Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Do You Know Why Your Marketing’s Working (or Not)?

Picture this. A CPA, an attorney and a hedge fund manager are chatting over drinks at an investment conference. Looking out the window, a bartender exclaims, “Check it out, hundred dollar bills, just lying in the parking lot!” The CPA smirks, “I doubt those are real $100 bills; if they were, someone would have grabbed them by now.” The attorney says, “They might be real bills, but you’ve got be careful about touching stolen property or being accused of instigating a riot.” The hedge fund titan laughs, “Maybe if they were thousands I’d go down and scoop ‘em up. I’m not wasting my time with hundreds.”  

Meanwhile, an alert taxi driver opens his door, reaches down to the asphalt and stuffs several days’ worth of fares into his pocket. “I love when this convention comes to town,” he says laughing to his dispatcher. “They’re always great tippers!”

OK. Maybe we embellished this story a little, but for so many of us, perception does not equal reality. The bartender is too passive. The CPA is overly cynical. The attorney is cautious. The hedge fund manager is too greedy and the lucky cab driver? He’s not likely to replicate his good fortune as he misunderstood the cause and effect of his windfall. Does any of this sound familiar?

How many marketing touches does it take?

Let’s say your firm decided to take its marketing more seriously this year. Since January, you’re doing everything by the playbook just fine. Weekly blog posts, regular participation in relevant LinkedIn discussions. You’re sending out a nice monthly client newsletter, a thought leadership white paper and even some videos. But, after four months, still new clients.

Let’s say you send out a quick email blast next week about a webinar you’re having and two prospects call to schedule discovery meetings. A day later, you get a great referral and then a longtime client who’s getting up there in age wants to bring his son and grandson in to meet you for some estate planning discussions.

Must have been the email blast, you tell your team. So, this quarter you heavy up on your email blasts and webinars and drop the other stuff, right? Wrong.

According to the Online Marketing Institute, it takes 7 to 13+ touches to deliver a qualified sales lead. Possibly longer when it comes to marketing professional services. Our experience is that it takes consistent, relevant “drip marketing” to reach the time-pressed, influential decision makers you need to impress. No single ad, email or event—no matter how clever or well executed—should be credited for “making the sale.”  It’s the cumulative effect of all of your touchpoints that’s going to push prospects through the various stages of the purchase decision cycle.

Half a dozen years ago,
CPA Trendlines founder, Rick Telberg and I collaborated on a comprehensive survey of banner ads in financial newsletters. Here’s what we found: More than one-half of follow-up to online ads occurred up to 30 days after the ads had appeared. Readers who were exposed to online newsletter ads but did not click on them could recall the ads almost as frequently as readers who did click on the ads (22% versus 28%). Click here for the podcast about our “Beyond the Click” study.


Having a successful marketing campaign without knowing why it’s successful is just as bad as suffering through a lousy campaign. If you don’t know why something’s working and you can’t replicate that success, then you’re just playing the lottery and praying for luck. Be smart. Measure what counts. And don’t forget to talk to clients, prospects and industry watchers in person every chance you get. Real verbatim feedback is what makes your numbers and metrics even more powerful.

Have a great week. HB
Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.

TAGS: Online Marketing Institute, Beyond the Click, 7-13 touches for qualified lead, Rick Telberg, CPA Trendlines

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How Are Those New Year’s Resolutions Working Out for You?

What we can learn from Easter, Passover and the Boston Marathon
Rebirth and redemption. It’s in the air this time of year as many of you who observed Easter or Passover last week can attest. Spring has finally come to most northern regions of the country. Major League Baseball is underway and a nearly 39 year-old runner, an American no less, won yesterday’s Boston Marathon.

The 118th running of America’s most famous footrace went off without a hitch under near-perfect weather conditions. There were too many tales of personal and civic redemption to recount here. Suffice it to say that more than one million spectators lined the famous course—about twice the normal crowd—to cheer runners of all shapes, sizes and mobility types on. Even a hardened cynic had to be moved by the size of the crowd after last year’s bombings maimed and injured so many runners and spectators and psychologically scarred the city of Boston. Rather than giving up, the city and the running community came back stronger than before.

