What is the best moment to start advertising? [+ 4 strategies]

What is the best moment to start advertising? [+ 4 strategies]

What is the best moment to start advertising? It’s a question that many business owners and marketing folk have. To answer this question it is important that your organisation or marketing department has clear goals. You can use advertising to validate product concepts, to research the need of your target group, to scale your audience or to promote your promotions. So, let’s dive into some moments and strategies to start advertising.

1.   Research the need of a target group

One of the key goals of a marketing manager is to understand the challenges that their audience have and to link it to solutions that their organisation offers. A great way to discover the needs of the target group is by using advertisements to share knowledge articles, whitepapers and webinars around different topics.

For example, write articles on the top 4 trends within your industry. Share these articles via advertisements, using the exact same target audience and budget. If you already build an audience (on social or email) share it via those channels as well. Wait for the campaigns to run. Schedule two hours in your calendar to combine the analytics of the different channels. And voila. You can now see what topics generate the most traffic and how long people spend on your articles.

This is crucial information because it allows you to create more content or even solutions around that topic.

2.   Validate product concepts

Another great way to use advertising is to validate product concepts. So, imagine that your previous research showed a huge interest in a certain challenge within your industry. You can now create a concept, publish it on a landing page saying that your product is now in a research phase. And then ask people to sign-up to get more information when the product is available. This is also a trick that many writers use to select a book title or description.

Imagine promoting a product concept and getting zero requests, then you know that your product has to be revised and it might save you a lot of money on development costs.

This is not an advertisement but a great example of product validation and research by Vianney Lecroart from Lemlist, a software vendor for personalised cold email outreach:

Lemlist product validation and research

3.   Scale your owned audience using advertising

One of the best channels that I used during my B2B activities was LinkedIn. It was a great tool to send direct messages to your target audience and to share posts generating free traffic. However, since a lot of spammers who refer to themselves as ‘growth hackers’ created tools to automate this process they killed the entire platform *Thank you growth hackers!*.

The effectiveness of sharing posts and getting organic reach declined and it is clear that LinkedIn is putting more focus on generating revenue via advertisements. So, what should you do?

The most effective tool for business to business marketing is email and calling. Why? Because you can control it, you own the audience if they give you permission for it.

Here is what you want to do, advertise your gated content (whitepapers, webinars, tools) to your audience (yes, also those who follow you on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.). Share valuable content and ask for permission to store their data.

Remember: the more valuable the content, the more information people will share.

4.   Promote your promotions

Be aware with this step. If your organisation is low on budget, the best time to start advertising is when your product is ready to scale. Reaching an audience isn’t hard. You pay money to an advertiser or media outlet and they will share your message. So, the hard part is getting your message and product right.

When your product is validated in your market then it is time to start advertising and promoting it. Before buying Google Ads, or hiring an agency write down a plan with answers to these questions:

  • Who do you want to reach?
  • What are the three main challenges they have (that you can solve)?
  • How does your solution solve each of these challenges?
  • Do you have content that can be linked to all the three challenges?
  • Do you have content for each buying stage?
  • What results do you want?
  • When is a campaign a success and when is it a failure?
  • Are you able to measure the results?

Research competitors and do the opposite

In college many marketing students learn about researching the competitors. One of the pitfalls is that people think they should see what their competitors do and then copy it. My advice is to do the complete opposite of what your competitors are doing. After reading ‘Purple cow’ a decade ago, I knew that one of the best marketing tactics is to stand out from the crowd. If you haven’t read it yet, I would definitely recommend to check out Purple cow by Seth Godin. Don’t feel like reading, go to this video on YouTube.

So, what is the best moment to start advertising?

It depends. I know, it’s not the answer you were looking for. But keep in mind that advertising is just one tool to reach your audience. I would use it if you need to gather information quickly, or if you want to spread your message quickly.

The goal of this article was to help you to decide if it is time to start advertising. Hopefully, I helped you a step in the right direction. As you can imagine, each organisation is unique. To give a full advice I would also dive into your organisation and industry. So, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out via LinkedIn.

