What Does a Great Buyer Persona Look Like? Dissecting 3 Real-Life Examples

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Any project you undertake gets easier when you have real examples to guide you -- but it's not always easy to find them. Take buyer personas, for instance. Most companies keep theirs under lock and key, making it really difficult for other marketers to find inspiration and guidance to make their own.

So we decided to help. We spoke with three of our customers to see if they'd share their personas with the world -- and they said yes. Below, we've shared their personas, and dissected why their examples are great. Note the different colors of numbers on each example -- those in orange and red are the must-have elements of a buyer persona; those in blue are nice-to-have features.

Visual Creatives

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Inside Visual Creatives' Buyer Persona

1) Semi-Fictional Character 

Visual Creatives has indicated that their buyer persona is typically an agency owner or founder. They've created a generalisation of their ideal customer through analysing their most profitable and loyal customers.

2) Day in Their Life

By thinking about what a day in the life of your persona looks like, you can better understand their challenges and motives. Visual Creatives has done this really well and documented the fact that their persona is struggling for time throughout their day and typically finds the information they need on the web. That indicates that a company should communicate with an agency owner by creating easy-to-find, relevant, and educational content online, rather than by contacting them on the phone or through email.

3) Demographic & Biographic Behaviour

You can see that Visual Creatives has noted the typical age, income, education, and location of their buyer personas -- this is the typical buyer persona demographic information marketers use (but it doesn't have to be the only demographic information you use). Besides giving you a basic understanding of who your ideal customer is, it can be great to have for getting more specific in your advertising targeting. 

4) Persona's Goals

Visual Creatives has done a great job generalising the goals that many agency owners are striving to achieve for their agencies. Knowing your audience's goals and aspirations is crucial -- it helps you better cater your content, product, and services to help them achieve those goals. 

5) Pain Points

In the Challenges section of Visual Creative's persona, they indicate that their agency owner persona is working in the business rather than on the business. This is an issue that many business owners face and dream about being able to do. If Visual Creatives can show its persona how they will be able to make this dream come true, they're going to generate more qualified leads and new customers.

6) Information Search Process

We touched upon this in point number two on "the day in the life" of a persona. However, if we look at this example in more detail, we can see the agency owner is on the phone all day long trying to generate more business. If Visual Creatives tried contacting their persona on the phone, they are going to irritate the persona by taking up valuable selling time -- or might just reach their persona's buyer persona.

It's also important to note that the persona switches off in the evenings after being too busy to contact during business hours -- this means that Visual Creatives needs to be very smart about when and how they contact their persona.

7) Type of Experience Desired

By knowing what your persona generally expects of you once you secure their business, you'll better be able to attract and convert new clients. Visual Creatives know that they will be viewed as an extension to their client's staff and so can position themselves this way to their leads during and after the sales process. 

8) Common Objections

By analysing what the common objections leads have for not signing on the dotted line, you can better prepare a solution to counter them. This will be invaluable to your sales team.

9) Story Format

By writing the overview of your persona's goals up in a story format, it is much easier for everyone in your organisation to think of them and remember their story when creating content or speaking to leads and customers on the phone.

10) Image

As a supplement to the point above, adding an image to your persona makes them more real to everyone within your organisation, making it easier to visualise that persona when they are having conversations or writing content for them. 

HUCACE

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Inside HUCACE's Buyer Persona

1) Semi-Fictional Character

HUCACE has created a persona who typically works as a HR Manager, named Tina. Note that she is not a specific person who has bought from them.

2) Day in Their Life

In HR Tina Manager's day, we can see that she is trying to keep up with technological advances and has a decreasing budget. She typically doesn't say "no" to many people -- this means she has a lot to do and often works late.

These are all things that HUCACE can leverage in their marketing messaging. For example, they could offer a product/service/content that helps Tina stay on top of technological advances, tips that help her do her job on a low budget or save her money, and tools that automate some of her job so she can get more things checked off her to-do list.

3) Demographic and Biographic Behaviour

Similar to the above example, HUCACE has demographic info for their persona that they can use in their segmentation and targeting.

4) Persona's Goals

All of the goals that HUCACE have listed for Tina should be considered when creating content or positioning their product/service in a sales conversation. HUCACE should look for related keywords with the highest search volume and create content around those keywords to attract more Tinas to their website. 

5) Pain Points

As with Tina's goals, HUCACE should have the same strategy in place for her challenges. You can see above that she is concerned with hiring top talent, predicting job performance, and employee engagement. By knowing what her challenges are and how their product or service can help her solve them, they'll be more able to capture her attention.

6) Information Search Process

Tina researches information online and chats with her colleagues to discover best practices. This means that she could be influenced by social proof, so HUCACE should think about how they could use things like testimonials, social media, and referral programs to drive conversions.

7) Type of Experience Desired

Tina wants a vendor she can work with that is extremely flexible to her needs and she wants to feel part of the process. She also wants to buy from a reliable brand that offers stellar customers service. By researching this, HUCACE knows that this is important to their persona and can shape their marketing and sales process accordingly. 

8) Common Objections

In this example, Tina's challenges are the same reasons she will tell HUCACE she can't sign the contract for new business. Her senior management isn't convinced of the value she brings, and she is short on budget as a result. Something HUCACE can do to help alleviate this issue is to create a piece of content that is targeted at her boss and demonstrates the value of improving Tina's job. This content will be really valuable to your sales team, too, since they'll need to pull in the decision-maker at some point.

9, 10 & 11) Story Format, Memorable Name & Image

Like we mentioned above, having a story format and a memorable name makes Tina seem more real to your organization.

Fourdiaz Vargas

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Inside Fourdiaz Vargas' Buyer Persona

1) Semi-Fictional Character

Fourdiaz Vargas has done their research and found their ideal customer is a business owner -- they call him Walter.

