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The Ultimate Guide to Branding in 2022

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The Ultimate Guide to Branding in 2022

Products are never just products, right?

Coca-Cola is more than a soda. Starbucks is more than coffee. Ray-Ban is more than a pair of sunglasses.

Interacting with these products provides experiences, and we buy them with that experience in mind. Better yet, the companies that create and market them know exactly the experience they want you to have when you make (or consider) a purchase. That’s why they cultivate their brands.

From the language in their Instagram caption, to the color palette on their latest billboard, down to the material used in their packaging, companies who create strong brands know that their brand needs to live everywhere. They know their names extend far beyond the label and can entice consumers to choose their products out of a lineup of options.

Who doesn’t want that? I know I do. That’s why we built this guide — to equip you to create and manage a strong brand that’ll help your business be admired, remembered, and preferred.

If you’re in a pinch, use the links below to jump ahead to find what you need.

What’s a brand?

A brand is a feature or set of features that distinguish one organization from another. A brand is typically comprised of a name, tagline, logo or symbol, design, brand voice, and more. It also refers to the overall experience a customer undergoes when interacting with a business — as a shopper, customer, social media follower, or mere passerby.

What is branding?

Branding is the process of researching, developing, and applying a distinctive feature or set of features to your organization so that consumers can begin to associate your brand with your products or services.

For example, the Coca-Cola brand is one of the most recognizable logos and color stories around the world. The classic red and white lettering, vibrant artwork, and distinctive font have lasted for over a century.

The Ultimate Guide to Branding in 2022

Image Source

Having stood the test of time, the Coca-Cola brand is a testament to the power of consistent, successful branding that consumers have come to love.

That being said, branding is an iterative process and requires getting in touch with the heart of your customers and your business. It’s important for a variety of reasons — and we’ll go through them below.

Branding can be the deciding factor for consumers when they make a purchase decision. In fact, a Capgemini study found that users who feel a connection to a brand spend twice as much money as those who don’t.

Branding gives your business an identity beyond its product or service. It gives consumers something to relate to and connect with.

Branding makes your business memorable. It’s the face of your company and helps consumers distinguish your business across every medium (which I discuss later).

Branding supports your marketing and advertising efforts. It helps your promotion pack that extra punch with added recognition and impact.

Branding brings your employees pride. When you brand your company, you’re not only giving your business identity, you’re also creating a reputable, highly-regarded workplace. Strong branding brings in strong employees.

Branding Terms to Know

Here are some other brand-related buzzwords you should know. They further demonstrate the importance and value of branding your business.

Brand Awareness

Brand awareness refers to how familiar the general public and your target audience is with your brand. High brand awareness leads to brands being referred to as “trending,” “buzzworthy, or “popular.” Brand awareness is important because consumers can’t consider purchasing from your brand if they’re not aware of it.

👉🏼 Strong branding makes your business known.

Brand Extension

Brand extensions are when companies “extend” their brand to develop new products in new industries and markets. Consider Honda lawn mowers or Martha Stewart bedding. Brand extensions allow companies (or individuals) to leverage brand awareness and equity to create more revenue streams and diversify product lines.

👉🏼 Strong branding brings in more money.

Brand Identity

Brand identity is the personality of your business and the promise you make to your customers. It’s what you want your customers to walk away with after they interact with your brand. Your brand identity is typically comprised of your values, how you communicate your product or service, and what you want people to feel when they interact with it.

👉🏼 Strong branding gives your business more than a name.

Brand Management

Brand management refers to the process of creating and maintaining your brand. It includes managing the tangible elements of your brand (style guide, packaging, color palette) and the intangible elements (how it’s perceived by your target audience and customer base). Your brand is a living, breathing asset, and it should be managed as such.

👉🏼 Strong branding requires consistent upkeep.

Brand Recognition

Brand recognition is how well a consumer (ideally in your target audience) can recognize and identify your brand without seeing your business name — through your logo, tagline, jingle, packaging, or advertising. This concept goes hand-in-hand with brand recall, which is the ability to think of a brand without any visual or auditory identifiers.

👉🏼 Strong branding keeps your business top-of-mind.

Real-life brand example: Want to test your brand knowledge? Take this Logo Quiz by Business Insider to see how well you know your corporate brands. This is brand recognition at work.

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Brand Trust

Brand trust refers to how strongly customers and consumers believe in your brand. Do you deliver on your marketing promises? Do your salespeople and customer service go above and beyond? These things can create trust among your customers, which is important in a world where a mere 25% of people feel confident in large businesses.

👉🏼 Strong branding builds trust with your customers.

Brand Valuation

Brand valuation is the commercial valuation of your brand derived from consumer perception, recognition, and trust. This concept goes hand-in-hand with brand equity. A powerful brand can make your business invaluable to investors, shareholders, and potential buyers.

👉🏼 Strong branding increases your business’s value.

Here’s how you can create a brand — or begin the process of rebranding your current one.

There’s a lot that goes into a brand, and there’s a lot to consider when building a strong one. So, grab a notebook and jot down ideas as you move through this section. Recognize that branding is an iterative process, so you might be repeating some of these steps as you brainstorm and build your brand.

