Sales & Marketing Analytics

As a small business owner, it’s challenging to get your sales and marketing program in place. But learning how to measure performance and optimise results may seem like a whole other hill to climb.

You likely already have access to Google Analytics, and maybe some other analytics tools, but are you using them?

The challenge is less about the software learning curve and more about knowing what to look for and how to analyse data. That’s what this article is about; how to think about your website analytics as a business owner.

Let’s Start With Your Objectives

There’s no point in measuring sales and marketing performance until you’re clear what you’re trying to accomplish.

The most common goals include:

  1. To get sales from new clients
  2. To generate repeat sales
  3. To develop client relationships or to develop existing accounts
  4. To attract new distribution partners
  5. To drive sales through distribution
  6. To attract talent to the business

Most of these can be summed up as ways to increase your rate of earnings growth. But each of these scenarios requires a different approach to marketing and measurement.

Let’s focus in on the first scenario: to get sales from new clients. Before you can understand how well you’re doing, you need to define what success looks like.

You have two basic ways to look at it:

  1. Profit on an average first sale
  2. Profit over the lifetime of a client (ideally in their first year)

Either way, to determine your profit, you need to select a maximum amount you can afford to invest in acquiring a new customer. For easy math, let’s assume you can afford to invest $200 to bring on a new client. Using this amount, you need to step through your sales funnel, to see if you are attracting new clients at a profit.

What’s A Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel includes the main steps a person must take to become your client. The funnel starts with some form of first impression and cascades down to a completed sale.

Here’s an online example:

  1. First Impression – Person comes into contact with your advertisement
  2. Click-Through – Person clicks on your advertisement or types in your web address
  3. Website Visit – Person arrives on your website
  4. Visitor Engagement – Person decides to stay on website, looks around, or bounces off
  5. Sales Inquiry – Person decides to reach out (via phone, email or in-person visit)
  6. Qualified Lead – You talk and determine if there is a real opportunity and fit
  7. Completed Sale – You complete a sale and acquire a new client

Each stage in the funnel represents a conversion from one stage to the next. The ratio of people moving from one stage to the next is your conversion rate. Conversion rates are expressed as percentages. Each conversion accumulates a cost to get a person to that stage in your funnel. After all the conversions are calculated, you end up with an average cost per sale or an average cost per new client.

For example:

  • Let’s say you paid $2.00 per click to get visitors to your website
  • If 50% of those people engage with your site, the unit cost per engaged visitor is $4.00
  • If 5% of engaged visitors contact you for sales assistance, the unit cost per inquiry is $80.00
  • If 70% of those inquiries are qualified, the unit cost per qualified lead is $114.29
  • If 70% of those opportunities became a sale, the unit cost per sale is $163.27

In this example, the cost of sale is under the $200 maximum you established as your goal. Well done. However, what happens if your average cost per click increases to $5.00?

It’s common for all of these conversion rates to be different for each traffic source, device, demographic segment, etc. The active refinement of your audience segments, traffic sources and the organisation of your sales process is how you optimise results and maximise your return on investment.

Without measuring conversion rates along the length of your sales funnel, you’re left to speculate and rely on hope as your strategy.

The Trouble With Web Analytics

One of the biggest challenges with web analytics is the overwhelming amount of data. There’s enough data to choke ten cabinet ministers. The challenge is looking past the noise to see what matters. There are so many different lenses to view web data through that you really need to know what you’re looking for.

What Data Matters To Business Owners?

Let’s look at the data as an active investor. Your goal is to generate a good return on your investment. The main way to do this is to drive down your average client acquisition costs. Every positive refinement you make improves your rate of return.

Think about each stage of the process. There are refinement opportunities all the way down the funnel.

Campaign Stage
  1. Optimise your choice of advertising channels in your marketing mix
  2. Review your choice of keywords and negative keywords
  3. Refine your target audience by gender, age, income, location, etc.
  4. Select the devices people are visiting you on
  5. Review the style, format and content of your advertising creative
Engagement Stage
  1. Confirm webpage people are directed to is relevant to the advertisement
  2. Refine content on webpage to ensure it will engage the user and invite them to continue
  3. Review rest of website to ensure it supports the visitor’s decision making, makes them feel safe and compels them to act
Conversion Stage
  1. This stage diverges depending on whether you’re focused on sales lead generation or e-commerce transactions. For Sales Lead Generation, ensure there is a clear call to action. A phone number to call, a form to complete, a download or similar – which is followed up upon by a person. For eCommerce, ensure the shopping cart and payment process are easy to use.
Follow-up Stage
  1. If you have their contact information, what are you going to do with it? How will you follow up to close the sale in lead generation? How will you support and re-engage a person to get them back for more in an e-commerce scenario?

