The virtual office – Good reasons why your business may start here.

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Share Word on Round Button - GenerosityIn days of Facebook, AirBnB, Tumblr & others, when new business models and start-ups spread all over the world, some marketing freelancers might think about the option to appear big. Or shall I say for some interim period of establishing a business, these people might want to look bigger than some decision-makers might imagine? Whatever their driver might be. When starting a business, marketing consultants have got the challenge to look professional all over their brand. An address in the right context location seemed to be a must-have. It’s all about the brand, right? However today, the overarching value of a new business brand might have changed. What was a shiny office address in the middle of town in the year 2000, isn’t important any more (and maybe never was). There are new and probably better options that virtual offices can offer.

Thinking back around millenium days, when we launched a start-up with some good business partners, the venture capitalists would have loved the option of a virtual business. The resons were obvious: The business model puts a foot on the „valid business reasons'“ groud instantly. Operationals can start immediately. Being first to market, cannot be taken away from you. „Land and expand“ is the option. All set. In 2000 this sounded like a dream for founders and their investors. Our company’s rental costs were the biggest liability we had those days (also when we bought the business and sold some years later). We couldn’t just leave and sign off our contracts. The landlord was clever enough to keep us in our rooms for at least six more months. The virtual office is much more flexible and usually offering shorter termination periods.

Talking about liabilities, you might also think about getting a secretary? Another cost topic. Virtual offices have got their own secretaries who will look after your business. Calls, postage, or even emails if you may want to leave it to them: all sorted out by them. Whether it is PR requests, marketing topics, sales inquieries or any other service related business, the virtual assistant is giving clients and business contacts what they are asking for (if you brief them properly). No overhead business. No extraordinary employee costs. If it is your own staff, you have to find replacement for them on days of illness or family issues. In virtual offices, the service is available 24/7/365. These days, you do not necessarily have to pay for health treatment if someone is ill. And speaking frankly, this harms your business in the start-up business three-fold: cost-wise, additional workload and underpaid founders doing processes and projects they should not be looking after in the start-up period.

Later, when I started some other consulting business, I used a virtual office place to start the business. The benefits were quite interesting then:
a) Pay-per-stay. When I was in London for business, my virtual office would have been fantastic. Why do you always have to commute around London and waste expense budgets, when from time to time you can just have gotten people to commute to you?
b) Pay-per-use. When clients came to visit, I did one phone call to the virtual office desk and paid for hourly use. That was really handy. Do I need to „own“ (and pay) a meeting-room that is unused for 35 out of 40 hours a week?
c) Pay-per-need. When I needed a desk, I paid for a shared desk. If I wanted to stay at home, I just told the office desk the day before. Do I need to rent a place where „my“ desk stands and is waiting for me too many days in a month? Traveling is the key to starting a good business. Meet as many people as you think is necessary.
d) Pay-per-inspiration. When I needed business exchange, new innovative approaches or even looked for some new networking opportunities, there were people from many industries to talk to at the coffee lounge in the virtual office. On a good talk, I paid for the coffee. No cheaper way to get consulting. And: Who goes a floor down in his office, just to meet someone as they are tenants like you are in order to speak about business?

Spot On!
There are valid business reasons to use a virtual office company when you start a business. When the business grows and you have got paperwork to store, you might think about using a bigger version of the virtual office components and features. Still, the reason for renting an office in days of cloud computing, bigger WIFI access and coffee bars in virtual offices is becoming smaller and smaller. And even, if your business grows, there are many ways to leverage the virtual office s long as you act in start-up mode.

Report: Best rated CRM software tools 2014

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A recent report from G2 Crowd, based on the reviews of 1,700 CRM professional users, shows that Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics are the leading two customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This is the finding of a report that has checked the 27 highest rated systems by customers.

The report grouped tools together based on two main deliveries a) overall customer satisfaction (average scores by users) and b) market presence (market share, vendor size, and social impact). The report defined the CRM systems as software systems that provide salesforce automation features (account, contact and opportunity management), marketing automation tools (lead and campaign management), customer support options (knowledge management and support case), and a unifying database.

In the CRM „leader“ category finished Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. Both tools showed substantial scale and were rated relatively highly. Salesforce was rated significantly better by 9 out of 10 users: reviewers gave Salesforce 4 or 5 stars. Furthermore, 84% stated they would recommend the product to peers and 88% thought the CRM tool is headed in the right direction.

However, Microsoft Dynamic’s impact on the market in the top tier is predominantly depending to its large market share. Only 60% of Microsoft Dynamics users rated the product 4 or 5 stars. Still, 64% would recommend the tool to their peers and 60% think the CRM system is headed in the right direction.

