Episode Full Transcript
Episode Intro Stinger:
It’s the new year, and brands all across America are gearing up to make it a banner year.
Today we’ll look at a key reason why 70% of businesses won’t reach their growth goals and how you can be among those few who will.
Welcome to the Market Leader Podcast, I’m your host Ryan McInerney, Digital Strategist, Founder, and President of Bluematter. The Market Leader Podcast is for Entrepreneurs, Executives, Sales Pros, and Marketers who are committed to simplifying their marketing, increasing its efficiency, and becoming the most sought-after brand in their niche.
I bet I’m like a lot of you listening to this. It’s the first week in January, and the feeling of focus, intentionality, and pure excitement for the opportunities of the new year are very palpable.
I was just on LinkedIn, and I saw so much excitement, people who haven’t been connected are posting inspiring messages. The economy is strong, and businesses are poised for growth.
Clients and friends I’ve spoken to tell me how charged up they are for the new year, and the renewed sense of commitment to reaching their goals.
If that’s how you feel, we’re in the same boat. To get started today, I want you to go back in your mind to the first week of January 2017.
There you are, excited about the possibilities of a new year, a new President, and a soaring stock market. You think to yourself “I’m going to get out there and set the world on fire.”
So, how did the year end? Did you crush your goals, or did the whirlwind come in and sweep away the dream and inspiration?
The first few weeks of January are when everyone gets back to the gym, logs back onto their favorite social channel and decides to double down and really engage and line up their end of year targets, but we’re all too familiar with what happens by February 1. Life. Fires. Distractions. Exhaustion.
If reaching your goals was just beyond your grasp, don’t be embarrassed. It happens to just about everybody.
Now, I’m no Michael Hyatt, so I’m not going to “Best Year Ever” you on this broadcast, but I do what to call this reality to your attention.
If you’re responsible for growth, your personality typically inclines you towards being a visionary. You picture where you want to be with some degree of clarity, and then with a belly full of inspiration and fire you go after it. But sheer force is not enough to hit your targets, at least not it any kind of sustainable way.
And I should know because as an entrepreneur, startup founder, dad of six, and husband of one, there have been plenty of visions I’ve had that were poorly planned and ultimately failed.
To give you an example, two years ago live video was just becoming popular on Periscope. I was thrilled at the prospect and open opportunities this was going to provide. Personally, I’m not intimidated by the camera since my dad is an Emmy winning television producer and I spent a lot of time on sets and working with talent. So we went all in, as is my personality. We invested in cameras, faster internet connections, special software licenses, and paid advertising. All of it was a giant experiment, as marketing usually is, but within just three months we had completely abandoned it. And boy do I regret it.
So why did we, a top-ranked marketing agency utterly fail to stay ahead of the early live video buzz? Well, because I failed to have a measurable vision.
We were propelled forward by my sheer force and no perceived metric of success. Experimentation is fine, but only so you can prove or disprove an effort’s ability to help you achieve your intended outcome, to win the war.
One of the things we can easily get wrong is not having a measurable vision.
What most call vision is a picture in their mind of how they will perceive success in the future. It sounds something like
- "I’ll be the number one salesperson on my team."
- "We’ll be the most sought-after brand for our services."
- "We’ll be known for offering the best customer support in our industry."
- "We’re going to outrank our competition in search and social."
Now compare that to statements like...
"By the end of 2018 I will go from 10 deals closed per quarter to an average of 15 deals closed. To do that I will focus on three areas:
- Increase my call volume from 5 calls a day to 8
- Shorten my follow-up timeline from two days to one.
- Increase my social prospecting from 1 hour a week to 2 hours per week."
For an organization with multiple team members or teams, an example could be…
"By December 31 we will increase our net client count from 1500 to 2000. To do that we will apply effort in three departments.
- Marketing Dept. will increase our site traffic from 2000 visits a month to 5000 visits.
- Sales Dept. will increase the number of aggregate outbound calls from 100 a week to 200 a week.
- Customer Service will increase our retention rate from 90% to 95%."
Each of those would then have 3-5 areas of focus that would predictably achieve that goal.
The difference between the first set of vision statements and second is fairly obvious, but there’s a formula there I don’t want you to miss.
It goes like this. “I want to go from X to Y by When.”
Once I know the gap, I can look at my behavior to determine which are the fewest areas I can focus on improving to increase the likelihood that I will succeed.
Often, we want to throw spaghetti at the wall, hurl everything we can at the situation, do 100 things, and pray we hit the target. But these two steps turn a lofty, undefined and unmeasurable vision into something that can be measured and you held accountable for.
So back to my original questions: do you have a measurable vision for yourself this year, or a fluffy message of inspiration.
I think you might run out of steam if it’s the later.
Have you or your leadership defined the war? Have you selected the fewest number of battles you must win to achieve victory in the war? If not, I encourage you to do so.
Chasing the Cool
The second reason we failed at our initial attempt to do live video was that I did not first evaluate if it was the right kind of activity to reach our intended buyers, and move them through our funnel. I was out of alignment with that goal and was chasing something cool.
Have you ever decided to do something with your marketing because it was cool, or new? Or how about the opposite, maybe you don’t do something because it’s new. That’s the topic of another show.
The way most businesses approach a decision to add a marketing initiative, be it a content medium like live video, podcasting, and blogging or getting on a new social platform like Snapchat is all based on buzz and what’s trending.
