At Lake One, giving back is important to us. Like it says in our mission, we believe business can both pursue profit and be a force for change, leaving the world a little better than before. That’s why we’re proud to announce our Seeds of Service campaign for 2020. We created this campaign to give back to the communities who have supported us and live out our mission.
This quarter, Lake One is partnering with Second Stork, a Minnesota based non-profit helping new parents in need.
Welcoming a newborn into the world should be one of the happiest times in a person’s life. Those early days are meant for soaking up newborn smells, sites, and snuggles. The last thing parents should be worried about is how they are going to clothe and feed their little one. The reality is that many new parents are financially stretched, anxious and unprepared to bring their baby home from the hospital. Often, they don’t have the basic supplies to keep the baby safe and healthy during those first few weeks of life. It’s because of this reality that Second Stork was born.
Second Stork, founded in 2009, provides essential infant-care items to families in need. Completely free of charge. Items like newborn clothing, a safe place to sleep, an adequate supply of diapers and wipes, receiving blankets and other necessary items. Second Stork operates entirely on volunteers, such as school groups, corporate teams, families and charitable groups.
The Lake One team will be volunteering at the Second Stork warehouse to help pack diaper bags full of essentials! If you’d like to get involved, check out the Amazon Registry to purchase items for families in need or donate directly to Second Stork here.
Second Stork and Lake One are grateful for your donations that keep the “stork flying.”
Subscribe to the Lake One blog to see all of our Seeds of Service adventures this year.
They say that hindsight is “20/20”, which seems quite fitting as we look back at 2019 and prepare for the new year of 2020 ahead. What a year it’s been for Lake One! We welcomed new partners, new team members, and new strategies. We hope your year has been filled with just as much newness and excitement.
We’re so grateful for all that 2019 has brought. To commemorate such a wonderful year, we’ve put together a highlight of the most read, linked and shared content for you to enjoy:
Our readers just couldn’t get enough of these blog posts this year:
When we create a digital marketing strategy for our clients, what we adoringly refer to as a FieldGuide, we pour hours into research and strategy. We heavily consider every piece we present in order to create a cohesive, targeted plan.
So what’s in a Lake One FieldGuide? We clearly lay out the action steps needed to elevate your marketing to target the modern buyer and hone in on your lead gen potential. Here are the elements your Lake One FieldGuide will include.
Step 1. Competitive Analysis
Competitive analysis can be viewed from two angles: qualitative & quantitative. One without the other, like most things in marketing, would paint an incomplete picture. Your Lake One FieldGuide will include analysis on both ends of the spectrum for up to three of your top competitors.
Qualitative Competitive Analysis:
What are your top three competitors up to? How well designed are their websites and are their sites created to move the user into conversions at every stage in the funnel? Additionally, what do their websites convey at first sight? We call this the Blink Test. Do you know what they do and what their differentiator is immediately or do you need to read heavy content and scrounge around the site to find out?
Quantitative Competitive Analysis:
What do the numbers say? Here we look at things like the competition’s traffic + sources, domain ratings, and backlinks. Without spending an inordinate amount of time, these numbers give insight into their marketing activity and authority. It’s also a good way to see, in a numerical fashion, how you stack up.
Before we get to the guts of your campaign, we need to understand who we will be targeting: your buyer persona. A persona is “a profile that represents your ideal customer.” We conduct research- online and offline- to understand who you’re talking to. We zero in on what their challenges are, what makes them change their purchasing behavior, and what barriers they experience. The point of this is to be able to develop a marketing strategy that addresses these elements.
We’ll create two or three personas to being. Later on, we’ll decide where to narrow the focus further once we’ve jointly considered ease of implementation, ability to get quick wins, and budget.
3. Keyword Research
Now that we know who your personas are, we want to know what they’re searching for and what the search volume landscape looks like for your product/service. We’ll use a few different tools to find niche keyword clusters that we’ll target via content. Our goal in this research is to find keywords and phrases with high search volume and low competition. IE- while it’d be fantastic to rank your retail shoe store for “women’s shoes”, you won’t have much luck beating Amazon and Zappos.
A Lake One FieldGuide includes keyword clusters that we can realistically target to get you ranking on relevant SERPs (search engine results pages).
