Marketing Pros Provide Advice for Peers

When marketing pros provide advice, marketing practitioners listen. One of the high points of the New York marketing community calendar each year is the Silver Apple Gala hosted by the Direct Marketing Club of New York. The fete toasts the business and industry leadership success of honored individuals.

When marketing pros provide advice, marketing practitioners listen. One of the high points of the New York marketing community calendar each year is the Silver Apple Gala hosted by the Direct Marketing Club of New York. The fete, held this year on Nov. 7 near Times Square, toasts the business and industry leadership success of honored individuals, and at least one corporation or organization.

Each “Silver Apple” recipient has contributed for 25 or more years to our field, and since 1985, there have been 248 such honorees, including these four individuals in 2019:

Marketing, Career Wisdom They Share

So when more than 200 of your friends, family, and peers come together, what pearls of wisdom do you have to share?

Carl Horton, IBM

“The ability to execute against the dream in real time,” is what excites Carl Horton, Jr., in his current position in B2B marketing at IBM. Horton credits colleagues who have placed “personal investments in me” and dared to let him take crazy ideas (artificial intelligence applications don’t seem so crazy today) and make them reality, as well as the unconditional love of family.

One key takeaway from Horton:

“The importance of diversity in leadership and innovation: The NextGen of innovation may come from someone of experience, income, race, gender, gender identity, very different from our own.”

Here, here, we need to foster it.

Britt Vatne, ALC

Britt Vatne, who leads the data management practice at ALC, talked about a career pivot 15 years ago, when she worked with a nonprofit client for the first time, March of Dimes, and it showed to her how critical acquiring, retaining, and growing donors are. She also credited industry luminaries, such as the late Bob Castle and the energetic Donn Rappaport (in the room) – as well as her father, who came to America from Norway, never finished primary school, and taught her “there is no substitute for hard work.” She was the first of her family to go to college.

“Being human, being respectful, and having integrity are non-negotiable,” she said. “Be a positive role model, and you’ll have the love and loyalty of family.”

And probably, quite a few colleagues and clients, too.

Joe Pych, NextMark & Bionic Advertising

Joe Pych, who is the startup founder of two companies — NextMark and Bionic Advertising, says his “go-to metric is sales growth.” CRM [customer relationship management] is so much more of an opportunity than simply managing costs, he says. Set a goal, uncover an idea, execute, and measure results.

”I feel selfish standing alone with so much support I’ve received over the years,” he said, referring first to his mother, who put four children through college on an electrician’s salary – and then went and got a masters herself.

He also thanked many of his client data businesses that helped make his first company take off — companies, such as MeritDirect, ALC, Worlddata, and Specialists Marketing Services (SMS), among others – who took a chance on a Hanover, NH-based enterprise. To his wife, Robin.

“Those missed vacations, I’m sorry … again.”

Gretchen Littlefield, Moore DM Group

Gretchen Littlefield, CEO of Moore DM Group for the past two years, also served at Infogroup for 14 years, where she helped develop its nonprofit, political, and federal government marketing practice – which propelled her into her current role atop Moore.

In 2018, she co-founded the Nonprofit Alliance, where she serves as vice chair, to advance in Washington the interests of nonprofit and charitable organizations.

“I fell into this business like everyone else,” she said, starting from data entry and advancing to “getting data [insights] out of the industry.”

She thanked many industry leaders among her mentors and influencers, among them Jim Moore, Larry May, and Vin Gupta.

“It seems as if on every innovation, we are working together and competing all the time. Coopetition,” she said. “The flow of data – from list rentals, to coops, to marketing clouds. We share data for growth.”

Littlefield also emphasized investment in education, citing Marketing EDGE and Direct Marketing Club of New York, for their respective roles in attracting bright students to the marketing field.

“Time goes by faster than we expect — Joe [Pych] and I were Marketing EDGE Rising Stars back in the day. I’m just as excited today as my first day in direct marketing, but mostly grateful for the friendships.”

