I get this question from friends all the time. So I decided to clear this out once and for all in one sentence and have elaborated too 👇👇👇
Marketing Consulting Definition: The procurement or provision of professional services to support immediate and long-term marketing strategies for engaging customers and improving business performance.
Marketing consultants – aka marketing advisers – are multi-skilled individuals who understand the process of connecting businesses with their target audiences. This may be a somewhat broad definition, but the services provided by marketing consulting firms are equally broad in scope.
It’s often assumed that marketing consultants and advertising agencies offer the same basic services. In reality, the two are quite different, though are deeply interconnected.
With advertising, it’s essentially a case of communicating a predetermined message to an identified and accessible audience. Advertising agencies assist with the process of creating compelling ads and ensuring they reach the relevant recipients.
By contrast, a marketing consultant can help a brand or business build better connections with prospective and existing customers alike. They focus on the enhancement of the brand’s wider image, authority, and appeal, as opposed to more direct selling of products and services. A marketing consultant can help identify a viable target audience in the first place, analyze customer behaviors and preferences, establish goals and create a strategic road map for their accomplishment.
From initial planning to strategic framework development to implementation to on-going analysis and optimization, professional marketers and marketing consultancy firms help the business meet its financial and more general performance-based objectives.
If you’ve decided to join forces with an internet marketing consultant (or digital marketing consultant), you’ll need to first consider their background and expertise. Along with a variety of specialist fields within digital marketing, there are two primary categories of marketing consultants to be aware of:
Of course, you’ll always come across marketing consulting firms that provide both B2B and B2C solutions. In any case, it’s the client’s responsibility to first determine if and to what extent their respective service provider has relevant expertise and experience.
Most of the digital marketing agencies have their Core Service that they perform the best. Some of those cover:
Absolutely yes. 💪 But once you graduate, most of the knowledge you have worked so hard for is going to be outdated. That’s just harsh truth. The educational system is too slow to pick up the latest changes. For example, Google changes its algorithm over 200 times a year and releases 2-4 major updates annually. These updates turn the SEO world upside down completely. Facebook changes its algorithm constantly as well, releases new advertising options constantly. Some aspects of our daily operations as an agency in 2019 did not even exist in 2018. Therefore, you can definitely learn the fundamentals at school, and you should. But do not expect to rock and roll once you graduate. 🤷♂️ You’ll need a practitioner next to you for a while to truly learn how to apply your knowledge. 💪
From a typical business perspective, knowing where to draw the line is difficult. Particularly if your business is currently performing adequately, it’s not always easy to know if/when a marketing consultant should be brought in.
Nevertheless, there are several common issues and obstacles an elite marketing consultant can help your business overcome. Examples of which include the following:
If you’re currently operating in the absence of any real marketing strategy whatsoever, you could be selling yourself and your business short. The number-one rule for successful marketing being to follow a detailed and well-structured strategy at all times.
Having too many objectives, unclear objectives or no specific objectives whatsoever is a guaranteed formula for poor performance. A good marketing consultant can help establish achievable objectives and priorities for your business to work towards.
In terms of both equipment and manpower, you may be in a position where you simply cannot orchestrate and implement an effective marketing strategy in-house. In which case, hiring help may be the only feasible option.
Attracting one-off sales is fine, but the key to success in competitive times lies in customer retention and loyalty. If you’re finding it difficult to appeal to your audience enough to keep them on board long-term, your marketing strategy may need a rethink.
A marketing consultant should never take a penny from a client without delivering measurable results and a consistent ROI. If this simply isn’t the case with your current consultant, it could be time to seek support elsewhere.
One of the biggest mistakes any business can make is basing their decision entirely on costs. Freelance marketing consultancy rates and agency marketing consultancy rates range from the sublime to the ridiculous, but you cannot put a price on quality.
Ultimately, it’s all about value for money – the ROI your marketing consultant is able to guarantee. Any consultant worth hiring will have an established track record of successfully helping businesses achieve their objectives. They’ll take a hands-on approach to the services they provide, rather than simply sitting on the sidelines as an advisor.
Most importantly, they’ll take an active interest in your business and demonstrate both the pride and enthusiasm needed to get the job done. They’ll be creative, innovative and results-oriented, with all the technical skills required to create and implement a multi-dimensional marketing strategy.
As for specific duties and responsibilities, a professional marketing consultant can provide a variety of supportive services such as:
Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the business to determine its immediate and long-term marketing objectives. An experienced consultant can provide extensive support in a variety of areas such as those outlined above, but you first need to know what you want and what you expect.
When hiring a marketing consultant for the first time, you’ll have plenty of questions to ask and assurances to seek. Nevertheless, you can also expect to be asked an extensive list of questions by the consultant. The better they get to know your business and its objectives, the stronger the position they’ll be in to drive positive change.
The following represent just a few of the questions you can expect to be asked when bringing a marketing consultant on board:
Realistically, you can’t expect a consultant to help your business succeed if you don’t first define what ‘success’ means to you. Do you have your sights set on a specific annual income? An exact number of monthly new customers? Or is your primary goal an international expansion? Whatever it is, it needs to be defined and clearly communicated.
For the expert marketing consultant, it isn’t enough to simply know what your brand does. Instead, they need to know why it does it, how it came about and subsequently build a complete picture of its background. The more compelling your brand’s story, the better.
The toughest question of all! If you’re unable to answer this question, you may need to reconsider your business model as a whole. There has to be something that differentiates your business and makes it remarkable. You may be the most technologically advanced on the market, provide the highest quality customer support, offer the fastest delivery worldwide, have the highest overall customer satisfaction rating or simply offer something 100% unique. This will form the crux of your entire marketing strategy, so needs to be considered carefully.
It can be a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s nonetheless important to acknowledge and accept where your competitors are currently outperforming you. Armed with this information, you’ll be in a perfect position to improve, evolve and ultimately take the lead.
Perhaps the most important question of all – what do you expect to get out of the deal? What has motivated you to seek expert assistance with your marketing strategy? Again, it’s a case of defining and communicating your objectives as clearly as possible, in order to help your consultant formulate a workable strategy accordingly.
Irrespective of the effectiveness (or otherwise) of your existing marketing strategy, the input of an experienced marketing consultant could prove invaluable. Oftentimes, an initial consultation is all that’s needed to pinpoint profitable opportunities you’ve yet to explore for the benefit of your business. Not to mention, identify obstacles standing in your way and begin working towards their elimination.How to Generate 3X More Leads in 5 Weeks On LinkedIn (Step-By-Step and Without Spending a Fortune)
Social media marketing is a necessary and highly successful approach to raising awareness, generating leads, nurturing and converting B2C leads to customers. But can the same be said of B2B lead generation? If you answered “No” to that question, you might be missing one of the best B2B lead generation platforms of the decade.
But it is not your fault. Like many B2B marketers, you might have thought LinkedIn as the largest resume platform in the world—and not much of a powerful lead generation accelerator.
Many marketers have traditionally thought of LinkedIn as a prospecting, hiring and one-dimensional advertising network. There is more to LinkedIn than posting work histories.
Here are a couple of LinkedIn marketing statistics every marketer—digital or not—will find interesting, for example:
Are you taking full advantage of LinkedIn to generate new business?
This guide is dedicated to helping you discover powerful ways to turn your LinkedIn lead generation strategy on and accelerating to 100 to 200 leads a day in 5 weeks. The key to getting there is to not only read the insider information packed herein but to also go ahead and consistently practice what you’ll learn.
But, before we get right to it, how about finding out why you and your business need LinkedIn. Here are incredible LinkedIn statistics in 2018 demonstrating why LinkedIn is important to your business and digital marketing strategy altogether:
That said, there are ways to attract more, highly-targeted and qualified leads on LinkedIn.
