Social media is the lifeline of most companies to their clients. The ability to connect with your audience personally can help a business rate its key performance indicators and dial into what people really want. One of the newest apps to join the social media greats is called Clubhouse, and believe us when we say that it has gone viral.

What is Clubhouse?

This free social networking app is audio-only, so no one has to deal with bad camera angles and looking up other people’s noses during a video chat. With Clubhouse, people are assigned to rooms where they can talk about a specific topic. The benefits of Clubhouse are significant: namely that people can respond off-the-cuff and the conversation can flow freely. You can learn a lot about someone or have a brilliant brainstorming session when everyone can freely and spontaneously speak their minds. The downside is that everyone is talking freely and, since it’s audio-only, there is no way to tell when someone else is about to speak.

Zoom calls are often lagging and annoying to some, but you can usually tell by a person’s facial expression or intake of breath when they’re about to start talking and avoid cutting them off. With Clubhouse, it is indeed every person for themselves, and the amount of crosstalk is significant.

How Does It Work?

Clubhouse works a bit differently than other social media apps because you need an invitation to join. The mystique of exclusivity is a powerful draw for businesses and customers alike. Currently, it is only available for iOS. In addition to the need for an invite, it can occasionally be a challenge to know who is speaking since you have to recognize their voice. There is definitely also a learning curve in not talking over other people.

Some of the popular rooms, or chats that lots of people attend, mainly consist of one or two people presenting on the topic at a time. Everyone else in the room mutes themselves so as not to provide any kind of distraction. It might sometimes feel more like listening to a podcast or an audiobook than participating in a conversation. Still, they usually open up the room to questions or other presenters when the initial presentation has finished. Moderators can speak freely at all times, but they can also call on people designated as audience members to speak. It is a very fluid conversational app that is gaining momentum for businesses all across the country.

What This New Platform Can Do For Your Business

Brainstorming can often be challenging when you can’t physically be face-to-face. Even then, some people might be intimidated to speak up about their ideas when they know that everyone will be looking at them. Clubhouse is an excellent way for companies to encourage employees to speak freely and participate in productive brainstorming sessions. There is no pressure to talk if you have nothing to contribute and no worry that people will give you a weird look if your idea falls flat. In fact, by the time someone realizes that their idea doesn’t fit, about five other people will be throwing out their ideas, and the conversation will continue.

Clubhouse may be the free form brainstorming avenue your business needs to generate your next big idea for new products, protocols, or implementation measures.  

It is also a great way to network, introduce thought leaders from your space, and create more awareness for your brand.

Ready to get started on Clubhouse, get in touch with us today.

 

Did you know that 71% of customers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to talk about the brand with their friends and family? It’s true: your social media strategy needs to be in top form if you want to see your company succeed. Social media isn’t just for teenagers anymore. Businesses everywhere use it to create awareness in their target market, increase engagement, and generate quality leads. So, how can you utilize the tools of social media to benefit your company?

When people recognize your brand, you know you are doing something right. Voluntary shoutouts on social media and having influencers share your posts are great ways to engage with your target audience and promote growth. The higher your brand recognition, the more credible you will appear to potential investors and partners. The best way to connect with your audience is to remind them that you’re only human, like them. Instead of seeming like a machine, you want your business to be relatable and trustworthy for the consumer.

Speaking of being relatable, Accenture found that 63% of global consumers want to support companies that stand for a purpose that reflects their own values and beliefs. One powerful way that leading companies build an emotional connection with their audience is by standing up for causes that are dear to them.

Key Performance Indicators

For Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, your KPIs will revolve around awareness and advocacy. Awareness comprises how many people see your posts and how many have been exposed to your content. Advocacy dives a little deeper to see the number of people commenting, liking, or resharing your content. Clicks per post is a powerful method of measuring the number of times users have clicked on your link to see if your headline was effective.

Execution

Choose your pillar content, meaning a single valuable piece of content, like an informative blog post, a detailed infographic, or a YouTube video packed with great tips. Then break it down into smaller pieces, like taking 30-second clips from a longer video. Those are more accessible for people who might not have more time to spend watching the entire video. Those shareable clips are perfect for social media. While the snippets provide some information, they should mainly whet your audience’s appetite for the pillar content and link them back to it.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn

Each platform requires a slightly different approach, based on the consumers utilizing it. LinkedIn is the preferred social media website for businesses because it allows you instantly build targeted lists and grow your network by directly messaging and connecting with people. The highest performing type of content on LinkedIn is PDFs, although you can also share polls, articles, and customer content.

Facebook is the second most popular social media platform after LinkedIn and is one of the best places to share videos. In fact, social videos generate 12 times the shares than text and images combined.

