Digital engagement

October 31, 2018

digitalIt’s hard to imagine there is an active business today that doesn’t have some level of digital connection and engagement. But the truth is that how business leaders define engagement and the level in which they invest (time, money, staff, etc.) in that engagement is an incredibly wide range.

Deloitte did a study for Connected Small Business US, which was commissioned by Google to explore the levels of digital engagement among small businesses (250 or fewer employees) and the impact of each level.

The study determined that there were general levels:

  • Basic (no website/no social media presence)
  • Intermediate (simple website/basic digital marketing)
  • High (advanced, mobile-ready website/multiple social channels)
  • Advanced (use of data analytics/mobile apps)

As the researchers reviewed the activity level and the outcomes that aligned with each of the four levels of engagement, they came to some very interesting conclusions.

Digital engagement increases revenue. Seventy-seven percent of businesses in the advanced category reported expecting revenue growth over the next year—almost double the percentage of businesses in the most basic engagement level. The reason the advanced level businesses were confident in the potential of growth is because forty-five percent of them had already experienced revenue growth over the past year, compared to only twelve percent of businesses identified as having a basic digital engagement. Thirty-two percent of the organizations in the high category reported revenue growth.

Digital engagement increases employment needs. When a business experienced increased revenue, it only makes sense that they’d need a larger workforce. So no surprise, the category of companies that reported larger percentages of revenue growth (high and advanced) also reported an increase in employment growth. The research also pointed out that people employed by a digitally savvy company “tend to be relatively more productive, with the average revenue per employee at digitally advanced businesses being two times as high as small businesses with a basic level of engagement.”

Digital engagement creates new products and services. Over the past twelve months, businesses at the basic level had less than a ten percent chance of introducing a new product or service. On the flip side, almost seventy percent of the most digitally advanced companies reported did. New channels mean new opportunities, and if you’re not there, you can’t take advantage of them.

So what does this mean for your business? It means that maintaining just the “table stakes” level of digital engagement is costing you opportunity, market share, and money. If you are at that level, which was defined as just having a simple website and not really using effective email marketing, social media or exploring the data that these tools can give you, you need to recognize the consequences. This should not come as a surprise to you but perhaps the outcomes that this study points to can serve as the wake-up call to drive you to explore how your business can step further into the digital realm.

This study emphasizes what common sense has told us for some time. The way we do business has changed. The expectations that the marketplace has for us have changed. We may be the only element that hasn’t yet changed.

For every business, whether you only serve a local audience or an international customer base, embracing digital strategies is a business must. Tools like marketing automation, social media, mobile readiness, and letting the data help you determine what your prospects are interested in and what you can offer to encourage trial and conversion is more business survival than anything else.

Today, as the research clearly demonstrates, businesses that ignore that truth are simply behind in revenue, growth, and innovation. But pretty soon, without making some changes, they may just not exist anymore.


You can’t be anti-social today

October 3, 2018

socialI’m wrapping up my series on the marketing channels you need to consider for 2019 with our last channel – social networks.  Don’t forget to consider the other channels we’ve discussed as you map out your 2019 plan.

Just to refresh your memory, they are:

  • Digital video
  • Podcasting
  • Infographics
  • Webinars and webcasts
  • Ratings and reviews
  • Website
  • Social networks

I remember when we launched our agency’s blog in 2007. Back then it was novel and felt very cutting edge. People were just starting to explore Facebook and Twitter for business, and there were a lot of people who declared that those channels were for personal use only and they’d never put their business in that sort of setting.

Fast-forward to today, and it’s absolutely clear that our businesses need to have a social presence. Business owners and marketing leaders need to decide HOW they want to engage on the various social channels but I would argue that there’s no decision to be made about whether or not you’re there.

There are quite a few decisions you need to make (or review) as you map out your social strategy.

