Tag Archives: buyers cycle

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Secretly, you know your database is out-of-date, inaccurate and completely unqualified, but you don’t have the time or money to scrub the list.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.

Free-Inbound-Marketing-Assessment

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The “Hey just checking in” Sales Call

9 April 2015 smashdeck Leave a comment Sales Growth

You know the story. Jake is a sales rep looking to sell his medical disposable product to Jan, the Purchasing Manager for a local hospital. Jake calls Jan every other week to say, “Hey just checking in.” What he’s really saying is “I know you haven’t made a decision yet on whether to purchase our product but I thought I’d call anyways at the off chance you have.” Not the best use of time for either party.

However, this sort of thing happens all day long. Why not provide Jan more information that will help her and her team through the sales process? This is when educational content that drives prospects into the consideration stage really helps. A case study, for example, can help Jan to conceptually understand what Jake’s product can really do for her and the company. The way to avoid the just ‘checking in call’ is to nurture Jan with valuable content that will earn her trust and value Jake’s company as a solution provider rather than a product pusher.

To properly assess what stage a prospect is in the sales funnel, take a look at these three criteria:

Develop a lead scoring system:

A lead scoring system scores your leads based on their actions. For example: when a prospect downloads a white paper, they receive a different score than if they attended a webinar.

Leads will make their way through your sales process by educating themselves with your material. At a certain point you will want to “trigger” a direct action, a personal email or a phone call. A lead scoring system can help you determine when this ‘right time’ is.

Develop a content strategy:

There is no doubt about the power of content. Without a content strategy you won’t understand your audience, which makes it hard to communicate.

A content strategy accomplishes the following:

  • Identifies your target audience or multiple personas
  • Gives you a genuine understanding of your customers including their behaviors, their needs and the best way to reach them
  • Helps you develop a competitive analysis so you can identify your competition and differentiate your brand

Set up email nurturing sequences:

Lead nurturing is as, if not more important than getting the lead in the first place. Most sales, for B2B companies especially, aren’t transactional. The first time a user learns about your brand, is most likely not the same time they’re ready to make a purchase. Lead nurturing helps to fill in the gap. The “just checking in” sales call should be replaced with a lead-nurture sequence that provides relevant and timely information that nurtures the user to that specific buying stage.

Just look at these stats:

  • Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads (The Annuitas Group)
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost (Forrester Research)
  • Relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails (Jupiter Research)

Jake is a happy camper if inbound marketing can help him avoid the ‘just checking in’ sales call. He can then focus his time on closing the prospects who are actually ready to buy.

Inbound Marketing Kick-Start

 

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