As You Grow

Pulling back the curtain a little is a great way to humanize your brand and connect with a younger consumer base. They want to see the faces behind your products or services, not just some cold business brand. Investing your time in a solid social media strategy is sure to be an investment worthy of your time.

Why LinkedIn?

To say that the digital landscape changed dramatically in 2020 would be the understatement of the year. In fact, if we were to be extremely honest, it would be safe to say that digital is the way to go if you wish to scale and grow your business during these unprecedented times. 

LinkedIn is not only a great way to boost your network and reputation as a thought leader but is also a good tool for lead generation especially for those in the B2B space. Not only are conversion rates higher and cost of lead essentially lower but there are also opportunities for both free and paid strategies. 

Why It Works

LinkedIn Has The Users You Want and They’re Engaged

LinkedIn boasts of over 500 million total users with over half of them (260 million) actively using the platform every month.  Out of its active 260 million users, 44% of them engage with the platform daily. 

The platform’s own study shows that 80% of leads generated through social media come from LinkedIn. This is not surprising since half of its most active users are made up of key decision makers from various industries 

LinkedIn Gives You More for Less

LinkedIn gives its users the opportunity to generate leads through free and paid strategies. However taking advantage of paid strategies still gives you a bigger return and while LinkedIn Sponsored Content have higher cost-per-click than Google Ads, they do have double the conversion rate.

LinkedIn’s target audiences are tailor-made for B2B Lead Generation

 

LinkedIn gives you the option to be as specific as you want by giving you many targeting options. What makes it different from other platforms is that LinkedIn is used primarily for workplace networking therefore increasing your chances of targeting the right audience. 

Not only that, LinkedIn is just the natural choice for 94% of B2B Marketers giving you a greater advantage to correct with the right people in a more efficient way. 

How to Make It Work For You

 

Check In Daily

Sometimes taking five minutes to log in daily makes the biggest difference. Five minutes of your day could mean accepting a new connection request or coming across content that will be useful for your day. 

Engage, Engage, and Engage Some More 

There are many ways to make your presence known on LinkedIn. One of which is joining significant groups where you can meet like minded individuals who are in the same industry. 

Treat it the way you would any professional relationship you are trying to develop, in the world of social media, getting to know people on the platform can be done by liking their posts, sharing your (kind & polite) opinions on their posts, and even asking questions. These daily interactions often lead to a solid professional relationship that goes deeper in time.

Don’t Be Afraid to Share Your Thoughts

In the same light, do not be afraid to share your thoughts and updates on your own professional life. The great thing about LinkedIn is the fact that you can take control of your ‘professional narrative’ and through LinkedIn’s many tools that support content creation, you have the opportunity to be seen as a thought leader in your specific industry. Don’t forget to add your current clients as well since this is a good way for them to get to know you even when you’re not physically together or able to meet physically. 

These are just some of the ways, for even more specific strategies, you can get in touch with your army8 team and we would be more than happy to help.

Take Advantage of Sales Navigator 

LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator empowers sales representatives by providing them with ways to prospect key leads and accounts by giving them the ability to monitor activities and look for similar contacts to reach out to. Part of its membership option, LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator is a revolutionary way to reach out to new prospects and land 

The Sales Navigator can help you gain targeted leads by allowing reps to focus on certain territories for their specific business. As an example, your targeting can be as specific as CEOs in the Financial Industry in the East Coast of the United States with a company size greater than 100 people. You can also filter through job title, function, or even school. Once you find the right prospects, you can also send them messages through InMail.

Optimize Your Profile 

Lastly, your LinkedIn profile is not just a representation of your personal career but also a representation of your organization. 

Optimize your profile through the following ways:

  • Logo 
    • Make sure people in your LinkedIn network immediately know where you work. Using your company logo also gives you stronger credibility when it comes to reaching out to other people.  When using your personal LinkedIn Profile (and not the company’s LinkedIn), you can be creative and incorporate a visual of what you do and your logo.
  • Headline
    • Whether it is a company profile or your personal LinkedIn profile, the headline is where you put information about your company (a short slogan about what you do), the location, and service related keywords. 
  • Specialties 
    • If you are a manager handling the company LinkedIn profile, increase your searchability by using specific keywords that are specific to your industry. The more relevant keywords you put, the higher the chances of you being found not just on LinkedIn but Google as well.
  • People
    • Managers who are in charge of the company LinkedIn profile should encourage their team members to add their positions onto their personal profiles in order to not just provide credibility but also show the strength and size of your company.

Do you want to see how best to use LinkedIn to your advantage? Contact us today and we can help get you started.