Which networks should you invest in? There are way too many to be active on them all. This is definitely an “it’s better to be a mile deep and an inch wide” rather than the other way around situation. Social is all about making connections. If you’re posting and no one is responding, that might be a clue that either you’re on the wrong channel, or you’re not actually connecting with your audience.

And don’t discount smaller more niche channels. If you’re a veterinarian, might be where you need to be. If you sell into the knitting and crocheting industry, try Work with attorneys? Check out

Who should you be talking to? This question should inform the “which channel” question as well. Imagine trying to start a conversation with someone if you had no idea who they were or what they cared about. It’s a lot easier to be interesting if you know your audience because, of course, being interesting is all about focusing on them and their needs, interests, and worries.

Who should you be? This is not a trick question. You need to decide how your brand shows up on social. Do you keep yourself at arm’s length? Are you 100% professional 100% of the time? Does your social activity come from the business’ founder/owner or is it created by the marketing department? How/where do you draw the line on topics that are controversial – like politics? Do you let your own opinions or practices (Merry Christmas versus Happy Holidays) influence your posts?

The key to answering this question correctly is that what your audience sees and feels from you online should match their in-person experience. You want to show up in the same way on the phone, in your store, online and on social.

How will you avoid selling? This may be the most important question of the bunch. Think of social networks as a perpetual first date. You don’t propose on a first date, and you don’t sell on social. You let them get to know, like and trust you and your company. You help, and you serve, and you give away your smarts. When they’re ready, they will ask you to sell them something. Then, you can sell.

This is the most common mistake marketers make. They crash the social party and demand that they become the center of attention. Keep the audience’s needs and interests front and center, and you’ll be a social hit!

I’d love to hear which channels make your cut for the coming year and how you’re going to explore in the next few months.



Your website is your workhorse

September 26, 2018

websiteI am hoping that you’re still giving some thought as to how to head into 2019 with smart marketing that gives you the edge. To that point, we’re continuing with the ongoing series I’ve been writing on the most important marketing channels to consider for 2019. The focus of this post may seem like a “duh” but honestly – most businesses still get this wrong. Your website is THE workhorse of your marketing toolbox. I don’t care who you are, what you sell or how big your business is, without an effective website, you are losing sales.

At some point in your buyer’s journey, they are going to visit your website. It’s pretty much that cut and dried today. If you remember the statistic, I quoted earlier in the series, 92% of consumers visit a retailers website before making a purchase. 94% of business-to-business buyers check out your site before committing.

Here’s what they are looking for when they visit. Do an audit of your site to make sure you are providing exactly what they need to see before they say yes to your offer. Not only do all of these elements need to be there, but they also need to be easy to find.

Proof that you get them: Everyone believes that their circumstance is unique and they want to work with someone who understands their situation. If you serve families, make sure that your copy explains why you have insight into that world. If your business works with IT departments, then your copy and visuals need to demonstrate that you live in that world too.

This is not your first rodeo: This is not about making the site all about your 25th anniversary, which for the most part is only a big deal to you and your team. But it is about demonstrating that you’ve been successful in your field for a while now and that you’re not going anywhere. You can talk about your company’s history, the tenure of your employees or customers or how the industry has changed. Be interesting in documenting your depth of expertise.

That other clients like and trust you: Earlier in the series, we discussed the power of ratings and reviews. Whether you go the ratings/review route or you go old school and use testimonials – you need the social proof that other people count on you and you don’t disappoint. Ask your current customers to tell a story about what you sold them. Don’t make these so brief that they don’t capture both the before and after.

How to contact you: This blows me away, but many businesses make it difficult for a potential customer to actually reach them. Make sure that your email address and phone number (not just a form) are visible and available on not only your contact us page but also in your footer or header on every page.

If people actually come to you to make a purchase, be sure you include your hours of operation, physical address and a map. Don’t forget your social media links as well.

