7 Marketing Tips to Effectively Explain a Complex Product or Service

two people having a meeting

As business leaders and marketers, it’s easy to get so focused on our businesses that we forget to step back and see things from a customer’s perspective. We’re wrapped up in questions about operations, market positioning, staffing, and finances. But we often forget to stop and ask, “Do people understand what we do?” As a result, our potential customers walk away confused and unengaged whenever they visit our website or engage with our marketing materials.

If we want to generate leads and expand our business, we must stop confusing our customers and start connecting with them. The first step in marketing a complex product or service is to learn how to simply and effectively explain the products and services we offer. Then we need to clearly communicate how we can help customers experience success. That can be difficult if you work in a complex industry, but it’s not impossible. 

7 Marketing Tips for Explaining a Complex Product or Service

Here are a few marketing tips to help you capture the attention of your audience, make it easy to understand your product or service, and ultimately convert them into a customer: 

1. Define how your product or service helps your audience achieve their goals. 

If you want to help people understand your complex product or service, it’s important they know the answers to a few foundational questions:

  • Who is this product for?
  • What does this product do?
  • Why should customers want to use it?
  • Why do customers need it now?
  • How is this product different from what else is out there?

You’ll know your messaging is working if your buyers can instantly find out the answers to these questions.

2. Try to simplify your buyer’s journey into three or four steps. 

Making it simple for people to understand how they can become a client or customer is one of the easiest ways to gain potential business. That’s why we recommend breaking your buyer’s journey into three to four steps that explains how you can help them get from where they are today to where they want to be. 

3. Ask questions that help you get inside the mind of your audience.

If you want to figure out how to communicate with your audience, it’s important to understand how they think. Taking time to evaluate your product or service with the questions potential customers might be asking can help you create messaging that resonates with them.

4. Get direct feedback from your audience through surveys. 

If you’re not sure what people think about your product or service, ask them! Potential and current customer surveys are one of the most effective ways to truly determine how well people understand your complex product or service. Whether you’re a brand new startup or have been in business for years, surveys provide a simple way to get qualitative and quantitative feedback on your products, services, and messaging. 

5. Leverage storytelling to make facts or processes easier to understand.

People respond to stories. If you’ve struggled to gain traction by explaining your complex product or service with facts and details, consider integrating storytelling into your marketing efforts. This could be done through case studies, explainer videos, or a creative approach to advertising. Telling stories your potential customers want to hear can be an effective way to not only help them understand what you do but inspire them to take action.

6. Rely on data and analytics to help discover what content to create. 

You can discover what messaging resonates with customers by analyzing what type of content they engage with most. Analyze the numbers across all tactics (e.g., email marketing, blogging, website visits, social media, etc.) to discover what is working, what isn’t, and where there are untapped opportunities for making your messaging more effective.

7. Determine what channels might be most helpful in reaching your audience. 

One final tip in communicating more effectively is to consider your audience’s content consumption preferences. For example, 68% of baby boomers prefer traditional content formats such as news articles, research reports, and blogs. Effectively explaining a complex product or service also requires you to communicate with customers in the format they prefer.

If you’ve struggled to gain traction with your messaging, start with these seven strategies. By taking the time to understand your audience and meet them where they are, you’ll make tremendous strides in simplifying your complex product or service in a way that inspires them to take action. 

Ready to develop your marketing strategy but need some guidance along the way? Contact us to learn how Green Apple Strategy can help.

B2B Companies: How to Get the Most Out of Your LinkedIn Presence

Are you struggling to get engagement or reach on LinkedIn?  Social media strategies aren’t what they once were. The formula for success is no longer simply “post more often,” or “interact with your content,” which we’re sure you’ve heard countless times. Especially for B2B companies, social media is a different animal—it doesn’t play by the same rules as its B2C counterparts. Not to worry, though. With a well-planned LinkedIn strategy, you can increase your following, engagement, brand awareness, and even encourage teamwork among your employees.   Here’s what you’ll need to get the most out of your LinkedIn presence: 
  1. A current and engaging business page
  2. Digestible content that speaks to your audience’s pain points
  3. Diligent and proactive engagement with your audience
  4. An employee-centric content and engagement strategy
  5. A budget for strategic paid ads

