Defining Your Ideal Customer for Higher Lead Generation

Woman on Laptop
Hoping to improve your lead generation results? Knowing your customer on a deeper level allows you and your team to remain in alignment on the who, what, when, where, and how of your customers’ motivations. Your clarity in these areas allows you to build a strong lead generation strategy to guide your marketing and advertising efforts moving forward.  This article will explore how to define your ideal customer profile to better understand your customer’s motivations, needs, and challenges. We recommend that you take this information into account as you think through new ways to reach those customers and encourage them to take action. 

Understanding Your Customer: B2B vs. B2C 

Profiling your customers is helpful for both B2B and B2C clients—however, the approach is different for each. 
  • For B2B customers: Instead of imagining a single individual, you will be building a profile for the ideal business that you would like to work with. You may look at aspects of their business such as size, industry, values, and structure. These elements, and many others you might identify along the way, add up to paint a picture of what types of companies you prefer to work with, and why.  
  • For B2C customers: With B2C customers, you’re focusing on your customer at an individual level, identifying what types of people your products or services are for. Elements that you focus on may be their age, location, interests, needs, and several other factors. 
When determining who your ideal customer is, bring your team in on this conversation. Your perspective alone may not be enough to gather a comprehensive view of the types of customers you typically attract or the prospective customers you would like to target moving forward. 

Leaning On The Data

Your ideal customer isn’t merely a matter of perspective, opinion, or a shot in the dark. It’s also a matter of data. If you’ve been in business a while, you likely have metrics to reference when determining your typical customer. Look at your website, social media accounts, and email marketing statistics to gain an understanding of who your current marketing efforts are already attracting and where you might have an opportunity to expand your reach. 

Using What You Find

This is the best part—using what you discover. Once you’re ready, use what you’ve learned to build a robust lead generation strategy that hinges on your findings.  What does this mean? For example, suppose you found that your ideal customer is a young professional in your area who is motivated by excelling in their career. In that case, you might decide that the best way to reach that person is through targeted LinkedIn ads and face-to-face at local professional organizations.  Take what you now understand about that customer and use it to your advantage. You have the data you need to lead you straight to your ideal customer, and now it’s time to encourage them to take action with your company. 

Build a Lead Generation Strategy with Green Apple

If you want to dig into your customer’s characteristics even further, we recommend checking out our recent article “20 Questions to Ask Yourself that Will Improve Your Customer Profiles.” Green Apple Strategy can help you find your ideal customer and discover new ways to speak to their pain points. Ready to get started? Contact us 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.

4 Marketing Insights to Know Before Calling a Prospect

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In today’s world, the buyer has more control over the sales process than ever before. On the one hand, this can make things more difficult for sales professionals. They don’t have as much control over the narrative and buyer’s journey as they once did. However, this new world order provides opportunities for business development pros. Rather than having to conduct tons of research on a prospect or cold-calling potential leads, they can instead use marketing insights—one of the many reasons salespeople are smarter than ever before  

Marketing Insights Every Salesperson Should Know Before Calling a Prospect

Here are four specific marketing insights to share with your business development team to help them be more effective in their outreach to prospective customers: 
1. Their Overall History of Engagement with Your Brand
Today’s marketing tools allow you to track a prospect’s engagement over the past several years. These insights can help salespeople quickly answer questions like: What content have they read or converted on? Have they ever spoken with a sales representative before?  Even if it’s their first time speaking with a prospect, your sales leader can know the prospect’s entire relationship with your brand. This information is incredibly valuable for weaving the context of their history of engagement into the conversation. 
2. Insights Behind the Action That Qualified Them as a Lead
Knowing what action a prospect took to qualify them as a lead is non-negotiable. However, I’ve found that it’s also important to provide sales with an overview of what that resource or lead magnet is about. In many cases, sales professionals don’t take time to read all of the lead generation resources that marketing creates. Providing a brief synopsis that helps your sales team know what the resource is about makes it easier for them to create the connection between the action of the prospect and your products and services. 
3. Their Ability to Make a Purchasing Decision
Most companies know the job title or roles that would have the ability to say “yes” to a final purchasing decision. Capturing this information through your marketing efforts will ensure salespeople aren’t wasting time on leads that they can’t convert.  
4. The Career History of a Prospect
It’s useful to understand your prospect’s job history. In many cases, your CRM can track whether a person has moved from one company to another. You can also leverage LinkedIn insights to capture a prospect’s career trajectory and mutual connections. All these factors will influence how much a prospect can impact a purchase decision, how much educating you’ll have to do, and how quickly they can make a decision. Today’s business development professionals have access to more information about their prospects than ever before. The more your marketing team can help salespeople contextualize their messaging and save time getting to know the prospect, the more effective both teams will be in the long run.  Green Apple Strategy’s team is dedicated to understanding our clients’ target audience, creating compelling content, and generating the leads you need to grow your business. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

