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The 10 Worst Vanity Metrics Every Marketer Uses

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Aug 31, 2017 5:00:00 PM

The 10 Worst Vanity Metrics Every Marketer UsesWhat you measure gets done...so be very careful about what you measure.

The story of Moneyball is a powerful one. Despite its popularity, its central thesis is often overlooked. While many people point to the new analytics that Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane identified that others ignored, the real power (and advantage) was in their ability to determine the metrics that everyone else valued that, in reality, did not lead to success.

The time has come (more accurately the time is long past due) for Moneyball to come to marketing and sales.  

Twenty-first-century marketing, led by the movement to inbound marketing, made a compelling promise: greater insights, fast & better decisions and the ability to separate the “signal from the noise.” Businesses of all shapes, sizes and industries would finally be able to stop debating opinions and feelings and would be able to rely on facts and data.

While it has fully delivered on the promise of more metrics (I would argue too many metrics), it has not delivered on the promise of insights and smarter decisions, backed by facts and data.

The reason? People measure the wrong things. The vast majority of metrics used by marketers and executives are what I call “vanity metrics”. What is a vanity metric? It’s a metric that can make you feel good but is not an indicator of success or advancement.  

If they’re ineffective, you may ask, why are vanity metrics so attractive? For two reasons:

  • They’re easy to measure.
  • They’re easier to control (and therefore they make bosses and clients feel better).

Identifying, tracking and utilizing metrics that actually contribute to success are hard to detect and uncover. I recently shared an example of a set of metrics we regularly use in guiding our business and advising our clients.

I love metrics, but it’s important to note that it’s better to have no metrics than to focus on the wrong metrics. Today I share 10 of the most popular metrics that are used by the vast majority of practitioners but do little or no good.  

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Topics: Lead Generation, Inbound Marketing, Performance

The 5 Factors that Must be Considered Before Strategy/Tactics are Determined

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Aug 29, 2017 2:12:30 PM

The 5 Factors that Must be Considered Before Strategy/Tactics are DeterminedIt’s a dangerous time in the world of sales and marketing. There’s so much useful information, insights and data available to growth-oriented executives looking to find the elusive formula for consistent and fast growth.

What makes this time dangerous is the very reason that so much great information exists. More than $10 billion of venture and private equity investments have poured into technologies aimed at supporting growth (source:  VBProfiles). Every one of these companies has a vested interest (literally!) in convincing you that they’ve found the formula... that it’s simple and oh by the way, all you need to do is buy (subscribe?) to our product...and sales growth is yours!

Here is some of what I’m talking about:

  • Drift is telling the world that they should eliminate their forms (here’s my response to that).
  • HubSpot proclaims that no one answers their phones and outbound is dead.
  • SalesLoft teaches that outbound is still the answer.
  • Numerous sales consultants rail against “social selling kool aid purveyors” and remind everybody that cold calling and prospecting is the key to success.

I could go on (and on). It’s enough to drive anyone crazy.*

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Topics: Sales Development, Performance, B2B Sales Strategy

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-trend.png 

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

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

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

The Only Metric that Matters if You're Looking for Sales Growth

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jun 13, 2017 5:00:00 PM

The Only Metric that Matters if You're Looking for Sales GrowthAnyone who knows me, knows I love data and metrics. One of Imagine's core values is "In God We Trust, Everybody Else Better Bring Data." If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you are well aware that we often write about important metrics that you should be tracking.

As six of our most popular posts on the subject would indicate, we take metrics very, very seriously:

While I look at a lot of metrics when analyzing and tracking the effectiveness of sales and marketing efforts (some would rightfully claim that I look at too many), I've come to firmly believe that, over and above everything else, there is really only one number that matters. Or, to put it more accurately, if this one number isn't strong, no other metrics matter.

Pause for a moment and think about your business. If you could only focus on one metric to guide decisions on growing your business efficiently and effectively, what would it be? Go ahead, think about it...I'll wait.

