Why You Need to Create Your Customer Personas NOW
A foundational element of successful B2B marketing that isn’t new but has been gaining more attention lately is the concept of Customer Persona(s). With the move to digital-first marketing over the past year, competition for your prospects’ attention has grown exponentially. If you aren’t 100% sure who you want to target, what their pain points are, how your solution can help them, and where to find them – your message will get lost in the shuffle.
Has anyone ever walked you through exactly what goes into a Customer Persona – or Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) – and how to build one? Do you know how to use it once it’s built? You’re not alone. In this article, we will answer the most common questions we receive:
- What is a Customer Persona – or ICP?
- Why is it so important?
- How do I create one?
- How do I make it actionable?
What is a Customer Persona and why is it SO important?
A Customer Persona (ICP) is a snapshot of your ideal customer. While it is not created based on an actual person, the information that goes into it is based on the customers you already have – or would like to target. It includes all the information you would gather when building a relationship with a sales prospect.
Customer Personas are extremely important because they allow your Sales and Marketing teams to align on who they are targeting, why and how. Based on this persona, they can tailor their messaging, ad campaigns, sales emails and content to address your ideal customers’ specific needs and concerns. You can – and should – have multiple ICPs according to how you segment your customer base. For example, you may have three different solutions for three different industries – and each industry should have its own ICP.
A Customer Persona that few people talk about – or even know exists – is a Negative Persona. Similar to negative keywords in a Google AdWords campaign, you create a Negative Persona in order to exclude a particular type of customer from your target list. Two of the most common types of negative personas are: a) customers who are too early stage or advanced, and b) customers who are too expensive (negative ROI) to acquire.
How do I create a Customer Persona?
Creating a Customer Persona is not difficult if you have a good template (and you are in luck, because we provide two examples of our WIZ Advisors template below!). The basis of your Customer Personas should come from market research and/or a deep dive into your current customer base.
Below is a list of the data points that are typically included.
- Demographics – age range, gender, geography, education level, marital status, household income
- Position and Level of Seniority – their title, where they fall in their company’s hierarchy and their purchasing power
- Identifiers and Day-in-the-life – what does their typical day look like and how would your product or service fit, demeanor, preferences about how they receive content
- Main source for research / education – internet search, professional publications, social media, online communities
- Pain Points and how you can help solve them – do they know they need what you have to offer yet? How do you convince them? Why are they dissatisfied with their current product or service?
- What are their goals – obtaining lower price, faster go-to-market solution, greater competitive advantage
- What common objections might they voice about your product or service? – price, delivery speed, already have something I’m fine with
- Quotes from your current prospects/customers about goals, challenges, etc.
Here are two Customer Personas (ICPs) we created at WIZ Advisors for our target customers.
How do I make a Customer Persona actionable?
You’re likely thinking, “OK, great – I’ve created my Customer Persona – now how do I use it? As we mentioned in the introduction, you are creating these ICPs to align your sales and marketing teams towards gaining your prospects’ now VERY limited attention.
Once you have your ICPs built, you can start creating targeted advertising, content and sales emails that address your ICP’s specific pain points.
Your prospects will say, “wow, these guys really understand me.” They will trust you more right off the bat, because you have taken the time to know who they are and what they really need.
You can also use your Customer Personas in conjunction with your Buyer’s Lifecycle Stages to create highly targeted content at each lifecycle stage – and reach the right customer at the right time.
(If you haven’t seen our Content Across the Buyer’s Lifecycle Infographic, click here to download. It provides great examples of the various types of content that you can use for each lifecycle stage.) By creating a portfolio of content based on your ICPs, you will create a smooth path to purchase and shorten the sales cycle.
And lastly, your ICPs will tell you where your prospects go to learn, get educated and network. You will use those locations to target your advertising or write content for publication in order to reach the audience you want.
We hope this article has provided you with the knowledge and tools to create personas for your own business.
Please reach out to us anytime with questions as you build them. We look forward to hearing from you!
The State of B2B Marketing in 2021
What’s Your Digital Marketing Strategy in 2021: “Wait and See” or “All-In”?
There was no one-size-fits-all B2B marketing strategy in 2020.
As an B2B Agency owner, I get a bird’s eye view into marketing trends, client strategies and changing budgets. The first half of 2020 was a “wait and see” time for many B2B businesses. No one knew whether the worldwide pandemic would be temporary or permanent, and B2B decision makers were unsure how their sales would be impacted. As a result, many chose to cut their marketing budgets - some up to 50% - to preserve cash flow. Their marketing activities centered around driving/maintaining brand awareness through quality content and search engine optimization (SEO), email and social campaigns, and referral partnerships.
With uncertainty and unrest continuing in the second half of the year, a focus on “survival” continued. However, businesses in growth industries like Amazon and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based technology, doubled down on their marketing investments. Given an increasing need for their products, services and distribution, these businesses increased their marketing budgets to drive higher brand awareness and preference. They implemented a combination of tactics - paid ads, sponsored webinars, online video, chatbots, influencers, blogging and social media. Those that did not have a marketing automation platform in place, licensed one – so they could execute campaigns across their website, email, social channels, and Google Ads from one place, and measure the success of their efforts in directly driving revenue.
