Are webinars becoming less effective? Maybe not!

Tech companies have used Webinars for 15+ years. They work because they both generate leads and help you build your brand. While there has been a resurgence in their effectiveness most of this year, a significant change in the fourth quarter requires an adjustment in the way you use them.

In this post, I cover why Webinars surged as a lead generation tool in 2020 but waned this quarter, why they are not dead as a tactic, and, more importantly, what you need to do to benefit from webinars as a marketing tactic going forward.

Why Webinars Work

There are five reasons that webinars are a tried and true marketing tactic:

  1. Generating leads is a proven way to generate leads, especially to attract prospective buyers who want to be educated.
  2. Builds your authority – By educating your prospects, you are implicitly seen as an authority in what you do.
  3. Builds your brand – A great webinar creates a positive image of your business and brand.
  4. Creates content – You can repurpose the webinar presentation and recording to create blog posts, infographics, and more.
  5. They are flexible – There are many ways to use webinars, from general market education to implementing best practices.

The resurgence of Webinars and Virtual Events

Before COVID, webinars were on the wane, as getting people to register and attend them was getting harder. During COVID, this changed.

With millions of workers at home, webinar registrations soared. Why? I believe that there are several reasons:

  • With less commuting time, many people have had more time on their hands.
  • In some cases, workloads declined as business stalled. Many of us have used our spare time to catch up with getting better educated. Webinars are seen as a way to be better informed.
  • More importantly, as we have all become more isolated, webinars are a way to connect and feel part of a community again.

Marketers switched their focus back to webinars and virtual events, which has been an effective strategy.

I launched my own business this year using webinars and workshops to attract a new audience, and it has been very effective.  In addition to a growth in the usage of webinars, virtual summits have exploded.

With the cancelation of trade shows and conferences, these periodic opportunities to connect and sell were a major disruption for marketers. Virtual Summits have been a way to get some of this back.

I am not going to cover Virtual Summits in any detail here. Still, if you are interested, you can view a recording of an excellent presentation on Virtual Summits given by Jon Samsel, the CMO of Verimatrix, and Erin Farrell Talbot, a PR expert who has been working in this area for some time.

Are Webinars On The Way Out Again?

The resurgence of webinars seemed to carry on through the Summer, but it feels like the trend is reversing since Labor Day.

I am seeing and hearing about much lower registrations across the board. It has become much harder to get people to register.

Are webinars passé again? I am not sure. The drop-off in their effectiveness may be due to several short-term factors.

Firstly, business is getting somewhat back to normal, and workers are busier again, so, at least for now, prospects have less time to spend on webinars. Moreover, there is a huge amount of pressure to make up for lost time in the year’s final quarter.

Secondly, there appears to be an end-of-year push to generate many leads in a hurry. Many marketers are resorting to webinars to do that.

My inbox is jammed with webinar invitations, many on the same subjects. The increased competition for webinar participation means that prospects’ “webinar-viewing time” is thin.

It’s unclear whether or not webinars will ever return to COVID-level participation, but I have noticed something unusual that warrants further consideration.

Lower Participation But Higher Engagement

I have noticed with the webinars I run for myself and clients that, while the quantity of registrants has fallen the quality has improved. In some cases, I am seeing much higher attendance rates.

While registrations are down, attendances are increasing. I have seen attendance rates of 70% rather than the typical 25-35%.

The people who are showing up seem much more engaged. They may be more actively looking to purchase what you are marketing.

I have also noticed that multiple people from the same firms are showing up.

This is often because somebody within their organization has sent the invitation email.

This is a very positive signal if you are selling something involving multiple stakeholders. It may indicate that the organization these people work for is actively in the market for what you do.

So how do we adjust to the new reality?

How You Should Shift Your Webinar Approach

  1. Assume Lower Attendance and Registration

    It’s unclear what will happen in 2021, but I am assuming that when it comes to webinars, the old normal may be the new normal. It may be harder to get the levels of participation that we saw in the Spring.

  2. Shift Focus To Mid and Lower Funnel Events

    The key implication is that webinars may be a less effective way of generating early-stage prospects who are in the market to be educated, aka Upper Funnel.

    These prospects have become increasingly evasive and loathe to register for anything.

    However, prospects further down the funnel and more actively engaged in a buying process need more information and education. Shift your use of webinars to mid and lower-funnel prospects.

