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The Critical Role of Intent in Demand Generation, Sales and Marketing

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jul 12, 2018 1:30:00 PM

intent-video-splash-screenWe've been doing a lot of research over the last year into a critical part of the buying process that seems to get very little attention in the design and execution of demand generation: sales and marketing efforts. Anyone who has ever been involved in attracting or acquiring new customers knows that buyer intent is an important ingredient in the customer acquisition recipe.

Intent varies by person, by market and/or by what you're selling. There are any number of factors that are going to impact when and where intent occurs, but somewhere along the buyer’s journey, buyer intent hits a critical point. Intent, initially, does not necessarily relate directly to buying from any particular vendor. Buyer intent refers to the decision that some level of action needs to take place. If you think about the last major purchase or even decision that you made, you can quickly and easily identify that point that separates pre-intent actions from post-intent ones.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Performance, Demand Generation, Marketing, Sales, Sales Enablement

What it Means to be Data-Driven, How It’s Different from Metrics & How to Apply it

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 29, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Data-Imagine-ImageMy daughter is entering her senior year in high school. I have to admit that there are times where I stop and think how I wish I were in high school today. Now, I don’t have this wish for the common reasons you may be thinking.

You see, when I was in high school it wasn’t cool to obsess about things like data. But today, data is about the coolest thing in the world (well, except for maybe AI). Everyone is talking about data. Big data. Little data. Metadata.

Today, it seems, marketing and sales advisors pronounce their coolness by claiming to be data-driven. Everywhere I look, I see people claiming to be data-driven, but when I look at how they manage process and make decisions, it’s no different than how they did things a decade ago.

Sure, they may throw some numbers or vanity metrics at you, but the way they do it reminds me of how I used to describe statistics. Today, data is like a lamp post to a drunk - it’s used more for support than illumination.

Make no mistake. If you want to successfully grow a business today, you’d better be data-driven. I’m fond of Netscape founder Jim Barksdale’s philosophy: If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.

So, the first step to be data-driven is to understand what being data-driven means.

The first confusion is that there’s a difference between being goals- or metric-driven and being data-driven. There is probably no clearer illustration of the difference than using my favorite example: baseball.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Sales Development, Performance, B2B Sales Strategy, Demand Generation, Data

Modern Lead Generation is Failing. 5 Critical Factors to Drive High-Velocity Customer Acquisition

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 8, 2018 1:00:00 PM

Imagine_Speed-Velocity Graph with TitleA couple of weeks ago, I introduced a chronic problem plaguing the growth efforts of companies, large and small alike. Lead Activation Syndrome occurs when the successful results of lead generation efforts aren’t translating to greater velocity of quality sales, opportunity creation, or new customer acquisition.

Companies can still drive growth--often at a very high rate--but the costs of such efforts grow at a faster rate than growth. As a result, the systems and people supporting growth must run at a faster, often non-sustainable, pace.

The cause of this problem is typically weak, or nonexistent, middles. The attention paid to lead generation and inbound marketing has greatly strengthened the top of the funnel, but little to no attention is paid to constructing a strong middle.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Performance, Technology Stack

The Five Must-Have Elements of Revenue-Producing Content

Posted by Fiona Taylor

Apr 19, 2018 4:00:00 PM

 revenue-producing-contentA good rule of thumb for a blog post is to always lead with an introduction. So, while this may not be the kind of introduction you were expecting, I’m Fiona, Imagine’s new Director of Content. I’m thrilled to be here! Since I’ll be sharing my thoughts on content from time to time, here’s a little of background: I’m a writer and editor with extensive experience developing content and marketing strategies for Fortune 500 companies. On that note, let’s kick off my first bog post by talking about what makes content great!

We’re all barraged with content every day. If you’re like me, you have twenty browser tabs open because you truly intend to read all those articles and blog posts. You know, the ones that promise to make you a giant in your field. The problem is, there’s just so much noise.

There’s content constantly coming in from every direction—via email, social media, and the interwebz. 

This means you have to have some mental filtering system in place. Your time is limited and precious, so you need to know that you’re not wasting it by reading a piece that over-promises and under-delivers. You can only choose content that you reasonably believe will make your life better.

Which brings us to the question….

How do you make someone read your content?

