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Get More Referrals

By | content marketing, Marketing | No Comments

In all your marketing activity, keep in mind that clarity is not only vital to making you easy to buy, it’s vital to making you easy to refer. Word of mouth is still king when it comes to how consumers decide who to buy. Making it easy for your customers to talk about you is well worth your time.

The Easy Way to Make Yourself Referable

If you want referrals, you have to make yourself easy to refer. This starts with clear messaging. Once you have a clear, simple message people can grasp quickly and pass on to their friends easily, you’ve won half the battle. So let’s tackle the other half.

Let’s say you sell tea. Imagine one of your faithful customers is talking with a friend one day and that friend happens to mention how they’re always looking up the caffeine content of different teas. Your customer smiles knowingly and produces a little book, an attractive little book with nice binding, a lovely cover and a catchy title. It’s a basic tea guide with caffeine information for different types of tea. The friend’s problem is solved. They take the book, gleefully. And when they think of tea, they think of that little book.

What does this have to do with referrals? Imagine your tea company is the one that produced thousands of copies of that little book and you gave them freely to your current customers. When they pass a copy on to a friend and that friend picks it up, they’re reminded of your brand, your extensive knowledge and how awesome you were for giving away such a helpful resource in the first place. Even if your customer never even mentioned where they got the book, they’ve referred you.

Free resources you can hand out to your customers and referral partners are golden. Not only are you taking care of your customers and keeping them happy, you’re making it extremely easy—and very obvious—to refer your company to their friends, many of whom are likely to be your target market.

Business cards are fine, but nobody’s going to pass yours on unless they happen to hang onto business cards and their friend asks specifically if they know a company that does x. Helpful resources are more useful, more likely to come in handy and, if your customers know they can get another one for free, easy to give away.

Your customers will reach corners of the world your marketing will never touch. Let them be your ambassadors.

Creating Resources

If you’re following content marketing, you know free stuff is a really big deal. People love free things, and they’re delighted by quality. Make sure your resource is both.

A book is a complex endeavor—that’s why it makes such a statement—but it’s not your only option. A simple card or one sheet with helpful information is fairly easy and inexpensive to produce. Or submit an article to a magazine, then buy a bunch of copies to give away when it’s published. What you produce is going to depend a lot on who you are, what you’re about and what your audience is into. Free t-shirts may go a long way with one crowd but not another.

The sky’s the limit, just keep quality and usefulness front and center in any resource you create. Take the time to make it high quality and bring in experts. If you write something, bring in an editor. If you create a visual piece, use an artist. If you publish a book, hire a designer and publish through a company that will create a book equal to those on display at your local bookstore.

Finally, no matter what you produce, make sure you imprint your company’s information on it. There’s nothing more disappointing than seeing an amazing resource and having no idea who created it.

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Tell a (True) Story

By | boost sales, communication, content marketing, inbound marketing, leads online, Marketing, Story | No Comments

Marketing gets a bad rap for a number of reasons. First, there’s the consumer side. How many of us have bought into great marketing only to be disappointed by a lousy product? Then there’s the business side. Many business owners have horror stories about how they spent thousands on a marketing firm that didn’t deliver.

There are reasons enough to be suspicious of anybody marketing a product.

The root cause of bad marketing is the failure to deliver on a promise. In the first instance discussed above, the consumer was promised a great product. In the second, a business owner was promised growth. Bad marketing promises things its product can’t actually deliver. Now you could argue good marketing is anything that convinces people to buy, but the purchase is only one tiny piece of a much larger picture. Truly good marketing not only attracts the right audience, it converts them into delighted, repeat customers. Neither our consumer nor our business owner are delighted and neither will be buying again from the same companies, no matter the marketing message.

Good marketing tells the truth. This is both freeing and terrifying. If your products aren’t that good, you can’t tell the truth and gain customers. You either have to convince people your business can offer something it can’t or you have to use incentives that will convince people to put up with a subpar product. There is a place for the latter—a huge market of people who will put up with bad quality, bad service, lots of bad things, if they get something on the cheap. But if you want to sell quality, you have to be quality.

Let’s say you know you’re quality. In fact, you’re better than your competitors by a long shot and you can prove it. How do you tell the truth in a compelling way? Call it cliché, but the answer is to tell a story.

What Storytelling Is and Isn’t

Think about the pitches you’ve heard over the years. Which ones do you remember? Why? There are lots of well-meaning people armed with PowerPoints, charts, graphs and other compelling evidence. There’s a place for these things (after all, what is marketing without metrics?), but when it comes to clearly telling your target market what you do in attractive and compelling terms, go beyond the charts and graphs and tell the story.

We’re moved when people tell us their story. When you consider how the masses spend money, there’s usually a story behind it. Films, plays and music pull in billions every year worldwide. Each piece tells a story and people will pay to watch or hear it unfold. These stories intertwine with personal stories all over the globe—just look at the role music played in Cuba or behind the iron curtain. People act in response to a story.

Consider sports. Last week an estimated 40 million people tuned in to see Game Seven of the World Series between the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs, teams from cities with a combined population of less than 3 million. Why? Because even people with only a casual interest in baseball know the saga of the Cubs and their 108-year losing streak. Every rivalry is a story. Every sport has a story. Every season tells a story. And people will pay top dollar to watch.

Now imagine you see a film trailer and the story grabs you. You buy a ticket, the lights go down and a movie bearing no resemblance to the previews plays. Are you disappointed? Of course! This isn’t what you signed up for. The same is true for your marketing. Tell the truth. Sure, you can attract more people from more demographics if you don’t tell the truth, but how many of them are going to be interested in your product? None, if you had to make things up to reach them. People outside of your target market are not going to buy from you, so there’s no point in trying to pull them in.