How to Empower Employees to Create Content for Your Marketing

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Empowering employees to help create content for your marketing might seem like a big risk, but it can also create one of the biggest rewards for your business. That is why I encourage businesses that their marketing department should own organizational culture. Marketers that understand the power of employee advocacy can empower them to create content that improves brand awareness, educates buyers, increases search engine visibility, and creates more meaningful connections with potential customers. 

How to Empower Employees to Create Content for Your Marketing

Here are four specific ways you can begin to empower employees outside of marketing to help you create content to attract the attention of your potential customers: 
Invite employees to contribute to podcasts or webinars as subject matter experts.
Your employees likely have a deep level of experience that could be beneficial for potential customers. Empowering them to become thought leaders in your industry by inviting them to create content is one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to maximize their knowledge for business development. It could be something as simple as hosting monthly webinars that put your employees in the spotlight or creating a podcast where you interview employees about how to overcome specific challenges your audience is facing. 
Make it easy for employees to share content they care about.
Having your employees share your content—whether it’s emailing it to a prospect or promoting it on social media—is the perfect way to increase your reach. But just because you create the content (and even ask them to help promote it), doesn’t mean they will share it.  That’s why it’s important to create marketing content employees actually want to share.  It could be a story about your employee or one of your clients or a tutorial related to your product. 
Equip and reward employee advocates.
According to recent research, 31% of fast-growing companies have set up an employee advocacy program. These businesses recognize that employee advocacy encourages their workforce to expand their role from “employee” to “brand ambassador.” And, this type of approach can create tremendous dividends for the overall health and success of your company.
Let employees take over your social media for a day.
Instead of paying thousands to influencers and brand ambassadors, let your employees leverage their social media influence to increase awareness of your products and services. Give them the resources, tools, and leeway to develop their expertise in the niche. While you might have one person who owns the responsibility of improving your brand’s social media presence, making sure he or she isn’t doing it alone is critical to success. Leveraging employees to help create content for marketing is an incredibly valuable way to humanize your brand. Employees might be your most effective content creators because they know the challenges your customers face every day and have a deep knowledge of your product, service, and industry.  Contact Green Apple Strategy to discuss how you can leverage content marketing to improve SEO, develop your brand story, and generate leads.

How to Identify & Fix the Broken Parts of Your Marketing Funnel

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If the goal of marketing is to guide people from discovering your brand for the first time to becoming a qualified potential customer, then understanding every part of that journey is essential. Most people refer to that process as the marketing funnel. In most of the conversations I have, it’s easy for business leaders and marketing professionals to know if their marketing funnel is broken. The more difficult task is identifying which part is broken and how to fix it. Your sales team might think you have a lead generation problem, but what is actually preventing them from hitting business development goals is that the leads they’re following aren’t ready to buy. This would be more of a lead nurturing issue. In this post, we highlight a few areas of the marketing funnel, share specific ways you can identify the problem area, and, more importantly, tell you how to fix it.

