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How to Align Sales and Marketing to Boost Revenue by 208%

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Did you know that realigning sales and marketing can boost revenue by 208%? Or that organizations which align sales and marketing functions enjoy 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales win rates.

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How to Embrace Big Data and Use it to Grow Your Business

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A recent survey of 362 executives conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit found that three out of four surveyed agree that their staff struggle with data and cannot apply data effectively to their decisions.

Data-driven companies are likely to be more profitable than their competitors, and they are more likely to ensure that employees apply the most relevant data to the business activities that most affect the bottom line. Yet companies struggle with data for three reasons:  culture, organizational structure, and technology. Fortunately, these hurdles can be overcome and marketers can take specific steps to begin making better decisions.

The Culture Struggle 

The survey reveals an apparent disconnect between how chief executive officers see the current status and benefits of data initiatives and how lower-level managers see them.

It’s not that CEOs are out of touch, it’s that they’re not getting the real scoop. Each level of management filters out some of the bad information. When the problems get filtered out, CEOs expect marketers to do things they’re not able to do. They may think that applying analytics to marketing decision-making is easy and, therefore, can be done quickly. When the CEO thinks everything is okay, he’s not going to authorize additional funding to close a gap you know exists because he thinks you’ve already done it.

All of this makes it harder to weave data-driven marketing into the culture of the company.

What’s the solution? Tell your CEO the truth!

You can’t have a clear understanding of the situation if the data is wrong or the picture is incomplete.  If your organization is ready to be data-driven and your CEO and everyone on down supports it, then no one should have trouble with the facts. You shouldn’t have any trouble talking about problems like the system is not operating at the speed that is required or the data is not available. If you can’t talk about the problems, then you’re going to have trouble changing the culture as well.

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The Organizational Struggle  

There is little disagreement among those surveyed that they struggle with data because they lack access to that data they need and they lack the ability to convert that data into actionable insights. When it comes to capturing and disseminating important business data, 57 percent of the respondents believe their company does a poor job.

Too often, data are not shared across departments or broadly among staff focused on the same goals. Two-thirds of those surveyed agree that some departments have much better access to data than others.

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To use data to drive your marketing, identify the data you need and determine whether it is available elsewhere in your company. Often, valuable data sources are available, but not accessible.

The Technology Struggle 

One in three surveyed believes that the struggle with data is caused by a lack of technology. There’s a breadth of tools and variety of vendors and price-points and capabilities to choose from. What’s on the market can solve their problems, but only if they have it in place. If they have it in place, then they can focus on the other areas, like culture, and the organizational challenges that prevent sharing the information.

There are many user-friendly tools on the market that can analyze data, deliver customizable data feeds and dashboards, and visually present the data in clear terms. When marketers can see and understand the data clearly, they are more likely to ask the right questions and they become much better at conquering the ultimate challenge: extracting relevant insights from data and applying them to their business.

Even if your company lacks the ability to deliver information on iPads or other new platforms, presenting decision-making options and tracking performance of decisions help give data meaning and make it more likely that marketers will continue to engage and adopt a data-driven approach.

How to Overcome the Data Struggle 

Creating the data-driven organization is a three-stage process, say the experts who were interviewed for the report.  The ideal approach is for company leaders to share with employees a vision of cultivating a data-centric culture, and then to support that vision by funding the tools and talent. The third stage is to require, acknowledge and reward those who use data to make decisions.

However, few companies follow this idea approach. Most start at the bottom instead of at the top. Most companies focus on the technology and tools, then consider the expertise they need, and finally, work to instill a data-driven mindset across the organization. The survey showed that only one-quarter of the companies surveyed pay financial rewards to employees who use data to make decisions.

This is where marketing can lead the way, not only by adopting the data-driven mindset, but by communicating early successes across the organization and speaking out about the obstacles to greater success.

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Marketers without a data-centric background need to develop their skills. Those with the skills should foster a data-driven mindset in others by helping them understand analytics can help you fine-tune your gut instincts. Far from removing creativity and the personal touch, analytics enhances them. With data to analyze, you can test a broad range of ideas because if an idea flops, you know it and you can change direction quickly.