The details of what you sell: By the time they visit your site, the potential buyer wants to know the specifics of your products or services. This may be the right place for strong visuals, be it photos of your products or a visual outlining a service process or outcome. This is a really smart spot for some additional testimonials as well, that tie into your descriptions.

Make sure you follow this list to the letter.  You and your business can’t afford not to.



You like us, you really like us! – Reviews

September 19, 2018

reviewsAs we approach 2019, we’re delving into the channels that you really need to consider as you map out your marketing and sales efforts for the coming year. Previously we’ve covered:

  • Video
  • Podcasting
  • Infographics and visual representation
  • Webinar and webcasts
  • Building your email list
  • Multichannel Marketing

Now, I want to call your attention to the incredible opportunities that lie within online reviews and ratings. Consider a few of these 2017 statistics before you decide whether or not this should matter to your business.

  • 92% of consumers now read online reviews vs. 88% in 2014
  • 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading just one to three reviews vs. 29% in 2014
  • 88% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, vs. 83% in 2014
  • Star rating is the number one factor used by consumers to judge a business
  • Only 14% of consumers would consider using a business with a one or two-star rating
  • 57% of consumers would use a business with a three-star rating
  • 94% of consumers would use a business with a four-star rating

Let’s assume that those facts have convinced you that reviews matter. The next question is going to be which review site? Your industry may have its critical sites, like Healthgrades and and naturally, those are going to need to be part of your plan. But for all of us, Google matters and those reviews have the most influence on your search engine results and page rankings.

Regardless of where you’d like the review to appear, there are some best practices for asking and encouraging your customers to take the time to review your business.

Know it’s not top of mind: For most of us, it doesn’t even occur to us to leave a review for most of our vendors, especially on the B-to-B side. If it does, it’s because we had a bad experience, which is why many reliable, good businesses have more bad reviews than good. This is not a passive, “I sure hope people leave us a review” sort of strategy. You’re going to have to ask.

Timing matters: For every business, there’s a honeymoon phase when your client is happiest. Think of it as the new car smell period. For a couple of weeks after you buy a new car, you are reminded that you have a cool new car every time you slide into your seat. You need to know when your customers are in that stage and ask them for the review at that moment.

In person is always best: For many of us, we have face time with our customers. As you wrap up the transaction, hand your customer a card with all the details they will need and ask them to take a few minutes to leave you a review. If you don’t interact with your clients directly, there’s nothing wrong with email. You’ll have better results if it’s a personal email rather than a mass mailing, but you can use marketing automation software to create that personal touch.

Make it easy: Don’t just ask me for a review. Tell me where (which site) and give me a link directly to the right page. You can also put links on your social channels and website, inviting people to provide a review.

Systemize it: This isn’t something you should do this week and then call it done after you get a few reviews. You need to have a process that makes asking for a review a regular part of your sales process.

Your work isn’t done once you garner some reviews. Monitoring your reviews and responding to them is an equally important strategy. Look for that discussion to come.



Webinars – the teacher is in the house

September 12, 2018

webinarI’m hoping that you’re finding this series focused on the channels too critical for you to ignore in 2019 has been helpful so far. The channel we are going to focus on today is the redheaded stepchild of the list. I think it is often overlooked or dismissed because it seems a little daunting and because we’ve seen it executed badly when we’ve been on the audience side. I’m talking about webinars.

Webcasts and webinars can help you create compelling content that drives leads and sales. A webcast is usually more of a one-way flow of information. It’s broadcast online to a large audience and the audience does not usually contribute much to the content of the webcast.

A webinar, on the other hand, is more interactive and can be thought of like an online meeting or class. The content is typically very educational. Your audience is probably a little smaller, but it’s more of a two-way conversation.

For most businesses, a webinar is a more commonly used tactic, so I’m going to drill deeper on that option.

I think many businesses dismiss webinars as a viable tactic because they believe:

  1. They’re difficult, from a technology point of view, to pull off.
  2. You don’t know enough to teach something interesting.
  3. Webinars are painfully boring (at least the ones you’ve attended), and you’re afraid yours will be too.
  4. You’re not a public speaker.