How to Identify & Fix the Broken Parts of Your Marketing Funnel

Brand Awareness
How can you tell if your “top of the funnel” marketing efforts aren’t working? The signs of a brand awareness problem are easy to see—if you’re looking. Most awareness problems fall into this category: Your brand can’t capture its target audience. Analyzing metrics such as website traffic or foot traffic (if you’re a local shop or retail store) can be a great way to determine if enough people know who you are. Fixing this issue could include more digitally-oriented marketing tactics such as social media, SEO, or SEM.
Lead Generation
Maybe you’re getting a decent amount of traffic to your website, but you have a hard time identifying who is visiting and if they could be a potential customer. Many factors make generating leads difficult. Are you offering a lead generation that people care about? Are you asking for the right information? Are you making it easy for people to find your lead generation resources and take action? Never underestimate the power of addressing your lead generation challenge; leads are the lifeblood of your marketing funnel.
Lead Qualification
The biggest challenge I hear from business leaders isn’t about lead quantity; it’s lead quality. To convert marketing leads to customers, you need to make sure you’re talking with the right people. Alongside your sales team, you should make sure you understand who you’re trying to reach. If you’re struggling to generate quality leads, it’s important to define buyer personas. This strategy helps you establish a compelling value proposition that educates people about how you can help them right now.
Lead Nurturing
What do we do with the leads that might be qualified but aren’t ready to buy? Many business development professionals toss these leads to the side—neglecting them until the person raises their hand again and expresses interest. If you’re struggling to convert qualified marketing leads (those with the power to make a purchase decision), then you might rethink how you’re nurturing them throughout the buying process. Many potential customers are exploring your brand, but they might not be ready to buy. This doesn’t mean you should ignore them.
Lead Hand-Off to Sales
The hand-off between marketing and sales is one of the easiest tasks to ruin in the demand generation process. As in a relay race, the lead hand-off should be an actual hand-off, not a toss. If you feel like your sales team isn’t following up with quality leads, it’s crucial to have a documented process that is agreed upon by both sales and marketing. Just as a doctor diagnoses which system in your body is causing illness, it’s vital to determine which areas of your marketing funnel are causing your lead issue. Without identifying the specific area that needs attention, you can’t create a truly healthy funnel.

The Most Important Thing Sales Can Do to Convert Marketing Leads

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= There are a lot of factors that go into converting a marketing-generated lead into a sale, but there’s one element that seems to rise above the rest: quick follow up. But, don’t just take my word for it. Numerous studies outline that prompt follow up is the most important thing sales can do to convert marketing leads. 

3 Reasons Why Salespeople Should Immediately Follow Up with Marketing Leads

Here are a few fascinating studies on the importance of prompt follow up …
  1. You should try to make contact within the first hour that a lead comes in. According to a recent study conducted by Prof. James B. Oldroyd at MIT, waiting even an hour to contact and qualify a marketing-generated lead can drastically reduce your chances of success.
  2. Immediately following up in the first five minutes is even more valuable. You’re 400x more likely to get a response if you do this within the first 5 minutes of them downloading the content. (Source)
  3. Prompt follow-up allows you to qualify leads more effectively. Companies that contact leads within an hour of receiving a query are 7X as likely to qualify the lead as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later—and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer. (Source)
  4. Prompt follow-up helps you stand out from your competitors. The average response time, among companies that contacted leads within 30 days, was 42 hours. So, taking the time to develop a quick response process will help you rise above the rest. (Source)

How to Empower Sales for Quick Follow Up with Marketing Leads

So, how do you go about empowering sales to follow up with marketing leads within an hour? Here are a few important principles to consider: 
Sales and Marketing Teams Need to Be in Alignment Around the Process.
Without proper marketing and sales alignment, it’s easy for leads to fall through the cracks. By establishing processes for how and when leads are transferred to sales, each team focuses on what they do best.
Sales and Marketing Teams Need to Be in Agreement on the Definition of a Lead.
It’s important to ensure that everyone has the same definition of a lead and are aligned around focused goals. You need to make sure both teams are in agreement on things like quality vs. quantity and velocity vs. volume. Agreement on what is a marketing-qualified lead is the first step in ensuring a quick marketing-to-sales handoff.
Sales Teams Need to Be Committed to Prompt Follow-Up.
Responding within an hour can seem intimidating, especially if you’re just starting the process. Start by establishing current benchmarks for how quickly your sales team is following up on leads. From there set goals to shorten this time frame. The closer sales can get to the five-minute mark, the more likely they are to qualify and eventually convert a lead to a customer.
Sales Teams Need to Be Equipped with Information and Resources to Be Effective. 
If your sales team is going to follow up immediately, then they need to know exactly what generated the lead. It also might help to equip them with resources and tools to be more effective. It could be something as simple as creating email templates your business development team can use for conversations with prospective customers. Technology also provides an opportunity to send emails on behalf of your sales team as a way to further qualify leads for 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. 

