intended consequences podcast

It’s a big question. “When should I invest in conversion optimization for my website?” Even though I’ve been preaching the benefits of CRO since 2006, I don’t consider it an obvious decision. Instead of telling you what I think, I asked a competitor to tell you, just to keep me honest.

We have answered the question, “How do I pick a conversion optimization consultant,” before. We’ve also told you where to go and get your CRO budget. Now we answer the question of “when” is the right time for conversion rate optimization.

If I’m going to truly help you improve your online business, I have to help you answer this question. The problem is that I have a conflict. It’s easy for me to say, “Hire my company, Conversion Sciences.”

It’s my fiduciary duty as the Managing Partner. Getting new clients is one of the goals of this podcast and why we spend so much time and money on it.

I am eminently qualified to answer this question because of my years of experience, BUT I’m NOT going to be the best source of information on this because I am biased.

So I did something crazy, something that arguably violates my fiduciary duty to my company.

Don’t tell my partner.

Getting a second opinion on Conversion Rate Optimization

To help make you better at investing in conversion optimization services, I did something I may regret.

I invited a direct competitor onto this podcast. Why would I, after all of my investment in producing and marketing this podcast, offer a platform to a competitor?

Because you need a second opinion. Rather than make you go out and find it, I’m going to provide it to you right here on the podcast.

I believe that if I help you answer this question, you will make a better decision. I also believe that our reputation, our brand value and our track record make our brand strong. Strong brands can take risks, especially those that can benefit their customers and prospects.

There are a LOT of websites that need conversion optimization. There is plenty of business to go around.

To help you make the decision about buying conversion optimization services, I didn’t choose some slouch conversion optimization agency spewing best practices. Jon MacDonald is the founder and President of conversion optimization agency called The Good. He has been doing this almost as long as I have. I have to tell you, I was surprised at how similar our two approaches are.

And Jon’s path is very similar to mine.

“If you’re not getting the traffic and engagement to even prove your product is sustainable, then you really shouldn’t be investing in optimizing.”

When you get back to the office…

I recommend that you get an understanding of how small increases in your conversion rate can affect your income.

Search for “Conversion Sciences Calculator” using your favorite search engine.

There you can enter your average monthly traffic, the number of conversions you get, and the value of a conversion — either the transaction order value or the value you’ve placed on a lead or subscriber.

If you aren’t sure, don’t worry. You can play “what if” with the numbers after entering your name and email.

It’s the first step toward understanding if your business is ready for conversion optimization. If you like what you see there, you can schedule a free conversion consultation on our website.

Now go science something.

Positioning your product or service requires understanding the root desire of your website visitors. This changes from visitor to visitor. Positioning your offering generically to appeal to them all doesn’t work. Find out what does.


Why do people buy robot vacuums?

Is it to clean the floor? Maybe.

Is it to have more leisure time? Maybe.

Is it to be seen as tech-savvy to your friends? Hmmm.

Is it to see how your cat will react? That’s interesting.

These are the kinds of questions that the “Jobs to be Done” framework seeks to tease out. Your website and your marketing should address one or more of these positioning statements — at least the valid ones.

“So, Jobs to be Done is a framework that is used to understand the crux of what your customer or potential customer is looking for, to understand what is driving them in the moment where they are ready to make a purchase.”

How do businesses like Casper and Warby Parker carve out space in competitive markets? By positioning the product to a market desire that isn’t obvious to the market leaders.

“Casper was brilliant in convincing people with perfectly fine mattresses that they needed to receive a mattress by mail.”

This is what me and Tara Hunt, my guest on this episode of Intended Consequences discuss. We also talk about the Flywheel approach.

Positioning your product or service accurately is one step. The next is to get into the minds of your audience. Casper used podcasts as one salient way to reach their audience.

“Casper was on podcasts and people that listen to podcasts tend to think companies that advertise on podcasts are cool.”

How to Manage Positioning Your Product or Service

If you’re like me, the positioning ideas are crowding around in your head right now. Old ideas that you thought were just too risky to try are vying for attention against new ideas from my conversation with Tara.

