Welcome to the No Bull Rodeo Tour. We’ll try to make this a recurring feature wherein we offer tips, tricks and truth bombs that are sure to shock, amaze, and hopefully save you some time, effort and energy. This one you’ll definitely want to read through to the end. And as always- we’ve bolded the good nuggets for your skimming pleasure. Feel free to ask questions and add feedback to the comments. On with the show.
Update: For those who’ve seen my talk- there’s plenty of bonus material in this post.
Before you pros send me hate mail here’s our key assumptions:
1) Most growth-minded people we meet and do business with, wear multiple hats and have multiple roles in their organization. They also work across disciplines and functions. As a result, they must pay attention to what’s absolutely essential, use what’s efficient, and unsubscribe from noise, clutter and distractions wherever and whenever possible. If you have the luxury of focusing on only a single bucket- these ideas might not apply to you, but we’ve found that this increasingly the exception rather than the rule.
2) We operate as Chief Executive Customers. By that I mean we advocate and practice providing experiences in businesses that we ourselves would engage, enjoy, buy into. This is a higher standard than most but in a very competitive, fast pace, global information economy, it provides an adaptive lens to grow forward.
14 Truth Bombs No Marketer Wants You to Know
#1 -Digital marketing for most small ventures is not nearly as efficient or effective as a good, face to face relationship building. Do yourself and your company a solid favor, refrain from using digital marketing as a way to procrastinate the developing great communications, relational and experience design skills. Ultimately any marketing effort will bring you face to face with your prospect or a prospective partner at some point. And you’ll need to stand and deliver. If you’re bad in-person, invest in learning how to position, pitch and serve your prospects before you ask a marketer to get involved. You may hide behind your products thinking something like “I don’t have to connect with people, I sell widgets” but ultimately at some point, you’re going to find yourself in a meeting room, lunch date or coffee table with another human being.
Many modern marketers thrive on the fear, disdain and procrastination of businesses and people towards face to face interaction and networking. How many products and services make some variation on the promise of “use (widget x) to effortlessly attract customers and focus more attention on the other important aspects of your work” -what a notion. Removing yourself from learning a sound customer acquisition strategy is akin to shooting yourself in the foot. It’s required wisdom essential to your business.
If you’re looking to get keep and grow customers on the web, the wonder years of easily doing this online are over. Every book you’ve read that’s enthusiastic about the prospect of easily marketing online is likely pulling data from the 90′s, or sentiments and studies from marketing firms trying to perpetuate hype and the dollars injected into the system. It’s not easy anymore. It’s all about the experience, details, subtlety, and fundamentals. Oh yeah and it involves work.
#2- No marketer wants to reveal the real performance numbers to its biggest spenders. It’s in no marketer’s best interest to show the sad and true returns (or negative returns) on various digital marketing efforts. I see my friends, clients and colleagues in real estate paying the most per click and getting the most abysmal returns. Anyone find a graph on the performance of real estate ads on Facebook, Twitter and Google? Nope. Not a lot of people are collecting this data. If they are, they certainly aren’t sharing it. Why? It would chase away many of you back to other methods direct mail, perfecting your pitch, offering a better experience and so on.
#3 Marketers generally don’t measure or record their mistakes. They don’t track how many prospects they chase away with their efforts. When’s the last time you had a firm in your office pinpointing and owning their mistakes? In the world of TV of course they track ratings, or more accurately chases them, but this leads to other problems (among them; whoring your brand for any customers that’ll have you). For now, let’s focus on the web. Whether internal or external, many if not most marketers focus their attention, measurement, and reporting on the positives; who they’ve attracted with no eye to whom they’ve lost.
I’m not trying to villainize marketers here. There’s an underlying problem that haunts businesses – brand ignorance. For reasons too numerous to mention, many businesses have little to no documentation identifying who they are, who they want to be, what they care about, what they struggle with and explore, as well as who their customers are, their values, aspirations, obstacles, etc. This is essential information for your marketing team. If you don’t put in the time to doing this work, I promise you that it will continue to hinder your growth and keep your marketing costs high.
Smaller marketing firms (who 95% of business deals with) rarely have a keen understanding of their clients brand, values, audience, and so on. This requires due diligence on behalf of the firm (adds to cost) so many clients and firms elect to take the quick glance, shot in the dark approach to marketing and proceed to close their eyes, think happy thoughts, count only their wins, and never admit to nor learn from mistakes and mis-steps. No BULLSHIT MOMENT (so put on your big kid pants): It is first and foremost the responsibility of a business to know its brand, values, stories, audience, customers, partners, stakeholders, their values, obstacles and so on. Marketers/Consultants/Facilitators can be your Obiwan Kenobe on this journey but you should definitely know thy brand and thy market as best you can before a big marketing effort.
