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Why Your Organization is Getting Sales and Marketing Wrong

By | Building Community, Mack's Musings, Web Marketing | 2 Comments

As trust in companies continues to decline, and the needs of consumers and employees increasingly evolve, many innovative organizations are now turning to purpose as a means to bolster their growth and outmaneuver the competition.

While these innovators aren’t the only ones that understand the power of a shared purpose, the vast majority of companies have yet to effectively integrate it across their organization. According to Harvard Business Review’s The Business Case for Purpose, while 84% of executives believe an organization that has shared purpose will be more successful in transformation efforts, and 81% believe purpose-driven firms deliver higher-quality products and services, only 37% of executives believe that their own business model and operations are aligned with their company’s purpose

Only 37% of executives believe that their own business model and operations are aligned with their company’s purpose. Harvard Business Review

The successful integration and implementation of purpose, both inside and outside your organization, is directly related to your company’s ability to grow and compete in the digital age. And despite the increasing popularity of the business purpose concept, many companies are getting it wrong.

Purpose is not a veneer

Your company’s purpose is not only what you’re here to do (beyond making money), but the reason people — both customers and employees — connect with and believe in your organization. Purpose goes way beyond what your company sells or solves; it’s about who your company is.

73% of people care about the company, not just the product, when making a purchase. BBMG

Purpose does not mean making a charitable contribution from sales and it isn’t necessarily comprised of altruistic, environmental, or social do-goodery, but it does need to be authentic. It’s the foundation for building a company that people want to work for and do business with.

The way purpose shows itself inside your organization is inextricably linked to how you’re perceived on the outside, affecting everything from the happiness, engagement and retention of employees, to word of mouth, loyalty, advocacy, and even customer acquisition and retention.

85% of purpose-led companies showed positive growth of at least 10% annually.  Harvard Business Review

Your organization needs to do a stellar job of communicating your purpose to the outside world. But because consumers now easily see through marketing, no matter how strategic and clear the message is, purpose cannot be faked. Purpose is not a veneer.

72% of global consumers would recommend a company with a purpose. EY

Externally, purpose is most easily communicated through your marketing content, but it’s more deeply felt by the consumer through your approach to sales and customer experience. In other words, regardless of what your company “says,” how your company and its employees interact with the outside world—your customers and your community— can be the dividing line between success and failure for an entire company. Especially when things fall apart.

Take Chipotle for example.

In a nutshell, the company’s purpose is food with integrity. Not just sourcing, preparing, and serving whole food, but disrupting the fast food industry and how it typically operates.

And although their advertising is very clever and human and full of personality, when you dive deeper into their organization, you realize that their purpose isn’t just something they serve up on the surface in their marketing, it’s something that comes from the core of their organization’s soul. It’s in their DNA.

Purpose, not product-focused

Chipotle’s marketing isn’t just about burritos and the stuff they sell. Videos like Scarecrow and Back to the Start took a stand back in 2013 against how the fast food industry typically operates and sources its food. Chipotle holds free festivals each year like Cultivate where people gather in their local communities to celebrate good food, music, and connect with each other over ideas and values.

Chipotle has sponsored a Food for Thought column on the Huffington Post to build awareness and hold the conversation about how food is grown and the effects this system has on our world. They’ve invested in programs and better ways of working that encourage their employees to self-manage, which in turn empowers them to be better leaders.

For Chipotle, these efforts aren’t just marketing campaigns; they’re exhibitions of their purpose. This is how they’ve operated from the start. And even though their struggle right now with food safety issues is real and threatening the durability of the company, they’re working relentlessly to get back to their purpose and live their promise. Not only testing new ways of preparing their food to be safe and full of the integrity they promise, but also pioneering food safety systems for the rest of the fast food industry to learn from.

Chipotle is a shining example of how to communicate your purpose to the outside world through sales and marketing, through every single touchpoint, because they are purpose-driven through and through: leadership, strategy, operations, and employees.

Patagonia is an equally shining example of a company who effectively markets and sells from purpose. They use their business not just to make money but to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. Again, why they truly exist isn’t just apparent in their marketing, it’s not product-focused, and it’s not a PR facade.

Patagonia’s approach to sales and marketing has everything to do with externally communicating their purpose and this has taken many forms. Of late, a new revenue stream where Patagonia will offer store credit for used, recycle-worthy Patagonia clothing and, in turn, refurbish and re-sell the clothing online.

An additional reincarnation of their purpose to wreak less harm on the earth and encourage other corporations to do the same can be seen in Worn Wear —  a movement to encourage their customers to buy less stuff, and instead get more out of what they already have. All of these actions are a clear representation of why Patagonia exists as a company; it’s their true DNA. All of this meaty and meaningful content that also happens to be their marketing.

And although financially, Patagonia is thriving, they’ve had their share of actions that conflict with their purpose. Using materials in volume that have been proven to do more damage once released into public waterways than plastic grocery bags. Yet once they were informed of the problem, they ran tests to verify and researched new yarn and fabric construction that would alleviate the shedding that caused the environmental damage.

Similar to Chipotle, Patagonia shared their learnings with the apparel industry in order to partner and find a solution on an industry-wide scale, not just to save face. Their hope is that other companies will take advantage of the technology and processes they’re pioneering, effectively increasing impact and further utilizing their organization as a means to make progress towards their purpose.

Purpose is certainly not the only factor that contributes to a company’s success or failure. Product, culture, brand, strategy, leadership, and even convergence, competition, market pressure, and economic shifts all play a part in their fate. However, an expertly articulated and executed purpose will give your organization a fighting chance. Not just to more profit and bigger market share, but to better employees and customers who will advocate on your behalf, even when your company blows it.

Customers no longer believe what you say. They will, however, believe what you do as long as it’s also felt through the experiences you provide.

