Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted in 2019. It was updated in 2021.
If you have a marketing degree or 10+ years of experience working with a $1 million+ a year marketing budget, this article probably isn’t for you… You most likely have it covered and don’t need marketing advice.
However, if you are one of the many marketing people who get promoted into the role, balance it along with your “sales” title or are a self-taught one-person wrecking crew, this article may be of interest.
Chances are, you’ve faced boss-related challenges regarding the marketing work you do. Has your boss questioned what you are doing because they don’t understand marketing? Or, does your boss assume you are an expert in all areas of marketing and expect you to perform accordingly? Maybe both of those questions apply to your situation…
This article may be just what you need to bridge the gap and prove to your boss you do know what you’re doing. The many subjects and strategies covered in this article will enable you to manage your boss’s expectations, educate them on marketing basics and implement tools that will help them see ROI. And after you’ve done all that, perhaps they’ll be so impressed that they’ll give you a raise and boost your marketing budget.
Use IDeal™ Account Discovery to Find Your Best Possible Customers
“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”– Sun Tzu
If your boss is the type to hover over your shoulder or constantly fill your inbox with emails so they can keep tabs on how marketing is going, the last thing you want to do is throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks. Planning is essential, and every decision should be strategically made. Too many marketers rush to take action before putting together an informed marketing strategy, and the result is wasted money and time. This is one of the reasons Sun Tzu’s quote about strategy is so applicable to sales and marketing today.
Here’s another important quote to drive your marketing:
“You can’t be everything to everybody, and you can’t be everywhere.”
Very few companies have the money or workforce necessary to market to every possible customer in their industry. Instead, the smart approach is to narrow your target audience from every possible lead with a pulse and an inferred interest in your product or service to only the leads that are most like your best customers. This approach offers two primary benefits:
- It enables you to develop marketing messages that speak more directly to your target audience. This prevents you from having to rely on generic, broad messaging that doesn’t compel people to act.
- Focusing your attention on a smaller, more specific audience allows you to better understand the pain points of that group, as well as the value they seek from their purchase. This knowledge will enable you to better position your company as the solution that will solve their problems.
So, how do you go about finding leads that are like your best customers?
You need to analyze your existing customer list, identify any holes in the data and fill in the blanks so you have complete data from which to work. Then, you can utilize a list company to find additional businesses that share commonalities with your best customers.
Unless you are very familiar with the industry data that is available and have the knowledge and connections to gain access to it, you’re probably best off getting assistance from a marketing company.
At Adventure, our process is called IDeal™ Account Discovery, and it profiles your best accounts and locates more businesses that match them. We fill the holes in your market-specific customer list and append each record with missing demographic attributes like:
- Sales Volume
- Employee Counts
- Industry Codes & Executive Data
Next, we segment, profile and generate reports and identify commonalities. We use the appended data to create an IDeal™ Account Profile that serves as your blueprint when it comes to identifying new targets.
IDeal™ Account Discovery provides:
- Smarter Marketing — First and foremost, because you aren’t guessing anymore!
- Appended Account Data — Your top 100 market-specific accounts appended with data that includes SIC codes, employee counts, geography, sales volume and more
- Account Profile Report — A visual representation of key account attributes
- Account Profile Collaboration Meeting — We identify trends and anomalies and work with you to detail your IDeal™ Account Profile
- IDeal™ Account Profile — A documented PDF profile of your best market segments
- Market Segment Reach Report — List counts from top data compilers and market share/growth potential info
For more on IDeal™ Account Discovery, click here.
Making an educated guess about who to target with your marketing is too reliant on luck. Guessing wrong costs you sales and wastes your money. Take a data-backed approach so you can show your boss you’ve got a solid plan in place that is designed to maximize ROI.
Develop & Validate Personas
Having detailed data at your fingertips is a key part of marketing. It helps you with targeting and provides the insight you need to fine-tune your approach. However, success is ultimately determined based on your ability to connect with people — specifically the decision-makers and influencers that see value in your company’s products or services.
To effectively communicate with decision-makers and influencers, you must understand who they are, what motivates them and what challenges they face daily. This is accomplished by creating personas, which are fictional representations of your ideal customers that enable you to formulate a strategy to win them over and influence their purchase decisions.