G2 Crowd Grid CRM Software 2014

Spot On!
Another study by Salesforce.com shows that customers experince CRM systems to boost customer experience. However, data quality and predictive analytics could still do better in performance conversion. Nevertheless, the battle in the CRM tool business is on. Microsoft just bundled their product offering to challenge Salesforce. Although aggressive pricing might change proples‘ minds, Salesforce.com has the benefit there exist hundreds of AppExchange partners, like Marketo, Eloqua, LinkedIn and others. While Microsoft also has its‘ partners, Salesforce.com’s still offers the enterprise app cloud development platform that shows more opportunities.

Adobe Summit 2014: Flashback in Tweets

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Adobe Summit 2014Sometimes when I travel to speak or to moderate at events, I have no idea what I can expect from the stages, the audience, the speakers and their input. Sometimes you fly home disappointed as the news were old, the stories not exciting, the slides were shabby or even impossible for the audience to read. And not often you have a long lasting experience that will change the way you experience the digital (marketing) world. Adobe’s Summit 2014 has proven to become an outstanding event experience, and I am sure the following stories will stay in my mind for a long, long time.

Let me summarize the main messages of the event „Reinvent marketing“ with the following five tweets…

Creativity
Not often tweets can stand on their own. This tweet has a message that marketer need to obey in order to fullfil the message of the event and justify their position in the company. Marketers don’t need to glorify their brand through advertising. They should simply enable consumers to tell the brand stories from their own perspective. „Storytelling is not story yelling!“ as Gaston Legorburu, Chief Creative Officer at SapientNitro puts it.

Adobe Summit 2014 Gaston SapientNitro

Data
When you hear all the opportunities about big data and see what companies like Adobe can do, it makes you think and wonder what these institutions will do with it – no matter what (EU) regulations we will have in the future.

Adobe Summit 2014 Adobe Values

The feedback from Rod Banner made me think: „I feel pretty sure they won’t. Not even intentionally. It’ll just happen. Remember, „Knowledge is Power“. And the answer from Twitter user Corticelli (whoever you are) seems to support Rod’s and my view: „oh, they will stalk and spam. And ruin that shiny technology fur the rest of us … #AdobeSummit“. Let’s hope the three of us are wrong with our slightly pessimistic view.

Change
Having had the Head of Internet Office from the Vatican at the event was definitely surprising, hearing him speak was like meeting the Pope on stage. His gesture, his facial expression and his words were famous even before they were even spoken out. When Monsigneur Lucio Ruiz collected his words together to frame them in a picture of words that not many people on earth can paraphrase, people started smiling, applauding and laughing. Laughing, not because there was no meaning in them but just being spot on. So he said about the Pope: „His words might differ. The message is always the same!“

Adobe Summit 2014 Ruiz Vatican

Decisions
Definitely the most inspiring and touching story on starting anew came from Kurt Yaeger. The well-known actor from the American TV series „Sons of Anarchy“ lost part of his left leg on a motorcycle accident in 2006. When the accident happened, he was a BMX professional and the doctor told him that with or without his leg he will only have a max. 20% chance to survive. Although it will kill his career as a bike pro, he did not have to think long to decide what to do. Sometimes, you just don’t have to wait long to stop a routine or a habit.

Adobe Summit 2014 Kurt Yaeger

Personal note
I remember when my son got meningitis in Greece. He asked me to stop smoking that day. I told him while throwing the new pack of cigarettes in the bin: „You get well again soon. And I stop smoking now.“ I have never touched a cigarette again, and that was over eight years ago. And, I will never do it again.

Influencer
When you get invited to a panel on the future of marketing, it makes you think whether you really know more than the rest of the selected media audience.

Looking back, I have seen more or less all of them taking notes and starting discussions. And, when the Q&A session started, you could feel that this round could have been interesting for a wider audience, not only for the media. But who knows. Adobe reinvents their marketing. And maybe you can also discuss with us about the future of marketing at the next digital or Adobe event.

Report sales software: What buyers have, and expect to get.

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Buyers like cloud solutions and are looking for automation software supporting their sales efforts. These are the main findings of a recent report based on interviews with 385 prospective buyers of new sales force automation software conducted by Software Advice. Two-third of all respondents (67%) stated they are interested in sales automation software solutions for the first time. Those sales leaders with a deployment preference trying to find a new solution these days were prefer a cloud-based solution (96%). Just 4% were evaluating on-premises solutions.

Interesting to see that still one out of four managers (25%) still use spreadsheets or email clients (21%) to handle their sales activities (tracking leads and managing contacts). Furthermore, a big portion do not have a real system in place (22%); these guys still use pen and paper. Those buyers who have got a system in place use commercial customer relationship management (CRM) software (17%), work with industry-specific solutions (8%), or developed their software in-house (3%).

Software Advice 2014 SFA Status Quo

Almost two out of three prospective buyers (62%) argued their top reasons to buy sales force automation (SFA) with improving organizational output and increasing efficiency. Many managers in enterprises (33%) and also in small companies (22%) are dissatisfied with their current sales management solution.

