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Essential Reading for Start-ups, Scale ups and VCs

How to grow your B2B SaaS using Digital Selling Techniques  

Find out how to steer YOUR business to success by:

  • Replacing outdated strategies
  • Implementing digital selling, not more digital marketing!
  • Reducing costs and increasing profitability

First learn what went wrong and then how to adopt the most exciting new business development strategies to help you start up or scale up without having a major dependency on failed digital strategies, marketing automation software or cold-calling.

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Get ahead of the Curve...

Learn why so many businesses fail and change - FAST...

This is a controversial Whitepaper.  It pushes back against a back-drop of almost complete dependency on marketing technology and a 'cookie-cutter' mentality that presupposes that because everyone is doing the same thing, everyone must be right?

Investors and directors need to start demanding that start-ups and established business who want or need financing, develop sustainable attraction and content marketing strategies that means they're not simply investing in the marketing automation companies! 

01. Introduction

All businesses start up the same way

There has always been a question in my mind about the success of businesses. Is there a methodology to guarantee success? If the inventors or entrepreneurs are really intellectually brilliant, why can’t they stop their businesses from going under? These thoughts continued to plague me throughout my career, until now. 

Start-ups, funded or not, want to grow their idea. Initially they talk to their friends and associates to generate interest and start making cold calls to promote their product. After some initial success they apply for Angel or Venture Capital using their sales statistics to support their business plan and forecast income. 

Typically, the business plan indicates they will employ a CMO and marketing team to scale their operation. The plan includes expenditure to implement a raft of marketing technology and certain strategies to increase exposure. 

To investors, Directors, VCs and accountants, this plan and approach would seem acceptable and the investment goes ahead. 

However, typically, within eighteen months or so, the CMO is replaced for failing to perform as required. Then comes the disheartening statistics of business failures.

02. Overview

The Statistics

Start-up Van commented on the Financial Times backed website on 03/10/2020, that a whopping 90% of all start-ups fail by the third year.  In addition, of businesses who receive venture capital:

  • 40% fail completely 
  • 75% fail to provide a return on investment for the investor
  • 95% fail to achieve their documented targets

Statistics from:

Harvard Business Review

Putting financed start-ups to one side. Of every size and type of business, the incomprehensible statistics are as follows:

  • 20% fail in the first year
  • 30% fail in the second year
  • 50% fail in the third year
  • 70% fail in the tenth year

Statistics from:

Whether you want to rely on statistics from Harvard or from a business operating from a van trying to help start-ups, we can be assured that between 40% to 90% of start ups fail.

Based on the above, it is abundantly clear there is a systemic problem that needs to be addressed.

03. The Sales Approach

What is wrong with selling?

You’ve heard it before, “But we need salespeople hitting the phones or at least they’ve got to be working on Linked In” said virtually every sales director.

Aside from the marketing, most start-ups begin by making cold calls and selling to ‘known’ people and organisations. However, sales made in the early days present a false illustration of the actual potential for the business because no one can scale a relationship. Having a one-to-one conversation with someone cannot be ‘shared’ on social media, via email or attract any additional interest. 

It’s also important to point out that, statistically, cold calling is neither viable nor sustainable. Typically, businesses who use a telesales model have a 200-1 shot of their people finding someone who might interested or who might agree to an appointment (This figure is now closer to 400-1 according to our most recent discussions). And nowadays, the odds are increasing as more decision-makers are working from home and access to mobile numbers is minimal. The success ratio is finding one interested person, every three days, based upon a telesales operator being able to dial approximately 80 calls per day! 

In other words, a month’s salary for someone to find seven interested parties! 

If, however, the business has invested in LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator, the ‘go-to’ platform for finding new businesses, then the expectation is for a salesperson to spend hours trawling through likely candidates for an “InMail”. But do not be fooled, LinkedIn’s platform is really networking, but on a much larger scale, i.e. everyone is there to sell, and no one is there to buy; or it’s a forum to virtue signal or get a new job. 

In reality, nothing has changed since the 1950s. It’s an accepted business strategy to cold call.

  • Company Attraction = Retention; If content and promotion is instigated by the company, then the relationship is with the company, irrespective of the salesperson

  • Salesman Attraction = Attribution; If content and promotion is instigated by the salesperson, and they leave, then their black book and possibly the ‘customer’ leaves with them

The Infamous “Black Book” 

An alternative or indeed parallel approach in the Start-up’s business plan is the “Black Book”. When new salespeople are employed, they are expected to bring their black books of contacts with them to create sales for their new employer. That could be a literal black book, or a host of LinkedIn contacts the new salesperson has cultivated over time.

