I was talking to a prospect today and I was describing how closed loop marketing works and why it’s an effective way for agencies to prove the ROI of their services. One of people on the call asked me how they could deal with a client who had shitty salespeople that couldn’t close deals, wouldn’t it reflect badly on them, how could they tie everything to ROI when the actual sale was out of their control?

I think the answer needs to be worked out between the client and agency, but a starting point lies in something we do here at HubSpot between Sales and Marketing called the SLA (service level agreement). Through a collaboration, Sales and Marketing determine what qualifies as an MQL (marketing qualified lead) and how many of those marketing should be producing. This needs to be agreed to beforehand by both parties. When you’re delivering the agreed level of MQLs and (hopefully blowing it out of the water) you’ll be able to protect yourself against crappy salespeople and then you can hand them Rick Roberge’s business card.



April 24, 2012 · 10:02 pm

Are You a Visionary or an Idealist?

Jim Sasena and I were talking about the State of the Union address last night, Jim’s a staunch conservative and I tend to waver somewhere in the middle. He accused me of being a political idealist. I countered that maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing, after all the world needs idealists (or so I thought). Jim made the convincing argument that the difference between visionary and an idealist is far from just semantics.

He laid out the difference like this, “an idealist is someone who has a vision for the future, but their ideas are based on faulty perception of reality.” So, they can see the desired end result but don’t have a practical plan for getting there. Contrast that with a visionary. He described a  visionary as “someone who can not only see the end result but the steps along the way.”A visionary has the wherewithal and ability to guide themselves and others in that direction.

So, are you a visionary or an idealist?

Two Paths Diverge

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I just finished…

Selling the InvisbleI just finished reading “Selling the Invisible” on the recommendation of Frank Belzer. I picked it up yesterday and before I knew it I was 200 pages in and couldn’t put it down. Beckwith dispenses his advice in short little bursts, with supporting anecdotes, stories and a one liner at the end of each section to drive home his point. He wrote it in 1997, when I was in..let’s see..3rd grade…but the content is amazingly relevant to marketing and selling today despite the immense changes that have taken place. He calls Fedex “Federal Express” and mentions Kodak as one of the top 10 brands in the world, (How times have changed huh?) dated though his references may be, his ideas are as pertinent as ever.

Here was a point that really struck home with me. Beckwith relates the story of Clinton’s appointment of Stephen Breyer as a Supreme Court Justice. There were other candidates with a stronger judicial record and/or closer to the President, but they also posed more political risk. So rather than appoint the most qualified person for the position or the person with “greatest chance of success” he chose the one with the least downside.

“People do not look to make the superior choice; they want to avoid making the bad choice.”

Risk Aversion

People Dislike Losing Twice as Much as They Like Winning

This is in line with Prospect Theory and Loss Aversion, which refer to the (illogical) tendency of people to attempt to avoid losses rather than to make gains.

Your prospects are worried. They might not say it, but they’re thinking it. What risk is involved with using or adopting your product or service? Is their job on the line? Does it involve a radical change to their business which may or may not pan out? Are they risking their kid’s college tuition on your product or service? As a salesperson it’s your job to address those concerns in the process of qualifying this prospect to do business with you. Let your prospects feel like you understand their risks, their concerns and their worries. Rather than letting these issues sit dormant, bring them to the surface and address them on your terms and use them to strengthen your position with the prospect rather than weaken it.

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January 25, 2012 · 3:02 am

Sherlock Holmes and Smarketing: Elementary!

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Himself

I’m a Sherlock Holmes junkie. I’ve read all of Conan Doyle’s short stories, seen all of the movies, tv shows and even have an original Holmes based graphic novel. Of all the heroes and detectives in literature, he’s at once the most “removed” and relatable. Which is why I think I have such a fascination. As I was sitting in the theater watching the most recent reincarnation of Holmes played by Robert Downey Jr., I couldn’t help but think that there were lessons to be learned from the way Holmes goes about his detective work. So here are three things I observed about Sherlock and how they apply to Smarketing.

Holmes observes what’s hidden in plain sight. He sees things others miss and uses it to his advantage.

The lesson here is to not take anything at face value, whether you’re talking about target market research or a first call with a prospect. Probe, look for clues others have missed that could give you a unique insight and advantage over the competition.

Holmes doesn’t reveal the solution to the case until he has all of his ducks in a row.

Sherlock plays his cards close to the chest. Doyle often reveals that Sherlock had the case solved in the initial client interview at Baker St, but Holmes doesn’t present his ideas to the client right away. He waits till the very end, when he has everything neatly wrapped up and only then reveals the solution. This applies directly to sales. Even though you may think you have the appropriate solution for your client’s problems immediately, it doesn’t mean you can circumvent your sales process and present too early in the sales cycle. You need to make sure all of your “evidence” (which in sales would be compelling reasons and qualifications to do business among other things) is assembled before you make your final presentation and attempt to close.

