The ambitions of the small business owner are unmatched in enthusiasm, nimbleness, creativity, and sheer grit. These admirable attributes can come along with a huge dose of impatience. As a small business CEO, you think: I’m moving fast, so the world is going to move fast with me.
I’m a big believer in taking the long view of marketing--because all marketing lives to serve clear and specific actions we want to see in our businesses. Success is the process of doing the reps, not a swing of the magic wand.
But, sometimes impressive strides can be made in a short amount of time to yield results--as long as you make time to step away and think through the possibilities. This helps break away from the randomness of “let’s try this!” look under the hood.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a story for you.
A vibrant $5MM company--with 15 years of productive, client-focused services--hit a snag during the pandemic. Some of their largest customers put things on hold.
Not a unique story. In fact, this trend became the norm for many businesses, across multiple industries.
With a good portion of revenue on pause, the company knew they had to do something. So, they decided to run paid search ads and hire a PR firm. Sounds okay, right? Not a “bad” move by any means.
But, when we reviewed their struggles, past performance data, and their owned and earned media, we found a gem sitting under a rock: a significant database of 12,000 contacts in their CRM. Somehow, in the midst of climbing out of the pandemic, that list got nearly forgotten.
The pressure of generating new business meant they didn’t have their eyes on the opportunity to segment their existing contacts--by activity and qualification--to determine the best way to reach out with tailored messaging in order to re-engage.
Results You *Almost* Can’t Believe
We had the gem, but now what? The pivot from lead gen to lead nurture took some thinking. What do we know about these contacts? How are they the same, or different? Are there rapid fire tactics that would have broad appeal for an efficient solution?
Admittedly, it took an outsider to uncover the distinctive quality of this company--the things they couldn’t even see any more for being just too “inside.”
An outsider can see:
- Personality and profile of the leadership that helps their value be expressed, beyond products and features that competitors also own.
- For example, the head of sales had a unique story, and a non-salesy demeanor that was charming, worked well in sales calls, but was virtually absent from their existing content.
- Channels that are misused (or underutilized) that could be quickly revamped
- Paid search dollars were being deployed, at gratuitously low levels, with feature-based messaging that was just generic
- Past data showed that the existing content strategy was tired; they needed something new
- A messy database can mean the end of days for a sales team; but let’s face it, legacy systems stay in place because it’s a difficult and ugly task to fix it, and everyone already has a day job.
- We pulled out any old records that had not exhibited any activity in two years: no email opens, no website visits, nada
- We segmented any qualified contacts who’d already had a conversation with sales, and saw some trends:
- We researched where some had hired a similar service months before, and where we suspected the honeymoon might be over
- We were able to pull out clusters of leads who’d declared out loud that they just weren’t ready to make the investment
- Still others just were just not convinced of the value
In short, once we identified nurture as the first step, the tactics seemed unsurprising, simple to execute, and easy to measure.
“We had the gem, but now what?”
We refined separate, tailored messaging to each group, hired a talented sales writer to construct three different email nurturing campaigns and set out to spend Q1 re-engaging the database while we wrestled with the larger issues of brand, website performance, and nurturing to those not yet ready to buy. With a simple video in the mix, and a refined sales process, we had our plan.
What were the results? They’re so remarkable, that I’m sure this will sound like an aggregate of several clients bundled into one argument; but it’s not. This is a single company, with the resources to invest more in marketing, and clear KPIs from which to learn and evaluate.
- Within days, the VP of sales had appointments on his calendar… not new leads, just folks they already knew.
- In Q1 2021, they exceeded their total 2020 deal flow. Think about that… three months outpaced an entire year.
- By Q4, they’re looking at topline revenue that will close at a 41% increase over last year
- This is funding a revamped PPC program, new outbound initiatives, and a bundle of new tactics that the team now has the vision to test
Strategy, Open-Minded Courage, and a Bit of Cash Helped Turn the Corner
What was the hardest part for the company leadership?
Not what you might expect. Not finding the tactics, not a new shiny piece of software, not a revamp of the sales team.
The hardest part was finding courage to take a risk. So many CEOs (and their CFOs who have to “OK” the budget) know they need marketing to grow. But the waste and risk often cuts off the discussion before it begins. This CEO:
- Knew he had to lead the charge so his team would play well together
- Faced off on his own limitations in marketing strategy so he could find the value of an outside view; the 30,000 foot perspective that could reveal what he couldn’t see on the ground
- Understood the real difference between “investment” and “spending.” The CEO has his “day job.” All CEOs have responsibilities that often take them away from marketing (and marketing strategy). In this case, he just needed a roadmap to grease the wheels in Q1 while they worked on new programs for Q2.
I’m not a magician. But, it’s often easier for me to uncover the hidden gems--whether business leaders encounter unforeseen obstacles like COVID-19 or they find themselves “stuck” on their current marketing spin cycle. Here’s how I can help you get started:
- Send your team to the Marketing Strategy Lab for training and coaching, that comes along with a library of strategy and implementation resources
- Engage me as a Fractional CMO consultant; Get air cover to uplevel your in-house and outsourced teams
- Talk to me about workshopping a marketing and strategy roadmap 1:1 with you and your team
See this Marketing Strategy Overview to get the full picture.
Or, set up time with me HERE!