e-Rep Raw no.7: Social Drip Strategy

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e-Rep Raw #7 [If you are reading this on email, click here to listen to the episode!]

Episode 7
Recorded:  Google Hangout
Hosts:  Todd Schnick, Todd Youngblood, and Brent Smith

Show Notes:

1.  How does Social Media affect your drip strategy?

2.  Is email still the best tool for a good drip strategy?

3.  What other tools can add value to your drip strategy?

4.  Benefits and drawbacks to automation.

5.  Can you over automate?

6.  How much drip is appropriate?

7.  Need to make sure that you focus on the drip and be sure not to flood.

8.  Using drip strategy to get the most mileage from your content.

9.  Watch the Google Hangout by clicking here.

10. To join in on the ongoing conversation, join the e-Rep RAW LinkedIn Group here. And feel free to submit questions and discussion topics you want us to  address on future shows!

11. To guarantee NEVER to miss another episode of e-Rep RAW, sign-up on the Dreamland list here!

Your e-Rep knows defense too

e-Rep. The Sales Pro’s F-22

Consider this very common scenario.  You’ve identified a prospect that fits your “ideal customer” profile to a T.  (…which implies they fit all your competitors’ “ideal customer” profiles as well.)  You are able to get their attention and schedule a face-to-face meeting.  (…making it highly likely they’re meeting with a few of your competitors too.)  For whatever reason, however, they’re just not ready to buy right now.

So you (and each of your competitors) has 3 basic options:

  1. Blow them off.  Who has time to mess with indecisive prospects?
  2. Keep calling on them.  If nothing else, you’re persistent!
  3. Turn your e-Rep loose on them.

Since you are (ahem…) among the astute, you already have a bunch of e-Rep “arrows” built and ready to go.  That means you are able to digitally keep calling on them.  Not quite as compelling perhaps as option #2, but it requires vastly less of your time and attention.  You stay in touch.  You remain on their radar screen.  You retain, maybe even increase, your mind-share with them.

And on top of that, you’re building barriers, roadblocks and impediments smack dab in front of those pesky competitors.  Your e-Rep is a master at playing defense.

That prospect is reading your blog post.  No time left to talk to your competitor on the phone.  That prospect is watching your video – at home – at night – on a weekend.  No mental focus left to consider your competitor’s perspective.  That prospect is listening to your podcast while stuck in traffic.  You are productively filling what would otherwise be wasted time.  No respect for your competitor who only wants to interrupt the work day.

With an e-Rep you lock the door to the competition.  Without an e-Rep, you’ll need to throw them out of the house!  Use your e-Rep to disrupt your competition’s efforts by diverting focus to your ideas and your intellectual capital

Think About It…

I just got another slap up-side the head

This is one of those blog posts that tells you something you already know.  You are probably like me though, and sometimes forget the basics.

Almost two years ago, I was in Milwaukee doing some work for a client.  Since I was out there anyway and business was good that year, I accepted a long-standing invitation to speak – unpaid – to a CEO networking group in the area.  I had stopped dong unpaid speaking gigs eight or nine years back when I concluded they were rarely worth the time and effort.  It’s “you get what you pay for” in reverse.  Members of the group get your consulting for free for a few hours, and value what they get according to the cash investment they made – zippo.

Sound a bit cocky?  Yup.  But hey, Mr. Big Shot here figured the only other option was sitting at the Milwaukee airport bar waiting for the only flight back to Atlanta.  So the dog and pony show was on!

Speaking in front of groups is something I truly love doing, and I think I did a pretty good job of it that day.  Even remembered to ask the group to opt in to our e-newsletter.  Of course 100% of the hands went up signaling agreement.  (They’re CEOs after all, so they’re polite.)  The ONLY reason I followed up though, and entered the names and e-mails into the system to complete the double-opt-in process, was a rain delay at the airport.  Otherwise I’d have blown it off.

This past Friday, I re-learned – yet again – how vital it is to get subscribers to your e-newsletter.

Got a phone call out of the blue from one of those CEOs.  This woman had not only read all the e-newsletters, but also had been following this blog, listening to our podcasts and watching our videos.  She bought a 2-day seminar on the spot.  There’s a decent chance this thing will turn into a 6+ month engagement.

So the lesson?  Actually, there are three.  First, don’t ever get cocky and think you’re above executing all the basic blocking and tackling.  Second, make sure your e-Rep is robust and continuously feeding meaty, valuable text, audio and video content to your constituents out there in cyber-space.  And third…

Never, never, never pass up an opportunity to get someone signed up for your e-newsletter.

By the way, you might want to sign up for our e-newsletter.

Relationships, Arrows & Chum

As my understanding of the sales and marketing power of an e-Rep deepens, it becomes easier to state its value simply.

