17 Customizable Templates for Creating Shareable Graphics on Social Media


People are 44% more likely to engage with content on social media that contains pictures. But creating visual content takes more time and resources. That’s why HubSpot created these 17 customizable templates for you.

These templates are in PowerPoint, so they’re very easy to edit — no Photoshop skills required!

This PowerPoint template contains three types of templates:

  • Title Slides – free stock images with a text overlay
  • Headline Roundups – meme-setup for sharing multiple stories
  • Snackable Graphics – blank canvas with stylized text

These pre-built templates will let you create social media content that your audience will want to share with their friends.

Download by Clicking Here

 

8 Tips For Finding Your Best Inbound Marketing Agency

panning-for-gold-oliver-jewelleryIt’s hard to believe that it’s been almost six years since I practically stumbled on to inbound marketing. I’d bought Seth Godin’s book “Tribes” and it was setting unread on my desk when the president of our agency came in my office to talk about something else. He spotted the book and asked me about it. When I said I hadn’t started it yet he asked to borrow it so I said “sure”.  Little did I know it would be the beginning of a years-long quest to learn, keep pace and apply the best practices and tools of inbound marketing. Today inbound marketing, content marketing and social media along with marketing technology have whipped our little corner of the business world into a virtual froth. Even the company CEO likely has heard about it.

It stands to reason then that unless your company already has the staff resources to pull  this off properly, it makes good sense (and cents) to find an inbound agency to lend a hand. One of these, Kuno Creative has an excellent, free online guide that gives some excellent advice on how to even get budget for your inbound program. It’s called Inbound Buy-In, Budgets and Best Practices . Another terrific, free guide is The Complete Guide To Hiring An Inbound Agency from MLT Creative, an award-winning B2B inbound agency in Atlanta. I highly recommend both of these guides. In addition I’d like to offer some of my own thoughts on getting started on the right foot:

#1 Try some serious soul searching first

What really needs to happen in your company? Branding? Or alignment of marketing and sales to deliver greater ROI? Improved conversion ratios to drive down cost per lead? Or we don’t really know? The adage that you don’t need a map if anyplace will do comes to mind. If yours is not a marketing driven company then all the more important that you get consensus from stakeholders as to the agreed expectations of this exercise especially those that will be deemed successful outcomes both quantitative and qualitative. I will guarantee that once this is done your research on agencies will be more productive, and the dialogue more meaningful.

#2 It’s Not Sold by the Pound or Found in Any Catalog

Sadly a lot of traditional processes like RFPs are borrowed from the corporate procurement department with few changes except to replace “staplers” with “inbound marketing”. To get ahead in inbound marketing means finding the best possible strategic partners and frankly in my book that takes a different approach based upon a deeper understanding.

#3 Are They Eating Their Own Cooking?

When you do a search with “inbound marketing agency”, “best” or “leading” and key words specific to your company category, note the page rank results because it tells you something about an agency’s SEO capabilities. Run a marketing grader on their website.  Hubspot has a good, free one  http://marketing.grader.com/ Note how their website is laid out; is it attractive, and does it draw your eye easily around the page. What do they blog about? Is it well written or produced and entertaining? Are people reposting to Twitter, LinkedIn, and the like? Do they have social media icons on their pages? Are they using conversion forms? Are they applying best practices to their own website or as I like to say, ‘are they eating their own cooking?’ Any agency worth its salt at inbound will be ranking high doing all of these things so keep this in mind and use it to help shorten your list.

#4 Skip the RFP, try the phone

Honestly I think the traditional default to an RFP has been around so long because its often easier to get answers and ideas out of the agencies than it is out of your company execs, marketing group, and sales group. That said even the busiest agency will often welcome the chance to talk with a prospective client.  In the process you can save a lot of time and energy, quickly learn how to improve your qualification process that you can apply on your next call and begin to get a read on the all important question of ‘chemistry’. In this era of transparency and web-centricity, it’s easy to learn a lot before the first call.  Invest that time and then pick up the phone. Think about it; the smartest agencies generally don’t participate in RFPs. Why? They don’t have to.

#5 Should the agency be asked to “present”?

Time is money and if an agency has clearly invested well in a show-case website, fully-optimized and employing best of breed tools and practices, that grades out at 99+, chock full of great content, portfolio samples, client testimonials and basically everything that supports the fact they’re highly competent, it’s a fairly safe bet that the time and conversation can focus more on your issues than the topic of qualification.  In researching for inbound agencies like so many things, time invested is time well spent.  So consider keeping the dog & pony show brief and see which agency has the chops to ask smart questions and think well on their feet, not reading from a Powerpoint.

#6 Plan the Work and Work the Plan

If you must have multiple agencies compete for your company’s business, establish some ground rules and stick with them, respect deadlines for decisions, and don’t’ allow scope-of-work bait-and-switch or creep. And make certain you are dedicating sufficient resources to making the RFP process thorough and stick to the letter of it. It is after all your reputation and the beginning of a working relationship with one of them.  Always best to get started on the right foot.

