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Optimizing Your Tweets for Search

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Daniel Page– Enjoy!

Optimizing Your Tweets for Search

photo credit: Flickr

Twitter’s among the most powerful social networks in the world for brand awareness – which is why it’s of the utmost importance that you know how to tap into it.

Twitter’s been around for several years now, and there still appears to be a distressing number of organizations who don’t quite know what to make of it. That’s  rather unfortunate, as those organizations don’t understand enough to know what they’re missing out on. In the right hands, Twitter may well be among the most powerful social networks in the world.

I suspect this is tied to the nature of the social network. Twitter is something people use when they’re in transit. It’s a site they browse when they’re waiting for the train, sitting in the bathroom, or stuck in traffic.  It’s a social network they go to in order to share and discover new content; in order to share their stream of thought with the world.

Connect with a user on here, and they’re bound to spread whatever message you’re putting forward like wildfire.

Make Sure Your Profile Is Optimized First

Before you even think of tweaking any of your tweets, you need to have a look at your profile. Do you have a decent profile picture? Does your tagline flow naturally while still incorporating a few keywords related to your brand? Is your profile named after your brand (or something people would associate with it?)

If you answered no to any of those questions, then you’ve some work to do before going forward.

Tailor Your Tweets To Grab Attention – And Make Sure You Have A Voice

While I don’t deny that each and every tweet should have a headline, and that most should include a link along with a hashtag or two, I nevertheless maintain that your ‘voice’ is the most important part of your Twitter presence. It’s how you present yourself to your peers and followers, after all; just like a sleazy used car salesman is likelier to drive people away from his lot than sell them a Prius, tweets that appear mechanical, spammy, or boring will cause nothing but harm.

Let your personality shine through – keep it professional, but demonstrate that you are a real human being.

Time Your Tweets

There are certain dates and times when a tweet is likeliest to receive attention, but it tends to vary by region and demographic. If you know anything about your target audience, try tracking a few of them down on Twitter. Watch their habits – when are they tweeting, and how often? Working out what time most of their tweets were sent could give you a good idea of when would be the best time to make yourself heard.

Create A Keyword List

Although I’ve always been a proponent of a more organic form of SEO, it could be worthwhile to put together a list of all the major keywords you intend to use on Twitter. Keep them close-by, and don’t be afraid to occasionally drop one or two into one of your tweets (either into the body or as a hashtag).

Use Hashtags Whenever Possible (And Appropriate)

Speaking of hashtags…learn about them. Learn how they work. Learn what makes them tick. The most important thing here is that you don’t overuse them. You should never have more than three in a single tweet, and even then three could be two too many. Never start a tweet with a hashtag.

In order to figure out what hashtags you should be using, simply do a search on terms related to your brand (or to the tweet you’re planning to send). Note the terms that seem to be the most popular; these are your hashtags.

Understand The Concepts of Favorites And Retweets

While you should go out of your way to avoid pestering your fellow users, it can’t hurt to occasionally ask for a retweet when you’re sharing something particularly vital. Don’t forget to retweet a few things yourself, as well, in order to augment your own content.

Tweet Frequently

Last but not least, tweet with some degree of frequency and consistency. You might want to consider using some sort of management tool or setting up a tweet scheduler of some kind. Personally, I use Twuffer, but it’s up to you what you ultimately want to go with.

daniel pageAbout Daniel Page — Daniel is the Director of Business Development for Ahosting, a leading provider in SEO hosting and multiple IP hosting. Follow Ahosting on Twitter at @ahostingdotnet,  Like them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ahostingdotnet, and check out all the services they offer on http://www.ahosting.net/

 

How to Use Cialdini’s Principles and A/B Testing to Increase Sales and Conversions

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Anand Kansal  – Enjoy! 

There is arguably no more important book in the world of persuasive selling than Robert Cialdini’s “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”. With the rise of online marketing, it was, therefore, only a matter of time before the principles of influence that Mr. Cialdini talked about began to be used by online business owners and marketers to increase sales and conversions on their websites. Specifically, in the world of A/B testing, many successful testers have used them to construct variations which employ one or more of these principles. These principles have been used on major eCommerce and SaaS websites to run tests that result in more and more visitors driven into a conversion funnel or tempted to click on that ‘Add to Cart’ button.

In this post, I’ll be giving an overview of each of the 6 principles before demonstrating a successful A/B test that was conducted on this principle and how you can use this principle to increase the persuasive power of your website. Let’s get started!