The first step to zeroing in on the most profitable LinkedIn market is to identify your LinkedIn target audience. Is that easy to do? Not according to the 42% of marketers who do not know how to gather the right data to kickstart targeted campaigns. Neither is it impossible or even that difficult.
The simpler way to understand your LinkedIn target audience is to start by listing down a number of keywords that interest people in your niche or those that have similar interests and goals. Then you’ll want to use LinkedIn Search to search your keywords among groups that identify with your keywords. Feel free to use as many highly relevant keywords as you can find.
While keywords are popular for SEO purposes, they are also psychological triggers. That means LinkedIn users are more likely to join a group using a specific keyword that they are interested in.
Searching “Healthcare” will turn around results specific to that niche including healthcare pages, companies, and groups on LinkedIn.
It is all about specificity. And groups that use specific keywords in their names attract like-minded professionals working or conducting business in that niche or industry.
This is important.
You do not want to assume your target audience wants what you think they want. But keenly following up on the types of questions asked, posts that get the most views, thumbs up and comments, for example, you can understand what they truly want.
You want to use that insight to create on-demand lead magnets. Those lead magnets will seek to offer a solution to what is keeping many groups’ members awake.
Remember to monitor several groups. The more you do the higher the likelihood you’ll create an ebook, report, article, or other lead magnet form that appeals to multiple groups’ members.
You’ll need the lead magnet in the next LinkedIn lead generation acceleration step up next.
LinkedIn Groups is a neat, powerful feature many B2B marketers are still to take full benefits from. You can join up to 50 LinkedIn groups. On the Search filter tool, select “groups” and then key in your keyword to find targeted groups to join.
You’ll want to join the groups that have:
The point of joining LinkedIn groups is this:
By offering valuable insights, you’ll master a most important LinkedIn marketing technique: organic LinkedIn traffic generation.
And how do you do that?
LinkedIn users are business people or professionals that can see through your sales pitch from a mile out.
Moreover, unveiling your selling agenda too early—without making considerable effort to offer answers, spark valuable conversations, and such—will discourage group members from trusting you. Group owners can delete your membership and ban you for that, as well.
The larger problem with that:
If you are banned from a group and labeled a traffic pest or spammer, LinkedIn will ban you from other groups or joining others, too. That would be the end of your LinkedIn marketing road as far as this guide is concerned. And you do not want that.
Dedicate yourself to commenting only. You’ll want to do that for 2-3 weeks—without posting any lead magnets or links to your product/service or website. The point is to offer valuable information that will increase your credibility, authority, and grow your influence as a knowledgeable contributor and solutions provider.
Here’s the benefit:
LinkedIn group owners have to approve comments before the posts can go live. An owner who sees you offering valuable insights for free for over 2 weeks is likely to set your posts to auto-approve.
That means your posts would no longer have to peg in pending status before reaching the larger target audience within LinkedIn groups you have joined.
As your posts auto-approve, and you continue to offer useful insights, more group members are likely to be aware of your solutions provision capability.
Now you can post a lead magnet.
Choose to use this tactic once per week or bi-weekly.
No spamming. No group bans.
Be sure to include a specific call to action with or within your lead magnet. But you can also post a link for interested members to follow if they want to download a relevant resource such as an ebook for a specific solution they seek.
It could be a link to a dedicated landing page or website homepage—not the product or service pages, which are too direct.
The whole point is to get potential leads to your website, provide their contact details to get the lead magnet (such as a niche survey or special report), so you can follow up with your marketing system in future.
Keep in mind, 63% of website visitors are not ready to buy yet (Marketing Donut).
HubSpot found the best time to post on LinkedIn is 5-6 pm, Tuesday through Thursday.
There is more…
In the US, for example, you’d want to post during Central and Eastern Times because most people live in the CT and ET time zones.
To get the most LinkedIn engagement, you’ll want to post between 4 pm and 5 pm on Wednesdays, according to a Sprout Social LinkedIn Global Engagement study.
Source: Sprout Social
To boost LinkedIn post shares, the best time to post is 1-2 pm ET. And for optimal clickthroughs, 7-8 am, noon and 5-6 pm will help convert interested group members to highly targeted leads.
Moreover, LinkedIn sends a Daily Digest email of groups’ daily activities. You can get featured on it and broadcast your message to an even more targeted and larger audience by posting your content between 8 am and 9 am US Eastern Time.
That means more targeted views and potential clickthroughs to your lead magnet (and ultimately your website) from thousands of group members and LinkedIn network professionals—millions of which are decision makers at their company.
Better yet, you can create a LinkedIn group. LinkedIn allows you to create up to 10 groups free of charge. If you choose, you can create an additional 20 sub-groups under the main group—a sub-niche under each of the 10.
Creating a LinkedIn group is important for several incredible reasons—even better compared to joining owned groups.
You will have privileges you would never have as a joining member.
How is that?
There are only a few things to keep in mind (and these are important):
You can, once in a while, promote your product or service. You can add a link to a lead magnet or lead capture page within the Welcome Message.
Also, you can share group roles, responsibilities and restrictions in the same email message.
Here, you want to discourage spamming, irrelevancy, and outright chaos by letting everyone know what is expected of them. That is to help preserve the integrity and authority of the entire group for longer.
If you want, you can use a moderator to keep things clean and professional in the group.
However, only post offers that are highly relevant to most members’ need to solve a specific problem. You do not want to push members away with incessant sales messages. And neither do you want members to feel like the group is all about you or your offer other than a networking community.
The latter reason is also why it is not recommended to use a business name, logo, or contacts when naming your new LinkedIn group. Again, LinkedIn is a professionals networking platform.
You have busy professionals that are looking for ideas, inspiration, networking, solutions, and so on, within a community of like-minded or similarly-interested pool of professionals. Branding your business in their face at every opportunity will be overkill.
The goal, like when you join owned, top groups on LinkedIn, is to connect, offer valuable information, brainstorm, and solve problems.
That builds engagement—and organic LinkedIn traffic to your lead capture system.
And increasing LinkedIn engagement will not only have current members sticking around, but they are also more likely to refer other professionals in their circles to the group—technically, your group.
That would mean more warm leads that are likely to opt for your lead magnet or offer and convert to buyers.
Want to find out how to create a group on LinkedIn?
Notice how the group name doubles as a pre-qualifier? HubSpot reported 44% of marketers do not verify leads to filter qualified leads, which is imperative.
To boost your LinkedIn group engagement and encourage group growth, you can find valuable resources such as the LinkedIn Company Page Playbook and borrow inspiration from the top company pages on LinkedIn.
Using LinkedIn to generate highly targeted leads is a powerful approach to boost your lead generation strategy in 2018 and beyond. Thousands of more professionals are joining LinkedIn every other day.
That means the above LinkedIn lead generation techniques can help you to successfully triple or generate between 100-500 leads every other day, well into the next couple of years.
After your initial “contribute meaningfully” two-week stage, you can use a relevant lead magnet to implement in the following three weeks.
Remember, this is not a magic LinkedIn lead generation technique. You are going to want to practice the LinkedIn marketing tips herein to grow your email list and ultimately increase your sales.
Inbound Sales: Your In-depth, Simple Guide to Using the Inbound Sales Methodology
To grasp the inbound sales methodology, here’s what to keep in mind right from the start of this ultimate guide to inbound sales:
We don’t buy like we used to.
Here’s something you can be sure of, though:
If you are unaware of the inbound sales concept and remain oblivious of it, you risk running out of business. Your competition will swoop in and whisk your target customers away—even your existing clients. And your revenue will take a hit and crash.
And your business as you know it will soon be on its knees.
So, what changed?
How can you align your business with the right customers so you can make sales—the revenue you need to survive and thrive in the current and future sales environment?
