“Our Team of Consultants and vendors are the best of the best in the dynamic world of business and digital consulting. I have always surrounded myself with the best possible talent. I truly enjoy sharing this talent and working directly with companies who are looking for results based solutions”
-Jon Flatt

“Our Team of Consultants and vendors are the best of the best in the dynamic world of business and digital consulting. I have always surrounded myself with the best possible talent. I truly enjoy sharing this talent and working directly with companies who are looking for results based solutions”
-Jon Flatt

“Our Team of Consultants and vendors are the best of the best in the dynamic world of business and digital consulting. I have always surrounded myself with the best possible talent. I truly enjoy sharing this talent and working directly with companies who are looking for results based solutions”
-Jon Flatt

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February, 2017

Webinar Recap: The 5 Habits of Digital Leadership in Marketing Automation

Erik Qualman was recently a guest for a GetResponse Automation Hub webinar, where he spoke on the five habits of digital leadership that can be used with marketing automation.

What does the digital world look like in 2017?

  • Over half the world’s population is 30 years old or younger
  • If Facebook was a nation, it would be the most populous in the world (followed by China, India, and YouTube).
  • 53% of millennials would rather lose one of their senses (smell, specifically) than their technology
  • Social media influences 93% of buying decisions
  • By 2018, video will account for more than 2/3 of mobile usage
  • The human attention span is 7 seconds. A goldfish’s attention span is 8 seconds.
  • More people own mobile devices than a toothbrush
  • One in three marriages start online
  • Grandparents are the fastest growing demographic on Twitter
  • Two people join LinkedIn every second, and LinkedIn lowered its age requirement to 13

This very connected world is our day-to-day, personally and professionally. Automation, therefore, helps us in both our personal and professional lives. Think about how automation relates to airplane travel. You can check in online, print your boarding pass (or have it sent to your phone), and you very rarely need to see an agent unless you need help. This saves us time and is often more convenient. But no automation will ever replace face to face communication, so it’s up to you to find the ideal combination of automated and non-automated communication.

All digital leaders understand the combination of the offline and the online. Gary Vaynerchuk has been known to say, “Behave like the Jetsons and the Flintstones.” We may live in the Jetsons era, but it’s about behaving like both.

How is digital leadership defined in the Jetson’s era? By a STAMP:

  • Simple
  • True
  • Act
  • Map
  • People

To learn more about what this STAMP is all about, watch the webinar!



The post Webinar Recap: The 5 Habits of Digital Leadership in Marketing Automation appeared first on GetResponse Blog – Online Marketing Tips.

Technology and the Millennial generation

Generations tend to have certain characteristics that not only define them but also make them part of history.

Technology and the Millennial generation

Members of the Lost Generation, for example, were resilient in dealing with the aftermath of World War I by defying Prohibition and welcoming the prosperity of the Roaring 20s.

Every generation has gone through unique circumstances that have made them what they are.

Members of Generation X grew up faster than their parents and had less in terms of economic resources, but they also contributed to forging the world wide web.

Now that the world is preparing to have the Millennial Generation on the lead, it is important to understand the unique philosophies that the members of this age group follow.

Information technology and Millennials

By the time Millennials enrolled in elementary school, their classrooms were equipped with Apple Macintosh computers.

These days, Millennials are glued to Apple iPhones that are far more advanced than those early Macs they used to play educational games such as The Oregon Trail room.

As Millennials grew up, the realm of information technology developed along with them.

Young adults have lived through a period of great technological advancement, and this has impacted their brain development and the shaping of their personal philosophies.

Millennials have naturally acquired a skill set that previous generations had to learn.

Learning is a faster and more flexible endeavor for Millennials, and they are more versed in communications due to their affinity for social media.

To this effect, Millennials are not as impacted by the isolation caused by the “latchkey kid” effect seen in Generation X.

With social media, members of the Millennial Generation can avoid isolation by reaching out to their peers.

The Millennial optimism

The resilience of the Millennial Generation has not been thoroughly tested by a major event such as a World War. 

However, the Trump administration in the United States may give Millennials an opportunity to prove themselves as being ready to assume leadership of the world.

Millennials may have been born during an economic crisis, but technology is what keeps them optimistic

Millennials were born into volatile economic periods of boom, bust, recession, and crisis. They are members of a poor generation, but at the same time, they manage to remain optimistic.

Sociologists have explained that this optimism is due to technology. At this time, Millennials enjoy networking with like-minded people all over the world.

They know that technology will never stop advancing, and this gives them lots of hope.

The resourcefulness of Millennials

Older generations who may have their reservations about the capability of Millennials to lead our world should not worry too much.

People in this age group have proven to be extremely resourceful, particularly with regard to technology.

One example of Millennial resourcefulness is the very small aperture terminal (VSAT) system, which is bringing broadband internet connections to some of the most remote parts of the world.

