I’ve blogged before about the importance of crafting detailed and accurate buyer personas. The truth is, you can’t market effectively to your target audience if you don’t really know who that audience is. I’ve also commented on the importance of reviewing and updating them on a regular basis. People change, your market changes… you need to ensure that your personas stay current. But even if you faithfully complete both of those tasks, your efforts will be wasted if you don’t do one other thing—work to keep them at the forefront of your mind.
At 30dps, we’re big believers in the notion that you can’t market to an audience you can’t “see.” That’s why we put so much emphasis on defining and maintaining buyer personas. If you’re not familiar with personas, they are “characters” you create to represent your target audience. You give them a name, an occupation, personal interests, etc. You also note their motivation for seeking a product or service like yours as well as the criteria they’ll use to make their purchase decision. The purpose is to help you focus on who it is you’re trying to reach.
You are a savvy marketer who knows the value of understanding your target market. You’ve done extensive persona work and have a firm grasp on what each of your prospect types is looking for in products and services like yours... or, at least, you had a firm grasp.
If you happen to be someone who has been, or is about to invest in, reading our blog (certainly a sign of keen insights and wisdom), you undoubtedly recognize that we talk a lot about buyer personas, inbound marketing, content marketing, conversion optimization, marketing automation, analytics tools, social media marketing, search engine optimization, custom application development, and growth-driven design. While each of these independently is an important tool for serious marketers today, when they are all employed in harmony, it is truly a beautiful thing.
Sara is a marketing manager who recently started an inbound marketing initiative for her company. She implemented HubSpot, developed a content marketing plan, and hired some content developers. As they got up to speed and began producing some very compelling pieces, Sara began to see certain similarities in them. In fact, she noticed her growing content library falling into five categories. Sara is wise, and her content marketing program will thrive.
Generating qualified sales leads can be one of the most challenging jobs of any sales or executive team, and almost always the most important. Historically, filling the sales funnel required either a lot of cold-calling, or a lot of dollars spent on advertising, i.e. outbound marketing. That doesn't have to be the case today, as so much has changed with the way consumers buy. Today, with inbound marketing and content marketing, you can see a great return on investment, as inbound leads cost dramatically less than outbound leads. Here are eleven ideas on how to generate more leads with inbound marketing:
Technically, any page on a website where visitors can arrive or "land" is a "landing page." However, when marketers use the term, they are typically referring to a page that is distinct from the rest of a site and created for a specific purpose—to generate leads by enticing visitors to supply contact information, to give visitors details about a company’s offerings before sending them to a "shopping cart" page, etc.
You’ve heard it said a million times that “you can’t be all things to all people.” Yet, still, you try. And you’re not alone. The vast majority of companies gear their marketing efforts to ensuring that absolutely NOBODY is left out. But it’s critical to understand that there are people you absolutely can and should leave out.
Let's face it, on some level most of us resent generalizations of the characteristics of an entire generation, especially when it is our generation that is being generalized. I'll certainly admit that I resent the definition of my age group as a near technology-illiterate bunch, especially given that I often challenge the younger ones around me to check out advances in technology.
But the truth is, those generalizations can be extremely helpful, especially when trying to provide a service to a subset of the populace. I mean, how can you hope to appeal to them, if you don't understand how they [generally] think. And while quite different in nature, establishing buyer personas (an extremely important marketing practice) is all about thoughtful, informed generalizations.
Just as important as how you go about creating quality content for your content marketing program is how you go about drawing attention to your material. Too often, content is simply published, hoping that people will find it. The truth is, the most successful content marketing strategies are well-orchestrated, and take advantage of three distinct types of media: paid, owned, and earned.
From the time I was old enough to look out a car window, my dad was playfully saying "Check out that blonde, son!" which of course "delighted" my mom to no end. In fact, that might have been my first introduction to the concept of shopping. It took me a "few" more years to realize that it wasn't I that was in control of the situation, i.e. it ultimately became clear that it was I that needed to have something to offer. But by then I had been indoctrinated to the theories related to blonde, brunette, and redhead personas. (Okay, I may not have been familiar with the term personas at that time, but stick with me.)
It’s not uncommon for the headline of a blog post to be almost an afterthought. You get an idea, outline the post, write the body of it and then quickly skim the draft for some key points to put into the headline. We’re all guilty of this at times. (Oh, if I could only have a second shot at some of my old headlines!) But as long as we’re all striving to improve, we’re doing the right thing.
Storytelling… it can be the most powerful form of marketing you use. I say “can be” because in order for a marketing story to be hungrily consumed, there are certain key ingredients it must contain. And these elements are the same regardless of what you are marketing or who your target audience is.
It is almost frightening how little time, attention, and budget are given to website content planning, strategy, and production. While design is certainly important, it is NOT the most important part of the UX. Content, on the other hand, IS!
If you've ever been to a nude beach (not that I have or anything, just sayin'), you probably noticed a few things... okay, maybe MORE than a FEW things. But it occurs to me that the world of content is a lot like (what I imagine it would be like) visiting a nude beach. There may be too much to take in all at once, but let's face it, you really can't help but look.
Developing creative, engaging, and effective marketing content is challenging, but it’s also fun. In fact, as you start producing better and better material, it can almost become addicting. That’s the point where you run the risk of forgetting one very important thing: your content is the means to an end. You’ve got to get it in front of the right people in the right ways for the “marketing” part to happen!
Hooray! You’ve decided to engage in the oldest form of marketing there is: storytelling.
But, where do you start? How do you begin a content marketing strategy? What stories do you have that are worth telling?
If you’ve been entrenched in “features and benefits” marketing for years, or even decades, it can be very hard to shift gears and come up with compelling storylines.
The costs and benefits of requiring prospects to provide their contact information before receiving your content—also known as “gating” your content—have been debated for as long as there has been the technology to do so. You produce content for the express purpose of getting your prospects to engage with your brand. But if they are never required to provide any information about who they are and why they are consuming your content, are they really engaging or just… well… taking?
Do you remember “old school” marketing? Complex campaigns using marketing pieces that took teams of subject matter–experts, designers, and reviewers months to design, create, and fine tune? Maybe you’re still living old school marketing. If so, you should consider a new approach.
Wait! I thought the customer is ALWAYS right, you say. Well, the truth is, while the customer is always the customer, they aren't always right. So what DO you do when your customer is wrong? This has long been a problem for folks (like me) who are absolutely committed to consistently creating an amazing customer experience, and/or as in my case, tend to avoid conflicts, especially with the folks who pay the bills.