Marketo Summit App Tutorial

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The 2016 Marketo Summit app (made by DoubleDutch!) is an outstanding networking and organizational tool, and sports some cool new features this year. With this app, you can review all the available sessions and build out your agenda, as well as connect with other marketers of every kind of discipline. My favorite new feature is the User Group channel functionality – connect with marketers that actually live and work near you! What does this mean? Well, simply put, it means that you can bring all the camaraderie and shenanigans of Summit back to your home city. What happens in Vegas absolutely should not stay there this May!

This video provides a quick high level tutorial of all the key features and functionality of the app – so if you’re attending Summit, be sure to download it ASAP and dive headfirst into the best community experience of your life!


A Game of Clones | Marketo Summit Session Preview

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Planning which sessions to attend at Marketo's annual Summit conference is a difficult task. With over 100 sessions to choose from and the physical constraint of only being able to attend 11 of them, you've obviously got some hard choices to make. Seriously, look at all the great content that's going to be on tap this May! On the bright side, all of the session recordings will be available for streaming two or three weeks after the conference... But that's not the same as being there, feeding off the energy, and getting to ask some questions, is it?

I assure you, it is not.

I'll be presenting at this year's conference, so in an effort to make the process a little easier on you, I thought I'd give you a quick preview of what my session is about, and who it's for.

Define A Process Any Team Can Follow

I've titled my session "A Game of Clones: Developing a Scalable Content Process" for good reason. Transferring your sprawling content library into Marketo's trackable program format can be a process wrought with challenges both technical and tedious, and success can largely depend on the Marketo-fu of the person setting up the program. #1 Pro-Tip: you should never do anything that you have to do more than once from scratch. Thus, the Game of Clones.

No one has ever implemented Marketo and had an unassailable and easy-to-follow content strategy on day one – however, that's the first thing this session aims to provide. If you attend, you'll leave with the knowledge you need to help your team (even if it's just a team of one) set up your content programs correctly the first time, and at ludicrous speed.

Make the Process Repeatable

If you've ever watched one of my Nation Talks videos, you've probably heard me say something to the effect that any time you want to make something "scalable" in Marketo, the answer is generally to use tokens. These can be an intimidating piece of the Marketo puzzle for the uninitiated, and I've always found the best way to become fearless is to immerse yourself in the thing you're scared of.*

(This does not apply to my views on sharks, alligators, and other prehistoric and/or aquatically-inclined killers.)

In past years, there have been sessions that focused on the theory of tokens, and they were outstanding... This session is going to build on that fantastic framework, and actually help you apply that knowledge. This means we'll actually get our hands dirty and demonstrate how it's done and how to make the whole process of getting content out the door repeatable by any member of your team, regardless of the strength of their Marketo-fu. This will be as close to a working session as the format will allow, so come ready to witness how to drive a best-practice instance of Content Marketing through Marketo's Engagement Engine!

Arm Your Team

We're going to have to cover so much so fast that it would be unrealistic of me to think I could tell you everything you need to know about Content Marketing in Marketo inside of 45 minutes. So to alleviate that pain, I'm going to do something super cool for my attendees: I'm going to give you a no-nonsense* guide that drills down into excruciating step-by-step detail on my entire content process. This guide is essentially a comprehensive workflow for everything you need to do, from setting up your email, updating tokenized landing pages, and leveraging a couple cool add-ons, like Marketo Sales Insight and Social Boost.

*There might be some nonsense... I'm a Star Wars & Game of Thrones fanboy, so some choice puns may or may not have found their way into the content (spoiler: they totally did). I'm thinking about giving out a prize for whoever can accurately guess the correct number of nuggets hidden throughout my materials. I definitely had a little too much fun taking pictures of miniatures to supply some visual interest and variety to the files... So... The ladies out there should be advised that I'm spoken for. 

Did you feel that? It's as if millions of hearts were just yearning with desire– and then suddenly fell silent. Because I'm married. Not because I'm a grown man spending his Friday night taking professional grade photos of action figures. Obviously. :p


How to Get the Most Out of Summit 2016

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UPDATE: Video Recap


I recently recorded a new Nation Talks for the Marketo Community on how to prepare for Summit. You can catch that 5 minute video below!

If you've never attended Marketo's Summit, or just felt pulled in a thousand different directions by all the inspiring content on tap, then this post is for you.

