1. Differentiation Pillars Corporate differentiation pillars articulate what makes your company different, and how those differences positively affect your customers. These pillars each have a core message – or headline – and supporting details that prove how the differentiators are carried out in your business.
Differentiation Pillars should be valuable to your customers and articulate aspects of your company that cost you something to uphold
Headlines should convey the value of your differentiators to your customer
Supporting Details should be specific facts.
2. Tagline With your differentiators identified, your headlines drafted, and your supporting details listed, you now have the basis for creating your overall company headline, also known as a “tagline”. Ideally, you should try to create a tagline that is:
5 words or less
Unique to your company
Tied to emotion
Inclusive of a benefit
Here are a few examples of strong taglines:
Nike: Just Do It
Apple: Think Different
TREW: Smart Marketing for Engineers
3. Elevator Pitch Take some time to draft your elevator pitch. It’s called an elevator pitch because your message has to:
Make sense to strangers – those who don’t know your company
Be short, ~30-60 words – enough time to go up 10 floors in an elevator
Convey your brand – explain what your company does with a tone that gives the person an idea of what it’s like to work with you
Be memorable – inspire the person to visit your website when they get to their desk to find out more
As you begin, specifically write down key elements from your differentiation pillars. Then begin drafting your elevator pitch to convey your “What” with your brand tone. Here are some examples:
We use a multidisciplinary engineering approach and proven expertise to design and build exact, on-time, and on-budget test systems for aerospace, defense, or energy applications.
We transition products from traditional to touch. As a complete touch solution provider, we design, develop, and deploy plug-in ready, touch-based devices with an embedded UI, tested and proven to fit the exact needs of your product.
We are in business to engineer better infrastructure solutions. As a company working with stakeholders in every setting – from the cable to the connected enterprise network – we are charting the course toward a stronger, more informed future for businesses in our connected world.
Now that you have an overview of what makes a strong brand in terms of messaging and positioning, let's look at key elements of a cohesive brand identity.
Cohesive Brand Identity
1. Logos: Your corporate logo is the face of your company and should have a primary role in your marketing, sales and company content. Your logo should reflect your brand and resonate with your buyers. If you have product logos, those should also be included on product collateral and web content.
CANalytics Graphic Logo
Here is an example of Wineman Technology's company logo and one of their product logos.
2. Brand Colors: A brand color pallet not only looks good, it also ties your brand together. Start by picking a main brand color and then select complementary colors to accent it. Here's an example of strong color palette:
Here's an example of a brand color palette.
3. Imagery and Icons: From the images and icons on your website to social media posts, your brand should be reflected and consistent in all your marketing imagery. If you decide to go with icons to showcase your company's services, then use your brand colors in these icons and consistently use the selected icons across web pages and product data sheets. Some brands stick to stock photos, others take their own photos. More recently, brands have started using graphics and illustrations in place of images. It doesn't matter which route you pick, just stick to a cohesive imagery.
Hallam ICS uses these icons throughout it's website to depict its five service offerings.
4. Shapes: It can be very effective to include a brand shape from a graphic identity to create program elements. Shapes that echo the logo (squares for a squareish logo, circles for a circular logo, etc.) can be used to create pattern or texture. These elements not only are useful in making the look of your design more cohesive, but they also can help make the graphic identity more meaningful and memorable to your audience.
A Typical ProcessHere is a standard process that was put together using examples from around the Web as well as my own experience. (Note: Please see the resource links at the end of each phase.) Meet Smashing Book 6, our recent book on real challenges and real front-end solutions in the real world: from design systems and accessible single-page apps to CSS Custom Properties, CSS Grid, Service Workers, performance, AR/VR and responsive art direction. With Marcy Sutton, Yoav Weiss, Lyza D. Gardner, Laura Elizabeth and many others.
1. PLANNINGThe planning stage is arguably the most important, because what’s decided and mapped here sets the stage for the entire project. This is also the stage that requires client interaction and the accompanying attention to detail.
Requirements analysis. This includes client goals, target audience, detailed feature requests and as much relevant information as you can possibly gather. Even if the client has carefully planned his or her website, don’t be afraid to offer useful suggestions from your experience.
Project charter. The project charter (or equivalent document) sums up the information that has been gathered and agreed upon in the previous point. These documents are typically concise and not overly technical, and they serve as a reference throughout the project.
Site map. A site map guides end users who are lost in the structure or need to find a piece of information quickly. Rather than simply listing pages, including links and a hierarchy of page organization is good practice.
Contracts that define roles, copyright and financial points. This is a crucial element of the documentation and should include payment terms, project closure clauses, termination clauses, copyright ownership and timelines. Be careful to cover yourself with this document, but be concise and efficient.
Gain access to servers and build folder structure. Typical information to obtain and validate includes FTP host, username and password; control panel log-in information; database configuration; and any languages or frameworks currently installed.
Determine required software and resources (stock photography, fonts, etc.). Beyond determining any third-party media needs, identify where you may need to hire sub-contractors and any additional software you may personally require. Add all of these to the project’s budget, charging the client where necessary.
2. DESIGNThe design stage typically involves moving the information outlined in the planning stage further into reality. The main deliverables are a documented site structure and, more importantly, a visual representation. Upon completion of the design phase, the website should more or less have taken shape, but for the absence of the content and special features.
Wireframe and design elements planning. This is where the visual layout of the website begins to take shape. Using information gathered from the client in the planning phase, begin designing the layout using a wireframe. Pencil and paper are surprisingly helpful during this phase, although many tools are online to aid as well.
Mock-ups based on requirements analysis. Designing mock-ups in Photoshop allows for relatively easy modification, it keeps the design elements organized in layers, and it primes you for slicing and coding when the time later on.
