. Now I don’t want to make this into a science debate or anything like that. I just wanted to include a little medical background to show that the medical field has suggestions about this subject as well.

Already Napping At Work

Now I know what a lot of people might be saying already, “Well heck, I already take a nap at my desk every afternoon. The only difference is my boss doesn’t know about it.” True, very true. But there is a big difference in a worry free, clear conscious nap compared to a nap you could get fired for if it isn’t your first time getting caught waking up and wiping drool off your cheek. Come to find out you only woke up because your co-workers started throwing things at you, which you find all over your desk area. Or even the dreaded wake up from your boss as he passes and tries to play it off as a joke but really it’s not good. Now what if you had this option:

picture via http://blog.creativesafetysupply.com

picture via http://blog.creativesafetysupply.com

picture via http://blog.creativesafetysupply.com

picture via http://blog.creativesafetysupply.com

Food For Thought

As much as I would love to do it, I am not going to go running into my boss’s office swinging it around yelling, “I need a nap! Science demands it!” Even if I did, I probably won’t be employed the next day. But I truly think that this will become more popular in the future as more companies try to create new ways of bettering the employee experience, which in theory betters the company. Just like my 6-month-old daughter who naps a couple of times a day to refresh and reboot, a company could very well benefit from this concept. Maybe try it out on free day, when you feel that afternoon haze come over you. Set a timer for no more than 30 minutes and see if it does wonders or makes you wish you had more time. In my personal experience, a quick 20-minute nap restarts me and I am fresh minded, but a nap lasting more than an hour makes me feel sometimes worse than before! So nap wisely.

Below I have also included a TED Talk and a quick YouTube video that were both interesting on the concept of sleep that some may like to watch. 

YouTube “How Much Sleep Do We Actually Need”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVQlcxiQlzI 

TED Talk On Sleep & Naps

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MklZJprP5F0#t=34

Build Relationships of Trust & Watch Your Online Sales Skyrocket

By | Business | One Comment

build relationships

Sales is about building relationships with others… PERIOD! How about that for an opening sentence of a blog post found on an online marketing blog? The thing is, it’s absolutely true, even if you are an online business.

As the years go on, consumers are becoming more and more internet savvy. They aren’t afraid to search for your company name coupled with “reviews”, “complaints”, or any other modifier that might help them dig up dirt on your business before spending money with you.

Since this is the mentality of most buyers these days, it’s more important than ever to build relationships of trust with every individual who visits your website. But how do you do this if you’re an online business only? (Meaning you don’t have a brick and mortar store front)

It all comes down to becoming a thought leader in your space as well as publishing great content and having a fantabulous drip email campaigns. It’s also critical to have a killer support staff to assist your customers post sale to ensure 100% customer or client satisfaction. We’ve seen this in the case with Zappos and many other online businesses who are growing exponentially year over year.

So let’s break these four components down and talk about each one specifically and why they are important for your business to succeed online.

Becoming a Thought Leader In Your Space

Let’s start out by defining exactly what I thought leader is. According to Wikipedia, who is the expert in all things, a thought leader is and individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded. Becoming a thought leader isn’t easy, but it’s necessary if you want to develop and maintain a thriving online business. So how do you become a thought leader? Well, there isn’t really a good answer… it just sort of happens. However, here are some things you need to start doing today to get started.

  • Start blogging everywhere! Write on your company blog, write on authoritative blogs in your industry (also known as legitimate guest blogging), write on LinkedIn, Etc. When you write, you must write amazing content. It has to be better, more thought provoking, and data driven than your competition.
  • Curate content and provide your own strategic insight. Nothing gets you noticed faster than sourcing other writers content and providing your own insight and angle on the topic.
  • Answer questions on social media. Looking for people asking questions on Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora, and other platforms and providing solid advice will help you get noticed and will help you start building a steady a following.
  • Start speaking at events. Usually after you’ve created a voice and a following through blogging, using social media, helping others and answering their questions, you can start speaking at industry events. Depending on how large the events are will determine how many people consider you an expert in your field, so start small and work you way up to large events.

Publishing Great Content

As I’ve just discussed, this goes hand-in-hand with becoming a thought leader in your space. There are two problems for many businesses when it comes to content. First, they try to create too much content and the quality suffers. No one, I repeat no one likes to read bad content and it kills your credibility. Second, the content isn’t targeted to your prospects needs or problems they’re trying to solve. If you can nail both of these with your content, you’ll build trust quickly and close more business.

Having Fantabulous Drip Email Campaigns

Email drip campaigns, also referred to as lead nurture campaigns move prospects through the sales cycle via email strategic email communication. Believe it or not, email is one of the most powerful marketing tools you have at your disposal. When building your content, make sure to build some pieces that require a name and email address to access. Once you have this, you can start sending non-intrusive emails on a regular basis that provide additional content to “warm them up” to you and your company. Remember, the goal is to build relationships of trust.

