Sales and Marketing Performance Blog

30 Lessons from the 30 day HubSpot Blogging Challenge

Posted by Mark Gibson on Tue, Feb 04, 2014

Yesterday I published an article on the WittyParrot website about our experience and learnings from the 30 day HubSpot Blogging Challenge in January 2014. Below is an excerpt.

I joined WittyParrot as VP Marketing in July 2013 and recommended that WittyParrot use HubSpot for Inbound Marketing. 

There were no other candidates in our evaluation as I have been working with HubSpot for 5 years and have implemented it in 7 other technology companies.  

I did not need convincing of the underlying, technology, methodology or ROI on effort and investment… it works as advertised. 

We installed the software in July and began work on the new Website for the company launch in October.

We chose the HubSpot Enterprise system because we expect WittyParrot to scale rapidly and need the full functionality of the enterprise system from the start, even though we were starting from scratch.
When HubSpot announced the 30 day blogging challenge, we accepted the challenge as we were beginning to see the fruits of our early blogging effort with the direct correlation between a great blog and leads that followed.
Read the article in full ... http://www.wittyparrot.com/blog/30-lessons-from-the-hubspot-30-day-blogging-challenge
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Topics: hubspot, content creation, blogging challenge

Tower Data Brand Messaging Update and Website Revamp Project

Posted by Mark Gibson on Tue, Mar 26, 2013

Email data solutions provider, TowerData went live with their redesigned Website last week, with a stunning new appearance and a message that grabs your attention after landing on any page on the Website.


TowerData Background

TowerData helps companies increase the performance of their email marketing by validating email addresses for improved deliverability, providing intelligence about email leads and subscribers, and increasing size of the email list. TowerData has been in business since 2001 and has helped thousands of customers improve their email marketing results and take their email list to the next level.

We created the new TowerData brand message in partnership with enterprise inbound marketing agency, Kuno Creative (Kuno),  who created the redesign and new content and managed the website transformation project. Kuno is managing the content marketing, demand generation and marketing automation program for TowerData.
 
TowerData is a HubSpot customer and has already been successful with its demand generation activities, generating a predictable volume of inbound leads and doing well with keyword rankings. As a next step, TowerData wanted to attract and convert more qualified sales leads by improving its brand messaging and content.

Goal: Brand Update and Website Revamp

Tom Burke, CEO of TowerData stated, “the project was driven by a need to update and focus our brand and revamp our 6-year-old website.” Prior to the redesign the TowerData Website, although functional, looked dated and the message did not clearly identify how TowerData served its clients or what differentiated their services in a highly competitive market. TowerData sought to make its core service strengths readily apparent and easily understood by website visitors. 

Complication: Prior History

TowerData had already identified a redesign and branding vendor who proposed a traditional approach of interviewing stakeholders, including TowerData customers, to understand the business, and pull out the themes and message from there. Our approach would involve more than a brand refresh.

Resolution: Create a Messaging Architecture

TowerData selected Admarco and Kuno for the messaging and Website transformation, and we began the project with the development of the TowerData Buyer-Persona, which details the roles and thought processes of representative buyers. The messaging process was done entirely over the Internet to save time and money and we used the MindManager tool from MindJet.com to capture the information in a brainstorming session attended by Kuno and top TowerData stakeholders.  



With the Buyer Persona created, we moved to developing the Messaging Architecture and began brainstorming the Win Themes and Positioning Pillars. 

The Messaging Architecture is developed by identifying product usage Win Themes, i.e. how the products are used to create value, solve problems and help buyers achieve their goals.  

Win-Themes are self-describing information chunks that encapsulate feature, function and benefit in a meaningful sentence. In other words a Win-Theme describes what the product or service is, what does it does for the buyer when they use it and what that means in terms of value for the buyer. The brainstorming and review process required five Web Conferences to complete and took around about 10 hours to capture and edit over a period of 2 weeks. 

Positioning Pillars are used to position the product in the market vs. competition. Some of our clients are unsure of their Pillars at the start of the process, but in TowerData’s case they knew they wanted to position around Email Append, Email Intelligence and Email Validation

Content Creation Templates

Content Creation Templates are used for generating content from the Messaging Architecture and Buyer Persona. For TowerData, we created more than 20 templates, one for each target buyer goal.

