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Articles we like.

Never fluffy and definitely not clickbait.

Traditional SEO Has A Growing Visibility Problem

The Iron Horse Insight: SEO is about getting the top spot for your key terms when someone is searching on a search engine like Google, right? Wrong. For many search terms, the top organic search result is now below the fold. This means that if your organization isn’t thinking about and actively working on securing featured snippets, paragraph style “best answer” for searches phrased as a question, and the increase of zero-click searches, your organization’s SEO is slowly eroding. Our take is to ensure your marketing team, but also executive management knows why the “SEO of today” is fundamentally different than it was five years ago. It’s important to know what that means in terms of marketing strategy and marketing measurement.

Read on The Local Lighthouse Arrow Right

The Sobering Truth: Why You Can’t Sell to C-Suite Executives

The Iron Horse Insight: According to Gong.io’s analysis of over 39K sales conversations, “asking discovery questions decreases your win rate” when speaking to senior decision-makers (SVP+). Successful first meeting sales conversations “involve only four sales questions on average.” How does this make sense? Senior execs have “discovery fatigue” and most, if not all, discovery questions are beneficial only to the seller. One can see how many sales calls can feel like an interrogation. We’re not ready to say discovery is dead, but we do agree that sales should lead with insights, not information gathering. This is aided by ensuring that sales spends time upfront researching the company, industry, and contact person, before the meeting- because in many cases integration-like discovery calls are a result of lack of preparation.

Read on LinkedIn Arrow Right

Meet the 7 Personas of the Modern CMO

The Iron Horse Insight: We want a marketing team leader who is a thought leader, an exceptional product marketer, who understands martech and operations and has a passion for people development. We also want a fire breathing unicorn. The CMO role is often framed as being a master-of-everything-in-marketing, but like a fire breathing unicorn, such a CMO does not exist. In this article, Tim Kopp points out the seven CMO personas he sees in business today, and like us, he doesn’t think one person can do it all. That’s where a team comes in. Our take is if you need a CMO, start by clearly defining your organization’s core marketing challenges and the skills and capabilities of the existing marketing team. Then, and only then, outline the CMO skills your company requires—at the very least, what skills are needed to round out the team.

Read on CMO to VC Arrow Right

Making Virtual Teams Work: Ten Basic Principles

The Iron Horse Insight: Virtual teams are commonplace in business due to the improved quality of technology, the need for access to skilled resources, and increased incidents of working from home driven by COVID-19. However, what is not common yet is high quality, effective virtual teams. High performing virtual teams follow ten basic principles. Of those,  two hold our attention 1) Have a rhythm: Establish and share meeting agendas in advance, have clear agreements on communication protocols, and start and finish on time. 2) Create a communications charter that establishes norms (e.g. limit background noise, no side conversations, don’t dominate the conversation). These items place focus on the less frequent and robust nature of virtual communication compared to face-to-face interaction, yet organizations don’t address these facts directly.

Read on Harvard Business Review Arrow Right

R.I.P. Good Times

The Iron Horse Insight: It’s on a random page on the Sequoia website, and it links out to a DropBox, but trust us when we say it’s a really good read even though it’s buried. We’re highlighting this digital misstep because this presentation was given by Sequoia in 2008 right before the financial crisis, and before knowing how long and sharp the downturn would be. After chuckling at the tombstone opening, go to slides 44-49 and 52, where it highlights the new realities, increased challenges, and a checklist for survival. COVID-19 might be new, but the way to think through and persevere through Black Swan events is well established.

Read on Sequoia Arrow Right

Coronavirus: The Black Swan of 2020

The Iron Horse Insight: Why Sequoia doesn’t have a blog on its website, is beyond us. We don’t follow the logic of that decision because what it posted to Medium about black swan events was quite insightful. We particularly loved the observation about how “nobody ever regrets making fast and decisive adjustments to changing circumstances. In downturns, revenue and cash levels always fall faster than expenses.” This sentiment rings true as does the guidance it gave to the founders and CEOs of its portfolio companies about managing through a storm of uncertainty. Cash runway: Do you have as much cash runway as you think? Sales forecasts: Even if you don’t see immediate exposure, assume your clients will revise spending habits. Capital Spending: review if your spending plans still make sense. Marketing: Pull in the cost of customer acquisition.

Read on Sequoia Arrow Right

A New Study Should Be the Final Nail for Open-Plan Offices

The Iron Horse Insight: When you walk into an office you’ll undoubtedly see an open floor plan. The idea and hypothesis behind the open office design is simple: an open-plan office allows for more interaction and collaboration. However, a recent study shows that open-plan offices have led to a 73% decrease in face-to-face interactions and a 67% increase in email usage. Has there been an over-rotation toward open-plan offices? Sander would argue yes. Product, sales, and marketing should collaborate, but at the end of the day, people still need to focus and do heads down work. Our take: there is a reason we always wore noise-canceling earphones in open offices. Good office design is aesthetically pleasing and provides spaces for collaboration BUT also needs to provide space for intense concentration.

Read on THE CONVERSATION Arrow Right

Lessons from the CMO’s Inbox

The Iron Horse Insight: You and everyone else is trying to get in front of the CMO; however, it’s unlikely. In fact, Rohrs explains in his blog that “6,892 technology companies [are] trying to sell something to CMOs.” That’s a lot of competition. Instead of targeting a CMO directly, Rohrs suggests that BDRs should target front-line marketers. Their inboxes are less cluttered and they’re more likely to understand the value of your product, service, or solution because they are the end-users and they’re the ones feeling the pain in their daily jobs. We agree with (and really like) Rohr’s idea. In building on it, we urge you to take into consideration the size of the company that your BDRs are expected to target. For instance, it’s more likely to get a response from a CMO at a <$25m company than get a response from a CMO at a major enterprise so, if/when BDRs are targeting a SMB, we suggest they target C-level execs in addition to front-line personnel. If they’re targeting an enterprise, we suggest following Rohrs’ advice.

Read on MarTech Advisor Arrow Right

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