Want 5 Minutes of My Time? Then Don’t Ask Me for a Meeting

Like almost everyone with an email address today, I get a lot of email. I’m not just talking 20-30 new emails each day; I’m talking 100-200 new emails per day. To some of you out there, that may not seem like a lot, but to me – as someone who cannot leave a single unread email in her inbox – it is. If it weren’t for my trusty spam filter, I’d invariably loose my mind among the announcements, the solicitations, the offers, and on and on. Now please note, the majority of the email I receive is work-related, from my colleagues, and quite important to my daily workload, and there’s nothing I can do, or want to do about that. In order to stay on top of the latest industry news, competitor announcements, and other relevant information, I also subscribe to and receive emails several times a day from various industry-related Google Alerts, RSS feeds, Twitter alerts, LinkedIn Group threads, and industry relevant newsletters and announcements. So, even though I receive a ton of email each day, at least it’s email that I’m choosing to receive (minus the email that my trusty spam filter takes care of) and quite relevant to my daily routine. But, sometimes that’s not the case …

As the Online Marketing & Social Media Manager at Binary Tree, I often (and by often I mean everyday, multiple times a day) receive emails from Sales Reps who want to meet with me. I receive the old …”I just need 5 minutes of your time …”, or “ …I’d like to tell you how we can help you …”, and my personal favorite, “…I’m reaching out to you because I believe that your company is a great fit for a partnership …”. As a former Sales Professional, I completely understand that these folks are just doing their jobs. It’s tough out there and they have high quotas to make quarter-after-quarter. It’s definitely interesting to now be on the receiving end of a sales solicitation, and even more interesting to understand how the people I emailed and called (over-and-over) asking for a meeting must have felt. I used to send the same emails and use the same words and phrases like, “5 minutes of your time” and “partnership”. Sometimes it worked, but most of the time I was ignored, and now that I’m on the vendor side of the table, I have a much clearer insight into what a Sales Rep might be able do to get “5 minutes of my time”.

Don’t ask for a meeting Yes, you’ve done some research on my company, my industry, and my competition. You studied and combed through every page on my website. You know my boss’s name and job title and where I used to work. You know and work with some of my former colleagues. You even know where I went to college. All of this is very good stuff to know. It helps you get some insight into who I am and the “who, what, where, and why” about my company, how we work, and our possible needs. But knowing this information and how it possibly relates to your service and/or product doesn’t mean that I’ll meet with you. Just like you, I have my own “quotas” to reach. Not necessarily quarterly and yearly numbers to make, but projects and tasks that I’m accountable for and need to complete every week, every month, and every year. So, like you, I’m busy. I’m busy having meetings, making calls, creating documents, maintaining blogs, installing systems, instituting processes, and on-and-on. I carve out each hour of each day on my Outlook calendar and leave myself very little wiggle room. Any “5 minutes” that I may find during the day will most likely be spent pouring another cup of coffee or throwing a Pop Tart in the toaster. Just like you, I have deadlines to meet in order to be successful.

If you want to get my attention – if you want my precious 5 minutes – then you have to “wow” me with some compelling information. I need something that I can forward to my boss, his boss, and my Executive team that will distract them enough from their even busier day and make them say, “…that’s some very persuasive information, let’s meet with them.” Asking me for a meeting without nurturing me first with drips of information that can impact our bottom line and help us compete with our competition at a higher level is KEY to getting my 5 minutes. For example:

  1. Tell me how my top 3 competitors increased their sales last quarter by using your services and/or product.
  2. Send me a graphic that illustrates what I can expect to see over time if I purchase your services and/or product.
  3. Give me examples of who’s using your services and/or product, how they’re using it, and the positive impact it’s having on their bottom lines.

Nurturing me with that type of information – surprising me every once in a while with information that can impact our overall revenue – is what I want to receive. Then, if that information is compelling enough, you may ask for my 5 minutes. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time.Want 5 Minutes of My Time?

Don’t tell me that you know some guy I used to work with – In the day and age of social media, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+, everybody knows someone that knows someone. Heck, I follow Bill Gates on Twitter, but I don’t claim to know the guy. In a world where anyone can be connected to everyone, using the “I know someone you know” sales tactic isn’t going to fly. However, approaching it differently by saying something like, “ …we were able to increase <insert person’s name here> and their company’s revenue by x dollars …”, well then maybe you have a chance. But simply stating that you know someone that I know (or even just barely know) isn’t going to get you my 5 minutes.

Don’t tell me you contacted my boss – Telling me that you reached out to my boss or plan on reaching out to my boss isn’t going to stop me dead in my tracks and respond to you. I can assure you; my boss is just as busy – in fact he’s even busier – than I am. Unless he receives the same persuasive and compelling information from time-to-time that I discuss above, he’s not going to waste my time.

