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Unlock Audience Personas With the Power of LinkedIn



Unlock Audience Personas With the Power of LinkedIn

I failed.

I helped a client with an account-based marketing (ABM) initiative. We had third-party intent data of companies searching keywords and phrases related to their services. We also had the LinkedIn profiles of those companies’ employees – people who would be likely buyers.

I analyzed the LinkedIn profiles to identify buying signals. Did they post asking about vendor capabilities? Did they ask for vendor recommendations? Or did they request proposals?

The result of my work?

Nothing. None of those LinkedIn profiles signaled that type of buying intent.

While the process failed to deliver actionable results for my client, it better informed my ability to provide well-developed personas to create more effective content marketing.

Researching LinkedIn profiles can provide a wealth of insights. In this post, I show you what you can uncover.

@LinkedIn profiles can provide a wealth of insights about audience personas, says @Dshiao via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Finding your personas on LinkedIn

You first need to generate a list of people to research. Enter a broad descriptive term in the search bar. I usually start with “marketing.”

From there, click on “people” and “all filters.” It returns over 49.5 million results:

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Next to the results view are the filter options – a lot of them, including:

  • Connections (i.e., degree of connection to your profile)
  • Locations
  • Talks about
  • Current company
  • Past company
  • School
  • Industry
  • Profile language
  • Open to
  • Service categories
  • Keywords

Choose the filters based on the nature of your research. For instance, if you focus on a Middle East-based audience, use the locations filter accordingly. Pick “current company” to research people at targeted companies.

To find people in specific roles, filter for title (under the keywords filter). Then type the job title in quotes, such as “senior procurement manager.”

To research B2B content marketers, I typed B2B and “content marketers” into the title search field:

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You can create a broad or niche list depending on your filter criteria.

Research LinkedIn profiles

Now that you compiled a list of people, you can assess which ones will be most helpful to your research and identify other profiles to add to your tracker.

Skim past the underpopulated profiles and spend your time on the detailed ones. Give them a glance from top to bottom. Don’t focus solely on the About or Activity sections at the top. The bottom of the profile – volunteering, recommendations, publications, and honors and awards – can reveal interesting nuggets.

Spend research time on detailed @LinkedIn profiles, perusing their information from top to bottom, says @Dshiao via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Use one profile to find more people from the same persona. Much the same way a hyperlink in an article takes the reader to a related article, LinkedIn users provide pathways to profiles from the same persona. Convenient widgets to check on a user’s profile page include “people you may know” and “people also viewed.”

Now, let’s walk through section by section to identify their relevancy and potential insights.


The headline is listed under their name on the profile page. It also appears when you browse the LinkedIn feed. While many list their job title and organization, others see the headline as an opportunity to make a statement or to stand out.

Think of these custom headlines as a clue that tells you a bit about the person’s missions, motivations, and ambitions. That information can help your understanding of the audience persona they represent.

Let’s consider a few examples of different personas taken from existing profiles, along with the lesson learned:

Functional Role



Product management Entrepreneur with passion for developing great products that solve real-world customer challenges The importance product managers place in having their products solve real-world challenges
Product management Passionate about creating software users love, and working with good people to build them Idea: Explore the concept that product managers want to work with “good people” to build products.
Entrepreneur Make video content 10x faster for better marketing, comms, and client services Understand the tangible goal of the product, as well as common use cases.
Digital health leader Growth Focused Commercial Digital Health Leader Committed to Transforming Patient Care with Novel Solutions | Making Big, Innovative Ideas Actionable for >25 Years The tenure mentioned is interesting. This digital health leader strives to make an impact over the long term.
Engineering leader People are any company’s biggest asset; I pride myself on putting people first. ex Twilio, Microsoft, Komodo Health A leader of software engineering teams who places her team first
Social media marketer Building stronger relationships through effective content and social media marketing It’s not all about impressions, shares and likes, it’s also about relationships


LinkedIn users have 2,600 characters to describe themselves in the “about” section. This free-form area only allows plain text – no special formatting, images, or clickable links. The detailed description of their roles and responsibilities can help build a better picture of their associated persona. Let’s look at two examples.

A detailed about section on a @LinkedIn profile can help build a better picture of the associated persona, says @Dshiao via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Cristina Crespo is vice president of product at Paytient. The first sentence of her about section concisely explains what product management leaders do: “Product management leader with more than 10 years of experience ideating and launching technology solutions that solve real problems and achieve business outcomes.”

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She further describes her comfort with ambiguity and creative mindset “to identify quick wins and a roadmap that evolves through constant learning and experimentation.” Next, Cristina explains how she’s helped organizations achieve revenue growth and includes this bulleted list:

  • Conducting qualitative research to identify customer insights
  • Articulating the problem and business opportunity
  • Defining a compelling product vision and strategy
  • Prioritizing solutions and defining a clear go-to-market strategy
  • Facilitating iterative design and rapid prototyping with continuous validation
  • Testing new product ideas in market with a fail-fast approach
  • Measuring and using data to inform product decisions
  • Meaningfully growing products to address pain points and market needs

If your audience persona is product managers or product management leaders, this list gives a good sense of their activities.

Next, let’s look at Bernie Borges, vice president of global content marketing at iQor. In his about section, Bernie details his activities and goals:

  • Lead the strategy to produce relevant content that represents iQor accurately.
  • Represent iQor’s core values through storytelling and case studies.
  • Empower iQor Business Development to create more sales conversations through relevant content.
  • Enable iQor recruiters to source more candidates through relevant content.
  • Inform prospective iQor customers to learn how we can drive CX results for them.
  • Give iQor customers insight into where we’re headed in the future.
  • Help Inform the analyst community of insights into our CX capabilities.
  • Host the Digitally Irresistible video podcast from iQor.

