Persuasive Picks for week of 10/15/12

The key to being a good consultant of any kind is to ask the right questions, writes Michael Teitelbaum in a recent post at Marketing Trenches, and provides a list of 5 Questions Marketers Need to Ask Prospective Clients to get to the heart of a prospect’s challenges and aspirations – via MarketingProfs.

Visual networks are now changing the rules of engagement and agencies and brands need to find the best ways to measure and understand their customers cultures. Laurent Francois of SocialMediaToday explains How Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr are Blasting Social Media Monitoring tools because there’s a fantastic bias supposing that people express themselves only through words, sentences and syntax.

LinkedIn has rapidly become the number one B2B social networking tool with over 175 million users from around the globe. So why would someone in your target audience choose to do business with you in LinkedIn? Online Marketing veteran and ClickZ contributor Jasmine Sandler says it’s not as easy as one-two-three, but provides some helpful tips on Creating Solid Business Relationships Through LinkedIn.

First impressions matter! Blog readers generally pay attention to the title and the first two paragraphs of any given post, and then decide whether to read the rest. Lydia Di Francesco gives content marketing tips to bring more attention to your posts in 6 Easy Ways To Write Headlines That Get More Clicks on Business2Community.

Persuasive Picks for week of 9/3/12

The balance of power in B2B public relations has shifted. No longer does the media hold all the cards, although they are still important influencers. Fast Company writer Wendy Marx provides some Best Practices In B2B PR to consider as the B2B public relations ecosystem continus to evolve.

B2B marketers have one of the most difficult and underappreciated jobs on the planet. Their mission is to create memorable brands out of some downright “unsexy” products. How do they do it? MarketingProfs‘ Russell Glass explains that the best B2B marketers are successful because they start with building a brand in How the Best B2B Marketers Think Like B2C Marketers: Five Strategies to Emulate.

Using social media correctly is like putting your Rolodex on steroids. Perhaps the best thing about using social media is that it allows you to communicate with all of your contacts at once through status updates. But Melinda F. Emerson at The New York Times warns there are some important lessons to learn and gives some insights on How Not to Pitch Your Business in Social Media.

Are you one of the many marketers who launch their social media programs because they feel they need to and then scramble to understand both how they will make these work and how they will be managed? Online marketing veteran Jasmine Sandler urges you to stop chasing your tail and start Your Social Media Marketing Plan in 5 Easy Steps via ClickZ.

“Effective Executives” Series with Bill Piwonka, Janrain’s VP of Marketing

This week’s “Effective Executives” interview is with Janrain‘s VP of Marketing, Bill Piwonka. Bill’s background is firmly rooted in B2B marketing operations. Over the past 20 years he has led marketing teams and initiatives spanning strategy, product marketing, product management, demand generation, marketing communications and business development. Prior to joining Janrain, Bill was the vice president of marketing at EthicsPoint. He has also held marketing management positions at Centennial Software, Serena Software, MeasureCast, WebTrends, Intel and Oracle. Bill earned a Master of Business Administration from The Wharton School at the The University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts in quantitative economics from Stanford University.

We caught up with Bill and asked him about his leadership style, how marketing has adapted to the changing economy and what is next for Janrain for the remainder of 2012.

Can you tell us a little bit about Janrain and your role?

Janrain is a leader in providing User Management solutions for the Social Web.  You’ve probably encountered our technology many times without even realizing it.  You have, if you’ve ever been offered the opportunity to login or register on a website using an existing identity from a social network such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, etc. – rather than fill out an onerous registration form.  Not only does offering social login help business by increasing registration conversion rates, decreasing cart abandonment on eCommerce sites, improving data quality of the user database and reducing support costs from not having to respond to lost username/password requests, it also can significantly improve efficacy of marketing programs.  That’s because when a user logs in using a social identity, the business has the opportunity to ask for access to a rich set of profile characteristics, such as interests (e.g. music, sports, movies…), location, friends, birthdays and more.  This data can then be used to more finely segment customers and deliver richer online experiences and targeted promotions and offers.

At Janrain, I am responsible for overseeing our marketing efforts, including driving demand for our solutions, preparing our sales team for success and launching new products, services and solutions.

What kind of data do you use to make marketing decisions? Analytics apps, etc.?

We are very much a data-driven organization, even though we are still relatively small.  As an organization, we use Salesforce.com for CRM, Act-On Software for Marketing Automation, and Google Analytics for web traffic.  From these solutions, I monitor which campaigns are driving the highest quality leads, the health of our sales pipeline, our sales cycle length, average sales price, win/loss percentage, cost per lead, sales funnel conversion rates and a host of other metrics.  I encourage my team to take risks and try new things, but I want to know if those efforts succeed or fail, and have a common barometer for making those assessments.

Favorite CMO-type media outlets you follow?

I actually don’t follow CMO-specific sites as much as I do Analysts (Altimeter Group, Forrester, Gartner, etc.), industry specific news (GigaOm, News.com) and general business sites and email groups (All Things D/WSJ, McKinsey, Wharton, Harvard Business Review, Marketwatch.com, etc.).  I also try to follow interesting, insightful people on Twitter, where I get access to articles and research that they find compelling.

What do you see as your chief role? What’s your leadership style?