It would appear, therefore, that the start-up does not anticipate that their marketing can be relied upon as a source of good quality leads. And yet salespeople are always promised leads from marketing departments to entice them into the business. 

As an aside, if salespeople are expected to bring their black books with them when they join, what do they take with them when they leave? 

A personal relationship cannot be scaled - and nor can a salesperson’s black book or a cold call. It stands to reason; a business cannot be scaled through salespeople. 

The Chief Revenue Officer

The failure rate of businesses has forced the owners not to trust marketers and to feel the need for a CRO. That said, the CRO or MD demands salespeople generate new business in the same way the CRO or MD did ‘back in the day’ stating, “I didn’t get where I am today without getting on the phones...”

The not-so-new job role in business development is the Chief Growth Officer or the Chief Revenue Officer. The CGO/CRO has typically replaced the Sales Director and now they are now there to wield the stick in the belief they can extract more sales out of the team. 

One of the main problems is that they predominantly are either not savvy enough about marketing to argue the case from a marketing perspective, even though they are expected to oversee the CMO, or they are wholly sales-focused and marketing takes a back seat. 

The reality is, sales is the transaction arm of marketing, which by default means that the marketing must happen first. Clearly marketing exists to open the business conversation and sales exists to close the conversation. But if the business is relying on the black books of salespeople, rather than marketing, then the stability and future of the business will always remain in the hands of salespeople who will constantly be enticed to move on to where the grass is greener. 

Whilst the CRO normally looks at all the aspects of the business, they must be proficient in all aspects of marketing to ensure it dovetails with sales. 

Part of that process is to analyse the customer journey and touchpoints to the extent that they’re aware of how prospects interact with the company before, during and after a sale. 

At every step of the process, the prospect must have access to well written explanatory content, which helps them to self-serve, with easy access to contact the business if necessary.

04. The Marketing Approach

Marketing is supposed to attract

According to Gartner 83% of the sales process, i.e. research, is completed digitally and by the company before a salesperson is invited to a meeting... [Link to Gartner Report - Future of Sales 2025 - Why B2B Sales Needs a Digital First Approach]

Once the basics are sorted, e.g. the logo, strapline, website, business cards etc., the marketer goes about trying to raise awareness. 

If enough relevance and importance is placed on marketing, there will be a sizeable budget and the required ‘experienced’ CMO or marketing leader will be expected to create a new team with all the prerequisite technology and associated experienced staff.

Meanwhile, the investors are left analysing the burn rate...! 

However, there is one small problem.  If up to 70% of the sales process is completed by a company doing their research digitally before a salesperson is invited to a meeting, this means that potential customers are seeking out and consuming relevant content long before a business knows who is looking at them.  This can only be achieved by marketing. 

And yet, most start-ups and established businesses fail to recognize and acknowledge the need for content to attract potential customers.  As a result, they persistently suffer, due to ineffective basic marketing, coupled with a misguided reliance on marketing technology to generate leads. 

And because salespeople expect a stream of leads that never materialise, they are forced back into cold calling at a 200-1 shot and placing the business at an instant disadvantage.

The Marketing Technology Fallacy

Visibility of business content started to wane because all the great content (if it existed in the first place) was being gated and hidden from Google Search

Marketing technology or ‘Mar-Tech’ includes the following:

  • Automation platforms (MAPs)
  • Landing pages platforms
  • Data Integration

Marketing automation platforms emerged around 2008 with Marketo, Eloqua and Pardot (Exact Target) and became mainstream by about 2012. After ‘buy-in’ from CMOs, gradually visibility of business content started to wane because all the great content (if it existed in the first place) was being gated and hidden from Google. 

Too often, enterprises buy tech from the mega vendors because they are pre-conditioned to do so. Again, is this a mindset issue?

Emma Sinclair MBE

Additional platforms such as ION and Unbounce further exacerbated the problem by presenting landing page strategies that ensured businesses made the promised content sound good and supported their positioning using their ‘logos’ as social proof. 

The bottom-line; marketers wanted to get in on the cash - they wanted a piece of the action and needed to justify themselves and so all marketers bought into marketing automation and in turn, duly convinced the managing director and CEO's to invest in the technology.  The argument was solid, marketing automation could measure everything which meant the business could now manage marketing, this was a first.

