Marketing During and After the Global Crisis, with Josh Dougherty

August 8, 2020
PRODUCED BY POLLY YAKOVICH

Josh Dougherty is the CEO and a co-founder of A Brave New, a Seattle marketing agency focused on helping businesses accelerate their growth through inbound marketing, branding, and web design. He specializes in working with clients to identify barriers to their growth and overcoming those barriers with strategic content and marketing tactics. He has a decade of experience in digital marketing and branding.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How to pivot online if your business development efforts have historically been in-person and have been disrupted by current events (and your company is behind with digital marketing for any reason)
  • Why inbound marketing is the perfect digital marketing model for you right now (because meeting prospects where they’re at and really helping them works at any time)
  • Why these unprecedented challenges are creating confusion, and what resources are available to gather B2B marketing and benchmarking data
  • Why inbound marketing works to build trust and relationships now
  • Why Fast Company considers Airbnb's decision to suspend all of their marketing to be a major blunder, and why now is is an important time to continue marketing efforts
  • How an inbound marketing model works tactically - from the start of the process to the close of the deal, and what steps you can take at each phase to maximize success
  • Why you need to be consistent with content and develop a regular cadence of posting new content
  • What steps Josh recommends you start with during the pandemic, and how to take action at minimal cost at each phase
  • Why it is important to develop a two-way relationship with prospects when you reach the convert phase, and how to nurture your relationships and close your prospects

Resources:  

Additional Resources:

 

Show Transcription:

Intro:

Welcome to A Brave New Podcast. The podcast all about how brave entrepreneurial companies are unlocking their business potential using inbound marketing. Here is your marketing expert and host, Polly Yakovich.

Polly Yakovich:

Welcome back to the A Brave New Podcast. Today, I am excited to have my first return guest. For those of you who haven't listened to our first episode, I have Josh Dougherty with me who is the co-founder with me and co-owner of A Brave New, so welcome back Josh.

Josh Dougherty:

Thanks, I'm so excited to get the badge of first return guest.

Polly Yakovich:

Welcome back to your own podcast.

Josh Dougherty:

Life goal of mine.

Polly Yakovich:

Yeah, we'll see if you get invited back any more times after this. Josh and I really wanted to talk today about ... we're about six weeks into our stay at home orders here in Seattle and we really just wanted to talk about what marketing is like right now. I know it's something that's sort of on everyone's mind what the business environment is like right now, what it's going to be like and really struggling to predict the future but we really just wanted to talk about things you can proactively do right now and really as an inbound agency, we really wanted to talk about what that means for those of you who have sort of wondered if an inbound approach is right for you or what that means or if you're an organization that really relies on personal events or sales people, person to person meetings or things like that.

Polly Yakovich:

Really some smart ways that you can continue to be pivoting now that some of the panic is gone and we're settling into our new normal for now, who knows. Really, we're thinking that whether a recession is happening now or on the horizon, it's going to be a really interesting Q2 and probably Q3 and maybe even through the end of the year so we really wanted to just like dive into some detail about some things that we thought could be helpful for you in the B2B space and what could be doing in your marketing with all of your staff remote and events canceled, potentially through the end of the year. One of the things that we've been looking around for, really good advice and articles and things like that and a lot of the research out there talks a lot about not cutting your marketing budget during a recession.

Polly Yakovich:

There's shockingly not a lot of great advice about what to do during a global pandemic. So, a lot of what people talk about during a recession is not cutting your marketing budget down too far. Not cutting your nose off to spite your face but it's really hard to know what to do right now because we're in such a unique environment. Something that none of us have experienced before or probably will never experience in our lifetimes. What do you think Josh is really like some good places to look for advice on how to be, what to do?

Josh Dougherty:

I started a little bit to find some of that advice as well. I think one of the things that I've thought about, and I'll get to where to look in a second but I think it's a really good time for people to just double down on being human and admitting that the people they're marketing to are human. I feel like I've talked about this a ton of times in a ton of different venues but we all try to be like artificially professional I think in B2B marketing, wanting to impress people, I remember talking to a prospect a few weeks ago. It was like, "Yeah, human is fine now but in a couple of weeks who knows."

Josh Dougherty:

I'm like, "We're all people here and so, let's like just embrace the moment that it's kind of weird and that we don't know and that doesn't make you a worse business person to admit that there's some uncertainty out there." I think that's like the first thing that I've been trying to lean into myself. I think as far as locations of places to find information, I really have been going back to looking at some places like the Harvard Business Review I think is doing a good job of looking at just general resources. I think also not to be like a HubSpot fan boy but it's been very helpful, they have a place that we can link to, that is looking at kind of marketing trends across all of the people who are using their platform.

Josh Dougherty:

How people are engaging with marketing, how people are engaging with sales because I think right now, where the playbook is, there's a lot of opinions out there, right? I just shared mine but it's really helpful to get aggregated data to see how people are actually acting right now because it's so unprecedented.

Polly Yakovich:

Yeah. I agree.

Josh Dougherty:

I think anywhere that we can find benchmark data is great.