1691580367 651 Unlock Audience Personas With the Power of LinkedIn If your company sells a product for content marketing teams, you can learn from Bernie’s list what a content marketing leader does. You can brainstorm blog posts, e-books, and webinar topics that assist someone like Bernie with these activities or help them achieve some of these goals.


Featured is an optional area that enables LinkedIn users to prominently display their LinkedIn posts, newsletter, and articles, as well as external links and uploaded media.

Brett Durrett is director of product management at Google. Brett’s featured section includes a number of SlideShare presentations from his time at IMVU, including:

  • Continuous Deployment at Lean LA
  • Learning Fast With A/B Testing and Continuous Deployment
  • Lean Startup Pitfalls Uncovered
  • Building a Successful Business After Launch
  • Leveraging Open Source Software to Maximize Your Development Resources (and the problems you can expect with success)

In each entry, Brett describes the presentation, such as this one for Building a Successful After Launch:

GDC Online 2010 presentation of how IMVU built its product after launching. Includes examples of the testing/experiment systems, reporting, continuous deployment, and process improvement.

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If you’re researching the senior vice president of engineering persona, reviewing Brett’s presentations tells you a lot about that role and, in particular, specific attributes of that role at IMVU.

Experience (job detail)

In the experience section, users list their employment history, including job title, organization name, years worked, location, and job details.

A localization program manager at a technology company provided this nugget in her job detail:

Drove $1.4M in cost savings, together with a 20% time-saving, leveraging scalable automation, cross-team process improvement, and company-wide operational efficiencies. This includes utilizing the latest localization technology, workflow automation to reduce manual efforts, and overhauling creative processes for faster time-to-market.

In just two sentences, you learn:

  • The quantifiable impacts of her team’s efforts
  • The technology she used
  • The processes or process changes she implemented
  • Additional benefits achieved (e.g., reduced manual efforts, faster time-to-market)

If you create content for localization program managers, you could look to see if your customers have achieved similar results, then interview them to learn more. With those findings, you might conceive a content campaign that shows other localization program managers how they can achieve similar results.

Experience (associated media)

When providing details on a current or past job, LinkedIn lets you add media, such as an image, video, or slide deck, as I did with my presentation 10 Quick Tips for Effective Content Marketing in the example below:

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Lisa Gately is a principal analyst at Forrester. She was a senior director of content strategy at Genesys. In that listing, Lisa linked to an article, Confessions of a Content Strategist: Lisa Gately, based on an interview she did with Ahava Leibtag, who published the article on her LinkedIn profile.

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The article details what a content strategist does. Some of the questions Lisa answered include:

  • How did you get started in content strategy?
  • How did you formalize your role as a content strategist in your current environment?
  • What was your number one challenge in getting the content strategy team up and running?
  • What do you see happening in the future of content?

That interview provides a wealth of information about content strategists and the industry.


The activity section groups together posts, comments, videos, images, articles, newsletters, and more. Navigate across the tabs to look for interesting things. I like to peek at comments to discover new people to research. After all, someone in one audience persona is likely to engage with other users from the same persona.

Jose Palomares is the director of localization at Coupa Software. In his profile’s posts, he shared industry webinars on which he was a panelist, including the Globalization and Localization Association’s webinar on headless systems:

1691580367 458 Unlock Audience Personas With the Power of LinkedIn

If your persona was a director of localization, watching the on-demand recordings of these webinars would be helpful. You also can think about whether the webinar topics should be added to your editorial calendar.

Groups (mutual)

LinkedIn users also can add organizations to which they belong in the groups section. Their profiles don’t list all the groups to which they belong. However, the highlights section indicates groups you have in common.

When I visit Rich Schwerin’s profile, I see we have six groups in common, including the Content Marketing Institute and The Content Wrangler Community.

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Find relevant LinkedIn groups, visit them, and see what users are posting about. Through Scott Abel’s The Content Wrangler Community, I noticed this post from Heather Hedden about her appearance at Lava Con, a conference for content strategists:

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LinkedIn recommendations can be useful because they may detail how a person was exceptional or useful within the context of the role you’re researching. Karen Budell is the chief marketing officer at Totango. When she was vice president of brand marketing at, she received a recommendation from her boss, Leela Srinivasan:

1691580367 94 Unlock Audience Personas With the Power of LinkedIn

Here’s an excerpt of the recommendation relevant to Karen’s role in brand marketing:

She brought every ounce of her strategic marketing brain to the table as my partner in crime on the complex and sensitive rebrand of a public company with a global footprint. She adeptly managed multiple agency relationships, helped steer the executive team through a mountain of change, and proved to be a clutch player throughout the journey. She is super smart about creating impactful content and experiences.

With these details, you learn brand marketing executives lead organizations through rebrands, which requires them to navigate agency relationships, as well as relationships with their executive team.

Go deep into LinkedIn profiles

LinkedIn hosts an ocean of information on your audience personas. It also requires no financial investment. You can hit the highlights or go down the rabbit hole of connected research to craft helpful audience research.

Please share in the comments some of the tricks you’ve used in doing persona research on LinkedIn.

 Register to attend Content Marketing World in Washington, D.C. Use the code BLOG100 to save $100. 


Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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



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

Amazon pillows.


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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots



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)



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.



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.

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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.

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  • 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.

Disruptive Design Raising the Bar of Content Marketing with Graphic

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