 

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What is a Marketing Planning Process? [+ 7 step guide]

What is a Marketing Planning Process? [+ 7 step guide]

How solid is your marketing planning process? Often many people within your organisation have great plans, however, a plan is nothing without planning. And that’s why the marketing planning process is key to any successful organisation. As most colleges teach marketing focused on enterprise organisations, I want to share what a marketing planning process is and how to define it for a SMB, start-up or scale-up.

What is a marketing planning process?

Within the marketing planning process you define your marketing campaigns and set responsibilities as a marketing team. It is a systematic approach to achieve the goals of your organisation. Each organisation has their own process in which they plan their marketing actions to reach the goals.

Before starting with your marketing planning you should have these in place:

  1. Organisation goals (long and short term)
  2. Marketing strategy (linked to organisation goals)
  3. An epic marketing team (discover who should be included)
  4. Planning tools (great article on project management tools)

Make sure that your goals are clear. It is useless to work hard if there is no finish line. If you don’t have clear goals people might work too hard or on the wrong subjects. Imagine training to run for a marathon by going for a 40km run each day, you will not make it.

Who are involved in the marketing planning process?

No matter how intelligent you are, you should include your entire marketing team, colleagues from other departments, customers, executives, partners and external advisors in your marketing planning process.

Within your marketing team everyone should feel responsible for their programs and their main skill.

7 Steps within the marketing planning process

To start your marketing planning process from scratch I would recommend to go through these steps:

  1. Perform a solid market research (one time + recurring)
    Use a combination of desk research, CRM-analyses, digital marketing analysis (SEO/Ads/Social), recordings of customer conversations, and speak with the customers yourself. This allows you to build a situation analysis and a baseline for where you are today. In this step you should include customers, partners, the executives and other departments.

  2. Set objectives on each component (yearly)
    Within Workspace 365 we use the Reach, Teach, Act framework. It is a framework that I developed throughout the years and can share one-on-one. In short, it allows us to focus on: Impressions, Visitors and Conversions.

    Within marketing you can measure a lot of things. But as a small organisation you should be agile. That is why I would recommend to have a maximum of 3 key KPIs for your marketing team and also 3 KPIs per person that contribute to the key KPIs.

    An example of a key objective is to increase the website visitors 10% month-over-month. This could be split to personal KPIs such as increase traffic from LinkedIn with 10% month-over-month.

     

  3. Formulate your marketing strategy (yearly)
    Within your marketing strategy you will formulate how you will reach your objectives. Will you focus on digital marketing? Will you include physical events? Will you include traditional media? Review this strategy with external advisors as they will be able to level-up your strategy.

  4. Develop action programs (quarterly)
    Marketing should touch all bases in your organisation. In this step you will define your action programs to fulfil your marketing strategy. For example, if your organisations works with a partner channel distribution, you should develop programs to activate partners and help them to reach their goals. The action program might be: Activate the top 100 Partners

    In this step you will also decide who is responsible for the action program within your team.

  5. Implementation of programs (monthly)
    So you decided your action programs, now it is time to implement them. What recourses are needed to fulfil your program? Who should help you? And when is the deadline?

    E.g. to activate the top 100 partners you decide to organize an event to highlight the benefits for partners. In order to get them to sign-up you organize a give-away. This gives a lot of planning: Who will present the event? What will they discuss? What will you give-away? Who orders these stuff? How will partners know about the give-away?

  6. Control and review (weekly)
    Each week you should have a marketing planning session to discuss the progress of programs within your team. This will enable your team members to ask for help. It will also allow them to pro-actively help other team members in improving their work. Ideally, each team member presents their own programs, it’s status and results.

  7. Evaluation (after each program)
    After each program you should evaluate the results. Things you want to include:
    – What was the result? The program lead should collect data for this part.
    – What could we do better? Use this to update your process files.
    – What did we like most? This enables people to give compliments to each other, this is important because you probably have an awesome team who should feel proud!

