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The Demand Creator Blog

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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5 Elements of a Strong Conversion Page

Conversion Page Infographic-1-1-1We don’t have to tell you your ability to convert web traffic into qualified leads is a crucially important component of any demand generation effort. Yet, far too often we see that companies who have invested in marketing automation and in the creation of relevant content fail to pay proper attention to key conversion pages.

Conversion pages are those “critical few” pages whose primary purpose is to create a specific action. That action could be downloading a white paper, initiating a chat, requesting a demo, registering for a webinar, etc. The last thing you want is for your customer to land on your page and be confused and leave or take the wrong action. That wouldn’t only cause stress on them, but it would also cause stress on you. 

In the world of modern demand generation (and to be really, really trite) the only constant is change. However, despite the range and rate of change, there are still some things that are as true today as they were several years ago. People are still people, and if you want to capitalize on the hard work you’ve put into your content marketing, you’ll want to be sure you're following these five success factors of a conversion page. 

While there are dozens (or hundreds) of tips that can help you optimize performance, these five factors are the core attributes of performance. 

The Five Elements of a Strong Conversion Page

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The Role of Content In An Account-Based Marketing Strategy

content-marketingFew things are as misunderstood as content. In many ways content, and by extension content marketing, experienced a rebirth with the creation and mainstreaming of Inbound Marketing and the growth of marketing automation. As an executive shared with me many years ago, “Don’t spend money on marketing automation if you don’t spend a multiple of that on the content to use with your automation.”

In an Inbound Marketing context, content is a critical linchpin for the dominant Inbound tactic - search engine optimization (SEO). Content, laced with keywords, enabled people to find you. The more (good) content you created the more traffic you gain and the more leads you’d generate (at least that’s what the theory says). In a world where SEO is important, identifying the most important role for content generation and utilization is pretty easy.

In our work with companies that work in more highly defined industries/verticals selling fairly large ACV solutions, we’ve noticed that their approach to content is still being driven by the same guideline and expectations. But, it’s not effective.
Here’s why:

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The 3 Biggest (& Most Common) Mistakes Made With AI

AI in MarketingFOMO: The Fear of Missing Out

It was Bill Gates who said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” Nowhere is the outlook more on display that when it comes to the topic of artificial intelligence (AI).

Make no mistake, technology in general and AI specifically are having a major impact on the work growth-focused organizations are taking. AI is absolutely something you should be aware of, and, to some degree, keeping track of. It is not, however, something that should be at the top of any small or mid-market growth company executives attention or worry list.

What Is Artificial Intelligence

Part of the difficulty with addressing AI is that it often means a bunch of different things to different people. What’s more, the term AI is often used to infer things that are not necessarily in place. AI is very confusing to many, so I turned to my friends at HubSpot, who published a nice piece on important definitions surrounding AI. Here are some of the key terms:

Artificial Intelligence: In the most general of terms, artificial intelligence refers to an area of computer science that makes machines do things that would require intelligence if done by a human.

Machine Learning: In short, machine learning is the ability of a program to absorb huge amounts of data and create predictive algorithms.

If you’ve ever heard that AI allows computers to learn over time, you were likely learning about machine learning. Programs with machine learning discover patterns in data sets that help them achieve a goal. As they analyze more data, they adjust their behavior to reach their goal more efficiently.

Deep Learning: On the far end of the AI spectrum, deep learning is a highly advanced subset of machine learning. Deep learning can find super-complex patterns in data sets by using multiple layers of correlations. In the simplest of terms, it does this by mimicking the way neurons are layered in your own brain. That’s why computer scientists refer to this type of machine learning as a “neural network.”

Natural Language Processing: Natural language processing (NLP) can make bots a bit more sophisticated by enabling them to understand text or voice commands. On a basic level, spell check in a Word document or translation services on Google are both examples of NLS. More advanced applications of NLS can learn to pick up on humor or emotion.

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5 Necessary Elements for a Successful Account-Based Marketing Approach

5 Elements of Account Based MarketingOne of my favorite things from 2018 was the opportunity to join Ryan McInerney’s podcast to discuss the pros, cons, and myths surrounding Account-Based Marketing (ABM). Ryan also hosted Sangram Vajre, the founder and CEO of one of the very first ABM applications, Terminus. The conversation was so engaging that one episode quickly turned into two. (You can listen to episode one here and episode two here.)

There’s no question ABM is still hot. The good news is that, as account-based approaches have matured and technology has evolved, the opportunity to implement effective account-based programs is better than it has ever been.

But, realize that merely saying that you’re adopting such an approach does not change anything. If you’re changing your strategy, you must change your behaviors.

In our work with companies implementing or embarking with ABM, we’ve identified five overlooked or weak elements that are often the cause of failure. If you’re considering implementing such an approach, be sure you address these items.

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