Marketing is a never-ending pursuit, especially with social media refusing to sit still. Todd Giannattasio is up for the challenge. He founded Growth Suite, which gives members “the detailed step-by-step processes and blueprints for success” to grow business online.
“Despite what you may have thought, there are proven processes you can easily follow to establish and grow your business online without going broke or giving up sleep for six months,” he said.
Giannattasio and marketing entrepreneur Madalyn Sklar revisited Marketing 101 to review the latest and greatest ways for businesses to keep ahead of the pack on the internet.
“While it’s exciting to think you have a brand new idea that no one ever thought of, it’s usually a bad sign if the problem you’re solving doesn’t already have an existing market,” Giannattasio said.
“Make sure people know they have the problem you solve, and that they’re willing to pay for a solution,” he said. “See what people are saying in reviews on Amazon, Yelp, Google and Facebook. Check out communities of your audience in Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Twitter chats and Instagram.”
After the initial research comes all-important follow-up.
“Once you’ve determined your idea is worth exploring, talk to people and ask them to sign up for more info when it’s ready,” Giannattasio said. “Set up a simple landing page with a clear value proposition and email sign up. Then start asking people if they’re interested.
“These results can be tricky because lack of signups could mean you need help with communicating your message, not that your idea is bad,” he said. “Talk to people and find out. At this stage, you have to do things that don’t scale, like having a lot of one-on-one phone calls or meetings.”
The suggestions sounded familiar to Sklar.
“I did that for my video mastermind program for women,” she said. “I did lots of one-on-one chats to help get the word out for my new program. It worked great.”
Giannattasio cautioned against a “Spray and Pray” approach to marketing, which is invariably is unsuccessful.
“When you commit random acts of marketing, there’s no thought-out strategy or intentional efforts for creating awareness in the market, engaging your audience, generating leads and driving sales,” he said. “You need all of those steps sequentially to be successful long term.
“You’re understandably excited, and you are probably just spewing verbal diarrhea and expert jargon to people,” Giannattasio said. “The problem is, they aren’t as smart as you. So, you create an ‘Oh, I guess you had to be there’ reaction because there’s no context to your marketing.”
As part of their focused program, marketers should create buyer personas.
“Your standard buyer persona is a customer avatar that describes the demographics and psychographics of your ideal customer,” Giannattasio said. “You can make one by simply writing down who, what, where, when, why and how around a stick figure and answer those about your target customers.
“A simple fun exercise is to pretend you’re filling out their LinkedIn and Facebook profile,” he said. “That’ll cover basic info you want to know to get started with your plan for marketing to them. Just don’t forget to add in whythey need your product. That’s key.”
The other factors are equally vital.
“Make sure you get specific, particularly for their where, when and why so you’ll know how to reach them and what to say that will hook their attention and interest,” Giannattasio said. “If their where is Facebook or Instagram, you can spend all day on LinkedIn and it won’t mean anything.
“The same for keywords you target,” he said. “Make sure they’re words people actually search. Use answerthepublic, Ubersuggest and Keywords Everywhereto help figure out what people are searching for. Ranking 1 for a term no one searches won’t help your business grow.”
Those first steps will help marketers better align their message in a way that resonates with their audience.
“Know their problems, interests and desired outcomes,” Giannattasio said. “Then you can talk to them in a way that’s already familiar. That way they recognize it’s for them, and it will garner their interest to learn more.
“I like to include things outside business to connect with people who are aligned with my personality,” he said. “If I know that my audience of entrepreneurs are also sports fans, even if my product is business software I’ll make analogies to sports or particularly the New York Giants football team.”
Giannattasio kicked off into an example.
“Entrepreneurship can make you feel like the defense is closing in on you fast,” he said. “But with the right tools and training, you can escape like Eli Manning in Super Bowl XLII for a game-winning touchdown drive.
“Even though that’s not directly related to my product, it resonates with the audience that I’m targeting in that particular message,” Giannattasio said.
Playful or otherwise, his tactics serve an ultimate goal.
“If you want to get really serious, you can create a messaging matrix for each persona,” Giannattasio said. “That includes their place in the sales funnel, relationship with your brand, sophistication, marketplace saturation and state of awareness.