Review and approval cycle. A cycle of reviewing, tweaking and approving the mock-ups often takes place until (ideally) both client and contractor are satisfied with the design. This is the easiest time to make changes, not after the design has been coded.
Slice and code valid XHTML/CSS It’s coding time. Slice the final Photoshop mock-up, and write the HTML and CSS code for the basic design. Interactive elements and jQuery come later: for now, just get the visuals together on screen, and be sure to validate all of the code before moving on.
3. DEVELOPMENTDevelopment involves the bulk of the programming work, as well as loading content (whether by your team or the client’s). Keep code organized and commented, and refer constantly to the planning details as the full website takes shape. Take a strategic approach, and avoid future hassles by constantly testing as you go.
Build development framework.. This is when unique requirements might force you to diverge from the process. If you’re using Ruby on Rails, an ASP/PHP framework or a content management system, now is the time to implement it and get the basic engine up and running. Doing this early ensures that the server can handle the installation and set-up smoothly.
Code templates for each page type.. A website usually has several pages (e.g. home, general content, blog post, form) that can be based on templates. Creating your own templates for this purpose is good practice.
Develop and test special features and interactivity.. Here’s where the fancy elements come into play. I like to take care of this before adding the static content because the website now provides a relatively clean and uncluttered workspace. Some developers like to get forms and validation up and running at this stage as well.
Fill with content.. Time for the boring part: loading all of the content provided by the client or writer. Although mundane, don’t misstep here, because even the simplest of pages demand tight typography and careful attention to detail.
Test and verify links and functionality.. This is a good time for a full website review. Using your file manager as a guide, walk through every single page you’ve created—everything from the home page to the submission confirmation page—and make sure everything is in working order and that you haven’t missed anything visually or functionally.
4. LAUNCHThe purpose of the launch phase is to prepare the website for public viewing. This requires final polishing of design elements, deep testing of interactivity and features and, most of all, a consideration of the user experience. An important early step in this phase is to move the website, if need be, to its permanent Web server. Testing in the production environment is important because different servers can have different features and unexpected behavior (e.g. different database host addresses).
Polishing. Particularly if you’re not scrambling to meet the deadline, polishing a basically completed design can make a big difference. Here, you can identify parts of the website that could be improved in small ways. After all, you want to be as proud of this website as the client is.
Transfer to live server. This could mean transferring to a live Web server (although hopefully you’ve been testing in the production environment), “unhiding” the website or removing the “Under construction” page. Your last-minute review of the live website happens now. Be sure the client knows about this stage, and be sensitive to timing if the website is already popular.
Testing. Run the website through the final diagnostics using the available tools: code validators, broken-link checkers, website health checks, spell-checker and the like. You want to find any mistakes yourself rather than hearing complaints from the client or an end-user.
Final cross-browser check (IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, iPhone, BlackBerry). Don’t forget to check the website in multiple browsers one last time. Just because code is valid, doesn’t mean it will sparkle with a crisp layout in IE 6.
5. POST-LAUNCHBusiness re-enters the picture at this point as you take care of all the little tasks related to closing the project. Packaging source files, providing instructions for use and any required training occurs at this time. Always leave the client as succinctly informed as possible, and try to predict any questions they may have. Don’t leave the project with a closed door; communicate that you’re available for future maintenance and are committed to ongoing support. If maintenance charges haven’t already been shared, establish them now.
Hand off to client. Be sure the client is satisfied with the product and that all contractual obligations have been met (refer to the project charter). A closed project should leave both you and the client satisfied, with no burned bridges.
Provide documentation and source files. Provide documentation for the website, such as a soft-copy site map and details on the framework and languages used. This will prevent any surprises for the client later on, and it will also be useful should they ever work with another Web developer.
Project close, final documentation. Get the client to sign off on the last checks, provide your contact information for support, and officially close the project. Maintain a relationship with the client, though; checking in a month down the road to make sure everything is going smoothly is often appreciated.
As stated, this is merely a sample process. Your version will be modified according to your client base and style of designing. Processes can also differ based on the nature of the product; for example, e-commerce websites, Web applications and digital marketing all have unique requirements.
Website Analytics You Need to Pay Attention To
1. Pageviews/Sessions/UsersFirst and foremost, you want to know how many people are actually going to your website. Above all else, being familiar with your website’s reach is a must-know. You won’t be able to make realistic goals if you don’t understand where your numbers currently lie. All of these numbers can be found in the same section, making it easy for you to take a look at all three quickly. Go to Audience > Overview to take a quick look at your audience analytics. Initially you’ll see a line graph on the page, but you can scroll down to find your pageviews/sessions/users directly below it. You can select the date range you’re most interested in. Google Analytics automatically sets it at the last week, but we like to look at the last 30 days.
Check out the metrics with green boxes drawn around them. Why are the numbers so different? Pageviews, sessions, and users all track three different types of views to your site even though they seem similar.
Pageviews: Total number of pages viewed. Repeated views of a single page are counted.
Sessions: Total number of Sessions within the date range. A session is the period a user is actively engaged with your website. These expire after 30 minutes of inactivity.
Users: Total number of individual people who have initiated at least one session on your website during the date range.
Essentially, one user could have three different sessions on your website in the last month, viewing five different pages each time. So users will always be the lowest number of the three while pageviews will be the highest.
2. Traffic SourcesThis is another important metric to check out because you want to know where most of your website visitors are coming from. There are both high-level and low-level ways to see where people are coming from. First, you can navigate to Acquisition > Overview to see the high-level stats.
There are two ways to view this information: a pie chart and a bar graph. The pie chart shows the different percentages for source channels, while the bar graph represents the actual numbers. There are a few different channels, but the four basic channels (these might be the only ones you see on your dashboard) are Organic Search, Referral, Social, and Direct.
