Why your marketing might not be working

According to a study by Microsoft, the average human being now has an attention span of eight seconds. If your attention span is longer than 8 seconds, I would encourage you to continuing reading or you could schedule a 30-minute meeting with me directly. In our 30 minute meeting, we could talk about your marketing strategy and ideas to tackle your challenges.

Over the last several months, I have been conducting research with marketing leaders about what is working and not working in their daily marketing practice. I have heard some interesting, yet not surprising topics, and I will outline them below.

In this article, I will layout the items I am hearing that is working and not working for B2B marketing teams. This list is not exclusive and does not apply to B2C marketing professionals. It is based on conversations I have personally had with Chief Marketing Officers, Marketing Director and Marketing Managers of companies ranging from $5M to $500M in revenues.

Summary of article: (for those that a short attention span)

A.      What’s not working – Email marketing is dying and no longer effective for targeting prospects. Facebook marketing for the B2B buyer isn’t ideal but could be useful if you provide educational content in live streaming or on demand video formats on weekends. Static content such as whitepapers isn’t going to work when the average attention span of a human is eight seconds.

B.      What is working – If you want to attract prospects to your brand, you need to provide them with educational content and information. People need your help to make more money, save money or to solve a specific problem. Video and audio (podcast) content are the easiest forms of marketing to put your message in front of prospects. Your content needs to be on-demand, and available on their time. Don’t force people to watch your webinar or listen to your podcast live, they have jobs too.

What’s not working:

 

1.       Email Marketing – Email marketing isn’t quite yet dead, but it certainly is not the tool of choice for attracting buyers to your product or service. Almost all of the marketing professionals I have spoken to have said email marketing just isn’t working anymore. One CMO said, “I don’t think we have been able to attribute one purchase to email marketing in the last five years.”

I am not suggesting email marketing doesn’t have its place, I still believe in marketing automation technology using email, but it cannot and should not be the focal point of any marketing initiative. The reality is that most people get hundreds of emails from internal stakeholders and they don’t have the time to read your sales and marketing emails.

Best ways to use Email Marketing: Email Marketing should be used to compliment your digital advertising campaigns, to remind people of webinars, to send links for downloads they sign-up for on your landing pages, to send thank you emails after attending a training or webinar, on-boarding, customer success, just to name a few.

2.       Facebook Advertising – Oh, I can already hear all of those Facebook advertising gurus telling me I am spot on wrong. Facebook advertising has its place, but it is not the best place to put your chips when trying to market to B2B buyers. It is perfect for B2C marketing with its granular targeting capabilities, but most B2B buyers are not spending their time looking for opportunities to buy a B2B product or service.

With that said, Facebook is an excellent place to provide educational content in the form of video to your target audience. The B2B audience is typically on Facebook to waste time or to check-in to see what their friends or family are doing. According to Hubspot, the best time to engage with prospects on Facebook is on Saturdays and Sundays. This isn’t surprising, most people work all week, and they get on Facebook and see what their friends and family members are up to and surf the web on weekends.  

Best ways to use Facebook for B2B: The best way to use Facebook for B2B marketing is for educational purposes. What if you pre-recorded during the week, educational content for your target audience, and then stream the content via Facebook live using Zoom’s feature on Saturdays and Sundays. You could provide free short-learning seminars on the weekends at 9 am, 1 pm or 3 pm, that provides value to your audience. These educational seminars must be short, no more than 15 to 20 minutes in length and cannot be to salesy. What another could use for Facebook is using video ads that provide a quick tip or trick in less than 1 minute that you could then drive your audience to a landing page with more educational content (videos).

3.       Static Content – The days of long-form whitepapers, e-books, and other static written content are over. With an attention span of 8 seconds, people are not going to read through your content. When they do read it, if your content is too complex, they won’t continue to read it. You need to focus on short video content, and if you have written content, you need summary bullet points they can get the quick facts without reading or a summary video. You need to focus on the page speed of your website because if they have to wait for your page to load, they will leave.

How to use static content: Static content is great for new customers or existing clients. Most organizations fail to remember that your new and existing clients are a great source of referrals and references. If you can use static content (checklist, best practices, use-cases, etc.) to help your new customers through onboarding and keeping existing clients happy, then they will bring you more business. Video and audio is still the easiest method of consuming content, so keep your static content simple and to the point.

