The 2 Most Deadly Sins of B2B Marketing

There are two major reasons why marketing is failing at your small- or medium-sized B2B firm:You view marketing as business triage. Your company applies a collection of tactics (often labeled as a “marketing campaign”) only in response to a problem; typically involving the loss of a key client, or decline in revenue. When business is good, little or no time is invested in marketing. When business (inevitably) takes a dip, only then does marketing becomes a priority.You expect marketing to deliver immediate results. Either because your company always views marketing on a “cause & effect” tactical basis, or because marketing triage must be applied quickly to revive an ailing company, the marketing function is given insufficient time to produce tangible results. It’s no surprise that marketing professionals have the shortest tenure of any corporate function in the asset management business.The hard truth is that very few B2B business owners either understand the marketing function, or have the discipline to design, implement, measure and adhere to a consistent marketing approach that builds brand equity and market engagement over a sustained period.To establish the infrastructure and internal culture necessary for the marketing discipline to succeed, we offer the following simple path:

Create a Written Marketing Plan. This need not be in a 3-inch binder; a two-page document is often sufficient. Include goals, strategies, responsibilities, timelines, budgets and ways to measure results. Without a Marketing Plan you’ll waste lots of time and money. And unless it’s a written document, you won’t have commitment or accountability.

Gain Senior Level Commitment. The honcho in corner office (which might be you) must understand, endorse and support the Marketing Plan. This involves more than lip service. If your Plan isn’t properly staffed and funded at the outset, there’s no real commitment to marketing.

Do a Few Things Very Well.Your marketing success will be based on the quality and effectiveness of a limited number of strategies / tactics. Firms sometimes go overboard, thinking there’s a correlation between the size of its marketing investment and business results. But less is usually more, in terms of marketing ROI.

Build and Nurture your Database.Direct and easy access to your company’s clients, prospects, referral sources and opinion leaders is essential. Without an email pipeline, the marketing value of the content you create is close to zero. If your firm’s thought leadership simply sits on its website or social media, you’re missing the opportunity to build relationships with people in your target audiences.

Create Meaningful Content. Self-serving, long-winded white papers and research reports have very limited appeal. Generate content that validates your company’s intellectual capital, that’s easy to read, and focuses on timely topics that people have a genuine interest in.

Drive Top-of-Mind Awareness. To be included on the short list of candidates for an assignment or sale, you need to build awareness with key decision-makers. To accomplish that goal, share your content directly with target audiences on a quarterly basis. (More frequently than that, and you may be viewed as a pest.)
Most importantly – with apologies to Glengarry Glen Ross – B2B firms must commit to:A… AlwaysB… BeM… Marketing… for the discipline to be effective. Otherwise, the traditional short-term, hair-on-fire approach to business development will keep your company from ever reaching its full potential, regardless of its quality or reputation.