Principle#1: Reciprocity

People tend to return favors. The reason why you get free stuff (newsletters, eBooks, guides) all the time in your inbox is because of some marketer wanting you to return the favor by either trying out their product, subscribing to their stuff or sharing their stuff on social media.

Artsy Editor, a premium WordPress WYSIWYG editor, tested 3 combinations of Call-to-Action(CTA) buttons on their homepage. Let us take a look at each of the variations in turn.

Variation 1

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Variation 2

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Variation 3

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The goal of the test was the number of people who clicked through to their demo and pricing page. Variation 1 increased their CTR by 47%, Variation 2 by 17% and Variation 3 resulted in no improvement.

What does this show? If you push too hard at the beginning, the visitors may feel uncomfortable and leave the site. Especially for a SaaS product, the primary CTA should be demo/trial.

Principle#2: Social Proof

People see what they see others are doing. We are more likely to put money in a collection jar which is half full and buy a product recommended by someone known to us. FietsPunt.nl, a Dutch online biking solutions store, used this principle to run an A/B test on their website. What they did was adding a customer testimonial widget to their product pages. This is how the control and the variation looked.

Control

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Variation

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Comparison Image

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The variation recorded a 36.73% increase in orders and had a 99% chance to beat the original. Needless to say, this was a hugely beneficial test.

Principle#3: Scarcity

The fear of losing out is much more than the joy of winning. This is why salesmen are quick to point out that the ‘special discount’ they are offering is only for a ‘limited period of time’.

RIPT Apparel, an online retailer of designer tees and wearable art, make a new design available every day starting at midnight. This design is available only for 24 hours, post which it is retired for posterity. They tried to use this ‘scarcity hook’ by including it in the text on their CTA button. This is how the control and the variation looked.

Control

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Variation

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The variation resulted in a 6.3% increase in sales. So what do we see here? A company increasing sales – not by changing business models, adding products, giving offers – but just recognizing a persuasion hook and using it to drive more conversions. This is the power of persuasion.

Principle#4: Authority

People tend to believe in figures that exhibit some sense of authority or leadership. This is why pharmaceutical companies use doctors in their marketing campaigns. Or why we are likely to believe a ‘stock market expert’ even though most of what he/she says turns out to be made up.

Bag Servant decided to use this principle in setting up an A/B test on their product pages. In the variation, they replaced the Twitter Followers badge in the header with a relatively rare WOW badge that was presented to them by a renowned business woman.

Control

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Variation

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Comparison image

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As a result of this test, product exploration increased by 60.42%.

Trust badges like the one seen above can be used to radically improve the trust factor of your website.

Principle#5: Liking

Many marketers tend to overlook the fact that people are more likely to be persuaded by people who they can relate with, and therefore, like. That is why advertisements of household appliances prefer to show moms and not celebrities.

Medalia Art, an online art store tried to trigger this principle by replacing the images of the painting with images of the artists themselves. This resulted in an increase in conversion rate of more than 95%.

Control

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Variation

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One way of using this technique is advertising your product through your consumers. Customers today are skeptical and they are more open to word-of-mouth than clichéd advertisements.

Principle#6: Commitment and Consistency

Human beings, in general, have a deep desire to be consistent with their actions. If you’re able to show people that not using your product/service will negatively affect what they most want, they will be more likely to buy from you. This is why you see headlines like ‘Do you want to have 6 pick abs?’ or ‘Do you want a Mercedes in 2 months?’ (Yeah, right)

I have to admit something here. I lied at the beginning of this article. No good test has yet been conducted to see whether Commitment and Consistency really result in increased online conversions. I want to give you this opportunity to show us how you conducted a test based on one of these principles and whether it worked or not. Feel free to comment below.

Author PicAnand Kansal is a Marketer at VWO. He is involved in VWO’s lead generation activities. He’s also responsible for creating content offers, including eBooks and blog posts. Passionate about helping websites increase leads and revenue, he loves to read about behavioral psychology and decision science. He can be found on Twitter at @anandkansal88

 

How To Avoid the 3 Most Costly Mistakes When Using Google AdWords

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Adam Lundquist– Enjoy! 

photo credit: Red X  via WikiMedia Commons
photo credit: Red X via WikiMedia Commons

Do you ever feel like your small business would get a better return on investment by literally lighting your money on fire than using Google AdWords?

