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How to Build a Quality Buyer Persona in Five Easy Steps

How to Build a Quality Buyer Persona in Five Easy Steps

A well-crafted buyer persona can provide tremendous structure and opportunity for your company. 

What’s a buyer persona? 

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on your company’s market research and data on existing customers. They help align your marketing and sales departments by setting a clear picture of who exactly your firm should be targeting and serving.

In order to be effective, buyer personas need to be based on real-world information and not assumptions. The more specific you can be, the better. 

Create a customizable buyer persona in minutes now with HubSpot’s “Make My Persona” tool. 

Here is a five-step process to follow when creating a buyer persona for your company. 

1. Research your audience

Let’s pretend your back in school for a second…

You’re taking an exam that you didn’t study for. We’ve all been there. 

You miss classes, you don’t turn in the homework, and just show up on test day. It probably didn’t work out too well, am I right? 

Similarly to creating your buyer personas, you have to do your homework. Just like you can’t expect to do well on a test without understanding the concepts, you can’t possibly create an effective buyer persona without knowing your audience.

Study the market. Ask yourself, “Who is already buying from me?” This includes demographics, behavioral patterns, goals, and buyer trends. 

Another way to learn about your audience is by using social analytics. These buyers may not be customers at the moment, but the point is if they are searching and interacting with your brand or industry online, there is certainly data to be collected. 

2. Identify customer pain points

You’ll want to find out what problems your customers are facing? What’s holding them back from reaching their goals? 

A great way to find this information is by simply asking your customer service team what questions they get the most. Figuring out these pain points customers are experiencing allows you to generate content tailored to resolving those issues. 

And don’t forget, not every firm has the same company size and goals. So a strategy that may seem fitting for a company with 50-100 employees, can certainly be different for a firm with ten. 

3. Identify customer goals

When creating personas, you need to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. What motivates your customers? What are they actually trying to reach? 

These goals don’t necessarily have to align with a solution that your firm can provide, so don’t sweat it. 

This step is more about better understanding your customers and looking for similar goals to what other firms may have. 

What’s the purpose? 

Data. Remember, the more information you can find with your customers, the better and stronger buyer persona you can create. 

4. Why you? 

Now that you understand who your customers are, potential challanges they face, as well as goals they may be seeking, you need to ask yourself, “Why would a customer choose me?” 

Because you’re the best!? 

Well, maybe so, but customers want to experience and generate those thoughts on their own — another reason buyer personas are so important. 

Buying personas help flip your thinking and consider your products and services from a buyer’s point of view. A tactic most marketers don’t even think about doing. If you truly want customers thinking you’re the best, you must know what they like and need. 

Once you understand why buyers would choose you, crafting personas tailored to your market becomes much easier! 

5. Creating the persona

Now that you did your research, it’s time to start organizing your buyers. Look for characteristics and similarities as you begin creating your first buyer persona! 

Keep in mind, your persona is not just some folder on your computer containing all of your customer data. But rather a single, semi-fictional person that you can actually speak to and identify with! 

Make sure to give your persona a name, age, and job title. From there, you’ll start filling in more job-specific data such as the number of employees, responsibilities, challanges, goals and any other data you collected from your prior research! 

Here’s an example of a buyer persona created from HubSpot’s “Make My Persona” tool.

buy

As you can see, Marketing Mary appears as a real person and not just a group of people. She is a business worker with very similar qualities and challanges other marketers may face on a daily basis. 

For further questions about buyer personas and how to make them, check out HubSpot’s free creation tool or get in touch with us today!

5 Highly Effective Ways to Grow Your LinkedIn Network

5 Highly Effective Ways to Grow Your LinkedIn Network

Do you want to expand your LinkedIn network?

Interested in ways to find and attract quality connections?

Growing your LinkedIn network helps gain exposure and can be a vehicle to establishing yourself as an expert in your field. In the B2B environment especially, it’s imperative you build a positive reputation for both yourself and your brand.

LinkedIn is the best social network for B2B marketers to communicate with other businesses, share content, as well as engage with prospects. According to The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide, 94% of B2B marketers on social media use LinkedIn to publish content. 

In this article, you’ll discover five ways to help increase your LinkedIn connections and grow your network.