So, whilst the Mar-Tech strategy looked plausible, it became increasingly responsible for stunting the selling process because any effort made to present to a new audience was thwarted because all content was hidden, or restricted, and only made accesible through an email form.

Yet advocates of MAPs actively endorsed and promoted cold calling email subscribers (and still do), either from the telephone number they demanded as a ‘required field’ on the form or by using additional Mar-Tech that provides the contact details based upon IP addresses. This meant that businesses were forcing a browser into a transaction (the email in exchange for a document) they were unwilling to make.

As marketing teams began to rely more heavily on marketing technology, which is now almost seen as the ability to automate the cold calling process, the growth of Mar-Tech went from 150 products in 2004 to a whopping 7500 in 2020. 

In a recent documentary 'The Social Dilemma' aired on Netflix October 2020, the general consensus of the tech giants is to accellerate the use of AI in order to better serve the users.  The documentary asserts this will continue to destroy the fabric of society through its invasive algorithms.

Mar-Tech is also keen to jump on the AI band-wagon and elevate the use of AI, however, unlike The Social Dilemma, marketing does not have the raw information on prospects and the only way to enable AI to analyse behaviour is to access massive data-lake sources which will lead to further invasion of people's privacy.  But if genuine personalised content does not exist in the first place - what can AI serve up? 

The Social Dilemma Trailer - Link to YouTube

Only Investors & Directors can save the day...

The accepted strategies endorsed by marketers have consistently failed.  The tech was wrong.  Everyone suffered.  Only Investors and Directors have the authority to demand marketing change their approach.

However, demanding an email address may be doing more harm than good if the content turns out to be average or poor. 

Once an email address is obtained, the marketing qualified lead is passed sales who cold call to make an appointment. Now, there are multiple factors at work that potentially damage the relationship and sale. Either the person was simply researching, or they are not the decision maker thus rendering the lead useless, or the quality of the content was very poor, and the opportunity is lost. Yet this is standard practice globally. 

Furthermore, content placed behind a ‘gate’ that demands a name and email address in return for access to it, renders it invisible to the search engines. Consider this; businesses are convinced to spend on Mar-Tech, then hide their content from Google. Marketing Departments then recommend the use of Pay Per Click to pay Google to attract prospects they should have been getting organically! Prospects are then sent to a landing page, requesting their email address so they can be cold called. There is something seriously wrong with this. 

Adding to this technology, the integration of financial information from companies such as Dun & Bradstreet and data information platforms such as Lead Forensics and DiscoverOrg means that, as soon as someone looks at a website or downloads a document, the supplier business is inundated with ‘x-ray’ like data of the browsing company and all the integrated cogs click into action to activate the salesperson to do everything they can to cold call the ‘prospect’. 

What is the Goal of Marketing?

To present differentiation - the USP - to attract potential customers, but it’s got very messy! 

If the goal of the Marketing department is to drive enquiries to a landing page - using gated content -to obtain an email address, and for a sales department to make a cold call, then the statistics for business failures will prevail and, inevitably over time, get worse. 

On the other hand, if the objective is to scale exposure and visibility through some PR and by ‘no-cost’ social media, then businesses need to fully understand their buyer’s social media habits. 

Rarely is social media a place for looking for a new supplier; it is, as it says, “social” media. How confident is your marketing team that decision makers are even looking at social media platforms? It is invariably a waste of time, money, and resources. 

There is, of course, the possibility that a prospect can be interrupted on Facebook whilst looking at their kid’s antics and a re-marketing advert appears and reminds them they looked at a supplier’s website. But if the content was poor, this will be the reminder. 

That’s not to say that paid advertising to a target group on social media, in the press or via online banners can’t work, but success will depend on the media and the offer and again, if the click links to a landing page followed up by a cold call, the same will happen – potential failure. 

The goal of marketing is always to present differentiation - the USP - to attract potential customers, but it’s got very messy!

What about the CMO?

Since 2016, the press confirmed the average tenure of a CMO is 18 months!

  • 2016 - Marketing Week
  • 2017 - Mediatel 
  • 2018 - Adage 
  • 2019 - Campaign Live
  • 2020 - Seth Godin

Today, the sheer scale and make up of an integrated marketing department can be breath-taking in terms of activities, roles, and management; it’s not a one-person job.  For marketing to be truly successful it takes more than just one person ticking all the boxes on a job description.  Let me explain. 

