Founder @ G8 Technological; 10 years+: Marketing Automation (Marketo, Hubspot, Infusionsoft, Ontraport), Digital Marketing. Data driven marketer and optimization fanatic. Modern marketing is about the numbers, the customers, and having an intimate understanding of how the two interact to get the results you want. The only way to get the most out of your marketing dollar and to maximize your sales revenue is to get smart about marketing! An expert in data-driven marketing and digital engagement technology (lead nurturing, email marketing, online marketing) I help companies revolutionize the way that they think about their digital marketing and their lead lifecycle management, helping you use technology to help you build real 1 to 1 relationships with your prospects supported by systems that help you optimize your entire business. With over 10 years expertise in marketing technology, data-driven marketing and online marketing and with a passionate commitment to making businesses successful, if it's a quick call or a long term engagement I guarantee that you'll never look at your businesses numbers quite the same.
If you're asking this question you've clearly learnt the most important lesson there is to learn in any career... When you know you don't know something look for the people who do!!
I can't tell you the right answer for you, you'll have to find that for yourself, but I can give you a few useful tips from my career which started way back in 2001 :)
The first thing I did after graduating from my Marketing degree was simple - Take the first Marketing job ANYONE was willing to offer me - In my case it was in the "mailroom" of a boutique investment company. Now - You may get lucky and get a head start, but I never regretted the long hours and crappy pay because I learnt the way Marketing worked from the bottom up and I got to see how some REALLY smart people did things. I was only there for a year, long enough to learn the basics of the real world (which bore very little resemblance to all of the fancy stuff I learnt at university) and to learn what the different parts of real marketing looked like.
The next tip is probably the most important driver in my success as a marketer - Marketing is a LOT of things today, and to be successful you need to find the aspect of marketing that you are passionate about. Personally, I'm a geek, I love computers and I love numbers, so digital marketing came very naturally to me, and even while I was trying to steer my career away from it, I just couldn't resist logging in and getting involved in digital conversation. Today it's what I do and I've even managed to build a very successful consulting business in the field... but the secret really came down to it being my passion. Even when I wasn't working, I often found myself spending my free time reading books on digital marketing and consumer behavior BECAUSE I LOVED IT.
Lastly, SAY YES! Then believe in yourself to be able to follow through. It's a little known secret that most people in business never really like to admit, but no one is "born with it" and no one starts their career with 3 years experience in anything. We all start from the same place - Go! If you believe in your ability to do something, and someone asks you whether you can, say YES! confidently and proudly, then figure out how to do it and do it WELL. If you're young and just starting out in your career, a lot of people won't be willing to give you a chance if you don't already have the skills they need... but a lot of people confuse skills and experience... just because you've never done it doesn't mean you can't do it and don't be ashamed to tell someone you can do something AS LONG AS YOU COMMIT TO BEING BLOODY GOOD AT IT. That last part is really important, because if you say you can and don't commit to proving that you could... well... I'm not sure what would happen I've never tried it, but I can only imagine it would end uncomfortably for everyone.
Lastly, a piece of personal advice from someone who's had to hire and fire a lot of marketers over the years... Don't let your masters go to your head, real world experience really does mean a lot and I've seen a lot of younger candidates think they can "skip ahead" because they've got a masters degree, only to fall at the first "real-world" question because they answer in academic gibberish. Don't be afraid to be humble and to start out in a job that you might consider to be fairly "low-level", it's not beneath you, and if it gets you some points on your resume a year from now you'll be stepping up to bat at a higher paying and better job and you'll be armed with all the tools to get the job.
Enjoy this part of your career, it may not pay the big bucks, but you've got an entire universe of different roles to discover and the more of them you can sample the richer you'll be for it!
Before you start, make sure you look at what you're going to need to make your business a success and look at what you can bring to the table and what you need.
A lot of start-ups struggle to get off their feet because the co-founders share a vision and a background which makes them great for bouncing ideas off one another, but then they get stuck at the execution stage where they need a skill set they don't have and can't afford to hire.
