Speaking at Virtual, Hybrid, and Live Events

As live events are becoming a “thing” again and hybrid events are becoming more common, we thought it was a good time to revisit the benefits of speaking at industry events. From tradeshows to webinars, look for opportunities to speak or present to showcase your expertise.

Who should present?

Everyone has the capacity to share meaningful content in at least one presentation format. For the purpose of the rest of this post, we will be focusing on presenting in the context of speaking to a group of people in a formal setting. However, you may thrive by presenting in a 1:1 meeting or by giving an informal elevator pitch.

What should you present?

You should present anything that you can either provide expert guidance on and/or share a unique perspective. Expertise can range from a specific academic topic or tactical execution. A distinctive point-of-view can spark dialog on important social topics or it can showcase you as a thought leader. Presenting in a “problem – solution – result” way can provide a way to connect with prospects in a more meaningful way than a traditional sales pitch.

Why should you present?

  • To build relationships that can lead to business partners or customers
  • To support your community with useful information
  • To market yourself as a thought leader or influencer (online or offline)

When should you present?

You should present regularly or as often as possible. The more you do it, the better you get at it. Also, if you want to establish credibility as a speaker, it is helpful to have a variety of events on your speaking resume. However, as with everything, be sure to be selective on your speaking engagements. Consider speaking if it is part of a paid sponsorship, if you’ll receive an honorarium, if the event audience is who you’re trying to reach, and who else is on the agenda. Or simply if it benefits the greater good.

How should you present?

It’s up to you and your style. Some people are great presenting live to an audience and riff off of facial expressions and head nodding. Others prefer presenting virtually without the worry of someone interrupting their flow with a question or even a cough. If you aren’t sure which is best, try both and see what works for you. Oftentimes, I’ve gotten the question, do I need a deck? Maybe. A deck can helpful for both you as a speaker and for your audience. It can help you keep track of the top points you want to cover without needing to write a full script. It can also help visually explain with what you are sharing. Another common question is what program to use (e.g., Google Slides, Keynote, PowerPoint, or Canva). It depends on different factors such as shared editing needs, devices / OS being used, other data integrations, and ultimately your own comfort level.

If you’re notorious for going off script or running long, you may need to actually create a script whether it is just for practice or one to refer to during your presentation.

A final note on presentations and speaking engagements

Speaking in person vs virtually offers different challenges, so practice makes perfect for both. Presenting virtually? Don’t forget to look at your camera, not the audience, and be aware of your angles and background as you don’t want either to be distracting. Presenting live for the first time in awhile? Don’t forget to smile!

Employees Are Your Best Brand Advocates

“The employee advocacy definition is quite simple: it is the promotion of your company by the people who work for it… Employee advocacy as a marketing tactic is a strategic, sustainable program to encourage employees to share brand values and messages in an organic way.”


Employee advocacy is an important part of any communications plan. Whether you’re focused on recruiting top talent or growing your social media following, your employees are some of your best existing marketing assets.

Employees are your most authentic voices

One of the biggest challenges for any organization is creating authentic, quality social media content. You know the kind – posts that sound honest and believable but simultaneously tout how great you are. So how do you create this ideal content? Ask someone who believes in your organization. Better yet, be so great that your team can’t help but share the love.

Mutually beneficial employee advocacy programs

A common employee advocacy program is a job candidate referral program. Why these programs work is that both employee and employer get something out of the deal. They can also be fairly straightforward to execute and track especially for smaller organizations.

Tools for building employee advocacy programs

There are several existing tools that help you create employee advocacy programs. However, for smaller organizations, you can always keep your program simple and manageable without an external application or tool. Employee advocacy programs should be a cross-functional activity between HR and Marketing / PR. Note, every level of employee from entry-level to C-Suite can be included.

Tips for any employee advocacy program

  1. Dedicate resources to developing and managing the program for maximum success – whether your goal is finding talent or growing awareness.
  2. Share examples of content for your employees to post but allow for personalization and customization so the content feels authentic.
  3. Provide guardrails on what should and should not be shared – a subset of messaging and visual identity guidelines.

