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The Universal Translator: How Marketers Can Improve Communication with Internal Stakeholders

How Marketers Can Communicate with Internal Stakeholders

How Marketers Can Communicate with Internal Stakeholders

Star Trek is one of my favorite franchises. It’s a beacon to guide humanity to a brighter future: One without wars and scarcity, dedicated to discovery and enlightenment. 

(Can you tell I really loved the Picard series premiere?)

[caption id="attachment_27932" align="alignnone" width="600"]Poster for the Star Trek series Picard (He has a PIT BULL named NUMBER ONE.) Photo Credit: CBS[/caption]

But the best tech in all of Star Trek isn’t the transporter, the replicator, or even the holodeck. It’s the universal translator, a gizmo that can process language in real-time and convey every nuance and idiom.

We have a similar technology right now, but… well, it could use some work.

“Shivers down my spine” turns into “chicken skin?” That kind of margin of error would cause some serious diplomatic crises in Starfleet.

But we shouldn’t be too hard on Google Translate. Sometimes people speaking the same language have trouble communicating with each other.

Marketers are good at speaking marketing-ese, for example. But within our team we likely have multiple dialects, and that causes communication troubles. And when we step outside of the marketing department? Well, we’re back to flipping through a phrase book, asking “Dónde está la biblioteca?”

Here are a few pointers that can keep your marketing team from getting lost in translation.

Tips for Fostering Better Communication with Stakeholders in 3 Key Departments

#1: The Marketing Department: Build a Shared Dictionary

Marketing is a multifaceted discipline these days, and you’re likely working with a diverse team to cover all the necessary skill sets. There’s the more technical-minded SEO folks, the more creative (but still strategic) design and content people, and of course the project managers who make it all work.

Odds are, each specialty has its own lexicon. For example, our SEO and content teams have one definition for power page:

Power Page [ pou-er peyj ] (n): A comprehensive, 2,000 word or more content asset that aims to be the best answer for a group of search queries.

However, for account managers (the ones communicating with clients), a “power page” was a page designed to convert — what content folks would call a “landing page.”

This misalignment in terminology was confusing for all of us. Once we sat down and agreed on common definitions, we were better equipped to give account managers what they were looking for, and keep our clients happy.

via GIPHY

I’ve found it’s valuable to have regular meetings with marketing team members in different specialties. Take a few minutes to understand what they do and the terms they use. The more your team understands each others’ roles, the better equipped you will be to work towards objectives together. 

[bctt tweet="The more your team understands each others’ roles, the better equipped you will be to work towards objectives together. - @NiteWrites #B2BMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2: The IT Department: Use an Objective & Solution-Based Framework

Of course, getting all of marketing speaking the same dialect is the easy part. What happens when you have to talk tech with the IT department? 

For example, if there’s a shiny new martech solution you’d really like to implement, or if your design team needs to use Macs in a PC-only environment, you might have a hard time making the case.

Your IT team is likely highly opinionated on these issues, but what seems like stubbornness is just practicality. They need to have a controlled, secure environment. If you sneak in your own solutions to avoid confrontation, you can compromise the work they’re doing. It’s better to try and speak in terms that will resonate with their needs.

Keep the conversation grounded in objectives. Talk about the capabilities your team needs to have, and be able to explain why they matter. It helps to understand at least a bit of the IT architecture already in place.

If you’re talking about adding a new solution, make sure your vendor equips you to handle objections from the IT team. Even better, involve IT in the search process — don’t try to bring them in at the end when you’ve already decided on a solution.

#3: The C-Suite: Leverage Storytelling & the Bottom Line

Even more so than getting IT on the same page, marketers can find it challenging to communicate with the executives who set budgets and make purchase decisions. In a recent interview, Zari Venhaus shared her tips for speaking a language that resonates with the C-suite.

“If they’re not marketers, they don’t understand what we do every day and the impact it has,” Zari says. “We had to learn how to storytell.”

[bctt tweet="If they’re not marketers, they don’t understand what we do every day and the impact it has. - @zvenhaus on storytelling for stakeholders #B2BMarketing" username="toprank"]

Zari’s team was able to use the same skills that make for great content marketing — empathizing, knowing your audience, and telling a compelling story — to address their internal audience. (We highly recommend you tune in to her full interview below; great stuff in there.)

