As per Dawn Iacobucci, a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and editor of the Journal of Consumer Research: “Companies need to know what’s on your mind. What’s in your heart? What do you really want to do with your life?”
So, true it is! I am no professor for sure but over these years, I have gathered a few lessons which I keep close to my heart.
One of them is, sort of, rule of thumb:
“Numbers don’t mean anything. Your customers mean.”
And herein lies the problem.
Your customers won’t say a thing!
But they will ACT…once a new product arrives in the market or a competitor comes up with a better marketing strategy. And it might already be late then (or so we can assume for the moment).
I have seen many businesses fall into this trip and lose over millions in sales revenue.
Wait a second! In case, you are thinking…these companies had star marketing managers and had market research PPTs dispersed all over their desk.
So what went wrong?
They looked into the numbers, the facts, or the objective aspect of it.
They didn’t care to look into the subjective aspect of it.
Even when they were thinking that their customer is 50 years old, earns $45000 and is a family person living in an urban neighbourhood, they didn’t really figure out what motivates their customer—their desires, their fears, their aspirations. You know, like the way you know your brother or your best friend.
In my opinion—this is something I try to achieve in my marketing work too—always focus on the inner person of your customer.
KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER INSIDE OUT. (Reminding me of Brian Adams’ song.)
To start with, here’s an outline of the 8 types of customer psychology you will deal with everyday.
1. Actualizers: These people are sophisticated, successful and active. They come with high self-esteem and possess loads of resources. They seek enrichment, growth and self-exploration. Their need of expression is quite strong, and they manifest strength of character and independence. They do not conform to status-, principle- or action-oriented behaviour.
2. Fulfilleds: These people are mature, reflective and comfortable in nature. They value knowledge, they demand order and they manifest responsibility in their actions. They are educated professionals and are self-assured. They work on principles and prefer personal risks to societal risks. They are conservative people, content with family and careers.
3. Believers: These people are conventional and conservative. They believe in family, community, nation and the church. They favour domestic products and well-known brands. They have modest education and income but they are self-sufficient and live according to routine.
4. Achievers: They are successful in their careers and fully in control and content in their family lives. They value structure and stability above all. They are conservative and does not like change in the status quo. They normally go with the big names in the industry. They do not like to take too many risks.
5. Strivers: These people seek approval from those around them. They possess fewer economic, psychological and social resources. What they desire is out of their reach. They normally emulate higher status people and desire to be stylish. They are normally impulsive and unsure of themselves.
6. Experiencers: These are the younger generations—impulsive, enthusiastic and even rebellious. They love action and self-expression to the fullest. They seek excitement and adventure, and to some extent, to feed their ego. They enjoy fashion, music, movies, sports, social activities and fast food—uninformed and politically uncommitted.
7. Makers: These people are realists. They are practical, and value self-sufficiency and family. They enjoy working on houses, repairing furniture and raising children. They are more into equipments for practical purposes. They are conservative by nature and conform to god and government. They prefer privacy though.
8. Strugglers: They have limited financial, social or psychological resources. They manifest poor health, both mental and physical. They are negative by nature, and focus on how everything is difficult. They focus more on present rather than the future. They are cautious about new purchases and need trust.
Okay, I understand that this is too generic, especially if you are in the B2B industry.
But what I wanted this to be just a start, you know.
For you to start working on creating your own customer psyche chart.
The main thing is, do not neglect their inner psychology.
Want to know how I remind myself of this every day I start working on a marketing campaign?
I just remind myself that I am a consumer too.
I try to place myself in their shoes and see myself playing their role in my mind.
Philosophy is not my strong point, but I like to sound intellectual when I write these blogs, so I thought I would spend some time with Plato.
Plato discusses a “theory of forms,” and by the term “forms” he really means ideas. The basic idea of the theory is that ideas are a higher form of reality than stuff. Heavy-duty thinking, right? Of course, Plato was a little biased because he was selling ideas and not stuff, but I tend to agree with him anyway.
For example, in addition to being a blogger, I also market business software. The sales team is really selling a giant pile of perfectly arranged ones and zeroes.
Now, we could argue that they’re not selling ones and zeroes, but rather the arrangement of those numerals. Do we really go to the florist to buy flowers, or do we go to buy a floral arrangement?
This isn’t anything new. The old saw is that people don’t need drills, they need holes. (Yes, it amuses me that there is an old saw about drills.) But seriously, who on earth is going to buy a hole? No one, that’s who. So, we can sell saws because they’re tangible, but we market holes because holes are an idea.
