Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

The Radical Idea: Outsourcing that touches the customer is penny wise, but pound foolish

October 14th, 2016

Think about how hard you work, how much time and resources you put in to get a customer’s attention.

It may be that you have methodically built up a content marketing powerhouse that pulls in new and returning customers. Or you invest a big part of your budget in social media advertising or print advertising. Maybe you’ve spent hours and hours scrubbing your list squeaky clean and creating valuable newsletters and a finely tuned, marketing-automation fueled drip campaign.

Whatever your marketing focus, you realize that getting customer attention for your marketing efforts is costly…and valuable (not to mention a privilege).

Now what if I told you that companies are throwing this valuable asset away every…single…day?

No, it’s likely not you and your peers in marketing. It’s probably the team in the Logistics Department. Maybe in your company they call it Fulfillment. Or perhaps it’s someone in some other department that is involved in product delivery.

These product delivery decisions are about so much more than cost and speed. They also affect customer perception because they touch the customer. Customer touches and those valuable moments of customer attention are just as valuable after a purchase as they are before a purchase.

When I brought up this idea to Shane Cragun, Founding Principal and CEO, SweetmanCragun, and co-author, “Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption,” he told me that “customer touchpoints can also be called ‘moments of truth.’ They are connecting points between the company and customer where the customer leaves with a renewed perception of the company.”

Cragun said that these moments of truth touchpoints can only do one of three things:

1) increase customer loyalty
2) decrease customer loyalty
3) maintain the status quo in the buyer’s mind.

First, a personal anecdote to understand the challenge, and then a few reasons why you’re missing an organic opportunity to connect with current and future customers and ensure that you increase customer loyalty (or at least maintain the status quo).

That can’t be for me

I recently bought a clothes dryer from The Home Depot. The driver calls me and says he’s 15 or 20 minutes away. A little while later, I hear what sounds like a big truck driving down my street. I look out the window, but no, it’s just a pickup truck towing a plain, white trailer. Not a truck from The Home Depot. Must be a roofing contractor working on another house in the neighborhood.

But then I hear the truck noise again. Apparently, the truck had turned around in the cul-de-sac at the end of my block, and was in front of my house. So I walked out of the house and talked to the driver and, sure enough, they were delivering my dryer. The driver happened to be wearing a GE shirt, and I had ordered an LG dryer.

Now you may be thinking — Daniel, who really cares? What’s the difference which truck they were driving or what shirt he was wearing? Value perception, my friends. Value perception.

Marketing’s job is to turn actual value into perceived value

When you think of the marketing function today, there are likely many processes and tasks that come to mind. Managing a database. Making sense of analytics. Setting a drip campaign in a marketing automation platform.

But all of those activities are secondary. Marketing’s primary job is to influence perceived value. And you do that by clearly understanding and leveraging the actual value delivered to the customer.

In my case, the actual value delivered was spot on. The delivery people were helpful and nice, and they delivered and installed the appliance quickly and correctly. Really, everything a customer would expect in a home appliance delivery.

So it wasn’t the service itself. It was the perceived value of the service. And that is marketing’s job to influence.

But if you’re a marketer, here are four reasons you should own or influence as many customer touchpoints as you can:

Reason #1: Branding

In fairness to whoever makes the decision to outsource appliance delivery and installation for The Home Depot, there is probably a very logical reason for it. After all, many other stores outsource as well. I’m guessing that reason is cost savings. It is probably more expensive to have trained delivery personnel and a fleet of delivery trucks.

However, how much does The Home Depot spend every year on branding? For example, the home improvement supplies superstore spent $70 million over 10 years for the naming rights to Home Depot National Training Center in Carson, California, according to

Ironically enough, The Home Depot even spent money on mobile billboards — in essence, paying another company to drive trucks around within five miles of its stores to advertise its brand message.

If this money was instead invested in a branded delivery experience for the customer, would outsourcing still be cheaper? And would the overall result be a better ROI for the company?

The challenge is likely that branding and mobile billboards come out of a different budget than delivery and installation. As a marketer, your challenge is to break out of those artificial silos to create the best experience for the customer. That is, ultimately, the best experience for the brand.