Sherlock has a singular focus, never letting himself be distracted from the end goal.

Holmes is always thinking about the case he’s working on. He works night and day doing research, going undercover and thinking about the case. Even when he seems to be engaging in a distraction like a party or walk around town he’s usually working an angle. While he’s pursuing Professor Moriarty, smaller, related cases come up but he doesn’t allow himself to forget or lose sight of the bigger picture…bringing down the biggest crime boss in the world.

As a Smarketer you should always be working toward an end goal. That goal may encompass smaller goals and those smaller goals may be made up of even smaller goals, but never lose sight of the big picture!



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Marketing, The Internet and Privacy – Dangerous Combination?

Don't get caught looking like this guy.

When I logged into Linkedin this morning, I saw an article at the top of my newsfeed:  Carrier IQ Scandal Spins Out of Control . It caught my eye because it so happens that Carrier IQ opened an office in our building a few months back, so I clicked through.

The essence of the scandal is that different researchers found evidence of Carrier IQ (a diagnostic tool used to report mobile device usage patterns back to carriers to improve service ) logging sensitive information like keystrokes, text messages and browsing activity and sending it back to their servers. The news broke and was carried by influential tech sites like Mashable and TechCrunch. It proceeded to explode all over the internet. A letter was sent to their CEO by Al Franken, head of the Senate committee on Privacy, Technology and the Law and there are rumors of legal action against the company as a result of alleged  violations of the wiretap law.

It’s a disaster plain and simple. There have been an insane amount of articles posted on the blogosphere and main news outlets detailing what Carrier IQ does and how to remove their software from your phone. The uproar has forced the major carriers and clients of Carrier IQ, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile to come out and admit their use of the software, deny any major infractions and do their own version of damage control.

The intense backlash raises a couple of questions and certainly provides some instructive points.  What did Carrier IQ do wrong? Carrier IQ had very recently been lauded by the Wall Street Journal and ranked #9 in their “Next Big Thing 2011” list of Venture Funded companies. Things were looking rosy, so there’s no prior “bad blood” or a history of infringements. There’s been no evidence of any compromised data and no stories of misuse of the data and the carriers themselves vigorously deny that they have any access to personal data through Carrier IQ’s services. So why the fierce and swift response?

People and Americans especially  are fiercely protective of their privacy. They don’t like to feel like they’re being watched, tracked or monitored. Remember the Apple tracking scandal back in April? You don’t… mess… with privacy. It can knock out even a promising company quick enough to make your head spin. The driving force behind their angst was the simple fact that they weren’t notified of Carrier IQ’s existence on their phones. Unbeknownst to them it was sending data on their activities to a third party and they feel violated, exposed and rightly so. It feels the same as if someone had bugged their home or put a tracking device on their car.

Internet Marketing often walks a fine line when it comes to user privacy. We track user behavior on our sites, where their IP address is located, what they click on, what site they came from, what links they click afterward, how many times they came back, the amount of time they spend on each page, what they bought last time they were at our site and if we can get our hands on an email address, we can tie all that data back to their Linkedin profile, and/or Twitter account to know exactly who was doing what, when.

The lesson to be learned from the Carrier IQ scandal is that indeed, “honesty is the best policy.” That doesn’t mean be forthcoming only when you’re asked. Companies and Marketers should be upfront about the data they’re collecting and what they plan to do with it, to avoid the type of fall out and PR disaster that’s currently engulfing Carrier IQ.

Update: Search Carrier IQ and look at the results. Talk about damaging.

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Why I Haven’t Been Active On Google Plus

Reason: I’m the only one in my extended circle of (non-marketing) friends who has created a profile.

When Google launched it marketing gurus and tech people like Scoble rushed to sign up for the service and there was a huge  PR push. I was enthusiastic. I signed up, filled out my profile, started adding people to circles, even shared a thing or two. But then I stopped. It didn’t hook me. Maybe I got a little annoyed with all of the posts on Google Plus in the blogosphere (To which now I’m hypocritically contributing).

I know that the hangouts are a cool concept, but I really can’t see a scenario where I’d participate and or ever host one. The ability to comment on shared content in *realtime* is also cool, but honestly it all just seems like one more way to share with the same people.

I think this chart bears that out. You can see the initial enthusiasm waning with time.

Facebook is for my friends. Twitter is “friend friendly” too but also makes it really easy to connect with people I look to for advice, tips or professional opinons,  but don’t know personally. Furthermore it’s easy for me to absorb neat little tidbits delivered in 140 characters. Google Plus  tried to find a balance between the two, but failed to differentiate itself enough for me to continue to invest more time and effort in building up my presence.

