July 19, 2018

Industry Experts Master Critical Concepts

Steve Patti | CMO & Entrepreneur, GreenFig Instructor
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Steve Patti | CMO & Entrepreneur, GreenFig Instructor

GreenFig’s Digital Marketing Science course is over halfway through the Fall training class. The class continues to build the students’ knowledge and competency in digital marketing and with instructors like Steve Patti, you can see why. 

Steve Patti is an entrepreneur, B2B CMO, message strategist, CX leader, and adjunct professor guiding our GreenFig students through 18 hours of strategy training. The classes ranged from aligning business strategy, understanding the B2B buyer, content strategies, and storytelling. 

We continue to be in awe with our industry leaders bringing to class the evolved strategies and methods in digital marketing getting our students job-ready for the digital marketing careers in the 21st Century. Enjoy Steve’s thoughts and advancements in content marketing.

Message Strategy: Why it is Critical to Sales & Marketing Success

For the past decade, we have seen the birth and explosion of the content marketing industry. At every turn we see books, conferences, platform software companies, and self-proclaimed thought leaders telling the marketing world  “marketers are now publishers”. When this mantra became old, they quickly pivoted to say “marketers are now storytellers” and if you wait long enough you will see the next slogan just in time to support the sales of more content books and conferences. 

But is content (and the notion of content marketing) really new? As King Solomon once said, “there is nothing new under the sun” -- and so it is with the field of marketing. Old concepts are renamed, repackaged, and sold as new – but are they really (new)? 

For hundreds of years, the messages merchants deliver to their target market have always been critical to attracting, engaging, and converting buyers into customers. However, what has changed in the past 10 years is the ability for buyers to bypass what the merchant says and instead find out what the merchant’s customers say about their product experience. This phenomenon has carried over from B2C to B2B markets whereby the majority of B2B buyers no longer trust branded content and instead turn to peers and trusted experts for insight into a company product or service experience. 

The result for B2B marketers are over 50% of their content budgets are now wasted (content goes unread). The result for B2B sales professionals is that buyers now are an average of 57% complete with their buyer journey before contacting them (source: CEB research). This has created a credibility crisis among B2B brands as they scurry to rethink their message and content strategy. 

So how did we get here? 

The answer may lie in the claim of the content marketing industry that “marketers are now publishers.” In truth, marketers have never been publishers in the sense that they have an intimate knowledge of their readers’ interests and create tailored content to cater to those interests. To the contrary, many marketers are experts at talking about their company, their products, and their awards/accolades but have little insight into the real fears, questions, and doubts their buyers have when trying to make a product purchase. 

Effective marketing and sales are about the buyer – not the seller. Successful brands are realizing they need to rewire their communications strategy to focus on three core competencies:

  1. Buyer insight collection (personas, journeys, CX monitoring)
  2. Buyer-centric (branded) content
  3. Non-branded customer stories

The core consistent theme is deepening buyer insights to be able to “walk in the shoes” of the buyer and more importantly, deliver credible, trustworthy content that does not sell – but helps them buy. 

It all starts with the message strategy and creating a Message Map for each market segment. A Message Map highlights the purchase drivers and perceived barriers for the various stakeholders in the buying group and then aligns the vendor value proposition and evidence (customer proof points) of being able to address the drivers (pain point, business goal). With regards to value proposition development, CEB research cites that personal value is 2X more effective than a business value in influencing vendor selection. That means the vendor value proposition messaging must focus on both enterprise value (business outcomes that vendor solution delivers) with persona value (personal outcomes vendor/solution can deliver to benefit the stakeholder).

When it comes to content strategy the human brain can process visual images 60,000 times faster than text so the use of video (to capture customer stories) and illustrations/Infographics (to simplify complex subject matter) is key to accelerating buyer understanding – and thus, pipeline velocity. 

The Message Map is core to a vendor’s message strategy and informs all of the campaign and advertising copy for demand generation as well as sales enablement. By leading with customer value (business, personal) and providing fresh insights, vendors can regain lost trust and improve buyer engagement – both in the lead generation pipeline (pre-MQL), but also during the active selling stage (Opportunity) in an effort to shorten sales cycles and increase sales close rates. 

If the majority of your messaging and content is seller-centric, perhaps it is time to reconsider your approach.

By Steve Patti    


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Bridging The Skills Gap For Veterans

