Lee Odden“Facts tell, stories sell” – Lee Odden, TopRank Online Marketing

Lee Odden is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing. He is an active thought leader in the digital marketing and public relations industry, author of “Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing”, an international public speaker, and a developer of training and development seminars.

During a conference I was presenting at in Eastern Europe, I was given the opportunity to do an on-air interview for a popular TV station in Bucharest. I had no idea what I was going to be asked about other than something to do with marketing.

Did the TV reporter ask about me or my agency? Did he ask me about the conference or my presentation? No, of course not. He asked me for quick stories about innovative advertising and marketing – 5 of them. All to be told in 5 minutes. I learned this right before the cameras rolled.

There was no backing out and ultimately, I was able to come up with 2 random stories that made it to the live interview. My storytelling was not weak, but not strong either.

The experience reinforced to me this lesson: Whether you are in sales, marketing or a leadership position, you MUST have a healthy number of soundbite stories on tap for whatever expertise you want to be known for. This applies to networking, meetings with prospects, media interviews, on social media and in your writing. To put it simply: Facts tell, stories sell.

Don’t chase people who don’t need or desire your offering” – Samantha Stone, The Marketing Advisory Network

Samantha Stone is the Founder of The Marketing Advisory Network. She strives to help marketers bridge the gap between sales and marketing by focusing on the most important player – the buyer. You can read more about her marketing philosophy and get practical advice by visiting www.unleashpossibleblog.com or following her on twitter @SamanthaStone.

Believe it or not my B2B marketing career started selling restaurant coupons door-to-door. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But it’s true. When I was 22, fresh out of college, I wanted to move to Massachusetts, so I did. But I had no job. Forced by the reality of paying bills, I settled for a job pushing restaurant coupons door-to-door. The job was 100% commission based. If I had a good day I went grocery shopping. If I had a bad day I ate whatever was cheapest at McDonald’s. I learned many things during the four months I hustled; but what stuck with me most was what I learned about personas. I didn’t call it that in those days, but they were buyer personas nonetheless.

After a couple of weeks on the job I started to see patterns – neighborhoods where I’d make a lot of money, and ones where I’d make almost nothing. Can you guess what territory I fought for each day? It wasn’t densely populated areas with lots of stay at home moms. It wasn’t retirement communities. It wasn’t even neighborhoods that had lots of mansions. It was a busy downtown with a police station, fire station and bank. I could make more in one hour visiting those three places than I could walking the other areas for six hours. Police officers hated the idea of me walking in unfamiliar neighborhoods alone. I leveraged their concern for my safety to sell more coupons. At the fire station there were always hungry, mostly men, who were generally a little bored with down time between calls, happy to indulge a young woman in a flirty chat. And bankers – well they fully appreciated a good bargain and always had several people more than willing to part with their money for a good deal.

By accident I had discovered personas. Crude, incomplete, not well researched personas, but buying signals nonetheless. And this is something that has stuck with me throughout my entire career.

As B2B marketers we tend to spend far too much time chasing people who don’t need or desire our offering. Instead, focus on those to whom you can make a real connection and you’ll find your productivity soar.