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The Role of Sales Materials in a Digital World

The digital world has complicated the customer journey. Where customers used to have to reach out to salespeople if they wanted to learn more about a business, they can now do the bulk of their research into a company online. They can pour through the pages of your website, read reviews from existing customers to glean the unvarnished truth about your business, and peek at your social media presence to get a better sense of your personality.

With these digital marketing channels doing so much of the heavy lifting in representing your brand, do you really still need sales materials? Will a prospect really leaf through your catalog or read your brochure?

The answer to these questions is a resounding yes! Sales materials still hold an important place in the customer journey. Whether your sales team is meeting with prospects in person or via video call, there is still a place for presentation materials and leave-behinds.

Why Sales Materials Still Matter

Some businesses have convinced themselves that digital marketing is all that matters in 2020. But printed materials remain an important piece of the puzzle. In fact, the U.S. Postal Service did some research into the effectiveness of print over digital marketing channels (of course, they have a vested interest in proving that print still holds value!), and what they found was fascinating.

People who read printed materials spent a longer time engaging with the material, had a greater emotional reaction to the content, and were more likely to place higher value on the product or service outlined than those engaging with digital materials.

Sales materials can help you do all of the following:

  • Build trust. When you spend the money to get nice printed materials made, it makes a strong impression. You signal to prospects that you’re not some rinky-dink operation. You’re a professional business who cares enough about what you do to spend the time and money on creating high-quality, lasting materials.
  • Leave a footprint. We’re all bombarded by digital messaging each day. From hundreds of emails to banner ads across every site, it’s easy to tune out that digital noise. If you can leave something physical behind, like a brochure or postcard, you’re far less easily forgotten.
  • Show, don’t tell. We all know that old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. There’s certainly some truth to that, and leaving behind print materials that are filled with eye-popping visuals can help you show off your business in a whole new way.
  • Add value. Hopefully you’ve already got a website that’s filled with great content and smart content upgrades. Sales materials can take things one step further. By sharing new information with prospects who meet with your team one-on-one, you give a sense of added value and they come to like and trust you even more.

How to Make Sales Materials Count Today

While sales materials do still have a place in today’s world, it’s undeniable that digital marketing has changed the landscape and influenced what works and what doesn’t when it comes to creating great sales materials. Here are some tips to help you create materials that catch eyes and make a lasting impression.

Invest in High-Quality Materials

This might sound like a no-brainer, but sales materials—whether printed or digital—will only work in your favor if they look great. Fliers on printer paper, hastily run through a black-and-white copy machine, will not inspire a whole lot of trust. Same goes for a poorly formatted PowerPoint. It makes you look sloppy and leaves prospects guessing about how much time and effort you put into caring for your customers.

Your sales materials must continue to speak for you long after the actual meeting with your prospect is over. So make sure they look nice! It’s worth investing in the creative—smart copy, bright visuals, great design and layout. If we’re talking print materials, it’s also worth your while to send it out to a professional print shop, rather than trying to do it on your office printer. Companies like Vistaprint and Moo allow any business access to fast, affordable, high-quality print options.

Personalize Everything

Personalization is a must in today’s sales and marketing world. Google reports that 61 percent of people expect experiences and interactions with a brand be tailored to their preferences. Your sales materials should be no exception to the personalization rule.

With the proliferation of low-cost, high-quality print services, it’s entirely possible for you to create several variations of the same brochure, catalog, or product sheets that are tailored to the needs of different segments of your audience.

Let’s say you’re a marketing consultant who focuses on small businesses (sound familiar?). Perhaps there are certain niches you focus on: home service providers, early education and childcare providers, and local car dealerships. Even if you offer the same marketing packages to each segment, you can create a brochure that highlights case studies from the specific industry and speaks to how your marketing method is applied specifically in your prospect’s field.

You can get great results in sales with low-tech personalization, too. Consider asking your salesperson to write a hand-written note (on a branded postcard, of course!) to slip into the brochure or catalog they’re leaving behind with their prospect. That attention to detail can make a strong, positive impression.

Continue to Add Value

When we talk about great sales materials, we’re talking about materials that continue to add value. Sure, your branded magnets, tote bags, and pens might be fun little add-ons. But how often does the tote end up at the bottom of someone’s desk drawer and the magnet find itself relegated to the side of the office fridge?

Branded tchotchkes don’t further your conversations with prospects, whereas great sales materials do. Make your leave-behind something that adds value. It shouldn’t be the white paper or Ebook that’s available for download on your website. Instead, make your sales materials information that prospects can’t get by simply going online.

