Rick Roberge inspired me the other day. He shared a story about a prospect of his whose ego was responsible for the failure of a $10M/year company . It's a sad story. But, one that could have been prevented if the leaders of the company recognized their weaknesses and built their team around the skills they were missing.
Hopefully, none of the stories below remind you of your company or worse: you. If any of these stories do remind you of you or your company, you should think long and hard about whether you want internet marketing success or not. And what tough challenges and decisions you have to face in order to get there.
All of these stories are made up. Of course, I've drawn from my interactions with prospects and customers to come up with these stories. But, the stories are completely fictional.
Story A. 'Doing the Same Things I Did 10 Years Ago' Marketer vs. the Technology-Focussed Web Team
Alex Baldwin is responsible for marcom in an industrial manufacturing company. They sell products that are used in the manufacture of other products. There are many uses for their products in many different industries. The company has a large sales force of outside sales reps. Marketing's job is to support the sales team with "marketing materials."
The sales people know who most of their good prospects are and they show up begging for opportunities to demonstrate how their product is superior and can save their prospect company money, all at their own expense. All the prospect has to do is committ to using the product if they can save them money and even that committment isn't always solid. They truly are the market leader with the best products and the greatest know-how when it comes to helping their customers engineer better processes.
Most of marcomm's time is spent redesigning the product catalog year after year and producing one-page product sheets for new product launches. After a failed attempt at launching their catalog with ecommerce capabilities earlier this decade, they went back to simply putting their catalog online. At this same time, IT took control of the website and then formed a separate group that reports to neither marketing nor IT. These people are responsible for staying abreast of new technology and implementing this new technology. But, just like IT and marketing, they are an expense, not a strategic profit-producing asset for the business. Little has changed since this group took over, other than to normalize the disparate brands under a single look and feel.
They do not blog. They do not use PPC. They do not have landing pages to collect leads. Although the situation is probably a clued-in marketer's dream because the company has so much knowledge locked away in their employee's brains and in engineering documents, the company has done little to turn their website into a lead generation machine. They do nothing to capture leads on their site besides having a contact form and some buried resources. If the website supplied 100 sales ready leads to their problem solving sales engineers per year, I'd be surprised.
Story B. The Young PR Person vs the Old-School Management Team
It seems like this story happens monthly to me now. Jennifer Garners, a young excited extremely clued-in PR professional with a few years experience gets hooked on online marketing. She's a junior person in her organization, though. The management team kind of lets her run wild because they know they need to adapt to younger buyers and they think she might lead them to those elusive Gen Y multi-million dollar contract decision makers in a few years. But, they do little more than humor her crazy new weekly idea on how to improve the website, or leverage Twitter and Facebook or start a blog.
They are skeptical because every deal they've ever gotten has come in because "they had a relationship." All of their relationships are with people with equally grey hair and most of these profit-producing prospects are complaining how kids these days have to have their laptop open on myspace during what is supposed to be quality TV time.
Story C. The Mathematical CEO vs the 'Picking Her Battles' Marketing Manager
This company spends 10s of thousands of dollars per month on pay-per-click advertising. The CEO, Brad Pitts, is a very successful guy. He was an engineer by training. From a scrappy start, he acquired several high tech companies and formed them into a thriving company in a growing market. However, when it comes to generating leads online, his numbers-driven deal making approach did not make a full-figured internet marketing strategy.
So, he was smart enough to hire a talented marketer, Naomi Watt. However, he didn't give her the tools she needed to succeed. He still manages the pay-per-click campaigns by himself and resisted even launching keyword focussed landing pages to optimize conversion rates for his ppc ads. He didn't understand how blogging or social media could help because he doesn't use those "kid" sites or read blogs. He believes that SEO was too much of an art and that it would always be too competitive and require too much work to get to the top of the organic search results. Plus, he didn't believe that the numbers I presented were perfectly accurate.
The true problem, which I pointed out, was that the CEO didn't have the strengths required to successfully do blogging, social media marketing or SEO. His marketing person tip-toed around this problem and he didn't react favorably when I brought it up.
Story D. The Entrepreneur vs His Own Budget
This entrepreneur's business model is based around outsourcing hourly work to an educated distributed workforce in an Asian country. The work requires technical but basic skills, that are weak in the US. He found an opportunity with a winning business model and has a great service that is very needed.
He was evaluating how to grow his business, though. He knew very little about internet marketing. The price point of the service will not work any other way than if the growth of the business is driven by the web and low cost internet marketing methods like SEO, blogging, PPC, and social media.
He already spent a lot of money to develop a website. But, hadn't spent any resources on attracting traffic or building a marketing funnel of email subscribers and leads.
So, he began evaluating options. When I began speaking with him, he was about to sign up with an internet marketing firm in an Asian country who was going to handle all of his work for him. It was completely hands off for him. I tried to explain to him that outsourcing this work is a crapshoot. And that he actually had all the skills he needed on his team and that they just needed guidance and the right tools in place. And that if he wanted to hit his revenue targets (which he shared with me) he would have to provide that guidance to his team and control the process. I explained that a firm that is getting paid hourly has little incentive to find the best ways to market his business online. Nor do they have the incentive to constantly improve the ROI he gets from the hours he buys from them. I explained that he should learn exactly what it takes to be a successful internet marketer himself and then selectively choose which tasks to outsource, while holding the firm he hires accountable to results that he predicts.
However, because it was the same as his business model and because his budget was tight, he believed that the lower cost service in the same country he draws talent from would be the better way to go.
Interested in working for HubSpot ? We sign up lots of new clients every month. But, it's not a cake walk. We have to help people overcome the challenges standing in the way of their success.