How to Get the Most Out of Your LinkedIn Presence

1. A Current and Engaging Business Page
When was the last time you revisited your LinkedIn business page? Chances are, a lot has happened in your business since you first created the page. On top of that, standards for what makes a good business page have changed. Review your page to ensure that all your information is up to date.  You may also consider switching up your “About” content to speak directly to your audience. Rather than a simple description of what your business does, capture your audience’s attention by telling them how you can solve their problem specifically. Tell them who you help, what you do, and what your differentiators are. This allows your audience to quickly identify that you’re the right fit. Tip: LinkedIn only shows the first two lines of your description without the user having to click to read more. Make those two sentences count!
2. Digestible Content that Speaks to Your Audience’s Pain Points
This is always the tricky one, right? Engaging your audience through eye-catching content. You must find a way to speak to your audience’s needs, while also giving them content that they can quickly digest. That may include graphics, original blog content, thoughtful insights, or shared content from other reputable sources. Try to create (or find and share) content that your audience can learn something from very quickly as they scroll through their feed.  Tip: Always tag any relevant people or businesses in your posts. Also, make good use of your hashtags to help users find your content.
3. Diligent and Proactive Engagement with Your Audience
We know you’re busy and have very little time to watch over your social accounts. But, engagement is one of the most important elements of your LinkedIn strategy. Ensure that you always answer comments or proactively engage your audience in conversation by asking a question in the first comment on your post. To further encourage engagement, you may also consider tagging someone in the comment who you feel may have particularly good insight on the subject.   Tip: Set a calendar reminder to help you remember to check your LinkedIn and engage at least twice per day. 
4. An Employee-Centric Content and Engagement Strategy
Involving your employees is a great way to build teamwork, making your team feel more connected to your audience and to each other. Here are a few of the ways you can encourage your team’s help with your LinkedIn strategy
  • Request that each team member spends ten minutes per day engaging on LinkedIn
  • Tag team members in content they helped create or contributed to
  • Create branded cover photos for your team’s profiles 
  • Share content congratulating team members on their accomplishments
  • Tag team members to ask insightful questions 
Tip: Ask team members to create content of their own that they would be proud to share with their LinkedIn connections. 
5. A Budget for Strategic Paid Ads
Organic reach is always the goal, but in today’s social media environment, you often have to pay to play. Consider your business’s primary goals, and set a budget for each that you can use for paid LinkedIn ads. If that’s hiring, for example, you may boost a job advertisement. If it’s brand awareness, you may put your money behind case studies. Whatever you choose, make sure that your ad spend correlates with your team’s goals. Tip: To get the most out of your ad spend, you may prefer to hire someone to help you with this area of your strategy.

Ready to Build a Lead-Generating LinkedIn Strategy? 

Your LinkedIn content has the power to paint a picture for your clients, prospective employees, and anyone coming in contact with your brand. Let’s make it count. Contact Green Apple Strategy today to schedule a consultation. Our team is happy to sit down with you to discuss your goals and how we can help you achieve each and every one of them.

Why Salespeople Don’t Follow Up with Marketing Leads

employee looking at phone screen with computer in the background
There’s one thing salespeople do that frustrates marketing more than anything else. Actually, to be more clear, it’s something they don’t do. When salespeople don’t follow up with marketing leads, a division between the two teams is bound to occur. But, what if there was a way to address this issue before we got to the board room standoff? Prior to marketing shaking their heads in frustration that sales isn’t following up with leads, it might be helpful to take a step back and ask why.  Identifying the reason salespeople don’t follow up with marketing leads and taking steps to address their issues will be a lot more effective in the long run than throwing your sales team under the bus.  It’s also worth mentioning that sales shouldn’t provide the common response that “these leads stink” when trying to determine the disconnect between sales and marketing. 