Additionally, the content of the sales materials should fit in with your broader sales conversations and marketing strategy. The content shouldn’t come out of left field. Instead, it should help guide the in-person discussion between your sales rep and prospect, and then serve as a reminder of all their discussion points for the prospect who looks back at them later.

Encourage Collaboration Between Sales and Marketing

The best way to ensure you’re creating meaningful sales materials is to get your marketing team involved in the conversation. The customer journey today is far more convoluted than ever before, and it means there’s an unprecedented level of overlap between what your sales and marketing teams do.

Don’t leave your sales team to write and design their own brochures. But on the flip side, don’t let your marketing team create the content blind. Your sales team has the boots-on-the-ground experience and can share real-world insight into what works and what doesn’t in terms of messaging.

They can also let the marketing team know about gaps in their sales presentation and how printed or digital materials can help fill them. The marketing team, in turn, can finesse the messaging of the sales team, bring consistency to presentations and materials, and elevate sales materials to the appropriate level.

Sales materials, whether or printed or digital, still have an important role to play in today’s customer journey. While you might feel tempted to let your digital marketing and sales reps do all the talking for you, there’s still value in providing a meaningful, thoughtful leave-behind to complement sales discussions.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Sales.

Building a Marketing System in 7 Steps

This post is brought to you by Dream Big Digital. Check out their Digital Trends for 2021 article here.

The Duct Tape Marketing philosophy is that marketing is a system. It’s not a series of tactics you approach willy-nilly. It’s not a blog post here, a podcast episode there, a social media ad once in a while. The kind of marketing that gets real results is driven by strategy and is constantly refined.

Today, I’m going to walk you through the seven steps any business must take to build a robust marketing system. Going through these steps now and revisiting them annually is the key to ensuring your business’s long-term success.

1. It Starts with Strategy

When you think marketing, your mind might leap to tactical elements: setting up a social media profile, creating share-worthy how-to videos on your YouTube channel, soliciting positive reviews on Yelp. Those are all well and good, and they are certainly elements you’ll want to tackle eventually. But first, you’ve got to start with strategy, and strategy starts with knowing your ideal customer.

If you don’t understand who your ideal customer is—their core problems and the value you bring to every engagement—how can you possibly find a message that resonates and identify the tactics that will work?

The short answer is that you can’t. Every great marketing strategy is rooted in pinpointing your ideal customer and honing in on the ways they want to interact with a business. Only once you’ve established your ideal client can you begin to connect what you offer with how you solve your customer’s problems.

2. Take Control of the Customer Journey

Today’s customer journey is driven by the customers themselves. People can go online to read your website, snoop on your social profiles, and get the inside scoop from existing customers’ reviews. If you let it, the buying journey can happen with hardly any input from you.

But smart businesses don’t sit back and let the customer do what they want; they take the reins on the customer journey. We like to frame the customer journey as one that flows through a marketing hourglass. The journey has seven steps: know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, and refer.

We call it the marketing hourglass because your marketing tactics need to be involved at every step along the way. It’s not enough for you to leap in just before the sale. You must use tactics early on to help ideal prospects discover your brand. Your content should help convince them that you’re likable and trustworthy.

And your marketing efforts must continue long after that first sale is done. You’ll continue to be involved in the process of encouraging repeat business and a steady stream of positive reviews and referrals. As marketers, it’s our job to help customers take each step along the journey logically.

3. Content Has Risen to the Strategic Level

Don’t conflate the word “content” with “blog post.” Content is way bigger than that.

Content allows us to take the promise that we made to solve a problem and expand that so we can dominate search, social media, and all other places online where prospects are looking for answers about our brand.

We like to use content hubs to create one-stop-shops for the kind of informative, meaningful content that addresses a customers’ needs anywhere along the journey. Hub pages are designed to bring together all relevant information on a certain topic on one page. Think of them as the table of contents for a great online book in your area of expertise.

Whether someone’s just discovering your business, are coming back for one last look before they make a first purchase, or are sharing information about you with a friend looking for a referral, content hubs have something for everyone.

Content hubs are not only great resources on your website, they help improve your ranking in SEO and ensure that it’s easier for new audiences to discover your business.

4. Be Everywhere Online

People today live their lives online. The average internet user is online for six and a half hours each day! So that’s where every business needs to be, too.

Creating a total online presence allows you to greet people no matter where they are on the internet. Did someone drive by your brick-and-mortar store and look you up on Facebook? You should have a complete profile, with photos, reviews, and contact information, to greet them!

Did one of your happy customers refer you to their friend? Make sure your website is optimized for search, so that you will appear in queries even if that friend forgot to write your business name down and instead searches for a term associated with what you do.