“If you research the most popular companies in the world with customers, it is apparent that they proactively design customer touchpoints, or moments of truth, in a way that increases customer loyalty. They never leave touchpoints to chance. They are way too important for future viability and revenue,” Shane said.

Reason #2: Social proof

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon in which people essentially look to the behaviors of others to determine how they should act. “Oh, everyone else is suddenly running into the cave. I should as well. A saber-toothed tiger must be chasing someone.”

If I see Mr. Jones down the street getting a refrigerator (or furniture or anything else) delivered, I subconsciously think — maybe I should get one, too. After all, we’re roughly from the same socioeconomic grouping, if they can afford it, so can I. And our houses were all built within a few years of each other. If they think their fridge is old enough to replace, maybe mine is, too.

And where would be a good place to get it? The name of the store on the truck.

While big box appliance stores apparently prefer to save money on logistics instead of leverage social proof, some of their competitors are making this investment. For example, Cathy’s Appliances in Warren, Michigan which is “Stacken Em Deep & Sellin Em Cheap” (according to an image I randomly found on Twitter).


Reason #3: Purchase satisfaction

Us humans, we’re a handful. A complicated tangle of sub-conscious thoughts, emotions and hang-ups. This comes out in the way we make choices, including product purchase decisions.

A great example is cognitive dissonance, which Wikipedia defines as, “the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time; performs an action that is contradictory to one or more beliefs, ideas, or values; or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.” (emphasis is mine)

In other words, if you buy an expensive appliance (or any product) and the product delivery experience is subpar, you are getting confronted with new information that conflicts with your existing belief that you made a good purchase decision.

This increases the likelihood of a product return and decreases the likelihood or repeat purchase or positive word of mouth.

To avoid this cognitive dissonance, brands must look at the marketing after the sale as an important step in the buying journey.

Researchers Geoffrey N. Soutar and Jillian C. Sweeney provided the following advice in their academic paper titled, “Are There Cognitive Dissonance Segments?”:

“As dissonance, when it occurs, does not seem to fall in the few days after purchase (as seen in the insignificant relationship between the time after purchase and the dissonance groupings shown in table 4), there is an opportunity for the retailer to contact customers in this period to reassure them of the wisdom of their purchase and to allay any risk perceptions they may have…This may be achieved through advertising that is deliberately aimed at recent purchasers. Early researchers such as Engel (1963) recognised the interest in this post-purchase role of advertising, although studies have had mixed results. Nonetheless, such information strategies can be used to reduce dissonance through reassurance, rather than by complaining to others.”

As I’m sure you can tell by now from this blog post, I believe one way to advertise to consumers after they purchase to reduce dissonance through reassurance is to use actions (and not just messaging) by having a superior customer delivery experience.

Reason #4: Every customer touchpoint is an opportunity to add value

The first three reasons are pretty heavy on company-centric thinking, I’ll admit. Get your brand in front of more customers. Get more customers to think about your store when making a purchase. Get better word of mouth.

But let’s take a customer-first marketing approach to delivery and installation. What do you think the customer expects? If I buy a used dryer off Craigslist, then, yeah, maybe a random pickup truck with a blank white trailer. But ordering from the largest home improvement retailer in the U.S., I expect (as it says on its delivery webpage) — “The Home Depot Advantage.”

radical-idea-home depot

In fairness, I did actually experience the value listed on the website. I just didn’t attribute that value to The Home Depot. Because it was an unbranded, random, obviously outsourced customer experience.

Perhaps I’m the only one who noticed this because I work in marketing. Again, I had a positive customer experience, but I did find a couple of examples online of people who had a negative experience and blamed the outsourcing as the reason why. They did not seem to absolve The Home Depot of responsibility, however. In fact, the outsourcing just seemed to make them madder. Here’s an example from

“THD [The Home Depot] contracts out their delivery service to cut corners on labor costs and wash themselves of accountability of confirmed time frames. I WILL NEVER purchase another major appliance from a retailer who has elected to put cheap outsourced labor ahead of customer experience…THD, wake up. It’s your brand I deal with when making a purchase, not GE’s lackluster delivery network.”

