Tag Archives: audience personas

Are You Guilty of This #1 Lead Killer?

6 February 2017 Theresa Mills Leave a comment Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Sales Growth

Qualified leads are the heart and soul of your business, your bread and butter, the center of your universe.  Yet for some reason, despite all of your hard work, none of your leads seem to be converting.

You tried inbound marketing because you heard you should, but that didn’t work. And so, after two months, you gave up.

Secretly, you know your database is out-of-date, inaccurate and completely unqualified, but you don’t have the time or money to scrub the list. In the end, you ignore the problem and try the “bombard your contacts with broadcast emails” approach instead. You hope you’ll get a nibble or two for your efforts – but that isn’t working either. Even a badly-trained hamster knows that you can’t run a business this way.

I once worked for a company that gave their sales team a giant list to cold call. The list was SO bad that the team didn’t make any sales and eventually they were blamed and fired. The problem? The owner didn’t understand the target audience or how to reach them. He thought that as long as the sales team kept making phone calls, they’d eventually get a hit. Not surprisingly, this approach was a disaster.

If you don’t understand your ideal customer, you’ll spend months of effort trying to sell umbrellas to a camel. In other words, you won’t sell anything and your inbound marketing efforts will lead you on a road to nowhere. Even if you DO capture a qualified lead here and there, your lack of understanding will likely result in their demise and they’ll be gone forever.

In order to give marketing teams and salespeople a fighting chance, companies need to clearly define their target market. They need to understand what prospects need at different stages of their buying journey and help drive them towards a decision.

Inbound marketing is a highly-strategic process, based on clearly defined buyer personas. It’s not about sending out random emails to prospects hoping to get a bite. And it’s not about promoting your blogs on Facebook when none of your leads actually use Facebook.

For inbound marketing to work, everything from email campaigns to social media need to be focused on your personas: who they are, how they live, what their budget looks like and what kind of media they consume. Otherwise, you’re just wasting a lot of effort without seeing any results.

In her blog, What Do You Mean Your Marketing Isn’t Working: Sales Edition, author Kristen Patel explains that, even if your leads seem to be going down the sales funnel, they might just be doing research. She says you need to understand their behavior, such as how many times they’ve converted, whether they’re a first-time visitor and whether or not they fit with your persona. If they don’t, chances are they’re just a “lookie-loo” and are stopping by for a visit but not really interested in your product or service.

Buyer personas are key to getting into the heart and mind of the buyer so you can answer all of their questions, solve their problems and become a resource for them through your inbound marketing. Equipped with a genuine understanding of their target market, sales and marketing teams can provide the right information for qualified prospects, initiate the right conversations at exactly the right time and nurture qualified leads so they become customers.

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Do Content Writers Need to Be Experts in Your Field?

28 April 2015 Theresa Mills Leave a comment Content Marketing

When I worked as a journalist, I wrote about the economy, politics and local events. And although I would like to consider myself a super smarty-pants in all of those fields, I wasn’t. I just did my research, made a lot of phone calls and conducted hard-hitting interviews (well, maybe not THAT hard hitting).

Good content writers are just like journalists. They can cover a lot of varied topics and write compelling content armed only with their strong research and interviewing skills. Companies waiting to find writers who are experts in their field may be limiting themselves. Writers are in the business to make money, and unless you have a full-time gig to offer them, they’ll most likely remain diversified.

A better approach to hiring writers is to find people who have a strong portfolio, have a genuine interest in your field and who are willing to learn what they don’t know. Perhaps even more important: you’ll get far more bang for your buck if you hire a writer who also understands marketing. As a business owner, you don’t just want to produce random content. Content marketers have an eye for how they can make the content work for you, how they can repurpose it into multiple pieces of content across different channels, and how they can align it with your company’s business goals.

When interviewing a content writer/marketer, here are the questions they should be asking you

  1. Who is your audience/target market?
  2. Do you have branding guidelines?  What is the tone and voice you want in your content?
  3. Do you have buyer personas so they can address the fears, needs and wants of your target audience?
  4. What are your goals for the content? For example: brand awareness, thought leadership or lead generation?
  5. Who are your top 3 competitors, so they can research what other people are writing about in your industry – and differentiate?
  6. Do you want to educate your customers about a particular problem in your industry or do you want to discuss your products and updates?
  7. How do you plan to distribute the content?
  8. Do you have analytics in place to monitor the content to make sure it’s working?

When you hire a writer, you should also be ready to allow them to interview key people in your company.  A half an hour interview can provide the writer with quotes, ideas, inside information and the perspective of the people closest to your target audience.  I find that 5 thought-provoking questions can yield an enormous amount of information for multiple pieces of content.

While we’d all love to be experts in everything and we’d all love to hire that person. Yet common sense tells us that that person doesn’t exist (except perhaps on Jeopardy). Writers with strong research and interviewing skills, combined with an eye for marketing, will generate top-quality content that your target audience actually wants to read – and leave them coming back to your site for more.

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5 Vital Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Agency

17 April 2015 Theresa Mills Leave a comment Content Marketing

When hiring a marketing agency, it often feels like bigger should be better,  so you commit tens of thousands of dollars to a large marketing agency, convincing yourself that you should Go Big or Go Home. Problem is, you didn’t really NEED a big agency and every time you pay your monthly retainer, you regret your decision.

You’re not alone. That’s what many companies do.

They’re seduced by an agency’s high-profile client list and so they put their trust (and their money) into the large agency. Problem is, after all of the impressive strategies, guidelines and marketing plans are delivered, companies find themselves lacking the tactical support they need. They’re no better off than when they started – only now they have even less money in their budget.

