Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Five Ways to Build Your Marketing Team's Confidence

Five Ways to Build Your Marketing Team's Confidence

Remember when you first learned to ride a bike? Perhaps you had someone who stood behind you, in case you fell—someone who gave you the confidence to try again until you could ride on your own.

To succeed, people need the confidence to take risks. But most people have an inherent fear of failure, and they need leaders to help them believe in themselves.

As a marketing leader, don't fall into the trap of overestimating your team members' confidence. Instead, assume there's lots of space to build more confidence in your team.

As a leader, building the confidence of your marketing tribe is among the most rewarding things you can do—both for yourself and for your company. Based on our experience over many years working with senior marketing teams, we'd like to suggest five confidence-building techniques you might apply.

1. Set a new rule: 'Ask for forgiveness, not permission'

You need your team to act and take risks without always asking you for permission first. Sometimes they'll fail in a task or do things you don't like; you need to accept that.

"Forgiveness, not permission" is a powerful rule, and it's essential for creativity and innovation. The alternative is a team that lacks initiative, a team that's only half engaged, and a team in which the best team members soon start looking for another job.

How can you put the "forgiveness, not permission" rule into practice? Tell your team you expect them to push ahead with projects and initiatives without always checking with you first although you'll always be there for advice if they need it. Make clear that although you love updates, you're OK if people make their own decisions and take measured risks to drive the work forward.

If someone makes a mistake or steps on your (or someone else's) toes, accept their apology and explanation, and, if at all possible, praise them for having taken initiative. Find out what they've learned from the experience and make sure that those lessons are shared with the team so that everyone can benefit from the experience.

One or two people may get too gung-ho, rushing ahead and taking unwarranted risks. You probably know who they are. Talk to them to make sure they don't do anything silly. But most of the team won't be like that: Most are more likely too cautious because of a fear of failure; they'll need your encouragement to be more "pacey" and entrepreneurial.

Whenever someone takes a risk and succeeds—especially one of the more cautious team members—celebrate publicly!

2. Give a word of confidence in every marketing meeting

How about starting meetings by telling your team how great they are and how you believe in their ability to deliver the company's mission? Or, when you close meetings, sharing your pride in the team members' abilities? Those are simple things to do, but they can be big confidence builders.

Try doing this for two weeks—and see what happens.

3. Make everybody's voice heard

There are many reasons marketing team members don't speak up even in a high-trust environment: Some may be introverts, some may be new, some junior, some not working in their first language.

You can't afford to miss the quieter team members' ideas. In marketing, you are in the ideas business; you need the best ideas—whoever they come from.

Try insisting that each person in the room give an opinion before you reach a decision. It's a great way to make speaking up routine, even for those who would otherwise hesitate.

4. Coach more, tell less

As a leader under relentless time pressure, you might be tempted to give people answers rather than asking for suggestions. That's especially true when you have more experience than most or all of the team. Even if you're right, that won't help your people grow, and it may demotivate them so much that they look for a job with a more encouraging boss.

To get started, try the 70/30/0 rule in meetings:

  • 70% coaching ("you"). Turn 70% of your interactions with your team into coaching interventions. Help them develop their ideas by asking questions and encouraging further thinking. Supportive, open-ended "you questions" will encourage them to expand their ideas. Examples: "Building on your idea, how would you...?"; "Tell me more about what you mean by that"; "How could you make that happen?"
  • 30% ideas ("I"). Only 30% of your interaction should be your own ideas and proposals, expressed (ideally) only after someone else has spoken.
  • 0% of your interaction cuts people off ("I"). Don't worry about not making your point; the group will be aware that you have something to add, and they will usually give you the floor next. If you find yourself cutting someone off... pause, apologize, and encourage the person to continue.

Switch from "I" to "you" more often. You'll be surprised at how many ideas exist in your team if you coach people—rather than tell them what they should be doing.

5. Be the chief mood officer

Conducting an orchestra is an emotional, as well as a technical and artistic, process. If the conductor is nervous, the orchestra will be, too. A confident conductor instead brings out the best from even the most difficult performers.