Purpose lies at the heart of your business model. It should drive your growth strategy, focus, culture, and your way of operating. When purpose starts there, your sales and marketing naturally becomes a meaningful conversation that truly engages the people you want in your customer base and together, through your company, you become a vehicle for greater change in our world.

Clarifying and applying purpose to your sales, marketing, and customer experience

One of the biggest fails with purpose inside organizations is implementation. Many companies invest the money to identify or clarify their purpose, but when it comes to living it in the day-to-day, communicating it through their actions, or how they market, sell, and connect with their customers, purpose gets lost along with its benefits. Much like a mission or values statement, it becomes nothing more than the words stenciled on a wall or penned in an employee manual — read once, if you’re lucky, at onboarding and then forgotten.

Your sales, marketing, and customer experience teams play the biggest role in living the purpose of your company because they are integral in communicating what’s on the inside to who’s on the outside. Consider taking these steps in your organization to effectively clarify and implement purpose for increased growth and competitive advantage:

1. Clarify the purpose of your organization
The first step in clarifying your company’s purpose is understanding what purpose isn’t. Your company’s purpose is not your vision, mission, or values. It is not your brand guidelines or PR strategy, a tagline or a trend. It’s not corporate responsibility. And most importantly, it’s not giving a bunch of money to charity (not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not purpose).

Your purpose is aspirational and belief driven, much broader than your products or services, and lies at the heart of your business model. Ultimately, your purpose improves the lives of your customers and your employees.

Ideally you want to clarify your organization’s purpose by pairing a cultural tension — a problem in the world that your company is looking to address — with who you are at your best self (this is an Ogilvy and Mather’s tool that Arielle Jackson explains well here).

For Dove, their purpose is to help women feel good about their bodies, not just sell soap. This purpose is relevant, meaningful, and it’s the key to connection and what drove a $1.5 billion dollar increase in sales. So it’s really important your teams are clear about what purpose is or isn’t so that they can effectively use it to understand your customers and talk with them through their acquisition and retention strategies.

2. Deconstruct your customer’s journey by actually talking with your customers
Once you have clarity on the purpose of your organization, take a look at how that connects you to your customers. Work for a deeper understanding of your customer’s journey — not solely through analyzing sales funnel drop-off rates, demographic or psychographic audience data, but by participating in actual conversations with customers in real life. Make the effort to understand what they’re thinking and feeling at every stage.

When your sales, marketing, and customer experience teams can bridge the gap between the purpose of the company and how it aligns with your customer’s needs and removes their unique roadblocks you crack the code to earning a coveted connection that leads to word-of-mouth: amplification, advocacy, loyalty, activism.

3. Connect your team’s purpose to your organization’s purpose
As a leader, there are two questions to be answered here: 1) What does the organization as whole exist to achieve? In other words, what is the purpose besides making money? 2) What role does your team play in achieving that purpose?

Your teams need to understand how their daily contributions matter to the overarching purpose of the company. Especially when they’re pushing hard on things that seem meaningless; understanding how purpose relates to strategy and their day-to-day can go a long way for efficiency, output, and morale. In short, meaning matters to your employees.

4. Adjust the communication of your purpose externally
Finally, in order to effectively communicate and connect with your customers, your sales, marketing, and customer experience teams especially need to understand that the conversation is not just about your product, but also about your purpose. They need to be perceptive, strategic, and creative in how, where, and when that conversation takes place.

A well articulated and implemented purpose gives your marketing team a more focused approach to creative ideation, execution, and outreach. Often brand guidelines and historical data isn’t enough fodder for brilliant campaigns and relevant content. If you take Dove for example, there are thousands of ways to talk about the importance of helping women feel better in their own skin, and only a handful of ways to talk about soap.

When your sales and marketing force changes the conversation from product to purpose, you open up the opportunity to connect with exponentially more people — organizations, influencers, media, communities — who either are or know your ideal customer. Not only that, but now your sales force is empowered because they’re no longer just pushing a product or service, they’re selling something much more meaningful.

Business purpose is a parallel path

In order to get your growth strategy right in the digital age, you can’t just tell people your organization operates from the purpose of your business. You have to prove you’re on a parallel path between what’s happening inside your company and what you’re exhibiting on the outside.

Internally, purpose should be part of your business model. It should come in the form of authentic leadership and from employees at all levels; not top-down management mandates. It should be at the center of decision-making for growth strategy and overall company direction. It needs to be the source of innovation because it is the key to differentiation and competitive advantage. Most importantly, when done right, purpose should be the backbone of your culture, effectively driving how your teams self-manage, collaborate, and work together on a day-to-day basis.

The truth is, customers no longer believe your marketing alone. In order to earn and keep your customers, you must know how to effectively exhibit and fight for your purpose through your actions and the experiences you provide. That’s what will create the conditions necessary to achieve sustainable growth.

Learn how we can evolve your organization:

 

Evolve or Die: How Purpose and Authenticity are the Future of Brands

By | Building Community, Mack's Musings, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

Mack has had the honor of presenting Evolve or Die: How Purpose and Authenticity are the Future of Brands all over the world— from Boston, Massachusetts to Vancouver, Canada; from Dublin, Ireland to Raleigh, North Carolina. What follows are the highlights of her talk that explores how companies need to evolve their marketing and what’s required to build a successful and durable brand in the digital age.


Imagine your company is competing in a fairly saturated and competitive industry like fast food. You’ve been around for a little while but you’re really just getting started. You have something new and different and you’re ready to take the world by storm.

Taking on the world

Now imagine that you’re up against companies like McDonald’s who spent $800 million on their advertising in 2013. Or Panera Bread who spent $55 million on their marketing efforts in that same year.

Imagine this is your competition and these are their marketing budgets. What would your marketing strategy be? How would your company contend?

How would your company compete?