1. Post Frequently 

I know, sounds obvious, right? 

But here’s the thing… 

Firms know posting consistent content is important, but how many are actually following through with a strategy? That’s the real question. 

For example, in the early stages of growth, many businesses tend to get in the habit of posting consistently on LinkedIn. Great! That’s what you want! However, after a short period of activity, they start to post less because they’re not seeing a positive ROI from their efforts. 

But here’s the problem…

You need to give your posts TIME. 

If you are relatively new to the LinkedIn world in terms of consistently staying active, your page will need time to grow so it can reach an audience. And in order for that to happen, you must be dedicated to posting A LOT. That means posting multiple times a day or at the very least three times a week. 

When you consistently stay in the feeds of your followers, there’s more opportunity to comment, like and share your posts. This interaction gets you introduced to their connections and gives you another great way to grow your network. 

Be sure your posts are adding value by talking about your business as well as industry updates. 

For instance, if your company provides resources such as consistent blogging or webinars, share them! Get in the habit of promoting new content as well as company updates to your page. After all, if you are going to have a LinkedIn page, why not be as active as possible on it? 

Want to make these posts even more appealing and enticing for your readers? Include a CTA! 

2. Engage With Your Connections 

Review your LinkedIn feed regularly and share, comment on and like updates posted by your connections. In other words, you want to reciprocate the exact actions you wish they do to you.

You can start relationships with new connections by commenting on their updates and joining conversations on popular posts. All it takes is one helpful response on a post for that prospect or firm to notice you and check out your page. Do this enough times, and you will encounter people who want to learn more about you and check out your page. That’s when your network can really start to grow! 

3. Add LinkedIn URLs to Emails 

Your LinkedIn profile can work for you in many ways: as a resume, previous client work to show value, awards and accomplishments, testimonials, etc. all in one convenient spot. 

Now, we all send emails, right? Sometimes hundreds a day to clients, prospects, and leads.

So, in your email signature, start adding your LinkedIn URL at the end! Although sending prospects to Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms may work, none of them provide the overall benefits and opportunities that LinkedIn does. 

4. Add Keywords to Your Profile 

Just like writing for SEO to get your content ranked on Google, keywords in your profile will help prospects find you. The main areas to focus on are your Headline, Summary, and Experience sections. 

These sections are all searchable and are generally where your traffic will spend most of their time.

When filling out these sections and writing for SEO, tell stories, be creative, and use any keywords that you believe are most relevant to your content. 

Try putting yourself in your prospects’ shoes. Think about something you like to search and learn more about. What are the words that you’re actually typing? And how are the results that come up related to what you wrote? 

Now work in reverse order to make sure that the keywords you would search for are prominently featured on your page!

5. Personalize Your Connection Requests 

When you are scrolling through your feed and click the ‘connect’ button on someone’s name, LinkedIn will send a pre-written message that’s cold and impersonal. Something along the lines of, “Let’s connect!”. These types of requests are generally ignored the most. 

Furthermore, visiting someone’s profile and sending something like, “Hi! I’d like to join your LinkedIn network” is also ineffective because it comes off simple and lazy. 

Instead, visit the person’s profile and put some time and thought into your connection requests. Write a personalized note that is friendly and inviting. You’ll also want to explain why you want to connect and the advantages it can bring to you both. 

But whatever you do, DO NOT make it a sales pitch! Remember, we are trying to connect with these individuals to build rapport and grow each other’s network. There is a time and a place for closing a sale, and trying to ‘connect’ with someone new on LinkedIn is not the time or the place to be pushy with sales. 

Recap

As mentioned earlier, getting peers and prospects to land on your LinkedIn page is the end goal. Post frequently using keywords, be active on feeds, use URLs in emails, and personalize your ‘connect’ messages. 

When done correctly, this gives you the best shot at leading prospects to your page. And the more prospects you can funnel to your page, the faster you’ll grow your LinkedIn network! 

To learn more tips and strategies like these, check out our blog or get in touch today!

What Your Sales Team Doesn’t Know About Marketing

What Your Sales Team Doesn’t Know About Marketing

I get it sales team, you’re frustrated. 

You’re spending long hours at work desperately trying to close deals with under-qualified leads thanks to your marketing team. To make matters worse, maybe your marketers are accusing you of not properly following up with leads, resulting in lost deals. 

