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We’re not the disruptors…It’s already happened!

How the 3 Deadly C’s Have Changed Sales Forever

After explaining what we do to an interested connector last week, one of our partners got the old “Wow, you guys are real disruptors!” Without really thinking, Paul quickly snapped back, “We are NOT disruptors! The disruption has already happened, we’re really just helping people get through it.” This is spot on and positioning is important. If you’re creating disruption, that’s one thing but when it’s already happened, doing nothing is the riskiest thing you could ever do.

Today’s age of acceleration has unleashed what we call the 3 Deadly C’s – Commoditization, Consensus Decision Making, and Compressed Selling Time. The real impact is beginning to rear its ugly head and sales will forever and always be different. What follows serves as more than your warning signal. I think it’s helpful to understand the 3 Deadly C’s a bit more in-depth and more importantly, what you must start doing to stay relevant and vital.

What’s happening?

While the world has been focused on the impact of the internet in the B2C space, particularly in retail where it makes headlines daily, the internet’s impact on B2B has been equally aggressive.

When combined with today’s age of acceleration, where not just the rate of change is accelerating but the speed of the rate is accelerating at the same time, the disruption is here.

You’re already feeling the disruption in the following ways:

  • You’re not closing the deals you feel you deserve
  • It’s taking longer than ever to get a decision
  • You keep getting squeezed on pricing

Today’s buyer buys differently and selling organizations are not adjusting to these changes fast enough. Sales teams are confronted with the 3 Deadly Cs – Commoditization, Consensus Decision Making and Compressed Selling Time; everyone looks and sounds the same, decision-making teams keep getting bigger (now averaging 6.8 people) and they’re ignoring your salespeople until the very end of the buying journey. What does this mean to you?

The 3 Deadly C’s

Commoditization – to your buyer everyone looks the same, sounds the same and acts the same. Once that happens it’s just a race to the bottom.

Consensus decision making – Buying teams keep getting bigger (now averaging 6.8 people) and when everyone shows up with their own agenda, you lose priority. The easiest thing for them to do is nothing…

Compressed selling time – 70% of your buyer’s journey is complete before you’re invited in; leaving you with less time than ever to influence a decision. You swing and miss at your moment of truth.

Today, decisions are made in large teams. Your competition has the exact same level of access that you do and just because you have good habits (showing up on time, always being responsive, etc) doesn’t matter because your buyer isn’t letting you in until they’re nearly done with their decision process. On top of it all, everyone they do invite in all seems the same! This is why deals are coming down to price, or making no decision at all.

So, what can be done?

We know that freezing up and doing nothing is not the answer. And while this is a daunting journey, one that will end up driving change within and around your team, let’s start with the most important thing you and your team must do.

The first step to overcoming the 3 Deadly C’s is to clearly and consistency communicate “Why You, Why Now?” What are the compelling reasons why someone should choose you? I mean REAL reasons, not the “Our people make the difference” or “We’ve been in business for 100 years” reasons. Not only does everyone say those same things, further driving commoditization, but the part of your buyer’s brain that makes decisions doesn’t know what to do with that information. So, it ignores it.

The “Why now?” is a new requirement. With bigger decision-making teams, everyone is bringing their own priorities to the table. So now, you not only have to defeat your direct competitors with your “Why you”, to win the priority game and you have to clearly address why they should do something now. If you can’t win that one, you’ll get the “good news/bad news response… “We liked your proposal the best, buuuuuuut…we’re not going to do anything at all right now.”

Not a win.

You can’t rely on sales training tactics that were developed before the internet, they were created for a world that no longer exists. And convention sales presentations that focus on facts, figures, features and benefits do not trigger your buyer to act.

You need to reframe your approach to sell the way today’s buyer buys:

  • Align consensus decision-making team around a single, mutual pain point to create priority that pushes your deal forward.
  • Implement prescriptive messaging at the right time along each step of your buyer’s journey that answers Why You, Why Now, and puts you back in control of the sale.
  • Leverage decision-making science to win the prospect’s brain in the first 30-seconds of your pitch.

The forces of the Deadly C’s are constantly working against your vitality. If market share, revenue, or margin are flat or decreasing, its an indicator that your organization is becoming irrelevant. Irrelevancy results in commoditization, where price becomes the only differentiator between you and your competition.

