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Time to geek-out

Time to geek-out

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

Okay, I admit it. I am a geek. A closet geek perhaps, but a geek nonetheless.

When I was writing my first book I studied everything that I could find about social media analysis, network mapping and measurement. I even went as far as to study statistics via an online course from Berkeley. It is a fascinating rabbit hole…but a rabbit hole nonetheless.

When Tim and I founded DLA we quickly realised that being clever (knowing all of this social media science stuff) largely wasn’t of any use to our clients because, whilst they may understand the principles of social media they were seldom practicing the techniques they knew.

Analytics in all of its forms is often wasted because organisations (and individuals) are not doing the basics.

Analytics data can, if you’re not careful, deliver little except pretty graphs that perhaps help you to hold on to your job but seldom deliver insights that help move the company forward.

Since we started DLA we have had a bit of a love-affair with Brandwatch because what it does is deliver insights that are actionable. Yes, it can do the pretty graphs (Vizia – their data visualisation tool creates artworks from your data) but it does more than just report. It helps us to benchmark what we are doing well and what we aren’t and make changes to that. We have the biggest share of voice for social selling on social (we know this because of Brandwatch) some of our prospects have no visibility whatsoever (we know this because of Brandwatch) when we run a campaign and we need to know just how many people have seen it we can work this out (with Brandwatch)… in fact Brandwatch is the tool that enables us to see whether our gut-feel is right or wrong.

But Brandwatch is not perfect, it has some major limitations, particularly around historical data, but we have been able to work around this. Brandwatch is not the only social media listening tool in the market…but it has been the best for a long time (despite its weaknesses)

So imagine our delight when we heard (from Giles the Brandwatch CEO) that they are merging with Crimson Hexagon. I kid you not about ‘delight’ because one of CH’s recognised strengths is its ability to provide lightning-fast access to historical data.

So, over the next 12 months as the two products become one gradually the strengths of each will iron-out the weaknesses of the other.

I don’t for a moment believe that the merging of the products will deliver perfection but I certainly do believe that the merging of these products will make them head and shoulders above any other tool that exists.

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The Digital Marketing Big Fat Lie!

The Digital Marketing Big Fat Lie!

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

In a recent blog I posted out on Twitter I pointed out that Marketing, both corporate marketing and digital marketing was dead.

Nobody looks at adverts or they are ignored, email marketing, certainly in a post GDPR world is dead, nobody answers cold calls, nobody clicks on PCC.

As with corporate marketing, everything is the same. Everybody says the same thing. We all say we are the best. Go to any website and they are all the same. We are the world’s leading… we are number one… here our our founders, we are unique. No you are not! 5 years ago buyers used website to verify a purchase, now a website is used to deselect vendors.

Even SEO is now a big fat lie. Your customers don’t want to go to your dull website, so why send them there?

As buyers, we are slick, savy, we might not know what we want, but we know how to find it!

We are street wise, and are looking for people to give us insight, educate us, guide us. We don’t wanted to be shouted at by corporate marketing or sold to by some manipulative sales person. We don’t might talking to sales people, those that seem trust worthy.

I posted a blog similar to that on Twitter. Pointing out that Marketing no longer works and a person commented.

“Agree, but you have to do these things as these are the Marketing basics and you have to do the basics.”

I was lost for words, how can you throw money down the drain on marketing efforts we know don’t work and won’t reap a return?

As a salesperson who always did there own demand generation, I always wondered why Marketing didn’t generate me anything. Or if they did it was “icing on the cake”.

I spent the later half of my twenties and first half of my 30s reading every marketing book I could get my hands on hoping for the secret. Any marketers reading this are now saying, Tim but you don’t get this Tim, it’s all about Brand.

Is it? With corporate marketing now all the same, branding is pretty meaningless.

So what is the answer?

  1. First, if you are not into intent data you are way behind. When somebody comes to your website the deal has already been done. Buyers are leaving footprints on the web you need to spot the footprints.
  2. Get you salesforce to blog, better still get your employees to blog.Do this and you can shout out all of the competition.  By doing this you have an influencer marketing, your SEO (this will give you key word optimised content earned media content), it will sort turn your recruitment from push to pull.  All manor of benefits and savings.
  3. Align and then merge your sales and marketing departments. How to do this?  Well we have written a book on how to do it.  Not a why, you should do it, but a “how” so you can have your own project and meet today’s challenges.

