In this episode, Stacy sits down with Jim Flynn of Hult Marketing to discuss the ins and outs of brand differentiation while also considering the effectiveness of Inbound Marketing.

EP: 106

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Transcripts:

Speaker 1:                    00:03    

  • Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). Here’s your host, Stacy Jones.

Stacy:                           00:08   

  • I’m so happy to have with us today Jim Flynn, the president and CEO of Hult Marketing, an agency that is 62 years young, quite an accomplishment. Hult Marketing crafts marketing solutions for a broad portfolio of industries, including healthcare, medical devices, insurance, outdoor, apparel, corporate recruiting, construction and utilities and so many others. Jim and I know each other and the very detailed inner workings of our agencies extremely well as we are both members of an agency owners group called Agency Management Institute.

Stacy:                           00:36   

  • He’s not only a good guy, he’s super smart. Over the last few years I’ve had the chance to learn so much from Jim and at our last meeting, when I heard him talking about how so many brands are just completely missing the mark in differentiating their own brand I knew I wanted to have him join our Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them) podcast to share his knowledge with you. Jim is one of only 30 certified brand strategists in North America and also has served as the board chairman on Taan Worldwide, a global network of independent marketing communications agencies that operates on every continent.

Stacy:                           01:03         

  • Jim’s own experience across over 30 years in B2B and B2C marketing shines across all things brand and inbound marketing, where he and his team help marketers to recreate their own brand image to make a better and bigger impact and develop inbound marketing and lead generation programs to bring in sales. Jim is absolutely a marketing expert and today will be providing us with knowledge of how to get started in developing your brand distinction and sharing his advice for companies who are interested in upping their game in crafting a brand that stands out from competition, while also leveraging inbound marketing as that is an absolutely fantastic marketing practice.

Stacy:                           01:35           

  • There’s a lot involved in creating both who your brand is, as well as turning the who into content and an inbound marketing program, and there are a lot of mistakes you can make that Jim’s experience and advice can help protect you from. Jim truly has a treasure trove of experience and knowledge to share. Jim, welcome.

Jim Flynn:                  01:51  

  • Well, thank you very much for your gracious introduction.

Stacy:                           01:54 

  • You are most welcome and thank you again so much for being here today. Very excited to have here. You have quite the background in brand development and inbound marketing and have been doing this for over 30 years. Can you tell us a little bit more about your background, how your love of differentiating brands first started and how that evolved into inbound marketing and lead generation?

Jim Flynn:                  02:15   

  • Yeah, you bet. Probably my first and earliest brand experiences came from a couple of different things. The first one is my dad. I grew up in the south side of Chicago and my dad had a gas station called Flynn’s Friendly Service that he ran for 37 years until he retired. He started it right after World War II in 1947. It was in one of the few remaining independent service stations in the city and it competed with all the standards and ARCOs and all of the big brands.

Jim Flynn:                  02:59 

  • Dad differentiated his place by being independent, one, by selling the same gasoline that everyone else did, which people don’t understand that it all comes from the same refinery, and just being different from the standpoint of the way he operated. I mean, when we got somebody on the driveway, you ran out on the driveway and took care of them, you always checked their oil and you always washed the windshield. And those are things that certainly today doesn’t ever happen with the world of self-service.

Jim Flynn:                  03:37               

  • And matter of fact, when he retired, he was one of the few stations in the city that was really all full-service. Everything had moved to self service. So it was really a differentiating things. He and his brother owned it together and they ran it like a family business. It was interesting to see the Flynn Service Station brand and how it was different than competitors. It was very distinctive.

Stacy:                          04:05     

  • That’s awesome. You got a very early lesson, I’m sure, in all things car.

Jim Flynn:                 04:10  

  • Yeah. Well, you know, not really, because most guys can … They learn about cars because their dad pulls the car in the garage on the weekend and lifts the hood and gets under the hood. Well, first off, we didn’t have a garage. And secondly, the last thing my dad wanted to do in the weekend was get into the hood of a car. [inaudible 00:04:33] I have a very limited ability when it comes to automobiles.

Stacy:                          04:39        

  • Okay, very well understood. So how did that parlay into where you’re at today, where you came into an agency, you took ownership of it and you changed, I think, the direction because first of all … I mean, maybe brand differentiation was there, but inbound marketing is pretty new, as is the forms of lead gen that most agencies work with brands to do today.

