How a $5 Stack of Index Cards can Double your Event ROI.

I was just thinking about trade shows today.  It’s beautiful here in Phoenix where I live.  The sun is shining and the waterfall is splashing on the rocks in the pool.  It is starting to feel a lot like event time. Oh, standing for days on end in an air conditioned room with thousands of other people, all trying to have meaningful conversations.  

That got me thinking how much has changed about events, seminars and trade shows these past few years.  As little as five years ago, marketing teams were still trying to boost their scan numbers by any methods possible.  Everyone got scanned and nurtured, even if they weren’t sales-ready yet.  We’d trade anything for scans.

  • At VMworld I was watching a guy in a clown suit scanning everyone he could pester into it. 
  • I saw a magician who was better, because he at least worked tech specs into his act.
  • The next booth over was giving away a drone and had people standing in line to be scanned.
  • At Cisco Live I had the booth staff across from me ask me if I would trade lists so we could both appear to double our ROI. I told her I’d rather take home a phone book to sales team.

New contacts for your ongoing inbound activities are great, but there had better also be some sales-ready leads in there and some potential ROI.  You need to get those decision makers over to your best reps as quickly as possible.  If you do not capture the right information, they will likely get lost in a sea of scans from an ongoing list of events.

Just handing over the entire list without enough detail is a waste of time. Marketing nurtures, sales sell.   From an inbound marketing perspective, it is too early in the buyer’s journey for your visitor to care, and too early in the sales cycle for your sales to care.  Inside sales wants to start talking about your product because that is exactly what they just spent the last six months learning.  How do you make sure you are getting the people in their decision making stage to your closers, and the rest to inbound? 

More immediately, most companies have some expensive technical folk and some of their best storytellers available at events.  You will want to funnel the best prospects (or ones that indicate they are in the decision-making stage) over to your experts and not send over people that want a free education there at the show.  Since everyone on your team should be gathering information and passing it along with that visitor, the easiest way I have found to do this is with printed index cards. 

I decide which information we will gather and print it right on the front of the card, leaving space for the visitor information.  Plus, they have the entire back of the card to write on if they need more space.  Scanners at events are not very good for typing a lot of data into quickly, and if you have more than one person who needs it (and everyone should be gathering information the whole time they are all talking to visitors) It is much easier to scan them, then capture answers to a few questions on an index card. Later, you can match the cards to scanned names on the spreadsheet.   

Of course, you still collect contact information from anyone who wants to begin their journey with you.  Just be sure you know where they are in their search, research, or decision and act accordingly.

 

So how does it work?

Print some easy to ask BANT qualifying questions on index cards and make sure there are stacks of them available with pens for everyone to use.   As soon as you ask a couple of BANT qualifying questions, it will be apparent where this person is in their journey.  Make sure when they are getting scanned that you make it clear that someone will be following up with them, and if they do not want that you can make note to just have them gain access to your content.  Everyone will suddenly be very focused on BANT.  Awesome!   This helps ensure that anyone you scanned and completed an index card for is a good lead to follow-up with soon.  The questions you ask will change from industry to industry, customer persona to customer persona, but if you capture BANT criteria your sales reps will love you. 

(If you are not familiar with BANT or would like a refresher, read our blog post on BANT here.)

There isn’t a sales rep on the planet that will not gratefully accept your leads if you can provide this information.  If you bring your salespeople leads that look like this, they will all become your new best friends and will stop ignoring the leads you bring them.

Here is an example of index cards we used at several technology events.  After using them a short time everyone from our engineers to the lowliest inside sales rep felt comfortable working four or five questions into their conversations.

Engineers tell me that remembering to ask the BANT questions on the index cards changed the way they interacted with the visitor for the better.  Everyone appreciates getting the “sales stuff, money talk” out of the way.  It is just awkward and we would all rather avoid it altogether.  Having it printed and in front of you makes it easy to get through together.  Knowing BANT (and them knowing you know their BANT details) changes everything about the relationship.  Your sales reps can start overcoming obstacles they might have otherwise not known until they lost the deal. They might not have even had any idea why they lost it.  With BANT criteria answered they will know exactly what issues are there, and avoid being surprised by those issues later. 