4. Persona-centric Content Calendar
When we created your personas, we thought of their challenges, barriers, and drivers to change. Now, it’s time to pair those elements and questions with a content strategy.
Blog Campaign Topics
Personally, brainstorming blog topics is my favorite part of campaign planning. The number of blog ideas we generate will depend on the scale of your campaign and frequency of posting- whether we’ll be posting on your behalf twice a month or a few times a week.
Additionally, the number of personas will impact how many blogs topics we need. Each persona will have their own content strategy. The topics we select as part of your campaign will seek to answer the questions, pain points, and interests you unearthed in your persona research. In some cases, we’ll actually take their concerns and turn them directly into topics. Here’s an example. If your persona poses the question, “How do I lower healthcare costs for my company?” a great blog topic might be “5 Examples How to Lower your Company Healthcare Costs.” Additionally, blogs will be matched to your persona’s needs at every stage of the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration, and decision.
The other things we consider when generating your blog campaign are the keywords and topic clusters we uncovered earlier in our keyword research. We’ll pair your persona’s needs with search data to create a 1-2-punch of stellar topics.
Next up is pairing those blog topics with conversion opportunities in the form of content offers. We’ll propose 1-2 offers at each stage of the buyer’s journey. These offers are intended to boost your lead gen and provide value to your users. We might propose an offer in the format of a…
Guide or eBook
White paper, brochure, or sell sheet
Content “Packet” that includes a mixture of the above in one offer
5. Persona Centered Lead Nurturing Sequences
Your FieldGuide at this point includes persona insights, keywords, and a killer content strategy. We’ll now present a plan to put all of that to work in nurturing sequences. What are those? You might know them as drip campaigns, workflows, or just as email marketing. When a user downloads one of your offers, we ideally want to enroll them into an email campaign that nurtures them along the funnel. A user who starts out by downloading an awareness offer would get a sequence of emails that nudge them into the consideration offer… and then into a decision offer… and then *fingers crossed* into being a customer.
So, included with your FieldGuide are examples of the type of sequencing we’d like to do for your key offers.
6. Persona Watering Holes and Digital PR Hitlist
The last part of your campaign will be some research on where your personas hang out- their watering holes if you will. What websites do they like to engage with and who might be their influencers. These insights will lead to the creation of our digital PR hitlist. For example, if your personas spend time on authoritative HR sites, we’ll add a few to our hitlist. When it’s time to execute the FieldGuide, we’ll reach out to these companies to do things like guest blogs in order to get in front of you personas where they already are. Furthermore, this strategy generates backlinks and bolsters SEO.
I set out to build Lake One to be, in a lot of ways, the anti-agency. I thought about all the bad experiences I had as an in-house marketer working with consultants, freelancers, and agency partners and wanted to make sure to instill in the values of our team – the opposite of those bad feelings. A lot of the reasons people choose to work with us, are because of that choice. But one I get asked about is the flexibility of our team. Our team is virtual. Not in the sense of AI & robots (although we use a lot of cool tools that are built with that power enabled), but virtual in the sense that our team works from all over the place. Sometimes, we lose business because of this and that’s okay. But I think the benefits of working with a virtual marketing department outweigh any of the perceived concerns. Here are a few benefits to consider when working with a virtual marketing agency.
Let’s face it. The office environment is distracting. Random meetings coming up for absolutely no reason, that person who loves to stop by and talk your ear off. Sometimes it’s hard to get work done at work. Remote work arrangements increase productivity by removing distractions. Of course, at home, a coffee shop or coworking spaces can provide their own kind of distractions, but being in control of the space our team works in lets us be flexible to adapt to the tasks we need to accomplish.
Better Team Morale & Health
Because our team works remote and has more control over their days, we can fit things in that help reduce stress. Research has shown remote teams have a 44% higher positive attitude and 53% lower stress level. All of this leads to a happier, healthier life which bleeds into the work we do.
Because our infrastructure costs are lower, overhead is low. It’s amazing how much companies spend on overhead and those costs get passed through, especially in the services business. Because our costs don’t include fancy offices, we’re able to provide services at a more approachable price.
Okay, I get the benefits – but how do y’all dig in?