Jim Flynn:                 05:05    

  • Right. Well, as you well know and is all of your listeners know, we are living in a different world than we were 10 years ago in terms of the customer journey. Inbound marketing, content marketing, call it what you will, has obviously been a big buzzword in marketing circles for going on 10 years now. And the ideas, the concepts, the processes that you use to build them inbound marketing campaigns are similar across industries, across B2B and B2C. The tools are similar, but what I have found is what has taught me and served me well in my career is that everything is stronger when there’s differentiation.

Jim Flynn:                 06:13               

  • There are categories certainly that are growing categories, but most categories aren’t necessarily growth categories, which means that the way that a brand can win is by stealing market share from another brand. Well, if you’re a differentiated from another brand, that certainly makes that job easier. So why would you not start with differentiating your brand?

Stacy:                          06:46           

  • Okay, and what’s the first step? So you’re saying, great, differentiate your brand. How do you do that? I mean, what would a brand do? What is the process that you work with brands to take them through to help them get from well, our logo is blue, we’re different?

Jim Flynn:                 07:05    

  • Right? That’s a really good point and the common misperception in and outside of this industry is that your brand is your logo. Everybody knows the Nike Swoosh. That’s their brand, right? Well, no, that’s not their brand. And McDonald’s, everybody knows the golden arches, but that’s not the brand. McDonald’s brand is consistent, whether you like their burgers and fries or not, it is consistent if you have a Big Mac in Southern California, or if you have it in Munich.

Jim Flynn:                 07:49

  • And I’ve had Big Macs in both of those places and don’t like them in either place particularly, but they’re consistent, experience is consistent. The bathrooms are clean. The tables are generally clean. The personnel are generally uninformed and unenthused, but it’s consistent from both locations. So really I think it comes down to brands have to identify their differentiation and I look as is really coming down to three key things. And you can’t do this alone.

Jim Flynn:                 08:34      

  • So what I recommend is having a summit off-site where you’re not being bothered by the day-to-day operations of your business regardless of the type of business. So get a conference room at a hotel or whatever makes sense and pull together your leadership team. Now, that’s different for every organization. Leadership team in a very simple organization might be the front desk person, the receptionist and the owner of the business and the guy that works the counter. Obviously, for most businesses that we work with it’s more complex than that.

Jim Flynn:                 09:20  

  • But you pull those people together and you want to have a representation of the absolute top management, the CEO has got to be in the room. You can’t make any decisions about the brand without the CEO in the room. They have to be the champion of the brand and if that the brand isn’t being emanated from the top down, then there’s really little chance of, I’m not going to say little chance of success, but there is really little chance that you’re going to have a thorough organizational change.

Jim Flynn:                 09:57               

  • Going back to the idea of the Nike Swoosh as the brand. Well, no. The brand is what happens inside, the way that the brand operates, the way the organization deals with customers. So that’s what the true differentiation is. I look at it as you have to answer three rule questions. So the first one is who are you today? Okay, so that’s a deep dive into really what’s it about? And the way that we work with people to do that is we get that leadership team. So now we’ve got upper management. We’ve got the CFO in the room. You’ve got sales, you’ve got marketing, you’ve got customer service. You got anybody that touches a customer has to be present in the room to be able to make those decisions. So the leadership team that touches customers across the organization.

Jim Flynn:                 10:54            

  • And we start by just filling the walls with white paper of facts about the company. So, where do you start? Okay, what year we founded? And it just rolls from there. And if you spend three or four hours doing that, you’re going to have a couple hundred facts up on the wall. And as you start to will those down and you start to scratch out the things that are not unique to you, you can go down from a couple hundred, down to about 30 things that are possibly unique value propositions, possibly unique to you.

Jim Flynn:                 11:39   

  • And then you start kind of combining and horse-trading and so forth, and ultimately get that list down to three to five things that are either absolutely unique to your organization, that would be of interest to your customers, or if they’re not completely unique, you have an opportunity to deliver them with some type of distinction.

Stacy:                          12:06         

  • Okay.

Jim Flynn:                 12:07       

  • So we work in some industries that are heavily commoditized. LASIK surgery is one of them. In any given city you can get … There’s three LASIK surgery centers within the same ZIP code and they all basically do the same thing and LASIK surgery’s been out there for quite a while. It’s very safe and the outcomes are, people generally the next day have 20/20 or better vision. I mean, it all kind of looks the same. So you have to look at how can we differentiate and deliver ourselves differently. And that comes down to people, comes down to the way that the practice interacts with their patients.

