Engage Your CMO with a Measured, Yet Expansive Marketing Effort in 2021

Engage Your CMO with a Measured, Yet Expansive Marketing Effort in 2021

The relationship between the Chief Marketing Officer and the Chief Executive Officer has never been more important, especially as we enter the high-stakes year of 2021.

Why is this a high-stakes year?

With so many companies shuttered, or struggling alongside the road, there is opportunity in the air, especially for well-financed companies with a solid, strategic marketing plan. Such small businesses may be poised to disrupt entire industries with a new technology. Others may simply be eyeing significant new market share. Regardless, now is the time for small business owners and entrepreneurs to take advantage of future opportunities with the help of their marketing leader.

I believe the primary focus of that marketing effort in 2021 should be on creative strategies that leverage technology and the innate desire that customers have to help other customers, all while keeping a focus on the always-important customer acquisition cost. This might involve retooling your website to focus on lucrative niches or building engaging webinar campaigns.

As for that innate desire, what I have found in my years as a serial entrepreneur is that customers not only want incentives for themselves, but also their friends. In such scenarios, everybody wins.

Regarding costs, the plan needs to deliver a measurable ROI out of the gate, while leaving room to navigate changing consumer behavior and opportunity in the unpredictable 2021 climate.

But while the bottom line is important, this must be carefully weighed against the opportunities. What I have noticed in the short time we have been in a pandemic is that people become ultra conservative. There will also be a hangover effect with this, where it will take a while before small business owners and their marketing teams get into the passing lane again.

This fear is very natural. Many entrepreneurs and marketers are not sure how to cope with it. And that fear is compounded by the isolation and the fact that we are not able to collaborate as much in person as we used to.

Move through these challenges, however, and engage your CMO or marketing team. Your company will be richly rewarded. Now is not that time to pull back. It is time to grow!

Referral Programs Are an Underutilized Tool for the Entrepreneur

Referral Programs Are an Underutilized Tool for the Entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur, we are constantly exploring new business ideas. One of my favorite tools for this is having weekly coffee chats with those in my network. Even if our product wasn’t the right fit for the people I was meeting, I knew that I could gain a lot by testing my messaging on them. I may not have walked away with an order, but those relationships have paid huge dividends in the long run. Not only did they allow me to practice my pitch, but they also did something amazing—they led to referrals. There’s an artform to handling referrals. Unlike leads that come in through your website, they’re a little more delicate. That’s because how you handle them can impact two relationships: one with your prospective customer and one with your referral source. If the deal goes south, it could deter that source from sending you any more of their friends, costing you much more business in the long run. Here are five general rules-of-thumb for handling referrals:

  1. Respond to introductory emails as quickly as you can. At a minimum, respond within 24 hours, but aim for sooner if you can.
  2. Send a thank you to the referral source. Mail over a nice card with a handwritten note. If it’s a huge deal, go for a gift or offer to give them a small cut of future deals they send your way. Let them know that you appreciate the gesture.
  3. Take good care of those customers. In most cases, you can bet that they’re reporting back to your referral source about how things are going. So, while you should be giving everyone outstanding service, go above and beyond for your referrals.
  4. Send the referral source updates. Set an appropriate check-in time and let your referral source know how the customer is doing. What you share and when you do it depends on your business (and the level of confidentiality required).
  5. Set up a referral database so that you can keep track of your best referral sources. You may talk to some more often than others, but make sure you know whose referrals are most likely to close.

This referral program can also translate to your employees. Incentivize them to connect the dots, and you’ll see the true power of referrals.