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B2B Marketing Spotlight: Neen James on How to Make Attention Pay #mpb2b

Neen James Interview

Neen James Interview

Neen James is the author of Folding Time™ and her most recent book, Attention Pays™. She is frequently named one of the top 30 Leadership Speakers by Global Guru because of her work with companies like Viacom, Comcast, Cisco, Virgin, Pfizer, BMW, and the FBI, among others.

Neen is a leadership expert who delivers high-energy keynotes that challenge audiences to leverage their focus and pay attention to what matters most at work and in life.

She’s also originally from Australia but now lives in Florida. Neen and I are both members of a secret or not so secret society of speakers and although we have never met until today, the energy she shares through her digital communications makes me feel like we’ve known each other for years.

On Wednesday October 16th, Neen will be giving an opening keynote, Attention Pays™: How to Drive Profitability, Productivity, and Accountability at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Washington D.C..  Neen was generous to spend some time with me to talk about the importance of attention in business, for marketing and marketing leaders.

Enjoy the full video interview below:

Neen James on the Value of Personal Branding in B2B Marketing:

I think it's vital because when you think about this whole idea, if you really want to get attention, you have to give attention. And as marketers we have to give attention to the brand that people are buying from. We are the product.

I grew up in corporate business, Lee. I worked in retail banking, telecommunications, and the oil industry. And what I realized, Lee, is I had to be able to stand out.

The people that we are working with want to know that they can trust us. They want to know that we're going to get them the results that they need.  @neenjames

Just like you would do a SWOT analysis on a potential product for a client in a strategic plan, we're going to do the same thing with ourselves because the people that we are working with, Lee, they want to know that they can trust us. They want to know that we're going to get them the results that they need.

So a personal brand in B2B is vital and it's also about making sure that the brand has longevity and consistency.

Neen James on Systems of Attention: 

Systems create freedom, right? We all have systems in place, whether we are marketers within organizations or an entrepreneur that is running your own marketing for your company. I believe that we need systems of attention.

There are systems of attention to be able to get and give the kind of attention that you want, whether it is in the work place or outside. We all know that with the projects that we're all juggling, the clientele that we're all managing, and the team that we're leading, that we need some systems in place.

Neen James on the Cost of Distractions from Multitasking:

The costs are insane. Whether they're personal or professional. There was some research done by the Information Overload Group, which is a hilarious name for a company, that found in the US $588 billion dollars is lost every year because there's loss of productivity through distraction and multitasking.

In the US $588 billion dollars is lost every year because there's loss of productivity through distraction and multitasking. @neenjames

From a professional point of view, there's obviously results like reduced productivity and reduced internal customer satisfaction. Are distracted employees really delivering on the results you said you would provide to the clientele that you serve inside or outside your organization?

There are many costs including team engagement, productivity, customer satisfaction. There are professional costs, but personally the most disturbing thing I found when I was researching my book, Attention Pays, was that on average nine people die every day because of distracted driving.

I mean, we've made it more important to update our Facebook status than to actually pay attention to the road.

Neen James on Prioritizing your Priorities:

A strategic appointment with yourself is just 15 minutes. Here's what's so fascinating. People tell me all the time, "Oh, there's never enough time." Or, "I've run out of time, we're going to kill time." Well, poor time. Time never did anything to you.

You can't manage time because you and I get the same 1440 minutes in a day. Time doesn't care. It's going to happen anyway. You can't manage time, but you can manage your attention. @neenjames

See, I don't believe in time management, right? You can't manage time because you and I get the same 1440 minutes in a day. Time doesn't care. It's going to happen anyway. You can't manage time, but you can manage your attention.

By simply investing in a strategic appointment with yourself for 15 minutes every day you're going to identify what strategic nonnegotiable goals will get you closer to the bigger picture, to the things you're responsible for.

Thanks Neen! 

BONUS: You can download a FREE copy of Neen's book, Folding Time, here (pdf)

B2B Forum
Bound for B2B Forum: For more information about imagining what’s possible in B2B including Neen James' keynote, check out the MarketingProfs B2B Forum conference including agenda, list of speakers (including Ashley Zeckman and myself) and many other fun facts on the B2B Form website here. Also, get $100 off by using this mpb2b discount code: B2BFriends

You can find more information about Neen on her website and follow her on Twitter here: @neenjames

Be sure to watch the other videos in the MPB2B series featuring:

Ann Handley - Are You a B2B Marketing Badaxe?

Jay Baer -  Are You Down with EGC?

Tyrona Heath - Can ABM & Social Selling Unite?