Stacy:                          13:00  

  • The overall experience of what-

Jim Flynn:                 13:03    

  • Yeah, absolutely. And you know what? That emanates in a medical practice, that emanates to the founding practice doctor. I mean, they’re different, no different than you and I are different from one another. Medical practices have their own personality. So getting back to the idea of the three things. Okay, we work through that idea of who are we today? What do we do differently? And the third part of that, that’s really important is, what are we capable of becoming?

Jim Flynn:                  13:40   

  • And the thing that’s really neat when you put those three things together and you boil it all down, when we come back to a client a month or so later with what we call our outcomes presentation, they sit there in the room and we go through this differentiation and they’re like, “Wow, how did you know that about us? Yeah, that’s that’s who we are.” And I quickly tell them, “I didn’t know that. You guys told me that.” But it’s difficult to kind of see the forest through the trees. So the thing that people bring to the table is they know these things, but they don’t know that they know these things.

Stacy:                           14:29               

  • I think it takes a third party and that third pair of eyes and conversations to just even get that ball rolling versus someone who’s sometimes doing it internally because you need someone to be that pusher and pusher and pusher and just keep on asking questions.

Jim Flynn:                  14:48               

  • When we get in the session I walk around with a little wicker basket, I take away everyone’s cell phones. The one exception is if it’s a medical practice and there are clinical people that are key-

Stacy:                           15:04      

  • Sure.

Jim Flynn:                  15:04 

  • … to your organization. They get to keep their phone.

Stacy:                           15:08   

  • Life and death.

Jim Flynn:                  15:09  

  • Yeah, right, but only for life or death things really, seriously. We just did one of these for cancer center, Academic Cancer Center. Yeah. We let the two lead nurses keep their phones, but everybody else had to give them in. So when you go through that and you have to push back. So I warned them that, particularly the CEO, who quite often can have a little bit more swagger than the other people in the room and they make some outlandish thing that oh, we’re different because of X. I’ll quickly look at them and say, “Prove it.” “Why don’t you prove it.” “Well, tell me why that’s true.” “Well, we’ve got the best customer service in the industry.” “Okay, prove it.” “Well, we do. Everybody says we’ve great customer service.” “Okay. So, how’s that true?”

Jim Flynn:                  16:10  

  • Well, as you start to beat those kinds of facts up, you can figure out ways where you can own that. Maybe we need to do an industry customer service survey and we can prove that we have the number one customer service in the industry. Maybe we need to brand our customer service in a certain way. So we have X customer service. So we had say a branded term that you can own and differentiate it from everyone else’s customer service.

Stacy:                           16:50               

  • Okay. That’s pretty clear, that that’s needed. Makes sense.

Jim Flynn:                  16:56      

  • Well, yes it is and it’s fun. The group has fun. It’s a fun day. It’s a lot of work. There’s a lot of arm wrestling. But at the end of the day you come out and say, “Wow. This is pretty cool stuff.” And then as we wrap it all up in a nice neat bow and bring it back to you and you look at it from a distinction standpoint, you’re pretty proud of your organization and really not only who you are today, but what you’re capable of becoming because part of that process is uncovering those things that really can differentiate you even more than you already have.

Stacy:                          17:38      

  • And I’m assuming also those steps and that process is also going to uncover and pop some balloons unfortunately maybe for that CEO, an area that they need to work on.

Jim Flynn:                 17:49        

  • Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Again, getting back to the idea that not all industries are growth industries so you have to steal share from a competitor. Well, the way you do that is differentiation. It really comes down to that. When I talk about brand and when I speak at conferences, I use an example about Wonder Bread. Do you remember, it was Wonder Bread in Southern California in the ’70s?

Stacy:                          18:26      

  • I have no idea, I’m from Texas, but we definitely had Wonder Bread and we could … Yeah, and we had Wonder Bread. We also had Mrs. Baird’s Bakery that you could smell all over our community.

Jim Flynn:                 18:36          

  • Oh, wow.

Stacy:                          18:37              

  •  Yes. Yes.

Jim Flynn:                 18:39           

  • Well, Wonder Bread was this phenomenon that came out. If you research the bread category, it’s flat. I mean, bread is not a growing category. So bread advertising, bread marketing doesn’t make people make more sandwiches for have more toast in the morning, but it does move market share. Wonder Bread arguably was crummy bread. I mean, it really was soft, gushy, not good bread. Wonder Bread was not allowed in my house. Dad didn’t like Wonder Bread.

