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Tools of the trade

November 13, 2019

One of the best outcomes of the proliferation of the Internet into all of our worlds is the access that it affords us to information, each other, and tools that make our jobs easier. In our work for clients, we’ve found some tools that allow us to help clients react faster, smarter and produce more relevant marketing materials.

Help A Reporter Out (helpareporter.com): This site allows reporters to post stories they’re working on and in response, for brands to offer themselves as a source to those reporters. Three times a day (5:35 am, 12:35 pm and 5:35 pm) you will receive an email filled with source requests from reporters.

If any of the stories they’re working on are related to your product or service, you just email the reporter, answer the questions they’ve specified and if you’re a good source for the story, the reporter will reach out to you for more details, an interview, etc.

The story topics and media outlets are as varied as you can imagine. But these are not no-name publications. Reporters from the New York Times, Fast Company Magazine, Good Morning America and many other mainstream media use the tool on a regular basis.

Just Reach Out (justreachout.io): This site in some ways is the flip side of Help A Reporter Out. Instead of reporters listing what they’re working on, this site allows you to add keywords or a competitor into a search query and the site will search news, blogs, and articles to find reporters who have written about something similar to what you do.

Then the site will show you the journalists, their contact information and offer up templates that you can modify so you can reach out to the reporters. The site also helps with timing your pitch and other elements (subject line, etc.) to increase your hit rate.

Sell Hack (sellhack.com): This is a tool that will help you build out your list of potential sales leads. SellHack is a browser extension that helps you build targeted lists so you can reach out to people who you’d like to reach. Let’s say you went to a conference and got a list of attendees but not their email addresses. You can upload that list into SellHack and they’ll do the heavy lifting by uncovering your sales prospect’s email addresses while searching their social profiles.

SellHack checks the information you provide against multiple data sources. If the search is successful, you will get a validated email for the profile. If SellHack can’t find a valid result, it will present a ‘copy all’ button to copy/paste or email the different variations it generates.

Video Lean (videolean.com): This website allows subscribers to create template videos on the fly. We all know how important video is on the web and for many companies, producing a custom video is just not in the budget. Don’t misunderstand – the videos you can make on the site are a far cry from a custom project. But if you need to produce some down and dirty video content for your website or blog – this may be the ticket.

You choose a template based on your type of business and the kinds of information you want to convey. You customize the template by adding text, images and music in a very simple to use interface and three minutes later, you are served up a low-resolution preview so you can tweak any of the details. Once you’re happy with the video, you can download a high-resolution version to add to your website, YouTube or wherever you want to use it.

Give these a try and let me know how they work out for you!

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Mini marketing

November 6, 2019

The list of marketing tactics that you can use to reach an audience is staggering. The different ways you can slice and dice humankind into different audience segments is never-ending. The stories you can tell and the messages you can deliver are countless.

And that’s exactly what is ruining your marketing.

The truth is there is not a business on the planet that needs to be on everyone’s radar screen. Whether you are a global business or a Mom and Pop local shop – you have a very finite number of people who actually can benefit from what you do. One of the biggest mistakes marketing people make is inflating their number. They fish with a very wide net when a speargun is a much better choice.

Stay with me on this analogy. When you cast out a wide net, it gets filled up with a wide variety of fish, debris, and seaweed. You spend a lot of time sorting out the good from the bad. You often will talk yourself into trying some odd fish that looks good but turns out to be hideous. And by the time you dig down to the ones you actually wanted – they’re a little worse for wear. If there’s even one in the net at all.

That’s how most businesses approach their marketing. They cast a wide net, trying to have a presence everywhere because they don’t want to risk missing someone. I’m here to tell you, you can miss most of the someones as long as you connect with a relatively small number of the right someones.

Kevin Kelly, the founding editor of Wired magazine, has been talking about this idea since 2008. You’ve probably heard of the 1,000 fans theory. His hypothesis is that an artist (performer, author, artist, etc.) can survive on 1,000 true fans. The number 1,000 is not a precise number but more of a ballpark. But the concept holds either way.

The idea is basically that as your fan base gets larger and larger, the ROI per fan gets less and less because you can’t possibly cater to them all. The long tail is past the sweet point of the effort to engage. According to Kelly, if you want to make money, you will make much more from the first 1,000 fans that are diehard because they’ll buy whatever you produce and engage no matter what. They will also tell the world about you and how much they love you. Back in 2008, the world looked very different, but changes in our connectedness and online behavior only make this base idea more relevant.