By leveraging Decision Science to create brain-friendly messaging that answers “Why You, Why Now?” you will see immediate impact on revenue, margin, and market share.

Ready to win more now? Unlock the tools that will help your sales team close more deals faster in today’s buying climate.

Capitalize in the VOID – Why Salespeople Fail

Why are so many salespeople struggling? I have answered this several times, each time, a little different. Here is a consolidated response based on those answers…

“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”

Jack Welch

Selling has not changed at the same rate buying has changed… Does that sound familiar?

That point, when the buyer first engages with the seller is what we call The Void. This is where deals are won or lost. It only takes a fraction of a second for the buyer to make a decision, but Salespeople aren’t equipped with the right messaging or tools to capitalize in The Void. Salespeople use antiquated techniques because that is what they’ve been trained to do by sales trainers. These sales training systems were developed 40+ years ago for a world that no longer exists. The buyer has evolved, but sales hasn’t and it is saddling your sales team with three distinct disadvantages.

Disadvantage #1 – To your prospect, you’re all the same

The first thing to consider is that the buying process has radically changed over the last 20 years. Before today’s age of accelerations, buyers relied on sellers as their source of information. Today buyers ignore salespeople for as long as possible, completing nearly 70% of their buying process before engaging a salesperson. Similar to what we have seen in the retail space where consumers are less reliant on the in-store experience, B2B buyers are using the Internet and other methods of research to form their interpretation and opinions on a narrowed-down list of potential vendors based on their needs before they ever talk to the seller. The bad news: at the point of engagement, they now believe you and your competitors are all the same.

Disadvantage #2 – You get one shot

Once engaged, the seller is now introduced to their 2nd disadvantage, being relegated to a single conversation or meeting in order to get a pass to the next. That means one presentation to make an impact and distinguish themselves from their competitors or risk being eliminated from consideration. RPG refers to this moment of truth, this one or done, as The Void. It is that transition point in the buyer’s journey moving from research to solution consideration. The pressure is on and if sales teams don’t deliver, they’re done.  

Disadvantage #3 – The easiest decision is to do nothing

Can you win the battle and still lose the war?? Absolutely!

It’s one thing to win the “Why you” battle, where you show superior capability and performance against your direct competitors. How is your team at establishing priority? With B2B decision teams now averaging 6.8 people, your salespeople have to contend with each meeting participant bringing their own priorities to the table. Most aren’t capable of winning the “Why now” war.

(CSO Insights)

These 3 disadvantages are the direct result of what we, at RPG, call the Three Deadly Cs: Commoditization, Consensus Decision Making and Compressed Selling Time; everybody looks, sounds and acts the same, decision-making teams keep getting bigger and your salespeople are ignored until the very end of the buying journey.

Your sales team is being sent to the battlefield carrying a plastic knife.

Here’s an epiphany… sales isn’t to fault, not entirely anyway. This is a problem that must be solved by the company. Since the buyer is ignoring or blocking access, for the first 70% of their journey, then marketing holds as much, or more, of the burden of failure as the sales team does. Once sales is allowed in, they’re positioned for failure. They’re stuck with the following:

  • Antiquated training — 7 of 8 sales training programs developed before the Internet or cell phone was invented
  • Wrong messaging to spark curiosity, create differentiation, and drive priority — these are not keywords or website copy!
  • Wrong selling tools to pitch and engage the brain — this should not be created by the marketing team

In order to stay relevant and keep pace with buying committees, your sales team must contend with The Void. The place to start is aligning the entire team so they can quickly and easily articulate “Why you, Why Now?”

Want to learn more about the toolset that targets the way today’s buyer buys? Let’s schedule a 15-minute chat to see if the Revenue Acceleration Program is right for your team.

The Often Overlooked But Critical Difference Between B2C And B2B Branding

There are a lot of branding agencies out there doing brilliant work when it comes to building websites, creating fonts, designing logos, and organizing brand platforms for Business to Consumer (B2C) environments. Many agencies are applying the same expertise and proven approach in Business to Business (B2B) environments.

The problem is, in the B2B world, there’s a missing link: The Intermediary. 

