Our team is currently working on a really fun project, and one that it a little dear to our hearts. It’s called the Southern Gaming Summit. Every year, casino operators and vendors – who are interested in doing business down South – converge in the picturesque town of Biloxi, MS.
Because it’s not the biggest conference, we have to position it as something very special. And, because much of the success of the show is dependent on exhibitors and sponsors, we have to find ways to show them how valuable this smaller gathering can be.
We think we’re uniquely suited for the role because we ARE casino industry vendors ourselves. And because we’re pretty small compared to our competition, we’ve had to learn how to maximize our opportunities. You can’t always count on getting the level of traffic you wished for. Or maybe you do get a lot of traffic and collect some cards, but then what?
Flipping the Model
In my years on the operator side, I talked to many salespeople. I heard many more partial voicemails and saw (not read) more emails. Being a salesperson is hard, and too many times, it can be a little like rolling a boulder up a hill.
My hat is off to you. No…really, it is.
You’re the person that has to interrupt someone’s day – a day that can include anything from multiple meetings to handling a customer complaint, to scheduling staff, to figuring out how to do more with less. It’s a tough gig.
Being on the vendor side is a little like finding a needle in a haystack, only you’re the needle hoping a potential buyer is going to want to look for AND find you.
That haystack gets bigger by the day, if not the hour or minute. Hubspot has estimated the average human today is inundated with over 2000 outbound marketing interruptions per day, and buyers are figuring out more and more creative ways to block those interruptions. So, rather than hoping potential customers hear or see your message, I think it’s time to help them “find” your message.
According to a 2015 SalesforLife report, 77% of B2B buyers said they waited to talk to vendors until they did some independent research, and 65% of buyers felt vendor content impacted the final purchase decision.
We need to take our sales hats, turn them around and use the marketing side a little more. To compete in a crowded landscape, let’s think about using marketing to bring people to us rather than pushing our marketing out to them.
Let’s talk about the challenge
How do you get in front of people who aren’t taking your calls?
How do you get your information in front of buyers who are Googling independently?
How do you get on the consideration list your buyer is developing?
There are a few parts that make up a robust inbound strategy. It breaks down into two general stages. First, are information and content that can get you found. The other phase consists of landing pages, lead forms, and the mechanics that add valuable information to your CRM system to help your salesforce.
Let’s focus on the first part.
Step 1 – and because I love a plug- Jules Rules #1: Know Your Audience
Talk to your current customer. Ask them a few questions. If you don’t have customers yet, find some look-alikes of your target. You probably have friends that can be used for these look-alikes.
Then take a little time to build buyer personas. In short, a buyer persona is a fictionalized representation of your potential customer. It generally includes details such as demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. These personas will help you stay focused as you develop your tools. Try to be as detailed as possible. Try giving them a name. Grab a photo online so that they have a face. Remember to adhere to usage rights. If you’re using something internally, you’re generally ok. If you’re going to make something public, you may need an inexpensive rights-managed photo.
Put these personas up in your office or conference room so that you don’t forget who these people are.
Keep in mind that for most purchases you may deal with more than one persona. For instance, if you’re selling marketing technology, most of your communications may be with the vice president or director of marketing, but who else will influence that purchase AND the successful outcome of that purchase? IT? Finance?
How about that database marketer who has been using one tool successfully (perhaps in their mind) and now has to adapt to something new? Does a GM or store manager have to approve the purchase? What questions or concerns will any of these additional people have? Paint a good picture of each persona involved in the purchase decision and usage.
As part of understanding your audience, understand the challenges they are facing…honestly.
Don’t assume that because you developed a great tool, it is necessarily a solution they see as worth paying for. Once you understand the problems that your solution CAN solve, it’s time to start thinking about content.
Search, Keywords, and Content
There are a couple of tools I use in developing content.
The first is the Google Adwords Keyword Planner. It is free, and it allows you to see what keywords people are using to search for information or answers to their problems. If you’re using Adwords to advertise already, your Google Analytics will even show you the search queries people used to get to your site. Based on the clicks and engagement measures, you can decide if you have an opportunity to develop new content (or update the existing content).
Another tool I use is Keyword Tool. It allows you to enter a keyword to see additional keyword suggestions and, in some cases, it even gives you ideas for questions you could answer. That part is significant for developing content.
Give a few of the many tools available a try. Sometimes one tool will be better than another if you work in a niche industry as I do.
Develop your content and get it out.
So, how do you develop clickable content? Where do you start?
Many ideas will come from your keyword research. There are also some great free online tools you can use for ideas. I like Hubspot’s Idea Generator, but just Google “blog idea generator” and you’ll see a few options you can try.
Now, you have a bunch of ideas.
How do you start creating?
First, you need to consider your overall business and marketing strategy. It’s essential that your content marry up with your overall strategy. Much of this research you do may open up other avenues for you. So, you may want to revisit your strategy to see if it’s still right for you.
Then, after you’ve done your strategy checks, you can start to map out your content. Think of it as a bit of a content family tree.
- At the top is THE keyword or phrase that you can be the most competitive with.
- The next level is two, three or four questions your target (persona) has that you can answer either by updating content on your site (sometimes just utilizing the keywords that they are using that you do not have on your site) or by creating content that can be used either on your website or distributed in some other form.
- The next level after that is three or four smaller subtopics related to each question. These become your white papers, presentations, videos, columns, webinars, etc. It’ll take time to go through this, but once you do, you’ll have a good 90 days’ worth of content!
How do you know all of this is working?
You can set your own KPIs – downloads, or signups or requests for information. I use my Domain Authority as one KPI, but admittedly that is more of a long-play. Ultimately you want Google to think you are the expert authority on your primary keywords.
Keep checking those KPIs to understand adjustments you should make in both your keywords and content.
This episode of Drivetime Marketing was inspired by a 2017 post.