This is a problem. According to a study of 24,489 customers by Accenture, 52% of consumers have switched providers in the past year due to poor customer service. You don’t want to spend all that time, money, and effort on your marketing winning customers only to fumble on the five-yard line and lose them by not delivering on the value you promised.

On the upside, the study also discovered that 45 percent are willing to pay more for better customer service. For a retailer like The Home Depot, that number is crucial. After all, I could have bought that LG dryer at many retailers. And several retailers had very similar prices. So a main element of differentiation, a main piece of any value proposition is the service and customer experience, of which delivery is a major part.

Study authors Kevin Quiring, Fabio De Angelis, and Esther Gasull advised “… they [brands] need to focus less on luring customers with digital marketing and sales and more on dazzling them with superior service across all channels of interaction.”

A holistic view of marketing

You invest a lot of money just trying to get in front of customers and get their attention. That is, after all, what you are doing with PPC, TV advertising, print ads, and all of your other customer acquisition spends. When you’re delivering your product, you’ve been entrusted with an invitation into your customers’ lives. That is valuable. How will you react? Myopically look at these interventions as a logistics challenge? Or look at them as a value delivery opportunity?

Perhaps this is one reason (beyond saving on shipping costs) that Amazon is building more delivery capabilities. The world’s largest online retailer has leased 40 Boeing cargo planes (“Prime Air”), but also according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal — is experimenting with last-mile delivery.

While Greg Bensinger and Laura Stevens focus on cost and reliability (after UPS’ holiday season 2013 fail) in the article, I think one of the readers made a spot-on observation in the comments section, so I’ll give the last word in this blog post to Chris Lee:

“For Amazon, timely and speedy delivery is a critical part of customer experience, and I think they made the right call in making this strategic decision. And yes, in the short term, they will be sacrificing profits – but all for the sake of continued growth of their customer base, which will likely reward them later with future profits once Amazon raises prices on their products.”

You might also like

The Radical Idea: Why investing in the physical world should be part of your social media marketing budget

Customer-first Marketing: Do you put your customers’ interests first?

Brand Marketing: 5 tactics to understanding customer experience

MarketingSherpa Summit 2017 – Aria Las Vegas | February 13-16

How to take storytelling risks through publishing

October 7th, 2016

“Brands suddenly realized, 30-second spots aren’t working. There’s got to be a better way for us to tell a story,” Morgan Spurlock, Academy Award-Nominated Director, Super Size Me, said in our MarketingSherpa 2016 Media Center interview. “That’s when they started looking at creative ways to make content tell stories.”

Since making POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Made, where Morgan worked with brands to finance the entire film, he’s realized that there are a plethora of compelling brand stories to tell. It’s just a matter of recognizing them. He’s worked with companies like General Electric, Toyota and Haagen Daz doing short film series.

“The beauty of where we are right now, as a content creator is, you can tell stories everywhere now,” he said. “There’s this incredible access to short-form digital content, we can tell a story that’s two minutes, three minutes, and find an audience for it. Not only find an audience for it, but have it be seen world-wide by millions of people.”

A fantastic recent example of how brands are doing this is with Starbucks’ Upstanders series.

According to the site, “Upstanders is an original collection of short stories, films and podcasts sharing the experiences of Upstanders – ordinary people doing extraordinary things to create positive change in their communities. Produced by Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the Upstanders series helps inspire us to be better citizens.”

With absolutely no mention of coffee or the brand within the stories, this content is able to connect with something positive and real in the communities the company works in. These stories focus on people who serve their communities with more than just coffee.

Everything from an impoverished town in Michigan who fulfilled a promise to offer free college tuition to every graduating senior, and did so through grassroots efforts, to an empathetic police academy in Washington that teaches cops a new approach to the job.

These are compelling, topical stories being brought to us directly from … Starbucks, the place that normally only supplies us with coffee, scones and the occasional impulse-buy CD.