You're the conductor of your marketing team, and all eyes will be on you. Part of your role as marketing leader is to be the chief mood officer.

Before each team interaction, ask yourself, "How do I want the team to feel?" Almost certainly, you'll want them to feel confident, appreciated, and optimistic. Lead from the front with the same confidence and optimism, and give plenty of praise and encouragement.

Be generous whenever it's justified, and when things are difficult, help the team manage negative emotions.


If you need help with your email, web site, video, or other presentation to promote your company, product, or service, please give me a call at 440-519-1500 or e-mail me at

X2 Media can help you target your content and get your message to the audience in a way that it is not only seen and heard, but remembered.

Until next month….remember, “you don’t get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression”. Always make it a good one!

From X2Media I would like to thank you for your time.

John E. Hornyak

X2Media, LLC

The New 'SEO': Five Ingredients for a Profitable Search Experience Optimization Recipe

The New 'SEO': Five Ingredients for a Profitable Search Experience Optimization Recipe

Today's consumers are more sophisticated than ever. They expect interesting content, personalized marketing, and a seamless site experiences.

It doesn't matter how creative your style is or how clever your infographics are; if your pages take forever to load or your site looks obnoxious on smartphone screens, people will not engage.

Businesses and marketing firms have entered a cutthroat "Top Chef" SEO competition. Like restaurants and chefs striving to significantly improve their popularity, food quality, curb appeal, revenue, and overall customer experience, SEO chefs must also look toward optimizing the right ingredients so they can keep hungry customers coming back for more.

Google and other search engines know this, so they've updated their algorithms to account for all these user-experience elements when ranking the best of the best sites and content.
So, the world has entered the age of search experience optimization, and marketers the world over are on the hunt for the best recipes for cooking up profitable user experiences.

Catering to Unique Palates
The human element is the most important part of any marketing strategy. You're trying to get people to click, read, share, or buy, and the only way to accomplish that is to get inside their heads and uncover their unique tastes. Accordingly, all your content and user-experience (UX) designs should reflect the type of experience you want people to have every time they interact with your company.

Just as new types of restaurants pop up often, marketing trends change at breakneck speed. The only way to stay ahead of them is to focus on the customer experience.
Here's how you can cook up the winning recipe for optimizing search and user experiences.

1. Know who you're cooking for
Pay attention to your user data, and you'll know which direction to head in:
  • What do consumers want from you?
  • What search terms resonate with them and describe what they're looking for?
  • How are they interacting with videos, images, social, e-books, and other forms of content?
  • Which site features are most popular?
Use "voice of the customer" surveys to get at the heart of what your users need and want. There are various methods for collecting this data, including focus groups, email surveys, call centers, field and retail representatives, and Net Promoter scores.

Create questions that suit each platform and take you beyond "yes" and "no" answers: Extracting qualitative data from your targeted audience will tell you the "why" and help you design your site and marketing experiences around the ideal customer journey.

Start simply with website surveys. You will be pleasantly surprised with the amount of actionable insight you receive from your visitors. Employ pop-up surveys to find out what people want more of on your site. For instance, a simple dialogue box might ask, "What topics would like to see us write about next?" Then develop your blog posts, videos, and articles around what interests your users.

Exit survey strategies provide insights into what your UX lacks and allow visitors to share feedback before they leave your site. Often, people will appreciate the chance to tell you what the site is missing, and you can respond through improved designs and content.

Tools such as Qualaroo make it easy to build and launch surveys, so make sure surveys are part of your ongoing information-gathering strategies.

2. Feed them something delicious
Search engines reward companies that publish well-written, human-sounding content. Blog posts and articles should sound natural and conversational (not as though they were cranked out by a machine) to increase audience engagement. And make sure you're assessing how easy it is to comprehend your content.

The terms people search by differ depending on whether they are speaking or typing; for those conducting voice searches, include long-tail keywords to increase your rankings.
Put yourself in the minds of your users. What are their burning questions? What obstacles are they facing? What one piece of advice would change their lives? Check Quora, Reddit, and niche industry forums to figure out what people want to know. Then, craft posts around the popular topics dealing with your niche on those sites.

