A Sum of Marketing Tactics Doesn’t Add Up to Strategy

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Creative minds often make abstract interpretations of left-brain concepts. The analytic brain understands that 1+1+1=3, but the artistic one might say… “Does it, really?”

When founders and business owners look at this equation from a marketing perspective, they don’t see a cut-and-dry answer. Adding up a collection of marketing tactics doesn’t mean they’ll arrive at a definitive “sum” of success.

For example, you can have:

  • A rockstar SEO advisor
  • The latest, greatest MarTech solution
  • A top-level website designer
  • Copy-writing extraordinaire

Does each operate on its own? How does each contribute to a complete business strategy?

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

CEO Stories: Moving Beyond Referrals

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Meet today’s CEO, Chris. Even though referrals convert the best for his business, he couldn’t rely on them exclusively to get the growth he needed.

This was not for lack of effort. Chris had done the groundwork to set his business up for success. His company had great tech, superb service, accolades from his customers, a high NPS. But, there wasn’t enough volume in his referral pipeline to get the lift he expected.

Still, year after year, he moved more resources into sales, refined the process, and aligned his messaging. 

Unfortunately, this is one case where the facts are the facts... and unless something changes, things will continue to stay the same.

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

How Merkle’s Four B2B “Brand Superpowers” Apply to Small Business

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

The B2B Customer Experience: Small Business Strategies Fill Big Business Shoes

I’m in a circle of scrappy, ambitious small B2B business owners—and I serve the same type of businesses in the Strategy Lab. Recent research by Merkle revealed some interesting buying trends in the B2B space, but the study, "Architecting the Ultimate B2B Customer Experience," focuses largely on enterprise B2B players.

What does this research say about driving factors for success that apply to us

Here are a few of the key points from the study, along with the opportunities for the small business leader.

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

#FOBO. Not a Typo.

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

You’ve likely heard of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), but have you met its close cousin, FOBO--Fear Of Better Options? It’s so prevalent in marketing, that we made it our own hashtag! #FOBO

Here’s the deal: When it comes to crafting a marketing strategy and plan, options abound. We’ll often make choices based on:

  • What the competition is doing
  • Who has been recommended
  • What we’ve read last in the business press
  • What on the biz dev “to-do” list is the longest

The options start to blur into one muddled orb of uncertainty. Just like the Sham 69 song goes, “Everybody’s right and everybody’s wrong.”

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, channel strategy, business strategy

What Went Wrong? Saying “Yes” to the Gaps in Your Marketing Strategy

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Students of improvisation are very familiar with the concept of "Yes, and..." If your scene partner sets the environment as a cruise ship and passes the baton to you, you can't say, "No, remember, we're on the moon." You go with the bit, and help your fellow actors create the story.

But, marketing should never feel as “spontaneous” as improv appears.

In the Strategy Lab, I meet with a lot of CEOs who are all too used to saying, "Yes, but..." They understand the value of marketing, yet efforts have proven unsuccessful. Even though they’ve bought into building their own “story,” something has gone awry.

  • "Yes, we tried that Martech solution but it didn't pan out."
  • "Yes, we contracted with [several] marketing experts but are no closer to our goals."
  • "Yes, we tried using our internal resources but have gotten nowhere."
  • "Yes, we hired extra sales people but we still haven't seen any revenue growth."
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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, channel strategy, business strategy

Retention As a No-Risk Marketing Strategy

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

COVID-19 threw a big monkey wrench into many B2B companies’ business and marketing strategies. These brands had to carefully consider changes in how they communicated with, sold to, and served their customers.

Some took a savvy step back and transitioned from acquisition to retention. However, this is not always an easy move to make.

Hitting Pause on Acquisition

It’s difficult to beat the rush (or the revenue) that comes with the “victory” of securing a new customer. Acquisition validates that your prospect-driven marketing efforts are working.

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Topics: marketing strategy, "marketing spending", strategy, marketing, retention

How One CEO Overcame “Household Name Syndrome”

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Being known doesn’t guarantee growth.

Meet Marjorie: She’s a brilliant CEO, invested, has a solid reputation, and remarkable revenue in an innovative space.

Despite her ambitions, her marketing wasn’t generating the momentum she expected… Even though she actually was the household name in her sector.

Was she too ambitious? 
Too aggressive? 

We didn’t think so. Marjorie didn’t think so. She believed in the mastery of her products and service. She saw the uniqueness of her product line. She knew her reputation had influence.

So, what was the issue? Why wasn’t she seeing growth?

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy

Focus Pocus: It’s Not Magic, It’s Strategy

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Concentrating your marketing dollars on a single initiative is hard. It’s like choosing which of your kids you like best.

But I promise you, unlike in parenting, it will be simpler in the end (take it from a mom of two newly minted adults…).

It’s All About Sharpening Your Focus

Focusing on a single core audience, with a single message, around a single offering helps you make real hay with your restricted marketing resources. Even when you need to support more than one part of your business with marketing investment, focusing on growth one-by-one can lead to more responsible spending.

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Topics: marketing strategy, "marketing spending", strategy, marketing, channel strategy

When Random Acts of Marketing Turn Risky

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Randomness is sometimes enticing; there’s a spontaneity about it that feels creative and bold. 

Until, that is, you’re faced with burning questions around tepid results: what went wrong? Why didn’t the plan yield return? It’s like eating too much cake or drinking too much champagne.

The spending hangover is hell to pay.

Do You Know Randomness When You See It?

Many of the companies I work with have indulged. The promises from marketing specialists, the lure of new MarTech, or sheer envy around what the competition is doing have spurred activity that didn’t deliver.  

There simply wasn’t an organized set of objectives and sound strategies to bring it all home.

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing

Tipping My Hat to 2020, Giving a Cheer to 2021

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

It’s always good to start out a brand new year with a clean desk, but it’s even better to find something that validates the hard work—and lessons learned—of the previous one.

While sorting through a pile of papers to prepare my office for 2021, I came upon a real gem. 

It was a notepad with scribbled musings inspired by one of my business coaches. He asked us to list the mutual mindsets and beliefs that identify a perfect collaboration. 

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing


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