The post B2B Marketing Spotlight: Neen James on How to Make Attention Pay #mpb2b appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Get Your Priorities Straight: How to Prioritize to Optimize Your Marketing Workflow

How to Prioritize to Optimize Your Marketing Workflow

How to Prioritize to Optimize Your Marketing Workflow

Here’s what marketers look like when everything is a priority:


And here’s what marketers look like when everything gets prioritized:


I think you can all guess which scenario is more efficient, effective, and less stressful. 

Throughout my marketing career, I've taken on roles that have challenged me to be a jack of all trades as well as a specialist—yet every role has required the ability to identify, assess, and tackle the tasks at hand in a way that makes sense for my clients, organization, team, and myself. Simply put, every marketing practitioner and leader needs to be able to prioritize and deprioritize work to be lean, mean marketing machine that drives results.

To help you or your marketing team actually get work done (and do it well), here are a few tips for prioritizing to optimize your marketing workflow.

5 Tips to Get Your Marketing Priorities Straight

Tip #1 - Address the elephant in the room.

No one wants to admit it, but not all work is urgent and not all work is “important.” If you or your team’s workload is over capacity, you need to address this elephant in the room: some of the work has to wait. 

The hard part is actually taking the time to determine which tasks and pieces of work are urgent, important, both, or neither. Here’s how we often look at it:

  • Urgent tasks are time sensitive. They might be needed to fix a mistake or identify the cause of an issue. They could be the catalyst for launching on time. With urgent tasks, time is of the essence and getting work done quickly is critical.
  • Important tasks are effort sensitive. They take up a lot of resources. They’re the big rock everyone is waiting on. It’s fully expected that important tasks may take a little bit of extra time as they’re something you need to nail right out the gate to impress a client, influencer, or partner.

It doesn’t matter the method you use to define your organization’s priority levels; whether it’s the ABCDE Method, Eisenhower Decision Matrix, Eat the Frog Method, or your custom method-of-choice. What’s important is that you define the levels, they have clear differences, and have the stamp of approval from the whole team. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in the same situation of “everything is important” and “everything is urgent,” which is no good for anyone.


Tip #2 - Define responsibilities. 

Any marketing endeavor is marked by dozens of smaller tasks that feed the engine, many of them dependent on the timely execution of what comes before it. Within our agency for example, we need to receive influencer contributions before we can finalize our copy for a large asset. We need the copy client-approved and quality-checked before we can finish the design and promotional assets.

Recently, I've taken on some of the day-to-day management of project workflow, giving me a bird's eye view to potential bottlenecks, obstacles, and snags. But not everyone has the luxury of having that insight across the organization.

Because a large majority of tasks (and projects) are dependent on other work getting finished, you need to define responsibilities and accountabilities for each team member—and hold them to it:

  • Let them know who is accountable for each step in the process. 
  • Set expectations for when the step needs to be completed. 
  • Show them how it impacts others when those expectations are missed. 

Setting accountability early on motivates your team to do the work, minimizes confusion, and empowers them to take ownership.

Read: How to Get it Done: Project Management Tips for Content Marketing Managers

Tip #3 - Assess your task list and prioritize daily. 

When I get into work every morning, I list out priorities. Priorities for myself, that day and that week. Priorities for any projects I’m helping support from a resourcing or prioritization standpoint. I can tell you from experience that these lists changes each day—no matter what.

Whether you’re managing your individual priorities or priorities for a whole team, work is in constant flux. One team member could have a heavy meeting day on Monday, leaving them with only four hours of working time. You could be out of the office a whole workday for additional training. Or, someone agreed to get all of their priorities done (wanting to appear efficient) only to have some of their tasks slide to the next day. 

Considering all of the unexpected things that can happen in a work day, it’s important that you assess tasks and re-prioritize on a daily basis. It’s something I’ve had to learn to do, too. This not only allows our team to better stay on-track, but it also gives us five opportunities throughout the week to assess whether or not we’ll actually finish each and every priority.

Tip #4 - Establish communication mediums and expectations. 

Easily one of the most important project management tips is to keep communication open, honest, and frequent. And it applies to prioritization as well. 

Priorities shift. Sometimes, daily. It’s one of the harsh realities of marketing as we strive to reach the right audience at the right time. Changing priorities allows us to reach our audience with timely, relevant messaging. Or, delight a client with a quick turnaround. Whatever the reason, it’s essential that the change is communicated to the necessary parties early and clearly. 

It doesn’t matter if your team prefers communicating those changes via email, in a daily standup, or over Slack, as long as you have a documented process, format, and frequency set for communications, your team will be better prepared to switch gears at the drop of a hat.

Tip #5 - Always have a Plan B. 

Plans don’t always work. 

Someone gets sick, an influencer has to back out of a campaign, your client or an internal stakeholder gives you a last-minute, unplanned round of edits, or a new opportunity has presented itself and you need to capitalize. When one timeline moves, so does another. You need a back-up plan to keep your priorities on-time.