Stacy:                          19:16               

  • Neither did my mom. I was not allowed to have Wonder Bread.

Jim Flynn:                 19:19    

  • And we had a bakery. Chicago’s famous for neighborhood bakeries, and we had a little bakery up a couple blocks from my house. And so mom went up and she would always buy bakery bread. At school I got this lousy bakery bread. It was grainy and so forth. So man, I’d trade kids for Wonder Bread. I’m like, oh that’s the best stuff ever. Why? I don’t know, because it is. They had loaves that chalked on the shelf in the commercial.

Stacy:                          19:49               

  • It’s all about that brand differentiation and it was very white bread with no benefits to it whatsoever.

Jim Flynn:                 19:58    

  • No, no, no. Talk about totally enriched bleached flour.

Stacy:                          20:00            

  • Yeah, pretty much like paper.

Jim Flynn:                 20:03               

  • Yeah. Yeah.

Stacy:                          20:05               

  • Okay. So you go through this brand differentiator process, you build this out, you come back with your suggestions and then they need to implement it. And when they implement, now, that goes into content creation, leveraging that so that you can actually have owned branded content, which you can then share. And one of the best ways of doing that is through inbound marketing. Is that how you have kind of evolved where you started with the brand differentiation process and is that the lead into when a brand is actually ready to start an inbound marketing program or how does that work? And what brand should do inbound marketing? And for anyone who is listening who doesn’t know about inbound marketing, can you talk to us a little bit more about that too?

Jim Flynn:                 20:59             

  • Inbound marketing, if you’re not familiar with it, I’m going to describe a little bit of it and all of a sudden you’re going to say, “Oh, yeah. Okay. I know what that is because these people have been nurturing me with content.” So the idea of inbound is first off being found online for your content. So if you look at this from a … It all needs to emanate from the customer journey. So first off, just figuring out who are your best customers, whether that’s a consumer coming in for bread or that is somebody shopping for insurance, you have to figure out who is the best customer? What do they look like? What do they think like? What are their demographic profiles? What makes them different from other customers? Why are they your best customers?

Stacy:                         22:01         

  • That whole world of personas is what you’re kind of touching on right now?

Jim Flynn:                22:05               

  • Absolutely, the whole world of personas. And when you look at the personas, you’re really trying to paint a picture of the type of person and the questions that they ask. So we do that with our clients in again, similar to the brand summit, we want to have an off-site ideally. And this is only because then the phones aren’t ringing and the people in the office aren’t bothering you and trying to get question answered.

Stacy:                         22:42        

  • Unless they’re dying in your case.

Jim Flynn:                22:44               

  • You’re right, unless they’re dying. So you do that and you start with the people who are facing the customer, whether that’s on the telephone or face-to-face and you start looking at what are the questions that people ask. I usually do it by explaining how Google works, and people don’t really understand that. So I’ll throw the question out to the room. I’m going to have the CEO in the room, say, “So tell me,” I just put a slide up of the Google home screen search engine, so everybody should know this, use it all day long, “okay, how does it work?”

Jim Flynn:                23:33            

  • Well, you get all sorts of opinions about how it works and so forth. So then we walk kind of through the way that it works and there are lots of pieces of that, but one of the top algorithms that Google looks at is fresh, relevant content. So what Google wants from you is they want you to have a great search experience so that you come back and you don’t use Yahoo or Bing or any of the other search engines. The reason that Google has 80% market share is because they have the best search experience. So we want to feed Google and the other search engines, of course, what they want.

Jim Flynn:                24:20               

  • In order to do that, we need to understand what does the customer want because really what it comes down to, it’s a kind of a they ask, you answer and when they ask, I mean the customer, and you answer, it’s a great trust building experience. So they start to understand the truth about your brand because they trust you because you’re providing them answers to the questions that they have.

Stacy:                         24:54         

  • Sure.

Jim Flynn:                24:56               

  • And I think the people that are not successful in inbound marketing quite often are trying to do chest beating, talking about themselves and how great they are as opposed to answering questions. Content that you create, whether it’s on-page content or is downloadable content has to be content that serves the consumer, the buyer on their journey. So if you think about it, what are the questions that I start to ask when I’m researching something and then as I start to learn more, there are different questions.