If, for example, you're an expert at travel and history, than you probably want to partner with an expert on marketing and technology because they'll be able to help you execute on your vision.
If you rock at marketing, but you're not as strong in logistics, you probably want someone with a lot of experience in travel logistics.
Define the partner who's going to help you achieve your goals, and then make sure that you go through a very thorough vetting process to make sure that you find the right partner for you.
Without more information it's not easy to answer your question, but I'll give it a fighting try :)
The health insurance industry is a commodity industry, they sell the same things at around the same prices and every little competitive edge is something they hang on to dearly. It's not surprising or even unusual for them to wish for exclusive access to your product (whatever it might be) during the pilot period which I assume would then roll into exclusivity if they roll out into a full implementation too.
That said, for your business this is a huge risk, it's the proverbial basket in which you put all your eggs and that's a significant risk to a young business, because if that pilot fails, you're 6 months behind in your goals and that's a big set back for a small company.
You can do a few things to try to minimize the risk, or maximize the reward from agreeing to their terms (because if they are a major health insurer, you'll eventually capitulate either way).
1. Limit the scope of the exclusivity - If they are concerned about exclusivity in your state, be very clear that it is limited to your state and in other states you're allowed to pursue other clients.
2. Ask them to pay for the privilege - It's not unusual for a company to offer exclusivity in exchange for recompense. You basically tell them, listen that's fine but you're asking me to limit the profitability of my company, I'm happy to give you exclusive rights to the product but the pricing model for that is different.
3. Use exclusivity as a negotiating tool - You can add a condition to the exclusivity that states that if after 3 months they haven't declared their intent to proceed to a full implementation the exclusivity is revoked.
4. Get something in exchange - You may be able to give them exclusivity on the condition that they become a referral customer and give you a case study. They'll be happy to say nice things about you whenever anyone asks if that's all it costs for them to get exclusivity, and for you having someone important at a major health insurer say your product is great might be just what you need to get 2 or 3 more pilots in different states or industries
If you're a start up and this is your first big enterprise client, they are going to try to bully you and push you around in the negotiation, they're the big kid in the school yard and you're the runt of the litter and they know it. So look for the way that you can give them what they want, but leverage it to make them more sympathetic to your situation and to invest them in your goals.
Most importantly though, make sure that you don't give up your company's ability to grow in the future by signing away something that sounds so innocent. If giving this client exclusivity is going to lock you into a position where you have to pass on other opportunities as a result, maybe they're just not worth it.
In the SaaS world churn is just a fact of life. When it's so easy to sign up and to cancel services people are always going to leave.
I've been involved with many large SaaS companies and generally speaking, the lower the cost of the product, the higher the churn rate. This basically has to do with a whole lot of psychological stuff which, all summed up basically says: The bigger the decision the bigger the cost of having to change your mind.
Churn as a proportion of sales is definitely an important metric, and 10% isn't the best score. It's also not fatal.
What you really need to be paying attention to is the cause of the churn. You need to roll your sleeves up and understand WHY people are leaving and whether it has to do with something you're doing, something you're not doing... or it's just not a great fit for them and they naturally drop off.
Once you've identified the cause of the churn, you have a lot of really exciting options as to how you can cut back on the churn.
As a SaaS company, you have the ability to see exactly how every single customer uses your product, to feed that into a reactive database and to enable that database to reach out to "high risk" customers and to engage them and build a meaningful and successful relationship with them.
I won't lie and tell you that it's simple, or that you an swallow a magic pill and cut your churn rate in half... But by listening to your customers and working with people who "get" customer engagement you can reduce churn, increase customer satisfaction, and increase your bottom line.
We're very lucky today to live in the "global village" we do.
I can't imagine how hard it would have been for a young entrepreneur to find the right people before the world was so connected. Then again, I suppose that explains how so many entrepreneurs are popping up all the time today.
Being an entrepreneur is not about going it alone, it's about identifying needs and being able to get the right team in place to get make your vision a reality. There is no better way to make yourself a successful entrepreneur than by finding the right people to help you when you need help.
