Archive for Content Marketing

Email Marketing is Still a Thing

Is Email Marketing Dead?

Have you heard that email is dead and social media is the place to be? Social media is a great way to connect with people and share your messages, however, before you ditch your email marketing efforts, here are a few things to consider:

  1. According to Marketo, 94% of people say the main reason they get online, is to check their email.
  2. Email marketing drives $44 for every $1 spent.
  3. The average order value from an email is 3 times higher than social media
  4. According to a survey by OptinMonster, Marketers say the ROI (actual sales) from email is far greater than social media

We send out a monthly newsletter for a number of our clients who report nearly instantaneous clicks, inquiries and sales. There appear to be good results from a bare minimum effort.

How to Start Email Marketing

email from laptop - Email Marketing is Still a ThingIf you don’t have an email marketing strategy in place and don’t know where to begin, here are some things to consider:

Target Audience

Do you already have a list? Do you need to build one? Some people have a stack of business cards that could be converted into contacts on an email list. This doesn’t need to be a tedious job. For instance, there are scanning apps available to scan the card and create a contact list to be imported into a mail service. Use the power of your website to collect opt-ins – visitors who agree to get emails from you. A good way to ethically bribe people onto your list is to provide something of value to them, such as useful information or discounts. This is one of the best ways to get started. Additionally, you can also pull contacts from your contact list on your computer or phone…people with whom you’ve communicated in the past.

Pick an Email Service

It is not recommended that you create a massive distribution list on your computer’s email software. This is one way to get your email address blacklisted. A better option, is to utilize a cloud-based email service, such as Constant Contact. We’ve tried many services, such as MailChimp, Mad Mimi, Aweber, Drip, GetResponse and more. Constant Contact has become a favorite for us, because it is very easy to use with beautiful templates, they have great deliverability stats, there are a lot of features, and their customer support is top notch! They even call you to help you get started!

Messaging Strategy

Not sure what to say? A good goal is to provide 90% value and only 10% promotion. Education adds value. Statistics and reports add value. Humor and fun add value. Decide what value you can add before you write a single word. Next, plot out the content for your emails. Some options might include: sending a monthly newsletter or an invitation to a webinar or event. Or, inform them about important changes/news in your industry. All of these content ideas are well-received. It is important to know your audience and what THEY want from you, because that makes an email campaign successful. This will likely require some well-spent time researching and/or surveying your audience.

Measure Results

Every platform has analytics to report the results of your email campaigns. Things that are typically measured are: the number of opens, clicks (on links), bounces, unsubscribes and spam complaints. Look at this data regularly to help fine-tune your messaging tactics. If a particular topic, event or article gets better results than another, you can pivot your content accordingly.

Be Consistent – Reaching the right people with the right message should be consistent. Automating emails is one way to do this. Create an autoresponder series which drips out email messages at an interval you choose. Or, pick a day of the week or one time per month to email consistently. This schedule must work for you or you won’t execute it. Another option is to hire a digital marketing team like ours to design, write, test and send your emails for you (shameless plug!).

Nearly every business can benefit from some sort of email marketing…so, you see – it’s not dead yet nor do we see it dying any time soon!

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Additional Resources:

(Full Disclosure – some of the links in this email contain an affiliate link, which means if you sign up with them we may get a small referral fee. Thank you.)

Challenging Your Customers

the challenger sale - Challenging Your CustomersOne book I find useful for understanding sales and marketing as a process is “The Challenger Sale” by Dixon and Adamson. I find myself intrigued and agreeing with much of what they present in their findings. The book was written in 2011 and reacts to the chaos from the great recession. While those events are fading, there remain many relevant takeaways which seem timeless.

From what I infer, the primary target audience for “The Challenger Sale” is Sales Executives and Managers in enterprise businesses. This differs from my intended audience; CEOs, Owners, and Founders. While the target readership is different, there is considerable similarity to our perspectives.

My Key Relevant Takeaways


Sales approaches can be classified.

Based on a study of 6,000 participants, Dixon and Adamson note their researchers were able to identify five distinct profiles for sales reps:



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Five distinct profiles defined in “The Challenger Sale”.

A Plurality of Top Performers Are Challengers

According to the statistics presented by Dixon and Adamson, 39% of the top-performing sales reps in the study came from the Challenger profile.

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Challenger profiles are 23% of the total but 39% of the top performers. Relationship Builders are 26% of the profiles but only 7% of the top performers.

Note the least probable way for you to develop a top performing sales rep is to focus on relationship building.

It can be argued that there is merit to the “Lone Wolf” profile as this is the other profile where there is a disproportionately higher number of top performers. The issue with the Lone Wolf profile is that, by definition, this profile is not an approach which can be easily replicated and scaled.

