Social Media Anxiety

Social Media Anxiety

“Let’s do a b2b Facebook page,” I said, thinking it would be a relatively simple thing to get off the ground.

I mean, there’s really no cost to launch a page. You just have do some light graphics work, package up your content and than you’re off to the races, right?

Wow, was I wrong.

Launching a b2b Facebook page for AutoTrader.com was a surprising challenge that has opened my eyes to the broad impact social media has across an organization.

When we started the planning process, we identified a few key internal stakeholders we needed to engage with for the project. But as people started to find out what we were doing, it really snowballed. We had multiple people from different departments that wanted a seat at the table.

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RIP Sales Funnel

Rest in peace sales funnel. You had a good run.

Sales and marketing frameworks can be useful, and there is no more commonly used framework than the traditional “sales funnel” that we all know and love. You know, the diagram where customers come into the top of the funnel, then good sales and marketing people gradually move them down until they are ready to buy.

Wouldn’t it be nice if it really worked that way? It would certainly make our jobs a lot easier.

But the reality is that there is no funnel. Sure, there’s always a beginning and an end to a customer-purchase process. Customers do eventually come out at the bottom of the “funnel.” But what they do during that journey can vary dramatically by industry, by company, by function and by individual.

I’ll give you an example: Back when I worked at AutoTrader.com, we studied car-shopping behavior. Conventional wisdom said that shoppers would start their process considering a number of cars that could meet their needs. As they got closer to a purchase, they would narrow that down to fewer and fewer cars until they settled on the one they want. Makes total sense, right? Read More

M&A can be painful.

M&A can be painful.

On Sunday I learned about the potential merger of Publicis and Omnicom group.

During my career, I spent time working at agencies owned by both holding companies – Saatchi & Saatchi (Publicis), Trial DDB (Omnicom) and OMD (Omnicom).  I also worked at Euro RSCG which is owned by HAVAS and Kirshenbaum, Bond & Partners owned by MDC.  So, I’ve done the rounds across the various holding companies.  Based on my experience working in agencies and as a client who has hired many agencies, I do not see this merger as a positive.  Here are a few of the reasons why:

1) It’s not about the clients: We hire ad agencies to develop creative solutions to complex business problems.  When I hire an agency, I want the team to focus on my business.  I don’t want them to be distracted by holding company M&A activity that doesn’t make a difference to my business.  Also, when Omnicom-Publicis talk about efficiencies that will produce $500 million in savings, that means one thing — layoffs.  When advertising people are threatened by layoffs, they’ll often start talking to headhunters and looking for the next gig.  As a client, having a lot of turnover on the team that manages our account is a bad thing. Read More



I work for PGi.  We are a technology company and we sell two primary software prodcuts – GlobalMeet and iMeet.  The way we sell our products, is to show our products.  To do demos.

But, in this day and age, customers are much less likely to sit through a full demo with a sales rep.  Most want to evaluate our products on their terms.  When it’s convenient for them.

Studies have shown that customers are about 70% of the way through the purchase process before they even engage with a sales rep.  What are they doing during that time?  They are online.  Looking at our website.  Reading reviews.  Doing research.

So, we know it’s important to build content that lets a customer demo the product on his or her own time.  The only problem is that these demos can be really boring.  Most are just a slow walkthrough of the user experience with a monotone voiceover.  They don’t exactly get you excited to buy the product. Read More

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Today I celebrate my 1 year anniversary at PGi. That went by pretty fast.  I guess time flies when you’re having fun.

Many of you who have read my previous blogs know that I was at AutoTrader.com from 2007-2012. I had a great run there and I personally feel a lot of pride in the b2b team I helped build and the impact we made across the organization. But, after five years in the same role I was getting antsy. I was looking for the next big challenge.

I’m sure many of you can relate to what I’m saying. Studies have shown that about 30% of people leave their jobs because they are ready for new challenges and opportunities. Sometimes, to get what you want, you have to leave. And it’s not an easy thing to do, especially when you work for a good company and you’re in a good situation.

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The Quick-Win Strategy

I’m coming up on my 1-year anniversary with PGi.  Time flies when you’re having fun.

Looking back at the year, I think I have accomplished a lot. We launched a new corporate website (www.pgi.com) and made some significant improvements to our online marketing program. Our metrics are improving on a weekly basis. Most importantly, I brought on some great new team members who are going to help get us to where we want to be.

Taking an inventory of work done throughout the year really forces you to look back and evaluate the choices you’ve made on what to do and where to focus your time and resources.

I have to admit, I’m still frustrated that I didn’t get more done. I just see so many opportunities to do more and to get better.

But, in other ways, I’m happy that I didn’t try to take on too much too soon. As I always tell my team, “I know you can do anything, but you can’t do everything”. Read More


 
I have two daughters, ages 5 and 2. It’s really great being a Dad. Tiring, but great.

I look at my single friends who are able to go out any night they want; who never get woken up in the middle of the night; who can just pick up and go anywhere on a moment’s notice. And I think, wow, what the heck did I get myself into? But, then my daughter will look at me and say, “I love you daddy,” and I realize that all the sacrifices I make for my kids are totally worth it.

Daddy's Girls

Daddy’s Girls


 
Also, I’ve found there’s an unintended benefit of having kids. It has actually taught me a lot about marketing. Not in the conventional “4 Ps” sense. But the longer I’ve been a Dad, the more lessons I’ve learned that I can apply to my job. Here are just a few examples: Read More

Good post from David Cummings on how to consitently write a blog. He does a new post every single day. I like the suggestion about “time boxing”. That’s something I need to do a better job at. My blogs usually take about 2 hours of writing and editing time.