  3. Focus on Practical Training Rather Than General Education

    As you shift to reaching buyers deeper into the buying process, you need to adjust the topic. Prospects who are lower down the funnel want much more practical “How To” content, e.g. implementation best practices, risks considering, hands-on deployment examples, and technical details such as integration issues.

  4. Design For Higher Engagement and Interaction

    The nice thing about having a smaller number of participants is that you have the option of making the event more interactive. With my webinars, I prefer “regular” zoom rather than the webinar instance. This means that attendees are invited to switch their cameras on and ask questions directly rather than through the Q&A feature. This may feel uncomfortable initially, but it makes the events more memorable and fun.

  5. Workshops Rather Than Webinars

    One way to make an event more interactive is to design it as a workshop rather than a webinar. When an event is a webinar, I suspect that most attendees are multitasking and doing email with the webinar on in the background.

    If the event is a workshop, attendees expect to get involved and know that they will be asked questions and will be invited to participate.

    For example, if your event is about implementation, you can run it as a workshop about all the risks that could derail a deployment and have an exercise where the participants work on mitigation strategies.

  6. Have a Compelling Next Step

    This is critical. So often, the next step is that you will receive a recording and incessant follow-ups from SDRs. Instead, take the next step, something practical and highly specific.

    For example, if you have run a workshop on risk mitigation, invite a diagnostic to dig deeper on implementation risks. The benefit of fewer attendees is that you can be much more precise and targeted in your follow-up.

  7. Smaller and More Often Rather Than Big Bang

    The challenge of webinars is the work involved in creating a BIG event.

    You have to create a compelling topic, find speakers, get them to create a great presentation, run a series of mass email blasts, and possibly spend money with a third party to promote the event. It’s hard for most organizations to do these frequently.

    The benefit of smaller events targeted at mid and lower-funnel buyers is that you can run the same event multiple times.

    You can create 3-4 webinars or workshops over a quarter and then run them repeatedly as a series, basically rinse and repeat.

So those are my tips. If I have missed any, let me know. If you need help, please book a call with me. I would be delighted to talk with you about your strategy. You can book a call below.

I hope this helped!

Book a call

This session aims to get to know you, understand your challenges, and provide immediate suggestions.

In this 30-minute call, we will listen to what you are working on and what’s stopping you from achieving your goals.  We will give you objective advice, refer you to articles from our resource library or connect you with members of our community who can help.


Relevant Links:

Webinar Recording: Partnerships for Startups

Profits and Perils of Partnerships for Startups

I recently gave a presentation to a group of entrepreneurs, students, and faculty at Texas State University called “Profits and Perils of Partnerships for Start-ups“.

Partnerships can be one of the most effective strategies to accelerate growth and profits but they are hard to do well.

Learning Objectives

  • The benefits of partnerships
  • Types of partnerships to consider
  • Challenges in making them successful
  • How to approach partnerships


Other Interesting Links.

Profits and Perils of Partnerships for Start-ups

Recently, I gave a presentation to a group of entrepreneurs, students, and faculty at Texas State University called “Profits and Perils of Partnerships for Start-ups“.

I was lucky enough to facilitate a couple of members of the healthlaunchpad Connect community, on this topic.

Also in another collaboration session, Brant Roth and Chris Bell gave an excellent talk on the topic. I then expanded on their insights about partnerships and structuring agreements.

So, to have a full grip on all the insights I shared, you can watch the full presentation from Texas State in the following video.

Summary On Building Partnerships

Partnerships can be one of the most effective strategies to accelerate growth and profits but they are hard to do well.

I covered:

  1. The benefits of partnerships
  2. Types of partnerships to consider
  3. Challenges in making them successful
  4. How to approach partnerships

Benefits of Partnering

  • Staying focused to ensure that you remain on the right track
  • Reaching inaccessible customers in order to expand your brand presence
  • Scaling revenues
  • Cost reduction 
  • Scaling supply chain for enhanced sustainability
  • Competitive advantage
  • Improved or new customer experiences
  • Risk mitigation
  • Cost reduction
  • Innovation

Categories of Partnerships

Business Partnership Agreements

Generally, a partnership will help you and your partner grow your revenues while lowering your costs. For example:

