Information security is a highly technical and fast-paced industry. Its audience members range from technical novices to highly-skilled chief information security officers and other IT professionals. So, how do you speak to both? And, what is the best way to reach these two sides of your target audience? In this article, we’ll share the best ways to connect with your current and potential customers.
7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Cut Your Marketing Budget in a Recession
“But, we have to cut something.” You may be feeling as though marketing is the easiest line item in your budget report to slash. We get it. As we’ve worked through this recession, Green Apple has made cuts of our own to ensure that we’re financially strong enough to serve our customers. We’re right there with you. However, cutting your marketing budget can hurt your business long-term, even when it might help it slightly in the immediate future. To ensure that your business can continue serving its customers, you must consider a few key points. Here are seven reasons to reconsider reducing your marketing budget in a recession.
1. What if your competitors don’t?You may consider cutting your marketing budget, but if your competitors don’t, where does that leave you? When you reduce your marketing budget, you decrease how and how often your customers see you—allowing your competitor to move in.
2. Your marketing team can help your customers support you.The return on investment for your marketing strategy is still valid during a recession. While things are “normal,” your strategy is to drive sales and build relationships; however, during a recession, you are more focused on the relationship-building side of things and can keep your customers invested in your success. They love you as much as you love them, and they don’t want to see your business struggle. Your marketing team can help you show the right amount of vulnerability and transparency, while still sending the message that you are here to help.
3. Your marketing team protects you.Clients often think about marketing as advertising, but it’s so much more. Your marketing team is telling your brand’s story, and that story must be shaped to align with the social climate—so as to not be insensitive or offensive. Using COVID-19 as an example, companies needed to quickly shift their messaging strategies to be sensitive and empathetic. Having a team on your side that can help shift and shape your message allows you to support your audience, while keeping your brand top of mind.
4. You don’t want your customers to feel abandoned.Your marketing strategy strengthens your relationship with your audience. A reduction in your budget can leave your customers wondering where you went—or worse, if your business is in jeopardy of shutting down. You will, of course, be there for your audience in a different way during a recession. Your messaging will focus on how you’re taking care of customers as the tides change. Marketing can tell your audience what you’re doing to keep their best interests in mind, strengthening their trust in your brand.
5. It may be time to launch that new product.You have less competition during a recession, as other companies are focusing on staying afloat. They aren’t putting their time and effort into launching new products or growing their business. If you are in the position to, and you have ideas ready to launch, work with your marketing team to put your new product out into the world.
6. You will not bounce back as easily.If you reduce your marketing efforts, it leaves you in a difficult position when you’re ready to bounce back. You’ve spent a great deal of time and money growing your brand’s reach. Rather than scaling back, discuss a strategy with your marketing team to find ways to keep your reach consistent. Once the economy is on an upswing, you will appreciate not having lost months—or years—of progress.
7. It can take you off course to meet your goals.Even amid a recession, you still want to move forward. Your marketing team can help you keep your goals in mind and find new strategies to meet them. Don’t underestimate a marketing team’s versatility and the potential to keep your business growing, even when the economy is less than ideal.
Talk Strategy Before You Make CutsBefore you decide on your budget, discuss all the options with your marketing team. They can likely work with you to achieve your goals, even with necessary budget accommodations. Your relationship with your marketing team should be transparent—they want to see you succeed, too, and will do everything they can to make that happen. Ready for a marketing team with your best interests at heart? Contact Green Apple Strategy today to schedule a consultation.
7 Steps to Develop Your Go-to-Market Strategy
You have an idea for a great new product or service. You might have already invested time and money developing the solution. But, how do you get the word out? Whenever launching a new product or service, the last thing you want is to waste time and resources investing in marketing tactics that don’t work. To avoid this, it’s important to craft an intentional plan that will help you rise above the noise and reach potential customers. 7 Steps to Develop Your Go-to-Market Strategy Here are seven steps you can take to develop your go-to-market strategy for a new product or service:
- Identify your specific decision-makers and buyers. First and foremost, it’s important to define who you’re trying to serve (and who you’re not) with this new product or service. Knowing your ideal customer is foundational for marketing in ways that resonate with them. Everyone on your sales and marketing teams should take time to identify as much information as you possibly can about your target audience.