It’s time to give your intuition a little help.

When you get back to the office, immediately open up a clean spreadsheet. Label the first column “Idea”. Label the second column “Data”.

Start jotting the thoughts in your head in the first column. Just describe them enough so that you can recall them in detail later. If you need to draw something, reference the page in your journal in the Idea column.

The “Data” column is where you will list ways to test the idea. List any and all of these that apply:

  • Similar campaigns that have succeeded
  • A report in analytics that you should run to get evidence
  • A strategy for trying the idea in the marketplace safely
  • Surveys, focus groups, or user testing that could vet the idea
  • Any allies that may have supporting evidence for the idea

This is the beginning of your hypothesis list, a list that should guide your curiosity as you write, design, plan and create communications.

Get in the habit of opening it when you start a new design, document or project.

Now go science something.

Links and Resources

Connect with Tara on Linkedin
Learn more about Truly.
Cluetrain Manifesto
Donna Pappacosta “Earbud Intimate”
Jim Collins Flywheel
Know Your Customers’ “Jobs to Be Done”
Imagineering Story Trailer
Follow Brian on LinkedIn

“Markets are Conversations.” This the opening salvo in the Cluetrain Manifesto. It’s 95 theses were written at the dawn of the commercial internet to help businesses understand how things had changed. Twenty years later, did we heed their advice? Is the Cluetrain Manifesto still relevant?

Contrarians. They’re trouble. At least they’re trouble in structured organizations.

Contrarians seem to always take the stance in opposition to the status quo.

They are more likely to have an authority complex, not because they don’t like to be told what to do, but because authority figures are more likely to do things the way things have always been done.

They are the “But maybe…” in your “Of course we…”.

They are the exceptions to your rule.

They point out the interesting sites along your commute that you’ve never noticed.

It’s hard for contrarians. They believe that you don’t “get it” every bit as much as you believe they don’t get it. They tend to see things as they are and have an unhealthy disregard for tradition.

It’s hard for businesses to find a place for contrarians. But, when they do find their place, the results can be incredible. Think Steve Jobs. He was kicked out of the company he founded before returning to it at a desperate hour.

And maybe this is when we should listen to contrarians, in those desperate hours.

The Desperate Hour of the Cluetrain Manifesto

Back in 1999 a group of contrarians saw a desperate hour approaching. A new tool had begun to change the fundamentals of communication, commerce and expression. The internet was shifting marketing so fundamentally, these contrarians believed, that it would change the way buyers buy and businesses sell.

“The Clue train was all about that. It was all about disrupting the marketing conversation.”

Confused businesses saw the internet as just another broadcasting channel, a place for their crafted ads and manipulative marketing. The contrarians felt businesses really needed to get a clue, to climb aboard the train that had already left the station, headed for the future.

In the spirit of Martin Luther, who launched the protestant revolution by nailing 95 theses on the door of a Catholic church, they nailed their 95 theses on the door of the church of ideas: the world wide web.

The Cluetrain Manifesto was immensely influential to me when it came out in 1999. Yes. Left to my own devices, I am a contrarian. My contrarian bent cost me more than one job and even a few friendships.

But I found my place during a desperate hour. Be mindful of contrarians in positions of power.

It was during a conversation with a new friend, Tara Hunt, that I found a fellow Cluetrain contrarian. Tara is the CEO of marketing strategy agency Truly and is launching Phlywheel, a resource for DIY marketers.

Honestly, I hadn’t thought about the Cluetrain Manifesto in years. When I read it now, it seems obvious, so ingrained is it in my psyche.

I was so glad to rediscover it, that I recorded it for you on this podcast.

Tara and I reminisced about this amazing document and looked back at its impact. Did we businesses learn the lessons of the Cluetrain Manifesto? This conversation took so many turns that we split it into two parts.

In part one, we start off talking about what the Cluetrain Manifesto was about.

In part two, we look at social media, which was nothing like it is today when the Cluetrain Manifesto was created.

