Brand South africa, in partnership with Junior Chamber International South Africa, invites you to the second “Shape the Future” Forum. The event will discuss the concept of active citizenship, cover the analysis of community needs, and map out how young people can address such challenges by creating sustainable solutions. Follow @Brand_SA for updates from 6:30pm tonight, or follow a live webcast here.
Footballer Dele Alli and his ex-girlfriend Ruby Mae seem to have given their relationship another chance as the two were seen spending some time together recently, fuelling speculation that the former love birds are back. Dele Alli The couple ended their two-and-a-half year relationship earlier this year. Recently, there were reports that the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder partied with Love Island stars Megan Barton Hanson and Zara McDermott after his split with Mae. Alli was even linked to Barton after he exchanged his phone number with her at a club, but she denied it. Catch up on all the latest sports news and updates here. Also download the new mid-day Android and iOS apps to get latest updates
inbound marketing kit special day Your Marketing Takeaways: 2. Decorating the tree with candy canes became fashionable during the 1850s when a resident of Ohio, August Imgard, hung them on a Christmas tree to augment his homemade decorations. What type of “sweet” data points can you find in your business? 4. The modern candy cane was invented by Bob McCormack of Atlanta. He started the curved candy trend sometime in the early 1920’s with handmade versions. As the original candy cane maker in the United States, Bob’s Candies manufactured about two million each day in 2009. , , . Inbound Marketing Kit 1. The original candy cane did not have stripes. Before the red stripe was introduced, a candy cane was simply a white, mint-flavored stick. 3. Some Christians believe the candy cane has a symbolic meaning with the “J” shape representing Jesus’s initial, and the red/white stripes representing Christ’s purity and blood. Others view the candy as the shape of a shepherd’s hook. , and a 6. Candy canes are made with sugar, corn syrup, and starch – a super-solid sugar rush. Learn more about inbound marketing and how to combine blogging, SEO and social media for results. Download our 7. Candy canes were once considered “medicine”. The soothing peppermint and sugar combo was used as a pacifier for children. Other flavors – including anise and cinnamon – were used by apothecaries to help soothe and calm their patients (probably the parents of the kids that needed a pacifier). Two billion candy canes, about $214 million worth, were purchased this holiday season by consumers with a sweet tooth. tweets . YouTube videos Facebook application history Here are some fun facts to help you celebrate the sugary day of December 26. And, if on this day after Christmas, you are looking for ways to creatively use your leftover candy canes, here’s a video to give you some helpful tips. Finally, once you have utilized this information for your own marketing efforts, the content will be picked up over and over again by others in your industry, creating the thought leadership every CEO looks for! Every product has something interesting to say about it. Even an innocuous product like candy canes has its own Originally published Dec 26, 2009 9:19:00 AM, updated March 21 2013 Using metrics or specific data points such as number sold, revenue generated, introduction of, or timeline/history, any company can create content that will resonate with its customers and prospects. You would be amazed at the number of statistics you can pull together once different angles are considered. And, some of them can be fun! 5. The mass-produced version of the candy cane made the scene in the 1950s when Bob’s (see #3 above) brother-in-law figured out how to cut, pull, twist and package the confection in a factory setting. , Twitter Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Whether the notion of the “long tail” resonates with you or this idea of “blue ocean” keywords works, the key to attracting more free traffic to your site from search engines is to create more great content on your site than your competitors do. Focusing less on the most common or obvious keywords and more on carving out your own unique set terms will likely result in faster and better results. keyword research It occurred to me that applying the essence of their theory to your or In Kim and Mauborgne’s metaphor, a red ocean represents existing and competitive industries where lots and lots of people are fighting for limited market share; picture sharks in a feeding frenzy. A blue ocean represents new industries where opportunity is abundant and competition is non-existent; picture the clear, blue ocean water. “business consulting” “consultants” “consulting” A few years ago we posted an I created a spreadsheet (represented above) of about 1500 keywords that we track (presuming they are all reasonably relevant). Then, based on the intensity of competition for each keyword, I applied a gradient with blue being applied to those keywords with little or no competition and red being applied to those with steep competition. The result is a pretty cool visual representation of which keywords would likely deliver the quickest and most qualified results. . They are easy to identify and they are attractive because lots and lots of people tend to search for them. To actually generate organic traffic from them, however, is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for most companies; there is just way too much competition. Typically, these “red ocean” keywords are also very expensive if you were to consider buying them as part of a paid search campaign. As it turns out, these popular search terms are also rather vague and are less likely to send high quality traffic your way. In general, Kim and Mauborgne would recommend against spending any time competing for those terms on the right. , Keyword Research strategy could open up a sea, if you will, of opportunity. Keywords farthest to the right represent those that are common or most obvious. For a consulting company, examples might be by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. Essentially, the book encourages entrepreneurs to think differently about their business plans. Instead of entering an existing industry and fighting for market share, create a brand new industry. Instead of working hard to beat the competition, eliminate it. Blue Ocean Keywords Topics: