Car Sales Strategy – A Form of Pull Marketing

I walked in to a car dealership that’s local to our area and wondered, “Do they even have any cars on this lot?” Well…yes they do.  But you *have* to talk to someone.  Now that I know where the cars are, I might sneak past the sales guys but at this dealership the guys don’t roam the lots, you come to them.  This is probably their form of inbound/pull marketing.

I found it very interesting as at most other dealerships you can walk around the big lots freely and peek into the cars and read the specs as you shoo off the sales guy until you are actually interested in asking a question.  But here, it was different.  It was going to be a different experience and one that lead me to blog about it.

It’s difficult for car dealerships to be one upping each other all the time.  I mean really.  What’s the difference in who anyone buys from other than that customer’s experience, the inventory on the lot, and last but most importantly the prices?  More than likely it’s the very first thing I wrote as well as the last.  Word of mouth travels and if enough people have a bad experience, and if enough people document that bad experience online, then you might be doomed.

But I digressed.  I simply found it very interesting how this dealership set up its “interaction” with its customers.  What do you think?  Will more dealerships begin to do things this way? Have I been living under a rock and most of them conduct business this way now?

Creating a Content Strategy

Ahhh…content strategies.  Many people don’t get them, and many people don’t see why more than just the marketing department needs to be on board with the overall content strategy.  In some instances, when marketing and its PR or content partner are the only ones creating content, then sure.  But, if you’re in a situation where there are other departments creating case studies, white papers, blog posts, lab notes…essentially anything that is shared, then every one of those people need to be on the same page.

What do I mean the same page?  When planning out your high level content strategy for the year, you more than likely have an idea of what you’d like to focus on and when.  There are buying times to contend with, key event times, special interest stories for publications, the list can go on.  Having taken all of those things into account, you know…more or less…the kinds of topics you’ll need to cover and when.  However, when others know nothing about this strategy, or think they can march to the beat of their own drum then you might be in a bit of a pickle due to misaligned content, or a lack of resources to create the kind of content you need.

Here are some of my tips for the preliminary steps of a content strategy:

  1. Know who you are going to be targeting with your content
  2. Understand your key audience(s) needs
  3. Know when to focus on those audiences
  4. Know where the audience(s) you are trying to reach consumes its content
  5. Know what you want to get out of the audience consuming your content – Is it back links to the website? Is it filling out an embedded form? Is it to grow brand awareness? Is it to push a product & help sales?

When you have the 5 things above figured out then look internally, or externally, as to who will be creating the right content, at the right time, for the right audience.  You also need to make sure that you have some kind of KPI tied to this so that you can explain to upper management the need & the results for this kind of new thinking.

But, most importantly, step number 5 will dictate the kind of content you want to write…engaging, to the point, “buy now”, teaser, general info/thought leadership, etc.

Good luck…but don’t take my word for what I’ve written above.  Here are some additional resources for you to peruse:

Developing a Content Strategy

The Discipline of Content Strategy –>This is an older article, circa 2008, but a good one none the less

Content Strategy Basics

Content Marketing Strategy Checklist, A Big Fat Roll Up Your Sleeves Guide for B2B Marketers

And last but not least, here is a place where you can get 17 Content Marketing Templates & Checklists

2016 Marketing Plan

I know it seems early but I hope you’ve already started to have talks about what you’ll be doing in 2016 in regards to marketing.  There are certain aspects that I’m sure are already underway, such as prep for tradeshows that are early in the year, Q1 initiatives, advertising, etc.  But make sure to begin to get into big picture mode.

There are unfortunately many people who don’t believe in a marketing plan but as this article, Elements of a Marketing Plan, wonderfully states – “Whether you’re marketing for a huge corporation or a local coffee shop, if you do not have a marketing plan in place, make it your first priority.” THANK YOU Hannah Watkins!  I hope everyone reads your article because I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Hannah goes through a great step by step process of writing a marketing plan.  Here are the highlights, but I HIGHLY suggest you read, and share, the article!

