I spend a considerable amount of time on the road, working with business owners through an organization called Vistage International.
Vistage is a professional development organization for business leaders. Every month, a group meets and brings in a speaker on a specific topic.
My topic is, of course, how to drive sales through communications.
When I speak to these groups, it doesn’t matter what they sell, how savvy their marketing team is, or if they’re consumer or not, 99 percent of them are distributing content without a specific call-to-action.
Because of that, we spend a good portion of our three hours together working through the tweaks they need to make to drive sales.
It’s not easy work, but it’s effective.
Let’s look at three different examples of how to build a call-to-action through building community, generating leads, and driving sales.
In my office, we have what we call “the Facebook question of the week.”
A few years ago, one of our smarty pants young professionals said to me,
You travel the world talking to business owners about how they should use video to engage potential buyers, but we’re not using it.
Like attorneys and accountants, we sell our brains for a living. Our time equals money.
So, when someone asks if they can pick our brains, they’re essentially asking us for our product for free.
We were talking about this during a staff meeting one day, and the idea of creating a video was on all of our minds. Someone said,
Why don’t we let people pick our brains through our Facebook page?
And so the Facebook question of the week was born.
The goal was to do nothing more than build community and engage friends, clients, prospects, and competitors.
We measure not only how many questions we get, but the number of video views, visitors to those pages on the website and blog, comments, social shares, and new likes we get on our Facebook page.
This also makes the person whose question was chosen feel really special and important—they gain one minute of their 15 minutes of fame when my entire organization, and all their social connections, are talking about it that day, which leads to creating brand ambassadors for life.
The very best way to generate leads is through content.
Think about content with two perspectives: Free and paid.
Paid content doesn’t necessarily mean money is going to exchange hands; rather, you’re getting something in exchange for your content, such as an email address or phone number.
Let’s say you want to have a free monthly webinar, but people have to register to attend.
This is both a free and paid model. They are paying you with their email address, which means they have given you permission to market to them, and they’re getting an informative, free webinar.
But how do you generate leads with one webinar?
This is the fun part!
You get to use both traditional and new tactics to gain registrations. You’ll use media relations, email marketing, social media, direct mail, content, and advertising.
In some cases, you’ll be marketing the webinar to people you already know, but they could be prospects who haven’t made a decision to work with you, former clients, or someone new entirely.
For the most part, the people who register for your webinar are qualified leads. Some will be competitors because they want to see what you’re up to and will want to mimic you, but most will be people who want to do business with you.
At this point, you can decide if you hand those leads over to your sales team or, if you have a lead nurturing program, place them into your system for follow-up content to push them through the marketing funnel to a decision.
Just like the other two calls-to-action defined here, there are many ways to use content to help drive sales.
Marcus Sheridan, the founder of River Pools and Spas and author of The Sales Lion blog, uses an eBook, Inbound and Content Marketing Made Easy, as his entree to prospects who want to hire him for consulting.
The book is free, and when someone calls, inquiring about his consulting services, he sends them the link.
He then tracks whether or not the person has downloaded the book.
If they do, he gives them a few days to start reading it before he follows up.
If they don’t download it, he knows they’re not a qualified lead for him so he doesn’t waste his time.
This is very scary to do.
This story invariably makes someone say,
But what if it is a really good prospect and I’ve not followed up with them?
Think about how you buy, particularly if it’s something you don’t consistently buy. Things such as big-ticket items (cars, computers, cameras, appliances), professional services (lawyers, accountants, PR firms), or gifts.
What’s the first thing you do?
You search online. You read. You do your research. You educate yourself.
If the prospect isn’t willing to do the research and educate him or herself, Marcus doesn’t take the time to do it for them.
Track how someone found you.
- Did they subscribe to your blog or follow you on Twitter?
- Did they download a white paper?
- Did they attend a webinar?
- Did they attend a live Q&A you hosted through Google Hangouts?
- Did you meet at an event?
Knowing that will help you determine the types of content they need next to make a decision. And, when you track where they came from and what they did through the sales cycle, you can begin to pinpoint which types of content works best to drive sales.
How to Create a Call-to-Action
Your content isn’t just about these three things.
You also want to think about at least one call-to-action:
- How to place a call-to-action on every piece of owned media you create. This could be social share buttons, a subscription, or the requirement of an email address for download.
- How to create landing pages where people download your content. These help you track the effectiveness of one particular piece of content.
- What kinds of content can you offer in exchange for their registration data (that is, email address and phone number).
- How to build your database: Generate leads, nurture those leads with new and interesting content, and convert those leads to customers.
- How to bring in your sales team and integrate your efforts with them.
If you’re able to create a PESO model approach with all of your media efforts (paid, earned, shared, and owned), you’ll soon become a hub in a wheel of information. Your communications programs will be an investment with a pretty significant return.
Set your timer for 30 minutes and go to your website.
Jot down 10 pieces of content that are missing a call-to-action.
This may be a blog post that doesn’t have a lead magnet. It could be content that doesn’t have easy-to-find social share buttons. It may be ridiculously hard to subscribe to your content. Or you have a newsletter that has all of the content in the email and doesn’t require a person to click a link to come to your site.
Now go through each of the 10 pieces of content and decide what the call-to-action will be:
- Create both email and RSS subscriptions for your blog.
- Provide an easy way for people to follow you on the social networks.
- Open up the comments and being a dialogue there.
- Put behind a landing page so you can collect email addresses and build your database.
- Break up your newsletter so it has links in it that drive people to a specific page on your website.
- Create a lead nurturing program for those emails you do have.
There are lots of opportunities for tweaks—even we have things we can do here. So don’t think you’re immune. Everyone can do a better job with this.
Set your timer and go!
The Scavenger Hunt
If you are participating in the Spin Sucks scavenger hunt, today you will visit Shelley Pringle’s blog.
The secret word is in her blog post, “Seven Important Principles of Media Coverage Every Business Needs to Know.”
Just write down the secret word in Shelley’s box on your scavenger hunt card (if you don’t have a card, download it here).
We have through March 3, so keep playing along.
And don’t forget…if you buy a copy of Spin Sucks between now and March 8, we’ll send you a fun package full of goodies to use in your office.
Just email the receipt to [email protected]. Please include your mailing address so we know where to send the package.
Now get to work! Thirty minutes. Go!