The “digital-first” sales & marketing model is here to stay.
While the economy remains in a state of flux, one thing is clear. We are in a digital-first world. McKinsey’s report from October 2020 confirmed that only 20-30% of buying/selling activity was happening in-person, and there seem to be no complaints from customers. 70-80% of B2B decision makers now prefer remote or digital self-service (see chart below). The reasons they state are ease of scheduling, savings on travel expenses, and safety.
The same McKinsey report highlighted the growing belief that a digital-first model has become MORE EFFECTIVE at reaching and serving customers. In April, 54% of companies believed that the digital-first sales model was “equally or more effective”. In October, that number had grown to 75%.
What does that mean for B2B marketing in 2021?
As the trends illustrate, 2021 should be the year for B2B brands to go all-in on digital marketing. If you are one of those businesses still in “wait and see” mode, you need to commit.
Start by investing in your website. Your website is now the center of your brand identity. Make sure that your home page not only projects your brand story but is simple and easy to navigate. Every visitor to your website will be searching for answers to one or more of these five questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- How can you help me?
- Why should I buy from you vs. every other company in your space?
- How do I contact you?
One of the best ways to build credibility and promote yourself as a thought leader in your industry is to consolidate your content in one place on your website – a “Content Library” - and provide a mix of promotional and educational content. Did you know that before B2B decision makers talk to a salesperson, they will have read at least 10 pieces of content? Make it easy for them to find yours by housing it all in a well-structured “Content Library.”
Which digital marketing tactics are working best right now to drive leads? WIZ Advisors employs a combination of:
- high quality content on your website,
- social posts and participation in online communities,
- paid Google, LinkedIn and Facebook ads,
- sponsored content (webinars, articles, CEO interviews) on third party sites,
- email marketing that directs your audience to relevant content or offers on your website, and
- online influencers if relevant.
If you don’t use a marketing automation platform already, invest in one that allows you to execute and measure results across all of the digital platforms above from one place.
Is offline marketing dead? Not at all. A campaign that includes direct marketing can be wildly successful if you segment your prospect list and focus on prospects who are most likely to purchase (given the higher cost). Consider adding a QR code on a postcard or letter that takes the customer to a customized URL for a personalized offer.
A lot of things remain uncertain in 2021, but your B2B marketing strategy shouldn’t be one of them. Go all-in on digital. With the right brand positioning, website, digital tactics, and integrated marketing platform, you will be well positioned for success.
The 5 C’s of Brand Trust – How to Turn Prospects into Customers
Introducing WIZ Advisors 5 C’s of Brand Trust
In our previous blog on "Brand Trust", we established why brand trust is so important in today’s digital world, let’s discuss how to build it. At WIZ Advisors, we have learned that building brand trust comes down to exhibiting five specific characteristics. We call them the “5 C’s of Brand Trust”. Back in September 2017, LinkedIn published their own 5 C’s of Brand Trust: Content, Communicate, Community, Constant, Context. Their goal was to illustrate how their platform can help brands build trust.
Our 5 C’s are different. WIZ Advisors’ 5 C’s of Brand Trust are a checklist for you and your teams to use EVERY TIME you deliver a sales or marketing message. With every post, upload, launch or email, the 5 C’s ensure that you are building brand trust with your buyers, an essential prerequisite for success in this “new world”.
Click here to print the WIZ Advisors’ 5 C’s graphic.
Am I highlighting my company’s unique knowledge and expertise?
This is where it all starts. In every stage of the buyer’s journey, you need to highlight your company’s differentiation. Why should your audience engage, purchase, remain loyal to or advocate for your brand? If you are not credible, the other C’s don’t matter. Credibility is number one.
What are the best ways to build credibility for your brand? The most common ways are through thoughtful, research-driven white papers, e-books (like the one you are reading), interviews, case studies, and webinars.
The below Edelman chart highlights the specific people that hold the most credibility when it comes to brand marketing. Of course, industry experts are first, but a close second is “someone just like you” – a person with your buyer’s same pain points and goals. In short – your current customers. Customer reviews have become so important because they provide that objective third party validation. You are not telling your prospects that your products and services are amazing. It is coming from “someone just like me”.
As the chart also illustrates, Founders have more credibility than CEO’s. Why? They have built their companies from scratch and have the passion that drives connection. Less credible are CEO’s, Influencers with Large Followings, and Celebrities. If you remember from the Deloitte chart (page 8), Millennial buyers think most companies today are in it purely for the profits. CEO’s, Influencers and Celebrities are perceived as less trustworthy because they will profit from a company’s success.
Am I being honest and authentic?
This characteristic has become increasingly important in marketing, given the lack of trust and divisiveness in our society. As we stated earlier, authenticity is also a major reason why live webinars work. During live events, the audience gets to see you and hear you talk about what you know best – your industry and products and services. Even more importantly, they get to see you or your executives being real people.
