<img src="https://ws.zoominfo.com/pixel/Nfk5wflCTIIE2iSoYxah" width="1" height="1" style="display: none;">

The Demand Creator Blog

Join Thousands of Committed Growth Executives & Subscribe To The Blog Here

5 Actions for Sales and Marketing to Succeed Through Scary Times

succeed-through-scary-timesThings change quickly. Just six weeks ago, the economic conversations focused on the record-high balances of Americans’ 401Ks. While there certainly has been speculation about the possible (inevitable) market downturn/recession, the dominant questions were about how mild such a recession would be and whether it would even meet the technical definition of a recession.

Then in the proverbial blink of an eye, everything we thought we knew changed…radically. In a 24-hour period, America began to get serious about the pandemic that dominates news coverage today. Oil prices plummeted. Gary Cohn, past Director of the National Economic Council, referred to it as, "Where we were last month has nothing to do with where we are now... We are now dealing with an economy where there has been massive demand destruction in the oil market." 

We all entered a new world on Friday, March 13th and it’s important that everyone accepts this. I do not believe for a moment we won’t get through this crisis. I am also confident (as I’ve always been) that better times lie ahead. 

stockdale-paradoxIn times like this, I’m reminded of The Stockdale Paradox. Admiral James Stockdale was a Vietnam War POW for seven years. During this horrific period, Stockdale was repeatedly tortured. He found a way to stay alive by embracing both the grim reality of his situation and healthy optimism.

Stockdale explained: "You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."

This paradox holds a great lesson on how to achieve success and overcome difficult obstacles. It also flies right in the face of the unbridled optimists and positivity peddlers whose advice pervades nearly every Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook stream today.

Stockdale discussed this paradox with author Jim Collins in the book Good to Great, where he spoke about how the optimists fared:

Collins: Who didn't make it out?

Stockdale: Oh, that's easy. The optimists.

C: The optimists? 

S: The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, 'We're going to be out by Christmas.' And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they'd say, 'We're going to be out by Easter.' And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.

There is good news. Difficult times are your opportunity to stand out and be rewarded for taking strong action and making good decisions. It is in difficult times that good companies separate themselves from their peers and become great.

Difficult times, properly managed, are called defining moments in hindsight. Here are 5 actions to take on the go-to-market side of your business to make this a defining moment for you and your company. By the way, I’ll be sharing more details on this Wednesday in our upcoming webinar. (If you’re reading this after April 8th, you can watch the recording of the webinar.)

Read More

3 Ways Having A Take Can Change You As A Marketer

have-a-takeComing into the workforce, I was fresh out of college with a lot of knowledge, ready to make an impact wherever I landed. Yet, I was super nervous about not making a good first impression and failing. You see, I was the student that would know the answers to questions in class, but never felt like speaking up. I always had my opinions, but hardly ever shared them. I never wanted to feel like the “know it all” in class and I dreaded being “wrong,” so I stayed silent. I even had a professor in shock once when I took a final exam because I did well, yet never spoke in class. In his words, I was the “silent but smart” student. My point in bringing this up is that to this day, I wish I had spoken up and given out my answers/opinions because it would’ve made a huge difference to my job now.

What It Means To Have A Take

Having a take means sharing your opinion, standing up and speaking from your experience, your knowledge, and your mind. Having a take isn’t about agreeing or disagreeing with what someone else says, but making sure you’re not saying something just because it’s what everyone else wants to hear.

Putting your take out into the world means having the potential to be wrong (depending on what it is you’re having a take on). Many people don’t like the thought of being wrong or being in the wrong, but in order to be right, you have to put your take out there. You can’t be like my college self and sit silent. Change isn’t going to happen if you don’t speak up. 

How Having a Take Can Change You as a Marketer

Ever since I’ve changed my mindset and have started having a take, I’ve seen a few things happen/change with the way I do my job as the Marketing Manager of Imagine. Use these as an opportunity to influence your job, too.

1. I started providing deeper value. I’m not saying I wasn’t providing value before, but I’m now providing a more impactful value than before. This value stretches to the company (in my case, Imagine), my coworkers, and the world. If you switch your mindset and put your opinion out there, you give a whole new perspective for others to think about. I’m not saying that you have to disagree and give your perspective differently all the time, you just have to make sure you’re saying what you really feel. If all you say is what others want to hear, how much value is that truly providing? Is it getting you where you want to go with your work or your job? Probably not.