2) Day in Their Life

We know that Walter has a lot of pride in his business because he grew up in it. He is really concerned with growing the business and is open to trying new things to ensure that he does. When creating their marketing messaging for Walter, Fourdiaz Vargas should consider the emotional factor in order to appeal to him. 

3) Demographic & Biographic Behaviour

As with the above example, Fourdiaz Vargas has demographic information for their persona. It may not always be the most illuminating for content development, but it is useful for segmentation once they're actually promoting the content they create.

4) Persona's Goals

Growth in sales and the business overall is this persona's number one goal. He wants to be number one in his industry -- so Fourdiaz Vargas needs to position themselves and their offering as the solution that is going to help him do this.

5) Pain Points

Walter lacks marketing skills and doesn't have time to spend outside of running the business. Fourdiaz Vargas will need to act as an extension of the family and build up trust so that Walter will spend money on their marketing services. A cold, corporate company with no compassion for the little guy will never secure Walter's business.

6) Information Search Process

Walter shops online via his desktop -- he is not so mobile savvy -- and he attends networking events and conferences. Because they put together this persona, Fourdiaz Vargas knows that to get his attention and start building that trust, they will need to be present at these events as well as online. Walter is also on Facebook, so if Fourdiaz Vargas is investing in some paid content amplification, they should be using Facebook to target people like Walter using their Lookalike Audiences and other targeting options.

7) Type of Experience Desired  

Walter wants to create a legacy and a successful business he can pass on to his children. The key word there is successful -- he doesn't want to burden his next generation with the woes of a business. To do that, he's looking for help from a team of experts -- so Fourdiaz Vargas needs to ensure that they are seen as the experts in their industry.

8) Common objections

The objection Fourdiaz Vargas has outlines is that Walter wants innovation. So if they can't bring any new ideas to the table then they won't be able to secure Walter's business.

9 & 10) Story format & Image

Though this is technically an "above and beyond" step to developing a buyer persona, the story format and the image make this example easy to read and remember.

Now that you've seen what a great buyer persona looks like once documented, making your own is going to be easy as pie. Not only do you have the examples above, but you can also use our new free tool to generate your buyer persona into a handy little Word document that you can edit and add to later. Check out our MakeMyPersona tool here

free buyer persona generator

A Vivid Vision for HubSpot’s Content

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The program began as it always did -- with a spritely, “Welcome to INBOUND Radio on SiriusXM channel 125.” Host Mike Volpe went on to introduce the day’s guests. First up was a prominent Stanford medical researcher, who’d made a breakthrough in Parkinson’s treatment thanks to the millions of iPhone and Apple Watch users who volunteered to have their health monitored through their mobile devices. “Giving away your health data is about as inbound as it gets,” observed Volpe when he wrapped up the interview from HubSpot’s brand new Cambridge recording studio.

Although this scenario hasn’t yet occurred, don’t call it fiction. It’s more like pre-reality, or, in the words of executive-turned-executive-coach Cameron Herold, a “vivid vision.”

Herold, the former COO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK, has become one of the world’s most sought-after speakers and advisors. Simply put, he helps top CEOs perform even better. One of Herold’s most popular techniques is what he calls a vivid vision. Think of it as a drug-free executive Peyote trip, in which the leader of an organization travels ahead three years and returns clutching a hyper-detailed narrative of the company’s future state. A well-crafted vivid vision is a little trippy in that it describes the sights, sounds, mood, energy, and dialogues surrounding events that have not yet occurred.

After listening to Herold explain this concept on The Growth Show podcast, I decided to give it a try on behalf of the HubSpot content team. I booked some alone time in the company nap room, conjured up Doc Brown and hopped aboard my mind’s Delorean. Destination: 2018.

Constructing a Vivid Vision

The exercise was, admittedly, awkward -- perhaps even corny -- at first. Self-awareness got the better of me, and I struggled to visualize reality beyond the end of the year, much less the mid-point of the next U.S. President’s term. I also defaulted to math -- mentally calculating traffic and conversions by compounding today’s growth rates. I thought of the same people, in the same seats, doing the same jobs. Just better. In other words, I was doing it all wrong.

Then I remembered the source of the vivid vision process: Olympic athletes. Herold explained that high-achieving athletes painstakingly visualize the outcome of their events in advance of competing. Suddenly, the exercise felt less new agey. I put the flux capacitor back to work.

Questions raced at me. Would we have a blog? If so, what would it look like? Who would be reading it? What about ebooks? Did people still read them? And the podcast that triggered this post … what kind of guests would we host?

Once I shut off (or at least suppressed) my self-monitor, the exercise became enjoyable. Indulgent even. I imagined teaching a Columbia J-school class on business blogs. I heard several students rebuke me for hobbling “real” journalism. 

I pre-lived a conversation with the managing editor of our blog, who insisted writers should get bonuses based on scoops, not leads. She mentioned a specific blogger who would get angry when she’d be scooped by a commercial blog. The editor wanted to permeate this competitive spirit throughout the team. I overheard HubSpot bloggers complain about the very same issues that have long irritated traditional journalists; I saw press badges for massive industry events hung in bloggers’ workspaces; I feared my analytics person might get poached by BuzzFeed, which was now seen as The New York Times for the post-Millennial generation. I found this observation so horrifying that it nearly shook me out of my vision.

My content strategists had evolved into research analysts. They were routinely invited to deliver on-air commentary about sales and marketing trends for various cable networks. They snickered when Fox Business called, knowing how the network rankled me. HubSpot’s podcaster and I tried to figure out if we could get (still) Apple CEO Tim Cook to mention The Growth Show during the company’s next press event.

It took me a while, but eventually I got the idea: A vivid vision isn’t just dragging a formula forward in Excel. It’s rethinking the application.

Now it’s your turn. Check out Cameron Herald’s interview with Mike Volpe on The Growth Show. And then go back to envision your own company’s future. You’ll be excited to see what’s waiting there.

