Hi everyone! First, Happy 2017 — I hope it’s a brilliant year, full of all good things.
It’s time for my first story of the year. Pull up a chair and let’s get started.
Nearly fifteen years ago, when I was just beginning in Sales, a sales manager gave me a provocative idea.
He said, “Brian, rethink the sales qualification process. Instead of trying to get anyone to buy, you ought to concentrate on disqualifying your prospects, because what you have to sell isn’t right for everyone. You have to find people who are the right fit.”
What he said was smart, and it’s a lesson I took to heart when I started Zettabyte Content in 2012. As part of my sales qualification process, I have a simple policy.
I only work with friends.
Of course, I get cold prospects like any other business owner, and those people often aren’t my friends. But as I’m qualifying them, in the back of my head, I’m asking myself some questions:
- Are you a nice person?
- Are you a capable person?
- Will we see eye to eye?
- Are you a person who I’d like to build better relations with?
- Do I want to have a long-term business relationship with you?
- Could we be friends?
That policy has kept me out of some very unpleasant entanglements over the years.
Looking at it another way, business friendships lead to better outcomes. When I like my client, I’m inspired by the connection. I go the extra mile, I keep focused on their needs, and I’m always glad to lend a hand. My client is more excited, more energetic, and ends up with a better experience.
Sounds good, right?
But here’s the challenge. Having good relationships takes real work. I can’t take my clients for granted, I always feel obligated to raise the bar, and I’m regularly worried that they’re not getting everything they need from me.
I know sometimes they’re having problems. They’re struggling. They’re not succeeding in their careers.
And I want to help.
So over the holidays, I’ve been racking my brain to come up with new ways to help my friends succeed. As I drank my cocoa or stood under the mistletoe, the back of my brain was mulling ideas over and over.
And I think I’ve come up with a few possibilities. So we’re going to market test them and see if friends like you love them. Without further ado, here are the three new ideas I’ll roll out at Zettabyte Content in 2017.
#1. Content as a Service (CaaS). Over the years, we’ve been hired to create many one-off projects, campaigns, or events. We don’t mind doing those, but we think there’s a better way forward for many organizations. Since September, we’ve trialed a new approach with a cloud vendor based in San Antonio.
We’ve been taking ideas from technical resources throughout the company, including project managers, product marketers, technical support reps, and engineers. We leverage those ideas, leverage old content, conduct interviews, and come up with briefs, articles, infographics, white papers, web copy, and other valuable resources.
This client has campaign after campaign lined up because we’re giving them between six and twelve new deliverables every month. They’ve been able to revamp their web presence based on our efforts. In short, we’re helping them succeed — again and again.
As an added bonus, every week I sit down with the client, talk about marketing direction, discuss messaging, and brainstorm new ideas. They get 4-5 hours of consulting essentially for free, and can drive long term strategic marketing because we’re a trusted source for their deliverables. For between $5-10K/month, an organization could end up with up to 144 new deliverables in the course of a year.
This is a proven approach. We know it works. So we’re rolling it out to all our clients and prospects, effective immediately. If you’re interested, raise your hand!
(okay, that didn’t work. Send me an email instead. firstname.lastname@example.org)
#2. Products. As former marketing managers, we know that not every organization wants to outsource their marketing or has the budget to outsource their marketing. Having said that, every year, prospects reach out to us for support that doesn’t involve content creation or consulting.
So we’re here to help with a series of products to help you create better marketing. These guides, toolkits and courses will be coming out over the next several months. Aimed exclusively at the needs of B2B marketers working on complex enterprise technologies, they’ll cover some of the most important topics marketers like you face, including:
- Competitive Analysis
- Digital Marketing
- Product Launches
- Marketing for Startups
- Niche Specific Marketing Analysis — starting with a comparison of OpenStack cloud vendors.
Though we’re packaging these as products, purchasable through our website, we’ll also offer them as live training courses, either through webinars or face-to-face. We’ll begin launching these by the end of January, and you can expect prices between $29-999 for each product.
#3. A Deadline Guarantee. The first two changes are exciting. Here’s the change that makes me gulp nervously and wish I wasn’t writing this.
We all hate deadlines. As a former marketing director, I know just how annoying missed deadlines can be. And if I’m being honest with myself, I’ve missed a deadline or two in my time. I don’t like to admit that, but it’s true.
We have to face facts. Sometimes we just can’t avoid delays. I’ve had clients that delayed source content, went radio silent for a week or couldn’t schedule interviews. Sometimes I’ve had a very bad IT day. Sometimes there’s just a change in direction or a shift in thinking that causes rework or slowed progress.
But you hate missed deadlines. And I know that.
Effective immediately, if a client and I have locked a deadline and there’s no extenuating circumstance like an act of God or a mangling Microsoft update, we’ll hit it. If we don’t, you’ll receive a 50% discount on your project fee.
Now, I’m well aware that I may loathe this idea in a few months. This is risky and it could suck for me. But missed deadlines are a real pain point in marketing, and I’m going to stick my neck out in order to help my friends. I can’t do any less for them.
- Content as a Service
- Deadline Guarantees.
These are the three little steps I’m going to take to help my business friends in the New Year. I hope they’re inspiring and give you some ideas for your continued business success in 2017. Let us know what you think in the comments below.