  1. Marketers without a data-centric background need to develop their skills. Those with the skills should foster a data-driven mindset in others by helping them understand analytics can help you fine-tune your gut instincts. Far from removing creativity and the personal touch, analytics enhances them. With data to analyze, you can test a broad range of ideas because if an idea flops, you know it and you can change direction quickly.
  1. Don’t be fooled by the need for big data analytics. Recognize that social media and other newer sources of data don’t change the fundamental process of data-driven decision-making. Every decision still starts with an understanding of the business problem, identifying the data available and transforming it for analysis, analyzing the data and deploying a course of action.
  1. Recognize that data analytics is easier than ever. With configurable tools and interfaces that enable sophisticated analysis, all you need is someone with the skills to set up the tools initially. Once that’s done, a broad range of people with no analytics training or know-how can make use of the results.
  1. Keep everyone moving toward better use of data. You can get some quick wins for instance, by using data to support A/B campaign testing, even if you don’t have a holistic and fully-integrated view of your customers based on their online and offline behaviors and preferences.
  1. Measure the results and reinforce the need to make decisions based on the data, rather than finding data to support decisions. An effective way encourage data-driven decisions is to make data use competitive and fun, and to link data use to the goals of the individual, not just the goals of the business.
  1. Compensation, performance incentives and indirect benefits are effective in encouraging employees to regularly use data. What’s more, 25% of executives at data-driven companies say their firms offer compensation and performance incentives to employees who embrace data, as compared with 17% of respondents from less data-focused companies.
  1. Investigate further. To understand more about how data-driven organizations function and drive superior financial performance, download the full report.

The bottom line is that data can be helpful to your career and your business — if you know how to embrace it. By incorporating some of the information outlined above, you’ll find that data can be a transformative part of your business experience.

Bill Franks is Chief Analytics Officer for Teradata.  Franks is also a faculty member of the International Institute for Analytics and author of Taming The Big Data Tidal Wave  and The Analytics Revolution. His work has spanned clients in a variety of industries for companies ranging in size from Fortune 100 companies to small non-profit organizations.  You can learn more at Bill-Franks.com.

 

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What Are the Most Important Trends in Content Marketing? Find Out Here.

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In a recent poll on digital marketing by Smart Insights, respondents said content marketing would have the biggest impact on driving results for their business this year. So, it comes as no surprise that 50% of B2C marketers expect to increase their content marketing budgets in 2015.

To help you build and strengthen your content strategy in 2015, we’re sharing an infographic by Smart Insights and JBH. Whether you’re seasoned content marketer or are just getting started, we’re sure you’ll find the stats and tips below helpful:

content-marketing-2015

3 Things Apple Did to Build Their Empire That You Can Do, Too.

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Unless you live in a tree fort in the Congo, you’re familiar with the Apple brand. They’ve not only built a business, but a brand that’s become an empire. Their competitors can’t even come close to seeing the success that Apple has seen in the technology niche.

For example, did you know that the iPhone alone brings in more revenue than all of Microsoft combined (to the tune of tens of billions of dollars)?

How do you get there?

How does that happen?

How does a guy start with an idea that becomes a technology cult several years down the road? Is the iPhone that much better than other smartphones? I don’t think so.

So what’s going on here?

What has Apple done to see so much success and what you can you and your team (if you have one) start doing today to emulate them?

Tip #1: Build Your Brand

The first thing you need to realize about Apple is that they built more than a company, product, or a business. They built a brand.

And that brand has made them billions of dollars.

So what is a brand? What does that mean? A lot of people mistake a company’s logo for their brand but a logo is just a bunch of pixels somebody created on a screen. A brand is something entirely different.

A brand is something that’s intangible yet simultaneously very real. Marketing and branding guru Seth Godin defines a brand this way:

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Did you catch that?

A “brand” is what people think of you and your business when you’re not around. It’s the perception that you create about yourself that sticks with people- good, bad, or ugly.