In addition, there were three special honors bestowed, among them a first-time “Corporate Golden Apple” to Marketing EDGE for its more than half-century of creating and connecting market-ready college students for careers in marketing. And two Excellence Apples:

  • 2019 Apple of Excellence, Advocacy:
    Tony Hadley, SVP, Regulation and Public Policy, Experian (Washington, DC)
  • 2019 Apple of Excellence Disruptor:
    Mayur Gupta, CMO, Freshly (New York, NY)

There’s more to share – but that likely will be another post! Stay tuned …

Advice for GenZ Marketing Job Seekers and Hiring Managers

If you’re looking to hire new graduates, learn who the best candidates are by networking with their college professors. My former partner, Jon Roska, brought the best and the brightest college grads into the agency every year by networking with professors at local universities.

There’s a story I tell to my students about getting their first job.

Former University of Pennsylvania President Judith Rodin was addressing the graduating class of 2003 and started a litany of the important things the graduates learned during their time at the university:

At Penn you learned this, at Penn you learned that, at Penn you learned this, at Penn you learned that, “but most importantly, at Penn you learned that it is not WHO you know, but rather WHOM you know.”

Grammatically correct, but also valuable advice for job seekers and hiring managers alike.

Advice for Job-Seekers

I encourage students to start their job networking while they’re still in school. Go to industry events. Meet people. Connect with people who can introduce you to prospective opportunities in their own firms, as well as in related companies. Build a strong network on LinkedIn and don’t be shy about using it to get introduced to job opportunities. When jobs become available, hiring managers are more likely to hire someone they already know, or someone who’s been referred by someone they know, rather than a stranger.

Advice for Marketing Team Hiring Managers

This advice applies to hiring managers, as well. If you’re looking to hire new graduates, learn who the best candidates are by networking with their college professors. My former partner, Jon Roska, brought the best and the brightest college grads into the agency every year by networking with professors at local universities. It was a win for everyone: the professors, the students and the agency.

Many colleges hold job fairs for their graduating seniors and invite prospective employers to set up shop and meet their graduating students. These events are a great way for students and managers to meet each other, but tapping into a network of teachers who have gotten to know which students are the best during a 15-week course is an excellent way to screen for the cream of the crop.

It’s all about whom you know.

Advice for the Digital Marketing Industry, Perhaps Too Late

I was recently asked what advice I would give my younger self to succeed in the digital marketing industry. The question, of course, is nonsense: No one has a time machine or could recreate the unique circumstances of these past decades.

I was recently asked what advice I would give my younger self to succeed in the digital marketing industry. The question, of course is nonsense: No one has a time machine or could recreate the unique circumstances of these past decades.

We now possess almost perfect information about the technology, business environment and leaps of faith and brilliance that created our digital world and a brand new industry — but we did not have that guidance back then. Still, after over 20 years in this “new” industry of online marketing it might be time to reflect on some of the challenges and choices that have shaped our current state.

Advice for the Industry: 20 Years Too Late

Stop being so defensive. It’s hard to imagine now but in the mid 90’s many were still calling the Internet a fad and were waiting for it to go away so they could return to “business as usual.” At that point many (even large) companies were still busy debating whether they even needed a website, some agencies and marketers were slow to learn or adopt digital skills and our educational institutions lagged behind in teaching students what they sorely needed to succeed. Much of this was pure defensiveness and a stubborn refusal to accept that the world was changing.

Stop creating buzzwords. We lacked the language or imagination to describe new concepts and capabilities effectively and the new buzzwords did nothing to add to our credibility. Buzzily named products, companies or approaches quickly became synonymous with something fleeting. They didn’t earn a place of respect even if the product deserved it.

Focus on the stuff that matters. Early technologies and efforts were often about what we could do and not what we should do. As the better technologists matured into businessmen and women who valued the metrics and results that mattered to a sustainable business and industry our bubbles were replaced with platforms and channels that have rewritten our world. Still, we suffered through too many shiny objects and useless toys that didn’t help the early credibility of the Internet as a business environment.

