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What is Business Casual in 2023? Give Your Office Outfit a Gut Check

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What is Business Casual in 2023? Give Your Office Outfit a Gut Check

I remember my first internship — more specifically, its dress code, which left me googling, “What does business casual mean?” Then, I took a shopping trip for blouses, comfortable slacks, and sensible flats to replace my sneakers.

During the tech boom in 1990, many tech companies opted for more laid-back, innovative workwear. This led to the origin of what’s known as “business casual attire.” Soon, other industries and businesses followed, acknowledging the importance of employee comfort over the traditional formality of office wear.

Download Now: Free Company Culture Code Template

But what exactly is business casual attire? Though the term is mostly ambiguously defined, there are some commonly accepted guidelines across the board. In this blog post, I set out to deconstruct “business casual” to help you understand and dress accordingly.

Table of Contents

What is business casual attire?

Business casual (or smart casual) strikes a balance between formal and informal.

It’s less formal than traditional business wear but maintains the level of professionalism suitable for a workplace. Business casual outfits combine comfort with elements of both professional and casual attire.

For example, I could pair a pleated skirt with a short-sleeved blouse for my jaunt to the office. If the air conditioner was blasting, I might grab a cardigan or colored blazer to stay warm.

The look is class, yet comfortable. If you saw the outfit on Pinterest, you’d picture a cozy office in the background.

A business casual approach to dressing not only provides employees with more comfort and flexibility but also allows them to express their personal preferences and style. The more relaxed you are at work, the better your performance will be.

A recent study by Adzuna, which analyzed over 27 million job postings across various industries, suggests that workplaces are becoming more casual.

A significant 56.8% of job ads specified a “casual” dress code, while 42.4% of job ads followed a “business casual” dress code.

Though business casual office wear is on the rise, outfits differ from city to city. For example, 68% of job postings in the Los Angeles area mention a casual dress code. In this scenario, jeans, a work-appropriate t-shirt, and comfortable sneakers may be in vogue.

Now, let’s turn to the D.C. metropolitan area. Over 70% of job postings require business casual attire. It’s time to buy slacks and button-ups if you don’t have them already.

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While interpretations of “business casual” may vary across industries and professions, here are some best practices that are universally agreed upon.

11 Best Practices for Dressing Business Casual

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1. Wear your size.

The difference between a frumpy blouse and an outfit that looks modern is often tailoring. Even a simple blazer will look better if it properly fits the wearer.

Choose clothing that fits you well and flatters your body shape. Avoid wearing excessively loose or tight-fitting clothes.

2. Footwear matters.

Shoes play an important role in completing your look. Select shoes that compliment your ensemble — high heels, espadrilles, loafers, or classic sneakers.

Leave open-toe shoes such as sandals or flip-flops for the beach.

Personally, I like a pair of comfortable flats, Mary Janes, or plain sneakers in a neutral tone. Whether I’m walking the hallways or grabbing lunch, I always feel comfortable.

Pro tip: Do you have a walking-intensive commute? Consider leaving a pair of dress shoes in the office, so you can swap into your work wear once you get to your desk.

3. Accessorize appropriately.

A good accessory can make an outfit.

However, when it comes to jewelry, less is more. If you have one statement piece, like earrings or a necklace, consider keeping the rest of your accessories simple.

Don’t let them overpower your outfit.

A watch can also be a helpful accessory with a clear function. If you like to keep track of the time, a watch allows you to do so without pulling out your phone.

4. Keep it neat.

On laundry day, it’s tempting to let your clothes sit in the dryer.

However, pulling them out can be the difference between wearing a wrinkle-free outfit and looking rumpled. Ensure your clothes are ironed, clean, and free from tears or holes. Make sure all seams are finished.

Ironing is one of my least favorite chores. Instead, I use a steamer or look for options that don’t require ironing. You don’t need to take hours to look presentable; you just need the right wardrobe.

5. Consider the occasion.

Before a party, I often find myself texting a friend to ask what I should wear. I may even ask for a picture of their outfit, just to confirm that I’m dressed for success.

Work events are no different.

You’ll want to dress appropriately for any meetings, conferences, speaking events, or presentations on your agenda. It never hurts to seek advice from a colleague or a work friend to gut-check your outfit.

6. Layer up.

At one of my office jobs, the building cranked up the heat in the winter and blasted the AC in the summer.