Let’s first take a throwback look at what sales looked like before inbound sales.
You know how it went.
Cold calls. Door-to-door sales pitches. Trade show presentations. Splashing a chunk of money into buying contact lists. Then recruit a team of young, hungry salespeople to push your message to the people on that list.
Remember receiving unsolicited sales calls in the middle of your commute, office work, meeting, and family time?
Your sales team had to push the sale to a stranger. That, to make the prospect aware of your product, consider using it, and then decide to buy from one of them immediately or soon.
If the prospect decided to go with the latter, your salespeople would have to make more calls—and likely be a bit too pushy.
Yet many people on the contact list wouldn’t be interested. So, you’d cast an even wider net. Source even more contacts. Urge your sales team to become even more “pushy”. That’s how the catchphrase Always Be Closing came along—the ABC of sales.
And then the internet came along…
And the ways of sales and marketing started to hit new blockades.
In March 2017, digital research firm eMarketer discovered about 25% of U.S. internet users deployed ad blockers in the previous year.
Then GlobalWebIndex found this:
2018 Adblockers use in the U.S. statistics by GlobalWebIndex
The infographic shows:
In mid-2018, AudienceProject detected and reported increased mobile ad-blocking behavior across the globe, providing statistics from the U.S., U.K., Germany, and more countries.
What these studies confirm is the shift in power from the seller to the buyer.
The buyer is more informed now.
54% of buyers used the internet to find local businesses in 2018—a 50% rise from the previous year
27% of buyers used the internet to find a local business in 2017, according to BrightLocal
Your target customers just don’t buy like they used to.
Using legacy selling alone in an age of inbound sales and marketing will kill your revenue—and your business.
So, what is inbound sales and why should you care?
The inbound sales methodology simply switches the focus from the seller to the buyer. The inbound sales process appreciates that buyers are more empowered than they used to be.
That buyers don’t want to be bombarded by myriads of ads, cold calls, and emails, or door-to-door pitches anymore.
Inbound selling is about focusing on the buyer’s pain points, interests, aspirations, and goals. Contrary to pushing for a sale, it is about attracting warm leads to your business who then buy—ideally forming a long-term relationship, too.
There are several that jump right off the page:
From beginning to the end, the inbound sales methodology focuses on what the buyer needs and wants so they can achieve their goals.
The inbound sales process requires you to connect with a potential customer, build rapport, and then offer valuable help before asking for value back—pitching a sale.
Instead of Always Be Closing, the inbound philosophy says Always Be Helping.
Help potential buyers to identify their needs and wants. Help them understand the nature of those needs. Help them to consider a solution. Then warmly invite them to consider your solution based on its unique value proposition.
Instead of pushing for a sale, always be pulling in potential clients’ trust.
Inbound sales thrive on context.
Legacy selling or outbound sales used to make largely swiping assumptions about what the ideal customer’s needs were. The assumption being every prospect had similar pain points, desire, and goals as any other.
Inbound selling strategies focus on personalizing and adapting the sales process to an individual lead’s pain points, interests, and goals.
The inbound sales team will profile a potential client with details such as what they do, which company and position they hold, how they heard about your company, and what they are looking to achieve. Their buyer persona and buyer profile.
With inbound sales, salespeople connect with warm leads—people they’ve interacted with before in some capacity, who’ve already shown interest in their company’s solutions.
For example, when a lead calls your sales department because of what they already know about your solutions, that’s a true manifestation of inbound sales.
The customer expresses interest.
They are interested and motivated.
They just haven’t reached a decision yet.
And they need you to help guide them to it as a trusted consultant.
People are more receptive to a call they expect. Not a cold call. A warm call. If they asked you to call them back about your solutions, that’s a hot call—and likely to end in a deal.
The inbound sales process makes it easier to guide the lead through the sales funnel to becoming a buying customer.
Outbound sales strategies just don’t nurture that initial connection before ringing the potential customer—which, in many cases, results in your reps getting a cold shoulder.
How do you make those crucial first connections a lasting relationship?
By deploying inbound marketing.
In a sentence, inbound marketing involves modern marketing techniques that aim to attract leads to you. You provided value first, and the potential buyer came to you for the solution because they trust you can provide it.
Outbound marketing or legacy marketing involves going out with an elevator pitch to win leads. You likely outreached to people on a contact list or entire market segment, spoke with them over the phone (likely severally), until you achieved a yes.
Inbound marketing aligns its messaging with customer behavior.
You and your reps have to reach out to leads, educate them about your service/product, and kind of push for a closing/deal.
The problem with that approach is you’d be reaching out to leads you have limited information on. So, your reps have no clear understanding of whether the prospect is interested in the solution or not.
You don’t know where they are in their buying journey.
You have little understanding of their motivations too, so your messaging could easily be misaligned with what the potential customer is looking for.
That drives some leads away to a competitor, who demonstrates some level of understanding the prospect’s deep needs through personalized inbound marketing strategies.
You research what your target customer truly needs. The goal is to detail out their pain points and aspirations.
You use the research findings to create buyer personas and profile your ideal customer. So you can align your solution and message to their deepest need.
You take time to create useful content that you share on the web through your website, blog, an authority publication, and or via social media.
The potential buyer finds the content and resonates with it because you tailored it to his or her pain points or aspirations. They then click a link to your website to find out what other useful material you have to offer them.
On reaching your site, they find more blog posts addressing different aspects of their concern. They find you offer an ebook or short email-based course on the issue. They offer to give you their email address so you can send them more helpful content.
You have established a connection.
From there you adapt your trusted consultation and messaging to the sales process to make the sale.
This is also referred to as the inbound sales process.
It follows a similar approach to the inbound marketing process. Inbound salespeople conduct it in phases or stages that complement the buyer journey.
The three stages of a typical buyer’s journey are:
Awareness: potential buyer identifies a challenge, a desire, or goal they need to achieve. They make achieving it a priority. They are learning more about the problem from online content in the form of blogs, white papers, ebooks, and industry reports.
Consideration: Aware of the problem and committed to finding a solution to it, the buyer starts evaluating different ways to solve his/her problem. They are taking to product reviews, comparison reviews, and expert guides.
Decision: Having educated themselves, the buyer is decided on a solution category. But they are still deciding who to work with and what specific product or service to use. They are interested in online reviews, case studies, test videos, and considering taking up a trial or product demo.
Here’s how the buyer’s journey looks like in a visual
Image Credit: Sleeknote
Here are inbound sales strategies to use to make your inbound sales methodology work for you.
Every business aims to solve a specific problem. Base your primary value proposition on your ideal customer’s needs.
To be aware of your ideal customer and their need, create your buyer profile and buyer personas.
Buyer profiles detail the kind of customer your product or service is made for. So if you are a B2B company, define the companies your product or service is a good fit for and those that aren’t. But only complete the profile at a company level—not going in on the contact person.
Buyer personas are about defining the different buying patterns of consumers (B2C) or companies (B2B) within your ideal buyer profiles. There will be several buyer personas in a buyer profile, for example, the CEO, Procurement Head, and Department Head of a company your product or service is a good fit for.
Although defined as a fictional representation of your ideal customer, a buyer persona should be informed by real market research on your target customers and actual data about your current customers.
Here’s how to create a detailed buyer persona for your business:
And remember to ask the relevant questions, too:
To marry your inbound sales methodology to your potential buyer’s journey, use the following four stages of the inbound sales strategy:
Here’s how the inbound sales process should look from your end:
The inbound sales process
So, how do you integrate this inbound sales process into your ideal buyer’s journey using helpful content at every stage?
Here’s a full-blown visual of what kind of content to create for each stage of the process to attract, convert, and retain inbound clients successfully. An example inbound sales strategy to use.