It seems like an obvious suggestion to have a back-up plan, but it doesn’t always get done. Even though you’re confident in your team and their ability to deliver quality work, you need to be prepared for the worst case scenarios. Otherwise, panic ensues because you have all your balls in the air and no one to catch them.

The back-up plan could be leaving a buffer to all of your timelines, assigning extra resources to projects, building in additional editing time even if you don’t think it’ll be needed. Expect (and plan) for the worst, hope for the best.

Let the Work Flow

At TopRank Marketing, we get a lot of work done. We have several internal teams often working on multiple campaigns at a time. And it’s impossible to do it all at once. Prioritizing our work helps us optimize our marketing workflow for both efficiency and quality. Without clear, defined priorities we’d just be really bad jugglers. Instead, we’re pretty darn good at it. 


Want more ways to get things done? Check out these marketing productivity hacks from Workfront’s Director of Digital Marketing Mike Riding.

The post Get Your Priorities Straight: How to Prioritize to Optimize Your Marketing Workflow appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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12 Techniques to Reduce Your Facebook Ad Spend

Do you want to reduce unnecessary spending on your Facebook ads? Looking for a way to audit your work? In this article, you’ll discover how to assess and improve your Facebook ad campaign performance—from first click to landing page conversion. First, Ensure Your Facebook Campaigns Are Tracking Correctly If you see your lead costs rise […]

The post 12 Techniques to Reduce Your Facebook Ad Spend appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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How to make sense of the LinkedIn algorithm

“What’s up with the LinkedIn algorithm?” Good question! And definitely something we’ve been asked a lot lately. Because according to recent social media statistics, Read more...

This post How to make sense of the LinkedIn algorithm originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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Optimization Expert Flint McGlaughlin Rapidly Diagnoses Pages LIVE in Real-Time (Part 2)

Sometimes making a small webpage change – like naming a form or download – can increase conversions dramatically.

The post Optimization Expert Flint McGlaughlin Rapidly Diagnoses Pages LIVE in Real-Time (Part 2) appeared first on MarketingExperiments.

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Return to Sender: Email Marketing Is NOT Dead, But It Needs Rejuvenation

Email Marketing Is Not Dead

Email Marketing Is Not Dead

Oh, look. Another death of email marketing headline. All too often, we see posts that lead with this provocative clickbait proclamation, while keeping the contradicting nuances under the surface.

Ironically, this kind of practice is exactly WHY email marketing has seen its reputation tarnished. The focus has shifted too far toward style at the expense of substance. Marketers became so singularly obsessed with compelling opens and clicks, through irresistible subject lines and poppy CTAs, that many of us lost touch with the core value of this digital channel: direct, one-on-one engagement.

I’m here to tell you that this value still exists, and might be more essential today than ever, in spite of (maybe even because of) the waters becoming so muddied. Recipients will welcome a little freshness and clarity in their inbox, from those brands and influencers that are willing to buck the trend.

Dead? No way. Email marketing is alive and well, and it can still be a central component of a successful, customer-centric marketing strategy when done right. 

The Rise and “Fall” of Email Marketing

This life experience might be unique to fellow millennials, but I’ll never forget the jolt of excitement I felt as a preteen logging into America Online in the mid-90s and hearing those three magical words: “You’ve got mail!” The internet in general was too new and grand a concept for my young mind to grasp, but anyone could take delight in a mysterious message sent expressly to you — like a present waiting to be unwrapped.


Fast-forward a couple decades, and the quaint charm of a full inbox has largely disappeared. Irrelevant messages began to proliferate and pile up like AOL trial discs. Spam started running amok, to the point where — as of March 2019 — 56% of all email messages were categorized as such. The sheer volume of messages we receive, and the dread of digging through them all, can cause legitimately troublesome levels of stress and anxiety

As a result, many emails are now being cast aside, either because inundated human users click delete instead of open, or because increasingly stringent filters are diverting them to the spam folder — especially if they come from a company or unfamiliar sender. 

There’s no doubt that trust has been shaken. Anecdotally, I’m sure most people reading this have been scarred by an experience where they had to completely shut down an email address because it became overwhelmed by promotional junk, or where they repeatedly tried to unsubscribe from an unwanted newsletter to no avail.

It is at times like these that well-intentioned, creative, value-driven marketers can answer the call and rise above the fray. Here’s how.

Rejuvenating Your Email Marketing Strategy

A fact that might surprise you: open rates aren’t in a state of steady, ceaseless decline. In fact, according to Super Office, the average rate has generally been increasing (or at least remaining steady) year-to-year over the past decade-plus:

Email Open Rate According to Super Office

Meanwhile, a new Email Usage Study from Adobe finds that the average person spends 5+ hours per day checking email, including 3+ hours at work. 