This I believe is usually driven because you truly don’t know what you should be doing. So, you see that everyone is gravitating toward a certain thing and you decide “if they’re doing it, it must be good.”
Most of us don’t want to be left out. It’s in our nature to be tribal, to link up, and not be an outlier. Being an outlier could mean that we don’t survive.
But people and organizations that know who they are, are deeply acquainted, and crystal clear on their identity can perceive when something isn’t a good fit for themselves, so who you have to be work that out first.
As a brand, you do not do things just because it is new, or popular. My friend Scott Klososky taught me that you could bleed out on the bleeding edge.
You can die a thousand deaths trying to be something you’re not.
For instance, I hate twitter, can’t stand it. For ten years I’ve tried to get into it, but I can’t. So I use ads only and stay away for the most part. I know myself.
If you’re a marketer, your boss is tired of hearing that we need to do this, and we need to do that. Maybe it’s true, and you should do it, but have you evaluated if the activity brings out the best in your people, engenders buy-in on your team, and a long-standing commitment to see it through? This only happens when something is a fit. For my team, live video was not a fit, I was the only one who appreciated it at the time.
The second test is if the activity is something that delivers value to the customer in just the way they need at just the right time. Does it enable them to continue moving through their decision-making process, and provide them with insight that leads them inextricably back to you?
The big point, and I’m going to annoy a lot of marketers here, is that marketing serves at the pleasure of revenue.
If the efforts you’re supporting don’t bring a direct, trackable, measurable return to the business, it must be questioned and usually abandoned.
Marketing funnels should only have a few defined steps for the customer to go through, whether B2B or B2C or e-commerce, it doesn’t matter.
The customer, no different than you or I, is on a journey to solve a problem or pursue a passion. We hope to establish ourselves as the guide to help them achieve their goal. We provide them the insights, feedback, and calls-to-action that get them to their desired future state, and with us as their provider.
The content we provide should run in parallel to their movements through our funnel, should work in tandem with the funnel, and keep as close as possible during this process.
If it doesn’t, it’s just fluff and a waste.
This is impossible to do if you don’t have a clearly defined market, which most don’t. Many are trying to be all things to all people because of a scarcity mindset brought on by never having a predictable stream of inbound demand from the right customers.
When you don’t know who you are, and you don’t intimately know the customer’s desired path to problem resolution, how can anything you do in marketing and sales really succeed?
What we find is that most of us can sell well enough that we survive, but market leadership requires so much more clarity and discipline than that.
Live video died quickly because it didn’t help our customer, and it could not be proven to have produced a single dollar of return.
It’s funny when something produces revenue; the decision makers always become believers after that. It’s the best way to generate trust between teams and leaders. No revenue for too long and confidence begins to wane pretty quickly.
What activities are you planning that would fail that litmus test?
Do you have a plan?
A Defined Plan
At the top of the show I said that there’s about 70% who won’t reach their targets this year, and I think the number is even higher than that, but where did that number come from?
Recently we conducted a survey of executives and their sales & marketing teams. 70% said that they had no documented go to market strategy to fulfill the CEO’s vision.
We weren’t surprised, but we were unsettled. That number is supported by a variety of sources which you can look up. Others put the range from as low as 50% to 80%. All the same, this is good and bad.
It’s terrible if you’re one of those that don’t have a go to market strategy with documented performance indicators. It means that you will burn time, money, emotion, and support that you won’t ever get back.
This statistic is your literal competitive advantage for those of you who do have a plan. Having a plan doesn’t mean that it’s a good one, mind you if it fails the brand alignment and funnel tests.
**This is my number one concern for you this year. If we're honest and transparent, I’m concerned that you and your team are refreshed, excited, and ready to go hard but without the proper plan to get you where you want to go.
I would hate for you to do what I did, and repeat my mistakes.
I would hate for you to be at Dec 31 this year, and the whole month or two leading up to the finish line scrambling and working like a mad person to hit the target because there wasn’t a plan.
So, where would you start, where would you initiate? I made something for you, that gets right to the meat and bones of strategic planning that is tied to business outcomes.
I titled it Becoming #1, a calculated approach to market dominance. The team put it on our website, and it’s my gift to you. It will be linked to in the show notes, but in case you aren’t on our website while you’re listening to this, the address is bluematter.us/becoming-number-one.
So let’s recap what we discussed here today with your action items:
- You have to have a clearly defined measurable vision with a finish line. We use the formula go from X to Y by when for the war. Build your battles with the same formula.
- All marketing serves at the pleasure of revenue, which means it must pass the two-step test- does it align with our brand identity, and will it resonate with move our most important prospects through our buying funnel. If not, kill it.
- Create a 2018 marketing plan with quarterly performance indicators. There are five chronological steps, and it’s all spelled out in the Becoming #1 eBook we’ve made available at bluematter.us/becoming-number-one
If you don’t take these steps, you’re going to struggle to achieve your goals, and scramble to make up lost ground at the end of the year without much energy in the tank.
Follow this advice, and I think the likelihood of you achieving your vision are far more likely.
On the next episode, we’re going to dive into how you structure your sales and marketing for maximum impact, teamwork, and efficiency.
Until next time, I’m Ryan McInerney with the Market Leader Podcast, brought to you by www.Bluematter.us.