The Most Important Growth Dashboard in My Arsenal

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Aug 2, 2017 4:00:00 PM

growth-dashboard.jpgSix weeks ago I wrote about the only metric that matters. That metric is the number of people in your addressable market that are paying attention and are engaged with you.

Since I wrote that post I have had a number of conversations on the subject with both clients and business owner friends. The concept has had the same impact on them that it did on me when I first discovered it. There’s quickly a realization that much of the data we’ve learned to rely on as marketers and demand generation executives is often either useless or worse...misleading.

The world of data and analytics has hijacked an engineering term called the signal to noise ratio. In engineering it refers to a measurement that compares the level of a desired signal to the level of background noise. In data and analytics it means being able to separate the data that provides valuable insight from the data that merely creates noise or confusion.

The most common mistake I see when I assess an organization’s marketing and demand generation efforts is that they view a number of metrics - especially at the top and middle of the funnel - as a total, or average number. For example, I’ll often hear or see things like this: traffic is up x percent, we generated y leads, we’ve got z number of leads in our database.

The problem with averages, as the old saying goes, is that if I have one foot in boiling hot water and one foot in ice cold water, if I look at the average I’m fine...and in a lot of pain. And the problem with dashboards that reflect all activity is the data is skewed, often highly, by factors that don’t matter (like anybody not in your addressable market viewing your website).

Think of it this way. You’ve done a great job to build content designed for your desired personas so that it resonates with them, but is of little interest to others, and you’re also reviewing your web analytics. You know that time spent on site and on page is a good indication of engagement so you track that number.  

You begin to notice that, as you have developed your new content strategy, Google Analytics is showing that the average time spent on a page or on the site is down. You begin to panic. How can this be? Why are we spending all of this time on our content and site when the data shows we’re getting less engagement? How am I going to explain our investments when I talk with the CEO?

Suddenly you remember that in a typical month only about 23% of the traffic to your site is from your targeted personas. You realize that the time that 77% of your visitors (the ones that you’re optimizing your content not to resonate with) have a greater impact on that metric than the 23% of visitors who actually matter. It is for this reason that you must segment your audience and the dashboards you use to judge and monitor progress.   

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Topics: Lead Nurturing

The Truth that Inbound Marketing Agencies Don’t Want You to Hear

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jul 25, 2017 1:00:00 PM

The Truth that Inbound Marketing Agencies Don’t Want You to HearAt Imagine we work with growth obsessed, forward leaning executives who want to hear the truth about sustaining and scaling growth. We take a lot of pride in our ability and willingness to tell our clients (and prospects) what they need to hear and to teach them what they need to know, rather than what they would want to or like to know.  

Today I want to take that same approach with you, the readers of this blog, as I share with you the truth that inbound marketing (and other sales and marketing) agencies don’t want you to know. It’s not working. It’s not working for clients, and the reality is, it’s not working for the agencies either.

Today, more blogs posts, landing pages, infographics, video, emails, etc. are being created than ever before, and what do most businesses have to show for it? Higher expenses, complicated and confusing websites and more noise that must be dealt with to “break through.” Oh, and what is the response from the very marketing agencies that caused this problem to begin with? Simple - produce more content and spend more money on pay-per-click.

It’s no wonder that Kip Bodnar, CMO at HubSpot, recently shared that marketers “fuck everything up.” But why? What’s happened? How has the promise and excitement of inbound marketing ended up in a cacophony of noise and “me too-ism”? More importantly, what can companies and growth executives do about it?

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Topics: Inbound Marketing

How to Tell if Your CRM Database is Leveraging or Thwarting Your Investments in Sales Growth

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jul 18, 2017 12:30:00 PM

database-management.jpgWhen I first got into sales, a common refrain was that a salesperson is only as valuable as the names in their Rolodex (here's a picture of a Rolodex for those readers under age 40). As the world entered the information age, the conversation quickly transformed to the importance of a company's database.

Despite the number of people who talk about the importance of their database, I've learned (and have to admit that until a few years ago was guilty of this) that most of the conversation is merely lip service. Well, that may not be fair. It may not be lip service so much as it is a poor focus.

Too often people define the value of their database of the quantity of names they have. (Can I call this database envy?) While the size of your database is certainly important, it's nowhere near the most important.

In this edition of The Demand Creator Minute, I focus on the crucial role of your database, the most overlooked (and dangerous) aspects of database management and three keys to ensuring you're using your database effectively.