Organic Search: Someone has searched for your business or a topic relating to your business on a search engine and clicked over to your site from the results.
Referral: Someone has clicked over to your site from another site.
Social: Someone has clicked over to your site from a social media platform.
Direct: Someone has typed in the URL directly into their browser.
A few others that you might see are Paid Search, Email, and (other).
Paid Search: Someone has clicked over to your site from a search engine ad.
Email: Someone has clicked over to your site from your email newsletter.
(Other): Google doesn’t know how to classify these sources.
You can also view more in-depth information about specific referral sources by going to Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals.
This gives you a bit more insight into how people are finding and clicking over to your website.
3. Popular PagesLooking at your top pages viewed is a great way to know which content your audience is most interested in. You’re able to see your most popular product/service pages as well as your most popular blog posts. This can help you to understand which of your products/services your audience is checking out most often. Taking a look at your most popular blog posts can also help you define the direction of your content and understand which topics your followers would like to learn more about. To view your most popular pages, go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.
4. DemographicsAlthough Google Analytics doesn’t offer in-depth demographics, taking a look at your most basic site demographics can help you to confirm that you’re reaching your target audience. To view the ages and genders of the users visiting your site, go to Audience > Demographics > Overview.
5. Average Session Duration/Bounce RateThe average session duration lets you know how long users are spending on your website at a time. This can inform you of whether or not your website is useful or engaging. Short session durations likely mean that people aren’t finding what they’re looking for on your website or aren’t interested in your content. Longer session durations are a telltale sign that you’re doing something right, and people are spending a long time looking through your website pages and content. The bounce rate is similar in that it also helps you track interest in your website. Your bounce rate tells you what percentage of people are exiting your website after only landing on one page. A lower bounce rate means your website is more engaging and users are clicking from page to page.
You can find this information in the same area as your pageviews/sessions/users: go to Audience > Overview and take a look at the Avg. Session Duration and Bounce Rate (highlighted in the green boxes above).
How to Create Your DashboardIf you don’t feel like bouncing around between all of those different areas within your Google Analytics, you can create your own custom dashboard that highlights only the most important metrics. Go to Customizations > Dashboards in the Google Analytics sidebar and click Create to get started putting together your new dashboard. You can choose between a blank canvas and a starter dashboard. We recommend starting with a blank canvas so that you can add your own metrics. You can get started by adding your first widget.
1. Create three Metric widgets to house your Users, Sessions, and Pageviews information.
2. Create a Pie Chart and/or Table showing Users groups by Default Channel Grouping.
3. Create a Table showing Pageviews by Page. 4. Create a Bar Graph showing Users by Age and a Pie Chart showing Users by Gender.
5. Create two more Metric widgets to show your Avg. Session Duration and Bounce Rate.
Take a look around to see if there are any other metrics that interest you, and create widgets for those as well. Then each time you go to access your Google Analytics, you can find all of your favorite information all in one place. Don’t ever want to see another Google Analytics chart in your life? Hey, we get it. That’s what we’re here for. We put together comprehensive monthly or quarterly reports for all of our clients, and we can do the same for you. Fill out our free online consultation form or call us at (800) 759-7996 to learn more about our monthly management packages.
Difference between Web Design + Web Development
In essence, web design refers to both the aesthetic portion of the website and it’s usability. Web designers use various design programs such as Adobe Photoshop to create the layout and other visual elements of the website.
Web Design – A Closer LookWeb designers must always begin by considering a client’s website objectives and then move on to an Information Architecture (IA) to set a website’s information hierarchy and help guide the design process. Next, web designers can start creating wireframes and finally move to the design stage. Web designers may use several basic design principles to achieve an aesthetically pleasing layout which also offers excellent user experience. Design Principles
Balance – It’s important for web designers to create a balanced layout. In web design we refer to heavy (large and dark colors) and light (small and lighter colors) elements. Using the correct proportion of each is critical to achieving a balanced website design.
Contrast – In color theory, contrasting colors are ones placed opposite one another on the color wheel (see also complementary colors). Web design offers a few other areas where contrast is applicable. Designers look at contrasting sizes, textures and shapes to define and draw attention to certain sections of the website.
Emphasis – We touched on this a bit when discussing contrast. Emphasis is a design principles founded in the intentional “highlighting” of certain important elements of the website layout. It’s important to note that if you emphasize everything on the page you end up emphasizing nothing. Imagine a page in a book where 80% of the content is highlighted in yellow…does anything really stand out? This is the time to take a look at that Information Architecture for direction.
Consistency – Also called repetition or rhythm, consistency is a critical web design principle. For example, clean and consistent navigation provides the best user experience for your website visitors.
Unity – Unity is the relationship between the various parts of the website layout and the composition as a whole. Based in the Gestalt theory, unity deals with how the human brain visually organizes information by grouping elements into categories.
Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills
If you ever needed a little help getting those creative juices flowing, check out these 80 creative challenges. They are both helpful and fun to do and you’ll be amazed at how the they help spark new ideas.Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills Web Development – A Closer LookWeb developers, sometimes called programmers, take the design created and build a fully functioning website. To put it (very) simply, think of the design as a non-interactive “picture” of a website. Developers take that design and break it up into it’s components. They then either use just HTML or a more dynamic approach incorporating programming languages such as PHP to develop the various website pages. More advanced web developers may choose to utilize a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla in order to streamline development and allow clients an easy way to maintain and update their website. Web developers may convert a static layout into a dynamic website by using image and content sliders, active states for links and buttons, and other interactive elements.