For the uninitiated, Summit is a smorgasbord of not just all things Marketo, but really all things MarketingThis year's event will take place in Fabulous Las Vegas from May 9th through the 12th (although I assure you, the shenanigans will begin as early as the 7th), and will center around the theme of "Tomorrow's Marketer." Being this fresh into the new year, I'm sure you're seeing all the "2016 predictions" blogs about MarTech, Stacks, Personalization, and a litany of other up-and-coming marketing tools, terms, and technologies. Marketo has done a great job of soliciting participation from solution providers and thought leaders in the past, and for the first time ever, Summit will be a whole day longer... which means that there will be waaaaay more options for sessions to attend and things to learn about. Apart from all the sessions, they also play host to a small tradeshow where you can experience the truly odd feeling of walking a show as an attendee rather than an exhibitor (read: you'll get drunk on power). There's also plenty of other opportunities for networking and partying. Really can't emphasize those last two enough. ;)

With all that information and energy compressed into a few days, approaching Summit is a fairly daunting prospect. After all, you're investing a lot of time (and money) just to attend– so it's critical that you come away edified. So, with that in mind, here's a bit of friendly advice to help you get the most out of your attendance!

He who plans, wins

Last year, we had 106 sessions to choose from. These were organized into general interest tracks based on goals/objectives or trends (you can see last year's offerings here), which is something I expect Marketo will continue. My point here, though, is that once the sessions go up on the Summit site, you should spend a little time reviewing what will be available and try mapping out your week. If you're old school and like to map everything out on spreadsheets, you can download my planner here. It has the time slots mapped out, you just need to fill in the sessions you want to attend.

Alternatively, Marketo usually unveils an interactive app closer to the event that enables you to automatically sync up your calendar. More on that app in a second...

Find a krewe

If you're one of the many that ends up attending Summit alone, know this: it doesn't have to stay that way! Last year, I left without knowing a single soul in the Marketo community, and due to personal circumstances, no one on my team was able to attend either. I definitely don't consider myself a social butterfly, but here's where Marketo's Summit app comes into play.

In the weeks leading up to the event, there was a lot of banter and giddiness occurring within the app. Think Facebook, but on a much smaller scale, and with an audience exclusively comprised of nerds like you. Suffice to say, if you're looking for friendly faces to hang out with, odds are pretty good that you can meet like-minded marketers through Marketo's app. And in the unlikely event that you're still having trouble making friends, please by all means join #mykrewe. We'll be easy to spot.

The benefit of connecting people at Summit is simple: it's awesome networking. That, and I think people are genuinely awesome, and sharing an experience with others generally means you'll get more out of it. If the app doesn't sound like your game, though, consider joining your nearest Marketo user group.

Go Pro

If you're like me, finding time in your normal schedule to take the Marketo Certified Expert exam is pretty much impossible to do. Luckily, you can plan to arrive to Summit a little early on Monday (or dare I say, Sunday?) to knock this one out before the week gets started. I can personally attest to the fact that becoming a Marketo Certified expert has been the gateway to a lot of cool professional opportunities– I can't even tell you how many times I've had to tell a recruiter "no thanks, I'm not looking for new opportunities right now" in the past 6 months. If you're interested in joining the Champion ranks, this is a pre-req, so get it done!

As far as prep, be sure to take the practice exam until you can ace it in your sleep! You'll be fine, trust me. ;)


Flex dem thumbs

As I mentioned, the app has been a fantastic networking tool, so I really hope they bring it back again this year. Beyond networking, it also helps you organize your calendar, and review how sessions really were. This is an important bit, as your participation here will help make Summit even better in future years.

They've also gameified the experience in the past, but... I don't know much about that. Promise. #dontjudgeme

Be punctual

I say this not just because it's good manners... but you'll likely have a hard time finding a seat in some sessions if you don't arrive on time (or a little early)! Obviously, Vegas is a new venue, so it might be different than prior years... but the keynotes are especially important to attend, and 6000+ marketers will all be vying for the same front row seats. Plan accordingly.

Don't try to do it all

Relax. Within a couple weeks of Summit ending, Marketo will post recordings of all the sessions so you can view them all on-demand. Something that helped me last year, though, was sharing an Evernote Notebook with other attendees, and swapping detailed notes from sessions the other was attending. I fully advocate this divide-and-conquer approach, especially if other members of your team are attending with you!