Millennials are a very resourceful generation, specially towards technology

Satellite internet service remains the best “last mile” solution to reach rural areas, and the VSAT system is now in the hands of Millennials who believe that internet access is as important as a human right.

It is interesting to note that Millennials are not as ambitious as members of previous generations. If anything, they seem to be more generous and altruistic.

Their willing to deploy VSAT systems around the world to ensure everyone can access the internet is admirable.

Particularly when considering that many of these VSAT projects are being funded through donations.

A matter of principles

Millennials are more generours and altruistic than other generations

For all their idealism, Millennials are not highly individualistic.

By virtue of having been raised on social media, they believe in the principle of strength in numbers. 

Millennials can quickly organize and rally around a cause. After all, they invented the concept of crowdfunding in lieu of capital investments.

In the end, members of the Millennial Generation think radically different comparing to previous generations.

Their thoughts, which are ruled by technology and hope, will lead us through the rest of the 21st century.

What do you think? Is this a faithful image of the Millennial Generation? Leave your opinion in the comments below and share your thoughts with us. We love comments!

For more business tips, check our entrepreneurship section and subscribe to our weekly newsletters.

The post Technology and the Millennial generation appeared first on AlphaGamma.

How Brands Use Video to Boost Awareness

What is brand awareness and how does it affect your larger business? As it turns out, it affects things a great deal. According to Harvard Business Review, 64% of people said that shared values were the main reason why they had a relationship with a brand in the first place. Regardless of the industry that you’re operating in, building brand awareness should essentially be one of your highest priorities at all times.

In many ways, brand recognition is about a lot more than whether someone instantly recognizes your logo when they see it or not. It’s about the long-lasting, meaningful relationship that you’re able to forge with your target audience. It’s about the feeling and emotion that you’re able to invoke at the mere mention of your company. It’s about loyalty, respect and honor – all in one convenient package.

In 2017, it’s clear that video is one of the best ways to build brand awareness that is currently available. Not only is most of the traffic on the Internet solely dedicated to video, but it’s also a terrific way to increase conversion rates, generate new leads, and boost engagement at the same time. All of this will be hugely beneficial when it comes to using video for that always-important goal of raising brand awareness.


how brands use video to boost brand awareness


First things first

If you really want to use video to increase brand awareness, you’ll need to first start by defining your target audience. It can’t be “everyone” – that will have you trying to essentially hit far too many moving targets. Think about your ideal customers and the specific types of people you’re trying to reach:

  • Where do they watch videos?
  • What type of videos do they watch?
  • What do they find helpful?
  • What do they need?

The answer to these questions will give you a better idea of how you must proceed when creating content moving forward.

Along these lines, you should always tailor your value proposition to different buying audiences. It’s difficult to get a Baby Boomer and a Millennial to agree on just about anything, even if they both inherently like the same idea. As a result, your video content will need to re-frame your message to better communicate with the specific people you’re trying to reach at the moment.


The power of “About Us” video

When it comes to building brand awareness, trust is one quality that you can never have too much of. As a result, your first priority should be in creating an “About Us” video in an effort to build trust with your audience. Tell your company story – talk about what your company does, why it does it and how you’re trying to make the world a better place. You can even create a video interview with company leadership to give a first-hand account to why your offering is better or more meaningful than that of your competitors.


Experimenting with other types of video content

The most important thing to remember about all this is that “video,” as a communications medium, is inherently malleable. Different types of videos can all accomplish different things, provided you approach things from an angle that is easily digestible to your target audience.

General explainer videos are a great way to help audiences understand not just your value proposition and what you’re offering, but why these things matter in their lives. This is the key to building brand awareness regardless of the product or service you are offering, and this is what makes each and every company create explainer videos for their audiences.

A product overview video, for example, can be a perfect way to spark interest for your product or brand by showing off what makes it unique and what problems it can solve. A demonstration video can be a huge boost to people who may be on the fence about a purchase (along with your sales teams) by explaining complicated technical details in an easy-to-understand way.

Customer testimonials are also great types of videos, as peer recommendations are very impactful for consumers. They’re essential for creating an emotional appeal for your brand, and more and more people today rely on online testimonials as much as on personal recommendations.


Digital outreach channels

Once you’ve taken steps to create your video content, distribution becomes your next focus. Video ads are a great way to get your content in front of the eyes of as many people as possible, by leveraging paid advertising, PPC channels, and social ads to your advantage.

Videos can also be a tremendous way to engage your audience through social media. Not only can social videos entertain, but also educate or inspire your followers, helping establish a thought leadership (or any other) position for your brand. A huge portion of your audience is hanging out on social media right now and you suddenly have a mechanism (video) to reach them every waking hour of the day, which makes social videos one of the most-used type of content so far.