(And why you need a team to support you)

There are many articles and resources that tell you about the wonderful things that come with being an entrepreneur, however, what most of these articles don’t tell you is the fact that being an entrepreneur is not without challenges. army8 was founded by seasoned entrepreneurs who have experienced it all and who are quick to share the realities of running and growing your business.

The Rolodex Cycle. Every entrepreneur begins their journey using their own network or “rolodex” however one’s rolodex can easily be exhausted as well as the rolodex of the next star sales person you hire. Exhausted rolodexes lead to hitting a wall simply because rolodexes are not enough to scale your business.

You can’t do it all.  Entrepreneurs are known for doing it all at the beginning stages of their business. However, this no longer becomes possible once the business grows. In as much as the entrepreneur would like to be involved in everything from operations to marketing, doing so might hamper growth rather than support it.

Letting go isn’t easy.  Despite the reality mentioned above, most entrepreneurs find it hard to let go and understandably so, they single handedly turned their  vision into a reality but delegating tasks to people they trust is key to taking their business to greater heights. 

Routines can get you stuck.  Routine is great for getting things done on a daily basis but any entrepreneur would be the first to tell you that getting out of that routine is beneficial to growing the business and finding new opportunities. Finding the balance between ‘tending to the crops’ vs ‘ planting new seeds’ can be tricky because the days go by so fast. Your internal team can also get stuck in the same pattern and lose the creativity to think outside of the box. 

But as much as these challenges can be overwhelming, there are solutions that can help you transform these challenges into opportunities. It often begins by asking for help, whether by seeking the help of a trusted mentor or hiring a consultant for a specific area of your business. Once these experts are on your side, they can help bring you and your business to the next level.

Consultants give you expert advice for specific areas.  Smart entrepreneurs know that it’s not about knowing it all but hiring consultants who are well experienced in their fields. This not only saves you time but also gives you valuable advice  in specific industries that is otherwise not easily available, consultants often come in with years of experience, all of which are valuable in business growth. 

Expert consultants provide new perspectives, new trends, and help you to ultimately break through the proverbial wall. Consultants are always a step ahead when it comes to new trends, new perspectives, and new strategies that are beneficial to any entrepreneur who is wishing to scale their business. Consultants have resources that help you discover new opportunities for your company therefore allowing you to grow and scale.

If you want to see some real – world examples of what we’ve done for our clients, click here.

Before you begin any marketing campaign you should first have a strategy and plan which will map out the specific tactics you will deploy with clear and measurable business goals attached to each. Make sure you have developed customer persona’s and your brand identity to craft your messaging, targeting and identify the best marketing channels.

That being said, here are some of the most common tactics B2B businesses use since they are effective in most cases.

  1. Blogging – I’m sure you’ve heard before that a blog would be a good idea for your business, but you may be missing the “why” people start writing a blog. First, it will help you communicate your message with your internal team who are the most likely initial readers of your blog. It will give them a clear path to communicating key issues with clients. It keeps everyone on the same page as far as what the company’s response is to industry trends, competition and new technology which may affect your business. It gives them a first-hand feel of your brand voice and sets the stage where you can begin to scale what you do best which is communicate your brand message. It will also deliver valuable content to your social channels and give social media users a measurable engagement when they click through to your website where you can better track them.
  2. Social Media – This is how you scale your relationship building. Think of what you have done to take a casual relationship through to a sale. How many times did you engage with that person, what did you do to build trust over time and where did you first meet? Social media allows you to scale this process and reach tens of thousands or millions of people in one conversation thread. Do the same things you did in the non-virtual world to build these relationships. Use your blog articles as content for your posts and encourage them to engage with the content so you can track them from your website.
  3. Event marketing – It’s hard to beat face-to-face meetings when it comes to closing new business. Event marketing allows you to scale in a similar way to social media. Choose a topic which is hot and trending in your industry, grab an industry expert or two, add free cocktails and use your social media and traditional channels to market the event. Have someone ready to film the event which you can use later for your blog posts, social media content and ads.
  4. Webinars – If you don’t have the time or resources to host an in-person event try a webinar. Webinar software pricing has come down considerably over the past few years and setting one up has gotten a lot easier. Choose a hot, trending industry topic and promote a re-registration from your website, social channels and digital ads. Record the Webinar and use the content for additional blog posts, social media posts and ads.
  5. Email newsletter – Email marketing has a bad wrap from the early days of marketing when spam consumed most inboxes and customers stopped paying attention to them. Times have changed as Gmail and other email hosting services have added great spam detection and avoidance algorithms to eliminate most of the garbage. You still need valid emails and high quality content to send to clients to make it worth their while to open them. If you keep up with your blogging, it can provide great content for the email newsletter which may also include invitations to events and Webinars.
  6. Team engagement – Getting your staff on the same page is critical to the success of any growth plan. Employees should not only know their particular job function but also its context to broader organizational goals and objectives. They should understand the brand identity and voice and be able to pitch what the company can do for clients. Enlist the staff to help spread the word by sharing company events, webinars and social media content to expand your reach. This is usually the lowest cost, highest return on investment you can make which will have large, ongoing tangible and intangible benefits to the organization.
  7. Consolidation of prospect lists into one central CRM – More often than not, I see companies who still do not have a CRM installed and utilized on a daily basis. It’s the foundation of any strong sales and marketing team. It provides structure throughout the sales and marketing journey of each customer to ensure consistent messaging and follow ups to avoid any missed opportunities. Set KPI’s for point along the marketing and sales funnels to show sales people a clear path to building a successful client base. How many prospects does a sales person have assigned to them? How many qualify for your product or service? How many have provided their email address and contact information? How many showed up to an event? Have you presented a proposal to them? Who are the competitors for particular accounts? All of this can be answered if you have a CRM and process in place.
  8. Business Development – When you have assets such as a great prospect list, newsletter subscriptions and social media presence, you can leverage it to connect with businesses who market to the same audience. This one requires that you follow all the tactics above for a year or more to build your lists, followers and credibility, but once you do you will most likely have potential marketing partners calling you. If you are an accounting firm, find a law firm that markets to the same audience and host an event together where you can cross sell each other’s services, share content on each other’s social media channels or include an article in your blog and/or newsletter.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, each tactic leverages content to be used in another. If you are able to achieve success in one, the second becomes easier and so on. A good quality strategy session will identify all of these tactics and integrate them to make the most efficient use of resources with the broadest possible distribution.

