fbpx
marketing problem, angry man problem, problem solving marketing,

Problem Solving for Marketing

Solving marketing problems is difficult.  I don’t like doing it – unless I know a solution or have a good, educated guess about what could work.

A client situation emerged which serves to illustrate the challenge.  We reached an impasse.  I had offered advice, our progress was smooth until we got to the point of marketing to new customers who don’t yet know the brand.  And one of the client team was deeply opposed to the tactic I proposed.  I’ll explain how we got through this later.

Solving marketing problems

One of my podcasts summarised three types of problem – messes, problems and puzzles.  These are ‘complex’ problems – ones with multiple factors affecting the situation.  Modern marketing gets more of these – because with omni-channel promotions it’s increasingly hard to isolate a single input-output signal to explain an outcome.

The author paraphrases Gerald Ashley as he describes the different approach needed for each type of problem 

  • Messes are ill-defined in form and structure and so are most like real life.
  • Problems have a defined structure with potential solutions, but none are absolutely clear and right.
  • Puzzles are well defined and have specific solutions that can be worked out.

Marketing problems are frequently perceived to be puzzles, but in actual fact are probably messes.  The big insight is in this quote:

Most of us crave certainty and as much control as possible. Politicians and business leaders are just the same and perhaps even more so. ‘Bring me facts and experts. I want a solution now!’ By implication, those in positions of authority tend to treat most issues as puzzles, sometimes problems and never messes. As a result they tend to seek shortcuts to answers that are probably wrong. The biggest mistake is to carve out part of a mess, treat it as a problem and then solve it as a puzzle. This can lead to very bad decisions.

Back to my client ‘problem’

We reviewed the situation and whether it was a complex problem or not.  It was.  

It wasn’t a puzzle because the structure of marketing activity was reasonably clear-cut.

It wasn’t a mess because there was structure, there was a framework of activity and the desired output was prospects who hadn’t previously known about the brand.  And so we decided this was an actual problem.

I thought hard about what to do.  This was the series of steps

 

  1. I asked the client what they did when they were advising someone and had disagreement
  2. I reviewed the steps we’d taken thus far and gained agreement around the success of the process, method and outcomes to date
  3. I narrowed the discussion to the point where the “leap of faith” sat. What were the inputs we had prepared (there were 2) and these were acknowledged
  4. Then I walked away and left the client team to discuss.

They have not specifically told me what they discussed or what they decided. But it’s clear we are still working together. And so I am presuming the first (tentative) step towards the leap of faith activity has been taken and I’ll hear what the outcomes are in due course.

spam pingl,

Referral traffic from Pingl is spam

I was checking the analytics on a client site and saw a referral from a website I did not recognise.  And so I investigated it.

referral traffic, analytics referral,

New referral site turns out to be spam

After typing in the reach-publisheral website address manually (I always do this in a new browser window), an automatic redirect came into effect and I ended up on Pingl.net [no, don’t follow that link please].

Black Hat SEO tactics

In the SEO world there are goodies and baddies…. and it’s a game of tension between the unscrupulous on one side and those who follow search engine websites’ guidelines on the other – refereed by Google and Bing.

Black Hat is the term given to tactics that are underhand and try to cheat the system.

White Hat is the opposite – those who work within the framework set by search engines.

Updates to search engine algorithms are usually driven by their desire to undermine black hat tactics.

After a quick search I found several other commentators had found referrals in their analytics also coming from Pingl.  This rings alarm bells.

Who is Pingl?

A set of clever Black-Hatters masquerading as authentic “growth hacking” tacticians.

They use a technique called notification referrer service which is basically a spam referral to your website.  By masking their site identity they make the link “appear” to come from another site – reach-publishinglo  in my case (but others report variants on Ali Baba).  This domain is setup with the sole purpose of sending you to pingl’s home page –  it refers you directly to them.

Although you may be getting a lot of referrals from the masked page, it is not real traffic, and it can ruin your SEO – notably your bounce rate.