The bottom line

It’s also important for you to remember that there is no real “one size fits all” way to generate brand awareness. Different audiences will need to be reached in different ways and even though video is powerful, a single video isn’t enough to get the job done. You will need to become intimately familiar with the folks you’re trying to reach so that you can get the right message in front of the right people in the right way at the right time.

Have you incorporated video content into your marketing and PR efforts so far? If so, how do the videos vary for different channels? Share your best practices in the comments below.

The post How Brands Use Video to Boost Awareness appeared first on GetResponse Blog – Online Marketing Tips.

Why big companies fail and how to avoid it

What causes a highly successful business that outperforms the stock market by 6.9 times for over a decade, to all of a sudden become irrelevant and fail?

Why big companies fail and how to avoid it

Jim Collins’ book, “How the Mighty Fall” takes a detailed look at companies that were big companies as defined by Collins’ previous book “Good to Great” but fell to irrelevance.

Collins defines a big company as one that had to significantly outperform the market for at least 15 years in a row.

On average, the companies that Collins studied as big companies outperformed the general stock market by at least 6.9 times.

. . . And then, they failed!

There was quite a list of big companies that were studied for this book but some of the more dramatic failures include:

  • Ames – an American chain of discount stores started in 1958, expanding to 700 stores and then closing to bankruptcy in 2002.
  • Circuit City – an America multinational consumer electronics company that was founded in 1949 and then liquidated in 2009. At the time it was liquidated, it was the second largest US electronics retailer.
  • Zenith Electronics – was founded in 1918 and was a preeminent designer and manufacturer of electronics in the US. They began to run into trouble in the 1980’s and then by 1999, after filing for bankruptcy, LG bought out the company.

What are the root causes of these dramatic failures?

Collins determined that there are five stages of business decline which lead to failure.

Generally speaking, business failure happens when companies take their eye off what made them successful.

This loss of focus leads to a slide through the 5 stages which ultimately ends in irrelevance or death!

Stage 1: Hubris born of success

When a business becomes a big company, it is easy to take this success for granted!

This can lead to arrogance and entitlement which in turn can lead to loss of focus on the company vision or the reason “Why” the business exists in the first place.

This is the first sign of a business headed for disaster!

Stage 2: Undisciplined pursuit of more

The pressure for a business to continue to grow, gain market share, post record profits while outperforming competitors can cause the business leaders to go after markets that are not in alignment with the business’ vision.

This can cause loss of focus, market confusion, power struggles and a host of other destructive outcomes.

Stage 3: Denial of risk and peril

If the hypothetical big company has become arrogant and is stuck in the undisciplined pursuit of more then it is easy to understate the potential risk of business strategy and market positioning.

The actual risk, if incurred, can be catastrophic.

Stage 4: Grasping for salvation

The business has gone through stages 1 to 3 and is in trouble. It is now desperately trying to stay alive.

This results in the organization urgently looking for a silver bullet to save itself. Panic, haste and silver bullets rarely end well and typically precede massive failure.

Stage 5: Capitulation to irrelevance or death

This is the final stage of failure. At this point, the big company has proceeded through the previous four stages of decline and is unable to recover or reinvent itself. The organization capitulates to irrelevance or death.

How to avoid failure

Step 1: Acknowledge that there is a problem

Failure to acknowledge that a problem exists will result in a continual slide through the 5 stages of decline.

Step 2: Define your hedgehog

This is Collin’s advice from Good to Great, his previous book about what made big companies great.

Basically, you articulate the components that define the reason “Why” your organization exists and what you will do about that “Why”. This is essentially your vision and mission. Define what:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What drives your economic engine?
  • Can you be best in the world at?

Step 3: Make sure your values, strategy and goals are in alignment with your hedgehog

Is your whole organization focusing on achieving the compelling reason “Why”?

See the following blog posts for more information on this:

Step 4: Communicate Step 2 and Step 3 to the organization tirelessly

Vision leaks! Therefore you need to communicate it tirelessly to ensure that your business continues to move in the correct direction.

See the blog post Did Your Organization’s Vision Leak? for more information.

Step 5: Measure your results and fine tune the execution

Nothing will ever be perfect. As a result, you must continuously measure and analyze your results.

Fine tune the execution so you are always striving in the right direction.

See the blog post How Do You Measure Success for more information.

Evaluate your organization

Do any of the Five Stages of Decline appear in your business? If so, take action now and get your business back on solid ground!

Rigorously follow the advice outlined above and download and follow the advice in 12 Steps to Business Transformation and get your business back on track.

Incorrect assumptions lie at the root of every failure. Have the courage to test your assumptions” Brian Tracy

Leave a comment on your experiences with business failure and how you were able to avoid it, recover from it, or succumb to it!

