1st Step to Catapult Conversions

New entries to business today tend to be fairly savvy. Anyone willing to do a bit of Google searching can learn some common terms and concepts. Everyone knows that conversions (sales) are the goal. So, why are so many being drained of their funds – month after month – by ineffective tactics?

Tactics without Strategy is the Noise before Defeat.

– Sun Tzu

As we know, being able to recognize a term like Branding does not mean that the value of the concept is automatically understood. Yet when it comes to business success, whether for a startup or an existing venture poised to climb to the next level, comprehending the value of a Brand – designed to resonate with the target audience – can literally enable a venture to thrive (or keep it from failing), particularly since effective Brands drive conversion.

Realizing the need to systematically implement foundational elements first, including a well-crafted Brand Identity as the bedrock for business growth, can indeed mean the difference between an operation struggling or failing → and catapulting forward. Ignoring the basics is not a shortcut. That choice, instead, costs volumes of wasted time and money.

Creating and implementing an effective Brand ID is as fundamental as vetting the business concept and model for viability before going to market. There are some core pieces that simply must be in place, setting a company on the right path, in order for add-ons to work at all.

Frequency of confusion about this – plagued by lack of understanding regarding the baseline importance of a systematized approach to the fundamentals – in fact, was the impetus for: Brand Identity – Foundation for Conversion. It highlights why and how the right design and use of a consistent Brand Message (visuals, talking points, alignment across all points of presence) sets the stage for converting new contacts to customers.

What came to light again this week, via a new prospect operation that has been struggling for more than 10 years, confirmed that one article was simply not enough. While clearly there is much more to know behind the scenes in order to create and leverage a Brand effectively, the main message requires more attention in order to arm business owners who are making these decisions.

Regardless of which tactical avenue a company thinks they should use – i.e. increased spending on channels like SEO, PR blasts, or social media ads – they typically expect it to instantly solve their problems and win them sales. In fact, many are led to believe that it can. Without the right foundation in place first, this is simply not true.

The enormous disconnect about ‘tactics first’ is tanking businesses that could otherwise thrive. Aimlessly throwing money around sets a stage for nothing except lost funds. Yet, somehow a dominant segment of eCommerce business owners seems to think that having a high Google rank will score them customers, regardless of how the website presents.

Naturally, this type of confused disconnect has a source. The source here is the deliberately misleading and rabid promotion online of: (1) high website rankings as a Holy Grail, (2) the notion that sweeping PR exposure equates to interest and conversion, and (3) belief that an ad format alone will drive sales.

On the other hand, once crucial foundational pieces are effectively in place, tactical campaigns – that actually align with the strategic business direction – can be introduced. When that occurs, the right tactical channels can be leveraged for beneficial outcomes.

Otherwise, who would expect to gain growth from spraying water at a wall? This is the effect without a system in place to create capture.

water at wall - logo

Until the ground has been prepared and treated, seeds have been planted, and the soil richly fed, nothing can be expected to grow. Throwing water around where no fertile business soil exists – not to mention seeds – causes only the water bill to skyrocket…rather than the intended sales or profits.

Instead, when a proven systematic approach is used, this positions a business to automate and consistently replicate processes that secure winning results. Vet the concept, develop an effective model, plan strategically, develop and implement the Brand Message, and prepare to choose the right promotional campaigns through a strategic channel selection that will distribute the message in the most favorable directions. All of this should be done prior to launch for optimal outcomes.

replicable, automated system

With a Brand Identity in place, those who encounter your business for the first time can recognize who you are and what makes you special (why they should do business with you instead of the competition) instantly. They will begin to recall your differentiated value each time they digest the consistent Brand Message and see the aligned visuals, leading to Brand Recognition.

Like irrigation, every tactical campaign layered on top of a properly established foundation: enhances your position, increases traction, and causes a higher rate of conversions. Now, the money invested in replicable tactics is getting your message to the right place, poised for effective outcomes, rather than falling into a vacuum.