Make time for shenanigans

Any experience is only as good as the stories you can tell about it. With the wealth of information you're going to come away with, it's important to keep some balance and have a little fun while you're at Summit, too.  Whether it's sight-seeing, getting your grub on, hitting the blackjack tables (I mean, it is Vegas...), or whatever else gets your motor running, your brain will need to disengage and decompress at the end of each day. What you'll actually find is that this helps you stay more engaged as you move from session to session. The conversation and fun stories that result are an excellent side effect, though.

Sidenote: I'm looking for a krewe to join me for the best Japanese in CONUS.

How to Set Up A Scalable Lead Scoring Program in Marketo

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If you’ve been using Marketo for at least a few months, by now you’re probably already familiar with the fundamentals of lead scoring. While scoring leads is a simple flow step you can incorporate into any Smart Campaign, that’s not necessarily the most scalable solution.

Say – for example – that you have a litany of white papers, case studies, and articles that you want to score. For the sake of this example, let’s also say that you initially decide that an article is worth +25, a case study is +10, and an article is +5. Later, after seeing how leads really interact with your content and how they fit into your lifecycle model, you decide that case studies should also be +25 and articles should really be +10 to paint the most accurate picture of where the lead is at in terms of making a buying decision. If you keep scoring at the the program level and rely on individual Smart Campaigns to control how each piece of content is scored, you’ll have to update every single Smart Campaign every time you modify your scoring values.

Hence the “not scalable” comment, right?

The TL;DR about scoring is that attaining accuracy is a process fraught with testing, tweaking, and possibly twerking (read: victory dance). Basically, it involves a lot of guess and check, recheck, and guess again. Because of this process, it’s important to find an easy method to modify your scoring behaviors outside of individual smart campaigns within each individual program.

This is one of many places where tokens save your… come into play.

In our instance, we’ve set up a couple programs for behavioral scoring and demographic scoring. Within each program, there are a variety of Smart Campaigns that are triggered on various criteria, like clicking a link in an email, attending a webinar, visiting 5+ pages of our site… You get the idea. The way we quickly modify the scores of these actions is within the tokens at the program level. Check out this screenshot:

Tokenized Lead Scoring

To create these tokens, you simply drag in the Score token, enter a token name and a value. Now these tokens are ready to be used within any smart campaign in the program.

To use “clicks link in email” as an example, take a look at these screen caps for Smart List and Flow, respectively:


Tokenized Lead Scoring Flow

What you see here is that rather than inputting a typical value in to the change field, you can input a token. The more you utilize tokens in your instance, the more this will become your default response… but it’s an easy best practice to overlook! Now if you ever decide to tweak your scoring at all, you can do it all from one convenient place. This eliminates a lot of wasted time hunting through hundreds of programs and smart campaigns, and more importantly, helps you to establish the trust you need with your sales team.




How to Connect with Creatives

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Professional creatives are a different breed. We tend to be doggedly passionate and full of wanderlust, so building strong working relationships with us can take a lot of effort. Because our work is so unique to our perspective– whether it’s a design, a webpage, or even a written document– it’s inherently personal. The best creatives are able to detach themselves from their work and receive objective and constructive criticism, but killing your darlings is a learned skill that doesn’t come naturally to most.

So with all that in mind, I’d like to share a few key tips to help you get the most out of all the makers in your life. Whether they’re on your team or part of an external agency, following this advice will help you get the best quality work out of your designers/writers/developers (etc.), while also making them hungry to do more.

Make Your Creatives Feel Safe

As in all relationships, empathy is everything. If you can establish that you understand where your creatives are coming from, the constraints they’re facing, and provide feedback in a thoughtful, productive way, your creatives are going to become extremely comfortable. When people are comfortable, they allow themselves to be vulnerable and uninhibited, which leads to better quality work and a willingness to take risks.

That’s pretty basic insight into the human experience, but most people don’t realize how much time creative work takes. Whether it’s writing a few paragraphs about a new product/solution or designing something small, like an email or a slide deck, unhinging your creative’s inhibitions will make work happen faster. Often our best ideas tend to align with our intuition, so if we spend less time agonizing over which approach is best, then the time we actually spend doing is much more productive and on-target.