Jim Flynn:                25:48               

  • So it’s the proverbial sales funnel. At the top of the funnel people are entering the funnel, searching for information that you have. They’re not searching for your brand. They’re searching for information. So at the top of the funnel you’re providing answers and they’re brought to you by brand X. As you move further down the funnel in your getting closer to a buying decision, then you can start talking more about brand X, but don’t start with chest beating, start with always helping.

Stacy:                         26:26               

  • Because no one really cares about your company at that point. They just care about finding out the very basics of what either they themselves want to know or what someone in the organization asked them about. So now they have to know so that they can report back about it.

Jim Flynn:                26:39  

  • Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. In inbound, the idea of getting found for content is equally as relevant in B2B situations as is in B2C situation. In B2B there are a lot of really complex things that people are searching for every day. They’re searching for answers on everyday in the B2B world. So it’s a great opportunity from an inbound marketing standpoint.

Stacy:                         27:10   

  • We love it. I mean, our agency, besides the podcast that we have obviously but we do so much with e-books and those are all driven by the blogs that we created because we wanted to back in 2012 start creating that footprint that was more than just our website. Because no one wants to just come and look at your website. That’s pretty boring stuff. And that’s taken us down on a journey from surveys to videos to infographics to … There’s so many different things.

Stacy:                         27:45 

  • Do you think all of these different types of content are valuable or how do you suggest working with that brand differentiation and now you’re doing education and helping people. You literally are the helpful hand to people. You are giving a helpful hand. Are there certain platforms that are better to start off using than others?

Jim Flynn:                28:10

  • You kind of described it, I think, very effectively. If you look at e-book or a white paper or some piece of thought leadership that you can publish, and it has to be of value, enough value that someone is willing to trade you their email address and at least their first name in order to get that content. So if it’s readily available by searching and I can get it somewhere else, why would I give you my email address? So not only does it have to have a strong promise, but it better deliver too, because going back to that idea of creating trust, you’re only going to get one download from somebody if the content you produce is crap, if it’s really not valuable and differentiated, then I’m never going to go back to you again because you’ve broken the trust. So it’s important.

Jim Flynn:                29:18            

  • I look at it as if you have that one piece of thought leadership, say it’s an e-book of 20, 25 or 2,700 words, and it takes a deep dive into a particular problem or several facets of a problem, then you have the opportunity to create what I call a content waterfall so that waterfall is the things you just talked about. It can be blogs. It can be white papers. It can be fact sheets. It can be infographics. It can be podcasts. It can be videos. All of those things can really emanate out of one particular piece of thought leadership.

Jim Flynn:                30:02       

  • We’re all different and so we all look at content differently. Some people enjoy video content. Video is an expectation online anymore. It doesn’t need to be really high production values. People are very comfortable now with iPhone production quality because we all do it. We’re all publishers today. We’re all creating our own content and posting it on Facebook. So, the expectation of content … I don’t want to say the quality of content because there’s obviously a minimum level of quality acceptance, but it doesn’t have to be a big production like it used to be.

Stacy:                         30:48        

  • Or professional actors and models and anything along those lines. I mean, actually having real people at the company is going to be a lot more organic and genuine and overall authentic.

Jim Flynn:                31:00               

  • Yeah, absolutely. We did a series for an insurance company, a multi-line insurance company and their differentiation was we found as we were doing the discovery, it kept coming back to taking care of the customer and going beyond the expected. And the tagline, the positioning statement eventually was developed for them was beyond the expected and it really is a company mantra. We did a series of videos that had catastrophic claims experiences. It was a person whose house burnt down with her 11 children in the house.

Jim Flynn:                31:53         

  • Each of the stories was told from the policyholders point of view, agent that sold the policy, and the claims adjuster who ultimately handled the claim. And hearing it from those three different sides was fascinating and extremely real. In their particular case, their audience was insurance agents. Typical independent insurance agent sells 20 different brands of insurance, 20 different companies that they are licensed to sell for. So differentiating is pretty important there. One of the most important things to an independent insurance agent is how does a company, how does a carrier handle claims because what they sell is paper.

Jim Flynn:                32:55  

  • I mean, talk about a product that is intangible. It’s paper. It’s literally paper. The branding that is done in that industry for consumer lines. I mean, it’s differentiated by Mayhem and all of these different … And Flo. I mean, insurance agents have this Love/Hate relationship with Flo. They all want to have progressive because they love Flo and they want to be associated with Flo, but they also have a progressive because progressive sells direct as well as goes through agents.