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Topics: Performance, B2B Sales Strategy

Website Not Performing? 4 Ideas to Make it More Effective

Posted by Doug Davidoff

May 18, 2017 1:00:00 PM

Website Not Performing? 4 Ideas to Make it More EffectiveRemember life before the Internet? When you had to physically go to the library to research a topic from an actual book; or you had to use the paper phone book, find a business number, and call them to gather additional information? I hate to show my age here, but some of you may not have these memories (oh, to be young!)

Fast forward to 2017. The internet holds the pulse of communication, and your B2B web page is the lifeblood of your business’ success. Without it, how would your customers and potential leads find you and then understand what problems you can solve for them?

More importantly, is your website generating the leads, and therefore the ROI that you expect?

If not, you’re at the right place. Creating a more effective website is not the migraine-inducing project that it used to be. Following are four ideas that will make your website more effective.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Performance

The Most Common Mistake that Stalls B2B Sales & Revenue Growth

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Feb 16, 2017 4:00:00 PM

The Most Common Mistake that Stalls B2B Sales & Revenue GrowthI will admit that as a student in high school and college, I hated science classes. It really didn’t matter the discipline - chemistry, biology, physics - had no interest. The classes didn’t make sense to me, the labs were painful and frankly, I was just grateful that I was able to squeak by to graduate (to this day I still have an anxiety dream around chemistry class).

Now that I’m older (and wiser) I regret the lost opportunity that my distaste for science created. Today I find myself referring to scientific principles that I’ve learned since graduation. Even more so, I find myself talking about and modeling the process of science, and I’ve realized that the scientific model is a great model for any business desiring accelerated and sustained growth.

I’ve also learned that my distaste for these classes wasn’t really my (or science’s) fault. Instead it was the fault of how the classes were taught and the labs were run. The problem - and this is a HUGE problem that plagues small and mid-market businesses - was that the focus was on getting the right answer, rather than on discovery.

The scientific methodology is, or at least should be, all about the discovery of “the truth.” Experimentation is crucial to discovery. Effective experimentation requires that you eliminate the “judgment” of results. Testing out a hypothesis that turns out to be false is just as valuable (and in many cases more valuable) than testing one that turns out to be true.

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Topics: Performance, B2B Sales Strategy

A Visit from the Ghosts of Business Past, Present & Future

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Dec 22, 2016 12:00:00 PM

jacob-marley.jpgWhen I was in elementary school, I was in the drama club. My 5th grade year, I was Jacob Marley in our “production” of A Christmas Carol. I’m sure that experience is one of the reasons that Marley has always been my favorite character.

For those that don’t know, Marley was Scrooge’s business partner in Charles Dickens’ famous Christmas story. More importantly, Marley was the “visitor” who alerted Scrooge that the three ghosts of Christmas - past, present and future - we’re coming and to be prepared for it.

I always find myself thinking of good old Jacob Marley this time of year, and not just because an infinite number of story variations are being broadcast constantly. I think of him, because as we begin to slow down for the break, it’s a wonderful time for reflection. So, while there’s no Tiny Tim in this story, now is a great time to find a quiet space and review three very important questions before the New Year kicks in.

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Topics: Performance, Sales Training/Coaching

How to Assess the Effectiveness of Your Sales & Marketing Content

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Dec 16, 2016 4:00:00 PM

assess-content-effectiveness.jpgSales and marketing organizations create a tremendous amount of content, virtually everyday. In addition those items like website, blogs, white papers, ebooks, etc. that we consider “content marketing,” emails are being constantly written, brochures and sales collateral are being created, proposals are developed and delivered and more. Yet despite the time and money expended, for decades there were no means to be able to assess the real effectiveness of the content.

You were left to debate what was or wasn’t working based upon feelings and beliefs. Of course, one of the biggest problems with this approach is that what sellers see as important is often quite different from what the buyers perceive as important.

The good news is that today there are many tools that you can use to assess how your visitors, leads and prospects are engaging with a variety of your content. In addition to tracking key performance indicators, it’s important you pay attention to more qualitative items as well.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Performance