The Biggest Lesson I Learned in 2016: Talk About Who You Are, Not Who You Aren’t

talk about what your brand is, not what it isn't

Author: Janet Dulsky

The new year is upon us which means that it’s time to make our New Year’s resolutions. If you’re like me, you dread making New Year’s resolutions. I always have such high hopes on January 1st, but then I find myself falling back into my old habits by the middle of the month and completely abandoning my good intentions by the end of January.

This year, I’m going to make it easier on myself. Rather than focusing on new resolutions, I’m focusing on applying the lessons I learned from the previous year. 2016 was a crazy year in a lot of ways…an election year (in the U.S.) has a way of doing that. One big learning I took away from the year is to market what your brand is, not what it isn’t.

This is relevant to all marketers. We’re the caretakers of our company brand, and we make choices every day about how to tell our brand story. We often get pressure from our sales teams to talk about our brand relative to the competition. While there is certainly a time and place for competitive comparison, on a day-to-day basis, here are three reasons you want to talk about what your company is, not what it isn’t:

1. You Don’t Want to Be a Body Outline at a Crime Scene

By its very definition, a brand must be something. Heidi Cohen, speaker, professor, and journalist who runs Actionable Marketing Guide, put together a great list of brand definitions from 30 marketers and visionary leaders. A few of my favorites include:

  • “A brand is the essence of one’s own unique story. This is as true for personal branding as it is for business branding. The key, though, is reaching down and pulling out the authentic, unique “you.” Otherwise, your brand will just be a facade.” Paul Biedermann, Creative Director and Owner of re:DESIGN
  • “Brand is the image people have of your company or product. It’s who people think you are.” Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs
  • “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” Seth Godin, Blogger and Best-selling Author

You might notice that none of these definitions talk about a brand as “not our competitor.” The dictionary defines the word negative as “consisting in or characterized by the absence rather than the presence of distinguishing features.” So, when we define our brand by what we’re not relative to our competition (e.g. “Our software isn’t slow, like [fill in the blank]”), we tell our customers and prospects nothing about our company and leave an absence, rather than a presence, in their minds. Your brand then becomes like the body outline at a crime scene. Completely empty.

2. If You Don’t Fill in the Blanks, Someone Else Will

If you don’t tell people about your brand, someone else—likely your competitors—will fill in the blanks. We saw this firsthand during the election, with opposing candidates using the other’s positions on key issues to portray each other in a negative light. Unfortunately, many of those descriptions stuck because there was nothing else in people’s minds about the candidates with which to push back. You’ve heard the expression that “nature abhors a vacuum” and, as a result, nature fills voids. So do people. Everything you say and do should reflect and support your brand message about who you are. That way, when a competitor fills the airways with FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt), your company will be like Teflon…those messages won’t stick!

3. People Remember Your Company Based on Their Perspectives

The perspectives that people have about your company is based on what you say about your company and what they have experienced with your company—what you say and what you do. Even if you don’t tell people what your brand is, they will fill the void and create an image in their mind based on what they’ve heard and witnessed. You’re just leaving that image to chance if you’re not staking a claim to what your brand represents and following through with that brand promise through all touch points.

For example, I shop at Costco, which comes with the territory when you’re raising two, constantly hungry, teenage boys. Costco says it is “a membership warehouse club, dedicated to bringing our members the best possible prices on quality brand-name merchandise.” And guess what? I believe implicitly that the products I buy at Costco are a good value. Why? Because over the years, in most cases, my experience with the products I buy there is that they are good quality for the price I pay. This is not to say that I haven’t bought things that were not up to par, but because my consistent experiences with Costco products have mostly been good, that is my perception of their brand.

Brand image is critical to your organization’s success because it not only puts your reputation at stake, but it also influences purchases. To drive this point home, Invesp created an interesting infographic that shows how branding influences purchasing decisions. And let’s not forget that brand is just as important for B2B customers as it is for consumer marketers. In fact, McKinsey conducted a B2B branding survey which found that brand influences 20% of the B2B purchase decision. So, make sure you’re talking about what your company is and that you’re filling in the blanks (not your competitors), and you will build a positive image of your brand in the mind of your potential and existing customers.

What did you learn in 2016 that you’re going to use in 2017? Share in the comments below!