As a marketer I know that Google Plus is important as another place to share content and engage with community, but on my own time you can find me on facebook and twitter.

Counter opinion

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Stuffing is Great.

Everyone has their favorite food at Thanksgiving. Some people LOVE turkey. Others prefer stuffing, green bean casserole, the pumpkin pie, the apple pie, the (canned) cranberry…

MMM. Stuffing

You really like stuffing. So you cooked up pounds and pounds of it, and didn’t bother with all the other food. You’re excited and thinking this will be the best thanksgiving ever. Would everyone else you invited to the meal feel the same way? No. In addition to thinking that you’re nuts, people who prefer turkey or green bean casserole might be on their way out the door to find someone who could give them what they want.

Marketers and salespeople can become enamored with a particular feature or benefit of their product and will spend all of their time making sure people know about that particular feature. They forget that just because it’s important to them it may not be what’s most important to their potential customer.

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November 23, 2011 · 9:00 pm

One step at a time

Sometimes you have to make a decision in life and just go with it. Things (in fact most things) aren’t always perfect but if you make a commitment to excel in everything you do I firmly believe that in the end the cream will rise to the top. You can’t get caught up in the day to day details or stress about whether you’re making the right moves. If you’re constantly worrying about the next step and looking ahead, what’s right in front of you and potential opportunities will go unnoticed.

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Design Your Little Heart Out

So.. you’re doing content marketing and you’re always looking for something cool, something a little bit outside the norm where you can exercise your creativity. Now, maybe it’s just me but I’m a sucker for infographics. If you post a link and tell me there’s an infographic behind it there’s an 80% chance I’ll click through just to see what you put together, even if it’s useless and uninteresting. Like say…..public transportation ridership

Awesome, so you love infographics too and want to create some great infographical content to put on your blog or website. Hopefully it’ll generate a lot of traffic and some quality leads to make it worth your while. Your witty representation of  complex data will be in a fun and easy to understand format, flawlessly executed because you’re a graphic design savant.

Oh wait. The extent of your graphic design experience (like mine) is cropping and putting a border around a picture in paint.

The monstrosity you see to your left is the extent of my graphic design portfolio.

What to do?

Naturally you do what anyone would, and google, “how to make an infographic”. You stumble onto this site in the coveted #1 spot, 10 Awesome Free Tools to Make Infographics.”

It’s got a list of sites that’ll help you create that phenomenal infographic you’ve been itching to make all your life. It gives you some ideas about infographic design and some good tips to keep in mind while you’re creating it like: “Think of it as a visual essay: ensure your arguments hold and are relevant.” and “Remember that it’s all about quickly conveying the meaning behind complex data.”

Well thank you, makeuseof.com I will certainly do as you ask and make use of this, so let’s do it.

If you’re looking for data to create an interesting infographic around I would look no further than Gapminder, it’s a free tool that keeps records of data on major world issues and has visualization tools built in. Check out this video of Gapminder founder Hans Rosling using his software, at TED. (I watched this video in my college marketing class)

They also mention some other cool representation tools like Creately and  Wordle. Creately  creates flow charts and Wordle will create visualizations based on the text that you enter. Another good one is Hohli, you can create charts after you upload some data and you don’t have to mess around with excel.

The one tool that I’ve found the most useful and I’ve actually used it to create all the infographics I’ve made so far is “Inkscape,” a vector graphic design software. It’s  an opensource (read: free and not quite as frilly) version of Adobe Illustrator. However, it’s very functional and if you spend a little bit of time playing around with it and looking through the tutorials you’ll surprise yourself with how much progress you can make in a short period of time. Inkscape is also good as an aggregator, you could for example, take a word representation from Wordle, and a flow chart from Creately and use Inkspace to create a document that includes both of them.

These are some basic tools to get started with infographics, even if it’s terrible, I’ll probably still click through just to check it out.

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A little plan goes a long way

Planning is one of the most underrated uses of your time. To not plan is like being out in the middle of a lake with a canoe, paddle, all your camping gear and everything imaginable to succeed in your pursuit of the perfect camping experience, but no map to get to your destination.

You might think, “oh well planning  isn’t the best use of my time, I just need to start doing stuff.”  Wrong. You can “do” all you want but unless you have a destination clearly in mind, you might travel upstream for a bit, switch courses, head downstream, then go a little west, a little east and all of a sudden you’re back where you started.

I think you should spend at least an hour every week, planning what your goals are for the week ahead and if you don’t have a clear idea of the big picture, you need to take a step back and reassess. You’ll lose that listless sense of futility and you’ll actually start getting somewhere.

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