Red Ocean Keywords Keywords on the left, on the other hand, represent creative, outside-the-box keywords that differentiate a product or service from the masses. Using the same fictional consulting company as above, examples of “blue ocean” keywords might be “small business IT consulting”, “small business network implementation” or “IT consulting company Cambridge, MA”. These types of “long tail” terms are searched for less frequently, but they are more specific and therefore will bring more qualified traffic to your site. There are also far fewer sharks in the water. That “blue ocean” on the left – and even in the middle- is where the greatest opportunity lives and the list is endless. What you see in the image above is just an illustration to make a point. Blue ocean keywords are innumerable, all you need to do to take advantage of this opportunity it create the content. Publishing often and writing relevant content will result in increased (and qualified) traffic form search engines. And, if you are just getting started and you are considering jumpstarting your efforts with a paid search campaign, blue ocean keywords are usually far less expensive. article inspired by the book “Blue Ocean Strategy” Originally published Oct 27, 2010 8:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
According to Forrester Research , companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at a 33% lower cost. If this is the case, then why are only 49% of marketers taking advantage of lead nurturing tools , as evident by Loopfuse’s Marketing Automation Study ?One of the main reasons marketers fail to adopt lead nurturing as part of their marketing mix is a lack of content. To effectively execute a lead nurturing program, you can’t exactly have a deficiency in content. You need enough of it in order to keep your lead nurturing emails interesting and relevant at every stage in the sales and marketing funnel, from a lead’s initial discovery of your business all the way through to purchase-readiness.Furthermore, while many of the more basic lead nurturing campaigns focus on delivering content solely by leads’ stage in the sales cycle, the most successful lead nurturing campaigns deploy content specifically tailored to the needs of different marketing personas, too. According to the Aberdeen Group , personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14% , and conversion rates by 10% . But this also translates to a whole lotta content, so it’s no wonder many marketers are hesitant to get started with lead nurturing.But here’s a little secret: you don’t need to create all this content from scratch. If you have even just a general baseline of marketing offers, you can re-work this very content to suit the needs of your various marketing personas and segments, saving you a lot more time and effort than crafting brand new content from scratch. Here’s how to do it right… Identify Your Personas The first thing you’ll need to do is identify your various buyer personas, which serve as detailed profiles of the people who are most likely to make great customers for the products and services you sell. If you don’t already have well-defined personas for your business, that’s where you’ll need to start. Ask yourself the following 9 questions when developing your personas ( we elaborate on them here ):What is their demographic information?What is their job and level of seniority?What does a day in their life look like?What are their pain points?What do they value most? What are their goals?Where do they go for information?What experience are they looking for when shopping for your products and services?What are their most common objections to your product or service?How do I identify this persona?As you’re thinking about these questions, you’ll identify clear distinctions between each persona, and you’ll begin to understand why it’s important to treat each differently in the content/offers you provide them through your lead nurturing campaigns. Using these questions as your guide, create detailed profiles for each of the personas you’ve identified. These profiles will be helpful to reference as you start tailoring the content you have to suit each persona.Depending on your business, industry, and how many different products/services you sell, you may find that you have 1, 2, or 10+ personas (or anywhere in between). Businesses that sell a lot of different products for various target audiences, for example, may identify several very unique personas. And the more personas you identify, the more content you’ll need (sigh).As you complete this exercise, you may even start finding that you can nest specific groups of personas under broader persona categories. But when you’re first getting started targeting your lead nurturing content so you can base campaigns on personas as well as stage in the sales cycle, we recommend you start catering to broader groups of personas first. You can always get more granular as you build up your content arsenal , and it’ll get easier and easier to more closely tailor existing content once you get started. Select Your Best Marketing Offers for Each Stage of the Sales Cycle Lead Nurturing As I mentioned earlier, most of the more basic lead nurturing campaigns are based solely around stages in the sales cycle. The process sounds kind of like this: A lead converts on a top-of-the-funnel offer like an educational ebook , so they get nurtured with similar top-of-the-funnel content. Then, once they’re ready, they convert on a more middle-of-the-funnel offer like a product demonstration, a consultation, or a free trial, thus getting removed from the top-of-the-funnel nurturing campaign and swapped into the middle-of-the funnel campaign to get nurtured by content/offers more appropriate to that stage in the buying cycle. And so on and so forth. Make sense?Most sales cycles can universally be boiled down to 3 distinct stages in the sales cycle: awareness , evaluation , and purchase . You can learn more about each of these stages and how to appropriately map types of lead nurturing content/offers to these stages in this post , but here is a brief rundown:So, in order to have content for each persona to nurture leads in each stage in the sales cycle, you’ll need to identify 3 of your best generally targeted offers for each stage: 1) your best top-of-the-funnel offer (which caters to leads in the awareness stage ), 2) your best middle-of-the-funnel offer (which caters to leads in the evaluation stage ), and 3) your best bottom-of-the-funnel offer (which caters to