  • Hubspot’s agency, sales, and integration partnership program
  • The sales and marketing agreement between Abbot India and Zydus Cadila
  • The agreements between Toyota and Aston Martin and Toyota and Lotus
  • The way Texas Instrument supports hundreds of technology firms
  • How Bank of Ireland has outsourced eLearning to Accenture

Technology Agreements

Help you and your partner improve your product offering or close a technology gap so as to reap mutual benefits. For example:

  • Coca Cola and Heinz’s partnership in order to create more sustainable bottles
  • The agreement between Kaiser Permanente, a great call, and Best Buy to create a lively product for seniors
  • Cerner and Induction Health’s deal to create a better patient engagement solution in the UK
  • Uber and Spotify’s integration of music and ride-sharing experiences
  • Apple and Nike’s strategic partnership to create Nike+

Download the US Healthcare Segmentation White Paper

How the US healthcare Provider and Payer market is segmented, size of each segment and how each segment is structured.

Strategic Agreements

These are long-term, broad-reaching partnership, including a new corporate structure.

How to Structure Partnership Agreements

partnership structures

Typical Challenges

  • Lack of alignment 
  • Loss of control 
  • Lack of executive support
  • Commercial or financial quarrels between or among partners
  • Interpersonal issues
  • Customer ownership
  • Intellectual Property (IP) issues
  • Exclusivity

Success Factors

  1. Crawl Walk Run
  2. Start with referrals
  3. Have Mutual Value Proposition – “What’s in it for them?” goes first
  4. Get clarity and definition on:
    • Value proposition
    • Deal structure
    • Process (e.g. lead registration)
    • Roles and Responsibilities
    • Escalation
  5. Get executive buy-in
  6. Have reviews
  7. Develop a process, strategy, and evaluation criteria

So, if you need help with your market entry strategy, please, don’t hesitate to contact us for a short discussion.


Other Insightful Posts:

Webinar Recording: How to Drive Business Results Using Customer Intent & Behavior Insights

Learn how to gain insights into customer intent or online behavior that directly improves marketing performance – Scott Ellis.

In this webinar you will learn how to:

  • Identify and measure customer intent based on their online search behavior
  • Assess how well your website is designed to address this behavior
  • Develop a content marketing strategy and customer journey mapping that addresses customer intent and needs
  • Improve the effectiveness of your paid advertising, and how to respond to COVID-19 customer behavior changes
  • Measure the impact of offline marketing, online

View Webinar Recording Your Presenter:

Scott Ellis, President – Agency Operations at Adworthy

Scott has also held marketing, business development, and leadership roles across the marketing automation, technology, and leisure sectors.

So, as President of Agency Operations at Adworthy, Scott works with everyone from C-Suite and Investors, to front-line Marketing, IT / Tech, and Business Development teams across a wide range of verticals including Technology, Healthcare, CPG, Publishing, Retail Automotive, Insurance, and Financial Services.

Utilizing Adworthy’s unique content marketing, paid to advertise, due diligence/audit, and cloud software capabilities, Scott specializes in delivering customer-centric client programs, responsive to the cost optimization needs of the current economic climate, while still delivering market share growth.

A 2012 Rising Stars Award Winner, Scott Ellis is a recognized industry speaker having presented at DMA’s: Annual Conference, Marketing Analytics Conference, and Integrated Marketing Week (IMW).

scott ellis

Prior to joining Adworthy, Scott was CEO of Rocketseed which is an International Email Marketing company with offices in the US, UK, Australia, and South Africa.

His past positions include Marketing Director for London at Hilton Hotels Corporation and Sales and Marketing Director at Goodform Ltd.

He also sat on the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee for Marketing EDGE (formerly DMEF), a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to Educate, Develop, Grow, and Employ college students in the field of marketing.


Adworthy helps brands to identify the right words and images to use in their online/offline content and advertising. This, therefore, enables them to help their customers to identify, target, and convert qualified audiences and generate optimal online visibility.

And so, we utilize our proprietary applications that include advanced word-scoring algorithms – Wordivore® for Content Marketing Optimization & SEO, and Adivore® for Paid Advertising Optimization. Because of this, they help brands more efficiently and effectively reach their target audiences.

Adworthy’s systems and methods do not utilize or accept personally identifiable information. Because of this, we are uniquely positioned to support brands in the cookie-less world in which they now operate.