Resources and links

Connect with Tara on Linkedin
Learn more about Truly.
Cluetrain Manifesto
Donna Pappacosta “Earbud Intimate”
Jim Collins Flywheel
Know Your Customers’ “Jobs to Be Done”
Follow Brian on LinkedIn

The Cluetrain Manifesto was written in 1999 by Rick Levine, Chris Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger.

It struck me that the new generations of business owners, marketers and executives may have missed this amazing document. It’s been twenty years, after all.

So, as a bonus to our Intended Consequences podcast listeners, I recorded it. I hope you enjoy hearing it as much as I enjoyed reading it in 1999.

The 95 Theses of The Cluetrain Manifesto

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For more Cluetrain Manifesto audio, listen to my conversation with Tara Hunt.

In keeping with the tenets of the authors, the Cluetrain Manifesto audio is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

You are free to share and adapt the Cluetrain Manifesto audio file under the following terms:

Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.

Maybe the best behavioral design framework for your website is the same one that you can use to change your personal habits.

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The man walked onto the stage in a colorful robe. He was holding a small oar. He claimed he was wearing a magician’s robe and that the oar was his magic wand and that he was going to do something magical with us.

This was seven years ago at Conversion Conference 2012. I still remember this keynote — and I’ve forgotten many.

The magic he performed was to teach us an important model for changing behaviors. Before the hour was over, he had asked us to teach the person next to us what he had shared: his behavioral model.

I live by the belief that, “The best way to really learn something is to teach it to someone else.” Indeed, his model was one I never forgot having taught it to someone else.

So, when BJ Fogg announced that he was finally releasing a new book, I invited him to be on the Intended Consequences podcast. With few changes, what he taught us seven years earlier had changed little. His new book, “Tiny Habits” has turned those business management lessons into a program for individual behavioral change.

My mindmap notes from his Conversion Conference session are available on the Intended Consequences website at

Real time behavioral design

At one point in our conversation, BJ visualized how to apply his behavioral model to the problem of conversion. I animated this part of the conversation for you.

Click to hear an explanation of BJ Fogg’s Behavioral Design Framework

BJ knows behavioral design and clearly applies it in his life. BJ teaches at Standford. He founded the Behavioral Design Lab there to study human behavior. Each year, his course tackles issues big and small. Like peace. And connecting to nature.

Anyone involved in marketing is involved in what he calls “Behavioral Design”. Listen to how this science can change your behaviors and your marketing effectiveness.

Habits make time for themselves.

When you get back to the office…

Let’s see if we can develop a tiny habit around experimenting. The habit we want to get into is considering data when we begin any creative project. As BJ told us, it doesn’t have to be big. In fact we should make it very small.

So the Prompt or Trigger is this: you sit down to write copy, to design an ad, to layout a webpage. I recommend that your tiny behavior be this: log into analytics. You don’t have to look at any reports. You don’t have to do any analysis. Just log in. Then you can log out and begin your project.

I’m trusting the process here, but according to Tiny Habits, you’ll begin to think about data more often. And then something will begin to change.

Now go behave like a scientist.

Resources and Links

Sketch of BJ Fogg presentation at conversion conference 2012

BJ Fogg Conversion Conference 2012 Notes

How long should your emails be? Do people read long emails? Do short emails convert better? These questions have been debated for a long time. My guest has the data and this is one question she answers for us.

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There’s nothing better than getting another shot at a conversion. Sometimes, people aren’t ready to buy. I get that. I’m fine with that.

But I always want another shot. Maybe when the time is better.

Because it took a lot to get that person to the site.

Email makes more website visits valuable

The search engines are getting ever pickier at the kind of content they consider authoritative. You’ve got to work for it.

Social media requires so much time to do right, and most of the activity stays on the social media apps.

Every online advertising source has gotten steadily more expensive, prohibitively expensive. It was Google. Then Facebook. Then “the Gram”. Competition has driven up the cost of each of these in turn.

And what do I have to show for it? A landing page bounce or a full shopping cart left abandoned on one of my digital aisles.

No, I want another shot.