    The program lead can collect the information using forms or by setting up a short meeting.

How do you start with your marketing planning?

Where should you start? That’s a great question. Depending on how much time you have I would start at step 1: the research. However, I know how hectic marketing is at a smaller organisation. Ultimately, you want to link your goals to the organisation goals. But if the organisation goals are not clear, don’t hold back. Setup your own goals. Move quick and be agile. Need goals? Use your current progress and add 3, 5 or 7% on a monthly base.

The goal of this article was to help you in setting up your marketing planning process. Hopefully, I helped you get a step in the right direction. As you can imagine, each organisation is unique. To give a full advice I would also dive into your organisation and industry. So, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out via LinkedIn.

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Scale-up tip: how to grow your marketing team? First marketing hires

Scale-up tip: how to grow your marketing team? First marketing hires

How do you decide your first marketing hires? Who should be in the marketing team of a start-up or scale-up? Five years ago I struggled with these questions. As with anything I turned to Google and asked advice from other marketing managers. Today I’d like to share how I finally came up with a plan and how you can decide who you should hire to grow your marketing team.

Your first marketing hire

Let’s say that you are the CEO of a start-up and you have enough budget to hire one person to support your marketing efforts. Chances are big that you haven’t yet reached the perfect product-market fit. That is why I would look for someone who has the four skills below:

  1. Eager to learn, not afraid to speak with customers
  2. Broad marketing knowledge and loves technology
  3. Proven experience of building an audience
  4. Open to change and willing to try new things

The founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, wrote a book called ‘Blitzscaling’. In this book he also describes that when your company is below 100 employees people should be flexiblists. Meaning that they should try to become an expert in their field, but not narrowing down to much like a specialist.

That is also why I think your first marketing hire should practice multiple fields in marketing (Storytelling, Design, SEO/SEA, Email marketing, etc.). It should be someone with hands-on experience to quickly adjust the marketing efforts based on new findings at customers. 

The seniority should definitely depend on your budget and go-to-market strategy. If you did manage to secure good funding and plan on setting up a huge marketing push I would recommend to hire someone who has done this before and ask during their interview what they did, how they did it and what they would now do differently.

Second marketing hire

If I’m correct, the person reading this paragraph is that rockstar-marketeer described above. Someone who is experienced in all fields of marketing.

For the second hire my recommendation would be to look for another person like yourself. If your organisation is still below 75 people I would recommend to hire someone who is great at creating content and eager to learn the other parts of marketing. This person should be able to completely replace you within a year. Why? Because if it all goes good, you’ll be very busy.

Before hiring person #3: learn to delegate and build templates

If your marketing budget allows it, experiment with delegating work to agencies and freelancers.

Work with agencies to scale up SEO & SEA efforts

You will need agencies to scale your digital marketing efforts as it makes no sense yet to spend days within your SEO/SEA tools. You probably did this for a while, but now the time has come to ‘buy’ expert knowledge from agencies. As you have done these tasks yourself for a while you know how to select agencies, although I will write an article on this as there are a lot of marketing cowboy agencies out there. 

Master hiring freelancers to improve processes or get the best experts

One of the coolest tricks in marketing is to build a great network of freelancers. On fiverr.com you will find a huge talent pool with writers, designers, voice-overs, animators, translators, and much more. If you work at an international start-up or scale-up and you need translations it makes no sense to do it inhouse. You can hire students to add subtitles to a video or translate an article of 1,000 words for just 15 euro.

Improve your hiring speed and focus on training

The first two people in your marketing team should be able to teach new colleagues about the organization’s mission, values and communication style. Therefore, it is key to have a solid structure in your document storage, making it easy for new people to find information. Next to this, you want to create templates to review the work of new colleagues. Or even better, templates and checklists that they can use to review themselves.