Polly Yakovich:

The benchmark data that Josh is referring to, we'll link in the show notes but HubSpot is updating that weekly and I think that that's particularly helpful because you can just sort of see what the trends are in a week to week basis and now, we have a month or so under our belt so it's a good place to look. I also think it's kind of nice to know that we're in an unprecedented time and it allows us to rely on voices that we respect and also to rely on what we know and what we've experienced and sort of take it a week at a time, which is tough to do in B2B marketing.

Josh Dougherty:

Yeah, I do think like not to totally, I don't know, steal the thunder from that benchmark data, the interesting thing is just you're seeing an acceleration of how the world has been heading already.

Polly Yakovich:

Yeah, absolutely.

Josh Dougherty:

So, like in that data, you see that these really outreach focus sales efforts are seeing a drastic decline and this is ... also, it's due to both buying power that people have seen disappear and like a lack of appetite for that, but also, you're seeing in the data that people are really super engaged if there is helpful, really relational type of ... relevant marketing content. They're engaging with it way more than they used to and this really isn't a new thing. It's like a trend that's been happening over the last decade but it's kind of like we've gone into warp speed of how quickly it's happening so you're seeing the stuff that was already dying, that outgoing ... outbound sale is dying.

Josh Dougherty:

Then, the stuff that was on the upswing, continuing to be on the upswing and this is why I'm really bullish about inbound marketing right now because I ... I was laughing the other day, I was talking to my mom, and she was like, "It was really cool how you did that thing where you wrote an E-book about what you do and then the client was really excited about that, and they decided to hire you." I was like, "Yeah, that's like the way of marketing today, like if you actually provide value to people, they're going to trust you and make decisions." So, I think doubling down on that is what everyone should be doing right now, whether it's on an inbound basis or it's ... even in person to person interactions.

Polly Yakovich:

Yeah, I think for us, we do this every day and we talk about it every day, and so it's sometimes hard to realize that there's still value there, that people maybe aren't aware of, but we thought this is why it would be really good to talk with you all today and really unpack inbound marketing and if you're ... I mean inbound marketing, it's a term but it's really just modern marketing practices and we'll talk more about them, but we're a HubSpot partner so we use HubSpot as our platform for inbound marketing. We wanted to talk with you today because if you haven't really made that full pivot into a system like this, we wanted to give you some thoughts and ideas that you could start with now.

Polly Yakovich:

Like Josh is saying, we've been trending this way for a while but inbound marketing is all about being helpful to your clients or your prospects, like Josh said and bringing them really good value and being relevant. That's something I think that every brand whether you're a global marquee brand or a small local brand could do now more than ever. In our agency, we really specialize in this high value long sales cycle marketing and one of the things that's great about that right now is you may have find that your sales pipeline is a little bit slow or dry at the moment but you can still be doing almost everything up to making that sale that you ever could and building trust with people.

Polly Yakovich:

So, if your sales cycle is nine to 12 months, who knows what the world is going to look like nine to 12 months from now, you shouldn't stop your marketing. In fact, if you stop marketing or don't start doing things that you should be doing now that you don't have an event to meet people at, et cetera, when you start up again, you're going to be nine to 12 months out from then. So, we really wanted to give you some tips and tricks and before we get into them, I just read this article that Fast Company put out last week on Airbnb. I don't know if you've read it. We'll link to it again in the show notes if you haven't seen it but they halted all of their marketing at the end of March to save something like $800 million in 2020.

Polly Yakovich:

Now, whether or not they had to do that, to save their bottom line, I can't really speak to and I know everyone is doing their best right now, but Fast Company's take on the article was that it's a massive mistake and that they are losing the opportunity and in danger of losing the connection with their customers so that they are going to find new brands to trust that our voices that they can hear from during this time, so when it does come time for booking travel again, Airbnb is going to have lost that market share. There's a quote in the article I really liked that just said how much a brand invest in maintaining the relationship with customers during the crisis will define its long term success.

Polly Yakovich:

So, I think we're going to talk about prospects and prospective customers right now, also your current customers, delighting them, keeping them coming back, helping them feel good about continuing to work with you is important as well and brands I think, need to think a lot about that.

Josh Dougherty:

That's why I think the flywheel is so important as a marketing concept. So, we talk a lot about the flywheel that has sales, marketing and then service as the three, maybe sides of a wheel. I don't know if you can talk about the sides of a wheel.

Polly Yakovich:

Wheel sides, love it.

Josh Dougherty:

Our wheels kind of squarish. It's a little stone age, but the flywheel really emphasizes that you should be doing things in each ... for your current customers, your prospects and people who are actively in the sales cycle that are kind of supporting all three of those groups of people symbiotically, so it's like a question of how do you create content that's going to both introduce people and get them to start loving you. It's going to close a deal and then it's going to build ongoing affinity or excitement with your current customers. So, I think the more you can think about like, is there versatile pieces of content that you can leverage for all three of those audiences, it's going to help you to, over the long term, build that loyalty for your brand overall.