By documenting the psychographic and demographic commonalities of your buyers, you can market much more effectively and efficiently because your messaging is formulated based on who the buyer is and what makes them tick.
The process of developing personas includes assembling the sales and marketing teams at your company, brainstorming what they think are the demographics and psychographics of the decision-makers and influencers in your target audience and validating your hypotheses. Common ways to validate personas are to survey people in the industry, seek feedback from current customers or reach out to individuals in your potential growth markets.
Creating and validating personas helps you dial in your messaging so it is as relevant as possible. The process allows you to tell your boss with confidence that you know the kinds of people you’re marketing to and how to make an impression on them so your company will be top-of-mind when they have a need or pain point.
For more on personas, click here.
Set Goals & KPIs
Here are a couple of nightmare scenarios you want to avoid… Your boss asks if your marketing campaigns are meeting goals, and you can’t provide a good answer because:
- You didn’t specify goals in the first place
- You specified goals, but you don’t have the data necessary to decide
Overanxious marketers who rush to launch campaigns are left to deal with the backlash when they don’t have the reporting data needed to measure success and fine-tune for even better results. Without established goals, key performance indicators (KPIs) and mechanisms to capture them, it’s nearly impossible to connect sales generated to a specific buyer’s journey.
Here’s a quote to keep in mind:
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”– Peter Drucker
A goal is a desired outcome. It’s a definition of success. An example of a marketing goal is to generate 20 quote requests in the next month. Whatever your goal is, make sure it’s SMART:
Specific – Who, what, where, why, etc. Goals need to include as many details as possible.
Measurable – The way in which you know whether or not the goal has been accomplished. How will progress be tracked?
Attainable – Is the goal realistic? It’s great to dream big, but at the end of the day, a goal needs to be something that actually has a chance of being accomplished.
Relevant – The purpose of the goal. Will accomplishing the goal benefit the company and be worth the effort?
Time-bound – Goals need time limits. The sense of urgency is increased when there are deadlines to be met.
Setting goals is just the first step. Referring back to the quote request example, you may be able to determine whether or not you reached your goal of getting 20 quote requests, but will you know how? Not unless you specified and tracked the KPIs.
KPIs are used to measure progress as you work toward your goals. Continuing with the quote request example, you could elicit quote requests via email blasts, social media ads, postcards and website call-outs. The benefit of 21st-century marketing is that technology has made it easy to collect KPI data. Google Analytics, reporting dashboards and USPS mail-tracking systems do most of the work for you. You’ve just got to access the data, analyze it and utilize it for continual improvement.
Be diligent and put in the work ahead of time so you’re always prepared to answer your boss’s questions about marketing performance.
To learn more about goals and KPIs, click here.
Create Content for Your Digital Sales Funnel
“Content is king.”– Bill Gates
Once we reached the digital age, content marketing quickly transformed from a niche tactic to one that is essential to connecting with buyers. The reason for this is that the internet and mobile devices have made limitless amounts of information available to consumers. They no longer need companies to put advertisements in front of their face or a salesperson in their ear to learn about products or services that can make their lives easier. In fact, that can actually annoy them these days.
Today’s buyers prefer to do their own research on their own terms. In fact, consumers can be 70% of the way through the buyer’s journey before they even consider reaching out to a salesperson. With this in mind, it’s critical that you make content available to them that will help them go through your sales funnel until they’re ready to buy from you.
Top of Funnel, Cold Lead Content to Create Awareness and Establish Interest:
- Blog article
Interesting content that drives people to your website but doesn’t try to sell them anything (like this article). You just want them to see enough about your company that they’ll recognize it when they see it again.
Middle of Funnel, Warm Lead Content to Generate Engagement and Show Intent:
- White paper
- Original research
- Form templates they can use at their business
Content that is more in-depth and valuable that requires the submission of basic contact information (name, company, phone number, email) to get it. You want to capture lead information you can use for further marketing, like our ROI Toolbox and 48 Proven Tactics to Plug A Leaky Sales Funnel.