The inbound sales strategy
Inbound marketing also goes beyond the initial sale. Forentrepreneurs found that up to 90% of inbound buyers pay for upsells and renewals too.
So inbound marketing focuses on providing great service so the buying client not only sticks around but also becomes a brand ambassador. The inbound buyer’s journey is longer-lasting, and when done right, more profitable.
The full inbound sales journey. Credit: Uhurunetworks
A happy client is a brand ambassador that’s willing and able to refer other clients to your problem-solving solution.
More people in 2018 read online reviews from real clients than ever before and before contacting a local business, according to BrightLocal.
86% of leads read online reviews from current and previous clients to educate themselves and decide whether to trust you enough to call you for a solution they need
They can do that in several ways. Dimensional Research found out the following channels of influence:
Where potential clients are likely to find online reviews to power your inbound sales and marketing
By offering positive reviews or using word-of-mouth referrals, current clients attract even more business to you—without you having to spend a marketing dollar on it.
Keep in mind as many as 67.7% of purchasing decisions are influenced by online reviews. Many trust you enough to reach out directly to you:
Most will visit your business website to interact with you further after reading reviews = building more rapport before opening up to a sale = true inbound sales
The old way of sales & marketing no longer works as it should. Legacy selling techniques are now viewed as spammy and are being blocked, resulting in ever fewer sales. The rise of the internet has made possible for buyers to launch into the buyer’s journey without needing to call on a salesperson.
Inbound sales strategies, on the other hand, have gained momentum in the last few years.
Sellers should find a way to market to, sell to, and retain the now empowered buyer to keep afloat. Inbound sales strategy presents the solution your business needs to increase sales, retain more customers, and attract even more with clever inbound after-sale strategies.
Need help figuring the kind of inbound sales methodology that’s ideal for your business? Contact us to get started with your very own inbound sales professionals.
The Difference Between Marketing and Selling
Marketing and Selling are routinely used as interchangeable synonyms for the same business concept. In reality, there are significant differences between the two terms. The development and implementation of an effective marketing strategy rely on the respective brand’s ability to differentiate between selling and marketing.
At a fundamental level, the concepts of marketing and selling could be defined as follows:
Broad efforts to boost a brand’s position, prominence, PR, select the right market, product, service, price, distribution channels, enhance the customer journey and user experience
Exclusive focus on selling more products and/or services
The concepts of marketing and selling are interconnected in many ways, though refer to very different processes within a wider business strategy. Marketing is an umbrella term that encompasses an extensive range of strategic, advertising, promotional and PR tasks – selling being just one component of a marketing strategy.
In a little more detail, marketing is a multi-dimensional process that concerns the improvement of business performance and profitability by boosting the brand’s appeal and value in the eyes of the customer. As a result, any activities or processes geared towards image enhancement, brand development, customer loyalty, and general customer satisfaction could be considered marketing tactics.
The concept of marketing begins with the target audience – identifying the requirements of the customer, creating strategies to engage them and ultimately profiting through customer satisfaction. The more effective the marketing strategy, the more likely the customer is to remain loyal to the brand.
With marketing, it’s a case of heavily researching the customer’s wants, needs, preferences, and general behaviors. This information can then be used to present the product, the service and/or the entire business in the most appealing manner possible at the right time, in the right place, through the right channels, with the right Value Proposition. After which, sales occur naturally and loyalty is nurtured.
The formula is somewhat reversed with the purest form of selling. Rather than beginning with the target audience and positioning, the selling process starts with the product or service value itself.
A selling strategy aims to coax, convince or persuade buyers that they want or need whatever’s being sold. Instead of identifying the needs of the customer and aiming to fulfil them, selling works the other way around – the business attempts to create a sense of need to sell more products.
Though highly effective for improving conversion rates and generating revenue, selling alone isn’t a workable strategy in the absence of marketing support. Hence, selling forms just one part of a wider marketing strategy, which must be carefully balanced with other complementary techniques.
One of the most effective ways of distinguishing between marketing and selling is to consider the marketing process in its entirety. Businesses and marketing consultants often have their own unique approaches to the marketing process, but the fundamentals of the formula remain relatively static.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the typical marketing process for the modern business:
The first and most important step in the process is to identify a viable market for your product or service. If there are no customers waiting to buy whatever it is you’re selling, the rest is inconsequential.
The existence of an audience and demand for a product or service doesn’t confirm its appropriateness for your business. Extensive competitor analysis must also be carried out, in order to ensure the market isn’t already saturated or impenetrable.
Every aspect of the service or product design and development process should be tailored to meet the requirements and preferences of the end-user. You first establish their needs, then create something that satisfies them.
After which, it’s a case of creating a marketing strategy to effectively present your product or service to your target audience. The key to success lies in showing the customer how their life will be better with your product or service in it.
Immediate and on-going customer support can be the ultimate deal-breaker for a marketing strategy. The more capable and committed the support you provide, the easier it becomes to nurture loyalty.
In contrast with the above process, selling is – as the name itself suggests – simply a case of exchanging products or services for money. A basic transaction, wherein the customer receives something in return for their payment. Given the nature of the marketing process, this ‘sale’ represents almost a final step and is typically the result of successful marketing. The final step would be getting the existing customers’ experience as great as possible so your customers can refer other potential customers to your company with pride.
Selling is a part of marketing but is fundamentally reliant on other interconnected components. In most instances, selling products is impossible without an effective marketing strategy. Every sale contributes to the success of the business but must be approached in a manner that promotes loyalty and customer satisfaction. Selling without building trust and online social proof becomes problematic in the digital era.
Technically speaking, selling products is relatively easy if the value you deliver is well taken. After all, you can simply tell your target audience anything and everything they want to hear – even if it’s far from true. Though for obvious reasons, if you underdeliver or mislead the potential customers this would likely have a detrimental effect on customer loyalty, brand image and the wider performance of the organization. Therefore, the Sales Process must be closely coordinated with the Marketing Team so the right Brand Message is delivered, the expectations are set correctly, the Value Proposition is communicated.
An easy way of getting to grips with the difference between marketing and selling is to consider the latter as a more physical process. That being, the logistical movement of goods or services from the seller to the buyer by way of a sale. You pay, you receive something in return – this is a ‘sale’.
By contrast, marketing encompasses absolutely everything the organization does to both reaches and appeals to its target audience. Sales are needed to generate revenue, but marketing is a broad process that focuses on satisfying the demands of the customer and sustaining the organization long-term.
Some of the most important differences between selling and marketing are as follows:
Based on my experience consulting companies from Small to Large, in many organizational settings, the sales and marketing departments are separated. The reason is that each of the two responsibilities demands a unique set of skills and competencies for successful strategy development and implementation.
Compare the characteristics of an effective salesperson and an elite marketer and the differences become immediately apparent. To succeed in sales, you need to be an incredibly confident and assertive communicator, be perceived as an expert, possess advanced communication skills and be a naturally persuasive and influential individual. You also need to be able to ‘spin’ whatever you have to work within a manner that appeals to the prospective customer.
With marketing, it a little less ‘hands-on’. Excellent communication skills are a must, but marketers need to be somewhat more empathetic, analytical and forward-thinking. Their role is to consider the bigger picture for the business long-term, as opposed to doing whatever is necessary to close immediate sales. Marketers are critical thinkers with the ability to put themselves in the customer’s position, nurturing relationships through understanding rather than persuasion.
In any case, selling forms an important part of the marketing process, so the two go hand-in-hand.
Speak to a sample group of small business owners and they’ll typically tell you the same:
Sales matter more than marketing.
The reason is that with limited time and money to invest in marketing, their performance and success are measured entirely on sales. From a logical perspective, sales is the Income Statement top line – and running a business often becomes a pursuit for the Revenue. If you don’t sell your products or services, you don’t generate the revenues you need to sustain your business.
