How to align sales and marketing effectively

In the latest episode of Marketing Tech Talk, Matthew Gonnering, Widen CEO sits down with Jeff Coon, Partner at Stream Creative, an inbound marketing agency in Milwaukee, WI. Stream started off as a graphic design firm, but quickly evolved into ad agency/marketing firm hybrid with Hubspot as the driving technology. They’re preachers of inbound marketing practices, and a Hubspot platinum partner helping marketing teams get up and running on the platform.

At 1:40, Jeff shares how his career evolved from being a graphic designer, to a data-driven marketer. Tools and technology have advanced to allow marketing decisions to be made from actual data rather than a guessing game. Stream’s strategy is to get content out there, then allow user behavior data to drive future advancements in an iterative process.

At 3:00, Jeff says “Marketing is not trickery. It’s not tricking you into buying something you didn’t need. It’s about what questions you have as a buyer, and how can I best answer them.” Neuromarketing is a new trend he’s actively monitoring. It helps to answer why the buyer did what they just did, and how you can prepare your marketing content for it.

At 3:30, Sales/Marketing alignment is one of the biggest challenges in marketing. Traditional salespeople don’t understand how marketing fits in. Since different people buy in different ways, marketing can help sales be more efficient.

At 7:30, Jeff says “none of us are sitting around watching reruns of Ellen thinking I wish I had more to do.” The question is how can we use technology to be more efficient. He suggests getting a non-technical person on the phone and record it. That can become the basis for a series of blog posts.

At 8:20, Matthew asks Jeff how technology is aiding the alignment between sales and marketing. Jeff states that if you can get salespeople to log an activity in a CRM, that can be the data trigger point for marketing to send out personalized communications on the salesperson’s behalf.

At 10:00, Jeff says that a CRM should be a core piece of technology in any organization’s marketing tech stack. Hubspot has a free one. It is basic and for small companies, but it gets the job done and can grow with you.

At 14:15, Jeff summarizes a part of his process as “growth driven design.” They release initial versions of content and then through an iterative process, let user feedback direct future revisions. It obviously needs to initially be high quality, but it does not need to be perfect.

At 16:20, Jeff discusses how the process of creating buyer personas can often be made to be too complicated. It can be as easy as interviewing a couple groups of people to find out the phrases buyers are using, where they hang out, basic demographic information, and what their pain points are. Then test that hypothesis, and make adjustments. It should be a living, breathing thing.

At 26:37, The content creation process is usually based around interviews. Interviews will end up as a written piece of content and a visual piece of content. The goal is to get a number of pieces of content out there, measure, and iterate.

28:48, Matthew asks Jeff how he feels about “gated content.” Jeff feels that whatever you’re offering has to be so good that people are willing to give you their information. They do offer un-gated content, and then use Hotjar to measure it’s effectiveness, which then informs future content decisions.

At 31:00, Jeff and Matthew discuss common issues with content creation. Jeff notes that there is so much content out there, it’s a challenge to get your content to stand out. It needs to be high value content that solves a problem, or answers a question for the buyer.

At 34:20, In the past, Stream would create a 12 month content campaign. Now, they know where they want to be in 12 months, but they only create a 3 month campaign and use data to drive changes in the content creation for the remaining 9 months.

At 35:40, Jeff says the next big challenge is promoting content after you get it out. For every hour they spend on strategy, they spend about 4-5 hours creating the content, and then (in theory) 5-10 hours promoting it. Scheduled social posts are not enough. Enlisting the support of a PR agency can help to draw more attention to the content.

At 40:29, Jeff talks about usability and how important it is for a technology to get “ease of use” right. He begs, “don’t make me learn something new. Integrating with apps that people are already using is imperative. If you know I’m spending the majority of my day in Hubspot, integrate with it, don’t make me download another app.” Hubspot has brought together a number of different tools, including CMS, CRM, social, blog, and analytics so the Stream team can login to one solution and find out how things are doing.

At 42:33, Matthew asks Jeff how a technology positions themselves. “How did Hubspot grow into a central command center?” Jeff outlined that Hubspot initially launched as a CMS, but then let data and feedback from their users drive their future growth and expansion. Their support is also amazing. They recognized that there is a lot of turnover in the agency world. Hubspot created a quick training library for onboarding new admins. They solved one of Jeff’s problems. They then went on to solve the sales/marketing alignment problem by adding CRM, marketing automation, and blog modules onto their CMS. Now the CRM module which is a focus of sales can talk to other modules that are more marketing focused.

At 49:45, Matthew asks Jeff what’s trending and who he follows. Of course he follows the big hitters like the Hubspot blog, Marketing Profs, and Social Media Examiner, but he also likes to follow people that are in the intellectual property space doing direct selling online like authors and consultants. People like Amy Porterfield, Michael Hyatt, James Wedmore, and Rick Mulready are in the trenches are taking people from all the way from “stranger” to a “customer” in an online environment. Not everyone of Jeff’s customers has a product or service that can be sold in an online environment, but he likes to study these people for the whole spectrum, and then repurpose applicable techniques at the proper stage for his customers. It’s especially helpful in figuring out how to get content to stand out and be agile.

At 51:53, Jeff starts to talk about a neuromarketing trend of establishing a higher value for content by strategically assigning a price. There’s so much free stuff out there now, that sometimes charging can establish a higher value or even a greater commitment to an event.

At 55:58, Jeff talks about how technologies can be better at selling to buyers by coming at them through channels and technologies they already trust. For example, GoToMeeting has a much better chance of getting my business as an integration through Hubspot, than they do direct.

Jeff Coon of Stream Creative. Inbound Marketing