If that scenario sounds familiar, I’m here to tell you it’s all avoidable.

According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound Report, just 26% of businesses operate under a marketing and sales service level agreement. And that’s way too low! 

You are all a part of the same company, right? Everyone is trying to help the bottom line and improve overall growth, right?!

Then why are we competing with each other! 

Now, I know what your thinking… 

How are we supposed to know who is performing better and where we need help if we all work together? 

Well, that’s where smarketing comes in!

Smarketing is the alignment between your sales and marketing teams, created through shared goals and executed through a collaborative strategy. 

The better you are at smarketing, the lower your cost of customer acquisition will be. This means increased leads and more closed deals at a cheaper price! Here are a few facts every salesperson needs to keep top-of-mind when discussing marketing. 

You need marketing to tell a story 

No matter how great your product or service is, you should never rely on selling features alone. Creating a desire for your product helps bring more value and interest to your buyers. That’s where marketing steps in. 

When you buy a car, for example, you will almost always have some sort of emotional connection tied with the one you choose. Before finalizing the deal, you need to be connected and know the product is right for you; feelings and emotions that just can’t be felt from a salesperson’s persuasion alone. This holds true with any sale that’s not an impulse buy. 

Things like blogs, testimonials, social media efforts, and videos are just a few of the many ways you can use marketing to help tell a story and increase emotional appeal — ultimately easing the sales process. 

Marketing helps build trust 

“Nobody likes to be sold, but everyone likes to buy”

Ever heard that? 

The old-fashioned high-pressure sales tactics no longer work. Even if you have won the sale, that doesn’t mean you’ve garnered a long-term relationship.

Think about it like this; when was the last time you bought something from a company you didn’t trust? Odds are, most of your purchases feel comfortable because you trust a firm or brand. 

Buyers want to conduct business with people they know, like, and trust. Lucky for you, you can get your prospects closer to these goals with help from your marketers! For instance, present your marketing team with questions and objections that often arise from your conversations. As a result, marketers can develop content that addresses how your product/service will help serve these needs. 

Marketing helps determine when a person is “sales-ready”  

Your marketing team can use data and tactics to help determine which prospects are actually sales-ready. Instead of cold-calling 500 prospects, marketing can help strip out the “noise” and provide a clearer direction for the sales team. Out of those 500 prospects, marketing may identify 50 that could use a hard sales pitch, while the remaining 450 require further nurturing. The point is, sales can direct their time and efforts to those prospects who are actually interested. Monitoring behaviors like email opens and click-throughs, social media engagement, and downloads are all great tell-tale signs that a prospect may be sales-ready. 

You need each other 

Simply put, sales without marketing is difficult. Without marketing, you’d have to make up for lost ground — tackling the tasks of storytelling, being persuasive, and finding emotional appeal without the assets you really need! As a result, it’s a lot harder to grow the company and increase revenue without the support of marketing. 

The bottom line is this: Marketing provides the roof over the sales force while they’re inside working hard to close deals and increase revenue. When used correctly, your marketers will help eliminate any outside noise and funnel quality leads to the sales team.

Proper alignment between the sales team and the prospect is what ultimately closes deals. What’s vital to remember is that the “sales team” is actually made up of both salespeople and marketers. After all, you serve the same function and should have the same goals!

Now that you have a better understanding of how these departments should align, gather your sales & marketing teams together to bury the hatchet and start fresh!

For more tips and insights like these, check out our blog or get in touch! 

3 B2B Marketing Tactics For Explosive Growth

3 B2B Marketing Tactics For Explosive Growth

In today’s market, differentiating yourself is tougher than ever before. Companies must find smart, unique, and powerful ways to connect with their audience. Strategies like cold calling are now one of the least effective ways to demonstrate value to your target buyers. 

Understanding and implementing relevant growth marketing tactics can help convert a lead into a customer, which is ultimately every organization’s end goal.

Here are three B2B marketing tactics that can help accelerate your growth today. 

Sell Your Story Before The Product  

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “every business needs a story”

Well, it’s true…

A study from Digital Marketing Institute found that companies who tell a compelling story increase the value of their products and services by more than 20 times!