Summer Reading List

Over the course of the last several months, we’ve been sharing with our newsletter subscribers a curated selection of blogs and articles to read, podcasts to listen to, and videos to watch. Topics have ranged from building resilience as an entrepreneur to email marketing tips. We thought we’d highlight some of our favorites for our blog readers. If you’re interested in receiving monthly recommendations, sign up for our newsletter!

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Mid-Year Marketing Maintenance

The business world is constantly evolving, so it is always important to check in with your internal processes and marketing effectiveness. As we approach the mid-point of 2021, it’s a great time to prep for what’s next. Below are tasks you can do to make sure your upcoming marketing efforts are as efficient as possible.

Get “e-organized”

As most days are filled with responding to emails, downloading files, and creating new files, there isn’t usually a dedicated time for document management. Use the end of the quarter as a reminder to clean up files including email and DM inboxes, local and cloud files, and any online tools such as Canva, Mailchimp, and WordPress. File and backup any important items and delete any that that are no longer needed or are duplicate copies. Once this cleanup is part of the ongoing plan, each quarter should be a shorter process.

Set intentions for the next quarter

Goal setting should be common practice as an employee / manager as well as goal setting for a business. However, creating a list of intentions is just as important. What’s the difference between intentions and goals? Intentions are the plans to get to goals. “I intend to [insert intention] to reach my [measurable goal].” For instance, I intend to learn more about video editing, so I can increase my YouTube followers by 25%. Separately, while goals should always be measurable, intentions can be non-measurable. An intention to learn more about video editing could simply be to learn a new skill for personal/professional development.

Recap marketing and business results

Lessons learned are crucial to any business – whether it is a Fortune 100 company or a microbusiness. The point is to review marketing and business results against the backdrop of you goals, gather key insights and learnings, and formulate next steps based on this information. Whether it is a formal deck or a working Google doc, the information should be the same. Note, depending on the type of business, lessons learned can also be collected on a less frequent basis. These also do not replace individual campaign reviews; they are a compilation of campaigns for a “big picture” view.

Review internal processes

Similar to getting organized, taking the time to evaluate individual and internal businesses processes on an ongoing basis helps improve long-term efficiency. For instance, the accounting and time keeping process can move from Word docs and spreadsheets to an online tool such as QuickBooks or FreshBooks as more customers are acquired or employees are added to the team. Or from an individual standpoint, answering emails throughout the day may cause unintended inefficiencies, so potentially scheduling time blocks everyday to respond to messages may be more efficient.

Take the time to do the “no-time” task(s)

Who doesn’t wish for an extra five or fifty minutes every day to complete tedious tasks? Oftentimes these tasks are simple and would take only a couple of minutes if that time could be dedicated to the task. Clean up that list by taking the time at the end of the quarter to cross at least one off – and like the other tips, the more regularly this is done, the easier it gets each time.

There are four weeks left in June, so there is still time to get these five tasks done. 😀

What Happens After the Sale?

We covered the basics of what to measure while trying to acquire a new customer, but what happens after you close the sale? It is often easier (and less resource intensive) to retain a customer than it is to acquire a new one, so continuing to track your marketing effectiveness is equally as important during the retention and upsell process.

Measure everything so you get everything

All traditional marketing metrics should be tracked – impressions, engagement and response rates, and take rates on offers or promotions. One additional step in the process is understanding the lifetime value of the customer. Not only is the original sale important, any additional purchases, renewals, or upgrades add value. Your highest value (or most profitable) customers are not necessarily those who buy your higher end products. Consequently, understanding the satisfaction of existing customers and their propensity to renew or upgrade is important to increasing their lifetime value.

Estimate your customer lifetime value (CLV)

So how exactly do you estimate what a customer is worth? The simplest way to think of it is this basic equation:

Average order value ($) x Average # of orders/year x Average # years/customer = CLV

Ex: You add up your total sales for the year and it is $100,000 across 10,000 orders (not customers). In that same year, you had 1,000 customers buy from you. You check past order history for the 1,000 customers and the average (mean) number of years they’ve done business with you is 10 years.

$10/order x 10 orders/year x 10 years/customer = $1,000/customer

Once you’ve determined an average CLV, you can divide your customers into cohorts or segments. For a simple example, let’s say you decide to segment your customers into two groups – below average and above average. So any customer that has a CLV > $1,000, you consider them a high value customer.