Prospects want to do business with people they like. Whether a live webinar, a static piece of content, or a sales conversation, ask yourself these questions:
- Did I make them laugh?
- Did I make them think?
- Did I share a personal story?
- Did I teach them something new?
- Did I use a conversational tone?
- Did I admit when I did something wrong?
All these actions build connection and relationships – especially the last one. Human beings make mistakes. Human beings have technology issues and cats jumping on their laps and jackhammers going off during a Zoom event. Human beings miss deadlines and make incorrect assumptions. Be human. Admit being wrong. Being candid instills trust.
Am I showing empathy for my audience?
With everything we have been through in 2020, it is essential for brands to be thoughtful with their marketing communications. In a world where people are losing jobs and worse, loved ones, we must be more emotionally aware. We must show more empathy. What is empathy? There are many definitions but at its core, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings and thoughts of another. It means trying to understand where another person is coming from.
There are three types of empathy – cognitive, emotional, and compassionate. Below is a chart we took from a recent Inc. magazine article that defines the three types of empathy. We have taken it a step further and provided current marketing examples.
Three Types of Empathy
|Definition||Relevant Marketing Example|
|Cognitive Empathy||Ability to understand how a person feels and what they might be thinking. It may be influenced by past experiences and unconscious biases, so do not to make assumptions. Take the time to learn about the other person.||Before launching any major marketing initiative, create or update your Buyer’s Persona (or “Ideal Customer Profile”). Document everything you know about your customers’ goals, motivations, beliefs, challenges, and hobbies. Importantly, have they changed because of COVID? This step will ensure your marketing messages hit home with your target audience.|
|Emotional Empathy||Ability to share the feelings of another person and build an emotional connection.||Emotional empathy goes beyond the cognitive and forces you to answer the questions: Why are my customers having these feelings? And how can I make them feel like I understand? Sharing a personal story is a great way to show emotional empathy. It can be your own story, your Founder’s story, or a customer’s story. The goal is to show that you understand, and you care.|
|Compassionate Empathy||Going beyond understanding and taking action to help.||
In marketing today, compassionate empathy has sprung from the most surprising places. Companies are helping address their community’s concerns over COVID-19 and coming up with solutions. For example, Glossier, a makeup company, planned to launch its new hand cream in April 2020. Fashionista.com magazine wrote: “Glossier has aimed to be tactful and thoughtful as it brings it (its hand cream) to market amidst the global health crisis surrounding Covid-19… The company committed to donating the first 10,000 units available to healthcare professionals in the U.S. working on the front lines at hospitals, many of whom have been documenting skin irritation from frequent hand washing and long hours spent wearing PPE.”
In addition to helping employees and communities during the pandemic, businesses have been changing their messaging to be more thoughtful and relevant. Geico – one the biggest advertisers in the world – decided to change its slogan in May 2020. “Fifteen minutes or more could save you 15% on car insurance” was replaced with “Geico: 75 Years of Real Service and Real Savings”. Geico understands that in a world of fear, anxiety and economic uncertainty, consumers want stability. They want their insurance company to be there for them – and at a lower price point than competitors. Geico’s new slogan is a great example of empathetic marketing.
Am I delivering a consistent message across all channels?
In building a brand, but especially during times of uncertainty, consistency is crucial. Every interaction that a buyer has with your brand should serve to strengthen trust. First, develop a brand guide. Distribute it to internal sales and marketing teams (and anyone else that might touch a buyer or customer), as well as your external agencies. Brand guidelines ensure that every communication has the same colors, look and feel, logo, tagline, voice, and tone.
In addition to the brand guide, your marketing team should create a content playbook. The playbook should include the most relevant content to use at each stage of the buyer’s journey. On the following page is WIZ Advisors’ Content Marketing Framework to help you in developing your own playbook. Your Content Playbook – which should exist on a shared drive – will ensure that sales/marketing communications are consistent and coordinated across the buyer’s journey (spoiler alert - “coordinated” is our last C).Consistency in internal communications is just as necessary as external communications. If you have not already, you should start discussing your brand vision, mission, and values often with your employees. Once you gain their buy-in on your brand positioning, they will become your biggest advocates. They will share product launches, webinar invitations, blog articles, etc. with their social media followers and spread the word to family, friends, and peers. They may also leave positive reviews on sites like Glassdoor. Buyers look at both customer reviews and employee reviews when conducting research, so positive reviews from employees have a direct impact on brand trust.
Are your Marketing and Sales activities aligned?
Last, but certainly not least, marketing and sales activities must be part of a seamless, coordinated process. We live in a buyer-centric world. They control how they want to be contacted and how/if/when they will respond. With a coordinated process and armed with information on your prospects, sales and marketing teams can deliver higher win rates, while also building brand trust.
According to Marketo, sales and marketing alignment drives:
- 38% higher win rates,
- 36% higher retention rates, and
- 67% higher lead-to-client conversion rates.
