My sons may have convinced me to watch too many episodes of Hack My Life, but they got me thinking about all the marketing hacks I’ve collected over the years. Finding ways to juggle the demands of a busy marketer’s schedule has always been a challenge. In this article I’ve shared some of my most frequently used hacks and chatted with 7 of the most talented marketers I know for their favorites.
- Increase Event Registration: You are hosting a strategic event in two weeks and registration is a low. You could pump out more on-line advertisements and send more email invitations but if you want to see a big boost fast host a call blitz.
- Find Last Minute Pipeline: Lead flow has slowed and we’re looking a little light, or maybe your current quarter pipeline is looking lean. There could be a million reasons why that’s the case but there is some low hanging fruit already in your database that is prime for filling the gap. Pull all your opportunities that were “closed – did nothing” from your sales automation system. Be sure to pull records that are more than 90 days old. These are people who didn’t select your solution, but didn’t pick a competitor’s either. Re-engage them with a web seminar focused on the cost of doing nothing, and an ROI case study.
- Size Your Market: Sizing your total B2B market opportunity doesn’t have to be complicated. I start by going into Hoovers and doing a free list build. By selecting the target industry, company size and geographic location I can collect a pretty good estimate of the total companies in my target universe. From there I estimate how many people will likely buy an offering like mine. I base the % on the lifespan of my product or service. For example if I sell laptop computers the life expectancy would be 3 years. This means that 1/3 of my audience would buy an offering like mine in any given year. Now I know the number of potential companies who are buying laptops in my target industry, company size and geographic location. From there I estimate what % of those people are likely to buy from me. I’m pretty conservative in my estimates and usually say around 1-5%. And there you have it – my market size!
- Make Stock Photography Unique: Most of us don’t work in a world with unlimited custom image libraries, although I’d like to go there someday. But until I get a boarding pass for fantasy land I use filters in PowerPoint to make stock photography unique. Some clever cropping, re-color and applying filters and in less than 5 minutes I have something new to leverage – no special editing software or design skills required.
I know I wasn’t alone in looking for marketing shortcuts so I spent the last month collecting ideas from some of the marketers I admire the most. And no surprise, I got some great advice. From making video case studies easy, to getting over the blank page staring back at you and even simplifying email subject line writing I’m hoping you’ll find at least one tip you’ve never tried before.
@annhandley Neuter any fear of the blank page by giving yourself permission to write badly, and then reshape that ugly mess later. Barf up your first draft — without regard for full sentences, grammar, or coherent thoughts. The important thing is to get it down — and then you can go back and work it into something far more useful and understandable.
Try dictating The Ugly First Draft (TUFD) instead of writing it. You could use something like Dragon Naturally Speaking to capture it, or use a transcription service like Rev.com, Speechpad.com or Speakwrite.com. Doing so can help you write faster, as well as keep your writing tone of voice more conversational.
Hack it: Dictating is a fast tool for getting over the fear of staring at a blank piece of paper.
@Leadingresults reminds us that lots of almost free technology can be used to create exciting content. For example use Skype and a call recorder to conduct customer interviews that can later be edited for length. Skip the expensive film crew and still capture a powerful story.
Hack it: Case study videos don’t have to be flashy, they just have to be human. Use simple on-line call recording devices to put the person being interviewed at ease and save money. Skype, GotoMeeting & Webex are all viable tools.
@annatalerico Start with the end in mind. Before beginning any piece of new content, consider several ways you can re-purpose it. Can a “Top 5” blog post become a quiz? Can data from a white paper also become an infographic? Can the recommendations from that same whitepaper also become an interactive self-assessment? Chunking up a single piece of content into several formats helps address various segments of your audience across a wider set of channels.
Hack it: Start with the end product in mind. By thinking through multiple output formats up front your content creation can easily be turned into several useful assets.
@AKarlin dreams big and acts fast by remembering that imitation is the best form of flattery. Whenever she and a teammate see a subject line that catches their attention they save it in a shared folder. When looking through everything something surprising jumped out – all of the subject lines were straight-forward. So they put the format of one of their favorites to the test. “Saving seats, (company name)” may not be the most clever subject line but it doubled open and click-through rates. And if you’re not sure you’ve picked the right subject line pre-test it with subjectlinegold.com. It provides just the confidence you need to move forward.
Hack it: You don’t always have to be unique to be effective. If your content is strong all you want to do is get people to check it out. The material will do the rest for you.
@KatieMartell My favorite hack for writer’s block is an unhealthy obsession with idea-capturing. What’s the hardest, most complex part to creating content? Figuring out where to start. I am constantly writing down ideas for blog posts, collaborative pieces (like this one!), byline articles, and more during my day. It’s become a big, messy collection of topics, questions, formats, and more that makes for a great resource when I sit down to actually create content.
Tactically, I have Evernote on my phone, my iPad, my browser via Chrome extension, and typically open at every meeting. Ideas for new blog posts come organically in conversations with my co-founder, in the Q&A portion of meetings, or even on the treadmill. I’m constantly jotting down ideas for new posts – for example, as I was digging out a path to my car during one of the recent snow days in Boston, I thought to myself “this is a real wake up call for all of us who make New England our home.” Eureka – I ripped off my gloves, grabbed my phone, and drafted “Digging Out a Path for B2B Buyers in the Blizzard of 2015” right there in the driveway. My neighbors must think I’m nuts.
Hack it: Good ideas come to you at all times and places. Write them down!
@BChiarelli I like to take leads that are 6 months old, send them an email and then give the list to sales as “refreshed” data. In order for this to work, you have to really go through the leads list and make sure they are on target (industry, title, size). Don’t give sales records that are incomplete. And take the time to email sales a note with a copy of the email and a description of the audience. It isn’t fool proof but it does keep sales aware of our activity and uncovers some great leads that weren’t ready to progress the first time they were distributed.
Hack it: A fresh set of eyes on some old data might just find hidden treasure.
@cepage23 Have you ever been at a seminar or trade show and noticed that your background graphic has an error on it? As an event manager Carrie is no stranger to unexpected signage problems. Despite your best planning event emergencies are bound to pop up. But what do you do? You are on-site and the event is about to start. There is NO time to order a new banner. Double-sided tape to the rescue. Quickly tape up one of your give-aways with a sign that says Say Hello & You Could Be the Proud Owner of This.
Hack it: Double-sided tape. Don’t leave the office without it!
Special thanks to everyone who shared their tips for making complex marketing tasks simpler.
What would you add to this list?