In a flooded competitive market, providing quality content and services isn’t always enough. You need to be able to talk about your service or product in a way that differentiates you from the crowd. This is where a good story can be most useful.

With so many companies competing for market share, each must find a way to tell a unique story that bolsters their brand. In essence, this addresses the “why” behind a company’s actions. 

Let’s take a look at the Golden Circle model to illustrate the importance of the “why”.

The Golden Circle model

The Golden Circle is an innovative model created by the British-American Author, Simon Sinek. Most organizations start with “what” they’re going to do and then try to figure out “how” they’re going to do it. Simon Sinek believes this is an ineffective way to craft a business. 

If you truly want to connect to your audience, you must understand “why” your product or service would resonate with your target customer. Find ways to craft a story that speaks to the “why”, as opposed to the “what” or “how”.  

While having case studies and testimonials is useful, they tend to primarily address the “how” and “what”. You first need to focus on making your brand personable and memorable, which can be accomplished through the power of storytelling.   

Competitive Intelligence

Competitive intelligence is the act of gathering and analyzing data about products, services, and competitors to help support strategic planning within an organization. When done right, competitive intelligence allows you to track competitors’ digital footprints for opportunities and inspiration. 

When crafting a B2B marketing strategy, it’s vital that you keep up to date with what competitors are doing. This includes what they’re posting on social media, ad usage, website trends, campaigns, and even their customer reviews. If you are considering running a campaign for the first time, use competitive intelligence to analyze the success or failures of similar campaigns to optimize your own strategy. 

This type of relationship is not dissimilar to a family dynamic. In a family with multiple children, the youngest has the opportunity to examine the choices their older siblings make. In theory, this should provide them enough “competitive intelligence” to repeat the successes and avoid the pitfalls that they observed. Just like in the business world, this type of access gives the younger sibling an advantage that the older sibling wasn’t afforded. 

Now, as we all know, access to that information does not always mean a guaranteed path to success. You must find ways to incorporate that information into your strategy and be prepared to pivot as you continue to gather intelligence.  

Webinars 

Your content needs to be easily digestible and accessible, and webinars help accomplish that.  

Webinars are a great way to showcase and demonstrate your firm’s value. Most buyers conduct the majority of research on their own (81% of buyers; AdWeek). By providing a way for your customers to learn more about your business in a non-threatening way, you allow your buyers to conduct their research while positioning yourself as a thought leader. 

The most successful webinars are the ones that target a single market or address a specific need. This opens the door for more leads and higher conversion rates. 

Now that you have learned a few of the best growth marketing tactics, go ahead and give them a try! 

For more tips and strategies like these, check out our new Smark Toolbox 2.0 below or get in touch today! 

3 Savvy Ways to Spend Your Leftover Website Budget

3 Savvy Ways to Spend Your Leftover Website Budget

Have you ever set aside money for a task or project and completed it for less than originally anticipated? How did it make you feel? What did you do with that money? 

Rather than feeling satisfied with the site you now have, learn a few quick tricks and ideas on where that leftover money can go to help turn your website from great to exceptional

creating a website

As a marketing professional, focus on increasing website traffic and potential leads — a foolproof strategy for success. Here are a few savvy options your firm should explore to ensure your website stands above the rest.

1. Incorporate Explainer Videos

According to VideoBrewery, 85% of people are more likely to buy a product or service once they view an explainer video. This is by no coincidence.

Here’s an example of a simple, clean explainer video that effectively highlights a businesses service offerings (Spoiler: It’s ours!): 

 

Research shows that viewers are more likely to stay engaged with a page that includes videos rather than paragraphs of text. Two major benefits to explainer videos include offering better clarification of your product/service and increased conversion rates.

The key is ensuring the videos are quick and concise. 

A study from AdAge claims that marketers lose 33% of all viewers in the first 30 seconds of a video. What does this mean? People are busy and impatient. Think about all the times you scroll through your newsfeed on social media and see a video; you’ll watch the first few seconds and if you’re not intrigued, you scroll right past. Right? 

Grabbing the viewers’ attention in the first 3-5 seconds is vital because it addresses the first decision the viewer makes: whether to stay or go. If it isn’t captivating from the start, you’ve already lost.