Everyone has a brand whether they like it or not. So why not make it shine?

People connect with brands not products. The iPhone craze isn’t about the product it’s about the brand. when people stand in line for week at a time, they want to be seen by others. They want to be seen with an iPhone, and they want to be identified with the Apple brand.

Douglas Van Praet has studied the science and psychology behind this type of attachment and writes that:

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He explains in the article that our brains are hardwired to attach and connect. We can’t help it. So when a business or marketer gets this and works tirelessly to create this kind of attachment- you get something like Apple:

Cool, sophisticated, uncomplicated.

People dig it.

So how can you build a brand like that?
You have to do it at the identity level.

You have to create a feeling in your audience that makes people say, “me too!” because they know that you get them. When you can tie your brand into people’s self narrative (the story they tell themselves about themselves) you’ve won. How does that happen?

  • You have to make emotional appeals that lead to emotional connections.
  • You have to speak to the heart, not the head.
  • You have to know your audience and speak to their felt needs.
  • You have to give people something that helps them improve who they already are.

Notice that none of this has to with your sales pitch or product. It’s all about creating meaningful personal connections with your market. Listen to what these iPhone fans had to say about the phone and notice, it has nothing to do with the actual product features. Instead, they talk abut how having an iPhone makes them feel:

“It’s the hype of getting it and having the latest technology. That is compelling to everybody. I have one, and I can not live without it.”

“Everyone’s just talking about it. It feels like you have to get one, because it’s out there.”

You can’t buy that kind of loyalty. It happens at the neurological level. So when you can position your brand in a way that evokes that type of response, you’re already ahead of your competition.

Your competitors are still marketing with cliches, platitudes, and free coasters. If this is you, please stop. You don’t build a business or give away free pens to be successful.

You need to build a brand.

Tip #2: Tell Your Story

After Apple built their brand, what came next was their story. They know how to tell a story in a way that resonates and sticks with people. Everyone on the earth has a story that they place themselves in that helps them make sense of who they are and what their purpose is.

Every brand has a story too.

The goal of every marketer should be to get both stories to intersect.

Apple tells stories that create wonder, are educational, true, and most importantly, inspiring. They create a felt need that makes people take their 2 weeks vacation and use it to stand in line for a phone.

They know how to create wonder and highlight emotion. They tell customers, “You’re more powerful than you think” and display online galleries of things people have created with their products.

Apple doesn’t just create products, they help you solve your problems. It’s what’s missing from your life and you need it. And if you’re still not hooked, they tell stories of how their brand has changed the lives of others and how it can change your life too.

And it works.

According to some of the world’s leading neuroscientists, our brains come alive during stories. We attach ourselves to them and find meaning and purpose in them.

So why not use them in marketing?

How do you begin telling your story?

Simple — you need to be intentional about it and you need a framework.

When you’re thinking through who you are and why you do what you do (i.e. your brand) a story will start to unfold. I highly suggest downloading Donald Miller’s free e-book, “How to Tell a Story” because it’ll give you the framework you need to frame your narrative properly and help you think through it.

You need to be a student of story, study story, Google it, focus on it, and make sure you tell your stories to everyone you meet. When you stop “selling” and start telling stories about the people you’ve helped, who you are, and why you’re in business…

…people will listen.

Tip #3: Cook Your Bacon

Have you ever noticed that Apple doesn’t try to reach everyone? They have a very specific niche that loves them and they’re unapologetic for being who they are and doing what they do.

Apple just does their thing.

They don’t try to appeal to everyone and they definitely aren’t people pleasers.

Fans love them

Haters hate them

In the meantime, they’re making billions of dollars and staying true to their brand. Just like Apple, to successfully gain brand exposure and build an audience, you need to do what you do without compromising or selling out.

You’ll never please or reach everybody- so stop trying to.

Brand Strategist Justin Foster came up with a branding metaphor that likens the most exciting and interesting brands to bacon. Mmmmmmm, bacon.

How do you sell bacon?

You cook it.