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Social media sites may be better than the law at blocking revenge porn

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When it comes to stifling the spread of revenge porn, companies such as Reddit, Facebook and Twitter may be able to do much more than the United States' legal system

All three of them recently released new company policies that ban revenge porn—pornographic images and videos shared without the consent of the person pictured, and often to shame that person

This is big news, because these kinds of photos often go viral on social media sites. The whole point of revenge porn is to shame the person in the photo, and the idea is to attract as many eyeballs as possible. If there are fewer places for these photos to go viral, experts told Mashable, there is less incentive for perpetrators to post compromising photos Read more...

More about Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Law, and Us World

4 Truths Healthcare Providers Need to Know About Content Marketing

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Healthcare marketing isn’t easy. (But you already knew that, didn’t you?) New Affordable Care Act stipulations, HIPAA laws, and increasing government involvement have regulatory committees tightening their grip on all forms of outbound communication.

This means that while marketing departments and compliance professionals have always butted heads, the new state of healthcare has created an unyielding stalemate between the two departments. But there is a cure. 

Though Healthcare Marketing isn't easy, reaching your audience has never been easier. According to Pew Research, about 72 percent of internet users searched online for health information within the past year. Additionally, Healthcare is the second most-searched-for service online. With so many people seeking expert healthcare information, and so many channels and platforms at your fingertips, converting prospects into champions for your organization online is highly possible. So long as you’re marketing by the rules, of course.

In other words, when marketing and compliance learn to join forces, healthcare providers can revolutionize their brands and become a leader in the industry.

To successfully market the organization’s brand and earn a positive reputation within the healthcare marketplace, healthcare marketers need to understand these four truths:

1) There is No “Quick Fix”

I know you were hoping you’d leave this blog post with an easy, straightforward roadmap to achieving dozens of gratifying comments and glowing reviews overnight, but that’s not going to happen.

Wait—don’t leave!

Just as you couldn’t win a marathon the day after ankle surgery, when it comes to achieving content marketing success, you have to learn to walk before you can master the run. That means starting with the basics: building a foundation of great content.

Owned content, or the content your organization develops for the channels and platforms you create and maintain, is where you need to start. Also, this is where un-siloing your marketing and regulatory departments is especially important. Marketing professionals must be well-versed in compliance, while regulatory specialists must grasp the importance of growing a healthy and consistent content strategy.

Successful owned content paves the way for earned content, such as editorial coverage, and shared content, like those highly coveted online reviews.

2) Disaster Avoidance Requires Cooperation

If a retail company posts inaccurate information, they look careless and may lose a few customers. If a healthcare provider posts inaccurate information, the FDA could slap down hefty fines and put all marketing on ice for months. In an industry where credibility is everything, healthcare providers can’t afford to make mistakes. (Which, of course, is why regulatory and legal teams exist in the first place.)

From inception, compliance professionals need to be involved in the content strategy. If you’re working with an agency to develop your content, make sure it’s one that really gets the breadth, nuances and, most importantly, the risks of healthcare marketing.

From website copy to blog posts, properly targeted owned content will shape your brand’s reputation. Every marketer knows it takes great care to craft the right message, but, for healthcare providers, the stakes are higher than for any other industry.

3) Garnering Positive Reviews Requires a Healthy Content Strategy

Why do some healthcare providers rake in heaps of social media accolades and five-star reviews while others amass little more than an occasional Facebook “like” or, worse, nothing but negative reviews?

It’s not just about the level of care and expertise these physicians, clinics and hospitals offer their patients —although that’s obviously one of the most important factors. It’s also because the organizations succeeding in generating a buzz online have become a trusted industry leader and resource of valuable information. They create content that connects people with solutions to their problems and insight into their concerns.

Achieving a positive, robust and highly influential reputation online is the result of a carefully executed strategy. As I mentioned before, the owned media you create — the web copy, blog posts and library of guides, eBooks and other helpful resources, will lead the way to shared media — the online reviews, complimentary tweets and other consumer-generated praise.

Plus, when regulatory teams and marketing teams work together, organizations can rest assured less-than-enthusiastic reviews will be addressed responsibly. Given that 92 percent of consumers worldwide admit to trusting earned media above all other forms of advertising, keeping your strategy airtight is key to driving revenue through content.

4) Fear is One of the Biggest Threats to Creativity

The biggest mistake you can make in healthcare marketing is trivializing the risks of failing to follow compliance. The second biggest mistake you can make is to allow your marketing efforts to be paralyzed by fear. Yes, the FDA means business. And yes, it will shut the whole thing down if you cross the line. But, that doesn’t mean you should allow fear of regulatory retribution to stop you from organically growing your reputation, trustworthiness and credibility online.

So, how do you ensure your content follows the rules but still engages your personas?

  • Hold compliance briefings. As the digital landscape evolves, the Joint Commission is releasing updated rules and regulations for accredited organizations. And, as compliance changes, legal teams should hold meetings to keep marketers in the loop.

  • Develop a review process. After your marketing department has completed a 20-page eBook, its not the first time your organization’s regulatory committee should be hearing about the project. By developing a process that includes regulatory teams early in content development, marketing departments can avoid gridlock later down the line.

  • Create internal guidelines. In addition to FDA regulations, healthcare providers should have their own internal living reference document including guidelines for social media and content.

So, What’s Next?

Getting started in content marketing can seem an arduous task for any organization, but it seems especially challenging in an industry with so many critical eyes watching your every move. That doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel and silence all endeavors.

By working closely with regulation and legal teams to develop creative and compliant owned content, and building a foundation that promotes shared content, healthcare providers can successfully, and safely, engage with prospects and patients.

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7 Negotiation Techniques That’ll Boost Your Power at the Bargaining Table

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This post originally appeared on Agency Post. To read more content like this, subscribe to Agency Post.