If you don’t follow distance running, Meb Keflezighi, who turns 39 in two weeks, became the first American winner of the race since 1983 and oldest winner in 84 years. A low-income child of Eritrean immigrants, his best years were thought to be behind him after injuries derailed his Olympic aspirations and his longtime shoe sponsor dropped him.

If at first you don’t succeed, adjust your goals

Yet there he was crossing the finish line about 10-15 seconds ahead of world-class Kenyan and Ethiopian runners wearing bright red Skechers no less, a brand normally associated with the skateboarding and casual wear crowd.

At this point, you’re probably expecting us to exhort to follow your dreams and never give up. Nope, just set more reasonable goals. Pursue those goals with all you’ve got, but don’t be afraid to make constant adjustments.

As many of you know, we advocate getting at least a one-month head start on your resolutions (see our popular December 6 blog post) and revisiting those goals several times throughout the year. It doesn’t matter how lofty or modest your goals are. You need tangible metrics to show progress and make them stick. Click here for more reasons why the vast majority of resolutions don’t stick.

If your goal was to hit the gym every day in 2014, don’t tell yourself you failed if you’re only making it two twice a week. Make those two sessions really count when you go, and maybe shoot for an average of three times per week by mid-year. If your goal was to bring in three new clients every quarter, and you just brought in one, don’t chalk that up as a failure. Celebrate that you signed on a new client. Make sure you serve that new client really well, and shoot for two new clients next quarter. By the way, if you’re serving that one new client really well, word will get around, and chances are an unexpected referral or two will find its way to your firm.

How Meb did it

Despite being nearly 40, Keflezighi knew he could still run with the world’s best, even though his chances of breaking the world record, or even the Boston course record were no longer likely. So he set up a plan to stay within striking distance of the lead pack, and if the race became tactical, rather than a suicidal exercise in attrition, then he could make a decisive move in the hilliest part of the course—half a dozen miles from the finish—and distance himself from the pack before they could reel him back in. That’s what he did—despite stomach cramps—and he held on for a historic win on a historic day.

We’re about one-third of the way through 2014 and this is one of those “Gut Check” times. So take a short lunchtime stroll if the weather’s nice. Open the windows instead of cranking the A/C and let’s get back to work with a renewed sense of purpose. You’ll be glad you did.

Have a great week. HB

Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.


Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.

TAGS: Boston Marathon, Meb Keflezighi, New Years resolutions, Skechers, setting reasonable goals, Easter and Passover rebirth redemption

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Young Workers Aren’t as Smart as they Think They Are

But they’re smarter than the rest of us

If you think the youngest generation of workers is hard to comprehend sometimes, you’re not alone. About two-thirds of companies around the world consider themselves deficient in developing millennial leadership according to
Deloitte’s 2014 Global Human Capital Trends. And less than one in twenty companies (5%) rated themselves as “excellent” in that area.

Part of the trouble with developing young talent, Deloitte says, is that millennials—generally considered to be those in the 18-35 age group--approach their careers very differently than previous generations. They expect to rise fast, and if they don’t, they look for other opportunities. Deloitte’s data showed that only 55 percent of millennials say they are loyal to their companies (compared to 69 percent of other generations). This means it’s important for companies to find ways to help young talent see the opportunities within their companies.

Our Take: If you have disgruntled, underperforming or otherwise disengaged young people on your payroll, talk a closer look at the manager or your hiring practices. Most employees, particularly young people, come into a new job with a strong work ethic and the best of intentions. Something has to happen along the way to derail them. In most cases, they’re not in the right job, they’re not working for the right type of manager or they’re not assigned to the right kind of team.

Here’s more from the Deloitte research:

1. Millennials want face time. 
Spending time with senior leadership is one way to convince employees that they, too, could eventually rise to that level.