So maybe I have you sold on the benefits. But you’re wondering about our ability to strategize. After all, the work we do is highly important to your business. Do we even talk to each other about the accounts we’re working on? Let’s address some of the ways our team works together.
First and foremost, program management is the hub by which internally we see where all projects are. Externally, clients can see how things are progressing. We’re constantly fine-tuning our processes around program management to be as transparent about what’s getting done, what’s getting stuck, and what’s coming up.
We adopt an agile marketing approach and run daily standups with our team so we all know what we’ve worked on, what we’re our priorities are for the day, and what we need from others on the team. That’s a starting point. We also have daily sidebar conversation virtually and a series of carefully planned meetings internally to tackle things like business operations, ongoing innovation, and ad hoc client troubleshooting.
Aside from transparent communication via our program management, we regularly communicate with clients. Often daily. We have a structured meeting cadence and frequently meet face to face to tackle the big hairy strategic discussion.
Internally, we have dashboards monitoring all accounts and reporting on progress on goals. At a glance, we know daily how our clients are progressing which allows us the insight to isolate problems or opportunities.
Put a Virtual Marketing Department to Work for You
At the end of the day, we’re not that much different than an agency with an office. We have some flexibility that gets our creative juices flowing – but we’re always driven by one thing. Success for our clients.
We were fortunate enough to be able to attend and sponsor the first ever Action19 event hosted by our partner Authentic Brand.
The theme of the event was Resiliency. While the speakers aligned their messages to the overall theme, each focused their address on a specific form of resiliency: personal, business/sales, and financial.
Personal Resiliency: Cory Hepola
Cory Hepola is currently a radio host for WCCO. Having switched his career from news anchor to radio host recently, Cory focused his keynote address on the perseverance it took to attain his success. Cory broached the subject of failure by discussing his hundreds- maybe even thousands?- of job rejections. He reminded us that we all go through struggles. So why then do we put up walls? Why do we avoid transparency, never talk about getting fired or rejected or criticized, and why is it that we only put the best versions of ourselves out there? We all do it. The point of Cory’s keynote wasn’t an appeal for us to all openly air our dirty laundry, but more so to call to attention that everybody has dirty laundry. Resiliency is found in not letting the struggle stop you from chasing your dreams.
One of my favorite parts from Cory’s keynote was his insight into dreams only coming true when you’re ready for them. It’s easy to get frustrated and give up when things aren’t going your way or happening fast enough, but more often than not, things won’t happen until you’re actually ready. The beauty of resiliency is that the more you persevere, the more prepared you’ll be when the universe is ready for you. Know your strengths, weaknesses, values, and purpose, and work toward goals that help facilitate your true character. True character is, after all, what shows itself when times are tough.
Cory was also keen to point out that whatever we do, it’s important to surround ourselves with good people. Allow those people to push you and support you.
Key Resiliency Takeaway:
The message of resiliency we all walked away with from Cory was that Everybody (capital E) fails. When you’re ready for it- actually ready, not just impatient- it will come to you if you’ve persevered through the struggle.
Hiring Resiliency: Mike Frommelt and Mary Nutting
In a dialogue between Mike Frommelt, Visionary & Co-Founder, KeyStone Executive Search and Mary Nutting, Owner, CorTalent & President, NAWBO, we learn about resiliency in recruiting and retaining employees. Mike built on to the adage, “right people, right seats,” by appending “right time.” He implored us to find employees as eager and passionate about your company as you are; the people truly invested in their careers. He continued to say that those people who really understand are the ones who will be all in.
Mary built on that idea. She pointed out the importance of hiring people based on the person and their values- people with “stretch skills” (potential). Find out and understand how a candidate’s personal values fit into company values before hiring. This will help ensure a quality fit, somebody more likely to succeed and grow within your company.
Mary also addressed the importance of knowing your business’s needs today. She discussed how occasionally businesses got lost in the goals and forecasts that predict future need. Rather than hiring for that, hire for what you need today. Don’t let your business get ahead of the talent- make sure you have talent for right now.
And then there’s that little matter of compensation. How do you deal with that? Let the market set it. Simple.
