Tag Archives: strategy

The Fractional CMO

We’re hearing the term “fractional CIO” more often these days in business circles. For small organizations that can’t afford top-level IT talent but still need a strategic, long-term IT plan, it makes great sense to hire a consultant to fill that role. They’re getting expensive talent for a fraction of the cost, for a fraction of the time.

The same concept can be applied to marketing. Many of the companies we work with can’t spend $200,000 or more for a full time marketing executive. If they pay less than that they’re bringing in someone without the right experience or credentials to play a leadership role. But whether or not they already have an in-house marketing team, they need big-picture guidance: someone to create an integrated road map for media relations, communications, web presence, ad campaigns, trade shows and more. Someone to make sure the company’s following that plan and someone who’s adjusting it accordingly over time.

Another reason people go the fractional route is if their needs don’t require a full-time resource. It would be next to impossible to hire a marketing professional with a high level of talent for a part-time position. And even if you could, chances are that person would get bored with its limitations and move on within a year or so.

Hiring a fractional CMO allows you to engage marketing expertise on demand. It’s flexible. Maybe you need 20 hours a month. Maybe you need 50. You don’t have to sacrifice talent or bend to the whims of an outsider. Unlike one-time consultants, a fractional CMOs can truly immerse themselves in your company and its culture; they can embrace big challenges and think strategically about sales problems while keeping you on target year after year.

The best marketing professionals are visionary. They can go into a boardroom and persuade top level executives to examine their challenges and consider the most effective solutions. They hold everyone accountable. At the same time, they can see what new problems lie ahead, and can help the company adjust to a changing economic climate or shifting competitive landscape.

With a fractional CMO you can have that kind of leadership for a few thousand dollars a month—nearly a quarter of what you’d pay for a fulltime CMO. Just as a point of comparison, consider the PR agency that only focuses on media strategy and public relations: A reputable firm costs $10,000 a month.

In a world where more and more services are being outsourced, the fractional CMO can be an economically sound choice for companies that need executive-level support and guidance as well as visionary market perspective driving their growth strategy.

To learn more about our Fractional CMO services, contact us today.

In-House or Outsource: Finding Your Marketing Formula

Marketing tends to be a low priority for small businesses. You have fixed overhead and not a lot of flexibility in your budget. Why should you devote limited funds to marketing when you can give this work to someone on your payroll?

Yet in many situations this approach is too cavalier to be effective. Is it better than nothing? Possibly. Is it delivering the return you desire? Almost certainly not.

Typically marketing is not a core competency in your business model. You may, however, have some skillsets to draw from. Perhaps there’s someone who can manage organic social media accounts, or someone who can write snappy copy for the company website.

Where do your assets reside? Look at the employees you have, their total compensation, the time they spend on their given operational tasks and consider the cost of diverting them. Factor in any uncertainty about their ability to perform the job and the cost of lost opportunities and compare that to the hourly rate of a marketing firm.

No one wants to use the wrong resources for a job, whether that job is accounting, sales or IT. You wouldn’t throw unfamiliar work at a random employee, simply expect them to figure it out and hope for the best. The same should hold true for marketing.

A marketing firm with experience in your industry can either supplement or take on all of the marketing duties needed within your organization. Resources don’t need to be spent on training or managing payroll or vacation days. There’s no investment in equipment, and it’s quick to onboard a firm that already specializes in this type of work.

Outsourced work can also be much more efficient. An outsourced team has an eye to the bigger picture—messaging, branding, full-fledged marketing campaigns—and can keep the efforts consistent and coordinated. It’s also a flexible solution—you pay only for what you need.

In an ideal world, you’ll have a hybrid model, with some tasks handled internally and others handled outside. You might bring in a firm to help develop an overall plan and strategy, create effective and tested messaging and help delegate tactics to in-house staff. In this scenario, efforts should be expertly coordinated. You might be simultaneously running a blog, creating conference swag, running print ads and pitching stories to a newspaper—you want all of these activities to be integrated.

In most cases, management of a hybrid model is best left to the experienced consultant who can be held accountable for working to a plan. The firm can also be responsible for managing metrics and analytics and measuring your ROI.

At the end of the day, your marketing investment—whether in house, outsourced, or hybrid—should be worth the dollars spent.