Your data allows you to peer into each stage of the client’s experience to see how well your process is working. What you’re looking for are ways to refine every point in the process. In every stage, you have different data to dig into but you can start with the stages themselves. Which stage is the most problematic? Your data tells you where to look.

The Opportunity

What’s exciting about all this as a small business owner is how accessible this process is. The costs are very low, and the data is almost immediately accessible. You don’t need to be an expert in digital marketing or data analytics, you just need to ask better questions of your suppliers.

What Questions Should You Ask?

Key questions to ask include:

  1. What is the maximum you can invest in acquiring a customer?
  2.  What are your actual costs (min and max) to acquire a customer?
  3. Who’s the most responsive audience to your ads?
  4. Which audiences are the most engaged with your content?
  5. Who’s buying the most readily, for the least cost?
  6. How do you target ideal prospects with your promotions?
  7. What are the stages in your sales funnel and can you measure them all?
  8. What are the conversion rates and unit costs at each stage in the funnel?
  9. What’s a realistic conversion rate for each stage in the process?
  10. What would your rate of return look like if you hit those conversion targets?
  11. Which stages are most responsible for driving up your client acquisition costs?
  12. If you have issues, can you drill down and see what’s going on?
  13. What are your optimisation priorities?

If your marketing team can’t answer these questions, consider expanding your team or making a change. It’s not about you learning everything yourself. The greatest source of power is knowing what questions to ask and how to interpret the answers. After that, you need a team who can help you refine and optimise your marketing.

How To Start Measuring Your Marketing

Make sure you’re capable of tracking results all the way down your sales funnel. Depending on how your business works, you’ll use a mix of different technologies.

These tools include:

  • Webmaster accounts with Google and Bing
  • Online advertising control panels
  • Website analytics suites, such as Google Analytics
  • Heatmapping application
  • Call tracking application
  • Point of sale (POS) system
  • CRM (customer relationship management) software or an opportunity management system
  • Email marketing system
  • “Voice of the customer” measurement (online surveys, phone surveys, complaints and reviews)

Take an inventory of your systems and see what you have and what holes you need to plug in your sales and marketing feedback machinery.

Closing Thoughts

You don’t need to be an expert at business intelligence or data analysis. What you need are tools and suppliers to help you get your tracking infrastructure in place. Then you need reports that explain what’s going on. This stuff is not rocket science anymore. Analytics tools are getting to be as common as cappuccino machines. The low-cost and high availability of analytics and reporting tools have whittled down the excuses not to act, down to one.

What’s The Remaining Obstacle?

Here’s a hint. One Letter. Starts with U.

If you want your sales and marketing to generate a good return on investment, you’re the only one in your way. This is great news because you’re the person you have the most control over.

If you want your marketing investments to work, step-up and make it happen with all the affordable analytical tools and data. Once you get over your resistance, you’ll appreciate how much control you’ve gained. It’s really very exciting and not as daunting as it appears.

How To Move Forward

Start by asking better questions of your suppliers. Then look closely at their findings and ask them to explain your options. If you get in the habit of asking good questions and acting on the findings, you’ll be engaged in marketing and data analytics in no time.

To help you learn about marketing performance optimisation, we’ve prepared several Free Marketing eBooks. The ones most relevant to this conversation are Investing in Advertising, then Successful Websites and Increasing Conversion Rates.

What Is Performance Marketing

Performance Marketing was historically known as Direct Response Marketing. It’s been generally defined by its purpose, which is to elicit an immediate response and measurable results.

Performance Marketing is in sharp contrast to Brand Advertising. The purpose of Brand Advertising is to generate awareness and brand preference. The hope is to drive sales through third-party distribution.

Unfortunately, over the last 100 years the most widely experienced, most widely taught form of marketing is Consumer Brand Advertising. Why? Because the marketing and distribution of consumer goods is a product of the industrial revolution.

