Content Marketing Plan

As social media grows, the use of content marketing both as a social selling tool and as an audience engagement tool to acquire and retain customers has now taken centre stage within the marketing strategy. The great news is apart from time to preparing the content, content marketing is mostly free but there are some lessons to be heeded. Free publishing platforms like WordPress or Medium, and free content and link promotion on Scoop.it, LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook amongst others make content marketing a go to tactic for any business.

Also listed below is some helpful resource lists covering “content marketing guide” “content marketing tips” “content marketing promotion” and “content marketing publishing platforms”.

content-marketing

Content Marketing is not Blogging

To ensure content market delivers, a business has to start out with the end in mind, what keywords are you targeting, is your content for industry education or brand promotion.  Content articles need to be one thousand plus words and the content needs to be relevant and well written.

The use of content Marketing requires creating and sharing meaningful content (white papers, market research, industry insights, market articles) to attract and convert traffic into prospects, prospects into customers, and customers into repeat purchasers. The content a business needs to share should be closely related to what it sells; or more pointedly, words that will educate an audience, market segment or industry so they get to know, like, and be  influenced enough to do business with your company.

Content marketing is not a one off event, it is an ongoing marketing and sales process that is scheduled, resourced and integrated into the company’s marketing strategy. A company’s content marketing goals should be to own the media space coverage for the topics selected or target keywords chosen.

A critical point to note is that content marketing is the art of reaching out to communicate with your customers and prospects without the heavy sales pitch. This has become known as non-interruption marketing. Instead of pushing out products or services sales messaging, using social selling techniques the business delivers information that makes the buyer more informed. The underpinning fundamentals of a content marketing strategy is that if a business delivers relevant, timely, valuable information to prospects and customers, they will ultimately reward the business with purchases and loyalty.

Content Marketing “Creating a Deep Connection with Prospects and Customers”
Effective content Marketing is not possible without well thought out and well written content. Quality content is important as it links and impacts nearly all aspects of the marketing strategy.

  • Content marketing strategy powers social media exposure.
  • SEO: Quality content with relevant keywords will impact on SEO and SERP.
  • PR: Content marketing drives successful PR as it shows readers the business cares about them not just their business self-interest.
  • SEM: For paid advertising to work, great content will deliver more traffic/leads.
  • Inbound marketing: Content is key to driving inbound traffic, sign-ups and leads.

Content marketing is about telling a different story; breaking through the clutter, winning more customers by marketing more intelligently.

The days when a business bombarded a prospect will sales calls and interrupted potential customers with mediocre content (brochures) that customers do not care about are over. Intelligent marketing uses content marketing to draw prospects and customers towards the business by creating information and content they actually find engaging and useful.

Content Marketing Guide

1. Choosing Content Topics

Start by selecting what industry, keywords, target audience and information you believe they would be interested in. Write about topics the business is knowledgeable on and has expertise in. A company selling interior design could write a fun article about “interior design from the 70’s you want to avoid”.  It is not a sales pitch or net, content topics are fishing lines that attract people towards the brand. Engage the customer, give before you ask.

2. Planning the Articles

This takes time and patience. Writing quality content of 1000 plus words could take 1 or 2 days. Over time, experience will shorten the thinking time but planning and writing takes time. Planning out your content topics a month in advance can make the writing easier and the final content of higher quality. Before writing anything, devote time to keyword selection, topic title, brainstorming the content messaging, finding sources for images and sound bites.  So when the actually writing process starts is should be about crafting words.

3. Write Quality Content

Once the target audience, topic title and keywords have been decided upon, the process of crafting the words into an article can begin. Plan out how many quotes, sound bites you want to include. Always think quality, quality means grammar, sentence structure but more importantly is research based information like the information below on social media.

To put the potential impact of social media into perspective, here is some insightful statistics’ on buyer decisions.

“57% of the purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier.”

“67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally.”

4. Build SEO into content marketing

When writing articles (title and first paragraph) think SEO. Google and SERP now rewards higher word count articles and article topics that match the content along with visually focused (video, images). Think like Google does, does this content do a good job at connecting search users to quality, relevant information. Do a keyword search for the planned article title; strive to make it unique while still using the target keywords, example “Easy Content Marketing Tips”. The core SEO is content marketing but by including tips and easy it broadens the article appeal and reach.