What is working:

 

1.       Video content – There are so many ways to use video to deliver meaningful and helpful content to both prospects and existing clients. I hear people saying all the time, “but I don’t have time to create content.” Entrepreneur and founder of Wake of Warrior, Garrett White has nailed the use of video content in their marketing. They are B2C focused, but a great example of the various ways they use video to get in front of their audience.  They use short movies, informative movies on landing pages, Instagram videos, Facebook videos, they put the video on landing pages, on their website, in their emails. Everything they do uses some form of video.

B2B marketing is no different; you could use educational video content whether its 5 minutes or 50 minutes to teach your audience, to help them solve problems. You can use video content to introduce new concepts to help your audience understand your value proposition without the hard sale.

How to effectively use video: There are so many ways to use video in your marketing, here is a list of ways you could use video. Home pages, team pages, about page, testimonials, product and services pages, FAQs, Knowledge Base, Video Blogs, Social Media, Company Newsletters, Help and Support (how to videos), Webinars, Tutorials, E-Learning, Visual landing Pages for Campaigns, Corporate Presentations, Company Culture Videos, Email Drip Campaigns, Upsell Videos, Cross Sell Videos, Thank You Pages, Product Demos, Behind the Scenes (for companies manufacturing), customer testimonials, customer interviews, executive interviews, employee interviews, Calls-to-Action, Events, Event Recap, Event Takeaway, Live Streams, User Generated Content, Unboxing (when client open your product or finish implementing your software or service), Video Signatures, Training and On-boarding, Customer Support (live), Annual Reports, Product Launches, Complimentary to Written Content, Influencers, Industry Analyst Interviews, Short Movies about the customer problem and your solution, Sales Support, Contract Review, Video Manuals, Production Videos, Aerial Drone Footage, Waiting Room.

2.       Audio Content  -  According to Jay Baer, 48 million people listen to weekly Podcast, and up six million from 2017. By way of comparison, approximately 20 million people watch NFL Sunday Night Football, routinely the highest-rated television program. Just like all other types of content, your content needs to be educational and informative. I have found that the Podcast that is 15 to 20 minutes are perfect, anything more than that is just a bit too long for me. According to Podcast Insights, 49% of Podcast are listened to at home, and 33% of the time people are either driving, walking or riding public transportation. Only 11% of people listen to Podcast at work.

Podcast listeners are much more active on every social media channel (94% are active on at least one – vs. 81% for the entire population). So linking your Podcast within your social post, and vice versa will help you build your audience on both channels. Many people are recording their podcast on both video and audio and then using both forms of media to drive audience engagement. You can take your podcast content and transcribe the content into a blog post (to increase SEO traffic)

How to use audio in your marketing -  Just like the video, there are plenty of ways to integrate audio into your marketing. You could include audio clips into your emails, on your landing pages, download audio book versions of your whitepapers, ebooks, and other written content. Podcast content could be used in social media with slide decks with key takeaways. Slideshare with complimentary audio on landing pages. Facebook audio to introduce products or services. Audiograms via text message (when user subscribe to text only), product release notes could be in both written and audio format.

To learn more or to talk about potential strategies for your business book time on my calendar below.



Simple Content Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs

Simple Content Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs

Content marketing strategies for entrepreneurs range from creating content for your website to the content on your social media platforms. But, the time to stay current with content creation and running the business overwhelms parts of the company that can least afford it. That said, content marketing is too important by itself, so it needs to receive the attention it deserves.

Why Great Brand and Product Messaging Matters

Why Great Brand and Product Messaging Matters

Offering an exceptional product or service is only half of the formula for a successful business. The other half of that formula is marketing. In order to make sure you have an effective marketing strategy, it is essential to make sure you have a clearly defined brand that people find exciting and engaging. It's also important to make sure your product messaging communicates the nature of your brand to your audience in a way that they can understand and engage.

The following is a brief look at what makes good branding and why it and product messaging matters so much:

Startup's are making this crucial mistake!

Startup's are making this crucial mistake!