As we all probably already know, engaging content results in reads and shares. It builds a relationship. It offers the reader something of value, which creates trust and increases your credibility. All of this moves a potential customer further down the path to purchase – moving them from indifference to emotional engagement.

So how does this mysterious and magical process happen? Every piece of content is different, but you can’t go wrong if you incorporate the following five elements:

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Content

What it Means to Be Inbound

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Mar 28, 2018 2:00:00 PM

be-inboundI was talking with Meghan Anderson, VP Marketing for HubSpot, about how much has changed (and how much hasn’t) over the last 10+ years since HubSpot brought us the Inbound Marketing Revolution (okay, a little blog hyperbole).

At a recent Inbound conference, Brian Halligan, HubSpot’s CEO, shared what led to the entire idea that became HubSpot. He shared that while their product was designed to enable marketers, the idea didn’t spring from focusing on the problems that marketers had.

Instead, they focused on the problems that the targets of marketers - people - had. In that exploration, they realized that things were fundamentally changing and the buyer was seizing control of their own buyer’s journey and experience. This discovery led to what Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, Brian’s co-founder, called Inbound Marketing.

In the last decade, Inbound Marketing has completed a full lifecycle. Starting as novel curiosity that only a few on the vanguard even knew about (let alone implemented), to hype that everyone talked about. Which then lead to “The Next Big Thing” through must-have status, followed by line extensions (Inbound Sales anyone?), finishing off the cycle with claims like “inbound marketing doesn’t work anymore” and “no forms.”

This fond remembrance of the birth, growth and exploitation led us to talk about what Inbound Marketing means today. My response is what led to this blog post. I replied, “Meghan, you know, to me Inbound was always more to me than inbound marketing or inbound sales were. To me, Inbound was and still is a philosophy.”

Inbound represented - and still represents - a mindset, beliefs and principles far more than any series of tactics or processes. Being Inbound is to acknowledge that the customer controls the game today and businesses need to rise to meet the demands and expectations. While the tactics (and technology) are changing at an increasingly rapid pace, Inbound, The Philosophy is as relevant today as it ever was.

Meghan then challenged me. She asked, “Doug, I love where you’re going with this. But (have you ever noticed there’s always a “but”), if it’s a philosophy how do you define it? How does it have permanence, rather than merely becoming a trite idea like create value?”

This is my answer.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing

4 Resources to Get 2018 off to an Explosive Start

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Dec 20, 2017 2:00:00 PM

explosive-start.jpgI simply cannot believe how fast 2017 has flown by. Here at Imagine, we’re in the final days of getting things wrapped up so we’re ready to take our annual “week of rejuivation”. We have big plans for 2018 and some exciting announcements we’ll be sharing as soon as we’re back at the beginning of the new year.

Of course, even while I’m off and spending time with family and friends, there will be a part of me thinking and reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned in 2017, my plans and objective for 2018 and figuring out how to get out of the gate fast. I’ve always found that if I can make January and February strong, the rest of the year typically takes care of itself.

Over the years, we’ve developed a number of resources focused on the idea of getting initiatives off to a strong and fast start. For those of you still looking for ideas, insights and inspirations to launch next year, here are some of the best ones we’ve created.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Sales Development, B2B Sales Strategy, Sales Training/Coaching

5 Essential Components of a High Sales Growth Tech Stack

Posted by Ellen Welker

Dec 7, 2017 4:00:13 PM

tech-stack.jpgThe game is getting real folks. Every day it seems a new challenge is emerging that makes the traditional growth playbook ineffective. Several weeks ago I shared the results of a deep analysis we completed that focuses on how the very best growth companies build their demand generation program. In The Five Levels of Demand Generation, one of our central observations was the growing role of technology. While companies at all levels are using more technology, the difference between the best and the average was in how they used, integrated and aligned technology in their approach to growth.

Recent research from CEB highlights that companies are spending, on average, almost $5,000 per sales rep more on technology today than they did two years ago. Despite that investment, the results companies are seeing decreases in the results they're seeking. This frustrating conundrum is a great description of where growth-focused companies find themselves when managing the technology landscape.

Sales and marketing technology is no longer optional. Today, it's a ticket to play in the game. As we regularly advise our clients, technology will never be the reason your sales growth strategy succeeds, but it will increasingly be a reason that it fails. Three years ago I would regularly ask, "Is the issue we're trying to solve a people problem or a process problem?" Today, the dominant question is, "Is this a people, process or technology problem?"  