Chipotle did. In 2013 they spent a fraction of what their competitors did — less than $10 million — on their advertising and marketing efforts and they had a much greater impact because they were doing things like this:

  • Creating videos like the Scarecrow that takes a stand and challenges how the fast food industry typically operates and sources its food.
  • Holding free festivals like Cultivate where people celebrate good food, music, ideas, and connect with each other.
  • Sponsoring a “Food for Thought” column on the Huffington Post that is dedicated to creating awareness about how food is grown and the effects this system has on our world.
  • Investing in better ways of working that gives their employees more authority and empowers them to be better leaders.

All of these things that Chipotle has been doing aren’t just marketing campaigns. This is what they believe in as a company and this is authentically how they operate.

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And that is what has contributed to their durability and growth over the last decade.  From 2006 to 2015, Chipotle has grown revenue from $820 million to more than $4.5 billion.

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So how did Chipotle’s approach bring this much growth? Even as Chipotle has been faced with food safety challenges in their restaurants, what has helped them to endure?

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There’s no doubt that if you want to compete in the digital age, you must have a stellar product or service, and you have to provide a cross-channel experience that is unparalleled.

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Ultimately, these things must be baked into your DNA; this is the new status quo.

But competing today—for time, attention, and market share— is not about how much money you spend on your marketing.

not-about-spend

If you want your company to be durable and surpass the competition, your organization must be building from purpose and authenticity. 

build-from-purpose-and-authenticity

And here’s why:

More than 63% of consumers would rather buy from a company they consider to be authentic over the competition.
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In that same Cohn & Wolfe study, the #1 behavior that people expect of brands is the fact that they communicate openly and honestly about their products and services. They don’t let their customers down, and that they act with integrity at all times. Because people want to relate to you, they want trust you and know you’re going to do what you say.

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Additionally, a BBMG study shows that when people are trying to figure out who to buy from, 73% of people care about the company, not just the product when they’re making purchasing decisions.

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And when people care about your company, they tell their friends. And word of mouth is responsible for more than 50% of all purchasing decisions.

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The fact of the matter is, if you want to earn and keep your customers and employees, and build a community of advocates who will support you and tell their friends about you, you can’t just focus your efforts on how your company is packaged. You must also focus your efforts on who your company is.

If your organization wants to experience growth, you need to focus on three very important things: 

  1. You need to clarify your purpose that so that you can effectively position strategy around it, rally your employees around it, and communicate it to your customers.
  2. You need to better understand your people so that you can connect with your customers and remove their roadblocks.
  3. You need to use strategy and action to prove you’re worth your customers’ time and attention; showing them you are willing to keep your promise to them.

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Chances are, your company or the company you work for is in business because you want to make some money. You want to grow. So how will building a purpose-driven, authentic brand help you do that?

Because your product is not what connects people to your brand or your company. It’s your purpose and that’s the key to growth.

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The thing is, our world is changing so quickly, and that means businesses must continually iterate and adapt to stay relevant and ahead of the competition. This has changed the way businesses operate because consumer behavior has changed tremendously.

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Consumers know that they have the upper hand. They know they have a choice. So the bar has been set a lot higher for companies because consumers expect businesses to play a larger role in changing society. You can’t just make a product anymore.

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Not only that, but as far as employees go, people want meaning in their work and they want to work for better companies.

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Purpose is something that can help companies hurdle each of these challenges. It also helps them stay relevant in their customer’s lives.

In a Harvard Business Review study they found that companies with purpose make more money and have more involved employees, all because they’re operating from purpose.

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Purpose drives everything and it’s not just the emotional sell in your marketing. Purpose drives your products and services, the people you hire, your culture, and your marketing. Most importantly, it gives focus that drives the whole business.

Once you have purpose and focus, you can develop a much more effective and powerful growth strategy that will connect with the right customers and employees. When you’re talking to the right people and removing their roadblocks, those customers want to become part of your community, tell their friends, and drive your growth.

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The first step in building a purpose-driven, authentic brand is positioning your organization around that purpose. One of the ways we do this is by using an exercise from Ogilvy & Mather’s called the Big Ideal.

Essentially, your Big Ideal is the soul of your company. It’s also your point of view of how the world should be.

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It can take some time to figure out your Big Ideal (we’ll use Dove as an example from Arielle Jackson’s work on First Round), but essentially it works like this: combine two things: your cultural tension—which is the problem in the world that you’re looking to address:

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with your brand’s best self—what your company actually does when you are at your best:

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Dove’s Big Ideal is: The world would be a better place if women were allowed to feel good about their bodies. This purpose drives the focus for everything they do. Their job is not just to sell soap; it’s to create products that help women feel good about their bodies.

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This purpose and focus then comes out loud and proud in everything they do inside their operations and also in their marketing strategy. Dove has been running the Real Beauty campaign for over a decade now and it’s still relevant because it matters in our world and it’s rooted in their purpose.

And from 2004 to 2014, Dove saw a $1.5 billion dollar jump in sales as a result of focusing on purpose to drive their business. This isn’t just a marketing ploy. Dove eats, lives, and breathes this purpose throughout their organization. Just like Chipotle does.

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And that’s the thing about authenticity and a purpose-driven approach. Often times companies will disregard its power because they think it’s only applicable to environmentally or socially responsible companies like Patagonia or Tom’s Shoes. 

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But a purpose-driven approach is not solely an environmental responsibility thing. It’s not a give-one-get-one thing. It’s not a non-profit thing. It’s not a corporate responsibility thing. It’s not a B2B or a B2C thing. This approach is about integrating purpose into your business model. 

It’s about building a company that people care about, want to work for, and do business with. That’s what brings durability and growth in the digital age.

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When you’re building a purpose-driven, authentic brand, how do people fit into the equation? Every day it seems that there’s some new marketing tactic to try; a new piece of technology that will magically help you earn customers faster. But technology will not earn customers. Having a great product, building a great company, being authentic, and doing the work to connect with your people will.

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The biggest thing to remember about growth and building your community of customers is that you’re not looking for everyone and you’re not just looking to raise vanity metrics. You’re working towards loyalty, word of mouth, and repeat customers. That’s connection.