3 Reasons Why Salespeople Don’t Follow Up with Marketing Leads 

After dozens of conversations with business development teams over the past year, here are the three most common reasons that sales stop following up with marketing leads: 
They Aren’t Empowered with Enough Information
It’s important for marketing to provide salespeople with context when following up with leads. How did they show up on the lead list? Was it because of a contact form or download? What did they download? What are some of the pain points addressed in the resource? Equipping your salespeople with as much information as possible will help them create a better first impression with a prospective customer. This is why it’s important that your marketing and sales technology are in sync—so that salespeople can look back at everything a prospective customer has done (every download, website visit, etc.) when following up. 
They Don’t Recognize the Need to Nurture Leads
In today’s complex business world, a potential customer could be anywhere in the buying cycle when the rep calls. Some are ready to make a final decision, while others are just beginning to explore their options. Many salespeople often underestimate how long it takes for those leads to turn into sales. It’s important for marketing and sales leaders to sit down together, identify the average length of the sales cycle, and evaluate the buyer’s journey. Marketing needs buy-in from salespeople to keep circling back on leads, so that you both can get an accurate idea of how marketing leads perform over time.
The Don’t Feel Equipped with Resources to Last Throughout the Sales Cycle
Salespeople can easily feel overwhelmed by the expectation to nurture hundreds of potential sales conversations on their own, especially when they don’t feel equipped with resources to guide the prospective buyer through the sales cycle. As a result, they either give up on leads or push prospective customers away because they’re trying to close the deal before the lead is ready to buy.  To address this issue, it’s important for marketing to create sales-enablement tools that your team can actually use. You might not be able to force sales to use the tool you provided, but taking the time on the front end to create assets that work will save you a lot of time on fighting the eventual battle of neglecting leads. When there’s a breakdown with your business development team, the problem usually isn’t the leads. It’s how salespeople follow up on them. Make sure you address the real issue and remind both teams that sales and marketing alignment is essential for the success of both teams. 

3 Ways to Improve Sales & Marketing Alignment

back seat passenger in a car looking out at the road and scenic dessert views with blue sky

Getting sales and marketing on the same page isn’t easy. It takes
buy-in from both teams and a lot of work to get marketing and development leaders on the same page. It requires investment and direction from senior leadership.  

But, what happens after you’ve laid the initial groundwork to create that alignment? How do ensure that all the hard work you’ve done until this point isn’t completely abandoned a year from now?

How to Continually Improve Sales & Marketing Alignment

When it comes to maintaining sales and marketing alignment, the biggest factor is communication. Both teams must make sure they are communicating with and enabling the other to do their jobs.

What does this look like in real time? Here are a few tips:

  • Understand the communication preferences of the other person. This sounds really simple, but it’s one of the most important keys for effective communication. If marketing is going to equip sales with real-time updates of who is on your website, make sure the information is presented in ways that are easy to understand and act upon. If you’re going to share time-sensitive information with your sales team, make sure it’s through a channel they check frequently.
  • Have a one-stop shop for all marketing information and sales tools. Creating a single document or microsite that your sales team can use to access sales tools and stay informed about marketing campaigns is another key. You want to make sure you showcase the information in places where sales can easily access it in their cars before a meeting.
  • Determine the right cadence for regular updates. How often should your sales teams be informed with marketing insights? How often should sales teams download what they’re learning to marketing teams? Finding the right cadence to address these questions is important. It could be a weekly stand-up meeting or bi-weekly email that prioritizes what campaigns sales should focus on.

Alignment between sales and marketing is like a road trip caravan. Both teams should stay in their individual cars but constantly stay connected about the directions they’re heading. The two-way communication between marketing and sales teams ensures you’re doing everything that you can to make sure both teams reach the intended destination.

How to Align Sales & Marketing in Just 30 Minutes a Week

Let’s face it: Aligning your sales and marketing teams isn’t easy. For many businesses, there are big obstacles to overcome—from
breaking down the silos between the two departments to getting everyone to agree on the ideal customer for your business.

While business leaders understand the importance of marketing and sales alignment, most businesses can’t stop everything they’re doing to make sure marketing and sales are on the same page. Leaders are left asking, “How do we improve marketing and sales alignment as we go?”

How to Align Marketing & Sales in Just 30 Minutes a Week

One solution I often recommend is to establish a weekly 30-minute standing meeting between key stakeholders. These stand-up meetings don’t have to be complicated. In fact, each meeting agenda can be built by addressing three simple questions:

  • What progress have we made since the last meeting?
    • What insights can sales team members provide that are valuable for the marketing team?
    • What is the marketing team working on that would be helpful for sales team members to know?
  • What is the plan going forward?
    • Are you gaining traction on sales conversations? What can the marketing team do to support those conversations?
    • What parts of your strategy need to be tweaked? What new ideas should you consider implementing?
  • Blockages
    • What information do you need from the other team to do your job well?
    • Where are you getting stuck? What potential problems do you see?