2. Advertise

examples of advertising on mobile

Source: Banners Nack

Advertising is imperative if you want people to know who you are. The most commonly used platform is GoogleAds. According to WordStream and their Pay-Per-Click (PPC) statistics, firms make an average of $2 for every $1 spent on GoogleAds. Talk about good ROI! 

Before running your ads, it’s imperative to develop a well-thought-out strategy. Marketri found that 32% of companies wing their marketing efforts and have no strategic plan. Start with a goal, define your audience, and determine the services offered before introducing any advertising. 

Incorporating these three components will make your site more attractive, which gives your business a competitive edge.

3. Invest in Blog Writing

webpage of blog writing

Investing in blog writing is a great way to not only boost search engine optimization but develop stronger relationships with current and potential clients. Just like subscribing to your favorite magazine or newsletter, blogs help keep your audience ‘in-the-loop’ about industry news/trends and help position your company as an expert in the field.

An Inbound Marketing Report from HubSpot found that 57% of companies who publish blogs consistently have gained at least one customer as a result of their efforts.  

Another benefit includes the option for readers to share this content on their own social media platforms for their peers to see. This can open up endless opportunities and positive exposure for your brand, and help work towards increasing visitors to your website.

Closing

There is no universal ‘right answer’ on what to do with your leftover website budget. However, incorporating explainer videos, advertising, and blogging are a few tactics that have been proven to help optimize your new website and grow your business. Investing in these components is a great way to ensure your website is up to par, ultimately getting you one step closer to that next big deal.

To learn more about how to improve your website, check out our Launchpad Site below or get in touch! 

creating a website

 

Buyer Enablement – The 3 Step Process

Buyer Enablement – The 3 Step Process

First, let me introduce a key term that can help with navigating your relationship with a current buyer.

Buyer enablement. Sound familiar? No?

GREAT. That’s why you’re here. 

Buyer enablement is achieved when your company provides accurate and efficient information to facilitate a prospective buyer’s decision making. We understand what our client’s needs are, however, implementing a buyer enablement strategy can enhance the purchasing experience and lead to higher conversion rates. Let me break it down in 3 steps… 

1. Identifying your buyer

You may understand the company you’re trying to sell to, but you need to evaluate and understand the person behind the decision making. According to a yearly study performed by TrustRadius, almost 45% of buyers are millennials. As much as it might pain the Boomers and Gen-Xers, try to get in the mindset of your fastest-growing target audience. Defining who your buyer is and understanding their values allows you to accelerate the buying process and convert otherwise lost clients. 

2. Adapting your content

Once you establish who your buyer is, you can better understand their values. Awesome! You’re about halfway there! A study from Think Google shows that 89% of B2B researchers leverage the internet to inform their purchasing decisions. This means you need to provide buyers with precise data on the web. In order to create the most effective content, Gartner lists four principles of buyer enablement:

Relevant: What are some obstacles your buyers face when it comes to making a decision on a Supplier? Eliminating menial barriers can give you an advantage over competitors

Easy: Is the information about your company accessible for an online buyer? B2B buyers spend only 17% of their time meeting with sales representatives

Useful: Is the information provided to the buyer effective? Distribute resources to buyers that can help them make a decision

Credible: Have you established trust with the information provided? Make sure your content is up-to-date with reliable sources

These are key questions to ask yourself to better understand buyer enablement. 

3. “Grease the Buying Process”

How do you make the buying process simple? 

Easy—make the buying process simple. 

It’s very easy as a leader in marketing or sales to want control within the sales cycle. Research from Forrester shows that “60% of buyers would rather not communicate with sales reps as their primary information source.” Now before you think I’m under-appreciating the value of a sales rep, hear me out…

Sales are the backbone of every company. This statistic mentioned above is a breath of fresh air. You can spend less time trying to oversell and more time figuring out how to close the deal!

For content creators, create content with compelling calls to action through multiple media channels. You can also save your sales team time by providing relevant information that answers your buyer’s questions. The goal is to constantly adapt your content and allow the process to flow with the least amount of friction possible. 

Now that you have the tools to enable buyers, go figure out your own unique approach and break the ceiling for your next quarter goals!

Have more questions? Reach out to us! We love helping companies set and reach their goals!