We've hit the half-way mark of 2023! Here are a few strategies to boost demand, unify sales and marketing, and earn quick wins for your marketing efforts.
As we enter the second half of the year, it's easy to get overwhelmed with all that's left to accomplish - especially this year when there's been so much uncertainty. Marketers are uneasy - there's been budget cutbacks, new AI, analytics, and social platforms to keep up with, and looming end-of-year reports to consider.
So, I thought this would be a great time to talk with Lee Chapman, President of TREW Marketing, and learn from her how fellow marketers are feeling and discuss some quick wins that can get us all out of the mid-year slump to end the year strong.
The discussion covers a number of quick wins marketers can achieve:
- Revisiting value proposition and messaging
- Interviewing existing customers
- Performing a SWAT analysis
- Performing content audits
- Updating which metrics to track
- Focusing on thought leadership
- Updating social media strategy
- Launching "mini campaigns" for product launches and events
I also asked Lee about which content she is seeing perform the best for her B2B clients...no surprise...she said there is no silver bullet and that a mix of content is key (blogs, white papers, ungated assets, social graphics, etc.) with an emphasis on video. As our research shows, younger engineers are seeking out video. LinkedIn is also one of the highest performing channels.
Give this episode a listen or read the transcript below to inspire some new energy going into the last half of 2023.
- Lee Chapman on LinkedIn
- TREW Marketing "Quick Win" Services
- TREW Value Proposition and Messaging Services
- 2023 State of Marketing to Engineers Research Guide
Well, guys, the first half of 2023 is behind us. And wow, what a wild ride it has been. There's been a lot of economic uncertainty, to say the least. People have lost jobs and started new jobs. You have just an overall sense of unsettledness combined with some optimism with some new technology, so it's been a mixed bag, and we thought it would be a good idea to take this episode as a reset. Let's take a step back and let's talk about how to assess your marketing program, how things are going, and some quick hits that you might want to consider taking to boost growth as we roll into the second half of the year, particularly if the first half didn't go so well. So listen to this episode for new ideas and also know that you're not alone. If you are struggling with algorithm changes and GA4 and economic uncertainty, we are here with you. We hear it, we feel it, and let's see if we can't roll into the second half of the year more successful together. Let's do this.
Welcome to Content Marketing, Engineered. Your source for building trust and generating demand with technical content. Here is your host, Wendy Covey.
Hi, and welcome to Content Marketing, Engineered. On each episode, I'll break down an industry trend, challenge or best practice in reaching technical audiences. You'll meet colleagues, friends, and clients of mine who will stop by to share their stories, and I hope that you leave each episode feeling inspired and ready to take action. Before we jump in, I'd like to give a brief shout out to my agency, TREW Marketing. TREW is a full service agency located in beautiful Austin, Texas, serving highly technical companies. For more information, visit trewmarketing.com. And now on with our podcast.
Hey, everyone, and welcome to another episode of Content Marketing, Engineered. I'm joined today by Lee Chapman, president of TREW Marketing and a person who's been in my life for a really long time. Welcome back to the show, Lee.
Thanks, Wendy. I know it has been a long time. I was thinking about that the other day. We won't say how many years. Glad to be back, right?
Let's just say our college age kids were in preschool together, so we can leave it at that right?
Well, Lee, we're just a little past the middle of the year here, and I thought it would be fun to bring you on and just check in, do a health check on what are you hearing from clients and from other marketers? What's the vibe out there? So let's just kind of start there and then talk about how to tackle the second half of the year. So let's just get in your head a little bit here. So what are you hearing?
All right. Well, yes, it's hard to believe it's already Q3, and it's been an interesting year so far, right? We started out the year. There were tech layoffs, there have been mergers and acquisitions. There's an AI tool being released like every other day. GA4 has happened. There's so many things just being talked about in the marketing and B2B, technology space. And so the vibe out there, there's some concerns. We're hearing things like there's budget cutback trends that people are trying to stay on top of. I've heard a few folks talking about going back to old tactics like buying lists that kind of make me cringe, like, oh no, let's not go buy lists. I know, and I think there's a tendency, too, when it's tough to get leads, businesses slow down a little bit. Sometimes there can be that marketing sales friction. So we're hearing some of that, and then just in the end, looking for ways to be more efficient with less time and a tighter budget. So that's kind of the place where we're at right now.