The job descriptions being hawked on LinkedIn for Marketing Directors and CMOs are all the same.  The recruitment companies, no matter how committed they want to portray themselves in the marketing arena, seem to cut and paste the job descriptions from different companies to the extent that businesses cannot be told apart. 

They’ve even arrived at the point where I am left wondering “what is everyone else going to do?” The expectations far outweigh the capacity of even the most dedicated and experienced marketer. 

Not only is there a staggering churn on CMOs, but it means great business for the recruitment consultants.  No wonder they like to ‘specialise’ on marketing, especially as it’s a revolving door and has been the same since 2015.

But there is an even greater consequence to this.  The average tenure of a CMO is 18 months, which means that CMOs are cycling through businesses and are not making any long-lasting impression on business success.  They are also taking these “failures” with them into their new employers. who are also the organisers of The B2B Marketing Awards and B2B MarTech Awards, released a report in October 2020 stating that 2030 will be the year of the CMO!  The author seems to believe businesses will wait a further ten years before CMOs can get it right and for them to be taken seriously in the boardroom.

The lack of trust in CMOs is already illustrated in the job descriptions that state they are to follow the plan of the business and not their own ideas of a marketing plan!

The Origin of the Problem

Neither a salesperson nor a CMO can scale a personal relationship.  Scalability can only be applied to existing attraction. 

It’s clear! Both start-ups and established businesses are switching out their CMOs on a regular basis because they’re not delivering. But delivering what? One must question the expectations and forecasts on the budget projections and who originally came up with the figures.

If the business needs some additional expertise, it can ‘buy in’ a professional or consultant. But the business always needs additional income in the form of sales, yet this can never be bought, only earned. 

Therefore, the promises of miracles made by the CMOs, or the misguided expectations of the business plan needs to be tempered. 

According to CB Insights and their article “Top 20 Reasons Start Ups fail”, number one on the list is ‘No Market Need’. Below are the top ten: -

  1. No Market Need
  2. Getting out competed
  3. Pricing/Cost Issues
  4. Unfriendly Product
  5. No Business Model
  6. Poor Marketing
  7. Ignoring Customers
  8. Product Mistimed
  9. Failed geographic expansion
  10. Failure to pivot

Why Start-ups Fail: Top 20 Reasons | CB Insights

Ten out of the top 20 are marketing related, so no wonder CMOs have a vested interest in keeping their jobs! Yet they will not put their necks on the line by stating their teams need to attract prospects via copy writing. If they are unable to do this, perhaps they don’t know the products well enough or cannot do their jobs properly in the first place? 

Sales on the other hand would also be reluctant to make a comment. To do so would mean supporting a marketing directive that would take away the salesperson’s importance, meaning they would have to relinquish their hold on the product IP, thereby enabling a prospect to self-serve prior to a meeting. The result being a prospect ready to buy, off the back of watching, reading or listening to company content. This also disables an entry in the ‘black book’ and reduces the need for too many salespeople. 

By adjusting the process to generate more new business income based upon content is not in the interests of either sales or marketing, thus enabling both sides to continue to complain about each other’s ‘ineffectiveness’ and maintain their excuses for poor performance.

Seth Godin

Seth Godin

Author of eighteen books, marketing guru, noted for first B2B email strategy and founder of Alt MBA.  Seth Godin was interviewed by Brian Rose on London Real on 15th July 2020, broadcast on YouTube.

Watch the Seth Godin Interview Here

“Most of you know, the average CMO at a Fortune 500 company lasts 18 months, and the reason they last 18 months is because it takes five months for them to make promises, a year for them to have a grace period and then a month for the CEO to realise the promises aren’t going to be kept and they get replaced again because unlike every other department at the company, the CMO promises to change everything, the CMO promises miracles!  Accounting never promises miracles, production never promises miracles right...”

Brian Rose

Founder - London Real

Brian Rose photo

05. The Change that's Needed

Is there a better way?

From the 1950s to 1990s, the salesperson held the intellectual property and the answers to the problems.  Now with information online, it puts the prospect in charge.

Firstly, investors, start-ups and owners of established businesses need to be cautious of consultants, contractors and employees who promote the ‘automated’ approach to marketing/selling, i.e. getting an email address, and instigating cold calling. This is indicative of individuals either attempting to keep their jobs or by playing it safe (i.e. better-the-devil-you-know approach), whilst telling the business owner what they think they wants to hear. Both are destined for failure. 