Case study: Hiring experts – great animators in India

A few years ago we wanted to reposition the Workspace 365 brand. We decided to create a new animation video and we wanted it to be perfect. So, we requested offers from a lot of animation companies within our home country (the Netherlands). Prices would range from 3.500 – 6.500 euro for a three minute video.

Luckily, we found a great animation studio (Geekfoxy) on fiverr that would create the video for just 750 euro. And after seeing the examples of the agencies that we contacted, I’m 100% sure that they also hired the same studio in India as we did. This saved us thousands of euros. 

Hiring person #3: create a plan and research others in your field

Now comes the hard part. You want to hire a third person. Chances are big that your company hit a scale-up stage and you need to level up your marketing. Ideally, you have a budget that allows you to create a mix of senior and junior marketing talents. At this time you will probably know your own expertise and that of your colleague. This allows you to add additional talents to your team. Here is what I did:

1. Understand your company and strategy

Before you hire another person it is extremely important to understand the overall strategy, planning and mission of the company.

  • What is the ambition of the CEO(s)?
  • Do they plan to scale-up in your current market or do they want to cross borders?
  • Do they want to add more industries?
  • Do they want to switch target groups or change the ideal customer size?

Answering these questions will help you to decide who to hire in your marketing team. 

2. Define your marketing organisation structure

Our organisation is a business-to-business software vendor. That is why I decided to study 20 org charts of similar companies. During this process I looked at similarities between our inbound and outbound methodology. I wrote down the things that I liked most about other org charts and which departments/hires would fit our companies strategy to scale globally.  

One of the org charts that I loved most was that of Hubspot. They had a similar approach to marketing and sales which made it logical to match their departments to our strategy. On the Modern Marketing Partners website is a great overview of 7 types of marketing organisation structures.

3. From flexiblists to experts?

At this point you will want to add some expertise to your team. To get a great marketing team you should now focus on diversifying talents across people. You should have the following people:

Master of Content and creative genius

Someone who is able to turn any boring slogan or dull image into a master piece. This person will be able to review any content that is produced and can offer advice on how to improve it.

Common function titles to search for candidates: Content creator, Storyteller, Content marketeer, Writer, Graphic designer, Brand manager, Content manager, Content strategist.

Digital and analytical lover

In your marketing team you should definitely add someone who loves to dive into digital marketing and analytics. Someone who isn’t afraid to experiment with technologies and to upgrade your marketing tech-stack. You want someone with hands-on experience but who is also able to delegate and manage tasks to external agencies.

Common function titles to search for candidates: Online marketing specialist, Digital marketing specialist, Growth hacker, Demand generator, Data marketing manager, SEO specialist, SEO manager, SEA specialist, SEA manager, Internet marketing specialist, Digital strategist.

Audience manager

Having someone who knows your audience and where they can reach them is very valuable. They will be able to use different organic and paid channels to reach your audience. Next to this, they will collaborate with your team to grow the audience.

Common function titles to search for candidates: Community manager, Engagement manager, Social media manager, Audience manager, Email marketing manager, . 

The goal of this article was to help you in setting up your marketing team. Hopefully, I helped you get a step in the right direction. As you can imagine, each organisation is unique. To give a full advice I would also dive into your organisation and industry. So, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the email newsletter to stay up-to-date on new tips and tricks to scale your marketing.

 

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Three technologies that will make screens disappear in five years

Three technologies that will make screens disappear in five years

In five years all glass screens should be gone. Admit it, nobody likes having big screens in their house and I’ve seen offices in which they ‘fight’ for the large screen on a skateboard, which people lock in their office because they need it the day after. Yes, it is time to move away from all those screens, keyboards, mouses and mobile phones. It is time to step back to beamers with motion sensors and to screens which are so thin that you can fold them. Luckily, these developments are progressing and are almost ready to swoop away our current static screens. Here are some cool technologies allowing us to do this:

Motion Sensors in Google Pixel 4

Don’t hold the phone is the slogan of the commercial for the Google Pixel 4. And while I don’t believe this device actually floats in the air (see video below), it does have motion sensors built in. That way you don’t have to touch the screen (remember, the static glass which will disappear in the coming years).