How to Invest Money and Where to Invest It For 2014 and 2015

Hold your breath, but no one really knows how to invest money or where to invest for 2014, 2015 and beyond. Asset allocation is the name of the game for investors both large and small, and the near future looks challenging. Your success will depend on whether or not you know where and how to invest money across the asset classes.Think of asset allocation as HOW to invest. You can be conservative, moderate, or aggressive in pursuit of a long term financial goal like retirement. As to WHERE to invest, think of mutual funds if you are an average investor. The question is which funds and how much to allocate to each. Your three basic choices, in order from safe to risky are: money market funds, bond funds, and stock funds.Now, why will knowing how to invest money for 2014, 2015 and beyond be challenging for investors? The reason is that none of the average investor’s three fund choices look attractive. With record low interest rates in the economy, safe interest-paying options (like money market funds) are paying next to nothing; and quality bonds (and bond funds) are only earning interest in the 3% range. Stocks and stock funds have been winners for 5 years running, in a lackluster economy that may be slowing down. Asset allocation and knowing how and where to invest is a tough call when none of the three basic asset classes looks attractive.In hindsight, where and how to invest money actually was a pretty simple call up until 2014. An asset allocation of 50% to 60% in stocks with most of the rest going to bonds worked just fine for most of 30 years, and risk was moderate. Bonds and bond funds were steady performers, and often acted to offset losses for investors when the stock market got ugly. Actually, knowing where to invest and how to invest money has been a relatively simple proposition since the early 1980s. That’s when inflation and interest rates peaked… and then basically declined for over 30 years.Memorize this: bonds and bond funds go up in value when interest rates fall. That’s the way they work, and that’s why they performed well for most of 30-plus years.Looking at 2014, 2015 and beyond… investors could be in a whole new ball game if or when inflation and/or interest rates go up significantly. In 1981: short term CDs, mortgages, and high quality bonds and bond funds were all at 15% or more. Money market funds peaked at 20%! Compare that with today’s record low rates. How would a significant increase in interest rates affect your asset allocation decisions in terms of how to invest money and where to invest it?An asset allocation of 60% stocks and 40% bonds would no longer carry just a moderate risk because rising interest rates would guarantee that bonds and bond funds would LOSE money. Higher rates mean lower bond prices (values). At the same time, it would be too aggressive for most average investors to load up on stocks and stock funds. The bull (up) market in stocks is more than 5 years old. Plus, rising interest rates can hurt corporate sales and profits – which tends to lead to lower stock prices. On top of that, if you are too conservative and safely sit on the sidelines, sooner or later you’ll need to decide how to invest money and where to invest it. Otherwise, you’ll never get ahead and achieve the growth necessary to reach your financial goals.Average investors need a moderate asset allocation that they can be comfortable with in 2014, 2015 and beyond. Splitting your money between just stock funds and bond funds could be too risky for you going forward. The simple answer to where to invest hasn’t changed: money market funds (or another safe option), bond funds, and stock funds. But you might want to modify your strategy for how to invest money across these asset classes, in order to lower your level of risk.A simple solution to how to invest money: spread your money equally across the three asset classes, one-third each. If you want to take things one step further, consider adding alternative investments like gold, oil, and other natural resources to your asset allocation mix. This fourth level of alternatives has sometimes been the answer to where to invest when the stock market gets ugly. There are specialty stock funds available to average investors that specialize in these sectors: gold funds, energy funds, and natural resources funds.Above all else, realize that 2014, 2015 and beyond could be a different playing field if interest rates go up as many market watchers forecast. No one will really know how to invest money or where to invest it if rates take off – but by positioning yourself with a moderately conservative asset allocation you can avoid heavy losses. Then, when the dust starts to settle, you can start accumulating bond funds and stock funds when share prices are cheap.

Always Bet on Safe Real Estate Investment Rather Than Quick Investment

Financial planning and investment is all about finding out where to invest your money so that you can get the best possible returns. Real estate investment has always been considered as safe because seldom the demand for real estate witnesses a dip. Property investment is the safest and there are strong reasons as to why it is given priority than other forms of investments like mutual funds, bonds, stocks and ETF. You can literally grow your money through property investment with minimum risk.Investors skittish of stock market investments prefer to invest in the real estate market but there are many who have not yet got over the 2008 downturn. Scars of those days have not yet healed for many and they are not ready to invest just for the sake of property investment. They need strong and logical reason behind this investment; they prefer to wait it out rather than put in all their money hastily.If you take property investment decisions in haste, chances are high that you will end up with something in your portfolio that would fail to produce the desired ROI. In property investment, only four different routes prevail; however, here we are going to look at only two of the most popular ones.First: You can go ahead and invest in a rental propertySecond: You can buy shares in the REIT or real estate investment trustBuying the rental property is quite straightforward method wherein you buy a rental property and give it out on rent. However, this type of investment is not for everyone as many fail to juggle their professional lives and at the same time upkeep a property like a landlord. It takes a lot of time and effort to maintain the property you buy unless you are using the services of a management company. You can obviously use the services of a management company but be ready to take a cut in your profits.On the other hand if you invest in REIT, you don’t have to actually own a property on the ground and go into the landlord-mode. It operates just like a mutual fund and the only difference here is that it is property investment. The trust is a group of investors who make property investment and lets the individual investors buy its shares. The trusts are able to receive tax benefits as they pay a major chunk of their income to their shareholders. You can buy shares on public investments, which implies that your investment is quite liquid. You are ensured of regular dividends.Two other methods of property investment that are often used by investors include notes and croudfunding portals.Notes – You will be able to invest in second mortgages, paper notes etc. You can even sell or buy notes just like other real estate invest estates. The best thing is that there are no brokers involved in this.Crowdfunding Portals – Many people with similar investment interests can come together to fund real estate investments. This is a new form of investments and is being tried out by some.