Download a free copy of my new Ebook: 12 Steps to Business Transformation. If you would like a business assessment to help kick off your business transformation, contact me at info@thinkingbusinessblog.com or at 587-227-5179.

Be sure to sign up at www.thinkingbusinessblog.com for weekly blog updates delivered to your inbox.

For more sales tips, check our entrepreneurship section and subscribe to our weekly newsletters.

The post Why big companies fail and how to avoid it appeared first on AlphaGamma.

One Easy (and Easy-to-Overlook) Way for Marketers to Adopt the Customer Mindset

Marketing personas? Check.

Customer data? Check.

Strategy? Check.

Deep understanding of your product or service and the problem it solves? Yep.

Empathy for the customer? Absolutely.

Sweet marketing automation platform? Of course you’ve got that, too!

You’re armed with all of the above—all the things you need to create the kind of nurturing campaigns that blows last year’s results out of the water.

But there’s one more thing you’ll need: a strong writer. Or, more specifically, you need a strong writer who can write with a customer-centric point of view to really make your nurturing programs fully resonate.

That’s where it gets tricky. Because it’s easy to say that you need to adopt a customer mindset. Every marketer knows that: It’s marketing 101.

But, in practice, it’s really, really, really hard.

We all like to think of ourselves as empathetic creatures. We all like to see ourselves as murmuring and nodding along with anything and everything our customers say, because we know them so well that we practically walk around in their shoes.

But the truth is that customer empathy is hard. It’s hard to look at things from another’s point of view, because our eyeballs are firmly rooted in our own heads, not someone else’s.


Hold up: a writer?

Let’s pause here for a station break.

I want to address a question that might still be nagging you after my declarative sentence a few paragraphs back: I said there’s one more thing you’ll need: a strong writer.

Why would I say you need a strong writer on your team? You have the technology in place. Isn’t writing as a marketing skill hopelessly old-school?

Nope. Embracing technology doesn’t mean we ignore text and writing. Quite the opposite: writing is the foundation of a good story. And well-chosen words can greatly enhance whatever technology you use to create and deploy your marketing programs.


Writing and story are the very heart of marketing—even in our tech-driven world.

The perennial problem in marketing is that many of us are terrible writers on our first draft, often because we have the bad habit of saying what we need to say instead of what the customer needs to hear.

I get that. I understand how it happens. A deadline is looming, we are pressed to get something (anything!) off of our desks. And the next thing you know we’ve embraced what my friend Doug Kessler calls our own “inner yadda-yadda merchants.” Ego takes over. And we allow our tone-deaf corporate-centric messaging to offend our precious customers.


Which is where empathy comes in

So what’s this “crazy simple” way to adopt that empathetic customer mindset?

A lot of bad writing habits can be reformed in one key way: swapping places with your reader before you publish.

To start, go ahead and write your face off from a corporate-centric point of view. Write like you want to write, and say what you want to say. Let your own ego delight you because you are an amazing and hilarious writer! You’ve got this!

And then… drop your pencil. Put down the keyboard. Put some distance between you and that writing.

Take a break.

Go on a walk.

Have an espresso.

Binge-watch an entire season of Man in the High Castle. (But, if you do that, don’t talk about it with me. I haven’t yet gotten past season 1.)

Go home for the night.

And when you come back to The Ugly First Draft (TUFD), swap places with your reader. Physically get up and walk to the other side of your desk and read it from there, if that helps. Put yourself not just in their shoes. Put on their pants, shirt, or dress. Heck, crawl inside their skin, too.

In short, adopt a critical mindset toward each sentence you read: “Does this truly help the reader in some way?”

Also, watch your language. In his essay “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell wrote that a “scrupulous writer” will ask himself or herself a series of questions about everything he or she writes:

“What am I trying to say?

“What words will express it?

“What image or idiom will make it clearer?

“Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

“Could I put it more shortly?

“Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?”

So, adopt that kind of critical view. And then rewrite as if you were the reader. Edit yourself.

To do so, you’ll need to do something with Ego: shove it in the closet. Lock it up in the trunk of your car. Walk really fast and lose it in a crowded subway station. And, if it comes to it, punch Ego in the throat and give voice to the Reader.

And that’s the crazy-simple idea:

Write like a marketer. Allow your Ego to showboat off a little. Then let the Reader come in to straighten out the mess you’ve created.


Over to you

How has strong copy and content affected your marketing automation? Tell us about it in the comments below.

adopt customer mindset

The post One Easy (and Easy-to-Overlook) Way for Marketers to Adopt the Customer Mindset appeared first on GetResponse Blog – Online Marketing Tips.

Funding sources in 2017: equity crowdfunding

The equity crowdfunding is an accelerating trend.

Funding sources in 2017: equity crowdfunding

For those not familiar with the term, it refers to the method of financing that enables unlisted companies to raise funds from the public in exchange for company shares.

