As many people know, we Rhinos are symbiotic. We love working with others who are a mission to change things for the better. In our case, we want to change businesses and the people in those businesses by teaching them how marketing can and should be done.
One of our closest partners and best friends in this mission is content and inbound marketing expert Marcus Sheridan aka the Sales Lion.
Marcus recently gave his first TEDx presentation on this very topic. He passionately spoke about the new economy, or, as he calls it, the Honest Economy. The presentation is fantastic (you can watch the video below to see for yourself).
What we love about the message is not the companies he profiles but the openness of their marketing. You want to really succeed in business? Be honest, be helpful and be empathetic while providing a great product and/or service. That's it. Listen to Marcus and let him know what you takeaway from his outstanding TEDx talk.
It goes without saying that you really need to know who your ideal customer is. And you really, really need to understand their needs, their goals and their problems. After all, without your customers, your business wouldn't exist, right? They are the people we create products and services for. And, if they don't purchase those products or services, we aren't running a business for very long.
HOW TO BEGIN IDENTIFYING YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMER
I'm on a mission to teach people about the Pareto Principle. I'm a HUGE fan of this prinicple. It has literally changed my life and the businesses of many of our clients.
In a nutshell, the Pareto Principle says 20% of your efforts will produce 80% of your results. Similarly, 20% of your customers will produce 80% of your business revenue. So the key is to find and speak to the 20% of your customers or as we call them, your MVC (Most Valuable Customers).
AVOID THIS FATAL BUSINESS MISTAKE
When we work with companies, we ask them to answer this question, "Who is your most valuable customer?". Too often we get answers like "the general public" or "anyone interested in our product", etc.
The problem with this response is if you try to speak to everyone, you end up speaking to no one. More than ever, people want messages that are targeted specifically to them. The more you know them and think about them, the more you can speak to them.
This isn't anything new really. As Cicero said over 2000 years ago, "If you wish to persuade me you must speak my words, feel my feelings and think my thoughts." But it's absolutely critical to your business success.
SO HOW DO YOU GET STARTED ...
Follow these 3 steps. Yes, this will take time, but the time invested will provide huge returns for you. It will help you decide what content to create, where to share the content and how to avoid wasting time and money on non-essential activities. So here's what I want you to do.
FIRST, ANSWER THESE BIG PICTURE QUESTIONS ABOUT THEM
- Who are your ideal customers and prospects who will purchase your product or service?
- What is their job title?
- What are their job responsibilities?
- What does a typical day look like for them? Are they really busy or do they have free time? Do they have to answer to committees or are they the final decision makers?
NEXT, IDENTIFY THEIR NEEDS - THINK ABOUT THEM, NOT YOURSELF
Based on your answers to the questions above, imagine yourself as your target customers. Think about how you would seek information before making a purchase. Outline your MVCs pains, needs, and challenges by asking yourself several important questions:
- What are the biggest problems they are trying to solve?
- What do they need most to solve those problems and feel successful?
- What information are they typically searching for?
- When are the typically searching for information?
- Where are they searching for information (search engines, social media, blogs, etc.)
- What trends are influencing their business or personal success?
FINALLY, IDENTIFY HOW THEY USE THE WEB
- Think about the typical online behavior of your MVC. You know who they are and what their needs are, now think about all the ways they research a potential purchase on your site or on others. Here are suggestions of the questions you should ask:
- What do they do online?
- Do they read blogs?
- Are they active on Twitter , Facebook , or other social networks?
- What kind of search terms do they use?
- Are they email newsletter subscribers?
- What kind of information do they tend to consume online? Educational pieces? Trend articles? Interactive tools like calculators or worksheets?
- Do they watch videos or listen to podcasts?
- Which of your products do they spend the most time researching?
- How do they use those products?
The result of this process should be a detailed description of your MVCs needs and behavior. The more detail you pack into this, the easier it will be to create content for each of your target customer segments and know where to promote it.
Here's to your success!
Step #4 to kick-starting your inbound marketing: Develop A Consistent Marketing Message Your Ideal Client Can Understand
Often, we ask business owners what they do and who they help. We also ask key members of the organization these same questions.
