the inbound-i blog: Inbound Marketing Information, Ideas & Intelligence

Social Media Strategy Requires a Strategist

Posted by Ellie Becker on Mon, Feb 11, 2013 @ 20:02 PM

Social Media Needs Strategy

I recently read highlights of a survey by Ragan Communications and NASDAQ OMX Corporate Solutions assessing how some 2700 organizations – for-profit, non-profit and government – are implementing social media. The study makes clear that, in general, the respondents are taking a tactical approach. There is very little strategy.

This is because it seems that they are not recognizing the value of having a social media specialist – let alone a strategist -- handle this part of today’s marketing mix.

Here are two pieces of data that are particularly interesting to this inbound marketing consultant.

  • Sixty five percent of the surveyed organizations pile social media on top of other responsibilities, while only 27 percent have someone who focuses exclusively on social media.
  • Seventy percent of respondents are either "dissatisfied" or only "somewhat satisfied" with how they measure their social media efforts, compared to a mere 31 percent who are "satisfied" or "very satisfied." Many don’t make the time and resources available to track data and/or admit that they don’t even know what to track.

The scary part of this for marketers and those charged with getting bottom line results is that social media constitutes only a fraction of the marketing mix in our digital age.

According to colleague Paul Roetzer, founder and CEO of PR 2020 and author of The Marketing Agency Blueprint, this is all part of a larger issue – a talent gap that’s impeding successful marketing implementation – for both marketing agencies and their clients.

Today’s marketer needs to be a hybrid beast – a copyrighter, an analytics expert, a Pay Per Click advertising pro, a website designer and user experience consultant and much more. The hybrid marketer doesn’t have to DO everything – that’s impossible.

But they have to understand the big picture and know what to assess, what channels should be considered for a particular campaign or an overall marketing plan. They need to understand how Buyer Personae figure into targeting and messaging and brand positioning.

Paul Roetzer addressed a bunch of his fellow HubSpot partners last week on this talent gap topic and cited an eye-opening statistic: Consumers consult 10.4 information sources before making a purchase as opposed to half that number in 2010.

This means that companies have to get their acts together to intersect with customer journeys – the cross channel, multi device paths that customers control and that lead to their buying decisions.

That’s what Inbound Marketing does. And it takes more than someone in marketing communications being tasked with ‘doing social media’ on top of their other responsibilities.

There are increasingly robust tools available to leverage lean in-house resources. Check out -- an enterprise level tech platform that can continuously profile millions of website visitors and use the information to fuel in-the-moment dialogues that guide the customer journey.

But before you can implement the right tools, you need to understand why you need them in the first place. This requires acknowledging that marketing has changed, and that we need different talent to create and implement winning programs.

Part of it is evolving hiring criteria for in-house and agency resources. Companies also have to create silo-breaking training for marketing personnel that makes seeing the big picture the foundation for success.

While you're here download our Social Media Whitepaper with our compliments.

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The image at the top of this post is from the Flickr Photostream of cambodia4kidsorg under Creative Commons license.

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Ellie Becker, Inbound Marketing Strategy, Social Media Strategy, BlueConic, Paul Roetzer

Inbound Advice: Collaboration Ain’t Always Pretty, But It's Beautiful!

Posted by Ellie Becker on Sun, Jan 20, 2013 @ 19:01 PM

Anyone who’s read my posts over the years knows I’m a huge fan of jazz – and often use it as a metaphor in discussing business and marketing issues. Playing jazz at a high level is all about successful collaboration. A set I heard last night at the well-known club Jazz Standard in Manhattan made me think about the nature of successful marketing collaboration, including a wonderful one I’m currently involved in.

Please invest a few minutes to read about the jazz experience that sets up the marketing story. You’ll pick up some usable ideas for how to collaborate to make your marketing much better – and learn a bit about America’s Music in the 21st century as a bonus.