You didn’t get into this business to spend your days arguing. Conflict resolution was certainly not in your job description when you started out as a designer, account manager, or copywriter. Instead, you daydream about quiet days agonizing over creative -- not being on stage in a courtroom.

But the reality is that you have to lead the charge for your agency, and that sometimes requires you to deal with hard-bargaining clients who want more work at less money.

The Value of Negotiation Skills

Without negotiation skills, you might simply give in or give away more than was necessary, causing your agency and staff to suffer the consequences of your being intimidated. By learning negotiation skills, you can ...

Gain a competitive advantage. 

This isn’t about determining a loser and a winner. It’s about managing your agency’s interests with those of the client. If you have negotiation skills, you limit the inequalities between your agency and the client.

Increase your confidence in business deals.

It feels like the client has all the power once you send the contract or proposal over. You simply have to wait for a decision. When the client finally calls, you sound desperate. You want to win this account -- badly. It’s a blue chip brand that will push your creative limits. When the client starts asking you to cut this price or change this timeline, you do so because you don't want to lose the account. Ultimately, you get the account, but the love has soured into resentment because you feel taken advantage of. If you know where you real power lies in the relationship, you can negotiate and collaborate with the client. 

Counter intimidation tactics.

How many times have you been afraid to tell a client that something is out of scope? You rationalize that you don’t want to ruin the relationship or seem like you are analyzing every line item. You’ll just take the hit on this one. This avoidance of the issue is causing your agency’s profitability to plummet. Remember that confidence breeds respect, and mutual respect means you have a partnership.

Preserve relationships by managing conflict.

Healthy relationships are give-and-take. But it is also about appearances. By understanding how to be an active listener, how to provide reassurance in a conversation, and other negotiations skills, you can manage your image and the response of clients during difficult conversations.

Negotiation is the act of balancing competition with cooperation to get a result where both parties are satisfied. And to do this, you need to know your client’s BATNA, or best alternative to a negotiated agreement.

Outlining the Client's BATNA

Defining your client’s BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement) will help you determine what power you have in the negotiation, when the client would accept the negotiated contract, and when he would end negotiations.

It’s about what the client’s alternatives are. If the client fails to sign the contract because your agency won’t concede on a specific point, will the client fail to meet his quarterly goals? Will he have to start another three-month search for a new agency? Can he find another agency with your expertise and experience at the price he wants to pay?

You can also use this information when approaching a client about work that is out of scope. If the client doesn’t want to pay for out of scope work, what will he do? Will he fire your agency mid-contract? Will he concede and determine the out of scope work requested is not really necessary?

To determine the client’s BATNA in a contract situation, you should ask yourself:

  • If the client doesn’t sign the contract because you failed to concede to his terms, what will he do?
  • Figure out a list of possible options, and create reasonable responses or points to counter the client’s decision. If you understand all the options available to the client, you can better prepare yourself for negotiations and retain some perspective during conversations.
  • What are your limits for the negotiation? Practice the same approach from the client's point of view. Define where you can compromise and what you ultimately want in the situation. Outline your alternatives. While it might seem like the only alternative is to lose the account, that's not the case. If the client doesn't become a client, what are your alternatives? One might be that you will continue to go after profitable accounts -- you won't lose money by accepting a client who can't pay your fees. 

Clients have a lot of power. (Obviously ... they're the ones sending the check.) But if you want to be able to negotiate with any authority, you have to establish a position and stick with it. 

7 Techniques for Negotiating Like a Pro

1) Practice being an active listener.

Listening is a key skill; one that requires you to hone your verbal and non-verbal communication skills. Your posture, facial expressions, and head movements all signal that you are -- or are not -- listening to the speaker. And during negotiations, the person on the opposite side of the table needs to feel that you are not only hearing but also understanding, what he is saying.

To be an active listener, you should maintain eye contact. When agreeing with points, acknowledge this with a “yes” or “I agree.” Don’t interrupt the speaker, but take the opportunity to paraphrase what the person has said, and repeat it to make sure you understand. Ask questions that prompt the speaker to clarify information.

2) Ask open-ended questions.

Consider these two questions:

  • What price would work for you?
  • Tell me: Why is this price seems too high? Is it because of the results you have seen in the past?

If you start with the second question, the dialogue about price becomes a way for you to emphasize the results your previous clients have seen.

3) Set high goals.

Researchers at DePaul University found that when negotiators set specific, challenging goals, they were able to secure better deals than those with undefined or lower goals. Even if you go into a negotiation with a client knowing you can reduce the final project cost by 20%, attempt to negotiate a higher price or negotiate a change in timeline as well as a price cut. Give yourself a goal. 

4) Play to the client’s emotions.

People, for the most part, buy based on emotions. This is especially true when deciding between competing brands. (For example: "My mom used Tide, so I should buy Tide even though the next brand is on sale.")

The same applies to the professional services industry. Emphasize your existing relationship or the excitement of your team about working with the client. CMOs love to hear how their brand is inspiring a creative team.

5) Be confident that you are the best option.

If you did your job in qualifying the prospect, you know this client would benefit from working with your agency.

So if things broke down during the contract phase, and you are negotiating the terms, you can be assured that the client wants to work with you. It might just be a matter of securing his confidence. Emphasize that you understand the client’s marketing challenges, have the experience they are looking for, and even offered a plan that was better than your competitors.

6) Emphasize the urgency.

During the proposal phase, you found out what the cost to the client would be if he didn’t increase leads, drive sales by X percentage, and so on. You also should have determined how the timeline for the project would affect year-end or quarterly goals. Remind the client of the consequences of delaying the project.

7) Be gracious.

Hopefully, you and the prospect will get past this phase. Then, he will be a client -- someone you want to build a strong relationship with. That means you want the client to be satisfied with the results of the negotiation, which actually means you should seem not satisfied -- or not as satisfied as you might be -- with the results of negotiation. The client should feel that you both made concessions and are happy with the path forward, not that one party exploited the other.