According to the definition adopted by Consob (National Commission for Society and Stock Exchange):

We talk about equity-based crowdfunding when using the on-line investment, we buy a real way of participation in a company, in which case, the “reward” for funding is the manifold economic and administrative rights that derive from the interest in the company”


After an uninterrupted period of growth and of a great interest from the public and the press, in Italy, the year 2016 was, in some ways, the year of disillusionment.

But in the next two years, thanks to the measures put in place by regulation authorities, we’re ready to resume the race.

From the birth of the first crowdfunding platform to date, €96 million have been collected in Italy alone.

That is, the formula reserved for startups and innovative SMEs.

Nevertheless, for those startups which managed to successfully conclude their campaigns, the average of the funds raised was 243.000 euros per campaign.

Equity crowdfunding

In 2017, the growth of equity crowdfunding is expected to be caused by these two fundamental areas:

  • Normative. The law of stability was approved just before Renzi’s resignation from the government. It offers SMEs an opportunity to use equity crowdfunding as a form of financing.
  • New initiatives of young Italian minds. Despite the adverse economic and social conditions, Italian entrepreneurs rolled up their sleeves and started high-impact projects. Projects which have not gone unnoticed before the eyes of the press or national and international investors.

This next biennium in collective financing is going to be promising because equity crowdfunding has all the necessary conditions to reach its full potential.

It is likely to stimulate the growth of the Italian startup ecosystem, so we will be able to see more companies with the label “Made in Italy”.

What do you think about equity crowdfunding? Have you tried raising money through crowdfunding? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

For more finance and investing tips, check our finance section and subscribe to our weekly newsletters.

The post Funding sources in 2017: equity crowdfunding appeared first on AlphaGamma.

Why your Millennial sellers aren’t prospecting

Have you noticed any of these phenomena when reviewing the pipelines of your Millennial sellers?

  1. Not enough opportunities
  2. Not enough early-stage opportunities
  3. Companies who should be in the pipeline aren’t

Now, the easy (and lazy) conclusion is that Millennials are entitled, don’t know how to work, etc.

This article has originally been published on LinkedIn.

But I think that’s bull – I know plenty of young sellers with plenty of work ethic, and I’ve met plenty of older sellers who don’t try hard.

In my experience, a major part of the problem lies with the culture we live in today, and how it’s influencing Millennial sales behaviors.

In short, today’s dating and internet culture are hurting Millennials’ ability to prospect. Let me explain.

Too much research, not enough contact

A University of Chicago study by John Cacioppo estimates that one-third of US couples who got married between 2005 and 2012 met online. And that number is only going up.

In the book Love and Selling, I point out that today’s technology means there are no more blind dates, in love or in business. I see at least

I see at least two problems with the rise of business intelligence (and Google):

First, prospects don’t need to call sellers nearly as much or as early – they can find what they need online. So the natural flow of incoming calls and leads has decreased in almost every complex sale I see today.

Second, as anyone who has ever ended up 40 clicks into YouTube knows, research is a trap. It’s easy to spend too much time researching a prospect, trying to learn everything you can about them. In reality, the things that make your prospect a prospect are often only found through actual contact with people.

In reality, the things that make your prospect a prospect are often only found through actual contact with people.

Swiping Culture = Premature Disqualification

What’s worse, too much research also gives sellers too many opportunities to disqualify a prospect. And in today’s swiping culture, that leads to a lot of unnecessary disqualifying.

Most people reading this article have an app on your phone that allows you to quickly swipe through your options, whether it’s a potential mate or takeout food. I’ve looked over shoulders as people on Tinder swiped through dozens of profiles, saying ‘no’ based on the thinnest of slices. As Malcolm Gladwell points out in Blink, this is an excellent strategy when trying to avoid predators.

This swiping mentality is super-harmful to prospecting, though, because it encourages premature qualification based on demographics, and don’t take the opportunity to find the needs that make true prospects. I’ve been in plenty of coaching sessions where young sellers could tell me exactly why they thought somebody wasn’t a prospect but had never actually validated their hypothesis through actual human contact. Veteran sellers know this:

Sometimes your best prospects don’t look like it on paper

Love analogy: Many of your parents would never have gone out in the first place if they knew as much about each other before they met as we know today.

Oh yeah, the screen thing

In one of last week’s posts, I decried young peoples’ reliance on screen-based communication as a means of pursuing relationships and gaining commitment (or not). That also makes research seductive – it’s just easier to look things up on someone than it is to pick up the phone and ask someone a question. The problem is that it’s not more effective in prospecting.