How do you create a coordinated process? The chart below from Hubspot illustrates how Marketing, Sales and Service teams can work together from the very beginning of the buyer’s journey (stranger) to the very end (promoter) to build brand trust.
Let’s look at an example of a coordinated process, using the Hubspot platform (www.hubspot.com). Suppose you are an SVP of Sales and have an upcoming virtual conference where you and your senior executives will be speaking. It is one of your biggest lead generators of the year, but you’ve recently had to move it online given COVID. Your marketing team has created a landing page on your website to promote it. They are advertising the conference through email and LinkedIn and have written an e-book describing current challenges in the industry and how your services help solve them. Visitors to your website can download the e-book in exchange for their contact information, as well as register for the conference.
Your goal is to have your top 20 prospects attend the conference. You sign into Hubspot and pull up their contact records. You can see which prospects have opened their marketing emails, gone to the landing page, downloaded the e-book and/or signed up for the conference. Did they download the e-book but not yet register for the conference? Did they open the email but not click to visit the landing page? You send personalized, follow up emails depending on the activities they performed. The Hubspot app on your phone notifies you when a prospect opens the email you sent so you know if/when they have engaged. Those are the ones you reach out to with a phone call. And you do it just after they open your email, knowing that they will be more likely to answer the phone given they just read your note. Now that is a coordinated process!
You can download and print out the 5 C’s graphic here, to use as a checklist for your own sales and marketing efforts.
Do you have an automated platform like Hubspot to coordinate your sales and marketing activities? You can learn more about WIZ Advisor’s Hubspot Services here, as we are a Certified Hubspot Partner Agency.
Brand Trust – The Key for B2B Success in 2021
Three Reasons Why Brand Trust is So Important NOW
Reason #1: Buyers see a bigger need for brand trust today than in the past - and are much more skeptical.
Brand trust has become extremely important to buyers. In Edelman’s Brand Trust Study 2020 – COVID Update, 70% of buyers say that trust is more important now than in the past. Why? In Edelman’s previous brand report last September, U.S. respondents shared the following:
- Brands now have my personal information in their databases (43%).
- There is so much fake news and false information on the Internet (42%)
- I am facing financial struggles and when I do spend, I need to make sure I am making the best decisions (33%).
- The pace of product innovation makes it more important to choose the right provider (27%).
When asked about factors that are MOST important in choosing one brand over another, 80% of respondents said, “trusting a brand to do what is right.”
Trust is more important to Millennials and Gen Z than other generations. Four statistics from the Deloitte’s 2018 Millennial Survey , pictured below, accurately reflect these generations’ diminishing trust in businesses. Of note are their beliefs that businesses (a) are not “committed to helping to improve wider society” and (b) have “no ambition beyond making money.”
Reason #2: Prospects will not talk to you until they trust you.
B2B marketers know that building trust with prospects and customers is key to success. However, what we sometimes forget is that data on most aspects of our businesses are readily available online, with a quick and easy Google search.
In GE Retail Banks’s Major Purchase Study in 2019, they found that 80% of consumers go online to conduct research before a purchase – up 20% from 2018. They also found that consumers on average spend 79 days conducting research before purchasing a major product or service. When researching a brand, they may ask peers about you, go to your website, read an analyst report, check out your social media posts, search for customer reviews, watch a product video or webinar. They will take time to build their own level of trust in your brand before reaching out to you or responding to your calls and emails.
The latest Hubspot Sales 2020 Statistics validate that buyers prefer to wait until the Consideration Stage before connecting with a salesperson.
Reason #3: The importance of building brand trust boils down to the rewards.
With trust such a vital prerequisite to purchase, the rewards are well worth the effort. As this below chart from the Edelman’s 2020 study illustrates, brand trust leads to higher sales, loyalty and advocacy.
Buyers will even go out of their way to defend your brand if/when needed.
So how do you build brand trust? Read WIZ Advisors' 5 C's of Brand Trust.
How COVID Has Impacted Marketing in 2020
The World Has Changed
It is 2020 and our entire world has changed. Americans have been living in lockdown, only leaving their homes for groceries, fresh air or exercise – and only then with masks and mandatory social distancing.
Not unexpectedly, the U.S. economy (real GDP) plummeted nearly 33% in the second quarter of 2020, following a 5% decline in the first quarter. Unemployment hit an all-time high of 14.7% in April – recovering to 10.2% by July (but still 3X the average pre-COVID) – and consumer sentiment hit an all-time low. Businesses have been forced to rethink their workforce strategies, business models and cash flow projections to survive.