5. Promoting the Content

Before you hit the publish button, check spelling and depending on your content platform make sure to tag it for search terms within the site. Now start promoting the article (posting on to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc.). Use a social bookmarking tool like AddThis to link your article to social bookmarking sites like Tumblr, Digg, Reddit, and Evernote.  This takes time, do not publish and promote the published articles the same time every day or week.  Publish the article, and then maybe give it a day or two before linking and promoting it.

content-marketing-diagram

6. Pause, Rest, Repeat

The old 80/20 rules applies to content marketing, it is 20 percent inspiration and 80 percentage work (research, thinking, planning and doing). There is no magic wand or short cuts, DO NOT outsource your content creation except to a trusted party who understands your business and marketing strategy. Do not copy and paste existing articles, use them for ideas and suggested wording.

Content marketing tips.

1. When posting a link on Twitter and Facebook also include an image

2. Share articles more than once over 2 or 3 weeks but change image/wording (not the article itself)

3. Try different times when posting on social networks

4. Adjust the content (posting title or wording) to suit the audience

5. Post the article links to multiple social bookmarks

Content Marketing – Promoting your articles and links.

This is a list (not exhaustive) of where to post the article links. Using a social bookmarking tool like AddThis is free and will speed up the process. I find doing it from Firefox is quicker.  Also try not to be logged into Google when posting.

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Scoop.it, Nowvia, Evernote, Storify, Paper.li, Reddit, Stumbleupon, Silk.co, Soup.io, App.net, Pearltrees, We heart it, Buffer, Quora, Klout, Google+, Digg, Bizsugar,Disqus, Tumblr, Pinterest, Plurk, Diigo, List.ly, Shareslide, Visual.ly, Bundlr, Soundcloud,  Crunchbase, Sproutr.co, selfgrowth.com, prunderground (for PR and SEO), bitly, Owler, Imgur, LiveJournal.

Content marketing publishing platforms.

Some companies choose to have more than one content marketing platform. Most will use WordPress built into the site and also use a platform like Medium for other articles.

WordPress – Blogger – Medium – Glipho – LinkedIn Pulse – Lifehack – About.me –  Google Groups – Typepad – Svbtle – Buzzfeed.

Social Media Marketing – Powering Sales

The use of social media within digital marketing and inbound marketing has become an important gear in the sales and demand generation engine. The sales and marketing engine needs fuel (supply of traffic or prospects) which the engine turns into visitors and leads where sales converts to customers.

social-media-marketing

The use of social media and lead generation are the gears which powers the engine. The bigger the social media gear size the harder the marketing gear works. And the harder the marketing gear works, the faster and more productive the sales machine will work to generate revenue.

Social media (blog, content marketing, and articles) is the gear that gets the marketing and sales engine working. Social media pulls in the traffic and prospects and converts them to visitors or leads. When driving a car, we push the pedal to the metal in the highest gear to get to a destination faster. The same logic applies to inbound marketing and lead generation. A business needs to work the biggest gear, social media, to ensure a constant supply of visitors, leads and buyers to power the business growth.

Social media also impacts SEO and long tail keywords. So if social media is the gear, then content marketing and blogging platforms like WordPress, Medium, Svbtle, Postach, Ghost, LinkedIn Pulse, Storify, Tumblr, Blogger, Buzzfeed etc. and the traffic they can generate is the fuel that turns the social media gear.

To put the potential impact of social media into perspective, here is some insightful statistics’ on buyer decisions.

  • “57% of the purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier.”
  • “67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally.”

Big business or small business, it is vital to have social media in the marketing plan for lead generation and inbound marketing strategy. Every marketing team has to see social media and inbound marketing tactics as a critical gear in the buyer’s journey.

Social Media Marketing Is Critical for Inbound Lead Generation Success, so is Sales.

The days when demand generation meant only using paid search or media placement and email marketing are over. Today’s buyers are on a different journey where business buyers and consumers are using keyword search and social channels to find content upon which to make informed choices. In fact, they are now in control of the buying process where they are start the demand generation process without any seller being involved.

