The Discipline of Writing

Heinz-60000Three days a week now, I’m usually in the gym by 5:00 am, and out by 5:30 am. That was the case this morning. There’s not much competition for the squat rack at that time, although there still is some!

I’ve settled on a program – “Stronglifts 5×5” – it involves squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press, and rows. On my off days, usually 2-3 other days of the week, I’m in the gym doing what they call “HIIT” cardio (“high intensity interval training”). I’m working toward the goal of losing my belly. Only recently have I found a diet regimen that makes sense and is working.

So I’ve been going to the gym now for almost six months, on a fairly regular basis. I started in October, and now that it’s almost April, I’m still at it. I’m looking better and feeling better. The key to it is that I’ve been able to work it into my life as a routine.

With writing, that’s a little bit harder. You have to sit and think and focus for a longer period of time than is comfortable. You have to do research. You actually have to know what you’re writing about. But the results are significant.

I’ll put it into perspective for you – a kind of “Tale of Two Eloqua Partners”. When I was looking for a job in 2013, I had contacted a number of people – one of whom was Matt Heinz, founder of Heinz Marketing. He and I corresponded for a bit, and there seemed to be some interest there. One of his blog posts, from 2012, asked the question, “One thousand blog posts later, was it worth it?” Apparently the answer was a resounding “yes!”.

One is greeted on the Heinz Marketing blog by a pop-up that says “Join 60,000+ B2B professionals…” Here’s the theme:

This is my 1,000th blog post. For the first few years, I posted sporadically and when I had time. But for the past year, I’ve ramped up both publishing volume (posting something at least every business day) as well as how carefully we choose the topics I cover.

This weekend I reflected a bit on whether it’s all been worth it. Many bloggers struggle with this question, and many marketers (including some of our clients) wonder the same thing. But for me, based on the criteria below, there’s no question it’s not only been worth the time and effort, but also been one of the most important marketing investments I’ve made and continue to make.

The success here is quite the contrast to the results of the company that I actually joined. (I won’t mention names, but the company is listed in my LinkedIn profile).

There, the focus was “sales”, as in “a good salesperson can do everything that’s needed to generate enough business”. We used a CRM, and as a salesperson, I was tasked with calling a lot of different people. And I made the calls – I was the leading salesperson one year, and over a period of time, I made far more phone calls than the other two sales reps combined.

But the problem was, who was I calling? We were given a list of contacts, but they were stale, and there was no way of refreshing them. So I had to research my own list (in several different ways – I may go into this). And in the end, when we were setting up “call blitzes”, there were, after more than two years, still not more than several hundred contacts in my neck of the woods. In the end, I was dismissed for not being a good enough salesperson.

Today, both companies are still in the same line of business; both have upwards of 20 people. My former company, though, was struggling for business when I left. By contrast, in an article then about the milestone of reaching 2000 blog posts, Heinz writes of his blog, “It’s my top sales rep by far. It opens doors. Makes cold introductions easier. It keeps my prospects warm. Generates inbound inquiries. It literally helps me close deals, including with prospects I haven’t even spoken to yet.”

Two different sales philosophies, two different sets of results. I think the results speak for themselves.

Building Personas: “Soccer Moms”, “Fearful CEOs” and other people who may buy from you

One of the most important things that sets your marketing message apart from the others is “relevance” – if your message is relevant to the recipient, it’ll go a lot more smoothly from the inbox to your prospect’s brain.

If you can understand who the various people are who buy your products or services, you’re much more likely to be able to select (or create) relevant messaging (or “content”) to send to them.

That’s why thinking through “personas” for your customers is the very first project that Eloqua recommends.

This is clearly not the “automation” portion of “marketing automation”, it’s the “marketing” part. You may have heard the tech-related phrase, “garbage in, garbage out”. This is where you need to make certain you are working with good information. This is the foundation for the rest of your efforts.

(In a sense, it’s a shame that marketing “automation” companies need to remind their customers of this).

It’s all about the money, and this is where “marketing” meets “the money”. It’s where you, as a marketer, sit down with your sales and product management teams and understand, who’s buying each product or service that you sell, how they are involved in the purchasing decision, and what their “buying cycle” is.

At a later date, for each of these, you’ll think through their “buying cycle” their particular needs (or “pain points”) at varying points of the buying cycle, and also the type of “content” that you will address to them.

But for now, what’s the point?

Thinking through your customer demographics should be a standard operating procedure for any business, and for some, it is a science. Consumer marketing companies have come up with a number of different personas — some of these, such as “soccer moms”, have become well-known through such marketing processes as political campaigns.

2013-04-02-Consumer-Demographics

If you properly understand who the buyers are, and what they’re buying, you can automate your marketing efforts to them in an effective way. If you don’t get them right, it’s going to be a case of “garbage in, garbage out”.

If you click on the “Persona Development” link on http://growth.eloqua.com/, it’ll take you to the page where Eloqua makes its “persona development” materials available.

(If you aren’t already a member of their Topliners community, you may need to join in order to access this material.)

Introducing 4Segments

4Segments
4Segments will revolutionize how you use and share data

4Thought Marketing introduced 4Segments at Oracle’s “Modern Marketing Experience” (#MME15) – this a tool that will revolutionize your ability to create, understand, and share the value of your marketing lists and segments. If you’ve built “segments” in any of the major “marketing automation” platforms (Eloqua included), you’ll love the simplicity that 4Segments brings to the task.

4Segments will enable you to take personalization to a whole new level in your marketing content efforts, as you seek to build the relevance you need to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Contact me for a demonstration of this cool new tool.

Twitter and me

Twitter LogoIf you follow me on any of the “social media”, you’ve likely seen a lot from me, in the form of re-tweets and six-second Vine videos.

A couple of articles inspired me:

The New Résumé: It’s 140 Characters
Subhead: Some Recruiters, Job Seekers Turn to Twitter, but Format Is a Challenge; Six-Second Video Goes Viral

How to Tweet Your Way to Your Dream Job
Subhead: Three Out of Four People are in Constant Job-Search Mode and, Increasingly, Twitter is Their Tool of Choice. Here’s How to Make 140 Characters Work for You.

Here’s my 140 character résumé, give or take:

@johnbugay: Email marketing, marketing automation, Eloqua user. Marketing manager, copywriter, content, data analysis, segmentation.

When I interview, here’s how I roll

This is a sequence of @vineapp videos that I took earlier this month while preparing for and driving to a job interview. It’s a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor (but producing these things is fun!) – but if you decide to call me in for an interview, this is who you’ll get (if the videos don’t start, click on them):