“A lot of times … brands are very precious about, ‘here’s what we stand for,’ and they don’t want to give up that brand ID to somebody like me because they feel like they have to control it and keep it tight,” he said.

There’s always a way, he added, to come to an alignment of ideologies where a neutral content creator’s idea of what will be great for your brand, also works with what a marketer believes will be great for the brand.

So how do you start?

“It starts like this, with a conversation,” Morgan said. “I think you sit down, and you say, ‘what do you want to accomplish? What stories do you want to tell?”

Marketing is storytelling, he added. It’s just a matter of deciding on what story you want to tell. It can be your brand’s story, or it can be your customer’s stories.

To find those authentic stories, and decide what it is exactly they want to say, marketers have to decide what their brand voice is.

“What is your ethos, what is your DNA. Once you know that, then you can say, ‘what are the stories we want to tell, what do we want to accomplish,” he said.

The biggest part of this process, he added, is, “Don’t be so precious. Don’t be so scared. Now is the best time ever to dive in and take risks, and do things you normally wouldn’t do because the price point, the barrier to entry, is so low.”

With digital content that can reach millions, marketers can take low-cost risks that might pay off big with customers.

“What starts to happen is, the more risks you take, is the less risky things become down the road,” he said.

You might also like…

The Greatest Lecture Ever Presented – Morgan’s full presentation at MarketingSherpa Summit 2016

Reader’s Choice, MarketingSherpa Awards 2017 – voting is still open! Cast your vote to see the winner present on-stage at this year’s Summit

What marketers can learn from The Onion: Interview with founding editor Scott Dikkers

September 28th, 2016

Change. Is. Scary.

There was a time, not very long ago, when marketers were the only ones that had the resources to get the message out about products. And they did it through print, TV, and radio ads.

And because of this one-sided power, advertisers would pretty much just say whatever ridiculous bunk they could come up with to sell their product. Like this ad from 1931, in which a “doctor” shills for cigarettes.

According to the Stanford School of Medicine, “The doctors depicted were never specific individuals, because physicians who engaged in advertising would risk losing their license. It was contrary to accepted medical ethics at the time for doctors to advertise, but that did not deter tobacco companies from hiring handsome talent, dressing them up to look like throat specialists, and printing their photographs alongside health claims or spurious doctor survey results. These images always presented an idealized physician wise, noble, and caring.”

Not surprisingly, customers became skeptical over time. And marketers’ jobs got harder. But that was nothing compared to what was about to happen.

dikkers interview blog pic

The digital revolution

In the year 2000, 50% of adult Americans were using the Internet, according to Pew Research Center. By 2013, that number hit 86%.

With the advent of the web, more and more customers were given an outlet to express their opinions about products and services. This exploded further with social media. No longer did marketers and brands have the market cornered on communication about products and services.

This was a massive change that made marketers’ jobs exponentially harder. Sure, there was the splintering of media. But the real challenge was in the change in brand voices. The Internet created the most skeptical generation yet. If marketers could no longer get away with ridiculous boasts, what should their voice be to customers? How could they convince and connect with customers in the age of the Internet?

Read more…

Millennials something Snapchat something something

September 22nd, 2016

Skeptical Millennials (defined as ages 18-34) are a notoriously hard-to-reach demographic for marketers. But a new social media outlet can help – Snapchat.


For experienced marketers unfamiliar with Snapchat, it’s like direct mail, in that you can send messages to potential customers with images. But it’s like weird direct mail that disappears after 24 hours. Because it was sent by a magician or something? No one knows for sure.

But we do know that means you should send heaps of snaps to your customers when you chat. Send snaps constantly and without pause, so they can never escape your product. Just keep ruthlessly going after customers like your company is the shark in Jaws.

Spoiler alert: you’re gonna need a bigger budget.

Just kidding.

scott-dikkers-colorAt MarketingSherpa Summit 2017 in Las Vegas, one of the featured speakers will be Scott Dikkers, co-founder and former owner and editor-in-chief of the notorious news satire publication, The Onion. Which got us thinking … what would MarketingSherpa look like if it were written by the editors of The Onion?

