Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Is there a single, 'right' way to sell?

Sales Tip
There is no plan, program or technique that's guaranteed to boost sales. A salesperson succeeds with one approach because it’s based on his or her talents and skills. It may fail miserably for another person.

You can gain insights from studying other salespeople’s success. The key is to understand that you must take what you learn and make it work for you, based on your own strengths. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Twelve Strategies For Creating Better Display Ads

In order for a display campaign to be successful, it must have great creative. In fact, Creative can be the most influential element of a successful or failed display campaign. And because creative is so important, here are twelve strategies for creating better display ads.


While design and layout are important, the message of your creative trumps design every time. Customers need to know what makes you special. Why should they care? What's in it for them? So always emphasize the benefits with a powerful message.



When you hear "keywords", you probably immediately think of search engine marketing or keyword retargeting tactics. But don't forget how powerful keywords can be in a display ad. Potential customers will only look at the ad for a few seconds at most. Keywords of the products and services that interest them can grab (and keep) their attention.



Because we have their attention for such a short amount of time, it's essential that we don't try to tell them your advertiser's whole value proposition in the ad. You've heard the phrase "thirty-second elevator pitch." This is more like a three-second elevator pitch (if that!), so keep it short and sweet and to the point.


Call now, click here, book now, buy today... tell the customer what you want them to do. You may be surprised how often they do it. Use action words that are short and descriptive.  Placing the call to action in a button makes it more understood as actionable and it is less likely to be overlooked.


If we're honest with ourselves and our advertisers, we've had the conversation about CTR and we all understand that most display ads do not get clicked on. Okay, so then let's play to the strength of display: BRANDING. Be sure customers see your advertiser's brand name or logo. That way, when they have a need for their products/services, they'll think of them and search for them by name.


Hopefully, your advertiser's display ads are a part of a larger marketing program that includes newspaper, radio, television, and/or direct mail. Encourage them to use the same messaging and themes throughout so that the impact of the display campaign is enhanced by the other things they are doing and vice versa.



Use words like "special offer" and "exclusive" to grab the customers' attention and draw them in. They also like to compare prices and rates, so when possible, prominently display those as part of the ad.

* Claims to offers, products and/or services as "free" should be made with caution. The FTC has guidelines regarding the word "free" and similar representations.


Over time, your advertiser's campaign may get stale. Users may overlook an ad they've seen several times. Freshen it up with new images, messaging or even colors, while sticking to the brand's identity. Don't be afraid to try new approaches.


Be sure that there is consistency between the ad and the page users come to when they click on it. First of all, it should look and feel similar. Colors, images and overall design should match. Secondly, if there is a special offer or a specific product featured in the ad, that offer or product should be easy to find on the landing page. 



Grab the customer's attention with engaging and interesting images and graphics. 
  • Have a focal point. This can be an image, a logo, or the offer or call to action.
  • Color is powerful. Use it to grab attention and encourage action.
  • Fonts should be limited to three or less. Avoid script and small fonts.
  • Use white space between design elements.
  • Do not sacrifice clarity of images for smaller file sizes.

Don't use animation just to use it. Make it strategic. Use it to tell a quick story or to highlight the benefits of your offering. Don't wait until the last frame to tell your primary message or place your call to action. Viewers may miss it. 


While the classic "square box", "skyscraper" and "leaderboard" are a good starting point, always include mobile (including apps) and Facebook ad creative for more opportunities to reach customers no matter how they access the web. 


Never "shrink" traditional ads to mobile sizes. Instead, simplify the ad creative to highlight fewer elements on a smaller canvas. Often one image (logo or product) and a benefit and/or brief call to action is all that should be used in smaller, mobile ad sizes. 