The Intermediary
The sales person, the business development team, and the seller doer… they’re the ones actually responsible for winning the business. They’re the ones carrying the brand banner and telling the brand story. They’re the ones focused on the last mile.

This is a CRITICAL distinction that has to drive a very different approach to B2B branding. A B2B brand cannot stand alone.

Enhancing your digital presence is a great idea, but are your intermediaries delivering the same message? Can they even clearly articulate what that message is?

Building a great reputation is important, but what specifically does that reputation do to eliminate the threats your prospect faces in their day-to-day business life?

Visibility is critical, but what does your brand mean to your prospect? Is your brand about you or is it about them?

If you’re reading this article you’ve probably spent, or are thinking of spending a lot of money on branding. It’s not uncommon to venture well into six figures for that type of effort. Dedicating such a large portion of your budget should come with a single, pre-requisite question:

“What is my brand accomplishing for me?”

True Story
At a conference recently, a Director of Marketing told me about their firm’s recent re-branding initiative:

“We spent about $150,000 to develop a new logo and website, new colors, business cards, signage… the works. Everything turned out beautifully, but where it really went off the rails was that as the guy was out in the parking lot applying the new logos to our company trucks, there were people walking out the door carrying their boxes because we had to lay them off.”

This is a real, albeit extreme, example to remind you that your resources are finite so it’s critical that everything be working towards building your business.

Alignment
There’s a lot of talk in the business world today about alignment and aligning around your brand; about creating a brand from the inside-out. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all be firing on all cylinders and have everyone in alignment?!

Intuitively, it makes sense to create a brand from the inside-out… one that our entire organization can align with, one that truly expresses our cultural values, but…

what if you create a ‘powerful’ inside-out brand and none of your clients or prospects cares?

The problem with inside-out is that the focus is all wrong. None of this is about you. You aren’t in business to serve yourself.

If you have an inside-out brand, what do your intermediaries do? Do they walk around talking about themselves (your inside-out brand) like Cousin Eddie at the family reunion?

What if instead we built a brand focused on the pains, threats, and fears we can eliminate for our clients? I believe this sort of transformative thinking about B2B branding does 3 things:

Transforming B2B Branding
Building a brand around the pains, threats, and fears we eliminate for our clients proves our value in the marketplace. There’s nothing left to interpretation. We’re clearly articulating the valuable solutions we provide to the most pressing problems.

Building a brand around the pains, threats, and fears we eliminate provides a platform for both internal and external alignment. Imagine if we’re known as the firm that eliminates ‘these’ pains, threats, and fears. Potential clients that experience those pains, threats, and fears will seek us out. Talent that we want to recruit can look at those things and say “I’m passionate about those things too. I want to work there.” They come in already aligned.

Building a brand around the pains, threats, and fears we eliminate for our clients provides a brand story for our intermediaries to tell. Nothing will build our businesses faster than a team that’s clearly articulating the same story, especially when that story is focusing outward on providing the emotional lift that comes from eliminating the things that are really standing in the way of our client’s success.

Would You Hire Your Favorite Brand?
Think about your favorite brand. Maybe you’re thinking of Coca-Cola or Ford or Patagonia or Apple. Next ask yourself, if you were on the local school board would you seek out Patagonia to design your new school? If you were the City Engineer, would you hire Coca-Cola to engineer the next phase of infrastructure expansion for your city?

Of course you wouldn’t. That’s not what those companies do, but let’s just say you were curious…

What if Apple did __________ (fill in the blank) for us?

At the very least you’d have some questions. Enter the Intermediary. At the very least you’d want to know more about their approach, their capacity, their qualifications, their experience. You’d want to know if they really could solve your problem and fit it into a sleek, little white box. Enter the Intermediary. In this environment, the Apple brand can’t close the deal without the Intermediary.

In the Business to Business world, our brands cannot stand alone.

You expect your business development team to get into the right conversations, win the room, and close the deal. What is your brand doing to support those expectations? What is your brand doing to help you win the last mile?

If your brand isn’t helping you avoid commoditization and keeping you from becoming irrelevant in your marketplace, connect with me here on LinkedIn. Let’s build a prospect-focused brand that helps you attract the right clients, the right talent, and the right fees.

