A Shoutout to First-Time Bosses

Tips for becoming a successful leader

Lauren & Fumi OfficeShoutout to all the new, first-time bosses out there. This blog is dedicated to you. To the people that were hard-working, results-grabbing individual contributors yesterday, and today are responsible for managing a team… it’s pretty different.

I was promoted to Director of Demand Generation six months ago and have since struggled with moving into the “boss” role. I mean, sure I love Lean In’s Ban Bossy campaign, but living the reality of being a boss, uniting a team, teaching them new skills, and encouraging their passions, all while delivering fabulous results is a whole new ballgame.

I’ve always been pretty obsessed with leadership. I’m the oldest of eight kids, was the Student Council President, and have spent more time reading leadership books than I care to admit. Combining that with my strong desire to always be a top earner at work has helped me carve out a pretty successful career thus far.

Until I became a boss.

My own boss warned me about this the day he offered me the promotion. He said the time and energy it takes to make sure your team has what they need to get results (while maintaining your own workload) was going to be tough.

Fast forward to my spin class this week… I’m on a bike, peddling so hard I thought my legs were going to fall off, when the instructor told us to think about something that’s been bothering us, to focus on it, and use that frustration in the workout. Immediately, I thought, “I wish I was a better leader, a better teacher for my team.” And thus, this post was born.

I realized I was face-to-face with a great teacher, my spin instructor, and that there were some strong leadership habits I could borrow from her. After all, she leads 30+ people in an extremely difficult, yet well-coordinated setting that absolutely delivers results. And we clearly have fun because we all come back the next day for more.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

Establish goals right away

At the beginning of each class, they spend time going over exactly what we need to accomplish to have a successful class. There’s an introduction to the bike, clear instructions on what the expectations are (always stay on the beat of the music), and a time for questions if anything is unclear.

As leaders, we need to make sure our team knows the exact goals of their role, the goals of the team, and the goals of the business to ensure we have a successful year. If there is a solid definition of goals, it becomes easy for everyone to prioritize their time.

Check in frequently

Spin class is hard. We’re sprinting up hills, doing push-ups on the handlebar, all while dancing to the beat of some EDM remix that most people haven’t heard outside of a rave (and all that goes along with that). To help us through it, the instructor doesn’t let a minute go by without checking in with the class. “How we doing South Boston?” and “push yourself!” are two phrases heard often during these workouts.

As new leaders, we must take the time to check in with the people on our team. Now, I’m not talking about hovering, helicopter-style micro managing. I’m talking about ignoring that temptation to focus on your ever-growing To Do list and making the commitment to put your team members needs before your own. Do they need encouragement? Do they need to be pushed harder? You’ll only know if you are regularly checking in to see if they have everything they need to achieve sustainable high performance.

Give public shoutouts

Every now and then, it’s obvious someone is really pushing hard in class. Of course, we’re all there to work our collective butts off (literally) but once a week there will be someone who is just crushing it. Their legs are flying, they’re on the beat, and they’ve got a smile on their face. The instructor will call these superstars out by name, in front of the class, and you can tell in that moment that all the hard work is worth it.

We all know that telling our team they’re doing great work is obvious… but don’t forget to share that success with other groups in your company. My events manager almost doubled our booth traffic from 1H 2014 to 1H 2015 and my marketing automation coordinator is ensuring all our inbound leads are being called within the first 15 minutes that they come in. Those are not small feats, and that success should be shared. Make sure you’re pushing their success up the ladder. If it makes it to the CEO, you know you’ve done your job, and it will make them feel that going above and beyond is worth it.

So, those are my tips to help us become better leaders. Hopefully my team will see the benefits as I put these into practice. Major thanks go to Elise, Sarah, Candice, Rose, and all the lovely ladies at The Handle Bar South Boston for the inspiration… and the results.

