Personal Branding: A Risk, Or Your Company’s Competitive Advantage?

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Those who have been riding alongside me for a while know that one of my core brand pillars is to help CEOs avoid waste and risk when it comes to marketing investment.

So, why am I talking about personal branding today—something that elicits considerable fear and risk for many CEOs and C-level execs?

Because even though it’s downright scary to put yourself out there—in front of people who are part of your business circles and those you’ve never met—it’s also a must-do.

I understand that fear. I’ve been on LinkedIn—which is now the personal branding epicenter of social media—for my entire career, but it wasn’t until 2017 that I got serious about putting myself and my content out on the platform in a more intentional way.

I’m not someone who gets easily ruffled. I’ve been in the marketing trenches of some of the top global agencies and consultancies in the world. I’ve presented multi-million dollar marketing strategies to boardrooms full of high-powered people. But, nothing—NOTHING—compared to the terror I felt when I pressed the “post” button on LinkedIn for the first time.

Part of it was the judgment I was already passing on myself. All of my friends and colleagues at Young & Rubicam, or SAP, knew me in a particular context. Would they wonder what I was yammering on about? Would they agree? Worse—would they disagree?

Read More
Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business, sales strategy

First-Party Data: How Marketing Can Avoid Being the Uninvited Party Guest

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

We’re in the thick of “prediction time,” otherwise known as that two-month stretch in December and January. Every marketing subject matter expert, trade publication, and consultancy weighs in on what they think will be the most important trends for our industry in the year ahead.

For me, these perspectives present a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s never a bad idea to take a look at what your peers deem the most impactful actions for us to consider in the new year–whether you agree or not. On the other hand, these observed “truths” can create an environment where even the most seasoned, seen-it-all marketing professionals start second-guessing their strategies if they’re not incorporating all of these trends.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all about the cool stuff and its ability to connect us with customers in an inclusive and intentional way. The increase in VR- and AI-based apps and tools, the beginning of voice search for SEO optimization, and the rise of conversational marketing are what I find especially interesting as we kick off 2023.

However, if you don’t firm up your knowledge of the marketing basics–and find that blend of the new and now–it will be tough to use marketing to drive growth and revenue. And that’s my biggest concern.

Read More
Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business, sales strategy

Battling Content Fatigue By Killing the Click

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

The biggest gift you might be able to give your customers and prospects right now—and one that might create more trust in the long run—is to not ask them to do anything in order to get your content. 

  • Don’t ask them for their phone number.

  • Don’t ask them for their email address.

  • Don’t even ask them to click on your call to action.

Okay, let me back up a bit. As an organization, you know how important it is to invest in a sound content marketing strategy. Relevant content educates and informs your audience, and it also builds brand awareness and demand for your products.

Because of content marketing’s importance, you’ve poured a fair amount of time and money into creating high-quality content pieces to entice your target audience. Articles, videos, one-pagers, ebooks, huge research studies—you’ve done it all. Then, there are the expertly crafted landing pages that guard those goods, and the calls to action that were written specifically to entice a click.

That’s why it’s always especially heartbreaking when even the best content underperforms. But lately, I think it’s less about content marketing “not working” and more about something that we experience as consumers, but as marketers don’t always want to admit: that content fatigue, especially at this present moment, is real. Very real.

Read More
Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business, sales strategy

The Case for “Fun Money” in Your Marketing Budget

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Here’s a question we don’t ask ourselves enough: What happens when this year’s marketing allocation actually works?

Of course, we know what happens. Better brand awareness. More customers. Increased sales. Company growth.

But what does it mean for next year’s budget?

Well, the obvious move is that you take next year’s budget and allocate it for most of the stuff that worked. This makes sense—you want more of everything referenced above, so you need the funds to keep that engine running.

I’m more curious about budgeting for the “stick your neck out” kind of stuff. The never-been-done, creative strategies you test next year with one eye firmly on the future. The long plays—the ones that might not get reported as part of your weekly KPIs, but those that represent ambitious opportunities down the road.

Read More
Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business, sales strategy

Sales and Marketing Teams: Stop, Collaborate, and Listen

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

I’m feeling thankful as Thanksgiving approaches, as I hope you are too; thankful for the moments in my work and personal life that feel collaborative and supportive. 

When it comes to working with my sales partners in the journey toward customer acquisition, they know the equation is 1+1=3 in sales and marketing. We need each other like my turkey needs its cranberry sauce. (Corny but true: I make a knock-out version that I’m willing to share if you ask.)

But for many organizations, sales and marketing teams are not aligned.

It’s a mystery to me, but so often marketing and sales leaders—and their teams—remain siloed. Sure, there are moments where the two work together beautifully, but on the whole, it’s a relationship that’s workable at best—and antagonistic at worst.