Let’s tackle those concerns and weave in some best practices.

The technology is the easiest. There are many very affordable (less than $100/month) SaaS tools out there that make it incredibly easy to set up the webinar, take registrations, set up an automated reminder schedule for people who have signed up and record the webinar for sharing with those who can’t attend.

One of the realities you need to plan for is that many people sign up for the webinar, never intending to attend the event live. They are signing up so they can watch the replay when it works better for their schedule. If for some reason, it matters to you that you garner a larger live audience, you can communicate that there will not be a replay available. But that’s not usually how it’s done. Normally you can expect about 50% of the registrants to show up live, and the other half just want to watch the video of your event.

The other three concerns are woven together for me. If you start with the belief that it’s your job to make your audience smarter and better at their job/life (depending on what you sell) without trying to sell anything, you’ll be amazed at how valuable your webinar can be. You don’t need to be a polished speaker (you should practice of course) if you’re genuinely teaching them something useful.

You need to make sure that you:

Build in interaction throughout the presentation. Don’t wait until the end to take questions. Use polls, the Q&A box and giving them some choices (would you rather have me explore X or Y) so they stay engaged even though their email, co-workers, and Facebook are fighting for their attention.

Use more slides, not less: Believe it or not, unlike a live presentation where they have you to look at, they need visual stimulation to stay interested. So changing out your slides more often will keep them connected to your message. One concept or point per slide should be your rule of thumb.

Present boldly: Much like they tell an actor to speak so the back of the house can hear them, you have to do the same metaphorically. You need to have more energy, more intonation and more personality than you might in a face-to-face meeting. Never forget that this is part teaching and part performance.


The eyes have it – Infographics

September 5, 2018

infographicsWe’re knee deep into a series that is focused on helping you plan for 2019 by identifying the channels too critical for you to ignore. Today, we’re going to investigate the value of infographics.

Visual content works. Consider these facts:

  • The human brain processes visual content 60,000 times faster than it does text.
  • Infographics are liked and shared on social media three times more than any other type of content.
  • High-quality infographics are thirty times more likely to be read than text articles.

An infographic allows you to communicate complex ideas in an easy to understand format. They make it easy to show the relationship between various elements so your audience can see the bigger picture.

You can deliver more information because the format itself is simple, clean and holistic in how it presents your ideas. If your audience needs to understand how one fact or choice impacts other elements – an infographic may be the right choice. If you know that your audience is faced with multiple options, help them follow the path to the outcomes tied to each decision.

Infographics are also a smart option for telling a linear story and showing the flow of events in a relational way. Think of it like a storyboard that outlines the key events or milestones. You can use colors and design choices to suggest emotions behind the facts and set a tone for the entire discussion.

For those of you that invest in research, be it a customer satisfaction survey or actually going out into the field and doing primary research, consider using an infographic to communicate the most important findings. You will enjoy the increased distribution that infographics garner and you’ll be able to connect the dots for your audience.

Infographics are incredibly effective when you need to communicate the facts underneath an emotional issue. By using graphics, facts and building the story to show multiple sides of an issue, you can help your audience separate their sentiments and examine the data so they can make an informed, fact-based decision.

As you might imagine, infographics are a no-brainer when you need to demonstrate something visually. Whether it’s a spatial relationship or a comparative that is tied to how the elements look, you need to show it, and an infographic gives you that ability.

If you’re going to jump on the infographic bandwagon, there are some best practices you need to keep top of mind.

Be mindful of your audience. Think about your color, font and graphic style decisions based on who you’re talking to. You also need to think about your own brand standards and make sure that you don’t violate those boundaries.

Be mindful of the size. Remember, you’re going to be sharing this on your website and social channels. A file that is too wide or too long will either display badly (or not at all) or discourage people from passing it along.