Booth staff efficiency and our lead quality went up tenfold.  Engineers better measured how much time they were spending with visitors and making sure they were spending time with the right people. They told me they had not realized how much time they spent just talking about technology in general.  It is fun, but not the best use of precious technical resources during that week.  That’s what friends and beer is for, not expensive opportunities like events.

The first time I tried the index cards the company that had consulted with me had never obtained one hundred leads in all their years of showing at this event.    They weren’t even getting very good leads.  Looking closely at the leads they had gathered in prior years only 30% could even be considered real leads.  Normally they would get through to less than 5% in follow-up.  They had very low engagement afterward and almost no close rate.   

 

What they were doing wrong

They, like most technology companies, made sure their company and product names/logos were predominantly displayed on their booth.  There were lists of features and benefits.   There were logos of clients and partners too.  Monitors were standing by for demos.  Staff included sales reps and at least two senior engineers to talk technology with anyone who would listen.  It was a tribute to their product.  They were doing everything exactly like most tech companies have been doing since the dot.com bomb.  They scanned anyone and everyone and took any notes they did take in the scanner through the keyboard.  This meant none of their notes were useful.  

 

Messaging

They were hoping for whales, but fishing for sharks.  Talking with the company’s chief programmer it came up that he had originally architected with very large customers in mind.  He had later added enhancements for one very large customer and thought we should be looking more closely at similar companies.   On his screensaver he had written, “(our solution here) on a Massive Scale”.  It was perfect!

I put together a few basic customer personas using the data we could find such as past sales data and past success stories.  I know, that’s not really enough for a complete persona, but we did what we could — and this messaging resonated well with our target persona at the events.

We did the following

  1. Changed messaging to appeal to largest of their customer types.
  2. Made the booth theme very appealing, polished and whimsical. Space theme with moon landing audio, interesting videos playing on large screens, light show, and compelling messaging to pull them in from a distance. 
  3. BANT index cards to determine “sales readiness” to best help them get to an engineer, or on the inbound list.  
  4. Only scan people who verify they want to be followed up with, but everyone goes on nurture list.
  5. Add index card info to the spreadsheets daily and sent a custom “thank you” referencing the details captured that day from your conversation.  Don’t spam them not even once. 

As a result, we captured 225 BANT leads from people who WANTED us to followed up with them.   Improved messaging got them conversations with every one of their major accounts they had been trying to talk with for years.  In this example, they wanted to talk to carriers and by the end of the show every major carrier (Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, Cox, etc.) had been scanned, qualified by BANT criteria and wanted to schedule product demos for their teams or obtain a proof of concept (POC).  Almost every one of the people we scanned was actionable, 50% engaged in follow-up activities, 30% received demos or free trials, 10% was in pipe.  

Not bad for a $5 stack of index cards. 

Seven Tips for Amazing Social Media Graphics

Graphics are essential for social media success.  With the rise of professional graphic use in social media marketing (74% of social media marketers report using custom visuals in every post), graphics are a must.  But they can’t just be any graphics — you have to make them great.  Not everyone has a graphic design team on standby, but that’s okay.  Graphic excellence can be achieved with Canva.com or Adobe InDesign, whether you went to art school or not.  Just follow my my seven guidelines for amazing graphics for your social media empire, and you’ll be fine.

SAMPLE GRAPHIC

Here’s a graphic I made recently for a Wednesday evening program at a spiritual center.  It looks cool, right?  You have all the info you need.  (Additional details can always be added via link in the posting text.)  I’d want to go hang out with those folks and have a conversation, wouldn’t you?  Let’s break down the reasons this graphic works so well.

 

 

SQUARES RULE

Maybe it’s because they fit the Instagram and Facebook formats so beautifully.  Maybe it’s because they evoke a minimal 1940’s design aesthetic.  Maybe it’s just because they look cool.  Whatever the reason, square graphics look fresh and relevant.  Switching from landscape to 800×800 square formats automatically ups the hip-factor of your graphic, with no effort at all.

