If you’ve been involved in marketing for more than a few years, you were probably taught to always focus on solutions. Keep it light! Keep it upbeat! Don’t ever have a “negative lead” in your copy. Well, my friend, the times are changing. What marketers have come to understand in recent years is that today’s prospects don’t want their business challenges sugarcoated. What they want is to have their problems solved.
For some marketers, deciding whether or not to start a blog is a difficult decision. Let's face it... it's a lot of work if you're going to do it right. You need to have something compelling to say that will capture and keep the interest of your audience. And you need to be consistent, continuing to create compelling content even when you don't feel like it and even when you aren't sure what to write about. Plus, you need to promote the blog in order to build an audience. For some marketers, it's simply a matter of not being sure that the return on investment is worth it for all the time and effort they will have to put into it. Right? So for all of the marketers that have been fending off the pressure to start blogging, I'll offer up five solid reasons you can use to defend your decision to never blog.
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:
This evening, looking for a place to buy some mailing envelopes, I dropped into a Postal Annex mailing service near my home that I had never patronized before. As I approached the door, being sensitive to the fact that it was late, I immediately saw that the store hours clearly indicated that they had been closed for 30 minutes.
As I turned to leave, someone inside the store hastened to unlock the door. I assumed at the time that he was going to apologize and explain that they were closed (the typical "courteous" response to such a situation). To my surprise (and delight), he immediately, said, "Yes, we're closed, but please come on in!"
The best salesperson your company has doesn’t even work for your company. That’s because your average human is a little cynical when it comes to salespeople, and is significantly more open to input from other consumers. While we’ve blogged in the past about the challenges associated with customer testimonials (most involving questions of authenticity), freely given, honestly reported comments can still be very powerful.
Customer-centric, prospect-centric, persona-centric… All terms that, when applied to “marketing”, refer to an approach in which you are very tightly focused on a prospect’s wants and needs—both what those needs are, and how you can meet them. Now, marketers are all quick to say, “Of course we are customer-centric! All we think about is what our customers and prospects are looking for.” But that emotional (and often, defensive) reaction and the objective truth are sometimes quite far apart.
At 30dps, we are a proud HubSpot partner. HubSpot, for those not familiar with the company, it is the provider of one of the leading marketing automations systems—and that short description doesn’t do their truly outstanding offerings justice! They are an innovator in many areas. One that I admire most is their leadership in the concept of transparency.
You are at a party and are introduced to two people. You ask each the standard questions about where they are from, what they do for a living, etc. The first replies, “I’m Kathy. I’m from the Midwest.” The second responds with, “I’m Lisa. I’m originally from Orlando but I moved to Colorado after college because I LOVE the mountains and the snow.” You immediately feel more of a connection with Lisa. Why? Because she’s shared just a little bit of her story.
The “Customer Journey.” It sounds very philosophical, maybe even a little grandiose. But it’s more than an abstract concept that deep-thinking marketers ponder as they swirl their glass of wine. Rather, it’s a thoroughly studied and well-defined psychological path that prospects follow between first learning of your products and services and ultimately purchasing them. And understanding how to effectively move your prospects from start to finish can have a dramatic effect on the success of your marketing efforts and your company.
You may believe that your customers and prospects see your company in their mind’s eye as a lushly painted, very detailed portrait. After all, you’ve gone to great lengths to “see” them through market research, the creation of buyer personas, etc. However, they have not done the same. In fact, what they see is simply a set of dots. These dots are what we call customer “touchpoints,” and they are all your audience knows about you. That bears repeating: these touchpoints are ALL your audience knows about you.
With the Thanksgiving holiday right around the corner, I’ve been thinking a lot about all I have to be thankful for. A loving wife and family, the success of our content marketing agency, a talented and hardworking staff, fantastic clients here in Colorado Springs, across the state, and around the country… and the list goes on and on. I very naturally feel a strong sense of gratitude toward all these amazing people and organizations.
I was doing a bit of channel flipping last weekend, and [unsurprisingly] ran across one of my favorite old movies, Back to the Future. I landed there just in time to hear Huey Lewis's classic, "The Power of Love." The tune was still stuck in my head when later I was contemplating the potential of content marketing. It occurred to me that when marketers produce purely and exclusively self-promotional content they completely miss the vastly more effective and rewarding approach; the approach that can transform a business... it’s the power of love.
If you’ve got a product or service that can be delivered anywhere in the country, it only makes sense to market to that national audience. It’s simple math: the more prospects you reach, the more orders you receive. But as you’re putting together your marketing plan, you might consider allocating some extra budget to reaching out to prospects in your home state and even your city.
What if McDonald’s had chosen to put a gray M on a brown background instead of going with “golden arches” on red? How about if the Denver Broncos picked pink and yellow rather than orange and blue? (We work with companies nationwide, but we’re based in Colorado Springs. If you don’t share it, please forgive our Bronco Pride!)
The concept of looking to a crowd to help you achieve a specific goal is a relatively new one, but it works extremely well in many cases. Take crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, for example. They are so popular that they’ve spawned dozens of copycats that are now trying to replicate their success.
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.
It’s easy to think of a customer survey as something your company has an obligation to do periodically to show your clients that you care. And once you’ve executed the survey, it’s also easy to take a half-hearted look at the results before filing them away somewhere to forever accumulate digital dust.
This blog will likely be more painful to pen than most, as integrity and transparency are standards whose definitions don't allow for partial accomplishment.
Integrity speaks to the adherence to moral and ethical principles of honesty and forthrightness. Wikipedia adds: "a personal choice to uphold oneself to consistently moral and ethical standards." It is that "consistency" that gets most of us (and I'm certainly no exception, darn it!).
Transparency is essentially operating your business in such a way as to demonstrate a willingness to share information so that it is easy for others to see your actions.
In an insightful article in Entrepreneur magazine, Jason Ankeny interviewed some visionaries to get their take on where business is going in the next five years. Of particular interest to us here at 30dps are the panel’s thoughts on the future of the customer experience.
In 1969, Coca-Cola came up with the slogan, “It’s the real thing.” Of the 18 or so major slogan changes since then, “real” has been used in more than 22% of them. When a company with a marketing budget bigger than the GNP of many small countries goes back to a theme that often, you know there’s a reason.