The goal of negotiation is not to get everything you want. It's about how you communicate and cooperate with a client so that both groups enter a relationship on equal standing. The result is a stronger, more equal path to partnership. 

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How to Easily Create Custom Pin It URLs for Pinterest

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Nowadays, many marketers -- especially those in the ecommerce space -- are using Pinterest to achieve their business goals. After all, Pinterest boasts the highest average checkout value of all social media referral shoppers.

One way they're using Pinterest is by adding Pin It buttons to their websites to leverage the platform’s shopping power. After all, adding these Pin It buttons gives fans another outlet for sharing your stuff with their networks -- which helps drive more traffic to your website while organically increasing your Pinterest following.

But Pinterest’s own Pin It button generator has some big limitations. For one, it doesn’t allow marketers to promote pins on Facebook posts, emails, or anywhere else other than a traditional webpage. Secondly, it doesn’t let the user choose what specific data is pulled from a product listing.

Want more control of the Pinning experience? So did I -- which is why I built a Pin It URL Generator: a free tool that spits out custom Pin It URLs.

The tool is an Excel spreadsheet that generates URLs that lead users to a Pin It window customized with a specific product page, image, and description -- rather than relying on Pinterest to pull that data for you.

I've found this so useful in my marketing that I wanted to share it with all of you for free. You can download the free Pin It URL Generator here.

To help you get the most out of this tool, let's go through where and how to use it.

How the Pin It URL Generator Works

To use the tool, all you have to do is input the three data points you want for a particular Pin:

  1. The product or landing page URL
  2. The image URL that you want to feature
  3. A short description (HubSpot recommends between 100-200 words)

The tool automatically changes hashtags to HTML, so feel free to highlight a few keywords. And if you want to use UTM tracking, you should append the appropriate parameters to the product URL before entering links into this sheet. (Learn how to create UTM tracking codes here.)

And voilá! Once you've entered these three variables, the linkable URL in the yellow box will be generated automatically. All you have to do is copy the contents of the yellow box and paste it wherever you're building a Pinterest link. When a viewer clicks that link, a Pin It window will open in their browser that includes all the customized information ready to go.

An Example

Let's say I wanted to put a Pin It button on my website that links to a pair of shoes I found on Zappos. On Zappos' product page, the default color of the shoes is blue -- but I want the pin's featuerd image to show the white version of those shoes. In this case, Pinterest's Pin It button would have generated a pin featuring the blue shoe using meta data from the product page. Using my tool, though, I can force Pinterest to use a specific image (the white shoe) over the default picture -- and incorporate key hashtags to make the pin more discoverable.

I simply open up the tool and input Zappos' product page URL, the image URL of the white shoe, and a short description using key hashtags:

Zappos_tool

Now, when visitors to my website click on that pin URL, a Pin It window will open in their browser that contains the featured image of the white shoe and my customized description.

Zappos_Pin

Other Ways to Use the Pin It URL Generator

  1. Use a post-purchase email to push engagement. You could even tailor the description to indicate that the customer has already bought the item, baking in social proof for their Pinterest followers. You could apply a similar concept to general marketing emails, saved carts, and wish lists.
  1. Cross-promote on your social profiles. You can post any image on Facebook or Twitter and provide a link to "Pin It with one click." This decreases the need for users to jump from one platform to another.
  1. Reach your audience on Facebook and Twitter. While Promoted Pins are here, they don’t (yet) offer particularly powerful targeting. Instead, you can use Facebook’s and Twitter’s custom audiences to reach your fans on those platforms with an ad urging followers to pin a particular item.
  1. Offer influencers customized Pin It URLs. Pinterest allows you to message other users directly, which is great for reaching out to bloggers and potential influencers. Try politely offering these users customized URLs to share content that’s relevant to their audiences. This approach is especially valuable now that Pinterest has killed off affiliate links.
  1. Use them for curated blog posts. Unlike Pinterest’s Pin it buttons, custom URLs don’t guess at which data to pull from a webpage, meaning you can promote several items within the same article.
  1. Use a Pinterest board as a landing page. This is a great way to keep things interesting. In the example below, a recent Charming Charlie email featured a Pin It button front-and-center:

Charming_email

But instead of the Pin linking to a product page, it brought users to a board with related products. This application is best for promoting set of products tied to a central theme. In this case, Charming Charlie is showcasing its color of the month.

Charming_Board

Customized Pin it URLs mean the only limit to sharing your products is your creativity. If you can think of an engaging place to drive Pinterest clicks, this tool can help.

Download the Pin It URL Generator for free hereRemember, you can use your customized Pin it URLs almost anywhere, so be on the lookout for unique opportunities to reach people when and where they’re most likely to engage with your brand.

Have feedback or questions about how to use the tool? Feel free to reach me at info [at] ripenecommerce.com.

pinterest for business ebook

How Inbound Marketing Can Boost Enrollment for Daycares

daycare

If you’re a child care owner, director, or start-up who’s tired of struggling to find new ways to fill the enrollment for your daycare, then inbound marketing might be the golden ticket you’ve been looking for.

In this article, you will learn what stages a parent goes through when selecting a new child care facility and discover fresh marketing techniques proven to help you boost enrollment immediately with inbound marketing.

The Parent’s Journey

Let’s face it, selecting a daycare can be a stressful process for parents. Families are seeking a community or facility to entrust their children’s future in and it’s your job to establish an authentic connection with them on why that future is with your daycare. The key for accomplishing this is through understanding the parent’s journey and providing a meaningful experience to help attract, convert, close, and delight more families to your child care center.

We’ll be translating the traditional buyer’s journey into various stages and examples of what a parent goes through when selecting a daycare. If you’re looking to significantly boost your enrollment, you need to be capitalizing on all stages of the parent’s journey to ensure you’re building a solid pipeline of opportunities from the past, present, and future.