Want to build an effective, measurable brand? Download our free guide on How to Build a Brand.

1. Determine your target audience.

Branding leads to awareness, recognition, trust, and revenue. We’ve talked about that. But let’s take a step back and understand where those stem from: consumers. And not just any consumers — your target audience and customers.

If your brand doesn’t resonate with your audience, it won’t lead to that awareness, recognition, trust, and revenue. That’s where target market research comes in.

Before pressing pen to paper (or cursor to digital document), you must understand to whom your branding will be speaking. Who does your product serve? Who is your ideal customer? Why did you create your business in the first place?

What you learn about your target market and buyer personas will influence your branding decisions down the line, so make this step your first priority.

Free SEO Guide

Download our free Persona Templates to easily organize your target audience research and strengthen your marketing.

2. Establish your mission statement.

Let’s return to a question I asked in the previous step: Why did you create your business? Answering this will help you build your mission statement, which defines your purpose and passion as an organization.

Before you can craft a brand that your audience recognizes, values, and trusts, you must be able to communicate the purpose that your business provides. Then, every part of your brand (logo, tagline, imagery, voice, and personality) can reflect that mission and vision.

Your mission statement is a building block of your brand manifesto, which encompasses why your organization exists and why people should care about your brand.

Download our free guide to Defining Inspiring Mission and Vision Statements and learn the ins-and-outs of two of the most valuable strategic planning elements for businesses.

3. Define your unique values, qualities, and benefits.

There are probably lots of businesses in your industry and niche. It’s easy to focus on your competition (and there’s a time and place for competitive analysis), but, for now, let’s focus on you.

What’s one thing that your business has that no one else can mimic (er, legally)? Your brand.

Because of that, you must ensure that your brand is comprised of and inspired by elements that are solely yours: the values, benefits, and qualities that make your company unique.

Take a moment to jot down a list of what sets your business apart from others. I’m not talking about product features (like appearance, components, or capabilities); I’m referring to how your products or services improve lives and contribute to success.

Real-Life Brand Example: Alani Nutrition

You’ve probably never heard of Alani Nu; they’re a nutrition company based in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. I order their vitamins because 1) they’re proven to work, and 2) I trust and respect the brand (and it’s gorgeous!). On their website, they’ve clearly and simply outlined their unique values and benefits as part of their overall brand. Highlighting these makes it easy for customers like me to trust their products and choose them over competitors.

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4. Create your visual assets.

At this point, you should understand your target audience, your mission statement, and the unique qualities that make up your business.

If you can say with confidence that you’ve mastered these steps, it’s time to move on to one of the more exciting parts of branding — the visual design. We’re talking about your logo, color palette, typography (fonts), iconography, and other visual components.

As you create these elements, build a set of brand guidelines (or a brand style guide) to govern the composition and use of your visual assets. This will ensure that whoever uses your new branding does so accurately and consistently. Check out HubSpot’s brand guidelines for reference.

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Note: Design can be just as intimidating as it is exciting. Consider hiring a professional with logo and identity design experience or starting with a few helpful design templates.

Take your brand to the next level with this free e-book on creating a brand style guide. Download templates, too!

5. Find your brand voice.

Next, consider the auditory component of your brand. What would your brand sound like if you had a conversation with it, or if it texted you?

How you communicate with your target market is also considered part of your branding. You want to define a brand voice that connects and resonates with your audience — otherwise, they probably won’t pay attention. Because of that, don’t hesitate to return to step one to get familiar with to whom you’re speaking.

From your advertising campaigns and social media captions to your blog posts and brand story, ensure your tone is consistent throughout all of your written content. Give your audience a chance to get familiar with your brand and learn to recognize the sound of your voice. Better yet, master a fun, entertaining voice, and your customers will look forward to your social media and email updates.

Real-Life Brand Example: MailChimp

MailChimp is a great example of a brand that speaks with a clear, consistent tone. When I used their free plan for my small business, I always chuckled when receiving their emails and working in their interface. From its web copy to its email blasts and social media captions, MailChimp has established a brand voice and personality that is personable, fun, and accessible — it can be hard to explain the technical parts of a software product (like A/B testing), but MailChimp has mastered that, too.

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6. Put your branding to work

Your brand only works if you do. Once you finish designing and creating your new brand (or rebrand) integrate it throughout every inch of your business. Pay extra attention to ensure it’s displayed anywhere your business touches customers. Here are a handful of tips for applying your brand across your organization.

Website

Splash your logo, color palette, and typography across your website. Don’t use anything but your predefined assets in your brand guidelines. Your website is a major part of your company identity — if it doesn’t reflect your brand, it will only provide a jarring customer experience. Also, be sure that all web copy, calls-to-action, and product descriptions reflect your brand voice.

Social Media

All profile photos, cover art, and branded imagery should reflect your brand. Consider putting your logo as your profile photo — this will make it easier for customers to recognize your business. As with your website, be sure all profile information, posts, and captions reflect your brand voice.