Smarketing: How to Achieve Competitive Advantage through Blended Sales and Marketing” is available on all Amazon platforms click here

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Programatic or programmatic

Programatic or programmatic

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

Let me begin by saying I am not an SEO expert. I understand the basics of SEO and I understand that it’s a science the requires a lot of study to master. I also understand that there are ways of sidestepping this study and ongoing work by using social media…

The premise of being found on Google (or any other search engine for that matter) is that you need to make the search engine think that your page is the most relevant page to the query that the person searching has just entered. How that relevance is calculated has a number of drivers (and an algorithm which is usually a closely guarded secret) based on (amongst other things):

Keyword density: The number of times the keyword (or phrase) being searched is present on the page.

How important the page/URL is: This is sort of “pagerank” in Google’s terms and this is a measure of whether the page is important (has lots of links pointing to it) or is hosted on a major URL (a page on the BBC website for example will sadly for us usually score more highly than a page on this website ).

The URL: Does the URL contain the search term – “” is more likely to create greater favour than “″ if you are trying to be seen for widgets.

Meta Data: does the structure of the page support what the search engine thinks the page is about?

Age: How old is the page? Older pages are usually less valuable than recent pages (but more so than brand new ones).

It’s a bit of a minefield really isn’t it, and regular updates to algorithms mean that the perfect balance of what works today might not work tomorrow. 

There is another challenge facing you too. If you are trying to optimise a page for something that might be profitable for you, you’re probably not the only one trying to optimise for this. So that makes it very competitive.

We all know the importance of being at the top of the first page of results. But there’s more than one way to skin a cat as they say…so where can you go to be relevant where people are looking…but your competitors aren’t?

I have a friend that runs a PPC (pay per click) agency and it’s interesting that she has a very pragmatic view on this. It’s all about the clicks, the competition and the price. They create some of the best PPC campaigns there are and optimise these do deliver the maximum clicks and conversions they can. As you know, we don’t engage in any paid media so the price isn’t an issue for us, but the clicks and the competition most definitely is and we can take a leaf out of their book.

One of their clients is a jeweller, and she jokes that they sell more products to people who cannot spell “jewellery” than to those that can. Now although this comment is slightly tongue in cheek the rational behind it is very serious indeed.

If the purpose is to get as many visitors as possible then why just pick the ones who can spell (or type) well? For us at Digital Leadership Associates these visitors come for our content and from our social presence. At the moment we are having a drive towards “programmatic social selling” (because it’s what we do) and we don’t mind whether our clients can spell “programatic” or not! So think about how you create content, how you distribute if and how you drive traffic and ask yourself next time you hurriedly type something in and misspell it whether you are the only person in the world who does this…and if you’re not there could be an opportunity for yoo [sic].

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Why A Good Blog Isn’t Measured on Word Count

Why A Good Blog Isn’t Measured on Word Count

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

Here at Digital Leadership Associates (DLA) if you are a regular reader you know that we are big users of content marketing.

Yesterday, the company being only 20 months round and we published our 400th blog. Why? Because it creates us 3 pieces of inbound every day. We don’t, as we don’t need to, spend money on any form of outbound marketing. We don’t cold call, we don’t advertise, we don’t tune for SEO, we don’t use email marketing (we deleted our database to comply with GDPR). We don’t have to, spending on those activities don’t support or market the modern buyer, content does.

We all do it. If we want to buy anything, from something low cost to a new Accounting system, we go on-line and research. We read articles, blogs, watch videos, consume content I understand people call it. You prospects and ours are just like us, we consume content and if you don’t have engaging, insightful and educational content then your prospects and customers cannot find you and you have left yourself open for competitive loses,

What Makes a Blog

People often ask us, what makes a blog? Well actually it’s really easy. If you think about any course you have been on or article you have read. You only remember one thing. So only write about one thing.

Blogs are also short form. If you think about the “white paper” you download it and put it in a folder “to be read sometime”, they might be downloaded, but they are never read. And if they are, as they are crammed full of facts, you never remember them.