Jim Flynn:                33:34

  • So it’s kind of an interesting dynamic, but at the end of the day it comes down to claims, because if I’m selling you a policy and I have a lousy claims experience, I’m going to lose you as customers. So that’s really important. And it was amazingly successful campaign because we showed the real world side of catastrophic claims events and how the company handled them, how their customers were taken care of and how the agent was taken care of.

Stacy:                         34:05       

  • And obviously, at the end of the day that insurance salesperson, they want the individual to stay with the carrier that they first sold them into because they’re going to be able to be paid on that for the life of that term.

Jim Flynn:                34:22

  • Right.

Stacy:                         34:22  

  • So that’s a longevity play too. So it makes sense.

Jim Flynn:                34:26

  • Yeah. In the longevity play, you hit on something really key to inbound marketing. I think it’s something that a lot of organizations, if not most organizations, miss when they’re planning for inbound marketing success. I always advocate for starting at the end point. So what does success look like? Well, the reality of it is in your business and my business ROI is … It’s all comes down to numbers, are we going to make money on doing this thing?

Jim Flynn:                35:08  

  • The exciting thing I think about inbound marketing and the differentiation from the business that I started in 30 years ago, of television commercials, billboards and newspaper magazine is, you did a great TV campaign. I love TV, love. It’s fun to produce TV spots. And then you say, “Well, how’s it working?” “I don’t know, feels like it’s pretty good. Boy, did you see that cute dog and that kid in that last spot. Oh man. They were really something, weren’t day?” “Oh yeah, that’s good.” Labradoodle puppies, boy, hard to be. Everybody loves puppies.

Jim Flynn:                35:49    

  • But then when you tried to pull some ROI back together on it, it was almost impossible to do that. Today with inbound marketing, if you decide upfront what does success look like, you can do that. I’ll use an example in the insurance industry. We had a client, that multi-line carrier and they were looking to increase their small business product, sales of small business products. So a typical business, like yours, would have liability policies and workers comp policies and health policies, maybe a building policy.

Stacy:                        36:40               

  • So many policies.

Jim Flynn:               36:42 

  • Unbelievable amount of policies. The average basket of policies in their database was $4,500 a year. So $4,500 and they kept their average customer for five years. All right. So $4,500 times five is the lifetime value of that customer, because you sold them once and to your point, you want to keep them forever. So you got to keep them happy. So the lifetime value is what’s that, 20, $22,000 or thereabouts. So you look at that and then you decide okay, so what costs are we going to put into this in terms of the campaign?

Jim Flynn:               37:40   

  • So, let’s say it’s $300,000 and your expectation for year one results is we’re going to get 1,100 new customers. So now we can take that 1,100 new customers and divide it by the $300,000 and using simple math, we realize that the customer acquisition cost is $272 per customer. You put that against the lifetime value of the customer and you can quickly see what the ROI on that is and it’s very high when you look at that.

Jim Flynn:               38:20 

  • So understanding how you’re going to measure it, measure success is really, really important to the CFO and to the CEO. And what I always advocate for marketers is I said, “Well, who’s closer to the CEO? The VP of marketing or the VP of sales?” And I’ve never had a room full of people that more hands didn’t go up with the VP of sales.

Stacy:                        38:51  

  • Sure.

Jim Flynn:               38:52   

  • Yeah, because they’re the VP of revenue.

Stacy:                        38:55

  • Versus the woohoo stuff that just happens.

Jim Flynn:               38:58 

  • Versus the black hole.

Stacy:                        39:01

  • Yes, that money sucker.

Jim Flynn:               39:03   

  • The money sucker in marketing.

Stacy:                        39:05 

  • Right, right.

Jim Flynn:               39:08  

  • Now, this is your opportunity to … Because what does every sales department say about marketing leads? Leads suck for marketing. We don’t follow up on marketing. So now if you can prove that you are generating revenue, you are generating good leads, qualified leads, sales qualified leads, now all of a sudden the conversation changes. So it’s a game changer for marketing departments when they do it right.

Stacy:                        39:39   

  • Well, and I also think that that’s one of the reasons why you’re seeing inbound marketing specifically, so many more companies shifting where they don’t have a marketing department, they don’t have a sales department. They have a marketing and sales department where they’re actually trying to get them to work together now more so to benefit.