So, just as long as they’re selling enough to get by, nothing else matters. Sales, therefore, is more important than marketing.
But while there’s a certain amount of logic to this conclusion, it’s a classic case of fundamentally flawed logic. Selling is important because it brings in the necessary revenues, but marketing is the process of designing the right product or service that’s in demand or generate the demand for the product or service, getting products and services known in the first place. Or to put it another way, you can’t expect to sell products or services if nobody knows they exist. Marketing comes first, ensuring you present something of value in accordance with the needs and desires of your target audience.
If they don’t want it or have no idea it exists, you won’t sell it…and your business will fail.
Irrespective of the importance of sales, therefore, you cannot realistically claim selling matters more than marketing. Sales occur as a result of effective marketing, which can also nurture loyalty and boost a brand’s wider performance. And, as already touched upon, marketing focuses on the long-term performance of the business – not the finite sales needed to keep it afloat temporarily.
Despite the inherent complexities within the fields of both marketing and selling, considering the two together is actually quite straightforward:
As it’s almost impossible to sell without marketing your products or services properly, marketing should be prioritized due to its strategic impact on the business.
This is particularly true when considering how an effective marketing strategy naturally encourages greater sales volumes and on-going sales. Selling and marketing may be very different concepts but are nonetheless intrinsically interconnected and interdependent on one another.
Ways to Calculate and Improve Lifetime Value (LTV)
Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) is an effective way of benchmarking your Customer Acquisition Cost against the Actual Profits you’ll generate from a single Customer.
Customer Lifetime Value is calculated by subtracting the total costs of acquiring a customer from the profits they generate. LTV can only be used to create basic financial estimates for the future, but can nonetheless prove instrumental in helping you make better decisions for your business.
LTV is useful because it provides a guideline as to how much you can spend to acquire customers, in accordance with their average spend. You can also evaluate the payback period – the time it takes for the customer to repay their acquisition costs. Longer payback periods amount to more risk for the business.
What’s more, investors always pay close attention to an organization’s LTV when carrying out wider financial health assessments. By getting to know your LTV, you’ll be in a much stronger position to drive your business forward.
Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) represents the average revenue that a customer generates for your business before they churn, offset by gross margin. LTV in SaaS is only ever used as a forward-looking estimate of the future, but calculating a reasonable estimate allows you to make smarter decisions for your business.
Business owners and marketing teams are constantly on the lookout for reliable ways to acquire new customers and enhance customer loyalty in a cost-effective manner. Calculating the lifetime value of your customer is an essential step in the journey towards boosting your company’s ROI in product development, customer support and marketing arenas alike.
In the simplest terms, LTV is a simple yet effective method for forecasting projected profits from customers throughout their lifetime relationship with your brand. Roughly translated, it’s a case of calculating how much you can expect to receive in accordance with the costs of acquiring them in the first place.
By calculating your customer lifetime value, you’ll have the opportunity to make more strategic decisions in key areas such as:
Product and Service Development – Customer lifetime values can help guide decisions regarding product and service development, such as whether it would be cost-effective to alter the design of a product to cater to the preferences of a sub-segment of your target audience.
There’s a great deal of data that can be brought together to create an accurate customer lifetime value. At its core, however, a basic customer lifetime value can be calculated as follows:
LTV = Lifetime Customer Revenue – Lifetime Customer Costs
Working with this formula, a typical example could play out like this. A customer orders products and services to the total value of USD 2,000 ($1,000 product price you charge in Year 0, and $1,000 revenue from the services you provide during Years 1 & 2) during the lifetime of their relationship with your business (for example, for 3 years). During these 3 years, the total cost of the sales and services you’ve provided add up to USD 750. This would result in an LTV of USD 1,250 ($2,000 – $750 = $1,250). With this data, it can be concluded that to spend anything more or equal than USD 1,250 on customer acquisition would be counterproductive. Doing so would mean breaking even at best, or coming out with a loss. Acquisition costs regularly fluctuate and vary significantly from one organization to the next.
In all instances, however, customer retention is considered a more effective and affordable strategy, with the potential to deliver a much healthier ROI.
Recent years have brought about the emergence of hundreds of thousands of new start-ups, intensifying competition across all industries and sectors. As a result, businesses are placing heavier emphasis than ever before on the acquisition of new customers. This, despite the fact that customer acquisition typically costs 700% more than customer retention.
Striking the right balance with your customer lifetime value calculator holds the key to your brand’s long-term success. The good news is that there are countless avenues to explore for enhancing and improving your LTV.
The most effective of all being as follows:
Be it products, services, features, resources or anything else, it’s up to you to provide your customers with something they have an interest in. It could also be something as simple as a blog, providing the kinds of insights that keep your customers coming back for more. It could be the quality of the service you provide, the simplicity of your online store, the consistent speed of your deliveries – whatever you can think of to set you apart from your competitors and nurture the relationships to deliver more value to the existing customer.
Placing your customers in the spotlight can be a great way of both nurturing retention and attracting the attention of new customers. From photos to video testimonials to reviews and recommendations, it’s all about engaging with the audience you intended to win over. Become part of the community, rather than building barriers between you and your audience.
Rewards and incentives are all well and good, though are often all-too predictable. But when we receive something unexpected completely out of the blue from a brand we’ve done business with, we can’t help but shout about it. All of which can work wonders for the respective firm’s reputation and position. Even if it’s something as simple as a hand-written greetings card, it could have the desired impact.
Rather than expecting customer feedback to flow your way organically, consider adopting a proactive approach. Make it as easy as possible for your customers to make suggestions and include some kind of incentive for doing so. Thank them for their comments, respond to any comments published online and act on their suggestions. It’s only when customers genuinely believe you’re listening to them that you can expect to win their loyalty.
Anyone wishing to do so should be able to contact your company instantaneously via whichever channel appeals to them most. It’s up to you to be there when your customers need you – not the other way around. Under no circumstances should you ever make your customers jump through hoops simply to contact a member of your support team. As mentioned a little earlier, stellar customer support typically holds the key to customer loyalty and a more robust LTV.
Your Customer Lifetime Value is by no means a silver-bullet metric capable of solving every issue you may face. Nevertheless, it’s one of the most invaluable and useful metrics to be brought into your key decision-making processes.
Once you’ve established your current LTV, it’s up to you to do whatever it takes to enhance and improve it where possible.
Win Loss Analysis – Best Marketing Practices for 2020
It’s a scenario you probably know well. You’ve finally closed the deal, the immediate future looks great for your business and the entire team is in the mood to celebrate. You’ve hit your targets ahead of time, you’re looking at a decent period with zero uncertainty ahead and your confidence is sky-high.
But here’s the thing – tomorrow is a new day, with new targets to assign and new challenges to face. The question being, what can you do to repeat this all-around success going forwards?
In my experience, this is where many businesses go wrong. They ride the wave of a recent big success, which is fine, but they ride it way too long. Assumptions are made based on immediate successes and insufficient effort is made to encourage history to repeat itself.
The result of which, as you can imagine, tends to be a disappointment.
If you fall on the more proactive side of the spectrum, what should you be doing to make things happen again and again?
The answer – conducting a win/loss analysis could help steer things in the right direction.
Carrying out a win/loss analysis (aka post-decision interviews) gives you the opportunity to replicate your biggest successes indefinitely. It’s also just as important for generating key insights as to why you didn’t hit your targets, helping guide your subsequent decisions and actions accordingly.
Win/loss analysis is one of the many options on the table for repeating your successes, but it’s a highly effective and measurable method.
At its core, a win/loss analysis provides the opportunity to assess your business and its performance from the perspective of your customers. It delivers a detailed overview of your points of appeal, areas for improvement and the reasons why you won or lost. Rather than assuming you know what contributed to your recent success or failure, you go directly to your customers and request their feedback.