Provide the Right Kind of Feedback

Along with empathy, throw in a healthy dose of compassion with your feedback. I’ve seen this go awry way too often– especially with agencies. You’ll have to gauge how sensitive your creatives are, but I’ve witnessed too many occasions where someone’s feedback was, at best, flippant, or worse, venomous. I’d say this is common sense if not for my own eyewitness account, but you should probably avoid saying anything looks or sounds dumb, or imply that it isn’t important. Nothing takes the wind out of a creative person’s sails like hearing someone deride their work. Remember, even if it doesn’t move the needle, what we do is an extension of ourselves.

Listen, creatives aren’t usually hyper-sensitive– we can deal with candor. But coarse feedback is the number one killer of comfort, and can really set you back. I’ve seen really talented designers submit lackluster work after being beat down by repeated occasions of harsh feedback.

The best method for providing feedback is to make it constructive. Lead with the things you like, then point out what you’d like to change. If you want to go the extra step, ask the creative what they think about the changes. Engaging them at this point makes the whole exchange much more collaborative, and ensures the creative juices keep pumping.

Understand Your Brand

In my own personal experience, it’s shocking how often I’ve received direction that specifically conflicts with our brand guidelines. For designers, this can be anything from logo usage to colors, and for writers, this can be tone of voice or just overall message. A lot of people trust their creatives to be the keepers of the brand and sound the alarm when things start to go off the rails, but it eliminates a lot of wasted time (and revisions) if you have at least a basic familiarity with your brand guidelines. Which makes a nice segue to the next point…

Avoid Revision Hell

Revisions are completely okay, and even an expected part of the process. But when you review someone’s work, give it your full consideration.

Early on in my career, I once designed an  postcard to invite our customers to visit our booth at a tradeshow. The design itself was done in 4 revisions. The next 23 (not exaggerating) either involved the logo size/placement, or the font choice. Unless you want to take the time to sit over your designer’s shoulder and cycle through the hundreds of options they have for “cursive” fonts (FYI– we call that script), this amount of revisioning isn’t necessary or productive. Further to the point, it makes your designers feel increasingly inhibited– you don’t want their ideas, you want yours.

Excessive amounts of revisions can also lead to another danger zone:

Discourage Burn Out

Have you ever blown a fuse in your house? This happens when you have too much electricity flowing through it, and it can’t handle the throughput. It literally blows up, and you have to replace it with a new one.

Creatives are like that.

If you have talent in-house, odds are that you only have one or two people outfitted with creative software. When there’s such a narrow bottleneck of creative bandwidth, it can be easy to overwhelm them with minutiae. Design some slides, write a press release, lay out a new brochure… All these things take time, and the average creative is going to treat each one with the utmost attention to detail. Everyone’s breaking point is different, but at some point we all hit our limits. And as any manager knows, replacing good talent is tough and expensive.

So how do you avoid burning out your creatives?

The first thing you need to do is help your creatives prioritize their workload. Sometimes this will be obvious, but other times it can feel like they have 10 equally important business-critical projects with converging deadlines and no latitude for an extension. Clearly communicating the priorities will help focus your creatives, and keep them focused.

Along with prioritization, flexibility is key. Sometimes, those 10 equally important business-critical projects do need to happen at the same time… But most of the time, there is a little leeway. It’s far more important to help your creatives tread water than to allow them to drown under one or two big waves. Making sure they know where there is a little flexibility in their workloads goes a long way towards preserving their effectiveness and productivity.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, creatives need to have predictable time off. When we’re on, we’re on. Our brains don’t slow down or stop, which means that we often don’t get the mental rest we need. When things start to get crazy, maintaining a regular routine and sending your team home on time will do a lot more for your team’s efficiency than spending an extra hour at the office or working through the weekend.

Burn out is practically a fatal affliction for the creative marketer. Avoid it at all costs!


Common Questions about Marketing Automation

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I love chatting with other marketers about Marketing Automation. The completely automated possibilities, the changed and/or eliminated processes, data cleansing/normalization, ROI tracking… The list goes on. As a Marketo Champion, I’ve participated in a number of reference calls with other marketers who are kicking the tires, comparing Marketo to Hubspot, Eloqua, Silverpop, Act-On, et al. Needless to say, conversations with the uninitiated tend to involve them sitting on the edge of their seats, biting back an absolute *deluge* of questions.

The fact is, almost every one of those conversations is practically the same.