Back to our customers. They know they need a hole (or a solution), and they may even jump to the conclusion that they need a drill, or a great big pile of nicely arranged ones and zeroes. On the other hand, they may have a screw loose and not necessarily make that leap. That’s where we come in.
What does all this have to do with Plato? Hang on, I’m getting there.
You see, Plato wrote about the allegory of the cave. In this scenario, there are a bunch of prisoners chained in a cave. They cannot turn around, but they have a fire behind them that casts shadows on the cave wall in front of them. As a matter of perspective, the prisoners regard the shadows as reality and not the objects creating the shadows (which they cannot see).
So let’s suppose a drill and board are situated between the fire and the prisoners, and when the drill makes a hole in the board, the prisoners get the concept without actually laying their hand on the drill.
A salesman might go to these prisoners and ask them if they would like to buy a drill. “Yes,” the prisoners will say. “We can drill through our shackles and get the heck out of here.”
Now a rookie marketer might go to these same prisoners and say, “You dopes, a drill will get the job done, but what you really need are keys to unlocking your shackles.”
Plato had a sage teacher, Socrates. Socrates, the originator of the Socratic method (duh), knew it was far better to teach by asking questions rather than lecturing. So taking a cue from Socrates, the savvy marketer will say, “A drill might work for you but what do you really want? Do you want to get out of this damp cave? Have you considered keys?”
Great marketers will not try to disabuse their customers of their preconceived notions. A great marketer will be informed about potential solutions. They will endeavour to understand their customers’ needs. But rather than pushing a solution on a potentially uninformed customer, they will inform and encourage their customers to draw their own conclusion.
I’ve come to the conclusion that neither Plato nor Socrates had all the answers, but they had some great ideas. I think they would have been terrific marketers.
In 2019, the average email user is expected to receive 96 emails per day. How can you make your company’s emails stand out?
Are you thinking what I am thinking?
Look, emails can be a great way to build customer engagement and drive sales, but all too often this potentially powerful resource is misused and overused (as is expected, we marketers were never really known for taking our economics classes seriously! We just don’t know when to draw a line. We beat the best strategy to a pulp…always. But that’s best kept for another discussion.)
Okay, so where were we?
Yeah, abuse of email marketing, right.
Improper use of e-mail campaigns is not just a waste of your time and money, it can also wind up driving away customers. Take it from an email marketer with “almost” a decade of experience.
Here are six tips to help you get started with successful, productive e-mail campaigns.
1. Start with a clear goal in mind
This is not just the starting point of a successful campaign—it’s the most important part of planning. Without a clear goal, how can you make your message to the customer clear? A clear goal will include what action you want your customers to take, how you will motivate them towards this action, and which group of your current or potential customers you are targeting with your message.
2. Target the right audience
It doesn’t matter how well-crafted your message is if it isn’t reaching the right people. The segment of your current or prospective customer base should be directly in line with the goal you set for your campaign.
Example 1: Opening a new physical store
If you’re planning on opening a new physical store, you will want to make your customers aware of this – but, which customers will care? If you’re opening a new store in Arizona, sending this news to your online customers on the East Coast will not be ideal as the news is irrelevant to them. An effective target group would include online customers with Arizona based addresses.
Example 2: Offering a new product
If you’re trying to make customers aware of a new product being sold on your online store, you will want to target the customers most likely to not only buy the product, and filter out any customers who would not be valuable targets. You might consider building your target group around customers who have purchased items of the same brand before, but have not purchased a similar product recently.
3. Take steps to avoid spam filters
Unfortunately, the prevalence of junk and scam e-mail means that part of creating an effective campaign is taking steps to ensure that your marketing message is not assumed to be spam and filtered out before it ever reaches your customers’ inboxes.
Keep your e-mail lists clean. Lists with a large number of invalid e-mail addresses are more likely to lead to future e-mails being considered spam.
Have a clean subject line. The most common junk e-mail subject lines are: “Act Now” and “Limited Time Offer.” Spam filters tend to use these as red flags to determine if a message is spam or legitimate marketing. When in doubt about a particular subject line, check your own junk e-mail folder and see what phrases are used there. Similarly, avoid typos, using all capitalized words, or multiple exclamation marks in the subject line, as these are also frequently associated with spam.
Don’t use too many images. A high text-to-images ratio is very common in spam. Most e-mail service providers recommend having about a 60/40 ratio of text-to-images in your message.
4. Send your e-mail at the right time
Typically, messages sent overnight or late in the day end up being deleted rather than read. The best time to reach your customers will vary based not only on your industry, but your customer base. MailChimp has done a large amount of analysis on this topic and has a helpful article that covers the best times in detail.