As Adobe’s Sarah Kennedy puts it in a blog post: “The Adobe survey findings solidify how important email still is in the everyday lives of our customers, and this means there is still a big opportunity for marketers to utilize email to engage with people in relevant and useful ways.”

Relevant and useful. Therein lies the key. Here’s how we can pursue these ideals.

Refine Your Mailing List

First of all, opt-ins are essential. If you can’t verify that a person on your list actively volunteered to receive emails from you, remove them. You might even want to consider a double-opt-in (send a confirmation email once a person signs up). It’s better to write for 10 people who truly want to receive your messages than 100 who are ambivalent or worse.

From there, any type of segmentation you can do will help. Can you divvy up your list based on areas of interest or specialization? If so, you’ll be able to create different content (or even slight variations of the same content) oriented more toward the specific individuals receiving it. A little personalization goes a long way.

[bctt tweet="It’s better to write for 10 people who truly want to receive your messages than 100 who are ambivalent or worse. @NickNelsonMN #EmailMarketing" username="toprank"]

Use Email to Build Relationships, Not to Sell

There are multiple problems with salesy emails. One: people generally don’t like them. Two: spam filters tend to be triggered by the terminology used in these messages. Three: they represent a fumbled opportunity.

When someone opts into your newsletter and then starts getting overtly pitched right away, it can feel like a betrayal of trust. As a relatively direct and personal form of marketing communication, email should be used to deliver value and build brand affinity. This is not to say you must avoid any type of lead generation elements in your messages, but make them subtle and sparse.

[bctt tweet="When someone opts into your newsletter and then starts getting overtly pitched right away, it can feel like a betrayal of trust. @NickNelsonMN #EmailMarketing" username="toprank"]

Speak as a Human, to a Human

Your emails should never come from an address that looks like this: noreply@company.com. Use a real person’s name in the sender field (an executive or marketing manager or whomever you want to use as the face of your outward brand communications) and craft content in a way that feels human and friendly. 

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, has an awesome newsletter called TotalAnnarchy that epitomizes this genuine vibe. At Social Media Marketing World earlier this year, she gave a talk about creating a newsletter people want to read. Among her tips: focus less on the NEWS and more on the LETTER, make it delightful, and write as if your message were only going out to one person.

I love the way Ann frames the present value of this channel as a marketing tool: Email is the only place where people, not algorithms, are in control.

[bctt tweet="Email, when it's done well, is like hot fire. It can burn like nobody's business. Ann Handley @MarketingProfs #EmailMarketing" username="toprank"]

Make Your Emails Visually Interesting

This is tricky terrain because different email clients will display images differently (and sometimes not at all) but in general it’s wise to err on the side of making your emails more colorful and lively. Among their examples of powerful B2B marketing campaigns, Campaign Monitor shares this webinar promo email from AdWeek featuring an animated GIF to infuse their content with understated movement. 

AdWeek Email Marketing Example

(Example via Campaign Monitor)

Just like on social feeds, compelling visuals can make your emails stand out in a crowded inbox. But make sure you don’t cross the line into gaudiness. 

Make Email a Thoughtful Part of Your Overall Strategy

“We need more traffic to our blog post. Do an email blast.” This kind of reactionary thinking is a problematic aspect of email marketing. 

As we say repeatedly, promotion should be built into campaigns from the start, and every channel should have a distinct purpose. Connect your email strategy with your goals and give it the proper effort to become a worthwhile standalone piece rather than an obligatory add-on. 

Bring Your Email Marketing Strategy Back to Life

The rumors of email marketing’s death are greatly exaggerated. This channel can still be a key fixture in your content strategy if you give it the care and attention it deserves. But like other content channels, in order to maximize its efficacy we need to emphasize quality over quantity, focus on building trust-driven relationships, strike a human resonance, spice up the visuals, and connect it to our larger goals and strategy.

When you achieve this, you just may reignite that “You’ve got mail!” spark of wonder that recipients feel when your messages pop up in their inbox.

Email marketing isn't the only form of promotion that may be missing from your strategy. Learn how to cure what's been called "invisible content syndrome."

The post Return to Sender: Email Marketing Is NOT Dead, But It Needs Rejuvenation appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Use LinkedIn to Build a Powerful Network

Are you connecting with the right people on LinkedIn? Want to build a stronger LinkedIn network? In this article, you’ll learn how to make strategic LinkedIn connections to grow your influence and your business. Why Build a Selective LinkedIn Network? Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a business professional, LinkedIn is the perfect social media platform […]

The post How to Use LinkedIn to Build a Powerful Network appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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How Hyper-Targeted Marketing Helped Zola Take Over the Wedding Industry

Fast-growth wedding startup Zola used landing pages to get crazy-specific in messaging to different segments and boost signups on its ecommerce platform.

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