As a marketer, your job is to make sure that your customers are getting the best experience and the most value/knowledge out of what you do. If you feel like something is off with the new web page design or the way someone has worded messaging, say something -- and give your take as to why. Your perspective now gives someone something to think about. That’s how you create change. By not having a take or by holding back your take, you give up on the opportunity to make an impact for your company and/or for your customers. Speaking up is how you create forward motion to put you and your company in a better position than before.

Read More

The D.E.A.L.S. Framework: Unifying Customer Acquisition & Success for Acceleration

Deal-Framework-Header

Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen the proliferation of marketing and customer acquisition “methodologies” multiply, fragment and confuse. One of the reasons for this was the success that HubSpot had with their focus on Inbound Marketing and the methodology they created to define it.

Since that time, it’s become part of the standard SaaS/tech playbook to create a new methodology to frame the product a company is attempting to sell. I’ve even seen some very successful executives and advisors proclaim that if you want to launch a new SaaS product you must create a unique methodology to frame it. 

What’s more, with the promise of each “unique” methodology, the focus moves to what you call things instead of on the objectives and results that should be driving the entire process anyway.

Here are just a few of the loudest:

  • Inbound Marketing
  • Account-Based Marketing
  • Outbound Marketing
  • Conversational Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Legacy Marketing

What makes this so confusing and frustrating is that the proponents of each method describe them with near zealotry. I’ve lost count of the number of people who have said to me, “We don’t want to do Inbound Marketing, we need to do Account-Based Marketing,” or vice versa. (You can substitute in for Conversational or any other option for either of those.)

Someone needs to hit the reset button. We need to stop talking about these approaches as though they are mutually exclusive. I, for one, am a fan of all of them, and while I would rarely use all of these methods within one company, I would also virtually never use only one. As an old manager of mine used to say, “Everything works and nothing works.”

Read More

7 Tips to Having an Effective Remote Work Experience

Editor’s Note: As the world of business continues to evolve at an increasingly rapid pace, one often overlooked area for growth-focused companies is the changing nature of the workforce. Millenials are now entering their prime working years and are increasingly taking on executive positions. Generation Z is quickly becoming a force and the nature of work is changing. To help companies maintain alignment and reduce friction we’re adding to the focus of The Demand Creator Blog. Today’s blog is written by our Marketing Manager, Hannah Rose. She and others will be sharing their perspectives on growth, working and making their mark.

remote-workAbout a year ago, I was in the market for a full-time position right out of college. As exciting as that may sound, I was very stressed about it. You see, I was in a very different situation than most people; I didn’t have a lot of flexibility in terms of what I could do since my husband is in the military and I would be moving every few years. I wanted a marketing position, but I was worried that I wouldn’t be a fit for any job I applied for because I would have to tell them I’d be able to stick around for a little while and then have to pick up and move every couple of years. What good was I to any business with that logic? No one would want me. I had accepted my fate as not having a good job. Then I came across Imagine. Granted I’m not here with Imagine solely because of my need for flexibility; I’m here for a lot more than that. 

Remote work is up-and-coming as a highly searched term for job hunters, no doubt due to the benefits it offers. While I’m a huge fan of remote work, it isn’t easy. It takes a lot to make sure you’re excelling in your own space which is why it isn’t for everyone. It can be super-fun, flexible and exactly what you need, but it can also feel intimidating and lonely at times. It really comes down to what you decide to make out of it. 

Remote work is especially difficult for someone who is just entering the business world. The nature of college creates a structure and nudges (or forces) you into a flow. It’s rare that you don’t know what you need to do next, and when you’re in that position you just reach out to one of your classmates to find out.

If you’re currently in the market for a new job, you might want to consider working remotely. And for those of you who currently are remote workers, I’m sure you’ve struggled with getting adjusted at some point. 

So, if it isn’t as easy as it seems, why would you choose to work remotely?  

Why Choose Remote Work?