Secondly, by understanding the past this will help many businesses grasp why B2B has been so slow to exploit content – it’s part impatience and part ignorance. I am reminded of the many startups who are cock-a-hoop when they obtain investment, yet have not even started to generate an income, let alone a profit, but boast because they acquired someone else’s money! 

And finally, all one has to do is communicate what the business does and post the information online so it can be found by the people who want to buy. It really is as simple as that. Yet most embark on a career of stress and failure - on the investors’ money! 

Our lives have changed, and we have been conditioned by the technology available to us. From the 1950s to the 1990s researching a product, or a company was difficult; we didn’t have the Internet so researching the answer to a problem was both challenging and time consuming. As with the Bible being written in Latin and the only translators being the educated priests, from the 1950s to 1990s, it was the salesperson who held all the intellectual property (IP) and business intelligence and thus the answers to the problems. Now all that information is online, putting the prospect in charge.

The Google Experiment

Imagine a simple start-up experiment.  The founders have a great idea.  They talk and write copious amounts of content about their product/idea.  They build a website and post all their content on it.  But because it’s such a new idea, they choose to use Google’s Pay Per Click to see how it will be received.

A pay-per-click (PPC) advert is posted on Google but they don’t get one click.  They edit and change the PPC advert text to see if it can have a better appeal/attraction and spend some time re-thinking their target market and who they are trying to sell to.

They hit the mark.  Interested potential buyers click through to a landing page and download their content.  They realise browsers are visiting multiple pages and are staying on their website for a long time. 

The content on their website is edited so it better appeals to the same target market as the pay-per-click adverts so they can be found through standard search on Google. They make their website more sales orientated and place call-to-action links on the site inviting browsers to email or call them. 

It works!  Enquiries start coming in followed by a steady stream of orders.  They decide to apply for Angel investment to fund their development and initial growth; their long-term plan is to expand nationally and internationally through continued attraction and possibly venture capital. 

They are now able to prove their business model without having made one ‘cold’ telephone call and can naturally scale it when and where it suits them. 

Increasing Turnover per Head

Turnover per person per annum infographic chart

When thinking about on-line research, which can also be called “attraction”, consider the benefits of giving a potential customer all the information they are looking for to help them choose your company over a competitor.   

Although estimates vary, the average turnover per person per annum (pppa) of a SME in the UK is approximately £90,000.  Compare this to Peak Design in the USA, who make camera bags and accessories.  Back in 2018 they had 38 staff and a turnover of $1.462m pppa.  They concentrated their efforts on providing interesting content and information to their potential customers who rewarded them by buying their products in the thousands.  It’s all about attraction and communicating it. 

Is your business on a treadmill?

If companies want to break out of the common ‘treadmill’ business structure and do more than just survive on a minimum turnover per person, the only way to do so is to succeed at attraction. No amount of salespeople can ever achieve a higher ratio, let alone any amount of investment.  Take a look again at the statistics at the beginning of this white paper just to remind yourself of the failure rate – it does not discriminate!

Some may think there is too much competition for your product or service to start getting busy with content. However, I can tell you, there is a dearth of good quality, valuable content out there - most of it is bad to shocking! 

The time could not be better to challenge it and start writing content that will elevate your business and present you as a thought-leader in your industry. I know this, and it’s easy to do. 

You also need to consider that content will stay online until it is removed. This means that anyone who has written content in the past, good or bad, will still be affecting the business today. Nothing else can keep promoting your business like a good piece of content. It never goes sick, never takes holiday, never complains, works 24/7 and never asks for or expects to receive commission. 

Therefore, it is important to review all existing content ensuring it is fit-for-purpose. In the same way a salesperson is promoted or fired, the same needs to be applied to content. If it needs to be edited, do it and do not forget to get it reindexed on Google Search Console. And if it doesn’t fit, delete it from the website and Search Console.

The definition of insanity is for a business to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result.

Becoming a 'Content First' Business

The objective must be to significantly increase deep, relevant and engaging the content, which in turn will reduce the need for new business development staff

The mantra ‘Content is King’ prevails and building a ‘Content First’ marketing strategy is not complicated and only takes a little time, yet no one seems to properly or fully explain why, let alone how it should be done for maximum effect. 

To write an article could take a day or so.  A podcast, a day to record and edit.  A short video, a day or so to set up and film and another day to edit.  Live streaming takes time to set up, but there is no after-transmission editing required.  Once the parameters are in place the content infrastructure can be built relatively quickly.