Odds are your business is a little bigger than a single artist, so recognize that the number 1,000 is symbolic. But the message is dead on. You need to figure out who your fans are and talk to them on a regular basis about the things they care about. That will attract more of them.

Here’s the danger zone in this effort. Once they have their attention, many marketers just check the box and consider it done. And they’re off to chase the next audience.

That’s where you can do it better by being smarter about keeping the target small and focused. The minute you broaden your message or your channel, you make your fans feel like customers. That shift – from being someone you care about to someone you want to convince to buy something, changes everything. They don’t feel special. They don’t feel catered to and they sure don’t feel like telling the world about you.

Marketing shouldn’t be wide. It should be deep. That’s where people evolve from prospects to customers and if you stay focused – become your raving fans.

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Social media fails during a crisis

October 30, 2019

Social media has changed the way we learn about, share and react to big events – good or bad. We rush to it to celebrate but we also rush to it when the world is in danger or a tragedy has occurred, whether it’s a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy or acts of terror like the shootings in Pittsburgh or the riots in Charlottesville, VA.

For many of us, social media has replaced traditional media and news sources for that initial alert. I don’t know about you, but I learned about the attacks in Charlottesville on-line. It’s true that I, and many of you, still turn to our more traditional news outlets for ongoing news and updates, but Facebook and Twitter seem to not only inform us of the minute by minute happenings but also uniquely reflects the sentiments and the humanity of the situation.

When we’re in crisis, we want more than the facts. We want to share the experience. We want to express our outrage or sympathy. It’s the emotion of the moment that pulls us into the social channels and keeps us there, eager to participate.

That’s why people react so strongly when a gaffe occurs. The emotions are so heightened that when someone does or says something insensitive or self-serving, people go nuts.

So, how should we handle social media when the country or the world is in crisis? The truth is, if it’s not handled well, you can create your own crisis. And where will it explode? On social media, of course.

When your brand stumbles on a regular old day, you may get blasted for it, but it passes. But when you fail during a heightened time of emotion and scrutiny – that can stick on your brand forever.

Here are some social media fails to avoid when the world around you is focusing on something serious.

Curb all regular postings: This is not the time to share articles, post photos or promote your business. And by the way – doing any sort of hybrid posting where you speak of the situation AND your company, well, that just smacks of borrowing from someone else’s sorrow for your own gain.

Pause all auto postings and auto-tweets: Many people use tools that auto-populate their feeds with great content. But accidentally acting like everything is normal when it most definitely is not can make your brand look at best, out of touch and worst, insensitive.

Don’t use the tragedy to get social cred: This is not the time to solicit likes or followers, even if you offer donations or some other support for whoever is suffering. Profiting in any way from the circumstance makes you look petty.

It’s never funny: I’m sort of stunned when it happens but it seems like some moronic brand always tries their hand at humor. Trust me, it’s never funny. During Hurricane Sandy, Gap joked in a tweet that everyone should just stay inside and hit gap.com for some retail therapy.

Make sure you know which profile you’re using: There have been many incidents where a social media brand manager thought they were using their own personal account to comment on a tragedy or social happening and instead, embarrassed their brand and got themselves fired.

Do all of these faux pas mean you have to stay silent during a national or international crisis? Absolutely not. Share authentic emotion. Let them see the humanity behind your brand. Be a resource. Be encouraging. Be genuinely helpful. Be real.

Just don’t be a social media failure. This isn’t the time to promote, profit or proselytize. It’s time to be human.

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Power up LinkedIn

October 23, 2019

When business people and marketing types talk about social media, they immediately default to networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram but the true powerhouse network, LinkedIn, is rarely mentioned.

If you live in the B2B world and you’re not spending time on LinkedIn every week – you’re missing out on an incredible opportunity. For most LinkedIn users, it’s nothing more than a digital Rolodex. That makes me sad because it’s actually an incredible brand building, SEO increasing, and prospecting/business development tool, when used well.

I want to give you some best practices and tips for really leveraging LinkedIn to your full advantage. Fair warning – this is going to require an investment of time on your part, but the rewards will far outweigh the costs.

Brand Building

Customize your URL: Most people’s LinkedIn URLs look like http://www.linkedin.com/in/634923481 but it’s very easy to customize yours so it looks like http://www.linkedin.com/in/drewmclellan. This makes you easier to find and the URL easier to share.

Make your profile personal: Most people just cut and paste their resume or CV into the profile section of LinkedIn. Instead – write it so it sounds like you talk. Make it engaging and weave your personality into the content.

