When it comes to marketing it doesn’t do any good to be really good at one step in the Awareness > Consideration > Decision > Loyalty customer journey process when the others are failing.
Before undertaking any resource-intensive marketing initiative you need to understand the strengths and weaknesses in your current demand generation and sales processes. Whether you are looking to invest in an upgraded website, start a marketing automation initiative, or start a pay-per-click digital advertising campaign, there are several things you need to have in place for this to be effective and help increase revenue.
Continually improving your sales and marketing processes requires balancing improvements across the entire Awareness > Loyalty customer journey. Putting all your resources into improving one step in the process will likely not have a significant impact on revenue.
There are several baseline concepts that need to be in place before you can be effective with any demand generation strategy. These four things are:
1. Content Inventory
The content used for your sales and demand generation processes takes many forms, some obvious, some not so much. You likely have some combination of the following:
- eBooks, white papers, or other PDFs that you use for lead generation or to email to prospects.
- Brochures and other printed or PDF sales collateral.
- Web pages, blog posts, and lead generation landing pages
- Automated emails
- Sales email templates, or emails that are commonly copied and resent
- Article reprints
- Proposal or estimate templates or boilerplate text
You may come up with other content types not listed here. It is important for everybody on your sales and marketing staff and extended team to understand all the content that is being used.
Your content inventory can be as simple as a spreadsheet that includes:
- Content name
- Content type
- Location (website URL or file location on your network)
- Brief description
Over time you’ll want to identify additional information for each piece of content. As your sales and marketing processes get more sophisticated you’ll want additional information for each piece of content:
- Who the content is for (see personas below).
- Where in the customer journey the content is useful. Is it awareness, consideration, decision, or retention content?
- How is the content delivered? Is it mailed, sales visit leave behind, a marketing email, or an email sent from a salesperson?
As you create your content inventory you can identify each of these characteristics if you know them, but don’t let that slow you down. Don’t try to figure this out as you go, you can come back to the details later. It is most important initially to create as complete a list of content as quickly as possible.
A persona is a profile of a fictional person that represents a category of people that are involved in the buying process. Personas have many uses. You’ll want to map out a typical customer journey for each persona. When a writer creates a piece of content, or a marketing program gets designed, it should be done with a persona in mind.
A persona includes:
- a fictional name and photo or avatar
- representative job titles
- primary work responsibilities
- how their job performance is evaluated
- their main job problems or difficulties
- where they get information related to their work, including trade journals, websites, thought leaders, or other data sources
- their role in the buying process
- education level and other demographic information
Consider creating personas for internal champions, purchasing agents, end-users, or executives or other financial decision-makers. This can quickly get overwhelming. Different industries and different sized companies might have different personas. You’ll need to limit the number of personas. I recommend starting with 3 – 5 different personas, may be less when the customer buying process is not complex.
Selecting your personas will be easier if you see revenue opportunities in a particular industry or size of the company. If you’ve defined your ideal customer profile, develop your personas around this. Otherwise, be somewhat general with the understanding that you develop additional personas later.
Many companies spend $3,000-$5,000 to develop a persona, sometimes more. It involves interviewing many customers or prospects and meetings to plan and review, and iteration. This might be too expensive for your budget or take too long when you have pressing priorities.
The best use of time and resources is to have someone experienced in persona development interview a few customer-facing people, such as sales, customer service, and business executives. An initial, and very useful, persona can be quickly developed at a fraction of the cost. While it won’t be as good as a persona developed after interviewing numerous customers it can be created and used quickly.
The two things to watch out for with the internal interview approach is defining the main job problems, and where they get their information. Don’t rely on opinions, these need to be verified.
3. Value Proposition and Brand Voice
Don’t increase your sales and marketing communications if you don’t have a clear understanding of your company’s value propositions and what makes the company unique – or at least different from most competitors.
Your value proposition identifies how you solve customer pain points for your target customers. Your value proposition is not:
- Great customer service
- Best quality
- Good price
Every one of your competitors probably say these things. Even if true, they just aren’t believable if you don’t back them up with hard evidence.
A value proposition solves one of the main job problems or difficulties you identified when creating your customer personas. It solves pain points. Your value proposition might address:
- Productivity improvements
- Reduces costs
- Improves uptime
- Increases capacity for increased sales
- Increases safety
Your brand voice defines your personality. It is the tone you use when you communicate to your audience. You may be serious, humorous, or empathetic. It is important to be consistent so your audience knows what to expect. Learn how to quickly define your brand voice.
4. Capable Website
There are two important attributes of any website:
- The things you see
- The things you don’t
What you see on a website are the design and the content. If you’ve defined your value proposition and voice, and coupled this with good, consistent, design, the website will help you gain the trust of its visitors.
But there are many attributes of a capable website that aren’t visible. These include:
- Registered with Google Search console, (Microsoft) Bing Webmaster Tools, and other relevant search engines.
- Pages load quickly.
- Works equally well in desktop and laptop computers and mobile devices.
- Pages are structured properly
- The organization of the pages is logical and easy to navigate.
- Metadata on each page is properly defined.
All of these impact how your company will appear on search results pages. Many websites that look great when viewed in a browser fail on all of these.
It takes several disciplines to create a successful website:
- Content strategy
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
It is common that only design, and maybe some content writing, is the focus when creating or overhauling a website. While design and content require the largest investment, SEO is very important to website effectiveness. Done correctly, your website will show up well in branded search results, creating trust in people that are searching on your brand.
If SEO technical requirements are not considered, you may have only one simple link on a branded search page, or none at all.
It is important to have your company’s website implemented correctly even if your website is a simple brochure website that only has a goal of letting prospects learn more about you and get contact information. If your website needs to play a larger lead generation role then the behind-the-scenes technical implementation of your website is critical to too allow you to meet your business objectives.
An entrepreneurial company founder may know the content that is available, understand customer personas, and intuitively understands the company value proposition, and the brand voice likely mirrors the founder’s voice.
As the company grows, and more people need to get involved in creating content and implementing marketing campaigns and programs, these need to be written down so they can be communicated to new employees and virtual team members.