The answer is relatively ironic and quite inevitable.
As we watch the rise of concepts that have been out of the national eye as the millennial generations grew, like unionizing, it stands to reason that other pieces of our past will come to the forefront. The fast-forward into digital spaces for business, as well as the shift to remote work, has changed the culture irrevocably. And, in business, we’re all a bit behind the curve.
This was the main topic of conversation and presentation at HubSpot’s Inbound 2022 conference. Other senior staff, Jessica Scanlon, CEO, Brandon Cornwell, Creative Director, and I, all had the fantastic opportunity to take part in the conference over the past week, and it was well worth the trip. What we learned was refreshing for us as a small business. The theme of the conference was connection. Not in a networking way, though that was of course part of the conference, but connection with customers.
It is harder than ever to connect with customers these days. Digital fatigue and massive competition in the digital space have left all of us a little burnt out. Too much time on apps, social media, online and more has really taken its toll. No wonder as soon as a new app came out that provided the connection that everyone has been craving, it shot to the top of the popularity scale. TikTok took all the interactions that people were having in words and took them to video. It’s fascinating watching the content that people create every day. Who knew there was that much creativity in the world?!
As the week started, the keynote set the stage for the rest of the conference and how to reach an inundated audience digitally.
According to HubSpot CEO Yamini Rangan, after taking a listening tour by visiting agencies across the United States and the world, they learned three key themes that are stalling growth. Growth is stalling, not only for agencies but for many industries. These themes will make a difference for B2B businesses and service-based businesses across industries.
3 Themes Stalling Business Growth:
There are SO MANY systems to keep up with marketing, sales, business operations, payments, and the like that we have to context switch constantly. Using a myriad of systems, including individuals using their own systems, is causing inefficiencies and ineffective work across the board.
I know, you know what I’m going to say already, and it’s more blah, blah, blah about remote work. And you’re right. Sort of. I believe in remote work, the flexibility, time-saving and work dedicating principles of it. I also believe I’ve seen a lot of people, some of whom work or worked for Hot Dog Marketing, who are suffering from a lack of in-person work community.
We do a pretty good job of supporting remote workers and are always looking for and thinking of more things to do. Even then, not having someone right there to chat with (though we chat a fair amount each week) and not popping in for a question or discussion (which we are equipped to do and take advantage of) really can cause disconnection for people who thrive on collaboration. People everywhere are looking for community. Whether in-person or digital, a community of like-minded folks or people who are living with the same challenges makes a big difference.
Digital overload, which has led to digital fatigue, has customers in paralysis when it comes to taking action online. There are choices upon choices for where to spend time online, what customers can find online and how many choices they have when they know they need a service. This, along with the rise of misinformation and lack of research, has sown distrust across the web. Customers are looking for a way to connect with others. In B2B and B2B, it’s others who share their pains and triumphs, someone to whom they can relate and work through issues. It’s lonely at the top. Really. And now it’s getting lonely everywhere.
So, what is the answer?
Great question. I’m glad you asked. I’d love to tell you.
It seems obvious, of course. But what does that even mean? It means looking for a solution that will do “most of it”. We know nothing “does it all.” But, with the same technology that is at the heart of some of the overload and disconnect, we’re closer than ever. HubSpot has worked to launch new service levels that can be used alone or connected to build an exceptionally efficient and effective system to manage marketing, sales, operations, websites and payments, and ensure they are all working together. ROI is no longer a mystery, nor is customer behavior and the ability to shift as needed. Keeping everything in one place means the whole team can see how each piece of the puzzle fits with the next.
How, then, do you get in front of clients when they are everywhere these days, and everyone has their own favorite place to be online? Learn More About HubSpot Now
You can’t only focus on one chunk of marketing at a time, and you must be ready to step outside of your comfort zone. YouTube, TikTok, and video content across social, as well as advertising with diversity, are the first steps in standing out. Find your clients where they are. Short of Google Ads and Google search, of which neither is guaranteed to create recognition, your job is to meet people where they are. Podcast opportunities, whether through your own podcast or seeking out guest opportunities on others, are a prime way to get your message out to those you need to reach.
Find a unique offering or point of view for a podcast your audience listens to. That doesn’t mean to guest on a moving company podcast if you’re a moving company because your audience there is really your competitors. It doesn’t mean you can’t, or even that you shouldn’t, but it isn’t the focus. This takes a little more thought to maybe see about being on a travel podcast for packing tips, a military podcast for tips to move efficiently or a podcast about the next great cities to move to.
What comes next is what really matters… diversification!
You’ve put content up in the form of a podcast, now share the content through SMS, social, YouTube, employee engagement, at trade shows as audio, and anywhere else you can think of.
Because it is still about standing out but not as an individual piece, like an ad. It’s about standing out AS YOUR BRAND. That is no small feat for a small to medium-sized business (SMB). Strong, clear, effective branding that is used consistently will create the opportunity for people to trust your brand. Your brand voice should be the same across channels, with adjustments made for the different platforms you use for impact. The appearance of your brand cannot falter. Consistency is the key that will unlock the door to their customer journey.
As sales cycles continue to grow, it’s important to give potential clients all the information they can get about your business and working with you. But the lengthening of the sales cycle indicates that customers are doing more research on the front end than ever before. They are doing this research by the means they are most comfortable with and who they trust the most. The first place you can start is your website. Build content in multiple formats for your audience to research what they need to be done, how you can help them and what they can do to make their search successful. Share your content everywhere to meet them where they need you when they need you.
In the same turn, ensure you ask them all the questions and provide as much data as possible. Get the data needed from all angles research your client, their systems, who is managing them, what’s working, what’s not working, do they have a ticketing system, what is their tech stack, etc.? The more information you have, the more you can share in the most relevant way possible. No more broad strokes, but personalized and targeted solutions to support brand reach and engagement. Keep them in the loop with the process and keep the process consistent, so the client feels secure and clear around expectations.
Essentially, we find ourselves going back to basics and the work we were doing and coaching clients on before the pandemic hit. Marketing focus has come full circle after the lead gen craze, back to brand. Your brand, your personality, and your voice must come back to the center of focus. This will lead you to success in marketing, lead generation, sales and loyal customers for years to come. We’re here to help! Jumpstart Your Growth!
My philosophy is more than just words or data, it is finding a way to marry content and SEO strategy with dynamic advertising to build online equity in our clients’ businesses. Writing is my passion, using it to help others is my pleasure and part of my mission at Hot Dog Marketing.