Monthly Archives: April 2020

There’s no app for thistest

How do you keep your brand relevant during these tough times? Here’s clue #1 – this is not a selling opportunity.

My advice is all in this one word – empathy. Be open and out there, engage with your customers as humans. Do more listening than talking.

In this post, I want to focus in on listening as an essential element of empathy. Not sitting back in your chair listening and composing your response. Active listening, where you’re on the edge of your seat and concentrating on what the words mean to the other person.

The aspect of my career that I’ve enjoyed the most has been qualitative research, talking to customers and unraveling the twist of their personal and professional ambitions that lead to a decision. It’s taught me a great deal about the importance of good old-fashioned listening.

Here’s an example. During an interview I asked a CEO what’s the most important benefit you receive from Company A? The executive said, our salesman. He really listens.

B2B has always been a personal sell. Now those persons are scared, bored, confused because the matrix of life is definitely down. We’re with Maslow now, concerned about food, shelter and safety.

Your brand is you. Trust empathy. Clue #2: it’s not in the data. It’s not in your stack. There’s no app for this.


A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Wastetest

Interesting, this sitting here at home trying to stitch back your professional life, and perhaps your company. Who knows what the world will look like tomorrow?
Given that we’re basically in the business of connecting you and your customers, we’d like to suggest one small thing that you can begin today, that will most assuredly help.
Reach out to every single customer and relationship, because there are no more customers or relationships. Everything is spinning. Ground it with your humanity and empathy.
Interestingly my friend Kenny, as good a salesperson as ever there was, said that he was calling all his customers – everyone was at home, and everyoneanswered the phone.
Open the kimono – talk about what you’re going through.
Finish with hope, and hopefully an idea that they can use. Not hand wringing or hand washing. Strengthen your relationship. We know it works. Decades of experience teach that these folks are happy to engage, especially at times like these, and to tell you the truth.
Or, let them know where to buy toilet paper.

What I Learned about B2B Marketing from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (with a nod to Gustav Flaubert)test

For sure, you’ve heard the old saying, “the devil is in the details”. It has certainly been my experience that the smallest, most hidden detail that you overlook can come back and bite you in the ass.

“God is in the details”, mostly attributed to the architect Mies van der Rohe, is the flip side, and the side of the coin I bet on. Which to me means that proactively uncovering the detail can make all the difference in the world.

What are you missing – and will there be the devil to pay?

Great learning comes from the detail of why you won a new client. Even greater, more useful detail comes from finding out the entangled reasons why you lost or untying the gordian knot of stalls.

However, the fine details of the wins, the losses and the stalls are often clouded. History is written by the victorious and thus many details may not make it to your CRM system, lest they conflict with the broadcasted story or tarnish a reputation.

It’s more than likely your current efforts are falling short. Closure rate, sales and profitability hang in the balance.

  • According to CEB (a subsidiary of Gartner), fully 60% of B2B opportunities end in no sale. Learning how to avoid or prevent draws can be very rewarding.
  • A small increase in your win percentage will have a huge impact on your top and bottom lines.

Uncovering the details requires a sharp eye, a practiced ear, and a proven methodology.

That would be B2P’s Decision Drivers (DD) process.

DecisionDrivers improves marketing performance by unveiling…

  • when internal triggers activate search behavior
  • what content each persona seeks at each stage of the process
  • how your prospects differentiate between you and competitors
  • why qualified prospects leave your funnel at each stage.

Here’s a peak behind the curtain: DecisionDrivers.

But does it work?

  • One company believed they had to appeal to multiple personas at once. DecisionDrivers uncovered that they could win by concentrating their messaging and sales efforts on just one.
  • One company was worried that they were not price competitive. Champions refocused us on TOC, where the company has everyone beat, hands down.
  • One company found that their IT department was getting into face-offs with prospects’ IT, and were usually wrong.

So, God and the devil are there, each sitting on one of your shoulders. It’s up to you.

If your B2B marketing is content to gloss over the surface, to sidestep the complexity of the decision process, then your view and your accomplishments are short-term, and are not building the long-term relationships we need to survive.

Some say Flaubert said it first: Le bon Dieu est dans le détail.

Bon chance!


How to dramatically increase qualified traffic to your website, without spending a dimetest

We’d like to suggest a minimal effort that can bring big traffic to your website. It’s called a Super Extraordinary Opportunity, or SEO.

Most know this as Search Engine Optimization, but few understand what it does or how it works. Many don’t even bother with SEO because they don’t understand its power, which is a huge mistake.

Some spend good money on hiring an SEO agency. Some spend countless hours researching and trying to stay up to date.

We’ve reduced it to 5 easy steps that you can do yourself, without spending a dime, that will result in a tremendous boost in qualified traffic to your website.

Here we go. 5 easy, common sense SEO steps that will build a ton of qualified traffic:

Step 1: Focus on the right keywords

This is absolutely the most important step. A keyword is a word or phrase of great significance because it ties your website to what your ideal customers are searching for. Said differently, the keyword is what a customer types into Google to find you.