Polly Yakovich:

So, let's get into it. I think for those of you who aren't familiar with an inbound model, let's just walk you roughly through sort of the phases, we'll take the top line phases of a buyer's journey. You can break this into multiple, multiple pieces within this. When we think about people who are coming to, let's just say now your website or your digital properties because you're not interacting with them elsewhere. We're wanting to attract them. We're wanting to bring them in. We're wanting to convert them, which is a lot of things from beginning to end of qualifying that lead and building trust with them and then we want to close a deal.

Polly Yakovich:

So, close activities may be a ways off but there is still business to be had right now, and then obviously, we want to delight people. Josh, will you talk a little bit about the phases and the kinds of things that you're wanting to do at each stage and let's really get into, if you're not thinking about your work in that way, what's like something you could bite off at every phase or think about a phase that's really important for you that you could start with a couple activities. So, let's start with attract.

Josh Dougherty:

Yeah, so attract is one of the most important things you can be doing right now, because people are spending a lot of time on the internet.

Polly Yakovich:

Yeah.

Josh Dougherty:

They also have a lot of new problems that they didn't realize that they had six weeks ago. So, when we talk about someone being in the attract phase or what we're trying to do in that phase of inbound marketing, we are really focused on I think, first understanding who that ideal customer profile is. So, really getting a deep understanding of what are the needs, the desires, the turn offs around an audience that you're trying to reach because at the attract phase, your target audience may not even realize they need you. They may not even realize that they need the product or the service you're selling.

Josh Dougherty:

They just know that they have a couple of problems that like bug them when they fall asleep at night. They're like, "Man, if I could fix that stuff, it would be significantly better." It can be oftentimes be the thing that puts their job at risk if they can't solve it, because they can't like report in to their boss that they're doing their work effectively. It could be the thing that keeps their company from working at full efficiency. So, what we want to do at the attract phase is we want to first understand in a disciplined way, what are the things that your ideal customer cares about, not product wise but from like, improving how they're doing their business? What are the things that hold them back from growth?

Josh Dougherty:

What are the things that keep them awake at night that they're worried about, so that we can then start designing content around those questions or those concerns and then our job there is to use a couple of different tactics to do that. The first thing is blogging. I know a lot of people are like, blogs don't work. I just posted on our site and we can link in the show notes a pretty clear example that blogging still works and it still drives significant traffic. It doesn't work on its own but in the attract phase, it's great because what we want to do with a blog is we want to answer all those underlying questions that someone might have before they even know they're looking for you so that when someone is searching online, your articles are showing up as answers to their questions.

Josh Dougherty:

The next thing we're going to do is we're going to think about pillar pages, which are the foundation of modern SEO. A pillar page, if you don't know is really like an in depth Wikipedia page around a specific topic and it's essentially placing a stamp on your website to Google that you are experts in this topic, that you care about educating people about this topic and that you're going to talk about it a lot. It doesn't focus on selling, it focus on educating and providing really valuable information around that topic to people.

Josh Dougherty:

So, when you combine together your pillar pages that are maybe around the four topics that are related to your key services and then a blogging strategy that then explores subtopics around each of those key core topics, you can start to build an SEO presence that's going to draw people in as they search online to find answers. The next thing you can do in this attract phase is then build out some smart digital advertising. Now, I think intent based advertising here helps a lot, so like maybe using Google Ads primarily at this early phase to just make sure you have ads that are catching people when they're asking common questions. The big thing that I haven't touched on here is it's tempting to like, sit down and think about your personas on your own in a vacuum.

Josh Dougherty:

I think the best thing to do really is to get people on the phone, who are ... or on video right now for being COVID-19 appropriate, to get on video and to ask your current customers who love you the most, what were you looking for before you started working with us? What were the things that you were concerned about? Use their words in your content because that's what other people like them are probably thinking as well. Use their words when you're looking at keywords for your advertising, all that sort of thing.

Polly Yakovich:

Yeah, I wanted to touch on that a little bit and I think even for people who are running inbound programs that may be skimped on their audience research phase or thought they knew their personas well enough or had trouble reaching customers who are really busy and didn't want to give interviews. This is a good time to loop back, like it's never too late to add to those personas. It's very important to hear those verbatims. It's important for you who assumes a lot of things about your customers to hear from them in their own words, and it really will help you open your eyes to how to speak to somebody about their problems from their perspective.

Polly Yakovich:

I really want to emphasize, even if you have a great inbound program and maybe you haven't spoken to your customers in a while, people are busy and people are distracted because our kids are at home and they're struggling with how to balance everything. At the same time, we just don't have as many things capturing our attention, people have ... you still may strike out but it's worth to ask. People have a little bit more time right now and you might find people who are willing to take that sort of mental break in their day and just chat with you about that. It's a really good connection point with your current customers and there's nothing like that insight that they're going to give you directly that's going to help give you a few keys that you hadn't thought of before.

Polly Yakovich:

So, whether you're doing it now or whether you are starting this practice, I think it's very important to hear from your customers for those personas and not just do them yourself.

