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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

Writing a book is a gargantuan task, and reaching the finish line is a feat equal to summiting a mountain.

Getting the “It’s a great book, you did it!” email from my publisher was a high I hope I’ll never forget. I thought all the hard work was over after that. What a sucker I was.

Book marketing felt completely overwhelming to me (which I’m embarrassed to say as a professional marketer). And there are endless book marketing strategies and click-bait articles on how to become a New York Times bestseller.

And there’s a lot on the line: good book marketing attracts readers, leads to book sales, and more books down the line.

Download Now: Content Promotion Templates + Kit

What I wanted more than anything during my book marketing process was an honest, thorough conversation with another author on how to market a book. And that‘s what I’m sharing with you today.

How I Marketed My Book

5 Helpful Book Marketing Tools

7 Tips for Marketing Your Book

How I Marketed My Book

My book, How to Be a Digital Nomad, was published by Kogan Page in January 2024. I was eyebrows-deep in my book marketing plan when my publisher let me know that they’d be funding a 12-week publicity campaign.

The campaign, run by The Book Publicist, got me in BBC, Reader‘s Digest, and Forbes, among other print and digital publications. Book promotion services are incredible assets, but they’re not in every budget and they’re still only one piece of the puzzle.

Before you spend money on professional marketing services, you’ll need to wrap your head around the basics of book marketing strategy.

These are the steps I took to market my book on my own, plus some bonus advice if you’re considering a professional campaign.

How to be a digital nomad by Kayla Ihrig

Step 1: I budgeted lots of time.

Magazines are planned a season in advance. Some podcasts are booked nine months out. Articles can take months to rank on Google.

Marketing and publicity take time. This means that your first step in marketing your book is beginning early enough to have your marketing efforts come to fruition at your release date.

You can promote your book for weeks, months, and years after it‘s released, but marketing is most important during its release.

This is what generally qualifies you for best-seller lists, and these numbers are also used by bookstores when they’re deciding what to stock on the shelves.

Here’s the book marketing schedule I used for myself:

  • Marketing research: Began August 2023
  • Marketing plan development: Began September 2023
  • Plan execution: October 2023 – February 2024
  • Release: January 2024

I’ll share a word of warning for your late-game marketing efforts in a minute.

Step 2: I got publicity training.

Publicity is similar to normal marketing, but they’re cousins (not twins). Marketing is the act of getting your name and message out there.

Publicity has the same end goal but does so by leveraging respected publications and tapping into their existing audiences.

So why did I choose publicity as my primary vehicle for book promotion?

  1. Publicity has a snowball effect. Getting featured in Reader’s Digest makes it easier for you to get featured in Forbes (and so on).
  2. The audience is already built. You can skip the line of attracting the audience from scratch and instead walk out onto a stage that’s built and already has raving fans.
  3. One story, endless outlets. I shared my same story with 49 podcasts, many digital publications, several print magazines, and two local newspapers. If I was creating unique content for my own website or YouTube channel, I could’ve only shared that same story once.

If you already have an audience gathered, fantastic: they’re already warmed up to your message and used to engaging with your content, which makes them easier leads for book sales.

But the opportunity to market your book to new oceans of people is too big to pass up.

To learn the ins and outs of publicity, I took the Impacting Millions course by Selina Soo.

Step 3: I committed to ongoing education.

Publishing is an intense industry, and if you’re like me (pre-book launch), you probably have no idea how a lot of it works.

The closest (or most enjoyable) way to learn about the publishing world I found was the On Good Authority Podcast by Anna David. I highly recommend working a few episodes into your weekly routine leading up to your release.

The episodes are delicious to listen to and shed light on the industry’s inner workings while also giving actionable tips for newbies (and span both traditional publisher and self-published books).

I found myself taking notes constantly while listening.

Some of my favorite interviews are with Estelle Erasmus, Ben Mezrich, and Ryan Paugh. I worked this into my routine beginning in September.

how i marketed my book

Step 4: I started pitching podcasts.

In October, I started pitching podcasts my story. Podcasts were my primary marketing focus because:

  • Less work is required from the guest. Not much preparation is required and guests aren’t responsible for any of the post-production.
  • The same story can be shared every time. No “reinventing the wheel” is necessary for podcasts, as it is for other mediums (such as guest blogging).
  • Loyal listener base. Popular podcasts have very loyal listener bases and a long shelf-life.

I used the platform Podmatch and can’t recommend it enough (more on this in a moment).

Step 5: I built an author webpage.

You might be wondering: Shouldn’t this step have come before pitching podcasts?

