Marketing Executive Playbook: Top 3 Questions AnsweredI’ve been on the road participating in the HubSpot Executive Playbook Seminar the past few weeks presenting an inbound marketing case study to marketing executives in Boston, Dallas, Chicago and San Francisco. It’s been a lot of fun meeting and talking to many of you about your experiences with inbound marketing and fielding many of the common questions you have. Many of you share the same concerns, so I thought I would summarize the top three questions I’m hearing and offer my answers.
#1 – How Do You Go About Building Buyer Personas?
If you research the topic, you will find the work of Adele Revella and Tony Zambito most revealing. Importantly, you want to develop a strategy for engagement with potential buyers that helps them reach their goals, not yours. Buyer persona is NOT a customer profile you can put together simply by interviewing sales reps. Buyer persona IS a deeper understanding of motivations and behavior that helps you understand the entire buyer journey and map out a strategy for reaching and nurturing your buyers. What approach do we take?
- We start with internal data collection, interviews and discussions with your customer facing people (sales, marketing, customer service, product managers).
- From those discussions, we put together a preliminary map of who your customers are, how they are influenced and the process they go through in becoming your customer and remaining one.
- We interview your customers to get their perspectives, understand their drivers and fine-tune the preliminary buyer journey model.
- We develop a preliminary buyer engagement strategy that includes a content map and editorial calendar for developing content and campaigns.
- This is NOT a static one or two day event, although it starts with one. Buyer persona development IS a dynamic process we constantly update as we test hypotheses and evaluate buyer behavior, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
#2 – How Do You Create Content for a Company or Industry That’s Unfamilar to You?
It sounds impossible, but it can be done. We hire brand journalists who have some very specific skills and experience that enable them to accomplish the mission:
- Journalism – passion for gaining deep knowledge and passing that along to your readers. Find the essential touch points through research and questioning.
- Superior interviewing skills – ability to get the interviewee excited about the conversation, active listening, ability to transcribe the feeling of the interview, not just the facts and a few quotes.
- Inbound marketing – understand the purpose of the interview, to create content that will attract buyers and nurture them into customers.
- Content strategy – deeply familiar with the buyer engagement strategy developed for each persona at each customer lifecycle stage.
- Content creation – ability to write copy that does more than convey the information obtained in interviews, write copy that stimulates buyers to engage and learn more.
The job of the brand journalist is to translate the essence of the interview into a story that engages customers. What’s the connection between brand information and buyer pain points? Develop a cohesive story that addresses one of those connections and make it interesting. It really doesn’t matter whether the subject matter is technical or entertaining. What matters is that it causes the reader or viewer to take an interest and take action.
#3 – Is There Still a Role for Outbound Marketing?
Marketing minds can certainly disagree about what is “inbound” vs. “outbound.” The classic inbound methods, website, blogging, SEO and social media, are at the core of a long-term strategy for attracting new visitors and qualified leads without reaching out to them directly via paid campaigns. That’s one of the key points of the Executive Playbook—leads from these inbound tactics are more likely (and faster) to close as customers than those obtained via outbound marketing tactics, such as email, PPC, social media ads and the full spectrum of print and media advertising. Why? Because they are already “invested” by virtue of your outstanding content when they first convert. Having said that, classic demand generation via more outbound tactics still plays an important role, as long as it’s done the “inbound way.”
- Ads (either online or offline) point to online landing pages that offer top-funnel content that addresses buyer pain points.
- Ads are targeted (segmented) for buyer personas and deliver relevant top-funnel content for the keywords, messaging and images used.
- There is always a way to opt-out from further marketing communications.
- Landing pages and calls-to-action are clear and specific about what is being offered and delivered.
- Truly interruptive tactics, such as pop-ups, interstitials, robocalls and email and text spam are avoided.
There are many more questions being asked by marketers like you. As HubSpot says so eloquently at the beginning of the Executive Playbook, we are in a period of fast transition in the marketing world. We must stop pushing our brand message and start helping our customers (the new brand). We don’t have to abandon traditional tactics, but we do need to understand our buyers and help them achieve their goals through marketing.
Let’s keep the conversation going. What questions and answers do you have?
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