I’m at the Inbound Marketing Summit in San Francisco. My flight was delayed, so I missed the first few talks – including the Director of Social Media for the San Francisco Giants. Apparently, they just let him trot around town with their World Series trophy. He had it here at the conference – barely missed it.
Anyway, the talks I did hear were full of great stuff (and some questionable stuff I’ll mention in a sec). I’ll share the main takeaways from day one.
Marketing Automation Solves Real Life Pains!
Our very own customer, Todd Staples of Stealth Auto, presented his case study on how his use of marketing automation has grown his business in dramatic ways. He highlighted how he’s using targeted follow-up sequences to nurture leads who show interest in specific topics. He showed approximately a 30% conversion rate from those sequences. Amazing! The best part was, immediately after he was finished, a guy came up to me and told me this:
“Tell Todd his presentation was awesome. I’m experiencing the exact same pain he described. We’re using Salesforce.com. We’re only using it as a database. We have ConstantContact, but we’re not happy with it. We need to follow up with people the way Todd is.”
The point is, Todd’s story resonated with existing pains people have. The marketing automation era has arrived and Infusionsoft is leading the pack for small business.
Traditional Advertising Still Works!
Jen Grant, VP of Marketing at Box.net gave a great talk on brand marketing. She shared a story about advertising with billboards that was very clever. As they talked to VC’s about Box.net, they realized that the VC’s all had the idea in their head that Box.net was about online storage – that’s it. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t help them see that their solution was much more than storage. So, they put up a billboard in a strategic location, right off the 101 freeway, where all the VC’s pass by on their way to work. The main headline on the billboard was “Box.net vs. Sharepoint”. Almost immediately, they had VC’s talking to them about the big game they were in and how Box.net was so much more than online storage. Clever. Takeaway: Don’t discount traditional advertising, but remain targeted and strategic with it.
Go Mobile or Go Home!
Tim Hayden, CMO for 44Doors, talked in detail about QR codes, mobile apps and location-based marketing. It was super insightful. I got the impression that he was saying “Go Mobile or Go Home”. He didn’t say it, but that was the feeling I got. I always cringe when experts push a particular tactic, tool, or medium. Those listening are prone to go chase that new shiny thing without first figuring out how it fits into their strategy. Today, I’m giving a talk that will focus on strategy and help people figure out how to apply tactics and tools that actually achieve the goals of the strategy.
Psychographics and More
The day ended with a very insightful discussion between Chris Brogan and Colin Bower. Part of the discussion was around the idea of using psychographics in marketing. It’s a beautiful idea, but many are struggling with implementation. This is were I smile really big inside when I think of Infusionsoft. Infusionsoft’s proprietary tagging system and lead source tracking allows us to track all behaviors. Behavior tracking is essentially the manifestation of the target’s psychographics. No need to go do any fancy and expensive psychographic research – just start tracking how your visitors, leads and customers respond to different messages. Combine that with tracking where they came from (lead source) and you’ve got the formula for figuring how where to get more customers and what to say to them to get them to convert.
Chris Brogan made an unrelated statement that was spot on. Brogan said, “Small business owners are like a guy with a medical ailment.” Even when the medical ailment is pointed out, guys (with all their bravado) will always respond “I’m fine”. When you ask small business owners how their business is (even when there is an obvious problem) they always say things are great. In my opinion, this is a necessary trait of any entrepreneur – optimism. The key is to combine it with the ability to face the brutal facts of the current reality and work to overcome them.
This year IMS did an experiment with a “pay your own price” pricing model. There was no set price to come to the event. You could pay whatever you thought the conference was worth. You could even decide to pay later – after you’ve experienced it – in order to pay what you thought it was worth. In social circles, this kind of stuff is the new way. Here are a few thoughts of mine that might be helpful if you’re considering something like this:
- Kids Eat Free. This kind of pricing model is similar to a “kids eat free” promo at a restaurant. The restaurant knows that they can still make money on the parents if they feed the kids for free. I’m sure the IMS conference is able to cover costs with sponsorships – paid tickets are just gravy. So, they use this pricing model to create goodwill and be cutting edge. So, the key is, make sure you’re not putting your entire financial model at risk.
- Consumables & Feeder Products. This seems to work well with consumable products and products that feed into more expensive products. Panera Bread restaurants have been successful with a “pay what you can” model. It’s important to realize that they didn’t do this with all their stores. They only have a handful of stores doing it. They’ve protected their bottom line. They’ve also tied this effort to a local charitable cause – thus spurring philanthropy as people determine their own price.
- Test, test, test. Never do anything like messing with the financial health of your company without testing first.
It’s been a great conference so far. You can follow it on Twitter at #IMS11.