Helping Millennials prospect more

The good news: There are a few simple strategies to help your Millennial sellers develop their prospecting muscles:

  • Expect and inspect the quantity of semi-qualified prospects. Of course quality matters, but at the very top of the funnel, it’s about having enough prospects. Your closing rates should tell you the suspect-to-deal ratio that determines the minimum number of prospects needed.
  • Limit research time to non-selling time. I define “selling time” as the hours when customers are available to talk or meet. I never want to see someone Googling a prospect during those hours! Be relentless about kicking your sellers off their screens. (Inside sales managers, this also means streamlining systems to reduce the time between dials.)
  • Make sure research is commensurate with opportunity. Your biggest and best prospects get more research investment. Your smaller or B-prospects get less. Teach your sellers to differentiate and budget their research time accordingly.
  • Measure the number of live, human-to-human contacts. Although this is an activity metric (as opposed to results metric), it’s a necessary input. When my clients aren’t seeing the inputs, that’s when I encourage them to start micromanaging the details.
  • Help sellers build their calling confidence. Practice with feedback can help your sellers get more competent and thus more confident and less reluctant to dial. There is no substitute for role play and simulation!

Notice that I’m not saying anything about the capabilities or work ethic of millennial sellers – I’m pointing out cultural and environmental influences that impede prospecting.

These challenges affect sellers of all ages but are more pronounced in millennial sellers. Fortunately, good sales coaching and management can unlock the prospecting potential in sellers of any age.

What do you think? How do you work with Millennials? As a Millennial working in sales, how do you feel about prospecting? Let me know in the commets below.

For more sales tips, check our entrepreneurship section and subscribe to our weekly newsletters.

The post Why your Millennial sellers aren’t prospecting appeared first on AlphaGamma.

10 Top Marketing Automation Influencers You Need to Know

When we want inspiration and guidance in the world of marketing automation, the world wide web is always a good place to start looking. But with so much content and so many ideas doing the rounds, how can we be sure that we are learning from the best?

To help to cut through the confusion, here are ten of the most insightful, innovative and – in many cases – disruptive marketing automation influencers in the game.


Ryan Schwartz

Our run-down of the top marketing automation influencers working today begins with Ryan Schwartz, who is Director of Marketing and Sales Systems and Operations for Docusign. Ryan’s passion lies in the application of diverse marketing automation systems within business, and the myriad possibilities which this leads to.

Ryan is also generous with his knowledge, sharing it with his numerous Twitter followers and in the form of blog posts and web content. Connect with him on social media to learn more.

Key Content: What B2B Marketers Need to Know About Video


Xand Griffin

For Xand Griffin, it is all about the experience. The Stratus Interactive Inbound Marketer is passionate about generating genuine worth from the experiences which customers and clients have, and understands how to utilize the data extracted from this within business.

To connect with the insight Xand provides, take a look at her personal blog, hosted on Xandgriffin.com, or head over to her Twitter feed for up to the minute resources.

Key Content: 6 Things I Learned From a Marketing Conference


Howard Sewell

Spear Marketing Group are experts in applying the power of marketing automation to the B2B market. This is thanks – in no small part – to the guidance of their company president, Howard Sewell. Howard is a regular content publisher who mines a seemingly inexhaustible seam of great ideas and insight.

Howard’s content output tends to be a little different to that offered by other publishers, and often goes against the grain, which only serves to make him all the more influential.

Key Content: Which Comes First: Lead Nurturing or Inside Sales?


Jennifer Igartua

Jennifer Igartua is Marketing Automation Consultant at BlueWolf Consulting, where she has honed her skills and risen to the top of the industry. The New York-based automation expert produces regular content pieces and blog posts aimed at giving marketing professionals the tools and inspiration they need to succeed.

Jennifer both posts her own content and shares great ideas from others on her Twitter feed. Head over there and connect with some of these great pieces.

Key Content: What’s Behind Closed Loop Reporting?


Sean Si

With so many people offering their own personal take on the discipline of marketing automation and prospect nurturing, it can be difficult to decide who to trust. With Sean Si, the strength of his insight and the passion of his delivery is so strong, that it is impossible not to take notice.

Whether giving spoken word talks, hosting interactive seminars, or connecting marketers with influential ideas through his blog, Sean is an enthusiastic and profoundly expert communicator. Other strings to his bow include founding successful organizations, such as SEO Hacker and Qeryz.

Key Content: 8 Lessons I Learned Building my First SaaS Business in a Third World Country


Claudia Hoeffner

Claudia Hoeffner likes to gain multiple perspectives, adopting a considered approach on her way to reaching an effective solution. Her ability to view marketing quandaries from the point of view of the marketer, the product or service provider, and of the customer, is just one of the factors which has garnered Claudia so much acclaim in the industry.

Her insight into lead generation and into marketing automation is not to be ignored, and Claudia is sure to be one of marketing’s premier thought leaders for years to come.

