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b2ap3_thumbnail_hockeystick-growth.jpgVCs dream of big growth graphs moving aggressively up and to the right – and in the best of all worlds, straight up like a hockey stick. I have never met a founder for whom this not-too-subtle demand did not terrify because by most business standards it is extremely difficult to achieve.

However, over the last three years we have seen that aggressive growth has not only become possible, it is repeatable. Changes in B-to-B shopping habits and a comprehensive response make it possible. We have seen 600% to 850% ROI on marketing programs and growth to match. But certain conditions must apply and specific tactics must be executed. Here they are: 

Product Price Point

The price point of the service or product must be high enough to absorb the ever increasing cost of customer acquisition. In the last decade, the cost of customer acquisition has risen so high that your average sales value (ASV) must be well into the thousands.  This can be achieved through bundling hardware with service wrap arounds for example. Or, by finding a way to sell your product or service using a monthly recurring revenue (MRR) model and annual contracts. Under these conditions there is enough revenue to balance the cost of customer acquisition. 

Death of a Sales Team

Pre-shopping online – a common practice among consumers – has invaded the B-to-B space. A recent Google/CEB study showed that shoppers are up to 70% through the shopping process by the time they want to speak to someone from your firm. That means that your web site must work very hard for you. It must quickly telegraph your differentiation and attributes. And it also means that the prospect does not want to waste time with a glib salesperson. They have tougher technical questions they need resolved before moving forward. So fire your salesforce and hire a few good sales engineers who can work in pairs with skilled sales closers.

Then hold expectations high. Today the freshness value of a lead expires within hours not days. Your sales team must jump on that lead within 30 minutes — for better success within three minutes. Like a mental-health hotline, some companies create 24/7 on-call schedules, rotating sales engineers to off hours and forwarding calls and emails to mobile phones.

Dig Deeply Into Your Prospects’ Brains

If your firm meets those conditions, then it is worth investing in a comprehensive online presence and lead-generation program to match. We call it a “stra-tactical” approach. The strategy was developed over years of practice but it is otherwise executed tactically.

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The BIG Reason Why You Need Agile Marketing Now!

Agile marketing and the Zebworks™ Agile Marketing Framework were developed to deliver complete customer focus, swift execution cycles, robust measurement and constant improvement. 

But why do you need it?

The velocity of change has never been faster!

New Technologies

Everyday a new software as as service (SaaS), new permutations of CRM platforms that cross social media platforms, content aggregation platforms, analytics platforms etc etc. Then there are new devices in a zillion different form factors: mobile (which phone do you use and what size is it and what do you use it for?). Tablets, ditto! Laptops ditto! Google glass...well we’ll see about that. Bottom line what do you invest in now to ensure relevance tomorrow?

New Social Networks Everyday

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Stand out in the Social Media Crowd - A fast guide to becoming a social media player

Social Media is part of our modern way of living and the stats tell the story: 91% of online adults use social media, thus, businesses can’t ignore this medium anymore. However, in order to succeed it’s important that you have a social media objective for your business, that you align that objective with your resources, that you focus your efforts where your audience is and that your communication plan is targeted according to the social medium. Every effort must be carefully measured to determine the level of success, what works and what doesn’t and what provides ROI.

The myriad of social networks and the marketing hype is overwhelming even to the most sophisticated.  And this often leads to the assumption that businesses must be on every social media platform to succeed. And that, is so overwhelming, that most throw up their hands and say “Why bother? There is no way we can do that.” What many do not realize is that success is not found in being an ace at on every platform out there (truly an impossible task if ever there was one!) But success comes in choosing the right platforms and participating in a measured, thoughtful and relevant approach. 

Social media cannot be ignored. In the Fall of 2012, 91% of all adults used social media regularly and spent 22.5% of their time online. Social media is the new television. By contrast, only 27% of small and 34% of mid-size business are using social media and 25% of them do not have any social media strategy. To make matters worse, on average only 30% of fans’ feedback are responded to by companies and 56% of customer tweets to companies are ignored. Business is losing a tremendous opportunity to engage with customers and prospects. But, where to begin?

Each social network has a unique purpose: connect with friends and family, connect with professional peers, news, photo sharing, even games and TV. When you decide your business must be on a social network, you’re asking your audience to connect, engage and share with your brand. This requires that you give something back to them in return.  To do this effectively you must choose your spot and throw your resources behind being the best on the platform where your customers and prospects spend their time.

1) Determine why you want to be in a social environment. It’s important to determine your objective. Do you want to generate sales? To increase brand awareness? To provide customer service? To increase customer retention and loyalty? You name it. The objective you choose will determine where to focus your social media presence, how you do it and how you measure your success.

2) Evaluate the resources you’ll need to achieve your objective. There is the common misconception that social media is a free medium, where in reality it’s a very expensive one. As a matter of fact, you’ll need a lot of resources (a.k.a people) with different talents, depending on your objectives.  For starters, you’ll need good writers and communicators that understand your business and products. If your products and services can be visually demonstrated, the use of video is a great way to communicate and for that you’ll need video production and editorial talents. If you have a highly conceptual  service, a video or slide share presentation can help organize and simplify your services; in this case you would need Powerpoint and video edit talents in addition to great communicators on your team. You might not have all these talents on staff and you might not need to. Before you go outside, consider which departments in your company will contribute to your social media effort. Then train your staff to answer your audience in an intelligent, problem-solving and professional manner. Lastly, hire outsource talent to perform tasks for which you cannot justify adding a full-time person on staff.

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