Social media does not replace selling, good sales or selling practises, as research shows that talking to a sales person still has a strong influence on buyers vendor selection. Social media and inbound lead generation is just a gear (a vital gear) in the lead-to-revenue path that enables marketing to funnel leads to the sales machine, which turn them into customers.

Another reason that social media is a gear which needs to be connected to the sales engine is that while social media and inbound marketing can deliver more leads at a lower cost than outbound marketing or sales, inbound leads take 30 to 40% longer to move through the sales funnel.

The other Digital Marketing Gears

Like any engine, the sales and marketing engine needs more than one gear to power it, gears like social media selling, SEO gear, paid search (SEM) and email marketing gear all play a key role in lead generation and lead nurturing. Successful inbound marketing is about getting the mix right between short term tactics, longer term tactics and tactics that deliver demand now.

The Actions and Actives in getting the Social Media gear moving.

  1. Publish and Attract. This is about pulling in the fuel (traffic, prospects, suspects) into the engine. The greater the reach via multiple blogging platforms for content marketing, research papers, articles, the bigger the awareness a business can generate by posting the content via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, SlideShare, Google+, Reddit and other content marketing sources. But attracting traffic and visitors is only VANITY, leads and customer engagement is SANITY.
  2. Convert. This step is about getting the traffic into visitors who will convert into at least repeat visitors to gather more information or as leads (newsletter signup, free trial, landing page, and request for information form). This convert point means the traffic the social media gear is attracting is the right profile plus they like the content or messaging pushed out. Other good convert points should include the visitors who follow, shared, liked, commented or republished the content. This convert point means a business has taken a step closer to building a relationship and nurturing the lead through the sales process.,
  1. Lead Nurturing. The lead and customer nurturing process fits between the attracting and closing stages. Returning visitors will seek out fresh content or product information, people who signed up for newsletters or email updates need to be influenced. The sales team should now be engaged with social selling to the prospects. This stage is where prospective buyers are sourcing, digesting and reviewing information and content. A recent report by Act-On showed that 85% of Business-to-Business buyers said it takes three or more pieces of relevant content to help make a decision on progressing with a supplier. So, a business can lead nurture by influencing the buyer to take action by feeding them with relevant content on their terms or personalised preference.
  2. Close. This stage is where leads are moved through the pipeline to become customers. Returning visitors will reveal themselves to enter into the sales funnel and existing lead nurturing prospects move down or out of the sales funnel. The key measure here is conversion, what is the lead-to-revenue conversion rate? What is the cost of customer acquisition? Closing is both a sales process and a workflow process so marketing and sales management need to work together to audit the attract, convert, lead nurturing and closing stages to ascertain what is working and what is not.
  3. Pipeline Replenishment. Reduce the cost of marketing by getting customer referrals or customer net promoters. The stage has to do with social media monitoring and sales teams using social selling to stay in touch with customers and expand their network. This stage can include surveys, feedback, and publishing new content and listening to social media chatter

Social media marketing is a process to generate leads via well written content that is published across multiple social channels resulting in lead nurturing activity by marketing and sales where strangers become customers

Digital Marketing Strategy

Any Irish company with growth ambitions needs to have a digital marketing strategy in order to take advantage of the growing opportunities for sales, inbound lead generation, traffic and customers that digital marketing can generate.

The internet is changing the buyer –supplier relationship, today businesses have to know that attention is a currency and social media generates lots of noise so it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract the eyes and ears of the companies target market. Small companies can compete with larger companies but larger companies have well-funded marketing departments, a business is also competing with social media itself for information dispersal and a multitude of social networks are trying to get the attention of the same prospects or traffic.

digital-marketing-plan

So digital marketing has to have a strategy, a well thought out strategy which must support the overall business strategy; in fact a company’s digital marketing strategy may be the engine that powers the sales strategy. Ask the question, “what is our digital marketing strategy based on?” is it customer growth, new product promotion, market penetration or market development? Digital marketing and social media channels continues to expand and influence the buying choices of consumers and business so it is vital that every business learns how to succeed in the online world. In some recent reports published into digital marketing, a lack of effective strategies remains the most significant obstacle to succeeding in digital marketing. In fact, a survey of digital marketing managers showed that over 51 percent of them believed that a lack of connection to business strategy prevented them from achieving the digital marketing goals set out.