RECOMMENDED WEBSITE DESIGNERS + DEVELOPERS
Social Media Set-Up + Management
Basics of the platforms
Goal of the Platform: for your connect and share information with your friends and family, business goals to network and showcase products/ services
Demographics of Users:
Total Number of Monthly Active Users: 2.23 billion
Facebook users are 53% female and 47% male.
62% of online Seniors aged 65+ are on Facebook and 72% are between age 50-64.
88% of online users of age 18-29 are on Facebook, 84% of those 30-49.
82% of college graduates are on Facebook.
72% of online users of income more than $75K are on Facebook.
Best Content To Put Out
Live Videos, Pre-Recorded Videos, Pictures, Written, Audio Turn Stagnant Video
Time Needed To Succeed
Can be scheduled, at least 20 minutes a day
Goal of the Platform: It’s Highly US, but has over 88 languages represented. It is a fully audio visual platform, designed originally to be a dating app… not evolutionized to the tutorial, relaxation, laughs platform it is now.
Demographics of Users
Total Number of Monthly Active YouTube Users: 1.9 billion
62% of YouTube users are Males.
75% of adults turn to YouTube for nostalgia rather than tutorials or current events.
37% of the coveted 18 – 34 demographic are binge-watching.
35+ and 55+ age groups are the fastest growing YouTube demographics.
Best Content To Put Out
Time Needed To Succeed
Scheduling Available, 10 minutes a day
Goal of the Platform: traffic driver source, relaxing, dreaming, how-to
Demographics of Users
Total Number of Monthly Active Pinterest Users: 250 million
81% of Pinterest users are actually Females.
40% of New Signups are Men; 60% New Signups are Women.
he median age of a Pinterest user is 40, however, the majority of active pinners are below 40.
Half of Pinterest users earn $50K or greater per year, with 10 percent of Pinteresting households making greater than $125K.
Best Content To Put Out
Pin Graphics & NEWLY ADDED Video
Time Needed To Succeed
Schedule Out, 15 Minutes
Goal of the Platform: 80% of Instagram users come from outside the U.S., Liking photos
Demographics of Users
Total Number of Monthly Active Instagram Users: 1 billion
68% of Instagram users are Females.
59% of internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 use Instagram and 33% of internet users between the ages of 30 and 49 use Instagram
Best Content To Put Out
Graphics & Written
Time Needed To Succeed
Can schedule, 30 minutes
Goal of the Platform: to create and foster professional connections & growth, most are in decision making or authority positions. More than 70% of Linkedin users are from Outside of Us. US, India, Brazil, Great Britain and Canada have the highest number of Linkedin users
Demographics of Users
Total Number of Linkedin Users: 590 million
56% of male users and 44% female users on Linkedin.
13% of Millennials (15-34 Years old) use Linkedin.
40 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn.
44% of Linked users earn more than $75,000 in a year.
Best Content To Put Out
Blogs on the platform, video
Time Needed To Succeed
30 minutes a day
Goal of the Platform: putting out original content and then sharing other conent with your 2 cents attached
Demographics of Users
Total Number of Monthly Active Twitter Users: 326 million
Evenly Spilt Male & Female
37% of Twitter users are between the ages of 18 and 29, 25% users are 30-49 years old.
56% of Twitter users $50,000 and more in a year.
Best Content To Put Out
Graphics & Written
Time Needed To Succeed
Can schedule, 1 hour
Goal of the Platform: a social picture & video sharing smartphone app, you can also video call and message, but the novelty is the that all info will disappear as soon as it is viewed
Demographics of Users
Total Number of Monthly Active Users: 300 million+
Roughly 70% of Snapchat users are female.
45% of Snapchat users are aged between 18-24.
50% of Male College students share selfies on Snapchat, the number is higher for Female college students. 77% to be precise.
Not a whole of cash there among user, but great PR
Best Content To Put Out
Candid photos & videos
Time Needed To Succeed
Honorable Mentions: Tiktok/ Redit/ Tumblr
picking the right platforms for your business
Plan for only 25 minutes a day and 2 hours a week (aka 8 hours a month) for basic content creation
Ability: Video/ audio quality, writing ability
IF you have never recorded yourself before don’t dive straight into video, work your way up by doing a few lives first get really comfortable talking to the invisible person. Video Worksheet
If you aren’t good at writing… start short OR my personal favotire look up what others have said on the topic and then outline your blogs. Blog Worksheet
Audio… this one is the easiest as long as you have a smart phone… you can write out exactly what you want to say and record it…
What You Actually Like Creating: hours editing
All 3 take editing… and there are certain softwares and programs you need for audio & video…
Where You Actually Like Being: where do you spend your time?
recommend smm's (social media managers)
Content Creation + Conversion
What is conversion
A conversion occurs when a visitor to your website completes a desired goal, such as filling out a form or making a purchase. The percentage of total visitors that convert is called your conversion rate. Depending on your site's or business's goals, conversion types might include:
In order to track conversions, conversion rate, and cost per conversion, you need to make sure to use conversion tracking. Conversion rate optimization, or CRO, is the process of improving your conversion rate. A/B testing or split testing is one of the techniques used to test and monitor the conversion performance of different landing pages or ads. It helps to identify which elements on your ads and pages optimize your online conversion rate. For example, you might test different headlines, buttons, calls to action, or images on your landing pages to see which variations lead to more conversions.
Types of Content & Where They Go
Programs: Zoom, Camtasia, FB Live & Download
How to plan- think of screen sharing, background, lighting, outside noise
Video Outline Explained-
Hook (Comment or Emoji If Live)
Who you Are
Topic One (Comment or Emoji If Live)
Fluff or Story
Topic Two (Comment or Emoji If Live)
Soft Lead In To X
Topic Three – biggest and best (Comment or Emoji If Live)
What Equipment do I need to start a podcast?
