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In this week’s In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris tackle a mailbag full of marketing questions, such as:

  • How do you define the differences between prospect, lead, marketing qualified lead (MQL), and sales qualified lead (SQL)?
  • What do you do to find inspiration for agency proposals and pitches?
  • How important is personal brand in an agency?
  • What are best practices for SEO in a merger/acquisition?
  • How can B2B marketers skill up on LinkedIn?

Listen in for the answers to these questions and more.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.

Christopher Penn
In this week’s In-Ear Insights, we have a mailbag have a bunch of different questions folks have asked. So Katie, let’s dig into what people have questions they have. Ashley asks, we’re redefining our funnel definitions of lead MQL SQL, how do you define these in your organization’s? And how do you make sure that everybody Marc in marketing and sales is on the same page? So marketing, qualified leads, sales, qualified lead and prospects and stuff? How did what advice do we have for Ashley?

Katie Robbert
Well, we actually just had this conversation last week internally about what those definitions were. And so fortunately, for us, it’s a little bit easier because we’re just three people and I’m the keeper of the data. So what I say goes, and that makes it super easy. No, but I did get consensus from both you and John because everybody has to have a shared understanding. And so for Ashley, you know, I don’t know how large your organization is, but it might be worth just bringing sales and marketing together at least, you know, the department heads together in a meeting, you know, grab some donuts, grab some coffee and say, put on a whiteboard, here’s what I’m thinking, our funnel looks like and here are the data points that go into MQL and SQL. Do you agree? If not, please help me come up with an alternative so that we can all be on the same page and then put it in a spreadsheet and then have the definitions with each of those things. So that if someone else is picking up the slack and entering the data, that they’re like, okay, it’s this and this equals this kind of a thing. So I you know, just have a conversation with the team’s. I’m making it sound overly simplistic. It may take more than just one meeting with donuts and a whiteboard. But that is the best way to start. Because if you don’t bring everybody into at least say their piece, they will never get on board with something that they didn’t agree to.

Christopher Penn
Yep. And in terms of the overall marketing operations follow our recommendation there is focus on intent, so In a lot of organizations a prospect or a lead, the difference is whether or not someone has said I’m interested in you at all. Like I sign up for your newsletter versus I’m interested in hearing more about specifics about the product or services solution. So you have that intent that says, Yeah, I’m, you know, don’t have your salesperson call me the moment I sign up for a newsletter because that, you know, for a lot of people like that’s, that’s not why I’m here, as opposed to filling out the Contact Us form. It says, Yeah, I really do want someone to call me.

Unknown Speaker
Okay, great.

Christopher Penn
Okay. Next, Stuart asks, I am looking to beef up our agency’s proposals, and I’m looking for inspiration. Where do you go for your proposal format? What kinds of aha moments Do you like to include in your proposals, including like things like relevant data? How do you how do you do proposals? Well,

Katie Robbert
that, you know, that’s a really subjective question. So I can give you how we like to do proposals we have a very straightforward structure. I think it’s the stem structure. So it’s the strategy tactics, execution and measurement. You know, we always start, I always like to start every proposal with an executive summary, which really just means I’m stating the problem that we are setting out to solve. And so, you know, company ABC has asked Trust Insights to help us solve this particular problem. So everybody’s on the same page of what this proposal is meant to tie back to. And then once you see that the problem, everything in the proposal should tie back to that solving that problem. And if it doesn’t, then you’ve gone way out of scope. And so the strategy is, you know, here’s the thing that we propose to do and why it matters the tactics here’s how we’re going to do the thing. You know, we’re going to use the following pieces of software execution is generally your time frames, your prerequisites, your deliverables, like the actual like, getting down to handing over the final version, and then those human How do you know if you were successful?

Christopher Penn
Yep. Now, I will say that we’re kind of an oddball in that we don’t typically run into a lot of competition. When we were at our previous agency, you know, the product, there was much more of a commodity where, you know, PR firms, a PR firms, a PR firm, even though every PR firm, you know, and every practitioner PR who’s listening to this is going or different. Yeah, I mean, we had that those days to, for those cases where you are bidding against five other organizations that all look and sound exactly the same. You do need to differentiate. I remember, back in the day, a lot of what differentiated our our proposals as an organization was what our team yours, you and I put together in terms of data and insights, and fundamentally it comes down to a proposal that looks different, that sounds different, and that events is some kind of capability. That the competitors don’t have or can’t do as well. Here’s the interesting thing at that I don’t think we ever really discussed in the old days, but we we just do naturally. Now, a big part of that process is also the personal brand and the relationship, going into the proposal process of people know who you are, it’s a lot easier to get that differentiation than like, Hey, here’s five PR firms that all seem exactly the same. In terms of what you see and and the things you’ve seen from other agencies, Katie would would you say is like, yeah, this is clearly you know, how important is personal brand?