Bottom of Funnel, Hot Lead Content to Build Value and Convert:
- Product demos/free trials
- Free quote on products/services
- Lunch & learn session
Content that provides enough incentive to get people to initiate contact with your salespeople and move them closer to making an informed purchase decision, like our Tip, Trick or Talk where we let the lead decide what “adventure” they want next.
After the Sale, Customer Content to Retain and Expand by Building Brand Advocates
- “Get Started” content (instructions, how-to manuals, tips and tricks, etc.)
- Invitation to review their purchase and your company
- Examples of upgrades and add-ons that can enhance user-experience
This content should keep your company top-of-mind, help them get the most out of their purchase and provide them with opportunities to make additional purchases.
When it comes to content marketing, patience is paramount. Every lead goes through the sales funnel at their own pace, and some convert into customers much faster than others. Your content should be designed to keep your company top-of-mind, but it shouldn’t push for the close too soon… that could result in the lead exiting your sales funnel and going into one of your competitor’s.
Many bosses have the old-school mindset that marketing should push leads to respond and buy RIGHT NOW. If that’s an accurate description of your boss, these statistics may open their minds to the content marketing approach:
- 67% of the typical B2B buyer’s journey is now done digitally, and 9 out of 10 B2B buyers say online content has a moderate to major effect on their purchasing decisions. (Lenati)
- 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. (Stratabeat)
- 90% of consumers find custom content useful, and 78% believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them. (CMO Council)
Social media is one of the best ways to distribute content, especially Facebook, which has over 2.89 billion monthly active users worldwide. Chances are, your boss will like the platform because you can create posts for free. While true, this actually isn’t the most effective approach.
Yes, you can distribute content for free on social media. However, the catch is the odds are low that people will see it. How low? Research found that in April 2020 the average organic Facebook post reach was just 5.2%.
Is that good enough to accomplish your goals? Not a chance, especially when you consider that organic posts are only shown to people who like or follow your page, which may include current customers but probably not many prospective new buyers.
Marketers (and bosses) today need to accept the fact that paid social media ads are a must. There are many great advantages to utilizing social ads that you can read about in-depth here. Here is a summary of some of the biggies:
- Ads are Affordable — Run them for as little as $5 per day.
- Campaigns Can Be Highly Targeted — Target based on location, demographics, interests, connections and more.
- Ads Work — 26% of Facebook users surveyed said they made a purchase after clicking on an ad. An additional 7% said they purchased even if they didn’t click on the ad.
- Setup is Simple — Put together a campaign in as little as 10-15 minutes.
When you create social media ads, you can take your lead-generation efforts to the next level — and impress your boss in the process — by implementing Facebook’s Pixel and LinkedIn’s Insight Tag. These are the platforms’ respective versions of cookies, which are small pieces of data sent from a website and stored on the user’s computer by the web browser. Cookies track and remember a user’s browsing activity.
Here are the two big benefits of social media cookies:
- They provide data to help you monitor the performance of your ads so you can adjust accordingly.
- You can use the custom audiences to create more targeted ads and content to make your marketing more relevant to the leads who have engaged with your site previously.
For a detailed look at social media cookies, click here.
Show your boss that social media has so much more value than posting status updates every now and then. Harness all its perks to make it an integral part of your marketing program.
Split Test for Maximum ROI
In marketing (and other areas of business), it’s commonly understood that you should keep doing what’s working and fix (or eliminate) what isn’t. What’s less common but just as valuable, especially when it comes to marketing, is to take what’s working and make it even better. To do this, you need to do split testing, also known as A/B testing.
When you split test, you take two marketing tactics that are identical except for one element and run them against one another to see which one provides the best results. Here are some examples:
- The exact same email sent to two different audiences
- Two emails with different subject lines but the same content sent to the same audience
- Two Facebook ads with the same copy and offer but featuring different images
- Two landing pages with the same imagery and offer but with different copy
An effective way to split test is to make it a multi-step process. We’ve found success for our clients by first split testing different audiences to discover which one provides the most response. Then, we split test creative elements to find which version gets the most engagement. This is a way to verify that you are marketing to the right audience with the right messaging.
How’s this for a statistic? Campaign Monitor found that split testing emails improved conversion by 49%!
