Connect with us

MARKETING

Why and How To Add Mentoring to Your Content Career Plan

Published

on

Why and How To Add Mentoring to Your Content Career Plan

Mentorships took the No. 1 spot in LinkedIn’s 2023 Workplace Learning Report.

The subject beat diversity, equity, and inclusion (No. 2), upskilling and reskilling (No. 3), leading through change (No. 6), digital fluency transformation (No. 7), and hybrid/flex work (No. 9), to name a few.

Mentoring’s top ranking doesn’t surprise me, given its proven impact on career development. It’s one of the reasons the Content Marketing Institute launched its year-long mentor program in 2021. (Applications for the 2024 program are available through March 1.)

Benefits of mentoring

Much research on mentoring focuses on the benefits for youth, but the benefits don’t stop after you graduate.

Deloitte-sponsored study detailed the non-monetary benefits of mentoring, including:

  • 87% of mentors and mentees say they feel empowered by their relationship and have developed greater confidence.
  • 82% say their mentoring relationships help foster meaningful connections between the mentor and mentee and across departments and the organization.
  • 84% say their relationship provides two-way inspiration.

Earlier this century, Gartner conducted a five-year study of Sun Microsystems’ mentorship program. Among the findings:

  • 25% of employees in the program saw a salary increase compared to 5% of the workers who did not participate.
  • Mentees were promoted five times more often than those without mentors.

But the benefits don’t stop with the mentees. Mentors at Sun were six times more likely to be promoted than non-mentors.

Mentor perspective

Over the years, Vish Khanna added the mentor role to his experience, first as a coach for his child’s sports team and later in his professional world — building marketing teams in a way that requires mentorship. The 2015 Content Marketer of the Year now works as the head of marketing at Shelf.

As he explains, Vish hires marketing makers, not marketing managers. “I’ve got to find the right person and nurture their skillset and ability to play that type of (manager) role, and that demands mentorship,” he says.

For the past two years, he’s also participated as a mentor in the Content Marketing Institute’s program. “A good mentor-mentee relationship is very much peer-based. I just may have a decade more experience.

“I was surprised by how much these conversations with my mentees have made real changes in their day-to-day workflows and how I do my job. I’ve made substantial changes in my approach to marketing based on what I’ve learned from my mentees.”

CMI mentor Deanna Ransom, co-founder and co-CEO of Red Monkey Consulting, agrees. “What I have truly enjoyed is the opportunity to be able to both give and receive from the relationship,” she says.

Vish says he touches base with his former mentees every month or two and sometimes asks for advice because they know Vish’s business challenges really well.

But that strong relationship started with an approach Vish learned from working with many startups and product planning — asking dozens of questions right away to identify the mentee’s challenge(s).

“Run through 20 questions through a pipeline, and you’re going to hit a bunch of holes. It’s just the nature (of things) because not everybody has everything tightened up,” Vish says. “You get there (identifying the challenges) pretty quickly — what’s happening on a tactical and structural level in somebody’s marketing engine — and then figure out.”

But before asking questions or sharing thoughts, Vish and his mentees signed a non-disclosure agreement. He says the document lets both parties speak honestly and openly about their challenges.

Mentee perspective

Vahag Aydinyan, now a senior content marketing manager at 7shifts, was a mentee in the CMI program in 2022. It went so well that he and his mentor, Megan Gilhooly, continued to meet monthly last year.

While Vahag has had some short-term mentors, the CMI program was his first in a formal program. As a then-new content marketing manager who needed to scale a team of one into a team of four, he was eager for a mentor’s input.

He says two outcomes from the mentorship have been helpful:

  • Learning a lot from someone who has gone through the same stuff in her career. He says he could tackle challenges easier because he had someone to help him.
  • Receiving validation for his ideas and solutions from an experienced professional before he shared them in the workplace.

The mentoring pair usually met once a month, though sometimes he would ask to jump on a call to bring up a topic important at the moment. “I come with notes … the more prepared you are for this kind of meeting, the more you get out of it,” Vahag says.

Among Vahag’s advice for mentees:

  • Be clear with expectations.
  • Make sure to put in enough thought. Make it easy for your mentor to help you.
  • Be open to the mentor’s advice, even if it’s something you may not want to hear.

How to find a mentor

An Olivet Nazarene study found that 61% of mentors and mentees work at the same company. But there are advantages to working with a mentor who doesn’t have the same employer. 

Divya Bisht, a content strategist, worked with mentor Keneisha Williams in the CMI program before becoming a Content Marketing World speaker. “It can be difficult to get advice from a workplace supervisor. But with a mentor who worked outside of my company, it was easier to get feedback and gain valuable insight,” Divya says. “Keneisha offered a fresh external perspective on my projects, helping me see what went right, why certain elements failed, and what I could improve in the future. She really helped me grow as a strategist.”

You can still find a mentor or mentee if you don’t participate in a formal mentor program like CMI’s. The Olivet study found that 25% of mentees were invited by their mentors, and 14% asked someone to mentor them.

Treat your mentor search like a lead-generation activity — you’ll likely reach out to many, with one or two converting into a mentor-type relationship. That’s what Vish says he’s done. He’s reached out to people who have done something that interests him and lets them know he wants to learn more about that thing. A couple of those outreach opportunities turned into long-term relationships.

He shares one example from a previous role in organizing author events. Vish’s hero was Frank Chin, an author and pioneer in Asian-American theater. He asked Frank to attend. The invitation was accepted, and Vish spent time with him over the three days. “The relationship continued for years after that,” Vish says.

Expand your search for mentors outside your industry. “One of my greatest mentors who taught me about commercialization in the pharmaceutical industry was a doctor — working closely with him and learning about an entire business world,” Vish says.

After the NDA

Though a non-disclosure agreement is a smart first step, it’s not the only document that should be created. Both mentor and mentee should get on the same page as far as expectations and how the two will work together.

EDUCAUSE offers this helpful guide on mentorships. It details the four phases of the relationship – preparation, negotiating, enabling growth, and closure. It includes a pre-partnership checklist to ensure you’re ready to do it, as well as interview questions to identify potential topics and more. I particularly find its agreement checklist helpful to ensure each person understands the relationship and expectations. Among the questions:

  • How much time can be committed regularly to the relationship? Be realistic.
  • Write down goals and analyze them to meet the SMART criteria.
  • Agree on a discussion format (e.g., formal agendas, topic-driven agendas, check-in conversations).
  • Be flexible. Expectations and plans will change as your relationship progresses.
  • Articulate criteria for success. What does success “look” like?

I’d like to share your mentoring experiences with CMI readers. Have you had a mentor or mentee? How did you find your partner? What did you like about it? What could have been better? Please tag us on social media.

Updated from a January 2023 article.

Interested in becoming a mentee? Applications for the 2024 mentorship program are open through Friday, March 1. Apply today.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: Education as a Marketing Strategy: 8 Brands Doing Online Classes and More

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address

MARKETING

Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

Published

on

Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

(more…)

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

MARKETING

A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Published

on

A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

MARKETING

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Published

on

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

​​

via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To
  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

1716755164 348 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755164 348 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


Disruptive Design Raising the Bar of Content Marketing with Graphic

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

Trending