Although this is not always a linear path, it is important to understand these stages in order to effectively market and nurture them down the funnel. 

buyers-journey

Awareness Stage

The awareness stage is the first step in the parent’s journey. This is where initial research and general education is gathered to help inform the parents of their options. An example of a buyer persona in this stage would be a pregnant mother who is researching the options between staying at home, taking her child to daycare, or hiring a nanny. 

This is often referred to as the ‘emotional’ stage.  The buyer may not even realize that there is a problem to solve, but they are impacted in some way and looking for help.

As a child care provider, it is important to establish an early connection and relationship with the parent-to-be as an informational resource that is there simply to help with common questions and to provide general information for topics that are fairly new to them.

It’s key to position your brand as helpful and informative. Remember, these are future prospects that are simply looking to become more educated and are still gathering facts and information to help them establish a criteria of what they will be considering at a later phase.

Recommended marketing tactics: 

  1. Blogging topics such as “Benefits of a daycare vs staying at home.”
  2. FAQ items to provide general information and commonly asked questions for new parents.
  3. Infographics outlining the advantages of early child development from a daycare.
  4. Trend reports and statistics of the value of child care development through areas of education, socialization, stimulation, and general child development.
  5. Checklists and sample timelines of when they should be considering their options.

Marketing techniques to nurture the parent to the next stage of the journey

Now that you’ve provided wonderful and informative resources for the parents, it’s time to start considering how you can know when they are ready for the next stage of their journey. There are numerous ways to accomplish this, but here are a few recommended approaches.

  1. Gather an email right away. This allows you to start generating a profile on the parent and monitoring their progress and activity with your brand. Examples: subscribe to our new parent newsletter, download our new parent guide, subscribe to our blog, download the child development trends report, etc. 
  2. Survey the prospect. This doesn’t have to be a traditional form survey, but you can create follow up tactics that will help us designate the parent’s answers through various actions. Examples: Tactics/Topics to try: email focused on things to consider for child care when going back to work, blog articles related to consideration stage topics, ebook downloads for evaluating considering a daycare vs hiring a nanny.
  3. Organize your contacts in smart lists. Based on the actions these parents are taking with your follow up tactics, make sure you are creating workflows that will help accurately track what leg of the journey the prospect is currently in. You don’t want to be selling a parent who isn’t ready to make a decision, and you don’t want to be educating someone on topics that isn’t relative to them anymore. 

child-care-awareness

Consideration Stage

Once the parents have made the decision that they are going back to work and/or are in need of care for their child, this is when the consideration stage begins. This would typically involve a parent who is now considering what the important criteria are for what they want for their child from either enrolling their child in a daycare or hiring a nanny.

Your daycare should continue to help educate and guide the parents without “selling” them directly. This can be accomplished by enabling your website to provide relevant content and advice on what they should be considering.

This stage is our problem solving stage.  The parent has realized that there is a problem associated with their emotional search and they begin to look for solutions available to them.

Recommended marketing tactics: 

  1. Blogging topics such as “Advantages of a daycare vs hiring a nanny.”
  2. Comparison white papers to assess the evaluation criteria for the parents options.
  3. E-Books outlining the top reasons to enroll your child in a daycare.
  4. Webinar to provide pre-recorded or live discussions on the advantages of enrolling your child in a daycare over alternative child care.
  5. Case Studies of real families who were on the fence when considering their options.

Techniques to nurture the parent to the next stage of the journey

You still needed to be committed to helping these parents research and understand their options during the consideration stage. Helping build an authentic connection with these parents will give you an incredible advantage for when they are ready to make a decision.

  1. Provide a follow up E-Book. A great way to know when someone is moving into the decision phase is to provide them with a follow up E-Book on “How to select the right daycare for my child” or “Free evaluation checklist for selecting a daycare.” Track to see if they click the call-to-action and download these resources.
  2. Email them additional blog articles. Provide resources in your email follow ups that are related to blog topics inside the decision phase. If the parent has moved on to gravitating to these articles they are getting much closer to the next stage.
  3. Additional surveying. Some great examples would be to survey the parent and ask them to select the most important criteria for their family such as: location, hours of operations, price, curriculum, activities, etc. Not only will this help identify if they are ready to be moved into the next phase, but you have flagged motivational drivers that can be important for qualifying the prospecting parent.

child-care-consideration

Decision Stage

The Decision Stage begins once the parents have made the commitment to enrolling their child in a daycare. They have finalized the criteria that are important to them (location(s), hours of operation, price, curriculum, activities, etc.).

This is where most marketing and advertisers focus their initiatives, but if you have been successful with helping and educating the parents through the awareness and consideration stages, they will be much more likely to consider your daycare because of the brand loyalty that you’ve created. In this stage, you can position yourself through your unique value proposition (UVP) and why the consumer should consider your daycare now that they are “sales ready.”

Logic and justification drive this stage for our parents.  They are ready to choose and since they view you as a trusted resource, your chances of winning their loyalty and your business is higher than your competitors.

Recommended marketing tactics: 

  1. Schedule a tour is the ultimate action a prospecting parent can take with your daycare. Provide a clear call-to-action which leads to a conversion form for scheduling a tour of your facility.
  2. E-Books to continue to help provide resources for these parents on key decision factors when selecting a daycare.
  3. Live Webinar can be a great alternative call-to-action if the parent is not ready to schedule a tour. This can create a strong connection with your staff and the parents.
  4. Take a Virtual Tour by providing a video walk-through of your facility, classrooms, and staff. 
  5. Video Testimonials to showcase the values that are important to your daycare and community. These videos can be of other parents providing real-world testimonies of their experience with your daycare.
  6. Live Chat offers a great way of answering common questions with parents who may be on the fence. Live chat is an easy website implementation, but it does require operational maintenance and it’s own strategy.
  7. Social Media is an incredible outlet for connecting with parents and showcasing your brand’s values and culture.

child-care-decision

Delight Stage

Now that the parents are your customers, your job doesn’t end. Keeping your families loyal to your daycare is a key objective for retention. This is known as the Delight Stage, where your brand can recognize your customers through various marketing techniques to help keep them happy, engaged, and satisfied with their decision.