Nearly all high growth companies look a certain way- they have the right people, process and reporting capabilities that make it run like a well-oiled, unstoppable machine. Most are either venture-backed or well-funded due to the human resources required to setup all of the processes and internal communication to technically piece together all of the data points to track KPI’s.

Each person in the organization knows which KPI’s they are held accountable to and the process to improve them. Communication runs freely through real-time reporting which allows the organization to identify hurdles in its path and pivot accordingly on the fly. New customers all have a similar, consistent experience since processes flow from contract signing through to product or service delivery. Since every task in selling and servicing a client is well documented, including training manuals, staffing is less expensive and not reliant on any one individual. This is what allows the organization to scale and grow quickly.

You are building a machine, much like building out a computer program to perform specific tasks. Think of the logic it takes to sell and service an order, all the steps required to move someone from a prospective customer to a customer to a referral source. Since most companies vary greatly in the product delivery, I’m going to focus this article on the marketing aspect of the machine starting with the skill set you will ultimately need to effectively execute. If you were building a piece of IKEA furniture, this would be the list of required tools you will need to get started.

  1. Strategy – This is where you start by building out your customer persona’s, core values, brand voice and tactics to reach them. It’s the most important piece of the puzzle and if executed properly should tell you what differentiates you from your competitors, how to best communicate it with your prospective customers and the channels or not venues where you are most likely to engage potential customers. You can certainly find plenty online to help with all of the exercises above or you can hire a consultant with experience in the above. This piece is also covered in the army8 premium plan.
  2. Process – This task is typically handled by a COO, someone who is always looking for a way to make the existing process more efficient or to deliver a higher quality experience for your customers. There should be documentation and training manuals for every position in the company with clear KPI’s to measure the effectiveness of whoever is in charge of said task. This will require a data repository such as Google Data Studio where you can consolidate information from multiple platforms into one dashboard for real-time reporting of each piece of the larger puzzle.
  3. Execution – Here I’ve identified 8 skill sets to help you execute the plan and process.
    1. Brand development – someone who can, at a high level understand how customers currently perceive your brand, which perception best positions the company and how to change it most efficiently.
    2. Web development – Your Website is the central point for communication to your customers and staff. You will need a strong CMS (Content Management System) such as WordPress where you can easily add new content, adjust your messaging on the fly and have technical capabilities to attract existing and prospective customers to the site and track them.
    3. Digital advertising – Advertising channels are changing at an exponential rate. New features, search algorithms, targeting options, etc. are all different on each platform. Knowing how to deliver the desired message at the right time takes knowledge and experience.
    4. CRM & marketing automation – Without a strong CRM to track the progress of a customer through marketing and sales funnels is critical to the success of any organization. You need to know which messages resonate, which do not and where the funnels are falling short. Marketing automation will help you make sure no prospective lead falls through the cracks. It will help you minimize marketing budget waste, tell you how well your sales staff are performing and stay in touch with existing customers so you are top of mind for their next order.
    5. Programming & technical support –Technology is also changing exponentially. New workflow applications are developed daily to improve some aspect of your business, streamline an existing process or collect data from a new source. Having someone on your team who knows the latest trends will save you countless dollars in staffing or give you a competitive advantage.
    6. Writing – Having a good writer, someone who knows your industry is key to communicating with customers and internal staff. Everyone needs to be on the same page and most entrepreneurs don’t have the time to do it consistently. If you aren’t writing a new article each week, you are probably not doing enough to optimize your growth.
    7. Social media – Some tactics work well on one social channel but fall flat on another. Having a good social media manager who understands your brand voice and the message you are attempting to deliver is critical in the success of your growth plan. This tactic is typically included in the top, middle and bottom of the marketing funnel making it one of the most important team members.
    8. Reporting and data analytics – This is the person who can collect data from various sources such as your accounting system, CRM, website analytics, digital marketing campaigns or customer service modules and interpret them into meaningful actions the COO or CEO can take to improve process to deliver a desired outcome.