HIGH QUALITY PHOTOS

If you’re using photography in your graphics (and you should be), please please please please please use high quality photography.  You can buy beautiful stock photos for a pittance from iStock, or you can take the time to get serious with your own photography skills.  (Seriously, you can take amazing pictures on a smart phone if you know what you’re doing. Check out this Hubspot phone photography blog: http://tinyurl.com/mle2f9c) Use high resolution. Clean them up in Photoshop or a similar program. Everything rests on the quality of the image.

MINIMAL IMAGES

Keep it clean, folks.  One image is best.  Skip the frames and borders. Skips the layers of images. Skips the tiny corner add-ons.  As a general rule, less is more.  This isn’t a flyer or a poster.  It’s one graphic image.  It should stand alone as a strong visual.  Resist the urge to fancy it up.  On a phone, all those details will just look muddy. Clean, clean, clean.

MINIMAL FONTS

Raise your right hand and repeat after me: I will only use a maximum of two fonts per graphic! This graphic actually only uses one font.  If you feel the need for additional variation, try using all caps in some elements, or all lower case. (Note the all lowercase website at the bottom.)  You can even vary the size of your text to keep things lively.  But here’s the God’s honest truth: if your graphic needs more than two fonts to be interesting, you need to make a more interesting graphic.

MINIMAL TEXT

Write what you absolutely need and not one word more.  This graphic has what, where, when and how to find out more.  That’s all you need.  Any additional detail would be lost.  As I mentioned earlier, you can always add a link to an informational flyer in the post text.  Every detail does not need to be on the graphic.  Fewer words means bigger (i.e. readable) text.

SHEER GENIUS

I’m a big fan of using one big photo as the basis of a graphic, which doesn’t always loan itself easily to text placement.  This is why I love a translucent overlay panel.  You can still see the image underneath, but the text really pops.  This is the simplest thing in the world, but it will revolutionize your graphics if you use it well.

USE YOUR SPACE WISELY

This event had a long name, and I had a tiny space for text.  What’s a girl to do?  I rotated the title portion of the text and used the extra vertical space.  It allowed me to use a nice large font size.  It’s super readable, looks great and adds to the hip factor.  I also played with the justification.  When text extends from the left side of the image, I like to try a left justification.  I’ll usually also try centering, just to see how it looks.  Look at all the options before you decide, but in the end trust your gut.

And there you have it, folks: seven guidelines for amazing social media graphics. You deserve to have graphics that are as awesome as you are!

Lezli Goodwin is Creative Director for Mad Science Consulting.  She finds extreme joy in helping clients find their footing in the nebulous areas of social media, blogging and small business marketing.  Follow her on Twitter @madscienceinc   www.madscienceconsulting.com

10 Ways to Use Facebook Live to Promote Your Ministry [Infographic]

Facebook Live is the hottest new phenomenon in social media, and you should be using it to promote your ministry and connect your community.  Video is important, but live native video is essential.  Why?  Because viewers comment ten times more on live video than on recorded video.  Because live video is watched three times longer on average than recorded video.  Because Facebook prioritizes Facebook Live video, showing it to more of your followers than any other kind of post.  Facebook Live is easy to use, and there are tons of ways to utilize it in your community.  Here are 10 ways to use Facebook Live to promote your ministry:

 

Lezli Goodwin is Creative Director for Mad Science Consulting.  She finds extreme joy in helping clients find their footing in the nebulous areas of social media, blogging and small business marketing.  Follow her on Twitter @madscienceinc   www.madscienceconsulting.com

Marketing Term of the Week: BANT

“Tell me what you know about BANT qualified leads.”  It’s pretty much guaranteed that you will face this question while interviewing for marketing positions.  If you don’t have a clear answer, you will be immediately ruled out.  The good news is that BANT is a clear, easy-to-understand concept that you can put into immediate use right now.

So what is BANT?

BANT is a formula developed by IBM for the most essential pieces of information you need to know in order to present a great sales opportunity to your sales team.

B = Budget (are they out getting educated, just looking, or is there a budgeted project underway?)