How to overcome referrer spam

Create filters in your Analytics to remove this traffic from your results in two ways

  1. Campaign Source Filter – will stop all traffic from the source (pingl) site
  2. Campaign Referral Path Filter – will stop single web pages
  3. Languages Setting Filter – stops traffic from named languages (was useful for Russian spam in 2017)
semantic keywords, SEO, keyword indexing, natural search

Keyword tool tip for 2019

Happy new year everyone.  I’m loving being on summer break – but it doesn’t stop me researching and finding top new tools and ideas for digital marketing success.

Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords

Found this great site which can help you identify LSI keywords for your website SEO.

What are LSI keywords?

LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords are words that are commonly found together within a single topic and are semantically related to each other.

So they help you understand the connections and correlations between groups of words and phrases – so you can select good ones to use on your natural website SEO.

Testing LSI Keywords

I did a quick test for a client and found a list of over 10,000 [seriously, who needs that many?] to download.  The site asks you to list up to 10 “seed” words before it runs the analysis.

semantic keywords, SEO, keyword indexing, natural search

Latent Semantic Keywords

And then I reviewed the listings and found a lot of non-relevant words – so I refined the seed words to improve the outcome, downloaded and got my list.

Next step – back to the Google Analytics query to assess the current search results and revise / review and improve.

first marketing, first sales, new business success

Who starts first – marketing or sales?

I wrote this email to a client today.  I have been working with them to set up and activate the things which will move them towards sales.  And I answer the Chicken and Egg question too…. read on

I think you have made significant progress in understanding three things which are essential to a successful new business development process.

  1. Deep focus on the target prospect companies and how to find individuals and make contact with them 
  2. Validation that there is a flow through activities from awareness, interest, desire, action (AIDA)…. e.g.XYZ is moving down that funnel well.  Also you have closed off the funnel for ABC and won’t waste time with him – he got returned to a ‘holding pattern’ in the newsletter mailing list.
  3. Recognition that we need to get to know more new people and to find ways of becoming relevant to them – from personal chat / email to newsletter subscription to face to face meeting.  
My guidance is being acted upon and you are seeing results which will bear fruit.  Also it’s forcing you to challenge presumptions and to run little experiments to see what the market responds to.  These both change over time and so I have learned never to guess.  But you knew that, didn’t you?

New Business is a Process

Creating a set-up that delivers a stream of leads for your business is how successful sales and marketing combine in a B2B organisation.   The underlying principles are the same for every firm yet the implementation and the diligent persistence of action is frequently what sets apart the successful from the rest.

first marketing, first sales, new business success

Who starts first? Marketing or Sales for new business success.

Can I help you?

If you’d like an appraisal of your current situation and recommendations for improvement which you can implement yourself, get in touch.

What we will do is

  • Review your recent new business success (or otherwise)
  • Assess the process
  • Research the possible bottle-necks, gaps and successful elements
  • Guide towards an improved method

Chicken or Egg; which comes first?

So to answer the question – it depends.  No, that’s not a cop-out.

Marketing comes first when the firm already has revenues and is looking to grow average size of sale, launch new products or new markets.

Sales comes first when the firm has a product and is not yet profitable enough to invest in intensive marketing or isn’t converting enquiries to revenue.

Trendosaur SaaS, retail find products

My SaaS has 7% conversion rate, how to improve?

My eCommerce SaaS has a conversion rate of 7% (2 new subscribers a day). I only get 1200 page hits a month though. How can I get more traffic?

The service is called Trendosaur. It helps online retailers make money by showing them the most profitable products to sell. My subscribers love the service. I’ve been running it for just over a year. The landing page is converting really well, but now it’s time to scale up the traffic numbers. Finding it really hard to get more than 40-50 page hits a day. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

I know you should not rely solely on inbound traffic.  That’s a fool’s errand in today’s crowded market.trendosaur logo

Other marketers will suggest SEO, Content Marketing, Lead Funnels, Keyword search terms, LinkedIn Content, SEM, Social adverts, remarketing.  All good ideas and definitely part of the marketing mix needed – but they miss one fundamental comprehension of how modern marketing works.