“I know it sounds complicated, but if you draw it out on a whiteboard, it just becomes a brain dump exercise if you know your industry well already,” he said. “It’s also essential to making sure you aren’t spewing out your expert jargon and going completely over their heads.”
Keeping that level of understanding is most important of all.
“You can’t teach calculus to someone who doesn’t know addition and subtraction — I assume. Clearly, I don’t know calculus,” Giannattasio said. “And you can’t get a laugh from a joke from a punchline with no setup.”
Knowing your customers’ pain points and desires is important, but understanding their buying behavior is key.
“You always want to meet them where they are at,” Giannattasio said. “That means with the questions they ask, the thoughts they’re having and the places they hang out. We live in a world of convenience. Everything is at everyone’s fingertips all the time.
“For buying specifically, your audience may want to communicate via messenger bots and pay with their fingerprint,” he said. “Maybe they prefer PayPal to credit cards, and they communicate best with email or the phone. If you make it inconvenient for them, they’re gone.”
The bottom line is to think of the customers first.
“You need to make everything as convenient and congruent for your customers as possible,” Giannattasio said. “The more friction, the more likely they bounce. The less friction, the more likely they continue on that path. That goes for buying, communicating and using your product.”
He detailed tricks to ensure customers can find you at a place and time that suits them:
- Become a valuable resource. Blogging and social media allow us all to publish a library of content that answers questions our target customers have. Treat your content as digital assets. Make it practical and engaging. When possible, make it evergreen.
- Optimize your content for search. Then you’ll get found on Google — or whatever search engines exist in the future — when people are looking for information around the problems you solve, the solutions you offer, the way you deliver them and the outcomes you produce.
- Use tools like ManageFlitter to batch work. Promote at the best time on social media and reach your target audience. Build up a content library that you can continuously promote to attract and engage with your target audience.
- Make sure you own your content. That includes your own website or blog, not just social media profiles and third parties that can change or shut down without any of your control. The same holds for building your email list and not just a social media following.
- Use retargeting. This creates omnipresence with your audience. Use email and messenger automation to nurture relationships.
- Iterate your content. Use multiple channels to efficiently be everywhere. Tweet a simple idea. Build on it on Instagram. Share on Facebook with a story. Tie them together with an intro and call to action on a blog post. Send email linking to one of those pieces. I call this the Social Syndication Stack.
“This is also the importance of having a strategic system in place to move someone from awareness to happy customer,” Giannattasio said. “This will actually eliminate competition from the equation.
“When you have a close friend or relative in ‘the business,’ you never go out shopping,” he said. “You know when you have that need you go right to them. That’s what happens when you can create visible content early and build the relationship throughout the buyer journey.”
The result is what Giannattasio calls the Seamless Signup Strategy.
“Create content to call out your audience before their trigger or about their discovery of the problem,” he said. “Within that content, offer a lead magnet100 percent aligned with solving the problem. Give them their desired end result.
“Now you’re in control of the process,” Giannattasio said. “Build the relationship by educating them on their situation. This also positions you as the leader in their mind. You’re also becoming ‘friends’ along the way. Now, when it’s time to buy, you’re the close friend they go to.”
Making customers feel valued is the secret to ongoing business.
“This is something that won’t scale, but is necessary when starting,” Giannattasio said. “Have those one-on-ones with your customers. Get to know them. Do more than necessary to build a strong relationship with them so they want to promote your brand.
“Overdeliver for them so much that they can’t help but want to talk about what happened,” he said. “Create an experience around your product delivery. Think about how you can make them feel excited. What could you do that they will brag about?”
Avoid jargon and remember the common touch.
“Humanize your messaging,” Giannattasio said. “The same can be said for your initial marketing. The more personality you can show, the more authentic you can be, the stronger your bond with your customers will be.
“This also plays to getting referrals,” he said. “The more people like you, the more comfortable they’ll be sharing your name with others. When you produce quality content, it gives them something to share with friends. Social media is the plumbing for word of mouth.”
Marketers will rarely go wrong by keeping potential customers in mind.
“Always put their needs at the center of your strategy,” Giannattasio said. “Get feedback. Talk to them. Ask for them to be involved in some of your future decisions. The more people feel involved, the more they feel appreciated and invested.
“This approach will not just help customers feel valued, but will help you build a stronger company,” he said. “You’ll serve your customers around their needs and wants instead of from your own self-centered perspective.”