To run a successful business today you need so many skills which draw on so many fields that it's pretty much impossible to do it yourself, and that's ok... As an entrepreneur you should see your primary role as 3 fold:
1) You're the dreamer responsible for coming up with the next big thing and the plan to make it big
2) You're the communicator who has to be able to effectively turn your vision into a clear, communicable plan which you can share internally to help your team get it built, and externally to get your product sold
3) The financier in charge of coming up with the cash to get people paid and to get your idea off the ground.
While you're bootstrapping you'll need to leverage any other skills you may have, to try to cut costs where you can, but it's always important to recognize that cutting costs while costing time is a net loss. Only cut costs when you can do as good a job as someone who you can get to help you, in the same amount of time.
Find yourself couple of key resources you can afford, you can trust, and who "get it" and understand your communication style and you'll be able to press forward at a pace you'd never imagined.
I've been running sales and marketing operations at companies ranging from $50,000 a month to $100m a year in revenue and have seen my fair share of crms.
None of them are "pretty" out of the box, and what you can do with them generally depends on who you have running them. Some are more limited than others and some are more expensive.
The smartest thing you could do in your situation is connect with an expert to better understand your situation and to pick the system which best suits your needs. Even if the conversation isn't cheap, it will be a whole lot cheaper than migrating after you choose a system that doesn't meet your needs.
As an exercise you should try to brainstorm all the things you want your crm to do for you...
Then connect with an expert, show them your list and ask what they think is missing.
Once you've done that, one last call and ask for help choosing the solution that fits your situation.
It'll cost you $500, and it'll take you a week but it can save you a fortune in time and money if it saves you from making the wrong decision and only realizing it after 6 months
There's plenty of long answers about plenty of different things that can be done.
You want a one word answer: www.ontraport.com
A solid entry level marketing automation platform will allow you to segment your database and regularly email people with relevant and interesting content you can pull straight from your blog.
If you're already doing the writing, it won't add much work to your marketing load and got $600 a month you've got a good starting point for being much more responsive to your database and being able to engage with them much more regularly.
Oh, and with the next $80 sign up for www.oktopost.com to get smart about your social media marketing.
Now you've got some great marketing going on and you've still got $320 to find yourself some awesome advice on clarity :)
This is a super-broad question and there is enough to say about it to write entire books on.
That said, you've got a few basic tools at your disposal that, combined with some expertise in lead life cycle management, can really help you optimize your funnel and help you help your prospects help themselves.
The fundamental tools you have are messaging and your own ability to sell (even when it's a soft sell).
By getting smart about understanding the funnel, and using tools like marketing automation systems to implement lead nurturing and to start making sure that you're getting targeted content to prospects at the right time... And most importantly to make sure that you're always reminding your prospects why they signed up with you in the first place... You can seriously boost your engagement and help people get over their personal hurdles.
One of the biggest challenges in online marketing is the concept of friction vs momentum.
What you're talking about is leads who you felt had great momentum and were pushing towards the sale... What happens offline (where you can't see) is that life throws a bunch of friction at the which slows them down and they lose their momentum. When this happens the lead falls back into their routine and moves away from making a change (which is actually what you're hoping to get them to buy).
What you need to do is strategically apply some grease to your prospects to help them slide on through to the goal of changing their situation (by purchasing your course)
The good news is, the process if building this out will really help you understand your prospects, your customers, and as a byproduct your own business... Which is really cool :)
If what you're trying to do is add a filter between yourself and the inbound emails to better manage your time... Great job! You're taking a big step forward into making yourself a more efficient part of your business.
That said, it's important to remember that all of the people writing you are important not just the ones that can turn into business today. They all have friends, family, and social networks who can all turn into business some day and if they took the time to email you, you should make sure they feel like you're taking the time to write them back.
I've had amazing experiences working with virtual assistants in both full and part time capacities for this purpose. They're more than just a filter, they understand you, they understand your business and they can give non-prospects a valuable and worthwhile answer that will leave them satisfied without you having to invest your valuable time in it.
You can outsource the role for as little as a few hundred dollars a month and it can be a huge asset to your growing business