Make inclusiveness a priority. Make sure everybody and especially every young person in every neighborhood has access to the tools and training that will help them succeed. Expensive technology and slow moving infrastructure unfairly handicapped some populations in joining the web revolution. That slowed us down and limited our success as a whole.

Help industries and professions to evolve. Many found their jobs changing or disappearing (hello travel agents?) with no idea how to pivot their skills and services to stay relevant and effective. Disintermediation was a real thing. Some jobs and vocations became irrelevant or unrecognizable overnight and those affected were left to fend for themselves. We should be better than that.

Commit to standards that help everyone. Put a premium on cooperation over competition to set and keep common standards in data, ads and other elements. That consistency would have reduced a lot of the pain points and smoothed the learning and success curves for users all along the spectrum. Monopoly or first-to-market businesses, governing bodies and associations of professionals with vested interests kept us in chaos for far too long.

There are also a few things I wish I personally had known way back when that could have informed my own choices.

Advice for Myself: 20 Years Too Late

Get comfortable with change. Our industry is relentlessly dynamic. Get used to change as a constant and get prepared by committing early on to frameworks and processes that can absorb and integrate new approaches and opportunities without sacrificing the strategic core.

Get data smart. Marketers who understand how to collect and apply data are miles ahead of those who don’t in this day and age.

Write — a lot. Communications skills, especially written words, are at a premium as every person and business requires thoughtful content regularly generated in many formats. Strong and strategic writers, designers and communicators are critical in the digital economy.

And, just for good measure … find an exercise you love, stick to your diet, travel more and buy Apple stock.

Perhaps we can learn from our past to help us enrich our collective future.

What good advice would you give your past self?

From Views to Leads: Effectively Using Video in B-to-B Marketing

Tired of all the “guru” advice that doesn’t work when using video in B-to-B marketing? Getting views and subscribers on YouTube, but not enough sales? Here’s a simple, effective approach to get viewers to respond to videos and become sales leads.

Tired of all the “guru” advice that doesn’t work when using video in B-to-B marketing? Getting views and subscribers on YouTube, but not enough sales? Here’s a simple, effective approach to get viewers to respond to videos and become sales leads.

Focus on How You Speak, Not What You Say
It’s natural to focus on what we’re saying in videos. Yet it’s an approach that will sabotage you every time. Instead, focus on how you’re presenting knowledge, not the information itself.

We’re very busy being transparent, honest, showing our personalities and giving away our best advice using videos. But the truth is you must do all those things and do it in a way that creates response.

Otherwise you’re wasting time.

In my experience using video in B-to-B marketing, there is one reason why people fail with it. They over-focus on WHAT to say rather than designing what to say to trigger response.

“The HOW” is what makes the difference when using video in B-to-B marketing. Here’s what to do

1) Don’t engage—fix, guide, compare, serve! Contrary to what ‘the experts’ say, buyers don’t care about your personality, your passion nor how often you offer free advice. They’re selfish. They care far more about solving their problem or reaching their goal faster.

Let this be your guiding rule. If you want to get passed around a lot on social media go ahead-be cute, funny “engaging” and such. If you want to generate leads serve a purpose.

2) Talk about what matters (and nothing else). Get started by asking yourself these questions when using video in B-to-B marketing

  • What pressing problem can I solve?
  • What pain can I remove?
  • What pleasure can I help create?

The idea is to focus your video on the pain customers need to get rid of, or the goals they need to achieve faster.

3) Provoke response. The best way to start is claiming you can change the success rate of prospects. Then do it.

Tell them you can actually move their needle. Then prove it by showing them exactly how to do something important to them.

Show them how to avoid a risk, solve a problem, learn a new skill … step-by-step in the video.

The idea is to create confidence in them … get them to take action and experience some success. Because if they do *this creates trust in you.*

Over to You
So remember the formula for structuring your videos when using video in B-to-B marketing.