If you were either unfamiliar with these distinctions prior, or were misled – having launched by trying one of many spray-the-wall methods (without a systematic and strategic foundation) – it is never too late to put the right pieces in place. Channel those valuable funds, and that crucial time, in a productive direction.

Strategy must precede tactics every time. Set the stage first. Look at the big picture. Consider the targets, goals, and resources available (budget, personnel, etc.). Taking time to put the right pieces in place will change the entire landscape, and favorably impact the outcomes: in this case, setting the stage for effective conversions, and setting a course for profitability.

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We delight in catapulting growth. From a basis of experience with more than 1/3 of the F500 & global NPOs, we gap-close through Best Practices.

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From Business Plans to Brand Identity (including Website Front-End design), Marketing Strategies to Sales Optimization, Demand Analysis to Product Launch gain gap-closing Best Practices & results-producing expertise: decades of cross-industry, international, MBA-level insights for funded Startups to Fortune 500. Award-Winning dealings with more than 1/3 of the Fortune 500 launched the Consulting Practice, and our consistently 5-star ranked range of Growth Initiatives, in 2001.

 

Clients in 18 market-leading countries worldwide.

 Over 16 years of contributing internationally to our clients.

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Growth Hacking Wins: Think Different

Whether conceptual, technical, or otherwise, today’s examples of growth hacking span a spectrum. This spectrum has produced a modernized bridge composed of tools for traffic attraction, commonly tracked and measured through analytic metrics that intend to cause increased conversions (i.e. visitor to customer) through hastened or magnified audience engagement. When coupled with the wisdom of traditional strategies, these methods can reinforce and catapult results.

Many layers of planning in effective growth hacking
Layers of planning form the foundation for Growth Hacking

ANGLE

The trick remains that – while everyone seems to be talking about it – not everyone becomes instantly effective in their efforts. A solid base of experience will always accelerate success rates. After all, knowing the answer in advance makes any question seem simpler.

As with each sector of business, any angle or technique of tactical marketing, and every aspect of life, the learning curve is comprised of layers. Growth hacking may sound like a simple solution. In fact, any effective system, replicable process, and successful campaign requires: (1) planning, (2) attention to detail, (3) testing & upgrades, and (4) ongoing monitoring in order to determine opportunities for improvement.

methods - for start-ups

INDUSTRY Contingencies

What most growth hacking discussions intend to promote now boils down to enhanced effectiveness of digital marketing and sales. Whether or not your venture functions from an eCommerce model, the type and price point of the product of service, and the pain points of the target base will always influence an ability to utilize the more common growth hacking techniques with success.

Yes, quality content marketing should enhance credibility and visibility for any operation. Will it substantially increase the volume of closed sales or drive a surge in revenue? That depends upon the combination of practices and processes you use, how well you know your target market, and how effectively you understand the best ways to connect with them to solve their problems or address their explicit needs.

questions to ask at each stage

B2C versus B2B

Also, consumers and businesses behave differently when it comes to decision-making processes, timelines, and influencing factors. Much of what we hear discussed about growth hacking pertains to consumers. The idea relates to scaling volume, according to typical buyer behaviors and swift consumer choices, at relatively contained price points.

Alternatively, the objective becomes market share (a factor of traction and engagement: incomplete on conversion, particularly as it relates to freemium service offerings). Secure eyeballs, secure engagement, secure conversion through subscription with the goal of upgrading a percentage of subscribers to premium features and accounts. This actually relegates a freemium subscription level to engagement and traction rather than conversion.

So, the approach is ultimately always determined by the end game and larger vision. What are the goals? When demonstrating (to investors for next-stage funding, for example) that a venture has strong or broad market capture, this potentially weighs into the business valuation. Without revenues to show in tandem, merit of the offering is diluted.

Dialing into consumer interest areas, according to existing or potential demand, can provide a healthy opportunity to combine growth hacks with other marketing and sales campaign tactics to accelerate market acceptance. Start-ups, emerging ventures, and mid-sized operations can especially benefit from layering growth hacking tactics on top of sales and marketing foundations.

in an internet minute

LEVERAGE

Leverage is the ultimate bottom line. Whether conceptual, or truly algorithmic and strictly analytical, the idea of growth hacking focuses on creating exponentially greater results through contingencies: formulas that compound outcomes based upon enhanced systematic and replicable practices.