Loyal customers are 10 times more likely to refer your daycare than those who aren’t continuously engaged with your brand. This stage is often neglected and it’s a key opportunity for continuing to grow your business through referrals and a stronger retention rate.

This stage is typically referred to as the re-assurance stage.  Most businesses forget how important it is to continue to engage and delight their customers after they have purchased.  Without that extra reassurance that you are still a partner in their life decision, you may loose them to the next daycare that engages them newly. 

Recommended marketing tactics: 

  1. Social Media by staying active and providing relevant and enjoyable news about your facility and community.
  2. Parent’s Newsletter to keep the parents abreast on what’s new.
  3. Referrals can be a great resource for growing your daycare enrollment with the help of your loyal customers.
  4. Requesting Testimonials from the top parents and ask if you can feature them on your website.
  5. Parent Reviews are important opportunities for displaying the ratings that other families have given your daycare.

child-care-delight

Hiring for Experience

Our inbound marketing agency works with clients in early childhood education who are passionate at what they do. However, we’ve discovered that most child care centers have not been trained on how to effectively market their organization to maximize their ability to attract, enroll, and retain families.

Working with a child care marketing firm provides you with the flexibility of running your business while allowing an experienced team of marketers maintain your brand’s online presence.

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Experience #MarchMadness on Twitter

After 68 teams heard their names called on #SelectionSunday, hoops fans are ready to follow the greatest basketball tournament there is — #MarchMadness. While the intense action plays out on the court, Twitter will serve as home to the largest virtual sports bar where fans, teams, celebs and analysts can gather to talk all things college basketball in real time.

The tourney got underway last night with two #FirstFour games, that saw Hampton (@HUAthletics1868) and Ole Miss (@OleMissMBB) advance to the round of 64.


Make sure to tune in and Tweet about tonight’s #FirstFour games featuring Robert Morris (@RMUMBasketball) vs. North Florida (@OspreyMBB) and Dayton (@DaytonMBB) vs. Boise State (@BroncoSportsMBB).

How to follow the action on Twitter

The round of 64 begins tomorrow and U.S. fans can watch the action on CBS and Turner (TBS, TNT and TruTv). To stay connected throughout the tournament, look no further than these accounts for score updates, highlights and analysis:

@CBSSports will feature real-time game updates to help viewers navigate through the tournament’s best moments as well as GIFs and Tweets from on-air talent, teams, athletes and celebs. @CBSSportsCBB will provide updates on notable tournament milestones and statistics, breaking news, infographics, analysis and more.


@MarchMadness, in partnership with Turner Sports and the NCAA, will serve as the official handle of the tournament, offering up everything from in-game highlights to talent analysis to score updates. @CNN will also support the tournament via “Upset Alert” Tweets from @MarchMadness.

College hoops fans can jump into the Twitter conversation using #MarchMadness all tourney long. Find and follow all of the tournament teams here.



Also look out for exclusive behind-the-scenes Twitter Mirror content from teams:



Don’t want to miss a Tweet? Consider turning mobile notifications on for these accounts so you don’t miss anything from the full slate of games.

#SelectionSunday

As the 68 schools were announced during #SelectionSunday, teams turned to Twitter to share real-time reactions using #LetsDance:



Check out more #LetsDance Tweets and other Tweets from #SelectionSunday in this collection:

These were the most-mentioned teams on Twitter during the live telecast of Selection Sunday:

Last week, @MarchMadness, along with the seven #Select68 committee members, took fans behind closed doors by making their Twitter accounts private and shared inside information about the team selection process:



Twitter #MarchMadness bracket

We were curious which teams Twitter users predicted to win the tournament after schools found out their fate on Sunday. Instead of just looking at who generated the most overall conversation, we specifically measured which teams were talked about in the context of winning. So we analyzed how many Tweets used a team-related keyword alongside a ‘winning’ related keyword (from 6 p.m. ET on March 15 to 12 p.m. ET on March 17) and then proceeded head-to-head bracket style to arrive at the fan prediction.

Kentucky (@KentuckyMBB) defeats Duke (@Duke_MBB) in the National Championship based on the roar of the crowd on Twitter. Don’t like the outcome? Make sure you Tweet and cheer your team on all tournament long! Enjoy all of the madness on and off the court, and check back each Tuesday when we recap how the games played out on Twitter and preview the upcoming slate of games.

UK Chancellor Says “Google Tax” On Diverted Profits Will Come Into Effect Next Month

houses of parliament UK Chancellor George Osborne today confirmed that a new tax dubbed the “Google tax” — because of its aim at tech companies that divert profits made in the UK — will come into effect next month, from April 1. He also pledged £600 million ($880 million) to improving broadband in the country. The 25% Google tax is part of a wider aim of raising some £3.1 billion… Read More

10 Companies That Totally Nail Copywriting

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You all know The Old Spice Guy, right? The years-old "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaign was memorable for many reasons, but one of them was that it gave Old Spice a voice. A voice that came through in every video, commercial, tagline, Facebook update, tweet -- you name it.

And do you know who is behind all of that marketing collateral?

Copywriters. The ability to find the exact right words to tell your company's story isn't an easy feat, and it's even harder to do so consistently. So when we come across companies that are doing it successfully, we think their copywriters deserve a pat on the back (and a raise?). Take a look at some of the companies we think have stellar copywriting, and if you're looking, maybe get some inspiration for your own brand, too.

Download our free copywriting guide here to learn how to be a better copywriter yourself.