Now imagine this technology being integrated within a mini beamer or foldable screens. I see this as a technology which might replace the mouse or your touch. Combined with improved voice recognition you can also replace your keyboard and mouse.

The technology in Pixel 4 will be a perfect replacement for your finger and mouse.

A foldable screen in the Samsung Galaxy Fold

Another cool device which is expected is the Samsung Galaxy Fold. While I’m not convinced yet that their first version will change the smartphone market, it is a great step forward. This shows that companies are investing in foldable screens and that they are working to replace the static screens. 

And yes, the first mobile phone was big and didn’t fit in your pocket, but years later it got thinner and smaller. But now people want to have it bigger. If you have a foldable screen with motion sensors and speech recognition, why would you need a laptop, tablet or big static screen?

Virtual reality and Augmented reality

Two years ago I stepped in a Sensory Reality Pod from Sensiks. This was incredible. Your eyes and brains are tricked by virtual reality, walking through a forest. But they did more, they also play with your other senses. You could feel the wind blowing in your face and smell the woods. In that story the forest caught fire and you could feel the heat on your skin and smell burning woods. This is something you should experience yourself to be blown away, but keep in mind this is two years ago. Imagine what we can do in five or ten years if you combine these technologies with each other.

What technologies do you think will help replace the static screens?

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Hot or Not? Is your LinkedIn picture good enough?

Hot or Not? Is your LinkedIn picture good enough?

As you might know, I’m a big fan of LinkedIn for B2B relation building. The platform offers an amazing reach and allows you to differentiate yourself and to create a personal or company brand. And as I have a marketing background I think it’s important to measure your actions. That is why I always keep track of my stats (views, likes, comments, shares) on posts but I’ve now found a tool that allows me to do another great trick.

Measure your face

Yes, it might be a bit uneasy to start with. However, as LinkedIn is an important platform you should use it as seriously as possible. That includes getting feedback on your profile. The first tool which I’d like to share with you is Photofeeler.

Photofeeler is a tool allows you to get feedback on your profile picture(s).

Time to A/B test your looks

This reminds me of when I was younger, hot or not? You see a picture of someone of the opposite gender and decide if he/she is hot or not. We have all used it to discover what people think of us (or it might be my love for analyzing that I used it). This tool is comparable. It allows people to vote on how competent, likable and influential you come across on your picture.

Vote for a vote

To get votes, you should vote. It’s a fair system and it allows you to quickly gain enough votes to decide which profile picture works best for your audience. While it would be great to score above average on all features, it might differ which you need to get your message across. For example, a customer service employee might want to score above average on competency and likeability, while a Sales Manager wants to rank high on influence.

Photofeeler test by Mark Grasmayer from ENMA

 

My first tests

Here are my insights on my tests. While I thought that a close-up of my face would be quite impressing, the opposite is true (or is it too impressive? We’ll never know).  So, I decided to upload another picture and get new votes. And voila, the second picture scores way better and is now my LinkedIn profile picture. After that I ran a third test as I want to score higher on influence. Unfortanetly, I did not succeed. 

Testing your sales team

This might be an ethical dilemma which you might want to discuss with your co-workers. However, as LinkedIn can have a major impact on your B2B-sales it’s important to have your entire team looking as sharp as possible. That said, why don’t you throw in their pictures? The CEO of Workspace 365, Erik Nicolai, was kind enough to take the test. He is a firm believer of LinkedIn’s power. We both thought that he had a great LinkedIn profile, however, after running some test we managed to almost increase all of his scores with 20%! Imagine the impact this has on making the first connection with a potential business partner.

What are you waiting for? Give it a spin on Photofeeler. I’m very curious to your results.

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Six years of blogging, worth it?

Six years of blogging, worth it?