Interviews can be carried out via various channels, but I’ve noted the most helpful insights are generated by in-person discussions or telephone conversations. Postal or email surveys are an option but don’t provide the opportunity to dig deeper than the base questions you ask. You can even ask a third-party to handle things on your behalf, but then you can’t be sure they’ll probe as deeply or specifically as you would personally.
By ensuring you (or your team) contact customers directly, you access a number of key benefits such as:
You’ll still produce helpful data through traditional questionnaires and surveys, but I strongly recommend at least some in-person interviews where possible.
The primary benefit of a win/loss analysis is the unique customer-first perspective it provides of your successes and failures. A strong and on-going sales strategy is mandatory for the consistent performance of your organization. A win/loss analysis provides the opportunity to gather, analyze and retain the kind of priceless data that can help improve success rates and identify areas of weakness.
In fact, there’s no more effective way of getting to know your business from the perspective of its customers than through win/loss analysis.
Specifically, win/loss analysis delivers such key insights as:
These are just a few of the insights you’ll gain access to by performing an effective win/loss analysis. Ultimately, the data you collect can be used as the basis for your on-going marketing and PR strategy.
The benefits of win/loss analysis are therefore clear, but what’s the best way of getting started?
It’s worth remembering that the data you collect will only be as useful as the collection method allows. Hence, it’s useful to view the win/loss analysis interview process in three specific stages:
In the wake of success or failure, you’ll first need to pen a robust interview strategy with your sales and marketing team, with the input of your customer service heads. Consider the questions you’ll be asking, who will carry out the interviews and how they will be performed. I recommend planning for interviews that last around 30 minutes, though allow extra time in instances where further probing is necessary. Make things as easy and comfortable as possible for the interviewee, which will encourage their participation and help maintain their interest.
Don’t be afraid to go off-script during the interview if you feel additional or modified questions could prove helpful. It’s also important to conduct the interview as objectively as possible, allowing as little emotion as you can to affect your approach. The customer should be reminded of the importance of their honesty, irrespective of how their thoughts and opinions differ from those of the interviewer. Stick with the timetable you assign as strictly as possible, in order to avoid frustrating the interviewee.
The data collected during each interview should be reviewed and analyzed with equal importance. Rather than searching for findings that correlate with your own beliefs, you need to consider every viewpoint and experience carefully. It’s also important to thank each participant after the event for their contribution to the project.
Post-decision interviews shouldn’t be conducted only in the wake of major wins or losses. Instead, they should form an integral part of your core sales, marketing, and customer service strategy. At least, if you prioritize continuous improvement and customer satisfaction.
There are, however, some ground rules that should be followed to make the most of every win/loss analysis carried out. Looking ahead to the remaining months of 2019, the following represent the most important best-practice guidelines to gain maximum value from your post-decision interviews:
Your findings will be skewed if you speak to a disproportionate number of satisfied or dissatisfied customers. You can only expect to achieve clear and balanced insights if you ensure both sides are represented equally. It’s also worth remembering that every interview represents an invaluable opportunity to get a disenchanted customer back on board with whatever it is you do.
As a general rule of thumb, try to ensure your interviews are carried out no more than two months (or eight weeks) following the event or action. The more time that passes, the more inaccuracies and inconsistencies may find their way into the participants’ accounts. It can also be useful to gauge the emotional responses of your customers to your brand, which will be at their rawest and strongest immediately after the event.
Consider the information you’re most interested in collecting and work backward to establish the questions you’ll need to ask. To what extent did you satisfy the customer? Which of your competitors were also in contention? Why did they choose you? What would it take to keep them coming back? Why didn’t you win their business? What would they change about the experience? What advice could they offer you? What were their perceptions of your representatives? What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?
If impartiality is to be achieved, the interview must take place in a non-sales environment with zero pressure and with no hint of a sales pitch. Effective post-decision interviews can help get disenchanting customers back on board, but this should never be your priority. Salesmanship and marketing talk has no place in the mix – the same also applying to your own personal feelings and emotions.
If you simply cannot guarantee 100% objectivity and impartiality with your own representatives, you may need to consider hiring a third party. This may be the only way of achieving a true non-sales environment for the interviews, ensuring the results aren’t skewed by your own biased views, opinions, and objectives. Outsourcing can bring its own unique challenges into the mix but does at least guarantee neutrality and objectivity on the part of the interviewer.
Contextual free-form answers should be encouraged to determine how each customer feels about your business and your offer. However, it can also be very difficult (or even impossible) to compile and analyze this kind of data. It’s therefore useful to create fixed metrics for customers’ responses – such as asking them to gauge their satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10. Or perhaps determine the extent to which an issue is a priority for them – not at all, low, medium, high, very high etc. This will assist with the aggregation and analysis of the data you collect.
Conducting win/loss analysis once every year or so won’t tell you a great deal about your business. By the time your next interviews are carried out, you’ve already lost the opportunity to act on the prior project’s findings. Instead, it’s a good idea to conduct post-decision interviews on a quarterly basis at least. Compare and contrast each project’s findings with the last, taking every opportunity to act on your findings the moment they’re gathered.
As far as your customers are concerned, the thoughts and opinions they share are 100% factual. Hence, they’re the only thoughts and opinions you should be listening to. Irrespective of how the information you gather mar contradict your deepest-set thoughts and beliefs, this is the information you need to trust. However objective you think you are, nobody can provide more honest and objective insights than your customers themselves. Trust their opinions, consider their suggestions and act upon their feedback.
Above all else, you need to get out of the habit of viewing post-decision interviews as an optional extra. Win/loss analysis should be considered mandatory – a key strategy that forms the core of your on-going sales, marketing, and customer satisfaction strategy.
From a digital marketer’s perspective, I personally believe there is a no richer or more valuable source of data than that obtained through strategic win/loss analysis. Whether you succeed or fail, your customers can provide all the information you’ll need to move on with even greater strength and confidence.
Your digital marketing goal may be to enhance your brand’s image, boost your reputation, generate leads, enhance conversion rates, appeal to a new/wider market or any number of combined objectives. Across the board, you can only hope to succeed if you know exactly what’s working and what isn’t from the perspective of your customers. Which digital channels do they prefer? What would they change about the UX or customer journey? What’s their preferred customer support channel? Is your current digital marketing mix working?
Otherwise, you could be basing your decisions on incomplete and potentially flawed information, along with your own non-objective insights. A digital marketing strategy based on factual evidence and honest customer opinions will always perform better than a campaign built around assumptions.
Most businesses have the means and the resources necessary to conduct detailed win/loss analysis. More importantly, going directly to your customers for advice and insights simply makes sense.
Nevertheless, evidence suggests comparatively few show any real priority to post-decision interviews. Which is unfortunate, given their potential to produce invaluable data for near-limitless business-wide benefits.
Irrespective of the time and effort the project may entail, the results can and will justify your investment. It’s simply a case of adopting a carefully structured approach, in accordance with the practices and general guidelines outlined above.Industrial Marketing in the Digital Age [2020 Guide]
Marketers working in the industrial (mostly B2B) space have shown no reluctance to transition to a digital age. Person-to-person meetings, business trips, and conventional offline marketing tactics have largely been replaced with digital or hybrid alternatives. There will always be a place for signage, print advertising and physical tactics in general, but a multi-directional digital model helps generate leads before the business even knows they exist. The key to successful industrial marketing in the digital age lies in striking the perfect balance between digital and traditional. Digital industrial marketing is growing in power and importance, but shouldn’t necessarily be seen as the only effective tactic for the 21st century. Adopting a holistic approach enables the business to capitalize on the benefits of traditional and digital B2B marketing alike.
Nevertheless, success is dependent on business owners and decision-makers exploring and embracing every digital channel of value to their organization.