The set at Jazz Standard was a ‘big band’ gig led by drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts’. He’s a collaborator of Wynton Marsalis, a composer of original music and is married to horn player and arranger Laura Kahle who created the arrangements – or charts, in jazz parlance – for last night’s performance. The set was spectacular to me for two reasons:

  1. It took place in an extremely intimate setting. The tiny stage is right up close and personal to the audience and was packed with about 15 musicians. We had to move our table so that the first row of players could squeeze into position. We literally felt part of the band. This happens rarely.
  2. Every player was a leader and star in his or her own right and it was the first time they’d all played together. If you’re not familiar with jazz and its top artists, just Google these names from the lineup and you’ll have a clue about the magnitude of that performance:

Jeff “Tain” Watts, drums; Lew Soloff, trumpet; Frank Lacy and Conrad Herwig, trombones; Marcus Strickland, Yosvany Terry, Jacam Manricks, Claire Daly, saxophones; Don Byron, clarinets; Paul Bollenbeck, guitar; Chris Smith, stand up bass; and our good friend David Budway, piano.

There was well-earned ego in evidence to be sure. For example, Frank Lacy’s trombone slide almost clocked Don Byron sitting in front of him. Byron shot a dark look and made an exaggerated effort to get out of Lacy’s way. But ego was put aside in favor of their incredible professional chops and their overarching dedication to creativity and delivering to the audience a performance worthy of the collaborative tradition of their art form. Plus they know and like each other and so there was delightful camaraderie, too.

The delivery was messy and delicious like the Chipotle chicken wings and collared greens I feasted on prior to the show. No pristine bandstand with logo-laden music stands and matching band jackets. Each musician brought individual style, talent and experience to the stage and gave us an unforgettable hour of incredible music, fun, humor and the sense that we were part of something unique in that moment.

Now, as an example of how collaboration is critical to successful marketing today, let me tell you about the greatly rewarding collaboration I’m involved in with Rhonda Hurwitz of HMR Marketing Solutions.Ellie and Rhonda collaborators

She and I have known each other for several years and transitioned in tandem from traditional marketing and PR to inbound marketing.

We both have family background in marketing. We come from different experience. I have been on the agency/consultant side. Rhonda comes from the corporate side and is now a consultant. She hired vendors like me. I sold to and served clients like her. Our combined experience is pretty powerful in putting together strategic plans and implementing them for clients.

We really respect each other. I think she’s incredibly smart and an exceptionally good writer. (“Takes one to know one,” I say with zero humility.) We also trust each other. We see each other as equals and, in certain respects, we see each other as more than equal.

That said, we are messy like that band last night. As we engage in the work of helping our shared clients succeed, it’s not always pretty. We butt heads over ideas. But neither of us is bull-headed. We try to confine our brainstorm interactions to our private conversations, but sometimes they spill over into discussion with other collaborators and even the clients.

We can’t help it. We’re both passionate about reaching our clients’ goals within the realities of running our businesses. So if you’re a client and at some point it seems that we’re not on the same page, take heart. We are. We’re on your page and will risk shaking things up with each other to help you succeed.

Like the jazz guys last night, this takes a certain courage. It’s uncomfortable in the contentious moments, my friends. But because we trust and respect, we synthesize and process. I give ground, Rhonda gives ground. Or when neither of us can give ground, we keep generating more ideas and find something that we both like better than our initial concepts. It’s rewarding to us and it’s really important to the results we get for our clients.

We also plan for continuous improvement like the band did last night. At the end of the last number of their set, someone said – a la Count Basie – “One more time!” And then they did another take on the ending of the tune. After that, they did it one more time again.

When we asked one of the musicians about it later, he said, “We haven’t played together before. And since you guys were having such a good time, we figured you wouldn't mind if we tried to make it better for the next set!

The video at the top of the post is Jeff “Tain” Watts with the Danish Radio Big Band, with which he collaborates. You’ll get a flavor of last night’s music.

The image of the two little superheroes is Rhonda’s collaborative contribution to this post. She received it in an email from and thinks it’s hysterical! I agree. Especially since she made it funnier by tagging it!! Not sure who to credit for the image. If it’s yours please give me the appropriate attribution or let me know the cost of licensing it for this post.

