Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Do You Know Who You're Talking To?

When you sit down to develop marketing materials, you know you're trying to reach potential clients. If you're unclear who that might be, however, you could find yourself wasting time, energy, and money. Taking the time to develop your official 'buyer persona' can make the task of figuring out how to reach these potential clients significantly easier.

What is a buyer persona?

A buyer persona is basically your ideal client. It's a profile you develop based on the type of client you're trying to attract. This profile includes information about gender, lifestyle, income level, where your ideal clients work, and what jobs they perform. It also contains critical information about what types of problems they face at work and how your company can solve them. A buyer persona might look something like this:

Marketing Mike is working to lead his marketing team for his small business. He's in his late 20s or early 30s and makes about $80,000 a year. Mike is struggling to make his superiors realize the importance of marketing because they're threatening budget cuts to his department.

For a company that focuses on helping clients maximize their marketing efforts while minimizing costs, this buyer persona could provide the critical insight they need to reach Mike and help solve his problem.

How do you develop your buyer personas?

Buyer personas provide the basis for all your marketing efforts, so it's critical to develop them on solid evidence and not just who you 'think' would be interested in your product or service. Begin by speaking with your existing clients. Get a feel for who they are and what has brought them to you. Complement this information with some research about the industry, the market, and who is typically using services like those you provide.

As you begin to compile these different sources of information, you should start to see some patterns develop. Use these patterns to begin grouping clients into a few different buyer personas. It's critical that you always seek to learn the 'why' behind the 'what' as you do your research. It's not enough to know that Marketing Mike wants to find a more affordable way to market. Understanding the motivation behind his drive is what will help you effectively reach him.

How to use your buyer personas

Once you've established your buyer personas, they'll run your marketing campaign. You'll develop content that speaks to the questions and problems your personas are facing. You'll create promotions and attention-grabbers oriented toward these specific people.

Buyer personas give you the additional edge of a targeted approach. No company can be everything for everyone. By developing buyer personas, you'll know exactly who you're trying to reach. You'll have a clear goal and a much better chance of reaching the people who are most likely to buy from you.

A successful marketing campaign means reaching your potential clients and making your company's value to them clear. That task becomes much easier when you know exactly who you're talking to. Develop your buyer personas to refine your marketing strategy, and you'll find your chances for a successful campaign improve drastically. If you're ready to start refining your marketing strategy, contact us today.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Make Magic Happen with Aligned Sales and Marketing Teams

When your sales and marketing teams work together and are aligned in their goals and strategies, amazing things can happen for your organization. Studies have shown that companies with marketing teams and sales teams that work well together see as much as a 20 percent increase in annual revenue growth, and no one can afford to ignore that opportunity.

Unfortunately, obtaining that level of cooperation can be a challenge. With a few internal changes and a concentrated effort at aligning these two teams, however, it is possible to bring everyone together.

Begin by establishing definitions

Written, thought-out definitions can be your savior. They give everyone a concrete idea to look back upon and reduce the potential for miscommunication or misperceptions. Here are a few definitions that everyone in marketing and sales should agree upon.

  • What is a quality lead?

  • What will sales do when they receive a quality lead?

  • What level of communication will be expected between the teams?

  • What are the goals for each team?

  • What is the process of handing off a lead from one team to the other, and when should it happen?

Once you've established these definitions, it will be easier to see what each group is working toward and when they're successful. You'll then be able to determine common goals, such as the number of leads expected from the marketing team and how the sales team will handle each opportunity.

Enhance visibility and transparency

When each team can clearly see what the other is working on and whether or not they're reaching their goals, they'll gain a better appreciation for the role both teams play in growing revenue for the company.

To improve visibility and transparency, communication and data are key. Like definitions, data gives concrete facts that everyone can consult and reduces the risk of misunderstandings and resentment. There are several ways to produce quality data reports:

  • Analyze where leads are coming from and how each marketing source is performing.

  • Have marketing team members include highlights of their interactions with leads (such as what content was downloaded), so the sales team can better capitalize on those opportunities.

  • Have sales team members report their communication efforts with leads and results.

Another important measure of visibility is simply to meet together. Gather your two teams together for regular meetings to discuss goals, outcomes, shortcomings, and plans for improvement. These meetings will help to clear the air and get everyone on the same page.

If your marketing and sales teams are too big, consider having occasional meetings with everyone and regular meetings with just marketing and sales leaders. During these meetings, the data will provide you with plenty of conversation topics. Celebrate each other's accomplishments, but if revenue goals are not being met, make sure both teams are transparent about their plans to make improvements.

Aligning your sales and marketing teams can have a wonderful impact on your bottom line, as well as the overall feelings of cooperation among your employees. With a potential 20 percent growth in revenue on the line, the effort is well worth it.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Is Traditional Outbound Marketing Dead?

For those who like to believe all the hype, it's easy to think that outbound marketing is dead. After all, it's rare to hear about marketing experts extolling the importance of direct mail. Instead, they're usually talking about website conversion rates and developing content that will appeal to the reader. Don't fall into this trap.

While outbound marketing has lost some of its glamour in recent years, it remains as viable as ever in today's digital world. It's role has just changed. Understanding those changes and how to integrate outbound marketing with your inbound efforts is a challenge well worth undertaking.

How the role of outbound marketing has changed

Before the digital era, outbound marketing was the primary means of finding new customers. Everyone in sales remembers doing 'cold calls,' which basically involve picking up a phone and trying to convince someone new to buy a product or service. Often, that phone call represented the first real contact between the company and the prospective customer. In other cases, cold calls were used to follow up on a direct mail campaign.

While cold calls are still necessary in some circumstances, the whole idea of just reaching out randomly, blindly, trying to find new prospects has largely gone by the wayside. Such practices are now more often used to complement inbound and other outbound marketing efforts.

For example, say your marketing team has been running an online promotion that allows people to start a free trial of your service from your website. After the free trial is over, many customers decide to continue, but others don't register for the paid version. This is where a follow-up phone call or email can help. When contacting these prospects, ask them about their experience and what in particular might be preventing them from making a purchase. This kind of outbound marketing follow-up can provide you with valuable feedback and help convert more leads into paying customers.

Similarly, when customers complain or compliment your company on social media, use the opportunity not only to address their concerns right away with an immediate follow-up, but also to provide a tangible means of letting them know you appreciate what they have to say (good and bad). Once you've done what you can to alleviate any issues your customer has raised, follow up with special coupons and a thank you note. This simple gesture can help reinforce to a disgruntled customer how much you really care, while at the same time encouraging those who offer compliments to keep spreading the word about your company.

As inbound marketing continues to change the way many of us communicate with our customers, we must be careful to avoid thinking that outbound marketing is dead. It's not. But its role is changing and will continue to evolve in the future. Understanding the new role outbound marketing plays can help all of us adapt our efforts and get the most from our marketing campaigns.