Be bold to catch our attention: Your opening statement in your profile should be provocative and make me want to read more.

Show work samples: One of the most underutilized portions of LinkedIn is the ability to show work samples. Be creative with that definition. Maybe it’s actual samples of your work or it could be a PDF of a case study or testimonial.

Add some background color: Like Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn now allows you to add a background photo on your profile. Use the opportunity to create a background that says something about you or the work you do. Make your image 1400 x 425 pixels for an easy, perfect fit upload.

SEO

Your headline should be loaded: Loaded with SEO rich keywords that someone might use in a search to find someone who does what you do. Don’t waste characters by repeating your name.

Pepper keywords throughout your profile: Identify the top 5-10 keywords or phrases that your sweet spot customer might use in a search to find a new partner or connection. Make sure you work those words and phrases throughout your profile so you show up.

Be findable: I know this seems rather obvious but if you have your privacy settings clamped down too tightly – we can’t find you. Be sure to make your name and headline (at the very least) accessible to the general public.

Prospecting/Biz Development

Publish: LinkedIn’s publishing tool, Pulse, is a really smart place for you to be uploading content that you and your team have created. Again, be mindful of your keywords and the types of topics your potential clients might be looking for.

Get social proof: Testimonials have always played a role in B2B business development but in an era where consumers are constantly looking for social proof, it’s even more critical. LinkedIn’s recommendations (not to be confused with the relatively useless endorsements) are very powerful. How do you get more? Give more. Identify your best clients and vendors and leave them some recommendation love. Odds are they will return the favor.

Save your search: LinkedIn has a robust search functionality that you can use to track down prospects and connect. Experiment with the search criteria until you narrow it down to serve up the optimum blend of people. Then, save that search, so it can return to it again and again.

Export it: Did you know you can export your LinkedIn contacts so you can load them into your CRM system and begin to cultivate relationships from there? It’s easy and smart.

Spend some time with LinkedIn.  You won’t regret it.

 

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Metrics that matter

October 16, 2019

One of the most famous quotes about advertising is from a merchant named John Wanamaker and he said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Back when I started in the business much of the work we did was difficult to measure all the way through the sales cycle. For example, if we bought a TV spot during a Cheers episode, we could count on certain demographics and the size of the audience but that was about as detailed as we could get. We often tried to link exposure to the message to a behavior but unless they were redeeming a specific offer or calling a campaign-specific phone number, we could only hypothesize that a surge in sales, inquiries or some other behavior was tied to the marketing efforts.

Today, we have the opposite problem. The volume of things we can accurately measure is staggering, especially if you are communicating digitally. It’s easy to get paralyzed by the data because you can’t possibly sift through it all before making a decision.

One of the phrases I’m sure MMG clients get sick of is “Just because we can measure it, doesn’t mean it matters.”

I thought it might be useful to identify some digital metrics that are actually worth watching and using as a bellwether for decision-making. We’ve previously discussed the importance of owning your own digital hub. For most organizations, that’s your website. I’m going to assume you’ve built your marketing strategy in a hub and spoke model, with your web site being one of your core hubs.

Given that assumption, let’s talk about metrics that matter for most organizations. You may find that one or more of these aren’t relevant to your business so don’t assume you should track all of them. But for most of us, these are pretty spot on.

Let’s look at metrics focusing on two factors – are you bringing the right people to your site and once they arrive, what do they do there?

Prospect attraction: Are you capturing the attention of the people you’d like to talk to about your products and services? Are you holding their attention long enough to get on their radar screen?

To measure your effectiveness in this area, you might look at:

Bounce rate: Bounce rate is the statistic that measures how many of your unique web visitors go to your home page and then immediately leave the site, rather than digging into the site to learn more. Your goal should be 30% or less.

What do people do on your site: Odds are you have a lot of pages on your website. Do you know which ones get visited most often? Or which ones capture the attention of your visitor for the longest period of time? Do you understand the traffic patterns (people go from what page or link to what page or link) that show up again and again?

To get that kind of insight, you might look at:

Page depth: Page depth is a stat that shows you the average number of pages your visitors view during a single visit.

Top viewed pages: As it suggests, it lists the individual pages of your website in the order of visit frequency.

In-page analytics: For your top viewed pages look at this report and analyze the click patterns. It will help you understand navigational patterns and issues on your website. You’ll also get some insights into your visitors’ intent.

Marketing is all the better because we use data to be more helpful to the people we want to serve. But to do that well, be careful that you’re looking at the right data and not drowning in meaningless numbers.