10 Brands With Stellar Copywriters

1) UrbanDaddy

UrbanDaddy has mastered the art of getting me to open emails. Take a look at these subject lines:

urbandaddysubjectlines

Let's click into one to see more epic copywriting, shall we?

urbandaddyemail

This is the copy of the email with the subject line, "Fun." There are a couple things I notice in this email. First, there's no long preamble; the writers get straight to the point, a wise choice for something as simple as a rubber band gun lest the reader feel cheated reading sentence after sentence for something so common.

Second, take a look at the purposeful sentence structure. This copywriter eschews conventional grammar rules by combining run-on sentences and traditional product promotion copy in sentences like, "Lock and load with Elastic Precision, a Kansas City-based workshop that manufactures high-powered weaponry except not at all because they actually just shoot rubber bands, now available online." Keep reading, and you see a conversational tone that mildly mocks the silliness of the product, but also loops the reader in on something kinda fun.

And then, of course, they close with badgers. And how can you go wrong with badgers?

Best of all, UrbanDaddy's unique tone is found in every single piece of copy they publish -- from emails, to homepage copy, even to their editorial policy:

urbandaddyeditorialpolicy

This company clearly knows its audience, which jokes to crack, and has kept it consistent across all their assets.

2) EAT24

You may know EAT24 for their brilliant blog posts on Bacon Sriracha Unicorn Diaries, but they deserve credit for their short form copy, too. Take a look at their homepage sliders, for example:

eat24_1

eat24_2

eat24_3

Yes, it's funny copy -- but it doesn't sacrifice clarity for humor. I was introduced to EAT24 via their blog (a co-worker shared it with me), and had never heard of them. After reading copy like this on their homepage, it was all clear in just a few seconds. 

If you think the brilliant copy stops at their homepage, think again. They extend it to their job descriptions, too:

eat24_4

And to their email subscription call-to-action:

eat24_6

Even to their meta descriptions:

eat24_5

3) Velocity Partners

No post from me about excellent copywriting would be complete without mentioning the folks at Velocity Partners. A B2B marketing agency out of the U.K., we've featured co-founder Doug Kessler's SlideShares time and again on this blog because he's the master of word economy. And since we're talking about word economy I'll shut up and let you check out one of his SlideShares.

4) HipChat

I found this example while downloading HipChat on my work computer. HipChat takes a creative approach to copywriting by figuring out how to embody another popular group of voices: the folks on the American version of The Office. I like it because it's not a forced analogy for the work HipChat is doing -- it nails the characters' hypothetical behavior and language had they ever used software like HipChat and entertains while still explaining how their software helps employees collaborate.

Take a look at the exchange you'll find on HipChat's software download page:

hipchatscreenshot

5) Intrepid Travel

The copywriters at Intrepid Travel, a Melbourne-based adventure travel company, are on this list because they understand where the intersection of interesting and informational lies. I love seeing copy that is totally and utterly functional -- that delivers critical information, but is so pleasant to read that you actually keep reading. Quite a feat on the internet these days.

Take a look at their company description, package names, and package descriptions below for some examples of this fantastically functional copywriting in action:

 intrepid1

intrepid2

Of course, they do benefit from quite a lovely subject matter, but still -- hats off you to, Intrepid Travel.

6) R/GA

With the exception or UrbanDaddy, I've been focusing a lot on site copy so far, so I wanted to check out some examples of excellent social media copywriting. I know you all like to see some more B2B examples in here, too, so I surfaced one of the best examples of the holy grail: Twitter copy, from a B2B company, that's funny. Behold, some recent highlights from the R/GA Twitter account:

7) Trello

Do you know what Trello is? If the answer is no, this copywriter is for you. Check out how clear this product description is, first:

trellohomepage

And then check out how clear the use cases are:

trello2

Some of the use case clarity can be attributed to how smart the product is, but I think copywriters deserve some credit for communicating it clearly, too. I mean, when is the last time someone just started a product description with "This is"? Nicely done, Trello. Call it like it is.

8) innocent

Check out U.K.-based drink makers innocent, and you'll see a language, style, and tone that matches their philosophy, product, and even their branding and design. It's all just clean, straightforward, and simple. And believe it or not, simple is a really, really hard thing to nail in copywriting. This stands out best on their "Things We Make" page. (Isn't that page name even beautifully simple?)

innocent

This same straightforward-but-charming copywriting philosophy extends to their site navigation:

innocentnav

And, my personal favorite, to their bananaphone:

bananaphone

9) GymIt

I've always loved the copy at GymIt, and will check back to their site and social profiles periodically to see if they've freshened it up. Luckily, they're no one-trick pony and have continues to keep their site fresh with captivating copy. Here are some of my favorites, all of which hit on the pain points of gym-goers that they try to solve (and actually do solve with their customer-friendly policies).

gymit1

I can vouch for that one. As a former GymIt member who moved too far to make the trek to my facility anymore, it was refreshing to be able to walk in and just ... quit. My former gym? I quite literally had to pretend I moved.

All of this rolls up to their philosophy, espoused eloquently on their "About" page, that gyms should just be about working out:

gymitabout

And how did their copywriters choose to make sure everyone knew what this new gym franchise was about if they didn't read that About page? This tagline:

gymittagline

Doesn't get much clearer than that.

10) ModCloth

ModCloth is a brand that has always had an excellent grasp of their buyer persona, and it comes through in their pun-filled copywriting. All of their products are silly plays on words -- check out this screen grab of some of their new arrivals, for example:

modclothpuns

Dive into their product description copy, and it's equally joyous, evocative, and clever -- just like their customers. Often, it'll also tell the story of what you'll do while wearing their items:

creamofthecropped

After reading their descriptions, one can imagine what their life would be like if they owned this product. That's Copywriting 101, but so few brands can actually pull it off like the folks at ModCloth do.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in July 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

free guide: how to be a better copywriter

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