Ultimately, with the C-suite it comes down to proving the value of your marketing in concrete terms. That means connecting your marketing initiatives to revenue and ROI, whether it’s raising awareness or investing in new automation tools. It’s one thing to say, “With this tool, we’ll be able to increase conversion rates by .53%,” and another to say, “This tool will have a 135% return on investment within three months.”

Become a Universal Translator

We marketers are skilled communicators and strategists. We’re good at getting the right message to the right people in a way that inspires action. The key to good internal communication is treating our team members and stakeholders like our customers.

That means first getting our messaging nailed down and consistent throughout the marketing team. Then it means delivering relevant messages — offering value, even — to the rest of the organization in terms that are meaningful to each stakeholder.

As Jean-Luc himself would say: 

Jean-Luc Picard says Make It So

The post The Universal Translator: How Marketers Can Improve Communication with Internal Stakeholders appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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In a Fast-Paced Digital World, B2B Marketers Can Benefit from Slowing Down

Why B2B Marketers Should Slow Their Marketing Roll

Why B2B Marketers Should Slow Their Marketing Roll

We are living in the age of speed: faster connections, faster answers, faster service. People expect many things to happen instantly, in real-time, and technological advancements are increasingly making it possible.

As such, it might seem counter-intuitive to suggest that we as B2B marketers are wise to slow our roll. Sometimes we tend to go through the motions too quickly, or in the wrong order, and it can hurt our results. In fact, it can prevent us from even accurately evaluating our results.

Sean Callahan recently wrote a post on the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions* blog arguing that a top priority in 2020 for B2B marketers should be to slow down when measuring ROI. The case is simple and convincing: Sales cycles have grown significantly longer but analytics haven’t responded in kind. Per the post, 77% of marketers are still measuring ROI in the first month of a campaign, even though the average B2B sales cycle is now about six months long.

“The reality is,” writes Callahan, “most marketers are showing up to their book club having only read a sixth of the book.”

This got me thinking about the argument’s broader applicability in B2B marketing. There are a number of different areas where it’s becoming clear that practitioners might be moving too quickly and doing themselves a disservice. To be clear: We’re not suggesting that you delay making decisions or drastically cut down your content production; sometimes it’s as simple as stepping back and taking a beat.

Let’s talk about four opportunities that stand out: experiences, strategies, social media, and SEO.

4 Areas Where B2B Marketers Can Benefit from Pumping the Brakes

Slow Your Experience

There are plenty of metaphors I could toss out regarding the inverse relationship between speed and quality of an experience, but I’ll go with this one: Would you rather be shuffled through a fast-moving line at a fast-food joint, or carefully walked through a restaurant menu by a knowledgeable and curious server beside your table? 

Yes, customers want things quickly, but there’s a balance. It’s been nearly two decades since William McEwen made a point that remains very true today: When marketers emphasize doing things faster, they often end up doing things worse

“If the goal is to create strong bonds that ensure customer retention, companies must focus on activities that create and sustain the customer relationships, not just on those that enhance company efficiency,” McEwen wrote in his book, Married to the Brand

In his example he notes that a cold, tasteless sandwich from Arby’s isn’t going to yield a happy customer, no matter how fast it’s delivered. The same principles apply to any B2B experience — fast isn’t memorable. But when content is unusually entertaining, impactful, or tailored? That can stick in one’s brain.

More recently, Ann Handley preached this premise at Content Marketing World 2019, arguing that the most efficient is not the most effective. She recommends that marketers step back and ask themselves a few questions with regards to the customer experience they’re providing: 

  • How can I build trust and momentum for the content experience over time? And what does that look like?
  • How can I involve the audience in a meaningful way so they are invested in the outcome?
  • How can I create an experience that individuals rally around in a way that makes them more invested in the community?

[bctt tweet="The most efficient isn't always the most effective. Stop conflating them. @annhandley #B2BContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Slow Your Strategy    

Thinking through the questions above, and others, takes time. Rushing through our B2B marketing strategies invariably leads to overlooking key factors, while also generating undue stress for the team.

It’s a real psychological phenomenon: Slowing down helps us reconnect with the present, enrich relationships, and find more productivity.

