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Can you believe it!? It’s time review the fourth quarter before jumping into the new year. I was just getting used to writing 2019 on my dates!
Hey, so, it is this time of the year. I can’t believe it. Fourth quarter review, which means we’re at the end of the fourth quarter, which means we are at the end of 2019, which means 2020 is just around the corner. And I was just getting used to writing that on my dates! So, let’s jump into it.
So, fourth quarter, again! Man I can’t believe it. If you are anything like me, which I’m sure that you are all experiencing this, it has been nuts! And so I was going over, like we do every quarter, all the previous episodes that we’ve had– and man, I completely forgot about all these great guests that we had and a lot of great insights! So, we’re going to do a quick little recap.
And I know that you’re a loyal listener or watcher, so this isn’t really for you. This is for the person who’s coming in and hasn’t really been paying attention. I’m just playing. There’s nobody like that. So, anyways, here we go.
So we’re going to talk about, the first one was we talked with John Joyce who’s from Brennan Industries. He’s the global marketing director and we talked about creating content that meets buyer needs. So John actually, I found him, he spoke at a conference that Content Marketing World had put…there was a subset, for manufacturers and industrial companies, and I am planning on going to that next year because I’d love to meet these companies and hear more. But I saw a teaser they had online from a presentation that he gave, and I thought it was absolutely fantastic, so I said, “Man, we’ve got to get John here,” and man, he delivered. Gave some great insights about their blogging strategy and how they’re going about creating content to really drive the needs of the buyers.
In a super short nutshell, the difference is that instead of trying to go out to where the customer is and interrupt what they’re doing to get their attention, you try to be the source of knowledge: a place they go to when they’re looking for information about your products or things related to your market. So we just started on square one with the blog, putting content out there.
And one of the things I said in my presentation, I showed a graph that showed our growth. And it was an exponential type graph where it starts out real low here, and it goes [over] like this and then goes [up] like that. And the reason why I showed that was to show that it took like a good year and a half before we really got any kind of momentum or traction off of our content marketing program. And then it’s kind of been exploding for the last couple of years: just growing off the chart as we just continue to build it.
Because one of the things about content marketing is, it’s a momentum building approach: like rolling a snowball down a hill. You start with just a tiny little bit and then you just keep adding layers and layers and layers and layers. And that first tiny bit doesn’t go away. It’s still– those first things are still bringing people in, and it’s still converting leads. We’ll go back and fine tune them, but they’re still out there.
So as you expand your content, the effectiveness expands, the reach expands, the conversion rate increases, the number of leads increases… And yeah, we saw really exponential growth over time in the amount of leads generated. And the process is pretty simple, but it produced outstanding results to us to where every year since I’ve been there, I’ve cut the advertising budget in half every single year for regular ads. We still do a few, because that would be in my brand building kind of category. It’s okay to build brand, you know, that’s important. But the majority of the budget has just gone into developing more and more content and more different types and attracting leads that way.
Well, the Georgia Manufacturing Summit came and went again in 2019, and we hosted the breakout panel on round sales and marketing. So I had two great guests. I had Sloan MacKarvich from Tie Down, and I had Drew Carl who is Director of Marketing for Superior Essex. It was about an hour and change of a session– so, again, we’ve got that episode. You can go listen to it. There’s some really great insights there around how to really jump into content marketing and digital marketing.
Sloan kind of shared his story on how he’s taken his company to start doing that. He was in the audience the year before and said, “Man, we need to start doing this,” and so he is kind of sharing with us his insights and his learnings on what he’s done. And then Drew Carl has been doing this for years and he’s awesome, and so he really just shared some best practices and some tips on what they do: tracking leads they’re generating for dealers and different strategies around that.
The buying journey has changed dramatically. So, one of the things that has happened in B2B specifically is it’s not one person buying anymore. It’s a buying committee. It’s a whole group of people involved.
What a lot of people don’t understand is the person you’re talking to in that final buying…they’re just the face of that. Maybe it’s a procurement manager, maybe it’s the engineer, or whoever is going to be buying that. But believe me, there’s a huge group of people involved behind the scenes: a lot of people you’ll never even contact and never be involved with. And if you can create content to help them through that process– because they’re all going through that buying process, and content helps them do that.
My favorite really are case studies, and why? If you do a case study the right way, it’s got to be solution-based. Kind of talking about it, it’s more about…you’re trying to get the customer to relate to that other customer that bought from you before. So they go, “Yeah, I’ve had that problem. Yeah! We sucked like that! Yeah, we need to get that solution that they got!” and they are able to go through there.
And also to your point ma’am, is, being able to understand, “Is this the type of company that can help walk us through this process?” Businesses buy things because they need to. Not because they want to. They need to.