leads in the purchase stage ).And by “best,” we mean top-performing, so consult your marketing analytics to determine which offer you have for each of these 3 stages has the best conversion rate . For top-of-the-funnel offers, you should be looking at visitor-to-lead conversion rate; for middle-of-the-funnel offers, look at lead re-conversions; and for bottom-of-the-funnel offers, look at lead-to-customer conversion rate. Tweak Content to Cater to Each Persona Once you’ve chosen your 3 general offers, it’s time to tweak them to suit each of your personas. So if you’ve identified 2 personas to start out with, you’ll need to tweak each of your 3 offers for each persona, meaning you’ll end up with 6 separate offers. Whether you’re tweaking a top-of-the-funnel ebook, a middle-of-the-funnel product webinar, or a bottom-of-the-funnel live demo, the following tips as well as the detailed persona profiles you created earlier will help you tailor your offers to suit these individual personas. Cater to the Persona’s Individual Needs, Problems, and Interests Think about that persona’s individual needs, problems, and interests. Is there anything specific they might care about or need a solution for that your offer doesn’t address because it was meant for a more general audience? If so, work these concepts into the content.For example, if you’re a school that provides horseback riding lessons to learners with a variety of skill levels, you may have 3 different types of students — beginner riders, intermediate-level riders, and more advanced riders. If these are your three personas and you’ve identified that your best top-of-the-funnel offer is your ebook on The 10 Skills Every Horseback Rider Needs , you’ll probably want to tweak this content to cater to the 3 skill levels of your students. If this is the case, the skills that advanced riders need probably aren’t very applicable to skills needed by beginner riders (and vice versa). Adjust Formatting, Depth, and Length To piggyback off my last point, because different personas will likely have varying interests, the way you present certain information may need to vary. For example, if you’re catering to an advanced horseback rider in your ebook compared to a beginner, that content might lend itself to more in-depth explanation of certain topics than content suitable for a beginner, who may prefer bullet point summaries of the topic. In other words, the way you present your content — in format, depth, and length — may vary depending on the individual persona you’re targeting. Keep this in mind. Modify Language and Tone Another modification you’ll want to make involves changes to the language and tone used in the offer. Do your different personas respond to the same type of language, or do they prefer to be communicated with differently? Do they prefer language that is more formal and professional, or a more informal and casual tone? Are there any variations of the jargon these different groups use to describe similar things?Sticking with our horseback riding school example, let’s say you were tweaking your bottom-of-the-funnel offer, which is a free-20 minute horseback riding lesson. In your lead nurturing email to promote this offer, you’d likely want to tailor your language based on the skill-level of that prospective student. An advanced student, for instance, would probably have a wider knowledge of advanced horseback riding terminology, so it’d be suitable to use this jargon in your email. The language used to promote the lesson to a beginner-level student, on the other hand, who probably isn’t familiar with advanced terminology, would need to be much more basic and novice. Incorporate Industry/Persona-Specific Examples Another thing you’ll want to do is make sure your content/offer is as specifically relatable to each persona as possible. A great way to do this is to incorporate examples that resonate with that particular persona. Does that persona correlate to a specific industry? If so, replace general examples with industry-specific ones to illustrate your points in a more targeted way (or add these examples where there are none). This makes it so the content is even more personalized to the needs, interests, and problems of that particular persona.Let’s refer to our horseback riding school example one last time. If you were creating a middle-of-the-funnel webinar discussing the teaching methodology your horseback riding school follows, and you were targeting an intermediate-level rider, you could include a case study of an intermediate rider who came to your school and, as a result of your methodology and training, became one of the top riders in their division and moved on to compete with more advanced-level horseback riders. Modify Your Lead Nurturing Campaigns Once you’ve tweaked your content/offers based on persona, then you’re ready to start incorporating them into your lead nurturing campaigns! Using your marketing analytics and lead intelligence, determine which characteristics to use to categorize individual leads by persona. By identifying which leads correlate with what personas, you can then use your lead management system to segment them into different lead nurturing campaigns based on their stage in the sales cycle as well as their persona. Congratulations! You now have much more segmented, personalized, and effective lead nurturing campaigns set up. Let us know how they perform! In what other ways can you tailor your lead nurturing content and offers to better suit your individual marketing personas? Image Credit: Hello Turkey Toe Originally published Mar 14, 2012 3:30:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! 