Structure your posts so they're easy to read. Incorporate HTML semantics to break articles up with H2 and H3 subheads, bold text (use this sparingly), and bulleted lists. Add plenty of rich media to enhance the writing. Photos, videos, infographics, tables, pull quotes, and additional trust factors will make your posts pop and add a level of credibility to the experience.

Don't be afraid to get emotional. Content that makes people feel something—whether that's surprise, awe, or anger—is more likely to go viral. But support those emotions with facts and actionable advice. People like articles that offer clear next steps.

Finally, brainstorm a catchy title. Use Buzzsumo to research other popular headlines related to your topic so you can get a sense of what works. Words like "lessons," "principles," "secrets," and "tricks" are great for piquing people's curiosity.

3. Make them come back for seconds
Reputation affects your ranking. Write articles that showcase your expertise, and track your analytics to see which articles resonate most. Then, create similar content for added exposure.

Go deep on the topics you're passionate about. The vast majority of organically top-ranking articles on Google are longer than 2,000 words. People crave genuine insights, so share that controversial opinion or unique take you've been ruminating on. Don't hold back. Having a distinct voice will raise your profile even further.

Condensing your audience's pain points into one comprehensive post will be appreciated, and it will keep them on your site longer. And longer content tends to be shared more often than brief tidbits of information.

It's a good idea to base your posts around the "EAT" concept: expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Show your expertise with high-level authors, prove your authority in the space with case studies or testimonials, and ensure your trustworthiness is apparent by citing research only from reputable sources.

Readers will seek out your content as you become a recognized authority. Reward them with current, accurate commentary on trending topics and breaking news. Link to related pieces below each article as well; they generate additional clicks, and they provide your audience with helpful supplemental information. The continued engagement will also boost your organic search rankings.

4. Use unique ingredients
There was a time when SEO engineers could develop pages around primary and secondary keyword phrases alone. Now you need to account for a wider range of terms that people might use to find your content or website.

Again, you have to get inside customers' minds. What phrases might they use if they wanted information on alternative lending, content marketing, weight loss, or whatever services you're offering? Once you've built out a comprehensive list, work those phrases and terms into your articles. Obviously, the writing shouldn't sound forced or stilted. But if you're selecting the right keywords, they should flow naturally within your posts.

Buzzsumo is also useful here. Run a search on your main keyword to get ideas for additional phrases. When you see which headlines and topics earned the most shares, you'll know which to use for maximum effect.

For example, when you type in a keyword on Google, you'll be offered a range of suggested searches that relate to your chosen keyword. You can also employ Google's instant suggest feature, which fills in various long-tail search phrases as you type in your own keyword. Latent semantic indexing keywords can also help identify similar phrases. Tools like Übersuggest, the Google keyword planner, Google Trends, or Moz's keyword tool can all help refine the keywords you should be using.

5. Clear the pests from the kitchen
As noted earlier, search experience optimization includes things like site speed, mobile responsiveness, and strong information architecture.

Users should see a logical navigational path between the homepage and subpages. That's because bad UX doesn't offend just audiences; it also makes it difficult for algorithms to categorize. Clear page structures make it easier for search engines to index different parts of your site.

Take stock of your current pages, and remove any duplicate or thin content. A short article that says little but is stuffed with keywords isn't doing you any favors. Edit old articles for spelling and punctuation errors as well. Misspellings look unprofessional to your audience, and they look like spam to Google's bots.

Be sure to correct crawl errors and streamline your specialty markup. Organized markup leads to better rankings. You should also be on HTTPS and eliminate any malware from your site. Clean HTML and CSS are also vital to strong search experience performance, as are updated problematic response codes. You'll also want to create XML and HTML site maps and submit them to search engines.

If you haven't already, also post your terms of service and privacy policy. Google uses those as trust indicators when analyzing websites. Having sound technical SEO will make it more likely that your content performs well across search engines.