How COVID Has Impacted Marketing – Permanently
The above chart was taken from Bank America and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s recent data showing that U.S. ecommerce now accounts for over 27% of total retail sales. While this chart depicts retail sales, every industry across the board has been forced to move to a digital sales and marketing model. Every B2B marketer and salesperson is using online meeting applications like Zoom and Microsoft Teams – many for the first time – to meet with prospects and close deals. CRM systems like Hubspot and Salesforce.com are being utilized to their full extent. If organizations do not have them, they are implementing them so deal pipelines can be managed and shared across stakeholders. As most Americans were forced to work from home, businesses that had digital sales and marketing infrastructures in place had a leg up on their competition. With a complete halt on in-person sales meetings and marketing events, the entire B2B buyer’s journey moved to the Internet – QUICKLY!
In the same vein, every marketer was forced to rethink his/her strategies and budgets. Trade shows and conferences that typically make up 25% of total marketing budgets have been cancelled. Dollars are either being cut or repurposed into the highest ROI digital marketing tactics. As the below chart from eMarketer illustrates, B2B marketers put their efforts into content creation, webinars (both hosted and sponsored), paid search ads, email and social.
Why the Webinar Craze?
Even before the COVID pandemic, 75% of B2B marketers and sales leaders believed that webinars were a great way to generate high quality leads (Source: GoToWebinar’s 2017 Book of Stats). But during COVID, webinars took on a life all their own.
Because everyone was at home and online, most people did not have professional equipment at their disposal. So, webinar hosts, guests and participants had to deal with issues, such as: technology and wireless servers going down, dogs barking, kids crying, ambulances driving by, and jackhammering and lawnmowers interrupting the events. But, shockingly, it made the events BETTER. It added a sense of “realness” that had not been there before. It provided businesses a way to build shared connections with their audiences.
What we witnessed was a perfect storm. Businesses could promote their thought leadership and gain valuable leads. Participants could learn. And both sides could form connections. Webinars helped people realize that – whether we are B2B executives, interviewers or one of many listeners in the audience, we are all human beings, facing the same challenges at the same time – and we are all in this together.
B2B companies quickly realized that webinars were a great alternative to in-person events. ON24, saw webinars on its platform jump by 330% year-over-year in March with average participation of 300 and total registrations twice that. Besides the human connection – which is by far the biggest home run because IT BUILDS TRUST- webinars provide three key benefits for B2B companies:
- They allow brands to showcase their knowledge and expertise which drives credibility
- They generate high quality leads who are interested in what you have to offer.
- They provide on-demand content you can promote on your company’s website for ongoing lead generation.
And the results support it. Below is a graph of a WIZ Advisors’ client. We employed a webinar strategy – three webinars with three industry-leading online communities in 45 days. Our goal was to drive high quality leads. We promoted the webinars via email and LinkedIn and increased Google Ad spend during that period (all tactics that the eMarketer chart highlighted!). Not only did the client’s web traffic spike (see below), but we generated a significant pipeline of quality leads – many of whom had been on the fence prior to those events.
How have your marketing budgets, strategies and tactics changed because of COVID? What are the trends that you have seen? We’d love to hear about it. Leave a reply below or reach out to us on LinkedIn or Facebook. We look forward to hearing from you.
WIZ Advisors Adds Hubspot Automation Services in 2020
So much has happened at WIZ Advisors since the start of the year! We’ve been incredibly busy and I couldn’t be more thankful for the growth of the Agency. One of the biggest updates is that WIZ Advisors became a Hubspot Agency Partner in January 2020.
On a separate note, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a minute to address what is occurring on a global scale. Because of the coronavirus, people have died, markets have plummeted, schools have closed, and we have all been forced to make personal and business decisions to prevent contamination. I send my prayers to all of you, that you and your families are safe.
WIZ Advisors Launches New Services in 2020
Hubspot Sales/Marketing Automation Services
While most small to midsize B2B businesses recognize the importance of a CRM, few have explored an inbound marketing platform. With at least 50% of B2B marketing budgets now online, marketing teams need to execute campaigns across a number of platforms simultaneously – email (e.g. Mailchimp), website (e.g. WordPress blog posts and landing pages), social media (e.g. LinkedIn and Facebook), and PPC (e.g. Google Adwords). Though many businesses have a goal to deliver a unified cross-channel experience , the reality is that sales and marketing outreach is not aligned – and lead generation efforts are ineffective.
Hubspot’s (www.hubspot.com) platform was built on the premise that to provide a superior purchase experience, companies must be able to track their leads from stranger to opportunity to customer across all sales and marketing touch points – and measure the success of their efforts. The easy-to-use platform allows companies to work from one centralized contact database to manage all sales communication, marketing campaigns, sales and marketing pipelines, and customer service.
In order to win in a digital world, companies must deliver a personalized, coordinated and differentiated customer experience. Start now.
Contact WIZ Advisors to schedule a demo of the Hubspot platform.
Please reach out to me directly if you’d like to discuss how Hubspot can drive growth for your business.
Take care and stay safe.
LinkedIn for Lead Generation – A Guide for B2B Companies
Why LinkedIn is Essential for B2B Lead Generation – November 2019
Introduction: Why LinkedIn for Lead Generation?