Yes, building a website would ideally come before any marketing begins UNLESS building your webpage leads you to postpone your book marketing process. This was me.

When I initially started building my author webpage, it quickly became a black hole, and I felt like it would never be “ready” for eyeballs.

I felt it holding back the entire book marketing process, so I decided to pause the website until after the first podcast interviews were booked.

Step 6: I teamed with book marketers.

After working for almost ten years in marketing, I was excited to see what book marketers did differently from general marketers.

My campaign‘s focus was getting in front of other publications’ audiences (such as BBC Radio and Women’s Own Magazine), which confirmed my theory that publicity was a fruitful marketing path for book marketing.

What I learned: When book marketers secure you publicity, it’s often the result of pre-built relationships with publications and journalists.

They also have years of experience pitching outlets and bring so much niche-specific knowledge to the table.

Book promotion is a very specific type of marketing and it would be a mistake to task a virtual assistant (VA) or general marketing team member with tackling publicity outreach and expect the same results.

Self-published authors may have even more to gain from hiring niche-specific marketing services. A traditional publisher will offer some marketing services of their own, so self-publishing naturally creates a greater demand on the author.

5 Helpful Book Marketing Tools

Releasing a book is like launching a rocket into space, and each of these tools was an extra engine on my rocket ship.

1. Podmatch

Podmatch is the best way to get yourself booked on podcasts. Once you‘ve set up your profile, you can quickly apply to dozens of podcasts and easily communicate with hosts through your inbox.

It’s much easier than managing conversations in your email inbox, and hosts are typically very active. The standard membership costs $29 a month.

Podmatch screenshot

Image Source

2. Gmail’s Built-In Email Scheduler

Pre-writing and scheduling emails will save you hours during your launch process. You don‘t need specific email marketing tools for this; Gmail has a native scheduler built in. I’ll share examples of batchable emails in a moment.

Gmail schedule email feature

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3. Notion

Notion is a workspace tool that can help you stay organized through the brainstorming, execution, and tracking of your book promotion process.

I used private Notion workspaces for all of the behind-the-scenes work and created a shareable workspace for my industry contacts who offered to help promote the book.

Notion book promotion screenshot

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4. Later

Later is a social media scheduler that allows you to pre-schedule posts across platforms. It‘s incredibly user-friendly and I’m surprised that they give users so many features on the free plan.

Pro tip: On the Later free plan, you can only schedule 12 posts on each platform per month — but, if you start your marketing far enough in advance, you can work within these limits.

If you run out of free posts and don’t have the budget to sign up for a paid plan, spend time using the native schedulers on Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, X, and TikTok.

5. Google Drive

In terms of file organization, Google Drive is as good as it gets. I can’t imagine going back to the days of having to save your work on a USB stick that was easily misplaced.

Pro tip: Name and file everything correctly 100% of the time. This will save so much time and make you an organization machine.

Google Drive screenshot

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7 Tips for Marketing Your Book

Feeling more prepared to market your masterpiece? Here are my top tips to help you progress (and dare I say, enjoy the process).

Tip 1: Don’t overthink your website.

The right path for your author website will depend on your genre. Fiction writers can have an enormous amount of fun with their online presence. A stunning example of fiction website design is author Hafsah Faizal’s website.

Beyond her own website, Hafsah Faizal is also the founder of IceyDesigns, where she displays other author websites that she‘s designed. It’s a fantastic source of inspiration and guidance for fiction writers.

My recommendation for nonfiction writers? Don’t overcomplicate the website process. If you already have a website and your book supports your main brand, simply add a new tab to display your book.

You can see a great example of this from the Career Contessa.

A good author website needs to:

  • Offer contact info.
  • List praise for the book.
  • Communicate your authority/expertise.
  • Share past publicity (interviews, features, and so on).
  • Include FAQs like release date, where to purchase, etc.
  • Offer pictures of your book cover plus other photos for media use.

Is my author website perfect? Definitely not. I didn‘t have a budget for professional photos or a web designer.

The headshot I used is a selfie, and the book photo is a mockup I created in Canva before receiving a physical copy of my book. I’m not a professional web designer, but I did my best using a website template.

It would be quite different if I’d hired professionals to help, but I think clarity is the most important thing to remember when designing your website.

Author website example from Kayla Ihrig

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Tip 2: Schedule everything you can.

This naturally applies to social media, but you should also apply this to your inbox. Emails turned out to be an unexpected black hole during my book marketing process.

I‘m not referring to bulk email marketing, either — just plain ’ole email correspondence related to your book release.