Step 1: Choose a Niche for Your Podcast
Step 2: Choose a Name, Theme Music, and Design
Step 3: Pick Your Podcast Hosting Provider
Step 4: Record Your Podcast
Step 5: Editing Your Podcast Episodes
Step 6: After you publish your podcast, how do you promote it?
Long Form Blog
Find the Big Idea
What’s a Key Point? distinct takeaways
Understand what the end result must be
List what you have to mention
Figure out what you don’t know (Include links to your examples and/or data.)
Figure out what you do know
Organize all of the lists into related groups
Create summarizing headings
Start writing your draft, then edit edit, then read outline (intro chance to hook the reader aka why they should read) (use bullets or numbers to breakdown your main points for easy skimming) (conclusion so give them a CTA usually your comments section, it’s not a college essay you don’t have to reiterate your points)
Maintain: Plan for periodic auditing, advise the client, determine targets for success measures.
Several of the deliverables related to each of those phases overlap with the deliverables of other fields, including information architecture, user research, project management, web analytics. Instead of thinking of who owns each deliverable, it’s important to think of who contributes to each and how those different contributions come together to define the final product. There’s value in including multiple perspectives on deliverables. Best Practices for Creating Meaningful ContentWe have identified these best practices to help you create meaningful and relevant content. Each piece of content should:
The Basics of Persuasive Sales Content Marketing Copy
As some of you may know I am the world's biggest proponent of the N.A.S. Doctrine. You can read all about it here but essentially states that brands should Not Always Sell(ing) via their content marketing and/or advertising endeavors.
However, the bottom line being the bottom line there is an inherent need to sell of course.
The goal of any sales message is the following: to persuade your prospects to take a desired action. Usually, this action will be to purchase a product or service. However, the same principles necessary for persuasive sales copy can be applied to any type of promotional content - whether that's a blog or social media post, video, podcast or sales page.
How do you write in such a way that you alleviate the fears of your prospects, sufficiently explain what you have to offer, and then move them toward a purchase?
Here are some tips on how to craft an effective sales message that respectfully convinces, allays fears and ultimately, converts.
1. Evaluate the situation from your prospects' point of view.
The foundation of any good sales message is a solid understanding of the interests, desires and needs of your prospects. Before you can even begin writing your sales message, it's a good idea to visualize the thoughts and emotions they'll be experiencing as they approach your content. You'll also want to consider exactly who will be reading it.
Some questions to ask include:
Who is my target market for this product or service? Take some time to construct a buyer persona. How did they find me? What's the key problem or situation that led them to seek a solution? (i.e. What's motivating them to find a solution?) What objections or concerns might they have about my product? What other products may they also be considering? You'll notice that all of these questions are related to your prospects. At this stage, your goals and needs are irrelevant; it's all about the customer. Be sure to approach your writing with these needs and pain points in mind to craft the most engaging and effective copy possible.
2. Emotion is the key to drawing them in
Once you've gotten yourself into the mindset of your target market, you'll likely notice a dominant emotion rising to the surface. While not all problems trigger intense emotions, all will have an emotional component (even if only a small one).
Here's an example: When writing sales copy for a fire alarm, the temptation may be to focus on the unique features of the product. Perhaps it holds its battery power for longer than its competitors, or maybe it has received awards for its unique design. But let's face it: Fire alarms aren't sexy, and no amount of copy is going to change that.
What a smart sales message can do, however, is address the underlying emotions surrounding the sale. Rather than focusing on the features of the product - or even the benefits - we can discuss how our product addresses the emotional situation connected to it. In the example of the fire alarm, we could talk about how a more reliable alarm means greater safety and security for your family. The potential for a house fire is terrifying; and while we don't necessarily want to use an outright fear appeal (i.e. arousing fear), our copy should help allay fears customers may already be experiencing.
3. Reason should follow
It's only after an emotional appeal has been made that it's time to address reason. Reason refers to the rational thoughts and ideas related to your product; in other words, the relevant facts and features, as well as any objections your readers may have.
Some elements you might want to include are:
The size, capacity, color, etc. of your product. Basically, the features of your product. Your unique value proposition: How your product is different/better than the competition? Delivery details: How will the product be shipped or delivered, how much will this cost, etc. Objections: What thoughts may be preventing prospects from buying your product? Address these concerns head-on. Benefits: What are the practical and tangible benefits to using your product? What problems does it help solve? Reason basically consists of all the informational and logistical aspects of your product and of the impending sale. It will also help to alleviate any practical concerns your readers may have by addressing common objections.
4. Credibility and social proof drive home the sale
Credibility is a subset of reason, however it can also help make an emotional connection with the reader by reducing the sense of risk. The goal is to allay the fears of your readers by showing that your product actually works and that others have benefited from it in the past. Here are some elements you can use according to Due founder John Rampton:
Customer or client testimonials or endorsements: e.g. "This product helped me reduce my expenses by 40%' Relevant statistics or research from credible sources: e.g. "The American Medical Association recommends using this type of product." Link to the source whenever possible. Reference the popularity of a product: e.g. "1,000 business owners have already signed up for this program." Past results (self-proclaimed): e.g. "We have already had over 50 clients achieve million dollar results with our service." Show proof of these results whenever possible. Customer reviews or ratings: A plugin like WP Review Bank can help with this. 4 bonus tips for effective sales copy
The 4 elements above will give you a good start at crafting an effective sales message. Here are a few bonus tips that will help you take your copy a step further.