Josh Dougherty:

Yeah, and the other thing I was going to mention here around any of this, there's other tactics that you can use, you probably need to be posting some on social media, you probably need ... and when I say posting, you'd probably need to not just be doing that on your corporate site but get your executives involved, have them actually have conversations with people. Maybe engage in some online forums like Reddit, Quora, other places. Throughout all this, I think it's like, choose a level of activity that's sustainable.

Polly Yakovich:

Yes, 100%

Josh Dougherty:

People trust you, right, over time if you're a constant presence, as opposed to like that person that pops in and pops out. So, you don't have to be super smart but if you're constant and I trust that if you're listening to this, you're super smart still.

Polly Yakovich:

Nice.

Josh Dougherty:

If you're constant it beats out smarts. We talk a lot about how marketing is really a lot about the boring discipline of execution

Polly Yakovich:

And consistency.

Josh Dougherty:

Yup.

Polly Yakovich:

I would say if you're feeling like, "Well, all my meetings got canceled and I travel a lot, so I'm just going to write a daily blog now," but you can't keep that up, turn those into some long form pieces instead. It doesn't have to be a daily blog. It doesn't have to be a three times a week blog. Choose a consistency that you feel like you can keep up with afterward and go for that first. It's okay if you go from three times a week to two times a week post COVID but don't spend all that effort now and then knowing that you're never going to be able to maintain anything afterwards.

Josh Dougherty:

Yeah, because that's the primary lesson of COVID. It's like, it's all about, I think trust and people are going to rely in a crisis on the brands that they actually trust to deliver value over time.

Polly Yakovich:

If you really can't write blog posts regularly, use this time to publish one or two a week and put the rest in your library, so after things get back to normal and your schedule goes crazy, you have those to pull from and you can provide people with that consistent material. Josh, if you're not doing anything that we just talked about in attract what are sort of the top two or three things that you would pick off first and you would really encourage people to get started with, that they could do on their own? I would say persona and audience research is important and everything else stems from that. There are great tools online, you can pull interview guides. We have some on our site. HubSpot has a great persona creation tool, so you can use great tools to do some of that work if you are budget lean right now.

Josh Dougherty:

Yeah, I think that's one thing that you should definitely do before you get started and then you probably know the top five questions that people ask in your sales cycle if you've been doing any selling at all. So, I would say write five blog posts and post them over the next five weeks that answer those five questions in a really helpful non-salesy way. So, it's not like, this is how our product solves your problems but it's like exploring the different ways that you could solve those problems or answer those questions. So, that would be a really practical thing to do.

Josh Dougherty:

The other thing I would say is to make like a discipline of spending 30 minutes a day on social media in the morning, commenting on people that are maybe prospects, current customers, people who are in your field, engaging with people and starting to build some relationships, because at the end, selling is going to be all about relationships, and so is marketing. I would do those three things, those are also going to help you overcome writer's block because when you just ... or content creation block, I don't know what you call it organizationally, but when you start doing a couple of things and a number of them are based on getting input from people in the real world, you're going to start having connections prior that you can then build upon.

Polly Yakovich:

Yeah, and then the other thing I would say ... I totally agree with that. The other thing I would say is like, at some point you're going to have to grow your audience and grow the amount of people that are seeing your material, right? So, I would think through the plan for doing that. So, whether you're building your organic social presence, I would be really lean and flexible, even bigger organizations have to do this but make sure everyone in your organization is sending blog posts to people they think would be interested in the content, asking them to subscribe, making sure that you are sending out regular ... whatever service you use, you should have a regular blog subscription that sends out an email to people who are subscribed so that they get that.

Polly Yakovich:

Whether that's instantaneously or weekly or a monthly roll up. So, just try and get eyes on that, try and grow that audience and if you have any money to spend, do spend it on digital media, even now so that you can get people coming, relying on you for that super helpful, valuable content. So, then as we get into the next phase, so we're attracting people, we're bringing them in and we're thinking now about converting them which really is like qualification and converting. We're building trust during this phase, which is allowing them to rely on you as somebody that they believe and somebody that they feel like is hopeful and can solve their problems. Josh talk about convert.

Josh Dougherty:

Yeah, so convert is getting to that point of moving someone from anonymity into like a one to one relationship with you or maybe more appropriately a one to many, because we don't want to be spending a ton of person to person time at this point. A lot of people on their website ... and this is especially true in our market segment where we work or someone is selling a $500,000 product, they don't really have any interstitial calls to actions on their site. So, maybe they ... you can read blog posts, you can look at like their product page or their services pages and then there's that big contact us button at the top right side of the site, that it's like a huge step, you're like, "Man, I like what they're thinking. I think this is cool."

Josh Dougherty:

"I am not ready to spend $500,000 and the minute I press that contact us button I'm going to have a salesperson hunting me for the rest of eternity." So, we want to create some spaces in between that, that feel safe for someone to engage and get more familiar with you and where they're going to feel comfortable actually sharing some information back to you because this needs to be a two way relationship. So, oftentimes, this is something like maybe you create a couple of checklists, you might have some checklists that you use internally as you're helping get someone up and started doing work with you. You could think about, could that be something you could share with your customers to help them get up and started if they were to do what you do on their own?