Three Problems With Relationship-Based Business Development

If you talk to enough architects, you’ll quickly realize there’s a belief in the A/E/C world that relationships are the name of the game. Not that long ago, one respected marketing and business development consultant told me that 80% of new commissions come through relationships.

I don’t want to discount relationships. They’re important to us on a number of levels and, yes, if you run an architecture, engineering, or construction firm, a good portion of your work probably does come to you through some sort of relationship.

As a business development strategy though, you need to understand that things are changing.

First problem with relationships: They go away
It used to be that if you had a good relationship with the right person, all that client’s work flowed your way. In fact, when I was still working in architecture firms, I had a client who made all the facilities decisions for an extremely active and well-funded local organization. For almost 20 years he funneled all that organization’s work to us. Then he retired.

Your relationships are with human beings. They retire, change jobs, get promoted to different positions, basically experience some sort of change that makes that business development relationship less valuable to you. The relationships effectively go away.

Second problem with relationships: They’re just one person
It used to be that if you had a relationship with the right person, you could count on them to award the client’s or the prospect’s work to you. Today, decision making teams are getting bigger. There’s rarely one decision-maker. In fact, the average selection committee today is at least 6 people.

It’s not enough to have a relationship with one person. Now that your oldest, best client has a selection committee, your relationship with the Vice President isn’t enough. Your track record working with that client isn’t enough. There are 5 other people on the selection committee and that means that everyone you’re competing against may have a relationship with someone on the committee. In a simple vote, your relationship with one person on an ever-expanding selection committee loses.

Third problem with relationships: They make us lazy
Back when you had that relationship with the ultimate decision-maker, you could rely on them to advocate for you. They knew you, they’d worked with you, they trusted you and that was probably enough. Today, they’re not the ultimate decision-maker anymore and you haven’t equipped them with the tools they need to persuade the rest of the committee on your behalf.

Relationships are based on trust. In a one-to-one context that trust is usually built on experience over time. You don’t have that time anymore. Today, your clients and prospects learn about 70% of what they want to know about you before you even know they’re interested. What’s worse, you’re trying to gain the trust of a committee instead of the one person you’ve known for years. You can’t sit back and rely on that relationship to go in and carry the room. In a multiple-decision-maker world, where your prospects think you and all your competition looks the same, sounds the same and acts the same, you have to make yourself the clear choice and gain fast trust.

It’s up to you.
Keep building relationships. That still has to be part of your business development strategy. But go in with your eyes wide open. There are three keys to making the most of your business development relationships:

Have a clear message.
You need to clearly state what your convincing advantages are … the reasons why your prospects should choose you. Those advantages have to be clear enough (and stated enough) that those advocating relationships can repeat them just as easily as you can.

It’s not about you.
As experienced and qualified as you are, the decision-makers and selection committees are only interested in the firm that addresses their pains, threats, and fears. In order to gain fast trust, you have to demonstrate that you understand what’s keeping your prospects up at night and make your messaging all about them.

Have a conversation.
What it takes to get in the room is not the same as what it takes to win the room. That old-school relationship may have gotten you to the short-list interview, but now you’re in a room with 5 other people sitting, arms-crossed wondering why they should pick you.

You don’t know them; they don’t know you. Remember when you first met that person that’s now “your relationship”? It started with a conversation. Don’t talk about yourself like everyone else does. Win the room, and the project, by starting a conversation with them, about them. They’ll feel like you understand them, you’ll build fast-trust, and you’ll differentiate yourself from your competition.

Are you relying on old-school relationships or building fast-trust that differentiates your firm and makes you the clear choice for the right projects and the right fees?

If you don’t know how to answer that question, connect with me here on LinkedIn and let’s start winning the room.

Finding the Role of SEM in Your Business

The question is often asked by any size of business: “Where should I put my marketing dollars?” At least one of the answers should be SEM. SEM (Search Engine Marketing) in 2019 is almost a default effort that every business needs to employ to be successful in the digital space.

That is not to say that your business should go willy nilly into the world of SEM without a plan, a direction, a set of goals, and other KPIs to ensure that you are spending your money wisely. After all, to any business owner, every dollar is important. Ensuring that the money you are putting out into the ether is bringing money back in is of the utmost importance. Fortunately, through a good SEM campaign, you can more often than not rest assured that you will generate some ROI.