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Topics: Demand Generation

Good Content is a Commodity: The Keys to Making Content Marketing Work

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jul 14, 2017 2:00:00 PM

Good Content is A Commodity: The Keys to Making Content Marketing WorkAaah, I remember the good old days. You remember them, don't you? You know, the days when creating good content was the key to successful content marketing and inbound marketing?

Don't get me wrong, you still need good content, but today it's a commodity. Let's admit the truth; there's more than enough good content out there on just about every subject. And while there's more bad content than good, and the volume of bad content is growing faster than good content; good content is simply not enough to drive your results.

But, before you jump to the obvious conclusion that this blog post is about the need to create great content, that is not what I'm suggesting. Frankly, as I've been studying the keys to success, I'm increasingly convinced that for most companies, creating great content is not the answer. Simply put, the investment of time and energy (and as a result - money) to get from good content to great content isn't justified - the juice isn't worth the squeeze.

How can I say this? Isn't this content marketing heresay? Look, I'm not saying having great content is bad. Instead what I'm saying is that if you're not utilizing your content (super) effectively, your focus should be on optimizing your process before enhancing your content.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Lead Nurturing, Demand Generation

[VIDEO] How to Successfully Manage the SQL Handoff

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jul 11, 2017 5:15:24 PM

successful-sql-handoff.pngOne of the biggest (if not the biggest) changes in sales over the last 5 - 7 years is the emergence of the sales development process. Businesses have come to realize the growth benefits of specialization in the sales process, and the impact that dedicated prospecting has on increasing the strength of the pipeline while also optimizing the overall process.

While sales development is certainly a powerful process, it is not without risk and it requires a well-thought out and disciplined approach. While effective sales development drives growth, when it's ineffective it increases costs, is disruptive to everyone on your sales team and frustrates you customers. This is why a strong playbook is crucial to the implementation of a dedicated prospecting strategy.

The linchpin in sales development lies at the handoff from the SDR to the sales executive. Orchestrating this play is crucial to gaining the results you desire. Having worked with many companies in building out prospecting and sales development programs, while also implementing programs for ourselves and our clients, we've seen firsthand the misunderstandings, myths and barriers that restrain success. In this video (no registration required) I share the strategy and tactics behind a successful handoff, as well as tips to making it work.

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The Biggest (& Common) Mistakes Made with Account Based Marketing

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jul 7, 2017 4:30:00 PM

The Biggest (& Common) Mistakes Made with Account Based MarketingAs the chart below (where I compare interest in the term "account based marketing" with "demand generation") shows, interest in Account Based Marketing has exploded over the last five years. For me at least, I can't remember the last I haven't heard or read someone talking about ABM having the solution to all ills.

As with most hot topics (see Sales Enablement) I take a very cynical, conservative approach to them. Far too often these hot topics are just ways to take old ideas and present them as new so that if you're a consultant, you can charge bigger fees for your services, and if you're an executive, you can promise that next panacea to get your boss or CEO off your back.


Account Based Marketing is not new. As I often say to people who claim it is: if you're involved in a B2B business and what you were doing before wasn't account based, then you were doing something wrong.

That said, ABM (as it's practiced by the those who are doing it right) is different in an important way. It formalizes and orchestrates a variety of actions, personalized and targeted in a fashion that enables selling organizations to penetrate accounts they wouldn't otherwise penetrate and expand business faster.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Performance, Sales Training/Coaching, Demand Generation

[VIDEO] 5 Growth Strategies to Finish 2017 Strong

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 30, 2017 11:00:00 AM

finish-strong.jpgIt feels like just yesterday.  I was getting ready for the day and finalizing plans for how I was going to spend my New Year's Eve, and thinking about the next few days and getting Imagine off to a fast start in 2017. Suddenly, I go out for a walk in the morning, and I come back dripping in sweat from the heat and the humidity. Time sure does fly.
It amazes me how different June 30th and December 31st are. Here are some of the big ones:

  • It's a lot hotter in June than December.
  • The days are longer (unless you're reading this post in the southern hemisphere, in which case the nights are longer).
  • December is filled with passion, excitement, and commitments for the year ahead.
  • In June there's much angst about goals off track and the feeling that the year is almost over.

Today marks the end of the first half of the year. Whether you're winning or losing the year, the "game" is not over. Imagine if the New England Patriots went into the locker room in Super Bowl 51 with the attitude that so many people have halfway through the year. It's also important to remember that in business, the game never ends. I like to think of July 1st of the beginning of a new year as well.