Avoid relying on hype: Overstating benefits or making wild, unsubstantiated claims about your product can work in the short term; however they can also be a serious turn off to your more perceptive customers. Truth-telling and copywriting aren't mutually exclusive. Marcia Yudkin's book No-Hype Copywriting: The Keys to Lively, Appealing and Truthful Sales Writing is a great primer on truthful yet persuasive writing techniques. Use conversational language: Your sales copy is not the place to try to impress your readers. Use language that's familiar and comfortable to your prospects (i.e. Avoid "industry speak"), and use a casual, personal tone/voice. In other words, write like you talk - even if that breaks some basic rules of grammar. It's better to come across as approachable and trustworthy than to write the "perfect" copy. Test out long copy and short copy: There's quite a debate over which is more effective. The truth is, they can each work well, depending on the niche, business and audience. In their Definitive Guide to Copywriting, Neil Patel and Joseph Putnam do an excellent job of outlining the pros and cons of each. Utilize storytelling: It's a good idea to open your sales copy by sharing a personal story or anecdote to signal to your readers that you understand where they're coming from. A story functions as a great hook, drawing the reader in to the rest of the copy. Conclusion
I think we often get hung up on following someone else's "proven" copywriting template or framework. While the elements above work effectively for me and many others, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for writing persuasive copy.
Keep in mind that what works in one niche may not work in another, so it's important to test out a variety of copywriting strategies. The strategies above are a great starting point, but use them flexibly to create copy that's right for your audience.
Sales funnels 101
you’ve heard the term “Sales Funnel” and still don’t *really* get what it is, you’re in luck. This is what I do best. Explain things in a way everyone can understand!
A sales funnel is simply a path, a yellow brick road if you will, as you lead someone down a path to:
discover who you are
buying from you
becoming a loyal fan
Take a look at this episode to get the entire lowdown on what exactly a sales funnel is in less than 5 minutes.
For more sales funnel awesomeness, check out the bestselling book by Russell Brunson, Expert Secrets *you can also get his other book Dotcom Secrets as well*.
For more videos like this, please be sure to subscribe on Facebook and YouTube.
Hey you, Julie here, today I want to talk to you about what a sales funnel actually is.
It’s a path think of it as the yellow brick road. The yellow brick road for people who have no idea who you are the journey to discovering buying from you and then becoming a loyal fan.
In its most basic form, a sales funnel is a series of web pages, emails, texts, messenger BOTS, basically lines of communication.
In the olden days, a sales funnel would be something as simple as an ad in a newspaper leading to a phone number which would lead to a call which would lead to you going into that store or shop.
So with the new way we, use web pages emails and texts to communicate all the deals and offers that we want to give our customers.
So let me take you step by step through a really simple sales funnel.
A sales funnel begins with an advertisement of some kind. Now, this doesn’t have to be a paid ad, it could be something on the radio are a podcast where they hear somebody’s voice. Maybe it’s a video or something that they’ve seen on social media, or maybe they’ve done a Google
search and your blog pops up. So it’s something that interrupts what they’re doing either they are going out looking for it or it comes to them.
So advertisements you know interrupt what we’re doing, whereas googling or searching is actively looking for the information. And what do we find bait.
Bait is usually something free, whether it’s a course, a guide, a sample of some sort. And it’s on a web page where all we have to do is give our name and email address in order to get that free gift. That is the entry point to a funnel. And that’s really just a web page.
Now once we put our email address in, the next part of the funnel kicks in. And this is usually email emails start to fire off that give people an introduction to who we are and what we sell.
Now in the more complicated funnels, when they put their email address in, they go to another web page this time they’re offered something low-cost or introductory. And the good sales funnels work really well where the products kind of interlock with each other so it makes natural sense.
Here’s a pair of shoes. Now get a pair of shoelaces. Now get some socks. So those are the good funnels. So you can continue to offer page after page where they click and they click and they click and they continue to buy more and more products.
Now, most people don’t do what we want them to do so the emails act as guardrails. They bring people who have fallen off of your funnel, out of your web pages, off the yellow brick road and they bring them back to remind them of the things that you offer.
Emails also act as a way to build trust and authority because usually if you’ve been interrupted by an ad and you have enough curiosity to click, you sometimes don’t have enough trust yet to buy. And so that’s what the emails do.
And in recent days, things like messenger bots and text messages are another way to reach people.
Some people have inboxes that are so crowded that they don’t open their emails so we’re using new methods to always reach our customers and to remind them that we exist and that we can serve them.
So a sales funnel is literally just an online version of the yellow brick road consisting of web pages, emails, and texts and we use copy or we use video to communicate our message and get our customers to buy.
recommended sales funnel experts
Lead Generation, Sales + Customer Services
what is a lead + how do you manage them?
A sales lead is a potential sales contact, individual or organization that expresses an interest in your goods or services. Leads are typically obtained through the referral of an existing customer or through a direct response to advertising or publicity. A company's marketing department is typically responsible for lead generation. Pursuing and closing leads normally falls to the company's sales department. For example, an IT vendor or channel partner promotes its offerings at an industry trade show, hoping to attract the attention of qualified buyers attending the exhibit. Each inquiry for more vendor or partner information counts as a lead, which might subsequently develop into a sale. The information captured in a sales lead varies. It could consist of a person's name and email address, or it could provide a broader view of the potential buyer, including information on the potential buyer's role in her company and an anticipated purchasing time frame. A company's lead generation efforts and its approach to dealing with leads can significantly affect its success in the marketplace. To that end, most organizations try to establish effective practices, spanning the lead generation, qualification and distribution processes. Sales lead generation sourcesThe process of acquiring sales leads begins with lead generation. Lead generation involves marketing-related activities, or lead generators. At a basic level, lead generation can be as simple as obtaining referrals from existing customers. Companies looking to quickly boost revenue, however, typically adopt other lead generation techniques. For example, they may purchase sales lead lists from a lead generation company that maintains a database of business and consumer leads. Such lists may be used to conduct direct mail marketing, email marketing or telemarketing campaigns, all of which are forms of direct marketing. Companies may also host or participate in business-to-business (B2B) events to generate leads. Examples of such event marketing activities include trade shows, webinars and lunch-and-learn meetings. The arrival of digital marketing opened a number of additional lead generation tools. In contrast to direct marketing techniques, digital marketing approaches, such as inbound marketing, focus on appealing to sales leads through company-generated online content. Inbound marketing content can include blog posts, videos, infographics and white papers. When creating and publishing inbound marketing content, companies may adopt a content marketing strategy to promote their brand. Inbound marketing also encompasses mobile and social media marketing using online platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Sales lead management processSuccessful lead generation activities will generate sales leads of varying quality and urgency. To maximize the business potential of those leads, a company can develop a lead management process, sometimes referred to as lead-to-revenue management, which involves methods and systems for capturing, tracking and distributing leads to sales reps for closing. Sales lead management focuses on the cultivation of individual leads, which populate a company's sales pipeline. The marketing department typically is responsible for lead scoring -- that is, evaluating and ranking leads according to where the potential buyer stands in the purchase funnel, or sales funnel. The sales funnel, also described as the buyer's journey or sales cycle, begins with the buyer's earliest awareness of a product or service and culminates in a sale.
