Senior Content Manager, Leadspace
Have you ever found yourself sucked in by random acts of marketing? Your team looks at your goals for the month, you see that your leads aren’t where you want them to be, and someone says, “We should do something! Go post on social!” Or send an email, or create a last-minute webinar…
Basically, when you have a hole in your program, you just throw something at the wall and see what sticks.
But which of these random moves really makes an impact? What can you do that will reliably feed your pipeline? Without answering those questions you’ll never be able to form a coherent, effective marketing plan. And you can’t know the answers unless you understand your audience.
Know Who You’re Selling To
The better you understand your audience, the better you inherently understand not only who they are, but what they care about, where they hang out online, what kind of content they consume, what their consumption habits are, and more. This understanding will elevate those random acts of marketing and infuse them with them intention.
To move past random acts of marketing, ask yourself these five questions about your audience. Armed with the answers, you’ll be empowered to take your marketing up a level, with a full-funnel marketing plan.
1. What/Who are your targets?
First and foremost, who are you talking to? Instead of looking at one persona across many companies, look at all the direct and indirect decision-makers within a single company – i.e. account-based marketing (ABM).
This process is referred to as treating an account as a market of one. You’re not sending an impersonal email blast to CMOs everywhere. You’re just looking at Company XYZ (your “named account“), and within that company, you are talking to the XYZ CFO or the XYZ Director of Marketing, and so on and so forth.
In order to nurture the top, middle, and bottom of your funnel, you need to know exactly who you are talking to and what their pain points are. Which brings us to our next question…
2. What do they care about?
Let’s get one thing straight: your prospects don’t really care about you.
Don’t take it personally — my point here is that they’re not even thinking about you and may not even know you exist. But they are certainly thinking about their pressing business needs.
During the buyer journey, when your prospect discovers their pain point, they come up with an objective or outcome to fix it, and you swoop in with the solution. The problem is that most marketers start with the solution (i.e. you) without ever really understanding the original problem (what they’re actually thinking about).
If you pitch your product without digging into a real person’s real need, without laying a foundation that correlates their need and their desired outcome with what you can provide in return, there’s no way your targets are going to care about what you’re offering. But if you know them, what their individual needs are, you can meet them at that pain point and help them.
Form your marketing plan and messaging around the problem you’re trying to solve.
3. Where do you find them?
In order to connect with your prospective customer, you have to know where they are. Where is your target hanging out? They are out there somewhere, in the vast expanses of the internet, looking for solutions to their problems.
Discover where your customers congregate to look for information. Then, join the crowd and become a part of the conversation. Maybe it’s in a LinkedIn Group or on Twitter, maybe it’s at an annual conference. Truth be told, it’s probably some combination of those channels and some others, too. Find them, and start listening to them.
4. What/Who influences them?
You’ll find many of your prospects are qualified but not ready to buy, often because they don’t understand what you take for granted. Often, they may not even understand the cost of their problem! You can deliver an amazing amount of value for that prospect, simply by helping them understand why they need to buy and how it will positively impact them.
Even so, sometimes the direct approach is too strong. If you think there is value in hearing from you why your product is the solution to their problem, imagine how much value there is in hearing from one of their trusted resources why your product is the solution to their problem. Look for your “in.”
Does your target customer respect the opinion of a certain person or publication? If so, utilize that trusted connection.
5. How do they want to engage and eventually buy?
Finally, you have the information you need to understand how to engage with your prospective customer, you know what tools and influencers will help you nurture your relationship with them—but you still have to figure out how to close the deal.
How can your sales team reach out and follow-up with potential customers in an effective manner? If your marketing plan relies on the wrong platforms or forums, you’ll end up missing some of your best potential prospects.
Creating an effective marketing plan takes time – but it’s worth it
Remember, creating traction in your business with your marketing and sales efforts is like—to borrow an idea from B2B marketing maven Matt Heinz—moving from a machete in the jungle to a scalpel. It’s okay to test a lot of things, to commit random acts of marketing. It’s okay to wield an imprecise blade to cut your way through the jungle when your primary goal is to move in the right direction. But eventually, you need to start working with intention; with the precision of a scalpel.
You want to be able to create precise sales and marketing. You want to be able to have a unique conversation with every one of your prospects, in every unique situation, so you can move past random acts of marketing and intentionally feed your pipeline instead. This means that you need to ask yourself the tough questions about your audience in order to better understand them, and ultimately, to create a full-funnel marketing plan that meets their needs.
Image from Pixabay | CC0 Public Domain