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5 reasons to take a fresh look at your brand

People tend to have natural strengths. Things that always come easier to them than others.

When I think back to high school and up until now, Marketing is the thing that I always excelled at. While others were good at athletics or excelled in academics or the arts, etc… I was always involved in some kind of marketing program…and I was always a force to be reckoned with.

I often ask myself why I was drawn to this profession. I think it’s because I’ve always been fascinated by perceptions vs reality (something I have a lot of experience with, naturally). With Marketing, whatever good or service you are providing, selling, managing, etc… you need people to understand what it is and then you need to back it up with action. If you do that enough times, you’ll create a reputation for it.

To me, that’s what creates a brand, whether it’s for an individual or a massive corporation. Say what you mean…and then do what you say… and repeat…over and over again.

Here are five additional reasons to take a fresh look at your brand

1: WHAT IF YOUR PERCEPTION ISN’T YOUR REALITY?
This is the most important and something we’re all guilty of. We see one or two things and we ignore everything else. Just because you have a nice idea of what your brand is doesn’t mean that is how your other stakeholders are viewing you. How can you sell or manage a business if you’re delusional? You can’t. Not to mention, it’s kind of embarrassing…

One of the company’s I worked for went through a period of acquisitions, but didn’t change the names of the companies they acquired. We were so proud of our increased marketshare and additional areas of expertise. One day, I was in a meeting with a supplier partner and we gave them our line card. The supplier had no idea who was a customer, a competitor or just another branch of the company. He likely walked away thinking we weren’t organized and it was just confusing. The company went through a branding exercise shortly thereafter…

2: … BECAUSE, WHEN IS THE LAST TIME YOU DID?
Time flies. Classic may work well when picking out a men’s suit, but it doesn’t for the majority of brands. If you look old and outdated, plan on a closer race with your competitors than you’d like. People and other companies appreciate a thoughtful, easy to understand brand proposition, along with a great design. Sometimes that alone is enough to make a sale…

3: DIGITAL MARKETING
Are you embarking on a new e-mail campaign? Are you bringing on a marketing automation platform? Looking to redo your website along with SEO? What’s the point if you don’t have the right brand? What a waste of time, energy and money…

4: II’S NOT JUST YOUR CUSTOMERS THAT ARE WATCHING YOU
Whether you are on your own or you’re with a more established company, people are watching you. Potential employees, people in your community and other consultants you may want to network with at some point. You want to impress them, too.

5: IT’S FUN
What? Am I just running out of tips? It’s fun…. come on!

For real, a branding initiative will bring your company together. All of the branding initiatives I’ve been involved in, we requested feedback from all sorts of employees and functions. We wanted as much feedback as possible. We got it, and people loved it. They felt part of something and invested in a company they spent the majority of their lives working for. They were proud to tell their customers, friends and family about it once it was revealed. Furthermore, aside from feedback from employees, you need all sorts of different personality types. Dreamers, realists, pragmatic doers, creatives, etc. Watching it all come together is a beautiful thing.


 

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5 Tips for creating a Marketing Automation Project Plan

Are you looking to create a Marketing Automation Project Plan for your organization? 

Before you create a Marketing Automation Project Plan, ask yourself this question.  How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
 
Marketing Automation is no different. Take your time when you’re starting out and make sure you have certain resources in place.  Here are five tips to consider:
 
1. CHOOSE A MARKETING AUTOMATION PLATFORM 
 
Understand you have many options for a platform. There are many third party Marketing Automation tools on the market (Over 150+). Most of these platforms all have the ability to store contacts, design/ send e-mails, design/manage landing pages and form activity, scoring mechanisms that rank your contacts likelihood to buy, and the rest of the tools you’ll need to set up the automation
 
2. PICK YOUR ADMINISTRATOR 
 
Identify at least one person who is technically savvy, with an interest in digital marketing. This person doesn’t have to have a degree in rocket science. Rather, a willingness to learn and explore will be far more valuable. The role of this individual will be to design marketing automation processes according to your objectives.
He or she will be at the center of all activities for the platform.  
 
3. PREPARE FOR THE LEARNING CURVE 
 
Mentally prepare yourself for some trial and error. Plan to turn on the platform and then send out some initial low risk campaigns like a newsletter. Also, identify a product category or brand that you will put through a Pilot program in the coming months. 
 
4. START THINKING ABOUT CONTENT 
 
What types of material do you want to send your readers? Think about content for the Pilot program, as well as generally-speaking. Most importantly: Include a strong callto-action on all e-mails and the follow-through strategy. For example, if your reader should click a hyperlink or button in the e-mail for a landing page, what are your goals and objectives for this person
 
5. SET TARGETS AND MEASURE 
 
Write down your TOP FIVE METRICS you’d like to achieve. It can be open/click rates or form conversions. Take it further and request close rates or opportunities won. Get this in the hands of your administrator who would, in turn, follow through to create a roadmap.