The biggest piece of advice I can give is to spend time focusing on what matters the most for your business. If you have a major event coming up, you could focus the stand-up meeting on how you’ll set up meetings at the show. It’s OK to be flexible on the topics covered, as long as everyone has a clear sense of next steps.

Sales and marketing stand-up meetings are one of the most important things a company can do to create alignment and foster face-to-face collaboration between the two teams. Don’t let it become a simple review of the existing marketing programs and schedule. Instead, use the time to collaborate and problem-solve together.

3 Ways Most Companies Get it Wrong with Marketing and Sales Alignment

high five
The importance of creating a culture of collaboration between your sales and marketing teams can’t be overstated. But, in case you needed a reminder of how important it is, consider these facts…
  • Aligning both departments can help generate 209% more revenue from marketing (Marketo).
  • Aligning sales and marketing also leads to 38% higher sales win rates (MarketingProfs).
  • B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieve 24% faster three-year revenue growth. (SiriusDecisions).
I’ve written a lot about the collaboration between sales and marketing over the past few years. However, I see a lot of the same challenges when talking with leaders from various industries. Here are some of the most common reasons companies struggle to create synergy between their sales and marketing teams. Where Most Companies Get it Wrong with Marketing and Sales Alignment Here are three common ways organizations hurt themselves when it comes to creating a culture of collaboration between sales and marketing:
  • Sales and marketing teams have different objectives. While each department might have specific goals they’re trying to reach, both should be working together on one objective: generating revenue. When each individual goal is tied to that single objective, it creates a greater focus and filter through which you make decisions. Creating alignment around a shared objective to drive revenue helps hold both teams accountable to the projects and tasks that truly move the needle.
  • Sales and marketing teams aren’t meeting together regularly. Collaboration can only happen when both teams are getting together on a regular basis. When sales and marketing teams aren’t meeting together regularly, you’ll often find the organizational struggles with inconsistent messaging, battles over lead quality, and an “us vs. them” mentality.
  • Your sales or marketing teams are afraid to fail. When someone is afraid to fail, they’ll do everything they can to make sure they look good. Sometimes, that means fudging the numbers or making excuses about why they’re not meeting their goals. If one side is afraid of what might happen if they fail, they’ll often get very defensive about their contributions and point fingers at the other side. Collaboration between sales and marketing teams requires open and honest communication. If one side isn’t willing to face the “brutal facts,” true collaboration isn’t possible.
Whether you’re in marketing or sales (or leading both teams), it’s important to always be on the lookout for ways to improve collaboration between the two teams. If you’ve struggled to create synergy between the two teams in the past, consider if one of these challenges might be the reason. And, more importantly, get both teams together to discuss how you can begin addressing the issue as soon as possible. The future of your business depends on it.

3 Marketing Metrics Your Sales Team Should Know

traffic at night
Good sales teams are incredibly disciplined when it comes to monitoring the metrics that impact their ability to achieve their overall goals. Whether it’s certain sales cycle metrics, close rates, or deal rates, most sales professionals know exactly what they need to do to meet their quotas. However, most sales people are clueless when it comes to determining which marketing metrics impact their efforts. 3 Marketing Metrics Your Sales Team Should Know While your sales team may never be interested in knowing website activity, email performance, or social media interactions, here are three marketing metrics they should be paying attention to:
  1. Lead Response Time. The rise of inbound marketing means companies are becoming more focused on online tactics to generate leads. However, research has shown that lead response time is one of the most important metrics for effective inbound marketing. Companies that wait a full 24 hours before contacting the lead are 60 times less likely to qualify the lead than those who responded within the first hour. Speed of response is key.
  2. Content Consumption Metrics. Knowing the most type of content that is consumed most by your audience is another valuable insight to track. This gives you perspective into the ideas and concepts they’re most interested in. In many cases, a CRM can provide you with insights on the specific content a prospect has downloaded or read. If you don’t have that kind of detailed insight, knowing your most popular resources can provide a decent understanding.
  3. Velocity. Velocity represents how quickly a qualified lead can turn into a closed deal. This provides an idea for the number of leads you need at any given time in order to hit your upcoming revenue goals. Knowing how long it takes for a lead to convert provides both sales and marketing with a better understanding of what they need to do to hit their goals.
If marketing impacts your buyer’s decision in any way, shape, or form, it’s important to know the activities that influence them most. These three metrics will provide you with a solid foundation of the marketing metrics that impact your ability to meet your quotas and achieve your goals.