The sad fact of the matter is a huge portion of businesses can’t explain, simply and clearly, who they help and the problems they solve. Worse yet, many people within the same organization will give different and conflicting answers to these question.
If you can't explain who you are and what you do, how is a customer supposed to figure out if you can help them?
What's the problem with this lack of clarity? Everything. You often have a very limited window of time to explain who your business helps and how you help them. When you give long, confusing and conflicting answers, prospective customers and clients get turned off.
So what should you do? According to business expert Ian Altman, you need to focus NOT on jargon, services, company structure, etc. Simply focus your core message on the PROBLEMS YOU SOLVE for your ideal client.
For example, we could say 3Rhino Media is a company that offers digital, social media and inbound marketing services. But what the does that mean? Many people end up asking "What is digital marketing?" and "What is inbound marketing?". If you aren't a marketer, these terms are a bit confusing, right?
So instead of talking about ourselves, we used Ian's method to focus our answers to the questions on our clients. Here is an example of what we might say:
"Clients come to us when they are sick and tired of feeling overwhelmed, confused and really, really stuck with their marketing. They don't know what works today. Is it the Yellow Pages? Magazine Ads? Social Media? eMail? etc.?
Our clients have great products. They have great services. They have great ethics and are motivated. But they have struggled trying to figure out how to let the right people (prospective buyers) know what they do and how they can help them. They feel like the world of marketing is smoke and mirrors and they are tired of being sold on ideas they don't understand. They want to focus on running their business and having an agency they can completely trust.
We help these people solve these problems. How?
We help clients get crystal clear on who they absolutely need to connect with, why they must connect with them and how to effectively and efficiently reach them when they need their product or service."
Do you see the difference? When we speak from the perspective of our customers, we connect with them more deeply. And when we connect with them more deeply, every marketing is more powerful, more focused and more meaningful.
Take the time to answer from your ideal customers' perspective. Do this, and your marketing will become easier to produce and much more effective.
So answer this …
What do you do ... Why do your ideal clients seek you out? It it because they are tired of having companies speak at them rather than listen to them? Are they sick of having companies use jargon and language they don't understand and makes them feel dumb? Are they confused by all the options available for your product or service?
In our next video we'll talk about identifying your ideal customer.
Here's to your success!
Step #3 to kick-starting your inbound marketing: Set goals that cover the long-term and short-term. In other words, get a clear vision of where you want to be.
Where do you start with setting goals? Start by clarifying where you want to be in 12 months. Why 12 months? It's far enough away to dream big and close enough to track your progress on an on-going basis.
12 months from now your business marketing will take you somewhere. Where do you want to be? And what are you willing to do to get there?
- Question 1: 12 months from now, how will you define success with your marketing? More leads? More sales? More traffic? More blog posts? etc.
- Question 2: To reach your 12 month goal, where do you have to be in 6 months?
- Question 3: To reach your 12 month goal, where do you have to be in 6 months?
- Question 4: To reach your 12 month goal, where do you have to be in 3 months?
Check out the case studies with Marcus Sheridan from River Pools and Spas and Krista Kotrla from Block Image
In our next video we'll talk about clarifying who you are to your customers. Until then, here's to your success!
Step #2 to kick-starting your inbound marketing: Get a baseline understanding of your current marketing results.
Here are the 3 Questions to ask
1: How much traffic is your website generating?
2: Is the website traffic generating qualified sales leads?
3: How many customers do you currently have? (and it's helpful to ask how many customers you would like to have)?
Be honest and clear in your answers.
Some organizations cannot answer these questions because they don't pay attention to their traffic and therefore can't answer if they are getting leads. That's important to know because in this situation you want to start monitoring your marketing so you have a clear idea of what realistic goals are (video 3) and you start taking your online marketing seriously (video 1).
In our next video we'll talk about setting realistic, actionable goals. Until then, here's to your success!
In this video, Don Stanley talks about the first step to kick-starting your inbound marketing efforts - creating an inbound marketing team.
Creating an inbound marketing team sounds like a deceptively simple first step. But don't be fooled. On a deeper level, creating a team demonstrates a COMMITMENT to the vision of inbound marketing. It says you believe in the principles of inbound and you are willing to commit time, resources and energy to make it work. It says you aren't willing to completely hand off your marketing to someone else because you know your product, service and customer better than any outside agency. Sure, you can partner with a agency, but you MUST be involved. As we have found, commitment is absolutely necessary to achieve big results.
