If you're involved in sales and marketing for your company, you know how frustrating it can be to increase sales revenues with limited resources. Whether getting a startup out of the gate quickly or overhauling an apparently stalled marketing strategy, the challenge is always how to pinpoint your target market, optimize your message and reach qualified buyers without overwhelming and alienating them. You could try some different approaches and see what "sticks," but how much time and money are you willing to throw away to find the answers? The best way to get from here to there on a budget is to think it through first. Here are my top five things to ask yourself.
Bad response: "We want to improve our traffic and leads."
Good response: "We want to increase sales revenues by 50% over the next 12 months from our online marketing efforts. We plan to do this by steadily and sustainably increasing qualified sales leads by ramping up our targeted content, social media, email and outbound marketing campaigns and by nurturing those leads into customers with marketing automation and inside sales."
Bad response: "We want to target CEO's because they are the ultimate decision makers."
Good response: "We need to carefully determine our buyer persona, decision process and influencers in order to craft targeted inbound and outbound marketing campaigns. We will seek the insights of both sales and marketing people and obtain appropriate market research to identify key players in the buy cycle and reach them where they are most likely to be found."
Bad response: "We will put as much information on the website as possible about our products and services and optimize it for search engines."
Good response: "We will think hard about our buyers' problems and the ways in which they seek solutions. We will generate consistently helpful content to help them via blogs, social media, downloads, videos, webinars and live events. We will make sure that our content is easily found in the social networks, forums and other channels commonly used by our buyers. We will address the search engines by publishing our content on a regular daily basis and by focusing on the topics and using the terminology most often used by our buyers."
Bad response: "We will publish our brochures and case studies and put them behind forms with low entry barriers, requiring only name and email."
Good response: "We will publish original, valuable content that is highly desired by our target market. We will put in place a sensible lead nurturing strategy that starts with low-barrier requirements at the top of the funnel and adds more lead segmentation and scoring questions as we nurture leads with more in-depth content and guide them toward a buy decision. We are counting on our mid-funnel and bottom-funnel content to assist in this process by helping our leads qualify themselves and understand exactly what we offer."
Bad response: "Our sales team will review leads that come in, evaluate them, assign them as needed and follow up with a sales call."
Good response: "Our inbound marketing strategy and marketing automation tools will identify warm leads, assign them to the right sales reps, notify them and provide valuable information to assist in qualifying and closing them as customers. It will be easy for our reps to schedule and document communications and either move forward in the sales process or return questionable leads to our lead nurturing funnel or disqualify them."
If you start with these basic questions, they will naturally lead you to others. The better able you are to nail down these important strategic considerations, the faster you will be able to achieve your business goals. Ignoring any of them just means more trial and error and more cost in time and resources before you can generate profits.
As Benjamin Franklin so aptly put it, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
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