Yeah, I know. I've talked to a lot of marketing departments of one, and the person in that seat is always stretch really thin. But now I'm hearing a lot of just stress and unhappiness and people moving around, people being laid off as well. Boy, a lot of layoffs and job changes for the better, too, in the first half. So a lot of stress out there, sadly.
Yeah, I think so. And it's easy in any given day to get kind of waylaid by all of that. But I think there's some good news coming. There's all these tools, and anytime there's a lot of change, there's always this opportunity for new ideas, new ways of doing things. So I feel like we're in this regrouping reenergizing phase of the year. People are starting to take some vacations. I think that's a great way to kind of tap in to some new energy. I've got a couple of ideas I'm excited to talk about today to really think about how can you set yourself up and your team, if you're a team of one or a team of ten with maybe some quick win projects to kind of boost your momentum through the rest of the year.
Good. I like that. I feel like we need a boost. It's kind of like when you watch the morning news and it's just violence and weather events and all this negativity, and then they say, now for your morning boost. So maybe we could call this episode the Marketing Boost. I don't know.
I like that.
Yeah. How can we boost demand, bring sales and marketing back together? Just some quick hit ideas. So that sounds greatly laying on me. All right, what's your first idea?
Okay, so first idea, value proposition and messaging. Sometimes these are things that people work on once every five to ten years, and they kind of sit there and things change. All these things have changed, like we've talked about. And so I think one thing to do, if you've got a little bit of time on your hands, is get in your customers head. That could look like five to ten customers that you know of, that you want to set up a ten to 20 minutes call and kind of get in their brain and talk to them about why did they originally choose you, where do they see your strengths, what's working really well right now? Maybe any feedback they might have for things that could improve. Listening really to the voice of your customer is a great way to make sure that everything that you've got in your brand positioning and messaging, your content, your website, is really serving you best. And so that's something that I think can be pretty quick and easy. I know it sounds sometimes daunting people are like, oh, customer interviews. But when we do this for our clients and a lot of companies find that having a third party do this for them is helpful, either maybe they don't have enough time to do it or they don't feel like it's something that's easy for them to do.
And sometimes we do find that folks will open up to us a little bit more because we're not the person they're working directly with. So there's some value in that. But I think, again, really just thinking about who are a couple of customers you can call and get some thoughtful feedback to. And then once you've got that really sit down maybe with your leadership team and look at how can you go in and update your messaging and your value proposition can start small. It can look like a couple of updates to your home page. Maybe you're adding a couple of new slides in your corporate slide deck, but just a few things to kind of freshen up your messaging and really lean on those customers to kind of give you some feedback. And maybe they even say they're open to a case study, right? So it could be a way that you find some new opportunities, some new content ideas. Maybe they want to be on a case study video, maybe it's just a short quote or testimonial. But I think there's some other tangible pieces that you can get from these customer interviews. So that's one that I think it.
Also seems like that's a way for marketing to give back to sales and provide them with that insight, help them hone their pitches. So I know that's sort of a result of changing messaging, but even sharing with sales, that direct customer feedback. Sales gets customer feedback all the time, but it's not framed the same way as these interviews. So seems to me like that's a good way for sales marketing to come together too.
And that's a great lead in. So that was the next one I was going to talk about. We talked a little bit about the marketing and sales friction. Sometimes when leads are down or business is a little bit slower. And so this halfway point of the year is a great time to just pull everybody in together, get on a zoom call however you're working and instead of getting into the blame game, just skip all that and jump right to brainstorming solutions. And so what that could look like is a SWOT analysis. So look at your strengths, your weaknesses, your opportunities and your threats. Look for are your goals and targets still on track? Do your quotas still make sense? What content gaps do you have? Are there any new large partners that you're working with where you've got some comarketing opportunities, maybe some events that you're both going to where you could have a joint booth or a joint sponsorship of some kind? So I think really opening that up, acknowledging where there's some challenges, but then really looking at, okay, what do we have that's working in our favor that we can capitalize on?
And then like you said, taking that messaging and then looking at are there new sales enablement pieces that you can create? Is there some new webinar that someone on the sales team is feeling really passionate about? A particular subject matter, a thought leadership topic? Maybe it's a new product, maybe it's a new service. But really thinking about is that something that you could do a short 30 minutes webinar on and then marketing's got something to promote on LinkedIn on your website and that can really be a great way to get some new contacts and leads and opportunities in for sales.