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Digital isn’t a department

October 9, 2019

Many companies are trying to “manage” the onslaught of changes brought about by today’s digital trends by creating a department to deal with all of the new technologies, social networks, web trends, marketing automation and other aspects of this quickly changing landscape.

I get it. It’s a lot to wrap your arms around. It’s comforting to know you don’t have to keep up. But the truth is – you do. I’m not suggesting that everyone in your organization needs to have the same level of knowledge – but everyone has to understand digital isn’t a department. It’s a mindset.

The question is about the shift in thinking when it comes to the word and the idea of digital. As social media and content marketing emerged – organizations scrambled to either hire people with skills in all things digital to create digital departments or in the case of some of the larger companies – hired agencies and just outsourced the whole thing.

Fortunately, we’re winding down the “shiny object” of the digital invasion and now saner heads are prevailing. When it comes to marketing, digital is a medium, just like print and broadcast. Like all mediums, it comes with its own set of etiquettes and rules but at the end of the day – a good marketing strategy should be driving companies to/through all media options and executions.

But digital isn’t just about marketing. Digital has become this overlay – that literally touches every aspect of daily life for most people.

Because digital is so ubiquitous – there isn’t a person or position in your company today that shouldn’t be taking it into account with every business decision they make. Even if you are using traditional media to drive a message, there is a digital play or connection.

It’s really those two moments in time colliding – companies getting a little maturity under their belts in terms of their digital chops and consumers weaving digital technology into every aspect of their life that is forcing all of us to re-think how we position our digital skills.

Assuming you buy this logic – how do you help your entire team stay current and fired up?

Assign expert roles/areas of expertise: Things in the digital space are moving too quickly for any one person to stay on top of it all. So you’ll need to assign different team members to different aspects and hold them accountable for staying current.

Lunch and learns: To spread that expertise throughout the entire organization, there should be a regular schedule of lunch and learns, where the internal experts can share the latest updates and agency successes.

Hire the right partners: Be wary of any agency that offers to simply handle all of your digital needs, without involving you and your team. While it’s tempting to just hand it all off, you need to weave your company’s culture and vision into how you present yourself digitally. Look for a partner who will do the heavy lifting but keep you in the mix.

Be choosy: Part of what makes digital so overwhelming is there’s so much to learn and everything changes in a blink. The good news is – most of it is irrelevant to your business. Having a digital strategy that actually contributes to your bottom line is about understanding your customers, their digital footprint and how you can interact with them there. You figure that out and you can eliminate a lot of the noise and distractions that can derail your marketing efforts.

The digital landscape is now woven into every aspect of your company from sales to customer service to accounting. That means that everyone, not just the marketing team, needs to be committed to embracing these trends and leveraging them to serve your customers how/where they’re spending so much of their time.

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What is marketing automation?

October 2, 2019

Marketing automation is one of those buzz words that is being bandied around quite a bit lately so I thought it was time to define it and help you determine if it makes sense for your business.

Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed to help businesses market/communicate more effectively on multiple channels online (like email, social networks, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks. The goal is to nurture prospects with very personalized, useful content that helps convert prospects to customers and turn customers into repeat customers and avid fans.

When done well, this can result in a significant uptick in revenue, both from your existing customers and prospects.

Marketing automation goes far beyond sending out enewsletters or updating Facebook pages. Where it really gets incredible is in its ability to “map out” a communications path that allows your prospects to cherry pick exactly what they want to know.

That’s where the very personalized, useful content comes in. Think of marketing automation as a huge if X, then Y equation. If the prospect downloads an ebook on annuities, they get loaded into a list that sends annuity tips every month but never sends them IRA or 529 account tips. But at the bottom of the tips email is a link to a podcast series that they can listen to on what other kinds of investments round out a portfolio with annuities in it or invites them to an educational workshop you’re offering next month.

As the prospect navigates through your content, they can self-direct the content they receive, based on their interests or needs. Using behavioral inputs from multiple channels like social clicks, when the prospect views a specific page like your pricing page or when they take a specific quiz or download content gives you some context so you can better understand what’s going on with the prospect and what problem they’re trying to solve. You can then offer them solutions to that specific problem.

The name itself is deceptive. There’s a lot that goes into marketing automation that is anything but automatic. Marketing automation isn’t a substitute for other marketing tactics and it’s not a silver bullet.

It actually requires a sophisticated strategy, lots of helpful content and constant monitoring so you can make adjustments as you learn more about the people you’re interacting with. It does help you with your lead generation efforts and can be effective in moving a lead through your sales funnel.