You’ll save a lot of time when you pre-write and schedule emails such as:

  • Endorsement request, follow-up, and thank-you.
  • Book review request, follow-up, and thank-you.
  • Interview request, follow-up, and thank-you.
  • Request to share your book, plus follow-up and thank-you.
  • Post-release thank you email to everyone else who helped.

Not only will batch-scheduling these emails free up time and headspace, it’ll also take away the repeated moment of decision-making.

The closer my book release date inched, the more insecure I got.

By January, the pre-release nerves had soaked through to the bone, and I could’ve never typed up and hit send on so many request emails related to interviews, reviews, and so on.

My scheduled emails saved the progress from flatlining.

Tip 3: Save some energy for promoting your features.

When you publish interviews and op-eds, people rely on you to promote them: most importantly, the hosts/publications.

The relationship with guests is supposed to be symbiotic, and they expect you to expand their viewership by sharing your features with your audience.

If you have a traditional publisher, they also want to re-share the content to show off their authors in the spotlight.

You can promote your book’s publicity this way:

1. Include links in your email marketing.

2. Schedule posts on social media.

3. Put it on your website.

One of the big regrets I have from my launch process is not dedicating more time to promoting my features.0

I had dozens of interviews come out within two weeks of each other at launch, and I was emotionally raw and had never felt worse about the book.

Out of exhaustion and insecurity, I failed to share some great features, and I know I really let those hosts/publications down.

It was embarrassing to ghost people who had me on their show, and I’m sure it impacted the odds of me being invited back for a future episode.

Graphic of 7 tips for marketing your book

Tip 4: Decide how to handle book reviews.

Book reviews can bolster your spirits or make you feel like pulling the plug on book marketing altogether. I think it‘s helpful to decide in advance how you’d like to approach this.

Do you plan on using book reviews to market your book? If the answer is no, then I would wholeheartedly recommend you not read your reviews while you‘re still promoting your book’s release.

Reviews have too much power and will be a distraction whether they’re wonderful, or they move you to tears. I found myself obsessed with my book reviews, and I’m not alone.

The Guardian described Goodreads reviews as “a psychological thriller” for new authors.

For me, obsessing over book reviews drained the remaining enthusiasm from the book launch process. It ultimately made me feel like I never wanted to see my book again; I eventually blocked all review sites from my web browsers.

It took a few months before I saw my book on the shelves in a bookstore for the first time, and when this happened, I felt happy. Had I still been re-reading all of my book reviews on a daily basis, I’m not sure this would’ve happened.

Instead of relying on unverified book reviewers, you can use feedback from early readers/beta readers and your endorsers in your marketing materials.

Kayla Ihrig with her bookImage source

Tip 5: Remember your closest circle.

Don’t forget your family and friends in the book marketing process (but don’t treat them like everybody else, either).

Spare your network the pre-written marketing materials and share some honest updates, both the highs and lows, on your Facebook page or through text updates.

Your past colleagues or friends from school might not be your target audience, but some will still transform into paying customers.

People whom I hadn’t spoken to in years came out of the woodwork to buy my book and send me a direct message on Facebook sharing their well-wishes. I was completely shocked on several occasions, but so incredibly appreciative.

Tip 6: Focus on ROI.

Avoid tasks that “feel” productive but don’t deliver results. For example, guest posting on blogs can feel like a great use of time, but writing a great blog post takes hours. Does the blog have a large readership?

Is the audience directly interested in what your book is about?

Not all opportunities are equally fruitful for you while you promote your book.

Tip 7: Create your content in advance.

Most of the above tips focus on reaching new potentially interested readers, but don‘t neglect the audience you’ve already gathered.

The majority of your email marketing, YouTube videos, social media posts, etc., related to your book should be batched and scheduled ahead of time.

This content can include:

  • Pre-orders. Remind your audience that they can pre-order your book and why it helps.
  • Organic content marketing. If applicable, create helpful content that’s related to your book topic.
  • Personal author journey. Your followers and network are interested in your journey, especially if you‘re a first-time author. Try to show the human side of what it’s like to publish a book.

You‘ll be thanking yourself when these posts are going live across platforms and you’re freed up to focus on last-minute opportunities.

Next Steps for Marketing Your Book

Are you feeling ready to market your book with confidence and attract readers?

Marketing a book is a full-time job, especially for self-published authors who don’t have the support of a publisher with selling experience.

I hope this article made you feel less alone through all of it, and makes the process feel more approachable.

All the work will pay off soon. Congrats, author!

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To
  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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