Wrapping It Up to Go
Creating a dominant search experience optimization recipe requires something a little spicier than old-school SEO, and a little extra pot-stirring makes for better user interactions and positions your brand as competent and professional.

Consumers are savvy—and getting savvier. Their high user-experience standards are raising the bar—and inspiring marketing chefs to bring their best creations to the table.
Use these five ingredients in your own UX and SEO efforts, and you'll soon be creating experiences that users will remember and take with them—and they'll keep coming back for more.

How Account-Based Marketing and Selling via LinkedIn Can Drive Revenue

How Account-Based Marketing and Selling via LinkedIn Can Drive Revenue

Many social media and social selling experts say volume is the key to success on social media platforms, including LinkedIn.

In an article in Content Marketing Institute's magazine, Jonathan Crossfield compares that scattershot, shotgun method to a realtor's flyer-marketing efforts. He talks about how once a week his mailbox contains at least one real estate flyer that mentions a recently sold house in his area and asks whether he has considered selling his home. Now, Jonathan is renting, so I'm sure his landlord would have something to say about that.

As you can see, that's the wrong message sent to the wrong audience. And the same thing happens when you do not take a rifle approach to focus on targeted audiences on LinkedIn.
A shotgun approach may be better when you have a lower-cost product or solution and you need as many leads and subscribers as possible to get a return on your social media investment.

But when your offering supposes a hefty investment on the part of the buyer, and when you have a complex sales process, then you'd better be sure you're focusing on specific audiences and that you are being relevant. A targeted, account-based marketing approach is key in this case.

Account-based marketing approaches generate higher ROI:

  • Account-based marketing approaches had the highest ROI, according to 97% of marketers in an Alterra Group study.
  • ITSMA reports that 85% of marketers who measure ROI describe account-based marketing as delivering the highest returns of any other marketing approach.
  • A LinkedIn study found that social selling professionals who are taking an account-based marketing and selling approach gain 45% more opportunities.
So why aren't we taking an account-based marketing and selling approach on LinkedIn?
Here's how three organizations are taking an account-based approach on driving real revenues.

1. Managed service provider attracts a real estate management firm as a sales opportunity using an account-based marketing approach
Instead of having a resume-based LinkedIn profile that communicates no business value to prospects whatsoever, or instead of having a LinkedIn profile that's filled with commodity messaging aimed at general audiences, Single Point of Contact's VP of business development, Fernando Leon, focused his profile specifically on the accounts he wanted to target.

One of those accounts was a real estate management firm in the San Francisco Bay area that had ignored all other communications. So, on Fernando's profile he explained how he helped Shorenstein Realty, the largest, oldest, most- respected real estate management firm around, which was spending upwards of $750,000 on its IT infrastructure, cut its IT opex 43%. He discussed the challenges the real estate management firm was having, the mistakes they were making, and the steps Single Point of Contact took to cut expenses. And, most important, the profile explained why his approach worked.

The managed services provider then created case studies and articles that spoke specifically to IT leaders within real estate management firms, and he created relevant discussions inside the LinkedIn groups that the targeted audience was part of. Because of the relevant discussions aimed at attracting the particular real estate management firm, and because the VP's profile was case-study based, he was able to show his relevance.
The local SF Bay real estate management firm reached out to Fernando to connect, and asked specific questions based on the content found on Fernando's LinkedIn profile that dealt with Shorenstein Realty.

2. Positioning and messaging firm attracts new clients using an account-based marketing approach
Lawson Abinanti, president of Messages That Matter, a positioning and messaging firm that serves B2B software and technology companies, loves to create challenger content because he knows that challengers outperform other seller types.
Through his content, Lawson challenges common positioning practices, thoughts, and ideas. For example, he challenges...