Don’t tell me my company is a great fit for a partnership – I know you did your homework. You read through each page of my company’s website, you’re familiar with our products and services, you know our competitors, and you know what we develop and sell. Yes, “partnership” sounds much nicer than saying, “your company is a great fit to buy our products and/or services”. But honestly, how do I know if we’re a “great fit” for your offering and if we should enter into a “partnership” with you if you don’t tell me how your offering will help my company, for example, increase market share? It’s like casting out a fishing rod. You cast it out in an place where you know there’s fish and bait the hook with what you know the fish likes and is interested in eating. When you finally get a fish to bite, you start reeling the fish in – you reel in a bit, and release a bit, you reel in a little bit more, and then release again – you perform this action until you have the fish in your boat. This analogy is critical – you need to “bait” me with what I like, and slowly, over time, you’ll get me in your boat.

Don’t forward me things you think I might be interested in – We never spoke on the phone and we never met, so what would make you think that I might be interested in information on an upcoming webinar or trade show? Again, the only way I’ll be interested in attending one of your webinars or meeting up with you at a trade show is if you can first educate me with the compelling information I need to persuade me to give up my “5 minutes”.

Again, I completely understand the plight of the Sales Rep. It’s hard out there and people can be brutal and rude. I, too, fell prey to the pitfalls I discuss above and often felt quite discouraged by the lack of responses (and thus sales) I’d receive. The interesting thing is that some of the most successful Sales Reps that I’ve had the pleasure to know and work with were first buyers before they became sellers. Having experience on the buyer side of the table seems to give them a better sense of exactly how to engage with a potential customer. They know what compelled them to give up their “5 minutes” and use that knowledge to educate and sell to customers.

Maybe that’s the solution …hire Sales Reps that were once buyers. Sure, that would be ideal, but probably far from realistic. If you want to get on my calendar you need to think like a buyer, not like a seller. What makes you purchase one item over another? Why does one product get your attention more than another? Why do you invest your time and money in one store over another? Asking yourself questions like these may just be the strategy you need to embrace in order to get my “5 minutes”    🙂

Website Redesign & Content Creation

As I often mention, I’m the Online Marketing Manager at Binary Tree. We’re currently in the process of redesigning our website and we’rehoping to go live in the next 6-8 weeks (fingers crossed tightly). The project is very near and dear to the hearts of the entire company, including the Executive team, who are more than eager to see the new design along with the recreated messaging. It’s a project that will redefine the company’s message and position us as THE go-to partner for everything encompassing migrations to Microsoft.

Anyway, I have to say that the most difficult aspect of the project hasn’t been the design, the sitemap, or the navigation, but rather the CONTENT. Populating the CMS with current and newly created content is not easy. Silly me …I thought entering content into the new CMS would be a piece of cake, a no-brainer. But, alas, I was wrong. It’s not that it’s difficult to actually copy-n-paste into the new CMS …it’s not that at all. Rather, it’s the TIME it’s taking to repurpose our existing content, create new content with refreshed messaging, and populate the new CMS with our existing website’s archived content.

So the lesson learned is this …if you’re embarking on a website redesign project, you may want to include in the project’s budget a placeholder for a web content consultant or strategist. Two that I recently came across that you may want to consider (in no particular order) are:

  1. Pybop
  2. Predicate

Well, that’s all for now. Back to work!

Top 5 Things I Learned About Social Media This Week

Ok, so I missed posting last week. I have a good reason though. I won’t get into it but just know, it wasn’t fun. Anyway, here are the top 5 interesting facts,stats, ideas, and miscellaneous news items that I found valuable this week  as a social media and online marketing professional and enthusiast:

  1. Facebook recently announced their geo-location/check-in tool called Places. Social Media B2B wrote an excellent blog post titled, 5 Ways B2B Companies Can Use Facebook Places. I’m an avid Social Media B2B fan/reader and I find their perspective, ideas, and insight on how to leverage Places in the B2B space quite valuable. Read more here.
  2. There’s an excellent post on Social Media Examiner titled, How to Use Your Blog to Drive Social Sales. The post offers great insight on how to leverage your blog to drive sales. Read more here.
  3. I stumbled upon the website, Reel SEO Video Marketing, and was instantly intrigued. The site focuses exclusively on video marketing and video SEO. It’s full of interesting and valuable posts and a great asset to anyone looking to improve their video SEO. Read more here.
  4. I also stumbled upon a great content marketing blog called the PR 20/20 blog. Their 3-part series titled How to Optimize Video for the Web helps answer the question, “so how do search engines index and rank video?”. If you’re interested in finding out, read more here.
  5. Junta42‘s new Content Marketing Institute is full of resources for content marketing training and education. One particular post that I found very valuable is titled Checklist: The 4 Key Qualities of Effective Content. Although the post is simple a reminder of what you must keep in mind when creating and publishing compelling and nurturing content, it’s still worth a read. So, if you need a refresher, read more here.

So here are my top 5. I hope you find them as useful and as valuable as I do. Please feel free to share what you learned this week. I’m eager to hear.