As you can see, the variance between the skill sets is wide. Someone who may be good at writing and social media may not have the technical expertise for the reporting and analytics or the technical person may not have the design capabilities, etc. Most companies tend to hire one person for a specific tactic such as social media and try to get them to perform tasks that are clearly not in their wheelhouse. This is exactly why we started army8. It’s a one-stop shop for everything you need to setup, install and execute a growth plan for less than it would cost for that one person.

I’ve talked to so many business owners over the years who attempt to apply financial processes to their marketing programs and they almost all fail at some point. Have you ever said “if you can prove to me my marketing is profitable, I will increase the budget to whatever you need” put another way “If my cost to acquire a new customer (CPA) is less than the profit generated from that customer, I will spend a lot more on advertising.” The pragmatism behind those statements is attractive to so many and makes good, logical sense to any business owner. From my point of view, there’s nothing wrong with these statements. It’s what comes next that leads them to failure.

The next step is to bring in several competing agencies to make a pitch on how they are going to deliver more leads than the next guy and ultimately lower their CPA. Marketing companies, hungry for new business tend to pitch specific tactics or creative they will deploy to achieve your desired results without digging into why your customers currently buy from you, the lifecycle of the relationships you have with them or how you communicate a message that will resonate with them. This will lead to a campaign which is only targeting the bottom of the marketing funnel since those leads are easiest to track to a final sale where the agency can take credit for the revenue. Messaging will typically be aggressive and focus on an exclusive offer to drive clicks since that is a successful bottom of funnel strategy for a lot of different business types.

The campaign above may deliver results for you in the short term, especially if you haven’t done much marketing in the past but will eventually fall flat over time. The problem with this logic is that you are attempting to condense a relationship at the bottom of your funnel, in one short 144 character message or offer and my guess is that’s not how you built your customer base.

To get to the root of the problem think back to when you closed some of your best customers and ask yourself these questions:

  • Where and how did the relationship begin? Was it a referral from someone you knew for many years?
  • How was trust built over that relationship? At what point in the relationship did the client trust you and stop shopping the business to competitors?
  • How casual and personal are your conversations with these customers? Do you know anything about their personal life? Do you know what they do outside of work, hobbies, etc.?

Here’s the secret to digital marketing: DIGITAL ADVERTISING HAS NOT CHANGED HOW TRUST AND RELATIONSHIPS ARE FORMED. Imagine for a minute if you swapped in your current ad messaging into your first encounter with the customers from above. Would you have sold them? Would you have the relationship you have now? Probably not. They would see you as someone trying to sell them something and you would be lumped in with the thousands of other companies they are exposed to every day through digital ads. It’s tough to get a personal relationship when it starts that way.

Your digital campaign should make sense to you even if you don’t understand the platforms! Each stage in the funnel should progress a relationship naturally, the same way you have done it in the past. Something like the following:

  • Top of funnel – Think about an introduction at a cocktail party. You might introduce yourself with your name and what you do for work. Top of funnel strategies will generally do the same thing: your brand name and a point or two about what makes you different.
  • Mid funnel – You meet this same person at a second event. Now you know them, you say hello, start a conversation and possibly exchange contact information. A good Mid funnel strategy will work the same way. Maybe it’s a social media outreach to all the people who follow you, a response to a comment, attendance to a Webinar or a collection of an email address through a registration or resource download. This is the beginning of the conversation with these prospective clients.
  • Bottom funnel – Now that you have their contact information, you might schedule a lunch, a drink or coffee. This is where you make your sales pitch, after you have built the relationship and trust. A good strategy will identify those prospective customers who are in the middle of the funnel with an offer or other hook.

The purpose of digital advertising is to take what you already do and scale it. Think of how many cocktail parties you could possibly attend on your own or even with a team of sales staff. It won’t compare to the number of relationships you can build using digital tools. It’s not even a comparison to the thousands or even millions of people you can connect to on digital media.