For many small businesses, it’s more important to generate leads and learn fast than it is to spend months planning to plan. Small businesses don’t have the same big budget as big brands. They need agile development and quick turnarounds.

If you’re trying to decide whether to go with a large, well-known agency or a smaller boutique agency, ask yourself these 5 questions before you make a decision you’ll regret:

1 – How much am I willing to spend each month?

Larger agencies can charge anywhere from $8000-$15,000 per month, whereas smaller agencies charge around $5000 per month.

2 – Do I need a long-term strategy or do I need tactical support?

You need both. However, some brands have shorter run rates than others. A startup, for example, is always operating on a 3 to 6 month run rate. Time is not on their side. While all companies need a strategy, not all need to plan 5 years out.

[Tweet “”Great things are done by a series of small things brought together. ” Vincent Van Gogh”]

3 – Do I just need support for my in-house marketing team?

Some companies confuse marketing teams with a team of marketers. Not everyone who works in marketing is a marketer. By definition, a marketer defines goods and services to be marketed. An inbound agency can help you identify what products or services should be marketed and to whom, also known as your buyer personas. A small boutique agency can work alongside in-house teams or as an outsourced marketing solution.

4 – Do I need an agency that’s flexible?

Smaller agencies aren’t stifled by a rigid corporate structure. They have the freedom to get creative and the enthusiasm to find the most compelling way to tell your story.

5 – Does the personal touch matter to me?

Without a doubt, one of the greatest benefits of going with a boutique agency is the level of intimacy and support they can offer. Instead of being one small cog in a big machine, a smaller agency gives you the opportunity to get to know the entire team, and for the team to get personally involved in developing your brand. That kind of deeper relationship fosters a personal investment in your brand from each and every member of the team.

At Smashdeck Marketing, we always use the word “we” when we’re talking about your brand. We do this because we want you to know that we’re invested in you, your reputation and success.

If you’d like to learn more about how a boutique inbound marketing agency can help you generate leads, contact us for a free consultation.

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5 Reasons Your Content is Failing to Generate Leads

14 April 2015 Theresa Mills Leave a comment Content Marketing

Not long ago, I talked to a friend who worked for an SaaS company. He said that everyone in the company was required to write a blog once a week – but they HATED doing it. In fact, it became a bit of a joke around the office about whose turn it was that week to write their blog. LOSER!

As you can imagine, their blogs weren’t very good and they definitely didn’t generate new leads.

If this story sounds familiar, then you’re probably not giving content the time and effort it deserves. The shotgun approach to content production has been proven over and over again not to work.

Here are 5 reasons why your content is failing to generate leads:

YOU DON’T HAVE A CONTENT STRATEGY

Every piece of content should have a reason for being produced: to support higher-level objectives. Without a strategy, content becomes a confusing and random exercise that doesn’t produce any results and leaves management shaking their heads. Content needs to be analyzed and measured just like every other marketing effort, and new strategies need to be developed in place of strategies that aren’t producing any return. You should know when, where, how and why you’re producing every content offer and you should be making sure that your content is getting in the hands of your target audience. Content should always be working for you in a strategic way to generate new leads – but without a strategy, your efforts will fall flat.

YOU DON’T KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

What’s the point of producing content for just anyone? You’re in business to make money and your content should support that goal. How are you going to drive new leads to your website if you’re not giving your prospects the kind of content they want? Understand what your audience consumes and where they consume it. Make sure you understand their needs and wants and produce the kind of informative content they’re searching for online.  If you consistently produce content that solves their problems, you’ll eventually become a trusted resource.

YOUR CONTENT ISN’T VERY GOOD

Not just anything will do. We’re in a state of content overload on the internet which means you’ve got A LOT of competition. Your content needs substance and it needs to provide new information for your readers. Lack of time is one of the top reasons cited for producing poor-quality content. Fortunately, there are scores of quality freelance writers available to alleviate your burden. Writing isn’t something that just anyone can do – it’s a skill, like any other skill, that takes time to perfect. If you want results, sometimes it’s better to leave it to the professionals.

YOUR DISTRIBUTION IS TOO LIMITED

Many people fail at generating leads from their content because the right people aren’t seeing it. Distribution is KEY to getting people to read your contact. One tweet or post with a link to your blog isn’t going to drive any significant amount of new traffic. You need to get creative with distribution. Here are some ideas:

1. Create a monthly newsletter with links to your blogs that you can email to your prospects

2. Look into guest blogging opportunities within your industry

3. Following industry influencers on all of your social sites, engage with them, comment on their blogs and see what kinds of blogs they’re sharing

Sites like Buzz Sumo are a great way to see what kinds of blogs are performing well in your industry, who the influencers are, and what kinds of blogs influencers are sharing so you can try and get your content in front of them.

YOU DON’T HAVE GOOD CALLS TO ACTION

Once again, this goes back to the bigger picture of WHY you’ve created content in the first place. You’ve done it to drive new leads to your business. It’s great if your target audience is reading your content, but do you know what you want them to do after they read it? It’s essential to have a call to action in every piece of content you produce – and that call to action should be strong enough to entice your readers to go a step further with you and click on your CTA.

Inbound Marketing is proven to work when done properly. If you don’t have the time to give your inbound marketing the effort it deserves, agencies like Smashdeck Marketing can help. We’d be happy to set up a free consultation to see why your current content marketing isn’t working and how we can help make it better.

Don’t believe inbound marketing works? Download our free white paper to see the facts: Inbound Marketing: Let’s Talk Numbers. Why Content Makes Good Business Sense.   

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