Entrepreneur's everywhere are turning their ideas into tangible products and services. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 50% of small businesses fail in the first four years. The top reason why startups fail is that there is no market need for their product or service. Out of the top ten reasons startups are failing, according to this article, eight of those reasons fall under marketing. Let’s look at these reasons again, and I will expand a little further to my statement.

Why building better marketing messaging is crucial

As I was sitting on the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama over the weekend looking at several companies websites, I realized there are a few fundamental problems in today’s marketing organizations that are common across almost all companies.

Inconsistency - In a medium to large organizations, marketing content is created by marketing, sales engineering, product management and in some cases sales managers. Because there are no standard messaging frameworks and no centralized control of messaging, it leads to messaging is all over the place. If you conduct a simple inventory of your content, take a look at your white papers, presentations, email campaigns, and website. Is your value proposition the same across all of your pieces of content? Likely, they are not, why? Because different people on your team are creating them, including contractors and you most likely have no central messaging control.

Bloated Content - This is a common mistake with startup companies that are started by technical experts but can also be the case with existing firms. When you develop website copy, you need to use the best keywords, not every keyword that someone might search. I recently saw a website where each benefit of the product had over two-hundred word descriptions. This is what I call bloat. Your buyers won’t read two-hundred-word descriptions and most likely will leave your page before they even consider reading because you have way too many words on the page.

No Framework - I have worked with multiple companies with marketing teams of varying levels of experience. I can’t remember one marketing team that had a framework or process to develop marketing messaging. In most cases, the individual marketing professionals on the team brought tools and templates from training they received at one point in their career, or they created the templates on the spot. Why are marketing organizations not using a framework to develop messaging? Or are there none?

How can you solve these problems? It’s Simple….Simplify your messaging

Maybe simplifying your messaging is as simple as it sounds. I have found that most organizations know their messaging isn’t working or needs to be improved, but don’t know where to begin.

(Example) Remove the Bloat - In the below image 1.0, this snapshot came straight from ScheduleOnce’s solution page for Technology and Software companies. On this particular page, ScheduleOnce is attempting to demonstrate to their target audience (Technology and Software Companies) that by using ScheduleOnce you can boost lead conversion. The first issue I see on this page is that this particular benefit, “Boost Lead Conversion,” has 231 words in the description.

This is an excellent example of what I mean by “Bloat.” It is unnecessary to use 231 words in your description to try and get your point across. Don't require your audience to read hundreds of words to understand your value. In this example, ScheduleOnce has decent messaging, but just too much. Secondly, their call to action (For boosting their leads) gets lost at the bottom of this four-paragraph description.

 Image 1.0: ScheduleOnce Calendar Software

Image 1.0: ScheduleOnce Calendar Software

 

ScheduleOnce has good content, just too much. I took a quick stab at reducing the bloat, simplifying their messaging and adding their own CTA’s at the bottom of this section. Another change they could make it adding a free piece of content for people to sign-up for, such as a free guide on “How to eliminate no-shows and improve contact rates by 80%”. If they could producing a 5-10 page guide on how to use ScheduleOnce integrated into webforms, including a simple process of how to integrate into the most common webforms, they could generate more leads themselves.

Formula for converting leads on your website:

  1. Targeted to your dream client

  2. Simple and clear content (not paragraphs)

  3. Bait (reason for them to convert), such as a “How to Guide”

  4. Clear Call-to-Actions (Try Demo, Sign-Up, Contact Us, Download, etc.)

 Image 1.1: Simplified messaging and Call-to-Actions (CTA)

Image 1.1: Simplified messaging and Call-to-Actions (CTA)

 

How to improve inconsistencies in your messaging?

I find it a bit humorous that many moons ago when someone said “I work in marketing,” they immediately knew you were a salesperson, yet today marketing is not sales and sales is not marketing.

Sales and marketing teams have an interesting relationship. In today’s business environment, where every customer touch should be personalized, sales and marketing cannot exist without each other. The challenge that most organizations face is that everyone wants to create marketing messaging and content. In small organizations, founders and CEO’s although brilliant minds in their own space of building products and services, for the most part, have no clue how to create marketing messages.