Remember that color and fonts are critical tools. This isn’t just about the colors or fonts that your designer likes or even your own brand standards. The color palette and font choices within your infographic are all about making your information easier to consume. Be mindful of color contrasts and font legibility and how they help tell your story.

Infographics offer marketers a fresh way to share the complex, demonstrate connections and make a compelling case that would normally be dry and less interesting. Think about how you’re communicating some of your more complicated messages and explore whether a visual representation would make it more compelling and easier to understand. Infographics probably aren’t going to be the staple of your 2019 marketing toolkit, but they should probably be one of the supporting elements.



Marketing Resolutions

August 1, 2018

resolutionsIf you’re like most people, you set some New Year’s resolutions back in January. I have no doubt that by now you’ve stopped smoking, swearing, overeating or showing up late to pick up your daughter at daycare.

Since you’ve mastered all of your personal resolutions, what about your professional ones? Maybe you’ve made some headway or even mastered a few of them by now but my guess is that most of them have gone by the wayside in the day to day chaos of marketing.  It’s never too early to start thinking about next year and as such, I’d like to spend the next couple of weeks getting a jumpstart on brainstorming what your resolutions for 2019 might be, by suggesting a handful for you to consider.

Build your email list: Most of us check our email before our feet touch the floor in the morning. Email is such an integral part of our life that we take it for granted. But your email list is one of the most valuable marketing assets you have. People are willing to give you their email because they believe you’ll send them content they find valuable. Do that on a consistent basis and you’ll earn their trust and eventually, some of them will invite you to earn their business.

In 2019 you need a game plan for securing more email addresses and delivering a higher level of content to that list on a regular basis. There are lots of ways you can get someone to happily give you their email address. Think bigger than the “sign up for our newsletter” box.

Work on earning great reviews: When you go to Amazon or Yelp or even when you search for a specific type of business – you notice the ratings and reviews, don’t you? It’s difficult to ignore them and it’s equally difficult not to be swayed by them. Reviews are playing a much bigger role in influencing the search engines as well as potential buyers’.

2019 should be the year that you actively solicit reviews from the customers who love you. Don’t leave it to chance. Create simple ways for them to tell the world that you’re a five-star business.

Produce more videos and build a YouTube channel for your organization: Videos are such a wonderful storytelling tool and you can’t ignore that in 2019. Whether you are teaching your prospects something, trying to influence them or entertain them – it’s hard to beat the multimedia appeal of video. Don’t be afraid to explore behind the scenes content and true brand journalism as you concept your next video series.

2019 is the year to get over your discomfort of the camera. Remember, you don’t have to be in front of the camera to create compelling video. There are many cost-effective ways to produce compelling videos that connect with your audience and give them a real sense of what your company is all about.

Do less but do it better: There are too just too many options out there. Snapchat, Facebook ads, billboards, referral programs, newsletters, print ads, etc. And that just scratches the surface. Even if you have the marketing budget of Coke, you can’t do it all. So rather than trying to dabble in everything, resolve to winnow down your marketing tactics so you can go a mile deep, rather than an inch deep and a mile wide.

Make 2019 the year that you actually eliminate some marketing tactics. Identify the ones that deliver the best ROI and do them more often and better. Explore ideas on how to expand the value you deliver through the tactics you decide to keep and work on elevating your game, rather than expanding your efforts.

Pick one or two of these and weave them into your marketing plan for the upcoming year. Leverage these trends and best practices as you map our your marketing strategy for the coming year. Do that and you’ll crush your 2019 sales and profit goals.


Using call to action triggers to drive conversions

July 25, 2018

conversionsRecently, we reviewed some of the general best practices if you’re going to run Facebook ads. Now, I want to drill down a little deeper into one of the most critical tools you have to increase conversions – the call to action (CTA) trigger.