You know if, I sent you a blog of say 300 to 500 words, probably take you 3 mins to read, you would read it straight away.

Blogging is the New Prospecting

As a salesperson I totally agree in a prospecting culture, all salespeople should do it. Which is why I write. Writing is my prospecting. If my customers and prospects are searching for content, then that’s where I need to be. Where my prospects and customers are. I certainly don’t think that content is “marketing’s job”, why would I outsource the possibility of me making or not making target to somebody else.

The great thing about us sales people is that we are some of the best communicators in the world. Everyday, we craft emails, to get people to do things, get resource for sales or to try and push prospects down the pipeline. We stand up and present complex solutions to our clients and prospects and make they easy for them to understand. That is why, writing, once we try it, becomes natural.

I’ve always been an early riser, I get up at 05:00 AM to feed the cat, otherwise he wakes me up, by tapping me on the head. I also “get up and go” so yesterday, while my first meeting in London wasn’t until 11:00, I got up, had breakfast and got the train into “town” as we call it. Found coffee shop near the prospect we were calling on and sat and wrote. 3 blogs, about 2,000 words later and Adam my co-founder arrived and we sat and chatted before the meeting.

Any company that posts a blog a day has a “hungry animal to feed” but it’s should be an easy objective to achieve with any company with a prospecting culture and an understanding of the modern buyer.

But It’s Not About Word Count

Sometimes when we talk about blogging and content creation we get into what seems like a negotiation. Is it, 300 words, or 500 words, usually I say, it’s a side of A4 paper. As we talked about above, enough to get your message across, little that somebody will read it now.

The company we called upon yesterday described themselves as a “word company”, so they are like a marketing agency, copywriting company, words are their tools. They have found a niche, where they take Financial Services speak and change it into to wording that you and I might understand. It was explained to us as “as a pension company you need to motivate 23 year olds to buy a pension, how do you get a 23 year old to buy a pension?” That’s what we deal with everyday.

One of their team came up with a great comment “It’s not about word count, it’s about idea count”. Beautiful.

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What’s the best compliment that can be given to a salesperson?

What’s the best compliment that can be given to a salesperson?

by Phil Stubbs | @PhilStubbs14 | LinkedIn

‘I love your closing techniques’? or ‘your novelty socks are so amazing’? perhaps it’s: ‘I wish I could sit through more of your huge PowerPoint presentations, I just love the way you cram so much onto each slide’? No?

One of mine was ‘Oh sorry, I always thought you worked here’. It happened to me a number of times when I was ‘social selling’ in the late 90’s. On one occasion it was during an internal, onsite, party at Panmure Gordon, a British corporate and institutional stockbroker and investment bank. The same party where I had been dancing on a chair in full view of a group of board directors.

I remember an old sales manager telling me that a ‘great’ salesman would have a desk at the office of his top clients. Well, I didn’t need a desk, although that may have been safer than dancing on a chair! At the time, I was selling voice and data to financial institutions in the City of London and whilst Panmure had been a client I changed company but it had zero impact on my relationship. It was business as usual, I was just getting orders signed under a different company name.

I was pushing 90’s style ‘social selling’ to the max – birthday drinks, leaving do’s, departmental celebrations, lunches, even Christmas parties – I was invited to them all!

The same was happening at another big client of mine, ABN AMRO Bank, who at the time were one of a handful of triple ‘A’ rated banks. When I switched jobs, I gave my new employers a presentation on how I was going to win the ABN account for them. I then went and did what I said I would and at the next sales conference I presented how we won it. It made me look a star but I knew the truth – I actually ‘bigged up’ what I had done to seal the deal. In reality it was easy, I told ABN I was changing employer and they worked with me to shift services.

Through that style of ‘social selling’ I had gained the trust of so many people – and they bought from me, Phil Stubbs. Even if we screwed up, one time I recall a Friday night stood outside a pub in Holborn as I rang directors of the company I worked for and got them to fix an issue, it was never a deal breaker. ABN had a big move that weekend and none of the voice circuits had been pre-provisioned – we solved it and no drama.