The second problem we run into is when sales don’t feel like they have the content and collateral they think they need, they will create it themselves. This is where the inconsistency of sales and marketing messaging starts. In small organizations, there is no real structure to what should be developed (from a marketing perspective) when a product is launched. In most cases, sales are the last to know when a new release or product is released. Salespeople are paid to sell your product and services, and if they are not properly enabled, they will enable themselves.

There are several ways you can make sure your message is consistent:

  1. Utilize a messaging framework such as our Messaging Canvas to build your corporate, product and sales messages properly.

  2. You must implement centralize control of your messaging and track where the messages are used across your sales and marketing content.

  3. Involve your sales team in your message creation process using your framework. When you implement a framework to build messaging, it demonstrates to the entire organization that you have a process and methodology to construct clear and compelling messaging.

  4. Implement a content management system (CMS) to manage, distribute and control how your content is used throughout your brand.

Every time you launch a new release, product or service into the market, you should have a standard package of collateral and tools that you enable your sales organization. Your product marketing team should gather requirements from your sales team as to what is needed to close a deal. This requires your PMM’s to understand the entire buying cycle from lead to revenue and align every piece of content and collateral to the buying cycle. If there is a gap in having the proper tool or piece of collateral to keep the prospect moving along the buying cycle. The product marketing team should identify those gaps, better understand what is required and work with both sales and marketing to build the proper tool.

Why your marketing messaging sucks?

Your marketing messaging sucks because you act like its something that is a nice to have, that you create when you develop your companies website. You are not treating your marketing messaging, content collateral and sales enablement as a strategic initiative for your business. Marketing messaging should be core to business as much as the product or service itself. Without clear and compelling messaging you will either attract the wrong audience or no audience at all. Its time you implemented a framework, and evaluate your current marketing messages for consistency and clarity.

If you would like to learn more about our Messaging Canvas, Messaging Workshops or Product Marketing Services, contact us here.

Mistakes you are making in your marketing messaging

If you are a marketing professional with a technology firm and wonder why your product messaging is not connecting with your target audience, then I have a simple answer for you. You are focused on features and functions or you are focused on the external problem of the buyer persona.

Most marketing organizations selling products and services focus on features and functions, which no one is ever going to buy your features and functions.  The other mistake most organizations make with their product message is that they talk in very general, confusing terms. 

In my fifteen plus years working in product marketing, I made the same mistake as most technology-focused organizations are still making today. In a highly competitive landscape, organization's see their competitors talking about their product or service, and then they respond by saying we have that too. The problem with "comparative feature" messaging is that it doesn't differentiate your brand or product from your competitors. 

In this article, I will demonstrate how Samsung is using their message very differently than Whirlpool selling a similar, competitive product. I will describe how one company is using their message to tell a story, while the other is missing the mark. 

Kitchen Appliances that Inspire Beautiful Messages

Messaging should tell a story, one that includes a character (your buyer), not a story of how amazing you (the brand) are. One company that is telling a better narrative using storytelling is Samsung. Historically Samsung's marketing focused on features and functions, but recently they shifted their message to focus on the internal problem of the buyer. Samsung's website content for their kitchen appliances is perfect. The statement "A beautiful balance of performance and design, Chef Collection perfect blends advance, chef-inspired technology with contemporary, elegance, so you can enjoy living in your kitchen as much as you enjoy cooking." They could simplify their message a little bit, but the last statement about living in your kitchen goes right at the buyer's internal problem. When consumers buy appliances today, they buy them for their visual appeal and for beauty.  The Kitchen has almost become a status symbol and focal point of the modern kitchen. Appliances for the last fifty years were a tool to do a specific job, however today they are part of your living space. 

Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 12.44.50 PM.png
 

When you compare Samsung messaging to Whirlpool, it is easy to see the difference between the two companies. Just like Samsung, Whirlpool has a section on their homepage for their kitchen appliances, yet their message is very different. Samsung focuses on the entire kitchen, showing what their entire suite of products would look like in a beautiful kitchen. Whirlpool offers only pictures of individual products, and the messaging around each product focuses on features, such as their Frozen Bake™ technology. Whirlpool uses visual images to connect with their buyer, such as the children eating pizza and the soccer balls in the kitchen, which are great, but the messages miss the mark just a bit. They are trying to create the connection between the soccer balls to the "When game time cuts into mealtime" statement and the Frozen Bake™ technology.  Whirlpool could restructure their messaging to "No more half-frozen pizza for the kids on game night. Whirlpool Ovens are designed so you can skip preheating, get the kids fed and off to the game on time."