So, obviously the best thing to do is outline the most common questions and their responses here… Because Marketing Automation has completely spoiled me for doing anything manually twice! 😉

Bear in mind, what follows is the opinion of a single user, and much of my perceptions are colored by my extensive experience with Marketo. In the past, I’ve also used Act-On and have had a limited amount of interaction with Eloqua. All things considered, I think all these tools are great, and as marketers, we really can’t go wrong. So with that single caveat, please… Read on!


The TL;DR version is yes– an emphatic yes. Not only does Marketing Automation work well for small teams, I think it really maximizes what a highly motivated, deeply inspired group of individuals can accomplish. If you read nothing else in this section, know this: Marketing Automation is a force multiplier for your marketing efforts.

When I started with Marketo, there were 4 people on our marketing team, and really only two of us were involved in the initial set up and program rollout. So for all intents and purposes, our Marketo team essentially started out as a dynamic duo.

Marketing Automation is a force multiplier for your marketing efforts.

Prior to our Marketo rollout, we only occassionally interacted with our database of leads. A quarterly newsletter, product announcements, and a little tradeshow marketing was basically all we ever did. We had a system, but it wasn’t very efficient, scalable, or repeatable. We practically started from scratch on every new project.

With Marketing Automation, we can create one program that does everything we used to, and more. Better yet, when we do something similar in the future, we can just duplicate it and quickly customize it for our current needs. That’s what I mean by scalability. This allows a small team to pivot much more nimbly than ever before, and means that instead of focusing on the procedure of marketing, you can now focus your attention elsewhere– overall strategy, ROI tracking, or, more often than not, your next big project.

Does Marketing Automation benefit from a larger team? Absolutely– many hands make light work. But is it still feasible for a small team?


Um… No.

Full disclosure: I believe that any marketer in the year 2015 ought to at least know the basics of HTML and CSS. But I get that some people find basic coding to be a daunting prospect. Here’s the deal: every Marketing Automation provider offers free templates that are incredibly easy to customize. Still don’t feel comfortable with that? Find a partner like Unbounce  or Knak. Their WYSIWYG editors make the customization process a breeze. If templates aren’t your thing, outsource to a web developer once or twice a year.

The point is that once you have a few templates in your system, you don’t build emails and landing pages so much as you write them. Open the editor, drop some text in, swap out an image here or there… and you’re done. Simple and easy.

Here’s a free life hack for you: be super lazy and just make providing X number of templates a condition of the agreement with your Marketing Automation provider of choice. It costs them practically nothing, and you won’t have to stress about it.


Alt Title: Will it integrate with my instance of CRM?

Listen, we’ve all been there. I defy you to show me an instance of CRM that doesn’t have at least some data quality issues. Perhaps the greatest thing about Marketing Automation is that many of the big name providers can (and should) be indelibly tied to your CRM. When you combine that fact with the ability to change data values at scale, you have the recipe for down and dirty data normalization.

Here’s an easy example. You probably have a field in your CRM that denotes industry or business vertical. Now imagine within that field, you want to combine grocery, big box, and convenience stores all under a single new name, like “Retail.” Just about any Marketing Automation tool will allow you to make sweeping changes like that to your CRM in a matter of seconds. In fact, I’ve literally been typing this paragraph longer than it would take a new user to figure it out. No joke, it’s that simple.

So don’t let your data be the thing to hold you back. If anything, Marketing Automation helps you fix it!


It certainly doesn’t hurt to augment your organic inbound lead generation efforts with the occasional purchased lead list, but this question misses the point of Marketing Automation.

Every time I wanted to send a tradeshow email in the past, I used to have to wait on sales to send me their lists, compare that to the registered attendee list,  scrub the whole thing for competitors and vendors, and finally upload the final version to MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, or a similar service. That’s a lot of work and time that I could be spending on smarter things.

With Marketing Automation, you’re tied to your CRM. So for that same email, I can simply define who my target audience is, and proceed on my merry way. No more waiting on lists, because now I can segment our entire lead database based on any combination of data I choose… all in a few keystrokes.


Okay, this is obviously a troll question. It’s going to be a matter of much debate and opinion. Like I said earlier, my most in-depth experiences have been with Marketo. So the only fair way I can answer that is by saying that they’re all fast cars that will make you look super cool while cruising down the highway.

But… I will share one amazingly innovative anecdote from my experience with Marketo. Other providers may have something similar, so before I dive in, take a moment to rejoice that you are the customer, and all these guys are tripping over themselves to provide useful new features that will win your business.