There are a slew of reasons why these efforts are important for any business, but not all will be relevant to your business. However, if you can find the solution and the reason that fits your needs, that is always a good start.

Immediacy: You can start a campaign right now and start getting results the next day! This isn’t always the best route, as there should be planning and discovery that goes into any marketing effort, but if you are looking to generate more traffic, gain more brand awareness, increase the number of leads in your funnel, and more, you can quickly generate a successful campaign (with proper planning) and get moving!

Brand AwarenessIn the realm of search, you can never be certain what your competitors are going to do. Outside of regularly checking your own brand name in searches, you can ensure you stay at the top of the results by bidding on your brand. Usually, the cost is low, because your name will have fewer searches and competition than most. Searchers will also see your name at the top of the list if you include it in the ad copy, increasing awareness and association with your product or service. It is always good to be front of mind to your users.

Search Intent: When using any SEM platforms, you are gaining data on what your users are searching for. You can look in detail at the search terms that are generating clicks and conversions for your ads, which in turn shows you the search terms that people are associating with your business. This can drive more marketing efforts through your site, from new static web pages to blogs and videos that you can create on your site. It really opens up a new world of opportunity.

Mobile: By now, nearly everyone knows the large market share that mobile search has, which is propelled even more by the rise in voice search. As these numbers continue to go up, it is important that you find your users where they are. With the smaller size of the mobile search engine results page, it is important that you stay near the top. This can be accomplished with a good mobile SEM campaign, keeping you relevant to both desktop and mobile users.

Localization: Nearly all search, especially when it comes to Google, is targeted to the area surrounding the user. More and more, people are searching for terms like “near me” or “in INSERT CITY” to generate searches that are more relevant to them. This isn’t surprising, as searchers get smarter about finding the things they need and the search engines get smarter about delivering those local results. With an appropriately targeted SEM campaign, you can target the specific areas that your users are in, target relevant local search terms that your users are looking for, create ad copy surrounding those specifics, and generate more quality leads!

Small Budgets: As a business owner, especially if you’re just starting to delve into an SEM campaign, you don’t have to blow everyone out of the water with a $10,000 budget. Budgets of all shapes and sizes can be catered to and manicured for success within any campaign and as that campaign generates success and growth, it can grow with you. Don’t get scared by budget numbers.

As for which platform you should use to start your SEM efforts, Google is the general default. This makes complete sense since it dominates the search market, but there are other platforms out there you can test to find your audience and meet them where they are. Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you take the time to do your research up front, determine your goals of any marketing effort, and make the commitment that you are going to spend the time to try to make it work. If you half-ass your marketing efforts, especially when it comes to SEM, you can expect results accordingly.

Should I Hire an Agency?

  1. Cost Savings
  2. Team of Experts
  3. Tools and Technologies
  4. Industry Experience
  5. External Ideas/Opinions
  6. Time and Effort

6 Reasons You Should Hire A Marketing Agency

You’ve all heard it before, especially those business owners out there. You need to invest in digital marketing, or traditional marketing, or whatever marketing is trending right now. In order for you to be successful, you HAVE to invest, but how do you know where to start?

It’s difficult in today’s market to decipher what’s real and what’s fake. Will marketing really help drive more sales? How can you determine what’s working and what isn’t? Where do I start the search for the right direction, strategy, and execution for any marketing efforts? Should I hire an in-house marketing team or go with an external agency?

The last question is what we’re here to answer.

More and more, small to mid-sized businesses are turning to agencies to help deliver a return on whatever monies they are able to invest in their marketing. As such, the number of agencies that are out there grows every day, as individuals look to take advantage of a growing industry, new technologies, and innovative solutions. It’s a difficult decision to make, entrusting your marketing efforts to some “outsiders” who might not be experts in your industry, may not know your product or your people, and might not be available to call upon every hour of every day. However, we have six reasons for you to consider as to why an agency is not only a solution to your marketing woes, but is THE solution.