So if you want that connection with your customers, don’t just focus on selling your product. Your job is to figure out how to bridge the gap between the purpose of your company and the people who want to be part of it.

Let’s look at an example.

Traveling Vineyard

Traveling Vineyard is a direct sales company. They have several thousand people, or Wine Guides as they call them, who are mostly women selling wine for them at in-home wine tastings.

before-purpose

Before we met Traveling Vineyard, that’s exactly what they were doing. Selling wine. And they were struggling to connect with their people; their customers.

We worked with Traveling Vineyard to discover they actually don’t exist to sell wine. Their purpose is to change lives by providing fulfilling (and flexible) work.


This change in their focus from their product to their purpose made it a whole lot easier to drive their growth because instead of pushing a product, they were connecting their purpose with the right people.

Let’s take a look at how we did this with customer journey mapping.

This is an exercise that we borrowed and evolved from a company called Adaptive Path. Here’s how it works:

We selected the three audience groups who had the largest effect on Traveling Vineyard’s revenue. At this stage, they are essentially stereotypes.

With Traveling Vineyard, their top 3 customer groups were 3 different types of moms: a SAHM who loves her family but could use a little extra income without a lot of commitment. An empty-nester who’s looking for something new to consume her life now that her kids are gone. And an achiever – someone who is tired of just being a mom and wants something that’s just for her.

But when we were building their persona, we didn’t just stop here by identifying these stereotypes.
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We wanted to make sure we were talking to the right people, so we took the step of matching these persona to real, actual people.

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Once we mapped the characteristics of the stereotypes to REAL people in their community, we honored them as ambassadors. This allowed us to build better relationships with their existing community and leverage that community to find more people outside of their community who are like them.

This requires more than just looking at audience, psychographic, or demographic data. We spoke with their customers FACE-TO-FACE in order to map their journey and understand the desires, roadblocks, and fears that these women had and were keeping them from converting to wine guides.

We started by identifying the challenges and goals for each one of their persona groups, starting with those who are most like Kirby, their stay-at-home-mom audience segment who represents nearly 60% of their customer base.

persona-segment
Through many conversations, group meetings, face-to-face interviews, and digital surveys, we identified Kirby’s biggest challenges and goals.
biggest-challenges

goals

Once we knew Kirby’s greatest challenge and most important goals, we could begin understanding behaviors.

We began to break down what she is thinking, feeling, and doing at each stage in her journey in the lifecycle of becoming a Wine Guide for Traveling Vineyard.

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When we analyze what customers like Kirby are thinking, we look at the common questions that are holding them back. Stuff like: Is the company legit? Will I make money doing this? Do I have to be a wine expert?

Then we move onto how they may be feeling in each stage of their journey. These are the emotions that they are having that could also pose potential roadblocks like if they’re nervous about trusting the company, anxious to tell their friends they may do this, or even just excited to get started.

And then lastly, in the doing stage, we analyze their actions; the actions that the potential wine guides may take before they convert. Things like investigating other companies, talking to their friends and family, and watching videos or reading content on the website.

And even though Kirby won’t be thinking/feeling/and doing these things in a linear fashion, deconstructing her customer journey this way helps us understand what her overall experience must be like across channels and both on-and-offlinecustomer-journey

Now once we understood all of these things about Kirby, we can address all of her thoughts/concerns/fears/challenges through a content strategy that helps Kirby reach her goals and connect with the purpose of the company.

content-strategy-to-remove-roadblocks

For example, let’s say we’re breaking down the CONSIDER phase in the funnel and identify roadblocks for potential Wine Guides who have been comparing Traveling Vineyard with other direct selling job opportunities.

So for example, let’s say we wanted to address Kirby’s fear of whether Traveling Vineyard is a legitimate company:

thinking-stage

We created some content around the concern of pyramid schemes and how Traveling Vineyard isn’t one.

model-example

We asked their existing Wine Guides (who Kirby can relate to) in order to help us create content so that they could tell potential Wine Guides about how Traveling Vineyard’s business model actually works and isn’t a scam.

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We even asked direct selling experts to provide an unbiased view on direct selling to address this roadblock.

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Then we built content to address Kirby’s ‘feeling’ behaviors; being unsure that this job will add stress to her family:

feeling-roadblock

We interviewed Jonelle, an existing Wine Guide who someone like Kirby would resonate with, to talk about what a day in the life is like with Traveling Vineyard and how she balances it all.

day-in-the-life

In this video, Jonelle shows talks about her schedule and how she fits Traveling Vineyard into her family routine. Again, more real people (and user generated content) from the Traveling Vineyard community addressing these common roadblocks.

day-in-the-life-schedule

Finally, we addressed Kirby’s ‘doing’ behaviors — the actions that someone like Kirby might want to take in order to become a Wine Guide.

doing-behaviors

Each week, Traveling Vineyard provides a webinar which is an opportunity for potential Wine Guides like Kirby to better understand the business. It’s also a chance to ask questions about what it’s really like to work for Traveling Vineyard and learn that it is in fact possible to be a Wine Guide and keep your family in tact. 

weekly-webinar

Doing this work to understand Kirby (and the other persona segments) and give her what she needs throughout her customer journey with Traveling Vineyard has brought tremendous growth to the company. Since they shifted the conversation from product to purpose, they’ve experienced a 365% compound annual growth rate over a 3 year period.

It’s important to note that none of this content went viral. What it did was connect with Traveling Vineyard’s specific customer because they were doing the work — face-to-face — to understand and remove their roadblocks. They were not pushing their product, they were having a conversation about their purpose. And that has been the key to connection and growth.

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Over the many months, Chipotle has been having a rough go of it. And for a brand that is supposed to be synonymous with “FOOD WITH INTEGRITY” being associated with words like Norovirus, E.coli, and Salmonella is pretty bad news. Even worse, when people are talking on social media about puking and pooping and going to the hospital because they’ve eaten your food, it is not so good for business.

