Well, they did it! And it was sure fun to watch! As I mentioned in Part 1 of Marketing Tips from Rowing, last weekend was the Head of the Charles Regatta here in the Boston area. Sure enough, the Cambridge Boat Club not only defended their title and won the Men’s Senior Master Fours, but finished only .3 seconds off the course record they set in 2013! Riding my bike on the closed streets along the Charles River, I could see them gradually opening up a lead on the other boats. Although I wasn’t quite close enough to hear their coxswain call the cadence, I’m sure that, at some point, she called for “Ten Big Ones” of extra effort, as they stroked to victory.
Power Last Week, Cadence This Week
In my first Marketing Tips from Rowing post, I equated rowing with B2B marketing by focusing on power and cadence as the key drivers of effectiveness for both. A boat’s speed depends on how powerfully the rowers pull the oars, and the rate at which they do so.
Similarly, power and cadence can also be considered the two major drivers of an effective B2B marketing strategy. Last week I covered power – how the power of a marketing program depends on how precisely the messaging and selling efforts engage the target buyer. This week’s Marketing Tips from Rowing post will cover cadence – the frequency of activities relating to awareness, demand generation, and sales enablement.
Marketing Cadence: 5 Tips to Finish Off “10 Big Ones”
Last week I also mentioned the powerful impact of Daniel James Brown’s “The Boys in the Boat,” the story of the background of the members of the American rowers who won the gold in the Mens Eights in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
When extra effort was needed, the coxswain would call out, “Give me 10 big ones!” The rowers would respond with extra effort over ten strokes. Here, then, are five tips that relate to cadence that will drive your B2B marketing effort forward.
1. Blogging Cadence
B2B marketers realize the importance of blogging as part of an inbound marketing strategy. Reaching your intended audience with compelling, useful information is a key way to drive them into, and through the inbound buying cycle. The question is around cadence. How often should a company blog in order to maximize the impact on inbound traffic?
Hubspot has published some great data on exactly this question. Check out the charts in the Hubspot post covering the impact of blogging frequency on website traffic. The key data point is that companies that blog 15 times or month get 5 times as much website traffic as those that don’t blog at all. So, the answer, like in rowing, is that higher cadence drives better results. But, also like rowing, the caveat is that cadence must not come at the expense of power. Just like fast sloppy strokes won’t make a fast boat, content must be of high quality in order to be effective.
Of course, the follow up question is how does a B2B marketer build a team to help develop that volume of blogs? I covered that topic in a recent post called “Content Generation is a Team Sport.”
2. Refresh Customer Data to Validate Your Value Proposition
A key sales enablement initiative for any B2B marketer is to arm his or her sales colleagues with messaging and supporting data that will help drive buyers through the buying cycle.
In past posts, I’ve written about my experience implementing the Challenger Sale sales methodology. One key to this approach is to identify and leverage a commercial insight. The commercial insight is the content, based on your product’s unique advantages, that sales uses to uncover a previously unknown problem in the current way the customer does business. The commercial insight disrupts how the customer thinks about her business, and ultimately leads to your product as the unique solution to the problem.
Whether you use Challenger Sale methodology or not, value propositions must be supported with actual customer data. Real results that customers have achieved using your product, that validate your unique advantages. Marketing messages are just words. Numbers add compelling context. Like Quality Guru W. Edwards Deming once said, “In God we trust. All others bring data.”
Ideally, you’ll gather supporting data for all of the key vertical markets you sell to, and in all of the geographic regions in which you sell. You’ll have numbers that support each of the key use cases your product addresses. You’ll put this into a searchable database that your marketing and sales team can access. And most importantly, you must continually add to the data set. I’ve found that the right cadence is quarterly updates for new case studies.
3. Reboot the Mission – Monthly
Along with your company’s moral, or core beliefs, your company’s mission statement is key to articulating your company’s business goals and differentiation. Your mission is directly connected to your value proposition and competitive advantages. Revisit these high level points with your marketing and sales teams frequently, at least monthly, so they remain top of mind.
4. Frequency of Touches – More is Better
There’s healthy debate as to whether or not it’s still relevant to discuss the number of touches required to convert a prospect into a qualified lead. In the world of inbound marketing, when most buyers are well educated about how to solve their problem even before sales engages, some inbound marketers believe that focusing on the number of touches no longer applies. Others suggest that marketers should plan on between 7 and 13 touches to deliver a sales qualified lead. No matter what you believe, it’s important to keep up the cadence of interaction with your target buyers by providing them compelling content that educates them on the problems your solution addresses.
5. Check Your Splits – Weekly
As the Cambridge Boat Club Men’s Senior Master Four pulled along-side the boat house after their win, I noticed their coxswain pull a packet of information out of her jacket pocket. I learned that she carrier along with her the boat’s splits from the previous year’s race, so that she could compare their performance this year to their record-setting pace from last year.
Similarly, B2B marketers should compare metrics for actual attainment vs. plan, at least weekly, to track progress toward monthly, quarterly, and annual goals. This allows for early course correction if the trends aren’t going in the right direction. Or identification of particularly effective tactics that can be repeated for additional success.
What Are Your “10 Big Ones?”
So, there you have it. Marketing tips from rowing, brought to you by the Head of the Charles Regatta. 5 tips for marketing cadence here. And 5 tips for marketing power in the last post. Tell me what you think regarding either one. Do you have other best practices for getting more power, cadence, or overall speed?