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What is social selling and why it should matter to you

What is social selling and why it should matter to you

What’s the purpose of social selling?

Social selling gives brands stability, strengthens your personal network, and lets you create meaningful connections.

What is social selling?

Definition: Social selling is a way for teams to connect with prospects and provide them with value through social media platforms.

Why social selling?

90% of decision-makers never answer a cold call, but 75% of B2B buyers use social media to make purchasing decisions.

According to IBM, when a lead is generated through social selling or employee advocacy, that lead is 7X more likely to close compared to other lead gen tactics.

Content shared by employees receives 8x more engagement than content shared by brand channels.

How to start defining your social selling strategy

To define your social selling strategy, think in terms of objectives and key results (OKRs). This will help you to focus your strategy early on and track whether it’s actually working.

What are some of the most common objectives for a social selling program?

  • Build brand awareness
  • Drive inbound traffic
  • Generate leads
  • Nurture leads and shorten sales cycles
  • Engage with key communities for your product, service, or business
  • Connect with partners

You may want to achieve all of these objectives, but your strategy will be more effective in the short and long-term if you only focus on one or two. Choose what you think will best support your strategic business initiatives over the next 6-12 months.

That covers the O (objective) now let’s look at the KR’s (key results).

Imagine that you chose generating leads as your only objective for the next quarter. What key results could you attach to that?

  • Connect with 20 new suspects per month, or more.
  • Have 4 conversations or more per month.
  • Close 1 sale or more from a lead generated from social per month.

Clearly defining your objective and the results that demonstrate you’re achieving that objective will help you track the success and ROI of any strategy you choose to invest in.

Who should participate in social selling for your company?

The execution of your social selling program and the employees who participate in it will look different for every organization. But, there are two factors that largely determine it:

  1. Your overall objective
  2. Your team size and structure

For example, a SaaS company that’s trying to build brand awareness and increase the number of free users on that platform, may have its entire team doing social selling. This is what we see companies like Drift doing.

On the other hand, a specialized medical device manufacturing firm that’s trying to generate leads may only have the C suite and sales staff participate in social selling. This is what we see companies like Medtronic doing.

Look at your objective and your team and use common sense. Ask yourself, can this group of employees meaningfully contribute to the objective? Also, will they willingly participate and understand it as part of the job? Your answers to these questions will help you decide who to involve.

What type of foundation do you need to support your social selling strategy?

For your social selling program to succeed, you need a few foundational elements.

  • A well-written professional LinkedIn profile.
  • A network of connections who will contribute to your overall objective.
  • A content to maintain a regular and active presence.
  • A system for turning online engagement into offline relationships.
  • A method for tracking key results.

Without these elements, it will be very difficult for your program to succeed. While this may mean some investment, it can be done more quickly than you’d expect. You just need the right guidance.

How to get started

Starting a social selling program at your company will require a few important conversations and decisions. Ideally, you should schedule 30 minutes to an hour with your internal stakeholders and marketing leader (whether this VP or director or marketing, or a CEO/who’s still in the marketing seat).

Your goal for this conversation should be to discuss and decide on the following:

  1. What are our strategic business initiatives?
  2. Can we create a social selling OKR that would support that strategic business initiative?
  3. What is our organization willing to invest to achieve that OKR?
  4. What is the minimum ROI needed for this investment to be viable?

Once decisions on those questions are made, you can start to assess what it will take to get your social selling program up and running from a tactical standpoint.

A worksheet to support you

To facilitate your conversation, we’ve put together a worksheet to help you get started. It covers the 4 key questions your team needs to discuss before it can move forward. This allows you to accurately capture the output of that discussion and make realistic calculations. If at any point you have questions or would like to go through this worksheet with your team, you can reach out to me directly: [email protected]

Thanks for watching and we hope you find the worksheet useful!

Interview with Brand Identity Expert Melissa Madgwick

Interview with Brand Identity Expert Melissa Madgwick

The other day I had the pleasure of meeting Melissa Madgwick the Founder of Brand Dominance in Perth, Australia. Her firm has made a name for itself as a brand identity and design leader in Australia and across the world.