The final piece of having a total online presence is ensuring that all of the pieces are integrated to work as a whole. Make sure that you use consistent branding across all of your profiles so people easily recognize you as the same business. Have your social handles on your website, so people can click from your homepage to your Instagram or Facebook profile. And vice versa! Use social media organic posts and advertising to drive traffic back to your website.

5. Keep the Leads Coming

A steady flow of leads is what will keep you in business for years to come. Not every lead will become a customer, but if you constantly have new opportunities coming your way, you’ll be able to continue to grow your business.

There is no one way to generate leads. In fact, it’s best to spread the wealth so that you’re there in the channels where your ideal customers live. That being said, it also pays not to stretch yourself too thin. You don’t have to be on every social media channel, guest blogging for every industry publication, appearing on every podcast, and showing up in every search related to your industry.

Instead, focus your efforts on the channels that are most likely to generate results. If your ideal clients are Baby Boomers, there’s no need to spend time marketing on a Gen Z-dominated social media site like Snapchat. It’s best to focus on building up those channels that are most likely to consistently generate leads.

6. Focus on Converting Those Leads

Are you doing what it takes to convert each and every lead? What about a plan to reactive old and lost clients? You can dramatically impact a business by setting up better experiences along the customer journey.

This starts with customer journey mapping. Mapping allows you to understand exactly what’s happening at each stage of the journey. If there are elements that are contributing to a less-than-stellar experience, you have the power to change those and make them better. Once you know you’ve built a great experience all the way through, you’ll have a better shot at winning back those clients you lost and capturing new ones, too.

Customer journey mapping also helps you consider all conversion behavior. It’s not just the sale that matters, it’s every conversion step leading up to that. Are people signing up for your newsletter? Are they downloading your free ebook? Are they booking an online appointment to video chat with your sales reps?

By tracking and measuring each conversion behavior, you can begin to identify those weak spots. If you can boost conversion at each weak spot by one or two percent, it adds up to a huge bump cumulatively over the journey.

7. Make a Plan

You don’t need to be like those giant corporations that have five- and ten-year strategic plans. But you do need a plan that says—for this year, quarter-by-quarter—these are our biggest priorities.

Most businesses try to bite off more priorities than they can chew. Limit it to three or four priorities each quarter. From there, you can break these big-picture goals into actionable steps.

Marketing isn’t something you can set-and-forget. It needs to happen daily, so you should schedule it in to ensure it becomes a habit. If you have a team, stay on top of them to ensure that your priorities are moving along and you’re hitting each of those actionable steps on time.

Once you’ve discovered the tactics and strategies that work for you, write them down. By documenting your processes, it’s easy to pass those tasks off to staff members or outside marketing support. That frees you up to focus on the next big strategy to grow your business.

Great marketing is a cyclical thing; it never truly ends. Once you’ve gone through these seven steps, go right back to the beginning and refine your approach. Do you need to revisit the profile of your ideal customer? Is there a new online channel you should be considering in your marketing efforts? Have your mapping exercises highlighted a new opportunity to boost conversions at a given stage in the journey?

By revisiting each of the seven steps of your marketing strategy each quarter, it keeps your approach fresh and helps you identify new ways to reach customers.

5 Must-Have Elements of Every Small Business Landing Page

Landing pages are a must for your website. Whether you create an online product ad, have an event coming up, want to tell people about your latest book, or otherwise have a special offer to promote, landing pages need to be part of your marketing.

Rather than directing your audience to your homepage and asking them to dig around for the content they want, landing pages help direct viewers to the messaging that’s most relevant to them. If they clicked on an ad touting your same-day service, you can direct them to a landing page that features your online booking system. If you created a Facebook post about your upcoming conference, you should link out to your landing page featuring information about speakers and schedule, and with a call to action to purchase tickets.

Landing pages are a critical part of the sales process to support any ad or attempt to drive traffic. And all great landing pages share these five features.

1. A Promise To Solve a Problem

Viewers click on your search ad or social media post because something in the copy resonates with them. They saw that you understand the problem they’re looking to solve, and they want to learn more. The landing page that you drive them to needs to open with a promise to solve that problem.

A great landing page has a main headline, a supporting sub-headline, and a proof statement. Let’s take a look at this landing page for Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing World Conference.

Anyone who runs social media for a business knows that the landscape is constantly shifting. Best practices change on a dime. Staying on top of the latest trends is critical if you want to get noticed, and that’s the very problem that the Social Media Marketing World Conference is solving.

They start with the headline: “Discover the best social media marketing strategies from the world’s top experts.” This tells readers that by attending, they’ll have access to high-caliber guests and will be getting top-notch advice to help with their social efforts.