Our Student Stories blog series highlights the experiences of GreenFig students currently enrolled in our Digital Marketing Science course. Here, we'll introduce you to several current students, find out what drove them to GreenFig, what skills they're developing right now, and what they aim to achieve with their microdegree from GreenFig. Bridging the skills gap for veterans As Renée Hamilton-McNealy began preparing for a career change after nearly two decades in and out of active military service, she knew she didn’t need another college degree. After all, she already holds a bachelor’s in financial services and an MBA in finance, not to mention loads of management and leadership experience as a Master Sergeant in the Army Reserve. Rather, she was looking for a targeted, focused program that could help her develop the up-to-date technology skills she needed to land a marketing position now, but was discouraged by other programs she researched. “I was looking for more specialized education than what a general degree could offer,” explains Renée. “I wanted to prepare myself for life after I completely retire from the military, and to feed my passion for marketing.” Renée discovered GreenFig through The Paradigm Switch, a nonprofit that helps link military veterans and their spouses to prestigious skill-based training programs. “I’m not afraid to start over,” she says. “I wanted to challenge myself.” Renée explains that she wanted to gain skills in marketing analytics, and become proficient with tools that measure the impact of a campaign’s effectiveness. Renée enrolled in GreenFig’s Digital Marketing Science course remotely from the Bay Area, and says that the program offered a healthy, collaborative learning environment where she felt supported. “I learn best in my own environment and in my own space,” she says. “I liked not having to physically commute someplace. With GreenFig, the communications options are endless, and there were always ways to connect inside and out of the classroom.” Looking back, Renée says it was her instructors’ enthusiasm and ability to teach their craft that confirmed she had found the right program. “I just love the fact that the instructors, who are accomplished and experienced, were just as passionate to share their knowledge with us as we were to learn it,” she says. “And they had more than just experience, they also know how to teach. Just because you are a subject matter expert, doesn’t mean that you know how to transfer that knowledge so that someone else can comprehend it.” Renée believes GreenFig’s training courses are ideal for veterans, who are accustomed to targeted, hyper-focused skill development and who thrive in hands-on, real-world environments where those skills can be quickly applied. Applying the digital marketing skills she’s developed over the past 16 weeks to a real-world marketing campaign for a real-world company is an ideal application exercise for veterans like her, says Renée. “In graduate school, I did case studies,” she recalls. “What we’re doing now is benefitting a real company.” Armed with a unique set of skills -- digital marketing, finance and management -- upon graduation, Renée is hoping to join a marketing team where she can specialize in marketing analytics and social media management. “What GreenFig offers is what I needed,” she says. “To challenge me, allow me to get certifications, provide relevant and modern information, and give me the opportunity to immediately apply and exercise this knowledge in the marketplace.” Advance your skills and set your next big challenge at GreenFig. Check us out at www.greenfig.net.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

How to Optimize Your Sales Funnel With Better Lead Management

GreenFig instructors Sue Hay and Jerine Erice recently taught classes in Marketo, Salesforce and analytics to our lifelong learners in Digital Marketing Science. We share their blog that underscores the value of a well-examined lead management process and provides actionable steps to optimize marketing strategy and increase ROI. Read and learn! Resolved to improve your sales and marketing effectiveness this year? Lead management might be the answer. A good lead management process starts with defining potential customers (or leads) and taking them on an educational and nurturing journey based on their buying persona before ultimately being passed on to the sales team. Lead management measures, tracks and reports on this customer acquisition process, from the first point of contact to the closing of the sale. This allows sales and marketing to work in tandem, with the ultimate goal of increasing conversion rates and ROI while shortening the duration of the process. This process is arguably the most important aspect of marketing. But according to DemandWave’s 2017 State of Digital Marketing Report, many marketers still find that obtaining high-quality leads is their number one challenge. Why do marketers continue struggle with this, and what can you do about it? Here are four lead management tactics that you can adopt now for a more robust lead marketing strategy and better-optimized sales funnel in 2018. 1. Get Sales and Marketing Aligned The alignment of sales and marketing is critical to lay the foundation for an effective lead management process. This ensures that the company as a whole is working toward a similar goal. The responsibility of increasing ROI becomes the responsibility of both teams. This alignment, especially in the case of B2B companies, shortens the sales cycle and makes it more efficient. In order to achieve this alignment, both teams needs to be on the same page -- aware of their responsibilities, as well as the intricacies of the process itself. Call a meeting to go over your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and the lead management process. Make sure everyone knows the different stages a lead goes through as well as the proper way to handle a quality lead. Some key journey points to remember include Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), which is based off of lead scoring, Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) and Sales Accepted Lead (SAL), which are identified after a meeting occurs and the lead progresses through the sales cycle. Here is a helpful checklist to get you started. 2. Analyze the Lead Journey Once a lead is created and enters the process, the lead journey is analyzed over time. Tracking can be done through a CRM platform like Salesforce.com, SugerCRM, Hubspot CRM, social media analytical tools and email marketing analytics. Salesforce is one of the major Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools to document and keep track of important information. Through Salesforce, marketers are able to take a well-rounded look at their business and manage relationships with the partners and other strategic alliances, existing customers and prospects. With tracking, you learn that lead’s process and behavior. This knowledge proves valuable when developing content and tactics to use during the lead management process. Even if these leads have been passed off to the sales team, they are still important to track. Through monitoring, you can measure sales performance, and calculate marketing and sales ROI. This information is key because it allows you to learn how expensive each lead is and the proper steps to take in order to get more quality leads while reducing cost. You are able to analyze your marketing efforts as a whole, and make any necessary adjustments to save time and money while increasing revenue. 3. Score Your Leads Next, it is crucial to score your leads with lead scoring tools built into platforms like Marketo or Hubspot. Through scoring, you are able to determine not only the lead’s interest in you, but your interest in them as well. This allows the sales team to only spend time on leads that matter since higher scoring leads are more likely to convert. To have an effective lead scoring system, it is important to look at the lead’s persona, level of engagement and timing. 4. Nurture Your Leads Last but not least, it’s important to nurture high scoring leads before passing them to the sales team. According to DemandGen, leads who are nurtured with targeted content produce a 20 percent increase in sales opportunities. It is important to determine the unique preferences of your leads. What drives their attention? From there, you can create targeted content that is relevant and valuable to them. Some of the most effective targeted content includes email nurture campaigns, promotional offers and call-to-action content. For more information on GreenFig’s upcoming courses taught by industry leaders like Jerine and Sue, check us out at www.greenfig.net.

Thursday, July 19, 2018