5. Create click-worthy content
Once a customer sees your e-mail in their inbox, the battle is only half won. The effectiveness of your campaign now rests on the content of the message. Consider three things when creating your content: an enticing subject line, an easy-to-navigate layout, a clear call to action.
6. Measure the effectiveness of your e-mails
The most common measurements to look at are open rates and click-through rates. These metrics give you an idea of how many people your message is actually reaching and how many of those customers are actually acting on your messages.
As a marketer, you already know that nothing is set in stone. We create. We innovate. We sell.
However, these are the pointers that have kept the marketing campaigns straight and my clients sane and healthy in today’s tough market.
Tools like Curated, Goodbits and TinyLetter made it easier than ever to start a newsletter. Many people took advantage of these great tools and began building lists and curating content.
These tools don’t suddenly make people care about what you have to say. Marketers, the chief offenders of bad emails, took it too far this year. Most newsletters flopped, whether the creators are willing to admit it or not.
Here are a few reasons why most newsletters fail along with some suggestions on sending an email that actually works.
They don’t start at the beginning.
Most newsletters send recent posts to subscribers. Regardless of when the subscriber joins, everyone receives the same information at the same time. Dropping a reader into the content slipstream is the easiest way to send a newsletter, but it’s certainly not the best.
A new visitor to your site lacks context. How has your blog evolved? How do you help people succeed? What do other readers know that they don’t?Answering these questions goes a long way towards earning loyal readers.
New subscribers to the Vero blog receive a six-step campaign. The first email welcomes the new subscriber and shares the Vero blog “Hall of Fame.” These aren’t our most-trafficked posts, they are the highest-converting posts.
Next, we send a series of five emails explaining how we can help them succeed. We offer content as well as tips for using our app to send better emails. Within the first few days of subscribing, we send four emails. We want to provide the most useful information we can while the reader’s curiosity is piqued. After this campaign ends, subscribers simply receive our normal weekly newsletter.
Our strategy isn’t perfect, but it’s worked well. More than 50% of the early emails are opened. That’s more than double our weekly newsletter.
New readers need different information. Tailor their initial experience with a simple campaign to get them up to speed as quickly as possible.
There is a disconnect between the audience and the content.
This problem isn’t unique to email marketing, but it’s the reason many newsletters go unread. People subscribe to newsletters for information that will help them succeed in their work or personal life. Promotion, therefore, falls on deaf ears.
This is the exact reason email can’t be viewed as a channel. Email can be used to build relationships at scale, but it requires that marketers move away from a “channel” mentality and towards a “user experience” mentality. That may seem like a subtle difference, but it results in completely different messaging. Marketers that view email as a channel gravitates towards blast emails and promotions. They burn through lists without regard for the subscribers’ needs or wants. Marketers that focus on user experience deliver content that helps the subscribers succeed. They, in turn, are rewarded with loyal customers.
Modern marketing is operating under the delusion that consumers want to interact with brands, and have relationships with brands, and brand experiences, and engage with them, and co-create with them.
Sorry, amigo. Not in this lifetime.
Make sure the content of your emails is what your readers need. Without empathy, your email is doomed to fail.
It’s sent too often or not often enough.
Creating a publishing schedule is a positive constraint that results in big wins for your business. This starts by setting an expectation during the signup. If you promise an email every day, you better send one every day. And if you promise one every month, you can’t send one every week.
A schedule is a key to creating habitual readers. They must know when to expect your emails or your results will be wildly inconsistent. If you plan to test subject lines and calls to action, send time is a variable you need to consider. Make a promise to your readers and keep it.
Users don’t actually ask for them.
Email marketing is the pinnacle of permission-based marketing. This means you have the privilege, not the right, to communicate with prospects, leads and customers. It’s the #1 reason we see email marketers fail and the #1 reason we see them succeed. As Seth Godin says, it’s all about building trust and earning respect.
It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.
If you’re sending your newsletter to trial sign-ups who didn’t explicitly request your emails, you’re breaking that trust.
Respect the inbox, deliver value and you can succeed.
“You do branding? That’s like graphic design, right? Like, logos and websites?” – about 30 people we shall not name.
One common misconception about branding is that it is the same as design. And while design is the visual representative of your brand, it is only an element of your branding. Lately the word “branding” is viewed more like buzzword than a staple part of starting a business.
However, branding is a significant part of your business development. It should be highly prioritized when starting a new company. Your branding will influence how your company does against competitors when it enters the marketplace.
What is branding?
Branding is the practice of creating a name, symbols, or designs that represent who you are, why you are, and how your target audience should perceive you. Its purpose is to differentiate your company from its competitors and clearly display the promises that you make to your customers.