2. They want to jump around. Millennials in the business world are fickle. They want to explore new opportunities far more quickly than past generations. They’re not necessarily job hoppers, but they value the opportunity to move around organizations—not just for promotions, but also horizontally. An employee who spends a year in sales might appreciate the opportunity to work in a different department for a while if their skills are a fit. And if that employee has leadership potential, it’s all the more valuable to the organization to give them a better-rounded look at the company.

3. They need a different type of manager. Research says organizations need to shift the mindset of what a good manager does away from hitting those departmental goals—which rely on what he calls talent consumption (or, put less kindly, talent hoarding)—to graduating employees into better positions—or talent production. That shift would serve to give companies a better sense for their managers’ talent development skills while giving young talent the opportunity to grow.

Our Take: Here’s what we’ve learned here at HB. Millennials are like young workers of the past in some regards: They want to be challenged right away and to find meaningful work right away. They are highly motivated and willing to work long hours—IF they see a potential payoff (not necessarily monetary). They are highly adaptable. They don’t think their elders “paid their dues” as much as their elders claim they did. They think the academic world is directly transferable to the real-world (i.e. book knowledge directly applies, everything is fair and everyone at the company is as smart and motivated as they are).

Here are some ways in which we’ve found millenials are different. Obviously, they are far more technologically savvy than the rest of us. They should be. They’re digital natives, not digital adopters, who grew up with technology, mobile and social etc.—they didn’t really have to learn it. They only try to perfect it.

Contrary to popular opinion, Millennials WILL pick up the phone and talk to people and they will network and meet people face-to-face. Texting and social media is their preferred form of communication, but they will use more traditional forms of communication if their job requires it. The upside is they tend to be fast learners. Give them a little training and guidance and they will not only rise to the challenge, they will do it well.

While there is no shortage of 20-something CEOs heading multibillion dollar tech startups, it’s not all about the money for this generation. They want meaningful work and real-life experiences—they tend to be less about the money than their Boomer parents and Gen X elders. Even those working at law firms, investment banks and tech startups want work/life balance. And while the stereotype is that Millennials are not “joiners”—i.e. they don’t automatically join their industry trade association, professional society, community board or religious organization--they will join communities, both real and virtual ones, if the community can convince them of the true value in belonging.


Remember, Millennials come out of school with a built in network of connections that’s hundreds of times larger than the networks previous generations had so early in life. They don’t need to join an organization just for networking purposes.

Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.


TAGS: Millennials in the workplace, recruiting and retaining talent, Deloitte’s 2014 Global Human Capital Trends,

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Our Most Popular Posts of the First Quarter

It’s hard to believe we’re one fourth of the way through 2014, but it’s true. There’s never a dull moment on the political, economic, meteorological or sports fronts. And hopefully your business is experiencing the stress that comes with growing pains and pent up demand. Using our most popular blog posts as a barometer, your biggest concerns seem to be around managing staff, managing your time and understanding decision-making patterns.

Top 5 Posts: Jan-Mar 2014

5. Skill vs. Luck in Investing, Business and Tomorrow’s Big Games
Source: HB Publishing & Marketing Company, LLC 2014

Here are the key takeaways:

·         It pays to have your best people do their best work wherever and whenever they can be most efficient and least stressed. It’s no longer a matter of home vs. office; it’s about home AND office--and setting reasonable boundaries for both environments.

·        Friendly office pools can be great morale boosters and teach you a lot about your co-workers risk-tolerance, decision making strategies and comfort with ambiguity. Just keep the stakes modest.

·        True thought leaders are consistent, disciplined and concise. They respect the message recipient’s time, they deliver on what they promise and they always return favors.

·        Get your staff invested in your business, not just in raises, job titles and perks. The more they feel like stakeholders instead of employees, the more likely they’ll go the extra mile for you.

·       Great innovators, leaders and coaches know that good luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. They also know why they’re successful and they have systems in place for making their success persistent and repeatable.

Treat your people the right way and they’ll treat you, your clients and your board the right way in return—many times over.

Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.

Tags: benefits of working from home, what March Madness pools teach us, manage talent not job descriptions, skill vs. luck