Friday, September 26, 2014

How Football Can Help Us Build and Grow Our Business

With football season now in full swing, fans across the country are watching their favorite teams fight for a shot at postseason glory. Football is a sport that requires athletic prowess, analytical skill, and a considerable amount of strategizing. As such, there are many lessons we can apply to the business world. Here are just a few to consider.

Study the competition

Football teams are known for their intense studies of opposing teams. Coaches and players alike will spend hours analyzing footage from past games to get a feel for how their opponents work together, what plays they go to frequently, and what strengths and weaknesses they bring to the field. They use this information to develop their own strategies and to see where their opportunities lie.

As business leaders, we should do the same. It's not enough to just occasionally glance at the websites of the competition. Instead, we should be analyzing their moves, seeing what works for them and what doesn't, discovering where they're failing their clients, and finding whatever else we can glean to help us compete more effectively. This insight will give us the tools we need to make our own businesses stronger, as we compete for customers and leads.

Build a balanced team

Successful football teams look for talented players in every position. Having four starting quarterbacks but no safeties will do a football team no good. The team needs to be balanced and account for every position. When games are starting, how often do we hear comments about how one team will be at a disadvantage because a particular player or two are out due to illness or injury?

The same principle applies to business. Successful companies account for every position, too. This includes:

  • leaders who can help the company see and attain its vision

  • financial experts who are good at accounting and planning budgets to help the organization make the most of its resources

  • marketing and sales professionals who excel at generating leads and bringing in new paying customers to help the business grow

Have a good leader

On the football field, effective leaders are essential. The coaches are responsible for developing the playbook and strategizing what plays to use. A good coach can work magic with a mediocre team, while a bad coach can have a losing season even with the strongest of players. The quarterback is another key position. Quarterbacks are responsible for leading the team on the field, implementing the plays the coach dictates, and keeping the team working together.

In business, leaders are equally important. They must be able to see the company vision and guide those around them toward that outcome. Talents in strategizing, encouraging others, and working in
groups are all important for leaders. Cultivate these talents among your staff, especially those in leadership positions, to maximize the potential of your company.

When it comes to organizing a business, football has many lessons it can teach. Keep these lessons in mind as you tune into this season's games, and see just how much you end up learning.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Make Magic Happen with Aligned Sales and Marketing Teams

When your sales and marketing teams work together and are aligned in their goals and strategies, amazing things can happen for your organization. Studies have shown that companies with marketing teams and sales teams that work well together see as much as a 20 percent increase in annual revenue growth, and no one can afford to ignore that opportunity.

Unfortunately, obtaining that level of cooperation can be a challenge. With a few internal changes and a concentrated effort at aligning these two teams, however, it is possible to bring everyone together.

Begin by establishing definitions

Written, thought-out definitions can be your savior. They give everyone a concrete idea to look back upon and reduce the potential for miscommunication or misperceptions. Here are a few definitions that everyone in marketing and sales should agree upon.

  • What is a quality lead?

  • What will sales do when they receive a quality lead?

  • What level of communication will be expected between the teams?

  • What are the goals for each team?

  • What is the process of handing off a lead from one team to the other, and when should it happen?

Once you've established these definitions, it will be easier to see what each group is working toward and when they're successful. You'll then be able to determine common goals, such as the number of leads expected from the marketing team and how the sales team will handle each opportunity.

Enhance visibility and transparency

When each team can clearly see what the other is working on and whether or not they're reaching their goals, they'll gain a better appreciation for the role both teams play in growing revenue for the company.

To improve visibility and transparency, communication and data are key. Like definitions, data gives concrete facts that everyone can consult and reduces the risk of misunderstandings and resentment. There are several ways to produce quality data reports:

  • Analyze where leads are coming from and how each marketing source is performing.

  • Have marketing team members include highlights of their interactions with leads (such as what content was downloaded), so the sales team can better capitalize on those opportunities.

  • Have sales team members report their communication efforts with leads and results.

Another important measure of visibility is simply to meet together. Gather your two teams together for regular meetings to discuss goals, outcomes, shortcomings, and plans for improvement. These meetings will help to clear the air and get everyone on the same page.

If your marketing and sales teams are too big, consider having occasional meetings with everyone and regular meetings with just marketing and sales leaders. During these meetings, the data will provide you with plenty of conversation topics. Celebrate each other's accomplishments, but if revenue goals are not being met, make sure both teams are transparent about their plans to make improvements.

Aligning your sales and marketing teams can have a wonderful impact on your bottom line, as well as the overall feelings of cooperation among your employees. With a potential 20 percent growth in revenue on the line, the effort is well worth it.

Friday, September 5, 2014

5 Ways To Get People To Pay Attention to Your Content

When it comes to writing marketing content for a company, few things are more frustrating than working hard to develop pieces only to have them largely overlooked. We've all been there: you write something you think is fantastic and eagerly watch your site statistics, only to see your content fail to give you the expected boost.

If you're frustrated with your website traffic stats, here are five tips you can use right away to start drawing more attention to your website and get people interested in what you have to say.

Answer questions your customers actually have, rather than what you think they want to know

This is a common mistake. Many companies develop content based on what they find interesting rather than what their customers actually want to know. A great source of content ideas is your FAQ page and questions you've received through customer email. Also consider what customers ask you personally when they start working with your company or what people ask you when they learn what industry you work in.

Use humor

People are naturally drawn to what entertains them, so consider making a lighthearted joke, especially at the beginning of the piece. This will encourage people to read on to see what else you have to say. Once you hook the reader, you'll have a much easier time getting your point across.

Don't discount the value of social media

Many smaller companies tend to overlook social media, assuming that with their small size, it won't be worth the effort. Social media, however, is where the conversation takes place. Putting your content on social media is a fantastic way to attract some attention to new blog posts and articles. You should also include share buttons at the bottom of each article. This will make it easy for readers to share the piece on their own social media channels should they find it interesting or informative.

Make the content memorable

The easier it is for customers to remember key points from your content, the more likely they'll be to share it. There are several techniques you can use to enhance the memorability of your content. For example, studies have indicated that telling stories in your content makes it easier for people to remember your key facts. Try incorporating fun stories into some of your posts to entice readers to get to know you. You can also use classic techniques such as including shocking or attention-grabbing statistics in your titles and in the opening lines.

Say "thank you"

When was the last time you thanked your customers? People like being singled out, especially for a thank you. Write posts that occasionally highlight particular customers who've been with your company for a while. Thank customers who speak about your company on social media. And thank people who read your blog by offering them a special discount available only to those who open the post to find it. When customers feel appreciated, they're more likely to develop positive associations with your company and reciprocate by working to develop a relationship with you.

When you set out to develop content for your company website, you want to develop pieces that people will read. Sometimes, however, it can feel as though unlocking the mystery to enticing readers is easier said than done. Keep these five tips in mind, and you'll have much greater success. If you're interested in kicking off your marketing campaign, give us a call today to find out how we can help you get started.