Tag Archives: understanding your customers

Finding Your (Content) Voice

Content marketing—that is, using media and content to create brand awareness and build your consumer or client base—is critical in a world where people have become immune to traditional advertising. It’s a way to reach out and communicate, engage customers in a dialogue, without giving the hard sell. Finding the right voice to do this effectively is critically important.

Potential customers are constantly looking for more information and quickly. The more value you can offer, through relevant and timely information, the more you become a trusted source. Strong, consistently delivered content can also help you reap better results from search engines. It goes without saying that there must be content in content marketing: valuable, savvy insights, and not just empty platitudes or sales gimmicks. The content should be strong enough to stand on its own, because if it’s something you wouldn’t read then chances are your customers won’t be interested, either.

Naturally, the content voice you choose will depend on your communications strategy and business goals. Are you trying to reach out to a new group of consumers? Are you looking for more B2B transactions? Would you like to inspire loyalty from existing customers? Or are you educating clients about the problems your services can solve? Who are you talking to, and what are they looking for?

It will also largely depend on the platform you’re using. Are you writing a blog with a series of informational but friendly posts? Are you communicating on less formal channels such as Twitter and Instagram? Or are you creating a series of white papers that are meant to establish your authority as a thought leader in the field? Every business has different needs, and most can use some combination of communications vehicles.

Each of these formats will dictate a different tone and vocabulary. You might adopt a more rigorous writing style in a case study, while relaxing your language on social media. At the same time, however, the messaging needs to be consistent across all communications. It should also be relatively distinct and memorable while serving your brand.

It’s your story to tell, of course, but you want your content voice to do it justice. Lion’s Share works closely with clients to develop content marketing materials that showcase their companies’ personalities while hewing closely to their communications goals.

These are sometimes subtle distinctions, but when it comes to setting the stage for sales, they can make a deep impression on a potential customer who will either see you as either the next great thing or another also-ran. Make sure you get it right.

Find out more about your content voice, and how Lion’s Share can help you connect with more customers. Contact us today.

How Well Do You Know Your Market?

Chances are, if you’re a small business, you don’t know your market as well as you could, and should. You’re probably operating on instinct, based on conversations with a small number of clients. But you haven’t expended extensive time and resources researching existing and potential customers.

Finding out what your customers want is important for any business: How can you possibly provide a solution, if you don’t fully understand their unique pain? Why do they need this product or service? What have they used in the past? What are their expectations around working with your company?

Equally important is understanding what your customers really think of you. Why did they select your company’s service or product? What were their first impressions and how did they evolve through the sales process? How do they interpret your messaging and communications? How did you inspire confidence in the customer?

When you know exactly how your signals are received you can fine tune them accordingly. Maybe the tone of your social media is too strident; maybe customers are turned off by a particularly inept salesperson. Maybe they perceive the competition as much more established and professional. Maybe your proposal didn’t go far enough. A customer may have chosen not to buy your product simply because they didn’t like the way your slide presentation looked. If these types of issues are costing you sales, you’d want to know because they can easily be addressed.

Likewise, if a customer is going to give you a very positive testimonial, that, too, is useful information. What made your company stand out? How did your value proposition meet your customer’s needs? You’ll likely want to use some of this data in your marketing communications. Perhaps you could also ask the happy customer to participate in a case study. Regardless, you’ll know exactly what is working well so you can continue doing it.

Ultimately the best way to get these answers is by conducting a win/loss or post-decision interview, designed for onboarding customers or customers who have decided to find their product or service elsewhere. Ideally this interview is conducted by an independent party for the most unbiased assessment and most efficient analysis of data. People often mistake the win/loss interview as a customer survey but it’s a much more detailed and focused look at customer behavior. And the results are almost always incredibly illuminating. What you don’t know about your market really can hurt you.

Are you ready to know what your customers are thinking? It’s time to start asking these questions. We guarantee you’re in for some surprises.

For more information on how Lion’s Share can help you get in touch with your core audience, contact us today.

Tune Into Your Customers and Grab Market Share

What if there was a simple way to see your business from your customer’s perspective? And what if such information could guarantee you a substantial increase in market share?

Win/loss analysis is a systematic way of gathering critical intel that’s absolute gold for business development. Sadly, the majority of startup businesses don’t deploy this invaluable tool, even though these are precisely the organizations that could benefit most from using it.

That’s too bad, because a Gartner study found that organizations that conduct formal win/loss analysis with an appropriate degree of rigor can improve their sales win rates by up to 50%.

When you conduct win/loss analysis you’re opening a direct line of communication with your customers and asking questions about their buying cycle—specifically, why they have purchased your product or why they are choosing not to. You ask for feedback on your own sale and marketing processes, including your strengths and weaknesses; what worked and what didn’t. Questions can include everything from their decision-making process to pricing, presentation and your ability to address their concerns.

Very often, you’ll find that the answers you receive might be quite different—even diametrically opposed—to what you anticipated. Almost always, you come away with crucial nuggets of data that can be transformative in shaping your approach to sales, marketing, product development and customer support.

Even better, you can gather information about your competitors and how their products stack up against yours. Whether it’s adding relevant features or simplifying your sales process, these insights inform your future efforts to improve your business operations as well as your products or services.