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But in true authentic style, Chipotle has spent the last year reacting to this stuff from authenticity and purpose. They’ve not only been telling their customers that they’ve blown it, but they’re doing what it takes to make it right.

Chipotle has been transparent about how the outbreaks most likely happened. They’ve taken apart their current food safety systems and put them back together. They’ve provided their customers with a plan for action to pioneer and become a leader in food safety. Chipotle wants to make sure that this not only doesn’t happen again in their restaurants, but also inspire other fast food restaurants to operate the same.

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But had Chipotle not built such trust with their customers over the last 10 years — if they hadn’t operated from their purpose from the inside, and not just in their marketing — something like this could have ruined them.

And that’s what’s kind of remarkable about Chipotle’s community is that their customers were willing to give them a second chance. Even as their stock prices fell and the media chewed them up, their customers were still with them.

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And even though Chipotle projected a 65% earnings loss in 2016 due to the outbreaks, earnings have been projected to jump 125%. And even over the next many years, Chipotle is still projected to have a higher growth in earnings than McDonald’s and their big ol’ marketing budgets.

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So here’s the thing about living your promise and leading from purpose. It is a parallel path. Because the way purpose shows itself inside your organization is inextricably linked to how your company is perceived on the outside.

If your company wants sustainable, durable growth, your sales, marketing, and customer experience strategies must start with 4 simple steps.

The first step in living your promise and leading from purpose is clarifying the purpose of your organization.

Just like we talked about with Dove and Traveling Vineyard, look at the cultural tension you want to address in our world and combine that with your best self. This is what will make you relevant. It’s also the key to connection with your customers and your employees.

Which is why it’s really important that you’re clear with your team about what purpose actually is and what it isn’t.

Purpose is aspirational and belief-driven. It’s way bigger than your what you sell or what you make. It’s fully integrated into your business model and it’s the long-game of how you’re going to improve your customers and your employees lives.

Purpose is NOT your vision, mission, or values statement. It’s not solely focused on internal activities. It’s not making a bunch of money so that you can give it away (that’s great, but that’s not purpose). It’s not your brand guidelines or PR. It’s not a tagline or a trend. Purpose is connection and your teams need to understand what purpose truly is so that they can apply it effectively in their strategies.

The second step to living your promise is connecting your purpose to your people. Once you know your purpose, you’ve got to look at how you connect that with your customer.

Look at the journey of your customer and what they’re thinking/feeling/and doing at every stage. Remember, it’s not just assessing audience data, demographic data, or psychographic data; that data is plentiful but it doesn’t tell you about their fears, desires, or what’s truly on their minds.

The good stuff is when you participate in actual conversations with your customers in real life (not just through digital surveys but with 1:1 interviews) so that you can understand how to bridge the gap between the purpose of the company and the people who align with it. Your job is to understand and remove their roadblocks so that you can connect and be part of their lives.

The third part of living your promise is to connect your team’s purpose to the purpose of the organization. You can do this by asking 2 questions:

What does the organization that you work for exist to achieve as a whole, in addition to making money? In other words, what is the purpose of the entire company? And the second question, what role does your team play in achieving that purpose (other than to make money)? Your teams need to understand how their daily contributions matter to the overarching purpose of the company. Especially when they’re pushing hard on things that seem meaningless; understanding how purpose relates to their day-to-day can go a long way for efficiency, output, morale, and retention.

And the fourth and final step to living your promise is to effectively communicate who your company is on the inside to the people on the outside.

Especially in your sales, marketing, and customer experience teams, they need to understand that the conversation is not only about your product, it’s also about your purpose.

What that means is that rather than only focusing the conversation with your customers about your product (like Dove when they were just selling soap, or Traveling Vineyard when they were failing to connect with their customers)…

You can have a much more meaningful conversation about things that matter.

Like women feeling good about their bodies:

Like women working on their self-esteem:

Like having the body image conversation with young girls so that they learn to love their bodies from a young age, too:

The thing is, there are thousands of ways to talk about Dove’s purpose of helping women feel better about their bodies, but there’s only a handful of ways to talk about soap.

The same thing with Chipotle, there are thousands of ways to talk about food with integrity and its impact on our world, but there’s only a handful of ways to talk about a burritos. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t talk about or advertise your product. What I am saying is when you change the conversation from product to purpose, you open up the opportunity to exponentially connect with more people.

Look at all of these organizations, people, media outlets, communities, influencers who want to be a part of Dove’s purpose-conversation vs. the amount of people who want to talk about soap.

When you lead from purpose and live your promise, you have a competitive advantage.

In a Harvard Business Review study, 85% of purpose-led companies experienced positive growth of at least 10% annually.

An EY study shows that 72% of global consumers would recommend a company with a purpose.

Not only that, but keeping your employees is an significant factor in contributing to your profits. The employees at purpose-driven organizations are 3 times more likely to stay. 

And the time is now. Only 37% of executives believe that their own business model and operations are aligned with their company’s purpose. Which means there are A LOT OF COMPANIES who are struggling to connect with their customers. 

It’s time for you to get ahead of the other 63%.

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If you’re considering building an authentic, purpose-driven brand, remember these things:

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Building your company from purpose gives people something to connect to and believe in. Even more, building from purpose gives your business focus. Focus that will bring growth.

If you want to earn the right customers who will support you and stand by you through the good and the bad, you’ve got to bust your ass, hustle and do the work to connect with people. In real life. The people who align with your purpose: both your employees and your customers.

You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to be genuine, authentic, and human. For better or worse, customers no longer believe your advertising and marketing alone. You must earn your customers by fighting for and exhibiting your purpose through your actions and the experiences you provide.

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When it comes down to it, building and marketing an organization and brand in today’s world requires a different path than traditional marketing, advertising, and quick-fix tactical approaches.