Yeah, that's awesome. I keep thinking back to the late ninety s and pre webinars and we used to do a ton of seminars, right? That was like a big deal. It's like lunch and learn going on site, doing these presentations and then along came the webinar and it was so convenient. The cost per lead, you can't touch it, right? It is so cheap qualified leads, webinars were great, then COVID happened. Everybody maybe abused webinars and email in general. And I think that as part of that sales and marketing conversation, it might make sense to experiment again on a limited basis with seminars and go back to some of these tactics that worked really well in the past that no one's really doing a lot of right now. And I don't see seminars ever coming back to the extent that they used to because there's a lot of people working virtually distributed teams, that sort of thing. But in some cases that might be an interesting tactic to throw into that conversation.
I love that idea. And that sort of leads into thinking about if things are feeling stagnant. Or maybe you're not having the same results with Webinars that you were having before, or maybe all the content that you focused on during the pandemic, maybe it's not performing the same for you as it used to people returning to events. We've had a bunch of algorithm updates that are really shifting search results. So doing an audit, this can be a great time of year to just audit your content, your marketing tools that you're using, your processes just to see how you can optimize things that you're working on. And I think what that can look like is your tools, are your tools working well for you? What pieces of content have you released that are performing really well? How can you maybe repurpose those into some different pieces? What channels are working the best for you right now? I've heard somebody say the other day, one of our clients was saying, we have so much content right now, we need a whole new channel in order to utilize all this content that we have. And so just a great point of are the same channels delivering for you as they have in the past?
Is maybe your website? If it's not the number one channel for you, are there other industry sites? Is LinkedIn performing really well? LinkedIn's got this great sort of newish feature where you can send out newsletters and have subscribers to newsletters on the LinkedIn platform. That's something we've been trying out ourselves and seeing some pretty good results with. So I think just looking at channel optimization is a great thing too. SEO, using an SEO tool and looking for are there any striking distance terms where you're ranking ahead of your competitors that you can maybe turn into a new mini campaign focus area? And then speaking of optimization, your CRM and your CMS, maybe you haven't updated those in the last couple of years. Maybe you need to do some cleanup there. So that can be a really good project to do. And then something I know you're a big fan of and we've talked about a lot is looking for industry events and conferences that might be good. Maybe it's one that you haven't been to since before the Pandemic or maybe for a decade, right? Is it time to maybe go back there? Are there entirely new ones that have been created that you can go walk and look for possibly new leads and new prospects?
Yeah. And the answer might not be to have a booth. I like that you start attend it, go attend, feel it out, schedule a couple of meetings, have sales there, whomever. And then maybe the answer is really presenting. I think a lot of people marketers, maybe jump straight to, oh, we have to have a booth. We have to have a sponsorship. And that's not a strategic way to look at it necessarily. Hey, Lee, I want to go back to something you mentioned. So you said there have been a lot of algorithm changes, and then you talked also about some companies having an abundance of content, but it's not necessarily performing well. And you talked about the audit. So speak a little bit about the, I guess a pendulum shift between having lots of content and having deeper content. So I know there's been a lot of changes in the SEO front in that regard.
Yeah. And it's so hard. I mean, to be fully transparent, it's hard to know. It used to be that you could kind of look at data and go, okay, if we just do more white papers, or we just do more webinars, or oh, our blog results are really great. As I look across ten to 20 clients that we're working with right now, I don't see any silver bullets. Right. It's really varying based on if you're a product company or you're a service company and what industries that you're focusing on. But I would say if you've got a good amount of content, one thing that is always an opportunity and everybody wants to do more of these, and they just can't get their heads wrapped around how to do more of them efficiently is video and video content. We've seen in the research that you work on every year, the younger and younger these audiences get, the more and more they're consuming video content. And so sometimes we've had clients who've had a really high performing white paper. Maybe they wrote it ten years ago, but it's still really high performing. Looking at turning that into a couple of different video shorts, two to three minutes in length to really try to reach this new audience in a form factor that's really useful to them.