You began your AdWords campaign for your small business with high hopes and launched it, excited to fulfill orders from your new customers. Except those orders never came.

You attempted to fix it with different keywords, ad copy, and the newest techniques from self-proclaimed “experts”. However, with each new “fix” you spent more of your time and money – but added no new revenue. You are low on advertising budget and even lower on patience.

If this is your experience then you are not alone, almost all small businesses make costly mistakes when they start using AdWords. This is because the AdWords system penalizes you for mistakes you do not even know you are making. Even worse, in some cases AdWords even encourages these mistakes. The more you mistakes you make the more money AdWords earns from extra clicks you don’t want.

This article helps you identify these mistakes – and more importantly learn how to correct them to put you on the path to AdWords profit.

Mistake One: Keywords In Broad Match

AdWords is set by default to have your keywords in broad match, and this causes your keywords to match for a huge variety of searches you never intended.

For example, if you are a pizza store in Philadelphia and use Google AdWords, you might bid on the keyword Pizza delivery in Philadelphia. You assume that a hungry user has to type in the phrase Pizza delivery in Philadelphia into Google to view your ad and order your delicious pie. However, that is not the case and it costs you money!

By default your ads shows for a huge variety of searches that you never intended. If not changed from default, your keyword Pizza delivery in Philadelphia actually signals to Google to show your ad for searches such as how to cook a frozen pizza, and when clicked, you still have to pay for that irrelevant click.

The discrepancy between the searches you intend your ad to show for and the actually searches that trigger your ad is because the AdWords system uses different match types for keywords. There are four main match types: broad, broad match modifier, phrase, and exact. The different match types allow you (the small business advertiser) to match for a broader or narrower range of actual search queries that users type in. Broad is (as it sounds) the most broad in terms of what searches trigger your ad, and it is ALWAYS set by default in Google AdWords. This means that it is at Google’s discretion to decide that a user’s search is “close enough” to your keyword. Since Google gets paid on every click, they have a broad view of what is close enough.

When beginning your account change the match type of your keywords. Make sure your keywords are either in either phrase match or broad match modifier. These match types ensure that the words you use as your keywords have to be the ones the users searched for in Google. Here is a handy chart to visually see the differences as well as the special symbols that change the match type:

photo credit: chart via PPC HERO
photo credit: chart via PPC HERO

Mistake Two: The Wrong Industry For An Immediate Sale

A common mistake when beginning AdWords is to immediately go for the sale. In some industries an immediate sale makes sense, but in many industries users are not ready to make the purchase at first interaction.  In these industries, the user needs to trust your company before they even consider making the purchase. If the user clicks on an ad and is taken to a site where the only option is a sale, if the user isn’t ready to purchase they have no choice but to leave your site without providing your business any valuable data.

Rather than throw money into the AdWords abyss a, try a different approach. A better way to run AdWords in these industries is to think of a longer sales cycle, and change your goal (called a conversion) from getting an immediate sale to getting their contact information. You can use your ads to send users to a page that asks for their contact information in exchange for a small incentive, build trust by marketing to them via the email they provided, and finally sell to them when they are ready to make a purchase and already trust your company. Incentives can include:

  • Free eBooks
  • Samples
  • Free consultations

This approach works best for industries where trust is key, such as an expensive physical product or a long-term service provider.

Mistake Three: Sending Users To The Homepage

Once you decide on your goals in AdWords, you need to send users to a page that matches the users search and makes it as easy as possible for them to convert. All too often I see new AdWords campaigns send users to the home page. The homepage doesn’t match the users search and conversions are unlikely to happen.  A homepage often has a variety of items and is designed for navigation deeper into the site rather than a conversion.

For example, let’s say you are in the right industry for an immediate sale, like a winter clothing retailer that sells winter hats amongst other items. If you are just beginning to use AdWords you may send all of the users to your generic homepage. If you buy the keyword winter hats and the user is sent to the homepage, which is crowded with all of your items, the user has to search to find the specific sales page for winter hats. This means the user had to spend additional mental energy to search more through your website and click again. The majority of users will not expend this mental energy– they leave your page without making a purchase.

You want to make it as easy and friction-less as possible for the user to convert by sending them to specific high-converting sales pages. If the user type in winter hats send them to the exact sales page for winter hats.

What is your biggest AdWords obstacle?