It’s not about how much money you spend on your marketing.

Our world is different. Your customers are different. Your employees are different. The path to growth is different.

Purpose is not the only component to an organization’s success, but it’s a big one. It’s time to evolve and lead from purpose.

Why Content Strategy Isn’t Enough

By | Building Community, Mack's Musings, Social Media, Web Marketing | One Comment

Mack recently had the honor of speaking at SearchLove Boston 2016 where she presented on Why Content Strategy Isn’t Enough. What follows is a recap of her talk about how companies need to evolve their approach to marketing in order to survive in our ever-changing world.

Technology has changed our world

There’s no doubt that technological advances have made our world faster, smarter, and more connected. Where it took the phone companies 89 years to connect 150 million people, it took Facebook only 8 years to connect 8 billion.

technology-advancing

The problem is, even with all of the remarkable technology that we have, companies are failing to make authentic connections with their customers. Although our world, business, and consumer behavior has evolved, there is an approach to marketing that’s fundamentally broken and it’s not helping companies earn the relationships they need with their customers.

 

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Competing on content and experience alone won’t do it anymore. Great brands and companies already have these things baked into their DNA.

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Being stellar at every touchpoint is the new status quo. And yet this, alone, is not enough for companies to weather the relentless evolution of technology, earn customers, and experience growth.

Earning customers and experiencing growth has to come from something bigger and deeper than content marketing or content strategy; it comes from building a company from purpose and earning the trust of your customers through authenticity.

Building an authentic brand is not a social cause thing. It’s not a non-profit thing. It’s not a B2B or a B2C thing. It’s a people connecting with people thing. And it’s about building a company that people care about and want to do business with.

In order for your company to succeed, you have to continually strive to build a better one. And from that, comes your marketing.

Over the next 5 years, authenticity will win

Every day it seems that there’s some new marketing tactic to try: a new piece of technology that will magically help you earn customers faster. But technology will not earn customers. If your company wants to make it through the next 5 years of content saturation, noise, and technological advances, you must build an authentic, human brand.

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Here are the facts:

  • More than 63% of consumers would rather buy from a company they consider to be authentic over the competition.
  • That same Cohn & Wolfe study shows that the number one behavior that people expect of brands is open and honest communication about their products and services. The second behavior is that they don’t let their customers down, and the third behavior is that they act with integrity at all times.
  • A BBMG study shows that when people are trying to figure out who to buy from, 73% of people care about the company, not just the product, when they’re making purchasing decisions.
  • When people care about your company, they tell their friends. Word of mouth is responsible for more than 50% of all purchasing decisions.

In today’s face-paced, digital world, it’s not about how your company is packaged. It’s about who your company is.

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about-who-you-are

How to evolve your marketing

How does your company evolve in this digital age so that you can experience sustainable growth?

Start from purpose

Building an authentic brand starts from purpose, and from purpose comes growth.

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Purpose is also what solves these common challenges in our world:

  • Businesses are challenged with unrelenting change. And because our world is changing so quickly, that has changed consumer behavior and how quickly businesses must react.
  • Consumers expect businesses to play a larger role in changing society. They know they have the upper hand. They know they have a choice. So the bar has been set a lot higher. Consumers want companies to do more than just make money.
  • Employees want more meaning in their work. And they want to work for better companies.

Purpose helps companies hurdle each of these problems and also helps them stay relevant in their customer’s lives. Even more, “purpose-driven companies make more money, have more engaged employees, and are better at innovation and transformational change.”

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Building an authentic brand comes from purpose and that purpose drives everything.

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Purpose drives your products and services, the people you hire, your culture, your marketing. Most importantly, it gives focus that drives the whole business.

Once you have purpose and focus, you can develop a much more effective and powerful marketing strategy that will connect with the right customers. When you have a great product or offer great services, and you’ve done your diligence to learn about your customers and how they align with your purpose, those customers want to become part of your community and support your growth.

Positioning around your company’s purpose can be done through an exercise called the Big Ideal from Ogilvy & Mather.

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Your Big Ideal is the soul of your company. It’s also your point of view on how the world should be. Identifying your company’s purpose comes from the combination of two things: your cultural tension—which is the problem in the world that you’re looking to address, and your brand’s best self—what your company actually does when you are at your best.

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One of our clients, the Traveling Vineyard, addresses the cultural tension that people are looking for more meaning in their work and also in their lives.

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At their best self, Traveling Vineyard provides the resources and training necessary to build a successful career in direct sales.

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Traveling Vineyard believes that the world would be a better place if people could change their lives with a fulfilling job. This is their Big Ideal.

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Traveling Vineyard’s Big Ideal then drives their purpose. Traveling Vineyard exists as a company so that they can change lives by providing fulfilling work.

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This purpose then powers Traveling Vineyard’s marketing strategy that is centered around the theme of living a richer, fuller life. Any content that is generated addresses the questions, concerns, thoughts, and feelings that their customers have at every stage in their journey with Traveling Vineyard.

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Build an ecosystem

Once your company has clearly identified its purpose, that will drive everything. Essentially, your marketing strategy will be born out of this ecosystem:

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  • Identifying and understanding the people who align with your purpose so that you can talk to them
  • Developing the strategy that will help you use the right channels to reach that audience
  • Creating the right content that will connect with that audience, taking care to solve their problems
  • Getting that personal and customized content in front of the right people with customized outreach
  • Assessing data (and intuition) to determine whether what you’re doing throughout this cycle is bringing growth.
  • Finally, showing your purpose through action: having that stellar experience; having that stellar content; following through at every touchpoint and simply being human

Ultimately, your marketing strategy is only powerful when it’s connected to the purpose of your business as a whole. Your marketing efforts then become an iterative cycle of getting to know the right people, understanding them, figuring out what they need, and helping them solve their challenges. This is a slow build of trust. You must work to be authentic and personal in order to earn a community and grow your business.