For instance, if I’m your prospect and I wanted to find out how to train my workforce, I might search for the following keywords or phrases:

  • Companies that do workforce training
  • What is workforce training
  • How to train my workforce on safety
  • Software for workforce training

Begin the process by crafting a very long list of relevant phrases of 1-4 words each.

What customers type into Google is not always what you and I assume they type. Because of this, you need to build a list of every possible variation a customer would use to find your product or service.

There are a lot of free tools like Ubersuggest to help you generate your big list of keywords. You can also find out what phrases your competitors use with SpyFu.

After you’ve built a list of several hundred phrases, go to Google Keyword Planner and “get search volume and forecasts” and paste in your entire list of keywords. Look under the “historical metrics” tab to find out how many searches each term gets per month.

We guarantee you’ll be surprised by what terms they actually use.

Next, choose what keywords are most important, based on three factors:

  1. The terms that are most relevantto your product or service
  2. The terms that get the most searches
  3. The terms that have the least amount of competition

Sometimes, it’s obvious which keywords are best for you. But usually, you have to make a lot of judgement calls.

Next, rank your top 50 keywords from one to fifty.

Keywords to use on your home page and your other main pages should come from your top 10 to 20 phrases. These are phrases that your ideal customers would use. They are customers who are already deep in the sales cycle and looking for a short list of vendors. For instance, if you’re an LMS vendor, they might type “best LMS.”

The rest of your top 50 keywords can be very specific keywords that you can use for blog topics. These keywords are much more niche and designed for the awareness and education of your prospects. For instance, “build certification program.”

If your company was Ferrari, the top 10-20 keywords might include “Italian super car”, but a blog keyword might be something like “learn how to drive fast.”

Step 2: Distribute your top keywords throughout your metadata

Metadata is used to describe individual web pages, allowing search engines to understand in brief what’s on that page. If you’re using WordPress or another website builder to create a webpage, at the bottom of the screen you’ll see Yoast SEO, which is the most popular SEO plugin. That’s where your metadata goes.

Think of metadata as an invitation to visit your page, written in an active voice with rationale and urgency. The description of the page must match what’s actually on the page. Search engines do not like to be fooled.

Start by creating the metadata page title.

Include three things in your page titles:

  1. The actual title of the page, like “Services”
  2. Your company name
  3. The primary keyword that you want to rank for on that page

Here’s an example title that’s less than the 70 character maximum:
Services – ABC Company – eLearning Development

Next is the page description:
What you want here is a short (155 characters tops) description of the content of the page. Make sure this description contains your primary keyword from the page title plus one or two other top keywords that are relevant to that page.

This enables the search engine to direct customers to your website. If the word in their search matches the word in the metadata, bingo! Or at least it gives you a fighting chance to get ranked. Especially if that keyword is in both the title and the description.

The last thing is the slug.
A slug is basically the page URL, but without your company domain.

For example, this slug is in bold:

You get a lot of bonus points if your primary keyword is in all four areas: title, description, slug and on the actual page.

That’s 90% of what you need in your metadata. Doing much more will take much longer and has diminishing returns for the time invest in it.

Make sure you do the title, description, page and slug for all of your pages, including blogs.

Step 3: Now do the same for your web page copy

Using your list of top keywords and the 3-5 that are most relevant to each page, go back through the content of each page and make sure you are using those keywords in the page text.

Don’t force it but do tighten the language. Even slight variations should be corrected (e.g., “compliance learning” may get more searches if it’s “compliance training”.

Don’t repeat keywords too often on the page. A few times is plenty. Google doesn’t appreciate a lot of repetition.

Of course, the keywords in your content should match the keywords in your metadata for each page. Google likes that very much.

Step 4: Get backlinks from external sites

Backlinks (also called linkbacks or inbound links) are also important to your SEO effort. This is when links on other websites point to your website.

Search engines view these backlinks as “social proof,” or a vote of confidence that others vouch for your web pages.

The most desirable backlinks are from high-traffic, well-respected websites, such as software review sites, if you are a software vendor.

The only negative about backlinks is that they take a long time to generate a lot of them. Many SEO experts believe that the easiest and most long-lasting route to getting more backlinks is simply through better content and blogs and pointing to them on social media, but that also takes a lot of time.

Step 5: Track and adjust

The most important part of measuring SEO is understanding your customer and how they think and talk and especially what they search for. It’s like learning their language. Learning what they care about, what content they respond to and what words they use in searches.

Read the results – what are the changes to your website traffic? Which keywords are attracting visitors? Test adjustments to the metadata and adopt what works.

Continuous improvement is what makes all this effective long term and builds up your all-important backlinks and your Google credibility score.

This is your low-hanging fruit

These easy SEO steps are a great example of a high-reward investment of your time. The result is more qualified traffic, and, if your website is compelling, more leads and more business.

If you have questions, we’re here to help.

Gordon L. Johnson

As a B2B growth marketer, Johnson specializes in transforming training company brands, building pipelines and accelerating market share. He has over fifteen years of experience in the learning and education industry, marketing technology, training and services. To learn more, visit Gordon’s website.