b2b (business to business) v. b2c (business to consumer)
To get to a strategy that fits your business, your first step is to distinguish between B2B and B2C. The sales strategies that you employ are distinctly different, depending on your target audience. Here are 6 key differences to keep in mind. B2B B2C Strategy Difference 1: Lead PoolThe lead pool size is a major differentiator between B2B and B2C sales strategies. With B2Cs, you are presumably targeting millions of people who need your product. Let’s say, as example, that you’re selling cornflakes. To zoom in on your target audience, just count the number of people who have breakfast every day. And, in case you want to broaden the market, you can get marketing to design a campaign that sells cornflakes as snack and dinner alternatives. Now, you potentially have a lead pool made up of billions of people. For B2Bs, the lead pool size shrinks by the millions, and is more defined by the companies’ specific requirements. As example, let’s presume that you’re selling one of those cornflake/ oats making machines. This limits your lead pool to companies, such as Trader Joe’s, Kellogg’s and Nestle. You don’t even have those artisan cornflake makers in your lead pool, unless you can convince them to turn to machines. Want to increase your customer experience right now?Boost your CX with tips from our industry leading whitepaper, How Fortune 500 Companies Manage Their Contact CentersGiven this reality, a blanket approach won’t work. Similar companies will go after that puddle-sized lead pool. So, you need to be specific in your pitch to each of the companies in your pool. For both B2B B2C sales teams, here’s a good reminder from SEOmoz CEO and co-founder Rand Fishkin regarding dealing with your lead pool: “Best way to sell something: don’t sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect and trust of those who might buy.” B2B B2C Strategy Difference 2: Required Product KnowledgeYour sales team needs to know about what they’re selling. This is the same, regardless of whether you’re B2B or B2C. As Brian Halligan, CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, says: “People shop and learn in a whole new way compared to just a few years ago, so marketers need to adapt or risk extinction.” Both B2B and B2C sales teams need to know their product like the back of their hand. They should know their features, design details, advantages and disadvantages. Competitor knowledge is necessary too. Buyers are more sophisticated these days – be it B2B or B2C. They will know some details about your product and ask questions. The difference lies in the depth of knowledge required. Buyers in B2B and B2C have different information requirements. A mom buying cornflakes, for instance, will want to know the calorie and sugar count of the product, as well as its price and taste. Your sales team can train to respond to these queries in a day or two. After a week, they may be already be expert in your product. Compare this to a B2B sales team. Your team needs to know the specifications and technical details of the product. They need to know how this would fit into the systems – hardware, software and human-powered – and processes of your target companies. And, it is almost always different from one company to the next. Months of training won’t cut it. An effective B2B sales team needs continuous training, thorough product knowledge, and experience in product presentations and fielding questions from executive-level prospects. B2B B2C Strategy Difference 3: Number of Decision-MakersIn a typical B2C buying scenario, you only deal with one decision maker. In our cornflake example, it is the mom, her tastes, budget and preferences that you need to consider. Perhaps, her hubby or kids will also factor into the cornflake buying decision – but not always. In the case of B2Bs, the decision-making process is a lengthy process that involves several stakeholders. According to CEB (now Gartner) executive advisor and author Brent Adamson, the average number of B2B stakeholders is 6.8, as of 2016. This number has likely increased today. There are several factors to explain this, such as globalization, the decentralization of decision making and solutions packages (instead of singular products). Whatever the case, your B2B sales team should employ a strategy that factors in several key decision-makers. B2B B2C Strategy Difference 4: Expected ResponseThe response to your sales strategies is expectedly on opposite ends when it comes to your B2B and B2C efforts. You strive for an emotional response from your B2C clients. Sure, you might offer some facts here and there. Perhaps you will tell your prospects that cornflakes are good fiber sources and that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But, the end goal of your marketing outreach is to gain customer loyalty. You want them to love and prefer your product, even if there are better breakfast options. It’s different with B2B clients. Corporate purchases – such as cornflakes/ oats making machines in our example – are usually on the top end of the price scale. They’re investments that need thorough consideration, especially when it comes to the expected costs, returns, advantages and disadvantages. These are things that shouldn’t be left to emotions. B2B buyers are more likely to approach their purchasing decision with rationality. Keep this in mind when drafting sales strategies that target corporate buyers. B2B B2C Strategy Difference 5: Decision-making ProcessIn the B2C scenario, the decision-making process is quick – in some case, even impulsive. People buy out of habit or they buy in-the-moment. Their decision is influence by advertising, word-of-mouth or habits/ cravings. To sell to this kind of audience, you need product awareness and presence. With B2Bs, however, the wooing period is longer. There are several people making the decision, and you need to convince each one of them. You will go through a lot of phone calls, meetings and demos if you’re keen on closing the deal. And, this can take months. B2B B2C Strategy Difference 6: Length of the Business RelationshipTypically, B2C business relationships are looked upon as one-off transactions. The focus is right there at the point of purchase. Outside that, preferences and loyalties can change. The cornflake-buying mom today may decide on another brand next week; or, she may choose to switch to eggs and toasts for breakfast. With B2Bs, it’s different. The whole purchasing process is an investment for both sides. Your sales team puts in months of their time and effort attending to the requirements of the prospect. You nurture your lead, and provide necessary information and content. You follow-up, meet and present to all stakeholders. Your buyers put in their time and effort too to find the best-fit solution for their needs. The underlying expectation of this mutual investment is that it’s for a long-term relationship. It’s never a one-off transaction because there’s going to be a consistent need for maintenance, support and upgrades. The stakeholder’s purchasing decision takes a long time because it’s a crucial one: that of choosing a business partner.