A well thought out digital marketing strategy will help a brand or business reach digitally engaged audiences, build deep customer relationships, and create new markets, products, or even redefine the business model.

Planning and executing a digital marketing strategy is essential to out-thinking the competition. In the online world the ability of a business to thrive could well be directly related to how well the business is able to maximise digital media channels. Social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr or Twitter or keyword searches on Google means it is possible for consumers or potential customers to interact on a truly global scale. Buying channels and behaviours are changing, the sales process and customer acquisition tactics are being redefined which means regardless of the business size or industry, it is critical that a business learns how to tap into the power interacting and engaging customers online.

The number of digital marketing choices can seem confusing, companies can confuse digital marketing tools with digital marketing channels, what is social posting versus SEO, what has content marketing to do with marketing automation? As a result, it can be difficult to determine where to start. Without a clear digital marketing strategy the temptation by a business, particularly small businesses are to try and do it all. Get a video created and post it on YouTube, plug a few promotions on Twitter and Facebook, join lots of groups on LinkedIn, the list can go on and on. Some businesses even use a specific team to handle a social media channel.

The reality is, without the right digital marketing strategy, a business is simply wasting resources and time, even losing ground to competitors. Much the same as any business planning process, the key is to understand the business mission and vision, then get agreement on the overall business strategy roadmap, next develop an understanding of the customer base, what goals the business wants digital marketing efforts to achieve, then selecting a digital marketing strategy that will help you to reach both your target audience and goals. For instance, if the strategy is market penetration or development then the strategy is to reach new customers or if it’s a product development strategy then the strategy is to focus on launching a new product or service.

The point is, without a solid strategy, it is not possible to determine whether the digital marketing tools a business has invested in will actually help meet the goals that have been set.

There is allot of technology hype around tools, social media monitoring, digital marketing courses, SEO submission etc. so thread carefully as the easy option can be to simply jump in on the latest digital marketing buzz word  which may or may not help a business’s digital marketing strategy.

Developing a successful digital marketing strategy is as simple as:

  1. Understand the business mission
  2. What is the overall business strategy
  3. Identifying the target audience.
  4. Developing SMART business goals.
  5. Selecting a strategy for meeting those goals.
  6. Implementing actions and activities for the strategy
  7. Monitor, review and adjust the chosen strategy.

Start out thinking your competitors, develop a digital marketing strategy that can be resourced and has clear ROI. To bring the point home, MarketingProfs reports that 69 percent of senior marketers in large companies expect an increase in digital spend. The time to get digital marketing right is now as digital marketing will impact on a business’s customer acquisition, sales, product development and maybe ultimately business success.

A Strategy for Business Success

The strategy for business success are built around three pillars: The Product, The Market and The Team. Each pillar or a combination will most likely determine the success or failure of a business. The core pillar or strategy to focus on is “the product to market fit”. In business schools they say that a business fails for two reasons, lack of funding or lack of strategy execution. Strategy execution should centre on getting the product and market fit right. If the product to market strategy execution by the leadership team is not right, the cost to fund the business for customer acquisition, sales, marketing and product development increase to the point where value cannot be captured.

What causes business success?

In business which strategy pillars contributes the most to success of the enterprise, the team, the product or the market? Or put another way “what is the biggest cause of success”? Also which is the weakest link: a bad team, a weak product, or a bad market?

Let us briefly dig a little deeper into these three pillars. Investors and venture capitalists often say they don’t invest in businesses they invest in people, so the team can be defined as the potential effectiveness of the CEO, co-founders and senior staff relative to the market opportunity. Can the team execute against the market opportunity they have identified, will their effectiveness overcome any lack of experience, and has the team the ability to deal with the “never seen it before” obstacles.

The product can be defined as to what problem is it solving and how impressive is the product to any customer or user who actually uses it: How easy is the product to install/set up and use? How feature rich is it? How fast can the benefits be seen? How transformational is it? How well-crafted is it? How has it been tested and what were the results?

The market is the size, number, predictions and growth rate, of those addressable customers or users for the product.