So I got together with one of my Summit co-hosts, Pamela Jesseau, Director of Marketing, MECLABS Institute, and we had a lot of fun coming up with the headlines at the bottom of this blog post that really, really should run on MarketingSherpa … but of course never will.

It’s an interesting exercise. Comedy, and satire specifically, is the perfect vehicle for constructive criticism. It’s funny because there is an element of truth to it. And the process of identifying the satire helps draw attention to areas (of society in general, or in our case, marketing) that can be improved.

It’s important to step outside of our industry and discover how customers see it. MarketingSherpa’s mission is to share inspirational stories of customer-first marketing. We’ve learned that sustainable success comes from putting the customer first – that means thinking like they do, even if it means poking fun at ourselves.

Read more…

MarketingSherpa Awards 2017: Customer-focused campaigns drive significant conversions

September 12th, 2016


MarketingSherpa has always been about customer-first marketing. Those are the stories we love to tell, and the marketers we love to talk to.

That’s why, in this year’s judging process, we made customer focus a pass/fail criteria. It has always been more heavily weighted than other aspects, but we still considered and discussed submissions that were lacking in, or ignored how customers were actually affected.

This year, no matter how otherwise intriguing the campaign was, it was dismissed if our seven judges unanimously agreed it was not customer-focused.

On top of that, all of the selected campaigns had to meet these criterion:

  • Be transformative
  • Be innovative
  • Offer transferable principles that marketing peers can apply to their efforts
  • Display strong results

After 50 hours of pre-screening 198 submissions, and 15 hours of deliberation, we’ve narrowed it down to the marketers and campaigns that have put in that work. These four campaigns deserve to be celebrated and studied by you, our readers.

Please review the finalists below, and vote for the Reader’s Choice nominee that stands out the most to you. After voting, please share your favorite nominee or insight on social media.  

Read more…

Five tips from a personal care industry CEO for setting (and getting approval for) your marketing budget

September 9th, 2016

When we ask marketers about their biggest challenges, budget issues are usually at or near the top. Ecommerce marketers say size of marketing budget is the biggest challenge to their companies’ ecommerce operations. B2B marketers say lack of resources in staffing, budgeting or time are the biggest barrier to overcoming their top challenges.

Everybody is challenged by the budget in some way.

So to give you a business leader’s perspective on key budget questions: What should you prioritize in your budget? How should you work with the rest of the organization? How do you get your key priorities approved?

I looked outside of the marketing-sphere and interviewed Stuart Benton, President and CEO, Bradford Soap.

Budgeting Advice CEO_Sherpa_DB

Stuart has a unique perspective on budgeting, as he was formerly Bradford Soap’s CFO, and has a perspective on selling products as well from a previous stint as Director of Sales and Financial Operational Planning at Veryfine Products, a $250 million juice company (at the time).

To give you some context, Bradford Soaps is a 140-year-old, $100 million organization with 700 employees that develops and manufactures soap for Dove, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, Tom’s of Maine, Dr. Bronner’s, and other brands.

“We make the majority of all the specialty bar soaps in America,” Stuart said.

Here are some tips from our conversation to keep in mind as you set your next budget…

Read more…

Promotional Marketing: How to use promotional marketing to build brand awareness

July 5th, 2016

I’ve gotten the nickname “Coupon Queen,” because I love a good deal. It’s hard for anyone to turn down a 50% off sale from their favorite company. Promotional marketing uses special offers to raise a customers’ interest, to influence a purchase and to even stand out among competitors. As marketers, our main goal is to use tactics like this to boost awareness in order to build the community for our brand.

A few months ago, I wrote a post on building customer experience by looking at event marketing while we prepared for MarketingSherpa Summit. Before getting started with the event marketing process or the launch of your content, the truth is there is a whole production that begins before that. You have to start with your promotional work. As we are now gearing up for MarketingSherpa Summit 2017, I interviewed Erin Fagin, Senior Marketing Manager, MarketingSherpa, on her role with promotional marketing.