  1. Save Yourself the Expense of More Staff Members

According to Robert Half, an internal Marketing Director can cost on average around $102,000 in salary for your company. That’s one person to guide the strategy, manage a team, and execute some of that direction. Often, those Marketing Directors have some specialization in certain areas, but are not able to execute on all the various spokes of marketing today. So maybe you have to hire an SEO Expert at around $60,000, then you might need a Social Media Marketer for another $50,000. If you continue down that road, you hire a Paid Search Specialist for another $40,000. All in for these four individuals you’d be spending more than $250,000 on staff members, and that of course doesn’t include benefits, equipment, utilities, etc…for these people.

  1. Team of Experts

If I had a penny for the number of times I’ve heard the phrase, “I could hire an internal resource for that much.” Often, it’s not a wholly inaccurate statement. You COULD hire ONE internal resource. However, let’s say you had $10,000 per month to invest in your marketing efforts (a very low number). You could invest that all in your one internal resource. Alternatively, you could put that money in the hands of 15 experts who work together as a team to come up with the best strategies and solutions for your brand. Each of those 15 has a different set of skills, experience in any number of industries, and familiar with a plethora of solutions that could benefit your company in ways that you’ve never seen. You get an SEO expert, a paid search specialist, social media manager, account manager, strategist, content marketer, graphic designer, and more with one agency.

Go ahead, though. Tell me more about that one internal resource you can hire.

  1. Latest Tools and Technologies

I will tell you one thing. Digital marketing tools to monitor results, look at trends, schedule and execute project, or determine A/B testing results are expensive. You could easily spend $1,000 or more per month on a variety of tools and still not have everything you need. Generally, agencies invest in these tools on behalf of their clients. They need to be able to show the return on investment, monitor goals, track progress, and make sure the strategy and direction are working. It just comes with the business, and using an agency will allow you to get the cutting-edge tools and software packages working for you at no extra cost.

  1. Industry Experience

Many agencies have team members with years of experience in different industries and fields. Often companies may not consider this when deciding to hire an agency. While every company is unique, there are always similarities to be found based on experience. It’s very possible that the agency you choose has run a successful campaign in a similar field or even in your same field! That saves time, energy, and money in planning and executing on the various strategies and goals that you have set for your company.

  1. External Ideas/Opinions

Working inside your company every day gives an individual insight into the day-to-day operations, the culture, the characters, and the products or services. However, over time those opinions and thoughts can get stale, old, and blurry. You might have the perfect solution for your current audience or market, but what about a new market? What about that audience that you haven’t looked at yet but provides a way for you to grow your market share? How do you find out about everything OUTSIDE of your company? An agency can provide a fresh, new perspective, helping you discover even more about your company but also more about your clients and prospects. Don’t sell yourself short by doing what has “worked for years.” Find something new!

  1. Time and Effort

Hiring an outside marketing agency really lets you spend your time and effort on what matters most: growing your business. With so many different solutions and tactics out there, internal resources can often get lost in the marketing forest and lose focus on what is most important. You can stay focused on the core of your business, taking the reporting and strategies provided by your agency relationship and leveraging those experts to improve your core business goals.

The other side of this is that you don’t have to spend time training and onboarding yet another internal resource. An agency already understands its role, has defined clear goals and expectations (or they should), and provides you the information that you need without the extra clutter of managing a staff member.

In conclusion…

Ultimately, you have to do your due diligence and make the best decision for your company. Whether you’re the CEO, CMO, or a marketing manager looking for a good partner, there is an agency out there that can help maximize your budget, deliver you results, and help you grow your business. That’s the goal, right? Ask the right questions and find the right partner. They’re out there!

How to Use Technology and Trust to Prove Your Convincing Advantages

We, as a society don’t trust.

According to The General Social Survey, since the 1970s, our trust in other’s has dropped by almost 20%. And it’s not just people we don’t trust. Only 12% of Americans trust the press, only 14% trust banks, and only 14% trust government officials. Heck, we don’t even trust those closest to us. Only 42% of people trust their neighbors and only 58% of people trust their co-workers (I’m looking at you Jim, I know you stole my Poptart out of the breakroom).

Yet, here we sit waiting for a complete stranger to pick us up in his personal vehicle to bring us to a restaurant we found on Yelp, scanning Amazon reviews to make sure we buy the right toaster.

Ummm…are we really that skeptical?

