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    Harvard Business Review writes “don’t cut your marketing budget in a recession.” That’s easy for academics to say, but what should business leaders in the real world do when they’re facing uncertain sales and looming payrolls?

    Smart leaders know that marketing budgets have a multiplier effect: A dollar spent on marketing yields more than a dollar of revenue. So the real question is, how do you increase your marketing multiplier to ensure the health of your business during a downturn?

    In the face of a new abnormal, it’s time to take your marketing to the next level. And that doesn’t mean huge strategy shifts or sketchy marketing hacks, just proven, easy-to-deploy tactics that drive real-world results—sometimes in just a few days:

    Old-School Marketing

    Create marketing content that just sells your product. Watch it sit unread and unloved.

    Next-Level Marketing

    Create marketing content such as case studies and best practice guides that help your prospects do their jobs better, look good to their bosses, and get home by 6:00. Your prospects will be happy to give you their email address to view this valuable content (building your lead pipeline), and with the affinity you’ve developed, you’ll set your sales team up for success.

    Use marketing automation for your database and email. Use CRM to manage your sales activities. Pat yourself on the back for doing the bare minimum.

    Integrate your marketing automation and CRM platforms to get full visibility into your lead-to-deal pipeline. Leverage that visibility to optimize each stage and maximize ROI.

    Report stats that make you feel good: likes, shares, page views, retweets.

    Report stats that measure the success of the business: marketing-qualified leads, lead conversion rate through the pipeline, marketing ROI, and marketing attribution to revenue. Leverage these stats to determine which marketing activities you need to dial up, fix, or eliminate.

    Publish LinkedIn posts. Run LinkedIn Image Ads. Sponsor LinkedIn Message Ads. Wonder why your cost per lead is so high.

    Develop integrated LinkedIn campaigns that align organic posts, sponsored posts, ads, and messages so each element amplifies the other. Schedule them in short, high-impact “lightning strikes” that cut through your competitors’ marketing clutter. Slash your cost per lead.

    Put some customer quotes and logos on your homepage.

    Customer references are your most valuable marketing tool; treat them as such. Develop a formal referral program that rewards customers for logo use, quotes, and case studies. Add a customer reference clause to your sales contract and offer a discount for referenceability. Then launch an ongoing series of case studies that prove your value proposition to customers, media, analysts, and investors.

    Thank your customers when they refer sales prospects—if that ever happens.

    Your customers know your services and they know their peers. Develop a formal referral program that encourages customers to introduce sales prospects. Create an online form that’s easy to use, promote it in your customer newsletter, and provide valuable thank-you gifts for introductions that lead to a deal. (The last time I ran a referral program, it drove 101 deals and $8.3 million in revenue, all for the price of one thank-you iPad per deal.)

    With tactics like these, you can show your organization that marketing isn’t just a business expense, it’s a revenue center that’s critical for growth in uncertain times. Isn’t it time you earned your seat at the revenue table? Visit our enterprise marketing page or drop me a line if you’d like to learn more.

    Hat tip to my marketing mentors Carol Broadbent, Dan Leary, Tom Hogan, and Christopher Lochhead for insights like these that moved the needle for dozens of Silicon Valley enterprises.