After reading one of Melissa’s posts on LinkedIn, I knew she had valuable insights to share with Minnesota Marketers. Let’s take a minute to get to know her and learn how brand personality has helped her create explosive growth for herself and her clients.

The Basics

Tell us your background.

I have a marketing degree and have always been very interested in consumer behavior and why some businesses make a big impact while others don’t grow. One of my first marketing jobs that I really enjoyed was working with large market research firm in Australia that serviced major Australian companies from retail to banks and telecommunications companies.

While working with a telecommunications company in Australia, I realized how much money was being spent on market research, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. At this company, I saw how the board of directors would sit on the other side of the glass and listen. I praise that company because they turned themselves around and went from having a bad reputation to being well-loved.

My role was to take all of this systematic information and turn it into something great looking. I just learned the power of having something visual, having a clear concise message like these market research people. That’s where it start for me with a rare mix of marketing, design, and branding know-how.

In 2013 I had the urge to start my own business and started creating presentations for executives. Shortly after, I was diagnosed with polycystic fibrosis. This hurt my healthy and my self-esteem. I remember going to one particular contract job, stepping off the train, and seeing my face in the mirror. It was full of acne and I said, “I just can’t face people.” I lost a $3,000 job that day and I went home and said, “I’m going to start my own business.”

Since I knew brand identity and visual communication, my first step was to look as big as the companies in Sydney. This meant creating a parallax look, which was just catching on in the Sydney at the time. My team and I created a look that projected high-end, yet affordable. Within a few months time, I was landing $40,000 contracts from my kitchen table because of having a strong brand identity and sales skills.

What are you working on right now?

At the moment we are targeting a lot of speakers and businesses for rebranding, but also presentation design. I started out as a presentation specialist and presentation is just the same as if you’re creating a new brand identity or brand. You’ve got a story, you need the market or your audience, to connect with you, and, in turn, once that happens, it will grow your business, your revenue, and everything else.

We’re actually doing an email campaign to target all different speakers around the world and different businesses to help them with their pitch documents. And then, also, I’m doing exactly what you’re doing, which is cool, I’m actually starting my own show called The Brand Dominance Project, with some large, influential people around the world, on the importance on their visual identity, how that’s helped them, their sales tactics, branding, and presentation. Because a lot of these people are very good speakers, they have that brand, they’ve got that personal brand. So I want to teach people, share that knowledge with my sort of audience as well.

Now that we know more about you, let’s get your opinions.

What’s the biggest brand identity and branding mistakes that companies are making today?

The biggest brand identity mistakes that companies make, I guess not sticking to their values. I think a lot of businesses and brands have to understand why they exist and what they stand for. Because, the internet and, like you know, copy and images and everything is left on the internet forever. There isn’t any delete button. So if you’re doing a campaign that doesn’t stick to your values and you’re just doing it to make money or something, it’s not going to be long lasting.

You have to understand what your market is and get to that bottom line of what they want, because it’s all about, every business, I feel, is coming from a place of service. Well, the best businesses do, the biggest ones do. They come from a place of service, how can they serve their market better.

Why is this happening?

I think a lot of businesses are afraid to tell their story or just have a human connection. People want to know about you, want to know about the founder.

You’ll see the biggest businesses out there, they’re always going back to the founder and people connecting with him or the story or the whatever it is. I think brands need to be just a little bit more vulnerable and personable in this day and age, because I think we’re craving human connection because we’re not connecting with humans like we used to anymore. We’re connecting with humans through a screen, so we want our screen and the copy on a page, or a brand, to be more personable, like talking like a human, if that makes sense.

But, too many companies are afraid to tell their story and express human emotions.

When you look at the marketing-scape in 2018, which concepts, methods, or tools excite you the most?

We have so much connection now and I think that’s exciting. Things like LinkedIn can help you connect with anyone. Sometimes it might take 16 touchpoints to connect with the person you’re trying to reach. I think that sometimes people are so scared to connect with others, but that’s the best way to grow a business.

There’s so much opportunity, but people aren’t tapping into it. Likely because there’s so much self-doubt. But, you need to reach out to people because at the end of the day they’ll either tell you yes or no.

Which concepts, methods, or tools need to die?