The Initial Phase/Pre-Plan:

  1. Assess your current financial situation
  2. Assess your staff
  3. Understand your marketplace and target audience
  4. Identify your focus products and services
  5. CREATE BRAND GUIDELINES (Boy do I wish I could share this wonderful step with a few people who didn’t think that brand guidelines played any role at all in marketing, or their business in general)

The Core of the Marketing Plan:

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Business Goals
  3. Target Audience Groups
  4. Online Marketing – Current Standings
    1. Basic Google Analytics
    2. Competitive Analysis
  5. Online Marketing Objectives
  6. Tactics
    1. On-site changes/Multi-variant testing
    2. Content Marketing
    3. SEO/SEM
    4. Social Media
    5. Link Building & Cross Promotion
    6. Email Marketing
    7. Online Paid Advertising
  7. Execute & Adjust As Needed

Good luck!

Marketing vs. Brand Management

Thinking more and more about the kinds of employment that I’ve focused on I’m seeing some true distinctions for both a marketing and brand manager roles.  There are benefits to both of course but I’m also coming to the realization that in some of my past roles I’ve either had to teeter on the edge of being both or been pigeonholed into being one without anyone focusing on the other.  But that’s a whole lot of gobbledygook.

As this article by the Tronvig Group eloquently writes, “…marketing is actively promoting a product or service…Branding should both precede and underlie any marketing effort…”

And even more precisely, “Marketing unearths and activates buyers. Branding makes loyal customers, advocates, even evangelists, out of those who buy.”

So true!  I think the reason why some of my past efforts may not have worked out to their true potential was due to there not being a focus on the brand and building that, or at least making everyone 100% aware of what it stands for.  Instead, we did everything we could to create a marketing strategy that would fit the appropriate markets that the brand sold into, but there wasn’t a central tie back to all of those efforts.  At the end of the day, we were still all over the place.

But going back to my original thought…the key differences I have noticed, and realized, in these two roles are that with marketing, you are doing a lot of the heavy lifting for the brand.  Of course the initial heavy lifting comes from clear messaging of what the brand is and will be.  Its look, voice, etc.  From there, marketing takes over to ensure that all efforts keep that branding in mind.  They do so while keeping track of metrics that tie back to business goals, hopefully, through lead gen, product promotion & launches, market research, SEO, PPC, social…the list could go on.

Whereas the branding department needs to ensure that what they did initially is being kept in mind.  Those folks are essentially the brand police.  And without them, and without the buy in of senior management, nothing will move forward in the way that it was intended.

These two are very interwoven and must be at an equilibrium, which I think is also why some marketing and or brand manager roles speak to a lot of mixed responsibilities.  At the end of the day, without one, you can’t successfully have the other.  And it’s our job, as marketers, to convey that to senior management.

There are of course pros and cons for both of these roles but as I alluded to in the beginning, there have been times when I’ve have to make sure that both sides of the seesaw were equal and there were times when the seesaw was very heavy on one end without anyone sitting on the brand end, which ultimately led to a lot of internal and external confusion.

What do you think?  What are your thoughts on branding and marketing?

Legal Services Marketing

Something I haven’t looked at before is legal services marketing.  It might be a tough service to market but I’ve learned that there are a couple of areas that all law firms try to focus on, getting their name out there as well as getting their lawyers names out there.  You want to be in a conversation and have the other party say, “Oh, I know of your firm.”  But how do you get there other than through successful cases?