What’s The Difference?

Brand Advertising is what we see and hear all around us. It’s on TV, radio, billboards, and in the newspaper, online banner ads and sponsorships. It’s highly visual, fun, costly, discrete, ego-centric, sexy, and has mass market distribution.

Contrast this with Performance Marketing that tends to be much smaller in scale. It’s client centric and all about direct accountability, ongoing processes, databases, research and testing, measurement and statistics. That’s all fun, right? Isn’t it?

What? You Don’t Think Accountability is Fun?

Performance Marketing is an ongoing technical, by-the-number’s process with near immediate performance feedback. It can be scary as hell, because if your campaign does not work, you know it right away. It’s also an ongoing iterative process, rather than the get it perfect, launch it, and hope for the best approach of Brand Marketing. It’s a complete contradiction to the old promotional establishment.

It’s not that Performance Marketing hasn’t been around a long time. Think catalog sales, direct mail letters, fliers, telephone sales, coupon books and such. These pre-internet marketing tactics contributed to Direct Response Marketing being the ugly stepsister to Brand Marketing.

However, if you like analysing data and refining the heck out of things, it can be great fun. I absolutely love it. Especially now that the internet has sped the whole process up from taking months to minutes.

Performance Marketing Is Not A Tactic

Performance Marketing is an approach that can be applied to almost any promotional tactic. All that is required to make something Performance Marketing is a change in expectations. Add an offer, a call to action and a way to measure results and presto, it’s Performance Marketing.

You generally start by selecting a specific niche market. You add an offer and compelling calls to action. You measure response rates and return on investment (ROI) and you’re on your way, doing basic Direct Response / Performance Marketing.

Why Is This Relevant To Small Business Owners?

It’s relevant because you grew up thinking marketing was synonymous with Brand Advertising. This is a problem for many small businesses because they don’t need Brand Advertising. What they need is Direct Response or Performance Marketing.

Their target audience is simply too small for mass marketing. They don’t sell through a distribution channel. They need sales leads and sales more than they need awareness and brand preference. Plus they simply can’t justify the costs involved. Make sense so far?

The Components Of Performance Marketing

Here’s what you need to know to get your head in the game.

The Basics

  1. Start by establishing specific business objectives with performance constraints.
    You need to keep your cost of sale under x dollars to make it cost effective.
  2. Define your niche market.
    One of the primary ways to increase conversion rates is to carefully target an ideal customer via micro-segmentation.
  3. Develop an understanding of your prospect’s needs and purchase rationales.
    Relevance is the name of the game and the more you can anticipate and address the needs of your client, the higher your response and sales conversion rates.
  4. Develop an offer or an offer hierarchy.
    When your goal is to sell, you don’t want to present one option. You want to create a hierarchy of offers from free to paid to ensure you get a return on your marketing investment.
  5. Prepare engaging, compelling, trust and confidence building content.
    Relevance is largely created through copy, photography, videos and infographics. The more you create relevance and trust, the higher your conversion rates.
  6. Develop specific calls to action.
    Calls to action tell prospective clients what they need to do to get what they want. Ideally you build in urgency to help shift people into action now.

More Advanced Elements

  1. Work within a dynamic promotional environment.
    The promotional interface allows you to test different types and versions of your advertisements, to gauge their relative response rates.
    In addition, these environments allow for detailed micro-segmentation of the target audience. Generally, this includes things like geography, gender, age, device, keywords, the time of day, day of the week, and on and on.
  2. Use a testable sales mechanism.
    The sales mechanism is generally a sales landing page or a sales microsite. The ability to run different copy, images, forms and offers allows you to test several scenarios to see what converts best.
  3. Deploy advanced tracking technologies.
    In addition to tracking conversion rates, ideally you want to understand the source of the visitor and their behaviour on the landing page or website. Where did they go, what did they look at, what path did they follow, etc.
  4. Take advantage of programmatic advertising.
    This is where you use algorithms to buy, place and optimize your media inventory.

Hopefully you can see this approach is so much more powerful than running a single advertisement and hoping for the best. The downside is it takes a lot more work to setup and operate Performance Marketing campaigns.

The Impact Of Scale

The beauty of scale in performance marketing is what you can justify. If you have a massive promotional budget you can justify state-of-the-art technology, automated optimization, personalized daily attention and more.