I see my role as setting direction and strategy and providing the tools and environment necessary for my team to succeed.  I tend to be very collaborative, seeking input from both my team and peers within the company to help guide my thinking.  I also am not a micro-manager.  I want to hire the best and the brightest people I can find – even if they don’t have direct role-specific experience – and give them the freedom to deliver outstanding results.  We set quarterly objectives that are tied to our overarching corporate goals, and identify how we will measure whether those objectives are met.  Then I’m available to review progress, suggest approaches, edit written content, and roll up my sleeves to help when needed.  But I want my team to feel empowered to do what it takes to be successful – not be afraid to take risks or make mistakes, and know that they are developing skills and experience that will help them progress in their own careers.

How has marketing changed with the economy’s twists and turns?

I don’t know that it really has.  Of course I’m held to my budget and am always looking for ways to drive costs down while improving results, but that’s always been the case.  And while technology has changed the way we can interact with our prospects and consumers, the fundamentals still hold.  You need to have a product or solution that solves a specific pain point, communicate that message simply and elegantly and be the type of organization with which customers want to do business.

How much do you weigh social media in marketing goals?

Social media provides a great way to interact with customers, communicate your company’s personality, culture and values and developer higher brand advocacy and loyalty (when done right).  All of those things are important to me; thus social media is an important part of our overall strategy.

If you had to make a pie chart of your marketing goals, how would you divide?

Ideally, it would be split into three equal wedges – Drive Demand, Enable Sales and Launch Products.

What is next for Janrain for the remainder of 2012?

The biggest challenge we have moving forward is managing our growth.  We just about tripled in size in 2011, and are on a path for similar results in 2012.  That has meant additional headcount, the implementation of appropriately scaled processes and a never ending list of deliverables to support this growth.  It’s a really challenging environment, but one that is super fun – I can’t wait to see where we take it!

 

 

 

Five tips for finding your writing mojo

We’ve all been there before: Under an impossibly-tight deadline, in front of a blank page, hypnotized by the unrelenting blinking cursor staring back at you. You’re desperate for inspiration to hit and the words to start flowing, yet the harder you try to force it, the more frustrated you become, thus perpetuating the vicious cycle otherwise known as “writer’s block.”

It’s no secret that some of the best writing comes from having the ability to let your mind wander to more creative places…but when you don’t have the luxury of time during a busy work day, what’s a pressed PR person to do?

First, know there are no shortcuts or surefire routes to producing good copy; it will take a bit of time, effort and good old-fashioned concentration (something that can be tougher and tougher to come by in today’s age of 140-character attention spans!). But on the flip side, also know that it is possible to regain your writing groove, regardless of any momentary lapse in ability.

Here are five of my favorite tips for unblocking the writer within:

Move. I’m not talking about the pack-up-your-house kind, but the need for a change in location if you feel “stuck” in one spot. Whether it’s across the room, out of the office or through town to your favorite coffee shop, a fresh perspective and some new scenery can work wonders.

Unplug. I know, I know; this might as well be a four-letter word in PR. But try turning off your phone, waiting to respond to email and closing down other distractions on your desktop – just for a bit. I promise you’ll be amazed by how much you can accomplish in a short amount of time without constantly trying to multitask.

Condition. Much like Pavlov’s dog, we can often train ourselves by pairing one stimulus with another. Have a spot in which you’ve been super productive before? Save it for when you need to get important work done, and eventually you’ll associate being there with tackling even the most complex projects with abandon.

Listen. Some people need silence to get work done, while others need to drown out the thoughts bouncing around in their heads. Whether it’s to the silence of an empty room, the ebb and flow of instrumental music or the energy of top 40 tunes, go with whichever noise strategy works for you. I happen to prefer classic rock and 90’s hits at a low volume for background noise, for example – so keep turning that dial until you hit on something that strikes a chord.

Experiment. Everyone’s writing process is different. If something isn’t working for you, don’t force a round peg into a square hole; instead, try another approach. And if that doesn’t work, try something else until you eventually stumble upon something that does work for you. But whatever you do, don’t stop investigating new avenues to unleash your inner creativity.

Have any other tips to share? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.

Persuasive Picks for week of 6/4/12

Go ahead and throw out everything you used to know about SEO, such as link building, keyword-rich content, internal links, and tracking results on SERPs. It’s time to start over. MarketingProfs‘ Aaron Dunn writes that in a little over a year, Google has rendered 10 years of SEO dogma mostly useless in The New Google Search: Six Changes That Rocked the SEO World.

Everyone knows Pinterest is one of the fastest growing sites of all time, shooting up to No. 3 among social networking sites in less than two years. Bonnie Kintzer, CEO, Women’s Marketing Inc. and iMediaConnection contributor, explains that it’s also the first design-focused site to reach mainstream working women with children in large numbers – the sweet spot of many brands and retailers in 7 reasons why Pinterest is unique for marketers.

You’re a small business with very limited resources (time, money, and employees), so how on earth can you incorporate a social media strategy into what you’re already doing – especially when there are so many avenues out there to cover? Liana Evans provides some helpful tips to get the most out of Social Media on a Small Business Budget on ClickZ.

Social Media Marketing success is based almost entirely on how well you engage your customers. James Meyer would like to qualify that by “almost” reasoning that if your efforts are not supporting a quality brand, product or service, you could do most everything perfectly and still not get great results. On SocialMediaToday he provides a number of great tools that create visibility and allow you to monitor your effectiveness in Measuring Engagement Levels in Social Media