Well, not having played in this space before I took to the web and found the following tips:

  • “Without a plan a law firm’s or individual lawyer’s marketing and business development efforts are generally serendipity or haphazard at best. By preparing a road map that seeks the clients you prefer and a practice niche you enjoy, your personal and professional life will become much more satisfying.”
  • “The best source of new business is existing clients, either through new matters or referrals to new clients. ”
  • Here are also Legal Marketing Blog’s top 10 tips for successful marketing:
    • Visit your client
    • Entertain your client
    • Seek client feedback often
    • Offer to make a proposal
    • Communicate often
    • Talk it up with more speeches
    • Write articles of interest
    • Wake a reporter to lunch
    • Networking with super connectors
    • Be active in organizations
  • Join the LMA to be in the know on new marketing practices

And because at the end of the day marketing is marketing, here are my own quick tips:

  • Pay attention to SEO
  • Have a well functioning, and mobile responsive, website
  • Gather and write testimonials
  • Create thought leaders
  • Be present on the right social channels
  • Be consistent
  • Communicate with your customers

Here are some additional resources:

“2015 State of Digital Marketing” Overview

Earlier this week I listened in on a webinar from webmarketing123, a Bay Area SEO Company.  The webinar talked primarily about SEO but they did dangle a great carrot, the ability to download their 2015 State of Digital Marketing Report.

When we think digital marketing, we should be thinking everything web related.  And even when there are non digital components to the marketing efforts, I assure you that those can be digitized…such as an online version of a magazine or a pub, or mirroring a mailer with a digital brochure, or creating an interactive experience at a tradeshow.  Another thing I can assure you of is, everything can and should be tracked.

But what should you be tracking? How should digital be linked with the overall business strategy? What’s the biggest thing to focus on?

So let’s start from the top, in my own words:

But what should you be tracking?

  • I believe that you should be tracking everything and then make sense of that everything as it relates to your business and your business goals.  If you’re all about brand awareness, make sure you’re tracking web traffic & how that traffic is coming in and from where, track your social platforms, but most importantly keep track of your SEO rankings!!!

How should digital be linked with the overall business strategy?

  • I think that marketing in general needs to be a key component of any business strategy.  You cannot build it and expect people to come.  If you don’t interest people in whatever it is you have to offer, they will have no idea that it exists.  How you put that message out there really doesn’t matter, what matters is that you know what you’re putting out there and why.

What’s the biggest thing to focus on?

  • I think it’s a matter of focusing on what makes sense to your industry and then knocking that out of the ball park.  If tradeshows are huge, make sure to invest there and provide people with what they’re looking for both on the show floor and online.  If your audience is found on social platforms then be sure to offer the best content to your customers.

Relevant Quotes:

  • Lead generation is the #1 B2B digital marketing objective for the fourth year running.”
  • Sales is top priority for B2Cs again this year.”
  • ROI trumps lead generation as the biggest B2B digital marketing challenge. “
  • Almost half of marketers spend only 25% or less of their budget online.” –>This agrees with my last post on how much of a marketing budget should be spent on digital.
  • “Contrary to popular belief, email is far from being ‘the dinosaur of digital.’
  • Social media is the most commonly used B2C marketing channel.”
  • “Nearly 1/3 of marketers don’t know which channel makes the biggest impact on revenue.”
  • B2C marketers are gaining confidence in paid search and SEO.”
  • Nearly 20% of marketers still rely on “website traffic” to measure success.” –>Ain’t that the truth!
  • 38% of marketers still lack an attribution model. –>Check out my post on attribution models.
    • Almost 3 in 10 B2C marketers use the ‘last touch’ attribution model.”
  • LinkedIn is the best social channel for driving B2B revenue, while Facebook takes the cake for B2Cs.”
  • 36% of B2B marketers continue to ignore mobile.”
  • Video is the most widely used and the most effective content marketing tactic according to both B2B and B2C marketers.”
  • 67% of B2B marketers use lead scoring compared to 47% of B2Cs.”

So go luck and download webmarketing123’s 2015 State of Digital Marketing report and read it all for yourself!

Left Without Branding

As a business, there needs to be some focus on branding.  What is branding?  To me, it means that you want to ensure that your customers know who you are and what you stand for.  But most importantly, that you know, and are clear with your internal audience about, who you are and what you stand for.