Adam LundquistAdam Lundquist (@adamlundquist) is the CEO of Nerds Do It Better, an Internet advertising agency for small businesses. He has been featured in The Harvard Gazette, Search Engine Journal, KISSmetrics, WordStream, PPC Hero, Certified Knowledge, Mtv, Vh1, Sports Illustrated, and Moz. Visit his site today for a free eBook: Make Internet Advertising Work For Your Small Business. 5 Steps To Find, Cultivate and Market To New Customers.

 

Why I Think Rainmaker Is the Future of Websites

I’ve been helping business owners and marketers build websites and a more complete online presence for years now.

I pushed clients into blogging as far back as 2004. I urged people to get serious about email lead capture – even as others claimed email was dead. I’ve shown clients the power of landing pages for every possible initiative and I’ve practically been a raving zealot for all things WordPress.

Many of the tools and integrations required technical expertise or at least the patience and curiosity to learn, but they were and are that important.

So, that’s why I’m thoroughly behind the launch today of a new tool called Rainmaker.

Rainmaker is the genius and proven test work of one of the most trusted marketers online today – Brian Clark and the Copyblogger team – and it brings together many of the parts and pieces that I’ve held at the center of the Duct Tape Marketing Point of View.

Rainmaker is so powerful we plan to integrate it as the primary website tool we recommend and use with clients. Copyblogger and Duct Tape Marketing are a bit like the Peanut Butter and Jelly of the small business world in my opinion – they just go better together!

Think of Rainmaker as a completely re-engineered WordPress core that also includes the entire Studio Press theme library built on the Genesis framework, SEO tools, landing page creation tools, forum, a podcast module, A/B split testing, and a membership module all locked down with bullet proof WordPress hosting.

With Rainmaker, you can:

  • Create powerful content-driven websites on your own domains.
  • Build membership sites and online training courses.
  • Sell digital products like software, ebooks, and more.
  • Perform sophisticated online lead generation.
  • Optimize your content for search engines and social networks.
  • Absorb cutting-edge tactics and strategy with included training.
  • Avoid a patchwork of plugins, themes, and complicated code.
  • Forget about upgrades, maintenance, security, and hosting headaches.
  • Take your site and content elsewhere at any time if you so choose.

rainmaker

Oh, and did I mention Rainmaker comes with access to the entire totally awesome Copyblogger Authority training that includes ebooks, tutorials, and live webinars and Q and A sessions.

copyblogger

Rainmaker is jumping in and filling the void for businesses that want and need a high-end, full featured marketing site at a fraction of the cost it would take to build on their own.

In addition, Rainmaker removes the need for set-up, updates, plugins and add-ons that constantly require attention.

Duct Tape Marketing and Copyblogger are forging a significant strategic alliance in an effort to take the Rainmaker toolset and marry it to our practical marketing system. This truly is, in my view, a perfect partnership and I can’t wait to start bringing this piece of the puzzle to the world of small and mid-size business.

You can get a small sample of the power of Rainmaker by taking a look at the first site we built on the platform for our own efforts. Ducttapemarketingconsultant.com is the home of the Duct Tape Marketing Network. This site acts as our marketing and recruiting tool, but, thanks to Rainmaker, it also houses all of the tools, training and resources we make available to members of the network.

member

Members of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network are also currently receiving special training, perks and integration tools as it is our intention to act as a major value added reseller of the Rainmaker Platform.

While Rainmaker is, even in it’s early launch stages, a powerful tool, Copyblogger is far from being done. Future, planned iterations include marketing automation tools, email, learning management tools and affiliate tools.

Rainmaker is sold on a monthly fee basis and during the initial launch customers can lock in a promotional price that won’t increase as new feature sets are added.

I believe this is the future of the web for small and mid-sized business and it’s the direction I’m urging my readers and customers to explore and embrace.

Check out the Rainmaker platform and take it for a test drive starting today! – Introducing: The Rainmaker Platform by Copyblogger Media

As a Rainmaker partner we’ll be offering services to help Rainmaker users get the most out of the platform as an integrated marketing system.

A Visual Guide to Local SEO for Small Business Websites

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Justin Sturges – Enjoy!

How to Build a Perfectly Optimized Local Website by Following the Google Guidelines!

Building a winning local website is no simple task. We need content about our business, a blog, location pages, photos and galleries, contact pages and more! All this can quickly overwhelm budgets and plans.