A = Authority (are you talking to the right person? if interested who else will we need to involve?)

N = Need (does your product solve their pain, address KPIs, and provide adequate ROI?)

T = Timeframe for purchase.  The answer to this will help you figure out where they are in the buyer’s journey and how quickly sales should reach out. 

A BANT Qualified Lead is a lead where you know this key information.  Are they looking for what you are selling? Are you talking to the right person?  Can they afford it? Do they know the date they plan to pull the trigger?  Knowing this information, your salespeople can speak more intelligently about the sales stuff in the relationship while they begin to simultaneously work to remove obstacles to the BANT criteria. There isn’t a sales rep on the planet that will not gratefully accept your leads if you can provide this information.  If you bring your salespeople leads that look like this, they will all become your new best friends and will stop ignoring the leads you bring them.

With the advent of inbound marketing (social media marketing, growth hacking and marketing platforms such as HubSpot and Marketo) the earlier stages of what used to be “push marketing” has been very effectively replaced with inbound marketing tactics (a.k.a. pull marketing).  

Knowing that your prospects go out looking online in the early and middle stages of looking for answers, the prevailing mindset is that as a potential seller you had better be where your prospects are looking. True.  

Later after your prospect has decided on a solution direction, then you  should talk about your product.  At this stage a more traditional sales cycle works and BANT is a great way to gauge how sales ready the lead is.  When they buyer is finally in the Decision Stage, BANT criteria works exactly as it is supposed to.  The earlier you are able to discover BANT criteria the better for your sales reps.   I have heard it said by seasoned sales professionals that when they closed a deal without knowing BANT, it was luck.  Think about it, if you are afraid to ask who the check signer is, if there is a budget and timeframe for purchase, and you still close the deal…they wanted your product despite your sales reps, not because of them.

Fun & Easy Free Graphic Ideas For Social Media Marketing in Ministry [Infographic]

Social Media trends in 2017 are moving more and more in the direction of shareable graphics.  In fact, graphics use in social media marketing increased 130% between 2015 and 2016 alone.  The good news is that there are fun and easy ways to create custom graphics for your ministry that will only take a few minutes and won’t cost you a dime. Here’s are a few great ways to utilize free graphics in your ministry:

fun & easy (1)

 

Here are some fun examples that I made on www.quotescover.com.  In case you are wondering, each graphic took me less than two minutes to make!

Famous Quote Example:

SMMFM Quote example

 

 

Testimonial Example:

SMMFM Testimonial Example

 

 

Scripture Example:

SMMFM Scripture example

 

 

Question Example:

SMMFM Question example

 

Have fun creating free custom graphics for your ministry.  It will make a huge difference!

Lezli Goodwin is Creative Director for Mad Science Consulting.  She finds extreme joy in helping clients find their footing in the nebulous areas of social media, blogging and small business marketing.  Follow her on Twitter @madscienceinc   www.madscienceconsulting.com

Six Great Things to Post on Facebook to Build Your Ministry [Infographic]

Six Great Things to Post on Facebook to Build Your Ministry

 

Lezli Goodwin is Creative Director for Mad Science Consulting.  She finds extreme joy in helping clients find their footing in the nebulous areas of social media, blogging and small business marketing.  Follow her on Twitter @madscienceinc   www.madscienceconsulting.com

5 Tips for new Facebook Business Pages

So, you have a brand new Facebook Business page. Good for you!  Whether  you came to this understanding on your own or finally caved to nagging from your interns, you’ve taken an excellent step for the visibility of your business.  We’ve reached a phase in social media development that nearly every business owner and entrepreneur now has a Facebook page. Having a page and using it successfully, however, are two completely different animals.  Here are a handful of tips to get you headed in the right direction.

 

Tip #1: Finding things to post about is easy.  You have something happening in your business every day that people need and want to know about.  Right now, in my business, I’m writing a blog post. Am I going to post it on Facebook when I’m done?  You bet I am.  Events, collaborations, projects, products, new developments, new employees — all are opportunities to share.