Would you share your collaboration success stories in the comments? Thanks!

If your appetite is whetted for more inbound marketing info take advantage of this complimentary content download and subscribe to the blog for automatic delivery of future inbound-i posts to your inbox.

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Topics: Inbound Advice, Collaboration, Jeff Tain Watts, Inbound Marketing, Ellie Becker, E.R. Becker Company, Jazz

Online Marketing Strategy: “Why To” vs “How To”

Posted by Ellie Becker on Mon, Feb 06, 2012 @ 21:02 PM

Each day I read through a couple of dozen blogs and marketing newsletters to keep up on what’s happening in online/inbound marketing. Most of those articles are ‘How To’s’ about any number of digital tools and techniques. They’re important because when we decide to use a tool for solving a problem it’s good to know what to do.Strategy (Why To) vs Tactics (How To)

Where my eyes, ears and brain cells perk up more, though, is when I read something that explains ‘Why’ I or my clients should consider doing something in Inbound marketing.

The roadblocks that emerge when I speak to clients and potential clients about Inbound Marketing is that they get stuck on the ‘How To’. I will venture to speculate that the preoccupation with ‘How To’ is a way to avoid focusing on ‘Why’ doing it is or is not a good idea.

It’s the battle between Tactics (How To) and Strategy (Why To).

If there’s a great reason, ‘Why’, we can figure out, ‘How’.

It doesn’t work so well the other way around. You can eat, sleep and breathe the ‘How To’. But if there’s no reason ‘Why To’, the efforts are a complete waste of time and dollars.

Hire a strategist first. They’re a lot harder to find. Once you know what you want to do and ‘Why’ you should do it, there’s no end of tacticians who can show you ‘How To.’

 Learn much more about Inbound Marketing Strategy and Tactics. Download your Free eBook.

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Graphic is from the Flickr photostream of docbaty under Creative Commons license.

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Online Marketing, Ellie Becker, Inbound Marketing Strategy, E.R. Becker Company, Online Marketing Strategy, the inbound-i blog

Martin Luther King on Communication

Posted by Ellie Becker on Mon, Jan 16, 2012 @ 16:01 PM

Today, I’d like to share several favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes on the subject of communication.Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial at Night

As it relates to hate:

“Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.”

As it relates to love:

"Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart."

As it relates to character:

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

As an inbound marketing consultant, I wonder, were he still with us now, how Dr. King would use the Internet in his efforts to bring men together in peace.




The beautiful nighttime image of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC is from ChellieL’s Flickr photostream under Creative Commons license.

Topics: Communication, Martin Luther King Jr, Inbound Marketing, Ellie Becker, E.R. Becker Company

Fall in Love with Online Marketing. It’ll Love You Back.

Posted by Ellie Becker on Tue, Jan 10, 2012 @ 21:01 PM

I Love the WebOnline marketing takes a lot of time. It takes commitment and consistency. You can use tools to make it more efficient – for example, HootSuite to plan and schedule your Tweets and Facebook posts for the week.

But if you want to assure that you stay the course, here’s my advice: Fall in love.

To me, this means falling in love with the possibilities that the web represents -- six degrees of separation on steroids. Imagine what this can mean for your business or your personal delight.

It’s the excitement of attracting a million dollar deal. It’s the moment you log on to Twitter and see a tweet from a friend with a link to his jazz gig at 10 p.m. in NY City that will stream online and that you can now catch from suburban Connecticut.

I’m constantly aware that my Twitter stream, my LinkedIn Groups, my Google+ Circles have real people in them, doing real things, having real needs, posting useful information and timely opportunities.

I just love that. And it is a timeline. Facebook just confirmed that with its new Timeline format. You can pop into the timeline whenever you want to and see what opportunities are in front of you in the moment.

It’s really thrilling. And it’s how to motivate ourselves to hang in there – to keep creating and sharing content, to keep connecting.