So I think, again, this content audit, just look at everything that you have. Look at how it's performing for you and with your audience. Is it converting the right personas that you're really finding are most valuable to your company? Looking at those and then taking some out that maybe aren't serving you well. Right. If you've got so much content in there, that's noise. Right. So you kind of want to filter that out, and you want to find those kind of golden nuggets of content that have really been performing well, and then how can you kind of turn those into some new pieces, whether those are blogs? But I really feel like videos right now is a good place to invest, and there's tools that are making it easier than ever. So Canva is one that we've been using sometimes. The Adobe tools, although they are in the mainstream, and they're the tools that all the designers are using. If you've got a small team or a team of one, and you're not fully comfortable in Adobe, Canva has a really low barrier to entry. And we've been really surprised at not only how easy it is to use, but the high quality of end product that it produces.
So just an idea for making a.
Lot of our resources over to Canva video production. That seems to be going very well.
I like Lee, what you said about it's not about volume or eyeballs. It's about conversion. And really analyzing a piece of content, whether it's video or white paper or whatever and just making sure that it's producing some results. And I know just an anecdote, I know you'll love that I internalized this, but for TREW, we had great traffic on some very general B2B terms, right, on a few blog posts. And so they were bringing a ton of visitors, but they weren't qualified. They weren't the types of people that we were wanting to attract. They weren't technical companies, so it wasn't serving us well. And so it's retooling that and making sure that you're attracting the right people, not just the volume, doesn't matter so much as having the right people there that are looking to convert.
Right. And that'll help you win the algorithm change game too, right? When we talk about authority and engagement, having the content on your site that people do find from search, they do click on and they do continue engaging in your site as you go will help your website perform better overall and hopefully help you get more leads from your web channel.
What are some of your favorite metrics that you're using during these audits to really dig in?
Yeah, I mean, there's so many of them, you can almost get into analysis paralysis. And it's funny because I've just been pulling all the metrics reports for our clients for the end of the quarter here. But Domain Authority, I feel like, is always something that we're wanting to see the needle move on. And it's a logarithmic scale, so it's not going to move greatly quarter to quarter. But just seeing that trend continue up just kind of shows that Google sees that you have authority in certain places that you're seen as having expertise and people are coming and engaging with your content and staying on your site. So Domain Authority, I think is great, and what that could look like for individual content is page authority. So if you have different pages on your site where you may have more authority than others sometimes if you've been around for ten or 20 years and you've got some really old pieces of content on your site, you might have a lot of authority for something that was super important to you ten or 20 years ago and is not part of your business today. And so it can be hard to think about.
I don't want to lose that page authority there, but you want to make sure you're creating new content for your new focus areas with that new messaging that we talked about. And that just takes time and energy. So really kind of focusing in on a couple of key pieces to help kind of boost those metrics. With GA4, it's kind of all new terminology in terms of what this looks like. We always talked about it's web session, it's time on site, and then it's the engagement and conversion from somebody coming to that web page and then are they converting kind of to a next step. I think those are still whatever their new names are and their new terminology. I haven't gotten it all down yet, but those are still kind of the key metrics, I think, to track and look at in that audit.
No, that engagement. I think we'll be hearing a lot of that word in the coming years. Lee, you talked about domain authority, and one of the things I wanted to mention on that was it's not just about demonstrating your expertise on your site, but also how can you show authority by having the same author or the same subjects connected to your company in other places.
And that's part of that. We believe that's part of that authority algorithm as far as the SEO experts can know, because Google's not telling you everything, but something for people to keep.
In mind, the linking absolutely plays into that domain authority. And so that's it too, and that kind of ties back to that comarketing. Right. If you're able to get authoritative links on other people's sites, we know any academic sites are great for that, or they have been in the past. And then these larger brands who have a higher domain authority is also a great way to help boost your domain authority.
Yeah. What about social? Any quick hits or thoughts on or distractions that people should avoid on Social? What are your oh, my new account set up on threads yet?
I do. In fact, Jennifer Aaron and I last week on our call, we set up threads. If you're already on Instagram, it's super easy because it just transitions your Instagram account straight on to threads. You don't even have to do any setup. So it is almost like if Instagram and Twitter had a baby, it would be threads. I think everybody's on there trying to kind of figure out how to get into it. I have seen a lot of celebrities and larger companies on there. I'm not really seeing it in the B2B space yet, so that's going to be interesting to watch. We're still posting occasionally to Twitter, but we're really not seeing anywhere near the return on that that we were seeing two to five years ago. But LinkedIn, I would say far and away, is just becoming more and more the go to social media channel. Those video shorts. So we talked about if there's easier approachable tools to use to create video. I think having like a couple of video shorts animation that could even look like animated slides, but I think any kind of motion and anything that's really stressing pain points and solutions versus selling.