Top 5 Things I Learned About Social Media This Week

As I continue to develop and execute the social media strategy at Binary Tree, I continue to learn more and more everyday about online and social media marketing. Here’s a list of the top 5 things I learned this week:

1.) That Foursquare can be an effective B2B Marketing tool. Read more here.
2.) That video is 52 times more likely to show up on the first page of Google search results. Read more here.
3.) That “Influence Mining” will emerge as the next generation of marketing and customer service. Read more here.
4.) That the book, Content Rules, will be available in December 2010 (can’t wait to read it!) Read more here.
5.) That Facebook continues to make branding B2B pages even more challenging. Read more here.

I’ve decided to make “Top 5 Things I Learned This Week …” a regular SwellCrowd Friday feature. If you’re interested in learning what I’m learning, please drop by next Friday to read and learn more. Also, I’d love to learn from you as well, so please leave your comments with things you learned about social media, online marketing, content, B2B marketing, etc. I look forward to reading your comments!

Recap: Online Marketing Summit – NYC

I had the opportunity to attend the Online Marketing Summit in New York last Friday. If you’re not familiar with OMS, it’s an online marketing tour that ” …offers its attendees the opportunity to learn actionable best practices, strategies and tactics from leading authors, academics, brand marketers and online pioneers.” The sessions were led by some very influential speakers including Maria Pergolino, Director of Marketing at MarketoJeanne Hopkins, Director of Marketing at HubSpot, and Dylan Boyd, VP of Sales & Strategy at  eROI. The sessions covered a wide range of online marketing topics like social media, search, email, demand generation, analytics, usability, and integrated marketing.

Although the sessions were very valuable and encompassed all of the online marketing topics that are important to me, I was even more impressed with the Social Media & Content Marketing Workshop and Breakfast that took place before the main event. The Workshop and Breakfast was hosted by the Online Marketing Institute in association with Wharton Interactive Media Initiative and the workshop was led by Brad Kleinman, founder of eMarketing Techniques. Here are some key topics discussed at the breakfast:

• Purpose: Why Content Marketing?
• 9 Steps to Content Marketing Strategy
• Social Media Tips and Tricks
• Content Strategy Goals
Although optional and at an additional cost, the OMS Breakfast is definitely something to consider if you plan on attending the Online Marketing Summit. For more information, click HERE.

Social Media Needs a Plan

New Jersey based Digital Brand Expressions released a new research report that discusses how
companies are embracing social media throughout their organizations. According to DBE, the study …

“looked at if companies are using social media, how they are approaching its incorporation into business communications, if they have a strategic social media plan in place, and which business units are involved in the planning, measurement, and use of social media.”

Some interesting highlights from the report include:

  • While 78% of respondents indicated that their business is actively using social media, only 41% reported that these activities are covered under a company plan.
  • Of companies with a social media plan in place, 94% include marketing activities within the plan, but only 16% include Human Resources or recruiting activities
  • Of those companies that don’t have a strategic plan but think it is important to create one, the number one activity rated as important to include in a social media plan is allocating resources for ongoing activities

Click to download DBE’s Corporate Social Media Study

Twitter Tips for Businesses

Twitter is an ideal platform for businesses to listen, share, and connect – all key components needed to build lasting relationships with customers.

It’s as simple as that. The best way to catch the eye of a potential customer is to listen to what they say, understand who they are and where they want to go, and properly assess their business goals and objectives. Then, it’s time to share relative and targeted information that will help your prospective customer identify you and your company as thought leaders, “go-to” advisors, and as key industry influencers. Finally, you are ready to connect. Your credibility has been established and your prospect is ready to engage.

Building solid relationships with your customers begins way before the sales cycle begins. Twitter is an ideal place to start cultivating those relationships so that when a customer is ready to buy, they’re already sold.

Content Mapping and Buyer Persona

As I continue to build and execute the social media strategy for Binary Tree, Inc. I’m continually researching ways to optimize, streamline, and align every single aspect of the B2B buyer/seller relationship. Right now, finding ways to optimize and map our content (current and future) to the buyer’s purchasing stage is at the top of my list. Blogs like The Content Factor discuss ways to develop and align content based upon the buyer’s persona and stage. Developing content with a call-to-action that speaks to the buying persona and stage is critical in order to nurture the customer thought the buying process.

The Content Factor does an excellent job explaining and providing examples of the content needed to propel the B2B customer along at each buying stage. Keeping their strategy in mind, I created a content mapping strategy specifically for Binary Tree. Take a look:

4 Steps to Create Your Social Media Initiative

When creating a social media community and networking initiative, follow these critical steps:

1.) Chose your AUDIENCE – Be specific. Do I want to engage with retail consumers, doctors, plumbers, working parents?
2.) Know your GOAL – What exactly do I want to accomplish or measure? What is the desired end result? Again, be specific.
3.) Set your STRATEGY – How will I accomplish my goal? Who will be involved on my end? Do I have buy-in/commitment from all the players on my end? What 3rd parties will be involved.? What is everyone’s role?
4.) Select the TOOLS that fit the strategy – What specific social media tools (when I say “tool” I mean outlets like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Digg, StumbleUpon, Bogging, White Label Social Networks, etc) will help me reach my goal?