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Topics: Originally published Aug 13, 2012 4:30:00 PM, updated June 25 2019 Ticket Sales Tip #1: Get Amy Schumer to perform at your event.Just kidding.But you may have heard that we just got done planning and hosting the biggest inbound marketing event ever (at which Amy Schumer did indeed perform) — INBOUND. And part of that planning meant, obviously, driving ticket sales.But how do you make your event stand out in the crowd? Not only that, how do you get people to actually spend the money to attend your event?We’re going to share some of our secrets with you that have helped drive our ticket sales for INBOUND past and present; hopefully these will help you promote your next event, too!Download free resources for executing your best event yet. [Free Kit]15 Ways to Drive Ticket Sales for Your Event1) Reward last year’s attendees.If you have an annual event, the first thing you should do is announce the event to last year’s attendees. The people who came the year before may be your biggest supporters and are more likely to immediately purchase the tickets, even if you don’t have all the details for the conference hammered out quite yet. Show that you appreciate them by offering them a special discount for signing up early and quickly.2) Offer early bird pricing.Have at least 2 different types of pricing: early bird and regular. You can even have more than one type of early bird pricing to encourage people to buy before the prices increase. This sense of urgency will encourage people to buy sooner.3) Ask early registrants to write blog posts.The people who register for your event first will be among your biggest supporters — that means they’re also good candidates to write blog posts for you to help promote the conference. To promote INBOUND 2012, we had the first person to register for this year’s conference write a blog post. We also had another customer who enjoyed last year’s conference write a blog post. Instead of hearing from the HubSpot team why we thought our conference was great, these posts let you hear when the event was a can’t-miss opportunity from actual attendees. Third-party endorsements will always carry more weight then tooting your own horn.4) Don’t just promote your conference; promote the location!People interested in your conference don’t just want to hear about your conference, they want to hear about the location of the conference. Frankly, the location of conferences can sometimes be one of the biggest draw for potential attendees — it’s kind of hard to say no to an event in a cool, beautiful city. Promote other attractions near where your conference is help that may interest attendees. If you can get discounted rates to some of those attractions, that’s even more of an incentive for people to attend your conference!5) Get in touch with industry organizations to help promote.In every industry, there are professional organizations who would be more than happy to help you promote your event. Get in touch with them, tell them about your event, provide email copy, and make it easy for them to promote on your behalf. This will help get your event in front of thousands of more qualified people that you wouldn’t normally have access to.6) Use LinkedIn for promotions targeted to your industry.LinkedIn Company Pages, LinkedIn Events, and LinkedIn Groups are a great way to contact people in your industry who may be interested in your event. Take advantage of the ability to promote your event to thousands of relevant people in your industry, on a social network built for networking — you know, the reason people go to events.7) Start contests within your company.Don’t forget about the giant network you have right within your office’s four walls — your employees. Encourage them to promote your event to the leads and customers they talk to through some friendly competition. Incentivize ticket sales by offering prizes to whoever sells the most tickets (give everyone a unique discount code so you can track it!), or you could even reward a full team for working together to sell tickets.8) Consistently update social media accounts.Social media accounts should have weekly updates with information about your conference, including links to the event’s registration page. Give your network a compelling reason to attend your conference in those updates, and a link to registration page to close the deal.9) Advertise on social media.Leveraging your paid advertising options on social media is another way to target people in your industry. Use targeted ads to promote to your industry with links directly to the registration page. If you need help getting started, here is a guide for executing a Facebook ad campaign, and a guide for executing a LinkedIn ad campaign.10) Leverage event sponsors for promotion.Your sponsors will want to help you with promotion, because more attendees means more facetime with more people. But they’re busy. Really busy. So the easier you make event promotion on them, the more likely it is they’ll actually do it. Provide sponsors with templated email copy and discount codes so it’s easy as pie to promote to their lists.11) Sprinkle calls-to-action throughout your website.Your homepage should have a promotion to your conference. Your login page (if you have one) should have a promotion to your conference. Your blog should have banners promoting your conference. If you’re planning a huge event, most pages on your website should have links to your conference site, making it easy for anyone to find information about your event and register.12) Issue different types of passes.Some people may not be able to attend your whole event, whether they’re unavailable for the full duration, can’t be away from the office for so long, or can’t swing the hotel costs. Issuing different types of passes helps accomodate those people and drive more ticket sales. Consider passes like a student pass, a keynote pass, or a party pass.13) Promote the “fun stuff.”Anyone hear of Cyndi Lauper? Anyone? Announcing a headliner performer will drive a lot of ticket sales as well as get people excited for more than just the content you’ll have during your conference sessions. The main reason people attend conferences is for the beneifical content, sure, but promoting the parties and some of the nighttime activities definitely helps. I mean, who doesn’t like to party?14) Gamify the act of event promotion and ticket sales.Host contests or games with your network to promote your conference and drive ticket sales. During your webinars, for example, you could take advantage of the large audience to promote the conference by giving away free tickets to whoever tweeted the most with your webinar hashtag. Everyone loves a little friendly competition, and you’ll certainly love the free promotion of your event!15) Ask your speakers to write blog posts promoting their sessions.The success of an event all comes down to its content. Reach out to speakers and ask them to write guest blog posts that promote their sessions, and give a sneak preview of what they’ll be discussing. It’s a win-win — they get more attendees excited about their session, and you get free content (that your guest blogger will likely promote to their network) to drive ticket sales.What other ways can you think of to drive ticket sales for events? Event Marketing Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Originally published Sep 4, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated October 29 2019 All too often, we think of marketing and sales as separate entities within an organization. As marketers, we just have to generate the leads and hand them over to the sales team. And that’s it, right? Well actually, no. In fact, as marketers, it’s our job to make sure that we’re not only generating leads for the sales team, but that we’re also generating high quality leads that our sales team can close as customers at as high a rate as possible.We’ve discussed the concept of “smarketing” in the past — aligning sales and marketing to make both teams stronger and more effective. And while there are a number of ways to do this, a good place to start is simply having a conversation with your sales reps. You’d be amazed how much insight you can glean about your marketing, your leads, and all the pieces of your strategy from any given member of your sales team.So go ahead, grab one of your sales reps for a half hour-long chat, and take some detailed notes about their answers to the following seven questions.7 Questions to Ask a Sales Rep Right Now1) What does your sales process look like?Okay, this one may seem a little rudimentary if you already know the basics of how your sales team operates. But first of all, a little review never hurts, and second, you may be missing important pieces of the sales process that you hadn’t realized.For example, do you know how your sales reps begin a conversation? Do you know how — and how quickly — they work in information about your product or service? How much time do they spend on the phone with a lead? How long does it take the sales rep on average to get your product in front of the decision maker at the lead’s company? It’s critical to develop a strong understanding of exactly how your sales team works your leads. That knowledge should be used as the foundation of your strategy, and it will prove immensely valuable for increasing your marketing effectiveness, since you’ll have a better understanding of how you can create marketing campaigns that complement — not counteract — the sales process.2) What qualities make a lead good or bad?Now, you may already have a lead scoring system in place (and if you don’t, you might want to consider it), and that’s a great tool for qualifying leads, but it’s still important to get detailed feedback from your sales reps about what they think makes for a particularly strong or weak lead. Your reps may also have different opinions about what qualities are most indicative of a lead that will most likely close or a lead that most likely won’t, based on their various experiences and techniques. Find out what factors they look for when they’re deciding which of their leads to call, and figure out how you can generate more of those kinds of leads for them.3) Are there specific marketing offers that signify a particularly strong or weak lead?This one goes along with number two, but it will give you a narrower focus on the actual content you’re using to generate leads. Let’s say you’re creating ebooks and hosting webinars as part of your lead generation strategy. Are leads more likely to convert into customers if they downloaded an ebook or attended a webinar? What about if the ebook was intended to teach readers about your specific product versus a facet of the broader industry?You should already be tracking this data so you can analyze your marketing offers to know which ones convert at what rates, but you may also find that your sales reps can provide additional insight into which offer topics and formats work best. Ask them which types of conversion events they like to see when they decide which leads to call. Are there any offers that make it particularly difficult or awkward for them to start a conversation? Use this feedback to make your offers stronger so you can generate the kinds of quality leads that your sales team likes to work.4) Do leads typically have the right expectations about what they’re getting?Messaging is a core part of marketing. You need to make sure you’re setting expectations correctly. Check with your sales reps to see if the leads they’re calling actually know why the rep is getting in touch with them in the first place. Are they aware that they’ve requested a demo of your product? Maybe your calls-to-action are unclear. Maybe your landing page copy needs rewriting, or your email subject lines are misleading. If you’re sending your sales team leads that didn’t intend to sign up for a free trial, and a rep calls them, saying, “I see you’ve requested a free trial,” not only is that embarrassing, but you’re also wasting your rep’s valuable time.5) What is the number one thing leads like and dislike most about our offers?Are your reps conducting demos of your product? Providing free trials? Maybe assessments of some sort? Find out how these offers are performing from the rep’s perspective, and ask your reps to shed some light on how helpful these offers are from their leads’ perspectives, too. What do people enjoy most about the demo or assessment? How valuable are they finding your ebooks, webinars, or other downloadable content? What are a few pieces of criticism the rep has received? Understanding what your leads do and don’t like about your marketing offers will help you improve both their format and delivery, as well as your ability to effectively position these on the marketing side.6) What are the top reasons a lead doesn’t close?This is a big one. As marketers, our job is to not only generate new leads for sales, but to also nurture leads who are not yet qualified, which include ones that reps have attempted to work but were not yet ready to buy. Instead of just throwing all of these not-yet-ready leads into one bucket, ask your reps about the most common reasons why those leads were not ready to buy. Let’s say the top 3 reasons are budget, timing, and not seeing the value of your product. That’s extremely valuable information to you as a marketer, because now you can segment those leads accordingly and target your nurturing campaigns to address their specific pain points. The more effectively you can nurture these leads, the more effectively you can get them to be sales ready and hand them back to your reps to close.7) Are there any ways marketing can help or do better?It’s good to get a general idea of how your sales team feels your marketing team is performing, but chances are, they’ll have some specific points of feedback that could be really useful to both you and them. Don’t forget — they have