David Cummings on Startups

One of the more popular questions I get is “How do you write a blog post everyday?” I think the “why” question is more interesting, but the “how” comes up more often. Here’s my routine:

  • Keep a list of possible topics on my iPhone (I usually add 1-2 topics per day)
  • Major news or announcements immediately become top priority (like Salesforce.com buying ExactTarget/Pardot)
  • Review the list of potential topics and take the one that is most interesting (weekends are toughest since professional conversations are where most of my ideas come from)
  • Time box the writing of the post to 25 minutes — crank it all out and let it marinate a bit
  • If traveling, write a few posts in advance, otherwise write each post on the day it’s published
  • Find a rhythm and stick to it (my original goal was to write one post a week and I found…

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My friends at Forrester Research invited me to a dinner last Tuesday night featuring James McQuivey, Ph.D., the author of the book Digital Disruption.digital disruption

The event was held at Southern Art restaurant in Buckhead.  Since I work at the Terminus building right down the street, this was super convenient for me.  Plus, I’ve been wanting to try Southern Art since it opened.  I’ve heard great things about their buttermilk fried chicken.  I do consider myself a bit of a fried chicken afficianado but I do recognize that it’s not the healthiest food you can eat.  I made sure to work extra hard in my Flywheel class eariler that morning so I could indulge without guilt.

The attendees at the event were mostly senior level execs who work in the digital space from many of the large companies around Atlanta – Cox, IHG, Delta, Coke, Home Depot, Georgia Pacific, AutoTrader.  There were some good discussions over dinner about which company had the worse CMS platform.  It’s encouraging to see that we’re not the only ones struggling with our online presence. Read More

iMeet Therefore I Am

iMeet Therefore I Am

My company PGi, sells a product called iMeet.  It’s a very cool tool for online meetings and conference calls.  Since I’ve joined PGi, I’ve become a religious user.  I hardly even pick up my landline phone anymore  I just do all my calls through iMeet whether I’m on my computer, iPad or smartphone.

In the past, we’ve had an online sign-up process where people interested in iMeet can get a free 30-day trial.  The only catch, they had to put a credit card down.  We did some analysis and found that about 60% of people who started the sign-up process would drop out when they got to the credit card page.  That’s a lot of online prospects to lose.

Fortunately, we were able capture information about those customers before they get to the credit card form, so our sales reps could follow-up.  But, we still lose a considerable amount of prospects in the process.

So, we just took off the credit card requirement.  Now you can do a trial of iMeet with no credit card.  After 30 days, you’ll have to sign up for a plan and give your credit card at that time.

Click here to see the “no credit card” sign-up page.  And feel free to do a free trial while you’re at it.

We’re going to closely monitor the results.  Having the credit card requirement could be an effective way to screen out the lower quality prospects who only want to use iMeet free for one meeting and they’ll never use it again.  Or, it could really limit our ability to get more people to use our product.  My hypothesis is that we’ll get a lot more sign ups but a lower rate of conversion from trial to paying customer.  In the end, I think we’ll get more paying customers.  It will be interesting to see what happens.

If you sell a product with a free trial, do you require a credit card?  Do you think the credit card requirement helps or hurts?  Post your comments below.

Don’t Stop the Presses!

Sharing insights and killing trees.

Sharing insights and killing trees.

I was asked to write a an aritlce for the 2013 Lead Generation issue of BtoB Magazine.  I submitted the article about a month ago and the printed issue just came out.  In this digital age, the idea of a paper magazine seems a bit old school.  But, I have to say that it’s kind of nice seeing yourself in a print publication.  It just feels more important than being featured on a website.

Click here to read the article.

But, magazine circulation has been on a steady decline for years.  The chart below shows the year over year loses.  Fewer reads means fewers advertisers.  Fewer advertisers means that magazines are going out-of-business or have to merge to stay alive.  It’s amazing to think that a print magazine like Newsweek is no longer around.  All the content was absorbed into The Daily Beast.

Magazines on the decline.

I don’t know what the future holds for magazines.  But, I hope they stay around.  There’s something nice about reading a magazine with the glossy paper and beautiful photos.  I’m a subscriber of Outside Magazine and Runner’s World.  I have to admit that when they come in the mail every month, I get very excited to see them.  It’s like a nice gift where you get to open it and you’re surprised by what’s inside.

Plus, if magazines go away, what else will I do with 15 minutes on an airplane during take-off and landing when you can’t use your electronic devices?

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I graduated from college in the mid-90s. When I started my first job at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, everything was about the TV ad. Sure, we did newspaper, magazines, outdoor and direct mail. But those weren’t as sexy. And the Internet was hardly a blip on the radar.

So it really was all about the TV ad. The agency old joke was, “A prospective client walks into the room. The agency guy says, ‘The answer is a 30-second TV spot. Now, tell me what the problem is.”

But TV spots were very expensive to produce. They took a long time to develop. And when you were only producing two or three spots a year, the stakes were very high. You couldn’t afford to get it wrong. And if you did get it wrong, there was a good chance your client would be looking for another ad agency.

So agencies would spend months crafting the perfect strategy. Validating that strategy through exhaustive research. Developing the creative concepts based on that strategy. Continually researching and testing throughout the process. So, by the time you finally produced the ad and started running it in-market, you knew that it had a pretty good chance of working.

Today things have totally shifted.

You can literally change your advertising message on the fly. You can have multiple messages in-market that target different audiences. You can test and learn in real time.

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