The branding process includes research that helps develop a strategy of how to present your brand to your target audience. This research is then used to create assets that support your brand promise and appeal to your customers.
Doing brand research.
Brand research helps define exactly what you intend the brand to be. It is an essential step that should be done prior to developing any elements to market to your customers. This research ensures that the assets you create attract the most qualified buyer for your products and services.
The two types of research that you should do when building a brand are:
Market research is the process of finding information about the competitive market you are entering. You should know who your competitors are, what they offer, how much they are charging, and what unique benefit you can offer to your customers that they cannot. This helps define your company’s value proposition.
Customer research is the process of finding information about people who are currently purchasing products and services similar to yours. When doing product research you should determine what customers are looking for in a product, what they are not receiving from the current provider, and how they will value what you offer.
Developing your branding.
Your company’s branding includes a complex set of assets that collectively establish a relationship with your customers and defines your values. These assets should be deliberate and consistent.
The following assets are part of your branding:
Your brand message is the value that you offer to your customers. This is what makes people relate to your brand and influences them to buy from and follow you.
Your brand tone is the tone of voice that you want to use when communicating with your customers. It is a representation of your brand’s message. The tone used for your branding will influence how your target audience thinks of and interacts with your brand.
Your brand’s name is the first thing a potential customer hears in reference to your company. It should be strategically developed to clearly define what you do and who you do it for. A customer should not have to guess what your company is about when hearing your name.
Understanding how colour affects emotion allows you to capitalize on the emotional elements of sales. Color is one of the first things that your brain perceives. It will influence the customer’s reaction to your product or service before they learn any detailed information about it. The colours for your brand must be consistent with how you want your customer to feel when they see your brand.
Typography is the art of arranging type. The fonts you use when branding your company will heavily influence how your message will be perceived. They must be consistent with the tone of your brand.
A logo is a symbol used to visually represent your products and services. It should incorporate all of your branding elements. Your logo should be a clear, distinct symbol of your brand.
Brand collateral is the media, usually printed, that you use to promote your brand. Business cards, flyers, direct mailers, and product labels are all brand collateral. These are used to strengthen your brand’s message and tone and generate customer leads.
Your website is your strongest marketing tool of all. It incorporates all elements of your branding to generate a stronger brand presence in your industry. It is your global voice as it is the most accessible asset you will have worldwide.
Branding is important because it makes your brand relatable to your customers. It also creates credibility for your company. Your branding will influence the success your company has in its target market.
It takes 5-7 impressions for your brand to become recognizable to the customer (Action Card). If your branding is inconsistent, even a little, your brand value and message may become lost in your marketing. This will make it harder to produce brand loyalty.
Having strong branding allows the customer to build a connection with you that they can trust. 90% of purchases are made subconsciously (ISPO News). Once you have secured a place in the customers’ mind, it is easier to close a sale.
The colours that you choose for your branding significantly impact your brand recognition. A staple colour increases brand recognition by 80% (University of Loyola).
The strength of your branding plays a huge role when trying to secure funding for your company. 82% of investors see brand strength as an important factor when deciding on an investment (Reuters).
How strong is your branding?
If you did the necessary research prior to starting your brand development, your branding should be generating sales and producing customer loyalty. However, if you are like many entrepreneurs starting, you may have overlooked a step or two. Don’t worry, it’s never too late to rebrand.
Branding is something that has to be monitored actively to ensure that it is effective. Just like the customer, it evolves and you must evolve with it. Well-known companies like Coke-a-Cola and Starbucks have all re-branded at some point or another when their branding no longer reflected their direction or reached their valued customers.
Invest in researching, defining, and developing your brand. Full-service agencies ensure consistency within your development and design processes. They are capable of creating all of the elements seamlessly while being able to monitor the impact that it has on your sales. Because they help create your strategy, they understand your goals and are able to help your brand pivot without losing the company’s core values.
In conclusion, great branding leads to loyalty and sales. Don’t sell yourself short.
But okay, these are the lines from a very boring Bollywood movie—becoming more of a downgraded version of Hollywood movies these days. Well, even Hollywood movies suck these days.
I know I sound too cynical. Can’t help it, it’s in my nature, man.
Do you still want a relationship with me? That’s great.
Then keep reading on.
Because today, we are going to talk about relationships, I mean, Customer Relationships.
And how well-connected and almost inseparable it is from your Content Marketing strategy.
For many who might not be so well aware of the term…
Relationship marketing is about relationships, of course. Here, the idea is not just getting new customers; it is reaching the right public, the one that’s able to perceive and extract the best out of your solution or product, reaching their goals and total satisfaction. And it goes beyond that, focusing on building and nurturing long-term relationships to increase loyalty and make clients loyal to your company.