I was giving advice on data networks, when to be honest, my knowledge was limited – but I built a strong virtual account team around me that I had faith in and I encouraged them to develop their own relationships within ABN.

I was trusted and liked, not just as a person but also for my knowledge, openness and dependability. That speaks so much louder than what’s on a business card.

Looking back and comparing to what I do now – the similarities are easy to see. All that work I did at being ‘social’ can now be done online. I connect with people, I get introduced to people as my network grows. I share content, thoughts and views and I get asked for my opinion. Just like the 90’s without the late nights!

Using social media to sell is a must for us today. The buyer – seller relationship has evolved with the buyer now having the power. Social gives you the chance to get into your customer and prospects ‘inner circle’.

If you aren’t immersing yourself into the ‘social world’ of your clients and prospects then you don’t have the bond and level of relationship needed to win.

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Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Vs Intent Data – Are You In Control of the Buyer Journey

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Vs Intent Data – Are You In Control of the Buyer Journey

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

CEB (now Gartner) have the 57% statistic.  Which if you didn’t know is based on a large sample of buyers in a business to business (B2B) context.  In summary, this means that the buyer no longer needs to ring you up and ask for a brochure.  You may recall in the past we used to be called by people asking for brochures. We would put one in the post and then they would receive it three days later.  Buyers, have access to internet and if we want to buy something, from a car to a $500 Million outsourcing deal we go on-line and get that information. Which means, as buyers we:-

  1. Ask questions. “Can my network help me, we are looking for a new accounting system, what do you recommend?”
  2. Look for content “Top 10 Things You Need to Think about When buying a New Human Resources (HR) System?”
  3. Go to Google and search for solutions to a problem. You might search on products you know, Workday, SAP, Oracle or key words, ERP, Accounting, Supply Chain etc.

Traditionally as marketers you define key words that people will search on and you either tune for them in content or buy them through Google Adwords.  Buyers then consume content, blogs, white papers, videos, anything that is insightful and educational.  Buyers generally tune out anything that is overtly sales or pitching as we all try and avoid sales people.

In addition to the 57%, CEB, now Gartner also has another statistic which is 37%.  As a buyer embarks on their buying journey, they know nothing about what it is they want to buy.  As they read more and more content they are formulating a view of their requirements.  It is approximately 37% of the way through the buying process, which is when they decide what it is they want.  And they seek a solution to their problem.  It being 57% of the way when they contact a salesperson.

During the buying process people will, as well as ready your content they will:-

  1. Look at your website. As pretty much 99% of these are “corporate brochures” telling you how great the company is, so much so they all blur into each other.  That said, we are seeing that people on visiting the website will often deselecting vendors as much as selecting.
  2. Check out your people on social media. As buyers are seeking a solution to their problem they seek experts who can help them.  This can be social media influencers, as well as employees.  Activating your employees to talk passionately way, without pitching is a critical piece in today’s business development jigsaw.
  3. Be active in “dark social”. While the term “dark social” sounds like some sort of hacker world, it actually refers to the areas that social media listening tools (we use Brandwatch) cannot reach.  For example, WhatsApp groups, Facebook Groups etc.  For example, somebody researching a new CRM system might ask people’s advice in such groups.

Intent Data The Game Changer

As a corporation, a marketer and a salesperson there are a number of routes you can take.

The 57%er – This person sites and waits and hopes the phone rings.  Hope was never a strategy and this is not recommended.

The 37%er – This person uses Content Marketing and SEO and hopes they bait the buyer as they are part of the way through the process.  We would advise you put your budget into this area as part of your Marketing mix.  DLA is a great case study for this, we put out a blog a day (there are 12 of us in case you think we have massive resources) and get 3 pieces of inbound everyday.

The 0%er – This is where the marketer and seller are using intent data.  The moment the buyer start searching you are there educating, providing insight and collaborating.

A Solution

While there are a number of solutions out there, the one we have used is Microsoft Dynamics 365, the module contained within which is called MSE, Microsoft Social Engagement.  This allows you, by sales rep to listen for intent.  This means that each sales people (it only takes an hour to set up) can listen based on their own territory or product speciality.  In effect you can be in meetings and prospecting at the same time. How good is that?

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