The Secret to Getting Leads, Not Just Likes
So I’ve been noticing how my so-called competitors talk about how big their social following is or the awards they have won and how wonderful they are. Then when I go to their website, it’s all about them and their blog is all about how amazing they are with a bunch of repetitive information that I have heard 10,000 times before from everyone. The thing I noticed is while they may be generating a lot of social followers and a large so-called “community,” I wonder just how many leads they are generating. As anyone in business knows, it’s not about how many “likes”, followers or subscribers you have – it’s about how many sales qualified leads you generate.
Looking into this a little deeper, I went to my HubSpot benchmark reports and made some observations. Comparing our stats to other marketing, web, PR, Social Media companies (i.e. Inbound Marketing companies) the results are as follows:
- 214% greater monthly visits
- 148% greater conversions
- 343% more new monthly customers
Now this is not to show that we are doing better than these so-called experts. It’s actually to point out what we are doing differently and why our blog does not target the “how to improve your SEO…etc, etc, etc” type of posts that most of our competitors are doing, but rather bring greater awareness around the fact that the problem is something that needs to be solved now.
Who Do You Want To Reach?
By focusing on how to solve the problem instead of why you have a problem, these companies are doing two things: 1) they are targeting do-it yourselfers who are just as likely to do-it themselves and 2) they leave little next steps for conversion (such as a how to guide or thought leadership piece) hence decreasing conversion opportunities.
You really need to think about who your ideal buyers are (people who would have the problem you solve, but not able to solve it themselves). David Meerman Scott, in his book The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing, and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly (Wiley, 2007), introduced the concept of “buyer personas”. He explains that if you can classify buyers (or readers) into a distinct group, and document what you know about them, you can easily create targeted content for that group. Scott adds that the interests, problems, and desires of various persona groups should be carefully examined and written down. He says: “by truly understanding the market problems that your products and services solve for your buyer personas, you transform your marketing from mere product-specific, egocentric gobbledygook that only you understand and care about, into valuable information people are eager to consume.”
That is the key point - you need to focus on the problem, you don’t want to get the person who is already shopping around amongst 10,000 different vendors for a very specific solution, you want to get the prospect who knows they have a problem and needs your specific help to solve it. This is where I would say 99% of companies that do “inbound marketing” are missing the boat.
Develop Personas for Your Ideal Clients
You need to come up with a specific and detailed profile of the people you want to reach. While so many companies seem to be targeting other experts, (which on a limited scope can help drive exposure), if your blog is intended to drive sales qualified leads, you main target needs to be the people who have the problem, and NOT the solution.
When determining the profile of these people, you'll want to be targeted and precise. The broader your audience, the harder it will be for you to connect with them. The tighter the focus, the greater the engagement.
HubSpot has two primary personas: Owner Ollie and Marketer Mary.
Owner Ollie is a small business owner with fewer than 25 employees. Ollie is busy managing human resources, marketing, sales, operations, and finance for his company, and has little time left for executing new ideas. He lacks on-staff marketing resources and does most of his company's marketing himself. He's curious about inbound marketing, but hasn't made any significant investments. His top priority is generating new leads for his business.
Marketer Mary works as a marketer for a small business, with 26 to 100 employees. A marketing team supports Mary and the programs she oversees. She is familiar with newer inbound marketing techniques and is actively seeking help with running, evaluating, and justifying her marketing investments to upper management. Mary wants sophisticated measurement tools, and has money to spend on her marketing programs.
While HubSpot has two very clear targets, these should not necessarily be the targets of companies providing inbound marketing services. HubSpot sells a do-it-your-self product; these inbound marketing companies sell outsourced marketing services. Different product, different audience. Yet so many of their blogs are pretty much parrots for all the same content that HubSpot is already developing.
Whom Should You Target?
Let’s say you are a software development company that sells training and consulting. You’ve have a strong following of techies who love your company. Whom should you target? The developers? Or the developers’ boss? If you guessed the coders’ boss, you’re correct. In the end, you will sell more by targeting the attention of the actual decision maker, not just the influencers.
Sometimes that means taking a step back and instead of looking at things from the three-foot level, look at them from the 10,000-foot level. Yes, this may not be seen as hard-hitting thought leadership, but this is what will resonate with the people who make the decision about working with your company.
Things to consider when targeting these individuals are:
- Ideal industry
- Topics of interest
- Job title and function
- Company size
What Problems Are They Facing?
Once you have a general understanding of the who, what, and where of your ideal client/reader, it’s important to focus on their challenges, attitudes, knowledge, and desires. Going to this next level allows you to create content that will deeply resonate with them. Developing a more intimate knowledge of your target audience will separate you from your competitors.
If you can connect with your prospects on an emotional level, they’ll feel more closely connected with you, and feel committed to working with your company. This starts by understanding what problems they are facing. If you gain clear understanding of their problems, discuss with them these problems, and lead them towards how to solve it, you will generate more leads.
It’s also important to understand the following factors:
- Are these people very busy?
If they're busy, you're going to have to get to the point rapidly with your content—and you're going to have to respect their lack of time.
- Are they actively seeking new ideas?
If they're actively seeking new ideas, it means your reader base is going to want richer content.
- How familiar are they with your topic?
Knowing the knowledge level of your readers also helps you decide whether you should carefully define important terms, or if doing so would be an insult to them. Identify the familiarity level of your reader base with the types of topics you'll be writing about, and add that to their profile description.
The Bottom Line
In order to take your marketing from generating a “nice” social following to sales qualified leads you need to target the correct audience. Your goal should be to produce a single paragraph that describes the decision makers in your customers buying team with crystal clarity. By understanding precisely whom you’re trying to reach, you’ll be far ahead of your competitors and know precisely whom you need to help, and what type of content you need to produce to do so. The ultimate result will be sales qualified leads, and not just likes.
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