Bottom line – if your audience does not interact with your ad, you can’t convert them. You absolutely can and should use call to action buttons if that makes sense with your message. As you’re building your Facebook ad, the ad manager will give you pre-set buttons with a variety of options from contact us to download, learn more, sign up or request time.

I know it seems obvious but choose your CTA carefully. Match the offer with the button label, so people know exactly what’s at the other end of the click.

Don’t forget about calls to action that don’t require an actual call to action button. Your ad copy might invite the audience to click on the ad itself to take an action (give us your feedback, sign up for a free product, vote for a favorite, etc.) or to answer a question that you pose either in your graphic or text.

Another element of a successful Facebook ad campaign is social proof. Social proof is public, social engagement that other users can see. This includes likes or other reactions, comments, and shares of your ad. When someone sees your ad, they’ll also see who among their Facebook connections has already interacted with the ad. These small interactions can matter just as much, if not more, than the ad copy when it comes to gaining more conversions.

For most of us, if we see a Facebook ad with ten positive comments and a couple dozen likes, we’re much more likely to pay attention to the ad than if it had no reactions showing at all.

The power of consumer-generated reviews and reactions carry over to this channel as well. That’s why, according to a study by KISSmetrics, Facebook ads with some sort of social proof had 300% more conversions, and 50% lower clicks per actions and cost per clicks.

In addition, social proof has an additional, less obvious, benefit. Social engagement boosts your relevance score, which gives you a higher priority in the ad bidding system. It’s a great way to lower your ad costs.

Once the campaign is launched, the best way you can improve the performance of the campaign is to keep an eye on the metrics. One of the most under-utilized is the Relevance Score.

The Relevance Score is a calculated metric that monitors how your audience is reacting to a particular ad. The scores can go from 1 to 10, depending on the positive and negative feedback your ads receive. If your score is below a 5, you should do some testing to see if it’s your audience, the message or the visual that is causing the disconnect.

Choosing when your ads appear (based on your audience’s time zone) is another way to increase success. By watching which times of day perform the best, you can adjust your campaign to increase conversions and reduce your cost per lead.

If you’re running ads to build brand awareness or some other top of the funnel activity, then you aren’t measuring success by conversions, and this may be less important to your campaign.

But in most cases, you’re running Facebook ads because you’re trying to drive an action of some kind. You want to give yourself every advantage you can and how you entice the audience to click on your ad is the most important step.



Put your best Facebook forward

July 18, 2018

FacebookWith over two billion monthly active users, it’s clear that Facebook is a vibrant marketplace. Whether you only serve clients who live within a couple of miles of your brick and mortar location or you can sell to anyone on the globe – Facebook is a viable advertising option that you should consider in your marketing plan and budget.

Beyond the sheer size and engagement level of the audience, one of the most appealing features of Facebook advertising campaigns is the ability to create a custom target audience. With the Facebook Custom Audience Tool, you can upload a list of contacts (emails, phone numbers, etc.) and create a lookalike audience that will allow you to target others who fit the same profile.

Don’t have a list? No worries. You can segment your target audience by elements like zip code, interests, demographic information or a combination of them.

The ability to hyper-target to a finite audience also allows you to manage your budget more effectively. There’s very little waste when you do it well. Every ad is going to be seen by the audience you want to reach.

Before you start to create your ad campaign, you need to decide how success is defined. Do you just want to put your business on the audience’s radar screen? Do you want them to click on the ad to get more information? Do you want to drive them to a landing page where you could offer them a digital asset (ebook, audio file, checklist, etc.) in exchange for their email address?

Once you’ve decided on the desired outcome, you need to follow some best practices to help you get there.

Remember that the ads will be appearing on Facebook and Instagram, mingled with your audience’s newsfeed. You want your ads to be a part of their social stream, so pick visuals that are personal and engaging. Make sure your photos are crisp and a high enough resolution that it creates the right impression.

You can use a combination of photos, text, videos, sounds, and a slideshow to create your ads. Like any advertising channel, your success is going to depend on your ability to capture your audience’s attention.