Understand and upsell your existing customer base

Now that you have your segments, you can begin to get smarter about your retention and upgrade marketing. For example, one of the primary ways to utilize your high value segment is to create a profile of what these customers “look like” – from demographics to past purchasing behavior. This profile will help identify likely “below average” customers to target with upgrade opportunities. Similarly, it will also help you better target your prospect marketing because you will have a better understanding of what type of customers will buy the most from you.

In any segment, you should never only push upsell offers and not reward loyalty. While upsell is the best case scenario, simple retention should not be overlooked. Customers could be at their max of either need (of your product / service) or may simply be out of budget. Learn more about how to retain customers in this blog post.

Track customer satisfaction and use the data to make changes

Sales data is probably the most straightforward way to measure your customers’ satisfaction; if your customers aren’t satisfied they likely would not continue to buy from you. However, it doesn’t tell you why you may lose a customer or a customer doesn’t choose to buy more. Consequently, you should establish ways to measure customer experience and satisfaction whether it is post-sale email that gets triggered after an order is delivered or a survey sent to all your customers who have not bought from you in a set amount of time.

One generally accepted way to measure customer experience is through a Net Promoter Score. It is a single question with the goal of finding out how likely someone is to recommend you to their friends and family. What is helpful about this metric is that you can see how you compare against your peers as industry benchmarks have been established.

Other questions to ask can be specific to your company. For instance, simply asking how satisfied your customer is doesn’t provide enough context for the responses to be actionable. However, following up with specifics such as how satisfied are you with the order process, shipping, return policy. etc. may give you additional insights into what drives overall satisfaction.

Remember, tracking is only the first half of the process. The second half is taking the data and making adjustments based on the insights. And don’t forget to remeasure to see the impact of your improvements and changes.

Making Your Stats Count

“What you measure is what you get.”

This adage is aptly applied to many business metrics, none more so than marketing metrics. Marketing effectiveness has been measured in many ways and the tools and data available are continually changing. So how do you know what to measure and what benchmarks to use to determine success? And more importantly, how do you interpret your data to garner actionable insights?

Let’s start with the basics on acquiring a new customer

One way to start thinking about what to measure is by following the stages of a conversion funnel.

  1. Create awareness (know) = impressions
  2. Generate interest (like) = followers, subscribers, engagement
  3. Influence purchasing decision (trust) = conversions

Note: This funnel does not take in account for full lifecycle marketing which includes retaining and upselling customers. We’ll tackle that it in a follow up post.

Always be aware if the stat is a “total” or a “unique” count

While the terms are literal, differentiating between the two types of stats is important. To maintain consistency in your reporting, you should note which type you are using for each metric since insights can be very different for each.

Not all impressions can be measured but most can at least be estimated

Digital impressions, e.g., how many people see your ad are easily reported. Average impressions of an out of home ad can also be measured by average traffic at or by the ad. Other things like impressions from promotional products, word-of-mouth mentions, etc. are more difficult to capture. However, these tactics can still play an important role in your success tracking. They may explain unexplainable upticks in awareness.

One other factor to consider is the value of an impression. Not all impressions are created equal but all can be valuable. Mass marketing can work because it follows the law of probability – the more people you market to, the more likely you’ll find a customer. However, 1,000 of those impressions may not be “worth” or weighted as much as one targeted impression. So in that case, more is not always better. The same goes for content.

Engagement grows in tandem with the value of your content

Once your audience knows about your business or organization, you need them to start liking you and your products or services – in other words engaging with your content. So how do you know what lever – target audience, content, or medium – is driving results?

Engagement comes in many forms – whether it is email opens and click-thrus or Twitter shares and comments. It is sort of your digital marketing response rate. Digital tactics are easily measured and can be fairly straightforward to test. If you’re testing your content, then a change one lever at a time, so you know what is giving you different results. More complicated testing is possible but becomes much more difficult to execute and measure.

Back to what to measure… If you’re already tracking engagement metrics, you may be wondering how you’re doing. There are several ways to determine success of an organic or paid campaign.

One is to look externally by comparing against any industry benchmarks that are available. For instance, MailChimp provides benchmarks for email open and click rates. A word of caution – these are generally directional since the exact characteristics of businesses (e.g., size and maturity) can differ dramatically. Another way to determine success is looking internally – have these metrics improved over time? Sometimes trends are just as important as hard numbers.