basic sales techniques
Selling Techniques that Work1. Challenging Your Prospect’s Status QuoMost salespeople see the sales process as a linear process. At some point, it has an end – the prospect will choose either you or your competitor. The truth is that those aren’t the only two endpoints. There’s another option – no decision – which is chosen all too often. Studies show that 20 to 60 percent of deals in the pipeline are lost to “no decision” rather than to competitors. It’s only by challenging the status quo that you can get your prospects to see that change – i.e., adopting your solution – is necessary. 2. Finding Your Value WedgeHow much overlap is there between what you can provide to your prospects and what your competition can provide? Most B2B salespeople admit that overlap is 70 percent or higher. So rather than focusing on that “parity area,” you should focus on what you can do for the customer that is different from what the competition can do – this is your “value wedge.” Your value wedge must be unique to you, important to the customer, and defensible. Learn more about how to define your value proposition. 3. Telling Stories with ContrastMessaging is about telling your company’s story in a way that attracts prospects to your doors and turns them into customers. The challenge is that, if you’re like most companies, you tell your story in a way that doesn’t differentiate you much, if at all. But to create a powerful perception of value, you need to tell both the “before” story and the “after” story – you need to tell customer stories with contrast. When you tell customer stories, don’t be afraid to link data with emotion. Often the best way to do that is to talk about the people who were affected by the challenging environment they were working in. Then talk about how their lives became better, easier, more fun, or less stressful after using your solution. 4. Making the Customer the HeroEvery story has a hero. Who is the hero of your story? Is it your company and/or a solution? If the answer is yes, then you need to rework your story – and make the customer the hero. The customer is the one who needs to save the day, not you. Your role is that of the mentor. You are there to help your customers see what has changed in their world and how they can adapt and better survive and thrive. 5. Using Sales Techniques that Involve 3D PropsThere are many ways to tell a story. But one extremely effective – and underutilized – technique is to use 3D props. Props break the pattern of what’s expected – and can make the prospect sit up and pay attention. Props make a metaphor or analogy tangible. Props create a physical reminder and can continue selling even when you’ve left the room.
Five Sales Techniques that Don’t Work1. Challenging Your Customer’s Status QuoDisruption-minded messages are the lifeblood of the story you need to tell when you’re the outsider trying to acquire new customers. But applying that same messaging approach to keeping customers and expanding profitability will backfire. In fact, according to Corporate Visions research, customers are 10 percent more likely to switch providers or shop for alternatives if challenged during a renewal conversation. The research also found that a provocative message reduces the intent to renew by 13 percent. 2. Sales Techniques Focused On Selling BenefitsEveryone knows you need to sell benefits not features, right? Well, no. If you start your customer conversation with benefits, you’re jumping the gun when it comes to how most prospects are looking at their first interactions with you and your company. Remember that 20 to 60 percent of pipeline deals are lost to the status quo. That means that you need to establish a buying vision – the case for why the prospect needs to change – before your solution’s benefits will resonate. That means you need to effectively challenge the status quo and show how the prospect’s world can change for the better (see Selling Techniques that Work #1). 3. Competing in a Bake-OffWhen you position yourself against your competitors, you’re competing in a vendor bake-off. It’s a “spec war” and you might gain the upper hand with one feature, but then the competition meets your feature and raises another. In the process, you and your competition are often having a very similar dialogue with the prospect, leading to the dreaded “no decision.” Instead of talking to the prospect about “why us,” focus instead on challenging the status quo by getting the prospect to think about “why change” and “why now,” and demonstrate the truly unique value of your solution (see Selling Techniques That Work #2). 4. Marketing to PersonasMany marketers use personas to develop messaging. And, on the face of it, it seems to make sense: defining the profile of your prospect will enable you to develop messages targeted to that profile. The problem is that personas are typically defined by who the prospect is – demographics and behaviors. But the need to change is not driven by a persona. The fact that a prospect shares similar characteristics with the persona isn’t what causes them to re-think their current approach and consider your solution as a new way to solve their problems. Instead of developing messages based on personas, focus on how to convince prospects that the status quo they are standing on is “unsafe,” then show them how life is better with your solution (see Selling Techniques that Work #3). 5. Relying on the Standard Elevator PitchAccording to Wikipedia, an elevator pitch is “a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service, or organization and its value proposition.” And just about every sales organization under the sun spends a lot of time trying to perfect that pitch. The problem is that the standard elevator pitch tells your story – not your prospect’s story. So instead of spending time refining your elevator pitch, focus on building the story that features your customer as the hero (see Selling Techniques That Work #4).
recommended lead generation SPECIALISTS + sales coaches