Packaging

If you have a physical products business, your product is probably the most tangible way that customers interact with your brand. For that reason, your packaging should reflect your new branding — in its design, colors, size, and feel.

Real-Life Brand Example: Chobani

I love Chobani yogurt (confession: I’m eating it right now). Their new branding immediately tells me that they produce authentic, healthy Greek yogurt. That’s one of the main reasons I buy Chobani. Recently, I realized that their yogurt packages are made with a very earthy, textured material — an intentional decision that supports the overall experience they’ve paired with purchasing and eating the Chobani brand.

real-life branding example: chobani

Advertising

Because advertisements (digital and print) are often used to establish brand awareness and introduce consumers to your brand, it’s critical that they reflect your branding. In fact, your branding should make the ad creation process easier — with your brand style guide, you already know how your ads should appear and what type of copy to write.

Sales and Customer Service

A brand is only as powerful as the people behind it, and if your people aren’t putting your brand to work, it won’t work for you. Moreover, your brand applies to more than your marketing. Inform your sales and customer service folks of your brand guidelines and tell them to use it, especially when they engage directly with customers. Whether they are sharing a branded product demo or answering customer support inquiries, encourage them to use your logo, tagline, imagery, and brand voice.

1. Treat your brand as a person.

To best wrap your head around the branding process, think of your brand as a person. Your brand should have an identity (who it is), personality (how it behaves), and experience (how it’s remembered).

Ask yourself these questions about your brand:

  • How would your brand introduce itself? If it had to describe its appearance, how would it do so?
  • How would your brand talk about your products or services? Would it be serious and professional, or would it be humorous and edgy?
  • What would someone say about your brand after “meeting” it for the first time? What are a few sentences they’d use to describe it?

The purpose of branding is to create relationships with your customers. The easiest way to do this is to treat your brand as a person and understand that you want your customers to do the same.

Real-Life Brand Example: Whiskey Riff

Whiskey Riff is another brand you’re probably not familiar with. It’s a two-man media company based here in Chicago that’s dubbed themselves “the most entertaining country music site ever”. I’m a fan because I love country music, enjoy their written and podcast content, and proudly wear some of its awesome apparel.

If Whiskey Riff was a person, here’s how I’d think it would answer the questions above:

  • “Hey, I’m Whiskey Riff. I love country music and, you guessed it, Whiskey. My logo was inspired by the Y in the circle on the Chicago Theater marquee, and I’m adorned with horizontal red stripes and stars — which represent the American and Chicago flags.”
  • “I publish in-your-face content about what’s going on in country music today. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. My podcast featured my founders interviewing country music artists and telling hilarious stories. Check out my apparel line; my t-shirts, tanks, hats, and accessories can be seen at country music festivals (and on stages) nationwide.”
  • “Whiskey Riff is like that first shot of Jack Daniels — that much-needed, refreshing drink after a long day. It’s a break from that cookie-cutter way of life, and you immediately appreciate — and trust — its candidness. There’s absolutely nothing like it in the industry.”

1647295360 14 The Ultimate Guide to Branding in 2022

2. Prioritize consistency.

Inconsistency is the number one branding mistake that companies make. Inconsistency undermines your brand and confuses your customers. Recognizable, valuable brands prioritize consistency — and they reap the benefits. When your brand is a unified presence across mediums and platforms, customers can easily get familiar with, recognize, and come to prefer your brand over time. Brand guidelines can help with this initiative.

3. Build and follow a brand strategy.

A brand strategy is more than your brand guidelines; it’s a plan with specific, long-term goals that can be achieved as your brand evolves. These goals typically revolve around your brand’s purpose, emotion, flexibility, competitive awareness, and employee involvement.

Remember how I said that branding is a continuous process? There’s a lot that goes into it. A brand strategy can help you turn that process into a well-oiled practice that keeps your brand moving toward success and recognition.

4. Don’t let inspiration turn into imitation.

Competitive analysis is important. Not only does it educate you on where your competition stands and how they are excelling, but it can also give you ideas on how you can improve or further set apart your brand.

However, be conscious to not fall into an imitation trap. Keep your competitive research limited and focus on what your organization brings to the table. Just because a competitor (or two) has branded their company in a certain way doesn’t mean that you have to follow suit. New, unique, provocative brands are memorable brands.

5. Use branding to hire.

Strong branding makes your employees proud. I know I’m proud to be associated with HubSpot, much less work there. Leverage your branding to attract talented people. If hiring is a strong initiative for your organization, dedicate some of your resources to employer branding. Employer branding is how you market your company to job seekers and current employees. If you’re publically proud of your organization, others will be, too.

Ready, Set, Brand

Branding is your organization’s name, logo, color palette, voice, and imagery. It’s also more. It’s that intangible feeling your customers have when they interact with your brand. You know, that experience we talked about in the beginning.

That’s how powerhouse brands deviate from all the others. The tangible components contribute to this — a gorgeous logo, a clever tagline, an authentic manifesto, and a clear brand voice — but truly strong brands thrive when they focus on the big picture of their brand. Get to the heart and soul of your target audience and your organization, and a successful brand will follow.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in March 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

brand consistency




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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.

1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

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.

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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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