I’ve got a lot of choices when it comes to catching a wayward visitor. Exit overlays, live chat and the BB8 equivalent, chatbots. I can try to get you to agree to push notifications. I can give you a discount in exchange for permission to send you a Facebook message. I can pout, I can cry, I can beg.

But after almost four decades, the best choice is still that quaint old communication medium email.

“So a lot of experts nowadays will tell you that you need to write really short emails because there’s a statistic out there that says that our attention spans are that of a goldfish. I hate that.”

Email is the new email

It’s the original social media platform.

Every year, we hear about the demise of email. And every year email is the new email.

Email still can’t be beat for rich content, for conversations that feel one-to-one, and for getting another shot at a future customer. While everyone was fawning over the sexy new kid, social media, good ole email kept my readers close. Despite these new channels, the money is still in the list. And no algorithm change is going to take your list away from you.

People reply to my emails and tell me a little about themselves. Because they can. And I write back. And it can make my day.

Because that means I’m going to get another shot at making them a customer. Customers are some of my favorite people.

“Only 10.9 percent of e-mail experts send emails with subject lines of 20 characters or less and 20 characters.”

Yes, we may have abused our email privilege, but not by sending too much email. It’s something else.

To explore this, I’ve invited Liz Whillits to join me. Liz is Senior Content Marketing Specialist at AWeber, one of the OG email services. She is a self-proclaimed marketing nerd, and that makes her our kind of crazy.

“46 percent of emails are opened on mobile devices. Most mobile devices will cut off your subject line at somewhere between 30 and 40 characters. So anything over 40 characters is definitely getting cut off for your mobile readers.”

Liz doesn’t think you’re sending too much email, and she’s got the data to prove it. If we’re not sending too much email, then what’s keeping our email from being more productive?

When you get back to the office…

Our inbox has become our task master. If we want to know what’s going on with our team, communicate with our clients and agencies, or handle that return, it’s still done through email.

Email used to be the place we turned when we needed to take a break from creating that report, from polishing that design, or from meeting with the team. It used to be email to which we turned for a distraction.

“If you don’t clean your list, your emails are less likely to reach the inbox. So you could be putting all of this work into your email marketing strategy only to have your emails not reach the inbox.”

Today, the inbox drives our daily to-do list. This is true of veterans like me, as well as the younger members of the Slack generation. This is where it gets its power.

But instead of suggesting that you review your autoresponder, I’d like to invite you to make your everyday emails a little more personal. Add a bit of wit when you acknowledge receipt of that spreadsheet. Drop a meme to that terse, business-like reply you’ve just banged out.

Do something… anything that will make your coworkers glad to get email from you. In the long run, I think this will change the way you write for your prospects and clients.

I’m going to start doing this today.

Now, go science something with that personal flair.

Show Notes

Connect with Liz

30-day Trial of AWeber

AWeber Smart Designer

GA Certification

Ann Handley Newsletter

Brian Dean-Backlinko


Are Chief Marketing Officers — CMOs — losing their relevance in the C-suite? And if so, can data and experimentation turn things around for them? Laura Patterson offers her opinion on the Intended Consequences Podcast

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I was having coffee with an old colleague, Laura Patterson, here in Austin.

Laura advises businesses on all aspects of their marketing. Here at Conversion Sciences, we focus on only one piece of the puzzle, the digital channel. So, I have a lot of respect for her ability to bring together all of the pieces that make up a modern marketing effort.

Advertising. Brick and mortar retail. Online retail. Branding. Merchandising. Messaging.

When I talk to her, I get a new appreciation of just how much CMOs have on their plates. If anybody’s going to know what’s going on with CMOs, it’s Laura.

Then she said something about CMOs that stopped me in my tracks.

Laura Patterson is the founder of VisionEdge Marketing. Like me, Laura has been focused on performance marketing and the proper use of data since before it was “cool.”

So I was left speechless when she said, “CMOs are abdicating their strategic position in their businesses.”

Photo of Laura Patterson and intended consequences logo

Laura Patterson on the Fall of the CMO

Laura is not the kind of person to jump to conclusions, so I had to take notice.