- Determine the specific pain points and messages that resonate with buyers. Knowing your ideal customer and their pain points are essential for determining the messages that will resonate with them. Before you launch your product, your sales and marketing should know (and agree) on exactly who you’re trying to reach and how you are uniquely positioned to help them.
- Understand your buyer’s journey. Intentionally considering the experience you’re creating for potential customers during the buying process is one of the most valuable things you can do before launching a product or service and is one of the best ways to spend your time. Not only will this help you create a buyer’s journey that potential customers actually enjoy, but it will also help you define the processes and systems you’ll need to create it.
- Define the relationship between sales and marketing. Marketing and sales teams should work together to achieve your goal. Without absolute clarity on the business objectives or specific products/service lines you want to grow, both sales and marketing teams are left guessing what will actually move the needle. This is true for businesses at any point in time but is especially important when launching a new product or service.
- Generate interest and develop a plan to increase brand awareness. Once you’ve laid the initial groundwork, it’s time to start thinking about your specific marketing tactics. Whenever you’re thinking about brand awareness, don’t neglect the simple but often overlooked ways to reach customers. Take time to learn from the successful campaigns and mistakes other brands make when it comes to brand awareness.
- Create content that connects emotionally with potential customers. How do you create content that cuts through the noise and actually gets read? Consider how you can use content to create emotional connections with potential customers. Begin weaving these strategies into your marketing efforts to appeal to their emotions. Brands and products that evoke our emotions—such as Apple, Disney, and Google—are always effective when launching new products or services.
- Determine how you will leverage data to evaluate and optimize your efforts. Now that you have a plan in place, the final question is: How are you going to measure and optimize along the way? Creating a data-driven marketing culture is essential for the long-term success of your product. Without knowing what you will measure before you start, you won’t know how to improve your marketing efforts along the way.
How to Create a Data-Driven Culture for Growing Your Business
In today’s world of advanced analytics and dashboards, creating a data-driven, decision-making culture has become a popular topic of conversation for business leaders and marketing professionals. However, there can be a lot of challenges when trying to implement a culture where data is the diplomat when it comes to making strategic decisions. While there’s always a balance of quantitative data and qualitative experience, businesses that use data to drive their strategies and decisions see tremendous growth. Companies who adopt data-driven marketing are six times more likely to be profitable year-over-year. And yet, 87% of companies say data is the most underused asset in their marketing efforts. How to Create a Data-Driven Culture for Growing Your Business So, how do you change that reality and create a data-driven culture in order to grow your business? Here are a few keys:
- Make sure key stakeholders are ready to embrace fact-based decision-making. It’s unlikely that everyone will naturally embrace the shift toward data-driven decision-making. For some, it won’t seem natural. While you don’t need everyone’s buy-in to start changing the culture, you do need the key stakeholders to get on board. It’s very important that the commitment to data-driven decision-making permeates from the top down.
- Pick one objective or area to start improving first. Figuring out where to start can be the most overwhelming aspect of making the shift. Business leaders can often suffer from paralysis of analysis when trying to figure out where to start. If you’re trying to become a data-driven culture, it is important to think of things in stages. Start small with one area that might be a priority for the entire organization that has enough data.
- Don’t forget to communicate “what’s in it for them.” People are more accepting of change when they understand how it makes their lives better. Whenever you’re trying to shift the culture in your organization, don’t forget to communicate how data-driven decision-making will specifically help each person. It could be that data helps them close more deals or prioritize their time more effectively. Answering “what’s in it for them” is essential for getting buy-in from people who might seem resistant.