 

Tip #2: Clearly introduce the things you share.  Very often, I see businesses posting links with no additional information.  Take a moment now and think, “Would I click on a link with no additional information?”  Of course you wouldn’t.  A simple introduction to a link could read like this: “Check out this great article about gender roles in the NYT.  I was glad to do the interview, and I thank Janice Wilson for covering the issue in a balanced way.”  Just let your people know what they are clicking on and why they should click.

 

Tip #3: Be yourself. Your business has a personality, a tone of voice.  Often, that voice is YOUR voice.  My voice, for example, is casual and playful.  (My husband might add that it’s a little bit bossy.) Make sure that the overall thrust of your posts has your personality.  After all, people don’t buy products.  They buy YOU.  Every so often, include a “behind the scenes” picture, a meaningful quote or a fun story.  Use this as an opportunity to build and strengthen relationships.

 

Tip #4:  Invite two way conversation.  After all, we’re building relationships here, right?! (If you say no, go back to tip #3.) We want people to comment and interact, even if we don’t always agree with what they say.  Don’t worry about complaints and criticisms.  Seeing them on your Facebook page gives you the opportunity to address those elements productively and professionally.  A customer who has had his or her issues addressed effectively can become the most loyal of clients.  Be open. Be ready. Be responsive.

 

Tip #5: Post every business day.  (This shouldn’t be hard, because of tip #1.)  Yes, every single business day.  Consistency is the name of the game.  Because of the nature of Facebook business pages, not everyone will see a given post.  Posting daily raises the likelihood of any one client seeing a post during any given week.  It gives clients a reason to check your page frequently.  It shows that you take your social media relationships seriously.  It’s the way good social media business is done.

 

So, get to work, my friends.  You have a page to build and relationships to strengthen!

mad-science-consulting-inc

www.madscienceconsulting.com

Lezli Goodwin is Creative Director for Mad Science Consulting.  She finds extreme joy in helping clients find their footing in the nebulous areas of social media, blogging and small business marketing.  Follow her on Twitter @madscienceinc   www.madscienceconsulting.com

Invite Client Engagement, Every Time

In social media posts, engagement is the name of the game.  Client engagement (likes, comments, shares, clicks) demonstrate a two-way conversation.  We get to know more about what our customers think, like and value.  They get to tell us what we’re doing well and where they think we can do better.  They feel appreciated, valued and heard, which leads to higher customer satisfaction.  Most importantly, customer engagement on social media spreads the word about our company, showing up on the feed of every friend our customer has.  So, it makes sense that we should actively court client engagement. Raise your right hand and repeat after me.  From this day forward, I will NEVER post anything for my business on social media that does not have an active invitation for client engagement!  So help me God!  But how do we do that?  We always include at least one (but preferably more) of the following things:

 

1. A link.  This can be a link to your web site, to the page of an online store to purchase the item you’re advertising, to your blog article that contains more information.  A link says “click me”, DO something in response this post.  Clients like things to be as easy as possible.  If you make action available in just one click, you are more likely to get engagement.

 

2. A hashtag.  Actually, I generally recommend two hashtags.  One for your company (see #ALSA) and one for the specific project, item or idea you are promoting (see #icebucketchallenge)  Encourage your clients to use your hashtags when posting about the issues that matter to your company.  It builds a sense of community and raises the visibility of your business.  Plus, in case you’ve been under a rock for the past few years, hashtags become internally searchable links.  Click on one, and it will bring up every post that used the same hashtag in the last couple of weeks.

 

3. A question.  People love to give their two cents, but sometimes they need to be invited.  The diet Coke Facebook page regularly asks questions like, “What is your favorite time to have a refreshing diet Coke?”  What would your clients like to weigh in on?  What would you like to know?

 

4. A call to action.  Give them a suggested form of engagement.  Call now! (Be sure to give the number!) Go to this site! (Include the link.)  Share this post! (Give them a great reason, like a contest entry!)

 

We’ll be watching, making sure you invite two-way communication with your customers.  As your client base becomes more engaged, you’ll see the quality of your interactions on social media rise.  Happy Posting!