One other pillar that has to be planned for is “the Cost of Customer Acquisition”; meaning that the cost of acquiring a customer is lower than the revenue or profit that customer will contribute. The rate of customer acquisition has to do with execution and the ability of the team to move enough prospects through the sales funnel. Remember also that product quality will not create market size; Steve Jobs learned that lesson with his NeXT business. What a business needs is a desirable product, a big enough market and an economical way to target it.

business-strategy

So which pillar is the Number.1 building block for business success?

If anyone conducted a survey amongst business people on the question of which is the most important factor in business success, they probably would get three different answers.  Some will say team, some on the product, while others will choose the size of the market.

As written about earlier in this article, if you ask entrepreneurs or VCs which of team, product, or market is most important, many will say team. This is an obvious answer because most of their knowledge and reference points in the beginning is the team as the product may not be built or ready to market plus the market will not have been fully evaluated yet.

Marketing and techies will say the product is the most important factor. The business is product driven, creates great products, then markets buy and use the products. The most valuable companies today are brands such as Apple and Google because they build the best products and without the product there is no company. Right? Try building a great team and having no product, or a great big market and having no product.

This leaves “The market”, where researchers, students of business success and business leaders will tell us that the market is the most important factor in a business success or failure. The argument is that in a big market (fragmented market or badly served by existing solutions), a market with lots of real identifiable customers, then the market needs will pull products out of the business. The market is ripe for change, has an appetite that needs feeding and the market will consume, viable products that will feed it. Maybe the product doesn’t need to be the greatest; it just needs to work. And, the market doesn’t care how good a team the business has, as long as the team can produce those viable products.

Has history shown us that the No.1 business killer is lack of market?

To expand on this a little further, maybe the business killer is not just lack of market, but more importantly a lack of product to market fit. Could the building blocks for a successful business be about being in a sizeable market with a product that can satisfy enough of that market to make profits?  Is being in business about “making things that people want and will pay for”

Take the example of search engines, smartphones, online marketplaces even cars, when there is a growing, sizeable market with an appetite for change. Is this the story of telephone directories morphing to the web as search engines, the evolution of the telephone into people’s pockets, the buying and selling of goods being streamlined online or the transportation of people becoming about journeys.

The flip-side is in a market with little appetite for change, a business can have the best product in the world and super leadership team, and it may not matter, the business is going to fail. A business can spend a heap of money digging for years trying to find customers willing to pay for a product, little reward for a lot of effort and the team eventually will disintegrate, and the business folds.

Has history shown us that the No.1 business success factor is market?

When a great business team meets a stagnant market, market wins. When an average business team meets a great market, market wins. But when a great business team meets a great market, then something really special happens. Now this is not to say a business can’t screw up a great market, it has been done many times, but assuming the team is effective and the product is accepted in the market, a great market will tend to return success for the business and a poor market will tend to return failure to the business. So does Market matter most?

A few things worth remembering

Great products are really, really hard to build. So surround yourself with a great team, as a great team will always beat a mediocre team, given the same market space and product appeal.”

Great products can sometimes create new markets. Product that are so transformative to business or consumers it creates a whole new big market and the business becomes a gorilla. Think Microsoft.

The team needs to know how and on what battle ground it will take on and beat the competition to gain market share.

As a business leader or start-up, what should you do next? Focus on the thing that matters; get the product to market fit right. Product to market fit means getting into a good sizeable market with a product that can satisfy that market and capture value for your business. Do whatever is required to get to product to market fit. Seek out people who can help build your vision, change the product, change the sales model, move to a different market, tell customers you need some customer validation for the product, whatever is required.

Lastly, build a team that can make the product to market fit happen.  A team that can go out and get customers buying the product. Next get product usage growing across a wide range of paying customers.  Customer acquisition and market acceptance of the product means the team has got the product to market fit right which means the business can grow by hiring marketing,product, sales and customer support staff. The strategy for business success will always be the product,the market and the team.  So the business plan and go to market strategy needs to address all three.