Last year we presented a webinar focusing on five growth strategies to use to finish 2016 strong. The strategies in that session are every bit as relevant today as they were the day we recorded the session. So, as we prepare for "Half-Year's Eve" (can we make that a holiday?), I share with you Five Growth Strategies to Finish The Year Strong.

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7 Attributes of an Effective Sales/Marketing Playbook

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 27, 2017 2:00:00 PM

SalesAndMarketingPlaybook.pngPlaybooks are back! When I first got into professional sales (in the ancient days of DOS), playbooks were a hot topic. Back then, the keys to organization and sales success were in the ability to create better approaches that enabled sales reps to perform at their highest levels. The focus was on training and process, embodied in a playbook.

Somewhere in the mid-late 1990s the focus turned from optimizing and building organizational capabilities, to volume and velocity. As the economy heated up and demand skyrocketed, the focus on playbooks virtually disappeared. At the beginning of this year I was talking with a senior sales executive about our sales enablement services and the focus turned to marketing and sales playbooks. He kind of laughed and commented, "Are playbooks coming back? Really?...Yeah, I don't think we really need a playbook; we have mainly senior reps and they don't need one."

I quickly responded, "The question is not, 'Do we need a playbook?' The fact is that you have one. The real question is do you want a purposeful playbook that guides actions and innovation, or a haphazard one that hides and confuses things?" He quickly got my point.

Today, more than ever, playbooks are crucially important. Both sales and marketing processes have multiplied in complexity, and the successful orchestration of complex interactions, involving all parties involved in the customer acquisition process, is continually increasing in importance for successful outcomes.

There are a variety of playbooks every growth-focused company should have:

  • Lead Generation Playbook
  • Marketing/Inbound Marketing Playbook
  • Lead Management Playbook
  • Sales Development Playbook
  • New Sales Playbook
  • Account Management/Customer Success Playbook

Now, I know what you're thinking. "Doug! Stop the insanity...this is O-V-E-R-K-I-L-L!" I used to think that way too, and I remind you: you already have a playbook for each one of those areas. The question is: do you want it to be purposeful or haphazard?

I'll cover the components of each of those playbooks in a future post. Today, I want to focus on the six commonalities that all effective playbooks possess.

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Topics: Sales Development, Performance, B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Training/Coaching, Demand Generation

[INFOGRAPHIC]  The 7 Levels of a Growth Organization

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 21, 2017 2:00:00 PM

7-levels-of-a-growth-organization-615777-thumbnail.pngEarlier this week I was talking with a fellow business owner about growth, and the difference between those companies that are able to consistently execute against plan to achieve objectives, and those that are always jumping for growth but never really seem to go anywhere.

In the conversation I started talking about a construct I had put together more than five years ago, called The 7 Levels of a Growth Organization.  I shared the model and some of the tools we created to support it, and he almost immediately replied, "Doug, why aren't you still talking about this and sharing it."

Realizing I had no real answer to his question, I decided to share it today.  I'll also be writing more about it in the future again as well.  The model highlights the path to what I call a Demand Creation Monopoly, where customers value you so much that competition becomes irrelevant.  It highlights the stages you have to pass through, give you some insights into the actions you need to take to drive greater results on your sales growth journey.

Click the read more link to see the full sized graphic.

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Topics: B2B Sales Strategy

The 5 Tools I Use to Keep Me Productive on the Road

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 20, 2017 2:00:00 PM

business-travel.jpgI was recently having a conversation with a fellow business owner, friend and past client of mine. He doesn't travel much for business, but over the last few weeks, his travel schedule had been (for him) quite hectic. He shared with me just how disruptive he thought business travel was. In his words, "It's totally fine while I'm in the meetings that I'm in, but getting anything else done is virtually impossible." He commented to me that he didn't know how I stayed on top of things, while also traveling at a much high rate (and I'm by no means a true "road warrior").

I agreed with him that travel can be quite disruptive, and that in many ways regular business travel is almost better than low travel levels, as it's actually easier to get in a routine. And that's the key to successful business travel - developing, and sticking to, routines.

I've also found that having a few "cheats" is crucial to effective business travel. The great thing (from a productivity standpoint) about being in the office is that it's a controlled environment and you have access to your best "stuff." With a little strategy and some neat gadgets, you can find ways to match productivity on the road as well. With summer officially set to start this week, I thought I'd lighten up the blog, and share with you the tools I rely on when traveling.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Performance, Demand Generation