In short, yes. But, technology allows us to build trust faster than we would in a traditional relationship. When we meet a person, a business, or a product, one to one, it takes time to build rapport. Technology shortens the time it takes to trust by compiling the data we use to assess trust. Not only does technology allow us to get to know our Uber drive before he shows up at the door, we get peace of mind that Steve is a great Uber driver from 100 other riders. I automatically trust Steve more because of those reviews. I might have received the same feedback talking to 10 friends about Steve’s driving, but that would have taken much more time.

Arun Sundararajan, author of “The Sharing Economy,” explains these technologies have essentially “expedited” the process of gaining trust.

“If you meet a stranger and know nothing about him or her, trust takes time to develop,” he says. “But if you have a digital system that gives you a bunch of info about the authenticity of that stranger, trust can be gained instantly.” (The Hustle)

The same is true for an early interaction with your organization. If I meet you a tradeshow, and you’re an RPG customer so you’re Convincing Advantages and Why are solid, I am really interested in how you can help me. I visit your website, see 10 testimonials, and I’m sold. Now, I really trust what you are telling me.

When we talk to clients about their Convincing Advantages, we stress the importance of relentlessly proving them. One of the best ways to prove your advantages is through testimonials. And testimonials build trust. If you aren’t using trust to prove your advantages, it’s time to start.

How do I get started?

First, identify the best way to communicate trust. Depending on your product or service, you may want to use technology that will solicit user ratings or reviews. Case studies are the perfect vehicle to tell in-depth customer stories. Testimonials about your product or service are also very powerful.

Second, ask, and make it easy for your customers to give feedback. You can request feedback in a number of ways; via email, after a transaction – especially if you are using a technology-driven system-, on social media. You might be surprised by how many people are willing to share.

Third, make it a continuous part a part of your marketing and sales process to gather feedback from customers. And, not just new customers. Revisit current customers and update your stories to show progress.

Lastly, publish the testimonials and reviews where you meet prospects – via an app, on your website, in emails and marketing campaigns, on sales collateral. Harness the power of technology to relentlessly prove your Convincing Advantages with trust. And start winning more customers.

Learn more about developing your Convincing Advantages.

Source: The General Social Survey (1972-2016) NORC, University of Chicago; as reported in The Hustle.

What is Mobile-First Indexing and Why Should You Care?

Over the past few months, Google has begun to roll out an element of their search that has been a hot topic of discussion: mobile-first indexing. We know that mobile usage is having an effect on every business online, and we know that more users every day are picking up a phone or tablet to find their answers. But what does a shift to mobile-first indexing mean for your online presence, and what is mobile-first indexing anyways?

In today’s search universe, more than half of all search traffic comes from a mobile device. Mobile search overtook desktop search in volume back in 2014, and the mobile universe has not looked back. Think the next generation isn’t going to continue the trend? Google has an entire look into Generation Z and where it sees the biggest market shifts moving forward. They are getting smartphones earlier, using them more, and want you to come to them, not the other way around.

So now what?

What is mobile-first indexing?

According to Google, “Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.” Sure, nearly every website platform that exists today provides businesses with a responsive version of the site, which qualifies as a mobile version. But moving forward, that mobile version could become the primary page that is indexed and ranks, making the most beautifully, well-crafted desktop design move to a secondary focus for Google’s search algorithm.

Source: Moz.com

 

What impact will this have on your website?

In the immediate, the mobile-first indexing is rolling out only to a handful of websites. Google is testing the effect that this indexation will have prior to making it widespread, but it is going to be coming for all sites. This is not an indication that you will need to redesign your site, but you should begin to look at the site primarily from the mobile point of view. Was it designed with mobile in mind? Does all of the functionality carry over to mobile? How do your users interact with it on mobile? These are just a few of the questions you’ll want to answer.

Overall, the impact on your website will fluctuate. If you have a mobile-friendly site that exists because of the platform you used, you will likely see some negative effects on your organic value. If you designed with mobile-first intent, your site should see positive gains in organic.

What do you do right now?

Step one: don’t panic. Google is not going to be penalizing sites for having a desktop focus directly, and this is still being rolled out fairly slowly. All users will be notified via their Search Console (if you don’t have your Search Console set up, you should do that) when the rollout for your site has completed. As of now, there is no date as to when this rollout will be completed for all sites.