In small companies, the Lone Wolf might be created simply by circumstances. The sales team might be small, might be acting without skilled leadership, and might have little or no direction about value propositions or business models. To succeed, salespeople figure it out by themselves.

Why Are Top Performers Valued?

While this varies by company, top performers produce 1.5 to 4.0 times as much as the average performers. As the complexity of the sale increases, the difference is greater. Dixon and Adamson cite the example of one company with 100 salespeople where 80% of the sales were the result of the efforts of just two people.

Clearly, there is a case to be made to put an effort into finding and developing top performers.

Creating a top-performing sales team might also be a critical element to the success, maybe survival of your company. If you wrestle with keeping the cost of customer acquisition low enough to have a scalable or sustainable business model, having top-performers on your team can reduce the cost of customer acquisition.

It should also have an effect on the revenue per customer. Arguably, top performers should have more customer retention and the ability to win bigger customers.

Bill’s Story

Challengers teach their customers about their own businesses. They bring value to the customer because they can advise on choices a customer can make and the implications of various choices.

Early in my career, I was in a B2B business and had the opportunity to travel with “Bill”. In retrospect, I see Bill as a Challenger. I witnessed Bill walking into a customer’s business at which point literally everything else that was happening was paused. “Bill was there” and he was the advisor and mentor to the business. At a glance, I could see Bill was a very trusted advisor.

Bill told me about a situation with another customer. He observed his customer for several months and was concerned because it was apparent the customer was not making money. After some reflection, Bill went into the business one day and told the owner his accountant was an embezzler.

Bill did not have access to the financial statements. He came to his conclusion based on his intuition about the situation.

The owner asked Bill to leave the business and never come back. The accountant was a close personal friend to the owner and godfather to the owner’s children.

Six months later Bill got a letter of apology. While they were angry about the accusations, the owner did some investigation.

They found money in 33 different banks.

Was Bill a top performer? Yes, salesperson of the year for my company.

The Implications for Your Marketing Efforts

While top performers can come from any of the profiles, what the authors are suggesting is an effort to support challenger selling increases your odds of creating top performers more than 5x an effort to support relationship building.

LinkedIn agrees but says it a different way. While encouraging their members to “engage with insight” LinkedIn says “nearly 64% of B2B buyers report they appreciate hearing from a salesperson who provides information or insight about their business.”

The content in your blogs, emails, and newsletters should primarily teach your customers about their businesses. If you are interacting with your customers you see patterns which lead to success and growth that might not be seen if all a customer knows is about their own business.

Or, you could see a creative business practice one customer is doing to solve an issue that another customer could also adopt.

Considering the previous discussion about the importance of “customer experience”, a content strategy which focuses on teaching can become part of your customer experience.

As I’ve mentioned before, your content speaks to many different audiences. Content which teaches will be valuable not just to your customers. Consider also the impact to new people in your organization.

The Golden Rule for Sales

Early in my career I served in a role as Product Engineering Manager for a manufacturing company. The responsibility of my organization was to provide the operations and manufacturing engineering organizations designs and specifications. In the world of engineering, this was done with “prints” and “bills of material”.

If a print was “silent” on an issue, that meant there was no limitation to what they factory could use. Maybe the print said “Cold Rolled Steel” but nothing else, for example.

At the next level of control, the print would list specific suppliers, whose products were qualified through our quality evaluation processes.

At the highest level of control, when we were convinced that specific features were important, we would specify a specific product from a specific supplier.

In any event, my organization was sometimes highly influential in the process for supplier selection, particularly when a specification was precise.

golden rule of selling 420x280 - Challenging Your CustomersAs I reflect on this today, the sales representatives who were the most valuable to me in the deliberations surrounding specifically-engineered products were the ones who could show me the best way to incorporate their products. Usually these were trained factory representatives; in other words, challengers.

In contrast, companies represented by independent sales representative organizations were the most frustrating. They could seldom advise or make a decision. They couldn’t answer my technical questions. They usually had to “call the factory”. But they were always good for buying you lunch.

Which sales approach was the most successful? It’s easy for me to understand the value of a challenger salesperson when I envision the concept from the perspective of a customer interested in creating a top performing product or service.

Many CEOs worry about people in their organizations who make purchasing decisions based on the perks they get from relationship-building salespeople. For most, it is common sense that buying decisions should be based on what is a good business decision, not personal benefit.

I worked for one company, however, that became very proactive and made it a written policy to limit “gifts” from suppliers to incidental amounts. Lunch or dinner might be ok, but not vacations, cars, or other large gifts.

In one of my other assignments, the company where I worked was spending about $50 million on a factory expansion. Soon after all the contracts for construction were awarded, the lead facilities engineer for the project showed up driving the Lincoln Continental previously owned by the General Contractor. Even if this was an innocent, arms-length transaction, the perceptions created should have been enough to nix the deal.