#7 You Get Out What You Put In

Almost all RFPs ask the agency to recommend a budget but that should come with some strings attached. Free advice is worth what it cost; nothing. Without giving an agency access to in-depth information like your company’s current marketing plan, research, strategy, audience, tools, analytics, etc., an agency’s estimated cost for developing your comprehensive marketing program is largely unqualified and like a loaded weapon; if it goes off in the wrong direction a lot of folks can get hurt.  Be prepared to share A LOT if you expect accurate, actionable advice in return. While you’re at it don’t forget to do some estimating on the value of your company’s  current and potential market share as the basis for ranging in a realistic, effective marketing budget to maintain or grow the business.  Putting dollars to it helps improve the relevance of any figures discussed so when the impulse is to say an agency’s idea “is too expensive”, you’re also ready to answer the “relative to what?” question.

#8 Doc I’ve Got This Problem, Here’s What You Should Prescribe

I don’t know about you but I pay way too much for good medical care so better to let the physicians do their job.  Likewise alot of company execs and owners are anxious to get their inbound program up and running so in their haste may be ready to give orders about what they “really need”. That’s not unusual but a good agency will ask smart qualifying questions to determine your company’s overall marketing readiness.  Do your prospects and customers like what they see/read the first time they come to the website? What do they say about your product/service/buying experience? Maybe there are some branding and web page layout issues to address too.  Are your marketing and sales teams aligned?  You get the point. You are the expert on your company’s products so just be ready to answer a lot of questions, just as many or more as you may have of the agency. In the process you’ll likely figure out which agency is legit and which one is mailing it in.

There’s a joke about an old miser who prayed every night to win the lottery. Finally one night God answered back , “meet me half way and buy a ticket.” Well, finding a winning inbound agency is kind of like that.  So when the temptation is to crank out an RFP and distribute it to an agency list, you might want to consider instead investing your time using these tips and resources.
Tell us what has worked well for you? Or just as importantly what hasn’t?  

The B2B Marketing Opportunity Gap: Three Causes and How To Fix Them

bridging the gapI think most B2B marketers would agree that beyond the technical and design excellence of a B2B company’s online presence, there must be a content strategy and plan that’s getting supported by content experts and thought leaders who are creating authentic, genuine, and compelling content. But it’s not happening as much as it should and here are just three contributing causes to what I call the B2B Marketing Opportunity Gap

#1 Marketing Technology Runs On High Octane Content
The myriad of marketing tools from apps, to cloud ware to automated lead nurturing that we are seeing is wonderful because they remove much of the drudgery in the workaday world of B2B marketing. But this is where B2B company execs trying to support the transition to inbound marketing often make the mistake of thinking marketing technology alone is the solution. They will find dollars to fund MAS, CRM and CMS technology with all its potential of money savings with the expectation it will deliver greater marketing ROI. But without fresh, original and compelling content to fuel it, this is the equivalent of a high performance engine with a one gallon gas tank. Going nowhere fast.  The reality is B2B companies should continuously budget for ongoing content analysis and development if they want to compete for a lead in the pack.

#2 Fresh, New Rubber or Retreads?
Truckers either buy new tires for their rigs or have the old ones retreaded which is just what it sounds like; sticking new tread around the old tire casing. This solution is relatively cheap but also somewhat unreliable. We’ve all seen and occasionally dodged those strips of rubber tread on the interstate some call “road gators”. Those came off retreaded tires. Alot of B2B marketers are doing the same thing with their marketing content. You know what I’m talking about. Look at the volume of blogs that are a rehashing and repurposing of the same conversation. On the other hand, well done fresh content is like a new tire; it almost never fails and develops a good reputation for performance and reliability. All B2B marketing content should be like that but of course it costs more to produce quality. Too many marketing decisions though are based solely on cost instead of ROI and the result can be disappointing. Study the category leader’s online content, follow the best practitioners like Content Marketing Institute and Copy Bloggers or hire someone like Jay Baer, Mark Schaeffer or John Jantsch to help you set up your program.

#3 B2B Inbound Isn’t A Chicken Rotisserie
Recently I read a post by agency new business expert Michael Gass about how ad agencies are requiring staff to be more digital. The lateness of this is a little shocking considering Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan described the new digital citizen in their book Inbound Marketing,

Cover of "Inbound Marketing: Get Found Us...

Cover via Amazon

back in 2009 but at least ad agencies KNOW they have a content void to fill if they are to have any credibility in the new marketplace. Some of their clients are hearing that too. Both camps face the same challenge; developing a content program, executing on it, monitoring the results and using those results to continuously improve upon the content.  It’s NOT a Ron Popeil Chicken Rotisserie where one can “set it and forget it”. It’s more like a fitness lifestyle that requires discipline; stick with it though and you’ll get long lasting, accumulating benefits.

Where else are you seeing issues that are standing in the way of getting your B2B marketing program ramped up and amp’d up? We’d enjoy hearing about them.