Because, today’s truth is: fierce competition awaits at every turn. The staggering fact that 540,000 new businesses launch every month, in the US alone, helps us realize how much we need every available tool. That knowledge, coupled with the volume of information bombarding us (i.e. bombarding our targeted prospects) – like 100,000 new tweets in an internet minute – requires us to identify and implement the most effective tools and techniques that budget and time will allow.

FB & twitter stats

Starting with something simple, like building a loyal following on prioritized social media, can be a useful step. Realizing what is involved at this stage, before graduating to the next, will enable more controlled scalability. Part of scalable control means being able to deliver what is promised, which leads to customer retention as well as referrals.

After all, throwing money at ads before developing and consistently implementing an effective Brand Identity across all points of presence is a common pitfall for new and emerging businesses. Undeveloped ad “spamming” depletes vital resources that are needed to build other aspects of a functional growing business. Approaching your overall business development systematically – one step at a time – will establish the company’s long-term foundation for success…the right way the first time.

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STRATEGY Global Business Development

PLAN | PROMOTE | PROFIT ©

→ Top 1% Transformational Consulting, 2001 – 2017

From Business Plans to Brand Identity (including website front-end), Marketing Strategy to Sales Optimization, Demand Analysis to Product Launch → gain gap-closing & results-producing expertise: decades of cross-industry, global, MBA-level insights for funded Startups to Fortune 500.

Award-Winning dealings with more than 1/3 of the Fortune 500 launched the Consulting Practice, and our consistently 5-star ranked range of Growth Initiatives, in 2001.

→ Clients in 18 market-leading countries worldwide.

→ Over 16 years of contributing internationally to client success!

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>>>>>> BRAND Identity <<<<<

Foundation for Conversions

Identity + Reach ^ Traction > Conversions

Designing and implementing effective positioning, tools, systems, and processes establishes a solid foundation for growth. Many budding and young ventures could benefit from a deeper understanding of how and why an effective Brand design/message positioning package marks your territory. The concept encompasses far more than just a logo and name.

Due to a high churn rate (9 out of 10 businesses fail: YouTube: 5 Reasons for STRATEGY) among the 540,000 businesses that begin monthly in the US alone, we can see the benefit in making your business memorable and instantly relevant to your targets. Planners win.

A well-crafted Brand Identity is essential to this winning strategy. Make sure yours is in place, and working for you by the time you open your doors or launch online.

Confusion about the need for, and process behind, full development of a solid Brand Identity keeps many emerging ventures in the dark about what actually drives conversion. Online propaganda, advertising, and blog posts about SEO lead less experienced business owners and executives to believe that Search Engine Optimization and analytics (tactics) are the primary road to snagging and holding visitor attention. Even worse, the promoted belief is: with enough traffic, sales will automatically follow.

This flawed logic skips past the essentials: image and message positioning effectiveness, agreement, consistency, clarity, and calls to action must be prominently integrated as a strategic core. Without a clear, clean, credible expression of Brand Identity – on a website, and throughout every other promotional channel & point of presence – there is nothing for a customer to recognize about your differentiation that will compel them to purchase from you instead of the competition.

Yet the myth prevails: “if you build it [and invest hundreds or thousands monthly in SEO], they will come.” You may eventually get traffic. Of course, even with good content-based SEO, that takes time. Bottom-line: where’s the formula for converting any traffic you may receive, regardless of its source?

That is where your Brand message serves its purpose. This core foundation shows (and briefly tells) your targets what you can offer them that other businesses cannot.

Here’s the problem: if new visitors are given no reason to stick and stay, you have lost them forever. Bounce new visitors, and lose their potential spend: revenue & profit potential for the lifetime of the customer.

Attention spans are short. People have no interest in wading through paragraphs and pages of text to find a solution to their problem when they get ready to buy. They need to be able to instantly see and realize why they should do business with you instead of the competition.

