Psst… want to know a secret? Marketing is simple. Any marketer should be forced to explain their company’s value proposition in less than five words, and have it be compelling. Because that’s all marketing is: being concise and compelling, but recognizing that not everyone reacts to the same message. The tough part is determining who will react to which message. When companies see low “returns” out of the gate (as most do in early stages of marketing or with new product lines) they tend to get a little paranoid. Instead of focusing in on that message and whom it’s being delivered to they instead take out the super soaker. They start buying lists, advertising anywhere they can get a deal, sponsoring everything, and otherwise become a checkbook for the marketing vendors.
How can marketers avoid this pothole of costly despair? How can they make sure the buying decisions are based on something meaningful? If you are a marketer asking yourself these questions, take a step back and start with this one: If tomorrow every lead in your database was standing outside your door and they were all waiting for you to tell them about how great your solution or product or elixir is – would you be able to do it in a way that meant something to each and every one of them? That’s the most important question. And the answer makes your marketing far simpler and easier to manage.
The Content Game — How to Play
There seems to be some big debate around content. Companies aren’t always quite on terms as to what exactly qualifies as marketing content and at what stage of the funnel each lead should receive a specific piece of content. I think this debate actually jumps the gun a bit.
Before discussing what goes into an email newsletter or an ad campaign, turn your attention back to home base for a minute. I’m talking about your website. That old thing? Yes. The content on your company website will pay off 100X before anything else.
If your website doesn’t immediately tell each and every target buyer what you do and why they need you – stop fussing with all other content. Go back. Do not collect 200 leads. This step is called buyer persona establishment. It’s critical before you can start any marketing campaigns and especially before you implement a marketing automation program.
The fact is too many websites are designed by people who SELL something – not by people who BUY something. Buyer persona establishment allows you to get into the minds of your buyer and target them specifically with words, actions and channels that speak directly to them.
Focus in with Focus Groups
It helps tremendously to have a sounding board during the buyer persona establishment process. A group of customers is great. Assemble the best customers you have and start to pick apart their differences. If you’re like me you will find that customer attitudes, psychology and desire highly determines the type of buyer they are, and ultimately the type of customer they become.
We all have clients we enjoy dealing with, and we have some we don’t. So if we can target the ones that we want we can create better customers and reduce headaches on the backend. Likewise, during this process you will discover the messaging you are using that is hurting your business or that no one understands or simply isn’t compelling. That’s expected too. You many be tempted to try to hold onto that content. Stop (hand slap), get rid of it. All the time spent in the world doesn’t justify content that doesn’t speak to a buyer.
And what about those startups that don’t have customers? The persona process can become an experiment in how understood your business is. Take professionals that you know and explain the business to them. Do they get it? What don’t they get? And don’t worry about not knowing your exact personas for new businesses right off the bat.
Successful buyer profiling never stops. And it keeps you grounded. The next time you are tempted by a six-month ad buy pitch that happens to come in when leads are slow, you’ll refer to your personas to know for certain if it’s worth the spend. You no longer have to make decisions out of fear, but rather out of data.
Bla, Bla, Bla
Now that you know who these people are, formulate a message. In fact formulate a ton of messages. This is where a lot of marketers start throwing slime on a wall because they are convinced the wall has to be decorated. Buyers can tell if they’re looking at slime or a piece of art and most would rather look at a blank wall than one with slime on it. In fact, if they see too much of it they’ll stop even looking at your business. So choose your content wisely.
Every piece of content should contain specific elements that speak to the buyer intended to receive it. For instance, do you have a buyer who is apprehensive about online purchases? Make sure your pricing page has links to testimonials or case studies that speak to how secure your site is. Nurture those leads with content about PCI compliance and how to have a safe online shopping experience.
Again, this all starts with the website. It’s the first thing your buyer sees, and the place where you will continue to funnel them back to. Often times it’s the place they will spend the most time after they become a client or loyal customer. It’s where you’ll collect most of your data on customers and the health of your campaigns.
Your website content stems from the persona exercise and all of your outbound content stems from the website. That’s the formula for marketing simplicity and your marketing automation system will support this formula. And all of this ends (and your success starts) with the simplicity of having something to say.
Ask your team, or yourself if you’re a one man marketing show, if you have relevant messaging that’s distinguishable and actionable for every target. If the answer is no, its time to postpone that Marketing Automation software purchase, hold off on that campaign that just can’t wait, and cancel that third-party demand gen initiative. Without something to say, it’s simply a waste of money.
Justin Gray is the CEO and chief marketing evangelist at LeadMD. The company helps businesses generate and manage leads better through marketing automation processes and technologies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.