Many marketers still view marketing automation as a simple way to bombard purchased lists with email. That’s not going to go well for you. When you get reported for spamming the list – your email domain can actually get black listed and your account shut down. Besides – it doesn’t work. Blindly emailing strangers to try to get them to buy something they’ve never heard of from someone they don’t know hasn’t worked for 20 years and it’s not going to work now.

But when you use the tool to actually get to know your prospects better and actively offer them helpful content and support – it can really create a connection that will help you move a lead through your sales funnel. On top of that, with every interaction, you get smarter about how you can become indispensable to your audience.

The secret to marketing automation is to go out of your way to not automate the wrong aspects of the tool. It’s actually an opportunity for you and your organization to be even more human and more real than ever before. By genuinely serving your audience, you’ll build your sales funnel and fill it with raving fans, long before they’ve even bought from you. It’s hard to beat that.

 

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Take a stand

September 25, 2019

My idea of a great shampoo is the bottle that’s on sale for $1. But this past weekend, I spent $6 for a bottle of Dove for Men+ Care. Why the big splurge? It had nothing to do with my hair and everything to do with my heart.

More than ten years ago, Dove’s agency launched some research to explore women’s priorities and interests. What jumped off the page was the finding that only two percent of the women interviewed perceived themselves to be beautiful.

Suddenly what they expected to create for the next season’s advertising took a dramatic turn. What the agency and the Dove executives were smart enough to realize was that this insight had more depth than just an ad campaign or video series. It was clearly an issue that impacted women of all ages and was an issue that deserved to be addressed.

What I’m guessing no one could have realized back then was the fact that Dove was actually starting a crusade of sorts. A crusade to change the dialogue many women play in their brains when they look into a mirror or think about their appearance.

10+ years later and if anything, their messaging is connecting at an even deeper level with their core audience and those who care about their core audience. Obviously I’m outside their typical customer base, but as a dad of a 26-year old daughter, I find their messaging very relevant. So much so that I paid a king’s ransom for a bottle of their shampoo, compared to my normal expenditures.

This sort of cause marketing is not new. But few have done it as well as Dove. Taking a stand as a brand can be smart business. But only if you do it well. Here are a few tips.

You have to be a believer: Taking on a cause just because you think your audience will like it is a recipe for failure. It’s almost impossible to fake it for as long as it takes to seed a cause campaign. Your audience is also going to expect more than an ad campaign. They know if you really care about the cause, you’re going to walk your talk. That takes a true believer.

You have to dive deep: Part of caring about an issue is doing something about it. Most of the great cause campaigns like Dove, Avon, and others have invested millions of dollars to truly impact the issue far beyond their marketing. They’ve funded programs, research and rallied their community to tackle the problem in a very genuine and deeply invested way.

You have to be patient: Cause marketing, even with the help of social media, is not a quick fix solution. It takes a while to trigger a movement and to touch people’s hearts. It takes even longer for those efforts to result in new sales. If you’re looking for a quick uptick in sales, cause marketing is definitely not the way to go.

You need to rally a crowd: Cause marketing only works if you can mobilize a small army of people who are going to care as much as you do. This is where social media can really play a key role. We’ve seen how a groundswell can be started very quickly (think Ice Bucket Challenge) and grow like wildfire thanks to a viral video or two. Whether you have a strong social media presence or not – cause marketing requires getting other people to care.

Cause marketing is a way to demonstrate your compassion and commitment to your core audience. It’s a way to let your corporate heart show and to actually make a difference. But all of that only happens when you genuinely care about the issue you take on.

 

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What happened to grace?

September 18, 2019

I love social media and the whole concept of access that it’s brought to the forefront. Ten years ago consumers had no idea how to get a company’s attention. Sure, they could call the 800 number or write to “customer service” at the company’s corporate headquarters but neither was very reliable. Even if the company did respond, it was usually too late to resolve the issue.

Social media changed all of that. All of a sudden, CEOs, Marketing Directors and Customer Service reps were all over Facebook and Twitter and not only were they there but they were responding when customers reached out.

Many organizations have invested a serious amount of time, money and human resources to create a customer service portal using social media networks as their medium of choice. Odds are pretty good that you’ve interacted with a company this way. And I am hoping that odds are – you and your company have explored how to use this concept to connect with your own customers as well.