Monday, March 9, 2015

1 Million B2B Sales Jobs Will Vanish by 2020


So what role does the salesperson play in the new B2B buying journey?The trend can't be ignored any longer: Buyers are more informed and self-sufficient than ever before. They can do all the research they want about a particular product or service on the company website, and even buy online if the option is available.
This question was the topic of Andy Hoar's presentation at the 2015 Forrester Sales Enablement Forum. And the principal analyst didn't shy away from dropping the bomb that his research indicates is on the horizon. 
Of the 4.5 million B2B salespeople in existence today, "we believe one million jobs will be net displaced by 2020," Hoar said.  
However, not all types of B2B salespeople will be impacted equally. Hoar identified four main seller archetypes, listed in order of representation in the overall population:
  1. Order takers: Salespeople who work with a non-complex buyer dynamic and non-complex product or service.
  2. Navigators: Salespeople who work with a complex buyer dynamic and non-complex product or service.
  3. Explainers: Salespeople who work with a non-complex buyer dynamic and complex product or service.
  4. Consultants: Salespeople who work with a complex buyer dynamic and complex product or service.
Of these personas, order takers are projected to take the biggest hit in jobs lost, according to Hoar. 
"Order takers are in the cross hairs, because if [a buyer] knows what they want and they're ready to buy it, just give it to them," he said. "Enable them to buy it -- don't create friction." These salespeople stand to be displaced by self-service portals.
Explainers are the second most at-risk group, thanks to sophisticated company websites. "If you look at really compelling websites, they provide things like how-to videos, detailed facts, and user-generated content," Hoar said. "So as technology gets better at explaining things, we don't need humans to explain any more."
Navigators will take a small hit due to the rise of tools and integrations that streamline procurement. While 91% of B2B buyers in a Forrester survey said they would like to interact with a salesperson on price negotiations, Hoar said he sees "a clear trend toward software and algorithms doing more of that." 
But there was one bright spot -- the consultant category is expected to grow instead of shrink, according to Hoar. 
"Consultants are a qualitatively different bunch of people," Hoar said. "They can explain abstract concepts; they can solution sell; they can build relationships. They're true consultants."
So while this research doesn't spell the demise of all salespeople, it certainly puts a date on the death of the traditional salesman. What should companies do to mitigate the impact on their sales teams?
Hoar offered a few suggestions. First, he recommended scaling back on field sales in favor of inside and online models, especially in the "order taker" category. 
In addition to changing sales models, he also suggested reexamining business models. "The reality is a lot of B2B companies we talk to are getting out of the product business entirely -- they're now doing services," he said. Lastly, he advised that organizations embrace technology and adopt new tools to radically alter their sales operations. 

As for individual reps? "Not everybody's going to make it," Hoar acknowledged. While much of the burden of reskilling salespeople falls on companies in the form of reimagining sales and marketing processes, salespeople would be smart to start tweaking their personal techniques today. Your job might depend on it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sales Tip: Disagreeing and diffusing

You can get away with disagreeing with prospects as long as you show them the respect of really listening to what they have to say. Take into account when and if it makes sense to disagree.

You can diffuse an angry prospect by starting your answer to a question with the phrase, "You're making a legitimate point," or "I hear what you're saying," and really mean it.

Never underestimate how much prospects want to feel that they have been heard, and once you have given them that chance they will hear you. 

