Quarters

The Case for B2B Video

Video: How to set a marketing budget

Video: Are you an Apple or a Wal-Mart?

How do you compare?

For a lot of business-to-business companies, there’s still too much guesswork in online marketing. This inforgraphic from marketing sofrware company Optify  provides lays out specifics you can use for comparison.

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Video: What to look for in a good metric

Data should inform action, not dictate it

From Jonah Berger, Wharton professor and NYTimes best selling author.

Key quote:

Measurement is great. Without it we don’t know where we are, how we’re doing, or how to improve. But we need to be careful about how we use it. Because without realizing it, measurement determines rewards and motivation. It determines what people care about, what they work to achieve, and whether they cheat to get there. Tracking student test scores helps measure achievement, but it also encourages teachers to teach to the test.

Read the full article here.

Video: What if you lose your biggest customer?

INSIGHTS: How to sell anything

Sales people are born, not made. Right?

Certainly there’s some truth to that, but not as much as you might think. According to Forbes, what usually separates closers from everyone else is the way they approach each aspect of the sales process:

  1. They choose their prospects carefully.
  2. They reach out to them before they’re ready to buy.
  3. They listen and learn so they can position their product in a way that’s beneficial.
  4. They ask for a follow up meeting and something more.
  5. They wait.
  6. They don’t go on the offensive when they hear the word “No,” but take it to mean “Not right now.”
  7. They circle back after the sale to provide something of added value.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

INSIGHTS: Cost reduction isn’t rocket science (unless you’re actually building a spacecraft)

How do you do something the “experts” say can’t be done?

As this Harvard Business Review article points out, the secret to SpaceX‘s success is due in part to the way they apply innovation to something that’s usually overlooked: cost reduction.

Key quote:

“In large companies, the task of cost cutting is invariably incremental and left to finance, which works with individuals or small groups within a specific department, region, or area of the business. On the other hand, the SpaceX approach innovates and transforms by looking at the entire business model instead of the parts. Cuts weren’t just made to the physical rocket itself but to everything surrounding it — overhead, support services, development timeframe, and more. With small teams and far lower overhead, SpaceX was able to go from incorporation to first space flight in six years.”

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Wow!

We sent out our first official email the other day introducing 1000+ past clients to our company and its three core products: the SEGUE 20, the SEGUE ADVANTAGE and the SEGUE 360. The reaction? Amazing — a 59.8% response rate.

While we’ve been initially reaching out to professional services firms, Software-as-Service companies and medical providers, we are starting to get interest from other categories as well, including software developers, manufacturers, retailers, contractors and non-profits. If you’re in one of those businesses and would like to learn more, please contact us soon.

If you’d like to see the email, click here.

INSIGHTS: Astrophysics vs. Kim Kardashian

When it comes to online content, what gets shared versus what gets read? According to a recent study released by 33Across, the answer is surprising: We share articles that make us feel good about ourselves. We read articles we find engaging.

The study’s explain this as “Astrophysics vs. Kim Kardashian.”

“Why would an article about Pluto being de-categorized as a planet generate significant sharing but low clickback rate? One common thread among content with high share rates but low clickbacks is a focus on esoteric topics that appeal only to a specific, highly-educated minority. The fact that users share this content broadly despite the narrow target appeal suggests that the intent is more related to “personal branding” than curating helpful content. In other words, people like sharing content that identifies themselves with specific topics regardless of whether the recipients are actually interested in the topic. We call this type of behavior ego sharing.

Categories with moderate share rates and medium clickback rates include Parenting and Consumer Technology content. A common theme with this type of content is the practical nature of the articles, e.g. how-to’s and product reviews. Clickback rates are higher because the content has utility to the recipient, and has been curated by a personal connection. We call this practical sharing.

The categories most often associated with sharing – Entertainment and Celebrity content- indeed have high overall levels of sharing activity. However, the sharing rates (2.1% for Entertainment and 1.7% for Celebrity content) remain low as a function of overall consumption. The implication is that while many people still can’t seem to read enough about the Kardashians, a much smaller percentage choose to proactively share this type of content. Once the content starts to percolate in social media, however, many people click to read more as indicated by the 40% clickback rate. We call this water-cooler sharing.”

So what type of content should we be sharing? This graphic from Fast Company does a great job answering that question.

Sharing vs reading

INSIGHTS: Make your tweets work harder

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From Entrepreneur.