2 Simple Marketing Metrics Shifts That Could Make a Huge Difference
There are literally hundreds of different marketing metrics that businesses and agencies measure on a regular basis. From website traffic to keyword rankings to the number of marketing qualified leads—businesses spend countless hours breaking down the metrics to determine the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. The real challenge isn’t the amount of information; it’s knowing what to do with it all. Many organizations are constantly measuring their marketing efforts, but they just don’t know how to use their data to achieve their objectives. While marketing reports might be helpful in evaluating campaigns—the real question is how you’re going to use that information to reach your ideal customer. 2 Simple Marketing Metrics Shifts That Could Make a Huge Difference As an agency, it’s easy to get caught up in “reporting the numbers” when we send over a weekly or monthly report. However, here are two shifts we’re trying to make with our clients when it comes to measuring marketing effectiveness:
- Always look for ways to translate data into actionable insights. Rather than spending all our time crunching numbers, we should focus more on translating our marketing results into actionable insights. We should take time to truly understand what’s going on and what we’re doing about it. What are the 2-3 things you’re going to continue because of the results from last month’s marketing efforts? What are the 2-3 things you should think about changing? At the end of the day, we should approach marketing like a learning lab—constantly evolving our strategies based on what we’re learning as we go.
- Find your North Star Metric. If you could only measure one metric to evaluate your marketing, what would it be? This is the idea behind the North Star Metric. The idea originally emerged from Silicon Valley and has become a popular concept among startups and growth hackers.
3 Ways Most Companies Get it Wrong with Marketing and Sales Alignment
The importance of creating a culture of collaboration between your sales and marketing teams can’t be overstated. But, in case you needed a reminder of how important it is, consider these facts…
- Aligning both departments can help generate 209% more revenue from marketing (Marketo).
- Aligning sales and marketing also leads to 38% higher sales win rates (MarketingProfs).
- B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieve 24% faster three-year revenue growth. (SiriusDecisions).
- Sales and marketing teams have different objectives. While each department might have specific goals they’re trying to reach, both should be working together on one objective: generating revenue. When each individual goal is tied to that single objective, it creates a greater focus and filter through which you make decisions. Creating alignment around a shared objective to drive revenue helps hold both teams accountable to the projects and tasks that truly move the needle.
- Sales and marketing teams aren’t meeting together regularly. Collaboration can only happen when both teams are getting together on a regular basis. When sales and marketing teams aren’t meeting together regularly, you’ll often find the organizational struggles with inconsistent messaging, battles over lead quality, and an “us vs. them” mentality.
- Your sales or marketing teams are afraid to fail. When someone is afraid to fail, they’ll do everything they can to make sure they look good. Sometimes, that means fudging the numbers or making excuses about why they’re not meeting their goals. If one side is afraid of what might happen if they fail, they’ll often get very defensive about their contributions and point fingers at the other side. Collaboration between sales and marketing teams requires open and honest communication. If one side isn’t willing to face the “brutal facts,” true collaboration isn’t possible.
How Marketing Can Become a “Secret, Strategic Weapon” for Sales
One of the best definitions of marketing I’ve heard was that marketing exists to be a secret, strategic asset for business development. Whether it’s building brand awareness or developing strategies to accelerate the sales cycle, everything you do in marketing exists to grow your business. The good news (for marketers and sales professionals) is that such a broad definition creates new ways of thinking when it comes to the role marketing plays. Rather than compartmentalizing marketing into its traditional definition of primarily advertising and brand awareness, we can discover new ways in which marketing can play a more “behind-the-scenes” role in business development. How Marketing Can Become a “Secret, Strategic Weapon” for Sales Here are a few of my favorite ways in which marketing can become a secret, strategic weapon for business development:
- Write story-driven case studies for your sales team. Someone once said the best stories happen to brands who know how to tell them. And, marketers are natural storytellers. That’s why story-driven case studies are so valuable. Crafting case studies that help prospects see themselves in the work you’ve done with clients is one of the best ways to equip your sales team to be successful.
- Create a repository of easily accessible, relevant statistics. Statistics and numbers can play a significant role in the buying decision. As marketers, we have the opportunity to sit at the unique intersection of having insights on industry-related statistics and data points that are specific to our business. By compiling all the relevant statistics into one easily-accessible location, marketing can help sales teams save a tremendous amount of time.
- Research and report what your competitors are doing. Salespeople want to know what competitors are doing and how your organization compares. As a marketer, you can make them more confident and informed by conducting competitive intel. This includes anything from one-pagers that outline competitors’ weaknesses and strengths to links of unfavorable reviews about competitors.