 

 

B2B Marketing Could Learn Something From Sales: Skip The Monkey Business

True story. My good friend Ken, had just walked into one of his first sales calls back in the ‘70s and he was feeling pretty righteous decked out in his plaid polyester Haggar suit, new Cross pen and shiny Samsonite briefcase – not to mention the big, curly hairstyle. It was an independent electronics and TV repair shop and it was early so no customers and the owner yelled from the back that he’d be right out.  So with some time to kill he looked around and that’s when he spotted the monkey cage at the end of the counter.

Inside, innocently sitting there wide-eyed was one of those cute, cuddly little monkeys you could order from the small black-and-white ads in the back of magazines like Popular Mechanics.  Well, he thought, this could be fun. Maybe the monkey would jump around a little given the right motivation, like maybe with a poke of the new pen in his pocket.

So just as the pen tip passed through the cage mesh, in a flash a little hand had snatched it and thrown it to the bottom of the cage. Ken stared in disbelief. His new pen was lying in monkey poop, and worse, how would he explain this to the owner? Thinking fast, he realized that if he pulled on the edge of the newspaper lining the cage bottom, he could reach the pen, retrieve it, problem solved. So leaning forward for a better view, he tugged the paper. The monkey watched too, and also immediately noticed Ken’s curly hairdo sticking into the cage. In a split second our monkey had a fistful of salesman hair and with the incredible strength even small primates possess, was bouncing Ken’s head off the monkey cage like a bolo-paddle ball. Realizing his predicament, Ken pried his hair loose from his furry assailant and simultaneously plucked the pen from the cage.  None too soon either because as he gathered his wits while running a hand over his hair, the owner appeared, glanced at him, then the cage and asked, “You haven’t been messing with the monkey, have you?”

I think my friend Ken recovered well under the circumstances and the lesson there is of course, no monkeying around in B2B sales! Today I work with B2B marketing clients to develop integrated marketing programs and the most successful align with the sales program. Like my friend Ken, I was in B2B sales for many years (no monkey encounters thankfully) and we have both found success by following four best practices that I’d like to share because I think they are also relevant to getting a B2B marketing program on track and out front.

Know your products. The best salespeople I’ve ever known always knew their products cold. It allowed them the freedom to relax (which puts the prospect at ease), to listen, to gather the facts and then to focus on solutions tailored to the customer’s needs.  Likewise, B2B marketers who know their company’s products intimately, who understand what motivates their customers , plus who are plugged in to the Inbound Marketing discussion and know what constitutes great Content, are the ones who are succeeding. The next time the VP of Sales or the CFO have a new initiative and come knocking to discuss it, be relaxed and be that great listener which relates to the next point.

Lead with questions. Perhaps one of the greatest strokes of luck for me was minoring in Journalism in college. The basic premise was getting the answers to the who, what, when, where, how and why. This was a practice I carried over into B2B sales, then B2B marketing where it continues to serve me well to this day. It’s surprising what gets revealed with the right questions and the quality ideas that come from careful qualification.

Follow with suggestions. Test those ideas you’ve synthesized through your fact gathering. Occasionally floating one out there will help either validate you’re on the right track or reveal some more finely pointed questions are needed. The Xerox Professional Selling Skills course I took many moons ago called this “identifying and overcoming objections”. Either way, gaining understanding by gradually narrowing questions from broad to specific will lead to the best solutions.

A-B-C:  Always Be Closing.  But not like the “hard sell” that may come to mind. On the contrary, think of it more like the way a doctor is “closing”. How’s that? A physician closes through selective screening by assessing the patient’s condition until they have a diagnosis that they can prescribe a course of treatment.  Developing an effective B2B marketing program can be like that except thankfully without the drafty medical gowns. With all the chatter about the latest marketing technology, best practices, MAS, CRM, CMS, it’s easy to lose focus.

Perhaps these four guidelines will help to minimize the monkey business and make it easier to lay a sound foundation for an effective B2B marketing program. Have an example of how this process or similar has worked for you that you’d like to share? Please take advantage of the comment section below to post it up. We’d love to hear about it.

Ditch the Pitch: Three Best Practices for B2B Client and Agency Matchmaking

ImageMisguided. Ill-conceived. Antiquated. But enough of the accolades for the RFP process, let’s talk about better ways for a B2B client and agency to find their best match.  Let’s start with three core issues with the pitching process and alternatives.
First, go looking for the best pitchmen Mr. or Ms. Client and you’ll find one if not many. What does that have to do with a long term client-agency relationship, MROI? Not much. Pitching and consistently great work are two different performance criteria so be careful what you wish for. Better alternative? Invite AND pay three agencies to come up with their solution to your carefully crafted project. Project work is THE best way to find a new agency. It’s fair, real and telling.
Second, Mr. or Ms. Agency you need to develop and sustain a robust inbound marketing program that is fueled with relevant, entertaining content. A smart client can find out a ton about their prospective new agency partner (please note I did not say vendor) before they ever initiate contact. Over 80% of execs do online research before they reach out. So great content and an engaging online presence are crucial.
Third, Mr. and Ms. Client “to thine own self be true.” What do I mean by that? Clients who have invested in some serious introspect will have a greater likelihood of knowing where they need help and consequently recognize those agencies better suited to them. Isn’t this what we’re really after rather than the best pitchman?