I think for the most part old-school sales tactics. Getting into people’s faces with ads all the time. Our attention span is terrible now, so anything that’s fighting for attention needs to change. Even SEO could die in the near future since it’s so expensive to even try to rank on the first page of Google isn’t always feasible.

What’s the one thing our audience can do to push their marketing to the next level?

The thing that’s pushed me to the next level is being myself. I was very scared about getting out there and I was hiding behind my business a lot. My first business was called Digital Graphic Design because was great on SEO, but there was no Mel.

The thing that I’ve realized now is that being raw is the key. I create a video that told my personal story and I got so many leads from that video because I was telling my story.

So, making sure that your visual brand identity and copywriting are working together is a fantastic way to ensure that your marketing has an impact.

Lightning Round

Favorite marketing book: Zag by Marty Neumeier
Favorite fiction book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Software you can’t live without: Screencast-o-matic
Hardware you can’t live without: My Wireless Headphones
Food you could eat every day: Chocolate
Song/band that pumps you up: INXS

The Wrap-up

There you have it! A fantastic interview with a fantastic brand identity expert. Personally, I appreciated Melissa’s focus on telling your own story. This actually inspired us to completely change our about page and I’ve gotten great feedback on it.

We’re looking forward to seeing what Melissa does next. To get in touch with Melissa visit Brand Dominance or connect with her on LinkedIn.

How to Write a B2B Lead Magnet That Converts

How to Write a B2B Lead Magnet That Converts

Do you like getting free samples at the grocery store? Of course! There’s always a line around the toaster oven as people wait for a hot square of pizza.

But, what if one day you went to the grocery store and every item was available to sample? Would you gobble them all up? Nope. You’d probably get more selective and only pick the ones you really wanted.

Something similar has happened with lead magnets. A few years ago, you could write a simple ebook and be confident that a lot of people would download it. There wasn’t that much competition and people were hungry.

In 2018, you can get nearly any information for free. People aren’t hungry for general information. Instead, they’re only looking for a few key things. How can you create lead magnets that satisfy their selective palette?

4 Steps for Creating a Highly Effective B2B Lead Magnet

To create an effective lead magnet you need to identify a buyer, marketing plan, price point, and benefits.

Writing a lead magnet is a lot like developing a product. You need to identify a buyer, marketing plan, price point, and benefits. When you view your B2B lead magnets as standalone products instead of another part of your sales funnel, you’ll create better lead magnets and get more leads.

1. Think of Your Audience

Your target audience will affect every decision you make. For example, The Content Reactor’s buyer personas include CMOs and business owners. Not only are these personas interested in different topics, but they both have different levels of knowledge and ways of communicating. They both need totally different approaches.

Ask yourself these questions to understand your audience before writing a single word:

What problem am I trying to solve with this B2B lead magnet?

Who’s dealing with this problem? Identify a few groups by job title or demographics.

What methods am I advocating for solving this problem?

Which group has the skills to solve this problem using the methods I’m advocating? That’s your audience.

Working through these questions will help you target a specific audience with information that will actually benefit them. By tightening the focus of you lead magnet one of two things will happen. One, you’ll get more conversions because the information’s value will be obvious. Two, you’ll get fewer conversions, but higher quality leads.

2. Identify Salient Cues

Salient cues are the things that you actively look for to identify a specific item or solution. For example, when you’re looking for an apple at the store you look in the fruit section for items with the same approximate color, size, weight, and shape that you associate with an apple. There’s a lot of neuroscience to back the concept up, but how does it translate into marketing and more specifically lead magnets?

Think of it this way. A business owner is trying to generate more B2B leads for their company. They search for “how to generate B2B leads for a professional services company.” As they read through the articles they find, they see two lead magnets:

    1. How B2B companies can generate more leads with an optimized website
  1. How to use heatmaps and usability testing to optimize your website for sales

Which lead magnet are they more likely to download? These lead magnets could both contain exactly the same information, but the first one has a salient cue in the title. It’s much more likely to click with the searcher and get downloaded because of that cue.

To identify the right salient cues you need to go back to your audience. How do they talk about the problem they’re dealing with? A business owner might call the problem a lack of leads while a marketer would call it an unoptimized website. By identifying these key phrases you can inject salient cues into your pop-ups, landing pages, and B2B lead magnet titles.

3. Assign a Monetary or Time Value

Which is more appealing to you, a free music download or a $5 credit? They both be worth $5, but one has a predetermined value and the other has a mystery value attached to it. Personally, I would choose the credit and I think a lot of people would do the same.

But, what if you were presented with a choice between a free music download ($15 value) or a $5 credit? Now the decision isn’t so easy. You might look further into the free download to learn the terms and limitations to help you understand whether it’s really worth it.

The goal of this exercise isn’t to prove an exact correlation between value and conversions. Instead, the goal is to show that when you assign a perceived value to a lead magnet it changes how prospects view it. They’ll slow down and think twice about passing up your offer.

There are two ways that you can assign a perceived value to your lead magnet. Give it a price based on how much you honestly think it’s worth. Or, determine how much time it will save your user. A template or generator might save prospects 2 or 3 hours of their time. Make sure that they know how much time they’ll save so that they see the value in giving up their email address.

4. Nurture the Lead with Relevant, Authentic Content

People will often sign up for a B2B lead magnet because they need to quickly solve a problem that they’re dealing with. Once they’ve signed up, they’ll probably forget about your company and move on with their lives. This is the biggest breakage in most inbound marketing campaigns.

To keep the leads you’ve worked so hard to gather from going to waste you need to nurture them. What are the next things the lead will need after they’ve solved their problem? For example, if they downloaded an ebook on how to write a job post. The next thing they’ll need to know is how to review the resumes they receive. Building a drip campaign around the next logical topic is a great way to stay in touch and provide even more value.

Make sure your drip campaign has the following elements to start:

A welcome email to help the user understand the B2B lead magnet they downloaded and tell them where they can get more help.

Follow up emails to help the user through the next steps of any problem they’re trying to solve.

A direct offer for either a free service, a consultation, or a paid service/product.

A follow up for those who didn’t convert that makes a mid-funnel offer instead of a bottom-of-funnel offer.

You might be tempted to keep making offers until you get a conversion. But, the goal of an effective drip campaign isn’t to get everyone on your email list to convert. The goal is to find the leads that actually need your service, are ready (or almost ready) to buy, and match your buyer persona. This will give you maximum profitability with minimal time spent on sales or patching things up with difficult clients.

What types of B2B lead magnets work best?

You should format your lead magnet in a way that makes sense for your audience.

There are a lot of options. After all, a lead magnet is basically anything people are willing to give their email address up for. But, if you want to create and use a new B2B lead magnet quickly, then these options are a good place to start.

Checklists: A checklist can work really well in B2C contexts where your visitor is trying to do something they’re inexperienced in, for example, writing a listing to sell their home. It can work in B2B as well, but in those cases, you’ll need to elevate the content a little bit more. In B2B, you’re more likely to have people experienced in your field reading your content, so make sure your checklist will still be helpful to a seasoned pro.

Templates and Spreadsheets: Creating any kind of electronic file takes time. If you’ve never created that particular type of file or document it could take you all day! To avoid this hassle, many visitors will trade their email address for a ready-made template.  Make sure your template benefits them by providing clear instructions and, in the case of spreadsheets include calculations. Don’t make your visitor work. When you solve their problem quickly, they’ll trust you and want to learn more.

Quizzes: Oh boy, quiz territory is where things can get really good or really bad. Most people want to complete quizzes as a way of gauging their performance or learning more about themselves. The problem is the quiz needs to provide values that directly related to what your company offers. So, instead of doing a cutesy “Star Wars personality test,” do something industry specific. For example, “Does your company score 10 out of 10 on these content marketing best practices?” Not only is this interesting, but it gives you an opportunity to collect data and provide specific advice.

The free consultation: This one is starting to feel a bit bland, but it’s the most direct bottom of funnel tactic. Direct can be a really good thing. How do you overcome the bland factor though? The key is being direct and specific. Offer a free audit, action plan, or brainstorming session. These are probably things you would do anyway during a consultation, so it’s as simple as changing how you talk about the consultation. When you get specific, your site visitors will be able to imagine the benefits for themselves and might feel more motivated to sign up.

If none of these options strike your fancy, then check out this massive list of lead magnet ideas. Choose the ones that fit your business and that will be easy for you to get up and running quickly.

Need help with your B2B lead magnets?

Building an email list or proving the value of content marketing can be tough. We’d like to help by doing a free audit of your sales funnel. We’ll look at how you’re engaging with prospects, converting them with lead magnets, and nurturing that lead into a sale. Then we’ll give you recommendations to optimize your sales funnel.

If you just want to dive right into developing a lead magnet that’s cool too. In a matter of 2 weeks, we can go from strategy to lead magnet.

Thanks for reading! Keep providing free value with your lead magnets and we’ll see you next time.

Painful blog posts bring in leads (I am not a Sith)

Painful blog posts bring in leads (I am not a Sith)

The one thing that Sith Lords and marketers have in common is a love of pain. In fact, every great inbound marketing campaign is built around pain. Why is that?

People are most willing to buy a product or service when it directly solves a problem they’re facing. To solve these problems they search for the problem they’re dealing with and not the benefit. For example, they don’t search for “how to be thin” instead they search for “how to lose weight.” They search for the pain.

To turn these prospects into leads, you need to find ways to address and solve their pain. Blog posts are an easy way to do this since they’re short, purpose-built pieces of content that can be written and posted very quickly. Let’s look at how you can incorporate pain points into them.

Finding your prospects’ pain

The first step in addressing your prospects’ pain is figuring out where it hurts. Here are a few of my favorite ways to figure out where your prospects’ are hurting.

  1. Buyer personas: These semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer are an excellent tool for your marketing. Creating them carries the added benefit of letting you interview actual customers and understanding their challenges. Ask questions about the specific problems that these challenges cause to help you understand their pain points.
  2. Net Promoter Score: Many companies have started using Net Promoter Scores to gauge overall satisfaction with their service. Looking at comments from negative user ratings will help you identify their pain points. In some cases, your current solution might solve that pain and you can highlight it further in your content.
  3. Talk with sales: Your sales team deals with customer pain points every day. Ask them about the most frequent complaints they hear from customers.

These three methods will give you a wealth of information on your customers and the solutions they’re searching for. Use these as opportunities to spark conversations with prospects and you’ll experience a boost in leads.

Helpful content and painkillers

For your content to effectively solve your prospects’ problems, you need to cover the entire breadth of a topic. Doing this requires you to follow a few simple steps:

  1. List all of the pain points your prospects are dealing with.
  2. Organize them into main pains and sub-pains.
  3. Turn your main pains into longer more detailed blog posts (pillar pages).
  4. Turn the sub-pains into shorter posts (under 600 words) and link back to your pillar page.
  5. Add a relevant call-to-action at the bottom of every post and make sure it explains how your offer solves the prospects’ problems.

Following these steps will help you create blog posts that are relevant to what your ideal customers are searching for. When they read your post they’ll see that you understand their pain and can provide a valuable solution. This quickly builds trust and will make them want to contact you.

Give free, get leads

If you aren’t getting enough leads, then you need to create content that will attract the right prospects. This content can help you rank higher on Google for keywords that will drive traffic to your site. When visitors get free value from you, they’ll like your company more and want to learn more. There’s no excuse not to use your blog to bring in leads.

The biggest challenge is your time

The biggest challenge to overcome is your own schedule. Blogging on a regular basis is hard, especially if you don’t enjoy writing. To solve this challenge, The Content Reactor will do the research for you, write meaningful blog posts, and fuse them into your sales funnel so that you get more leads.

Contact us to get started today for free!

How much should I charge to create a brand voice?

How much should I charge to create a brand voice?

With brand voices gaining popularity, content strategists, copywriters, and marketing consultants are encouraging their clients to create a unique voice. But, this can be hard for a client to do. So, why not earn more and give your clients long-term value?

If you have a good understanding of writing, communications, or marketing, then creating a brand voice can be dead simple. This gives your client practical guidelines that they can use themselves and simplifies their content creation process. The big question though is: how much should you charge to create a brand voice?

That answer isn’t so simple. There’s a lot of variables and since brand voices are fairly new, there aren’t very many resources online either. Fortunately, our designer friends can provide a little bit of guidance.

Taking a page from brand identities

The goal of a brand identity is similar to the goal of a brand voice, they both make a brand unique and consistent. The difference is the medium, brand identities are focused on visuals and brand voices are focused on words, tone, and style.

There are loads of similarities between the two processes. For example, both require intense research into the client, their target market, and their competitors, and both require extensive testing, revisions, and guidelines.

Because of these similarities, it’s safe to use brand identity pricing as a starting point for brand voice creation. Ianvadas.com provides a nice pricing structure based on organizaton size that you can base your brand voice creation pricing on. He lays out the pricing like so:

“Solopreneur (100k – 500k annual revenue) $5,500 – $15,500

Small Business (500k – 1M annual revenue) $15,500 – $35,000

Medium Sized Business (1M – 250M annual revenue) $35,000 – $75,000

Enterprise (250M+ annual revenue) $75,000 – $250,000”

This gives us an idea of what different organizations are willing to pay for branding. Now, let’s make some educated guesses.

Brand Identity vs. Brand Voice

Time to make the adjustments. First, we need to figure out the differences between design work and writing. Design work requires specialized tools, knowledge that few have, talent, and an understanding of best practices. Writing isn’t viewed as a specialized skill, doesn’t require special tools, and many people feel capable of doing it themselves. Because of this, some may perceive a brand voice to be less costly than a brand identity. This is our big hurdle.

At this point, we need to remind the client that this is a specialized service. We need them to understand the impact it can have as well. Visuals are extremely valuable to a business, but they’re limited in what they can communicate. A brand voice allows businesses to communicate any idea in a way that’s unique and appealing.

Both are important to success, and neither one really trespassed on the other’s territory. We need the client to understand this fully for them to understand the logic behind our pricing.

Finally, the client should be aware of the work that goes into creating a brand voice. It’s not as simple as creating a document. Just look at this basic schema for creating a brand voice:

  • Research
    • Determine your client’s core values
    • What are their strategic goals?
    • How does your client differ from the competition?
    • Who is their target market?
    • Who does that target market look up to?
  • Verify
    • Interview SMEs, clients, and content producers
    • Send out surveys to the client’s email list
    • Test various styles to see which one can be consistently applied
  • Drafting
    • Create the first draft of brand voice guidelines
    • Draft a style guide and glossary as needed
    • Request feedback from various content producers
    • Implement feedback and start the whole process again until you have a final draft
  • Implementation
    • Help your client to implement the new guidelines everywhere
    • Train their employees to use the guidelines
    • Ensure that there are review processes in place
  • Track
    • Is the content meeting the strategic goals?
    • What improvements and tweaks can be made to the brand voice?
    • Are the guidelines being implemented?
  • Update
    • Revise all brand voice documents and retrain the employees as needed

Yes, creating a brand voice is no small task and you need to make sure that your client knows it too. This process may shrink or grow depending on the client, but it gives us a general idea of what’s involved.

Pricing brand voice services

When it comes to brand voices, charging by the project is better than charging by the hour. Having a project cost is more transparent since your client knows exactly what they’ll pay. It can also benefit you, since the more quickly you complete the project, the more you’ll earn per hour.

Based on everything we’ve discussed, what should you be charging to create a brand voice for your clients? Here are some rough guidelines that you can start from:

  • Solopreneur: $3,000-$5,000
  • Small business: $5,000-15,000
  • Mid-size business: $20,000-35,000
  • Large business: $40,000-80,000
  • Multi-national corporations: $100,000+

These number could go up if you’re highly specialized, run a large team, or have the guts to charge what you want. Or, they might go down if your clients don’t recognize the value of a brand voice, you’re just starting out, or if you’re a one-man show. It’s best to test and adjust frequently until you nail down the right number.

Bump up your income now

Creating a brand voice is the best thing you can do for yourself and your clients. It allows for long-term strategy, increased customer loyalty, simpler content production, and a better experience for everyone involved.

If you’d like to learn how to create brand voices quickly and easily, then check out our course. It’ll give you all the skills you need to increase your income and stay on the cutting-edge of marketing.

Ready to get paid?