Josh Dougherty:

So, that might be something you could share. You could share an E-book, you could share a white paper, maybe you do some research already that you aren't publishing and so, you could package that up into a download. You could even create a rich like quiz or something like that. The core idea here is that we want to build a valuable longer form resource that is answering again, answering a key question that a prospect has, that they're going to be willing to give their email address to you for, so that you can start communicating to them in a more intentional way.

Josh Dougherty:

So, the comfort phase is all about premium content and then building landing pages, interactive experiences that are going to draw them deeper into their relationship with you and then once they've come into your ... into a digital relationship with you ...

Polly Yakovich:

I.e. given you their email address or gated content, if it wasn't clear.

Josh Dougherty:

If it wasn't clear. Once they've given you their email, we want to then use marketing automation, nurture emails, to slowly, I think, unpack the different questions that we think that they are asking. This is where your audience research comes in handy. If you know like, I asked this ... they asked this question and then the next question, then the following question. We're going to use nurture emails to highlight other valuable content that's going to answer the questions that they have, maybe ask them to share back some of the thoughts or ideas that they've had with you. Maybe after a while, start to introduce the unique value that you provide as a company in a way that isn't just like shoving a sale in their face and then ultimately asking them to make that leap, knowing that some people will, some people will need a longer engagement.

Polly Yakovich:

Yeah, one of the things about this process that's really important, especially in the B2B space or like Josh was talking about for that customer with a $500,000 product, it's going to be just as important for you to qualify them as it is for them to build trust with you. So, this is definitely a collaborative relationship, even though it's happening digitally. So, depending on what you're using software wise, obviously HubSpot does as many other software do this, you're going to want to use things like progressive forms, chat bots, other kinds of smart ways to gather information from them because you want to know if they're qualified to buy.

Polly Yakovich:

If they're not, that's fine. They can still keep consuming your material but you're just going to have a different level of investment in them. Not everyone that comes to your site is going to become a customer and that's fine, actually that's good. Many of them will share about you, talk about you, spread your information in their channels if they find it valuable, et cetera. All of that is really good, but you want to make sure you're qualifying them as well.

Josh Dougherty:

Yeah and I think another common pitfall, when we think like you can do the same inbound principles across all businesses is with like a higher value product, you need to remember that unlike in a SaaS businesses, selling something for $99 a month, you're probably not going to convert them in five emails.

Polly Yakovich:

Yeah.

Josh Dougherty:

So, being like, I'm going to make the purchase, so it's all about how do we use like an initial nurture pathway to expose them to another avenue that they can go down to like explore, read another in depth piece of content, maybe watch some videos, something that's going to get them to buy in a little bit more so they want to keep digging because ideally, we're wanting to string together four to five to six experiences that they have with you, so that over time, you've become that brand that they trust for all their information and then we'll add in things like email newsletters, other announcements, so that even if you become the brand that they trust, they still might not be ready to buy.

Josh Dougherty:

So, then we want to then be resurfacing our brand to them on a consistent basis, so that when they're ready to make that purchase, they're going to choose to make it with you because not only do they trust you, but you're the one who's top of mind and then once they're ready to move, the sale can move pretty quickly.

Polly Yakovich:

Yeah. The other thing that we're trying to do and I think we just assume everyone knows this but if they don't, we'll be explicit is that we're trying to preserve people time to important influx points. Obviously, if someone fills out a contact me form, I really want to talk to somebody, we're going to respond to that or if they say on your chat bot, I just want to speak to somebody and ask my questions, we're going to give them that opportunity. What we're also trying in this convert phase, to really qualify them so that we're only sending the right people to talk to a salesperson or we're only investing people time, which we only have so much of in prospects that are really qualified or have done their research.

Polly Yakovich:

So, we're really trying to provide them the flavor and the memory and experience of working with your brand without putting all the people time into it and obviously, there's a lot of people time put into building these systems but then over time, we can maintain them for a large group of people with more minimal effort, and we can be optimizing as we go, rather than writing everyone individual email or responding or having a call or doing a demo or whatever that could be. So, we really want to win this convert phase like Josh said, do this like one too many as much as possible.

Polly Yakovich:

Treat everyone like a mass audience and allow them to do their research in an automated way with a lot of the great content that you've already provided that helps them with their problems, so that we can see ... they can see if you're a good fit. You can see if they're a good fit before you actually spend time with them and do all that pre-qualification, and I would say in a lot of places, especially with big ticket B2B items, and it really depends on what your product is, you're doing the convert, to pass them to a salesperson in close. You're not expecting to close them online but you're providing them this really great brand experience so they can spend the time, take it to their stakeholders, it might be a big decision with the buying team and research processes, things like that.

Polly Yakovich:

So, you're providing what they need along the way, to maybe a team of people. You could be talking to a buying committee. It may not just be one person.