HannibalSSo in order to help, we’ve built an infographic which attempts to help small business owners, consultants, web designers and local marketers get a better plan.

Anyone a fan of the A-Team? Remember Hannibal Smith, big cigar in his mouth, saying “I love it when a plan comes together”? I loved that.

And the goal here is to help your plan “come together”.

In the process of creating this post, we first attempted to write it in s standard blog text format… we tried hard, but it was B-O-R-I-N-G. Really, boring. Then we got the idea to make it into an infograhic.

We think it worked, it’s a big one, but hopefully you’ll agree it’s the best approach. We hope you’ll save it and use it to guide the development of your website and get the clarity you need as you go.

We’ve combined our experience with extensive research across the local space online. At the bottom of the infographic we site the sources we used in developing the blueprint.

At the bottom of this post we provide a PDF link and embed links at a couple sizes as well.

Here you go:

Local-SEO-Template-Blueprint-Infographic3

This graphic and the systems we use ourselves in-house to build sites following these guidelines are always evolving. If you have questions or further ideas from the trenches we’d love to hear from you.

Share this Image On Your Site

Wrapping up:
The key take aways here are to please read the Google SEO Guidelines, you will be a step ahead if you do. Use the Google guidelines together with this infographic and you will be far ahead of 99% of the folks out there.

Get the PDF version:
Visual-Guide-To-On-Page-Local-SEO.pdf

Justin is the Founder and Principal Consultant at Systemadik Marketing where he and his team work with local businesses to build better online marketing systems.  Justin has been working online since 1994, he is currently working on launching the Systemadik LMS (Local Marketing System) which is a custom WordPress SEO and content solution for local businesses.  He is a Duct Tape Marketing Consultant and employs the DTM system to provide strategic support and leading marketing tools to his clients. Justin is a father and husband and enjoys exploring the cenotes and coral reefs of the Yucatan Peninsula with his family.

How to Get More Customers for Free This Week Through Google

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Erik Larson – Enjoy! 

You’re getting frustrated.

You see neighboring businesses, competitors, and everyone else get customers through their door, and you’re getting nothing.

So you ask around, trying to figure out what’s going on.

You keep hearing your friends tell you “My customers keep telling me they ‘saw me on Google’ or they ‘found me through their smartphone’”.

You have a website! That one guy you paid way too much money to put up your website said you would be found on Google! What gives?

So you type your name into Google, and sure enough, there’s your website, right where it was. And you remember that supposedly, you were going to be on the first page of Google for [whatever your industry is, let’s say plumbing]. So you type in plumbing, and you’re nowhere to be found. But you do see this:

PlumbingMaine1Large

‘Wait, how come I’m not on that map?’ You ask. ‘This must be why the other plumbers are crushing me!’

Welcome to Google My Business, a free service provided by Google.

I know it can be frustrating to see your competitors looking really good on Google, and you’re nowhere to be found, I understand that. I also understand the idea of getting your business up on Google can be intimidating, the idea of going through a huge elaborate process, jumping through hoops, and not understanding any of it is scary.

But guess what, it’s surprisingly easy.

Using the built-in Google My Business tutorial, you will usually be able to get setup and going in an hour or less. Anyone that has a basic understanding of how to use the Internet can do this, so by the sole reason that you are reading this blog post, I believe in you.

Let’s get started so we can  get you some more customers, shall we?

First off, there are some important things you need ready and at your fingertips:

  • A Google or Gmail account
  • A nice picture of the front of your building
  • Your address
  • Your logo

Once you have these things ready, go to http://www.google.com/business/, and click on the “Get on Google” button. Follow all the directions exactly, make sure to fill out as much as possible. Once you’ve got your account setup and verified, it could take a couple days to get your business in the results.

Getting the HUGE boost in traffic we talked about

Alright, so now that your account is setup and verified, here’s the tricky part, making your business stand out on the search page.

I typed “Plumbing in Portland, Maine” and I got these results.

PlumbingMaine2Large

Which result do you think gets the most clicks?

As you might have guessed by the lack of reviews on the front page, getting a Google Review can be kind of tough. I’ve seen a lot of companies with Google profiles that have been up for a long time, and still don’t have any reviews.

So, how do we go about getting these elusive reviews?

Here are three really easy steps to getting a Google review:

  1. Type your company name and city into Google. [For example: “Joe’s Plumbing, Baltimore”
  2. Find the “Write a review” link, right click it and copy the link.
  3. Send that link to 30 of your best and favorite customers, and ask them to write a review.