Ah… who’s got it better than us? 😉

Here’s the deal. Marketo has these things called “tokens.” A token is basically just a string of text that, when placed into an email or landing page, dynamically populates data in its place. The most basic use for tokens is personalization, like greeting someone by their first name in an email salutation. Thinking about these in a more advanced way, Marketo lets you create entire programs what can be completely customized simply by editing the tokens.

Now, if you don’t have marketo experience, that likely doesn’t make a ton of sense. So let me illustrate. Simply by editing the text or links contained in these tokens:


You can dynamically update all the content that appears on a landing page or email in a single step. So the finished output for this responsive landing page would look like this:

token-screenPretty cool, right? Once you set it up once, you don’t even need to touch an editor. The main advantage to this tokenized setup is that it really makes your marketing automation programs scalable, and saves you a ton of time! My fellow Marketo Champion (and much smarter marketer than I), Edward Unthank, has been one of the main pioneers of the token. Bask further in his wisdom here.


7 Pieces of Life Advice

7 Great Pieces of Life Advice to Make You Better at Everything

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Across the entire marketing field, I’ve been reading a lot of advice lately. How to write copy that converts. 96,347 tips on how to optimize your landing pages. Enhancing your email deliverability rates through personalization. Retargeting your targets.

You get it. It can all be a little exhausting… not to mention humbling! Often times, there’s so much advice floating around on the interwebz that it makes it feel as though you’ll never be an expert in your craft.

So let’s be real here. A HUGE portion of the advice we receive every day is wildly subjective. What works for one person doesn’t always resonate for the next audience. So when I was trying to sit down and write this week’s post of useful marketing-related content, I started to wonder…

What can I share that’s actually universally useful?

So here– for your consideration, review, and application– are the seven best pieces of advice I’ve ever received (… so far). You can apply all the sagacious wisdom that follows to just about any area of life, especially marketing. But I think you’ll also find, with a little bit of reflection, that these tidbits of genius can also help you be a better person all around– whether that’s a husband, wife, sibling, marketer, team player, corporate citizen, or whatever.

Leave People Better than You Found Them

Here’s an idea we encounter all the time when we discuss how to build a successful engagement engine. The content we craft day-in and day-out needs to pass this one simple test: are my readers better off for having consumed the bounteous harvest I have just foisted upon them?

It’s so much more than that, though. Imagine if this were an unselfish mission statement that you kept at the back of your mind during every conversation. Your colleagues would love you. Your spouse/significant other would think you’re the best catch in the world. Don’t have a significant other? 10 bucks says that’ll change if you start living this out.

I’ve already extolled the virtues of placing your focus on others first in terms of content marketing, but consider how much more valuable you’d be to your entire team/organization if your sole focus was to edify everyone around you. This piece of advice elevates any conversation, and always causes people to think of you in a positive light. Is it feasible to keep this up 100% of the time? Absolutely not; we’re too human for that. But in terms of making lasting connections and inspiring motivation wherever you go, leaving people better off than when you found them is the key.

You Do You

What I love most about this is the dogged audacity that being yourself implies. Style is important, but something original always packs more punch than something pre-packaged (re: yo mama’s fried chicken & waffles versus McNuggets & Ego’s [RE:RE: thank me later]). Honing your own style means taking risks. You doing you means you’re willing to take those risks and whatever consequences– good or bad– they bring.

When I say “you do you,” I’m not talking about some overly romanticized method of “finding yourself.” I just mean that you should live life from a stance that you enjoy– sing like everyone is deaf and dance like everyone is blind (and in my case, also deaf). Contentment is contagious, and you can and should find a life-altering dose in your own skin.

Goodwill Generates Good Deeds

Here’s a simple truth… Try being nice to someone. What typically happens?

Odds are, they probably reciprocate. In a perfect world, this is a Cold War in reverse. Someone gets you a cup of coffee. You get them a donut. They buy you lunch. You name your firstborn after them.

Junk like that.

Oozing goodwill towards your colleagues, friends, and acquaintances almost always pays in dividends. Here’s a case in point for you:

Whenever I travel someplace new, I usually take a very expensive bag of camera gear with me. Now, I know that the airline will only insure the bag for a fraction of its contents; I also know that people in crowds tend to suck, and bring too much carry on onto the plane. On at least a dozen occasions, a friendly conversation with the gate agent has earned me an upgrade to my boarding group and sidestepped any issue with the airline forcing me to check my bag, thus resigning it to the twisting nether in the underbelly of the plane. Once, the gate agent was so kind, she upgraded me to first class for free.