Katie Robbert
I think personal brand is very important because as much as we talk about, you know, the machines and the robots and artificial intelligence, people still want to know who the person is pushing the buttons. They want to know. Okay, it’s Chris and Chris has, you know, X number of years experience and here’s his, you know, certifications like they want to know that the person behind the machine The man behind the curtain is actually qualified to be pushing the buttons. And so I think it is very important. And I think, you know, the other piece that you’re talking about is really including those case studies, not a capability slide that says, here’s all the people we’ve ever worked with ever, including your mom, it’s, here’s the case study of here’s when we did the thing, and here’s how the thing turned out and there was a positive, you know, Spike and you know, measurement or whatever it is, like that’s the differentiator like just show what it is you can do. Get to the point really quickly, like all of like the flash and the photos and the graphics, like that’s all nice. But ultimately, the decision maker wants to know can you do the thing or not?

Christopher Penn
Right? Yeah, exactly the in. And I think that’s the part that agencies missing we’ve, we saw that so many times in so many different decks because they never got to the point of the decision maker cares about really two things are you going to get fired. Are you going to get me a bonus? Right at the end of the day? That’s really what anybody cares about. So pictures of all the awards you’ve won, the logos you worked with and you’re building has a pond in front of it and all that crap that goes into every agency’s proposal. All that does nothing to tell the person Yes, hiring us. Is he safe decision hiring us as a good decision? And right think that’s just that’s just basic storytelling. But at least how many people don’t do that? Well.

Katie Robbert
That’s a whole other episode. I had a lot of reactions to that. But you know what, that’s a different episode. So we’ll dig into that another day.

Christopher Penn
All right. It’s like a cooking show. I bet that recipe is another episode. Stephanie asks, has anyone ever overseen the acquisition of competitor any advice for migrating the URLs and the mailing list and Oh, yes, we have gone through. I’ve personally got through four different m&a right so far, and I hope hopefully the next one will be the Last, someone has given us a few billion. Here’s the thing that I’ve seen done worst, the acquiring company has less of a brand and less Technical Marketing strength, then the acquired company. And what you end up with is that although we’re going to use our young crappy brands, software is the new brand. But everybody in the marketplace knows, you know, the good brands stuff, even though it was the acquired company and ego and narcissism and in office politics dictate that instead of what the customers want. And I have seen I’ve watched two different companies so creator themselves because they went with a lesser known brand. How about you on the on the joys of m&a for you?

Katie Robbert
Lots and lots of paperwork. You know, where I see things things go wrong. And I know this is going to come as a huge shock to everybody is the lack of a plan. You know, it’s like, oh, we’re getting acquired or we’re acquiring and it’s so exciting and everybody’s all jazzed up. And then, like, the day after happens, it’s like, oh, crap, now we actually have to do something about it. Uh, let’s start here. And it’s just a random selection of crap of like, there’s no real plan. And when I say plan, I mean, like, top down, like, you know, I’m sure going into an acquisition, you’re not just like, oh, that company looks good. Let’s acquire like there’s a semblance of a plan. But it stops there for the actual day to day, people who have to do something with all of this new information, you know, so yes, you can change over mailing lists, you can change over emails and websites and URLs. But it’s deeper than that, you know. So who’s responsible for that stuff? What does that look like? What happened? If that doesn’t work, or what happens if something breaks, do we want to keep all of the content from the previous site, merge it onto the new site, like it has to be a deeper plan than just the superficial. So this one’s going to redirect here and this one’s going to four or four, and then we’re done. Okay, bye.

Christopher Penn
Yep. With email list in particular, depending on the jurisdiction you’re in may dictate whether or not you’re allowed to use the email list. Some jurisdictions and some localities may not allow you to, for privacy reasons. So you may need to re opt in your list. And that’s a question of essentially doing an introduction saying, Hey, we’re the new company that has acquired your favorite brand. We promise not to break everything immediately. And if you want to stay in touch with what’s new, you know, re opt into this list. That said, legally, at least in the United States, and in Europe, the acquiring company does inherit The business relationship, which is sort of the basis of whether something is spam or not, say like, yep, this is an existing business relationship, and therefore you have permission to mail. Or this is not an existing business relationship. The worst thing you can do, though, and I’ve seen this done, is you vacuum up the entire database of the acquired company. But it’s not clear because there’s been no data governance about who about who you do and do not have permission to mail. So if you if you do not know, then you have to opt in everybody.

Katie Robbert
But only if you had started with a data governance plan, then you wouldn’t run into that issue.