In the email, make sure you thank them for being an amazing customer, and make sure to thank them again after they wrote the review. If you are a customer of theirs as well, you can offer to do the same thing for them.

Once those reviews start rolling in, you’ll likely notice a bump in traffic to your site, your Google+ page, and your business.

Getting even MORE customers

Wait, you want even more customers?

Well, if you have the money, there’s a way to boost the amount of people coming to your website dramatically. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, Google Adwords Express let’s you show up in Google Maps results, and you’ll show up in the yellow bar in Google search. It’s pretty easy to setup, and it’ll run automatically.

If you want to go more in-depth, you could run a campaign in Google AdWords, there are tons of great tutorials out there to help you out.

Now, the next step is to get your business set up in Bing Places, to take advantage of all of the Siri and Windows Phone users out there.

How many of you have used Google My Business? How has it helped your company?

150portraitErik Larson is the founder of RunTheMarket, a small business marketing blog. He is also the SEO specialist for Lendio, a free online tool to find business loans, and writes on small business topics on the Lendio Blog. He can also be found on Google+ and Twitter.

 

Just Work the Program

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Justin Belmont – Enjoy!
Work The Program

Photo Credit: Barber Chair

Many barbershops go beyond a simple haircut to treat customers to a grooming extravaganza. A haircut may come with a beer, great conversation, hairstyling tips, full shampoo and conditioning with top-notch men’s hair products, and a massage chair. A repeat customer will likely expect a repeat performance. Yet, if the barber falls short on the friendly conversation, if he forgets to offer a beer, or even if the massage chair is out of order, the customer may not return.

While any of these mistakes is forgivable, the customer has come to expect a certain type of haircut. As the owner of a new luxury barbershop, you would need to set the standard of service and stick to it.

Marketing is no different. Patience may be difficult in the midst of a marketing program, but if you lay out a plan and follow it consistently, you build customer confidence in your brand.

Work The Program

Photo Credit: Maplay out a plan and follow it consistently, you build customer confidence in your brand.

For example, if your social media campaign begins with three tweets per day and you begin to build an audience on this strategy, that audience is going to expect to find tweets three times a day. Along the same lines, if you only tweet once or twice a week, you may build an audience that prefers a sparse style. If you start to ramp up your daily tweets, this audience may un-follow you.

In either case, decide on a consistent strategy that is appropriate for your brand before execution. If your social media ship has already set sail without a consist heading, reevaluate the program. Start anew, but be faithful to the new program. In some ways, correcting course on a social media program may be easier than on other marketing platforms. Format is fairly standardized, making frequency the primary consideration. As long as you supply relevant content, there are relatively few corrections to be made. Traditional marketing campaigns, such as pitching media or running online advertising, may require more work to recover.

Work The Program

Photo Credit: Marketing

Whether the business is a barber shop or a new real estate investment firm, the rules are the same for any small venture. Consistency is key. The logo on social media pages should be the same as the logo on emails signatures and on the bandit signs posted around town. If you want to build consumer confidence that your business is legitimate, maintain branding across platforms to establish recognition. For example, the Nike “swoosh” branding is so recognizable that Nike no longer needs to supplement it with the brand name. The logo speaks for itself.

Inconsistencies are a red flag to audiences that something is amiss. Sloppy marketing may indicate that the product cuts corners as well. Audiences may think your company can’t handle the work, either because distractions have let the marketing program fall to the wayside or because the company cannot afford proper business promotion. No matter the cause, inconsistent marketing will elicit shaky confidence, which in turn will make customers disappear.

 

Justin BelmontJustin Belmont is the founder and editor-in-chief of Prose Media (prosemedia.com), a writing service that creates high-quality content for brands–from blog posts and newsletters to web copy and white papers. Prose (@prose) employs top professional journalists and copywriters with expertise in a variety of industries.

With a background in corporate communications, Belmont has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and was formerly an editor at Google.

In Sales & Marketing, Zero Dark Thirty is 30 Minutes Too Late

… or why the biggest sales problem businesses think they have isn’t the one they actually have!

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from a member of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network - Kurian M. Tharakan– Enjoy!
Zero Dark Thirty

Photo Credit: Zero Dark Thirty – IMDb

In the movie Zero Dark Thirty, the US Navy Seal team raid on Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden’s house was conducted at 00:30, or thirty minutes past midnight. If that raid were a sales and marketing operation, zero dark thirty* would be thirty minutes too late!