There are other, less tangible benefits to win/loss analysis as well. From the customer’s point of view, such communication demonstrates that you care about their opinion—that you’re listening and open to hearing about ways you can improve and keep their business (or win it next time). Don’t be surprised if you hear the customer say, “Wow, no one has ever asked me this before.”

Be warned, however: This isn’t a one-time task. In an ever-changing business climate, effective win/loss analysis must be conducted constantly in order to consistently keep your finger on the sales pulse. When you initiate win/loss analysis, at a minimum you want to be conducting four to five customer interviews a month. In time, that number can be reduced, but you always want to maintain that contact so you can address customer expectations, change your product accordingly and meet their needs head on.

By the way, the same Gartner study states that the most effective way to conduct win/loss analysis is by engaging an independent third-party organization that can maintain the impartiality needed to ensure that the information is as accurate as possible. Use it to your best advantage and you’ll see far more wins than losses.

To inquire about Lion’s Share’s services and how we can help you leverage your customers’ experience, contact us today. 

You Have a Great Product, but No Customers. What’s Wrong with This Picture?

So many businesses come to the table with good—even genius—ideas for products or technologies. When it’s time to bring that product to market, however, they have no idea how to go about attracting customers.

Good ideas, it turns out, are not quite enough. And that’s okay. We wouldn’t expect a homebuilder to have a real estate license so why should we expect an entrepreneur to have innate marketing skills?

Whether you’re buoying a startup or sustaining an established company, the fact remains: If you’re in charge, you have to focus on your core business and developing your product. You most likely don’t have the time and energy to generate novel ideas for getting your name out there. Yet without a sound marketing plan to fuel sales, the growth of your customer base will be dependent on word of mouth referrals—something every business needs to an extent, but it’s not a long-term strategy.

If you don’t have the resources, skills or insight in-house to handle marketing duties, it may be time to consider outsourcing this service. Even if you do have an in-house marketing team, you might benefit from some outside assistance to bolster company efforts.

An effective marketing firm brings the objectivity of a third party to the table—the perspective of someone who isn’t immersed in your daily operations and who can help you communicate your ideas to a wide-ranging audience. (This can be especially true for tech businesses, which often struggle to make their concepts relatable to the layperson.)

A marketing strategy can help you position your company for success, find the right customers and deliver what it takes to seal the deal.

A good marketing firm can also point out the tactics that would most benefit your business, whether it’s B2B social media, public relations, website development, webinars or the creation of marketing content like whitepapers and blog posts.

At Lion’s Share, we understand the constraints under which small businesses are operating, and we work with our clients to help develop a marketing strategy that makes the most of their resources while building brand awareness, generating product buzz and drawing customers into the fold.

After all, marketing in and of itself isn’t the point. Good marketing drives sales—it’s as simple as that.

You’ve got the great idea part down. Now it’s time to get it out there.

For more information on how Lion’s Share can help your small business succeed, contact us today.

What’s Content Marketing?

In a nutshell, content marketing is sharing relevant and useful information to attract and retain customers. Thanks to advances in technology, content marketing has moved from a peripheral support role to a central and strategically-driven tactic, underpinning other marketing activities in use today. Following are some of the forms content marketing can take:

First Stop: Your Website
Customers, prospects, employees, investors, media, analysts and anyone else that has or wants a relationship with your business will visit your website. That’s why it needs to contain compelling messages, search engine optimization strategies, clear calls to action and helpful content. Ideally, there will also be some continually changing content (see below).

Blogging: A Stream of Fresh Content
You’re the best subject matter expert for your product or service. Blog posts are a phenomenal platform to connect to your target audience, showcase your product and educate the public on its finer points. Of course, a blog’s effectiveness depends on an audience, and you have to cultivate your audience through ongoing posts so your readers have a reason to return.

Articles and Whitepapers: Showcase Your Expertise
Demonstrating your considerable expertise through articles and whitepapers allows customers to understand how you resolve their pain points and why your business is the one they should be connecting with. Almost as important as the content itself, is a plan to distribute it.

Case Studies: Endorsements by Customers
One of the most effective ways to inform future customers about your product and why it’s the best in your market is by telling another customer’s story. A case study is a customer’s account of how your product or service solved their business problem. Case studies are a powerful endorsement and can be used in a multitude of ways to promote your business.

eBooks/Playbooks/Workbooks: A ‘How To” Guide
eBooks, Playbooks and Workbooks all provide instructions that guide customers through a recommended process or activity to use your product in the most effective and efficient way. For your customers, this is an added value and evidence of your commitment to them.

Presentations: Wowing Your Prospects
For many small businesses, part of the sales process involves a formal presentation of your products and company to your prospective customers. A presentation that conveys the information your customers need while addressing their pain points will help win that business.

Videos: Seeing is Believing
Product videos, training videos, customer videos, recorded webinars—all should contain content that is relevant and useful to your customer, while driving them to the next step with a clear and integrated call to action.

Whether it’s a well-researched whitepaper or a smartly scripted video, content marketing can be a powerful tool for driving sales and inspiring customer loyalty. At Lion’s Share, we create a content marketing strategy and plan that addresses each of the different stages of the buying cycle. We determine your customers’ information needs and create powerful content that elicits action—and keeps them coming back.

Looking to promote your business through high quality content? Contact Lion’s Share now.