Lead Quality: The Top Priority for Marketers

How to successfully improve the quality of your leads

Clean Up Your Data

As marketers, we know that the quality of the leads we generate directly impacts our brand’s success. Simply put, poor-quality leads don’t convert into good customers. Therefore, don’t spend your time on them– it’s a waste of time and money. It is now more critical than ever that marketers re-evaluate their demand generation strategy and spend to focus on driving the right leads, not just more leads.

Indeed, marketers are aware that their strategies need improving, and are redefining their values and best practices. In fact, according to the 2015 “Demand Gen Report Benchmark Study: What’s Working in Demand Generation,” more than one-third of B2B marketers surveyed said they planned to increase their demand-generation budget by 20% in 2015.

And it seems like marketers are more aware of the state of their data quality. Of the B2B marketers surveyed, 74%  reported that producing greater lead quality, as opposed to lead quantity, was their top demand-generation priority this year. To me, that shows much greater self-awareness than I’ve seen in the past.

So, if improved lead quality is your top priority, how do you go forth and gather more worthy leads? Here is a plan for success (hint: it starts with your marketing database):

  • Assess the damage: When is the last time you conducted a deep audit of your business contacts database? If you can’t recall, then your database is most likely comprised of many expired and inaccurate contact records. And, if you’ve been reaching out to these invalid contacts all along, your outbound marketing efforts have been stymied and you are putting your sender score at risk.
  • Clean it up: You don’t have to repair your database all on your own; best-in-class data management technologies are available to do the auditing and cleansing for you. For example, today’s advanced marketing software can complete this legwork by identifying invalid business contacts and providing relevant, accurate entries to replace the others.
  • Target your campaigns: Once your database of marketing contacts is squeaky clean, you still need to segment your leads into different categories based on demographic and firmographic similarities. In doing so, you can send targeted messages, e.g., in email blasts or blog posts, to your different consumer groups. And since consumers want personalized, focused content from the brands they love, this tactic will up your sales and produce happier, more engaged customers.

So keep your business’s momentum going strong with a focus on lead quality this year. Increase demand generation productivity by first assessing the state of your marketing database. What are you waiting for?

The Power of Target Marketing: Acquisition vs. Retention

Why strengthening your existing relationships is key


We’ve all been there: your sales team needs the net-new logos to meet their growth goals, but for one reason or another, your marketing tactics aren’t delivering them. At the end of the day though, its about revenue growth, and by solely focusing on acquiring brand new customers you are missing a big piece of the puzzle. So, what’s a marketer to do to increase sales?

As it turns out, the solution is right under your nose: your current customers. Those loyal patrons who have been doing business with your brand all along represent huge incremental potential via improved retention rates and cross-sell and upsell revenue. It costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain and upsell and existing customer, so rather than only working to gain new business, try allocating some of your time and spend to your existing customer base. So don’t forget to show more love to your loyal clientele and work on strengthening those bonds.

Here are few tips and tricks to help your business drive quantifiable results from improving retention, rather than acquisition:

  • Know your buyer: Take it all the way back to beginning of the sales cycle, to the moment you identified the potential buyers that are now your customers. What are the common characteristics? What keeps them coming back to your brand and what products do they purchase? Reflect upon the answers to these questions before you develop your next campaign and call to action. Once you can clearly define the key characteristics of your common buyer, then you can hone in on those preferences and make more meaningful connections with them.
  • Listen to feedback: To be successful, marketers must stay alert to social arenas. Your consumers post both negative and positive reviews about your business on a wealth of different platforms—from Twitter to LinkedIn to G2—and you need to stay on top of these assessments. These are opportunities to engage with your customers, to gain insight into potential product development opportunities, and to ensure that your customers feel like they have been heard.
  • Use marketing automation: Plenty of marketers think they can sidestep marketing automation but, in reality, this technology can do wonders for establishing strong, ongoing relationships with your customers. Scheduling messages to your customers to either keep them engaged (“we miss you” emails) or to thank them for their engagement (“thanks – you rock, here’s some swag!”) is a sure fire way of communicating how important their relationship is to you.