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Why isn’t content strategy enough?

There are two reasons that content strategy isn’t enough to build a sustainable company and brand:

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 1) Content strategy alone won’t build a durable brand
If you want to earn the right customers who will support you, tell their friends about you, and stand by you in good and bad, you’ve got to do the work to connect with people. Yes, you need to create 10x content and provide a stellar experience across channels, but growth goes deeper than that. It’s not about how your company is packaged; it’s about who your company is.

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2) We need to build brands that transcend technology
Remember that technology can’t build relationships with your customers. That’s what humans are for. Building an authentic brand will help you weather technology, the saturation of mediocre content, competition, and Google. So no matter what the trend is, or how the algorithm is changing, you will have built a brand so durable that people will talk about you, they will hear about you, and they will come looking for you.

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It’s time to evolve our approach for durability and growth

Just like building a business, a purpose-driven and authentic approach to marketing is hard. It takes a lot of time and effort and care. Perhaps it’s time to assess whether what you’re doing now in your marketing is really working. Maybe you’re feeling stuck. Maybe you’re not getting results from what you’ve been doing for many years. Maybe your audience growth has plateaued. And maybe all the tactics you try don’t seem to get traction.

It’s time to do things a little differently. It’s time to build from purpose and build authentic, human relationships with customers.

The Importance of Building a Human and Authentic Brand – A Podcast

By | MISSION: Authentic, Web Marketing | No Comments

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Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

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Welcome to Stop 7 of MISSION: Authentic

What does it mean, as a company and a brand, to be authentic and human, and why does it matter? Those are the questions guiding the conversation between Mack Web CEO Mack Fogelson and web psychologist Nathalie Nahai.

The simplest reason is that being authentic and human is the best way to earn your customers’ trust. And earning their trust is the best way not only to attract their business but also to ensure that they amplify your brand awareness with their own powerful word-of-mouth recommendation.

In short, being authentic and human is an important way to build a successful business.

Mack and Nat, two experts in the field of humanizing brands and humanizing the web, engage in a 30-minute conversation about why and how a brand should embrace these characteristics and behave in an authentic way. Read More

What’s In A Name? Naming Your Company For Who You Are

By | Business Stuff, MISSION: Authentic, Web Marketing | No Comments

Naming-your-company-for-who-you-are

Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

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Welcome to Stop 3 of MISSION: Authentic

A rose by any other name …

Despite the many adages against making judgments based on first impressions – books and covers, etc. – we can’t quite help ourselves. First impressions are lasting impressions and they shape how we think about the person, the business, the organization we’ve just met. At least until we’ve managed to form a deeper acquaintance.

It simplifies matters tremendously to make sure that you or your business make a first impression that genuinely reflects who you are. That means naming your company with care. Read More

7 Steps to Authentic Influencer Marketing, Part Three

By | Outreach, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

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You’re now at the third and final stage of our influencer outreach marketing series. Remember, influencer marketing is the practice of building relationships and collaborating with influencers in order to increase brand awareness, build a community, and/or expand your network.

If you’ve missed the first two posts, you’ll want to catch up with those before continuing on to the last stage here. The first post will help you understand why influencer marketing is so important, what it can do for your brand, and how you get started. The second post will walk you through how to keep your focus on the right influencers and how to authentically engage with influencers in a way that will lead to more success when you are ready to send over a pitch. And speaking of sending over pitches, that’s where I’ll pick up this part of the series. Read More

7 Steps to Authentic Influencer Marketing, Part Two

By | Outreach, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

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In our series about working with influencers in authentic and meaningful ways, we’re now moving into Step 2 through 5 in this post. If you’ve come to this post before reading the first one on why you should collaborate with influencers and how to start your research, you can check it out here. For those keeping track at home, here are all the steps of the series: Read More

7 Steps to Authentic Influencer Marketing, Part One

By | Outreach, Social Media, Web Marketing | 2 Comments

Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

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Think back to your last big purchase, let’s say a new oven.

You probably started out your search getting to know your options and narrowing down what features you wanted in the item you purchased (4 electric burners with a timer and a broil setting). Then, you tried to find out which oven was rated best for the features that were most important to you and was within your price range (your search might have taken you to Home Depot or Lowe’s to cost compare).

Somewhere between researching the item and actually buying it, you probably got input from friends, family, coworkers, online forums, or online reviews. Feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of info out there, you turned to the people or places you knew you could trust for unbiased reviews or feedback. You might have asked, is this brand better than another? Why does this one cost $200 more? Is that extra feature worth it? What oven do you have? Do you love it? Why?

We look for others’ feedback to validate our thoughts and help guide us in making the best decision or confirm that we made the right choice. Our desire to get others’ feedback before we make a purchase is what makes influencer outreach marketing so powerful, and therefore, important to many marketers. Read More

How to Lead with Meaning in Your Marketing

By | Building Community, Business Stuff, Mack's Musings, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

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brian-solis

There are a whole lot of companies who have been changing the face of business, and our world, with a very simple approach: prioritizing meaning over money. Rather than just make a profit, they recognize they’re here to do something bigger. They want to use their businesses to be agents for change and to build durable, worthwhile companies that leave a mark on our world.

Often referred to as mission-driven, companies who value purpose over profit experience a number of advantages. Their employees are happier and more engaged; they stay longer and make bigger contributions. Mission-driven companies also have a better understanding of their value and how to use it to retain a strategic advantage over the competition. As a result, they attract much more passionate customers.

The biggest caveat to this concept is that it can’t be just for show. To reap these benefits and connect people to your brand, your company must genuinely communicate your meaning beyond money with an authenticity that comes directly from your core.

The trick is to lead with meaning while, at the same time, effectively marketing your product. The best way to do this is by completely intertwining them so that no one thinks of your product without considering your meaning, and no one ponders your meaning without connecting it to your product.

