Turning The Table On Our Own Marketing And Sales Process

This is a difficult post for me to write. As the founder of a digital marketing services firm, my role is and has always been to help clients build systems that will lead the right prospective clients to them and help to convert those early leads into qualified sales opportunities. When we sit down with […]

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How Negotiations Can Power Your Content Marketing

Most digital marketers are used to negotiating while closing a deal with a client or bringing on a new hire. But what you might not know is that the same skills you use to be a good negotiator can transfer to fueling your content marketing. When you post a piece of web content, you are basically negotiating for the consumer’s time.

Negotiations Power Content Marketing

This is what makes content marketing so important. You are convincing the reader that something about your content is compelling and worth the investment in time and energy.  With the proliferation of content shock, people’s attentions are pulled towards consuming content from a million sources.  Mastering negotiations as it applies to content marketing is a powerful way to win the battle for attention. 

Let’s take a look at the content creation process and how negotiation falls into each step:

1. Define Goals – Learn Who Your Audience Is

Before you even begin to create content – you have to get know your customer and leverage their knowledge and expertise. Just like in negotiations, when you carefully listen and engage with the other party’s request – listen to what your consumer base wants to hear.

What kind of problems are they currently facing? What is their favorite platform to engage with content? How often would they like to hear from you? Questions like these you want to answer before you even type a single word. This can be done in focus groups, surveys, and even casual calls and emails with current clients. Just make sure you are asking the right questions. You want this to about their needs, not yours.

2. Define Goals

When you prepare for a negotiation, you have a set goal in mind. The same should be for your content creation. Whether it’s raising brand awareness, informing your consumers of a specific campaign, or even answering customer questions, you want your content to have a specific purpose. Without one, it will be difficult to measure your results – and you will also be creating more white noise in the already crowded content market.

3. Choose the Right People

Just like you send in your best negotiators to close a sale, pick the right people to create your content. Keeping this work in-house will help maintain brand integrity and generate ideas that are most relevant to your market – although there are some benefits to outsourcing it as well. You want to choose individuals with strong writing skills and an understanding of your audience. Make sure they are well-equipped with the research you have done before they begin.

4. Create the Content!

After researching your audience, creating goals, and choosing the right people, you are ready to create your content. Remember to include keywords that are being talked about in your industry to improve SEO. Just like in a negotiation, keep your points concise but informative and make sure they are engaging to your readers. Make sure it really feels like a conversation. Leveraging your social media is key here – your audience will be able to engage and give you valuable feedback to help assess your goals.

5. Work as a team

A simple way to boost your SEO is guest blogging. You no doubt have partners that help refer you to clients and work together.  Negotiate relationships with other bloggers so you can each create mutually beneficial content and social sharing. The great thing about guest blogging is both parties benefit with fresh content to present to their audiences. Even if you both simply help the other party by sharing content on social media, this is a chance for new people to learn about your brand and raise awareness.

6. Analyze and Refine

Negotiating skills are not perfected overnight- and the same is true for content. After some time is passed, take a look back at those goals you created. Did you generate any new leads? Are you noticing more mentions of your brand in the media? Has your social media interaction increased? If you didn’t reach your goal, take a look at why. It can be helpful to have objective parties audit your content here. View every message you release as a learning experience to make the next one better.

 

It can be overwhelming to see the number of new social media posts, blogs, or other advertisements released on the web every day. But your consumer has always had a lot of choices. View your content creation as a negotiation and approach it with the same confidence! With the right team and tools, you can win over a consumer to a loyal customer. […]

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Developing Buyer Personas for Higher Education

Higher Education Buyer PersonasHigher education is more competitive than it has ever been. With public and private colleges and universities, online colleges and universities, trade and vocational schools, community colleges and everything in between vying for the attention of today’s students, it is increasingly difficult to attract and enroll the best students for your school.

So how do you attract the best students? First, you need to know exactly who they are, what they do, where they go, and what they are most likely respond to. It all starts with the development of higher education buyer personas.

The problem with many college marketing programs is that they treat all prospective students the same. They develop marketing materials around what the school has to offer and then push them out through various channels without giving much thought to how they could tailor messaging to the interests of particular groups of students, and how the message corresponds to the channel that is being used to deliver it. For example, some students may be enticed by the prestige of a university while others are drawn by the future career opportunities it promises. The same university may attract those who are financially conscious, as perhaps it provides more value to its graduates in the potential for higher lifetime salaries, or it may gain the attention of those who seek to complete their degree in a shorter period of time or online from home. How could that university possibly tailor their message to ALL of these types of students while maintaining its core message and adhering to its brand identity? 

Enter buyer persona and lifecycle segmenting, paired with marketing automation.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Develop a buyer persona profile for each type of student who would be a ‘best fit’ for your school. *Emma may have participated in a wide variety of high school sports and activities, was student body president, has thousands of followers on Instagram and may be very excited about the many sororities on campus or the opportunities to shadow alumni in her career field of choice, while *Jacob has longed to travel his entire life and never had a chance to leave his home state, so he is looking forward to study-abroad opportunities and the chance to meet new people from around the world in his dorm.
  2. Create the messaging and campaigns that will appeal to each of these groups of students, while remaining true to your brand identity. While the two prospective students in the example are likely going to be attracted to very different types of messaging, it is important to maintain your brand identity on all platforms. An urban university and a small liberal arts school should have very different brand personalities reflected in their messaging and visual graphics – and it should be extremely easy for students to differentiate between the two.
  3. As prospective students self-identify with a persona, shift them into segmented lists for follow-up marketing and direct outreach. Students will take actions that allow you to shift them into lists based on their interests and personas. For example, requesting an application lets you know that they are in a late-stage lifecycle and are very interested, while reading several articles, blog posts, and email messages related to student groups and civic organizations lets you know that campus life is very important to them. Establish the triggers that will help you identify a student’s interests, and then feed plenty of content to help them along the way.
  4. Pay specific attention to the lifecycle stage of each group – are they high school juniors/seniors narrowing down their final choices and submitting applications, are they nearing the end of a gap year and deciding their next move, are they in the early years of high school and just trying to get a feel for what they like, or are they working adults who have chosen to go back and pursue the education they didn’t get after high school? The lifecycle stage will inform your decisions on how often to contact them, and what type of information they are most likely attracted to. For instance, a working adult probably doesn’t care about on-campus activities, and a high school senior may need additional support completing their application before the deadline.
  5. Test variations of the message, images and graphics, marketing channels, and processes; analyze results and revise campaigns. It is crucial to test out a variety of elements to determine which are the most attractive.
  6. Rinse and repeat. Year one is going to be a learning curve and that’s okay. Once you see what worked and what didn’t, you’ll be able to improve results in year two and beyond.



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