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 🙂

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.

All About You – The Customer

Reading up on different techniques and advice on how best to work in an ever-changing marketing landscape is a habit I am trying to form. Knowledge is power and all that. I have been driven down a very interesting route of late that leans heavily towards customer-centricity, the idea that everything a company does should be for and about the customer. This makes a lot of sense.

If you don’t serve the needs of your customer, existing or potential, who pays the bills? If you decide to deliver something your customer doesn’t want because your work colleague thought they should try and sell a special premium service that serves no purpose then it can only serve the company interests and will quite possibly turn the customer off from taking your advice in the future as you will only “recommend” services that add to your bottom line. The relationship can easily deteriorate from this point and take a very long time to rebuild.

Two books have proved very interesting to date for me, and maybe for you too. Customer Centric Selling by Michael T Bosworth and chums, then a quick two-day  (if you are a slow reader like myself) practical tip session from Jeffrey J Fox. Both put the customer at the heart of sales and marketing activity to highly beneficial outcomes. The basic premise being to know your customer needs and objectives inside out by asking the right questions in the first instance. One of my favourite sections from Bosworth covers the bidding process – essentially if you don’t approach the customer in the first instance the chances are low you will win the contract as you are making up numbers so they can fairly award to a company they already have in mind. Painful truth.

Let me know your thoughts on customer centricity and if you have read these books already. I can see it now, the beginnings of a Marketing Book club – let’s call it Rainmaker Readings.

This article first appeared as a LinkedIn blog posts – follow Jonathan here