With over 600 million users, LinkedIn has become the ideal place for social selling. It has the right mix of professional and personal that allows businesses to sell to potential clients in a channel where they will be most receptive. That is why reaching out to people on LinkedIn is much more effective: response rate (inbox messages, connection requests, content engagement) is an impressive 30-40%. Social selling is the future of sales.
If you’re a B2B marketer, your customers are undoubtedly doing research online before they buy. In fact, the average decision maker reads 10 pieces of content before finalizing their purchase decision. Great content on LinkedIn can lead B2B decision makers back to your site as well. On average, 46% percent of social media traffic coming to B2B company sites is from LinkedIn. With LinkedIn’s advanced audience targeting capabilities, you can ensure that increased traffic is qualified, meaning it contains those most likely to convert into leads. Fully 93% of B2B Marketers consider LinkedIn the most effective site for generating leads.
Some additional reasons why LinkedIn is ideal for B2B lead generation:
- LinkedIn adds 2 new members every second — so you are likely to find the right person, or people, you are looking for.
- There are 2 billion member updates per week — which makes it easy to find what potential targets are talking about, interested in, and sharing.
- You can stay in touch with your network of potential leads at scale through your own content and content you engage with, e.g. commenting on posts.
- LinkedIn users are using the platform to network, so outreach naturally becomes warmer versus sending out a cold email that you didn’t have permission to solicit.
- LinkedIn is a platform that enables you to forge meaningful relationships by revealing connection paths between your company and your target account that you can leverage for a warm introduction.
- And finally, LinkedIn allows you to build a network of potential customers, followers, brand enthusiasts, etc. that will engage with your content and help you establish and scale your brand.
5 Tips to Get Started
If you are not already using LinkedIn for lead generation (shame on you), here are five quick and easy tips to get started:
- Define Your Niche– Determining your target buyer(s) is probably the single most important prerequisite. This step is not directly related to your LinkedIn account, but is essential to drive high quality prospects.
- Optimize Your Profile - Before connecting on LinkedIn, make sure you have a strong and clear profile. This is your online business card and the first thing people see when they find you.
- Post Weekly (Daily if Possible) Status Updates -You should aim to publish at least once a week on LinkedIn to keep your name synonymous with industry expertise and news.
- Get Recommendations – Ask coworkers or happy clients to write a recommendation that appears in your profile. This validates your ability to solve industry pain points.
- Leverage Your Marketing Team - Your company’s marketing department should be generating new content and collateral to help you earn trust with leads and close deals. Check in with marketing frequently to see what new content or campaigns they have on their calendars, and how you can frame it on LinkedIn to drive sales conversations.
9 Steps to Generate High Quality Leads
Once your profile has been optimized, you are ready to find your ideal customer.
- Build Your Search Query – Your search query starts with your buyer personas. A buyer persona is “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal buyer, which typically includes customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals.” If you have a buyers persona, use your ideal buyer’s attributes to define your search criteria. If you don’t have one – or access to one – just think through these three elements: industry, company size and job role. From search results in Sales Navigator or LinkedIn’s general search, open only profiles that match your segmentation criteria. (The next section “6 Sales Navigator Best Practices” will walk you through that tool.)
- Request a Connection - Once you've created your search query and built a list of prospects, it’s time to connect. This is probably the most demotivating part, as you'll need to make 100 connection requests per day if you want to drive results. (Note: If you are utilizing Account-Based Marketing techniques, quality not quantity is important. Determine the right decision makers at your target accounts and utilize LinkedIn requests to reach them.) Some of them may ignore the request and the ones who do connect may never engage in a conversation. But over time, this process yields results (see #8). The connect request should be accompanied with a message that, listen carefully, does not sell ANYTHING. “People like to buy, but they don't like to be sold to”. This introductory message will start your “drip sequence”, and should say something like:
|“Hi [first name], I came across your profile and I decided to reach out because… [share something you have in common or how you liked something they posted]. – Your Name, Your Company, Your Tagline.”
IIMPORTANT: Why put your company’s tagline at the end of your messages? You want people to associate you and your company with what you can do for them.
- Say Thank You - Once someone has accepted your request, send them a “thank you for connecting” message. Don't forget to add your tagline at the end - and again, don't sell anything.
- Send something useful -If you haven’t received a response from your prospects; provide them with something of value. Take a look at the prospect’s profile and look for an interesting article you think they might find useful. The more you engage in a casual, human way, the more they will trust you. No one will respond to you if you try to sell them your product or service right away. Don’t forget to end it with your name, company and tagline.
- Ask for a call -In the last step of the drip sequence, message your potential prospect and ask them to jump on a call. Explain why you want the call. Stay casual and friendly and emphasize the benefits of a quick chat. Again, don't forget to put your tagline after your name.
- View profiles – This is a great tactic that doesn’t involve sending your prospects anything. If you’ve been on the platform for any length of time, you know that LinkedIn sends notifications every time someone views your profile. One of your prospects might be curious and click your profile from the alert they receive, and if they need a product or service like yours at that particular moment, they might contact you. We’ve seen it happen– a lot!