Marketing isn’t all about acquiring new leads. Sometimes, we need to take a step back and spend time strengthening our existing relationships.

Surprising Words of Advice: Aim Smaller with Marketing Campaigns

How to ensure your micro-campaign proves successful

Aim Smaller

We’re all familiar with the expression “less is more.” But, as marketers, do we ever stop to consider how narrowing our focus might give us better results? Sometimes, we get so overwhelmed by the big picture that we miss out on quick wins and immediate opportunities. After all, our standard strategies tend toward seeking out more leads, more data and more engagement.

What if the key to unlocking optimal demand generation from our marketing campaigns is, in fact, doing less—that is, in regard to downsizing swollen campaigns? Indeed, during the recent B2B Content2Conversion Conference, the VP and group director of SiriusDecisions discussed a growing trend across the marketing landscape defined as “micro-campaigns.” It’s a simple, but counterintuitive, objective: We must aim smaller with our marketing campaigns to realize more success.

In order to create a successful micro-campaign, B2B marketers must utilize data in a highly targeted manner which enables campaigns to become focused for a smaller audience. In doing so, you can create more personal marketing messages for a specific group of buyers.

As such, the driver of your micro-campaign success is your marketing database. Marketers must focus on eliminating “dirty data” from their databases so that they can target their campaigns toward the buyers who are most likely to purchase. When a business’s database is cleansed, enriched and segmented properly, marketers can extract more pinpointed insights about their buyers and, in turn, create more-targeted messages.

So, what are some other ways to ensure your micro-campaign proves successful? Here are a couple tips:

  • Establish your niche: Use your database as a means of investigating your customers and their top pain points. Then, repackage your company’s offerings with a specific solution that speaks directly to these consumers and their needs. In this way, you can set yourself apart in your market by zeroing in on specific targets, rather than over generalizing your market and trying to speak to everyone at once.
  • Downsize channel usage: If you previously embarked on large-scale campaigns focused on a widespread group of buyers, you probably found that some channels were more effective than others; leverage those channels to your advantage. For instance, hone in on a singular social media channel for your next campaign—one that will provide an avenue for focused, personalized conversations with your consumers. Establishing a solid relationship with your potential buyers in a more intimate way will help drive more-efficient buyer journeys, stimulate good reviews and lead to more recommendations.

So marketers: Think big, aim small! You’ll be surprised by what you see.

You Love Data, But Your Team’s Not So Hot for It: Three Tips to Get Them on Board

Advantages you will gain from using a marketing data management service

Get On Board

All too often, gaining insights from marketing databases is a struggle for today’s marketers simply because the data is compromised. In fact, a recent survey from KPMG, titled “Going Beyond the Data: Achieving Actionable Insights with Data and Analytics,” revealed that 85% of respondents (144 CIOs and CFOs from major corporations) said their biggest challenge with analytics is in implementing the right solutions to accurately analyze and interpret data. That is, businesses need help not only with organizing (cleansing, enriching and segmenting) but also in gleaning more actionable insights.

Indeed, the inconsistencies found in your current database might seem frighteningly difficult to tackle. Namely, incomplete data compiled from lead capture forms, “aged-out” data from webinar sign-ups last year and irrelevant booth scans from people just looking for swag at events hinders your ability to identify relevant insights to more effectively target your real buyers. That is, no matter how dedicated you are to trudging through your data, if it isn’t maintained properly, you might as well be searching for a needle in a haystack.

As such, it’s time to make a compelling case for investing in marketing data management software to augment your data management strategy. Here are three advantages you and your colleagues will gain from using a marketing data management service:

  • Minimized manual data efforts: With data analysis being a top priority for today’s marketers, there are now advanced technologies to help with the maintenance and management of marketing databases. Best-in-class solutions can take care of the legwork by cleansing, enriching and targeting business databases. That is, technology can make your data more consistent, complete and easier to work with, all without manual effort.
  • Improved clarity and insight on your target buyers: Marketers can’t just make educated guesses about their consumers’ preferences; they need cold, hard facts to substantiate their intuitions. Extracting insight from your marketing database can give you the clarity you need. For instance, from your gleaned data, you can better know your potential buyers—from their job titles to their organizations (e.g., size, location and industry).
  • Content that delivers results: When you know exactly who your consumers are, you can create content that speaks directly to them in a personalized fashion. Modern consumers crave customized interactions with the brands they patronize. So, use your data insight to create blogs that target their top pain points, and social posts that are relevant to their industry concerns.