Does that happen all the time? Unfortunately, no… But does smiling at a TSA rep or flirting with your waitress (or waiter… I’m pretty equal opportunity when it comes to doling out good vibes) cost you anything? Absolutely not… but on the upshot, often times it still pays you back anyway.

Attitude is Everything

You can’t control most of the things that happen to you in life. You can, however, control your attitude. Will you be bitter and enraged, or overjoyed and excited? The attitude you choose to adopt frames how you react to any situation.

Does a positive attitude make everything better? No, obviously not, or I’d be using Benjamins for Kleenex. But does a negative attitude make things worse? You betcha.

If It Doesn’t Look Cool, You’re Doing It Wrong

The story behind this piece of advice is simply too epic to not share. When I was a young Marine attending the School of Infantry (the real one, on the West Coast), we had just finished a long hike with full packs, weapons, and a paralyzingly hot sun. We were tired, dehydrated, and to be honest, not at our mentally sharpest. So naturally, the Marine Corps views this as the perfect time to teach us something important: Room Clearing.

Now, at the time, the US military was heavily invested in the Iraq War, and everyone knew what urban combat meant: lots and lots of room clearing. It’s dangerous work (as compared to the high explosives we normally worked with), and requires selfless teamwork to an extent I haven’t experienced before or since.

So fast-forward to when it was my team’s turn to go. We stacked up on the fake house, all signaled “go,” and flowed into the room.

Did I mention we were tired?

There were fake targets in each corner of the room. The first guy through the door hesitated on which direction he should clear first, which stopped down our entire train. If it were the real deal, we’d all have certainly been killed. Expecting to have our heads chewed off, we braced for the berating that we knew would be coming. To our surprise, the Staff Sergeant overseeing the course calmly walked up to the first Marine, and in the most gentle, fatherly voice said:

“Listen Devildog… if it doesn’t look cool, you’re doing it wrong. Don’t think so much. Just commit to a plan and trust your team to adapt. Your six belongs to them.”

In fairness, I think that’s some multi-faceted sagacity right there… But it’s a general truth that we marketers can certainly apply at least to our presentations and possibly other content (emails, landing pages, websites… whatever). If it looks cool, it probably works. I’ll admit, it’s not always universally true in marketing– sometimes long-form copy converts better than good design. But as a guideline, and in most other things in life, it works.

Don’t Just Strike While the Iron’s Hot… Make It Hot by Striking

Simply put, we open the doors to our own opportunities. Whether we’re patient or proactive, the idea here is do whatever you need to do to get the job done. To have your message heard. To steal your roommate’s girlfriend because she’s too good for him (to be clear, that never happened… to me, at least). Don’t wait. Be proactive.

Mistakes Are the Best Teachers (But They Don’t All Have to Be Your Own)

Because my core demographic is stubborn male, 18-35, typically I have to screw up in a pretty monumental way before I can learn a valuable life lesson. Being willing to take risks and be wrong is one of the things I’ve actually come to like about myself. The other half of this advice, though (as my parents have often pointed out) is that these mistakes don’t always need to be your own. Learn from other people’s pain and struggles. Ask questions, and see trends. This is kind of like Predictive Analytics… We know generally how likely someone is to take a certain action based on past behavior from a number of people who were similar situations. Take that marketer’s mindset for predictive analytics and apply it to your own life!

How To Court Your Customers

How to Court Your Customers

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Courting your customers? I know, that’s a weird headline– but hear me out. Last week, I made a light-hearted remark comparing the consultative sales process to how most people experience dating. The basic idea is that people almost automatically like and trust people that are interested in their interests. On the opposite end of that spectrum, people tend to distrust or even disregard people that appear to only be out for themselves. This is common sense stuff, so what does this psych 101 lesson have to do with your marketing strategy?

To answer that, let’s back up and think about the status quo facing us marketers. I recently read that a whopping 78% of Internet users conduct product research online. Honestly, the most surprising thing about that number is that it’s only 78%; I would’ve easily believed upwards of 90%. In either scenario, your first impression with a large portion of your prospects– whether they’re qualified or not– comes from your website. To keep the dating metaphor going, think of your website like a Tinder profile. Your bio better be on point if you want to make’em swipe right!