  • IBM's positioning of its TM1 solution, showing that the positioning is ineffective (by targeting specific resellers of TM1 on LinkedIn and sharing his challenger content, Lawson was able to attract Cubewise, a TM1 reseller, as a client and generating $30,000+ in revenue)
  • Microsoft's and many others' use of the word "empower" in their positioning, even though it has no business value to prospects
  • The use of the biggest "me too" positioning buzzword: transform
  • Technology marketers' propensity to confuse the market with their multiple claims
Lawson has also created market assessments evaluating the positioning of market leaders in the customer relationship management (CRM), corporate/business process management (CPM/BPM), business intelligence (BI) industries, plus others. In these assessments, he pinpoints the positioning and messaging weaknesses, shows how organizations are engaging in me-too positioning, and demonstrates how the market leaders are failing to make the value connection.

On LinkedIn, Lawson targeted specific companies (especially those he mentioned in the assessment), providing prospects with challenger content that was specific to their issues. From there, he invited prospects to join his LinkedIn community where they can get a sneak preview of his approach to positioning.

But, it wasn't enough to just challenge prospects and show them a new approach. Lawson had to give prospects a reason to change. Using third-party content (a Forrester research report), he showed proof that tech companies are unable to make the value connection despite major branding overhauls. Then, using his own original content, he showed how the prospect's current approach created a disconnect.

From there, he educated marketers on how their positioning is affecting the marketing efforts that they put a higher priority on (Lawson found through his market research on LinkedIn that positioning is low on the priority totem pole). He educated marketers and sales enablement leaders on how their current positioning is driving the wrong sales conversations and how it was affecting sales because they were out of sync with buyers.

Then he coached marketers on a new approach through articles that provide a sneak peek inside his approach, a guide and articles published on MarketingProfs, webinars with influencers such as BoldPM, and a free e-book. Finally, using case studies, Lawson demonstrated that his approach works.

As you can see, Lawson targeted specific companies with specific issues, and showed marketing and sales leaders why they needed to change their positioning. As a result, Messages That Matter gained clients such as Membrain, Mariner Partners, Shift Energy, Idea5, Rocket Software, and SmartOrg. Lawson has also had sales conversations with other companies, such as Microsoft, Citrix, Symantec, Host Analytics, and others.

3. SaaS Company uses account-based marketing approach to attract new clients, including GoDaddy
A UK SaaS company, focused on IT operations and ITSM, implemented a prospecting strategy that targeted key decision makers and influencers it wanted to work with—to make the connection when they might be most amenable to taking action. It used trigger events, such as holiday season outages from retailers like Amazon and eBay, outages by Delta and Southwest, Brexit's impact on IT, and the alliance between CSC and ServiceNow, with 1,200+ clients.

The UK SaaS company has learned that trigger events help alter a prospect's priorities. By using them effectively, it was able to make connections with key IT decision-makers from large enterprises and get them curious about rising technologies and new approaches (even though they were comfortable with the status quo.)

As a result of that heightened interest, the tech company was able to convert at least 50% of its connections into members of its LinkedIn community where Sales and Marketing could continue to educate IT enterprises.

It also used a sales intelligence platform that provides data and insights into the companies that it should be connecting with. The platform told them what companies will be taking on a major IT project within the next 6-12 months and, more important, the specific type of project.

That information allowed the company to reach out to specific IT leaders who would be responsible for those specific projects—to show these prospects the company's relevance. The SaaS sales and marketing team targeted these IT leaders with content that is specific to the challenges and issues that the prospect will be facing when tackling the new IT project.

From there, the UK SaaS company provided case studies, webinars, and other content related to the prospect's specific IT project—and move them forward to a sales conversation and demo.
Notice the key word here—"specific":

  • Specific companies
  • Specific IT leaders
  • Specific projects
  • Specific needs
  • Specific issues and challenges
  • Specific content
By taking an account-based marketing approach, the UK SaaS company engaged in sales conversations with companies such as Sky Telecommunications, British Telecom, Citibank, IBM, Bank of Ireland, Expedia, and others. The sales and marketing teams were able to go from connection to revenue with the IT team at GoDaddy. They were able to attract an RFP from JC Penney, and they were able to create partnerships with IBM and ServiceNow.

Isn't it time for you to take a different approach on LinkedIn so you can go beyond reach and brand awareness—to demonstrate your relevance and provide specific value to targeted decision makers within targeted companies to drive demand and revenue?