 

Lezli Goodwin is Creative Director for Mad Science Consulting.  She finds extreme joy in helping clients find their footing in the nebulous areas of social media, blogging and small business marketing.  Follow her on Twitter @madscienceinc   www.madscienceconsulting.com

 

When you say every day, are you serious?

When you say I have to post every day on social media, are you serious?  Every single day?  How solid is that rule?

Let me put it this way: It’s pretty freakin solid.  That said, you can make this as intense or simple as you like, as long as you are consistent.  Let’s look more closely.

1. Choose the VERY BEST platform to promote your business.  This is going to be a combination of demographics and style.  If you are a hip, fashion forward business (coffee house, makeup company, art gallery), you need to be on Instagram.  If you’re a traditional company seeking middle age middle and upper income folks (real estate, financial advisers), your best bet is Facebook.  If your company thrives on moment to moment change (music industry, news organizations), get yourself to Twitter right now!

2. Post on THIS platform every single business day.  Now, that’s different for different people.  Lots of real estate people do their best work on Saturdays.  Many salons and boutiques are closed on Mondays.  Taylor this rule to your business schedule.

3. You can post anything from a quote that is relevant to your business to a link to your blog.  Pictures are great, and increase the rate of engagement (likes, comments, shares) with your post.  Pictures with face are better.  Faces your clients recognize are best.  You can create infographics or quote pictures.  You can make each post very simple or very complex, depending on the amount of time, energy and skill you want to put into it.  Keep in mind, though, that consistency trumps fancy every time.  Don’t set your sights so high you end up putting off your posting.

4. Wait to launch any additional platforms until this first optimal platform is totally solid.  You should have been posting daily for long enough that you don’t even have to think about it before you begin planning the next platform launch.  This way, it doesn’t feel so overwhelming.

Remember, social media is a tool to HELP you, not freak you out.  It should make your job easier.  Follow our simple rules, and it will.

Lezli Goodwin is Creative Director for Mad Science Consulting.  She finds extreme joy in helping clients find their footing in the nebulous areas of social media, blogging and small business marketing.  Follow her on Twitter @madscienceinc   www.madscienceconsulting.com

17 Email Marketing Rules You Must Break

Email marketing has the potential of being the cheapest, easiest, most focused type of marketing when done right.  The challenge is that it is almost never done right!  Courtesy of Marketo.com, here is a list of 17 “Rules” we suggest you consider breaking, challenging what you think you know about email marketing.

When it comes to email marketing, there are a lot of purists out there who say you should ALWAYS do this or NEVER do that.  Consider all the “best practices” that are floating around online.  From PowerPoint presentations to old white papers, archaic eBooks and other resources that are just plain outdated, they promote rules that used to be true.  The reality is, as long as you aren’t breaking any rules, not much is black and white.  (That said, we do strongly encourage you to consult counsel for anything legal; we are not attorneys!)

That’s why we made a list of 17 email marketing “rules” that you absolutely, 100% must break*!

  1. NEVER use words like “free” or “deal” or “discount” in an email subject line.
  2. ALWAYS keep your email subject lines between 30 and 50 characters.
  3. ALWAYS use double opt-in when growing your list.
  4. NEVER use a pop-up (or pop-over) to collect email addresses.
  5. NEVER send a mostly text email.
  6. NEVER send a mostly image email.
  7. NEVER send an email with one big image.
  8. ALWAYS have a good balance of images to text.
  9. NEVER send “ugly” emails.
  10. NEVER buy a list.
  11. NEVER have fun.
  12. NEVER use all caps in an email subject line.
  13. NEVER use animated gifs in the body of an email.
  14. NEVER put the unsubscribe button at the top of an email (or make it obvious).
  15. ALWAYS send an email in the middle of the week.
  16. NEVER send an email at the end of the day.
  17. NEVER send more than one email per day.

* “Break” is a fancy way of saying test to see what works best for your audience.  Don’t assume that all these rules will work for you simply because they worked for someone else.  Test. Tweak.  Then, break the rules.  Figure out the best approach for your community.

www.market.com

blog.market.com

For a great pdf of the above, click here: email marketing rules