In case you missed the most recent edition of Digital Studio magazine that featured conversations with marketing trailblazers, here’s my contribution that talks about how we came to be, our unique marketing approach and strategies, and how we help the media and entertainment industry reliably start sales conversations.
Enjoy this unabridged conversation of Q&A Responses for Digital Studio’s Marketing Wizards of M & E edition and check out the full piece in the digital magazine:
Tell us something about yourself?
I’m Cindy Zuelsdorf, founding partner of Kokoro Marketing, a marketing agency for broadcast media and high-tech companies that I started after decades in the broadcast industry. We use conversational marketing and marketing automation to help our clients start more sales conversations. You can find out more about Kokoro at kokoroinc.com. I’m also the author of “7 Marketing Basics.” Find out more about the book at www.7MarketingBasics.com.
In my early days I started by running music stores and helping customers find their fave hip-hop, opera or punk. Next I moved to running sales and marketing at a small broadcast hardware/software company and selling equipment to NBC, NASA, and Netflix – I was putting equipment in a suitcase, traveling to TV stations and post houses, and demoing gear to engineers. And today, I have my digital marketing agency where we work the trenches every day, know what marketing works for starting sales conversations, and we specialize in being broadcast media marketing pros. It’s the best!
Could you elaborate on your approach to marketing technology products in the ever-evolving landscape of the industry?
The name of my business, “Kokoro,” means heart, mind, and spirit. I think this focus is so cool because when we’re doing any kind of marketing or sales, we want to understand who we’re working with — both our clients and then their customers. If we’re honest about what makes marketing work, it comes down to understanding the hearts and minds of the audience.
Our clients are busy people. Most of them are engineers and CEOs, and marketing is not what they got into business to do. So we do their marketing for them or show them how to do it. I absolutely love using marketing automation with our clients so they can focus their time and energy on inventing, building, selling, and doing what they love most.
What is your marketing strategy to stand out in the competitive market?
When I started to use systems and automation to take care of routine, repeatable processes within my own business, and for my clients, that’s when we began to stand out. Though I had considered myself a rebel, forging my own path, I realized that by leveraging systems such as marketing automation and a proven marketing framework, I could do it all and still have time left for other things I want to do. Just as important, I could help my clients do the same.
What are the primary challenges you face when marketing products, and how do you address them?
One challenge I see frequently is lead follow up after trade shows. When you come back from a trade show you have dozens, hundreds, or thousands of leads. What do you do next? Do you send a thank you email and then just hand the leads to your sales team? Or make one quick call yourself, then hope for the best? That’s exactly what a lot of companies do and It breaks my heart! It’s leaving money on the table.
That’s why I work with my clients to help them augment the work their sales team is already doing. Once you’ve captured new leads, follow up with a system that will help you succeed. Don’t let a single opportunity fall through the cracks.
Lead follow-up is one of my favorite of the 7 Marketing Basics in my book and course because it focuses on taking prospects further into the sales funnel rather than letting them fade away.
We work hard and spend money to get leads, right? Of course, we want personalized follow-up and for most of us we want to pick up the phone and call. That said, one of the most amazing things ever is to have an automated, reliable, consistent follow-up system in place that does the work even when we forget or when we get too busy. And it works in parallel with any existing sales process you have in place. The fortune really is in the follow-up system!
Could you provide examples of novel strategies you’ve employed to effectively reach out to your target customers?
One thing that sets us apart is that the companies we work with can get services from us or learn what we do so they can do it for themselves.
After running my business for about 3 years, I stepped back and took a look at which tools and techniques had been working best for my clients. I surrounded myself with sticky notes, each one with a campaign type or marketing tactic and then set about organizing them into a more meaningful collection.
In the end I identified my “7 Marketing Basics,” which became the basis for my book and online training course. (The book hit No. 1 on the new release chart in Amazon’s marketing for small business category!)
Even marketing professionals find it challenging to put the latest tools together in a way that helps them take marketing through to sales. The “7 Marketing Basics” offers a simple framework (and some useful shortcuts) that help a business make a meaningful impact without a significant input of time and energy. (You can grab a copy of the book or sign up for the online course at www.7MarketingBasics.com.)
It gives you the seven things I’ve found can really move the needle for a company, and any one of those 7 things can be a great starting place for anyone who isn’t sure where to begin. I tell clients all the time, “You don’t have to live a life of experimentation! You don’t have to try a million things! Just use this system, pick one thing, and do it.”
If you’re familiar with the Pareto Principle, you understand the 80/20 concept: 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. The point is that you don’t have to do it all. You just need to find the 20% of marketing efforts that will move you toward your business goals. That’s what the “7 Marketing Basics” is all about. It presents the marketing tactics that make up that 20% and how to put them to work.
In the context of Media & Entertainment, how do you tailor your marketing strategies to resonate with the unique needs of this industry?
The pace of technological changes is so fast in the broadcasting industry, and there’s always something new to learn. So sharing helpful information is one of the best ways to nurture a relationship between our clients and their prospects. One strategy we use is offering free resources to be helpful. A valuable guide is a great way to keep the conversation going. We also reach out through LinkedIn, webinars, live trainings, email campaigns, speeches at live events, and podcasts with various partners.