I’ve been lucky to be a part of organizations who have put a focus on this and those who have not, and have seen how those two scenarios differ.  Those who put a focus on branding knew what needed to happen in order to get the correct message out to their key audience(s).  Those things were:

  • Internal brand guidelines to ensure that the internal audience knows what the brand stands for
  • Dedicating resources to ensuring that your brand is communicating the appropriate messages, in the appropriate ways, to its key audience(s)
  • Dedicating resources to ensuring a consistent brand look & how the brand is presented to its key audience(s)
  • Discussing branding and marketing as part of the overall business’ success
  • Allowing the marketing, or branding, department to be the holder of how the brand is presented and being the brand police

You can image how successful those efforts were.  When branding and marketing was a part of all initiatives, it made the messaging consistent, it helped ensure that internally everyone was on the same page, and that the key audience(s) felt like the brand had its best interests in mind.

But what happens when marketing efforts are disjointed, or forced in to saying yes to things and not being a part of the greater picture?  You end up being left without branding.  Your brand might say one thing internally, but when there isn’t a key group of people in charge of being the brand police, you get a lot of different cooks in the kitchen and you put out a very disjointed message to your key audience(s).

Don’t let the second scenario happen to you.  Become your brands champion.  Fight for it internally first, and begin to make strides externally with a focus on your website, SEO, social, tradeshows, brochures, etc.  Any and all communications efforts should be consistent.

Good luck!

P.S. Here is a recent article from emarketer titled: B2Bs Struggle to Integrate Digital Communications

“The State of Social Marketing Report 2015” Overview

I just downloaded and read the 2015 state of social marketing report from Simply Measured.  As we all know, social media isn’t a fad that is going away.  But, how big of a role does it “really” play in the marketing mix?  How much of the budget should it take up?  How much time should you invest into it?  These were all great things to learn about.  I even tweeted out some screen shots, so be sure to follow me on Twitter, @Linder83.

So let’s start from the top in my own words:

How large of a role should, or does, social play in the marketing mix?

  • Large enough that it has its own strategy
  • Large enough that if possible the “team” has more than just one person setting the strategy & executing upon it, looking at analytics, and writing the content

How much of the budget should social get?

  • According to the report, the breakdown should be the following – overall marketing budget should be 10% of the company revenue (this we should all know already), digital marketing should get 25% of that 10%, and social should get roughly 10% of the 25% –>this last number is on the rise!!!

How much time should you invest into social?

  • Ideally, enough time to set a strategy, execute upon it, listen & respond to your customers, analyze the metrics, write the content, and anything else.  The actual “time” depends on how large your team is and how large your business is, or how large your reach is and how many platforms you are on as well as how different the content is on each platform.

Relevant Quotes:

