Advice life hack marketing

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Marketing

hitchhiking girlHere is a little mental sorbet for you to chew on… (hat tip to CTO, John Harper, for the label ‘mental sorbet’ and the many discussions inspiring this article.)

When it comes to selling the future, the statement “beware the naked man who offers you his shirt,” does not apply. When you’re selling the future, you can do it buck naked, shivering in the dark, with your knickers down around your ankles. Or you can do it fully clothed, standing in front of a room full of people.

The point is, when you’re selling the future, you can be as “out there” as you like, but you’d better have a few fundamentals under your belt. How thin is the line between genius and the village idiot? Much, much too thin.

We’ve heard it over, and over: marketing today is not like marketing was yesterday. In many ways, marketing tomorrow will be different too. Technology has changed everything. However, fundamentally, marketing remains the same. So for those of you brave enough to hold your thumbs out along the super highway of industry, I’m happy to share this page from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Marketing.

To begin with…

Assuming that you already have a product, and you’re ready to hit the market, there are a few key questions that need to be answered, before a foot of promo video is shot, a stitch of copy written, a tagline is TM’d, or a booth is bought:

1. how many customers does your company need?

2. within what timeframe does your company need to generate this number of customers?

3. what is your company’s current lead generation program?

4. What is the message map? For instance, if a contact raises his/her hand, how are the communications mapped to carry that person all the way through to close?

5. What specific pain are you solving?

Selling {your company} to your audience may be a hands-on, consultative sales process…that means online has to be more supportive of a process, rather than just a bunch of brochureware.

Are you dialing for dollars? Rolodex diving? Is that good enough for now? Do you need to break out of the Rolodex and widen the net? How many customers do you need? How fast do you need them? What message will make the cost and trouble of going to a trade show worth your while? How can you make the entire SALES process amazing, and frictionless? All things flow from the answers to those questions…and helps you zero in on what’s relevant.

You don’t need to boil the ocean.

You do need to have your head on straight about what sort of fish you are in this great big body of opportunity…all the while keeping time on your side.

The reality is that you could have {your hottest secretary} hanging from a light pole, dressed as Saint Nick, giving the epic sales pitch of her life. But if it’s not relevant to the segment of viewer that’s watching the video, then what’s it for?

It’s also:

a) difficult to define the content

b) difficult to measure its effectiveness

c) impossible to map it to conversions.

If you don’t exhibit control over putting relevant content in front of the audience based on what the audience wants, then it’s just the old way of throwing away 1/2 your marketing budget, whichever half that may be. Blech!

This isn’t getting into the weeds. In order to know exactly what pieces are needed and how they fit, answer this: How many customers does {your company} need?  What is {your company’s} Demand Generation program for making this happen? What pain are you addressing?

Is a video a good idea? Yes. But maybe for different reasons than you’re thinking. What’s the content? I have not the foggiest. Is putting a spiffy wheel graphic on your home page with 10 words of positioning a good idea? Only if it’s relevant to the audience in a way that

1) gets them actionable information

2) doesn’t get in the way of the process

3) is relevant to creating a customer.

4) doesn’t screw-up the site when someone hits it with their smart phone–because that’s probably exactly how most of your audience is going to hit your site…if there is a relevant reason for them to hit it at all. Brochureware tells them that you’re a company. Cool. Great. Leveraging lead-gen methodology, however, makes your site an active tool in funnel generation and conversion.

You realize that most of the time people are coming to a website through Google. That means they are not going through the front door. They are crawling through some side window. What’s the side window? The page that came up based on the key words they searched for. Relevance is king. That, by the way, is why corporate blogs are so popular. Lot’s of keywords floating around in those things hunting for traffic. Traffic is nothing if it can’t be converted, however.

In the past we might have gotten away with marketing that hinged on… We sell {insert your product here} to  industry, we rock, we promise, we swear. Today we need to get the audience to take specific, measurable, defined actions as you squeeze them through your funnel.

What lead generation tactics is {your company} into currently? How well is that working?  What tactics is {your company} ready to get into? Again, this all depends on how many customers {your company} needs.

Some more questions:

1. How does your product speak to the pain present in the market?

2. How does your most relevant message get delivered to the market?

3. What’s relevant to the market?

4. How can the market be segmented so messages can be made to be more relevant?

5. How do prospects interact with {your company} (from beginning to end?)

6. How can you make every aspect of the process frictionless and amazing?

7. It’s ALL about conversions.

What converts?

Let’s address this question in terms of video. Let’s assume for a moment you want to use video in your marketing. Will a video convert for you? How do you define a conversion? Maybe the video’s sole purpose is to juice your position in Google? Or maybe the video converts because it uses a specific phone number for people to call to take advantage of some compelling offer. Or, it converts because it gets someone to download some bit of information.

The answer to “what converts?” depends. The same video will convert very differently, if at all, for a different audience. That means the decision to go one way or the other with video or copy depends on exactly who is going to see the piece, how they are going to see it, when they are going to see it, and what action they are going to be asked to take after they see it. Simple, right?

Not really. However, as I like to say, we can eat this elephant one piece at a time.

Each stage of the buy decision contains its own tactics. It also contains its own vertical measurement of conversion. A visitor becomes a conversion if they raise their hand for more information. A lead becomes a conversion if they request a demo, or a meeting. A prospect becomes a conversion if they buy. Each segment of this process needs to be thunk about.

A whale becomes a conversion when they pay  {you} seventy million dollars to make {your own kind of} magic. Right?

So all you need to do is map the message to the exact state at which your segment is currently in, and you have a better chance of making a conversion. Of course, this means that you need to be aware that the more general your marketing, the slower your conversions will be.

One more thought before my carpal tunnel flares up…

How do you do this all while keeping time on your side? How? Deliver early. Iterate often…test….test….test. Never let a marketing piece out that doesn’t have some way of tracking its effectiveness…  Keep it simple. Video of second-rate quality but with a better message (i.e. relevant) converts better than a slick, expensive, irrelevant piece.

Finally, never believe that any one marketing tool is the silver bullet.

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