Your business has a story. Your products have a story. Tell the story.

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Clarity in Marketing

By | audience, content marketing, lead generation, leads online | No Comments

We’ve established that in marketing, the name of the game is being helpful. Every piece of content has to be helpful and serve your target market—even in the rare cases you directly promote your products and services, the point is to help people out by letting them know what you offer can meet their needs.

It is possible to help thousands of people and never actually see a return from your efforts if you never spell out what it is you do. As a marketer, you have to make what you offer easy to understand and buy. As you focus on helping your audience, remember the importance of keeping your brand and your solutions top of mind. It’s amazing how helpful you can be without ever once telling your audience what you’re selling.

Achieving Clarity

When you promote your own business, be exacting in how you present your services. Unless people know what you do and how they can benefit from it, they won’t be compelled to buy from you.

Start with listening. Get feedback from your current clients to discover the state of your marketing. Ask questions to learn things like:

  • What attracted them to your business in the first place?
  • What value do they get out of their relationship with you?
  • What do they like about your products?
  • How do they rate your customers service?
  • How do they describe an interaction with your organization?
  • How do you compare to your competitors in their mind?
  • What keeps them coming back to you?
  • Is there anything about your product they would change?

You might be surprised about what you find. Some business owners assume they attract customers with their quality only to learn it’s their cheap price that’s kept them coming back. Others assume their marketing is bringing in the leads until they find out their customers all happen to drive by their location on the way to work every day.

There are several ways to gather this sort of information. Personal conversations are ideal, but you can also send out an email blast or survey with very little expense. However you choose to go about it, ask the right questions and listen carefully. The insights you gain from your current customer base are invaluable and will help you focus your marketing budget where you’ll get the highest ROI.

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Feeding and Watering Leads Online

By | content marketing, lead generation, leads online | No Comments

Customers are like plants. They require feeding and watering if they’re going to thrive. Unlike plants, your customers can simply leave if they don’t feel cared for.

Non-profits lose 80% of their donors simply by failing to say “Thank you.” The same goes for your prospects, leads and customers—neglect them and they’ll wither.

We hear so much about offering quality content that just the thought of continuing to give may be overwhelming, but keep in mind that consistent communication doesn’t mean launching a rocket every month. It means communicating your value on clear, consistent basis. There are a lot of ways to do this, and it can be pretty simple, but the key is consistency. Marketing isn’t a one-time victory. It’s a slow, steady race. Whether you’re doing your own marketing or leveraging an agency to do it for you, keep in mind that you’re not going to hit the big time overnight and get to retire from marketing. You’ll be marketing till the day you leave your business, finessing your message and keeping in touch with your prospects and customers alike.

The basic recipe for a successful marketing strategy is to listen to your audience and use what you learn to get in touch and stay in touch. This cycle doesn’t end and consistency is always going to be key. You never stop learning about your customers. There is always more to discover and a better way to meet their needs.

Hiring the right people

Marketing is a full-time job. At some point you’re going to want to look at hiring a marketing team or contracting with an agency. When that time comes, choose wisely. Any established marketer or agency should be able to show you what they’ve done for previous clients and what kind of results they had. Look for concrete metrics they could measure consistently. Nobody’s marketing just for the sake of marketing. The point is always results. If your potential marketing team is great at adding followers on social media, ask how effective their social strategy is at creating new business and growth for the company. Truthfully, anybody can add followers—even if they have to buy them—but not everybody takes the time to listen and respond to the right people in the right way in the right places. You’re not going to grow your business with anything less.

Expect your marketing team to need things from you. Their expertise is creating content to address an audience in an effective voice, so they’re going to need your guidance when it comes to who your customers are and what their concerns are. This kind of synergy is incredibly effective for your marketing efforts. 

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How to Generate Leads and Growth Online 

By | content marketing, lead generation, leads online, Uncategorized | No Comments

Like any activity involving strategy and execution, marketing starts at a high level. You have to be able to look at the big picture and provide leadership for where your marketing is taking you and how.

Your first priority as a marketer is to get in touch with every single person in your demographic. Your second priority is to keep in touch.

This sounds really simple but if you’ve done any marketing at all, you know better. Finding your target demographic takes research, lots of research. Once you know who you’re aiming for, you have to research where they go for their information. Once you’ve figure that out, you have to decide what content you’re going to create, when, how often and where you’re going to put it to attract that demographic. On top of this, every communication needs to be in the voice of your company and reflective of your brand.

Getting In Touch

There is no end to the tools you can use to reach and serve your audience. This is great because it gives you options. It’s also overwhelming—because it gives you options.  As a business owner, you just want to invest your resources into what works.

To start with, who is doing your marketing? Many small business owners are used to doing everything themselves. But are you wired for marketing? The best results come from having the right people in the right roles. Even if you’ve passed on the marketing responsibilities, you still have to have the right people in the right roles. If you’re relying on your sales people to do the marketing, make the sale and keep the customer happy, that’s still too much diversity for one role. The skills involved in marketing and sales are completely different. So let your salespeople sell and get marketers to market.

Staying in Touch

Having the right automation tools will make a huge difference in your marketing. If someoe comes to your site and fills out a form, that expect an instant response as well as content catering to their interests. That’s simply not possible unless you’re using automation software.

Even a small company can do an extraordinary amount of content marketing with the right software. And while your software is doing the marketing work for you, your marketing team can focus on creating the next campaign, targeting specific segments of your audience while the software continues to serve and shuffle your leads through the sales funnel.