A few weeks later, I was on a panel with friend and fellow marketer Janet Driscoll Miller. She reminded the audience — and me — of a Fornaise Marketing Group study of 1200 CEOs that found 80% of them did not trust and were not impressed by the work done by Marketers. By comparison, 90% of them trusted their CIOs and CFOs. There’s a link in the show notes.

I did some additional research and found more incriminating news. Forrester recently reported that “dozens” of major brands had eliminated the Chief Marketing Officer position altogether, brands like Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, Taco Bell, and Netflix.

I wanted to get to the bottom of this. Were we part of the problem, or was data going to save the CMO? I invited Laura to join me here in the offices of Conversion Sciences and tell us what she knows.

So, why does Laura believe CMOs are losing their seat at the table in the C-suite?

New Titles

“Why are we seeing the emergence of some of these really interesting titles like chief customer officer, like Chief Growth Officer? Because we are seeing those titles beginning to emerge. And it concerns me that many times when you read the job descriptions, these are job descriptions that reflect the kinds of things that marketing leaders used to perform.”

B2B vs. B2C

“Companies that have a long sales cycle, that’s a consultative sell. They have a variety of people in the decision making process. That’s a B2B kind of process. Walking through the checkout lane and trying to make a decision about whether I should get a candy bar, that’s B2C. It might be that I have to do an extra run, but I’m not gonna get fired for that. But we do have B2B buying processes that occur in the consumer world, like buying a house.”

Advice for CMOs

“I would say that the number one thing that any CMO can do right now that would signal that they are taking a more strategic stance and want to be more of a strategic partner is how they frame the marketing plan. Many people are being asked right now to give a budget. Didn’t even have a plan yet, but they’re talking about money. End of year budget planning and budget planning for a lot of people means they’re going to open up whatever document they used last year for their planning and their budget. They’re going to make some decisions off the cuff about what they’re going to do next year in terms of events or campaigns. Maybe they’ll look at some data. They’re going to put a number on it. They’re going to do some finagling and they’re going to submit a budget. That’s not a plan. It’s a budget, it’s a budget.”

Strategic Focus

“Many of these marketing people may or may not even know yet what the three to five things are that the company has to do next year in order to win. They may have some general idea they want to grow, but we don’t market to buckets of revenue and we can’t just say grow. We need to be very clear.”

The First Question

“My first question to any CMO is what are the beachheads? That’s a great question. And if I don’t know that and they don’t know that, how can we put a plan together?”

Signs You’re Chief Marketing Officer is in Trouble

“The signs that you’re in trouble: [the CEO] starts just relegating you to running programs. “Random acts of marketing.” If you’re if you’re doing random acts of marketing, you’re probably going to see some red flags around that.”

When you get back to the office…

I’ve always seen data as a tool of empowerment, a way to level the playing field and a way to truly understand those crazy people we call customers. And who’s in a better position to access this data than the CMO?

But data doesn’t change cultures on its own. It needs a fertile soil of experimentation to take root in. Otherwise, it is just numbers that can be used when they’re going up and to the right, and discounted if they tell the wrong story.

A culture of experimentation can be pushed from the top, from the CMO down. It can also be nurtured from the bottom, from you.

It’s time for marketers to put the data we have to use. For you, it all starts with your next experiment or research. It starts the next time you log into analytics, and click beyond the dashboard report, deep into the souls of your prospects and customers.

Because, if not Marketing, then who will do this?

Show Notes

CMOs are in a ‘desperate fight for survival,’ Forrester says.

Mark Gooding of Neustar recap of their study about Marketing needing to improve alignment

PwC 22nd Global CEO Study

Accenture Global CMO study

SpencerStuart 2019 CMO study

Gartner CMO 2019-2020 study

80% of CEOs Do Not Really Trust Marketers


  • “Output Metrics”
  • “Operational Excellence”
  • New titles: CGO, CCO, CRO

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iTunes | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Podcasts | RSS

Sales and marketing. Two functions critical to a business’s success. They work tightly, arm-in-arm to build awareness, engage prospects and help them choose the best solution for their problem. They have common goals and cooperate closely to achieve them. The mutual respect and gratitude they have for one another is palpable.