For Employees

There are a lot of reasons why you would choose to work remotely. It’s way more flexible because, in most cases, you can set up whatever hours work for you. You can also leave and come back when you need to. The biggest thing is as long as you’re getting your work done, you’re able to have that flexibility to go in early, leave late, etc. This helps if you have kids and need to be on a different schedule, and it helps with traveling because you can take it with you. That’s exactly what I did when I went on trips with my family. I just worked from wherever I was for a few days. So it’s great if you’re a traveler at heart but also want to work. And as a disclaimer, I am by no means saying solely take a remote position for these reasons, but it’s a good option if that’s your lifestyle. 

The other reason you might choose to work remotely is if that’s just how you function best. I’ve had in-office positions where people would go seclude themselves because they couldn’t get anything done if they were around others. Sometimes that environment just doesn’t work for some people and they need to have their own zen place to sit down and crank shit out. And that’s okay!

Read More

20 Tips to Crush 2020

crush-2020Over the holiday break, Mike Weinberg, author of New Sales. Simplified., Sales Management. Simplified., and Sales Truth, shared 20 tips for salespeople to crush 2020. (You should read his tips whether you’re in sales or not.)

Mike was his usual: blunt, humorous and completely on-point. His third tip that there are only three verbs in sales (create, advance and close) is more valuable than most sales training programs I’ve ever attended. (I’d expand this tip to demand generation and marketing as well.)

I was so inspired by Mike’s post that I found myself thinking about what 20 tips I would share, and this blog post is the result of Mike’s inspiration. (Thanks, Mike!)

1. Spend 20 - 50% of your time on early-stage market development (yes, prospecting)

When I present to sales teams, I often start off by talking about what I like to call “the sales and marketing treadmill.” The sales teams immediately nod their heads, understanding that dreadful feeling where you need to run faster and faster, just to stay in place.

One of the things I’ve always noticed about the best salespeople (and I mean those who are consistently at the top) is that they never look rushed. They regularly operate in a state of flow, seemingly never worrying about this week, this month or even this quarter. 

I used to wonder how they could always be so calm and relaxed; after all, I was busting my ass. What I realized was that they spent far more time than the typical rep on the early parts of the buyer’s journey. The “pre-funnel” is always stronger than their active funnel.

The single best thing you can do, as a salesperson or sales organization, is to spend at least 20% of your time on early stage, market development/prospecting. You’ll find that as you move towards 50%, the effort (and urgency) required to close sales decreases, and you’ll soon become one of those top salespeople I referred to.

Read More

The Core Benefits of Creating and Nurturing a B2B Online Community

B2B-online-communityOne of the biggest challenges businesses face in growing is generating attention and engagement from companies (and people) in their target markets who are not currently looking to buy something. 

They also know that generating word of mouth is the best form of marketing there is, but if you don’t have thousands of customers who regularly use your product, or your product isn’t “buzzworthy,” word-of-mouth can often feel like a distant dream. Today, especially, with the hustle and bustle of the always “on” world, it can be that much more challenging to find time to be present outside your business bubble. 

If you’re dealing with these challenges, then implementing a community marketing program may be just the recipe you need. Joining or creating an online community might just be the extra spark you need to get connected with others. If you aren’t already a part of one, you’re missing out on so many opportunities to expand who you’re talking to, reach out to a whole new audience, and expand how you help others. You’re able to add a whole new perspective to your knowledge base! And just like the saying goes, “two minds are better than one,” you too can reach a better outcome through joining or creating an online community.

Read More

Don't Bounce! Tips & Tricks to Keep Your Website & Blog Bounce Rate Low

Dont BounceMetrics can either be your best friend or worst nightmare. When things are going well, your life is great, but what happens when they start to go against you? You start to freak out. Our world today is centered around being the top or the best in whatever we do. In business, this is especially true when it comes to websites. If I could guess, I would say one of the biggest metrics you look at when assessing your website is the bounce rate. It might not be the first or second thing you look at, but it’s up there. I could also guarantee that at some point that number has been higher than you anticipated and freaked you out. What if I told you that a higher bounce rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing? Take the opportunity to learn more about what to actually expect with bounces, and make the adjustments you think need to happen. 

What is a bounce rate? 

To put it in simple terms, a bounce rate is the percentage of people who land on your web page and then leave without traveling to another page (or blog) on your site. Most of the time this means they’ve only viewed a single page and then left. 

