Marketing has changed dramatically over the years. In fact, the term digital marketing didn't exist until recently.
Once Google entered the fray and revolutionized search, the whole sales process has been turned on its head.
Product and feature discovery is now in the hands of the buyer (not the seller).
I mean, think about it. If you wanted to buy a pair of shoes 30 years ago you'd walk into a shoe store and you'd have to ask the salesperson for help.
If the salesperson was any good, she'd ask you the right questions. e.g. do you pronate or supernate? Do you have flat feet or any other unique requirements?
And if she did a good job she got the sale.
Things are different today.
If you want to buy a pair of shoes, where do you go?
Yup, that's right. You head over to Google or your favorite online shoe store.
The seller has no chance of influencing your purchase decision because as far as she's concerned you don't exist as a person with an actual identity (until you're at the checkout page filling out your delivery details).
Sure, the business might know your 'digital identity because they've pixelled you and are stalking you as you travel the world wide web thanks to things like Facebook retargeting, which has increasingly come into question of late (and rightly so).
But in essence, the buyer is in control of the sales process. The seller can no longer hope to influence the process. Rather she can only facilitate a purchase but providing the right information depending on where the buyer is on his or her journey.
Recently, Ryan Deiss, Digital Marketer's co-founder, and I, got together on the Productive Insights podcast and we spoke at length about how to use digital marketing for small business growth.
In this post, I'm going to outline some of the key insights from that conversation. I'll also add some other insights I've gained from other conversations I've had with various guests over the last 6 years as a podcast host.
Be sure to come back to this post from time to time because I intend to update it with new insights as they come up.
Let's dig in.
The first thing Ryan and I talked about is the importance of having a mission.
Can you build a successful business without a mission?
Because having a mission helps on many fronts. It aligns the team's focus towards an agreed goal. This helps build a strong culture and that's just critical over the long term.
It provides clarity and allows you to course correct when you stray from your focus (having a clear mission helps to determine what to focus on).
Let's have a listen to what Ryan Deiss has to say about how the Digital Marketer team arrived at their mission which was to double the size of 10,000 businesses by 2020.
Click on the video below to jump right to the part of the conversation where Ryan and I talk about Digital Marketer's mission and how it evolved.
Once you've gotten clear on your mission you need to focus on understanding your customer.
OK so once you've gotten clear on your mission, the next step is to understand your ideal customer.
How do you understand your ideal customer?
Maybe you're just starting out and you don't have any customers. You have no who your ideal customer is.
Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself to get started:
You might want to create an empathy map which is a great way to explore your customer in her world as she experiences it
In my conversation with Seth Godin, I said that empathy is one of the most important (but least used) words in marketing.
Develop empathy for your audience and for your clients so you can solve problems worth solving.
It's one of the best and most important things you can do for sustainable business growth.
Ok now that you've figured out the empathy piece, the next step is to create an offer that solves a problem your customer is willing to pay for...
Ryan's approach to offer-creation is multi-faceted. In our conversation, Ryan Deiss talked about creating several levels of offers as part of a 5-step conversion funnel:
But there are other approaches to offer creation that you might want to consider also. Michael Maidens shared his 5-step process to offer creation on the Productive Insights podcast. He shared that in episode 202 at around the 28-minute mark. I recommend checking it out.
The five parts of his offer-creation framework are:
Robert Cialdini talks about the importance of adding scarcity to offers to increase the sense of urgency.
This might mean making the offer available for a limited time using tools like the deadline funnel, or offering a limited quantity of a product.
Something Ryan said that really stuck with me was the value of offering speed and/or automation to your customer.
Ultimately most people are happy to pay for either or both of those things.
If your product can help them speed up something they're already doing and/or automate it (often these go hand in hand), then you're on a winner.
And these don't always have to be technically advanced solutions.
Think cheat sheets or checklists to help a customer do something they have to do regularly.
You might design an onboarding form for your client to collect information from new customers more efficiently.
Here's another important question to ask yourself when building a valuable business: your customer's journey.
What's the "before state" your customer experiences that lead them to purchase your product?
What transformation does your product or service deliver?
What's the "after state" your customer experiences as a result of buying your product or service?
Looking at your product from the customer transformation perspective enables you to view the benefits it delivers to your customer (as opposed to the features of your product or service)
For example, let's pretend you're an awesome digital marketer who helps a business owner generate inbound leads using marketing automation.
The small business owner's "before state" is probably a feeling of frustration around a stagnating business. He's probably scared he won't meet his financial commitments and that he might have to lay off his team members.
You step in, and help him automate his lead generation and follow-up processes using Hubspot's marketing software and his lead flow improves dramatically. He's better off than he's ever been.
The small business owner's "after state" is going to include feelings of joy, relief, and excitement about the future. Instead of scrambling for new customers, he can now focus on improving his existing systems and processes so he can deliver better results to his existing customers. He can focus on building longer-term assets and work ON the business rather than IN it.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to start by understanding your customer as well as you possibly can.
Create an empathy map. Do it right away.
Go to this page and scroll down to the bit where it says "Action steps" and follow those steps.
Good luck and talk soon!