The template development process starts with selection of the buyer goal and we populate it with the related problems and consequences from the buyer persona. We then select the appropriate product usage Win-Themes, and write the solutions summary, highlight the keywords and an attention grabbing Hook that can be used in an email header or call to action. Templates are completed with a proof point to support the product usage scenario and the value contribution.

Content Creation templates are the key to creating consistent content that can be used across the organization by people who were not involved in the messaging development process. Content Creation templates enable professional writers quickly generate Web page and blog content that is keyword rich, technically accurate, resonates with buyers and highlights the value in using the products/services. There is no limit to the number of templates that can be generated and combinations of Win-Themes can be used to fine-tune value messaging for very specific buyers.

Lessons Learned:

  1. The Internet-only brainstorm process was less than ideal as the Mindjet tool interface and screen painting process over the Net was slow and difficult to follow as the brain-pattern became more complex. (We are creating a SaaS Messaging development tool to enable collaborative real-time data entry to improve the message-capture process and hosting of the Messaging Architecture. Messaging is not static. As new buyers and needs are identified, new product capabilities are added, new market segments entered and market conditions change, your messaging needs to change. Our goal is to enable our customers to manage their own messaging on completion of the project).
  2. This was the first time we have used the content creation templates and they served as a critical link in extracting intelligent copy from the Messaging Architecture and formatting it for reuse by others not invoved in the brainstorming process to generate quality copy.
  3. Key-word rich Win-Themes are high value deliverables that can be reused countless times throughout marketing and sales messaging and serve to reinforce the brand value and align sales and marketing conversations. 
  4. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and we will report in a few months on the results from the project in a comprehensive case-study.

TowerData CEO's thoughts 

Tom Burke, TowerData CEO, remarked on the process, “Rebranding was much more to us than a new logo or graphics. We wanted someone who could help us articulate and crystallize our message and positioning, and then convert that into engaging content. The Admarco process provided a comprehensive view of our services from the buyer’s perspective and a robust structure that we can use with Kuno Creative to develop our content.”

A Final word from Kuno Creative

John McTigue, Kuno’s EVP and Co-Owner, has been guiding this process from the Kuno Creative side. “What’s often missing from any brand refresh or website redesign project is understanding who the customer is and what they want, then tailoring the entire content strategy to fulfill their needs.

Admarco’s interview and modeling process provided a structured way to develop buyer personas and easily turn their needs into product-usage Win-Themes to drive a content marketing strategy and editorial calendar. We plan to incorporate this process into many of our enterprise inbound marketing client accounts to help them achieve success faster and more efficiently.”


Align Sales & Marketing Messages with Buyer Needs
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Topics: messaging architecture, brand messaging, content creation, towerdata, kuno creative

The State of the Union between Sales and Marketing

Posted by Mark Gibson on Wed, Feb 13, 2013

The news is that the state of the union between sales and marketing is not all bad. Like President Obama's State of the Union message, we're doing well in some areas, but have a long way to go in others.


The state of the union between sales and marketing is imperfect, but growing stronger and the hard work and dedication of the pioneers is beginning to deliver quantifiable results. It is our unfinished task to ensure that both sales and marketing teams are served by the sales and marketing alignment process, not just a vocal few in sales.

The changes in buyer behavior are permanent and both sales and marketing must unite and adopt a new vocabulary, new methods and embrace new technologies to more effectively serve buyers, achieve revenue goals and to lower the cost of acquiring and servicing customers.

We need to recognize that for sales and marketing to best serve today's Internet savvy, socially connected buyer, we need to evolve one contiguous and tightly coupled revenue generation process. The outbound "hunter" B2B sales role as we knew it, is giving way to scientific methods of lead generation, lead nurturing and scoring, marketing automation, free trials and light-touch engagement across the IMPACT buying process.

Inbound Leads vs. Traditional Outbound Leads

Mark Roberge, VP Sales at HubSpot is a 10 on a scale of 1-10 of the smartest sales leaders I know. When he talks about sales and marketing alignment, I listen.