Think about your own social network habits. We scroll through the news feed pretty quickly. Your headline needs to grab their attention, and you don’t want to create a blur of text. Focus your message on the essentials and remember, the ad’s job is to get the viewer to click to learn more. You don’t have to tell them every detail within the ad.

Video ads are quickly becoming one of the most popular ad formats on Facebook. Over 100 million hours of video is consumed on Facebook every day. Remember the 2015 ALS ice bucket challenge? That’s what the experts point to as the tipping point for social video. It’s only going to become more mainstream and popular.

One fact you need to keep in mind as you build out your video ad campaigns. You should upload and host your videos on Facebook as opposed to using a video that you’ve uploaded to YouTube, Vimeo or any other platform. According to a study by Search Engine Journal, Facebook favors native video uploads, and those videos reach at least twice as many people and because of that additional exposure, will earn more likes, shares, and comments.

Next time, we’ll dive a little deeper into some more nuanced best practices so that every dollar you spend on Facebook yields the results you want. In the meantime, start paying attention to the ads that catch your eye and how you interact with them as a consumer.



Could marketing be a revenue source?

July 11, 2018

revenuePreviously, I told you about the book, Killing Marketing, by Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose. Their premise is that marketing has evolved to the stage where it needs to be completely re-invented, and we need to think of our organization’s marketing departments as media companies, that is to say, as a revenue source.

On the surface, it sounds like quite the stretch.

The book quotes Peter Drucker who said: “the purpose of marketing is to create and keep a customer.” In this case, the authors are emphasizing the word create. They believe that marketing has moved from just persuading someone who is already interested in buying what you sell to literally creating the audience in the first place, via your own generated media.

This is where the book risks losing readers. If you run an architectural firm or serve your clients by moving their goods across the country in your truck, the idea of launching a magazine or creating a YouTube show probably holds very little appeal. But when you start considering the broadest definition of media, it gets a little more interesting and might be better aligned with what you are already doing.

The big shift in thinking here is that rather than marketing to sell a product, you market to create an audience. Once you understand that audience and earn their trust, you can monetize that relationship by knowing exactly what they need/want, offering it to them and build revenue in the process.

Instead of saying, “I want to talk about stuff we sell, and hopefully that will catch the attention of people who might want to buy our stuff” you could say, “I will talk about the topics and issues that matter to the people who typically buy our stuff. After we’ve earned their trust and continued attention, it will be easier to sell our stuff to them.”

The truth is – we’ve all been consumers of this sort of strategy. Walt Disney launched his empire by creating cartoons and movies. He then moved into TV. From there, he started creating products and experiences to serve the audience he created.

It would be easy to dismiss this idea as being reasonable for consumer-focused companies but not for the business-to-business model. But it actually works even better for the B2B organization because your audience is naturally more defined and niched.

By now you’re probably wondering what kind of media are we talking about? Here’s a partial list.

  • A content-rich website that provides information and opinion pieces
  • A forum or message board/group chat engages your core audience
  • A weekly podcast or YouTube video
  • Monthly educational webinars
  • Regional events to create networking and learning opportunities
  • A national event with speakers and CEU courses
  • Research (you can sell the report/results) that informs your business decisions and offers insight to your audience

That list is daunting, isn’t it? It looks expensive from both a money and time resources perspective. How does that become a revenue stream rather than an ever-growing drain on your company’s budget?

  • Sell sponsorships and advertising spots on many of the items above
  • Charge a fee for the events and courses you offer
  • Create premium content that you put behind a payment firewall
  • Sell subscriptions for access to ongoing research or other media
  • Build/rent out your mailing list to other companies who are interested in the same audience

I’m barely scratching the surface of what’s possible. I don’t believe this is an all or nothing strategy. Every business could bake some of this thinking into their marketing, or should we say revenue plan. It’s an interesting premise and just imagine what you could do if your marketing was self-funding!