Customer Acquisition Strategy

This is a guide to a customer acquisition strategy. For many start-ups and new companies the customer acquisition strategy and financial cost of customer acquisition is a critical factor in business survival and often underestimated in a growing business. The cost of getting customers can be the difference between success and failure no matter how good a business believes its product to be.  I once read that the goal of any business is to acquire, develop and maintain customers at a profit. The develop and maintain aspects are more clear forward but let’s focus on the cost associated with acquiring new customers regardless of the channel.  

business-success

Every business needs to acquire new customers to make products and businesses work. Whether the product is aimed at enterprises paying big money or getting thousands of visitors to a website, how a business gets and the cost of getting customers are the important part.

The Definition of Customer Acquisition Strategy could be defined as “The process of persuading someone to purchase a company’s goods or services”. The cost associated with the customer acquisition process is a critical measure for a business to evaluate in tandem with how much value having each customer brings to the business.

 

Is The Business Ready for Customer Acquisition?

Paper never refuses ink and this saying has been true in many a business or sales plan when it comes to putting a cost on customer acquisition. The cost is not just the marketing or sales cost but the time and resource cost to getting new customers. Has the business planned for the sales cycle, the demos, the travel, product trials or has a website planned for the cost from free signups to paid, customer or product support prior to a customer making a purchase. In other words, can a business survive while potential customers go through the acquisition cycle? While a quote like “move fast and break things” is exciting in a company start-up situation, it may not be the best advice when it comes to customer acquisition. The decision to start spending investor or shareholder money taking a product to market and begin acquiring new customers should be given the weight it deserves. Entrepreneurs or a business might have spent months or years developing the product, so the execution of the customer acquisition strategy has to be thought out very carefully.

Even before you spend a cent on customer acquisition ask the questions “is the product ready for some/many customers”? Are there still bugs that will make the customer interaction with the product flawed? While the saying “done is better than perfect” to avoid feature creep is practical; it would be a mistake to launch a broken product and fall at the first hurdle.

To take a step back into the business plan around customer acquisition strategy, can a business tick the box on questions like; how many sales calls per day do you expect the salesperson to make, do they have a target list of suspects and prospects, how much activity on the website can the servers handle? Do you have the customer support with the knowledge required to respond to the questions from new customers? Does the product value proposition the salesperson has to sell make sense to people outside the company? In other words, have you done customer validation? These are the type of questions that you need to answer before committing money to a launch.

customer-acquisition-strategy

Being Prepared Always Matters

Any customer acquisition process is not straight forward or predictable but especially so for new companies, but that doesn’t mean a plan is not useful or necessary. The customer acquisition process is far from an exact science. There are many things that can (and do) go wrong, however there are some things that any business can do to mitigate risk and improve the chances of successfully acquiring new customers. Be clear with your team what “Cost to Acquire Customers” (CAC) means, is it paying customers, trial customers, engaged prospects or even website registrations.  In the long run it should only mean the cost to acquire a paying customer.

Estimate the Cost of Customer Acquisition

Money for new product or new business launches is hard won. The budget and time for a start-up may be tight, so the business needs to estimate “worst case scenario” the cost to acquire customers (CAC) before beginning the marketing or sales process. A businesses CAC is loosely defined as the cost of ALL the sales and marketing expenses over a given period of time, divided by the number of customers the business plans to acquire in that time frame. While no business can have a firm sense of the CAC until they begin acquiring customers, having an estimate will help the business leaders prepare to act accordingly.

Logic rules, no matter how excited a business is about getting it out there, do not underestimate the impact of starting the customer acquisitions spend before the product is ready. The greatest risk apart from alienating potential customers by launching a flawed product is the money a business can burn through before it realises it got something in the product wrong.  Every business should ask, what is the baseline product I am willing to “show” potential customers and in what target markets?

Thread carefully in the world of social media and PR, spending time and money on journalists to line up business or product coverage of your launch, only to find out that the product is delayed or has issues, can put the business credibility in jeopardy . Journalists lose interest pretty quickly and are never your friends.