insights into the qualities, needs, challenges, and behaviors of your leads and their sales cycles that you most likely don’t. Maybe there’s an opportunity to hand a certain type of unqualified leads back over to Marketing to nurture. Maybe a new type of lead-gen offer, a different positioning of your product, or a new angle for your follow-up messaging might be more effective in getting your leads to be sales ready. Let your sales reps share their ideas, and see which ones make sense to implement.It’s easy to get caught up in your own strategy. And while you should absolutely be conducting your own analyses to figure out what works and what doesn’t, your sales reps are the ones who are actually talking to your leads, and taking it from where you leave off. A short conversation can go a long way. So go grab a rep, grab some coffee, and make your marketing — and your smarketing — way more effective.What other questions do you ask your sales team to help improve your marketing strategy?Image Credit: Collection Agency Inbound Sales (Marketing) Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Originally published Apr 3, 2013 2:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017 Marketing Strategy Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Ever wake up on the wrong side of the bed?Of course you have. We all have.Ever wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and then have to be cheery? Like, interact in social media? Write an engaging blog post? Put together a lovable email marketing campaign?Ugh. Those are the times you wish you could shut out the world, or at least channel a little of your inner snark. Well, the good news is you can do that once in a while, and your marketing results may even thank you for it! Sometimes, it’s good to embrace the negative — whether it’s shutting out audiences, casting a villain, or even just a less than cheerful attitude. (Trust me — this will all make sense in a second.)So, here we go … if you ever wake up wanting to shut out the world, here’s how you can take it out (positively!) in your marketing.Free Download: Marketing Editorial Calendar Template8 Opportunities to Be More Negative in Your Marketing1) Create Negative, or Exclusionary PersonasLet’s start with something a little bit easier to swallow than just being a total grumpy pants — exclusionary personas. Exclusionary personas, sometimes also referred to as negative personas, are kind of like the opposite of buyer personas — they’re the personas of the people you do not want to target in your marketing.This is about more than just recognizing that not everyone in the world is a potential future customer — it’s about recognizing that your marketing attracts certain types of people who totally clog up your funnel, waste your sales team’s time, and will never become customers. Why won’t they ever become a customer? Could be a lot of things — they don’t have the budget, or they’re just fans of your content or social media presence. Or maybe they do become customers, but they cost you a ton of money; for instance, they could have a high acquisition cost, or a high propensity to churn.In this case, it behooves you to identify who these folks are so you can ensure you either 1) stop creating content that draws in the wrong people, or 2) let them keep reading and engaging with your content to help you spread your reach, but keep them from getting rotated to sales reps using methods like assigning them a low lead score.2) Leverage ExclusivityThis is the VIP, red-carpet tactic we all know and love (or love to hate). When you tell someone they can’t have something, or what they want is scarce, it often makes them want it more. You know, the whole “playing hard to get” thing we’ve all either been victim of or practiced ourselves at one point or another in our love lives. This just so happens to be a common sales tactic, but marketers can use it, too. Tell prospects they can have an offer … but only for a limited time. Or only for the first 10 that respond in social media. Heck, you don’t even always have to tell them what it is. The 11K Club, which I wrote about in more detail in this post about leveraging exclusivity in your marketing, launched a campaign where they asked people to sign up for something — but they couldn’t tell you what.I totally signed up.This tactic is particularly popular with savvy ecommerce shops, too — ModCloth, for instance, frequently sends me emails letting me know that an item I like is so popular, it’s almost out of stock. “Oh no! Everyone else is snagging it! I have to get it before I’m left out!”The moral of the story? Leave people out once in a while. If everyone gets something, it’s not as special. And when you go VIP, the ones who do get it feel uber-special. (There … we just turned a negative into a positive. See?)3) Craft Negative Titles and HeadlinesI don’t know what this says about human nature, but there’s an undeniable correlation between page views and negativity. Consider these titles that showed up while scanning CNN’s homepage today:What you get wrong about BBQWorst U.S. cities for allergiesIvy leagues accepting fewer studentsCould our favorite flavorings be damaging our DNA?Beware the parental overshareThese are about clicks. No question about it. We all know the news has gone the negative route for years, and they do it because it works.Now, you shouldn’t throw out some inflammatory headline just to get clicks — if you’re going to get negative with your titles, you have to back it up with some solid content that actually merits that bombastic title of yours. Here are a few examples that worked out extremely well for us:15 Things People Absolutely Hate About Your Website13 Hilarious Examples of Truly Awful Stock PhotographyYour Mom Hates This Blog PostDoes Google Hate Small Businesses?4) Create a Bond Over a Shared Negative ExperienceAlright, now we’re getting warmed up! So you’re throwing out some negative titles, but have you considered drawing that negativity into your content? When you draw on a negative situation in your content — particularly right in the beginning — it can actually help reader retention and engagement. Some marketers are afraid to stir up negative feelings in their reader, but it can actually create a shared experience and tap into a level of emotion that some may not expect to get while reading marketing content, particularly if you’re a B2B marketer.I mean, that’s why I started this post the way I did — getting up on the wrong side of the bed is an experience everyone I know can relate