Inbound and Outbound is the key strategy

When you take a product to market you need both awareness and targeted prospective buyers.

The joy of inbound is that if someone is looking, with good SEO, Keywords and Content Marketing you can appear in search results.  But for B2B markets, rarely is someone looking and the search volumes are so small, so niche that these volumes won’t deliver you the customer buyers in any great size or at scale.

I recommend  2 things

  1. Outbound Selling. Research a list of retailers who could use you and approach them direct. Direct sales is very powerful – it draws attention to you and then your content marketing / SEO will serve to bring them back to your site.
  2. Sponsor a retailers podcast like Ecommerce Fuel with a landing page / special sign up deal.

I used both of these to grow Rowperfect.co.uk/shop such that we now have a paid Christmas promotion page based on that list which is a great case study for this method.

B2B Event Marketing, webinars for business, event marketing

B2B Event Marketing tips

I got a call this week and asked to advise an event which is for business to business audience how I could help them double their attendees in the last 4-5 weeks before the event happens.

Make it Happen is a creative agency in Sydney

This is my advice.

Last-minute event marketing

  1. Set up a tripwire webinar to drive interest / registration details
  2. Find people with mailing lists and agree a joint venture collaboration with them to promote
  3. Run a competition to win a free ticket (combine with webinar)
  4. Telesales follow up to all webinar attendees (and non-attendees).  Best to use GoToWebinar as it tells you who attends.
  5. I do not think affiliate marketing would work in New Zealand for B2B events.  But offering a second ticket free if one person buys can add headcount.
  6. I do not think radio advertising will work because which station(s) do all your target audience listen to?  But podcasting could.  Find business podcasters in your niche.
Email list, marketing permission, contact options, GDPR

A nicely written GDPR email

Today I received a GDPR email message from a LinkedIn connection – we are 1st degree connected.  But because he’s in Europe, all his written electronic mass communications are now governed by GDPR – the European Union legislation General Data Protection Regulation.

The full email is reproduced below.  Here is my analysis of why it’s such a nicely composed text.  If you are in B2B marketing, I recommend taking a close look and deciding if this sort of annual review of your mailing list is appropriate.

Because we pay (mostly) for our email mass communications in a monthly fee calculated on the size of our mailing list, it’s worthwhile doing a “cull” to remove people who are either not reading your messages (since Gmail introduced the tabbed viewing this has increased for my list)  or those who are no longer relevant to you or vice versa.  It keeps your messaging tight and focused.

6 direct mail copywriting tips

  1. The opener explains why – in large font.  The subject line is “Why did we connect in the first place?” so I was intrigued to open it.
  2. The addressee (me) is personalised.
  3. The four points summarise Paul’s brand offering and gives me more reason to check out his current work.
  4. Then he justifies continuing to mail me post-GDPR (not sure I buy this – but points for trying)
  5. He gives permission to unsubscribe and suggests reasons why I should do this.
  6. Lastly, in the footer he reminds me to update my LinkedIn contact preferences – a very nice touch

So here’s his article in which he explains what IDK means and here’s the list management options for future communications showing my selections.

I think this is clear and totally appropriate.  Get in touch if you’d like me to review your mailing list strategies.

Email list, marketing permission, contact options, GDPR

Email list marketing permission options

The Full Email Text

Rebecca, You are receiving this email because we are 1st. grade connected on LinkedIn.

Rebecca,

“I did not have time to write a short note” sic. Mark Twain The words appeared in a letter [JRMT] 1871 June 15, Letter from Mark Twain to James Redpath, Elmira, New York

  1. Was it because my profile caught you attention, or was it something in my Company  page which appealed to you?
  2. Was it one of my groups on Business Development or Logistics Collaboration that inspired you?
  3. I know …it’s my management books drew you over the hurdle, and gave you courage to send me an invitation!
  4. Or you wanted to network and reach out to bring your services or product under my attention.
Good because Linked-In delivers leads!