As the leader in your business, how do you want people in your company to make decisions? And how do you think your customer counterpart wants their employees to make decisions?

Challenger Content is Neutral

Maybe you don’t agree with a focus on building a challenger sales organization. If you have a personal background from another selling profile or your organization is ingrained with another selling profile, you might find it difficult to change your approach.

It shouldn’t matter to your marketing content. All profiles can benefit from a customer teaching approach to your social media content. No one is hurt by this approach.

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About the Author: Bob Kroon is a coach for high-performing Founders, CEO’s, and Owners. He founded Expeerious, LLC ( in 2015 to exclusively focus on coaching the success of Top Executives. For over 25 years, Bob served variously as CEO, COO, Division President, and Group Vice President.

The majority of his career was in manufacturing durable goods. Bob is an enthusiast and practitioner of Lean Thinking since 1986. He also has broad skills in M&A including financial modeling, deal structure, diligence, and post-close integration.

Bob’s current clients are diverse and include businesses in healthcare, agricultural products, robotics, luxury goods, and education.

To learn more about how Bob coaches and thinks, you can find over 200 questions he’s answered on Quora. Visit his website at: for additional blog posts.

Put the “Social” in Your Social Media

put the social in social media image - Put the "Social" in Your Social Media

Let’s be real – most people log onto their social media sites to play. Take a look at your own network and see what they enjoy…funny pictures, cool images, quotes, sports stats, recipes, shopping, kid stuff. Most of the time it’s a completely social atmosphere…hence the term “social” media. So as a business, how do you jump into the conversation without turning people off? You give them what they want.

Chances are your post about your business is not going to go viral. However, a funny cartoon or saying that relates to your business very easily could.  It’s what I call “putting the ‘social’ in social media”. Here are five steps to put the “social” in YOUR “social media”.

  1. Target Audience – always, always, always start any content piece with your target audience in mind. Who are they? How do they spend their time? What do they want? You can research this quite easily by looking at the news feed of your current audience or one of your competitors.
  2. Brainstorm Ideas – create a list of topics that you think would appeal to your target audience. Things such as humor, trivia, sports facts, recipes, art, quotes, etc.
  3. Create a plan – Plan out your content schedule and make it easy on yourself by having regular features. For example, maybe you want to have “success quote Monday” or “Friday Funny” or “Recipe Wednesday”. Create something that is easy for you to follow and execute.
  4. Add images – whenever possible, add images to your posts. 85% of people describe themselves as “visual” learners so images are always a good idea.  You can borrow images from others (always cite the source for credit!), buy stock images or make them yourself.
  5. Monitor – Watch your analytics to see which posts create the most buzz. This is immediate feedback to tell you how your campaign is going. You can use the information to tweak your strategy and get more engagement.

Putting the “social” in your social media strategy is a key aspect of growing your audience, creating “likeability” and growing your business!

Are You KILLING it With Your Content…or is Your Content Killing You?

talking social media on a box dude 262x300 - Are You KILLING it With Your Content...or is Your Content Killing You?

I have a social media pet peeve!  I don’t like it when businesses cruise around the Internet and find other people’s things to post…simply re-tweeting or reposting another person’s article or image.   To me it is lazy and it is NOT a social media strategy.  Besides, if you’re trying to become known as a thought leader in your industry, you must create content, which represents that expertise.  I’m not saying that you can’t share tidbits that you find or read.  In fact, you should share these with your audience.  But if you truly want to be known for your expertise, then you need to create content that showcases that expertise.

How do you know what killer content is?  Here are three questions to ask yourself:

What problem does my business address? 

By knowing exactly what your business does for your customers, you have a head start at creating content!  Create a list of tips and tricks that help to solve the problem.  You can use the list to craft social media content that showcases your knowledge.

What does my target audience need to know?

Perhaps you have learned about a new policy or law.  Perhaps there are new products in your portfolio.  Perhaps there is news about your industry.  Don’t just share the link to the news, create your own interpretation and share THAT.  You can even break it down into the main points and share it over the course of a week.

What else can I share with my target audience to make them better?I Like cartoon Udesign 300x242 - Are You KILLING it With Your Content...or is Your Content Killing You?

Most of your customers have peripheral interests that relate to your business in some fashion.  Think about your ideal client and their demographic.  By knowing them and their interests, you can provide information that appeals to them.  For example, if you are a restaurant, you could share information about your community or nutrition or local events.  If you’re a chiropractor, you could share health, nutrition and lifestyle tips.  Or books you’ve read that your patients might like.  Get creative but be sure to focus on your ideal client’s demographic.

Make your social media content stand out and represent you as a thought leader.  You will be amazed at the way your customers interact with you and watch your social media followers (and your business!) grow!