With the rapid pace of technological advancements, how do you ensure that your marketing strategies remain relevant and adaptable over time?
One of our core values at Kokoro is iterating and continuing to get better. We work as a team and talk with our clients about how changes in technology affect our work. One example is AI, and it’s something that we’ve been using for quite awhile, continuing to experiment with, and learning about every day.
How do you leverage customer feedback and insights to refine your marketing strategies and product positioning?
I speak with clients daily, and they’re often just happy to be given a plan and concrete steps they can take in reaching a specific goal. They’re smart people running their own companies, but they don’t have a lot of time. And sometimes they don’t have much desire to be working on marketing when they have 42 other priorities. So they need their role to be as straightforward as possible. They just want to hear “Do this: step 1, step 2, step 3, and step 4.”
I often need to remind myself that what has become obvious to me is not always clear to everyone else as they look at their own marketing. I’ve done a lot of work to build a system that’s effective, and it’s great to be able to provide my clients with a proven framework and walk them through how to make the most of it and be successful. Whether clients need us to do their marketing for them, or if they want to learn how to do it themselves through my book and course, we can help!
With the rise of digital platforms and social media, how do you integrate these channels into your marketing mix for technology products?
Social media is a part of our strategy for our clients, especially LinkedIn and YouTube. They all work synergistically with webinars, trade shows, emails, and blog posts to cross-promote the messages our clients want to get across.
One area we’ve had a lot of success lately is LinkedIn ad retargeting. It’s a great way to reach the people who visit your website on LinkedIn, too. If you want to know more about how you can use ad retargeting, watch this video to find out how to make sure that your dream clients will see you on the social channels they use: https://kokoroinc.com/how-to-do-ad-retargeting-to-your-website-visitors-and-prospects-using-linkedin-and-facebook/.
Could you share a few key lessons you’ve learned throughout your career in marketing technology products within the Media & Entertainment sector?
We’ve all seen people at small and medium-sized companies working terribly hard, regularly putting in 12+ hour days. Maybe that’s us?! These dedicated CEOs, engineers, and marketers miss out on working smarter because they are simply too busy to stop and “sharpen their tools,” too busy to make their company better.
Many of these same companies seem reluctant to use technology in their marketing systems which is ironic because we are in the tech industry, right?!
But I’ve seen firsthand that really good sales and marketing systems can determine the success of a company… and be the difference between good and great. I’ve watched modern marketing tools — and marketing automation in particular — help companies augment the work of the sales team, bolster their success, and provide enhanced services to customers. Such systems create repeatability and success.
When you are together marketing for your next show and need some inspiration for getting started, try these:
- Call your hot list, your dream 100 list. Think about the top 20 or 50+ people you’d love to see at your show. Now call them and invite them. Old school, I know. But it works!
- What do they want or need? When you send your series of promo emails (automated or not) tell them what they will get when they come see you at the show. No need to talk too much about yourself. What’s the benefit to them? That’s the focus! (WIIFM! = “what’s in it for me”)
- After your prospect reads your email or gets your call, what would you like them to do next? Book a meeting, request a demo, or something else? Make your call to action clear, make it easy for them to take the next step.
- Offer something fun and useful to everyone who books a meeting with you in advance of the show – a tool, a free report, a diagram, a gift card for a cuppa coffee.
Any successful marketing case study you would like to share with us.
One quick story I can share comes from Broadcast Asia where our client, Din at Techtel, said to me, “I was on our stand at the show and a colleague asked me, ‘Does the work that Kokoro does for you actually do anything? Do you measure it?’ I pointed to a demo happening right next to us and said, ‘That guy is here because of the email promotion we did. He replied to the email and set up the appointment. In fact, the 10 appointments we have this morning are a result of our work with Kokoro.”
Another case study is around our work with FOR-A. “Kokoro is very proactive and feedback-based,” Kanemura said. “Everyone here is really busy, so Kokoro is always actively engaged in what should come next,” to keep the conversation with customers and potential customers continuous.
You can read more about FOR-A’s results and see all of our case studies here: https://kokoroinc.com/about/#results
What is your strategy to calculate the ROI from each campaign and what is the best practice to measure the ROI from each campaign?
I find that marketing automation makes measuring ROI easy, and our clients appreciate the difference. One client, FOR-A America, had come to us because they had tried advertising to elevate the brand’s awareness. “It’s very difficult to measure the effect of advertising,” Satoshi Kanemura, President and COO told me. “How many people see it? We don’t really know.”
For FOR-A and many of our clients, we use measurable emails, webinars, and reports to grow a brand’s reach, all managed through marketing automation software so that data can be analyzed. The results for FOR-A have been very positive. “It’s been a very tangible, visible reaction from customers and very positive,” Kanemura said.
Any additional information you would like to share, please share
You can find out more about Kokoro Marketing at kokoroinc.com.
I’m also the author of “7 Marketing Basics.” (The book hit No. 1 on the new release chart in Amazon’s marketing for small business category!) Find out more about the book and online course at www.7MarketingBasics.com.
And you can find out exactly what marketing to do next for your company here: www.7MarketingBasicsStart.com
And be sure to check out the Digital Studio Marketing Wizards of M & E edition for the other featured marketing wizards’ brilliant conversations.