Prove your worth to your boss by avoiding the temptation to maintain the status quo. Instead, split test your campaigns to continually improve and get the most bang for your buck.
Generate & Analyze Reports for Continual Improvement
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”– John Wanamaker
In today’s digital world, there’s no reason for marketing pioneer John Wanamaker’s dilemma to be yours as well. In most cases, all the data you could want and more is just a few clicks away. The caveat is that your goals and KPIs must be established prior to going to market if you want to have access to all data essential to determining the level of success of your campaigns. That’s why we went over goals and KPIs early in this article.
Several tools exist that put reporting insights at your fingertips:
- Google Analytics
- Facebook dashboard
- LinkedIn dashboard
- Marketing automation or email dashboard
If you aren’t already, familiarize yourself with each of the platforms you utilize and the wealth of information they provide. If you are running several ongoing campaigns, we recommend monitoring individual performance, as well as a monthly comprehensive review compiling the metrics and ROI of all campaigns. Use this data to adjust and continually improve.
At the end of the day, reporting is likely to be the area of marketing your boss is most interested in… other than sales generated, of course. Having data-backed insights will assure everyone involved that the marketing decisions being made have merit.
Add Clarity to Website Analytics with UTMs
Google Analytics is a valuable reporting tool for marketers, and it does an excellent job of compiling and organizing your website data. However, to paint the clearest picture possible, it needs input from you. It needs UTMs.
Simply put, a UTM is a modification to the URL you drive traffic to as part of your digital marketing efforts that allows you to track which efforts were directly responsible for the traffic.
UTM stands for urchin tracking module, and UTM data is collected and organized within Google Analytics. UTMs are valuable because Google Analytics gives you a snapshot of where your site traffic comes from… but not the complete picture without them.
Look at this example:
In this instance, you can see referral traffic from marketing efforts such as Facebook and Google. But what if you are running multiple campaigns from the same sources? You have no way of knowing which specific Facebook posts or digital ads are the ones driving the most traffic.
You also need to consider the traffic labeled as “direct traffic” in Google Analytics. This includes visitors who typed your website URL directly into their browser, which makes sense. However, direct traffic also includes link clicks in emails, ebooks or other similar offline marketing pieces.
When you implement UTMs, you’re able to measure with much greater precision the effectiveness of each of your marketing tactics. This enables you to improve your marketing strategy and allocate your resources to try to replicate your successes while improving upon (or potentially just scrapping) your less successful tactics.
To learn all about UTMs and how to implement them, read this article.
Once you’ve made it a habit to apply UTMs to each marketing tactic, you’ll be able to confidently answer questions from your boss like, “Which marketing tactics are bringing in the most leads?”
Don’t Be Afraid to Utilize Expert Marketing Partners
Whether you’re new in your marketing role, wear many different hats at your company or are a one-person department with limited free time, it’s perfectly acceptable to seek help from expert marketing partners. In fact, even large companies with multi-person marketing teams and big marketing budgets see value in it.
The fact of the matter is marketing is complex and time-consuming. Tasks like staying on top of search engine optimization and building out marketing automation workflows can quickly turn into full-time jobs in and of themselves. And if you want to ensure it’s done right, sometimes it’s best to pass it off to someone with more knowledge and experience.
A common debate is whether it makes more sense to bring a person or multiple people in-house or to hire a marketing agency. That’s why we wrote this article to debate the pros and cons of each. You can decide for yourself, but an agency wins out in the end many times for these reasons:
- Experienced, diverse skillsets
- Ability to hit the ground running
- Fresh, unbiased perspective
- More affordable than hiring in-house
Feel Like You Know What You’re Doing Now?
Hopefully, this article has accomplished one of two things:
- Reinforced that you do know what you’re doing and gave you confidence that you can prove it to your boss
- Shed light on some areas on which you need to improve so that you can put your boss at ease
So, what are you waiting for? Get to work and show your boss, and everyone else at your company for that matter, that you are the right person for the job and are going to have buyers beating down your door thanks to all your on-point marketing.
Have additional questions about digital or traditional marketing or want to learn even more? Call us at 815.431.1000 or submit this form to contact us.