Step two: start making some changes. Although it will not hurt you today, you should begin to prepare for tomorrow. Talk with your team about mobile-first indexing, what you can be doing differently, and begin to focus on your mobile users. Write content that is focused on mobile search (i.e. question-based, terms using “near me,” etc…) and design in a way that will display best on mobile devices.

This will be a big shift in the way that Google operates, and the other major search engines (Bing, Yahoo) will surely follow suit. So begin planning now for the future of search, because your users are out there waiting on mobile!

What’s the Only Question That Matters?

Everyone that’s considering a purchase – a B2B customer, a B2C consumer, it doesn’t matter – has a really simple question they want to be answered, and it boils down to some variation of: is it going to work?

Very often, those being asked think they’re answering it. Sometimes, the one doing the asking thinks so, too. But companies that can reimagine the question and get closer to the answer than their competition gain a substantial advantage in the marketplace.

Take Dominos, for example, who just surpassed their rivals to become the highest-selling pizza chain in America. Their rise in revenue started by addressing product quality. After all, it’s hard to convince your audience that “it’s working” if the product ultimately fails. But then, they did a better job than anyone else answering is it going to work with a simple piece of technology, a progress bar, that convinced consumers in real time that “Yes, it’s still working.”

Uber originally solved the same problem. Calling a cab requires some faith. Did the dispatch hear the address right? Do they know where it is? Did the driver estimate the time right? But with Uber, you know where your driver is, how long it will take them to get to you, and what your exact fare will be; all before you leave! They convinced their users that the product was working, way better than taxi companies ever did.

You see, in between a customer’s agreement to buy and delivery of what you sold them lies a risk that’s usually pretty square on the shoulders of the buyer. In both cases above, Dominos and Uber, these companies helped ease the mind of their customer, thereby making the risk they were taking seem smaller in comparison to their competition:

Will my pizza show up?

“Yes, let me show you.”

What are you doing to help your customers answer that important question? What insight could you provide that no one in the marketplace is offering to help them understand and mitigate the risk they take when they wait for you to deliver results?

Top Three Reasons We Are Still Blogging in 2018

“There are millions of blog posts published daily, will ours even get read?”

“Blogging is so 2010.”

“What could we have to say that isn’t already out there.”

Blogging isn’t new. It’s been around since the mid-1990s. We’re not about to present to you a marketing breakthrough or some magnificent new way to do things. The takeaway here is that blogging is still very relevant and vital to your communication strategy. Here’s how it can help you today.

#1 – You Will Generate More Website Traffic

According to a 2017 Hubspot report, 63% of organizations report that generating traffic and leads is their number one marketing challenge. It’s no secret you are competing against a huge amount of noise for website traffic. On top of that, you want to make sure you are generating the right website traffic.

Let’s step back for a minute and think about how people actually search the web. Unless they are typing in a specific company or product, a search typically starts with a question.

So, do me a favor. Google this: How to hire better employees?

What are your results? Scroll past the ads, and you see content in the form of articles and blog posts. In fact, even the organizations that want to sell you hiring services have served up the answer to your question in the form of content from their blog. Your prospects are looking for information to help them solve a problem. A good headline and teaser text will turn prospects that are searching into prospects that click.

#2 – You Will Convert More Prospects

In this Age of Acceleration, a term coined by author Thomas Friedman, the power of individuals has been amplified by the internet. Information is readily available at your prospects fingertips. All of your prospects carry around little internet boxes that give them instant answers to their questions, and more importantly, they are using that power. Prospects are more capable than ever to research products and services on their own prior to purchasing. In fact, 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. (Source) Bottom line, you need to be there with the right content – content that solves a problem, answers a question, eases a pain point. This positions you to be the right resource for your customer’s needs, which turns prospects into leads.

#3 – You Will Think Smarter About Your Overall Business

The process of writing can help you think smarter about your own business. Creating content is all about generating ideas and answers, and you might learn a thing or two, or develop a few lighting strike ideas during the process. In addition to the writing process, tracking your content engagement also gives you insight into your target prospects and the information they want. Whether you outline content or draft a complete blog post, the thought process is a valuable tool for your business growth.