But first one must understand the mechanics.  Too many businesses think that ‘content’ consists of simply writing a few paragraphs and posting a picture of the author.  It’s not and it (content) needs to be part of your overall integrated approach to connect with prospects by delivering information that is meaningful and helps them traverse your website to a natural conclusion.

Once Product, Primary and Secondary content is created, Social Media, Search, Email and External Advertising methods can be activated to promote it. 

To start-ups who haven’t got investment yet, get writing; get your people to create content as a priority.

If you’re already in business or have recently obtained investment, the objective must be to significantly increase deep, relevant and engaging content, which in turn will reduce the need for new business development staff and salespeople.

Four Elements to Change

  • Exploiting Staged Content
  • Establishing the Technical Structure of Digital Marketing
  • Adoption and use of Content Technology 
  • Company-wide policy to create content

How to Exploit Staged Content

Unfortunately, there seems to be little standardisation in the terminology for business-to-business content, so I have coined the following terms below to help businesses track the flow of traffic through various content stages and calls-to-action. 

The first priority is to stop content from being ‘gated’ behind an email form.  This immediately allows Google to start crawling your content and positioning it on the search engines.  The importance of this cannot be overstated.  If Google can’t see it the content will never be found by potential customers.

Secondly, the content should be structured in such a way as to gently help the browser make the decision to talk to your business directly.  Each content stage must be designed to lead to the next.  If content is promoted via search, news or email etc., simply ensure there is a call-to-action from one stage to another.

General Content – Any content  posted on the website from Christmas parties, charity events, new hires and so on.  Only a select number of people would be interested.

Secondary Content – News, short articles, industry events, awards etc., written in the active, not passive voice.

News items should be separately identified on the website and a corresponding site map created for Google News, requesting that the site be crawled regularly for their news service.  Apple can also be approached for news submissions.

Included regular are Live Stream shows to replace cold-calling, that allows prospects to anonymously look at you whilst you point them to your Primary Content.

Primary Content – Thought-leadership content that helps browsers learn how you think as a business.  This content (written or video) will find its way to the top of the search engines.

Product Content – Explains what your product does and how it works.  This will be written, video, downloads and links to FAQs and include contact email addresses and pre-sales support telephone numbers.

Digital Selling Content flow infographic

Technical Structure for Digital Marketing

For best results, websites must have separate sitemaps for mobile, desktop, video and images.  Use structured data based upon so that voice search and Google can identify the page types and to use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to speed up mobile browsing. 

Additionally, using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) will speed up access to the web pages, increase page speed and ensure a better experience for browsers.  It may even help differentiate your business from the competition and push up its positioning on Google.

The website can be tested on GTMetrix for Page Speed and YSlow (load-time measurement).  Expect a score between 90-100%.  Any competent web developer will know what needs to be done to implement this and the other technical aspects above. 

Content First means to systemise the flow of content presented to interested parties, monitor the success or failure via Google Analytics, edit or remove the bad content and to be expectant of getting results.  This is how Digital  Marketing is supposed to work!

Adoption & Use of Content Technology

Content is not about simply writing a few articles.  It is about exploiting videos, podcasts, live streaming and photography, and copy writing - from articles to news to brochures, even scripts.

The recent change in working practices for many businesses means more people are working from home.  This means additional space could be available at your offices to create a studio area to produce the audio-visual content.

Overall, the cost of content technology is tiny compared to what it will do for the business.  It only takes some creativity and if there is a lack in that area, then it is possible to jump-start the process with a workshop or two.

Company Policy to Create Content

Get everyone writing, shooting videos and recording audio.  Everyone has a smart phone these days so get your people to take and post photos and record anything they can for the business to help show the human side of the organisation. 

Content Format SEO Layout Infographic

The above layout is the suggested format for producing ‘Thought-Leadership’, informative, ‘How to...’ content.  Google grades content based upon clarity, layout, depth, readability (so a 12-year-old could understand) and/or research, including video, links, images and graphs. In addition, consider implementing Structured Data based on Schema ( and offering Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).

Change the Campaign Strategy

Linear campaign strategies are accepted as standard practice around the world, however,  the tenure of CMOs proves this approach fails.  It does not accommodate the different preferences of browsers and fails to enable marketers to analyse the performance of a wide range of content at the same time. 

It makes no sense waiting until a certain tactic is up for review to find out if one works over another, only for the CMO to be fired or leaves before they’re pushed. 