#4 When Victory and Returns are Nowhere to be Found, Marketers look for other positive success criteria. Ladies and gentleman I give you the invention of distractive metrics: the impression, like, poke, thumbs up, approve, and various other weak signals, faint and vague indicators of social media. In a previous post, I used the analogy of marketers as a fishing guide. They get paid based on how long you stare at the water, not how much you catch. So they tell you every ripple and bubble matters instead giving you a bobber a beer and witty banter. You should focus on the action your line more than the noise of the water. These things matter a little bit
#5 Click Through Rate (CTR) is Different than Return On Investment (ROI). A to 2% 3% click through rate means for every 100 impressions, someone clicked over to your site or landing page. This doesn’t equal a lead or return. I’ve seen many a marketing report emphasizing these details especially when the campaign failed to get a lead or convert a customer. There are many metrics and tools essential to marketing efforts but what every business asks of its marketing team is first and foremost to feed their village.
#6- A “Like” is not a lead- not even close. A like is often a mild, positive association with the content, sentiment, and or person. It’s not a consent to subscribe or a validation of your brand; especially if what you’re sharing isn’t your own.
#7 Facebook loves it when you believe that “likes” are worth more than kool-aid points. They are not nearly as valuable as Facebook and majority of marketers would have you believe. Some of you are probably frowning and are asking about “what about engagement and engaging the conversatiton?”
#8 Page Likes, Likes, Follows, and Retweets are increasingly weak connections and weak indicators. They extend your reach on these channels but the quality of the network continues to deteriorate as more noise is introduced. People build immunity and resilience to whatever tactics proliferate and become spam.
#9 Page Likes, Likes, Follows and Retweets are also fragile opportunities. In order to convert, you must be devoted to blowing away expectations. PERIOD. If you do what everyone else does (spam post kitten videos and affirmations) you may get some likes and follows but these aren’t really indicative of a following who supports your brand as much as they are people who like affirmations and kitten videos.
#10 Measuring Only in Likes and Tweets = Mission Drift. If you are only measuring your outreach and marketing efforts in terms of likes, pluses and twitter following, you are suffering from Mission Drift. You’ve lost your road map to how these contribute to getting, keeping and growing your customer base. Mission Focus- The whole purpose of these efforts is to share your message, values, and provide an experience that drives business to you.
“Online-only” relationships are really weak- what you’re really trying to score is that first date. True in life and true in business. Getting face to face even in this day and age, is what it is all about.
#11 Design will not save you from the hard and necessary work of content creation. For most, Content and Context Lead Design- Design does not lead the content. If you think your business is the exception, challenge your own motives. Do you have a compelling case or are you trying to avoid hard work?
#12 Designers & Marketers live in a dog eat dog world. Most of them will knowingly agree to put lipstick on a pig every time if it means putting food on their table. They will gladly take your worst effort at content and frame within a beautiful website, flyer, postcard or what have you. This creates a market condition where a client, like a real estate agent or mortgage broker comes with a dog-chewed paper with half a page of notes and asks a designer to build a website around it. The design team will gladly do it (as they have a village of their own to feed). And these efforts will likely yield sad results. Who takes the heat? The designer of course.
What can you do to prevent this? The next time you try to market in a hurry ask yourself this question -is the spirit of your personal and professional brand captured in the half page, rapid fire note (probably written on your leg in the car on the way to the meeting)? The outcome may be pretty to look at but will it provide your prospects and partners with the experience consistent with the value you provide?
#13 Great visual design alone does not make a brand. Your intentions, strategies and your experience as well as the experience of your team, employees, partners and customers make up your brand. Period.
#14 The Small Stuff Matters - The web is a very competitive market. And even professionals from other industries are competing for the same attention from your prospects. Mom and Pop shops compete with Amazon or the Goliath equivalent in their industry. We all have to up our game. This means paying more attention to details that matter. Two Examples in your Videos and Headlines:
On Your Videos – Pay attention to how you watch videos. If it’s not a music video or epic movie trailer do you go full screen? Nope. I don’t. For business videos, I usually catch them embedded in a social feed or a blog and watch them in that “tiny” mode. I know I’m not alone. So, for your own videos, make sure that your information at the beginning and the end is readable in that original embedded mode. Also – Make sure you use your logo, picture, name and phone number (legible in the tiny viewing mode) on the cover of your videos and in the beginning and end of your videos.
Unlock The Heroik Power of Your Headlines – One small thing that businesses of any size can do a better job of is creating better headlines for their content. In 2013, I wrote a book called “The Heroik Power of Headlines” based on this premise. In it there are 84 headline recipes for businesses to use in their content, direct mail marketing pieces and email subject lines (fans can get an early edition with a little prying if they email me firstname.lastname@example.org). Headlines make promises and set expectations and if you honor your promises and exceed expectations in your content, you’re well on your way to building an epic audience and boosting your customer base.