HubSpot has created what is probably the most effective sales and marketing union in the industry and one of the fastest growth rates of a SaaS company in the history of the software business.

Mark published an article this yesterday on the HubSpot blog entitled, "Help, my sales team thinks our inbound leads suck" which captures with great clarity, a number of issues I was planning to write about in my sales and marketing alignment blog today. I will discuss them from our viewpoint as facilitators of change and enablers of the sales and marketing alignment process. 

Buying a list of names vs Inbound Lead-gen.

Generate lots of leads, but only pass the good ones to sales.

Inbound marketing has turned the fit/pain funnel on its head.
In an outbound model, companies start with a list of executives at a “perfect fit” company and bombard them with hundreds of calls and emails until 1% or 2% call back and admit they have pain.

In an inbound model, all your leads have the pain your company solves. Otherwise, they would have never conducted that Google search, downloaded that whitepaper, or read that blog article that led them to you. The problem is that your company doesn't sell to the entire world. Some percentage of these leads are just not a fit for your business. However, the inbound leads who  are a fit are exceptional -- and they close much faster and at a higher rate than your outbound opportunities.

The problem here is that marketers get so excited to be generating hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of  inbound leads each month, that they end up passing  all these leads to sales. If Marketing passes the sales team 1,000 leads, only 100 of which are good, and Sales has to sift through 900 bad leads, they're going to hate it, and they're going to say things like,  “These leads suck.” 

However, if Marketing can filter out the 900 less-fit companies and pass along just the 100 good ones, their sales team will think they have the best marketing department in the world. As a result, Marketing and Sales must align to develop and  implement a lead scoring system that makes sense and results in only good fit leads getting passed from Marketing to Sales.

Comment: We generate well in excess of 500 leads per year for our consulting business over more than two dozen landing pages, but only about 5-10% are a fit for our business. Prior to new capabilities delivered in the HubSpot3 Contacts System, we struggled with the above problem. However we have now implemented a lead scoring algorithm to help us figure out our best-fit prospects and to engage and market to existing contacts more effectively.

Don't Call High 

When I started Advanced Marketing Concepts nearly 9 years ago, we used to teach salespeople a combination of techniques, including a cold calling workshop, how to get access to the decision level or VP. Today, those executives are virtually impenetrable to outbound cold calls. Mark's advice is spot-on.

Mark Roberge writes, "... not every inbound lead is going to be a C-level executive. In fact, very few of them will be. You’re much more likely to get a mid-level manager, associate, or even an intern on the other end of the phone. So what does your typical salesperson think?  “This isn’t a qualified buyer. This is an intern. These leads suck."
However, who do you think told the intern to do the Google search that led to your company? The C-suite. The inbound lead indicates that pain exists at that company -- the pain you solve. So call the mid-level manager. Call the associate. Call the intern. But don't try to sell them.

You're right -- they're not buyers. Instead, use that call to prepare yourself for the call with the executive. Ask them, "Why did you download that ebook? Why did you read that blog article? Who told you to conduct this research? Why? What are your boss’ key initiatives for 2013? What did your CEO talk about at the annual kick-off?" If you're doing inbound marketing well, you'll be surprised how much these leads trust you and how honest their answers will be.
Now you're in a position to call high. You don’t have to leave the typical voicemail ...
“Hi John, we help companies like you get more leads and customers from your website. Give me a call back so I can tell you more about ways we do this.” 

Instead, you can leave one that says ...
“Hi John, a number of people from your company have contacted me about effective lead generation strategies. I understand you're hiring 10 new sales reps next quarter and need to increase lead generation by 35%. I've been working on a strategy with your team that I would like to run by you.” 

The Elevator Pitch is Obsolete 

Lead with your buyer's interest 

By the time they get passed on to your sales team, a typical inbound lead might have visited your website 15 times, read 11 blog articles, opened 3 emails from you, and downloaded 5 ebooks. They’re already several stages into the buying cycle before they’ve even spoken to someone from your company. So what do you think happens if a sales rep calls them up and leads with a stone-cold elevator pitch?