Stacy:                        39:57               

  • And then even after you have completed the sale, and we’re talking about longevity, inbound marketing is an awesome tool to be able to use to keep on touching your customer, and keep on like keeping that branded content going, keeping them … They’re firmly in your spider trap. They are in your funnel, but you want them to stick around and you still want to keep on giving them content and something that’s helpful and beneficial all the way.

Jim Flynn:               40:26   

  • Absolutely. Yeah. The customer journey doesn’t stop at the sale obviously. The customer journey is a lifetime in many cases. So remaining in front of that customer, remaining relevant to them, continuing to provide value is really important.

Stacy:                        40:45               

  • You touched on this, the fact that someone’s more close to the VP of sales versus the VP of marketing because of costs. When we sit there and actually dial back and we look at costs, look at needing to start an inbound marketing campaign and a program. I mean, there’s a lot of costs. There’s software costs. There’s developer costs. There’s writers. There’s videographers, whatever it might be. So how can a brand from a baby brand to much larger, substantial brand or agency really approach this with a plan because really the sky’s the limit? What do they need in order to start out and at least start testing the waters and moving forward down the pathway?

Jim Flynn:               41:32  

  • Sure. Okay. Kind of at ground zero you have to create some content on your website that is searchable. So people get found. And it also has to be of enough value that, as we said before, that I’m willing to trade my email address in my name for that content. From a software standpoint, I mean, there are free CRMs that are out there. HubSpot has a great free CRM. It’s not near as integrated as their paid products, but it’s a pretty darn good product for free.

Stacy:                        42:21               

  • Can’t complain about free.

Jim Flynn:               42:24      

  • Free is good. You can start there. You don’t need a marketing automation platform, although it’s nice to set up nurture streams that just happen automatically. But we’ve done it with products like Unbounce or landing pages because the landing page … I always advocate the most important part of your marketing effort is a landing page. And why is that? Well, because a landing page has one very important thing that it does, it has one job in life, and that is to make a conversion. So when I land on that, whether I’m coming from a paid ad or coming from a blog post or coming from a call to action on my website, when I land on that landing page … I came there because I was interested in what you were offering. That’s how I ended up there.

Jim Flynn:               43:23          

  • So don’t blow it there. You got one chance. So talk about the high level of why they’re there, the value of the asset that you’re trying to promote, make sure that there is no navigation on there. So don’t make this part of your website. That’s super important to be a standalone landing page. The navigation has to go away. Otherwise, people … We’re all ADD today as we search online, and we’re looking at things you’re like, “Oh, look at that.” So you’re chasing the shiny squirrel over there. So navigation has to go away, that’s a game changer and make the form very short.

Jim Flynn:               44:05               

  • If you can get away with … Sometimes in B2B scenarios, you need a little more information, but for the first landing page, if you can get away with a first name and an email address, that’s a win, because every additional piece of information you ask, you lose about 50% of your audience. So, keep it simple and deliver on that differentiate that they were looking for.

Stacy:                       44:34    

  • Fair enough. And then, if you start and you go forward and you want to launch an inbound marketing campaign and a whole program, how long does it take to start seeing results? I mean, I started writing blogs for agency back in 2012 and I’ll tell you, it was a trickle here, trickle there. I mean, we have over 15,000 people who read our blogs now every month, but for the first couple of years, I would have been happy with all in for the year with 500 people literally. So what is needed and what are the expectations that are realistic or can you boost it if you’re actually doing paid advertising and you’re boosting it using social media, what are the tools to actually get you from zero to at least 50?

Jim Flynn:              45:29  

  • Well, paid is probably one of the most important tools for consideration. It will drive traffic much quicker. We have a paid component to almost every campaign that we do or at least at the start we have a paid campaign because you’re paying for traffic. To just have content and only expect inbound to work, it takes a while for that content to gain authority in the Google world. So yeah, paid is a great way to start that off, definitely advocate for that.

Stacy:                       46:12               

  • And would you also advocate … You touched on it before, words are probably more powerful than video when it comes to Google because it can’t actually index the language in a video, when it can index and look for those long tail keywords and all of those other little magic things that are out there. So is that the suggestion that you would have, is to focus on written content?

Jim Flynn:              46:36 

  • Well, I think it depends upon the audience that you’re trying to attract. If you’re doing video, and I certainly think video is a great idea for most programs, but transcribe the video or the audio track and post that as well, because to your point, how does Google work? Well, Google doesn’t listen to video or audio. So if you transcribe that and you post that, then it’s searchable. So people are able to find your video because it’s searchable through the transcripts.