Data is not to be feared, but to be leveraged. So, start making the most of it by using technology to guide you—you’re going to love the outcome.

It’s Time for B2B to Get Social

How to make social media a winning part of your marketing strategy

Social Media DBNPThere’s a rumor going around that social media may not be as beneficial to B2B organizations as it is to B2C companies. However, according to AdWeek.com, “More than 9 in 10 B2B marketers say that increased exposure is the number one benefit of social media.” The truth is, B2B organizations that do social media well are going to be ahead of the pack in 2015. The challenge is how to execute a successful plan at your particular company. Here are some ways you can make social media a winning part of your marketing strategy:

1. Make a game plan
From determining your goals and deciding which channels to focus on to creating a calendar and determining how you’ll measure analytics, there’s a lot to lay out before you begin utilizing social. You’ll want to decide what your main objectives are, what channels you’ll use, how many resources you have, and what kind of content you want to share. 

2. Divide and conquer 
You won’t be successful on all channels at once and some will garner stronger results for you than others. Once you’ve determined which channels you’ll use, decide out how each one will function. You may find that Instagram is a great place to share event photos and company culture, but LinkedIn is a better place for you to promote content and product updates. Determining what percentage of your posts will used for each of these purposes is also helpful. Just remember to work towards building a community and developing conversations. You don’t want to be overly promotional all the time. 

3. Gather your gladiators
Creating a solid team is essential. You need skilled writers, creative content developers, talented graphic designers, and organized analysts to make your social media movement successful. Many companies mistake “using” social media for “understanding” it. Just because someone comes to you and says they Tweet on a daily basis in their personal life, doesn’t mean they’ll understand how to execute a successful business strategy. Today, promoted posts and paid tweets are a big part of social media for businesses. It’s important that your team has an understanding of how to navigate this aspect.

4. Brand your channels
Make your channels a strong reflection of your brand and the direction you are heading in as a whole. Your header and profile photos, description, and overall tone should be consistent and on-brand across all social channels. Even the filters on your Instagram photos and the type of content you decide to send out should create an experience for your visitors that is true to your organization.

5. Measure your progress
You may be spending hours on developing your strategy and creating innovative social media posts, but if you don’t measure your progress, you’re doing your team a disservice. You could be missing some major signs when it comes to what is working and what is not. Every channel has its purpose and some content works better on one channel than it does on another. By measuring stats such as new followers, engagement (i.e. likes and retweets), and top vs. bottom performing posts, you’ll be able to know what is helping, or hurting, the growth of your channels. You’ll also be able to see which channels help you the most and deserve the most attention.

Quick Tip: Pulling reports once a week is absolutely fine. There’s no need to get too far into the weeds. You want an informative overview, not a long look through the magnifying glass. You should, however, be paying closer attention to paid social media campaign progress so you can continuously check your budget and make improvements to your campaigns.

6. Listen closely
Having your finger on the pulse of what competitors and customers are talking about, as well as what’s new in social media technology is key. You can’t do all the talking… you have to listen, too. Social listening should be a main component of your strategy so you can be a relevant part of the discussion and cultivate content that is both current and engaging. The more you listen and take time to explore what’s trending, the easier it will be to grow your channels.

7. Use the buddy system
Engaging with partners and like-minded brands on social will help boost your visibility and grow your following. It also gives you credibility when an established brand with a large number of followers “retweets” or “likes” your posts. Lean on partners and vendors that you work with to help share your accounts and the content you’re posting. Reach out and interact with fans and potential followers, especially those who are speaking about your brand. These evangelists will be your greatest allies.