If you’re wondering what planet I’m on, you’re not alone.

From the first time something was sold, sales and marketing have worked together.

God created desire by positioning the fruit as forbidden. The serpent closed the deal.

Marketers created the gold rush. Salespeople sold the picks and shovels.

Sears wrote the catalog. Roebuck shipped the merchandise.

Yet, not all is well in sales and marketing land.

“Marketing needs to generate more leads,” says sales.

“Sales needs to follow up on the leads we’re sending them,” says marketing.

“The leads marketing is sending aren’t qualified,” says sales.

“Sales isn’t selling the right products,” says marketing.

We are usually hired by marketing to optimize a website. We learn a lot from salespeople when we interview them.

Yet, we often don’t have access to the CRM — the Customer Relationship Management system — because “it belongs to sales.”

This gulf, this canyon, this gaping sinkhole between sales and marketing has been around for as long as I’ve been in the business. That’s why I invited Chris Wallace to be on the podcast. He is the Co-founder and President of Innerview, an agency that is totally focused on this problem.

I was skeptical at first. This problem also exists with the customer support teams and the training teams. By the time we were done talking, I knew his solution was perfect.

Find out how he convinced me.

A bridge across a canyon with a quotation.

Sales vs. Marketing

“The biggest reason organizations struggle with this is information typically moves in one direction. Information flows from the top down. And the marketers are really the ones developing the go to market strategy and developing the products. And then that gets, for lack of a better word, thrown over the wall or pushed down the funnel toward the sales organization.”

The Face of our Brand

“And what we’re finding to be the best way to sort of bridge that gap is to disrupt that one way flow and really increase the two way dialog and collaboration and really helping marketers look at their their sales teams, their front line, Iraqi sales, customer service, even technicians and even non selling roles, not revenue generating roles. And looking at those folks really as the face of their brand and an audience that they need to engage in and really win over looking at them as if we can really win their hearts and mind that tell them what to do but win their hearts and minds the way we’re out there trying to win customers hearts and minds every day. We know we can. We can. Like you said, we can build that bridge. We can we can close that gap in a significant way.”

Sales/Customer support is a channel that needs to be optimized!

Should marketing look at [sales] as another channel to get its message out? And be optimizing that channel the same way would be a Facebook advertising campaign or search engine optimization program or a paid search advertising campaign?

“We run it like a marketing campaign. We treat that like any channel that “talks” to the customers. We segment them based on how they talk to the customers and we measure how aligned they are to their brand story.”

Metrics for Marketing to Employees

“How well is your brand message — your brand story — transferring from your your corporate marketing department down to each one of these customer-facing channels? Its internal market research. So everything that we do is led by gathering the attitudes and opinions and perceptions about product service, brand positioning — all those things — and using the data that we have to target those audiences with new campaigns, new messages, in an effort to really win them over. Or fill the gap.

Don’t Tell Sales. Ask!

“They’re focusing so much of their time — and their effort and their resources — telling sales what it is that they need to do, and not enough time asking them what they think. And it doesn’t mean that you’re going to completely change a product. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to go back and completely redo your campaign.”

“But if you’re asking somebody what they think, if you understand thier starting point, if you want to get them from point A to point B, if you are constantly guessing at what message is going to resonate with them, to move them from point A to point B, and you spend all your time, effort, energy blasting that message at them. In this case, it could be product trainings or product manuals or whatever the case may be. If you spend all your time guessing and pushing messages out, you’re actually pushing your “audience” further away.”

Timing is Really Important

“The timing of this is really important. The sales team feels like you’re out in market with it before they’re even prepared to talk about it. Right. The phone start ringing before before they’re even prepared. That happens a lot. We see it all the time. But the timing is really important. But really that that the answer is ask versus tell.”

Put down the Saleshose

“Don’t try to make them experts right way, try to help them build momentum, try to get them comfortable with something. Don’t try to get them to swallow the entire thing whole. So when you talk about trying to keep it top of mind, a great way to keep things top of mind is to feed them interesting little nuggets. Bit by bit by bit over a period of time, rather than attaching the firehose to their face. Almost every organization that we come across goes with the firehose approach.”

