10 Places Consumers Look for Information of Value. . .

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Nov, 25, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

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. . . Before contacting you.


I am frequently asked if content marketing is important even though there's more and more content being posted every day.


It is because your customer, or prospect, B2C or B2B, is doing a lot of research on the internet, and other places, prior to contacting you or a sales person.


At a recent conference, speakers consistently said that consumers were anywhere between 55 to 75% through the buying cycle before contacting a potential supplier.


So where are prospects and customers going to find information of value?


  1. Attending events -- tradeshows, invitation only, open houses, educational events, luncheons with speakers.

  2. Searching the web -- Google currently has 66% U.S. market share.

  3. Scanning social media to see what others are saying about a product or service.

  4. Asking colleagues -- I find LinkedIn Groups particularly effective for this.

  5. FAQs -- answer prospects' questions in FAQs before they ask it to save them time and make their life simpler.

  6. Downloading a SlideShare presentation, eBook or white paper.

  7. Visits discussion forums or groups and monitors or asks for input.

  8. Reads about the company online.

  9. Calls one of your employees and is not entered into the CRM.

  10. Attends a webinar


Have you asked your customers how they found you?


Do you know which websites propsect are visiting before visiting yours?


Is your site optimized for search engines and for mobile search?


Are you and your firm providing information of value in all of the places your prospects are looking?


Click Here for an Evaluation of Your Website

Tags: information of value, consistent messaging, customer journey, content marketing

10 Ways CPG Benefits From Content Marketing

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Nov, 24, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

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Content marketing gives small consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers the opportunity to compete with large CPG manufacturers.


If you have a product that's different and better than the competition or makes a consumer's life simpler and easier, content marketing is a great way to disseminate your message for not a lot of money.


Following are 10 ways CPG firms can benefit from content marketing:


  1. Awareness. You have tremendous opportunities to reaching your target audience via the ever-growing channels of social media -- Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube are great places to build awareness of your product.

  2. Trust. By telling your brand's story in an honest and compelling way and answering questions in a straightforward and transparent manner, you build trust among prospective buyers. As first-time buyers become satisfied customers, they begin sharing the benefits of your product with their friends and followers on social media.

  3. Simplify. If you can save the consumer time or provide a product that simplifies their life, you will have customers. How much does your product simplify the target audience's life? Can you show them in a compelling way? If so, people will want to share your benefits with others.

  4. Thought leader. What does your product do "different and better" than what's currently in the market? This is your strategic positioning and the one message you want to reiterate in all your communications.

  5. Traffic. The more content you share about the problem your product solves, the more traffic you'll generate to your website. 

  6. Leads. The more traffic you get to your website, the more leads you'll get. Know the difference between a marketing qualified lead, someone who's not ready to buy and needs more nurturing, and a sales qualified lead who is ready to buy.

  7. Relationships. Sharing content gives you the opportunity to begin a dialogue, and a relationship, with your prospects and enhance relationships with your customers.

  8. Nurture. By looking at analytics and talking with your customers, you'll be able to map their buying process and determine what content, or information of value, a marketing qualified lead needs to become a sales qualified lead.

  9. SEO. Every piece of content you generate and place on your website or link back to your site on social media, improves your SEO performance. While more a more content is being produced and making organic SEO more difficult to achieve, it can still be done. My content marketing is driving 80% of my traffic via SEO.

  10. Sales. More traffic, more leads, nurturing marketing qualified leads into sales qualified leads results in more sales and more informed buyers. Don't forget to engage the first-time buyer to ensure they're happy with their purchase and realizing the value they anticipated when they purchased your product. It's much easier to get a current customer to make additional purchases than it is to get new customers. In addition, satisfied customers can turn into "raving fans" that will share their positive experience with your product via social media.

What CPG firms are doing an exceptional job of using content marketing to drive awareness, traffic, leads and sales?


Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues 

Tags: information of value, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, customer journey, content marketing

7 Ways to Create Better Content Marketing

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Nov, 19, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

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I am frequently asked by those who are pursuing a content marketing strategy what they can do to make the process easier and provide higher quality information of value for their customers and prospects.


Following are seven steps to take to create better content:


  1. Be strategic and identify how your content marketing integrates with the rest of your marketing communications strategy:
    - Who are your target personas -- who are you trying to reach?
    - What are your goals -- awareness, traffic, leads, dialog, SEO?
    - When do you want to reach your target in their journey -- top of the funnel (awareness, research), middle of the funnel (RFI, short list, competitive evaluation), bottom of the funnel (meeting with vendors, purchase decision)?
    - Where do you want to reach your target -- where will they be most receptive to your message, where are they going to be looking for information of value?
    - Why does what you are sharing matter -- is it really information of value or all you doing a brand dump, or selling?

  2. Create one big piece of content and then break it down into different content types that can be shared across many channels -- blog posts, white papers, videos, ebooks, infographics, testimonials, FAQs, case studies, webinars, newsletters.

  3. Tell a story that is different and unique to you and your business. What business problem have you solved with a creative solution?

  4. Be useful. Answer questions before people asked them based on the questions you've been asked many times before. The more time you save your customers and prospects, the more you make it sinple and easier for them, the more likely they will become long-term customers.

  5. Have a content generation mindset and inculcate that mindset into your employees. Content is everywhere. One of the best sources I heard lately are the emails members of the sales team are sending to clients or prospects. These emails are likely answering questions or objections.

  6. Do more. The more you do, the better you'll get and the more analytics you'll have to let you know what is, and is not, working. B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads than companies that do not blog (Hubspot).

  7. Be a better writer. Tell better stories. The more you write, the more you share, the more you have a chance of stirking a chord with a prospect or a customer. Write emotionally compelling content to increase the likelihood that your content will be share with others.  

Tags: dialog, earn your customers trust, information of value, customer journey, content marketing, emotional connection, trusted advisor, social media

Customer Journey: From Funnel to Circle

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Sep, 16, 2014 @ 10:09 AM

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McKinsey & Company noted the change in 2009. The customer journey is no longer a funnel, it's a circle.


The traditonal purchase funnel of: awarness, familiarity, consideration, purchase and loyalty has been made obsolete by the internet and social media.


In today's digitally driven marketplace, the customer journey is more like a circle with four phases: initial consideration, active evaluation, closure and post-purchase.


In order to provide customers and prospects with information of value, you need to know where they are in the journey and what information they want at that particular point in the journey.


Begin mapping the customer journey by understanding all of the places your customers go for information before they ever interact with you -- search engines, social media, reviews, other online channels.


Understand what information the customer is trying to get at each touchpoint and strive to provide some information of value at that touchpoint.


The more information of value you provide, the more awareness and trust you build with your prospective customer.


Engage with customers during the pre-shopping, decision-making process. Do what you can to simplify their life, save them time and make a confident, well-informed decision.


When mapping the customer journey, make sure you are able to indentify barriers to the purchase process.


If you're able to remove the barriers, you've just simplified the buying journey, and the customer's life.


I buy running shoes from an online retailer. I'm also a "VIP" so I can get discounts and free shipping. However, this site is unable to recognize my VIP membership so I always end up having to call them to order what I want. A major barrier.


So far, they've overcome the barrier by being available by telephone; however, at some point, I'll just buy from Zappos since they are the masters of providing an outstanding customer experience.


Don't forget to follow-up after the sale to ensure your customer is happy with their purchase and that your product or service is solving the problem your customer purchased it to solve.


This follow-up is critical to ensuring satisfaction, building loyalty, obtaining feedback and referrals -- online and in person.


Don't assume you know the customer journey. Once you've mapped it, share your perceived customer journey with a few of your best customers and get their insights on what they really do and where they experience barriers in the process.


What have you learned by mapping the customer journey?


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Tags: dialogue, loyalty, consumer insights, customer satisfaction, satisfied customers, customer journey, referrals