Other Interesting Posts:

As Featured In Healthcare IT News Today

I recently wrote an article for Healthcare IT News Today on “How Can HealthTech Sales and Marketing Recover From COVID-19?”

You can read the full article here.

The key conclusion is that there are three things to consider doing today to get your business moving:

  1. Focus on financial pain – It doesn’t matter what you are selling right now, if you can’t improve the bottom line, you won’t get past the CFO. The reason your deals are slowing down maybe because your champion cannot convince the C-Suite that you are a “Must-have” in 2020. You have to be precise and compelling in how you will help them with their financial issues.

  2. Be a digital accelerator – How can you accelerate the use of digital technologies? How can you plug digital acceleration into your offering? Smaller, nimbler companies pivoted in April and started offering telehealth. The building or integration of these technologies takes time and can be very expensive but there are companies like Bluestream Health that offer white-label telehealth. Is there someone out there who is looking to be acquired who can help you? I sold my digital health company, Uniphy Health, to Harris Health in 2019 because they were looking to grow their portfolio of digital solutions.

  3. Change up your marketing – I run a community for healthcare sales and marketing professionals. It’s a great place to learn from each other. I am amazed by how companies have adapted their strategies to the times. This includes greater use of webinars, having SDRs reach out to prospects to conduct market research as a way to open new doors, and developing new tools and content to get deals moving. You can learn more here. If you are a sales and marketing pro, you may want to check it out.

On getting into telehealth, it’s well worth taking a look at BlueStream…

They wrote an excellent case study on how they are helping MedStar Health, one of the largest healthcare systems in the Mid-Atlantic. It provides a great roadmap.

As Featured In Healthcare IT News Today
MedStar Health and BlueStream Health Case Study

Read the full Healthcare IT New Today article here

You may want to watch this webinar by John Ulett, CIO of CentraState on Healthcare’s Changing Technology Purchasing.


Other Interesting Links

Webinar Recording: How To Land a New Healthcare Client via LinkedIn in 90 Days or Less

Adam “Ads” Franklin is a globally recognized Digital Marketing Expert. His approach to building business through LinkedIn is uniquely designed for people who want to create meaningful long-term business relationships.

His technique is, therefore, both personal and scalable.

And it doesn’t require InMail or Sales Navigator.

So, In this webinar, you will learn how to:

  • #1. Get your LinkedIn Profile up to speed to attract ideal clients.
  • #2. Develop a process to identify ideal future clients.
  • #3. Develop an outreach plan to connect with ideal buyers.
  • #4 Develop a 5-Step Nurturing System to convert contacts into clients.

Webinar Workbook

LinkedIn Guides

$1 VIP Upgrade Offer

It includes:

  • Recording of my half-day LinkedIn Accelerator workshop + notes + workbook
  • Coaching call with me
  • A 30-day trial of my ‘Marketing Club’ where you get a live training workshop each month. (Then $97/month after trial)
  • A PDF copy of my book Web Marketing That Works


Other Interesting Topics:

The Seven Personas of Sales Champions

In complex sales, 3 will help you, but 4 out of 7 personas of sales champions will break you.

And so, in complex sales, we are dependent on identifying a sales champion, someone who will help us navigate the decision-making process.

In this post, I will review insights about sales champions. The ideal sales champion does not exist, and I will explain why below. In reality, there are seven personas of sales champions. Some can help propel you through the process, while others will hurt your chances.

I recently ran a webinar on this topic. You can view the recording and download the presentation here.

The Challenger Customer

Challenger Customer
The Challenger Customer

This Challenger Customer is one of the best business books I have read. A group wrote it of executives from the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), which is now part of Gartner. It was a follow-up to the Challenger Sale, which is the book most people are familiar with.

I prefer the Challenger Customer.  What I like most is that they talked to over 3,000 stakeholders involved in B2B purchase processes, so the ideas and insights are based on facts, not just inspiration.

Slowing Sales Cycles

One of the topics the book raises is why deals are moving slower.  There are many reasons:

  1. Consolidation is creating bigger organizations that are harder to deal with. This is especially true in healthcare.
  2. Management teams are flatter and more consensus-driven.
  3. Because information is more freely available, stakeholders form their own opinion and often make decisions before they meet you.
  4. Compliance and risk management are increasingly slowing the process down, especially HIPAA compliance and security
  5. Last but not least, COVID-19 has made this much, much worse.