In 2011 I’ve started blogging with Enma.nl. Was it worth it? Yes, definetely. I’d love to share some insights and gainings which I got out of blogging for Enma.nl. And I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all returning visitors! It really sparks me joy to see that 30% of the visitors are returning to read more. It’s a huge difference compared to november 2011, back then I was happy with 150 unique visitors in a month. Here’s why I started and what I learned and gained in the past six years of blogging.

Bye to marketing

Since I can remember my goal has always been to be a business men like my father. That is why I started with a lower level marketing education at the age of 15. I knew this was what I wanted to do and I loved to learn about it. After graduation I got a job offer for data entry at Netherlands largest door-to-door flyer distributor. They quickly noticed that I wanted to achieve a marketing role and gave me the opportunity. In just three months they promoted me to segmentation specialist. Allowing me to work with big corporate customers to target their ideal customer at the age of 19.

But then nine months later I quit my dream job

My mother got cancer, it was uncurable and it made me realize that life can be short. I loved music, so I stopped working and started studying music. After eight months I was accepted at a music academy.

My path to becoming a professional musician

Before getting to music college a lot of professional musicians told me that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I had only played bass guitar for 2,5 years, the average bass player that is accepted plays music for 8 years. But that didn’t stop me, so I practiced and I was accepted. 

However, it then struck me that I was the worst bass player in class.

In the second year in college it turned out that the other bass players where a lot better. Next to this, if I wanted to make money in music, it would mean giving bass lessons to others. Something which I liked doing, but not for the rest of my life. At that moment I realized that a plan B wouldn’t be an luxury plan but might me necessary. 

Statistics for Enma

They hated marketing

Before starting my blog I already tried to explain other musicians how they can use marketing. But most of them hated marketing. They thought marketing meant changing their music style to pop. So, I searched for a way to learn them that marketing isn’t nessecarily about changing your product, but it is about spreading your story.

At that moment in November 2011, I started a blog to inspire people around me.

How blogging helped me to become a marketeer

After music college my blog already had a great following. It made me realize that I could do the same for any company. So, I started looking for a job as a marketeer. I created a slide deck with my CV to show companies what I could do for them. And to show them that I already did it for myself. 

Gain #1: Marketing management job

In february 2014 I received a call. It was my current employer. “Hi, I saw your mail and what you’ve done and I’d like to know more about it.”. Fast forward 3,5 years and I’m experimenting with marketing on the job. In my current role I’ve helped the company to set up a marketing machine with analytics to measure results. Next to this, I try to inspire and help our partners to sell and market Workspace 365, both nationally as internationally. In short, I believe the blog helped me to get this amazing job which helps me to keep improving all my marketing skills.

Gain #2: Visiting events & conferences for free

Alot of my knowledge comes from reading and watching videos. However, I also try to get my inspiration from others. From experts within their branche or niche. And as I have a specific following (mostly marketing people and entrepeneurs) I was able to visit a lot of events for free, in exchange for a blog post. This saved me thousands of euros on event tickets and helped me to increase my knowledge and network.

Gain #3: Speaking opportunities

Next to visiting events, speaking opportunities are great for building your network. Without blogging I wouldn’t have been able to get the opportunity to speak at companies and schools. Do I get paid each time? No. Sometimes I do it as I love speaking about marketing and that I hope to inspire someone to become a expert in their field. And ofcourse, I hope they will remember me and think of me when they face a marketing challenge.

Gain #4: Free books

Another thing which I like is books on marketing and entrepeneurship. As I love to share knowledge I receive books, read them and review them. This is a great way for me to gain knowledge and by writing it down and sharing it with you, it also helps me to lock the knowledge in my brain.

Gain #5: Knowledge.

Last but not least. Writing for Enma.nl has helped me to gain a significant amount of knowledge on all fields in marketing. For each article I read for hours. And I can’t always put all the knowledge in the article, it does help me to become a better marketeer. Something which I think allows me to help others to become better marketeers as well.

Thank you for reading and feel free to connect on LinkedIn.