Industrial marketing being B2B differs from conventional business-to-consumer in a number of ways. Predominantly, business-to-business purchases are based on logic, careful research and analysis, while the typical consumer purchase may be motivated by emotion. A business buyer is more interested in the potential for a strong ROI, while the everyday customer prioritizes general satisfaction.
Roughly summarised, every industrial or B2B transaction is likely to involve considerably more analysis, evaluation, and decision-making at a variety of levels. It’s rarely up to a single person to make important business purchases – it’s a decision shared among managers and stakeholders throughout the business.
In the field of industrial marketing, the focus must, therefore, be on the logic of the product and its features. Personal emotion is largely out of the equation, so you need to think carefully about what matters to both the buyer and the business they represent. You need to convince them that your products and services are capable of getting the job done better than those of any competing provider within your niche.
There are essentially two distinct categories of industrial marketing channels – online and offline. Each of which contains a variety of different marketing channels, each with its unique advantages and disadvantages.
In the offline category, examples of the popular industrial marketing channels include:
Each of the above still holds value in the B2B domain, though in all instances have seen their power and influence diminish in the digital era. Digital industrial marketing hasn’t ‘replaced’ offline marketing in its entirety, but has nonetheless taken the lead for the proactive business.
In the digital category, examples of the popular B2B marketing channels include:
Large and small businesses alike have more diverse and readily available channels at their disposal than ever before. For an industrial marketing strategy to succeed, it must combine the most effective components from both channels.
Precisely what defines an ‘effective’ marketing strategy must be determined by each business individually. A marketing campaign can focus on generating leads, boosting brand recognition, reputation management, improving conversion rates and so on.
Across the board, however, there are specific key characteristics of effective marketing for the companies in the manufacturing, industrial sector.
The four most important being as follows:
A strong value proposition is essential in all types of business, though it plays a particularly vital role in the B2B sphere. The purchase and use of products and services for business purposes involve approvers, decision-makers, influencers and gatekeepers at a variety of levels. None of whom may be the final users of the product. It’s, therefore, the job of the industrial marketer to create and communicate multi-level value propositions that appeal to every entity within the value chain.
Just as important as a strong value proposition is a unique selling proposition. Very few businesses are truly unique, which can make it difficult to attract the attention of buyers. Effective industrial marketing means isolating what makes your business unique and why you’re the clear choice for the buyer. This, in turn, requires a detailed analysis of both your target audience and your competitors, to distinguish your organization from the pack.
The customer journey begins long before the business knows they exist. A compelling customer journey is about so much more than ensuring the customer’s needs are fulfilled, and their expectations met. It’s about exceeding their expectations and delighting them from start to finish, bringing a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction to the transaction.
Likewise, the user experience in B2B marketing isn’t simply about practicality. It’s about the elegance and simplicity with which the buyer’s requirements are met. In the case of a website, it needs to be a simple, streamlined and seamless digital representation of your business, which is a pleasure to use with no unnecessary complexities.
Businesses continue to debate the relevance or otherwise of the 4Ps of marketing in the digital era. Rather than being rendered redundant, it’s simply a case of the 4Ps of marketing having evolved and shifted significantly over recent years.
The importance of clearly defining the value of your product has never been greater. Today, business buyers are less likely than ever before to stick with just a handful of trusted sellers or local suppliers. Whatever they need, a simple web search returns thousands of listings from hundreds of competing providers. Loyalty isn’t what it used to be, emphasizing the importance of defining your product’s value proposition.
Likewise, the vast majority of business buyers now use the Internet to guide their purchase decisions. Whatever they need and whenever they need it, they’re more likely to find it online than anywhere else. It’s therefore up to the seller to ensure their products and services are positioned appropriately via the most effective and relevant digital channels.
A multitude of marketing channels to choose from prompts countless questions concerning effective promotion. These days, however, effective promotion often means selling without the hard sell. Buyers in the B2B space are increasingly less inclined to listen to the marketing/sales talk of sellers. Instead, they put their faith in customer reviews, recommendations, testimonials, write-ups and so on.
B2B buyers are inundated with choice when making key purchase decisions. Hence, they’re unwilling to pay excessive prices when more affordable options are available elsewhere. Nevertheless, research has shown that most businesses are willing to pay more if the seller provides better customer support and a more amicable customer journey from start to finish. Price is no longer the primary determining factor for B2B sales.
As touched upon previously, there are countless industrial marketing channels open to small and large businesses alike. There are, however, certain inbound industrial marketing channels that consistently prove the most effective of all.
The vast majority of B2B buyers researching available options begin their journey with an online search. Google, Bing and a handful of others accounting for more than 95% of all web traffic worldwide. Youtube is the second largest search engine worldwide now. And as our survey shows, Youtube is the 2nd largest marketing channel at the research stage at industrial, manufacturing and technology companies. If your company website gets most of the traffic from your brand relates search terms, your business might be in danger 3-5 years from now. If your potential customers don’t find your products and services website pages by the valuable search terms, e.g., your product or service name, in the top 10 search results on Google and Youtube, you do not exist online at all. Every CEO and Marketing Director at the Industrial, Manufacturing, Technology company must know the following Google Search statistics: 93% of the clicks happen on the first page of search engines:
An effective B2B search engine optimization (SEO) strategy can ensure your business appears prominently on the top positions on Google, Youtube, Bing for relevant keywords and search terms, both at the awareness and later stages across the Marketing Funnel. Quality B2B Industrial and Manufacturing SEO typically deliver unbeatable ROI. It is by far the cheapest customer acquisition channel with the lowest CPA.
Despite being a paid strategy, PPC advertising still qualifies as inbound B2B marketing in most cases. LinkedIn InMail, being a PPC method, is an outbound technique instead. By positioning your ads and your message right at the top of the SERP listings and/or within the LinkedIn feed, you stand to generate a healthy and near-immediate influx of traffic, in accordance with your selected keywords (search terms) and selected target audience. The benefits of a PPC campaign may be time-limited, but begin generating results from the moment of implementation. Typically, it takes several months for a B2B online marketing agency to optimize the pay-per-click campaign to an optimal cost and excellent performance.
From LinkedIn to Facebook to Instagram to Twitter, a multi-directional social media marketing strategy is no longer optional. Maintaining a strong presence on social media provides the opportunity to not only connect with potential buyers, but also keep an eye on your competitors and their activities. SMM is one of the best tools for leads nurturing and for bilateral communication with your market.
A business blog serves as the perfect platform to enhance your authority and reputation within your niche. Become known as a reputable source of information and your readers will know exactly to whom to turn to when the time comes. Tell your story, engage your audience and enhance your SEO profile with a steady stream of rich, relevant and regularly–updated content. Ask an SEO expert to optimize your article, and you’ll be rewarded by thousands of monthly readers relevant to the very core of your business. Update the Blog posts on a regular basis to keep the content up-to-date and deliver even more value to your customers, suppliers, and colleagues.
Traditional seminars and conferences still hold lots of value, but don’t offer the same convenience or accessibility as webinars and similar online events. Today, it’s possible to improve upon the results of a traditional conference, without having to leave the office. What’s more, online events open the door to the kind of interactivity that goes above and beyond any traditional seminar. However, I still am a big fan of shaking hand in the real world. Being out in the market and network is crucial. Therefore, I highly suggest finding the balance between online and offline events.
Never underestimate the power and influence of an effective e-mail marketing campaign. Particularly when engineered using the latest personalization and automation tools, e-mail marketing can be highly engaging and impactful. Something as simple as a regular newsletter to keep your readers in the loop can make all the difference. Email Marketing is arguably the number one leads nurturing marketing channel, if you are able to deliver true value to your subscribers.