Buyer Dysfunction

The CEB took a deep dive into the issue of buyer dysfunction. I covered this in detail in a previous post.

In short, when more decision-makers are involved in the buying process, it is harder to close a deal. According to the CEB, the average number of buyers involved is 5.4.

They describe buyer dysfunction as the gap between the individual stakeholder’s wants and what the group aligns on. This buyer dysfunction is greatest when they are deciding on what problem they are solving, and the decision is especially dysfunctional when they are trying to decide how they will solve the problem. Once they have agreed on how they will solve the problem picking a vendor is relatively easy.

But…vendors are not usually brought in until late in the process. This is a problem as, by then, the decision-makers have compromised on what solution they are looking for and they are less open to being educated on a bigger and better solution.

The net result is that vendors end up with smaller, poorer-quality deals. Vendors who are involved earlier can influence the process and get better outcomes.

Job #1 is Finding a Sales Champion

We all have several tactics to engage in a prospect’s buying process earlier. The most effective one is identifying and building a Champion relationship.

As the founder and CEO of a health tech company, we had a disciplined sales process. One of the requirements to register an opportunity as “Qualified” was that the salesperson needed to have identified and qualified that they had a champion on the side.

In my view, here, without a champion, your odds of closing a sale are extremely low.

What Does the Ideal Sales Champion Look Like?

These are the characteristics that we hear about a typical champion. They:

  1. Are readily accessible and willing to talk
  2. Provide you with information that’s typically unavailable to suppliers
  3. May be pro your solution
  4. Are great at influencing and convincing others
  5. Always tell you the truth
  6. They are well regarded and credible with their colleagues
  7. Excel at selling new ideas internally
  8. Deliver on their commitments and sometimes even over-deliver
  9. Get personal benefits from the sale
  10. Love to network with you with the other stakeholders.

So this is what your ideal champion looks like.

Yup, the ideal champion does not exist.

No one exhibits all ten characteristics.

The 7 Personas of Sales Champions

The CEB analyzed these issues in detail. They segmented the different types of champions that vendors were encountering.

They asked vendors to characterize their champions. Based on this analysis, they came up with seven different personas of sales champions.

  1. The “Go-getter” champions others’ good ideas, always delivering, learning from the mistakes, and moving on.
  2. The “Skeptic” is a lot more reserved and harder to engage. They are much more risk-averse and need a lot of help in preparing influential stakeholders for change and big ideas. They like incrementalism and prefer small wins first.
  3. “The Friend” is a guy or gal readily accessible to talking salespeople. Puts them in touch with everybody, and likes to create events where they can meet their colleagues. They are always available.
  4. The “Teacher” is the big vision person. This person often teaches new insights, and senior executives seek them out for their opinion. Then they are good at selling internally.
  5. The “Guide” provides information that’s typically unavailable to vendors. They speak the truth with vendors, and they distribute information equally. They are the more equitable persona of a champion.
  6. The “Climber” is someone who is in it for themselves and what they can gain from this project. They want personal rewards for their risks, and they are big self-promoters.
  7. The “Blocker” doesn’t want to move ahead with anything. They are unhelpful, and when we are dealing with a “Blockers”, we are dead in the water.

Not All Sales Champions Are Created Equal

The CEB assessed the ability of each one of these different personas to drive change within an organization. Here are the results of this analysis:

The “Go-getter” is the best champion to work with. So, if you are working with a “Go-getter, and you are developing a good relationship, you have a good chance of closing the sale.

A “Teacher” can be very effective, and although the “Skeptic” is very reserved, they can help you close the sale if they are managed appropriately.

Because the “Guide” is more equitable and shares information equally, they don’t give you an advantage over the competition and may be less effective for you.

Beware of the “Friend”

The “Friend” may be your enemy. In many cases, we become dependent on the “Friend,” but they are ineffective as champions. Although we might think they are helping, they don’t often get the job done.

A senior sales guy I used to work with said, “You pretend to buy, and I’ll pretend to sell”.

Not surprisingly, the “Climber” is in it for them, and you know where you stand with a “Blocker”.

Meet the Mobilizers Sales Champions

The CEB segmented the personas into two different groups of personas – “Mobilizers” and “Talkers”.

The “Go-getter”, the “Teacher,” and the “Skeptic” are mobilizers. You know that if you are working with them, you have got a good chance of success. If you are working with “Talkers”, you are at a disadvantage, and the odds of closing the deal may be against you.