  • Breaking down the message: The Whirlpool characters are soccer moms that have the task of getting kids to soccer games and making sure they have time to feed the kids before they have to run out the door. The internal problem is that mom's hate serving half-frozen food to their kids when they are rushing against the clock. The external problem is that ovens take too long to heat up. Unless the reader puts all the pieces together, which takes brain power, Whirlpool could adjust their messages so that they relate and connect to their buyer persona. 
  • Keep the feature out of the message: Like most technology brands, Whirlpool includes their Frozen Bake™ technology feature into their messaging. This isn't necessary as the soccer mom doesn't care about your cool new feature. What they care about is that the Whirlpool oven can cook her kids pizza, fast and without it being half-frozen when she puts it on the table for her kids. 
Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 1.05.37 PM.png
 

Going back to the Samsung website, when you click on learn more, they continue their messaging using the same process. They stay away from talking about features and focus on how the appliances make the buyer feel or how it makes their home feel. They have a family spending time together in the kitchen, Dad and daughter are working together to make pasta, while mom watches with enjoyment while the youngest makes a mess. The messaging to the tight of the image says "Thoughtful design can absolutely affect the mood because it impacts the energy of the space." Samsung is describing how their products make you feel, and how having beautifully designed products impacts the energy, which in this space is positive energy. 

 

Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 1.25.56 PM.png
 

.Whirlpool on the other side, once you click on "Shop Cooking", it takes you to a product page with more of the same. They jump into "The Whirlpool® line of ranges has the combination of capacity and flexibility that you need on the cooktop, to handle whatever the day brings. Innovative features give you accurate cooking control, whether you're baking, broiling or simmering. And you can choose from many layouts, including single or double oven, freestanding or slide-in, in both gas and electric—so you can meet your family’s needs, whatever they may be."

They focus on capacity and flexibility, which buyers don't care about. I am personally building a house right now, and when I was deciding on appliances, I could care less about capacity and flexibility, or cooking control, or baking, broiling or simmering. Come on Whirlpool, you can do better than this. All ovens bake, broil and simmer. As a consumer, I care about how the appliance will look next to my granite countertops and cabinets, how sleek and modern will the appliances look like in my open concept kitchen that can be seen from the living room and dining room.

Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 1.34.48 PM.png
 

Call to Actions

Whirlpool provides ample call-to-actions (CTA) throughout their website and on every page to direct you to make a purchase of their product. Samsung, although their messaging is great at all levels, they provide a single "shop" button at the top right-hand side of every page. As you drill deeper into each product page, they start to talk about features, but they stay relatively high-level and tell the same story. But when you go to buy, it took me a minute to realize the only call-to-action is the "shop" button at the top. I am not sure if this is hurting Samsung or not, but having CTA's in other areas of the page would have prevented me from looking for a place to buy.  

Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 1.49.12 PM.png

 

Conclusion:

I provided the two examples above in an effort for you to see the differences between one company telling a story about their product (Samsung) and another company telling a product-centric story focused on features and functions of their product (Whirlpool). When messaging your product and services, you want to try your best to tell a story that will engage with your audience. Your audience doesn't really care about features and functions, they want to know that your product or service will make their lives easier or better. Whirlpool could change their message to make soccer moms connect quickly with the idea that if they bought a whirlpool oven, they no longer have to serve half-frozen pizza to their kids on those rushed game and practice days. 

Samsung's page is super simple, whereas Whirlpool's page is quite complex and feels like they want to pack as many features into one page. When I selected explore ranges, it took me to another page that just had too much on the page, tons of information about features and capabilities. What you can learn from this comparison, keep your messaging simple and focus on the internal need of the buyer. Samsung focused on how their appliances would look as part of their home, while Whirlpool focused selling features. Neither are perfect in their execution, but Samsung stands out in the comparison as having told a better story about their product.