Marketers: How to Bridge the Generational Screen Gap

Strategies for Brands to Reach Users on Different Screens Based on Intent

Digital ad buys today are governed largely by the efficiencies in audience targeting that ad tech affords. But the screens that such buys are delivered on are to some extent an afterthought, primarily viewed as a channel to reach the generation being targeted -- millennials on smartphones, Gen Xers on laptops and baby boomers on PCs.
While content and messages are optimized for the size and function of each screen, these buys don't truly take into account how different generations choose screens based upon purpose. Marketers assume, for example, that all mobile devices are used in the same way and for the same purpose, regardless of the generation that is using them.
But new evidence is suggesting that there is significant variance in generational preferences for screen usage, ranging from content consumption to shopping, and marketers would be wise to take these variances into consideration if they hope to fully optimize their buys and maximize marketing investment.
recent study by Millward Brown Digital found that while younger audiences are more smartphone-centric, consuming less TV than older generations, the majority of consumers across all generations still rely on laptops or PCs. The study also found that for low-attention tasks, audiences prefer smartphones, but that as the amount of time spent on a task increases -- usually after a five-minute threshold -- so does laptop and PC usage for all groups. Screen size and speed were the biggest determinants of screen preference across generations.
So how should marketers approach taking differences in screen preference and usage into consideration when preparing their digital campaigns? Here are some tips:
1. Understand the audience your marketing is reaching by more than just demographics.
When evaluating digital ad performance, consider the differential impact of your creative and messaging by device. An ad will display differently across devices. For ads in which the visual attributes are more important (think retail, consumables or auto), advertising targeted to tablets can be very effective in boosting awareness and brand favorability, because the overall quality and display of the product being advertised is bigger and clearer. That same ad on a smartphone will have to be cut down and resized, and its impact will be different.
What is so exciting about this is that with the promise of programmatic, marketers can use these types of findings to sequence ads across devices to achieve a brand's objective (for example, building awareness and favorability of the product on a tablet, then following up with laptop/desktop ads that allow a consumer to compare features, and then closing with mobile ads designed to drive in-store behavior). These sequences can be built out by brand objective and target audience to tell a sequenced story and move consumers down the digital purchase funnel.
2. Optimize messaging across screens based on audience and generational screen preferences.
If a campaign's goal is to drive consumer behaviors like purchase and research, ensure that the marketing investment and delivery match the screen preference. For example, in categories such as financial services that require in-depth understanding of product features and comparison of multiple offers, digital marketing focused on product benefits and features is better targeted to more desktop and laptop screens, where users can pay attention to and act on the content in the ad. This is particularly true for boomers, who are more likely to do research on financial service products on a laptop than on a smartphone (31% of boomers have done research for financial service products on a laptop compared with 7% who've done that research on a smartphone and 5% on a tablet).
Alternatively, a hyper-local ad that requires a lower level of attention and research, such as an ad for clothes or apparel, may be better served on a smartphone where younger audiences like millennials are almost as likely to shop for clothes and apparel on a smartphone (35%) as on a laptop (37%).
3. Invest in the next and the now. While audiences are shifting to mobile, in the short term they are still reliant on laptops and PCs for purchase and acquisition activities. Commit to obtaining holistic insights that not only explore the individual components of your marketing's performance -- such as audience, brand lift and consumer behavior insights -- but tell the complete story across delivery and impact.
4. Consider how screen preference influences the consumer journey.
Consumers still rely heavily on laptops and PCs for shopping across categories. Millennials are the first generation to push the envelope on mobile shopping, but they still reach for their laptops for some categories, depending on the amount of time needed and the importance of the task. For example, millennials' use of smartphones and PCs for consumer packaged goods purchases is almost identical (39% of millennials have used laptops or PCs for CPG purchase and research, and 37% have used smartphones). However, for a higher-investment product, like consumer electronics, 36% have used their laptops v. 27% who have used smartphones. This has implications for all marketers -- before you put all your eggs in the mobile basket, consider how your consumers engage with your category and optimize accordingly.
Each generation uses digital differently to consume content and shop for products and services. Shifts in generational screen preference give us insight into both the present and the future -- while audiences are shifting to mobile, for now they still rely on laptops and PCs for many content and purchase activities.
By Published on .

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Why You Should Never Automate Your Twitter Marketing Campaigns

Automation isn’t necessarily a four letter word, but when it come to social media, it’s close.
Using automation can certainly make your Twitter life easier, and there are situations where it is highly effective. However, automating an entire marketing campaign? It’s probably not a great idea.
If you’re already sending out robotic, automated interactions on Twitter, you’re probably too far gone for any help. But if you’ve flirted with the idea of automating a campaign – not interactions – maybe this will deter you: Coca Cola was recently “tricked” into tweeting quotes from Mein Kampf, all because they automated their marketing efforts.
The campaign itself was quite cute: The goal was to make Twitter a happier place by asking people to reply to negative tweet with the hashtag #MakeItHappy, and Coca Cola would respond by turning the negative tweet into a happy little ASCII picture. Pretty harmless stuff, right?
Well, Gawker’s editorial labs director, Adam Pash ended up creating a bot that tweeted quotes from Mein Kampf, then retweeted them with the hashtag #MakeItHappy. For several hours last week, the @CocaCola account (which has 2.85 million followers) tweeted several passages from Mein Kampf in the shape of cutesy bananas and mice, before the automation was shut down and the campaign pulled.
So what went wrong here?
The campaign started off simple enough, but the lack of human oversight made it easy to exploit by the folks at Gawker. Because it was automated, there was no one behind the wheel to steer away from the cliff the second they saw the suspicious tweets appear in the queue.
Automating a campaign leaves you open to vulnerabilities like this. For Coca Cola, this will likely be a bit of an embarrassment before another major campaign takes its place. But for a local mom and pop? A similar gaffe could seriously hurt their public perception and their bottom line.
Of course, businesses should never automate interactions on Twitter. That’s a big no-no, since interaction implies that you’re actually “there” sending the tweet. If found out (and it’s pretty easy to tell when a bot is doing the talking most of the time), customers will probably write off that account as fake, untrustworthy, and dishonest.
Coca Cola’s campaign was not necessarily sending out personalized interactions, but the entire campaign was left up to automation – a big no-no.
There are times when automation on social media can be helpful. Scheduling pre-written tweets (as long as they are evergreen in nature and useful to your audience), can save time. And programs that build automated lists based on who you interact with most, or which suggest who to interact with based on influence, can nurture relationships.
However, automating an entire marketing campaign can result in embarrassment, ridicule and lost business. So learn from Coca Cola and stay attentive during your next Twitter marketing campaign.
Lauren Dugan, SocialTimes, Feb 7th, 2015