A visitor who arrives on your website with an explicit need, ready to make a purchasing decision, wants to be immediately shown why they should buy from you: what is your value proposition? If that is not evident, when a page is cluttered, disorganized, text laden, or focused on features instead of benefits…that visitor is headed to the next site.

Being prepared with an effective, compelling Brand Identity from the time of launch means making the most of every interaction. Grab attention and engage interest. Develop that interest and increase traction. Reinforce that traction by converting the visitor into a customer. Also, offer each visitor a reason to tell their friends about your business too, in order to secure quick-converting referrals.

Brand Identity development requires thinking strategically about how you want to be seen and remembered. What speaks to your audience and their needs? What will they recognize and recall about your product or service? What do you want them to associate with, and understand about, your Brand message when they see your logo?

In the same way that we select a specific suit, phone, computer, briefcase, articulated terminology, hairstyle, set of mannerisms, and posture to convey our personal image…this is the way we must consider expressing our venture’s best assets: through a cogent Brand Identity that eventually reinforces Brand Recognition as well. A name, logo, URL, image series, and/or combination of talking points that requires decoding and lengthy explanations is not going to serve our purpose.

After all, Nike, Google, Apple, Adidas, Amazon and the other big brands have spent billions in outbound marketing campaigns over decades of time to become etched in the public’s memory and psyche. Unless you have the budget for that (even if you did, you still want to address your targets and their explicit needs as a priority), craft a Brand ID that shows, rather than having to tell.

Another way to think of this is showcasing the experience of your company and its products/services. With luxury cars as your product, you may be inclined to discuss horsepower, maneuverability, performance, and other features of the vehicle. However, what makes an impression – and sells cars – is a driver behind the wheel feeling the difference: experiencing the benefits. After all, 90% of all purchasing decisions are made subconsciously.

We make in the neighborhood of 10,000 decisions every day. Decisions come faster and easier when we can follow our feelings for the right direction to take. Offers that evoke emotions always win.

Clearly, effectiveness of Brand Identity – far more than a logo, slogan, and color scheme – makes or breaks businesses every day. Companies that recognize this fact, and its importance, are the ones that endure. They find success, market share, mind share, and revenues at every stage of growth. After all, they planned for it → they designed it that way.

StrategyGBD.com

STRATEGY Global Business Development

PLAN | PROMOTE | PROFIT ©

→ Top 1% Transformational Consulting, 2001 – 2017

From Business Plans to Brand Identity (including website front-end), Marketing Strategy to Sales Optimization, Demand Analysis to Product Launch → gain gap-closing & results-producing expertise: decades of cross-industry, global, MBA-level insights for funded Startups to Fortune 500.

Award-Winning dealings with more than 1/3 of the Fortune 500 launched the Consulting Practice, and our consistently 5-star ranked range of Growth Initiatives, in 2001.

→ Clients in 18 market-leading countries worldwide.

→ Over 16 years of contributing internationally to client success!

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>> Marketing & Sales Logic <<

GOALS: Identity + Reach > Traction ^ Conversion

(more than 900 reads @ plottio.com/post/StrategyGBD)

Designing and implementing effective positioning, tools, systems, and processes creates a solid foundation for effective growth. Time invested in planning always reaps richer dividends than attempting to go without, despite the fact that so many ventures casually do the latter.

Message Positioning functions as a crucial, consistent building block of all involved promotional efforts. This essential component of Brand Identity, combined with appropriate visual cues, enables recognizable elements of a differentiated Brand to be established. Such a system of aligned talking points and images sets the opportunity for capturing and retaining residual passive market share, in addition to the direct active captures: thereby maximizing the outcomes of reach, enhancing traction, increasing conversion ratios, and ultimately optimizing revenue streams and potential profitability.