Stacy:                       47:15    

  • Okay, fair enough. I know we’re nearing our end of our time that we have. So I wanted to see what are some of the bigger mistakes that you have seen brands make, going down this path of either brand differentiation or inbound marketing, that people really should be aware of to make sure that they don’t make those same mistakes themselves?

Jim Flynn:              47:39 

  • I would say the two biggest things are just beating too quickly, talked about that a little bit earlier. So it’s not all about you. It’s all about them. And I think that’s really, really important to remember. It’s sometimes difficult for the leadership team, particularly the CEO, to get over that. I get asked by my marketing clients to deliver that bad news to the CEO, that it’s not all about you, it’s all about them. But when they see it work, then they get it. So that’s really important.

Jim Flynn:              48:24   

  • The other part of it is, is not using landing pages. I see people that try to do inbound marketing and they want it to have it all drive within their website. So they send them to a landing page, a page that they land on, but it’s a page within the site. And going back to the idea of world chasing another shiny ball. If I see another place I can click, another drop-down menu that is of more interest to what I happen to be looking for right now, then I’m going to go there. So don’t lose a customer because you didn’t do a good job of really setting up the logistics of the campaign.

Stacy:                       49:11    

  • And when you mentioned this before, but you said to really lower the amount of navigation you have on that landing page so that there’s not that many places that they can poke around basically, how many places should they be able to poke? Should they be able to get back to your website and that’s it, or should there be other directions, or should there be the landing page, maybe a link to your website, the form and that’s all?

Jim Flynn:              49:40 

  • No, I think you definitely want to be able to get back to your website.

Stacy:                       49:43     

  • Okay.

Jim Flynn:              49:45 

  • So again, going back to what’s our mission. Well, our mission is to get a lead, and it’s not necessarily a sales qualified lead, but maybe it’s a marketing qualified lead. I consider that if somebody is searching for information, they’re a marketing qualified late. So don’t send those leads to sales yet because they’re not going to be happy, they’re not going to convert at a very high rate and they’re going to be wasting their time and therefore they’re not going to trust your leads. So it goes back to yeah, I don’t ever get any good leads from marketing.

Jim Flynn:              50:27    

  • But do you want to be able to get back to your website? Absolutely. Let them use the back button, though, to get there, or if you’re using a marketing automation platform, the good ones, you click on the landing page and once you submit the page it goes to a thank you page and the navigation comes back.

Stacy:                       50:49        

  • Sure.

Jim Flynn:              50:49  

  • So that’s a good way to go. One of the other things, I think, that drive failure is making programs too complicated. And they’re certainly, there are lots of marketing automation platforms out there and some of them are really complicated, and that drives failure rates because you can’t get the whole thing together, it’s really difficult. Clients think, companies think that they can add this on to the workload of their existing people. Generally that fails because it’s a different way of thinking, it’s a full-time commitment and you can’t make this an also-ran kind of program that yeah, you already got a 40-hour week and now you’re going to throw inbound marketing on top of that. That’s asking for failure.

Stacy:                       51:55

  • Come on, we can all do 80-hour weeks plus, right? Just keep on loading it on.

Jim Flynn:              52:00  

  • Only if you’re an agency business. That’s why-

Stacy:                       52:01    

  • Yes, I know. It doesn’t parlay into other areas, but definitely in agencies. It’s amazing how you find time.

Stacy:                       52:09   

  • If you’re a business interest in growing your inbound marketing utilizing some of the tactics Jim just spoke about, I so highly recommend reaching out to him at [email protected] That’s J-F-L-Y-N-N @hult, H-U-L-T, marketing.com. Which you can also find in our show notes.

Stacy:                       52:27     

  • Jim, again, thank you so much for joining us today. I certainly learned quite a bit that I’m going to go back to our team with to discuss on ways we can better build our own agency brand, and I am certain our listeners also gained incredible value from your spending time with us today. Thank you for all of those learning gems.

Stacy:                       52:42  

  • Jim’s company also offers a nifty quiz that you can take to see how well your brand has established itself to stand out and even gives you a grade while it provides insights on corrections you may want to consider. Check it out at the hultmarketing.com.

Jim Flynn:              52:55   

  • Hey, thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you this morning, and I hope we get connected again soon.

Stacy:                       53:03

  • We will. I think there’s more to learn from. Thank you all so much for listening.

 
 
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