And there’s someone there who is getting paid to buy things. It’s not a whim. You’re passing through Costco or passing through Amazon and you’re just like, “Well, I never thought of that, but that’s cool. I’ll buy that. It’s 15 bucks, no big deal.” Business people don’t do that. One, because when the request comes in and it’s on your credit card, accounting comes over and goes, “Why did you buy this?” And you have to have a reason behind it.
Next, we had Curbell Plastics. We had Charley Riley, who is the head of marketing. And so we really talked about how to really mine and find great content that maybe is right under your nose inside your organization.
So, if you are a listener or subscriber of IndustrialSage, you know that content is super, duper important and it’s going to be even more important this year. So how do you find great content? And where is it? Well, it may be actually right under your nose and it may be super easy to find. So listen to these couple little snippets that might help you to uncover some of these hidden treasure troves.
Our content really spans across different layers. So all the way up from whitepapers –which are very tactical and time-consuming, but that talk to an engineer to a very specific application – down to sharing on LinkedIn, because that’s where some of our buyers are spending their time.
And what we’re trying to do is take a core piece of content and turn that into multiple elements that might cross through video, through… we’re starting to do webinars. So really trying to do some different things that maybe from one core piece of content has turned into multiple applications that can be used with a salesperson out in the field.
Not everyone has time to digest a white paper, but they might want to read a smaller article. They might to read a case study, or an application success story. So that might be the lead-in for them to maybe share that whitepaper with someone more technical on their team.
So we’re really trying to speak… Everyone has different learning styles. Some people are more auditory learners. Some are visual learners. So we’re trying to take that, like you said, that core piece of content and deliver that in a medium that someone wants and that someone is willing to spend the time to look at.
Next, we had Kevin Brown from LeadSmart Technologies and he is the co-founder and CEO. And we talked about solving lead execution issues that create the black hole lead crisis. So, essentially, we really talked about that there’s a gap.
Sometimes you go to a trade show, you generate leads, they go under a spreadsheet, and you’re going to follow up with the top five or so – the hot deals – and then everyone else just kind of falls. And you’re like, “Where are they?” Well, he talks about how to really get around that and some tips and strategies on making sure that your leads don’t fall into that abyss.
The challenge is, if I’m an industrial manufacturer and I hire a lead generation organization, but I can’t execute on those leads and turn those leads – we use the term lead-to-revenue – if I can’t turn those leads into revenue, how long am I going to stay working with that agency?
The agency could be performing perfectly. Bar none there’s no issues with what the agency is doing. But if I don’t have the ability to put that through my network and turn those leads into dollars, how long am I going to keep that group around?
So next we talk with Vidyard with Tyler Lessard. He’s the CMO over there, and we talked about really rolling out video and not just your marketing, but also using it as a sales tool. Sales enablement. It’s a really hot thing right now.
We talked about some practical steps on how to roll out with it, and really to get your account managers and your salespeople to not only use video, but to create it themselves: to really create better engagement and be able to connect more with your buyer and develop a relationship through a digital channel.
The fact of the matter is if you can visually explain something and actually show a person, “Hey, this is what I’m talking about,” or “This is how our product could help you,” it’s more memorable; it’s quicker and easier to consume; and it’s more likely to get you that conversion you’re looking for.
General trust is at an all-time low, spam messages and digital noise is at an all-time high, and in order for us to break through the noise and to really earn trust, we need to start doing these things. And so I think the real question is, what’s the risk of you not trying things of this nature?
And as you think about that and if you say, “Okay, well, yeah. You know what?Maybe we should try it.” Then you go, “But how do I do it in a way that I’m confident is going to be perceived well in the market, and that my reps aren’t going to go off the reservation and do something really weird?”
You need to think about, how do you educate your sales reps? Give them some ideas, give them some guidelines– much like you did with email, much like you did with cold calling, right? Like the first time they started making cold calls, it was unnatural for them. You were afraid to let them on the phone. But it was the same. You’ve got to think, “Okay, this is another evolution and we’ve got to think about, how do we learn? How do we make it ours? What kinds of videos make sense? What kinds of visuals should we try to incorporate?” Give them a little bit of freedom, but also give them some guidance. And that can go a long way.
But you know, it’s not going to be…your first video is going to be your worst one, right? And your second video is going to be your second-worst one. But you’ll get better, just like you did at cold calling, and I think everybody just has to start thinking in this manner. Today, you can write emails, you can create documents, you can create PowerPoints. You have to be able to create video, too. It’s just the world that we’re in now.
All right, and that is it for the fourth quarter review! So, hopefully you take a couple of little nuggets and put that into your strategies for 2020. It’s going to be a really great year. We’re super excited about it. I’m sure that you’re super excited about it.
And we just want to wish you a very, very, very Happy New Year, and we’re looking forward to coming back and crushing it in 2020; and we hope the same for you.
(Looking for this episode’s blog article? Read it here!)
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