Monday, January 19, 2015

4 Key Trends For Healthcare Marketers In 2015

A report by PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI) is projecting a 6.8% increase in medical cost growth in 2015. The report notes that this increase is due in part to consumers who postponed non-essential medical procedures or treatment during the recession. Although the growth year over year is just .03% (HRI estimated growth of 6.5% for 2014), it raised eyebrows because growth had slowed significantly since the recession that began in 2008.
Smart healthcare marketers will take note of how the recession has altered consumer preferences and buying decisions, including medical care. Curated content leveraged via owned media should play a big part in overall strategic plans moving forward, given that these media allow healthcare marketers to start conversations and control the messaging on a micro level. Marketers will also look to integrate content marketing efforts with CRM platforms, as well as paid and earned media efforts.
Act II in Affordable Care. In 2015, a new provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will tie physician payments to the quality of care they provide, which will put a large emphasis on value over volume. Physicians will see their payments modified so that those who provide higher value care will receive higher payments than those who provide lower-quality care. For the past several years, marketers for healthcare plans and providers have tailored messaging to individual consumers and increased content marketing, allowing them to communicate outcomes and performance.
According to a December 2014 survey by, marketing companies have earmarked nearly a quarter of 2015 marketing budgets to content development and management. Marketing companies are also considering lifetime customer value (LTV) as a measurable metric, along with traditional ROI, which indicates that marketers are looking to build relationships with consumers via content platform experiences and owned channels.
Throw Out ‘One Size Fits All’ Marketing Strategies. With new provisions of the ACA coming into effect, marketers need to also bear in mind regional differences of state health insurance marketplace types being offered as part of the ACA. Marketers that are already adjusting and customizing their messaging to targeted groups are one step ahead of the rest of the pack.
To give you an idea of the breadth of marketplace types, there are 27 states offering federally facilitated marketplaces, 14 states offering state-based marketplaces, seven states offering state partnership marketplaces and three states offering federally supported marketplaces. Creating engaging, relevant content targeted demographically and geographically will become more and more important as consumers survey the new healthcare landscape and the many available options. Marketers will also need to help plans and providers build and sustain long-term relationships with smaller, targeted audiences, rather than creating ephemeral interactions. 
A Retail Mindset for Consumer Healthcare. In 2015 we will no doubt see the increased “retailization” of healthcare. In fact, this trend has already begun to develop. In October, Walmart launched Healthcare Begins Here, an in-store program designed to educate customers on health insurance options, in partnership with, an online health insurance comparison site and independent licensed health insurance agency.
The world’s largest discount retailer has also hinted that it will create a model that offers primary care via retail clinics and specialty care through the Centers of Excellence program, which Walmart offers to its employees. Walmart boasts both wide access — there is a Walmart store located within five miles of 95% of the population — and big data in the form of transactional customer data. Expect Walmart to help usher in the retailization of healthcare on a large scale. Healthcare marketers that embrace this new retail-focused mindset will be well positioned to guide clients’ strategic direction.
by , Media Post January 6, 2015