It’s like searching for treasure. Dig around in any social media stream for even a little while and you are guaranteed to come up with something valuable – a connection to a long lost colleague, something that will make you laugh uproariously, a lesson that will help you deal with your life, an idea for a blog post, possibilities you haven’t yet imagined.

If you fall in love with the sheer possibility of online marketing, you’ll stop thinking of it as a burden and embrace it as a source of opportunity that loves you back.

Get some Inbound Marketing love here:

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Image is from the Flickr photostream of Mark Surman under Creative Commons License.

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Online Marketing, Sales Conversion, Social Media, Ellie Becker, E.R. Becker Company

Now: Free Online Marketing Check-up for Healthy 2012 Business Results

Posted by Ellie Becker on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 @ 19:12 PM

Green Check Mark   Have you spent the past year feverishly tweeting, posting on Facebook, and Linking In -- but not really knowing what it’s all getting you? Do you wonder what else you could or should be doing on the Internet to grow your business? Are you still not sure what this Inbound Marketing stuff is all about?

If you want to start the New Year with a better idea of how well you’re doing online and how to do better, try Marketing Grader. This new, free tool is from HubSpot, the company that – literally – wrote the book on Inbound Marketing.

Marketing Grader replaces Website Grader, which has measured the effectiveness and improvement of millions of sites since 2006. But online marketing is about much more than your website, today, so HubSpot has greatly expanded the tool.

Type your company’s url into Marketing Grader, enter your email address and in a few minutes you’ll see how your overall online marketing scores on a 100-point scale. (Higher is better.) It also provides separate scores for each of the three distinct activity areas of Inbound Marketing -- Top of the Funnel, Middle of the Funnel and Analytics. These correlate to lead generation, lead nurturing/sales conversion and marketing improvement/ROI proofs. For an even bigger picture, you can compare your marketing with a few competitors’.

More than that, you’ll have an educational report of about 11 pages that steps you through the Inbound Marketing process and explains best practices to shoot for. If you haven’t yet taken the leap into social media, blogging or content marketing – not really understanding how it’ll help you – this may well give you the needed push!

The report shows you how you’re doing driving traffic to the top of the sales funnel, then converting traffic to leads and nurturing them through the middle of the funnel to closed sales. And you'll learn how well you’re analyzing your activities to help you improve your marketing and, ultimately, your business results.

At last you’ll see how everything fits together - social media, SEO, blogging, mobile, landing pages, calls-to-action, conversion forms, and analytics. Of great value are the statistics, best practices and tips that accompany each item in the report -- along with links to specific information to help you improve your scores.

As Inbound Marketers, we at E.R. Becker Company are thrilled about Marketing Grader. We’re already using it ourselves to analyze our overall marketing and to plan our 2012 growth strategy. We’ll be focusing on Middle of the Funnel activities to convert more of the substantial traffic we built in 2011 to leads and sales.

We’re sure that Marketing Grader can help you, too! Give it a try! Then come back and tell us what you think in the comments!


By the way...To help you get the most from Marketing Grader, access a Free Fact Sheet to learn how Inbound Marketing can help your business take off!

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Green check mark image is from PNASH's Flickr photostream.

Topics: Marketing Grader, Inbound Marketing, Online Marketing, Lead Generation, Ellie Becker, E.R. Becker Company

Marketing Strategy: Synthesize to Make What’s Timely Timeless

Posted by Ellie Becker on Mon, Dec 26, 2011 @ 18:12 PM

New Year’s is the point in the year where we become hyper-focused on time. We take looks back and we try to forecast ahead. There’s something positive to be said for these moments when we celebrate accomplishments, analyze failures and do some planning.

But for this post I’d like to look at time in a slightly different way. As we evaluate life, what do we keep, what do we cast off, what do we synthesize into something new?

I’ve been thinking that the ability to synthesize is how we keep ourselves timeless.

Timeless Sergio Mendes Black Eyed PeasThis implies that we keep moving forward and learning. And it also implies that we keep applying what we know to what we’re trying to learn – paying our knowledge forward in a sense.