For more information download our whitepaper or contact us at mgmt@lionsshare.com to learn how Lion’s Share can help you determine the right formula for your organization.

How Press Releases Help Small Business

Something really, really big has happened at your company and you’re ready to shout the great news from the rooftops. Maybe you landed a huge new client or partner. Maybe you’re introducing a long-awaited product or unveiling an enhancement to an existing product. Or maybe you just hired a highly respected figure in your industry. Unfortunately, even the tallest rooftops don’t get you too far in the digital age. If you want the press and general public to know about it, you’re going to want to draft a press release.

Most small businesses don’t have a PR firm engaged to help with media outreach, so they need assistance with this process. Writing a press release isn’t rocket science, but it does take some mastery of the form. They’re structured in a specific way to convey information as clearly as possible. Most importantly, the press release has to have value for the reader and it must contain new information. If you have to question whether an item is significant enough to merit a press release, it’s probably better shared through social media or a blog.

Of course, simply writing a press release is not enough. You also need to distribute it, preferably through a digital service, to guarantee some buzz. Chances are, at the very least, a regional or industry publication will pick up the news and broadcast it. With more luck, you’ll get a story in the business or mainstream press. Remember: If you have customers or resellers you can mention it’s an easy way to also get them more coverage which gives you more fodder for doing business in the future.

From there, it’s a matter of leveraging that press release in your sales efforts. Be sure to post a PDF version on your website and have your sales team share it with existing and potential customers. If a customer is already considering buying your product or service and you can show them a press release, it may be enough to tip them over into the buy category. After all, everybody has a brochure and a website, but your good news may be that extra piece of validation needed to convince the customer that this is a worthy investment.

We suggest our clients put out at least a few press releases a year: It shows you still have a pulse and keeps the company’s name in the news. When posted online, press releases also have the added advantage of helping boost your search engine rankings and attracting more visitors because you’re adding keyword rich content to your site. Lion’s Share works with companies to develop press release strategies designed to ensure that dissemination of each release is timed for maximum effect. We also make sure the brand messaging is consistent across all communications channels—carefully crafted to drive sales without pushing it into used car salesman territory.

When handled correctly, ideally by a communications professional, press releases are an inexpensive way to achieve a number of goals and there’s no reason why any small business should not be taking advantage of this virtual megaphone.

Find out how Lion’s Share can help you with press release development and management. Contact us today.

Finding Your (Content) Voice

Content marketing—that is, using media and content to create brand awareness and build your consumer or client base—is critical in a world where people have become immune to traditional advertising. It’s a way to reach out and communicate, engage customers in a dialogue, without giving the hard sell. Finding the right voice to do this effectively is critically important.

Potential customers are constantly looking for more information and quickly. The more value you can offer, through relevant and timely information, the more you become a trusted source. Strong, consistently delivered content can also help you reap better results from search engines. It goes without saying that there must be content in content marketing: valuable, savvy insights, and not just empty platitudes or sales gimmicks. The content should be strong enough to stand on its own, because if it’s something you wouldn’t read then chances are your customers won’t be interested, either.

Naturally, the content voice you choose will depend on your communications strategy and business goals. Are you trying to reach out to a new group of consumers? Are you looking for more B2B transactions? Would you like to inspire loyalty from existing customers? Or are you educating clients about the problems your services can solve? Who are you talking to, and what are they looking for?

It will also largely depend on the platform you’re using. Are you writing a blog with a series of informational but friendly posts? Are you communicating on less formal channels such as Twitter and Instagram? Or are you creating a series of white papers that are meant to establish your authority as a thought leader in the field? Every business has different needs, and most can use some combination of communications vehicles.

Each of these formats will dictate a different tone and vocabulary. You might adopt a more rigorous writing style in a case study, while relaxing your language on social media. At the same time, however, the messaging needs to be consistent across all communications. It should also be relatively distinct and memorable while serving your brand.

It’s your story to tell, of course, but you want your content voice to do it justice. Lion’s Share works closely with clients to develop content marketing materials that showcase their companies’ personalities while hewing closely to their communications goals.

These are sometimes subtle distinctions, but when it comes to setting the stage for sales, they can make a deep impression on a potential customer who will either see you as either the next great thing or another also-ran. Make sure you get it right.

Find out more about your content voice, and how Lion’s Share can help you connect with more customers. Contact us today.