It’s relationships, arrows and chum.

Relationships:  Interviews, in the context of a radio show, are the single best way to generate lots and lots of great content.  (More on content in a minute…)  There’s a “by-product.”  It never ceases to amaze me how quickly a business-grounded personal bond can develop as the result of an interview.  One unmistakable signal that a bond is forming?  Humor.  Genuine, out-loud, bring-tears-to-the-eyes , laughter due to an unexpected twist in the business conversation.

Two examples follow.  The first is two customer executives and my partner needling me about my book, The Dolphin And The Cow.

The second is me interviewing a residential real estate professional.  The three most important things in real estate are location, location and location, right?

An e-Rep establishes and nurtures business relationships.

Arrows:  Every single piece of content developed is an “Arrow In Your Quiver.”  Arrows get used in two distinct ways; in volleys and one-at-a-time in extremely focused shots.

Remember the movie Braveheart?  Remember that scene where the English archers simultaneously launched hundreds of arrows at the Scottish army?  Frighteningly powerful!  And effective.  Every time you publish a piece of content, you, your boss, your team, your colleagues, all the other employees in your company, your customers, …anybody and everybody with a vested interest in your success can share it on LinkedIn, tweet it on Twitter, post it on Google+, and Pinterest and…  A massive, attention-grabbing volley of e-Rep arrows.

Each volley of e-Rep arrows has high odds of attracting an interested buyer.

The second use of arrows:  Let’s say you just made a new contact.  You’ve been somewhat successful in differentiating yourself from the competition.  How can you reinforce that progress?  How about sending a link like this to the prospect?  (Note well, by the way, that all kinds of relationship building happened while conducting the interviews that yielded the audio clips used in the post.)

An e-Rep arrow reinforces a key point and/or addresses an issue raised in a sales call.

Chum:  I used the word chum here as a metaphor for Search Engine Optimization or SEO.  The more chum you throw in the water, the more fish you attract.  The more content you and all your sales colleagues publish, the more prospects you attract.  And don’t hand me this, “I don’t understand how to do SEO” nonsense.

THE key to SEO is lots of good, valuable content.  So it’s not some staffer publishing a post on the corporate blog every other week.  It’s YOU.  You and ALL the sales reps in your company; publishing a blog post EVERY week; and firing all those volleys; and aiming all those issue-killing, value-reinforcing single shots.

Google LOVES a sales-team-ful of e-Reps.

It’s that simple.  Relationships – Arrows – Chum.

“GO VIRAL!!!” vs. “go viral”

Get viewed by more than a million people in less than a week.  That’s the generally accepted minimum for “going viral.” Let’s just go with that as a definition for now.

Going viral is the benchmark.  It’s the essential badge of honor that differentiates between a legitimately talented marketer and a wanna’ be.  If one of your blog posts or videos or pithily-captioned images or whatever hasn’t gone viral, don’t even try to pretend you really know what you’re doing.

The above paragraph is total bull&@%#.

As a B2B sales pro, I could care less about attracting the attention of a million people.  I’m not selling to a million miscellaneous people.  I’m selling to a meticulously selected few decision-swaying executives.  Yes, I want my virus to be extremely virulent, but I only need it to infect that chosen few.

Am I suggesting you should repeatedly expend the considerable time and effort required to produce a set of digital pieces that effectively communicates your highly customized value proposition to only 3 or 4 key people for every significant opportunity you are pursuing?  Yes!

Allow me to repeat.  Yes.  I am urging you to repeatedly expend the considerable time and effort required to produce a set of digital pieces that effectively communicates your highly customized value proposition to only 3 or 4 key people for every significant opportunity you are pursuing.

Think about the situation where 4 people in your customer will be deeply involved in making a decision about your proposal.  One of those folks is your champion.  You’ve never met two of them.  Because of an odd set of circumstances a few years ago, the fourth thinks you’re a knucklehead.

It could take weeks – even months – to get appointments with them all.  You might never get in front of #4.

What if?

What if you made a short video concisely articulating the guts of your value proposition including the financial impact, and laying out an implementation plan?  Your champion, obviously, would look at it carefully.  Your champion would also (at your request) forward it to the other three with a strong endorsement for moving forward.

Now it’s you and/or your team (via your e-Rep, a digital extension of yourselves) explaining the value and sorting through the complexity.  You no longer need to depend on your champion to get it all communicated.  And it all gets communicated right now instead of next week or next month.

As I might have mentioned, you need to repeatedly expend the considerable time and effort required to produce a set of digital pieces that effectively communicates your highly customized value proposition to only 3 or 4 key people for every significant opportunity you are pursuing.

go viral, my friend, go viral.  Let others worry about the GO VIRAL thing.

When They Google Will You Be There?

A simple, yet vital question.  When they Google, will you be there?

