What I Learned at the Annual Conference
Last week I had the privilege of attending the 2014 AMSP/NAPL/NAQP Annual Conference. The content was relevant to everyone in our industry, regardless of annual sales or company type. Here’s a small sample of what I learned:
• Be different by talking less and listening more to clients, prospects, and employees, David Horsager, “The Trust Edge: What Top Leaders Have,” and by calling twice, because the huge majority of sales reps call once, leave a voice mail, and never follow up, Bill Farquharson, “Finding and Hiring the Right People.”
• Create clarity for clients. Be a resource for them. And treat upheaval, disruption, and uncertainty as opportunities, not threats. During the “Truth from the Trenches in Print—Mail—Fulfillment” panel discussion, Ken McNerney advised us to be client-centric by reinforcing across our organizations that “it’s not about our equipment or capabilities or what we want—it’s about what the client needs.” Jeff Johnson explained that “clients are confused. Like us, they are bombarded with information.” The opportunity Jeff sees: “Provide the assistance and direction” they need to make sense of it all. Similarly, Spencer Powell sees opportunity in helping clients master the new buying process: “People go online to do their product research. If you aren’t online, you aren’t going to get found; you’re going to miss out on the process someone goes through today to make a purchasing decision. Clients need help capturing people who are looking online for their business, attracting new visitors to their website, converting those contacts into leads, and converting those leads into clients.” (John Foley, Jr. expanded on this critical point in a later presentation, explaining that because of their pre-purchase online research, the large majority of buyers know they are going to buy from a particular company before they ever contact that company.)
• The 6-3-1 Rule for LinkedIn status updates. In “Using LinkedIn to Generate a Steady Stream of Sales Prospects,” Wayne Breitbarth explained, “for every 10 status updates, six should be from others in the industry whom you think of as thought leaders, three should be educational material from you or your company, and one should be promotional.” Wayne’s point: If 90% of the time we’re using status updates to educate clients and prospects, they aren’t likely to object to the 10% of the time we’re using them to sell.
• The power of data and analytics. Laura Patterson, “Applying Intelligence to Create Content and Accelerate Revenue,” showed how we can use data and analytics to help clients answer critical questions such as: Who is your target? What’s going to resonate with the target? What influences their buying decision? What are the most effective touchpoints (email, postcard, event) for each stage of the buying process? What are the most effective communication channels (phone, email, social media) for each stage of the process? By answering these questions we’ll help clients “make better business decisions and prove the value of their work to their clients.” And how valuable does that make us?
• How to maximize the effectiveness of our websites. Responsive design so site updates immediately across desktop and mobile devices. Faster loading speed for better user experience and higher Google scores. Relevant, compelling content that is updated once per week. And an effective social media strategy so visitors can easily share the content with their networks. Cary Coppolla, “Is Your Website Working for You? The Good, The Bad and The UGLY.”
• What motivates Millennials and Generation Xers. We’re going to need them. And we’ll get and retain them by understanding, for example, that “money isn’t the major motivator for Millennials—doing something that matters is … so connect the dots for them … show them how they work they do for your company matters.” Scott Zimmer, “Bridging the Generation Gap.”
• What DMAs are and why they’re important. They’re “difference making actions,” according to David Horsager. David’s advice: Pick your top five DMAs. Write them down. And prioritize them because “if you don’t nothing gets done—and you can’t have that happen.”
That’s just a fraction of my takeaways. See what others took away by searching #workonit14 on Twitter.