Christopher Penn
So just on a bit of a tangent, at what point should that be done in an acquisition because I personally feel like that should be something that is done by both companies in the due diligence phase even before the acquisition closes. Because if a company is saying this is a tangible asset, that’s part of the acquisition price, I would assume the acquiring company we want to validate Yep, that that thing is worth what you say it is anymore like you buying a used car and you know, they say it runs. But if you don’t actually take it for a test drive,

Katie Robbert
yeah, no, that’s exactly it, it should be done during the due diligence before the ink is dry. So that, again, everybody’s on the same page about what’s in each system. What you’re going to keep what you’re going to toss, it’s like cleaning out your closet, you have to keep toss donate piles. And so you do the same thing with your databases, you come up with a list of rules that everybody adheres to. And then you go from there.

Christopher Penn
Does your does the database spark joy?

Katie Robbert
The answer is no.

Christopher Penn
I don’t know.

Unknown Speaker
It depends on which database.

Christopher Penn
Exactly. I get great joy out of out of my my email list. Okay, final question from the mailbag. What recommendations do you have for brushing up on your LinkedIn? Skills for is particularly for b2b marketers. This is from a different Ashley.

Unknown Speaker
Um,

Katie Robbert
well, I’m assuming that the question is around how to market on LinkedIn versus how to put your profile together online? Yes. Okay. I just want to make sure I was clear, I may not have had enough coffee yet. I mean, it’s the first question you have to ask is, what is the purpose of using LinkedIn? Who is the audience you’re trying to reach? Is does your audience exist? on LinkedIn? Are you using your personal brand or using the company brand? You need to understand you know the answer to all of those questions first. And then you start creating content around the topics that your audience cares about. So you have to do a bit of research first, before just starting to blast everything on any social media channel, LinkedIn included. Now LinkedIn, Chris, correct me if I’m wrong. LinkedIn actually handles video much better than a lot of the other platforms in terms of long form video. You don’t get cut off at 30 seconds and told go watch the rest of it on Instagram TV.

Christopher Penn
And up to 10 minutes. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker
So

Katie Robbert
but what in terms of brushing up your skills, doing your audience research, knowing the intention of the channel? And then you know, video definitely works well on LinkedIn. So those are the three things that I would look at first.

Christopher Penn
Yeah, I would say almost before you go jumping into anything, it would seem to me you’d want to do a skills audit for yourself. Right? There’s, um, there’s 11 core areas of LinkedIn. Right? There’s the profile is a page, there’s groups, there’s jobs, there’s messaging, there’s all these different components. And you probably want to do a skills audit for yourself of what do I know? What What do I do? What don’t I know? Do you know anything about about talent solutions do anything about sales solutions? Do you know anything about, you know, the different types of LinkedIn advertising? And if you just go and you know, click around, surf around and make a list of, do I know what this button does? I would think that would be a good way of sort of doing a basic skills assessment for yourself to say, like, yeah, this is kind of where I know nothing about that. I know a lot about that. I’m not sure about this and stuff like that. In terms of building skills assessment, is there a practice that you use in the past? That’s that other than, you know, just clicking around to figure out what you do? And don’t know.

Katie Robbert
Um, I mean, that’s really kind of the best way to get an understanding of any system. I was doing that over the weekend with a different system, Camp Asia, which is a video editing tool. I hadn’t really used it before, but I had a use case for it. And I was like, Okay, let me just click around. I mean, the worst thing that’s going to happen is I can’t figure out the thing and then I asked for help. But yeah, I mean, really digging into a system on your own is the best way to learn it. There’s always going to be supplemental materials and training courses, but actually doing the thing is the best way to learn it. And as you’re going through each feature and functionality, keep in the back of your mind. Does this help me reach my goal? Does this helped my personal professional company brand? Will this thing, push our KPIs forward?

Christopher Penn
What you mean, just focusing on every shiny object is not the way to go?

Katie Robbert
typically not. It’s a lot. It’s a lot to maintain you. You can’t be everything to everyone.

Christopher Penn
Yep. All right. Well, that concludes the the mailbag. One interesting oddity here and I don’t know. what to make of this is that every question has come from a name that is typically associated with someone who identifies as female is kind of kind of an unusual minor data point there. But regardless of your gender, regardless of your workplace, regardless of your b2b or b2c, if you have additional questions, please feel free to contact us over at Trust insights.ai subscribe to our newsletter there and if you have follow up questions on this podcast is leaving at the bottom of this post if you’re listening to it on our website, if you’re not drop on by the website and while you’re there, subscribe to the newsletter and the YouTube channel. We’ll talk to you soon. Take care


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