Key Content: Ryan Skinner’s Podcast on Content Marketing, for Forrester Research, featuring Claudia Hoeffner


Steve Susina

Lyons Consulting Group provides the full gamut of digital advice and strategy to their clients in the eCommerce sector. At the heart of this is their Marketing Director, Steve Susina, who emerged from a background in electrical engineering to take the marketing world by storm.

Steve is a firm believer in the power of data – which makes us kindred spirits – and harnesses its influence within his work. He is also one of the marketing world’s key industry influencers, giving talks on how marketers can get the very best out of their endeavors using automation.

Key Content: Wine, Web and Marketing Automation


Eric Wittlake

Coming at marketing automation from a B2B angle is Eric Wittlake, providing valuable guidance and advice for marketers working to attract business clients. Eric’s expertise lies not only in direct marketing initiatives, but also in the technological and implementation side of things.

Any marketers interested in developing their understanding of the craft need to take a look at what Eric is offering. Via B2BDigital.net, he connects eager-to-learn users with a world of unbeatable business to business digital marketing ideas and innovation.

Key Content: 6 Ways B2B Markets are Falling Short Today


Michael Peggs

As a New York-based content expert and consultant, Michael Peggs understands organic lead generation and large-scale engagement. He also knows a thing or two about the power of marketing automation.

When not overseeing the Marccx Media content marketing agency, of which he is a founding member, Michael shares his insight across some of the industry’s most influential platforms, including the Huffington Post.

Key Content: 42 Online Marketing Tools to Make Your Life Easier


Jeff Shearer

Jeff works with Egencia, implementing the powerful software within the business’ procedures. In addition to this, he dispenses advice and insight on his personal blog, gained from his years spent at the top of the marketing automation tree.

His Protips page represents a marketing professional’s goldmine, and is an absolute must visit for anyone with a passion for marketing.

Key Content: One Landing Page Template to Rule Them All


This list contains some of the greats of marketing automation, but by no means all of them. Who else would you list as a top influencer? Tell us in the comments below.

marketing automation influencers

The post 10 Top Marketing Automation Influencers You Need to Know appeared first on GetResponse Blog – Online Marketing Tips.

How to avoid being hacked

Have you or your business already been hacked? How do you know for sure?

How to avoid being hacked

The real scary thing is that they are collecting all the data they need to damage your business during this time.

Once they have what they need, they use it to access bank accounts, sensitive information, personal data, or anything else they find of interest.

What does it mean to be hacked?

A business mentor of mine was recently “hacked” and it cost him $400,000!

He was doing business overseas and stopped in a coffee shop to take care of some business.

He bought a coffee and signed onto the coffee shop’s free wi-fi and started working.

On average, a hacker is typically inside your computer systems for 210 days before you detect them.

As he was going through his emails (he was not using VPN or SSL) he noticed a note from his secretary mentioning that they needed to wire money to a vendor for payment of an invoice.

The usual protocol in a case like this was for him to call the secretary and the bank and provide passcode and security information (two-person verification) to make this transaction.

But as he was overseas (and in a noisy coffee shop), he thought it would be easier to just email her the information instead of making the phone calls.

Unfortunately for him, some nefarious intruders had hacked into his unsecured email and essentially began a conversation with him in a way that made them appear to be his secretary.

He unknowingly gave them his bank account information and access codes and they subsequently removed $400,000 from his account!

The money was unrecoverable!

We get warned about security every day but this incident hit close to home. It was a wake-up call for me to ensure that I am working as securely as possible so I don’t get hacked!

What actions should you take to avoid being hacked?

There are probably an infinite number of ways of being hacked. Your job is to make it as hard as possible for hackers to infiltrate your business and personal accounts.

The following 15 steps will go a long way to ensuring you and your business keep hackers out.

About the hardware

  • All your computers must use hard drive encryption. Use Bitlocker for Windows and FileVault on OS X computers. This way if someone steals your computer, they will never be able to access its contents.
  • Cover the camera on your computer when it is not in use. Cameras can be hacked and hackers will leverage what they see in many devious ways!
  • Disable the automatic login on your computers and use a password for login.
  • Do not walk away from your computer without locking it first. The following shortcuts make it easy to lock your computer:
    • Windows: Windows button + L
    • Mac: Control + Shift + Eject/Power
    • Also, set your computer to log out after 10 minutes of idle time (in case you do forget to lock it when you walk away).

About the password

  • Use a respected virus and malware scanning software package that continually updates for new threats (MacAfee, Norton, Windows 10 comes with a system built in, etc.).
  • Use some sort of encryption for all sites you visit where you are sharing critical or sensitive data. If the URL starts out with HTTPS it is using encryption. Never provide any sensitive information to any site that does not use HTTPS. Use an email service that sends email securely using SSL or TLS encryption.
  • All smartphones and tablets must use lock codes and you must be able to wipe them remotely. Increase your PIN from 4 characters to 8 characters.
  • Use a unique, long-form password for each site you visit.
  • Don’t use the same password twice.
  • Use random passwords that no one can randomly guess.