If you’re have a tiny promotional budget, you can’t justify the same rigorous approach. You need to focus on the basics and work incrementally over time. Sometimes you need to wait weeks to accumulate enough data to complete a simple experiment.

What About Start-ups And Small Business Owners?

One of the best things about Performance Marketing is its scalability. It can and does allow solopreneurs and small business owners to participate, where mass media was never a viable option. The most effective places to start will vary by industry, however, the top channels for most small businesses are Google, Facebook, Bing and sometimes Instagram.

The Big Divides

In our experience, there are many different arenas in Performance Marketing and they all have their idiosyncrasies, different technologies and expectations. There really is no one-size-fits-all. These arenas include:

Classic Direct Marketers

This is the use of so-called old school techniques like direct mail, telemarketing, tradeshows and even niche advertising. Yes, all of these tactics are still relevant.

Content Promoters

These marketers use Performance Marketing to promote their digital content and to generate email signups and social follows. Their goal is to build a list or cultivate a following to drive sales via email marketing and social promotions.

Performance Advertisers

These are the new crop of high-performance brand advertisers. The focus is still awareness and brand preference, just in a more efficient and cost-effective medium. They tend to focus on reach and frequency and the unit cost for response rates, online engagement and downloads. They generally employ email and social marketing as part of their follow-up mix.

Simple e-Commerce Sales

These marketers generally have one or a small number of products. The intension is to drive trials, email signups and sales as cost-effectively as possible.

Complex eCommerce Sales

These marketers tend to have e-commerce stores with many products. The goal is generally split into 1) the acquisition of new clients or first sales and 2) email marketing to generate sales from existing clients.

Simple Sales Lead Generation

Sales lead generation sites are for businesses where the final sale needs to happen in-person. The goal is to generate qualified sales leads from advertising for a sales representative to follow-up with. A simple sale is generally low-cost or a commoditized service that clients already understand. Clients know what they want, they just need to find a vendor. Tracking the cost per lead and sale are the key performance measures.

Complex Sales Lead Generation

Complex sales lead generation is similar, but the offering is generally much higher-cost or intangible. The prospective clients often have a loose grasp of their needs. Frequently there is a complex multi-stakeholder decision process. The main goal is to minimize the unit cost per qualified lead while maximizing ROI.

Where do you fit into the mix? Did you recognize yourself among these options?

Where Do You Start?

Start with the basics. Performance Marketing is not a project, it is a continuous improvement process. You live it and breath it. It is fluid and dynamic with daily practices. Why? Because it never ends. There is always something else to test and improve. Sure, there are diminishing returns, so you need to keep things in perspective.

If you want to get started in Performance Marketing, start small. Get one complete campaign up and running, with tracking in place. Use it to learn the ropes. Refine that little campaign until the cows come home so you learn the process and develop your skills.

Once you’ve gained some mastery over the craft, you can take on more advanced tactics and scale up your budget.

Is Performance Marketing For You?

You may find you really love the logic, data and immediate feedback or you may find you absolutely hate it. It is not a process for everyone. An obsessive personality disorder is not a liability in this line of work.

You also need to be versatile with a mix of skills. You need to be somewhat technical, creative, and like to dig into details while having empathy for client needs. It helps to grasp systems thinking and be comfortable thinking laterally, all at the same time. If that sounds fun, maybe you too can be a performance marketer. If not, at least you understand it a little better, so you can hire someone who loves Performance Marketing.

To learn more, we offer several Free Marketing eBooks to help small business owners drive sales with Performance Marketing. More specifically consider reading Investing In Advertising as a next step.

Ways Of Being

Have you ever stepped back and asked yourself “who do I need to be right now to make the best of this situation”? If you have, it was likely a moment of some importance to you.

In times of importance, you may consciously choose a version of yourself to handle matters more effectively.

Imagine if you consciously chose your Ways of Being and Acting regularly, rather than just on special occasions. What if there were specific ways you actively worked at to help improve things in your life, your relationships or how your business performed?

That’s what this article is about; the active choosing of specific Ways of Being and Acting to bring about target outcomes.

What Are Ways of Being and Acting?