We are talking about generating more business opportunities, and yes, we do want to improve the company’s revenue and get a bigger number of clients. However, relationship marketing aims its attraction efforts on:
Your target prospects with fit, able to get results from and with your company.
Identifying opportunities that can really benefit from that purchase.
Creating connections and providing a good communication throughout the funnel
Keeping clients happy and engaged even after the sales cycle is over.
If we take the dating analogy, it is about building a momentum where the woman gets smitten with you, agrees to sleep with you and is still happy to have more of it every day afterwards. She is a happy and satisfied client you have a very HARD-core relationship with.
(God! My examples—complete baloney I know! Forgive me.)
And the most important confession now as a copywriter now…
Can any sales or ad copy ever achieve this? NEVER.
What a sales copy does is, lure the woman or manipulate that 16-year old (underage alert!) to sleep with you once and only ONCE. She might regret it later and not see your face again. Heck! She can complain to the police. Whatever.
But the point is, no relationship is formed. No loyalty is created.
That’s where content marketing comes in.
Content marketing comes in to fill the gap left behind by traditional advertising or marketing methods (We are talking about brochures, flyers, website banner ads, etc).
But How Does Content Marketing Work To Build Customer Relationships?
The short and precise answer to that is: If someone comes to you for advice and you help him again and again, you create a relationship with him.
Forget about selling anything to him at the moment. Who cares! If you have an audience, you will have ready buyers.
According to a study by Robin Buchanan and Crawford Gillies, the increased profitability associated with relationship marketing is the result of several factors:
There’s less dating around. Loyal customers don’t go shopping around and they’re far less to switch. As an added bonus, they’re less price-sensitive because they’re more focused on the value than price.
It’s the foundation of word of mouth. Strong relationships are essential to a high Net Promoter Score — the chance that a customer will happily refer your business to a friend.
Your regulars are your rock. Returning customers buy more and buy more often. They’re often less expensive to serve because of their familiarity with your business and how your product works.
Expansion becomes easier. Longstanding customers are much more likely to purchase ancillary products through upselling and cross-selling.
You reduce the cost of acquisition. Happy customers introduce you to new prospects, reducing the need to paid advertising and costly marketing campaigns.
That’s what content marketing does for your business.
“What if businesses decided to inform, rather than promote? You know that expression ‘If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime?’ The same is true for marketing: If you sell something, you make a customer today; if you help someone, you make a customer for life. In every business category, one company will commit to being the best teacher, and the most helpful. And that company will be rewarded with attention, sales, loyalty and advocacy by consumers who are sick to death of being sold, sold, sold.”
So How Does Creating Mind-Blowing, Quality Content Affect Your Relationship Marketing Strategy?
Oh, I can ramble on and on…on this topic. Remember, it’s my job to ramble on in print.
However, I normally like to keep my letters short and to the point (apart from a little frivolous yapping in between). So, in the next 350 or 400 words, I will try to wrap this up.
Reason #1. Content marketing helps you retain long-term customers.
Research has shown that the longer a customer stays with a brand, the more valuable they become. In fact, an annual increase of just 1% in customer retention can equate to a 20% increase in revenue annually. When you work on building relationships with your customers, and not just selling to them, you begin to develop loyalty, which means they’re more likely to stick with your brand for the long haul.
Reasons #2. Content marketing helps you increase the likelihood of referrals.
Regardless of the dozens of different marketing techniques out there today, word of mouth is still the most powerful, with 84% of consumers citing the recommendation of a friend or family member as their most trusted source when making a purchase decision. The more satisfied and loyal your customers are, the more likely they will be to refer your brand to others. The best way to achieve this is through relationship marketing.
Reason #3. Content marketing helps create your “market moat”.
This term coined by me, proudly speaking, means how much market power you have—not based on your market share, access to limited resources or market penetration, but by dint of love and loyalty of your customers. Interactive, engaging content anthropomorphize your brand in the eyes of your target audience which they get into a unique relationship. It’s all in the personality, man.
Reason #4. Content marketing creates a two-sided interaction with your market.
When you’ve got a whole slew of happy, loyal customers in your corner, you’ve got an instant test market at the ready. Whenever you need to try out a new product or propose a new service, your loyal clientele will be there to offer feedback. Want to know how you’re doing? Ask your long-term customers. Their feedback can help you determine what your business’ greatest strengths are as well as identify areas that need improvement.
Content marketing DOES form an indispensable part of any marketing campaign. Yes, short, snappy two-liners look sexy and they do work in their own way, but when it comes to long-term advantages, long-term content, those 1000+ words articles, in-depth videos or podcasts and so on, rules. As @Kit_Smith says: “Content marketing can help you build an audience for the longer term, as good evergreen content will provide years of value.”