Knowing exactly what the temperature would be inside was unpredictable. The temperature outside the building was at least 10 degrees different than the temperature inside.

To prepare, I always had a sweater at my desk, a blazer, and a pair of flats that didn’t need socks. I could then throw on more clothes if our office was too cold or change into cooler shoes during the warm months.

In the hot summer months, be prepared for outdoor heat and indoor air conditioning by wearing easily removable layers to adjust your comfort level.

7. Overdressing is better than underdressing.

During my first job interview, I walked through the door in a full suit. However, my interviewer was dressed more casually, wearing slacks and a button-up.

Once I had the job, I found out that dressing more formally made me look more prepared than other applicants who arrived in jeans.

The point of this short anecdote? When in doubt, err on the side of formal. Blazers and jackets are always a nice addition.

8. Dress modestly.

When scrolling TikTok, I’ll see an outfit of the day video. Here, users show off what they plan on wearing to the office.

The best outfits are tailored and paired with tasteful accessories. They may be sleeveless or have knee-length dresses. The most confusing outfits are crop tops and mini-skirts, especially for business casual workplaces.

Avoid wearing clothes that reveal too much skin. Backless, low-cut tops or crop tops are a huge no.

9. Avoid athleisure.

You won’t wear office attire to the gym, so don’t wear your gym attire in the office.

We all love to be comfortable, but athleisure isn’t appropriate for the business casual office. Instead, invest in a pair of slacks that are comfortable and stretch.

You can even look for a pair of business-casual plants that feel like yoga pants when you wear them.

10. Avoid graphic designs.

I can definitely wear HubSpot swag during a day in the office. However, if I’m going to a business casual event, I’ll opt for smaller or embroidered logos.

Large graphic designs can be distracting. Further, not every message on a graphic tee shirt is appropriate for the office. Steer clear of provocative prints or clothing with inappropriate logos or text.

11. Create a capsule wardrobe.

Getting dressed in the morning doesn’t have to be a lengthy process.

This is especially true if you have a capsule wardrobe, or a closet of basic workwear that you can mix and match. That may include slacks that match with a variety of shirts.

I have a wide range of skirts in different colors that I can pair with different plain tops. This allows me to express my personality, keep my wardrobe visually interesting, and still stay business casual.

Plus, getting dressed in the morning takes minutes — no contemplation required.

Pro tip: Familiarize yourself with your company’s dress code policy and consult with your HR department regarding what’s appropriate and what’s not.

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Getting Business Casual Right

The Masculine Guide to Business Casual Dressing

No matter your gender, you may want to achieve a masculine look that fits with your office’s business casual dress code. Here are some options of what to wear that can help you stock your closet.

Blazers

Blazers are a timeless classic for all genders. Opt for professional colors like black, gray, blue, and other dark shades to add a business touch to your outfit.

In most business casual settings, you can wear a fitted tee shirt or sweater so long as you put a blazer on top.

Keeping one formal blazer at the office can come in handy for presentations and impromptu meetings.

Looking to add some more color to your outfit? You can add a blazer in one of your favorite shades to create variety in your wardrobe.

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Shirts

Long-sleeved, button-down collared shirts are the perfect choice. Choose tasteful patterns like checks, stripes, or microprints. You may go for polo shirts, but that depends on your company culture and occasion.

Pick either classic darks or light neutral colors. Avoid bright or flashy colors and loud patterns.

The best part? You don’t need a tie in a business casual setting.

Pants

Nice trousers, slacks, or pressed khakis are a safe choice. Pants should be cotton or linen. Although wool is fine, silk and rayon are no-no’s.

Choose dark or neutral-toned colors that compliment your shirt. Again, avoid bright colors and loud patterns. And remember to wear a belt.

The length of your pants should reach to the top of your shoe or a little longer — but not so much that they’re bunching at your feet.

Shoes

In the business casual office, formal dress shoes are always safe. You can also opt for loafers or ankle boots in leather or suede if you’re super in-vogue.

Even if you love sailing in your free time, no boat shoes. Avoid athletic socks.

Some offices include classic, plain sneakers in their dress codes. Be sure to ask your HR department or manager before you wear sneakers to work.

Accessories

Accessories are a great way to personalize your outfit. Always wear a belt. Wristwatches are a nice touch. You don’t have to wear cufflinks (phew!)

If you love suspenders, you can add them to your outfit. If you like socks with patterns, that can help you personalize the look.