Why your conversions don’t match your engagement

Theoretically your conversion performance should match your engagement trends. However, there are some potential reasons why this doesn’t happen. Therefore, you should look at full funnel metrics to determine winning tactics especially if you’re comparing A/B tests.

For instance, you run an A/B test on a social media ad with different headlines for your healthy cooking company. Version A outperforms Version B in likes, shares, and click-thrus. Therefore, your hypothesis is that A is the better performing headline, so it should generate the most conversions. However, Version B has lower engagement but generates (statistically significant) more conversions. 🤔

Confused? Headline A was “Free cupcakes!” Headline B was “Sign up for our newsletter for a special gift.” So it is pretty clear that A was a much more enticing headline – who doesn’t want a free cupcake? Therefore engagement was higher; however, once someone clicks thru they realize they have to provide their email address which they were not willing to exchange for a free cupcake. So while A was more exciting, B established the exact offer so it was an extra filter to get people more likely to convert on your website.

Ultimately, make sure your creative content is also on strategy and clear, so you get your target audience to engage as they’re the ones most likely to convert.

Measure everything so you get everything

While conversions are likely always your ultimate goal, you should not disregard the metrics that lead to closing the sale. If you don’t track them, you won’t get the insights you need to optimize your marketing. And more importantly, you won’t have the awareness and engagement to make the sale. So, my recommended adage to follow is to “measure everything so you get everything”!

It’s Always a Good Time to Make Plans

One of the basics I strongly believe in is having a plan. With a plan, you know what needs to be done, the tools to get it done, and the order you should execute the steps. You’ve thought about it. Plus, you’ll have a process in place to innovate and optimize.

What happens when unexpected challenges arise? Or a new technology is introduced?

Think of Reels on Instagram, Fleets on Twitter, or stories on LinkedIn. Or the introduction of Clubhouse. All of these things were introduced in the last year, so you may not have planned to use any of them. However, you may have realized that some may benefit your business. For instance, Clubhouse has been touted as a very effective (and loved) new social media platform.. So with these additions, has your carefully thought out social media plan become antiquated?

To answer this question, you will need to reevaluate your plan, but you likely will not have to start from scratch. Take the time to understand the new features or tools. Then decide if you want to use it, how to integrate with your existing plan, and what determines if it is successful. In other instances, speed may be more important than perfection. That’s why having a plan is important – you can build in time and resources for proactive activities.

How do you build in resources for proactive activities?

Whether you have a marketing team of one or 100, your team still has a limit in time and bandwidth. So why should you hold back some time for what might happen? In reality, you aren’t planning for the unknown, you are choosing to do proactive marketing, or as I like to refer to it – preventive marketing. These tasks not only help you pivot when situations change, but they ensure you stay on brand and creative as you execute your plan.

What makes for a creative plan?

A good plan should define how you want to differentiate yourself, your product or service, or your business. The most successful ones have a specific style – reflective of a personal / brand identity, a corporate promise, or an organizational mission. The most obvious way you can incorporate creativity in a marketing plan is with the content you create – the images you choose and the words you use. However, there are subtler ways you can infuse style as your style might be that you’re a data driven marketer or you use MarTech to drive automation. (As a side note, I highly encourage both of those stylistic elements!)

Is it too late for a marketing plan?

No! It is never too late for a marketing plan. You can plan annually, quarterly, or even monthly. The level of detail for each type of plan may be different, but the goal should always be the same – to make your marketing more efficient and more effective.

Collaborative Marketing

In March, Johnson & Johnson and Merck formed a partnership to increase production of the COVID-19 vaccine. Typically these two companies are competitors in the pharmaceutical market. However, they both saw the value for the greater good to collaborate. While your business may not be on the same scale, or not as time- and life-sensitive as a COVID vaccine, collaborations can be an important part of your marketing plan.

Choosing the who, how, and when of collaboration

Deciding to collaborate is the first step of the process. However, you should consider several factors when designing the partnership or agreement to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

Who should you collaborate with?