I know you've probably seen this too, within LinkedIn and within even emailing. I'm just seeing so much more cold sales outreach than ever before. And so I think counterbalancing some of that out with not talking about you and your service and how great you are, but more of how you understand the pain that's out there right now and how there's solutions to solve them. Educating people on trends and new ways of doing things. I think those are the types of social media posts that I think are getting the most traction right now.
Yeah, good advice. Any other quick hits we haven't hit upon yet?
I mean, just the last one. You brought up seminars. We talked about webinars. We talked about going to maybe walking some new events. If you are going to an event. Or maybe you have a new product launching this fall, thinking about a mini campaign. If you're down on staff or you don't have time to do a full campaign like you normally would for an event or a product launch, maybe, don't stress yourself out. You can think small. So think about, is there one piece of lead generating content, like a white paper that you could use for that campaign, maybe a blog post and a case study, something small. And then arming your team with a playbook of like, okay, here's what we're going to focus on at this event. Here's who's going to be there. Here's the goals. Setting some outreach before the event to maximize the return on that event. Same for the product launch. Just thinking small, maybe and keeping it approachable and achievable versus not doing something because it just feels too big. So I think right now it doesn't have to be all the bells and whistles maybe that it's been before.
If you don't have time for that, it's okay. It's okay to go small.
Yeah, but also a reminder, it's okay to go small, but still have a strategy, still use campaigns, have things be integrated, have them working together. I think the worst waste of time and money is to just go straight into channels and tactics without having that unifying message and goals and all the great things that campaign containers do for process and that sort of thing.
100% strategy, just execution and just throwing good money after bad is never a winning tactic. So I agree. Whatever you're doing, whether it's small or large, always start with strategy first. Yeah. Great.
Well, as we look on at least the TREW marketing calendar for the next couple of months, we're going to be on the road a lot. There's upcoming conferences to attend, right, Lee?
Yes. So that is so great to mention because we talked about so many marketing trends, right? To stay on top of. We talked about AI. We talked about GA4. There's so many things and so TREW's. Got you covered. We're going to be at Maycon, I think that's coming up here in a couple of weeks. We're going to be at MozCon learning all about SEO trends. We're going to be at Content Marketing World in Washington, DC. In late September and early September. We're going to be at HubSpot inbound and so we're going to be coming back on here and having different team members, talk about what they're seeing, trends that are coming up, and then ways to take advantage of those as you move into Q4. And dare I say 2024, because it'll be here before we know it.
Yeah. Those of you listening are attending any of those events and you want to meet up, we'd love to get to know more of our industrial marketing community and connect with you guys. So reach out and we'll get you hooked up with whoever's going to be at that particular event. So it's going to be fun. And I feel a little happier than how we started this conversation off, so I appreciate you sharing these quick hit ideas. And if people want to learn more and connect with you, how can they do that?
Yes, you can find me Lee Lambert Chapman on LinkedIn, or you can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Easy enough. And it's L-E-E is the spelling of Lee's name. Great. Well, thank you so much for your time today.
Thanks for having me on. Wendy.
Thanks for joining me today on Content Marketing Engineered. For show notes, including links to resources, visit trewmarketing.com. Slash podcast. While there, you can subscribe to our blog and RA newsletter and order a copy of my book, Content Marketing Engineered. Also, I would love your reviews on this podcast, so please, when you get a chance, subscribe and leave me your review on your favorite podcast subscription platform. Thanks and have a great day.
Wendy Covey is a CEO, a technical marketing leader, author of Content Marketing, Engineered, one of The Wall Street Journal’s 10 Most Innovative Entrepreneurs in America, and she holds a Texas fishing record. She resides in a small Hill Country town southwest of Austin, Texas, where she enjoys outdoor adventures with her family.
TREW Marketing is a strategy-first content marketing agency serving B2B companies that target highly technical buyers. With deep experience in the design, embedded, measurement and automation, and software industries, TREW Marketing provides branding, marketing strategy, content development, and digital marketing services to help customers efficiently and effectively achieve business goals.