Software Advice 2014 SFA Evaluating Reasons

The top requested features that managers are looking for are contact management features in their new sales software (93%). Almost two from three respondents (65%) claimed they need a note-taking feature, so they can keep track of interactions between clients and their sales force. More than every second manager (54%) wants lead management features to be included at every stage of the sales process. Only every forth manager asked for sales reporting and forecasting as an expected feature. Larger companies are a bit ahead in that development as 56% of those expect that functionality for their business, says the report.

Software Advice 2014 SFA Requested Features

B2B Study: Buyers behavior insights on conversion and engagement

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Are you planning your lead generation programs at the moment? Well, you better be quick then. Why? The conversion rates for B2B online lead campaigns generate the best results when the year starts – so now! The reasons are quite obvious: Budget are fresh or renewed. Funds are starting. Conversion falls below average in the Christmas month, probably as of intense planning activity and budget cuts. Not surprisingly, the summer months show a significant decrease in conversion activity.

The findings are coming from some recent analysis by Software Advice, based on data generated from over six million visitors to the Software Advice website in the last 5 years. Although this might be some very detailed experience for the B2B software industry, it is still valid and applicable for the whole b2b industry if they do lead generation programs.

Study Software Advice Conversion By Month

The report shows that B2B buyers were most active on the Software Advice website Tuesday through Thursday, with Tuesday being the most active day and Wednesday driving the highest conversion rates.

Study Software Advice Conversion By Day

Interestingly enough, traffic peaks in the first half of the day, and especially around lunch time. 53% more unique visitors showed up during work hours when compared with Software Advice’s unique visitor traffic.

Study Software Advice Conversion By Hour

Spot On!
Comparing this with other engagement studies from the social media world (here and here), we see that the time around midday seems to be best to get people engaged in content marketing, social media and lead generation. Speaking from our own experience with silicon.de over ten years, I can say that the morning hours when people get their first coffee were also successful in lead and demand generation.

Come on, it’s a game! Get some entrepreneurship badges. (Infographic)

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When Foursquare started their business some four years ago, no-one has had any idea of what „gamification“ and „Badge hunting“ could be like in 2013. Today, marketers have adapted the new trend in their marketing-mix and started awarding people for coming in their hotels, having more coffee in a shop, or even use it to illustrate how the LEGO product might look like when it is build. Some people might think, they don’t have time for wasting minutes checkin-in at some restaurants or bars. But what if you are an entrepreneur and get awarded for your achievements in setting up a company, or if you don’t work on a major holiday.

Check out the badges you can earn, or better… will earn.

Entrepreneurship-The-Game

7 Tips: How to generate more sales leads via your website

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There are some secrets in online marketing, and there are those that have become common knowledge which people might spread in infographics. However, it is still a challenge for most marketers to detect those inbound marketing insights that simply come from the structure and content of a website. If you as a marketer are looking to increase the data you generate through your landing pages, this infographic might offer some more food for thought.

Whether you know what it means to create a user-friendly website structure, a clever banner campaign to get more potential customer data, or not. Reach Local states in their advice that almost half of the users come to research your service or products via the mobile website. So, did you ever invest in a mobile-friendly website? Or have you ever thought about a video and the time people invest to watch it? Often you loose a sales pitch in 10 seconds but according to the infographic your clients might spend 60 seconds at least to watch a video about your product or service.

Check out which of the seven hints might help you drive more leads through to your sales team.

And, whether you believe it or not, there are three more hints in this text that might foster lead generation for The Strategy Web. If you have found them, share them with a comment below. If not, get in touch and we will help you.

Reach-Local-Seven-Website-Essentials-land-For-More-Sales

B2B: What data lead generation should deliver to marketers

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In an era where Big Data rules in many companies‘ marketing departments, it is interesting to see where pay-per-lead marketers see the best value in. A recent survey by Business.com conducted in May 2013 of 500 active pay-per-lead advertisers (with SMB market focus) states that most B2B marketers value a buyer’s purchasing time horizon as the most important data point they want (51%). The problem is: They often cannot get that data set.

The second most important data point for leads is the employee size figure of the buyer’s company (31%) which these marketers say would be extremely valuable to get. In the third place comes the industry sector (29%) and then the job title of the business decision maker (20%).

Business.com 2013 Content Marketing Leads
As shown here and here in different other studies, the survey concludes that content marketing becomes more and more valueable for lead generation.

More than half of the people responding (51%) the study said that leads generated via whitepapers are valuable or extremely valuable. Webinars are also on the rise with 34% responding that leads from hosted webinars that feature their company or products are valuable or extremely valuable. Leads generated via sponsored email still find their interest among B2B marketers. Still, 38% stated these are valuable or extremely valuable, followed by case studies (38%) and video (35%).