It is for this reason that you must pay attention to the technology you're using and how you're using it, and regularly consider how you can or should use technology in the future. "The Tech Stack" is a term and conversation that needs ongoing attention to ensure a strong competitive foundation.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Sales Development, Performance, Technology Stack

How We Revitalized Our Email Strategy & Turned It Into An Advantage

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Dec 4, 2017 5:00:00 PM

How We Revitalized Our Email Strategy & Turned It Into An AdvantageEmail is (still) a critical linchpin for sellers and marketers alike. Even as social media, chat and private communication networks (like Slack) proliferate, email is still at the center of communication today.

Don’t believe me? Consider (sources, Content Marketing Institute & Optinmonster):

  • 77% of B2B marketers use email in the marketing mix  
  • 91% rate email as a key piece of content marketing success
  • 2.7 billion people use email
  • 91% of users use email at least daily
  • You're 7x more likely to originate a customer via email than other channels
  • 58% of users cite it as the first channel they go to every day

Successful Email Strategy is Harder than it Looks

When I talk with prospects about their sales, marketing and communication programs, there’s a lot of variance regarding the primary tools they use. The one thing they all have in common is the use of email.

Despite the ubiquity surrounding email communications, very little time is spent developing and executing a robust email strategy. I’m convinced that the reason this is true is because email feels easy and inexpensive. It’s just so easy to think that sending “one” bad/ineffective email is no big deal, we’ll just make it up on the next one. Then one becomes two; two becomes 12, and so on.

The reality is that email is one of the most expensive channels in the marketer's and salesperson’s communication toolkit. While sending an email doesn’t cause an immediate, direct cost, what happens after that is significant.

Six-months ago we sat down to completely re-imagine our entire approach to email. Recently, that method (and the results it’s gained) was featured as a case study by HubSpot. Since the case study was published, I’ve been asked several times how we did it. This post will highlight how we’ve lit our email strategy on fire and are expanding our competitive advantage because of it.

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Performance

Podcast: The Black Line Between Sales & Marketing

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Oct 26, 2017 1:00:00 PM

Black-Line-Podcast.jpgThere are a lot of great things happening here at Imagine. Last week I shared the new approach we’re taking to supporting and driving faster growth for our clients. Today, I get to announce the official launch of our new podcast The Black Line Between Sales & Marketing. This time I’m hosting the podcast in conjunction with my friend, client, and vendor, Mike Donnelly, the CEO of Seventh Sense. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here.

You may be thinking, “Do we really need another podcast? Afterall, I can’t keep up with all of the great podcasts I’m already subscribed to.” The answer, of course, is an emphatic “Yes!”

What makes The Black Line Podcast unique? If you look at the landscape of podcasts and content in the sales, marketing, demand generation and business growth arena you’ll see three types of programming:

  • Best practices & how-tos
  • Interviews focused on wisdom and thought leadership
  • Interviews focused on stories and experience 
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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Demand Generation, Sales

Why We're Changing Our Approach to Serving Clients

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Oct 19, 2017 12:27:02 PM

Why We're Changing Our Approach to Serving ClientsFor years I’ve come to this blog to write how customers and the world of sales and marketing are changing at rates never before seen. Today I'm excited to share some changes that we're making at Imagine in how we are working with clients.

I've been advising business owners on growth my entire adult life. Figuring out how to grow businesses isn't just my vocation, it's my avocation.

For the first nine years of running Imagine Business Development, friends and associates would tell me that I needed to find a hobby...something that would allow me to break away from the intensity of what I do on a daily basis. I took up brewing beer, coaching baseball, reading fiction books and bird watching (okay the last one is a lie, I never took up bird watching). Finally, I realized that this is my hobby.

I'm lucky. I've had a front-row seat - as a student, practitioner and advisor - to the most dynamic period in business in the past 100+ years. I've worked firsthand with more than 2,000 companies and I can say conclusively that growing a business today is more complicated and challenging than at any time I've seen or studied. On the one hand, organizations have access to more talent, technology and opportunity than ever before. It is these assets and strengths that are also making things as challenging as they are. As Brian Halligan, CEO at HubSpot, shared in his keynote at Inbound17, "It's never been so easy to start a business...and so hard to scale one."

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, B2B Sales Strategy, Demand Generation