The Biggest Lesson I Learned in 2016: Talk About Who You Are, Not Who You Aren’t was posted at Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership. |

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4 Ways Lead Scoring Can Reinforce Your Marketing Strategy and Grow Your Revenue [Ebook]

benefits of lead scoring

Author: Tanya Chu

If you didn’t have much time to delve into your lead scoring this year, it’s not too late to make the business case to do so in 2017! How you structure (and restructure) your lead scoring can give you insights into how your marketing strategy is performing. Even if you already have a lead scoring system in place, it’s a good idea to re-evaluate it as your organization and its needs change.

Here are four ways that lead scoring can make you a smarter marketer:

1. Demographic Scoring Identifies Your Most Valuable Prospects/Customers

The demographic score measures how well your prospects fit your target audience. Some of them include:

  • Title
  • Job level
  • Job function
  • Geographic location

The demographic score is an incredibly important data-driven metric because it tells you the quality of your lead database at the top-of-the-funnel. Just by tracking the average demographic score on a weekly basis, you can gauge whether your database is becoming richer with the prospects that you are trying to attract or not. If the average is continuously going down, perhaps it’s time for you to consider a data vendor to help boost your dataset or take a random sample to see who you’re really attracting with your marketing initiatives.

As you learn more about your prospects and customers, you can develop more tailored campaigns. For example, if you see that director-level prospects tend to sign up for your webinars, then consider creating a webinar track with content targeted specifically for directors. In another example, if you are marketing to your existing customer base, knowing the job function of who is engaging with your content and actively participating in your programs can help you find or create the right content for your cross-sell and upsell efforts. Knowing the overall demographics of your database is also an excellent way to map out nurture tracks to address different interests.

2. Behavioral Scoring Determines a Prospect’s Current Level of Interest

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all purchased something online before. Most people do their research before purchasing a product, scouring the web for similar products from different brands, comparing pricing and quality, and checking out customer testimonials and demos. These are buying intent behaviors. Other behaviors, like downloading checklists or cheatsheets, signal engagement and curiosity. Behavioral scoring is the categorization of all these behaviors.

At Marketo, we have an organized matrix that pares down all behaviors with respect to different marketing channels and the success level attained, and it is always being updated and tweaked to accommodate for new marketing campaigns. This global matrix keeps our behavior scoring unified across our global offices. Our demand generation team then uses this behavior score in their accelerator programs as a proxy to segment out who they want to send mid-stage versus late-stage material to. Relevancy and timing is key in getting that prospect to fast track to conversion and purchase.

3. Account Scoring Reveals the Group’s Readiness to Buy

Account-based marketing has been huge among B2B organizations, and this shift to account-centric engagement applies to scoring as well. Just as you can score individual leads demographically and behaviorally, you can score accounts based on what you see happening among the group of leads as a sum to check for sales-readiness.

Another neat idea is implementing predictive account scoring, which can be part of the overall account score. For example, if you have analyzed your existing customer base, you can project these insights onto your prospect base to see what accounts may have a greater propensity to purchase. In another use case, account scoring can be used in a whitespace exercise to see what accounts you may be missing in your current database.

4. Lead Scoring Ultimately Drives Revenue

Lead scoring shouldn’t exist only in the marketing realm. Sales needs to be involved in understanding how the lead score is generated and what the thresholds are for marketing qualified leads. One way to validate your lead scoring engine is by bucketing lead scores into tiers and tracking the conversion rates  for each tier of lead scores into closed business. This could shed light on if demographic scoring is overemphasized or if certain behaviors do not need to be scored so high. Then, if your confidence level is pretty high in understanding how lead score correlates to closed-won deals, vetted scores can be used to check sales pipeline estimates and the likelihood of new revenue.

You should also find ways to correlate the lead score to won revenue to reinforce to sales that scoring does work and tune up aspects of leads scoring every quarter. One aspect is understanding the weighting, which I alluded to earlier. Is demographic score driving a high lead score, or is behavior? Should account score trump both these scores with the biggest weighting? Take these into consideration as you discuss with sales what they are seeing in the leads that are being delivered to them.

Lead scoring is a never-ending ongoing process so forge ahead in 2017! And if you’re leveraging an advanced marketing automation, one of the most powerful aspects about it is its flexibility with handling changing business needs and scoring models that reflect them.

Check out our ebook on 4 Steps to Developing a Winning Lead Scoring Model to get started, or refresh, your lead scoring engine.

lead scoring ebook



4 Ways Lead Scoring Can Reinforce Your Marketing Strategy and Grow Your Revenue [Ebook] was posted at Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership. |

The post 4 Ways Lead Scoring Can Reinforce Your Marketing Strategy and Grow Your Revenue [Ebook] appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.