“When you slow down, your mind can work on solutions to problems you may be experiencing, finding a better way to do something, prioritizing tasks and projects and eliminating or reducing conflict,” writes Suzanne Kane at Psych Central in the article linked above. These are the tenets of successful strategy.

The “Slow Your Strategy” directive runs the operational gamut, including pre-planning, resource allotment, promotion, and — as referenced earlier — measurement. 

When I think about pacing a business strategy, I think about the game of chess. Great players aren’t often the quickest; instead, they proceed methodically, analyzing the entire board and mentally playing out the consequences of a possible move before pushing the next piece.

Marketers should adopt the same mindset. Strategy is by definition “a careful plan or method,” and being careful means taking our time. Don’t hurry while solidifying the seven elements of your your B2B marketing strategy:

  • Goals and Objectives
  • Audience Segmentation and Characteristics
  • Brand Messaging
  • Multi-Channel Touchpoints
  • Content Types
  • Content Topics
  • Measurement

[bctt tweet="Strategy is by definition “a careful plan or method,” and being careful means taking our time, B2B marketers. Don’t rush the strategy process. @NickNelsonMN " username="toprank"]

Slow Your Social

The world of social media moves so quickly, it’s easy for marketers to feel under pressure to keep up. 

“Has our latest tweet already been buried on feeds?”

“Are we seeing results yet from this LinkedIn campaign?”

“Should we be on Tik-Tok?”

via GIPHY

According to the latest B2B content marketing benchmarks report, social media is the most common content type used by B2B marketers, with 95% listing it. Yet in my experience, social often tends to be an autopilot function, disconnected from broader strategies. Bundles of messages are packaged up for scheduling across platforms, generic promotional links are hastily developed, and minimal effort goes into follow-up or interaction.

What’s the point?

Quality over quantity is a mantra that rings throughout the digital marketing environment today, and social media is a pertinent area in which to emphasize it. Take the time to think through the purpose of each platform, and each tweet or update. Prioritize value over volume. Keep in mind that aimlessly publishing without discretion can actually hurt your visibility on social feeds by diminishing your content’s overall engagement rates and causing people to unfollow.

Slow Your SEO

Every SEO specialist knows that influencing search rankings takes time. As algorithms increasingly shift from technical signals to user-based signals, creating quality audience geared toward a well-understood audience becomes all the more paramount.

If you’re displeased with your website’s search visibility, a good next step is running an SEO audit of existing content. "An SEO audit is a great place to start when you’re trying to understand the factors that are hindering your search visibility," Tiffani Allen, TopRank Marketing's Associate Director of Search and Analytics, writes. "The data you collect, once analyzed, should help you create a roadmap to improve rankings and capitalize on white space."

And as Aja Frost, Head of Content SEO for HubSpot, offers to Search Engine Journal“I’d recommend auditing all of your content for overlapping rankings and merging, redirecting, and archiving as needed so every page ranks for a unique set of keywords,” Frost said. “If your website covers the same topics again and again, even if you’re covering these topics from different angles, your pages are going to knock each other out of the results.”

This is but a sampling of examples of where slowing down with SEO can yield major long-term benefits. Scrutinizing your topical pillars, audience assumptions, and technical health of your site are additional measures that pay off. 

Moving Forward in Slow Motion

While watching playoff football over the past few weekends, I’ve been reminded of how much speed affects our perception. You can watch a play in real-time and miss so many details that become evident in the slowed-down instantly reply. 

There’s no time clock ticking down on your B2B marketing strategy. Obviously we have deadlines and time-sensitive objectives, but in many cases we’re probably placing undue constraints on our programs that take a negative toll on results. 

We live in a fast-paced world. But slowing down our marketing efforts — from experience to strategy to social to SEO — can help brands differentiate and achieve more. 

[bctt tweet="We live in a fast-paced world. But slowing down our marketing efforts — from experience to strategy to social to SEO — can help brands differentiate and achieve more. @NickNelsonMN" username="toprank"]

So the next time you receive a request from a boss or client that seems to skip steps or rush through critical strategic elements, there’s only one valid response: not so fast

Take a moment to assess and validate your marketing approach for the coming year by reviewing Lee Odden’s rundown of the Top 10 B2B Digital Marketing Trends in 2020.

The post In a Fast-Paced Digital World, B2B Marketers Can Benefit from Slowing Down appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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