223: Pick a marketing strategy - with Bill Bice
Meet Bill Bice
Bill Bice has always been an entrepreneur, starting his first company at age 14, putting on road races with corporate sponsors. At 18, he started ProLaw Software, the first integrated ERP for law firms. After selling the company to Thomson Reuters, Bill became a VC as a founding partner in the Verge Fund, investing in high tech, high growth companies in the Southwest. Bill is the CEO of boomtime, the Word of Mouth marketing company.
So you've built and invested a lot of businesses what's been the biggest challenge?
It really is that good of market I mean, that's the reason I started Boomtime which was my frustration in getting great marketing for the companies that I started. I mean, it's a tough thing to do really well. And it's really tough as business owners to make the necessary commitment behind marketing because just like always spending money and not getting results, and there's some key reasons for that.
What are some of the most common mistakes that you see people making in their marketing?
I think there's two really big ones. So what I consider the biggest mistake in marketing is talking about yourself because nobody cares. And marketing is so much more effective if you flip that around, and really pay attention to what your audience cares about. If you instead turn it into insight, perspective driven help that you're giving to your audience, it becomes so much more effective. And then you get to the really hard part, which is the second step, which is that you've got to do it consistently. There is no magic trick in marketing. It's actually really hard work that has to be done day in and day out for it to be effective.
You've done a lot of work in B2B sales, applying the challenger sale, what have you learned in doing that?
The challenger sale is all about creating new sales opportunities that wouldn't otherwise exist. If your business works where you can just be an order taker, then that's great. But if you're doing something that's complex and has multiple decision makers as high value, then then you need to be able to create new sales opportunities. Let's be consultative, let's make everything in our marketing have this perspective, insight driven approach, get your audience to think about the things that you're really good at, give them a different perspective. And if you do that you'll create new sales opportunities that didn't exist before.
Can you share with our listeners, one of your favorite networking stories or experiences that you've had?
I'm very much an introvert at heart, but yet to do what I want to do, I have to go out in the world and talk to people. I love LinkedIn for this very reason. Because it's like the perfect cocktail party, it's going to be a room full of only exactly the people I want to meet, I get to do it under my control, I don't have to eat horrible food at the same time, and I get to build a network of exactly the right people that I want to talk to. I found that if you treat that the same way that you would that cocktail party where when you meet somebody, you just don't dive into a sales pitch, you have to build a relationship first. If you do that same thing on LinkedIn, that works really well. It's been the perfect way for me to build my network and be able to get my message out.
How do you stay in front of or best nurture your network?
If you do a regular flow, and this is what's really hard, quite frankly, is because 90% of the effort is great content. And most companies have a really tough time doing that internally, you've got all the ideas, but actually executing on it day in and day out is really tough. You got a business to run and sitting in front of a blank screen doesn't get you there. So you know what, the only way to solve that problem is to build a network of subject matter experts who are able to write that stuff. So I think you have to outsource it. The ideas have to come from you. The really hard part is getting the voice, right. But if you go through the effort of getting that model working, then you get the steady flow of really great content that lets you stay in front of your audience over and over again.
When it comes to someone that wants to grow their network? What advice would you offer that that kind of newer, greener business professional?
I just think it's so much easier to get going with LinkedIn. So let's say that you're focused in your city and you want to grow your network there. It's amazing how great it is when you've built that network online, how much easier it becomes to do so in person. Because now people have seen things from you on a regular basis, it makes it much easier to come up with things to talk about. So I really see LinkedIn as the entree to making all networking easier. The key is how do we do that really well in LinkedIn and putting the strategy you put behind that really changes how effective it's going to be.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I was a complete idiot. I started my first software company when I was 18. Because I was 18, I thought I knew it all. And so the biggest mistake is that I didn't accept any kind of mentorship. And so we built a great software company, but it took 15 years. It took me a long time to figure out how to run a business. And so now I have a much better idea of how little I know. I always try to find somebody who's already done what I want to do. Someone's already done whatever it is you are setting out to do right now. So going and learning from them is the best way to speed up your process.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation, who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with? And do you think you could do it within the six degree?
So, who's on my mind at the moment, just because I read his latest book is Simon Sinek. I've always been a huge fan of his work. And I think what he talks about in The Infinite Game, which frankly, if you just read the first chapter, you'll get to get the concept but it really gets at the heart of all the good that we create with capitalism and how do we continue that and get rid of the challenge and you know, the problems that have crept in over the last few decades.
Any final word of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I'm going to hit the same tune again because the reason I talked about it is because it is the key to make marketing work, which is you need to pick a strategy that you believe in, that you will commit to long term. Because you're not going to get a return in month one, month two, month three, I believe you got to pick a strategy that you're willing to put at least a year behind in order to truly understand how it works. And the only way you can believe in that is to see the results from other places. Take a proven approach that is working for businesses just like yours, so you can make that long term commitment.
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