Scott Hornstein

International author, teacher and consultant, Scott works with training companies to maximize customer satisfaction, retention and lifetime value. He works with clients in all phases of content creation, strategy, research and implementation. Contact Scott.


You can also read our eBook: 10 Marketing Strategies that No Learning Tech Vendor Can Live Without



Today’s Opportunity for Training Suppliers: Survive and Thrivetest

Now is a time of great opportunity for training suppliers that are willing to turn on a dime and focus their efforts on our new reality. Everyone has suddenly gone remote, ending traditional classroom training, at least for a while. As a training supplier, you now have a large captive audience with the time and desire to engage with learning. Here’s an overview of this opportunity and short-term actions you can take to maintain, or even grow, your revenue.

Working Remotely, Social Distancing and Losing My Mind … It’s Time for Training!

Training is a good use of everyone’s time and a diversion from the chaotic feeling of finding one’s personal and professional life upended and adrift. Even better, it can be a highlight of someone’s day, because completing a course or a program is an accomplishment.

Here are some of the immediate training opportunities where your marketing team is likely to find a big audience:

    • Certifications, continuing education units (CEUs) and other career advancement training.
    • Company-specific and compliance training.
    • Job-required skills training.

There is also an emerging reality that lifelong learning is not a choice but a necessity.

No one expects everything to go back to the same type of normal. It’s obvious that many activities will move online. It’s still unclear how job definitions and requirements will change. As a result, many individuals will be motivated by job and career pressures to learn new skills sooner rather than later. It also gets them “out of the house” and moving forward.

You have two compelling goals: to protect your immediate income and to build your competitiveness for the future. For each goal, identify your three best courses, based on attendance and revenue, and concentrate on them. Resources are limited, and this focus guarantees you the greatest return for your effort.

Pivot to VILT to Protect Immediate Income Loss From ILT Courses

If your training is instructor-led, no doubt you are experiencing an upswing in cancellations and a standstill in registrations. To protect current income, your organization must convert your instructor-led training (ILT) into virtual ILT, and the webinar is your best choice.

There is a long list of differences between ILT and virtual ILT, but here are a few major ones:

    • Duration: No one will sit through a six-hour webinar. Chunk your content into one- to three-hour bits or shorter, if possible.
    • Built-in interaction: Encourage interactivity with questions, whiteboarding, breakout sessions, labs, discussion forums, games, and other tools.
    • Blended learning: Provide a value-add with pre- and post-training deliverables, such as a reading, eLearning supplement, pre-assessment, white paper, case study or instructional video.

If the course supports certification or CEUs, you stand a better chance of avoiding rebates or credits, but don’t be short-sighted. If customers are vocal, work something out. If you come to a solution with one of them, it’s likely the rest will ask for the same thing.

One strategy is to proactively reschedule ILT classes. Pick a date at least three months out, and notify everyone that it has been rescheduled. This approach will reduce cancellations. Also, virtual ILT is not just for just for people who registered for an instructor-led class. Remember, you have a captive audience. Gear up your marketing, and reach out.

Training is a good use of everyone’s time and a diversion from the chaotic feeling of finding one’s life upended.

Build Competitiveness for Tomorrow by Repurposing ILT Content

If you’ve been in this industry a long time, you heard a thousand times that the future is eLearning and traditional ILT is going away. But ILT never disappeared. It’s been slowly shrinking, but it’s still popular. With this crisis, however, there will be a monumental shift away from ILT, even when things are back to a new normal.

Almost everyone is developing a newfound comfort level with virtual conferencing, remote learning, eLearning and microlearning. We’re at a tipping point. There are new cohorts entering your target market with a different outlook and expectations for the training experience. For instance, many have grown up with the mobile phone. They are adept at using it to search for and consume information, and now, they are comfortable with learning on not just a tablet but a smartphone. If you want to engage them, your course material has to be optimized for a small screen.

These generations’ predilection for mobile also introduces new competition for their time: If they need information, they may first access peers, YouTube or other internet sources. We all know about this tendency, but it’s growing every day. Not only must content be mobile-friendly, but it also must be better than the competition.

Start rapidly repurposing your content for online and microlearning delivery. Chunk it into logical bite-size pieces, and continue your quest for interactivity. Most research agrees that around two minutes is the ideal length for microlearning and videos. While it’s hard to slice up an ILT course into two-minute increments, you can move in that direction. If you have not yet adopted a modern learning management system (LMS) that supports all forms of microlearning and blending, now is the time.

Also consider moving to a subscription model. Not only is online content more profitable, but the subscription model, done correctly, translates into predictable revenue. A modern learning platform can give you the subscription tools you’ll need to scale your business easily so that you can maximize the return on your investment.

Training Companies, Carpe Diem!

The future is uncertain, but at least we know where the training industry is heading. Be ready when it gets there. Instead of getting down, get up on your toes, and pull your organization with you. View this time as a blessing instead of a curse.

We do not know what the world will look like tomorrow, but we do know that it will belong to those learning companies who are making lemonade from lemons and embracing change rapidly to grow their revenue and increased customer lifetime value.

Everyone else, not so much.