It doesn’t make any sense. CEO’s lose patience with this petty arm wrestling. Sure, they focus on different parts of an organization’s revenue cycle and are measured on different KPIs as well, but at their core, both teams want the same thing: for customers to find the products and solutions they need, to find a provider who can solve their problems, and results to drive a profitable business.

Read More
Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business, sales strategy

Demand Generation: The Actual “Holy Grail” of Marketing

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar: 

Your company has invested an incredible amount of money—and time—in myriad tactics designed to boost lead generation.

You’ve launched ad campaigns, you have the best marketing automation software money can buy (that’s tuned up with a collection of targeted, personalized email campaigns); you’ve hired an entire team of inbound and outbound sales development reps to nurture the mountain of leads you’re expecting, and of course–there’s all the content. You’ve spared no expense, producing pricey demos, explainer videos, and long-form gated content where you’re giving away your expertise—all they have to do is surrender a measly email.

On paper, your lead gen engine is a finely-tuned machine. There’s just one problem: your pipeline is bone dry. You don’t understand. Didn’t you just invest all of this money and time so that this wouldn’t happen?

I see a lot of companies—especially those in the B2B space—prioritize lead generation over brand-building efforts. On one hand, this makes sense. Leads, and the sales they turn into, are the way organizations make money. Filling up that sales pipeline is essential.

Read More
Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

Lead Generation in 2022: Why Haven’t We Fixed This Yet?

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Every year, reputable marketing publications and media sites proclaim that some aspect of marketing is “dead.” Usually, I don’t take these articles too seriously, but recently a headline from CMSWire caught my eye: “Are Lead Generation Days Over for B2B Marketers?”

After the click-bait title, the article goes on to say that no, lead generation days are not over.

It did make me think a bit, though. Our quest for marketing and sales leads may not be going anywhere, but it also seems we might be overdue for a different way of thinking about those leads. We still consider our lead pipelines in the same linear, “lead-to-MQL” approach discussed in the piece, and I think we can all agree it’s not working as well as it could. In fact, I’m not sure it has ever worked the way it was intended.

What are the factors that are preventing our collective lead generation efforts from becoming as successful as they could beand are there ways to consider retooling our approach when it comes to how we’re building those engines? I’ll unpack that below.

Read More
Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

The Many Faces of Your Content Marketing

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Many of my clients give me a bit of grief because I’m always asking the question, “What is the role of X?”

But, I’m always going to ask that question, because it’s impossible to get from zero to sixty in marketing without a little blood, sweat, and tears. We can ease the path if we understand what role each tactic plays in the greater marketing strategy—and how we can map marketing activity to incremental growth.

This comes up a lot as we wrestle with content marketing. Specific pieces of content have a different job to do than others. As they say, “Not all content marketing is the same.” Still, a lot of businesses miss the opportunity to “create once and use often” because they haven’t determined the precise responsibility of content marketing in their growth plans.

Content Marketing Roles and Responsibilities: Website

Different types of pages on a website have different jobs to do. Some pages serve lead generation objectives, some serve the search engine gods, and all keep the human being engaged with the content they express. Let’s review…

Read More
Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

Mind the Gap: 5 Challenges Facing Marketing Investment vs. Performance

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

It’s a never-ending conversation: How to close the gap between marketing investment and performance.

Even with the inflation/recession conundrum, data reveals that marketers are happy to allocate dollars to their digital marketing activities. The February edition of The CMO Survey, in the Harvard Business Review, noted that marketing departments plan to increase spending by another 16% in 2023 (over the current 57%).

That’s the glass half-full portion of the story. The same study found that 30% of those surveyed said they are experiencing “average-to-no returns on their investments.” 

How can we close the gap? It’s important to understand what’s going on underneath the surface.

Top Reasons for Underperformance

It’s likely there’s no single problem impacting marketing performance. Conceptually, however, there are some common, systemic conditions that seem to exist that have been observed and noted by those who study companies large and small.

Read More
Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

4 Things Marketing Service Providers Don’t Want You to Know

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

As an SMB leader, you can’t always do it all by yourself… as much as it may seem like it on some days.

Even if you have internal team members to support your business operations and marketing efforts, they may not have the bandwidth nor expertise to optimize your investment.

But, before you enlist external help from marketing service providers, there are important factors to consider. As an overarching word of caution: marketing service providers often make promises they can't always fulfill.

Here are four considerations to keep in mind when hiring a marketing service provider.

1) Vendors typically have one core expertise

When I look at the vast range of marketing service providers—some of whom I compete with and many of whom I collaborate with—it looks as if we all do the same things. In fact, on the surface, it may appear that we all do everything.

Read More
Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

watch the WEBINAR: how to AVOID random acts of marketing 

We're glad you're here.

We write about our marketing passions: building digital brands, digging deep for customer insights, tracking marketing effectiveness and ROI for better results. Ask a question, comment ... or get in touch!

Subscribe!