- Post Content – This step is crucial. Why? There are 9 billion content impressions in the LinkedIn feed every week. And, out of 250 million monthly active users on LinkedIn, only 3 million share content weekly. That means 3 million users are getting 9 billion impressions every week – or 3,000 impressions per post. Think about that for a millisecond - and get posting!
- Keep engaging -Don’t sell - just talk to prospects, build a relationship, and see how you can help each other. This is a slow process and might not bring any quick leads but you're in this for the long run. Even if your prospects don't need your services right away, they are going to think about you in the future. Or they might recommend you to someone in their network.
- Don’t Use Automation Tools- This is HUGE. Your account can get permanently blocked if LinkedIn detects non-human activity from your account. Sure - automation tools save you a lot of time but they can also derail your entire effort. If you don’t have the time to build a LinkedIn pipeline (which is understandable), hire a contractor or outside firm to help (like WIZ Advisors – shameless plug).
6 Sales Navigator Best Practices
LinkedIn is a treasure trove of detailed knowledge on potential buyers – and Sales Navigator makes that knowledge actionable with automated tools.
Here are six best practices we’ve collected from utilizing the platform to generate leads for our B2B clients.
- Use Premium Search Filters to build a target prospect list based on personal or organizational parameters. You can sort by a number of factors — including geography, sector and company size — and scope the size of each opportunity by filtering by company revenue. Look for names on accounts where you have a 1st or 2nd-degree connection for a warm introduction opportunity.
- Load the list into Lead Builder and filter further by titles to identify the right decision-makers. Use the In Common panel in their Profile to determine what you may have in common with that LinkedIn member. You can also learn more about the prospect by checking out these sections: Following, Groups and Volunteer Experience & Causes. “Endorsements” in the Skills & Expertise section provides an understanding of what each prospect does well. Use this information in your introductions.
- Use Lead Recommendations to receive leads based on presets and saved searches. It will allow you to: see similar decision-makers and influencers at other companies, have new leads automatically flow into your email, look at the recommended decision-makers and influencers within your target accounts that Navigator sends, and identify new leads. Open the lead’s profile by clicking on his/her name, or save the lead in Contacts for follow-up later.
- Save your TeamLink Searches to keep you updated on your targeted leads’ professional lives. Set up a notification to know when your prospects move to other companies, and follow the same steps as above to start a conversation.
- Use Sales Navigator’s Out-of-Network Profile Unlocks to help you uncover hidden leads. Profile Unlocks provides access to all LinkedIn member profiles — even those outside of your network. Users can unlock profiles from search results to gain visibility into sales prospects beyond third- degree connections.
- Sync Sales Navigator with Your CRM to keep track of your conversations with all prospects. This will save you from jumping back and forth between two different sites, and provide powerful insights in your reporting.
Learn more about WIZ Advisors B2B Content Marketing Services here.
I hope this LinkedIn article has given you some valuable information to start using the platform for your own lead generation. If you have any questions about LinkedIn or would like to learn more about our LinkedIn Lead Generation Services, feel free to reach out to me directly: Stacey Wisniewski, Founder and Chief Marketing Strategist of WIZ Advisors, at (615) 934-1817 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Write a Compelling White Paper that People Want to Read
Introduction – What is a white paper?
People sometimes confuse research reports and white papers. Research reports are typically the results of months – sometimes years – worth of research, conducted by a particular company, institute or government entity. These reports are not produced for commercial value. Instead, they are meant to be shared with, delivered to, or consumed by a like-minded audience.
White papers, on the other hand, are marketing tools that are produced by companies or individuals who have insight into a particular subject. While white papers could (should) include research, their primary objectives are different. White papers are written to:
- Educate a B2B target audience on a certain topic
- Showcase an individual’s or company’s knowledge on a particular subject
- Build brand equity and strengthen perceived value
- Convince prospects to take a desired action (e.g. visit your website, provide contact information in exchange for the white paper, schedule a demo of your products, or call you to learn more about your services).
Do people actually read white papers?
White papers are now the #1 most valuable piece of content in the B2B buyer’s journey. Statistics from a recent Forbes article confirm it.
- 89% of B2B buyers use the Internet in their research process.
- 75% of B2B buyers said that a winning vendor’s content had a significant impact on their choice.
- 82% of B2B buyers rely heavily on white papers (#1) in making their purchasing decisions. Other content includes:
- Webinars (78%)
- Case studies (73%)
- E-books (67%)
- Infographics and blog posts (66%)
Here are 10 Best Practices for writing successful white papers.
- Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-Sensitive) goals for the white paper. Do you want your audience to visit your website, learn more about your solutions, schedule a demo, join a webinar, call you for a quote? Whatever the action is that you want them to take, determine it - and tell them to do it at the end of the white paper (see #8 – “Have a clear call to action”).
- Start with an outline. It seems simple, but writing an outline is the best way to organize your thoughts and ensure that you are telling a compelling, thoughtful story.