to. And sometimes, it’s easier to form a bond with someone over a shared negative experience than something warm and fuzzy.But be forewarned — once you have a bond with the reader based on a shared negative experience, it’s crucial to shift the mood to something more positive and solution-oriented. People like to know they’re not alone (misery loves company), but most don’t like to dwell on the negativity.5) Cast Some VillainsJust like we can all bond over a shared negative experience, so too can we bond over a common enemy. Casting a villain has been a common marketing tactic for years, and I’m not just talking about the Hamburglar. Villains can take more subtle forms, playing on common tropes — the dopey husband, the nagging girlfriend, the jerk boss. These take common experiences and personify them in order to elicit a feeling in the consumer, and help tell the story you’re trying to tell. For a great example of using multiple villains in your marketing, just check out Career Builder’s 2009 Super Bowl commercial, brought to my attention via Graeme Newell and 602 Communications.6) Stir Up Some ControversyThis one’s not for the faint of heart, but if you feel confident about your brand, your PR team, and your position on an issue, you can take a controversial stance on a popular topic. This does a few things for your marketing:Positions yourself as a thought leader (only if your thought was a good one — so try to make sure it is)Sends a ton of traffic your wayHelps you define your brandDrives natural PRElicits strong emotions, both positive and negativeThat last one is what I want you to pay the most attention to. When you take a staunch position on a polarizing issue, you will have people that despise you for it. You will also generate some seriously ardent supporters. If you’re going to play the controversy game, be prepared to deal with both, because while some results could be really exciting for your brand, some backlash will inevitably come with it.7) Use Data to Build a Case Around Why Something StinksLet’s start this off with an example, since we did this just this morning in our blog post, “Why the Blog Post Is the New Ad Unit.” The beginning of the post included this data point:While clickthrough rates (CTR) are not the only metric by which you can measure a banner ad’s performance, typical online banner ad units achieve a CTR of 0.10% according to MediaMind’s Global Benchmarks Report, and that figure is on a downward spiral due to banner blindness, among other things.You build a case around why one thing stinks (banner ads) … so you can show why something else is awesome (blog posts). This can be made even more compelling if you have two data points that demonstrate a stark contrast; the juxtaposition of positive and negative paints a pretty dramatic picture in readers’ minds, and the succinct data points make it easy to quickly demonstrate the bad versus the good.8) Make Fun of YourselfFinally, turn that negativity inward. A little self-deprecation can be fun for others, makes you seem more human, and actually might make you feel better about your slip-ups. After all, we all have them, and it’s important to learn how to make light of your mistakes. For example, this very feeling was the impetus for a blog post we wrote several months ago: our very own Marketing Hall of Shame. In it, we detailed some of our dumbest marketing mistakes. It was helpful not only in the “being-the-first-to-laugh-at-yourself” way, but because people can learn from these mistakes, and hopefully not have to repeat them.When Negativity BackfiresAll this being said, it’s important to always consider whether your negativity is going to backfire. Are you being an unadulterated jerkface? Is this negativity going to be lost on your audience? Does your buyer persona really hate this kind of stuff?For instance, something that almost always comes off as totally petty and unnecessarily negative is bickering with competitors. I mean, think about how annoying political ads are; you certainly don’t want to come off like that. I think one piece of advice from my childhood can sum up how you should approach bickering with competitors:”If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”Yes, even if they started it.It’s also important to remember that any negativity you draw on needs to be tempered with some positivity. For instance, we learned this the hard way with a post we published a few months ago called, “101 Sure-Fire Ways to Make People Hate Your Marketing.” It was a snark fest, but it didn’t perform that well, and some readers thought it was just too much negativity. The lesson? If you’re going to get snarky, 101 doses of it may be too much. Furthermore, had the balance of the post been tipped more heavily toward positive things, like how to fix these 101 mistakes, the response may have been more positive.Finally, I think striving to be inspirational should always be an aspiration for marketers. There’s no question that marketers capable of inspiring people — take charity:water’s unbelievable case study videos, or even our own founder Dharmesh Shah’s deck on creating a company we love at HubSpot — see unbelievable success from their efforts. In fact, I think if you’re able to inspire people in your marketing, the effects last much longer, and are much stronger than any of these negative tactics.What do you think about getting a little negative in your marketing? Do you ever get a bit edgy, or do you keep it to more behind-the-scenes stuff, like exclusionary personas? Share your thought in the comments!
Business Blogging Dear HubSpot is a weekly column that we do to answer people’s most burning questions about inbound. If you want to submit a question to be answered, click here. This week, we hear from an entrepreneur who is just starting his own company and wondering where to focus his marketing efforts in the very beginning. Dear HubSpot,I’ve got an excellent business idea for a career consulting service. I’ve already set up a webpage and social media profiles, but how do I ACTUALLY start marketing it? With only one Like on Facebook and two followers on Twitter, do I need to buy advertisements? If so, which ones? It’s just me and my buddy running the company so far, and we’re not sure which steps to take first to gain some traction online. We need a little direction because we don’t know where to start. We’d appreciate your help!Sincerely,Starting From Scratch in San AntonioHey SSSA,First of all, great job taking initiative on your business idea by setting up your website and