Key Resiliency Takeaway:
Resiliency is found through your people. As leaders, it’s critical to empower, inspire, and spend time with them everyday. And as Mike said, you want people’s hands and their hearts to bring your company to the next level. Invest in your people and your reward will be employees who work for you because they want to, not just for the paycheck.
Sales Resiliency: Josh Fedie
Josh Fedie, founder of SalesReach, lit the room with humor as he told us about resiliency in sales. First, smarketing (holla!). Align your sales and marketing teams. Make sure they are working toward the same goals and that you practice sales enablement, and are ensuring your sales team has all of the marketing material they need. Then, make sure you have the right tools – sales acceleration- to speed up your deals.
The modern buyer will be searching for you. It’s important to know, as Josh taught us, that every touchpoint in the sales process matters. Therefore, ABB + ABS. Always Be Branded & Always Be Selling! Always make sure you align your actions with your mission and vision. When your brand shines through, people will always work with people they like. Forever and ever.
Another knowledge bomb Josh dropped was to do video. Now. Like, right now. 90% of consumers said video helped them make a purchasing decision. Use video in your marketing and in your sales process as video enables your salespeople to be very personal. At every turn, you should be enabling your people.
Empower your employees. Let them know they bring value to the organization. Those employee brand ambassadors will create custom brand ambassadors, and that’s where revenue resilience truly lies.
Key Resiliency Takeaway:
Resilient sales teams are the product of resilient smarketing teams. An aligned smarketing team can help you empower every person in the company. Always be branded, and always be selling.
Financial Resiliency: Panel
The last session of the Action19 mini-conference was an expert panel discussing the topic of financial resiliency. Andy Schornack, President & CEO of Flagship Bank Minnesota, Heide Olson CEO of All In One Accounting, Inc, Amy Langer Co-Founder of Salo LLC, and Aric Bandy President of Agosto.
The question ‘what should you do to prepare for a recession?’ was the first to be posed to the panel. Make sure your balance sheet is structured properly and that you have liquidity in assets. Develop good cash management in good times. And protect your people. While this wasn’t a continuation of the retention discussion from earlier in the day, treating your people as your greatest asset was a constant theme through the financial resiliency advice.
Additionally, we heard from Heide not to let your guard down when things are good. Always know where you are financially and don’t just have a plan B. Also know what triggers to be aware of that might indicate the need to switch to B. Furthermore, focus on process, people, and diversifying appropriately to make it through the next downturn. Invest in technology while you can, too.
Another question the group tackled was “As you head into a downturn, what happens when you ratchet back sales & marketing?” We’re going to take just *a little* liberty and say that the resounding answer was “bad things.” But really, panel members told about how when they cut back on marketing was when competitors were able to come out ahead. Additionally, they mentioned that it took a long time to catch back up to where they had been. Even in downturns, there is opportunity if you have the right team and are well positioned to take advantage. Find out why your employees and clients are working with you and do more of that.
Key Resiliency Takeaway:
As mentioned, supporting people was a large part of this financial discussion. Be resilient by creating an empowering environment where employees know they are valued.
Thinking about working with a partner on your digital marketing and sales program? Cool. Thinking about Lake One? Aw shucks. You might have some questions. Here are a few of the commonly asked questions we get from prospects and clients about what it’s like working with Lake One and what to expect from a digital marketing sales program.
Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime
Ingrained in our culture here at Lake One is coaching and teaching as we engage with our client partners. Yes, they’re asking us to do marketing activity on their behalf but we do so in a fashion that teaches and trains as we go. It’s collaborative and meant to make us all stronger because life long learner is the spice of life – I think that’s the quote, if it isn’t it should be.
Today, we’re thrilled to announce that our founder and CEO, Ryan Ruud, has been accepted into an elite group of Hubspot partners to obtain Hubspot Trainer certification.
In the coming months we’ll be developing curriculum around inbound marketing, modern and measurable marketing programs, sales and marketing alignment and more and making these courses available for private onsite instruction as well as looking to establish recurring courses around our region.
Get notified of Hubspot training updates
If you’d like to be notified when training becomes available, sign up
Have you ever noticed that despite being separate departments, sales and marketing is called, sales AND marketing? (not Sales OR Marketing). The two go hand in hand, or at least they should. But that’s not always the case however, alignment can only be achieved through detailed continuation and effort to ensure everyone is on the same page.