What I thought was particularly interesting is that sales reps who engage most with Mobilizers are 31% more likely to be high performers. There is a high correlation between effective salespeople and the type of personas they seek. Great salespeople instinctively know the right type of champion to help them bring a deal over the line.

So Now What?

In my next post, I will cover what you can do to be better at identifying Mobilizers and work with them to close a deal.

Or you can watch the webinar and read the presentation here.

Here is an excerpt.

Other Interesting Links

Photo by Samuel Jerónimo and Morning Brew on Unsplash

Originally posted on LinkedIn.

How Sailing Taught Me About Social Media and SEO

Sailing is a major passion for me. It brings me joy and fulfillment. I would never have expected how it would teach me about SEO, digital marketing, and social media. 

It Started in The Summer of 2006

I was boat-less with limited access to sailing except for the occasional weekend on a friend’s boat. I was missing sailing. On top of that, it was August, no one was around, and I was borrrrrrrrrred.

Learning By Doing

At the time, I was working for a leading digital agency. Social media was in its infancy, and clients asked me how they should take advantage of this burgeoning new medium.

I was supposedly a digital strategy expert, but I felt that whatever answer gave, I was making it up. Sure, I had well-informed opinions and I was up on the latest news but I had no real hands-on experience.

So I thought I could kill two birds with one stone by starting a blog on sailing.

Even if it never took off, it would give me hands-on experience with social media and partially scratch my itch for sailing.

I can be a little impetuous. “Act quick and figure stuff out as you go” works for me, so one Sunday afternoon in August 2006, I got started on making this real.

First, what blogging platform to use? I decided to use Typepad rather than WordPress. At that time, it wasn’t clear who would win the blogging platform war and Typepad was easier to use. I named the blog Messing About in Sailboats, based on the famous quote:

“There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

Wind In The Willows -Kenneth Grahame


I launched the blog on August 19th, 2006, with a brief post outlining the blog’s purpose. For the next few weeks, I diligently created 2-3 posts per week on various sailing-related topics. I also figured out who the leading sailing bloggers were and reached out to them. They were very encouraging and linked back to me. There was a small but committed community of sailing bloggers.

It was much more work than I anticipated, and the returns were depressing. I was getting very little traffic, and, more importantly, I was disappointed with my writing quality.

My posts were earnest, informative, and well-intentioned but dull, dull, dull. They lacked a point of view. The blog was not getting noticed, my posts had few comments and no shares, and the analytics showed that the blog was flatlining.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

By September, I was contemplating jacking the whole thing in. After all, I had a big important job, so how could I justify this distraction? I figured that I would give it one last shot to see if I could make an impact.

I had this one unwritten post that was nagging at me.

It kept bugging me to write it, but I was feeling a little chicken about putting it out there.

It had occurred to me that the best writing about sailing was not happening on the established sailing websites. Sailing websites like, were the web versions of leading sailing print magazines.

Other than a few digitized articles, what they offered their readers was very limited and not all engaging.

They had little original, online-only content and few ways for readers to interact with each other or the publication. They were generally disappointing, given the potential of the medium.

More importantly, web-only upstart sites like Scuttlebutt and Sailing Anarchy, where the real conversations about sailing were happening.

Overall, I felt that the traditional sailing web sites kinda sucked.

So I wrote that in a post called “Why do sailing websites suck so much (blogs excepted)”

A Sh*tstorm In A Teacup

In a small way, it created a bit of a kerfuffle.

First, I slammed the traditional websites and promoted some of the best bloggers. I told the bloggers how they ranked in terms of sailing website traffic.

While the traditional websites paid no attention, the other bloggers were amazed by how highly they ranked and re-posted the post.

Secondly, the post caused enough controversy to generate 20 comments.

These included multiple backlinks. The comments also kept the conversation going for a while.

Third, it eventually started a conversation with one of the leading traditional sailing publications. They wanted to set the record straight, creating a real discussion about the issue.

In my small way, I had started a conversation with a bunch of strangers about something important to me. I felt encouraged and decided to stick to the blog.

Many of my subsequent posts celebrated other sailing bloggers, creating a lot of cross-linking and mutual sharing of each other’s content.

The next thing that happened blew me away.

About a month later, I randomly googled “sailing websites”.

My silly, little blog was #1.