You Have a Great Product, but No Customers. What’s Wrong with This Picture?

So many businesses come to the table with good—even genius—ideas for products or technologies. When it’s time to bring that product to market, however, they have no idea how to go about attracting customers.

Good ideas, it turns out, are not quite enough. And that’s okay. We wouldn’t expect a homebuilder to have a real estate license so why should we expect an entrepreneur to have innate marketing skills?

Whether you’re buoying a startup or sustaining an established company, the fact remains: If you’re in charge, you have to focus on your core business and developing your product. You most likely don’t have the time and energy to generate novel ideas for getting your name out there. Yet without a sound marketing plan to fuel sales, the growth of your customer base will be dependent on word of mouth referrals—something every business needs to an extent, but it’s not a long-term strategy.

If you don’t have the resources, skills or insight in-house to handle marketing duties, it may be time to consider outsourcing this service. Even if you do have an in-house marketing team, you might benefit from some outside assistance to bolster company efforts.

An effective marketing firm brings the objectivity of a third party to the table—the perspective of someone who isn’t immersed in your daily operations and who can help you communicate your ideas to a wide-ranging audience. (This can be especially true for tech businesses, which often struggle to make their concepts relatable to the layperson.)

A marketing strategy can help you position your company for success, find the right customers and deliver what it takes to seal the deal.

A good marketing firm can also point out the tactics that would most benefit your business, whether it’s B2B social media, public relations, website development, webinars or the creation of marketing content like whitepapers and blog posts.

At Lion’s Share, we understand the constraints under which small businesses are operating, and we work with our clients to help develop a marketing strategy that makes the most of their resources while building brand awareness, generating product buzz and drawing customers into the fold.

After all, marketing in and of itself isn’t the point. Good marketing drives sales—it’s as simple as that.

You’ve got the great idea part down. Now it’s time to get it out there.

For more information on how Lion’s Share can help your small business succeed, contact us today.

What’s Content Marketing?

In a nutshell, content marketing is sharing relevant and useful information to attract and retain customers. Thanks to advances in technology, content marketing has moved from a peripheral support role to a central and strategically-driven tactic, underpinning other marketing activities in use today. Following are some of the forms content marketing can take:

First Stop: Your Website
Customers, prospects, employees, investors, media, analysts and anyone else that has or wants a relationship with your business will visit your website. That’s why it needs to contain compelling messages, search engine optimization strategies, clear calls to action and helpful content. Ideally, there will also be some continually changing content (see below).

Blogging: A Stream of Fresh Content
You’re the best subject matter expert for your product or service. Blog posts are a phenomenal platform to connect to your target audience, showcase your product and educate the public on its finer points. Of course, a blog’s effectiveness depends on an audience, and you have to cultivate your audience through ongoing posts so your readers have a reason to return.

Articles and Whitepapers: Showcase Your Expertise
Demonstrating your considerable expertise through articles and whitepapers allows customers to understand how you resolve their pain points and why your business is the one they should be connecting with. Almost as important as the content itself, is a plan to distribute it.

Case Studies: Endorsements by Customers
One of the most effective ways to inform future customers about your product and why it’s the best in your market is by telling another customer’s story. A case study is a customer’s account of how your product or service solved their business problem. Case studies are a powerful endorsement and can be used in a multitude of ways to promote your business.

eBooks/Playbooks/Workbooks: A ‘How To” Guide
eBooks, Playbooks and Workbooks all provide instructions that guide customers through a recommended process or activity to use your product in the most effective and efficient way. For your customers, this is an added value and evidence of your commitment to them.

Presentations: Wowing Your Prospects
For many small businesses, part of the sales process involves a formal presentation of your products and company to your prospective customers. A presentation that conveys the information your customers need while addressing their pain points will help win that business.

Videos: Seeing is Believing
Product videos, training videos, customer videos, recorded webinars—all should contain content that is relevant and useful to your customer, while driving them to the next step with a clear and integrated call to action.

Whether it’s a well-researched whitepaper or a smartly scripted video, content marketing can be a powerful tool for driving sales and inspiring customer loyalty. At Lion’s Share, we create a content marketing strategy and plan that addresses each of the different stages of the buying cycle. We determine your customers’ information needs and create powerful content that elicits action—and keeps them coming back.

Looking to promote your business through high quality content? Contact Lion’s Share now.