Ways of Being and Acting are connected like two sides of the same coin.  Your Ways of Being reflect what’s going on for you internally (your mental and emotional state, your thoughts and how you feel in your body). These ways of being generally give rise to your Ways of Acting. This means how you respond – what you think, say and do. To learn more about ways of being and acting, consider looking into the study of Phenomenology and Ontology. For readability sake, I’m collapsing Ways of Being and Ways of Acting down into “Ways of Being” or “Ways” for short.

In every moment, you get to either react instinctively, using your unconscious patterns of behaviour, or you can actively choose who you need to show up as in the situation.

Take for example, Being Kind.

There are hundreds of different behaviours you can use to express kindness. No individual act of kindness constitutes being a kind person. However, a regular pattern of kind behaviours becomes a practiced Way of Being.

We all have Ways of Being that people use to describe us. She is kind, he is honest, she is untrustworthy, etc. One incident does not represent a pattern. It’s the frequency and consistency of our behaviours that earn us our labels and results. No one is a particular Way all the time. We do however exhibit some ways with great regularity, and these patterns of behaviour are cummulatively responsible for our results and who people believe us to be.

Getting Started With Ways of Being

Years ago, my business coach helped me connect with my core values and purpose in life and work. Then we focused on uncovering who I needed to be, to live into my values in ways that supported my purpose.

I’ve spent almost 20 years learning to express those values and to make them who I showed up as. As I started to understand and adopt the practices, I wondered… “could I apply the same principles to sales and marketing?”.

I’ve now spent many years working on that question and developing a framework of Ways to help business owners design, build, operate and refine their sales and marketing systems. We call the marketing leadership framework The 20 Ways of Being. We believe this framework is core to the effective development and operation of sales and marketing systems that drive sustainable earnings growth.

Deer In The Headlights

After so many years of study and practice, I’ve become a fan of Ways of Being. However, when I mention the topic outside the coaching community, I tend to get blank stares from people. This deer in the headlights response reinforced my desire to bring the Ways conversation into the mainstream, in particular, to how it applies to sales and marketing leadership.

Ways We Value

In our culture, there is a general expectation that people will be certain ways. Not that we all do it, but there is a general expectation of baseline Ways, such as:

  • Being polite and helpful
  • Being respectful and tolerant
  • Being honest and trustworthy

In your business, you tend to recruit people who fit your culture and express Ways suited for particular job roles, for example:

  • Being friendly and empathetic in a customer service role
  • Being logical and innovative in a software development role
  • Being bold and creative in a design role
  • Being committed and forthcoming in a leadership role

You may not be consciously choosing your ways, but you will have a set of ways that you value and live into as a matter of your upbringing, training and work experience.

Which Ways Are Vital For You?

Do you know? Have you explored your Ways of Being and their role in your life? A good place to start is by completing a Kolbe A Assessment; a self-assessment tool to help you explore your inherent modus operandi. It brings to the surface your default ways on four different scales, but that’s a blog post for another day. For now, the assessment is a great tool for uncovering some of your default ways, how they shows up for you, and how they effect your interactions with others.

The long-term cumulative effects of your Ways will shape the experience others have of you. The results you create are, in many ways, are the sum of your Ways of Being.

Think of the difference between weather and climate. The weather is dynamic and always shifting (like who you are being in the moment), where as the climate is the sum of long-term weather patterns (your cumulative Ways of Being). If you can learn to manage your behavioural weather patterns in the moment, you will alter your average climate conditions.

The cumulative effect of your daily Ways as a company, result in the experience you create for others and how your reputation (your brand) is perceived.

Managing Ways Is An Ancient Practice

Choosing and practicing Ways of Being is far from a new idea. It’s a practice thousands of years old. Unfortunately, the practice tends to get buried within discipline-specific conversations like philosophy, religion, ethics, performance coaching, behavioral psychology, mindfulness and others.

How Does This Help You?

Learning to apply Ways of Being in business represents a tremendous opportunity for company leaders. Why? Because Ways of Being are free and completely within your control. There is no need for technology to practice them. They are fundamental to culture, productivity and brand development.

In simple terms, it works like this…You determine which ways are necessary to achieve a goal. You make living into those ways the expectation, the easiest to practice and the most rewarded option. The more you practice and make your target ways your chosen expression, the easier it gets and the more progress you make.