GDPR is a topic that is present in many Board Meetings still for a good reason. The privacy regulations must be respected. The negative consequences of GDPR violation are massive. There are many ways you could get your target audience to opt-in to your newsletters. While many companies have the emails database completely erased in 2018 to comply with the GDPR, your creative approach to getting the online visitors to opt-in will give you a competitive edge.
Recent years have seen once-effective outbound marketing tactics become increasingly interpreted as intrusive, interruptive and often counterproductive. Anything that amounts to cold-contacting prospective buyers directly has the potential to have the opposite of the desired effect.
Conventional outbound B2B marketing channels that rarely deliver quality results include:
Much as these marketing methods still hold value in certain scenarios, they can be risky ventures in an industrial marketing environment. Typically best-avoided, substituted instead for the effective inbound marketing channels and techniques detailed above.
For those who still don’t know the difference between the Inbound and Outbound Marketing, here is infographic dedicated to this:
The digital age has created a unified global economy, in which businesses can target markets that would previously have been out of reach. Even just a couple of decades ago, the idea of small business in Singapore selling to a company in New York would have been far-fetched.
Inevitably, such opportunities for international expansion also bring unique challenges. Competition is ferocious across all industries and sectors, calling for a strategic approach to global industrial marketing.
Achieving the above without intensive market research is implausible. All businesses have certain basic knowledge and understanding of their home market, but a foreign market overseas could be an entirely different story. There’s zero room for assumptions, calling for intensive and on-going research. Traditional in-depth market research is quite expensive. However, a digital marketer can provide a rough idea about the demand in any specific country in the world within 5-15 minutes. A C-level executive at a manufacturing company must have an online marketer’s phone number saved in Contact because the amount of the high-level data a digital marketer can provide on a live call is truly impressive.
The marketing channels used at home may not prove nearly as effective in your target overseas market. Some nations and audiences still respond very strongly to offline channels, while others have become almost exclusively digital. Your marketing mix will, therefore, need to be adjusted accordingly.
Ultimately, your international industrial or manufacturing marketing channels should focus on the establishment of your reputation in your target market overseas. This means placing heavier emphasis on building strong and meaningful relationships, generating word-of-mouth and becoming a reliable, reputable and recognized the brand. As we say, an unsatisfied customer will tell ten people; a satisfied customer will tell one person, an entirely happy customer will tell two people. Digital Channels help companies to communicate bilaterally with so many more people now. Digital channels amplify everything you do, good or bad. They also help you understand how the market reacts to changes and (very important!) if the company employees are happy too. I suggest to check out what your employees think of their current employer on the Glassdoor website. You’ll be surprised.
Unless you have a dedicated, full-time team of B2B sales and marketing experts in-house, including online marketers, you could benefit enormously from professional consultancy. Particularly in the digital era, the industrial marketing landscape is shifting and evolving at an astonishing pace. What works the industrial SEO, PPC or Social Media today is not what worked even six months ago.
Getting ahead and staying ahead means carefully monitoring industrial sales and marketing trends worldwide, to create effective and efficient ROI-positive strategies within the brand’s budget.
Typical scenarios in which you could benefit from the involvement of a professional sales and marketing consultant include:
Contrary to popular belief, outsourcing B2B digital marketing tasks doesn’t mean handing control of your business to an unknown third party. It’s simply a way to finding a long-term partner able to help you reach your strategic business objectives faster. Much faster than with traditional marketing channels. The right online industrial marketing partner enables you to grow your digital assets that work for your business and get you closer to success.
Author: Dennis Dubner, CEO of SONDORA SA. 20+ years of B2B Marketing and Business Development experience worldwide.
GDPR: Making Modern Privacy Much Secured
GDPR is a way to strengthen data security for everyone in the EU. The benefits of the regulation help address personal data exportation outside the EU as well, as long as the individual originally resides in the EU.
This modern program aims to provide private control for every data that an EU citizen and resident owns. It also simplifies the regulations that international businesses needed to follow as GDPR unifies these international businesses within the EU. The regulation will replace the Data Protection Directive of 1995 once it becomes enforceable on May 25, 2018. Thus, non-compliance with the regulation will cause huge costs to the companies.
GDPR was nothing more than a proposal six years ago, on January 25, 2012. An orientation vote for its approval was held on October 21, 2013 – with the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties and Justice and Home Affairs who held the vote.
On December 15, 2015, negotiations between the European Council, Commission and Parliament began in order to push the implementation of the program. Its positive outcome has finally set things in motion for its adoption. But still, it would go a lot of procedures.
Eventually, the GDPR was adopted by the European Parliament on April 14, 2016, as an effort to replace the Data Protection Directive of 1995 since the former regulation was too outdated. This year, its implementation shall apply from May 25.
The GDPR is a promising regulation that will surely make data comfortable enough to become a part of every EU citizen’s lifestyle. It was proposed in the first place to resolve the concerns of the public over information privacy – knowing that the internet was still brand new to a lot of people in 2012. It was proposed just in time when the internet became an extended establishment for businesses and when consumers began to exploit the advantages of e-commerce and online marketing. Over time, data breaching has gotten stronger, and that can compromise a lot of information to a lot of people.
Nowadays, data usage is very valuable. Banks, government and parliament agencies, as well as many businesses have transitioned on the internet for its convenient and user-friendly features. Hackers nowadays can possibly steal high-profile data from businesses and other offices through the use of computers and phones.
An RSA survey has proven this fact. It was able to conclude that consumers are scared about the lack of protection in the data they provide. RSA was able to conduct a survey of 7,500 consumers/respondents in France, UK, Italy, Germany, and the USA. 80 percent of the respondents said that financial data is a huge concern, next to stolen banking data (e.g. credit card information). Lost security information such as passwords and other identity data such as licenses and passports are also cited as concerns for 76 percent of the surveyed respondents. It also noted that 62% of the respondents said that they will blame the company and banks for lost data. Thus, it will also affect government offices for stolen identity if the data regulation is as weak as the one implemented in 1995.
The lack of trust in some neglectful companies has also caused consumers to make their own strategies. The survey also indicated that 41% of the respondents are willing to falsify data when signing up for online services. Unwanted marketing and reselling of data is the root concern of this response from the consumers. 27% of the US respondents even mentioned boycotting a company or employer if data protection is neglected.
Every Precious Data Will Be Protected
Based on the results, the GDPR could be a huge requirement in our modern era in providing data security. The GDPR is well-prepared as it can protect private data such as the following:
The GDPR will also affect all companies who collect personal information within the EU. This even includes employers. Thus, all of these types of businesses must comply with its requirements and rules. Otherwise, legal sanctions will be implemented. The following criteria can help a business become more accepted by the new regulation:
The GDPR contains several roles that ensure its compliance. Staff such as the data controller, processor, and protection officer are the ones that will regulate the companies.
A data controller will be monitoring if outside contractors will comply with the regulation. Data processors will be internal staff that will observe, maintain and processes personal records and outsourcing companies who will also handle the personal data. The GDPR will hold the processors as liable for any breaches and non-compliance. Additionally, the company and a data processing party such have a cloud service can also gain liability as well.
A DPO will be designated to oversee the security being done to the collected personal data. All companies under GDPR will require a DPO when processing large amounts of data. However, some public services such as law enforcement can gain an exemption due to very sensitive information.
GDPR is truly beneficial in this modern world not just for the citizens, but for businesses as they can also get their data misused. The regulation places equal liability on data controllers and processors.
Note: Third-party processors who are also not in compliance will need to comply with the regulation.
You can also say that GDPR is stricter than the old data regulation. But that’s just the way it is since data regulation never got an update for more than two decades. However, one thing is for sure: data usage is very valuable. That’s why this regulation was proposed in the first place. Once again, all these will be implemented by May 25, 2018. Thus, companies should prepare their requirements while there still some days left.