You should consider collaborating with anyone who shares your target audience and values. The best partners have minimal overlap in audience so you can increase your reach. Values are more important than products because creative marketers can make unique collaborations work. However, misaligned values may not represent your organization in a way you want.

How should you build your collaboration?

Regardless of your existing relationship with your collaborator, a formal agreement is always helpful. It should clearly lay out the expectations of each side in a mutually beneficial way. While building your collaboration plan, you should identify your goal whether it is building credibility, increasing exposure, or something else.

When should you collaborate?

A great time to collaborate is at launch. The goal at that point is to build awareness by targeting an existing base (of your partner). Another time to consider collaborations is when you need more resources whether it is time, money, or expertise. Whether you want to split the cost of an ad buy or you need some graphic design support, collaborations can help balance your efforts. Or like in the case of J&J and Merck, the right time is when a collaboration benefits your community.

Read this blog post for more examples of collaborations.

What Happened to Surprise and Delight?

Several years ago, one of the most overused phrases in marketing was “surprise and delight.” The idea of delivering above expectations by including unexpected benefits whether it was an extra discount, a free sample, or an improved experience was one of the hottest marketing themes. However, as marketing tactics have evolved, many companies have moved away from focusing on this strategy. Is this a good thing?

Yes. Your offer should standalone without needing extra bonuses and discounts or diluting your brand.

In an ideal world, the need or want your product or service fulfills matches customers willingness to pay. Then you won’t need to offer an additional incentive to close a sale. Or you’ve priced your product correctly, so any discounts or promotions are a delight on their own.

Maybe. You’ve created effective cart abandon and retention programs without new offers.

Oftentimes the delight is to convert those who started down the purchase journey and then stopped. However, if you’ve created the right cart abandon journey, you may not need a new offer to get them to complete the purchase. Some simple tactics include using scarcity (i.e., hurry up and buy as there are only a few left), retargeting with emails or social, or even showing similar or ancillary products can work. However, a surprise discount or offer can also be an effective conversion tool – perhaps the last touchpoint of the cart abandon journey.

No. You should always reward your loyal customers.

There is value in creating a brand reputation for rewarding loyal customers. While your loyal customers may know they’ll get a delight during the process, they may not even price compare because trust they will always get the best deal – a combo of product / price / service. However, surprising loyal customer beyond their expectations is what may take them over a price hurdle, upsell them, or turn them into brand ambassadors. And yes, essentially make them stickier.

Customer service should be given surprise and delight tools

If there is one team that should always have surprise and delight tools, it is customer service. The phrase “make it right” can be the difference between earning / losing a sale, retaining / losing a customer, or getting a good / bad review. A customer can have a terrible experience but have it turned around or ‘forgiven’ based on their interaction with customer service. For instance, last year some businesses that offered loyalty programs suspended expirations of points since, well, it was an unprecedented time. Others did the reverse; customers who noticed may have become frustrated for losing all the loyalty points they accumulated. The simplest way to surprise and delight those customers would’ve been reinstating the points or at least a certain percentage of them.

Don’t forget about surprising and delighting – you may just be surprised and delighted yourself

The benefits of surprise and delight can outweigh the cost – as in a positive ROI. However, you shouldn’t use it as a primary sales driver because there are other more effective, less resource intensive ways to make your prospect and customers happy. And if they’re happy, then you’ll be happy too.

Building Trust with User Generated Content

Multiple studies have shown that consumers trust user generated content more than other forms of marketing. Not surprising since we all read reviews, ask for recommendations, and are generally skeptical of ads.

Motivating users to generate (usable) content

Since sharing UGC seems like a no brainer, why don’t all businesses do it? Just because someone mentions your business, doesn’t mean it is something you’ll want to amplify. So how do you get UGC that you want to use? Ideally, you have brand evangelists organically. However, in reality, getting the right content is more than having customers who love you. Some solutions are to create a contest with very prescriptive rules or to give loyal customers a free sample or picture of themselves. Or simply asking for followers to use a specific hashtag and you’ll pick your “favorites” to share on your accounts.

Incorporating UGC into your content plan

UGC should only be one part of your overall content strategy. You should also share your own proprietary content and also curate content from industry organizations, trusted media outlets, and subject matter experts. You can share niche information or trending content – as long as it is relevant to your audience.