Promotional marketing includes advertising, public relations and sales promotion. Whether you want to inform the market, increase demand or differentiate a product, here is an introduction to promotional marketing that can help you drive the traffic that you need for your product.


Phase 1. Establish your objective

Erin is responsible for the MarketingSherpa brand, with majority of her focus being on MarketingSherpa Summit. She said this includes the “entire brand perception, experience and voice, and how we are positioning ourselves to our followers and customers.”

As a marketer, the first question you want to ask yourself is, “What are we trying to achieve?”

Everyone’s goals are going to be unique to the company; for example, our main objective is to grow our community. This is where your past can become handy in the future planning process. Take a look at past campaigns and data collected to analyze what previously worked and areas where improvements can afford to be made.

Erin has built a portfolio of ideas that were inspired from past campaigns. However, she strives to involve her team in as much as the process as she can. A collaboration session is key in this step.


Phase 2. Build your strategy

Research is the most important asset in your strategy, whether formal or informal. Using that available data on your current or past audience engagement is going to benefit your campaign heavily. Organizing your route to the end goal while showing the value is going to be challenging yet rewarding in the end.

Marketing with internal stakeholders provides the beginning foundation, and external stakeholders can also provide a valuable perspective to the strategy. Here is where the buy-in from those involved comes into play. Your team and leadership has to be convinced to change the nature of the existing or previous strategy to be on-board from the very beginning, because as you move on to the next step, that buy-in is going to be to be crucial.

Budget is a piece to always take into consideration at this stage. If you have the flexibility to share a budget with other departments, utilize the resources to combine efforts to cut costs. With the remaining funds, you may have room to experiment with your strategy.


Phase 3. Execute your plan

Three core components in creating this plan to execute are:

  • Clearly defined goals
  • Establishing resources
  • A realistic project plan

Identifying the milestones needed to achieve your goals is going to be the first step. In this marketing optimization post, I walked through steps that similarly tie into building a promotional strategy when improving marketing efforts.

The content messaging is one of the core pieces in your promotional plan. Think about, what you want to say to your customers and how you want them to interpret your content. At the end of the marketing asset, put yourself in the audience’s shoes. How likely are you to be motivated to take action by clicking on the CTA or sharing the information?

In a Buzzstream article, “How to Create a Winning Content Promotion Plan,” Stephanie Beadell presented a well-developed framework to building a successful campaign. What I found thoroughly valuable were the starter questions for marketers to ask during the crafting section:



Erin added that she begins by taking a crack at developing the content needed for her promotions and then solicits feedback from her colleagues on the marketing team. The content team is brought in the process as well to copy edit and ensure that the voice of the brand remains consistent. Utilize as many departments as your company has available. You also want to change your copy to reflect where it will be shared, she said, whether with a segmented audience and of course for unique social media channels.

Determining when and where your content is distributed is the final step.

Ensure that you aren’t overwhelming the audience with multiple sends, and map out your promotional periods in advance if you can. Understand your audience and where their motivations are, whether it is through direct mail or email. But don’t be afraid to take risks and test new mediums. Establish how technology can be of assistance as well – can paid search, print ads and retargeting help in your marketing efforts?

When your team comes within reach of the objective or achieves the overall goal, celebrate with your colleagues because your hard work has paid off. Communicate the success with your entire company and internally share the information. And don’t forget to use this promotional marketing strategy you’ve created as a baseline for the next one.


You may also like:

How Companies Fail, and Why the Customer Always Wins in the End

Email Marketing: Ideas and inspiration from 11 years of award-winning campaigns

MarketingSherpa Summit 2017

Three Questions to Align Your Strategy, Marketing and Sales

June 28th, 2016

When the business strategy isn’t linked with sales and marketing, the result is that marketers and sellers end up working harder, not smarter. This has a multi-billion dollar impact. Most companies struggle with this according to the Frank Cespedes, author, and Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School: “Selling [or marketing,] no matter how clever and creative, can’t generate good financial returns unless it’s connected to strategy.”