The sub-head states, “You’ll discover the latest tactics and master social media in 2020.” This builds confidence that the people speaking at the conference are on the cutting edge—if you attend, you won’t be hearing about things that worked in the past. Instead, you’ll have access to the hottest knowledge that will vault you ahead of your competition this year.

Next up is their proof statement: “Join thousands of fellow marketers and influencers at the mega-conference designed to empower you with business-building ideas.” This is a conference that’s been around for years and is trusted by tons of other industry professionals. They keep coming back year after year because the conference delivers for them, so what’s stopping you from signing up?

Unsurprisingly, the folks running this marketing conference have a great handle on how to create a strong  landing page. But no matter what field you’re in, you can do the same for your business by focusing on those three key elements: headline, sub-head, proof statement.

2. The Hero Element

Once you’ve captured people’s attention with a header that promises to solve their problem, you want to draw them in further. That’s where the hero element comes in. This is typically a visual component—either still image or video—that provides context for your audience. It helps them understand how your service or product will change their lives for the better.

The hero metaphor is two-fold. You want to establish yourself as their hero, someone who’s capable of coming in and solving their problem. But sometimes the hero image is actually of them; it’s a look at how, once their problem is solved, they can go on to do bigger and better things for themselves and those around them.

Check out this hero image for TruGreen’s landing page for their lawn pest protection services.

The image shows a mom and daughter playing on their lush, healthy lawn. And while TruGreen isn’t literally in the picture, the beautiful grass represents their hard work. They strove to keep pests at bay and made this backyard a place for quality family time. This mom isn’t stuck wasting time trying to fix her lawn herself. Instead, TruGreen has taken care of that for her, and she’s able to enjoy being a parent.

3. List of Benefits

By now, you’ve drawn your audience in with a bold opening statement and compelling visual. Next up, you want to provide a specific summary of the benefits they’ll get from taking advantage of your headline offer. This is your opportunity to list benefits and features in detail.

Take this example from Rite Plumbing and Heating, which is the landing page you come to after searching “same day plumber near me” on Google.

Their list of benefits goes into detail and addresses many of the concerns a prospect might have. Their plumbers are available immediately and around the clock. You know what you’ll pay before you book, so you don’t have to worry about surprise charges on your final bill. Their team is licensed and insured, so you can rest easy letting them into your home. And they’re not looking for the quick and easy solution. Instead, they search for the underlying cause and fix that so you don’t need an emergency plumber again in a few weeks’ time!

By providing this level of detail up front, you eliminate any hesitation a prospect might have. And by keeping all of this information on the same landing page, you prevent your audience from having to dig through your website for a separate FAQ page. You’ve given them all of the information they need right here, right now to make their decision.

4. Social Proof

Even with all of that information from you, sometimes prospects want one final layer of reassurance. Of course you think your business is great, but do your existing customers agree?

You could leave your prospect to search for you on Yelp or Google My Business, but that invites them to leave your landing page and opens up the possibility that they might discover one of your competitors and drift over to them. Instead, provide social proof directly on your landing page to keep your audience right where you want them.

Take a look at what I’ve done on the landing page for my latest book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur.

I’ve collected quotes from other well-respected and recognizable authors and thought leaders who had nice things to say about my book. For someone who may be on the fence about purchasing the book, these quotes give them a greater sense of what the work is about and provide external proof of its value. It’s no longer just me saying nice things about my own book; others who are in-the-know think it’s useful, too.

Social proof on your landing page can come in a number of forms. It can be quotes or testimonials, like in this example. You can also include likes and shares that are linked up with your social media pages. Or you can show starred ratings that come from external local listings sites like Yelp or Google My Business.

Basically, anything that shows that other people have given your product or service a try and have left happy customers is of value in the social proof stage.

5. One Call to Action

You’ve given it all you’ve got. You drew readers in with a killer headline. Then you created an image that shows how great life could be with your product or service. You gave your audience the inside scoop on exactly what they can expect if they make the purchase. And you’ve proven that other people like what you do.

Now it’s time to go in with the call to action. It’s important that you only create one call to action per landing page. Having multiple buttons and forms asking your audience to do different things is very confusing. And it can scare people off from taking your desired action.

Instead, create one button or a basic form. The appropriate call to action will depend on what you’re asking someone to do. If you’re asking them to do something very simple, like ordering a book, a button can suffice. If you’re offering a free quote or to schedule an appointment, a short form might be the right fit.

There you have it! Those are the five elements every small business landing page must have to be successful. For a look at all of the elements coming together on one page, check out this wireframe:

By following this simple formula for creating landing pages, you can ensure that every ad campaign gets the highest conversion rates possible. A clean, clear landing page that addresses any questions or issues a prospect might have is the way to convince readers to take the desired action.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Sales.