Josh Dougherty:

Yeah, typically, it won't be, right?

Polly Yakovich:

Yeah.

Josh Dougherty:

I think like a couple things to think about if you're like I don't even know how I would send someone through a journey, a multi month-journey of getting to know me or getting to know my brand. What I would do is I would take those phases of the buyer's journey, the attract, convert, close, delight and then I might think of like, what are some core topics that we could to create premium content around on each of those levels and then you kind of have your journey, right? So, if you can map to E-books/white papers, whatever you're thinking of from premium content to each stage of that process, you can then create or nurture your pathways so that they're steadily moving someone deeper through that process.

Josh Dougherty:

They can so choose their own adventure, but you're being helpful on guiding them how you ... into what type of adventure you'd like them to go down, as I get to know you.

Polly Yakovich:

I would say a couple sort of COVID era tips during this phase are twofold. One, a lot of organizations we know with really high value products, people obviously don't want to start from scratch when their budgets get released again. People are holding on to cash and they're sort of delaying some big buying decisions and that's fair but you can get almost through the end of the convert process. In fact, we know people with really big buying committees that are like, "We're going to decide who we're choosing and do all of that now and then we're just going to delay the actual like signing of the contract until we know what we're doing and what's happening."

Polly Yakovich:

Feel free to be doing very extensive work in both of these phases, attract and convert because people are going to keep moving, even if you think that your pipeline is dry and people are holding off on buying decisions, you can probably get pretty far. I think, like Josh said earlier about being human, be really honest and upfront about that. If people are putting you off, you can say like, "Hey, let's still continue this conversation and how can I be really helpful to you, I understand that you're not going to assign until it's over and that's okay." So, I think you can really spend a lot of time here.

Polly Yakovich:

The other thing I was going to say that's a really good exercise to do at any time, but if you have people that are not as busy right now or perhaps you have a little more time because you're not doing other things, this is a really good time to close any holes that you may have in this phase of the process. So, typically, as your program grows over time, it becomes infinitely more complicated and there are other pages and lots of people are able to make landing pages or put up forms that may not ... you may not have the same level of control you did when your program was small. So, this is a really good time to audit through the program and just see where people could be falling out.

Polly Yakovich:

Are you sending people somewhere from an ad that doesn't have the right form and you're not capturing their information or are you advertising something on your site that you're not getting the right data from, or do you have nurture pathways that lead to nothing and you've somehow dead ended some people that you didn't intend to, that don't have a follow up ask? So, just audit through right now and make sure that you're not bringing anyone and that you are not capturing or that you don't have holes in the system somewhere.

Josh Dougherty:

Yeah, two other points around convert. So, like you asked me in the last one, like what would I do if I was just getting started? What I would do is I would create one really rich piece of content and then use it everywhere.

Polly Yakovich:

Yes.

Josh Dougherty:

Don't feel the pressure that I have to ... I mean, I was just talking about create 10 different resources, don't feel the pressure yet, that you have to have all those done to get started. You can build something that's really rich, build a landing page around it, give people multiple opportunities to sign up to receive that piece of content and like, go for it.

Polly Yakovich:

Don't put artificial limits around it. We talked to somebody with a really amazing research study that takes a lot of money and time to put together and it's like, if you don't have time or money or resources to go and put together other resources right now, just keep extending those really valuable resources, people will still find them very useful, even if it's, quote, unquote, past Q1.

Josh Dougherty:

Yeah and the other thing I would say, being a direct marketer at heart from my past is, don't make the mistake right now of being non-specific about what you want people to do. People really want to ... even in marketing right now to be told what to do and then to do it. It's not ... and since you're telling someone to download something that's really going to help their business, you're not being like too upfront, you're actually giving them that opportunity to improve how they're doing their work and hopefully, whatever we're going through right now, whether it be a recession, depression, K-shaped recovery, whatever the term is, you're giving them help to be able to do that.

Polly Yakovich:

I think that's a really good point and so, to my previous audit of holes, I would recommend auditing for two things at once. Make sure everywhere you're looking on landing page or forms, you have a very clear call to action and one, you're not asking them to do six things and not getting them to do any. So, as you're auditing through and making sure everything is working, you know how many holes, just make sure at the same time you're looking for that clear call to action, every place that you need somebody to do that. All right, close, Josh.

Josh Dougherty:

Close.

Polly Yakovich:

You might not be closing right now.

Josh Dougherty:

You might not be, maybe you are.

Polly Yakovich:

You could be.

Josh Dougherty:

Lucky you.

Polly Yakovich:

Yes.

Josh Dougherty:

Close is the place where digital marketers have to realize that they can't just stare at their computer screens all day.

Polly Yakovich:

Yes.

Josh Dougherty:

So, like, this is something that I think we talked to our team about constantly, is there is a time in your work where you need to get on the phone and collaborate with people or you need to get in the room, don't just think through it yourself and I think for the inbound methodology, this is that place, especially when you're selling something valuable, you're usually working with a sales team and the marketing and the sales team don't sit together, they don't talk to each other that much. Hopefully they do but usually they don't and they both have ideas about what works and what doesn't.