This can be accomplished in a few ways. Read More

Purpose, Integration, and Understanding: Conversion Optimization Beyond the Landing Page

By | Web Marketing | No Comments

A Mack Web Webinar (Thanks, Unbounce)

Mack (and the rest of our dedicated team) was tickled pink – nay, fuschia – at the opportunity to create a webinar with the great folks over at Unbounce. We love their stuff on conversion. So we were excited to shed our particular wavelength of light on the subject, namely all of the ways to optimize the potential for conversion before and beyond just the landing page.

If you were among the brilliant (and potentially allergen-avoidant) people who signed up for the webinar, you know we had some technical difficulties. (We can neither confirm nor deny an encounter with a rip in the time-space continuum that sent our entire office back to the Dark Ages of 1994, well before the ascendance of Wi-Fi. That said, certain persons have been singing Can You Feel The Love Tonight for the last three days. Draw your own conclusions.)

But we’re back on track with some bonus treats. Unbounce has released the full recording of the webinar and, if you’ve got 45 minutes, you should definitely take a gander.

Since we couldn’t hold a live Q&A with the webinar, we did an Ask Mack Anything session on March 31st, instead. Check out that conversation on Twitter (all relevant tweets have been tagged with #UnwebinarAMA).

And, as is our custom, we also have, for your edification and perusal, the full deck here. It is, as per usual, a beauty with plenty of brains behind it.

And just in case you’re in a super big hurry, we’ve pulled out some key takeaways. Just for you. (Can you feel the love tonight?)

Key Takeaways

Customers connect and participate with you on many levels. They have high expectations. Don’t trick them into clicking a button.

Successful conversion doesn’t start with a beautiful landing page. It starts with building a better business from the inside out.

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If you’ve put in the work to improve your business as much as you promote it, conversion gets a lot easier.

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If you create a cohesive and genuine experience for your customers at every possible point of interaction – your landing pages, website, blog, social media, email, on the phone, at events, on the street – you’re presenting customers with something they can hold onto and believe in over the course of your entire relationship with them. (More on that in a minute.)

People notice and are drawn to companies that display and prove a meaning beyond money.

Before you can build that cohesive and genuine experience, you need to articulate the purpose and passion that sits at the heart of your business.

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That core can take any shape: a shoemaker that thinks everyone should have basic necessities, a toy company that believes girls can be scientists too, an outdoor gear supplier that promotes social and environmental responsibility, a direct selling company that yearns to change women’s lives.

Whatever that purpose, it’s going to drive all of your conversion efforts.

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Once you know why you get out of bed in the morning, it’s time to make sure that your outsides – the ways and means by which you interact with your customers – match your insides.

All of your efforts should work together to drive your customers to conversion.

We have a client. They just so happen to be a direct selling company that loves the wine they bottle but yearns to change the lives of the women who work with them. Our efforts to help them convert more leads into ‘Wine Guides’ did include a landing page upgrade.

We went from this – a generic, promotional page:

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To this – a profile of a real, live Wine Guide including her vital stats, her story, candid photos of her at work and play, video of how the company changed her life, and a call-to-action at the end:

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Actually, we built three of ‘em.

But that’s hardly all we did:

  • Before anything else, we identified and prioritized the top 3 persona groups to make sure we were targeting the right people.
  • Then we did the interviews and built the landing pages.
  • We created supplemental blog posts that drove traffic to the landing pages, fully supported by one-to-one outreach on social media.
  • We created targeted email marketing campaigns that drove traffic to the relevant blog posts.
  • We created a buzz on social media, fostering the relationships that our authentic posts attracted and amplifying our reach with paid efforts.
  • We set up an engaging and automated email response to follow up on all form submissions, continuing the conversation via inbox and telephone and clarifying the next steps.

All of this was to make the message clear:

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Landing pages are important to conversion, no doubt. But they don’t stand alone.

Done right, conversion takes time to pick up speed but becomes unstoppable.

Here’s the downside, the fine print, the hard truth to expect. All that stuff we did for the client?

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Conversion doesn’t happen overnight. But the efforts that come from the genuine core of your company are built for longevity, for relationships that endure. You want to be in your customers’ lives for a long time. If they believe in what you’re doing, they start doing the promotion and conversion work for you, becoming lifelong advocates of your brand.

A successful conversion experience will result in more than form submissions.

Which is not to say that lead form submissions aren’t important or can’t be achieved. In the year we worked on those integrated landing pages efforts, our lead form submissions went up by 57%.

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But we also saw a 71% increase in traffic to the site and the consequent brand awareness. We saw a significant rise in new visitors and a huge increase in returning traffic, indicating a reinvigoration of the existing Guides belief in the brand.

Email list subscribers increased and, more excitingly, the engagement of email recipients increased by 42%.

Traffic to the site from social media sources went up by 130%, giving us new insight into how to reach the audience.

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In fact, learning more about our audience was a huge win for this set of landing pages and the surrounding efforts.

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We targeted three types of leads: Stay-At-Home Parents (Kirby), Pathfinders (Christi), and Achievers (Debbie). The response to each landing page helped us understand which sections of the target audience were drawn by the landing pages and who was visiting the blog.

Which is to say that we came away from the landing page launch with not only an increase in conversions but a better understanding on how to get more as we move forward.

(Not to mention an increase in brand awareness, increased enthusiasm from potential brand evangelists, and tacit permission to keep persuading leads who haven’t quite committed yet.)

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Aren’t you sorry you missed it?

Like we said, you’ve definitely got a chance to learn more about the glories of a fully-optimized, fully-integrated conversion process. You can check out the recorded webinar, go through the whole deck above, or tune in to Ask Mack Anything.

Or, y’know, sign up for our email below. This isn’t the last time we’ll be talking about meaning beyond money or the best of all possible user experiences.

And maybe one of these days, we’ll even get permission to either confirm or deny the time-space thing. In the mean time: Hakuna Matata!