Access is smart marketing. When someone feels like you are making yourself available to them, it triggers a sense of belonging and tells them that they matter to you. We know this isn’t a passing fad – it’s how we communicate now. Remember about five years ago when the buzz was about how digital platforms like social media have shifted communication from a monologue to a dialogue? Today that’s old news. We’ve adopted these new networks, tools, and apps and for many of us, we can’t remember how we communicated before they arrived.

But as we’ve adopted these new tools, we’ve developed some really ugly habits. I’m concerned that these new trends could discourage organizations from using social media to reach out. Because when they do – they get their hand slapped.

What I’m talking about is the complete lack of grace that seems to be prevalent in all social networks. People don’t get annoyed; they seem to move immediately to rage. People don’t disagree; they escalate to vehemently oppose. And when it comes to dealing with companies online, even the smallest slight triggers a social media blood bath.

Maybe it’s fueled by the arm’s length anonymity, but people seem to go to an extreme place much faster online than they do in person. The slightest transgressions trigger reactions that feel very reactionary and extreme. It seems like we’ve lost the ability to offer others a little grace. Every organization is going to screw up. Why can’t we start with the assumption that they’re doing their best and cut them a little slack?

If you find yourself on the end of an extreme reaction, here are some things you can do to gain control of the situation.

Apologize: I think many times people over-react when they think the company in question doesn’t care or isn’t empathetic to their situation. Using the words “I’m sorry” or “I can understand how frustrating this is for you” can go a long way to defusing someone’s anger.

Take it offline: Ask to move the conversation to the phone or when possible, in person. Having to speak to someone directly will often take some of the harshness out of the conversation. It also demonstrates to everyone else who is watching the interaction that you’re very willing to try to fix things when they go wrong.

So yes – there are some things you can do to calm the storm as the company being attacked, but I am hoping there’s even more we can all do as human beings to tamp down this trend. When you see it among your family and friends – call it out and help calm it down.

Civility matters and everyone deserves a little grace.

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And action!

September 11, 2019

It seems simple on the surface. You sell something awesome that people really need and want. In theory, all you should have to do is let them know you’re open to selling it to them, right?

And yet we’ve all experienced the frustrating situation of having someone tell us that they genuinely want what we sell and yet somehow, they can’t get over the hurdle and actually take action. Even after you’ve removed all the barriers (“why yes, Mrs. Smith we will deliver that to your home” to a payment plan) it still seems to take people a long time to take that final step.

I often read that for most people, the scarcest of resources is time. I don’t disagree, but I think the kissing cousin to time is attention. We are rarely alone anymore. Even if we are physically alone – because of our devices and technology, we really aren’t. Someone is always pinging, poking or prodding us through email, apps, or even the old-fashioned phone call. In fact, we don’t really know what to do with ourselves if we get a rare moment of silence. It’s why you see everyone grabbing their smartphones every few seconds.

We literally spend the entire day filtering. We filter our emails, skimming over them and quickly deleting the ones we think we don’t need. We filter calls with caller ID and even text messages can be ignored and/or deleted without reply.

Given all of that – how in the world do you get people to take action and buy what you know is a valuable product/service?

First, I think we have to accept the reality that they’re in control of the situation. They will buy (or not) when they’re ready. Yes, you can do things to make it easier or more compelling but at the end of the day, they will take action when it suits them. The most destructive thing you can do to your sales opportunity is to demonstrate your frustration and get pushy.

Which means you need to adjust your expectations about your sales cycle. When you’re setting your goals for 2020, go back and really analyze the time span between your first connection to a new customer and their initial purchase. I’m guessing it’s a lot longer than you think.

It’s not uncommon for me to have a prospective client say, “Oh, I’ve had one of your columns pinned above my desk for years.” The longest so far has been 8 years. But you know what – they just weren’t ready. And there’s nothing I could have done to make them get ready any faster.

Given both our lack of control and the unpredictability of when a prospect will finally be ready to make that first purchase – the reality for us is that we need to think of marketing like dollar-cost averaging investing. According to this philosophy – since we can’t predict when the market will go up or down, we put in a little bit every day. Some days we’ll buy high and some days we’ll buy low but in the end, on average, we’re going to come out ahead.

Marketing and sales work pretty much the same way. Unless you can accurately predict the day your prospect is finally going to be ready to buy – you’d better be out there consistently so you’re still top of mind on that day. As you work with your 2020 marketing plan, make sure that consistency is there.

In today’s marketplace, your competition isn’t just the other company who sells what you sell. The real competition is for the prospect’s attention; and in that race, you’re running against every email, TV show, billboard, phone call, and ping.

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