NEWS: Praise for Indianapolis

As part of a series examining the impact of the Great Recession on different cities, Entrepreneur Magazine visited Indianapolis and was surprised to find a growing, vibrant entrepreneurial community.

Key quote:

“Long known for its motor speedway and basketball courts, Indiana’s capital city of about 830,000 people is quietly bringing up creative new ventures and high-tech enterprises.”

To read the rest, click here.

 

Can’t close? 10 surprising reasons salespeople lose out

Nobody closes every sale, but why not? A recent post on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network lists ten common reasons why sales fail:

  1. Indecision — a good pitch that generates a lot of enthusiasm slowly fades… because… the company… just… takes… forever… to… commit.
  2. Stalled sales cycle – a good pitch that generates a lot of enthusiasm goes nowhere because the very executives who were initially so excited don’t understand the sales process enough to know what they need to do next, whether that’s from an internal or external standpoint.
  3. The 25-foot electrified fence — when a sales person just can’t get an “in,” no matter what.
  4. Product commoditization — when there’s no real difference between competing products or solutions and everybody knows it.
  5. Price vs. value — from a customer perspective, the benefit doesn’t justify the expenditure.
  6. The 800 lb. Gorilla — David vs. Goliath, where David has to overcome the fact that Goliath has 63% market share and a multi-million dollar promotional budget.
  7. “Nice-to-have” not “need-to-have” product — which, in this economy, is sometimes enough to kill any deal.
  8. “Us” — when sales people get hung up with some internal process for justifying a prices concession, generating a contract, getting a sign-off on a proposal, etc.
  9. Administrative overload — forms, reports, updates etc. that leave sales people with less time to sell.
  10. “That will never happen again!” — when bad service and/or support from a past sale makes the customer wonder if the same problems will happen again.

The good news is that all these problems can be overcome in one way or another. Our suggestions?

  1. Indecision — follow-up, follow-up, follow-up, and then when it seems like there’s no point in following up any more, follow-up again. While some companies really are bad at making decisions, most just get distracted by more pressing business.
  2. Stalled sales cycle — be transparent about the sales process, taking time to educate potential customers on not only what they’re buying, but how they buy it, too.
  3. The 25-foot electrified fence — persistence first, creativity second. With few exceptions, there’s always a way in, even if it means tunneling under, going all the way around or figuring out a way to strap on some wings and fly over.
  4. Product commoditization — the traditional solution to this kind of situation is to just compete on price, but a better way is to try to understand why there’s no real difference between competing products and solutions. Is there an opportunity for innovation? Disruption?
  5. Price vs. value — if customers don’t think the price justifies the expenditure, the first question to ask is why do they think that? Sometimes the problem is an ineffective pitch that doesn’t make the case in a simple, vivid way.
  6. The 800 lb. Gorilla — David might be outclassed, but he’s still everybody’s favorite. Play the underdog card.
  7. “Nice-to-have” not “need-to-have” product — Fortunately, the difference between ”nice-to-have” and “need-to-have” is a matter of perspective. Like “price vs. value,” the problem is often in the way the product is pitched.
  8. “Us” — if this problem keeps coming up, it’s time to review internal procedures. (Not that this is easy, unfortunately, as change seems to be universally resisted.)
  9. Administrative overload — For a lot of companies, forms, reports, updates etc. eventually take on a life of their own, existing for their own sake instead of to serve some larger company purpose. That’s why it’s important to periodically take a step back and ask “Why are we doing this?” “Should we be doing it differently?”
  10. “That will never happen again!” — first, make sure it doesn’t. In our increasingly connected world, a bad customer experience today goes viral tomorrow. The upside is that as we move into the age of “relationship marketing,” companies are “allowed” to make mistakes as long as they apologize, take responsibility and explain what steps they’re taking to make sure “it” doesn’t happen again.

Successful people vs. unsuccessful people – which profile fits you best?

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From The Cool Hunter.

What Thomas Edison teaches us about innovation (Hint: it’s not what you think)

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If it weren’t for Thomas Edison, where would we be? But the man many consider to be the world’s greatest inventor was also the world’s greatest innovator — so what lessons can he teach us that we can use today?

Despite being known for saying “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration,” the true secret to his success, according to his great-grandniece, was in the way he worked with others.

His approach to team-building?