Ways of Marketing and Business Development

In 2006, we started developing our 20 Ways of Being for small business owners. Each way nests into three stages of program development (Design, Build and Grow). The ways all build upon each other to make target outcomes the natural result of your effort.

You practice this approach by selecting a way that is central to the outcome you need to create. You learn what the way is, why it is necessary and how to incorporate it. Then you build procedures, training, systems and compensation around it. You then take on another and another. Mastery over the set of ways and practices is what creates results. When you master the complete set of ways, you’ll have your entire business development program in place.

The Ways of Being approach is in stark contrast to the Random Acts of Marketing we so frequently encounter. We see people chasing new technologies because “everyone is doing it” and they don’t want to get left out, or something similar. It’s the tail wagging the dog.

Ways of Being shift the marketing conversation towards purpose and intent. For example: With the ways of being approach you would pose the question, “if we take on this new marketing tactic, how will it help us improve our practice of being a target way”?

We’re publishing a book on our 20 Ways in 2020. Until then, I hope this post serves as a “thin edge of the wedge” teaser on the topic.

Resources For Learning More

Other places to learn about Ways of Being include leadership development. Look into the Being A Leader course, read about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Mindfulness. One of the most ancient examples is the Noble Eightfold Paths in Buddhism. Martial arts training, elite fitness and athletic programs are often based on a similar practice of consciously choosing, rather than sliding into unconscious patterns. There are so many different resources available, you just need to find something you connect with that gets you over the mental hump.

Even Steven Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People can be viewed from the perspective of Ways of Being and Acting.  For example if you’ve internalised his second habit of “Beginning with the end in mind” and made it part of who you are, it becomes part of your natural way of thinking and acting. You could call it “Being Intentional”.  I realize a level of abstration is required, but consider looking at a familiar book through a new lens. How might you turn an effective habit into a powerful Way of Being?

Got You Curious?

I hope so. Ways of Being are a very powerful mechanism with broad application. I’m always eager to share our experience using ways as a parent, in business leadership, in recruiting and in sales and marketing. It’s directly applicable to internet marketing too.

If you’d like to learn more, please reach out. I’m happy to refer you to resources and to practitioners who focus on Ways of Being in areas outside of sales and marketing.

Until you Contact Us, I invite you to be conscious and deliberate in choosing your Ways of Being and Acting. Consider taking a Kolbe A Assessment as a personal introduction. Once you’re engaged in the conversation, you’ll get a glimpse into the potential for improving your life, leadership and business effectiveness.

Unleash Your Superpowers

We’ve discovered a way to transform mild-mannered business owners into unstoppable entrepreneurs.

How Does That Work? 

We begin with bright and motivated business owners.  We help them get clear on their core purpose and that of their enterprises.  Then we help them take away all their excuses and reasons for not taking on their exciting possibilities.

It sounds simple, but it’s like climbing into a thrashing machine. If you survive, it changes your life. While climbing into a big scary machine sounds painful and stupid, it’s how you access your superpowers.

When you emerge, you feel this huge swell of energy. You move away from being tentative and hedging, to being purposeful and unstoppable.

How Does This Relate To Marketing?

Without clarity of purpose and a strong sense of commitment, marketing can become self-serving, gimmicky and irrelevant. There is often no driver beyond the “offer of the week” to propel it forward. As intriguing as Black Friday and Cyber Monday seem, they can ring hollow after awhile.

Making The Shift To Possibility

When your focus shifts from pitching your wares to painting a picture of an inspiring possibility, your marketing ceases to be about the latest gimmicks and tactics. It becomes about furthering your purpose and mission. When this happens, the conversation crackles with energy. There’s an increase in relevance to people, which increases their interest and engagement. Your marketing seeks “not to sell”, but to “reach, engage and enroll people” in your mandate (which leads to sales).

Consider Tesla’s mission and all the enthusiasm around it. It’s exciting to watch and see where they go; there’s a story you get to be part of. Some rendition of changing people’s lives for the better is always more inspiring than anything “at 20% off until Sunday”.

In our experience, any marketing not rooted in purpose and passion is going to be less than what it could be. Worse yet, it could digress into a meaningless string of to-do list items, or what we call your “Random Acts of Marketing Plan”.

Accessing Your Power

Coaching you to connect with your core purpose and to overcome your fear of commitment unleashes your superpowers.