Yup, I was the number one ranked sailing website (according to Google).

And my traffic was climbing as a result.

Although I didn’t stay #1 for more than a month, I was on the first Google page for sailing website search results for several years.

This laid the foundation for Messing About to become one of the leading sailing blogs.

I stuck at the blog for another six years until I started a business in 2012. As I was creating a new venture, I decided that I couldn’t afford the time to blog anymore.

Over those six years, the blog became well-known in the sailing community.

The site was visited by well over a million visitors and led to all kinds of amazing opportunities, not least meeting the partner with whom I started a business.

I loved running the blog, and I learned so much.

Learning SEO and Social Media From Sailing – My Lessons:

1.  Act first. Figure stuff out as you go. If I had thought it through and realized how much time it was going to take, I would not have started Messing About In Sailboats.

By ignoring my rational self I would have missed so much. Sometimes, taking the plunge and working out the rest as you go is better.

2.  Don’t be afraid to make some noise. Provocative content might polarize your readers but it’s better to be noticed than to be boring.

While I feel that I have written better posts than the “Sailing Web Sites Suck” post, it generated enough consternation and discussion to break through. It put me on the map.

3.  Connect! From the start, I reached out to other sailing bloggers, who were welcoming and supportive. Later on, in the life of the blog, I made connections with photographers, editors, writers, and so many people whom I would not have otherwise met.

This created a virtuous cycle of content and links that increased my SEO ranking. More importantly, it was fun and rewarding.

4.  Be generous. The success of this post was as much due to the praise I heaped on other bloggers as the controversy I was trying to stoke.

Until I analyzed the web traffic of the various sailing websites and blogs, none of these hard-working bloggers realized how much of an impact they were really making. By giving them something of value they gave back in spades.

5.  Foster the conversation. Much of this post’s success was due to the number of comments.

This happened because I responded quickly and as thoughtfully as I could with fairly long responses. The comments created backlinks and sustained interest in the post for several years.

The Google algorithm liked this a lot.

6.  Keep going. Once I got the #1 rank on Google for sailing websites, I kept on the front page by being diligent and creative in posting 2-3 times per week.

In the six years I ran Messing About, I learned more about social media than any book or training course has ever taught me.


other Interesting Posts

Originally posted on LinkedIn.

Buyer Dysfunction in Complex Sales

What is Buyer Dysfunction

In this post, we review Buyer Dysfunction, what it is, why it happens, how it screws up your sales process and what you can do about it.


I’m a complex sales guy.

Okay, that doesn’t mean I’m deep and profound. It just means that I’ve spent my career trying to perfect the art of managing a complex sales cycle. You know, business-to-business-type deals that involve multiple stakeholders.

And one of the biggest problems with these complex sales cycles is that buying groups are often totally dysfunctional. And that’s a problem for us, right?

It ends up slowing the process down, new barriers come up, and quite often, it ends up with a much smaller deal than you otherwise would’ve had.

Where does this dysfunction come from?

So, each stakeholder you’re dealing with has their own personal agenda, they have their own departmental priorities, and maybe relationship issues. You know, politics that come into play.

Each of these individual stakeholders has got to get on the same page and align with all the other stakeholders involved with them. And there could be four, five, six, or more stakeholders involved in the process. And that’s where the dysfunction comes from.

Me vs We

Dysfunction is the gap between all of the different stakeholders’ agendas. It’s the difference between the “me” and the “we.”

What’s really interesting is how the dysfunction changes throughout the buying process.

Buyer Dysfunction Over The Course Of the Buying Process

The Corporate Executive Board, which is now part of Gartner, studied this and they got feedback from over 3,000 business-to-business buyers. They asked them to rate how difficult decisions were to make throughout a buying process.

buyer dysfunction

Not surprisingly, making decisions as a group is much harder than making decisions as an individual. And the hardest step is identifying how they’ll solve the problem.

And this is where the dysfunction gap between “me” and “we” is the biggest. The smallest gap is when it comes down to deciding on which supplier to select. This means that the group struggles most when deciding on their strategy.

Late in the Process

Picking a supplier is actually relatively easy. The biggest issue is that they typically don’t reach out to suppliers until much later in the process. So this means that we need to be better at getting involved earlier, better at influencing the decision about the problem and how to solve it, and doing that in a way that leads them to our door. I’ve been studying this process for a while now.

complex sales

Learning About Tackling Buyer Dysfunction

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share practical tips and new ideas on things you can do to overcome buyer dysfunction and move sales faster through the process.