Capture for conversion in eCommerce and other digital platforms requires additional tactics beyond those used for traditional business models. Because the opportunity for direct contact is eliminated, deferred, or reduced (as per the corresponding Sales and other Distribution Channels) – particularly in the case of a new spontaneous site visit – alternative means to establish and maintain a line of receptive communication and follow-up are necessary. SEO, SEM, and other rank or keyword level visitor attraction (passive, pull) systems only become viable and begin to generate impact after traction and awareness have already been established at significant thresholds. Therefore, pivotal tools – including landing pages and loss-leader conversion incentives – become leverage points through which value-added prospect relationships can be seized and shaped in the early stages: broadening both…the modes of reach, and leverage toward conversion.

Funnel Management demands consistent and efficient activity and results tracking, as well as systematized organization of the most vital business resource: properly qualified prospects. While analytics can contribute to the assessment of volumes, flow, data accuracy, and even conversion ratios, the fact remains that both active and passive tactics must be implemented in order to ensure consistent early-stage customer – and true revenue – growth. A reliable database containing accurate and timely updates can then serve the individual or team responsible for active follow-up: impacting increased conversion.

Awareness Campaigns provide systematized avenues of direct reach for Marketing messages. The first step in marketing an emerging operation involves educating the target audiences about the existing presence of the solution (product/service offering) and its USP (value proposition and key differentiators). Ultimately: why they want, need, and will prefer this solution over other options that currently exist…as well as those as not yet available or developed. Systematized repeat campaigns layer additional necessary information into the awareness of the target markets, and add more trigger points into each subsequent cycle: simultaneously beginning to build Brand Recognition within these initial target prospects as well, which will foster grassroots and potential social media expansion toward traction points.

Public Relations (PR) & Media complements the direct, active, and specifically targeted promotional Educational & Awareness Campaigns by reaching a broad scope of the target segments with concise, concentrated messages that reinforce the direct touch of Awareness Campaigns from converging angles. These alternative angles also enhance company credibility via affiliation with known traditional and social media circles (social proof). This also serves to compound and expand reach beyond existing points of contact (known prospects & customers) in the organization’s CRM database.

Customer Support falls into the Sales & Marketing realm as well, though technically operational in nature: the absorbed cost of acquiring and retaining customers attributed to these teams. Customer churn is expensive, even – or especially – in eCommerce, where effective points of communication can be more difficult to establish and maintain as compared to more traditional business models. Ideally, conversion of a website visitor into an active customer is only the first step.

In order for a small or mid-sized (SMB) business to survive, and ultimately thrive, minimizing churn while maximizing repeat business is the overarching goal. Amazon’s trend shaping pattern-analytic based automated shopping suggestions offer a relevant example of the power gained by leveraging the traction of repeat business from an existing base.

Replicable and reliable systems for Customer Support and follow-up must be effectively established and available – from the time the first customer is secured – in order to achieve optimal success, revenue generation, and sustain profitability.

Tactical Plans, implemented from an effective long-term Strategy, focus on immediate tasks that intend to catapult next-stage growth, awareness, and revenue generation. Additional considerations addressed in review during the fiscal Quarters following implementation of these components, as a priority, should consider how substantially both short-term and long-term objectives were met. Strategic Planning and implementation must precede tactics for optimal effectiveness, conversion, growth, and profitability.

How much growth, revenue, and  profit can your venture hope to create in 2016?

www.StrategyGBD.com

STRATEGY Global Business Development

PLAN | PROMOTE | PROFIT ©

→ Top 1% Transformational Consulting, 2001 – 2016

From Business Plan to Brand Identity (including website front-end), Marketing Strategy to Sales Optimization, Demand Analysis to Product Launch → gain gap-closing & results-producing expertise: decades of cross-industry, global, MBA-level insights for funded emerging Startups to Fortune 500.

Award-Winning dealings with more than 1/3 of the Fortune 500 launched the Consulting Practice, and our consistently 5-star ranked range of Growth Initiatives, in 2001.

→ Clients in more than a dozen countries & territories worldwide.

→ Celebrating 15 years of contributions to emerging and mid-sized business success!

Facebook.com/StrategyGBD

@StrategyGBD ~> twitter.com/StrategyGBD

Learn more or get started now: www.StrategyGBD.com