In order to help achieve harmony among client-facing teams, Lake One implements a Service Level Agreement (SLA). By Definition, the SLA is an agreement between our client’s sales team and Lake One marketing on the lead management and lead qualification process. It helps drive sales and marketing alignment. Read on to learn about the 7 key components of our sales and marketing SLA.
We are a big fan of goals (and you should be too), so it’s no surprise that our SLA kicks off by stating the goals and objectives of the SLA.
The purpose of our SLA is to ensure that the proper elements and commitments are in place to facilitate a flow and acceptance of marketing qualified leads to sales.
The goal of our Agreement is to obtain mutual agreement for the lead qualification criteria and lead handling between the Marketing department and the Sales department.
The objectives of this Agreement are to:
Provide clear reference to lead ownership, accountability, roles, and/or responsibilities.
Present a clear, concise, and measurable description of lead qualification, acceptance, disqualification, and nurture.
Match perceptions of expected lead quality with actual lead quality and delivery.
Clearly Defined Roles
A plan and an agreement are a great place to start, but if you don’t know who’s on first, it can leave you scrambling when it comes time to actually execute. Roles and responsibilities are broken down into two groups:
Score & qualify leads
Nurture leads & contacts
Handoff qualified leads to sales
Actively manages lifecycle stages/opportunities and lead statuses
The final component is assigning key stakeholders to oversee the process and teams: one person from sales, one person from marketing. The above is a complete and total team effort, but listing out key stakeholders gives the team a point of contact and holds parties accountable.
If the leads marketing is generating don’t match the expectations of the sales team, it won’t benefit anyone. In fact, this is how inbound strategies fail. In order for marketing to be generating leads that the sales team will get excited about, everyone needs to be on the same page of what a qualified lead actually is.
So in order to start nailing down lead qualification, we ask questions such as:
What engagements signal leads are ready to talk to sales? (think completed forms, user actions, etc.)
What requirements do all leads need to meet based on your ideal buyer profile? (industry, organization size, role/title, etc…)
From there, we actually build what we call a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) List. The list serves a dual purpose and plays a major part in the process in finalizing what will constitute a lead as well as how you’ll track them going forward. Once the list is created, we can also take a look at historical data – like how many MQLs are there to date – and set benchmarks off of the new definition for goal setting.
What will the SLA accomplish? This is best stated in SMART goal format. In case you need a little refresher, see below.
Specific: For the SLA, goals will likely fall into three buckets – marketing lead volume, lead flow, and a lead management/sales process goal. We always recommend hitting all three as they cover the major components of the Agreement.
Measurable: Here’s an area where the MQL List becomes very important. It’s a clear way to track how many MQLs marketing is able to deliver and when.
Attainable: Be realistic with expectations, but don’t sell yourself short either. The beauty of the SLA is that both Sales and Marketing will be on the same page on what is achievable.
Relevant: Relevance is a great gut check in making sure your SLA goals align with the client’s company goals.
We use industry jargon and marketing terminology so often that it is important to define key terms so everyone is using them the same way. We focus our definitions on two main categories: lead status and lifecycle stages.
According to HubSpot, lifecycle stage indicates where a contact or company is in your marketing/sales funnel (subscriber, lead, MQL, etc…). Lead status indicates where a contact or company is within a buying cycle as a lead (New, Unqualified, Open Deal, etc…).
Just because a lead checks off the boxes and becomes an MQL, doesn’t mean that the lead will convert to a customer. An integral part of the living breathing document that is an SLA, is lead rejection. Just as Marketing sends the MQLs, sales, in turn, communicates back through Lead Status and Lifecylce stage, or for the leads that aren’t so hot, lead rejection.
In our process, lead rejection is defined and agreed upon by both parties and typically results in a form field selection in the CRM.
Sign on the Dotted Line
The final and most critical stage in our process is a signature. It’s not necessarily a signature in the actual sense, but more of what it represents: an agreement of both parties on all of the above! Alignment is impossible without it.