  • Tell customers you can increase their success rate.
  • Then, without wasting time, prove to them you can move their needle … give them results.
  • Give them an even better way to start right now … in return for a deeper relationship (a lead).

Do this with a clear call to action that gets them to take action.

Need an example? Watch this video!

Why Engaging Passionately Fails Us (and What to Do Instead)

“The experts” claim passion is the key to a successful B-to-B business blogging strategy. They say results will come when you show customers you care in LinkedIn groups and give away your best advice. But this advice is misguided. Caring and giving are merely costs of entry. Process is the force multiplier. Process is at the heart of effective business blogging and using LinkedIn for lead generation.

“The experts” claim passion is the key to a successful B-to-B business blogging strategy. They say results will come when you show customers you care in LinkedIn groups and give away your best advice. But this advice is misguided. Caring and giving are merely costs of entry. Process is the force multiplier.

Process is at the heart of effective business blogging and using LinkedIn for lead generation.

So how can you make “the doing” of blogging and generating leads on LinkedIn systematic—yet free-flowing, enjoyable and effective?

In my experience and research, mixing passion with structured diligence is the answer. Creating a way to use technology that feels effortless and scales our time. Ok, let’s quickly explore what the heck that means and how to get going on it.

The Passion Myth
If all you do is “write from the soul,” pour your deepest passion into it and give away all your best advice what’s the result? I’ll tell you what the result was for me, for the longest time.

(Insert sound effect: crickets)

I suffered myself from investing time in having passionate monologues online. As an author and trainer, I spent years doing the research. What works at generating new business with a blog and LinkedIn is striking a balance between passion and process.

Ignore anyone who says or implies, “blog passionately and the results will come.”

No they won’t. And if they do it won’t be because of your passion.

Ok, ok. Nothing great ever materialized without passion. But creating sales on social media depends less on passion and more applying a systematic approach—out of habit.

Does that mean you need to suck all the fun and passion out of what you write? Heck no.

The Yin and Yang of Business Blogging
By striking a balance in your blogging you’ll discover a faster, easier, more enjoyable way to get leads and sales.

How can you make everything you do systematic yet enjoyable and effective? Have some yin for your yang.

In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang are complementary forces that only appear to be opposing each other. In reality, forces of nature work together. They form a whole greater than either separate part.

It’s the same with business blogs and LinkedIn lead generation strategies that create leads and sales.

What the Process Looks Like
When blogging or engaging inside LinkedIn Groups …

  1. Teach prospects how to reach goals in ways they can act on;
  2. create confidence in them and (in doing so) trust in you in ways that foster hunger for more success;
  3. ask for the lead and/or sale with a call-to-action that affirms a customer’s right to say ‘no thanks.’

Simple.

Plus, it leaves a LOT of room to find joy in writing—helping, teaching and guiding prospects. The process is flexible, not rigid.

This process lets you share your passion, helps prospects become more confident buyers and puts food on your table more reliably.

This proven, effective process gives customers miniature tastes of success … or “results in advance” of purchase. For example, it can help them determine the best fit for their situation. Or it can be structured to help prospects gain confidence—that what they want (what you sell) can actually happen for them on time, on budget and without pain.

Your success, and this process, is all about helping prospects become more confident buyers.

I apply it and, believe it or not, prospects often ask me for the sale. All because of confidence created in their abilities to achieve or improve. It’s what my free training (lead nurturing) program is all about.

Hang in There
Are you running out of patience with blogging, using LinkedIn for sales leads and social platforms in general? I was too. But then I discovered this simple, practical way to change things up, to get more of what I wanted from social media, faster and easier.

Now you have that way: A means to balance process with your passion, knowledge and ability to help prospects see their way through the weeds. What will you do with it?

What Do Social Media Marketing and Weight Loss Have in Common?