8. Get to know your audience
Knowing which followers to target on social media can be difficult, especially since your audience may vary slightly from channel to channel. However, the general profile of your clients should be something you’re very aware of. Start by examining your current clients and figuring out who they are and how you and your sales team communicate with them.

Quick Tip: Analyzing your customer data can also be helpful when it comes to choosing your audience for paid social media advertising. If your current data is incomplete or inaccurate, you’re not going to find it useful when deciding how you want to spend your ad dollars. Access your records with a free Data HealthScan and get your team on track.

Why Modern Marketing Takes More than Just Guts

Making informed marketing decisions while keeping a creative edge

Modern Marketing

As marketers, we have to have good instincts.

We need to be able to sense imminent trends; to pivot with our customers and key stakeholders when we need to creatively explore a new avenue; and to embrace a forward-thinking mindset that allows us to keep abreast of the changing landscape. Some would say that this is the art of marketing.

But, it takes more than just a keen eye for market shifts and a set of sharp instincts to understand and effectively focus on our target buyers’ wants and needs. After all, if we make decisions solely based on our gut instincts—rather than evidence extracted from data— we’re more susceptible to inaccuracies which make our campaigns ineffective. This is where the science of marketing comes in.

I know, I know. Most of us got into marketing because we were better in English than in Chemistry in school. However, the investigative approach is now essential for making smarter marketing decisions. In fact, Teradata’s “2015 Global Data-Driven Marketing Survey” reported that two-thirds of professional marketers said they make faster, more accurate decisions when they use data to help support their choices. So that’s good – the majority of us know that smarter marketing comes from both art and science.

So what can we do as marketers to ensure we’re making informed judgment calls, without losing the creativity that makes our jobs so much fun? Let’s look into a few

  • Build (and consult) buyer personas: Buyer personas, which drill down the specific buying preferences, pain points, demographics, etc. of a target market, should be used by marketers to validate their hunches on who their target profiles are and effectively align marketing messages with known This practice requires more than just a marketer’s gut feeling about a certain type of buyer; rather, it takes quality data insight to execute these personas successfully. And it’s no small challenge. In fact, a recent study from ITSMA revealed that 83% of B2B marketers find their buyer personas to be only “somewhat” effective. The study deduced that this is because marketers tend to rely more on their hunches about their target consumers instead of concrete data. So do your diligence – pick up the phone and start talking to the people who bought your product and the prospects that chose someone else.
  • Collaborate with sales: If marketers don’t regularly touch base with the sales team, they are bound to miss a wealth of actionable insights collected from their colleagues on the other side of buying cycle. For example, if the marketing department continuously sends what they’ve defined as qualified leads through the sales pipeline, but the sales department is having trouble converting these leads, then marketing must be alerted right away. You can’t just throw leads over the transom and figure your job is done. Again, many of us got into marketing because we are more “socially inclined” – so go talk to your sales team. Marketers must be aware of the conversion rates of the leads they generate, as low rates are indicative of a larger problem, like poorly targeted messaging, an inaccurate business contacts database, or ineffective lead scoring.
  • Work on professional development: Modern marketers must also engender a data-driven skills set to ensure they’re taking a more methodical approach to their marketing strategy. I’m not saying go all the way back to your Chemistry books, but you have got to dig into the data. Today’s marketer must be analytical and curious. More specifically, he or she must be able to take an investigative approach to gaining insights about prospective consumers. Without a curiosity to find new insights – how else are we going to be creatively inspired?

Marketers: if you’ve got a hunch why not see where it leads you? But this time, use evidence to substantiate your instincts.

Improve Segmentation with Data Enhancement

Why better segmentation results in more successful marketing campaigns

Improve Segmentation with Data Enhancement

Just as you differ from your colleagues, each and every contact within your database is unique. Sure, they all share one common denominator—a need for your product or service—but what resonates with one contact doesn’t necessarily resonate with another.