Clarity and commitment are like gamma radiation to the Hulk or The Green Lantern’s ring. They’re the magic that propels you forward, leads your marketing program and inspires others.

If you’re wondering what you can do to improve your marketing performance, consider revisiting your core-purpose and commitment as your first steps.

Many people respond, by saying “but we’ve already done a mission, vision, values exercise, at some retreat”.

We respond by saying, “that’s great, dig it up and thrash it harder.” To get the best wheat from the chaff, you need to thrash the hell out of it. You keep thrashing until you’re beaming from your aha moment of discovery. Then you need to dig in further and figure out what’s holding you back from making a real commitment to being unstoppable in your pursuit.

Does that sound like what you did in your leadership retreat? We didn’t think so.

If you didn’t emerge with superpowers back then, jump back into the thrashing machine until your powers are revealed.

If you need help unleashing your superpowers, pick up the phone and call us, or send an email, a text message or put a really bright light on your roof, for after-hours service.

Do I Need A CMO?

Let’s Test The Idea

Are you starting a business or considering any major investment in sales and marketing? If you are, it’s the perfect time to run your idea by a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for critical and impartial feedback.

If you’re considering a website, an advertising campaign, any content marketing or SEO, developing a video or anything of a similar scale, a CMO will evaluate your situation and determine if you would benefit from the investment. Even hiring a new salesperson should be evaluated within the context of your readiness to benefit from the investment.

Perhaps you’re already advertising but aren’t seeing a return. Your CMO would dig into why, and direct you on how to get back on track.

Maybe you’re intrigued by a salesperson promoting the latest marketing fad tactic, but is this approach in your best interest? Your CMO will explain the option in the context of your business needs and timeline, and then handle the salesperson for you.

Do you need to delegate sales and marketing leadership because you’re too busy? You might need a CMO to step into that leadership role on your behalf.

Can You Justify a CMO?

Unless you’re investing $1 million+ per year on sales and marketing, you’re unlikely to justify a full-time Chief Marketing Officer. That’s why a part-time, Virtual or a so-called Fractional CMO is often a more cost-effective option.

What Does a CMO Do?

A Chief Marketing Officer’s job is to lead a company’s sales and marketing interests and investments. A CMO ensures there’s a well thought out plan to grow your business that aligns with your company’s mission, vision, client needs and finances.

The CMO typically develops the strategy and the team who drive sales. They help shape and control your messaging, develop sales and promotional programs, build budgets, forecasts and reporting systems to manage your risks and maximize your return on marketing investments.

Why Hire a Part-time or Virtual CMO?

You engage a Part-time or Virtual CMO to be part of your executive team to make sure you’re balancing short-term and strategic investments. Your CMO will help you shift out of the all too common “random acts of marketing” approach; to build a purposeful, by the numbers sales and marketing program and make sure you’re investing in the right things at the right time to get results.

If having a CMO sounds great but can’t justify the investment, consider a Virtual CMO with Accrue. We make it “easy” to rationalize and afford the sales and marketing leadership you need on your team.

Don’t Think You Can Afford it?

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We’ve prepared a series of Free Marketing eBooks on different aspects of marketing for small business owners. The best place to start is often doing a little light reading. There are 18 eBooks to choose from but consider starting with The First Seven Questions.

15 Classic Marketing Books

It seems like every week I’m in a conversation with a writer, a designer, or a small business owner about what books to read to get up to speed on Marketing. That is a tall order for sure. There are far too many topics to do justice to the entirety of Marketing. However, having a grasp of the fundamentals across the core disciplines is all that most people need to shape their understanding, to direct their efforts, and to help them make better decisions within their own discipline.

In the interest of not wanting to answer this question over and over again, I offer this outline. Here are 15 classic and influential books I’ve read on internet sales and marketing over the past 15 years. I have organized these books into what I believe to be a logical sequence. These books address a comprehensive view of the basics. I can assure you that I needed to read 10 times this many books in order to find these 15 gems, so no complaining.

Your total cost to purchase these 15 books is about $500, and I wager it will take you 50+ hours to read them. This is the equivalent of an hour a week of reading for a year, or 10 days worth of TV time for the average person. At $100 / hr for each hour of reading, plus the cost of books, this constitutes a $5,500 investment in training. However, I invite you to consider the impact this learning will have on your business or professional career over the next decade or more.