Typical Linear Campaign Strategy

Don’t allow marketing engagement activities to be linear.  Compress them, execute concurrently and analyse constantly to make necessary changes to increase ‘stickyness’

Liner campaign strategy illustration

Concurrent Campaign Strategy

A Concurrent Campaign Strategy uses short-term contractors to complete all content work within 3-4 months, including all articles, videos, podcasts, downloads etc.  The focus is then on short adverts to promote the content using our recommended Social 444 strategy as detailed below.  

Concurrent Campaign Strategy illustration

How we actually buy

When we think it's time we purchased something new for our businesses, we already know that type of products are available, generally speaking.

We all buy in an almost chaotic way; we'll look at the product, take a look at the About Us page, see what they know, look around the website, look at rhe product again and leave.  Then go back to the site if we like it.  Then see if they have any sensible content about their product.And gradually we start to invest our time in their website.

Everything is evaluated infographic

The New Organisational Chart

New organisational chart infographic
New organisational infographic thumbnail

Whilst it will take time, the suggested path to follow is to transform the business into a publishing house.  As marketing and content grow, it allows the  sales ‘footprint’ to reduce, yet increasing profitability at the same time.  That’s not to say that the sales operation won’t increase, but personally I would much prefer growing my sales without excessive costs or unnecessary commission payments.

The above and side illustrations are from an article on the salesXchange website - ‘How to Pivot to Digital Selling: Sales & Marketing Transformation in 2021’, where you can find a full explanation.  In a nutshell, Technology supports and maintains the business ‘engine’.  Content attracts and communicates the business and Revenue, closes the sales and keeps the customers happy (and spending!). 

06. Recommendations

Investment Backed or Not

The old-school approach of running a business on a treadmill, that fails as soon as the outbound calls stop, is too risky and too stressful for everyone.

It’s simple. Marketers and software developers have relied too heavily on automation and outdated sales approaches. As a result, they have repeatedly caused the failure of thousands of businesses and untold financial losses. Harsh, but true. Investors and directors are often neither expected, nor equipped, to know the ins and outs of marketing, but are required to have a good understanding that is not influenced by software sales companies. 

No one is challenging the status quo and as the saying goes, if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got. 

Businesses must prove their ability to attract new business in order to obtain investment. Whilst investors and directors continue to support start-ups, they have an amazing opportunity to effect a change in the businesses they are supporting, or are interested in, by not relying on either historical sales figures or outdated sales and marketing methods to scale the business. 

The old-school approach of running a business on a treadmill, that fails as soon as the outbound calls stop, is too risky and too stressful for everyone. For start-ups this is about patience. They need to prove to themselves they can create the content and make their businesses attractive to their prospective customers. Which means this is not simply about sweat equity. Start-ups must prove to potential investors that they are able to create sustainable businesses by becoming publishers of fine content.

Embracing Digital Selling

This is the biggest exposé and challenge to business operations, development and wealth in over 100 years. You have no choice, it really is - do or die...

For established businesses, whether they’re looking for investment or not, the first priority is to focus on creating content. It doesn’t cost a penny (per se) except the time to write or create. 

The statistics and risks have been in the public domain for a very long time, yet most businesses think “it won’t happen to me”.  After reading this White Paper perhaps some may not become yet another statistic.

If you care about the future of your business, and I’m sure you do, now is best time to get started on becoming a ‘Content First’, company because there are a significant number of businesses who cannot be bothered and will fail. 

Our philosophy is to present our content, unrestricted, i.e. without demanding an email in order for businesses to evaluate the way we think and do business.  If you like our approach, then perhaps you will engage our consultancy services to help fast-track your transition to becoming Content First.

Your 20 Point Plan

The most important list you'll ever need.

  1. Stop Demand Generation! No Gated Content – Remove all email forms

  2. Only use Marketing Automation SaaS for Newsletters and Email Series/Subscriptions

  3. Organise Content into General, Secondary, Primary & Product/Services & How to Buy 

    • General: Low Interest, Company News, New Hires, Charity & CSR, Awards, Live Shows, Podcasts
    • Secondary: Industry News, Case Studies, Short Blogs/Video, Events, Awards, Live Shows, Podcasts - CTA to Primary
    • Primary: Thought Leadership, Educational, Demonstrate Your Expertise, Best Practices.  CTA to Product.
    • Product: Images, Technical Specifications. Explain what it is, how it works, how it helps, who it’s for.  CTA to How to Buy
    • How to Buy: Provide guidelines, order forms, explainer videos, site documents and anything that will help prior to speaking to a salesperson
  4. Review Content Master List: Call-to-Actions visible on every content item and link accordingly:

    • Secondary →Primary →Product →How to Buy
  5. Primary and Product content to conform to Google SEO format including Structured Data, to appear on page #1, but do not expect it to happen over night!