7 Steps to Develop Your Go-to-Market Strategy

You have an idea for a great new product or service. You might have already invested time and money developing the solution. But, how do you get the word out? Whenever launching a new product or service, the last thing you want is to waste time and resources investing in marketing tactics that don’t work. To avoid this, it’s important to craft an intentional plan that will help you rise above the noise and reach potential customers. 7 Steps to Develop Your Go-to-Market Strategy Here are seven steps you can take to develop your go-to-market strategy for a new product or service:
  1. Identify your specific decision-makers and buyers. First and foremost, it’s important to define who you’re trying to serve (and who you’re not) with this new product or service. Knowing your ideal customer is foundational for marketing in ways that resonate with them. Everyone on your sales and marketing teams should take time to identify as much information as you possibly can about your target audience.
  2. Determine the specific pain points and messages that resonate with buyers. Knowing your ideal customer and their pain points are essential for determining the messages that will resonate with them. Before you launch your product, your sales and marketing should know (and agree) on exactly who you’re trying to reach and how you are uniquely positioned to help them.
  3. Understand your buyer’s journey. Intentionally considering the experience you’re creating for potential customers during the buying process is one of the most valuable things you can do before launching a product or service and is one of the best ways to spend your time. Not only will this help you create a buyer’s journey that potential customers actually enjoy, but it will also help you define the processes and systems you’ll need to create it.
  4. Define the relationship between sales and marketing. Marketing and sales teams should work together to achieve your goal. Without absolute clarity on the business objectives or specific products/service lines you want to grow, both sales and marketing teams are left guessing what will actually move the needle. This is true for businesses at any point in time but is especially important when launching a new product or service.
  5. Generate interest and develop a plan to increase brand awareness. Once you’ve laid the initial groundwork, it’s time to start thinking about your specific marketing tactics. Whenever you’re thinking about brand awareness, don’t neglect the simple but often overlooked ways to reach customers. Take time to learn from the successful campaigns and mistakes other brands make when it comes to brand awareness.
  6. Create content that connects emotionally with potential customers. How do you create content that cuts through the noise and actually gets read? Consider how you can use content to create emotional connections with potential customers. Begin weaving these strategies into your marketing efforts to appeal to their emotions. Brands and products that evoke our emotions—such as Apple, Disney, and Google—are always effective when launching new products or services.
  7. Determine how you will leverage data to evaluate and optimize your efforts. Now that you have a plan in place, the final question is: How are you going to measure and optimize along the way? Creating a data-driven marketing culture is essential for the long-term success of your product. Without knowing what you will measure before you start, you won’t know how to improve your marketing efforts along the way.
Without taking the time to think through these seven steps, it’s impossible to know if you’re chasing the wrong audience, you’re too early or too late to the market, or the market is already too saturated with similar solutions.

3 Strategies to Take Your Trade Show Marketing to the Next Level

attendees of tradeshow sitting in a row taking notes
Marketers have a love-hate relationship with conferences and trade shows. On one hand, conferences and trade shows are a lot of work. There are logistical challenges that seem to happen at every single event. Determining the ROI of having a booth in the exhibit hall or advertising in the event guide can seem impossible. Despite the challenges, having a presence at trade shows and conferences is still one of the best ways to connect with your target accounts’ key decision-makers. According to a recent study, 82% of trade show attendees are directly involved in their teams’ purchasing decisions. The question becomes…how do you maximize the opportunity of each trade show or event to generate some truly meaningful traction for your sales and marketing efforts? 3 Strategies to Take Your Trade Show Marketing to the Next Level Here are three strategies and mentalities to consider as you prepare for the trade shows or conferences you’re attending this year:
  1. Promote an experience, not your product or service. The best way to stand out in a noisy exhibit hall is to create an experience that makes people want to stop and spend time at your booth. Creating an experience that surprises or delights attendees enables you to make much more of an emotional impact than selling them a product ever would. These experiences also make for a great word-of-mouth marketing opportunity since visitors will be more likely to tell other attendees to stop by.
  2. Treat everyone as if they’re already a customer. Your brand will make hundreds of new first impressions during a trade show or conference. One of the best ways to make sure it’s a positive one is to consider every person you meet as someone who’s already a customer of yours. This mindset will transform the way you interact with attendees and help create impressions that lead to connection. You never know when a seemingly unqualified prospect could get a new job and turn into a coveted lead. And, you’ll never get the chance to make another first impression with them.
  3. Find creative ways to grab the attention of companies in attendance. If you know a particular company or decision-maker will be at the trade show, consider how you can create intrigue with them. Whether it’s reaching out to them beforehand to stop by the booth to pick up an exclusive gift or grabbing their attention by mentioning how your service can help their specific brand, there are a lot of creative ways you can design your booth to attract specific target accounts in attendance.
If you’re looking to take your trade show or conference marketing strategies to the next level, we hope these ideas can spark some creative ideas.