Deliver Content like a Marketer

“We’re developing anything from webisode concepts where organizations are creating content. And I’m not talking about corporate videos, somebody sitting behind a desk telling you how important something is. I’m talking about creating content that looks more like what people are watching on YouTube and Netflix and distributing that to their frontline teams. Having themes that really engage them.”

Get Creative like a Marketer

“Instead of doing your typical product trainings, we’re developing escape room concepts. We’re working with virtual reality companies — VR. It has a tremendous application for employee engagement in front line readiness.”

Be Dynamic like a Marketer

“The way that you’re able to engage with your your customers is more dynamic — a marketer — now than it ever has been. And we look at that and say, ‘Take a lesson from that.’ Look at all those different drips and those different nuggets and channels that you’re distributing small pieces of information through and find different vehicles to get that information out to your own people.

Employees Act like Consumers

“Most people don’t look at themselves as an employee one minute and a consumer the next minute. Those habits are very similar. So take what we know about the customer and let’s leverage that for the employees.”

When you get back to the office…

Instead of using sales to learn more about your customers, learn to see sales AS your customers.

When marketers get fresh data about their market, it’s like their birthday. You need to find that same excitement learning about the sales, training and customer support teams you work with. Think about the next thing you have coming up, that you need to get right. What percentage of your sales team are women vs. men? What percentage are humanists, who build relationships vs. methodicals who persuade with logic? How do you construct the “Whats in it for me” arguments that will grab their attention and make your campaign a success? How do you equip sales and support to be successful with your product?

You may have to start working on a budget that includes this new marketing channel: the one inside your company.

Now go science something.

Links and Resources


Brand Transfer Score

The B2B marketing funnel is under attack, especially in the B2B lead generation space. Find out what is — and what should be — taking its place.

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We like funnels. We like them because they provide us with some sense of progress in our marketing efforts.

We have advertising programs to get people’s attention.

We use copy to build interest.

We use testimonials and case studies to build desire.

We have calls to action everywhere.

This is the classic AIDA funnel. Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. It’s a direct marketing approach that falls down in the long sales cycle reality of B2B marketing.

The demise of the funnel has been discussed for some time now. However, the discussion of what comes next has been unsatisfying to me.

The solutions that purport to step into the funnel’s place come with their own baggage. Hubspot offers up the Flywheel and customer delight. Lead scoring attempts to add value to the interactions someone has had with us. The more interactions, the more likely they are to be a prospect. But this approach treats the funnel more like a swarm of flies. People seem to swarm around our content until, finally, and unpredictably, they qualify for a call.

Carman Pirie believes there’s something better than a funnel or a swarm, and his agency delivers that something better. Kula Partners focuses on manufacturers all of whom have this long-cycle B2B sales challenge. Carman the Co-founder and he’s happy to put another nail in the coffin of the funnel. My question for him is, what comes next?

“The funnel is leading a lot of marketers — who function within a complex B2B sales environment — down a lot of really wrong paths. It’s making them think about attracting people into the universe in the wrong way. It makes them think about how to deal with people once they get into the universe in the wrong way. And it and it makes them think about how sales ought to engage with those people, I think, in a fundamentally flawed way.”

Our conversation around this question was interesting and enlightening. If digital marketing is more like a swarm, how is a swarm of bees different than a swarm of flies?

“You know that the frameworks that we use to think about our work really shape the work that we create.”

Replacing the B2B Marketing Funnel

Maybe you should develop a Firmographic profile. What kinds of companies would actually buy your product? What are the titles of the people who research and influence solutions like yours? Who else in the company are weighing in on the decision.

Then, take a few of your internal experts to lunch. Some of them would love to help you create some content that makes your prospects better buyers of your product or service.

Now go science something.

Resources and links

If you’re selling tools or expertise, you’ll need to understand where your prospects are in their relation to time, interest, and expertise. Find out how my guest addresses these issues for his prospects.