Having a Killer Support Staff To Assist Your Customers Post Sale

Your support staff should be ready and excited about providing world class service to your customer base. This can be done by providing live chat, phone, and email support as well as support via social media. When building relationships with your customers, there can’t be too many touch points or ways to get a hold of you. Make it easy and make it effective and you’ll win the hearts and increase the lifetime value of those who keep you in business.

Now that we’ve run through each component, can you clearly see how putting the four together will create a lethal weapon for growing sales exponentially. Yes, it takes time, yes, it takes a lot of work, but doesn’t anything worth pursuing? Good luck and looking forward to hearing your thoughts on building relationships and sales.

It Was Never About YOU & It Never Will Be

By | Business | No Comments
reality check

Image via anthillonline.com

Dear business people everywhere, it’s time to have “the talk”. The talk about how it’s not all about you. Sorry, I know it hurts. I know a lot of you think it is all about you and your world, and what’s happening with your “this” and your “that”, but I am here to bring up something that I truly think successful business people do or should start doing. Helping other businesses. Creating relationships with as many businesses and people as possible and here’s why.

Don’t Be THAT Guy

I recently had a good friend go to a business lunch that was created specifically for any businessperson around to go, sit in small tables of eight, have some lunch and just talk. There was no set topic, no specific agenda except to exchange business cards, see what everyone did for a living and build new relationships. But instead, people showed up thinking it was their business birthday party and made the afternoon all about them. My friend explained how he sat next to a man who from the moment they all sat down made it all about him. He talked about what he was doing, what his business practices were and how successful his world had become. My friend went on to say how short sided the conversation of the whole table became once everyone’s brains shifted to thinking “it’s all about me”. Of course you have to make an introduction, saying who you are, what company you are with and what you do for them, but then the conversation shouldn’t come back to you unless another points it that way. No one wants to do business with you if the conversation never leaves you.

Back in 2011, New-York Times columnist David Brooks wrote an article titled, “It’s Not About You”. His thoughts focused around college students as they graduate and how, “Today’s grads enter a cultural climate that preaches the self as the center of a life. But, of course, as they age, they’ll discover that the tasks of a life are at the center.” I LOVE this. It’s not about you, it’s about the bigger picture at hand, the long term thoughts of business. The culture of becoming a successful business is thought to be what Zangief from Wreck-It Ralph states, “crushing skulls like a sparrow egg between my thighs.” (If you haven’t seen Wreck-It Ralph, make it a goal of yours because it doesn’t disappoint.) Back to the point, businesses want to crush all, gain all, reap all and leave nothing left. I make this much and this is how successful I am because of this and this and this. Well, what if we put YOU second and put simple and easy relationship building first?

“No Soup For You!”

We have all met those people who think it’s all about them, like the chart below illustrates. Walk into a room and if the conversation isn’t involving them then they make it about them. Sorry, but no, no it’s not all about you and you know what, “No soup for you!”

mememe

Image via forbes.com

Whenever I go anywhere that requires me to sit and interact with others, I always try my best to get to know them and what they do. I have always just truly been interested in others, their backgrounds and culture, and how they make a living. With more than 7 billion people in the world, there are too many people to make relationships with in my opinion. In a weird way, the old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” can apply here for the better. If I meet someone at a marketing conference who is in need of a service that someone I know happens to provide, say a friend or coworker or even a client of mine, then I will gladly get him or her in touch with one another. Now without wanting something in return for myself, my networking space just gained more credibility and strength, which in turn could help me in the future, but it was not my initial intention.

Take It Online

Except for a lunch every month, I don’t get many face-to-face business networking event opportunities. So, I take it online. I take a few minutes every morning to have some personal time before the workday gets going and get networking; not for myself, but for others. I have an idea of people I want to try and connect that morning, like maybe a new connection I made earlier in the week needs a service I can find easily for them through a connection I already have. Some mornings nothing comes up and I don’t end up helping anyone, but other times I’m the link that two people needed. Creating online relationships seems to be the quickest way to connect businesses and people, but it’s not always the easiest way. Due to the amount of creepos and fake accounts out there, people are a little more guarded online today, so when reaching out, make it genuine so the person you are trying to connect with that has never met you knows you aren’t creepin’ on them.

See Where It Takes You

Here it is. The challenge. The next time you attend a conference, convention or social event where business is being discussed and swapped, don’t make it about you but about the others in the room and how to help them. Or heck, just spend a few minutes every morning on LinkedIn or Twitter seeing who can benefit from a connection you helped make. In 2012, Jodi Glickman wrote a great little piece for the Harvard Business Review Blog called, “Confession of a Networking Pro” showing what happened when she did just this. You should read her experience if you have mixed feelings about this untraditional way of creating relationships and networking. I challenge not only myself to do this over the next few months as much as possible, but everyone else as well to see just how it improves your networking and maybe even provides opportunities for your own business down the road. Give it a try. See how helping others with a simple notion that you are just being an awesome person, passing along contacts and helping the world of business thrive will open more doors for everyone, including yourself.

barney