For the sole reason that they help to build a clout around you—the denser and the more outstretching it is, the better. And it all starts with one term ‘relationship’.
“We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.” ~ Craig Davis, former Chief Creative Officer at J. Walter Thompson.
And my friend, this is what makes Content Marketing perhaps the only marketing left today. Not my words, it’s Seth Godin who said it. A fine man with a wealth of marketing knowledge, I admire him.
Yes, he is true.
According to the 2017 B2B Content Marketing Trends, 39% of companies are increasing investment in content marketing.
Do you know the most surprising thing though? If you are an entrepreneur, you need to pay attention now.
Most businesses do not even know how to utilize the power of content marketing. They are CLUELESS.
Two of the leaders in B2B funnel benchmarking, Sirius Decisions and Forrester, will tell you that inquiry-to-closed-won conversion ratios are often below 2 percent in most industries, even for those who follow best practices.
Of course, if you go upstream of lead capture, the conversion rates of clicks or traffic to closed-won business are absolutely microscopic.
There are many reasons for these low conversion ratios. The most important of ‘em all is:
48% of small organizations have documented content marketing strategies(Source)
41% of large organizations have documented content marketing strategies(Source)
The competition is growing more intense every day, with avalanches of new content sliding into the market. And let’s face it, creating compelling content is hard.
(I consider myself to be an experience content marketer, and I spend over 2 hours in a single piece of article! Don’t be surprised; it’s the norm these days.)
In short, the market seems to believe that content creation, in and of itself, will win the day. It won’t. You really need the right content.
Well, I have listed 5 crucial steps to content marketing strategy that is geared to increase the quality and effectiveness of your content significantly.
STEP 1: DEFINE WHERE YOU CAN WIN – YOUR NICHE!
Media companies, marketing agencies, and our own egos often lure us into the crazy idea of expanding our target market. I must have heard this type of sentiment a thousand times from otherwise thoughtful, intelligent people.
We do so in the name of economies of scale or because we fear missing out on revenue opportunities. Don’t do it. Focus, focus, focus. Start with a rigorous exercise of looking at your current customers for the solution you are trying to sell. Begin with qualitative intelligence-gathering. Talk to the best sales people, the product team, the post-sales team, and the sales engineers:
Who are your most profitable accounts and why?
Which accounts have the greatest longevity and why?
What do these accounts have in common?
What accounts are unprofitable and why?
How can we avoid them?
Then do quantitative analysis, ideally matching your customers to third party databases to add dimension to your profiles.
Share the findings with the most relevant stakeholders to get a consensus on the ideal customer profile. Define account characteristics. Break your market into two or three segments, based upon their potential value. If you can only afford to speak to one of the segments, talk to the most valuable one. (Often the market leaders, if you can win them over, will influence the rest of the market).
Please understand that your definition today will change tomorrow. So make this an annual exercise for every solution you sell. For new solution categories, you may need to have a running dialogue until you find the ideal customer profile, experimenting as you go. And of course, find different ways to test and optimize your messaging hypothesis.
For companies with multiple products and services, you’ll generally want to look for one of your solutions that can most readily open the door to your other products and services.
FIND FOOT IN THE DOOR SOLUTION FOR OTHER THINGS YOU SELL
Microsoft, for example, started with tools for programmers initially. These attracted the most technically savvy people, a group with enormous influence over the next wave of early adopters.
Next, Microsoft created an operating system (well, Microsoft bought one and licensed it to IBM, to be perfectly accurate). The operating system created a platform for selling desktop productivity products like Word and Excel and their relationship with developers let them encourage those developers to build other desktop software and utilities.
There was enough critical mass to gradually expand from the desktop to the network and the applications on the system. Initially, the enterprise applications were BackOffice-focused but gradually became customer facing, like CRM Dynamics, Bing, and now LinkedIn.
This sequencing idea is the essence of product strategy and a key to demand generation success.
STEP 2: UNDERSTAND YOUR TARGET “CONTENT” AUDIENCE
Once you are clear on the kinds of accounts, you want to attract and the value you offer, it’s time to understand the decision dynamics for your solution in those accounts. While you will want to look at the entire path to purchase, let’s focus our attention on the top of the funnel:
WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO CHAMPION THE IDEA?
Not all champions get to vote.
You are really looking for one of those rare people inside an organization who can influence others.
Think about the functional role, the attitudes, the personality type, the credentials, the likely beliefs, and so on. This persona is who you are speaking to.
Even when your message reaches others in the company, as it probably will, they will often find this person for you.