How to get their digi… email address

We could spend countless hours discussing the most effective strategies for making a website visitor convert (and in the coming weeks, we will). Designing a killer UX, writing CTAs that inspire, or creating content that coerces a form response… All of these are great ways to help your leads navigate their way through your funnel and augment your automation strategies. But for today, I want to focus on a much higher level: your message.

To create a message that leads to a healthy long-term relationship, here’s a couple guidelines you should keep in mind.

Be Useful

The B2B space sports an intrinsic “what can you do for me” perspective. If we’re honest, this doesn’t even diverge from the dating metaphor, either. But instead of companionship, mutual good vibes, or even just fun, the answers to this question in the B2B world range anywhere between growing the bottom line or just making life easier by solving some kind of pain.

Let’s look at an example of this. In a previous job, I had the amazing experience of being part of a company that was acquired by a peer-grade competitor. Now, the weird thing wasn’t that they bought us; we were insanely profitable, and offered year after year of proven success at kicking their butt. What was a little strange, though, was how they shifted their entire sales organization to our model; they kept our people and processes, and used their new investment as a key learning experience. Our year-on-year growth was like the proverbial snowball, and by the time they acquired us we had become a fully-formed avalanche. At the end of the day, though, we sold very similar products that delivered very similar value to the exact same target markets. All things being equal, why was our growth a hockey stick while their sales were flagging?

It all came down to our go-to-market strategy. We built an entire team around delivering the best consultative approach, where we (gave the illusion that) we completely forsook our best interests in preference of understanding our customer’s business and how it could be most enhanced– whether by us, a strategic partner, or even another competitor. Across all our marketing materials and digital efforts, our dogged persistence on delivering and proving value is what herded new customers through our funnel. Our emphasis on the “right solution” established so much more credibility for us than our competitors could keep up with using the antiquated feature/benefit approach. Even better, the sales people that showed no fear of the competition and embraced the opportunity to be useful and do some good for their customers very rarely lost.

Goodwill generates good actions.

Be Relevant

If you’re putting your customer’s needs first, chances are you’re already being highly relevant. As a digital marketer, you already know they’re interacting with your website. If your messaging there is considered useful, you’ve already made a great impression… So to keep it going, you want to ensure that message stays at the forefront of their mind. This is where retargeting can help.

Companies like AdRoll do a great job explaining the nuts and bolts of how retargeting works– this isn’t intended to be a plug for them, but instead a use-case for the technology. For a moderate budget, you can place ads that resonate with your customers, based on narrowly defined criteria. Similar to how AdWords works, your leads will be served an ad based on specific actions they took– in this case, on your website, emails, or landing pages. Amazon has been doing this for years, so it’s not really that it’s new… it’s just an extremely viable good idea to keep your message in front of your leads, no matter where they go on the web.

AdRoll recently published the survey results of how 1,000 marketers are approaching their digital strategies in 2015 and beyond. The stats are very interesting, so I encourage you to read the whole thing here. One key takeaway, though, is that most marketers that have put retargeting through its paces are finding that it can be equally effective as paid search and email campaigns.

Just… Don’t.

As marketers, we spend what I assume to be an unhealthy amount of time and caffeinated-energy deducing new ways to cut a swath through all the cluttered messages our customers receive every day. So when I see salespeople (or worse, other marketers) launch into a rehearsed pitch, my head starts shaking involuntarily. Whenever I see a powerpoint presentation start off with five slides about how apparently awesome my/your company is, I just have to turn off my brain for fear of what it might do to me if I allow it to endure more mindless corporate-speak-infused drivel.

Spoiler Alert: nobody cares.

It doesn’t matter what you’re selling; your customers won’t believe a few catchphrases and hollow promises are going to solve all their problems. What they want, whether they realize it or not, is to invite a dialog. “Here’s our problem. What do you think we should do to fix it?” Starting off any conversation by talking about yourself is an instant turn off, and yet somehow we continue to see it ALL. THE. TIME.

Brothers and sisters, please… Just don’t.

Key Takeaway

Ask yourself this: does your message inspire your leads & prospects to say yes to a second date? If not, where is your focus?

Next week, we’ll take this briefly in a more tactical direction and discuss a little more about how to optimize landing pages to boost conversion rates!