Scams, lies and half-truths. They’re the staple of so-called gurus and a real problem for people trying to create tangible, measurable outcomes. Whether it’s losing weight or producing leads and sales, your success relies on ignoring tempting short cuts, forming better habits and not caving to everyday pressures. Believe it or not, tuning out advice that will not work is an easy task when it comes to social media marketing.

Scams, lies and half-truths. They’re the staple of so-called gurus and a real problem for people trying to create tangible, measurable outcomes. Whether it’s losing weight or producing leads and sales, your success relies on ignoring tempting short cuts, forming better habits and not caving to everyday pressures. Believe it or not, tuning out advice that will not work is an easy task when it comes to social media marketing.

Stop the Insanity!
“It’s official. It’s now impossible to keep up with the irrelevant data, false claims, illogical conclusions, and plain bad journalism associated with positive claims about social media,” says Robert Bacal, CEO of Bacal and Associates.

It’s hard to not feel just like Bacal. The din of misinformation is a major hurdle for our businesses. We’re constantly being told “do this, do that, but not like this, this way.” Then everything changes.

The mountain of contradictory advice emanating from the weight loss industry finally caused the iconic weight loss diva, Susan Powter, to yell “Stop the insanity!” Sure, Powter cashed in but that’s precisely the point. It was a stroke of marketing genius. Hers was the “anti-insanity” answer.

Step 1: Recognize Lies
Losing weight and making social media produce a lead or sale have a lot in common: Charlatans selling short cuts to people who need to create change in their lives. Trying to make Facebook, Twitter, blogging or YouTube produce a sale can feel just as hopeless as trying to lose weight. Think about the constant stream of contradictory advice you get in both cases.

First, we were told if you want to shag the extra baggage you’ve got to cut calories. Then, more recently, we were told calories have little to do with weight loss. Remember dietary cholesterol? First it caused heart disease, then it didn’t.

Just the same, we all know that being authentic on social platforms is key to convincing customer to trust us right? Wrong according to a SocialMediaToday blogger showing your true colors is a BAD idea. Huh? There’s a fox in the hen house or a bat in the belfry!

Step 2: Mix in Tough Love
The problem is we humans prefer to believe simple lies rather than slightly complicated truths. 19th Century philosopher and historian, Alexis Tocqueville was the first to formally make the observation about human behavior. But here’s the reality: If you are going to succeed at generating leads and sales with social media you’ll need to start tuning out the simple lies and investing time in the slightly complicated truth.

That is, making the sale with social media has requires foresight, planning and application of direct response principles that have been around for decades. But some tough love is in order too.

No, success is not as easy as investing a certain, optimal amount of time with social media each day.

No, success is not a factor of being perceived as “more human” by customers or expressing your culture on social media.

No, success is not tied to how many times you get re-tweeted on Twitter.

No, you will not be successful by drowning yourself in the sea of “top 5” or “top 10” social media tips articles.

Step 3: Choose What Not to Do
Where to start? It’s best to tune out the noise. Think about it. When it comes to social media marketing, there are plenty of opportunities to not invest time in trivial nonsense-to choose what not to do. There’s a huge amount of worthless noise out there posing as helpful tips and tricks.

Next time you see an overzealous list of facts about how awesomely huge, fast, or urgent the social web is, consider asking yourself how relevant that fact is to the task at hand, selling. If there’s very little (or nothing at all) to do with the information, simply tune it out.

Yes, Facebook is the size of a country. And? YouTube is the second largest search engine. And? Fifteen percent of bloggers spend 10 hours or more each week blogging. And? Twenty-five percent of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content. And? Twitter is adding 300,000 users a day. And?

If you can’t readily do anything with the information, just tune it out. The anecdote may be interesting, but ask yourself:

How is that fact relevant to our business?

Do I have time for enthusiastic or impressive anecdotes that don’t help me do things that plug into sales? Does our marketing team?

Becoming liberated (and you will feel liberated!) takes focus, patience, and a belief in your business instinct—that “doing less of some things” is the right thing to do.

Let me know if this helps!