Business.com 2013 Webinar Leads

Spot On!
If we think of the „old BANT process“, the study lacks some answers and findings in terms of making us understand the importance of budget in these days. Not surprisingly though, the study still mentions that 42% expressed strong interest in „hot transfer“ leads (connecting companies immediately with leads as they come in) which probably are most promising in terms of fast lead conversion. When 60% see lead scoring as essential for the lead generation process, individual leads still is assigned a score reflecting the likelihood of a response. Maybe this should serve an answer on the BANT budget topic. For me that was not quite clear though.

SO, what would be your answer: IS the BANT process still valid? And what data set would be important to your sales process?

Study: Digital advertising found „annoying and invasive“

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Sometimes studies bring some flashback to your mind. This time it was some study results that reminded me of two of my four moderations of the dmexco Night Talks.

In a recent country comparison study by Adobe half of the respondents made clear that digital advertising is distracting, invasive and annoying – in the UK less than in Germany and France though. The study which asked 1,750 marketers and 8,750 consumers across the UK, France and Germany, shows that two out of three users find TV campaigns still more important than online ads (US 66%, UK 70% and Germany 67%). Consumers even responded online ads were „annoying“ (US 68%, UK and Germany 62%), „invasive“ (US 38%, UK 45% and Germany 17%) and „distracting“ (US 51%, UK 44% and Germany 31%).

Mark PhibbsThere is still some negative perception of digital advertising that the repondents described in their feedback. However, web ads came in the top three preferred advertising tactics in the UK. In France print magazines (31%), billboards (24%) and TV ads (23%) were the leading three categories. For Germany, print magazines were also the leader with (28%), billboards (23%) and window displays (21%) came in second and third. In the UK 39% favoured print magazines, 23% TV ads, and 12% websites.

Some weeks ago, I have been interviewing Mark Phibbs, VP Marketing EMEA at Adobe on the dmexco hot chair in Cologne. Nice seeing some statements on the study from him:

„Some digital advertising is failing to hit the mark. While digital provides great promise, often it is not being delivered in an emotionally compelling or targeted way.“

Adobe Banner Ads not wanted

The storytelling boom was again also highlighted in this study. Even in the ad world content plays an important role. 68% of UK users responded that ads should tell a unique story which mentioned John Lewis and Guiness as good examples. One of the main ingredients should be the humour factor of the story. Funny is the driver for happiness, and outplaces „sexy“ ads (92% thought so).

„We think online advertising can learn from traditional advertising in three ways. Is it beautiful and eye-catching? Is it integrated? Do consumers have control over it? Creative agencies have had decades to get traditional advertising right. It’s not wholly surprising that online and digital isn’t resonating to the same degree – not only is it still relatively in its infancy as an advertising channel, but the digital landscape and the corresponding opportunities for brands are constantly changing,“ said Phibbs.

Spot On!
The study also made clear that targeted banner ads based on programmatic buying in Social Media like i.e. in Facebook could be „creepy“ (76%). Even more, 49% would like a dislike button in Social Media for it. Again this reminded me on my last dmexco Night Talk moderation in Munich when I could ask Scott Woods, Commercial Director Facebook DACH, how it can come that I get banners for social networks 60+ years old people. Facial recognition (do I look so old)? Bad programming? Bad automation or bidding process? Maybe the people behind? The answer was „Well, technology can only do what it is capable of!“ Fair enough… It seems we will have to live with that weakness for some time.

dmexco Night Talk Munich 2013

Google: Demystifying Duplicate Content

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In many meetings, and I had one of those calls today, I understand again and again that managers have limited knowledge of what „Duplicate Content“ means when working with multiple sites and/or using similar content on those. Now, what does Google really say about duplicate content? Can your business place similar text blocks or complete texts on different blogs and websites? And how about same content but in different languages?

In a video clip Greg Grothaus, a Google engineer for search quality, explains what „Duplicate Content“ stands for and what it means to businesses.

General answer: Is there a Duplicate Content Penalty from Google? No, it’s a myth! Google wants diversity in the results that Google displays on search results. That’s the reason why pages might be omitted from Google which makes sense.

Deep answer: There are typical downsides of „Dupicate Content“.
– Dilution of link popularity: Better have 20 links go to one page, then twice 10 to two pages.
– User-unfriendly URLs in search results: Useless URLs effect branding & decrease usability – so better leave it.
– Inefficient crawling: The less Google has to crawl, the better for the new content to be seen.

Best answer: Google does not like Spam. Spam will find penalty, if it is done with a systematic approach, or when there is the absolute same content on different pages with no changes at all.

Our Advice: Create fresh content! Or do you want to buy the same stuff or gadgets you already have received as a present for Christmas? See…?

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