We do have to add that once you have an SLA in place, it should be reviewed, tracked, and measured against, evolving as needed with the growth of the company. And not to mention, the SLA is a component of achieving sales and marketing alignment, but not the only component. Are you ready to discuss how Lake One could help enable your sales teams and help you achieve sales and marketing alignment? Contact us.
Goal setting doesn’t need to be rocket science, but it should happen. Otherwise, we’re just marketing without a correlation to a business objective. Our SMART goal worksheet helps document goals to move towards keeping the business moving forward.
You’ve got plenty of options to choose from when beefing up your marketing capabilities. When you’ve made the decision to get some outside help, it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between all the consultants, agencies, and firms.
When I started Lake One, I thought about my experiences as an in-house marketing and sales leader. I remembered the experiences with partners that stuck and the ones that stuck in my craw.
Between the two, they shaped our values, process, and differentiators as we continue working to be a different kind of marketing partner for growth driven brands that have a diverse mix of experiences and resources in-house.
Our Core Values
Our core values are the foundation behind our modern marketing manifesto. Dripping all over that manifesto that drives our process, is a set of beliefs that extend beyond the work we do, to the culture we live including:
Outcome Driven – We relentless pursue outcomes. We’re not bound by hours or scope, while we understand those things are important to put up directional boundaries for our business relationship together. We value our clients’ business as if it were our own (see why we’re different below). As a result, we’re willing to be flexible and adjust as we need to and as the market, data and program performance guide us.
Embrace Failure – We understand that marketing is a long game. As a result, we embrace the failures because we realize behind all the hockey-stick growth success stories out there are a string of failures and determine marketers and entrepreneurs who kept moving forward adjusting as they went.
No Jerks – in 2004 Stanford professor Robert Sutton wrote a Harvard Business Review article that would become the basis of a bestselling book. The premise of all of the writing is building a civilized workplace and surviving one that isn’t. We spend a lot of time with the relationship we build in business and at work. They should be good ones that build us up and don’t tear us down.
Solve Problems – part and parcel to being driven by outcomes and embracing failure, LakeOners are problem solvers. We seek perpetual learning by not being afraid to say, “ We don’t know the answer to everything, but we can help you find a solution to that problem.” Be wary of people who say they have all the answers. In digital marketing, where the landscape is shifting constantly – it’s impossible to have all the answers.
Everyone has a process. And everyone thinks their process is the bomb dot com. But we’re pretty fond our approach to building a plan of attack, getting your marketing and sales stack up and running and operating marketing programs that are consistent but also flexible to your business needs and insights from data we’re seeing from marketing activity and market feedback. Here’s our process at a high level.
The Digital Marketing Plan – Build your FieldGuide
Leveraging Lake One’s modern, measurable process, we’ll research and document a plan to grow awareness, drive demand and increase prospect contacts for your organization. Putting your organization’s ideal customers at the center of our content, messaging and channel strategy.
The Sales & Marketing Technology – Build your Basecamp
Once we have a plan to attract and convert demand, we’ll work with the rest of your team to identify the best sales and marketing stack to support the handoff of marketing opportunities including documenting a sales & marketing SLA and identify right-sized technology like marketing and email automation and CRM.
Demand & Pipeline Activation – Marketing Sprints
Marketing sprints are the ongoing, 90-day campaigns implemented to attract, convert and nurture prospects all the way through the buyer’s journey. We provide support from program and project management all the way to full campaign execution and implementation depending on your internal resource capacity and needs.
How We’re Different
With values and process in place, at the end of the day, our difference from other agencies and consultants comes down to three uniques.
We believe marketing is a business partner in growth: deep inside us is a belief that marketing is best served when it is viewed as a business partner, not an order taker. Our values and our process are structured to always drive business forward, uncover insights and align to your goals, not chase shiny objects.
We act like owners: don’t take our word for it – see what our clients have to say. We truly value our clients’ businesses as if they were our own. The wins, the losses, we feel them all alongside you.
Capabilities of an agency, flexibilities of a consultant: We’re structured in a modern way, not bound by traditional agency thinking. Every time you call us and email, the clock isn’t ticking. We also are focused on keeping our overhead low while still building a rockstar team of marketers to drive your growth without the bloated rates.
If you like what we’re all about and are interested in learning more, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us today!
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