Not just an eye to the past and an eye to the future, but a continuous creative roll, fueled by experience and curiosity. It’s certainly one way to deal with life’s endless changes that’ve accelerated considerably in the past decade.

When I started blogging in 2008, my blog was called New PR Words – And Music! It was intended to comment on my evolution from a traditional PR professional to an online marketer. It was also a way for me to share my passion for music – especially jazz. Almost every post included a tune from my music collection that somehow related to the topic at hand.

In the years since then, I’ve concentrated my business on Inbound Marketing. Today I work with only a few clients on media relations and traditional PR. All new business is related to Inbound Marketing – Websites, Blogging, Content Development, Social Media, SEO, Lead Generation, Landing Pages, Lead Nurturing and Analytics.

I still use almost all of what I used in developing PR programs for my clients – Communications Strategy and Positioning, Messaging, Storytelling, Writing, Reputation and Crisis Management. These all apply to developing effective Inbound Marketing programs. I’ve synthesized that timeless knowledge with the new tools, tactics and techniques I’ve learned and created an entire new set of services that are timely for today.

So, a couple of months ago, I started this – the inbound-i blog -- dedicated to my current focus on Inbound Marketing. It was not easy to turn New PR Words – And Music! into an archive because it had become beloved online turf to me.

For that reason, I’ve decided that from time to time, I’ll share some music with you here on the inbound-i blog. For this post I chose a fabulous musical example of synthesis. Back in the late 1960’s I loved pianist Sergio Mendes & Brazil ’66. Mendes was one of the first to introduce Samba and Brazilian composers to the US music scene.

01 - Mas Que Nada.mp3

In 2006, he released a CD called Timeless, a collaboration with young artists in other genres in which The Black Eyed Peas and their leader Will I. Am figured prominently. Enjoy their brilliant synthesis of Samba and Hip-Hop in a re-mix of the Brazil '66 classic Mais Que Nada. Hope it gets you in the mood to put on your dancin’ shoes for New Year’s Eve. ;-D

Wishing you all a synthesized and timeless 2012!

Topics: Ellie Becker, Inbound Marketing Strategy, New PR Words and Music, the inbound-i blog, Sergio Mendes, The Black Eyed Peas

Marketing Word of Mouth: What’s Your Purple Goldfish?

Posted by Ellie Becker on Fri, Dec 16, 2011 @ 12:12 PM

What's Your Purple Goldfish by Stan Phelps Book CoverThis morning I had breakfast with my friend and marketing colleague Stan Phelps, Chief Solutions Officer at Synergy Events. Stan and I were talking about The Purple Goldfish Project, an almost two-year book venture of his that he’s trying to wrap up for an early January publishing date.

For the book, he’s compiling 1,001 examples of marketing lagniappe, which he terms Purple Goldfish. A Purple Goldfish is when a company “gives little unexpected extras” (G.L.U.E.) as added value. It’s Purple Goldfish that become the stuff of positive word of mouth.

Stan is in the high 900’s toward his goal of 1,001 - but time's growing short. I decided I’d do my best to help get him there. If you think it’s easy to come up with examples of Purple Goldfish, it’s not! I wracked my brain all last evening and it took me til half way through breakfast to come up with one that made Stan’s eyes light up. Here it is:

Some years ago I went to get into my car in my parking garage to find it had been hit. A Good Samaritan had left a note on a scrap of paper on the windshield saying they’d witnessed the hit and run. They gave me the make, model, color and license plate number of the car.

I duly made a police report and informed my insurance company of many years, State Farm. The representative I spoke with obtained the police report and ok’d my claim less my $500 deductible, which I paid.

Several months later I received a call from State Farm’s investigations department asking if I had any documentation about the incident other than the police report. I had kept the original windshield note in my accident file and faxed a copy.

Six months after that, I received a check for $500 from State Farm. There was no explanation, so I called before depositing it to be sure there was no mistake.  Here’s what I was told:

“When you gave the investigations department a copy of the witness’ note, they saw that the police officer had gotten one number of the license plate incorrect on his report. We were then able to track down the person who hit your car and go after his insurance company for reimbursement of your claim and deductible, which we refunded to you.”