Here it goes…

    1. Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs
      by Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah
      This is my current favourite introductory overview of the whole process of internet marketing. I must have recommended this book 20 times this year, and I have colleagues who are on their third reading of it. Read our full review


    1. The New Rules of Marketing and PR
      by David Meerman Scott
      This is my second favourite introduction, that is focused more on the current paradigm shifts occurring in public relations and marketing.


    1. Scientific Advertising
      by Claude C. Hopkins
      Written in 1923, this is a groundbreaking work that is still relevant and contrary thinking today. The book highlights the need for measurement in marketing. It is also available as a free PDF download online if you poke around a bit.


    1. Crossing The Chasm
      by Geoffrey Moore
      I recommend this book because it drives home the point about what marketing really has to do for businesses that do not sell commodities. This book highlights the problems I spend my life trying to solve.


    1. Duct Tape Marketing
      by John Jantsch
      For similar reasons, I recommend this book to writers, designers, and small business people because it highlights our job as marketers more clearly and pragmatically than Moore’s book. It focuses on sales lead generation and bridges between traditional and internet marketing. Read our full review


    1. SPIN Selling 
      by Neil Rakham
      SPIN Selling is my all time favourite sales book. It doesn’t seem to matter how effective the marketing is, the sales leads ultimately end-up in the hands of a person who needs to make a sale. SPIN selling is another paradigm-busting book that is still relevant after over 22 years. Read our full review


    1. Made To Stick
      by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
      Likely the most challenging aspect of marketing is figuring out how to make our ideas relevant, impactful, and sticky. This book will challenge your thinking as it invites you to take your communication from boring to extraordinary. It offers principles to follow and loads of examples to consider.


    1. Net Words
      by Nick Usborne

      This is one of the first books to contrast writing for the web from writing in general. It is simple, relevant, and challenging. This is an excellent place to start looking at your writing differently.


    1. Web Copy That Sells
      by Maria Veloso
      This book will challenge you to go beyond writing for the web, into writing to make a sale. It is the most comprehensive book I have found on the subject. What I like about this book is the emphasis it places on measurement.


    1. Don’t Make Me Think
      by Steve Krug
      This book on web design and usability is aptly named and what is more impressive is that the book follows its own advice. I challenge you to find a more accessible and better-designed book anywhere. It will also challenge you to think about websites differently.


    1. Save The Pixel
      by Ben Hunt
      Now in its second edition, I was pleased to recently upgrade my first edition. This book is also focused on usability. It provides dozens of before and after examples of original and improved web designs. It also breaks the whole design process down into key principles to follow.


    1. The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization
      by Enge, Spencer, Fishkin, and Stricchiola
      You don’t need to become an SEO expert, but you do need to understand how it works. This is true for writers in particular, but also designers, coders, and business owners. This is a hefty book and you need to spend some time wading through it to grasp how your decisions can make or break your website from an organic search perspective.


    1. Landing Page Optimization
      by Tim Ash
      Where the rubber meets the road is with landing page conversion effectiveness. How do you take an average run-of-the-mill landing page and transform it into a high performance selling machine, is the topic of discussion? This is one of the first books on the subject worth reading.


    1. Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics
      by Brian Clifton
      If you are not already familiar with Google Analytics and its capabilities to increase your marketing effectiveness, then you need to read this book. It takes you beyond the basics available from weblogs into what is possible with Google Analytics.


  1. Always Be Testing
    by Eisenburg, Quarto-von Tivadar
    Split testing and multi-variant analysis of a landing page’s performance may be an advanced topic, but why would you bother to read all these books if you are going to stop short of the finishing line? This is the ultimate goal, where you have your marketing system up and running and you get to focus on squeezing every ounce of performance out of it. This book will give you a glimpse into where you and the rest of the competition are headed.

There You Have It

These are some key books to help shape your thinking about marketing. I sincerely hope this list saves you some time, streamlines your learning process, and has a positive impact on your business and career.

If you have any questions about these books or if you would like to recommend better alternatives, please comment on this post or contact me to share your ideas.

If you’re not up for reading 15 full length books, we’ve developed a series of Free Marketing eBooks to get you started and on the right track as a small business owner. Please have a look.