Why so vital?  Pick your survey…  Dan McDade in The Truth About Leads lifted the fog for me by explaining his research showing that 80% percent of the time buyers find sellers.  How does that grab you, sales professional?

You spend your life knocking on doors, trying mightily to get in, and just about the only time you DO get in it’s NOT due to your knocking!  The facts demand a rethinking of our prospecting priorities.

THE focus must be on becoming highly visible to the search engines.

How?  Let’s first strip away the cacophony from the hoards of self-appointed social media, SEO, etc. gurus and focus on the single, simple thing most critical to being found – content.  Content is king.  Waste not a minute more time on anything else until you have 50 pieces of great content.   Not on key words.  Not on page views.  Not on bounce rates.  Not ANY of that stuff.

Without great content, all that other gobeldy gook is W-O-R-T-H-L-E-S-S.

It’s trying to run before you walk; to walk before you crawl.  Do you need a robust, highly optimized, replete-with-all-the-bells-and-whistles e-Rep beloved by Google?  Absolutely!

Just please…  Do not start with the bells and whistles.  Start by extracting all that glorious insight, knowledge and experience from you brain and embedding it into electronic formats.  Create great content first.

Procrastination can kill

In a sales career, procrastination on the part of customers is an ever-present frustration. In a marketing career as well, procrastination on the part of customers is an ever-present frustration.  As a matter of fact, I can’t think of anyone on any career path who hasn’t and/or doesn’t express frustration with procrastination by important constituents.

Maybe that’s why it was inevitable for a topic to surface that single-handedly generates enough procrastination to frustrate everybody!

Try it yourself…  Bring up “Content Marketing” (or one of its close relatives “e-Rep” or” Social Media Marketing”) in conversation.  You’ll almost always get one or more of the following reactions:

  1. What’s that?
  2. I don’t care what you had for breakfast
  3. It’s great for kids, but it simply does not and never will apply to business
  4. It might be useful for B2C, but it just doesn’t apply to B2B
  5. I can’t think of anything to blog about
  6. Great idea, but I/we simply can’t afford to take the time right now; we’re too busy
  7. (You don’t here this one out loud, but it’s a biggie…) All that stuff baffles and confuses me, so I’ll attack and bad-month it instead of learning anything

Once in a blue moon, you’ll get an enthusiastic, intelligent, informed response.

Sorry if I offend you here…  If you truly think Content Marketing aka e-Rep aka Social Media Marketing is nothing more than a passing fad, feel free to use one of the seven excuses (excuse me, explanations) above.

Otherwise, stop procrastinating!  Read!  Learn!  Ask!  Think!  Do!  Keep the words of one of the greatest achievers and musicians of all time in your mind:

“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan and not quite enough time.”

Check out this Workingman’s Content Marketing Course out for a quick, simple, painless introduction.  It can serve as the basis for your plan.  I’m quite sure the “not quite enough time” part will take care of itself.

Still Not Convinced Of The Power of Google+?

Simple goal today — wanted to be sure you are giving due consideration to investing some energy towards engaging with prospects and your community on Google+.

The reason? I happened upon this blog post from Chris Brogan on the business applications of Google+.

But the key point that I want to be sure you see from this article? Is this:

First, realize that Google+ indexes any post you submit to the “Public” sharing option, meaning that the information in such a post is searchable in Google (the search engine, not the social network) within a few hours.

You don’t have to be an SEO expert to understand the significance of this statement.

One of the intentional purposes of content marketing is to get content indexed on the search engines that your prospects can find, which leads them direct to you, in the form of inbound marketing.

Obviously, the more content, with the right keywords, on the search engines, the more likely a prospect will find you. Similar to the more fishing lines, with the right bait, that you have in the water, the more likely a fish will nibble.

So, to recap: engage with your community on Google+. Share knowledge that will be helpful to them. And actually engage in meaningful, helpful conversations.

This is more bait in the water, and as Chris points out in the article above, this can be a very powerful tactic for nurturing relationships with critical prospects and/or referral sources.

I always suspected Google+ was going to do this, and that this would be a powerful inducement to invest time there, but this article confirms it for me.

And don’t give me any song and dance that “my prospects aren’t spending time on Google+.” I don’t want to hear it. There are 40 MILLION people on Google+, as of this writing. It is the fastest growing social network. Ever.

And remember this: if there are only a few “prospects” spending time here now, those people are the early adopters in your market space. Thus, they will be the influencers.

Might as well have them on your team…

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Content Strategy Can Lift You Up From Economic Doomsday

I trust you saw the jobs report last Friday morning. Unemployment rate steady at 9.1%, and no net jobs created in August. Past month’s numbers revised down.

Ack. The threat of sliding back into a recession is real. What to do?