In her new book, Midnight Lunch: The Four Phases of Team Collaboration Success from Thomas Edison’s Lab, she breaks it down:

“Step 1: Capacity
Build diverse teams of two to eight people.
What worked for Edison: To create the lightbulb, Edison’s team had to include chemists, mathematicians, and glassblowers.
Modern counterpart: Facebook’s small, collaborative coding teams.

Step 2: Context
After a mistake, step back and learn from it.
What worked for Edison: At age 22, he had his first flop–the electronic vote recorder, which legislators failed to adopt. From there, he changed his focus to the consumer.
Modern counterpart: At Microsoft, Bill Gates took intensive reading vacations each year.

Step 3: Coherence
When team members disagree, step in and make a decision.
What worked for Edison: Groundbreaking work in electricity isn’t easy to come by. Fights and frustration followed; overarching vision kept creation on track.
Modern counterpart: Whirlpool has “collaboration teams” to spark dialogue between departments.

Step 4: Complexity
When the market shifts, change your direction–or face the consequences.
What worked for Edison: It was the era of electricity. Inventors ignored that at their peril.
Modern counterpart: The implosion of Kodak, which failed to adapt to market changes.”

From Fast Company.

 

Is your company’s wellness program a waste of money?

Even though Wellness programs are increasingly popular, do they make economic sense? A recent post on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network suggests the answer is usually “No.”

Why?

Put simply, gains cited to justify the cost of wellness program either can’t be directly attributed to wellness programs, would likely happen even if there were no wellness programs, or are overstated.

In a related post, the authors offer a simple solution:

“[R]e-allocate wellness dollars from “get well quick” schemes to the much more challenging, but ultimately more rewarding, task of truly creating a culture of wellness, a workplace that can attract and retain healthier, presumably more productive, people than competitors do.”

To read the entire post, click here.

Why a water bottle is a better motivator than money

Hard to believe, but a recent experiment by German and Swiss researchers quoted in the Harvard Business Review suggests that thoughtful, non-monetary incentives have a greater impact on productivity than cold, hard cash.

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The upshot? It really is the thought that counts — while employees appreciate money, they appreciate the effort employers put into selecting gifts more because it shows them their bosses care.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

 

 

Why men and women get stressed at work

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From The Wall Street Journal.

News: Unemployment rate drops to 7.7 percent

The American economy added 236,000 positions in February, the Labor Department reported on Friday, while the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, its lowest since December 2008.

From The New York Times.

Quotes to live by #1

Segue Advisors_compare to compete_poster

How big is your signature?

Signature size

According to a recent report from researchers at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and the University of Maryland, signature size matters:

People see a signature as a stand-in for themselves, and a bigger, more prominent moniker reveals a person’s larger-than-average self-regard, the research explains. If you have a big autograph, you’re not necessarily a narcissist — though you probably are an alpha male, says study author Nicholas Seybert, Ph.D. But when applied to CEOs — a group already likely to favor people with inflated egos — big signatures are also likely to reveal narcissistic traits.

The result? When signature size is compared to Dividends, Return on Assets and Over-investment, the bigger the signature the worse for investors.

Graphic from Fast Company.

Do you have what it takes to start a company?

For anyone thinking of striking out on their own, the first question is usually “Do I have what it takes?” (And is sometimes follows with “Am I crazy?”) Being an entrepreneur means working long hours and taking on lots of risk, but for many the rewards are worth it – even if they ultimately fail.

What’s interesting about the entrepreneurial qualities referenced in the infographic and the original article in Forbes is that in many cases they’re counter-intuitive.

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Is marketing a waste of money?

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Given the economic turmoil of the last few years, it’s easy to understand why so many companies have scrutinized their marketing budgets. “How much are we spending?” “What kind of results are we getting?” “Can we get by with less?”

A recent case study in Forbes reports on a company that asked those questions and then spent two years tracking the impact of their marketing efforts on sales. Their conclusion?

[M]arketing can identify new buyers and influencers, increase the number of opportunities reps see, improve a buyer’s perception of sales coverage, and enable the sales force with the right value proposition at the right time to win the deal.

This is good news for any company questioning its marketing ROI.

(The bad news, unfortunately, is that just because marketing isn’t a waste of money doesn’t mean marketing money isn’t being wasted on strategies and tactics that don’t deliver.)

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Insight: when it comes to hiring top talent, faster is better

How long does your hiring process last? According to Fast Company, a common mistake most companies make is to take it nice and slow. The result? They miss out when top talent gets an offer from somebody else, first.

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To read the entire article, click here.