Josh Dougherty:

Then at the end of the month or if you have a full database integration, you're throwing some leads over the month or over the fence from marketing into sales and being like, the sales team didn't do anything with them, we sent them all these great leads, why didn't they do anything? My response would be, it's your fault. The reason I say that with all love to my fellow marketers is that everyone has their own priorities of what they're pursuing on a day to day basis and unless you show people what you're doing is beneficial to their priorities, you're not going to make any progress.

Josh Dougherty:

So, close is all about one, making sure we're locking down how we're qualifying leads. So, making sure that the leads that are going over to sales are effectively qualified. We may think we have a great matrix moving people through but if it doesn't work for the sales team, it doesn't matter. The next thing is thinking about setting up what we call smarketing meetings where you're consistently meeting with this ... or your marketing team is consistently meeting with the sales team to evaluate what's the quality of the leads? Where are the people dropping off? How are you actually following up with them? How can we provide content that supports you once you have a lead that you're talking to in a one on one sales environment?

Josh Dougherty:

All those types of questions that oftentimes a lot of assumptions are made about, and we're going to create some time to just talk about that really clearly and openly. Then I think, working again with sales team, in between those meetings to say, if you have any questions throughout the month, here's the point person, reach out to them, Slack them, talk to them so that you're solving problems on the fly. A lot of this is just about making your team ... Your two teams, the same team at the end of the day.

Polly Yakovich:

Yeah.

Josh Dougherty:

And working towards a goal.

Polly Yakovich:

I would say it's so impossible to assume what your sales team is experiencing right now because it depends on your product. They could be busier than ever. They could be less busy. It depends how they end up closing deals or what your product life cycle timeframe is for getting a sale completed, but this would be a really, really, really good time if you've struggled to get collaboration with your sales team to connect with them. If you don't have a smarketing meeting, to ask for one, to ask for their feedback on the leads even passing them to get there, both qualitative and quantitative feedback about the quality of those leads, what people are saying, what they're experiencing, salespeople are talking to people all the time.

Polly Yakovich:

So, if you don't have as much exposure to talk with prospects or customers, this is a really good time to set up some regular time to get that feedback and get some verbatims from them. So, I would say depending on what you're doing, closing might be tough right now but this is a really good time to get really dialed in with the sales team, be very instrumental and valuable to them, provide them helpful, valuable content. Really think about them as your customer and think about how to get more closely aligned so that you guys can be a really successful team coming out of this situation.

Josh Dougherty:

I think the real trust building moment for them is if you sit down with them and say, my goal is for you to never have to follow after a cold lead again because you're getting all leads that we've spent a lot of time cultivating so that they're ready to make a buying decision. I think most salespeople will respond positively to that sort of communication. The other thing I would say is there's kind of a couple of fundamental things that you can think about right now to is closing is hard. The first is CRM integrations, now, making sure that you have a clear two way connection between what you're doing your marketing in.

Josh Dougherty:

What you're doing your sales in so that as leads pass into the sales realm, and they move on to either being disqualified or a deal is closed and it's won or it's lost, you want to create that feedback loop so that you can see what type of leads that you're sending over. There's transparency as to how they're ending up and this can allow you to optimize everything that we've already talked about over time, as you see trends of what channels perform best for you, what tactics performed best. The other thing I would think about is, explore with your sales team how you can use some of your inbound discipline of nurture pathways, to create sequences for salespeople to do follow up so they don't have to do manual emailing every other week to these prospects that they're following up with.

Josh Dougherty:

Maybe also thinking about some scripts that maybe are helping ... building that first one on one interaction based on how this lead came in. So, like what are some resources that really help a salesperson in their process, to remove some of that manual work that they're probably doing?

Polly Yakovich:

The other thing I would say too is think of your sales team as influencers. So, if they're a little bit ... I hate to say less busy in that way but if their work has shifted a little bit, think about how to seed them with some of that great content that you've created and provide them with some bullet points for sharing and really help them be your hands and feet out in the digital world while they're less able to do that in person outreach, so that you can get your content out and they can help you with your whole system as well, drawing eyeballs, all of the things Josh in the attract phase about social posting and organic posting, use your sales team to help you do that right now, if they're willing and able.

Josh Dougherty:

Another thing that is kind of unique to like a long term or a high value sale, is people will flow in and out of conversations with sales because they're moving slow. In my experience and my experience as a salesperson is I just want to move on and not ... it's like, "Okay, check lead that off and now I'm not going to talk to him." I think it's really important for you as a marketing team to say, "Okay, this person was qualified, maybe it was bad timing, maybe they just didn't close." What are the things that we can now do over time to continue to build that relational equity with them so that when they come back to make a purchase decision or when they've gotten that detractor inside of their C-suite, who will finally say, "Okay, yeah, I'm deciding to move forward."

Josh Dougherty:

When that happens, they're still thinking about you. So, it's like, we want to think of this as continual circles of engagement.