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Marketing Automation and Social Media | Stronger Together

Social media has become an integral part of our life, both personally and professionally.

This is especially true for business owners looking to connect with customers and potential customers.  Social Media and Marketing Automation are stronger together.  Having a strategy is important, so that’s the first step.  You should identify an objective for the project and ask yourself how it will benefit the organization.  Part of that should be determining how that fits into a greater marketing automation process.  Here are 5 ways to do that:

1 – Schedule posts
Platforms such as Pardot, Marketo, Hubspot and Salesforce Marketing Cloud all allow you to schedule social media posts in advance, which is a huge time saver.

When selecting a marketing automation platform consider that Pardot and Marketo have a more simple interface.  Hubspot and especially Salesforce Marketing Cloud have advanced features that go pretty in depth with their capabilities.

Don’t forget about the content, either.  You should be consistent with your schedule.  Perhaps every Monday is a new blog highlighting a service, new pictures uploaded for Throwback Thursday and Fridays reserved for highlighting the community or company culture.

2 – Score or rate your posts
The platforms give you a huge opportunity to take your social media efforts to the next level.  Pardot, Marketo and Hubspot come with a scoring model that allows you to rank your prospect’s activity, which includes social posts.  When you identify them through a form submit or an e-mail send, you can cookie them (which just means you’re tracking them).

You can place a higher emphasis on your business related posts and a lower emphasis on the more fun posts.  Include this in a greater scoring model that includes web forms, e-mail clicks, webpage visits, etc and you can start to tie back ROI to your social media efforts.

You’ll look like a rock star within your organization, too.

3 – Re-target on Facebook
Giving some much needed love to MailChimp.  Until recently, it was mostly known as an e-mail tool.  They’ve really upped their game by adding on some automation elements and the ability to re-target on Facebook.

When a person fills out a form on your website, they enter into a list in MailChimp, where you can track their activity and send e-mails.  Now, it will also put advertisements up on Facebook when that person logs on to the account, yet another way to touch them.

Hubspot and Marketo have similar features.  In both cases, you’ll still need to create the advertisements in Facebook.

4 – Include links on emails
Every platform has the ability to add social media icons to the bottom of your e-mail templates.  While this is very common on web pages, you’d be amazed at how many companies still don’t include them on e-mails.

It’s an easy way to get your existing contact database to also follow you on social media.  Also, you don’t have to pay anything for the likes and follows.

5 – Automate replies on social media
Salesforce Marketing Cloud reigns supreme in this last category.  Their social studio features allow you to monitor posts across all of your platforms.  In addition, you can do what’s known as social listening and search for key words or competitors that you want to track.

In both cases, you can create what is known as a macro that will automatically respond to posts.  Use it to handle critical PR issues immediately, thank people for their interest and attract people away from your competitors when they drop the ball.

Learn more about that here: https://www.salesforce.com/products/marketing-cloud/social-media-marketing/

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What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing Automation isn’t so much a tool as it is a set of different technologies and processes.

It started when companies were onboarding commercial processes through a CRM system. As a result, among the streamlined processes was filling sales people’s pipelines with leads. Before this, the number one request of Marketing Departments was “Give me leads! Any of them!” They were hungry. Now they are to a point where they are actually overwhelmed. They are now saying “Enough!” Only give me the best leads that are ready to buy”. The tension between Sales and Marketing lives on.

So what is Marketing Automation exactly? Many people think it’s a platform that sends emails out and tracks their open/click rates. Not quite.

It’s a collection of technologies that allows companies to streamline, automate and measure marketing tasks and workflows. Doing so increases operational efficiency and helps firms grow revenue faster. There are three components:

  1. A Central Marketing Database: A place for all of your marketing data (think of it as the brain). A place where you can score and rank the relevancies of each lead and put them into groups. A place where you can gather insights into the conversations that took place with them.
  2. An Engagement Engine: A canvas where you can interact with the database (think of it as the legs). A place to send information and relevant content to your contacts.
  3. An Advanced Internal Team: Not so much technology as it is automation of internal marketing processes and fuller understanding of what a platform can do (think of it as the heart). This increase’s marketer’s ability to deliver relevant content to relevant individuals and arrange their sales team’s leads based on priorities. It’s also the human element.

To get started, look at the following platforms such as, Eloqua, ExactTarget, Pardot, Marketo, Hubspot and others.

MAKE YOUR SALES TEAMS CHAMPIONS OF THE OPPORTUNITIES YOU GIVE THEM. (Cham-pi-on/CHampeen/verb 1. Support the cause of; fight for, defend)

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Did you just start a new business? 5 things to consider when you become an entrepreneur.

