Tuesday, March 31, 2009

“M” is Fore Motivation: How Cultivating Marketing Talent is Like Training Golfers

I am not a human resources professional. I am a marketing and account management professional with experience in managing and being managed, as well as a recreational golfer. As I researched this post on attracting and retaining marketing talent, a number of golf-related analogies came to mind.

1) An excellent drive off the tee is great. But the short game is equally as important as the long. Seek marketers who will have a strong big-picture view and will be able to contribute to strategy, but also the ability to focus and execute on these good ideas. The best talents will help your business thrive today and continue to break new ground tomorrow.

2) Each golf student requires coaching in different areas in order to improve his/her game. Therefore, lessons are typically tailored to the individual, course, and handicap. Apply situational leadership, selecting your leadership style to suit each situation and employee.

3) Coaches at a tournament know to be silent while golfers tee off. At this point, it is up to the golfer to apply what s/he has learned. Do not micromanage. It is damaging to both the manager and the employee, and is a leading cause of attrition among talented employees. There are a number of books, articles and blog posts dedicated to this topic. Instead, focus proactively on the hiring and onboarding process to ensure that you attract and cultivate key talent.

4) Following a lesson, the golf instructor will often ask the student to watch his/her practice round on DVD. Usually, the student can point out his/her errors and make the necessary correction, asking questions of the instructor when needed. Involve employees as you deliver feedback and allow them to be part of the solution. Provide facts and examples rather than generalizations, and keep your mind open to alternate points of view.

5) After a successful putt, onlookers clap for a job well done. Don’t forget to praise excellent performance.

If this all seems like common sense to you, congratulations. Not only are you on track for successful management of marketing talent; you also have potential as a weekend golf coach. Enjoy the round.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Make the Most of Your Messaging

Think about the last time you felt a strong pull toward a line on a web banner, on company signage, or in an email, a tweet, or a mailer that read, Industry-Leading, Best-of-Breed, Technologically Superior Widget… Riiiight. Doesn’t do it for me either.

Today, business-to-business marketers are living the dream. We have so many vehicles through which to interact with our customers, vehicles that enable information-sharing and collaboration with broad customer- and prospect communities.

At the same time, customers have all of the same vehicles at their fingertips, through which to learn and discuss with others. This leaves companies more exposed than ever, putting customers at a significant advantage.

This also puts companies who message authentically at an advantage. Making this a reality requires your messaging to be:

•Customer-focused. Isn’t messaging quality subjective? Sure. That’s precisely why it is so important to understand your audience and to prioritize not a cookie-cutter statement about your general greatness, but rather how you stand out relative to their interests, concerns, and challenges. Even if they aren’t ready to purchase today, your brand will be recalled when they issue that RFI/RFP or PO.

•Credible. With more ways than ever to share experiences, thoughts, and impressions about your company and products, credibility is key. Customers are savvy and will let one another know quickly if you are not what you claim to be. Don’t do this.

•Dynamic. Times change and so do markets. Keep your content fresh. Remind people about what’s new and how you’re addressing their problems in a way that is relevant today. Listen to your customers and to your non-customers so that you may uncover new problems that you can address, and ensure that your messaging resonates accordingly. They may not always be able to articulate the need. Ask probing questions to help fill in the blanks. Keep an open mind. You may hear something very different than you anticipate, which can lead to competitive advantage.

•Succinct. Customers and prospects are busier than ever and face the challenge of cutting through the noise to get to information that is relevant to them. Target your messages to the right people and get to the point.

Think about some of the messages you’ve seen and offers for which you’ve provided feedback. What sticks out the most for you?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Empower Your Brand with a Microsite

Do you have a product or service offering that requires awareness aside from that of your corporate brand?

Could you easily bring this product or service into the broader context of an interactive, topical conversation with customers and prospects?

If the answer to both of these questions is yes, your offering may be a good candidate for a microsite.

Separate from your corporate website, a microsite:

  • Lets you focus a conversation on a specific product, service, promotion, or topic
  • Can strengthen brand awareness and help build brand affinity
  • Costs about the same as setting up a traditional website $2,500-over $50,000*
  • May be used to create brand equity and to foster customer community interaction about a particular area of your business
  • Should not be used solely to increase traffic to your corporate website

Remember that you’ll need to keep content fresh and relevant on the microsite as well as on the main site. Be sure it fits into your marketing, branding, and search engine optimization strategy, and that you clearly identify the intended call-to-action for your audience.

*source: Melissa Campanelli, Entrepreneur Magazine

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Social Networking For Personal and Professional Success

On February 26, 2009, I had the opportunity to take part in Bentley University’s alumni event, Social Networking ROI for You and Your Business, featuring alumnus and social media professional, CC Chapman.

Among the audience was a mix of novices and more experienced social networkers. In an engaging and humorous way, CC presented best practices and words of advice for maximizing ROI from these tools.

- Use status updates on LinkedIn to spread the word about your current project(s)

- Keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date. Jobs and projects completed years ago can become relevant at any time

- Regardless of the social network, figure out what works for you (personal and professional). Determine what information you do and do not want to share—for example, do you want your professional contacts to see the photos of your family vacation to the Grand Canyon?--and apply the privacy settings accordingly

- Consider the difference between
Friends and friends in your social networks. It is good to have both. The latter could contain casual contacts and may, for example, be divided between professional and personal, while your Friends are those with whom you can share all of your content and will be the most active in your networks

- When contemplating advertising or online promotions, know your audience. Facebook makes it easy to target promotions to certain groups based on the demographics and psychographics they list in their profiles. You can explore different options before buying an ad

-Fan pages on Facebook also helps to spread buzz about your offerings

CC also reminded us to enjoy the social networking experience. His most important advice, regardless of your level of experience with social networks: “Take the time to play, understand, and ask questions.”