How to Create a Data-Driven Culture for Growing Your Business

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In today’s world of advanced analytics and dashboards, creating a data-driven, decision-making culture has become a popular topic of conversation for business leaders and marketing professionals. However, there can be a lot of challenges when trying to implement a culture where data is the diplomat when it comes to making strategic decisions. While there’s always a balance of quantitative data and qualitative experience, businesses that use data to drive their strategies and decisions see tremendous growth. Companies who adopt data-driven marketing are six times more likely to be profitable year-over-year. And yet, 87% of companies say data is the most underused asset in their marketing efforts. How to Create a Data-Driven Culture for Growing Your Business So, how do you change that reality and create a data-driven culture in order to grow your business? Here are a few keys:
  • Make sure key stakeholders are ready to embrace fact-based decision-making. It’s unlikely that everyone will naturally embrace the shift toward data-driven decision-making. For some, it won’t seem natural. While you don’t need everyone’s buy-in to start changing the culture, you do need the key stakeholders to get on board. It’s very important that the commitment to data-driven decision-making permeates from the top down.
  • Pick one objective or area to start improving first. Figuring out where to start can be the most overwhelming aspect of making the shift. Business leaders can often suffer from paralysis of analysis when trying to figure out where to start. If you’re trying to become a data-driven culture, it is important to think of things in stages. Start small with one area that might be a priority for the entire organization that has enough data.
  • Don’t forget to communicate “what’s in it for them.” People are more accepting of change when they understand how it makes their lives better. Whenever you’re trying to shift the culture in your organization, don’t forget to communicate how data-driven decision-making will specifically help each person. It could be that data helps them close more deals or prioritize their time more effectively. Answering “what’s in it for them” is essential for getting buy-in from people who might seem resistant.
Many business leaders still rely on their gut to make important decisions. Rather than leveraging the data they have a source for objective insights, they’d prefer to rely on their intuitions when developing their strategy. However, creating a culture where everyone understands the value of data is crucial as things become more competitive.

How Marketing Can Become a “Secret, Strategic Weapon” for Sales

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One of the best definitions of marketing I’ve heard was that marketing exists to be a secret, strategic asset for business development. Whether it’s building brand awareness or developing strategies to accelerate the sales cycle, everything you do in marketing exists to grow your business. The good news (for marketers and sales professionals) is that such a broad definition creates new ways of thinking when it comes to the role marketing plays. Rather than compartmentalizing marketing into its traditional definition of primarily advertising and brand awareness, we can discover new ways in which marketing can play a more “behind-the-scenes” role in business development. How Marketing Can Become a “Secret, Strategic Weapon” for Sales Here are a few of my favorite ways in which marketing can become a secret, strategic weapon for business development:
  1. Write story-driven case studies for your sales team. Someone once said the best stories happen to brands who know how to tell them. And, marketers are natural storytellers. That’s why story-driven case studies are so valuable. Crafting case studies that help prospects see themselves in the work you’ve done with clients is one of the best ways to equip your sales team to be successful.    
  2. Create a repository of easily accessible, relevant statistics. Statistics and numbers can play a significant role in the buying decision. As marketers, we have the opportunity to sit at the unique intersection of having insights on industry-related statistics and data points that are specific to our business. By compiling all the relevant statistics into one easily-accessible location, marketing can help sales teams save a tremendous amount of time.
  3. Research and report what your competitors are doing. Salespeople want to know what competitors are doing and how your organization compares. As a marketer, you can make them more confident and informed by conducting competitive intel. This includes anything from one-pagers that outline competitors’ weaknesses and strengths to links of unfavorable reviews about competitors.
None of these projects require a lot of heavy lifting, but each has the potential to make or break a sale for your business. If you want your marketing to have a direct impact on your business development goals, consider how you can start investing a portion of your week fleshing out one of these three ideas for your sales team.