  6. Create multiple content formats for the same content ideas/subjects:

    • Create articles, white papers and reports (to read online and to download)
    • Video (Short, Medium, Long 30mins)
    • Podcasts (A weekly radio show with various segments)
    • Live stream (As above - Remember, no video editing required!)
  7. Plan to interview customers, suppliers, peers and professionals on live streams and podcasts + presentations, demonstrations

  8. Social 444 Advertising Strategy

    • Auto posting short, quick adverts to social media (memes, graphics, YouTube  Shorts) cycle 300 adverts over 30 days and repeat every month.  CTA to quickly digestible 2-3 minute content, in turn has a CTA to your Primary Content.    
    • Auto posting PPC as banner adverts to social media or relevant websites or remarketing via Adsense – repetitive posting based upon Cost Per Mille (CPM) etc.
    • Use landing pages where necessary, to sell the download or video. Encourage them to read/watch.  Confirm what’s in it for them!
  9. Case Studies recorded as videos and written up for website and to be downloadable

  10. Product videos – selling what it is, what it does, why they need it and who’s been using it.

  11. Installation, preparation, set up and training is recorded on video and/or delivered using live streaming one-to-one or as a private group on YouTube, Vimeo or Facebook 

  12. Monitor all content via Google Analytics; edit to improve or delete for non-performance

  13. FAQs are pre-recorded on video, all possible enquiries answered via short video explanations clearly written up on your website and using Chat providers like Zendesk.

  14. Publicise a Direct Dial telephone number on website to Pre-Sales visible to answer queries

  15. No Cold Calling

  16. Personalised presentation and/or demonstrations are carried out using Zoom + Ecamm/OBS, Stream Decks, multi-cameras, switchers and green screen (if needed).

  17. Closing deals; use DocuSign or other digital signature methods

  18. Use market research with customers and prospects to measure your digital selling and ALL content

  19. Create A/B split tests for all content, web pages and video to keep improving results

  20. Review, inspect and personally test your Digital Selling process from start to finish

To help businesses navigate this change, we have published a B2B Marketing Playbook available to download from our website.

The Playbook includes 35 pages of illustrations and explanations how to adapt a marketing department to become Content First.

Final Words of Advice

Marketing advisors and CMOs have failed B2Bs over the past ten years.  If the advice was any good, it begs the question; Why do 40% of funded business go bust, why do 75% not achieve their forecasts and why do 95% fail to make investors an ROI? – Harvard Business Review

To Funded Start Ups

Edit the business plan to show the execution of  a concurrent marketing strategy in the first four to six months of receiving the investment.  Use the content calculator on our website to calculate approximate costs and time scales for contractors.  Recalculate the P&L. 

To Investment Backed Businesses

Carry out an immediate review of the existing strategy within the business plan to ensure it is fit-for-purpose, based upon the guidelines in this document.

To enhance business performance whilst waiting for investment, adoption of a digital selling strategy is required:

  1. Reorganise existing content mapped to Secondary, Primary and Product funnel segments
  2. Create additional content as required, i.e. Written, Video, Podcast, Downloads etc.
  3. Review ALL content against a call-to-action checklist
  4. Restructure analytics reporting
  5. Split-test, edit, improve or remove content as necessary

To Investors & CEOs

Selling products or services needs to match to behaviour of the buyer, however, marketers have become complacent, lazy and/or distracted by the relentless onslaught of marketing technology providers making promises akin to snake oil salesmen.

Investment organisations, CEOs  and business owners only need review and compare the content of this document against any existing marketing or business plan to realise a significant change in profitability.  

This approach will result in more successful businesses, leading to more confidence in the investment community, leading to more new investors willing to take better qualified risks.

About the Author

Nigel Maine has over thirty years’ experience in sales and marketing. 

He has made it his mission to bring a clear view to business owners and CEOs how digital technology, when used properly, can transform business performance.  

Nigel believes providing the best possible advice must be founded on logical, authentic and genuine experience to justify the  recommendation of any strategy.  

A seasoned salesman, marketing expert, published author and speaker, Nigel brings a unique perspective to new business development and digital marketing transformation and offers an exciting approach to digital consultancy.

Download a copy of the White Paper