Let them know who to look for.
WHAT EVENTS TRIGGER INTEREST?
Trigger events can be positive or negative (although, generally, people are far more motivated by pain-avoidance than by gain-attainment). These events can happen within a company or externally. They can happen on a day or over a long period of time.
The point is that those events often trigger companies into consideration for your solution. In many cases, these are problems your company can help address. You’ll want to understand what those trigger events are, like layoffs, leadership changes, new regulations, rapid growth, competitive encroachment, a round of VC funding, or employee turnover or customer churn.
You can then reference or otherwise leverage one or more such trigger events to help connect what your champion cares about to the possibility your solution might make a material difference. You can also research the prevalence of these trigger events in your target market to gauge the possible volume of demand that might exist.
Describing these trigger events clearly helps build for your prospect a bridge from what he or she understands to what he or she hasn’t considered.
WHAT UNCONSIDERED NEEDS CAN YOUR SOLUTION ADDRESS?
Generally, for people to change, they must feel the status quo is unsafe. And to do that, you must help them see what they do not see.
Jill Konrath in her excellent book, SNAP Selling, talks about “crazy busy” buyers. These are people who get so close to the day to day whirlwind of their jobs, they lose perspective. You want to help them see their situation with new eyes. This is the heart of the story you must tell.
To tell this story well, you really must understand the implications of these unmet needs.
Who is impacted by the status quo?
What does doing nothing cost, both short term and over time?
If you can quantify the benefit financially, you will empower your champion with the universal language of money, a language that everyone understands.
TO TELL OTHERS IN THE ORGANIZATION ABOUT YOUR SOLUTION, WHAT KEY BELIEFS WILL THE CHAMPION NEED TO HAVE?
You are not trying to get a champion to buy your solution at this point. You need your champion to begin to share your story enthusiastically with others.
To do so, she will need to believe a few things. She’ll have to believe your solution could make a big enough difference to warrant prioritizing your solution over any number of other things. Such an overarching belief often has some stepping-stone beliefs.
For example, I was just looking at a very cool software program (Conversica) that can apparently understand written email responses, including their tone and sentiment. So one stepping stone belief is that the AI engine can actually understand the nuances of the written language. Another is that my prospects won’t know they are not emailing a computer. A third might be that the program won’t inadvertently annoy my prospects.
WHAT EVIDENCE CAN YOU PRESENT?
Again, you are not trying to win the sale here. You are only trying to earn enough commitment to move the prospect from their status quo to interest in having a conversation with your company.
Still, you must present sufficient evidence to make the promise you are making credible enough to warrant taking the time to take a deeper look at your solution. To do so, you will need to marshal sufficient evidence to address the key beliefs your champion must have, both about your solution and the viability of your company.
Ideally, you are getting most of this information through direct interviews and/or focus groups, augmented with simple surveys. Usually, 5-10 interviews will give you what you need. If the information you are hearing gets redundant, you’ll know you have talked to a sufficient number of people. One tip: talk to these individuals during the purchase process or shortly after that while the experience is top of mind.
STEP 3: CLEARLY ARTICULATE YOUR TRUE VALUE PROPOSITION FOR YOUR PROSPECTS
And yet how often do you see words like “leading,” “exceptional,” “largest,” “greatest,” and other unbelievable, vague, vacuous claims?
One reason social media has become so popular is because people want another source of information they can trust: information from their friends or really anyone but the vendor and their media conspirators.
Part of the problem is that there is a LOT of things you can say about your solution and your company. But verbosity is confusing and boring. And if you really research your market, you’ll have a far more to share than you will need at the top of the funnel.
To find your value, you need to look at your solution through an honest, competitive lens and through the eyes of your customer. When doing so, you are looking for something your ideal customer wants badly that your competition doesn’t have. If your customers don’t want it, it doesn’t matter. If your customers want it and your competitors can also provide it, you’ll be in a low margin commodity business. Instead, you are looking for your only-factors, the ones your customers care deeply about and that only your company can make.
If your customers don’t want it, it doesn’t matter. If your customers want it and your competitors can also provide it, you’ll be in a low margin commodity business. Instead, you are looking for your only-factors, the ones your customers care deeply about and that only your company can make.
This is another case of getting your key stakeholders in a room to really grapple with this problem and come to a consensus. Look for three areas where you stand out and then build your messaging and story around these three value positions.
STEP 4: DEFINE YOUR MARKETING OBJECTIVE…OR SIMPLY, THE CALL TO ACTION
It’s important before you start to create content to consider your objective. It’s not to build your brand. That can certainly be something that happens as a by-product of your efforts, but it’s not the goal. The role of content at the top of the funnel is also not to generate clicks, traffic, inbound calls, or even leads, either. It’s also not to sell your product or service. That may be the endgame, but it’s not the objective at the top of the funnel.