I consider myself a software guy.

Bachelors of Science in Computer Science.

I wrote my own analytics package in 2003, which was thankfully replaced by Google Analytics in 2005.

I still write scripts for my data analysis.

In the tech world, we distinguish the software guys and gals from the hardware guys and gals. Mark Zuckerberg is a software guy. Apple’s Steve Wozniak is a hardware guy. Yes, I know Steve has written a lot of code in his day, but he’s undoubtedly a hardware guy.

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When there’s something that needs to be done around the house — or to my car — my first thought is, “I’m a software guy. THIS is a hardware problem.”

My father, on the other hand, is clearly a hardware guy. Handy. Fixes things. Builds things.

So, when it came time to change the kitchen faucet in my house, I called Dad. Because, as a software guy, I would just start trying things to understand the obstacles. This can be an expensive approach for a hardware problem.

Hang in there. There’s a point to this.

So I called Dad and he came over. He told me what I should do to change the faucet, but I pretty much already knew all of that. However, Dad handed me a tool that I could never have imagined existed. It’s called a Basin Wrench, and it made all the difference.

There is no way, squeezed under that sink, that I ever would have gotten the old encrusted bolts off of the old faucet without the Basin Wrench. The YouTube videos I watched didn’t mention it. Imagine a raptor claw attached to the end of a long rod with a handle at the bottom.

Example of a basin wrench

Basin Wrench. Courtesy Wikipedia

I had to Google “faucet tool” to even find out what it was called.

I’m certain that I would have given up without it.

The moral of the story? Tools+Experience.

Now, I get pitched marketing tools all the time. Popup tools, data tools, visualization tools, email tools, analysis tools… you name it. How can I know which tools are the indispensable basin wrenches in all of this?

That is the question I had in mind when I invited Josh Thomas onto my podcast. Josh is with Outbound Engine. They sell the basin wrench of digital marketing for small businesses. They sell both the tools and done-for-you services to the kind of people who use basin wrenches daily.

Most of us see our products and services as basin wrenches. But only to those people who have a proverbial faucet to change.

So how does Outbound Engine convince hardware guys and gals to invest in a soft problem like digital marketing?

Budget and Culture

How you spend your money is also how you’re focused in terms of your time and where you want your team’s time to be spent.

High-quality content

Because we do see so many different iterations, we can see what engagement, what campaigns or content are driving engagements. We can make sure that we’re taking those lessons learned and incorporating them more and more over time. It gives us just more and more opportunities for us to learn and see what works best.

Prospecting Customers: Evaluating time, interest and expertise

Time. Expertise. Interest. I like this simple model.

These are the things that influence whether your customers will solve a problem themselves or buy a solution to fix it, a solution like yours.

Imagine mapping your opportunities onto a time/interest/expertise graph. Like this.

Triangle graph that shows time, interest, and expertise.

Rate your prospects on a scale from 1 to 5 for time, interest and expertise.

When time is tight (rated 1 or 2), prospects gravitate to those problems in which they have expertise, where they have confidence. Things are done the way they’ve always done them, and thus done quickly.

When time loosens, our prospects can gravitate to tasks that feed their interest or expertise. These are problems that need solving now that time is available.

Those with expertise but little interest are looking for tools to make things easier. The ROI is what they are looking for.

Triangle map graph showing high expertise and low time or interest.

May be looking for tools.

Those with interest and little expertise are looking for experts. They are looking for expertise and tools.

Triangle map graph showing high interest and low time or expertise.

May be looking for expertise and tools.

Someone with interest, expertise and time are likely to do it themselves, to solve the problem internally.

Triangle map graph showing lots of time, interest and expertise.

They are going to do it themselves.

Those with none of these probably don’t even know they have a problem. This is a tough sell.

Triangle map graph showing little time, interest or expertise.

They don’t even know they have a problem.

How do your clients map onto the TIE triangle? What are you doing to feed interest or expertise? To demonstrate ROI to experts and demonstrate competence to those who are interested? The two are quite different.

Now go science something.

Resources and links discussed:

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