social media accounts. Execution is what differentiates a great thinker from an entrepreneur. We’re hoping your two Twitter followers aren’t your parents ;). I’m kidding, but even if they were, everyone starts somewhere — and you’re right in saying your top priority right now should be building and growing your online presence.To help you get your marketing efforts off the ground, I’ve written up a short to-do list for you. Each step is in order. You mentioned advertising, for example — you’ll soon notice that advertising is step three in your to-do list, so don’t be tempted to jump right in to that right now. Without further ado …Your to-do list, in order:Step 1: Make a list of relevant keywords.Before you build the house, you need to lay the foundation — and for your brand, that foundation is the keyword list that you’ll use to write the content of your website, blog, and social media posts. It’s important that you come up with these keywords first so you don’t find yourself stuffing your content with keywords later, which can look forced and unnatural, and even get you penalized by search engines.The best search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is to focus the copy of your website on key phrases or topics that are important to people who will end up buying from you and relevant to what you are selling. Start with a topic close to the core of your business that you really want to rank well for on search engines — for you, it might be “career development.” Then, put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers. What would they search for on Google, Bing, or Yelp that would bring them to your website? What questions or challenges might they have that you can help address? Some ideas that come to mind are “resume examples,” “how to get a promotion,” or “how to get a job in new york city.” As you can see, keywords can be words, phrases, sentences, and partial sentences — it’s basically anything someone might type into a search engine. Brainstorm a list of 40-50 keywords and phrases to start.Once you have these keywords, it’s time to start creating content for your website based on those keywords to increase the likelihood of potential customers finding you on search. Which brings me to Step 2 …Step 2: Set up a blog and start writing blog posts.Once you’ve researched the keywords that are important to your audience, create a blog and write blog posts based on those keywords. This will help you increase the odds of getting found on search engines because each new post you create gives you another opportunity to be indexed. For your audience, blog post topics could be “8 Myths About Cover Letters Every College Graduate Should Know” or “How To Get Into Finance Without a Business Degree.” (Get blog post topic ideas from our Blog Topic Generator.)Over time, your blog will drive traffic to your website, help you convert traffic into leads (if you’ve placed calls-to-action on your blog posts — which you should do), help you establish authority, and drive long-term business results. (You can learn more about the benefits of business blogging here.)But slow and steady wins the race — and blogging does require patience. Don’t expect to see success overnight since you’re just starting out. Did you know that HubSpot started blogging before we even had a product? It took 12 to 18 months for us to see results from our blogging efforts, but it’s definitely paid off in the long term. As long as you blog consistently (at least twice per week, but the more the better), you will see that long-term payout. When you’re ready to set up your blog, this post on how to set up business blogs will be a great resource.Step 3: Use PPC advertising as a supplement.Notice that PPC (pay-per-click) advertising is #3 on the list, not #1. No matter how big your budget is, you should focus on content creation and SEO first, and then start using PPC to amplify those efforts. PPC will help you much get quicker returns on your blogging efforts, but those quick returns cost money and you have to keep paying for them to keep seeing the returns (unlike blogging itself, where your finished posts keep working for you over time).But a little PPC is good for getting some traffic to your website and blog right away when no one really knows who you are — it might even help you rank a little bit faster on search engines.To create your PPC advertising plan, follow the five steps in our introductory guide to PPC for startup marketers. When you’re ready to make PPC ads, check out this post on how to make PPC ads people will actually click on.Step 4: Use social media as a distribution channel.Working on your social media strategy is the next step, and it looks like you’ve already created those accounts. The first question you should ask yourself is, which social networking sites do your potential customers spend time? If you want to market to college students or recent college graduates, you might spend more time on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you want to market to older professionals with 10+ years experience, you should focus on LinkedIn and Twitter first.Once you’ve picked two or three channels to focus your social media marketing efforts, optimize those profiles. Include a short bio and a link in your profile, find influencers and follow and engage with them, reply to other users, and start sharing that awesome content you created in step two. Do not buy random followers or Likes! It won’t help your business and it’s a waste of time. Your social media accounts are only valuable if your followers are actually interested in you.Finally, don’t make the common startup mistake of promoting your consulting service too much. Remember, people don’t know about your product or service at this point — but they do have career problems they want to solve. Offer what people are interested in, and they’re more likely to click on and engage with your posts. The 80/20 rule is a great way start: 80% of the content you post to social media should be helpful and valuable to your audience, and 20% can be self-promotional.One last word of wisdom: Move and learn quickly. Experiment a lot — do more of what works, and eliminate what doesn’t. Remember that everything can change on a dime.Best of luck with your business!Sincerely,Got a specific question about inbound you’d like answered? Submit it here. You may be featured in a future blog post (complete with your special pen name, of course). Originally published Jun 20, 2014 6:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack