Working with tech businesses of different sizes and located in different parts of the world, we noticed a recurring challenge: get noticed by the right buyers.
If the growing competition was not enough, add the buyers’ need to research on their own and the need to receive the minimum amount of assistance possible in the process and you have a complete picture of the maze that is the marketing online today.
Getting noticed and attracting the right clients has become more complicated, lengthy, and time-consuming.
In all this whirl, how can a tech business, either product or service-oriented build a solid marketing plan that will make it stand out and increase its number of conversions?
We have discovered that there are mainly four pillars that make a marketing plan sustainable in the long term: understanding your buyer persona(s), building content strategies for every buying stage, content distribution, and automation.
You probably already have an idea of the type of people who might buy from you.
But oftentimes we fall into the trap of assuming we know our clients all too well, only because we do business with them. And we communicate what our CEO or what our sales team think the clients want to hear, and so on.
Instead, the better choice is to sit down and speak to a few of your clients. You can follow an investigative journalist’s approach, asking your clients to go back in time to the day they decided to buy from your company:
Such interviews are very insightful and you should come out of these meetings with content ideas, ideas of how to write copy for your value proposition, copy for your landing pages.
Adding quantitative research can give you more data on where your clients are active, what social media sites they use the most, what publications they read.
You can name your personas, make them as relatable as possible, understand where they spend their time and what they need. But this doesn’t stop here.
Each client goes through what we call a buyer journey. Your team must understand this and the differences between each stage because they might want to change their approach according to different steps. For example, a sales specialist shouldn’t try to sell too much if your client is in the first stage, where the customer has just discovered they have a problem.
Furthermore, a strong marketing plan consists of dedicated content for each buyer journey stage. This leads us to our second Pillar.
A buyers’ online journey has become complex, with buyers twisting and turning through the buying funnel, looping back, and repeating one or more tasks in the buyer’s journey.
To try to simplify the picture, think of the buying journey as having these stages:
No matter how you define them, each step comes with its specifics and you must be prepared to meet your potential customers’ needs and concerns.
Potential customers are just becoming aware of a problem they face, so you can ask yourself: how can I help them in this discovery process? What are the topics and angles I can tackle to help them identify and name their problem?
Thus, you might want to create articles, eBooks, webinars, podcasts, or interviews through which you can show your expertise, provide tips, build trust and authority.
Potential clients now have a clear idea of the problem they want to solve and need to know what potential solutions are out there. They will start comparing various alternatives, looking for results, testimonials, reviews, or specifications.
At this point, offering case studies, solutions comparisons, and showing them what other clients have to say about you (it is known that we are compelled to using solutions that were tried & tested by others before) is the right thing to do. Show them the added value you bring and results, and in which scenario your solution is the best fit.
Customers now have their minds set on a solution and are ready to select a vendor. And perhaps can come back to buy again and even become brand ambassadors - given that you are there for them, offering quality services and also, customer support.
At this point, you’ll want to focus on your solution through demos, consultations, free trials, etc. Furthermore, it helps to have some hooks in places, such as return policies or free trials for a certain period. Reinforcing their decision is vital, so make sure the whole buying process is smooth and easy and that your customer service colleagues are ready to manage potential negative feedback. You can even send follow-up emails to show your desire to consult with them and possibly improve your service.
The real challenge is that almost every company out there creates content, we are drawing in an ocean of information. So to stand out, you need to find a radically different angle than everyone else, you want to challenge common knowledge.
Finding that angle comes from understanding your audience and their thinking, researching what competitors have done. And then take all that and try to see what can you challenge, what is a point of view that has never been addressed? Studies based on your internal data or conducting industry research are two quick ideas to start producing original content.
When researching your ideal customer and creating your persona’s profile, you will also learn about the channels they use to communicate and connect with others. This will help you decide which ones are mandatory for you and your business and what format of content you should focus on.
There is a wide beach of resources available, channels, formats that can support your marketing efforts:
But organic posting is not enough to help you get your message out, you also need to complement it with paid media.
To make the most of your budget, one good approach is to start with the cheapest channel (for most it’s Facebook) and test different variations of your ad (copy, title, visual). Once you’ve learned which version gets the most engagement, take that ad to a more expensive channel (perhaps LinkedIn) and run it there.
Make use of warm audiences, retarget people who visited your website or that viewed other ads, instead of advertising to cold audiences only.
Lead generation forms on both LinkedIn and Facebook are also worth a try, as well as conversational ads on LinkedIn.
Creating great content is just half of the journey, bringing that content in front of the right people is the other half.
Besides finding the right mix of channels, you also need to find supporters that will help you amplify your message: your colleagues, happy customers, micro-influencers.
Marketing automation helps you segment your audience based on relevant criteria (industry, services needs, location, etc), personalize and sync your communication with relevant actions your leads take. It also helps you streamline processes that used to be made manually (changing leads status, sending notifications to team members, etc).
Here are some tools we have tested and recommend:
There is no winning formula in marketing today, or at least we can’t think of one. It’s about testing and learning what works and what doesn't and iterating on those learning.
But you need to build a solid foundation, to keep you focused on reaching and helping the right people and keep your marketing efforts organized.
Building an ideal customer profile based on real customer interviews, putting a content creation and distribution strategy in place, and automating marketing processes are the pillars of that foundation.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by the possibilities and need to regain clarity, we’re happy to have a conversation and guide you in the right direction.