Now, let’s get back to your current digital campaign and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Top of funnel [think about how many new introductions you are getting]
    • How many new people do you reach every day [impressions]?
    • How often do you get in front of them [impressions/reach]?
  • Middle of funnel [how many new conversations did you engage in]
    • How many engagements (clicks, comments, likes, video views, downloads, etc.)?
  • Bottom of funnel [how many meetings or opportunities to pitch are you getting]
    • How many meetings, quotation requests, lead forms, request for additional information are you getting?

If your marketing campaign worked at one point, but then slowed down over time it’s likely that you have been missing the top or middle of the funnel. A strong strategy at the top should feed the bottom with a consistent flow of incoming leads. It’s a far more sustainable process than just focusing on the bottom of the funnel and will provide more value to the brand long-term.

 

If you are selling in a B2B market then you already know the challenges to finding new customers. Your prospects are getting barraged with cold-calls, emails and digital ads which makes it very difficult to stand out and get their time and attention.

Most B2B marketers look for a hook to engage their audience, something of value to their prospective customers which is given away in return for their attention and engagement. The hardest part of this process is to figure out what has perceived value to your prospective customers which will also make financial sense; not be taken advantage of by non-qualified prospects; and brings the prospect closer to the ultimate goal of buying something from you. As an example: I once received a $100 bill from a financial planner in the mail with a note “I know your time is valuable, so please accept my call in exchange for this $100…” which got my attention and I did take his call but I had zero interest or need for a financial planner at the time. I’m also not sure if this makes financial sense to scale it for most B2B marketers.

Before you start sending out $100 bills, follow this quick guide to help you brainstorm some ideas for your hook:

  • Start with a persona exercise to get a sense of what would be of value to your prospective customers. Once completed you should be able to answer these questions: What topics interest them the most? Who are their primary influencers? What motivates them professionally and personally? There are many good articles on how to develop persona’s you can find with a quick Google search such as this one: https://www.quicksprout.com/customer-persona/
  • Develop your brand’s story which should resonate with your customer personas. Describe what makes you different, why you exist and what you will provide to your customers and team members. If you’ve never developed one, here’s an article to get you started from Shopify: https://www.shopify.com/retail/how-to-build-a-brand-story-lessons-from-retail-branding-experts
  • Now find the intersection of interests of the target customers to your brand story. Which part of your brand story will provide value to your audience? This is where you will find the best ideas for your hook.
  • Now ask yourself these questions before you commit to your hook:
    • Does it have perceived value to my target audience?
    • Is it financially viable at scale?
    • Is it valuable enough to get your target audience to act and engage with you?
    • Does it enhance and build on our brand story and voice?

Here are few common tactics to get your started:

  • Live Events – I like events because they are time sensitive, meaning the date of the event provides a sense of urgency to your audience, i.e. “Last chance to register for this amazing event.” It also places you face to face with potential customers where you won’t have to compete for their attention. An event can be tailored to fit any industry, brand story or customer persona. Find key influencers in your industry to speak at the event and help with the marketing to fill the room. Use your vendors to help with speakers and venues. Capture the event on video for future marketing, social media and blog posts.
  • Webinar – If a physical event is outside your budget then try a Webinar. There are many software packages which are low cost or free to hold it and will only require you to have a laptop and camera. Send out an email blast with a link to a landing page which describes the benefits of attending so you can collect email addresses and phone numbers for future marketing purposes. Record the event for later use on social media and YouTube to gain additional traffic.
  • Free Consultation – Nearly every B2B has used this method at one time or another. It can work well if you clearly provide a benefit to the prospective customer and not just a sales pitch. Make this very clear in the marketing copy such as: “No purchase necessary, get a free evaluation to see how much you can save.” It works even better if you have an automated form for the customer to fill out where you automatically email them results once completed. Conversion rates tend to be higher since the commitment level of the user is perceived to be smaller than taking a phone call. It will also allow you to collect the information you need to better market to them.
  • Enter to Win – If you are looking for a Top Funnel strategy, then this could be a good tactic. The primary issue is that you will most likely get a lot of unqualified people to fill out the form. The low perceived commitment from the user with a large potential gain will increase engagement and allow you to collect important marketing information such as email addresses, but your resources may be stretched if you begin treating the information as leads which are handed over to the sales team. The sales team calling/contacting leads is your most expensive tactic which I would save for truly qualified leads so before you send these over to them, add some qualifying questions to your lead form.
  • Freemium or Free Trial – A highly popular tactic for software, apps or online services the freemium model allows users to try the service for a period of time or with limited features before they make a purchase. It’s one of the best hooks if it is financially viable. I would encourage you to open up the free trial for limited periods of time to create the sense of urgency and leverage the information you collect such as the pages/features they frequented most to setup marketing automation for when users end the free trial.