Just remember, with accessories, less is more. Don’t experiment with every bell and whistle. Once you find your personal style, you can include a set rotation of your favorite accessories.

Outerwear

Your outerwear should match the seasons in your area. While we always recommend having a backup blazer in the office, you’ll also want to have a v-neck sweater, a nice jacket, or a peacoat for the winter.

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How is this different from business formal?

Business formal requires a full suit every day. Your blazer and slacks must be made out of the same material and have the same shade.

You’re also limited to neutral, dark colors. You’ll often find matching black, dark gray, or dark blue suits paired with light-colored shirts. A tie is also required every day.

Business casual wear can incorporate more variety. You can wear lighter-colored blazers and pants. There’s an opportunity to experiment with prints and a wider range of colors. For business casual, these guys have it down.

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Feminine Business Casual Dressing

Perhaps you’re going for a more feminine look for your office wear. No matter your gender, we recommend using the following guidelines when building your business casual wardrobe.

Tops

With my own wardrobe, I have a number of clean, plain shirts that I can wear to the office. They vary by season.

I have short-sleeve blouses, turtlenecks, sweaters, and sleeveless tops that I can wear during any season. I also have blazers and cardigans to mix and match.

Neutral or solid-colored blouses, plain shirts, sweaters, turtlenecks, vests, blazers, dressy tops, or sleeveless shirts with collars are universally safe choices. It’s standard to wear a monotone shirt.

Patterns are acceptable if they aren’t outrageous. Tuck your shirt in or leave it untucked, depending on your style. Add a belt if it compliments your outfit. Try to keep logos to a minimum.

Pants

When it comes to pants, you can take two approaches. You can find something in a solid color that you can pair with different tops. This allows your blouse to pop with color or experiment with patterns.

Conversely, you can find bottoms with a pattern, like tasteful plaid or houndstooth, to pair with a plain top.

Dress pants, khakis, trousers, or corduroy pants are the way to go. Neutral colors and dark tones are preferred.

Skirts and Dresses

My favorite skirts are pleated and end at the ankles. Meanwhile, I have dresses of various lengths below the knee. I know all of these options are business casual safe choices, which makes getting ready in the morning easy.

Knee-length or longer lengths are professional choices for the office. No sundresses or skintight dresses.

You can experiment with colors and accessories while maintaining a professional look. Adding a blazer, cardigan, or belt can give your outfit a business casual look.

Study the example below — while the second outfit is more relaxed and for a party, add some tops, and you look professional.

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Shoes

Closed-toed flats or small heels are the best option. Leather shoes, formal open-toed shoes, and heels are okay too — but absolutely no sandals, flip-flops, rarely sneakers, or casual boots.

My personal favorite business casual shoes? Boots and Oxfords. I can wear something that looks office-appropriate with and without heels.

Accessories

When I get ready in the morning, I have my favorite jewelry on my nightstand, ready to go. On most days, that’s a simple tear-drop-shaped gold earring.

Sometimes, I’ll add a neutral necklace and bracelet to complete the look.

Light jewelry, belts, and simple purses add a professional touch to any outfit.

Outerwear

Whether it’s cold in the office or outside, you’ll want to have business casual outerwear. A nice sweater, jacket, trench coat, or peacoat is appropriate. No athletic jackets or sweatshirts.

Consider a quarter zip or vest on those crisp fall days that don’t require a full jacket.

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How is this different from business formal?

Business casual allows for a more relaxed style, with options like separates, tasteful blouses, and slightly shorter skirts. You can also wear a wider range of shoes, like flats and oxfords. No pantyhose or tights are required.

Business formal is more conservative, requiring tailored suits or dresses and closed-toe heels.

For business casual attire, the woman below knows what’s up.

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Jeans or no jeans?

The decision to wear jeans in the office hinges entirely on your company’s policy and guidelines. If allowed, pick dark-toned, straight-fit jeans paired with a polo or dress shirt. Avoid ripped, baggy, or faded jeans to avoid looking too casual.

Ready to dress business casual?

When it comes to dressing for work, it’s all about striking the perfect balance between formal and casual.

You’ll also want to look for options that make you feel comfortable. You’re still going to the office, so err on the side of caution to appear polished and professional.

Embrace your personal style, feel confident, and dress in a way that makes you feel great in your own skin.

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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

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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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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.


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