High Bounce Rate = Bad, Right? 

It depends. What are your website goals? What does your website look like? Usually, if you’re bringing traffic to a single page that doesn’t solicit for any other navigation or if your website is one page, then having a higher bounce rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The same thing goes for blogs because most people come to read that specific content piece and leave. If you have a website that includes more than one page, then a higher bounce rate could indicate something is wrong.

Read More

Inbound 2019 - The Insights That We're Still Talking About

Inbound2019This past year at HubSpot’s Inbound 2019 conference, we were fortunate enough to fly the whole team in to Boston for the week. We were ecstatic to attend and be there for Doug’s session - The Ultimate Sales Manager: Coaching Reps to Coach Themselves. The week went by quickly, the sessions everyone attended either reinforced what we were already doing or inspired us to try something new, and we all (the Imagine team) left Inbound with some key takeaways. No two people had the same impact which meant everyone could bring something different to the table when we got back.

The Imagine Team’s Takeaways


Fiona - Head of Content

I thought one of the most interesting (and obvious in retrospect, as these things often are) tips from Inbound was from Kelsey Raymond. She recommended that content creators should sit in on a sales call at least once a month to hear first-hand what’s keeping potential clients up at night. That way, you’ll be able to keep these concerns in mind when creating content. 

I also found Daniel Waas’ session helpful because he talked a lot about his ideal framework for a webinar. As someone who writes fiction in my spare time, it struck me how much it was like a VERY simplified structure for a novel. This just reinforced that all successful content, no matter the format, has some type of story structure.

Read More

Using Quizzes to Generate Leads and Increase Engagement

Quiz TimeEveryone creates content. If I had to guess, I’d say you’ve most likely created at least one piece of content today. Why? Because you want to create engagement. In fact, a primary objective of content is to create engagement. Yet, most content is either unidirectional (blogs, web pages, podcasts, videos, etc.) or very high effort/high cost (social media). This kind of content gets looked at once, maybe twice and then never seen again. You don’t want to bore your audience with the same kind of content over and over. Engagement is better when you can make it participative rather than passive. 

Quizzes are a great way to switch how people engage with your product. They’re often a relatively low-effort way to build participation and enhance engagement (and generate new leads). This form of content is less about reading and watching and more about impact and connection. It means more when people can do things and interact. Quizzes engage more. Your audience is able to engage more of their brain. Sometimes that means it’s more enjoyable, sometimes more memorable, and sometimes it just plants a better seed that will influence your audience at a later time.

Read More

What Hansel & Gretel Can Teach Sales & Marketing Executives About Content Strategy

breadcrumbsIn 2010, we made a critical decision at Imagine. We decided that we needed to move beyond our focus on sales and support the entire customer acquisition & success process. This led to the creation of lead generation services, which led to becoming a HubSpot partner, enabling our clients to successfully implement inbound and content marketing.

I don’t often share the (real) reason that we made this shift. I remember the culminating event as if it were yesterday. I was debriefing with one of my sales coaches about the progress with a customer, and let’s just say that the progress wasn’t very good. 

The sales team we were working with wasn’t embracing the approaches we were hired to implement and was struggling overall. In the debrief, I was being informed of the obstacles and objections the sales team were confronting, and further, why those objections meant our approach wouldn’t work.

I have to admit that was one of the most frustrating days of my career. I thought to myself, “Why is this so damn hard for them? I’ve been selling for decades and I’ve never had these problems, and while - yeah, sure I’m good - I’m not so good that I’m immune from common obstacles and objections.

It was in that moment I was struck with a BFO - blinding flash of the obvious. I realized the one element that I’ve always had everywhere I’ve ever sold (or led sales teams) that this team did not have. That element was content. I’d always had content to support my efforts because I’d always created content if the content I wanted wasn’t already there.

I realize this observation from today’s perspective isn’t so enlightening. Today, content is a given. The problem is that as content has proliferated, its impact has decreased (which has further fueled the proliferation of content). A lot of people claim that the reason for this is that quality decreased. While I can’t argue with that observation, I’m certain that’s not the cause.

The cause is that people are doing content wrong.

Read More