Batten down the hatches?

NO!

Get innovative, creative, and try something different and edgy.

YES!

But here’s the thing. I am not some “CHOOSE NOT TO LOSE!” schmuck that is going to spew all kinds of motivational goo to buck up your spirits. No “JUST DO IT!” crap. There will be no “ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING” bullshit.

But I do want to emphasize, that we don’t have to be victims of the times. In fact, this is the best time to kick your competition’s ass.

We can decide to do something innovative with our marketing program…one that not only is good for your organization, but inspiring in it’s own right.

Not Tony Robbins inspiring, but real life inspiring.

[disclaimer: I love Tony Robbins. But we don't need pep talks. We need innovation. New ideas. Creativity.]

I am NOT suggesting you invest tens of thousands of dollars in a new marketing and sales strategy. I am NOT suggesting some rebranding effort that is just a different coat of paint on the same old house.

No, in fact, you can do something edgy and different — very cost effectively.

But whatever you do, just don’t pull back into your shell.

That’s the attitude of a loser.

Don’t project an attitude to your team that you have to “watch expenses.”

That’s the attitude of a loser.

Don’t proclaim to the team that you have to “DO MORE WITH LESS!”

That’s the attitude of a loser.

What is this innovation I am talking about?

Unleashing a powerful content marketing strategy.

Content marketing strategy is the simple process of generating meaningful content that drives consumer action.

That’s a boring definition.

“Aligning customer and brand objectives through online content.” [Lee Odden]

What it really means is this: it is creating an amazing and inspiring collection of content that educates your market. That engages your market. That inspires your market.

Put even more simply: It is telling stories. And who doesn’t love a good story?

What is required? Unleashing creativity. And interacting with human beings. It is involving all members of your organization, and inviting them in to become contributors.

It is identifying people to help tell stories. For instance, Todd and I host dozens of podcast interviews over the course of a week. The best part of about it? Spending time with amazing people. Learning new things – with every interview. Sharing with our audience the cool ideas they share.

You can do this to. What shape does this content come in? It is blogging. It is email marketing. It is the production of videos. It is podcasting. It is publishing white papers and e-books.

But just shipping this content, for shipping’s sake, doesn’t mean squat. The real innovation comes with the engine of creativity behind what the content does, and what the message and stories deliver.

It isn’t rocket science to achieve this. It takes a willingness to ask questions, look around, see what ideas and stories need to come to light…

…and then bring them to light. Through whatever channel makes the most sense.

Don’t tighten belts, don’t cut costs, don’t warn your people about expenses….

Instead, engage your customers, prospects, and market with a content marketing strategy that shines a light on how you help, serve and love your market.

That inspires. And that can move the business needle…

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[cartoon by hugh macleod]

Chief Content Officer – A new career path?

Here we are deep into the information age; a radical departure from the industrial economy.  We’re surrounded by new technologies along with a mind-bogglingly vast stream of new products and services based on them.

In the face of all this, the typical corporate executive suite has been surprisingly static.  Take a look at the Chief X Officer titles.  The CEO; OK, that makes sense; as does CFO.  Those two seem essential and will likely be with us forever.  The rest?  Frankly, I’m not so sure  Most firms also have a Chief Marketing Officer, many have a Chief Sales Officer and in more niche-focused firms, you’ll find Chief Research, Production, HR, and R&D officers.

The Chief Information Officer emerged in the 80s, is now ubiquitous and illustrates an important point.  Information and communications technology became so cheap, powerful and versatile, that virtually all business functions could (had to!) take advantage of their productivity-boosting capability.  IT was applied in every nook and cranny, so it became important to have corporate-wide focus and coordination.

So what about content?

Data got aggregated into information which got further aggregated into knowledge.  Knowledge is not only power, it’s the fundamental basis of value and competitive advantage.

Content is what communicates an organization’s knowledge to the constituencies it serves.

Marketing needs great content to do its job – attract attention.  Sales needs great content to do its job – convert that attention to revenue.  Customer Service needs great content to do its job – maintain customer satisfaction, up-sell and cross-sell.  R&D and Product/Service Development need great content to do their jobs – target the most likely new discoveries and convert it to sell-able stuff.  HR needs great content to do its job – recruit, hire and retain the appropriate talent.  Strategic Planning must be based on great content – otherwise the plan points in the wrong direction.  And who the heck is going to analyze all the content metrics to figure out if all the content is being applied most effectively?  And get it all properly syndicated?  And build e-Reps with it?  And figure out what should be text, what should be audio, what should be image, what should be video, what should be a combination and delivered via which channels?  And…???

The Chief Content Officer!

Content is even more widespread now than information was in the 80s.  How come we don’t see any CCOs?  This line of thinking has been a real whack upside the head for me.  What do you think?