Your hooks will eventually go stale so I would encourage you to try many different hooks over the course of a year. Collect data from each, analyze the effect on your marketing and sales funnels and repeat.

 

Planning on redesigning or building a new website? Most companies fail to plan properly which leads to delays and budget overruns. I’ve seen many companies over the years spend 6+ months in the development phase, mostly due to decision makers in the organization not having the same goals and objectives. One person from sales might be trying to get viewers to call them while another person in the marketing department may be trying to get the brand message front and center and customer service may be trying to get the users to find a help section. These conflicting strategies will often result in a website with too many call to action buttons which can make the site look busy and not perform very well for any strategy.

By contrast, some of the best performing websites I’ve been involved in have one primary goal or objective and all the others take a back seat. I try to explain this as if the website were a person and had to report to several people each with a different goal or objective. Have you ever been in this spot? No one ever seems to be happy with this situation and I’ve never seen it with a positive outcome.

The next biggest issues typically happen a few months after the site is launched because the company did not anticipate how they would make updates to the site, integrations to other internal systems or the impact to SEO. The adage of measure twice, cut once will save you a lot down the road.

Before you start your project, ask yourself these questions below to keep your website development focused, on schedule and within the original budget.

  1. What purpose will your new website serve?

Your website should be one part of a broader growth strategy. Is the Website a top of funnel tactic where you are attempting to build brand identity, is it part of a middle funnel where you are seeking to increase engagement or is it closer to the bottom of the funnel where you are attempting to capture leads and sales?

  1. Do you have clearly defined KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) to measure success or failure?

Going back to item #1, if you don’t have a clearly defined strategy then attaching KPI’s to measure success becomes impossible. Be sure you have a specific business goal you are attempting to hit before you decide to build a new Website. Common KPI’s for a Website depending on your strategy are listed below:

  • Top of funnel – How many users, unique users, page views or sessions.
  • Mid funnel – Page views per session, downloads or other events which indicate engagement.
  • Bottom funnel – Sales, conversions, registrations, app downloads or logins.


  1. What image or impression are you trying to make and will it resonate with your target audience?

If you haven’t developed your customer persona’s, now would be the time to do it. This will tell you who you are trying to reach, what message will likely resonate with them. There are many good articles on how to develop persona’s you can find with a quick Google search such as this one: https://www.quicksprout.com/customer-persona/. Pass this information along to your designer and copy editor to create a site specific to this audience.

  1. Which CMS platform will you use?

This decision will determine how much your ongoing costs will be, how well it will perform in search engine results and how easy it will be to integrate with your CRM and other systems. Technology requirements are always changing. Over the past 10 years we have seen the need to: make sites mobile friendly, increase page speed through compression. Some of the most common systems such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal have large user bases and marketplaces for third party developers which increases the options for extensions and plugins to the latest technology and trends. Updating your website will become cheaper since there are so many people trained to service these platforms.

  1. Is your web developer or designer giving some kind of phased approach and timeline?

Depending on the complexity, timeline, # of templates/pages and price of your new website build, this will determine the amount of detail that goes into each phase of the process which could include: information architecture (navigation and customer UX), technical requirements, wireframes, design and development. If you have a highly technical website, strict branding guidelines, and several levels of management approval, you likely have a higher budget and a longer timeline to account for each step of the process. On the flip side, if you are a small or medium sized business with a smaller budget, your agency may take a theme approach which should get your website’s design & development 50-75% completed which will result in a shorter timeline. Whatever your case may be, you should expect some kind of project timeline in a phased approach to make sure you see eye-to-eye with your agency throughout your website build. The ultimate goal is to not end up with a completed website that you or your boss is not happy with! Make sure this is outlined in your project scope.

  1. How will your content be updated?

No matter your purpose or strategy, your website content should be updated regularly to include your latest offers, products, news, events, case studies, blog articles, call to action buttons and landing pages. Who is going to be responsible for writing the content and publishing it? Before hiring an agency, be sure to ask about pricing for ongoing maintenance and updates.

  1. Is your messaging effective? Does it resonate with your audience?

Going back to #2, if you don’t have clearly defined KPI’s, you may never know if your message is effective or not post launch. Once identified you can test several messaging tactics and measure the difference. As an example: If your purpose is to drive new leads, A/B test a few different landing pages to see which one has the highest conversion rate.

  1. How will you handle redirects?

When you create a new website, links to the old website need to be redirected to the new one. If you miss this step, users who may find a link to your site from an older social media post, business listing or Google search will end up with what is referred to as a 404 error page. This will not only negatively affect your user’s experience, but also hurt your search engine optimization. The process is pretty simple but varies depending on the platform you are using.