Bacon doesn’t apologize for being so insanely delicious and tasty. It’s bacon- it can’t help itself. Some people hate bacon (shame on them) but most people love it. Bacon doesn’t pretend to be lettuce and it doesn’t try to take center stage at the Vegan Convention.

In the same way — you have to be true to yourself, ignore the haters, court your fans, and do your thing. If you let fear or criticism govern your decisions you’ll end up being boring, uninteresting, irrelevant, and status quo.

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Listen to your audience.

Traditional marketing is humdrum.
It’s boring.

People are instantly turned off by it.

You have something you do that is awesome and the world needs to hear about it.

People need what you have to offer so … go give it to them.

Brian Lenney is an online entrepreneur who helps brands tell their stories. You can download his free e-book on storytelling by clicking here:”Six Storytelling Techniques Every Brand Marketer Should Know.

 

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Are You Missing a Huge Opportunity by Ignoring Local Search?

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Whether you’re a marketer or a business, local search will have an impact your marketing strategy in 2015. Local search is about going beyond branded terms to be visible, relevant, and engaging where and when your customers are looking for you.

With beacon deployment increasing and the advent of smartwatch technology, local search marketing is quickly bleeding into location-based and proximity marketing. Here are a few of the top trends to be aware of — and prepare for — in 2015:

Mobile Acquisition

According to Google, 70 percent of consumers who search for local information on a smartphone visit a store within five miles. Combine this with the fact that 80 percent of spending takes place within 15 miles of the home and local search becomes a big part of a brand’s mobile acquisition strategy.

Mobile search queries overtook desktop search queries in 2014, yet brands and marketers spend only a fraction of their budget on mobile. This will change in 2015, as marketers realize the mobile acquisition opportunity that local search provides via listings, maps, pages and more.

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Contextual Marketing

Contextual marketing, and the rise of mobile searches, will fuel location-based search campaigns and strategies. This means where a searcher is at the time of the search becomes a dominant ranking signal for the engines.

Keywords that aren’t typically considered “local” by marketers today, will have a local context and the opportunity for related ads to be served. Essentially, every keyword will have an opportunity to be “localized.”

Take the keyword term “flu remedy” as an example. If you search for “flu remedy” today you might see ads for cold and flu products as well as links to articles. As mobile context continues to influence the algorithms, you will see more search results related to drug stores and/or offers to buy those cold and flu products at a store that is near the consumer at the time of the search.

Proximity Marketing

Proximity marketing will gain more ground as beacon deployment increases across the board — from stadiums to shopping areas and city centers.

Proximity is a next-level extension of local search that enables marketers to communicate to consumers that are on-premise. This is a big opportunity for businesses to enhance their on-site and in-store experiences. Through location-based marketing programs, consumers will benefit by receiving special offers, information and/or directions in real-time based on their latitude and longitude.

The Apple Watch, and other wearables, will take proximity marketing to yet another level with hands-free searching and promotional offers.

Local Data Management

Lastly, local data management will quickly become the foundation for successful marketing going forward. This is where brands and marketers can gain ground over their competition.

With over seventy percent of consumers searching for local information on a smartphone visiting a store within five miles (according to the Google study), marketers need to be visible where and when their consumers are looking for them.

Local search marketing provides a way to be visible in those key moments across listings, map results and GPS systems. Brands that aren’t already leveraging a local search automation platform are getting left behind by smart marketers who understand the importance of listing management across the local search ecosystem. We will see a big shift with enterprise brands embracing location data management at scale.

Local search is poised to become the next digital battleground for brands — BIA/Kelsey expects local digital ad spending to expand to $45 billion by 2017. The mobile, contextual, and proximity aspects of local search marketing make it an area of digital to watch as well as the next big opportunity for your brand in 2015 and beyond.

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Jay Hawkinson is a digital marketing professional with 20 years of sales, marketing and merchandising experience including organic search optimization, paid search advertising, local search, mobile and social media. Jay joined SIM Partners in 2006 as an equity partner and currently oversees mobile, social media and emerging technology at SIM Partners as the senior vice president of social and emerging products.