WOW!! If that’s not a Purple Goldfish, I don’t know what is! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told this story over the years.

The positive word of mouth has, I’m sure, gotten State Farm far more than the $500 that I never would have known about, were it not for their proactive, honest customer relationship building – not to mention their persistence.

If you have any Purple Goldfish tales, please share them in the comments and I’ll pass them along to Stan. You can follow his progress and acquire the book when it’s published at

Topics: Online Marketing, Marketing, Ellie Becker, What's Your Purple Goldfish, Stan Phelps, State Farm, Lagniappe

Inbound Marketing in 2012: Get an ‘Unconventional Grip’

Posted by Ellie Becker on Mon, Dec 12, 2011 @ 08:12 AM

Jazz drummer Joe Corsello with Kennedy Center Honoree Saxophonist Sonny Rollins

This time of year, bloggers tend to look back at the year soon-to-end and prognosticate about the one yet to come. Instead, I’m thinking about some people I admire who have traits that we can all emulate as we plan for success.

On Friday evening, Jeff and I kicked off our sixth anniversary weekend at Marianacci’s, an Italian restaurant in Port Chester, New York that features jazz on the weekends. (For new readers…I’m a jazz fan-atic!) The regular drummer is Joe Corsello – when he’s on his home turf. Much of the time he’s on tour with legendary jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins, who is one of this year’s Kennedy Center Honorees.

We were delighted that Joe was on the gig on Friday. As we listened, Jeff – who has been studying and playing drums for the past three years – leaned over and said, “Joe has an unconventional grip, but he sounds great and I love listening to him play.”

This comment got my wheels turning. Most of us have been taught the conventional way to do whatever it is we’re pursuing - including inbound marketing. Maybe the key to success is adapting what we learn to what works for us, or looking for new ways to apply proven methods. If the end result meets the need or solves the problem – and our achievements feel good and natural to us – it sounds like success to me!

Joe Corsello has marched to his own unconventional drummer in another interesting way. After an amazing early career in the 1970’s playing in the ensembles of Benny Goodman, Marian McPartland, Zoot Sims and singer Peggy Lee, he quit the business to become a police officer in Stamford, Connecticut.

After a 22-year career in law enforcement he retired. Fortunately for us jazz lovers, this kind and generous guy is behind the drum kit once again sharing with us his musical gifts.

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Photo courtesy

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Online Marketing, Ellie Becker, Inbound Marketing Strategy, Joe Corsello, Sonny Rollins, Kennedy Center Honoree

Face Change by Changing Up Your Content Game Plan

Posted by Ellie Becker on Mon, Dec 05, 2011 @ 18:12 PM

New York Times Video Content Strategy Last week on morning TV I noticed that a couple of news segments featured high-profile on-camera interviews by the New York Times. For a number of years, the Times, like all traditional print media, has been trying to figure out its future in a digital world.

Providing exclusive video content to TV networks strikes me as a highly adaptive strategy. Times reporters have amazing interviewing skills, some of the best in the world. And they have credibility and access to top newsmakers. So why not branch out?

I’ve been seeing links to feature story-type videos on the Times’ home page for quite awhile. But these recent hard/breaking news stories – like an interview with Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky – seem to be an evolution of video content development.

The decision to venture from the comfort zone of print – whether on paper or online -- and become a video content provider is smart, smart, smart. It will be interesting to see how the Times monetizes video going forward. It’s one thing to develop video for one’s own online channel and another, entirely, to create footage that can be provided to other news outlets for a fee.

The takeaway here is that we’re all in the same boat as the New York Times. Our marketing has changed, our channels have changed and so have our opportunities. The way we navigate this change and the way we use it to forge our futures will determine our future survival and success.

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Image is from the Flickr stream of henrivzq under Creative Commons license.

Topics: New York Times, Content Strategy, Ellie Becker, E.R. Becker Company

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