  1. What integrations will you need and who’s in charge of them?

Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager are the most common integrations and all of the major CMS platforms will support these, but you may also need an integration into your CRM to capture incoming leads, additional third party pixels to track the effectiveness of your digital ads, online chat features or custom integrations into your POS (Point of Sale) system. Be sure your have a plan and someone responsible for all of the integrations and coordinate them with your design team.

 

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is sort of like studying for a test; there’s always more you can do to prepare, and you are never really sure you are done.

There are three primary components to an SEO campaign:

  1. Technical – The way your site is developed can have an impact on how well Google indexes your site. If your site loads too slowly or isn’t designed well for a mobile device for instance, this can negatively impact how well it will show up in search results. Other components such as the site structure, sitemaps and META data will also have an effect on your rankings. There are thousands of articles to help you with the technical aspects of your SEO campaign including this one: https://searchenginewatch.com/2018/05/25/the-12-most-important-elements-of-a-technical-seo-audit/.

  2. Content – The amount and quality of the content you have on your site will impact your search results. If you are writing a blog for instance and you consistently post articles every week you will certainly see an improvement in your search traffic. Blog articles with 1,500 or more words will usually perform better than blog articles with 500, a daily frequency will perform better than a weekly or monthly and when you publish more than 50 articles you will also see a bump in traffic.

  3. Links – The number and quality of the links from other sites to yours will have a large impact on your search traffic. Setting up links from directories, social media profiles and working community sites such as Quora and Reddit are popular options for link building but can take a
    tremendous amount of time.

So, how much time you devote to this project depends on your strategy. I listed out some factors to help answer this question.

  • Do you offer a product or service that people search for? If not, then no need to waste time on SEO. Your resources are better spent on awareness and display ads.

  • What’s your budget? If you have a total annual marketing budget of over $250k, then you should consider spending a minimum of 10% of that budget towards SEO. If you have a limited or minimal budget then SEO may be your only option and you’ll have to do most of the work yourself.

  • How much does it cost to get a click from a paid search ad for your primary key phrases? If you are forced to pay several dollars per click to get included in the search results, then you should have a longer-term SEO campaign. If it’s relatively cheap to get clicks then the cost benefit analysis may not work in your favor.

Where do you start once you’ve decided on an SEO campaign? I listed out in order of importance below by category starting with tasks which take the least amount of time but provide the largest benefit. Start at the top and work your way down until you’ve hit your cap for time and resources:

  1. Technical – Assuming you are using a standard Content Management System such as WordPress, most of the technical aspects of your campaign can be handled in a few minutes to a few hours using off-the-shelf free or low-cost plugins assuming you don’t have too many pages. Here’s an article with reviews of a few of these plugins: https://www.wpbeginner.com/showcase/9-best-wordpress-seo-plugins-and-tools-that-you-should-use/. If you have a custom HTML site, this project could take considerably longer and will require some technical assistance in most cases. Here’s a free SEO checker to get you started: https://www.semrush.com/lp/site-audit-2/en/.

  2. Content –
    a. Content and links usually go hand-in-hand. The more content you have to share on social media, the easier it is to get people to link to it. This is why, if you have to choose between quantity and quality of the content you are posting, always go for quality. It will make your SEO campaign far more successful with less effort than attempting to get people to link to lower quality content.

    b. You should post consistently. As an example: if you only have resources for 4 articles per month, then post them one per week rather than all 4 at once.

  3. Links –
    a. Add your business to Google My Business and verify your address. It’s one of the most important aspects of your SEO campaign. Do the same for Facebook, Bing and Yelp. Run a Google search to find any directories specifically devoted to your industry and request to be included. It won’t take long and will make it easier for your customers to find you.

    b. Create all of your social channels such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Quora, Reddit and Snapchat. Be sure to add a link to your site from the profile sections.

    c. Add a social post across your newly setup channels daily if possible. Break out your content into shorter snippets to generate multiple posts out of a single blog article and link back to the article each time you use content from it.

    d. Join social sites such as Quora and Reddit to communicate with people who have an interest in the same subject matter. Search for and answer questions specific to your industry when possible. Each one of these connections and interactions will generate links back to your profile which is then linked back to your site.

If you plan to outsource this process, the pricing is all over the map depending on frequency and difficulty of the content writing and posting, and level of sophistication in the link building and technical aspects of the campaign. Expect to pay between $100 and $150 per hour for technical and link building and $25 to $75 per hour for blog writing. Social media management will cost you an extra $1k to $3.5k a month. The total package will cost you between $2.5k and $7.5k per month.