I like to think of the objective as going to a party. Yes, you might secretly be hoping to meet the man or woman of your dreams, but you don’t go around asking someone who appeals to you to get married.
Rather, you’re just trying to spark a conversation, typically by being observant and interested in the other person. That’s the goal with demand generation. Show enough insight and interest to spark a conversation. Within the demand generation framework, each element must support that objective. If not, trim the fat, using your objective as a knife.
STEP 5: AND OH YES, DO LOVE YOUR PROSPECTIVE CUSTOMERS
This one may seem obvious, but there is a reason why sales and marketing often have bad reputations in the public square. Loving your customers starts by being respectful and empathetic toward them. And that means being authentic and honest, even if your tone needs to be playful. Treat them the way you would want to be treated. To the best of your ability, you want to climb behind the eyes of your would-be champion and experience the world the way she does. The more deeply you connect with them, the more effective the story you will tell.
This connection to your audience will generally help you find the right tone and voice, just as it does with people in your personal life.
Of course, with these five steps, you still need to create the content and adapt the content to the most appropriate method(s) of contact.
You’ll also need to make sure that the content and messaging at the top of the funnel is congruent with what comes later on.
But you’ll have a sound basis for breaking through the noise in the ever changing market because what you will offer will be rare, honest and true.
Now, if you are thinking to yourself, “Why take all these pains after all?”
Hmm…you can, after reading the statistics below.
Businesses that use content marketing get 6x more conversions than businesses that don’t (Source)
Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing (Source)
Content marketing generates 3x more leads than traditional marketing(Source)
82% of marketers who regularly blog see positive ROI from inbound marketing in general (Source)
PS: At the end of each message you always have the option to unsubscribe if you think my tips are not being valuable.
PPS: While the next message does not arrive … answer this email or send me whatsapp telling you the questions. I’ll be happy to answer you.
This was in August / September 2016. He kept sending new emails with text and video content.
And then he reheated this content and created the blog voce.cactusdobrasil.com.br that was initiated with several posts, exactly the same that he had sent by email.
Take out their notepad and note down that it did not start with a blog or YouTube channel. It began by re-establishing a communication with the customer via email.
No offers for about 2 months, and still, it made some good sales.
Did you like the technique “the owner’s email”?
Conquering a new customer costs 5 or 6 times more than maintaining an existing customer.
I see a lot of people sweating and spending INSANE amount of money to get new clients. But heck! They do not do any systematic tracking of old clients.
LET’S SEE ANOTHER EXAMPLE?
3 friends of mine created a course company, called Saggio Cursos, to offer engineering courses for students at our University.
Some courses went well and others did not. Well, as it would happen, they called me to take the Marketing part of the Saggio Courses.
To begin with, it’s my personal experience that we should focus on the relationship with the list. I realized that they were using the list anyway, pushing products, without even trying to create a relationship with this audience.
They used a new list, and it was a fiasco. Even E-goi blocked the account after sending these emails.
A mere 11% opening rate!
And then I thought about how I could use these same lists but with another footprint and generating value for the subscribers.
I took that Owner’s Email pattern used by Ricardo da Cactus do Brasil and I re-modelled it for my purpose. I used their partner company to send the emails.
The result: since 2014, people had been registering in events, lectures, courses and workshops the partner company as well as subscribing for Saggio Courses. I thought of sweepstakes of 2 exchanges to generate value for the staff and start to have a closer relationship. (The name is the email needed to be someone else, of course.)
The following is the text sent to subscribers:
Subject: You deserve a gift!
Hello, here is XYZ president of XYZ Consulting, all right?
Although we have been promoting entrepreneurship in Fumec since 2014 and training students for the job market, you are not accustomed to receiving my e-mails …
… but this will change from TODAY!
I realized that I was not helping you the way I can, after all I have experience and valuable information to share with you, all with a great goal:
Make your academic life more productive!
From now on I will share all this with you, who have already participated in some of our events and projects.
At least once a week I will send you an email with useful information about entrepreneurship, junior company movement, technological area, innovations, engineering in brazil and abroad, training courses …
To start WELL this our relationship, I have a novelty for you!
XYZ has partnered with Saggio Cursos and has got 2 scholarships to be presented.
1 bag for Excel Course – Analysis, Display and Data Manipulation
1 bag for the Oratory Course – Mastering the Art of Speaking in Public
We will raffle those 2 scholarships for you that have always been part of our activities.
To participate in the draw, just click on this link -> [blank]