We are lost without connections!
Sic. Owen Jones

All good reasons and fine with me…, as these are my reasons too.

By connecting 1st grade you signed-in = pre GDPR opt-in – when accepting the connection request.
Your connection is as valuable to me as exchanging a business card containing all contact data during a life network event. A licence to contact… by phone, fax (I still remember), mobile phone (now WhatsApp), mail … This in order to set-up a business deal, meeting (now virtual) and social event… stay in contact.

And which is more, exchange or reach out for knowledge, an introduction, bring articles, whitepapers, books – all now with e- extension – which added to our success to each other’s attention and use. Shortcutting the learning curve, avoiding pitfalls, grow faster.

It is cumbersome to maintain contact with your network (it contains the verb …work) so here is how I do it: I am a giver – the golden rule in networking: give and not expect to be given – by sharing courtesy content, summits, introductions…. Proper GDPR set-up in place to safeguard and cherish our contact.

When your interest, position, business evolves, it is okay to: * Unsubscribe * or hit the * No longer interested *,  * Unspecified * , * Other * (a reason appreciated) tab. No hard feelings!

But don’t throw * Did not sign up * back at me because you did  – pre- GDPR – check your linked-in connection list.

It gets worse  with * Inappropriate content *: how am I supposed to know things changed when you are not telling me, your once 1st linked-in chosen contact, what changed, what your interests are today… so Update your preference.

Have we lost the art of 1to1 communication?

Do not *S.s.s.s.p.p.p.p.a.a.a.m.m.m.m.m.m.* me.
I for one will never do that. Never!!!

Next time before sending: IDK * Think 2-ice .. Here is Why 

Having said this, I rest my case with respect for your decision and the consequence that our 1st connection will be discarded.

Best Personal Regards,
Paul Van den Brande
Co-Managing Partner

—We Never Forget You Have A Choice —

—–&—-

You are receiving this email because we connected on LinkedIn.

Our mailing address is:

Noble House Group

Max Hermanlei 74a

Brasschaat 2930

Belgium

Add us to your address book

–We Never Forget You Have A Choice! —

Your GDPR safety requires you to update your preferences

GDPR Contact Paul Van den Brande – pvdb@noblehousegroup.eu
Your data will never be shared without prior information.
You can change your mind at any time using the unsubscribe from this list
No hard feelings!

The Creative Store, recruitment, creative jobs, NZ creative industry, Creative store logo

What’s new in Search Engine Marketing 2018

What is new in SEM for business? Rebecca Caroe discusses the Wild West of agency service providers and how to avoid getting ripped off by a marketing firm.

Louise runs the Creative Store – a recruitment and placement agency specialising in the creative industries. This is her interview with Rebecca published in August 2018.  When starting our companies, Louise and Rebecca shared offices in the BizDojo and shared jokes about English sweets and beer!

Q. How do you define search engine marketing?

A. Anything you do for your business that gets it showing up in search results.  So this  can cover keyword SEO on your website, having a strong LinkedIn profile, guest articles, Slideshare presentations and advertising.The Creative Store, recruitment, creative jobs, NZ creative industry, Creative store logo

Q. Are many companies doing a terrible job of this?

A. It is my view that SEO service provision is a “wild west” there are a lot of cowboys.  This is not just a supply side problem, it’s also caused by clients who do not brief well, are not experienced buyers and have unrealistic expectations of what is possible.  We know that business owners come to our events because they want to learn.  Many tell anecdotes about past experiences which didn’t go well.  To challenge and counteract the wild west, I am part of a Facebook group called The Ethical Digital Marketing Community (EDMC) – you’re very welcome to join us, share and learn together.  I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers.