3 Leading Indicators Your Marketing Is (or Isn’t) Working
There are a lot of different marketing metrics you can use to measure success. However, many businesses don’t pay attention to whether or not their marketing is working until sales numbers are slipping. And, by that point, it’s too late. Because a lot of marketing is about generating leads and peaking the interest of potential customers, it’s the tip of the spear for your business development efforts. The question is, how can you measure whether or not your marketing is working before it’s too late? 3 Leading Indicators Your Marketing Is (or Isn’t) Working Here are three ways you can determine if your marketing is effectively supporting your business objectives before you’re in desperation mode:
- Your messaging isn’t resonating with people. As a marketer, it’s important to know what messaging works and what doesn’t. If the content you’re creating (eBooks, infographics, blog posts, etc.) isn’t resonating with potential customers, they won’t consider you as someone who can help them solve their problems. Paying attention to which messages resonate (and which don’t) will help you create content that actually leads people towards the path of becoming a customer.
- Your sales team is spending a lot of time clarifying your unique value proposition. If your sales team is having to spend a lot of time explaining how you are uniquely positioned to help potential customers solve their problems, it might be a sign your marketing isn’t doing a great job of answering those questions. In a world where potential customers are already halfway through the buying process before they engage with an actual human being, it’s important that your marketing is effectively communicating what you do and how you can help.
- You’re generating a lot of low-quality leads. Your marketing efforts should be focused quality over quantity when it comes to lead generation. If you’re generating a bunch of leads that don’t fit the profile of someone who buys, you’re creating a fan base, not a customer base. This is why it’s important to define the exact buyer personas you’re trying to reach.
One of the Easiest (and Most Effective) Ways Marketing Can Support Sales
As the buying process has evolved, the clear-cut lines between sales and marketing have started to blur. Potential customers are significantly further along in the sales process before they ever connect with a salesperson. In the same way, marketing plays an important role in the sales process by equipping the sales team with tools to support and accelerate the sales process. While there are a variety of ways in which marketing can become a strategic asset for business development, one tactic is so easy that it can often get overlooked. One of the most valuable things your marketing team can do to support sales is to create email templates your business development team can copy, paste, and customize for conversations with prospective customers. 3 Sales Templates Marketing Can Help Write If you’re interested in equipping your team with pre-written email templates, here are three you should consider:
- Emails for Sharing Lead Generation Resources. You spend a lot of time and energy creating lead generation resources or hosting webinars for your sales team. But they’re incredibly busy, too. Most days, they don’t have time to read the entire resource, summarize it, and craft an email to share it with current or prospective customers. One of the easiest ways to maximize the reach you get from your lead generation resources and webinars is to also craft email templates your sales team can copy to quickly share it with their contacts.
- New Products or Solution Announcements. As a marketer, you’re at the center of knowing about the direction your company is going. Whether it’s a new product or important announcement from your leadership team, having a few templates in the sales team’s back pocket provides flexibility and helps them stay on top of communicating the latest and greatest information to customers and prospects.
- Answers to Common Challenges and Pain Points. Your sales team is constantly communicating with people about how your business can help solve their greatest challenges. As someone in the marketing seat, you have a perspective into all of the various pain points and challenges they hear. You also have the ability to constantly test and tweak messaging to see what resonates most. Based on what you find, you can easily create sales email templates built around common challenges and pain points with the messaging you’ve found to resonate most.
Do You Need Some Marketing Inspiration? It’s All Around You.
We live in a world that’s noisier than ever. Between the hundreds of emails, countless advertisements, and dozens of commercials we are exposed to each day, one would think that finding new marketing ideas and inspiration would be easy. But, if you’ve spent more than two weeks in marketing, you know that isn’t always the case. Whether you’re a CEO, business development leader, or advertising professional, marketing is part of your job in some way. You’ve got to find new ways to increase brand awareness, close more deals, or build stronger relationships with customers. 3 Places to Find Inspiration for Your Next Marketing Idea So, where do you turn when you’re looking for marketing inspiration for a new campaign or project? Here are a few of my “every day” sources:
- The Emails You Actually Read
- Your Favorite Restaurant
- The Questions Customers are Asking Online