I’ve got workshops, webinars, videos, and blog posts. If you’d like to learn from these, you can connect to me or follow me on LinkedIn or sign up for my newsletter in the box on the right.


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Originally posted on LinkedIn.

How to Turn Your Customers Into Headline Creators – Guest Post by Matt Brannon, Creative Director at Gravity Digital

As a business content creator, I’m going to make a bold claim: You cannot market your business effectively online without content.

Content is the mechanism by which a business:

  • catches the eye of the prospect
  • establish a connection with that prospect
  • demonstrates their understanding of the prospect’s problems
  • and presents themselves as the solution

In short: Content is the way we subtly guide people through the customer journey online.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in the healthcare industry selling enterprise-level services to the C-Suite, or if you’re selling phone cases to teenagers. It comes down to your content. Period.

But it’s not that easy to create, is it?

If you wonder how you’re going to execute this quarter’s content calendar, I have a plan for you that you’re going to love.

Turn your customers into your content creators.

There are two very good reasons for letting your customers do the heavy lifting of content creation.

First, your prospects will relate to (and trust) your customers more than you.

The second reason for having your customers create your content is that you don’t have to do it.

That is sweet music to the ears of someone reading this article. So let’s Jump in.

The Testimonial Formula

At the core of this strategy is identifying customers who have had tremendous success with your business, the ones who really love you, and asking them a very specific series of questions.

You will then record their answers and cut them down to a brief sixty to ninety-second video.

These questions are from Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. It is a highly recommended reading.

The questions should be asked specifically in this order. They are designed to walk your customer down a very specific path that will make you sound very good in the end.

Notice that they don’t start with your business, but rather with the problem your customer was facing and how they felt about it. This is intentional.

Don’t start with you. Someone out there can relate to these problems and that’s the first thing they need to hear.

The questions are:

  1. Before you discovered our product, what problem were you having?
  2. As you tried to solve that problem, what did the frustration feel like?
  3. What was different about our product?
  4. Take us to the exact moment when you realized our product was working to help solve your problem.
  5. Tell us what your life looks like now that your problem is solved or is being solved.

You might also want to ask permission (on camera) to use their testimonial for marketing purposes.

…But I Don’t Know How to Make a Video

If you’ve never made a video before, especially for business, the idea can seem a bit daunting. There was a time when you needed an experienced team to handle production and editing, and while that is still occasionally true, it is not necessary for this type of content. I’ll give you two good reasons to support this claim:

  1. Video creation has become democratized. Most people carry better video equipment in their pocket than professional production teams had only a few years ago. Editing software has become very inexpensive and easy to use, and editors can be hired from websites like Fiverr or Upwork for a very low cost.

  2. People online consume video differently than they used to. Even the biggest brands are creating video content that looks “real” rather than overly produced. It feels more authentic and can often be more persuasive.

Don’t let technology or lack of production skill stand in your way of producing content like this.

Multiply Your Efforts

Once you have your core piece of video content, you can use it to create content in other mediums.

  • Use one of your subject matter experts to write a blog post about the problem that your customer was facing before they came to you. It doesn’t need to be about that person specifically but use the insight you gained from their personal story to reach others who might be experiencing the same thing. If no one on your team is available to write, Just have a transcript of the video created and post that to your blog along with the embedded video.
  • Create an email newsletter that features your customer’s story.
  • Use photo editing software or a free site like Canva to create quote cards for social media. Use the most impactful and specific moments of their story.
  • Share the video on all of your social channels and embed it on relevant pages on your website.

It’s easy to see how a short, simple customer interview can be used to fill a lot of roles in your overarching content plan, making you a marketing hero for your business. And since your messaging came directly from the mouth of an ideal customer, it should resonate with a similar audience.

Here’s a very simple Quarterly Content Checklist to get you started (you don’t even have to opt in).

The best part is, that customers can use this formula again and again because each customer has a unique story and point of view.

It will be fresh every time

Matt Brannon is the Creative Director at Gravity Digital, a metrics-obsessed creative agency.

Founded in 2000, we are known for our award-winning Creative and our complete transparency. Our clients know how many dollars they make for every dollar they spend on advertising.


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