- Determine key words (to drive search engine results). Whenever you develop content, you should think about it from the audience’s perspective. What words would they use when they are performing an Internet search on this subject? If possible, use those keywords in your title, subtitle, and body of the white paper.
- Address your target audience’s pain points in the introduction. Some people will not have time to read the entire white paper (or want to). It is important to write an introduction that captures their interest. Discuss your prospects’ pain points and how the white paper will provide solutions.
- Include unique, research-driven content. B2B buyers are reading your white paper to become better educated. Teach them something new. Whether you have primary research from customers, secondary research from a number of public/private sources, or best practices from years of experience, share them. Your audience will see you and your company as experts they can trust.
- Don’t be salesy. Your audience is in research-mode – they want to learn. Win them over by providing valuable insights and a solution to their problem. Introduce your capabilities in a short overview about your company – AT THE END - but not before (see #9 – Add a short overview about your company at the end).
- Insert visuals to break up the text. Your content is always the most important part, but you don’t want your readers to get bored. Use relevant images and add charts and graphs to show statistics and trends. Create a graphic in PowerPoint and upload it as a JPG. Add a quote in a text box with a colored background.
- Put your logo and website URL in the footer. You are not making a sales pitch in your white paper, but you can – and should - promote your company in subtle ways.
- Have a clear call-to-action (CTA). Whether you want the audience to visit your website, schedule a demo, or call you for more information, specify it at the end – in bold. For example:
“To learn more about our solutions, go to www.mycompany.com/solutions or call us anytime at 1-800-244-5500.”
- Add a short paragraph on your company at the end. After the call to action, write a short summary of your business, including capabilities that address the pain points in the white paper (see below for WIZ’s example).
Learn more about WIZ Advisors B2B Content Marketing Services here.
WIZ Advisors is a B2B marketing agency in Alexandria, VA that helps its clients drive brand awareness and lead generation through high quality content and digital promotion. The WIZ Method is a three-step process to drive awareness and lead generation that begins with the creation of a research-driven, industry white paper. Learn more about WIZ Advisors by visiting our website at www.wizadvisors.com.
What is The WIZ Method?
Date: June 3, 2019
Topic: What is “The WIZ Method”?
WIZ Advisors just launched its proprietary service to drive brand awareness and high quality leads for B2B clients. It is a proven three step process – and it REALLY works.
Here is a one-minute video about The WIZ Method: “Meet Phil”.
The WIZ Method – A Quick Overview
Why does Step 1 of The WIZ Method involve creating a research-driven, industry white paper? As the slide below illustrates, buyers want to read a white paper when they are researching a B2B purchase.
A white paper can also be spliced in a variety of ways – a blog, an article, a press release, social posts, infographics, emails, etc. – to form a content portfolio (Step 2). The content can then be launched over a series of weeks in a coordinated cross-channel campaign to drive brand awareness and qualified leads (Step 3).
Download “The WIZ Method” Presentation to Learn More
Click below to read our “The WIZ Method” framework, which outlines in detail what the process involves, why it works, and the kind of results you can expect to see when implementing it.
View “The WIZ Method” framework here:
Learn more about WIZ Advisors B2B Content Marketing Services here.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss how The WIZ Method can drive growth for your business, please contact me directly via email or mobile.
WIZ Advisors LLC
Chief Marketing Strategist
Mobile: (615) 934-1817
Why Video Marketing is Essential for B2B Businesses
Did you know that video will represent over 80% of Internet traffic by 2022? Or that video drives a 158% increase in organic traffic to your website? Or that social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and images combined?
Consumers prefer it too. 91% of consumers have watched an “explainer video” (video that explains who a company is or what a product can do for you) in the past year. 64% of Internet users are more likely to buy a product or service after watching a video. And, 68% of prospects prefer to learn about a product or service through video.
So what are you waiting for? Video is not just a “nice to have” anymore, it is a MUST. If you aren’t posting videos or running video ads for your business, you are missing the mark.
Click the link below to download WIZ Advisors’ framework on B2B Video Marketing – what it is, why it’s important, three types of video content (“Triple H Video Strategy”), and how/where to promote them.
As a SPECIAL BONUS, below is a video I published on WIZ Advisors’ YouTube channel about Video Marketing. It is entitled “What I Learned about Video Marketing from my 10-year Old” – it’s a summary of my interview with my 10 year-old about her thoughts on advertising, and I think you’ll love it.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8GJWTYE_IXUA9FDSWfgVWA) about Video Marketing.
As a marketing strategist, I am always looking at the latest research on Millennials and Generation Z. My 10-year old represents the generation that follows, a generation that has grown up with YouTube and Netflix over live TV, cord cutting over landlines, and Uber over taxis (she’s never even been in a taxi!). I always learn something new when I talk to her. I hope you do too.
Subscribe to WIZ’s YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8GJWTYE_IXUA9FDSWfgVWA
Learn more about WIZ Advisors B2B Content Marketing Services here.
Chief Marketing Strategist
Mobile: (615) 934-1817