So who should make up your team? The most important piece of this team is what we call a CCO (a Chief Content Officer). This person is the catalyst in your organization, who is focused on creating content your customers want and need. Their goal is to help plan, create, find and organize content. If you work with an agency like ours, they are the key point of contact to keep you moving forward.
ACTION STEPS TO TAKE
Answer these two questions
- Are you willing to make this commitment?
- If so, who in your organization can fit this role?
So, you're convince Inbound and Content Marketing will dramatically help you grow your business. Now what? How do you start harnessing the power of inbound and content marketing? In this video, I give you an overview of the 7 Steps kick-starting your marketing plan.
Here is what to expect:
- Video 1: Laying out the Goals of this video series (this video)
- Video 2: Planning - Putting together a content creating dream team
- Video 3: Baseline - Know where you are - assessing your current marketing efforts
- Video 4: Goals - Setting realistic, actionable goals
- Video 5: Branding - Do you have a clear message for your customers?
- Video 6: Customers - Do you know the 20% of customers you MUST connect with?
- Video 7: Game Planning - Putting together a clear short-term and long-term vision for your inbound marketing
- Video 8: The secret sauce - what you must ABSOLUTELY have in place to succeed with inbound and content marketing
Excited? So are we! If you have any question about digital marketing and just can't wait for the full video series to be released, just contact us and we'll be happy to help you anytime.
The million dollar question, does inbound marketing work? This is a GREAT question and I get asked it by a lot of clients who are not familiar with inbound.
In this short video, I share two case studies highlighting how inbound works. The first case study is our interview with Marcus Sheridan, the Sales Lion and owner of River Pools and Spas (http://bit.ly/1127Byb) and the second is our interview with Krista Kotrla of Block Imaging (http://bit.ly/14nt1uv).
When you put in the work, work intelligently and consistently, inbound has amazing power and potential.
Here are a couple of quick stats:
- Inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead versus outbound marketing
- 60% of the sales cycle is completely before a prospect will call one of your sales staff
- 86% of people skip television ads
- 200+ Million Americans have registered for the FTC "Do Not Call" lists
- 90% of Consumer Buying Decisions Start on the Web. Forrester Research, 2007.
- 92% of Online Users First Use Search Engines to look for products and services. HubSpot
- 71% of B2B Buyers go to the Internet to get Industry Specific Information.
So, what questions do you have about inbound marketing?
A few quick notes from the video above:
What’s the difference between inbound and outbound marketing?
Inbound marketing focuses on attracting prospects by providing information when they are seeking it, primarily via web/Internet marketing methods. Inbound marketing provides free, valuable content to build trust and relationships with prospective clients.
What’s considered Inbound Marketing?
- CMS Websites
- Social Media Marketing
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Premium Content (ebooks, Whitepapers)
- Search Advertising
- Email Marketing
Outbound marketing is a traditional marketing method that focuses on pushing marketing messages to prospects when they are not seeking information. Common outbound methods include direct mail, telemarketing, and tradeshows.
What’s considered Onbound Marketing?
- Print Advertisements
- TV Commercials
- Trade Shows
- Banner Ads
- Email Marketing
- Trade Shows
- Direct Mail
- Billboard Advertising
Friend of 3Rhino Media, Marcus Sheridan, wrote a brilliant post about why it doesn't pay to worry about competition. It was so fantastic, I had to share it here.
Stop Worrying about the Stupid Competition
Let me ask you a very serious question:
When was the last time your competition paid your bills?
I’m guessing your answer is “never,” correct?
Instead of worrying about legitimate prospects that are searching the web right now for answers to their critical buying-questions, we ignore them…we tell them to essentially “go away,” all because we don’t want the competition to learn what’s in our mythical “secret sauce.”
This all means we care more about the competition than those persons that allow us to make payroll on Fridays.
Are you seeing anything wrong with this picture?
So I ask you, as you begin to consider embracing content marketing, who are you going to foucs on? Will you focus on your competition? Or your best customer?