Before I explain what I mean, let me provide some background. In the past few months I have consulted with numerous companies who believe they have a sales problem. However, in almost every situation the primary issue was identified as a marketing problem and not a sales problem. How did I determine this? By examining close ratios, or how many leads were converted into a sale. Although average close ratios vary by industry and market, if you are in a competitive environment and closing more than 15 – 25% of your QUALIFIED leads you are on the right track!

All of these clients were closing their fair share of the leads they were generating. They just weren’t generating enough QUALIFIED leads to pursue.

Lead Generation is a Marketing Function

In each situation above the sales team were expert closers but spent most of their non-sales time waiting for the phone to ring or following up on previous leads. Now some might say that these guys should be using their “spare” time prospecting for new leads, but, by definition, prospecting (lead generation) is a marketing function. Besides, these sales teams’ skills and expertise are best used to close sales, but their company’s marketing efforts were not producing enough qualified leads for them to pursue.

Now, Here’s the Big Problem

It’s estimated that up to 70% of the buying decision is made PRIOR to anyone even talking to a sales person. Today’s customer has numerous resources available to them, usually just a few mouse clicks away. By the time that they arrive at your sales desk the majority already have a preferred direction to go and are now seeking confirming or dis-confirming evidence to support their decision. If you have not positively biased their decision PRIOR to this contact point, YOU ARE AT A SEVERE DISADVANTAGE!

This is Time Point Zero Dark Zero

A properly functioning company will have a marketing process which creates qualified leads to HAND OFF to sales. Let’s name this crucial timeline juncture as zero dark zero. This is the point of truth where marketing delivers a “primed” prospect for sales to close. Primed is the key word. These are the prospects that have a preference to choose you from all of your competitors! If a company only STARTS their selling process AFTER zero dark zero WITHOUT HAVING PRIMED THEIR PROSPECT to choose them, they are at a severe disadvantage!

You Don’t Have a Sales Problem, You Have a Lead Generation Problem!

So, these clients don’t have a sales problem, they have a lead generation problem. All of their future revenue depends on their sales abilities with UNQUALIFIED, UNPRIMED prospects. But sales abilities can only go so far with prospects whose minds have already been 70% made up to travel in other directions!

If we were to put this into the context of Zero Dark Thirty the movie, the vast majority of the plot dealt with the CIA unearthing, tracking down, and qualifying leads on Bin Laden’s exact location. The seal team’s actual on the ground time was less than 38 minutes from entry to exit, but it took over 10 years of research to pinpoint the location to attack.

The First Step to Improving Sales is to Improve Lead Generation!

So, if the primary sales problem is actually a lead generation problem (marketing), what are some things you can try? Here’s a VERY BASIC list. Although not all of them will apply to your specific business, you should be using at least six on a consistent basis, with full measurement and tracking of the results. How many are you doing?

Website

  • Pay per click (e.g. Google Adwords)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

 

Social Media

  • E-Mail marketing
  • Facebook
  • Industry specific social sites
  • Linkedin
  • Twitter
  • Etc.

 

Content Marketing

  • Blogging
  • eBooks
  • How to guides
  • Newsletters
  • Special reports
  • Video
Advertising

  • Billboards
  • Catalogs
  • Classified ads
  • Direct mail
  • Fax advertising
  • Flyers
  • Magazine
  • Radio
  • TV

 

Other

  • Joint Ventures
  • Press Releases
  • Pro bono work
  • Publicity
  • Seminars
  • Speaking
  • Sponsorships
  • Trade shows
  • Webinars
  • Workshops

*technically, in military terms zero dark thirty does not reference a specific time of day, but is slang for the very early morning.
StrategyPeak Sales & Marketing Advisors

 

 

Kurian M. TharakanAbout the Author – Kurian M. Tharakan
Kurian Mathew Tharakan is a Sales & Marketing Consultant, Speaker & Facilitator, and founder of the marketing strategy firm StrategyPeak Sales & Marketing Advisors. Prior to StrategyPeak, Mr. Tharakan was vice-president sales & marketing for an Alberta based software firm where his team achieved notable wins with several members of the US Fortune 500. Previous to his software experience, Mr. Tharakan directed the sales and marketing programs for the Alberta practice of an international professional services firm.