I met Frank while we both spoke at an event in Santiago, Chile. We had a memorable time sharing ideas and research. I thought Frank had a practical approach to aligning sales and marketing. So, I reached out to him and interviewed him about what he’s learned through his research for his most recent book Aligning Strategy and Sales.

[Editor’s Note: This interview was edited for length and grammar only.]


Brian Carroll: What inspired you to write about Aligning Strategy and Sales, which is the title of your new book?

Frank Cespedes: Despite decades of attention to so-called strategic planning, there is remarkably little research about how to link strategy with the nitty gritty of field execution, especially sales efforts [and marketing]. American companies annually spend about $900 billion every year on sales efforts. That’s not marketing, that’s sales, that’s compensation, the travel, incentives, the infrastructure, etc. and to put that in perspective, Brian, that figure is more than three times what they spend on all media, Super Bowls, everything. It’s more than about 40 times what they spend on digital marketing, and it’s more than 50 times what they currently spend on social media. This is a big, big gap.


Can you tell us more about your background and where all of this came from?

I was an academic at Harvard Business School for about 11 years working my way up the hierarchy and always was doing research in sales-related areas. My research started with distribution channels, B2B distribution channels, morphed into sales. Then I ran a business for 12 years. And then I came back and said, “I’m teaching strategy. I know something about sales. Let me see what people have written about it.”

What I found was this gap, so I figured two things. One is I don’t think the world needs another book about strategy, and I don’t think, to be blunt, the world needs yet another selling methodology, but there just isn’t much if anything about linking the two and that was the gap that I set out to address.

Read more…

Six Places to Focus to Make your Website a Revenue Generator

May 24th, 2016

We have more digital marketing channels than ever before, but it’s become even harder to connect with customers. In my role as chief evangelist for MECLABS Institute, MarketingSherpa’s parent company, I get to talk to marketers and thought leaders daily.

One thing’s become clear, that there is a growing divide between those who are fully engaged with digital marketing and those who are still figuring out the fundamentals. When I read the report by Kristin Zhivago, President of Cloud Potential, on “revenue road blocks,” I wanted to see what she’s discovered to help marketers quickly close this digital marketing gap and do better.

If marketers directly address getting six key focuses right, you can move forward and close the gap between digital and customers.

Brian: What inspired you to do your research on revenue road blocks?


Kristin: Actually, it was our day-to-day experience working with company managers that drove us to these conclusions, combined with our research on the best practices of digital market leaders in more than 28 industries. The gap between the companies that are successfully using the newer methods and those who are not is growing wider by the quarter.

What is really concerning is we are seeing otherwise solid, successful companies slipping behind their more digitally adept competitors, and they can’t figure out why. They’re doing what they’ve always done, and it’s not working anymore.

Of course, that’s the problem. Buyers have radically changed the way they buy, especially in the last couple of years, and these sellers haven’t changed the way they’re selling. Mobile and the cloud have changed everything; today’s buyers are not the obedient, pass-through-your-funnel buyers that we used to be able to depend on. They are looking for any excuse to say no, because they are sure that there’s another solution only a click away. There is absolutely no risk for them to reject you. In fact, rejection is the safest option for them.

Read more…

Maximizing Multiple Marketing Platforms for Success

May 20th, 2016

After 35 years in the industry, Chinese Laundry, a privately held women’s footwear company, continues to expand its influence season after season.

During Internet Retailer Conference Exhibition (IRCE) 2015, MarketingSherpa’s Courtney Eckerle spoke at the MarketingSherpa Media Center with Scott Cohn, Vice President of Ecommerce, Chinese Laundry.

Scott spoke about how marketers tend to establish processes or utilize platforms that work for specific projects or campaigns, but don’t always think about how it affects our customers.

“The biggest challenge we had is that they [platforms] were perpetually out of sync. So our inventory, pricing and a whole variety of other things that a customer expects to be consistent across channels, just weren’t consistent,” he said.

Whether you are looking to condense your blog platforms to update your content strategy or want to build product awareness, Cohn shared two key takeaways on maximizing multiple marketing platforms:


Be on the lookout

When undertaking a technology innovation, how do you begin to think about where you pain points lie?

Read more…