I’ve recently re-ignited my business entity… and I enjoy keeping the world updated on my thoughts and progress throughout.

This is my third stint, backed up by over 10 years of experience from the corporate world. The first time, frankly, I had no idea what I was doing. I did simple things like setup a bank account, create a website, create the service offering, do some basic marketing…but it was all disconnected and it was more of a hobby than anything else.

The second time I had seen up close and personal how other companies established new services or took themselves from small to medium sized. I built on all of those experiences and ended up securing over five clients.

This time, the focus is on scaling and turning it into a true business, rather than just me as an Independent Consultant. Here are things I’ve learned so far:

1 – Keep a strict routine
My second stint started in January of 2017. I found I loved my new found time to myself and how enjoyable it was to sip coffee on my couch through the morning while writing blogs and sending e-mails. One morning I woke up, though, realizing I was well rested and somewhat bored … and I started driving myself crazy without having my daily agenda’s defined. The past ten years I always had a time I needed to be at work, a To Do List to move me through the day and various activities that let me burn off energy. That was all gone and I found myself getting anxious sitting in my condo all day.

The solution was to develop a strict routine and follow it no matter what. These days, I wake up, eat breakfast (and I’m only allowed one cup of coffee) and shower before 8 am.  I am not allowed to be at home between the hours of 10 am – 4 pm and have to achieve at least 10,000 steps someway, somehow… Finally, I need to attend a non related work event or do something social at least three times per week.

I find it works, too. Once the engine is started, it’s easy to keep it running and somewhat enjoyable to shut it back down at the end of a long day.  Shutting it off and on, though at random isn’t… and is exhausting.

2 – Friends and family are everything
Being an entrepreneur can be lonely in the beginning. Luckily, that problem goes away once you sign enough clients to keep you busy.

Especially in the beginning, I found it’s imperative to keep a good support team. One thing I find fascinating about the corporate world is that it took up all my time. I worked around the clock and any free time I had was spent collecting myself so I could do it all over again. That goes away once you’re on your own.

At the same time, I’ve been catching up with friends from middle/high school, college and from when I first moved to Milwaukee. It’s always great to see them and I always leave with an extra boost in my step … It makes you remember your roots and who you really are. My best friend is getting married this year and I’m the best man. I find myself feeling fortunate I have time to actually be around and celebrate our friendship before he ties the knot…rather than just working all the time and making what otherwise would have been just a guest appearance at his wedding…

3 – Sales cures all
Being an entrepreneur can also bring uncertain times..at times. Cutting off your income and then spending your own money to generate business is very uncomfortable. It makes you question your confidence, general ability and sanity.

I find it funny, though. Last Friday (4/20) I sold a deal with a Law firm…and everything was immediately fine. No worries about anything whatsoever…all was right in the world…and then I took a nap.

4 – Get monkeys off your back
Truth be told, I never fully understood the phrase until now. Like anyone, there are tons of things that bother me and I find that my brain is at times wired to spend all of its time analyzing what it doesn’t like. This worked great in the corporate world, because companies had problems they were relying on me to solve and I was eager to dig in.

When you’re trying to build a business, though..it’s counter productive to spend time being mad about things that happened in the past. I find it’s more important than ever to get mad about it, get over it, try to solve it if possible and then move on.

Every week I write down something that bothers me and I keep it front and center where I can see it in my home. I refuse to be afraid of it or let it stop me from getting on with life. I do allow myself to try out various solutions and then I tell myself, “Okay so we know this bothers you…now what? What’s next?” and then I carry on.

I’d say I’m 50/50 right now. Some things I can solve, others I just have to fall on my sword or accept that I can’t change the situation, just learn from it. My dad told me something interesting the other week. Bringing up the failure or trying to solve something that isn’t solvable can also prevent the wound from healing on the other side, too. Sometimes you’ve got to just let it go or at least give it some time…

It’s not always easy, but it’s usually not that hard either… and I feel this is something I can become really good at.

5 – Appreciate what you’re doing
There are going to be so many errors and bumps when you first start out. Like anything in life, though, it’s all about the journey and racking up more wins than losses. If you’re lucky, even the initial losses will be viewed as wins in the long run and it’s the sort of thing you’ll be longing for after you’ve mastered the art of it.

Being an entrepreneur tests my will, my determination and my spirit. I worry constantly about those things..and then tell myself if I wasn’t worried, there would probably be a bigger problem :-).

It also allows you time to pursue other interests. For me, I had no idea that I enjoyed writing so much (hence blogs like this one). It’s something I want to continue to do more of.


James Pellizzi helps companies align the right people, processes and technology needed to enhance their marketing efforts. He loves meeting new people, networking and talking about new ideas. Please e-mail him at James.Pellizzi@strategicdigitalmkting.com or fill out this form if that also sounds like you.