It comes across as completely tone-deaf to the prospect, right? It might even erode most of the trust your marketing team has worked so hard to build up. The lead hangs up on your salesperson, and again, your salesperson thinks,  “These leads suck.”

Instead, salespeople need to leverage all the data you've collected about your inbound leads in your contacts database. How they found your website, what pages they viewed most, what emails they opened and read, how often they shared your content on Twitter and FaceBook: All of this tells you loads of information about what the prospect’s problems are and how you can help. Your salespeople should be using  that information to open the conversation on the phone ...
Sales Rep:  “Hi, Mary, this is Mark from HubSpot [pause because at this point Mary may start telling you how much they love your content and your company]. I noticed you downloaded our ebook on lead generation. What specific questions did you have?”
Mary:  “Oh, I was just doing research. I didn’t know I’d actually get a call from a salesperson."
Sales Rep:  “That’s okay. I’m actually looking at your company's LinkedIn page right now and had two quick tips for you. Do you have a minute to go over them?”
Mary wants to hear those tips. Mary will ask more questions. Mary will be impressed with how helpful and smart you are. Mary will wonder what she can buy from you. Congratulations! You no longer have a salesperson-prospect relationship, you have a doctor-patient relationship. Now you can diagnose whether you can help their company -- and how.

Comment: The elevator pitch, along with features and benefits, are dead! Try using a positioning statement and invite the buyer to either agree with you, or tell you what their biggest problems are.

Don’t beg for appointments 

Do qualify out non-buyers. 

If you’ve never cold-called before, you’re not missing out on much. Imagine a day where you dial the phone 100 times, leave 95 voicemail messages, and not one person calls you back. Of the five people who did pick up the phone, three hung up within the first five seconds. And when you do get somebody on the phone who’s willing to talk, it’s clear that he’s not really qualified to buy from you. But because you’re having such a lousy day of cold calling and feeling unloved -- and because you don’t have enough leads to begin with, and beggars can’t be choosers -- you book an appointment with them anyway. It happens more often than most salespeople are willing to admit.

But with a steady stream of inbound leads flowing in, your salespeople can approach these initial conversations from a position of strength. Every minute you spend on the phone with an unqualified buyer is time you could be spending with a warm lead. Do build trust. Do understand the prospect’s needs. Do attempt to provoke pain if it doesn’t exist. But most importantly, do move on if they're not a good fit. Thank your prospect for their time. Introduce them to someone else who can help if you know somebody. Encourage them to continue to enjoy your content. And quick ... call that next inbound lead.

If you have had a productive conversation with a prospective lead, send a qualification confirmation note to confirm agreement in the points discussed in the recent conversation and the next steps you agreed to in the meeting.

Don’t “Always Be Closing.”

“Always Be Helping.”

Most salespeople, following the directive of the infamous movie  Glengarry Glen Ross, adopt the rallying cry, “Always Be Closing.” But this is a disastrous approach to take with an inbound lead. The internet has shifted control from the salesperson to the buyer. People can research your company, research your competitors, understand your price, and sometimes even try your product -- all without speaking to a salesperson. And by the time an inbound lead reaches your sales team, that’s exactly what that person has done.

Sales should not start out by looking to close. They shouldn’t even be thinking about pitching your product. Instead, they should look to  help the buyer. Strive to uncover the thing your buyer is worried about -- the thing she's stuck on -- and if you find it, help her with it. Don’t try to tie it to your product. Just help them. Buyers don’t need to talk to Sales anymore. Make them  want to talk to you because they trust you and you've been helpful in the past in solving their problems. If done correctly, your product and how it can help them will naturally come up at the right time.

Just as the internet has changed life for the modern buyer (and the modern marketer), life has also changed for the modern salesperson. In all cases, it’s for the better. If your salespeople still complain that your inbound leads suck, try running an experiment. Choose a sales rep with an open mind, and tell them they need to make their goal this month from inbound leads alone, using the guidelines above.

Then tell the rest of the team to watch as their colleague starts closing business faster and at a higher rate. Nothing succeeds like success. The rest of your team will soon follow suit.

Connect Buyers to your Big Idea in a Matter of Moments 

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Topics: inbound marketing, hubspot, sales & marketing alignment, content creation, lead scoring

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