Do Realistic CAC calculations

While a business waits for SEO efforts to kick in, a business may utilise Google Ad Words to drive traffic for (a) for lead generation or (b) sales. Take a look at this example. The cost per click works out at 50 cents, the resulting 1000 website visitors converting to a trial rate of 5% (50) at a cost of €500. These 50 trials are then converting to paid customers at the rate of 10% which is 5. So each customer is costing €100 in just lead generation expense excluding sales/product/support costs. For many companies in the B2C space or in the B2B space with software using the web as their main acquisition channel, it can be hard to get the consumer to pay more than €100 for the product or service

Many business underestimate or do not budget for a realistic CAC, if we take the above example the cost of customer acquisition can climb rapidly if leads require a sales person to convert them. This human interaction can be as simple as email follow ups right up to inside sales people doing multiple sales calls and demos. Depending on the trial/registration rate along with sales conversation rates the cost can vary from €400 to over €5,000 per new customer acquired, depending on the level of interaction needed.

Another CAC calculation is to look at the cost of a field sales force. The fully loaded cost of a field sales executive with travel, car, expenses and salary can push the CAC into over €10,000 in enterprise sales.

In trying to address the single most important early-stage question – customer acquisition – it is easy to waste a lot of money in the wrong channels and on the wrong customer acquisition tactics (lots of companies in the graveyard from just this one failure), especially the new companies that went  toe-to-toe with the big guys and can got blown away.

Every business has to execute in a different way

A business will only thrive by marketing and selling smart; acquiring customers in an economic way and in a way that differentiates the business from the crowd. To goal is to build a customer acquisition strategy for paying customers the business does not have to keep paying for every month.

go-to-market-strategy

Create Demand

In larger companies with deeper pockets while the customer acquisition isn’t exactly simple, they do have more resources. The process of customer acquisition is more challenging for newer companies. Established business’s will utilise bigger budgets, have greater brand awareness, and an ever growing community of influencers. Most new businesses will not launch with a partnership with an established brand like Microsoft, Apple or Google where the demand for the product already exists. Instead a new business has to allocate sales resources and money wisely to fight (and a fight it is) to let potential customers or audiences know that you exist, explain to them why they should show interest, and initially even offering to go the extra mile by holding their hand through the sales process.

The focus of everyone in a new business is not only to create the brand but also the demand. Sales and marketing are not two different departments,  the person leading the marketing drive needs control spend on brand marketing and really understand how to execute lead nurturing, content marketing, web demand generation programs and work hard at marketing efforts that require time but not money. Marketing and sales need to work at the hip to generate a steady, growing stream of leads each and every month.”

Acquiring new customers means understanding what makes your customers tick and investing in inbound marketing strategies such as content and quality articles, got onto the forums, become a subject matter expert and invest in search engine optimization (SEO) as a longer term tactic.

The Business Model

Business model viability, in the majority of new companies, will come down to balancing two things:

Cost to Acquire Customers (CAC)

The ability to extract value from customers, or LTV (Lifetime Value of a Customer)

Web based companies have long understood these metrics as they have a much easier easy way to measure them. However there are huge benefits for all businesses to look at these same metrics.

To repeat the message from a few paragraphs back, to calculate the cost to acquire a customer, CAC, a business needs to take the entire cost of sales and marketing over a given period, including salaries and other headcount related expenses, and divide it by the number of customers that a business has acquired in that period.  (In pure web plays where the headcount does not need to scale as customer acquisition scales, it is also very useful to look customer acquisition costs with/without the headcount costs.)

To compute the Lifetime Value of a Customer(LTV), you would look at the margin that you would expect to make from that customer over the lifetime of your relationship. Margin should take into consideration any support, installation, and servicing costs.

Manage Optimism with Reality

To be in business requires huge optimism, and in a belief in how much customers will want to buy your product. Unfortunately this can lead businesses to believe that customers will be kicking down the doors to purchase the product. This has the effect of grossly underestimating the cost it will take to acquire customers. In too many companies there is little or no focus on how much it will cost to acquire customers. Vague strategies along the lines of web marketing, and/or viral growth with no numbers is not what you call business!

 

To finish, a well thought out CAC plan outlines the need to acquire customers through a series of steps like SEO, SEM, PR, Social Media Marketing, direct sales, channel sales, etc. with the cost of each step worked out. This planning brings honesty to the real cost of customer acquisition.

 

Sales Strategy – Inbound Sales – Digital Sales Transformation – Social Selling – Sales Training

Sales training and digital sales transformation including social selling strategy training in Ireland.