  • Modern marketers don’t have to make purely qualitative decisions. The data available for any digital channel arms marketers with the ability to quantify their entire social marketing process.”
  • Social is now viewed [as] a legitimate channel in the marketing mix, which means there are three distinct needs, just as there are in other areas of digital marketing, like email or web:
    • The ability to define and plan a social strategy.
    • The ability to execute on that strategy.
    • The ability to measure the success of the strategy and execution.”
  • 2015 is the year to focus on video on Facebook. Video has made a big impact for brands, and is a major component of Facebook’s strategy to keep users engaged on the site. Make video a large focus of your Facebook marketing plan.”
  •  “Regular tweeting is key to brand success. 74% of brands tweeted at least three times per day (including Retweets and @replies).
    • •Tweeting out links is becoming the social standard. The number of links tweeted by brands increased 72% from Q4 2013 to Q4 2014.”
  • Instagram is one of the fastest growing social networks in history…Instagram has become the go-to platform for users interested in both sharing visual stories, and consuming them.
    •  Publish at least one post per week. Seventy-five percent (75%) of top brands publish at least once a week.
    •  Don’t keep your brand off Instagram just because it’s not obviously visual. Many unexpected brands have found success on the network.
    •  Pay more attention to caption content than length. Caption length has no correlation with engagement levels.”
  • Over 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and generate billions of views each day.
    • Know what your best type of content is, and maintain a regular schedule.
    • Reach out to communities that are relevant to your videos. “
  • Pinterest has been raising brand eyebrows for some time now due to its ability to connect social and commerce.
    • Be sure to use general, highly searchable terms in your pin description, the origin URL, and your original photo title.
    • Create a foundation of evergreen content: content that is not news-, time-, or even product- based, such as how-to images. This will increase the chances that your pins get recycled through Pinterest and retain their positions on the top of search results pages.
    • Varying your posting timing can expose your brand to different segments of the Pinterest population and lead to more exposure, repins, and followers.”
  • Tumblr has over 234.6 million blogs, with more than 110.1 billion posts to date, and has attracted some of the biggest brands in the world. This is largely due to the customization and creativity that Tumblr encourages. Brands on Tumblr can build a blog using one of the thousands of templates the network offers, or by designing their own in HTML. Few social networks allow this type of flexibility.
    • Use the tools that Tumblr provides. Their marketing blog ( and brand resources provide tips and tricks that any brand can use.
    •  Focus on amplification. Tumblr posts last longer than other networks, but only when created with longevity in mind. “
  • Google+ may be the most powerful social network you never use. Integrated with YouTube, Gmail, and several other services, Google+ has over 2.2 billion registered users…Despite criticism about declining adoption and low engagement, Google+ has attracted 78% of top brands, and 66% actively posted in the month of April.
    • By adding your circles and select individuals to your share settings, you trigger a notification for those users that you’ve shared a post directly with them.”
  • Marketing programs constantly evolve, and social media is no exception. The real challenge will be for social marketers to understand the relationships and inter-workings of other digital marketing channels, develop a common language with other teams, and continue to measure and improve programs.”

Lastly, go ahead and download this awesome report from Simply Measured!


Adding a Retail Strategy in a B2B Business

*Updated 9/4/15: A great article about the importance of Effective POP in a Retail Environment

I’ll tell you about something that makes me, as a marketer, cringe. Allowing sales to run with a retail strategy without any involvement from marketing.  The reason that I cringe isn’t because I don’t think that sales has a part in this kind of strategy, they absolutely do.  However, to say that “we’re taking a different approach” tells me that only the sales and selling side is being considered.

I cringe because a mentality of “anyone can be a marketer” is being applied.  A lot of business efforts need to keep marketing and branding in mind.  In order for your customers to know who you are, regardless of what market you are focusing on, you need to have a consistent message.  By letting everyone run their own campaigns you are going to get away from your core brand…unless of course everyone is completely in sync with everything which would be truly amazing.

Marketing has the unfortunate job of being the nay-sayer now and again, the teacher, as well as the communicator of what can’t/shouldn’t be done due to the importance of maintaining the integrity of the brand.  This is even more critical when you are talking about a retail side to your business.  This is where you are coming face to face with your direct customers who are seeing your brand because it is what they are looking for…and if they don’t see something they like, then see you later!

What do you think?

Facebook Changes its CPC Definition

Yesterday I began exploring  It’s been a while since I visited the site and it has changed tremendously.  Before going ahead with my free 10 day trial I wanted to watch some sample episodes and the one that caught my eye was the free marketing tips.

As it turns out…Facebook has decided to change its CPC definition which for all of us in the marketing world means that we’ll actually get to truly measure the effectiveness of our Facebook ads.  We will no longer have to say that we’re doing a good job simply because people are clicking “like” on our ads.  We will actually be able to track link clicks, which is what we’d measure for all of our other efforts.  In essence, how many real conversions did we get from all ads and compare Facebook ads to other PPC ads.


Read more about it on or visit