Inbound Smarketeers

If you are in the market for a communication agency, you could do a lot worse than enquire as to their credentials in terms of Inbound Methodology. All communication rockstars worth their salt work within these parameters, paying mindful attention to today’s consumer who is seriously fed up of traditional approaches – ad blockers are on the rise, spam mail is a massive concern, and who today consumes media in the same way as 5 years ago (think YouTube, iPads, SnapChat, NetFlix)?

Do not fear, as of today I am the proud recipient of a refreshed Hubspot’s Inbound Sales Certification, yet another of their excellent online training courses. The excellence is not just in the price either, but free is definitely a bonus – the value is in the content itself. Inbound is all about customer-centricity and being mindful of the key role the internet plays in arming potential buyers with the information they need to compare and contrast competing services. And I say “refreshed” as these courses are updated annually to ensure we stay on top of latest developments in the digital space.

Essentially, those of us who operate in a sales environment need to tailor and personalize our approach to a customer who has already made certain decisions before you even get the opportunity to present your wares. To rephrase something I have been previously guilty of:

A salesman who assumes his buyer knows nothing makes an ass out of u and me.

The logic behind Hubspot creating such an insightful course is clear – by equipping sales teams with an effective inbound methodology the company will solve your entire sales and marketing – or smarketing if you prefer – needs, reducing friction across departments in the process. The Inbound Marketing team generate the useful content in the form of blog posts, social media content, ebooks, webinars and white papers that the buyer is looking at before the Inbound Sales team step in.

The opportunity to roll this sophisticated and logical communication approach out for clients and see the success in terms of ROI and improved bottom line is incredibly satisfying and, although not a fully signed-up Hubspot afficionado at this stage, here at Ashton and Ashton we are fully commited to Inbound Methodology and content marketing.

Certification as it now stands, July 2016:

Hubspot Inbound Certification 2016

Hubspot Inbound Sales Certificate 2016

To follow: Email Marketing and Growth-Driven Design Hubspot courses – watch this space. And make sure you check your agency or in-house team are up to speed too 🙂

Digital audits are sexy

I think everyone in communications probably had a double-take when they read this headline and are now shaking their head in disbelief. But, like many other things in life, a digital audit is a necessary process to carry out in order to progress to greater things. Like doing your laundry and cleaning your fingernails. From a brand perspective, it is an essential way to keep your online reputation in check and forms the foundation for a forward-looking strategy.

Ideally carried out in-depth on a quarterly basis, but usually undertaken by a new agency to provide clear starting points for all parties to work from, an proper dig should inform a company exactly where they stand in terms of efficacy of message but also what people are saying about them. Are they having any influence on their target market, and if not what/who is? A decent audit often throws up relevant competition as well as examples of effective campaigns that have “moved the needle”.

A great article I just read on the topic, courtesy of Econsultancy, covers off most of the key points here, but perhaps the most important thing to note is this: audits aren’t really sexy at all, that’s why you need a third party to do your dirty work and tell you what needs fixing, conveniently removed from any potential internal politics.

 

The Downside Of Publicity

The last few months have been incredibly eye-opening and one of the reasons I first began this new venture – I have been able to fully embed in a company looking for hands-on marketing communications guidance and production and genuinely make a difference. The step away from rigid agency life into a closer client role has been refreshing, and occasionally frustrating but that is another blog post…

There was an odd pride came over me yesterday during lunch with the founder and CEO when he told me he had got into an argument with his wife. When I asked why, expecting the response to be about a shopping trip or forgetting an anniversary, he explained that a friend of his wife’s had seen in the news an announcement of a major industrial accolade for his company, and his name all over the press. The CEO, always focused on sales and market development rather than the glitz and glamour of events and awards, was in trouble with his proud and supportive wife because he had forgotten to mention the prize. He was grassed up by his newfound fame, all because of a media campaign I had instigated with the Head of Marketing.

That CEO is Bakhtiar Wain of Avanceon and they are now recognised as Best System Integrators by Schneider Electric, a company they have partnered with on various projects across the Middle East. This little anecdote serves to remind me of the great strides I have managed to take at this company, where the very idea of communicating their success is alien. Now, with this little taste of fame, we are starting to turn the corner.

August Opportunity!

Cut to the chase. Time is money and all that, and we know you busy business people just want results.

Time to get “sales-y”: Ashton and Ashton are offering special rates on their range of benchmark audits, in order to give your company ammunition when designing marketing strategies. Get in touch to know more about your industry and how to get ahead.

For more information check out this dedicated page today.

Benchmarking

One thing that drew me into the world of digital marketing, and remains one of the drivers of this area for all marketers, is the ability to see exactly what is working in realtime. Gone are the days when you would simply have an idea that something might work with your target audience and then pump some budget into a pretty design, buy a billboard for a week or hire a poor chap wearing a sandwich board to walk around town with your message on his chest. Now we can activate and evaluate within the time it takes to glance at a Google Analytics or Facebook Insights report and either edit, stop or adjust budget accordingly. The immediacy and transparency is fantastic and perhaps even makes you question why people might still spend so much on the dark arts of mass marketing on TV channels. Perhaps.

But it all starts from a level playing field. We specialise in benchmarking and auditing your existing communications against the industry and direct competitors, then optimising your efforts and focusing your resources directly at your business objectives. At the end of the day if your marketing doesn’t answer your business needs, it is irrelevant fluff.

Greetings From Jebel Ali

A few thoughts from within the industrial marketing landscape in Dubai, where we are embedded currently. It is essential to remember your audience and stakeholders at all times. No matter how long you have been working in communications, it doesn’t count for anything if you are speaking another language to your client. This language could be Digitalia, standard English or, even worse, British.

You read it right. British English can be easily confused, either because of our convoluted lexicon and grammatical idiosynchracies (actually maybe that is just me), or simply because we talk too fast and don’t want to offend people by checking they understood. Big mistake.

This applies across the board. I am currently requesting indirect clients to help with simple research on hashtags and Twitter handles on topics relevant to the company for future use and a combination of assumed knowledge and linguistic obstacles has resulted in an incomplete research task. Slightly frustrating but certainly fixable 🙂

Playing Around

A brief update:

There is some key research ongoing in the Ashton x Ashton offices at the moment, involving the effects of gamification on outcomes. So far it seems that a call to action incorporating gaming elements have a positive effect on a broad base, not just self-identified “gamers”.

More details to follow when the survey is complete.