Polly Yakovich:

Yeah.

Josh Dougherty:

Never with a dead end.

Polly Yakovich:

Yeah, 100%. Awesome. Give us a two second spin through delight, Josh. Actually delight could be a great place to be spending your time right now, particularly if you have a product that really lends itself to repeat purchases, because that's probably your best pond efficient right now.

Josh Dougherty:

Yeah, delight is the fun stuff, right, because you already know these people love you. So, my two second advice is don't take advantage that you know that they love them or they love you and actually spend some time making them feel special. A lot of times again, this is where we talk about that flywheel, you can probably grab five or six of the pieces of content you're creating at the attract phase that are actually really valuable still when ... to your current customers, give them to all your account executives or whoever is managing that relationship and have them ... send them out on a consistent basis saying, "Hey, I really thought this would be valuable to you. Here's why."

Polly Yakovich:

Yeah.

Josh Dougherty:

It's like a super simple thing.

Polly Yakovich:

You could even say tricky marketing things like, "Hey, we're publishing this next month, but we wanted you to have a sneak peek and let us know your thoughts."

Josh Dougherty:

Exactly. I mean, the other thing that you can do to delight them is to invite them to things like your podcast and say, "Hey, we think you're really smart, you should come and join us."

Polly Yakovich:

Or, your virtual happy hour.

Josh Dougherty:

Yeah, so any way that you can, I think go out of the ordinary of the normal process flow, provide them with some valuable information or let them be the expert for once because they are really smart about what they do, is the best thing to do in the delight phase. The other things ... I'm assuming if you are successful at your business, the other things you need to be doing, you're probably already pretty good at which is like quick customer service, answering questions, delivering on your product, like you said you would but just going out of the way to be really appreciative. Give them a chance to share their knowledge and sharing the things you're learning consistently can go a long way.

Polly Yakovich:

I think another thing you could do during this time, particularly if you haven't been doing this regularly, is just asking for feedback. You could be like, "Hey, not using these words, but in this tricky time, we have this little extra time and we've really been meaning come back to you and ask you how we can improve our product for you, would you be willing to give us some time to talk about that, whether it's in person or in a survey?" That's another really great thing you can do.

Josh Dougherty:

Another thing I would think of is if you have people who are making repeat purchases or they may be purchasing introductory product that can then lead on to other products, is create a little bit of like a nurture pathway for those people after they become a customer, to encourage them to be thinking about the questions or the challenges that they face that this next ... the next thing you want them to purchase solves so like you're not really selling that next thing but you're helping them think through it in a critical way, so you're not relying just on like the power of the people who are managing the relationship to get them to that next sale but you're helping to move them along in their thinking, in a very, I think relevant way that helps them sharpen their thinking.

Polly Yakovich:

Yeah, and bring them back to your site for great resources that they might have forgotten about during their research phase that could help them use your product better or help them advance their careers, et cetera. So, leave us with some final thoughts, Josh, what do you think?

Josh Dougherty:

I think there's never been a better time to market, if you're actually caring about people. I've had a number of sales conversations where people really love to just get in and have a conversation with someone who cares about their business right now. So, if you can demonstrate that in your marketing and if you really can provide relevant help, like this is an awesome time to be able to build connections with people. People have a lot of the noise that they typically have in their lives turned off. They're going to be a little more receptive. They've also been a little bit more focused probably on shutting off the digital noise because of how much time they're sending on a screen.

Josh Dougherty:

So, if you can be hyper-targeted at answering their specific questions they have, you're going to feel like that person is cutting through the noise that can give them a breath of fresh air in their day.

Polly Yakovich:

Yeah, I was going to say, in the first couple weeks, it was kind of a crazy time, right? Everyone was trying to figure out what to say and every brand was sending out an email. In these crazy times ... and then talking about stuff that wasn't relevant at all, like their product to your panic, but as we settle into this for whatever the long haul looks like, I think people are thinking about, there's business at the end of this. We'll be making, buying decisions at the end of this and so just have the confidence to be a human. Rand Fishkin wrote a really nice blog post and he just really encouraged people to read the room. I think reading the room is super smart right now.

Polly Yakovich:

Once you've read the room, be relevant to people, you can still do a lot. More people, this is obviously exacerbating, everyone's move online for researching, connection and value and trust. So, if you haven't made that pivot in the way that you had been, perhaps meaning to or intending to, there's no time like the present and you're not behind the game, there's ... you can always start. So Josh, and I really always believe there's something you can do and you can always start and start with something that you feel like you can maintain and then just add on from there.

Josh Dougherty:

Very well said.

Polly Yakovich:

Thank you so much. We have a really great E-book that actually goes through ... Josh wrote a fantastic E-book that goes through all of these phases and details about what to do at each phase. It's called Generate the Right Leads, Build Trust and Achieve Breakthrough Growth, that's on our website at abravenew.com. You can just give your email address and download that for free and we'll put a lot of the things that we've referenced in the show notes, so if you want to go back and do a little research later, you can do that. Thanks so much for listening. See you next time.

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