Q. How do you identify your clients?

A.  Our clients are businesses who sell to other businesses.  Many are new to marketing and do not have in-house staff with expertise.

Q. You can spot pretty quickly where they are going wrong

Normally, they aren’t going wrong – they are getting started.  For many, the part of their marketing which they notice is not performing is their website.  It’s not showing up in search, they aren’t getting inbound enquiries and competitors are more prominent.  We recommend they do a self-test using WooRank Checker or Hubspot Website Grader Tool and see what their website score out of 100 is.  That identifies many of the areas where they’re underperforming.

Q. If clients wish to engage you, is this on a retainer or do you do a sweep of their work for a charge?

A. We do both.  Unusually for an agency we are very happy to train and up-skill the client’s team and also work with existing agencies who they already have on retainer.  Our strategic leadership allows both to deliver better outcomes for the client – and that is always the end goal.  By having a clear strategy and goals we are able to brief agencies better, they work to a clear objective and the client trusts us both to get the results.  It’s a win-win-win scenario.

Q. You are hosting an exciting event with Blair Enns in October about this subject – how do you put a price on your work – what will we expect to see from this workshop?

A.  Blair is a world expert in how to win without pitching.  October is his first event on the topic of pricing creative work.  His thesis is that most creative firms under-price their skills and expertise.  And so he teaches “value pricing” where you learn how to price the client, not the job.  Watch Blair’s summary webinar and understand where you could improve http://pitchpack.co.nz/pricing-creativity-free-webinar/

Q. Who needs your services the most?

A.  Owner-managed businesses where the owners don’t know modern digital marketing and are too busy to do it themselves.

Q. Where is the future of SEM going?

A. Deeper and wider into ever more businesses.  Good SEM techniques are straightforward to apply to any business.  I summarise this into – State what you do, Answer questions clearly and Keep your focus on local or niche audiences.  Then repeat and improve. 

Q. Any helpful tips and hints to our clients on their SEM and simples fixes they could be applying?

A.  Sure – Three things.   1 do a website check and see what your score out of 100 is.  2 connect your Google Analytics and Search Console so you can see the queries driving your natural search traffic.  3 review where your last 10 new clients came from – was it referrals or web search or directories or public speaking or something else.  Then double down on what’s working and do more of it.

Q. Where to from here for Creative Agency Secrets

A. More collaborative relationships with other agencies and mutual clients.  I firmly believe that collaboration is an under-used business principle and it is working amazingly well for us.  Who doesn’t want to look good in front of the client?

What Does A Client Brief Look Like?

Thanks to Dawn who wrote in asking “What does a client brief look like?” 

Let us help you out.

What to do when hiring an agency

If you sub-contract your marketing to an agency or to freelancers, you want to be sure that you pay for and get good quality work.

A lot of the quality of output is due to high quality input.  By that I mean, briefing documents.  If you can explain clearly what you want, how you want it done and timeframes, you are far more likely to get high quality work back.

We use Upwork and People Per Hour to find freelancers and expert sub-contractors.

 

Ask the freelancer to write back

For briefing we always give a lot of detail and we also ask the freelancer to write back with answers to our questions.

We choose these carefully in order to show us that THEY have read the brief.

  • Please tell me what access permissions you need before you start the job

And we also ask them open questions whose answers tell us if they understand the scope, how they would approach the job and allow us to assess how good their English is.

  • Estimate how long the job will take
  • Tell me what problems you anticipate

Below is a template document which we use when we receive instructions to do some marketing for our clients. You can download it from the link.

Each sub-heading is self explanatory – as a client you should fill in each section as clearly as possible and then send it out to the agency or agencies you want to work with asking them to send you price quotations.

Alternatively, you write longhand what you want and the agency will fill in the gaps in the document.  Then you should approve it before instructing the work.

DOWNLOAD Master Client Planning Brief Template

The Top 5 most popular articles of all time