A person in an executive role, for example, won’t find a white paper titled “Three Ways to Convince Your Boss They Need Data Cleansing” relevant because he or she is the boss! However, a midlevel marketer might find that information very useful and valuable.

Once you have your prospects’ attention, the last thing you want to do is turn them away by sending them irrelevant messages. Segmentation—or slicing and dicing your contact database into various buyer groups that share similar preferences and purchasing habits—allows you to deliver more personalized marketing campaigns and facilitate a 1-to-1 buyer experience.

But there’s a catch.

Most marketing databases don’t have the necessary contact information required to properly segment customers. In our “2015 State of Marketing Data” report 84% of the 223 million records analyzed were missing industry revenue info and 82% were missing employee fields. Without complete data records, effective segmentation is nearly impossible.

All hope, however, is not lost. By enhancing contact and company data with incremental information— such as company demographics, installed technologies, or key contact information such as title, job level or phone number—you’ll have the ability to work your marketing magic. This will allow you to send content to the right persona, personalize website experiences, and target offers at the time of engagement.

Find out if you have the complete company intelligence and contact details to confidently segment your data by taking our Workbench solution for a spin. P.S. It’s free!

Improve Your Brand Strategy

Five simple steps to help strengthen your brand marketing strategy

When it comes to content and brand marketing in 2015, you have to be authentic. In a world where information is at your fingertips, the best thing we can do as marketers is to be straightforward with our audience, know exactly who they are, and how to appeal to them. Gone are the days of inflated facts, excessive language, and casting wide nets. When it comes to promoting your brand, customers want a personalized experience. Here are five helpful hints for how you can improve your brand marketing strategy and win over the crowd:

1. Keep them in the loop.
Customers want hard facts, technical explanations, and the story behind the product they are investing in. Buyers are deeply researching products and their technology before making a decision now more than ever. It is essential to have a solid, yet simplified explanation of each of your products readily available to consumers. Telling your audience what you’re working on and what they can expect to see next is key.

2. Make a connection.
Consumers want to feel connected to the brands they are incorporating into their lives. From whether your founder has a dog or a cat to where your team likes to grab a coffee in the morning, customers are more likely to be engaged with your brand if you interact on a human level. They also want you to act as a resource rather than a commercial. This means, sharing relevant external articles, insider info, and behind-the-scenes photos through your social channels, as opposed to a constant flow of your product shots.

3. Keep it simple.
Gone are the days of flashy, overdone branding and design. Sleek, simplicity is on the rise. Take Apple, for example, their use of white space, clean lines, and lightweight fonts makes an impact on buyers and what they consider current. Your brand message also needs to be clear and consistent throughout your product line. The content you share should highlight both your brand’s personality and perspective.

4. Show some love.
There is nothing a person enjoys more than being part of the story. Brands who host in-store events and social media promotions geared toward celebrating their customers will see higher engagement and loyalty. I remember receiving an “anniversary” gift from Birchbox.com after being a subscriber for one year. It was only a simple keychain, but it made an impact on me as a consumer. It is this surprise and delight tactic that will set you apart from the competition. It doesn’t have to be excessive; it just has to be thoughtful and timely.

5. Keep it real.
Did you make a mistake? Does your latest upgrade have a glitch? Tell your customers the story. Explain what went wrong and what you’re doing to fix it. Humanizing the process will help customers to appreciate and understand your company, and even help many to forgive errors and setbacks. The more transparent you are with your audience, the more likely they will be to stick with you through the ups and downs.

Now that I’ve shared these tips with you, I want to express the importance of knowing your audience. You can spend millions on the very best content marketers, community managers, and graphic designers, but if you don’t know who you’re reaching for, these efforts won’t get you far. That’s where we come in. Dun & Bradstreet NetProspex wants to help you clean up and manage your marketing data so you can spend more time building your brand and telling your story. Check out our free data services platform, Workbench to jump-start your efforts.