Don’t send password or account information for anything important over email or text message.

  • Make sure your email password is DIFFERENT than all other passwords. The reason for this is many websites use your email address as your username. If you give your email address as your username and then use a common password, you have literally given your entire login credentials to anyone who may be digitally eavesdropping (special thanks to intoria.com for providing this tip).
  • Use tools like 1Password to manage your passwords for you.
  • Use 2-factor authentication when using services like Gmail. Two-factor authentication uses two separate methods to log in when you access an account from a new device or terminal.
  • Be extremely cautious when accepting a thumb drive from anyone. This is an easy way for viruses, key loggers, malware, etc. to transfer to your computer.

Take action

Just like you are not immune from the common cold, you are also not immune from hackers! So, take these 15 steps to protect, you, your family, and your business!

For more information, check out this article on security in your business.

“Security is our top priority because for all the exciting things you will be able to do with computers – organizing your lives, staying in touch with people, being creative – if we don’t solve these security problems, then people will hold back.” Bill Gates

Do you have a favourite internet security tool or did I miss something that you think I should include in the list above? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Download a free copy of my new Ebook: 12 Steps to Business Transformation. If you would like a business assessment to help kick off your business transformation, contact me at info@thinkingbusinessblog.com or at 587-227-5179. Be sure to sign up at www.thinkingbusinessblog.com for weekly blog updates delivered to your inbox.

For more business and career tips, check our entrepreneurship section and subscribe to our weekly newsletters.

The post How to avoid being hacked appeared first on AlphaGamma.

How to Find the Right Influencers for Your Brand

With Google reporting a 5000% increase in searches for influencer marketing and 60 Minutes running its own segment on influencers, 2016 was a huge year for influencer marketing. And with 48% of marketers planning to boost their influencer marketing budgets, it’s poised to become even bigger in 2017.

Marketers consistently name their top challenge in influencer marketing as finding the right influencers.


Step 1: Identify the right influencers

Find the right influencers to fill the knowledge gap in the market.

First, you need to know the type of influencers you’re looking for.

Insightpool’s Universal Search allows brands to search by topic, bio profile, location, conversation stream and more to find relevant experts from a range of fields and backgrounds.

Prioritize influencers’ Relevance over their Reach. Before reaching out, vet your influencers on social. Do they just repost and retweet what other people are saying? Or do they actually provide unique, individual thoughts and engage with their followers?

The best influencers have more than a massive amount of followers – they have actual influence among those followers. To simplify the process, the Insightpool platform filters your chosen influencers by Rank and Relevance.

The sweet spot is micro-influencers. Micro-influencers are known for having a relatively large reach but are hyper-relevant to their audiences. They’re highly regarded among their followers as someone whose thoughts and opinions can be trusted. Examples of micro-influencers can include professional experts, bloggers, or even everyday people with a niche following in a specific topic.


Step 2: Reach out

Now that you’ve identified the right influencers for your brand, it’s time to reach out and get the conversation going.

Work your personal connections. If you have a personal connection, now’s the time to work it. Include a short note in your message about how you know each other and appreciate their work. This puts the focus on your relationship with them, and not just on the ask.

Meet them where they are. If influencers have a clear preferred channel, reach out to them there. If not, reach out on the first channel that seems most natural for your brand. If you don’t immediately hear a response, don’t get upset! You may have just picked a channel that your influencer doesn’t pay much attention to. Try reaching out through another channel – for example, if you first reached out over Twitter, try LinkedIn instead.

Keep it cool. When reaching out to new influencers, don’t make it all about you. GetResponse used Insightpool to send 1:1 messages to influencers in a range of fields. Instead of going straight in with the ask, GetResponse started the conversation more naturally by first asking advice from different experts.

Not only does this seem more natural, but it also implies that you value influencers’ opinions and thoughts – instead of just looking for what you can get out of them.


Step 3: Connect

Confirm expectations. When it feels natural, move the conversation off social and into a setting that allows longer conversation, like direct message or email. Here you can set expectations for the project and work out any compensation.

Collaborate, promote, and evaluate.

With Insightpool, GetResponse used @Mention campaigns to create find their influencers’ top social followers and create 1:1 connections with them. Because followers trust these influencers, they’ll be more naturally interested in influencers’ content – and therefore more likely to engage with your brand if you’re associated with them!

Now you’re ready to get your influencer marketing campaign started!

Have you had success with influencer marketing? Did you manage to get influencers to notice you? Share your experience in the comments.

The post How to Find the Right Influencers for Your Brand appeared first on GetResponse Blog – Online Marketing Tips.

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