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Marketing Funnel Strategy: 3 principles to help you make a high-converting landing page

February 2nd, 2023
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Flint McGlaughlin and I conducted live optimization of landing pages in a recent LiveClass with the MECLABS SuperFunnel Research Cohort (MECLABS is parent organization of MarketingSherpa). We offered specific conversion optimization suggestions for landing pages in this Zoom meeting, while every member of the cohort offered even more ideas for improving those landing pages in the Zoom chat.

A few transferable principles arose from this session that you can use to improve your own landing pages, and we’ll share those today on the MarketingSherpa blog. They form a sensible process you can use for your conversion optimization and marketing strategy.

PRINCIPLE #1: Don’t lay on claims; foster conclusions.

The job of the marketer is helping people come to their own conclusions rather than telling them what to think.

Why? When we tell them what to think, they will naturally resist. When they come to their own conclusions, they will sell themselves.

So how can you tell if are making claims of value or fostering conclusions of value? I like this simple test from Flint – “Print your webpage and take a red pen through every declarative statement. See what you have left,” he said in The Prospect’s Perception Gap: How to bridge the gap between the results we want and the results we have.

If you landing pages and other marketing don’t do too well on that test, here are some great examples from your peers to spur some ideas for improving – Show, Don’t Tell: 3 quick case studies where companies help customers reach their own conclusions.

PRINCIPLE #2: Spend 5-10X more on your offer than on your landing page.

As a writer my whole career, there are many times a marketing or business leader would come to me with a writing challenge that wasn’t really a writing challenge.

The real challenge was – they didn’t have a value proposition. The most well-crafted headlines and body copy won’t move the needle much when you don’t have a value proposition. I always say writing is 80% having something worth saying, and 20% saying it well.

And it really resonated with me when Flint taught the above transferrable principle – spend the bulk of your time, resources, energy, etc. on creating an offer that serves a customer, not on trying to sell the offer with your landing page.

As Flint mentioned on the call, that offer doesn’t have to be an ebook. He mentioned surveys we have run here at MarketingSherpa as an example.

There are probably key questions your audience needs answered – either to shape their own strategy, as a proof point when they sell an idea to a leader or client, or simply out of curiosity. If you are able to answer those questions, you are able to win a key “yes” in their customer journey – the ability to begin a relationship with them and continue to build trust.

One way to do that is with survey research. Here are a few ways we have fielded these surveys before, to give you some ideas:

  • With Nielsen, to their panel (a panel is a group of potential survey respondents, you may want to represent all American consumers or you may want insights from a specific role in a specific industry)
  • With SurveyGizmo, to their panel (and I believe SurveyMonkey offers similar options)
  • To our own audience, or with partners/sponsors to both of our audiences

Note for the first option, Nielsen provided data science expertise, and for the second and third option, we used our own data scientists. Data science is important to make sure the results are representative of the population you are talking about (again, could be all American consumers, or could be a specific group of people in your industry).

For all three options, and every piece of survey research we conducted, we came up with our own questions.

Two quick tips on coming up with questions. First, don’t prime your audience – this means, don’t drive them to a specific conclusion with the way you word your questions. Truly seek to discover.

Also, have a plan for how you will message the survey no matter what the results are. For example, we asked 1,200 American consumers “In general, which type of advertising channels do you trust more when you want to make a purchase decision?” And then we asked them about a series of traditional and digital channels.

I realized if digital channels won, this would help our audience make the case for increasing digital budgets and the digital industry would pick up on this and promote it. And if traditional channels won, it would help marketers make the case for traditional budgets and the industry behind traditional marketing channels would want to share it. You can see how we messaged the results in Marketing Chart: Which advertising channels consumers trust most and least when making purchases.

We worked with a public relations agency to share the results. And as Flint mentioned it was covered by publications like The Wall Street Journal (The Marketing Virtues of Good Ol’ Snail Mail) and Harvard Business Review (Why Marketers Are Returning to Traditional Advertising).

As the above example shows, there are usually two potential outcomes of a survey question – the results will either reaffirm what your audience believes (in which case they can use it to win over others) or provide an “aha” moment by having them question if what they believe is true (and win more attention for your results – like the classic journalistic aphorism “man bites dog.”)

Keep in mind, this only works if you have questions your audience cares about.

Here is the landing page we created for the report of the survey’s results, in case it gives you ideas for your own landing pages. Looking back at it now I see many ways it can be improved (no subhead?!), but hopefully it gives you some ideas for your own landing pages – MarketingSherpa Customer Satisfaction Research Study.

PRINCIPLE #3: Audit the landing page. Where would a potential customer be concerned? (Anxiety) Where is there resistance? (Friction)

Once you’ve created value and communicated it on your landing page, ask what might hold a customer back from saying “yes” to your offer? What is the non-monetary cost to them?

Anxiety and Friction are part of the MECLABS Conversion Sequence Heuristic, and explained here – Improve your Marketing Collateral with a Proven Methodology.

Marketing 101: What is a business elevator pitch?

May 13th, 2021
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

 

Marketing 101: What is a business elevator pitch?

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

An elevator pitch is a quick explanation of a value proposition for something you are trying to influence another person’s opinion on.

An elevator pitch (also called an elevator speech) can be for a company (to persuade investors), a product (to influence a purchase), a project (to get budget) or even a person (to get a job).

A key component of an elevator pitch is the quick, succinct summation of much more information – enough to change an opinion or elicit an action but not so much that you lose someone’s attention. An elevator pitch can be particularly important when you know you will only have a short amount of time with the person (say, at a networking event or running into the CEO in the hallway or in a literal elevator).

The term likely originates from the idea that one could run into a key decision maker in an elevator. If that happened, you need a prepared statement you can use during the few seconds you have with this decision maker during that elevator ride.

A forceful value proposition is key to an effective elevator pitch. According to MECLABS Institute’s methodology, there are four elements to a forceful value proposition – clarity, credibility, exclusivity, and appeal (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingSherpa).

“I must understand (clarity) so I can believe (credibility) that only you (exclusivity) have what I want (appeal),” said Flint McGlaughlin, CEO and Managing Director, MECLABS Institute.

Word usage examples

To put the term ‘elevator pitch’ in context, here are some examples of how we have used the term in our content.

Elevator pitch example

Steve Jobs delivered a famous elevator pitch to John Sculley in 1983 – “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?”

Sculley was the president of Pepsi at the time. Jobs was starting to make something special happen with Apple. However, Jobs needed a CEO to run Apple so that he could focus on developing new products for the growing company. Sculley wasn’t convinced by Apple’s laid-back culture and politely rejected Jobs’ original offer until Jobs presented his famous elevator pitch.

“That abrupt but direct question says everything about how Apple tackles innovation and its products—and it led to Scully joining Apple,” said James Edge, Founder, Crush the USMLE.

“The pitch is brilliant because of its simplicity and unorthodox nature. Instead of following the traditional elevator pitch model, this one went straight to Sculley’s heart. The question hit him so hard that he eventually changed his mind and joined what would become one of the most impactful and profitable companies in the history of the world,” said Marc Lewis, General Manager and Executive Editor, Ecowatch.

You can follow Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.

If you are interested in elevator pitches, you might also like…

An Effective Value Proposition: What it is, why it is so important to business and marketing success, and how to use it

7 Steps to Discovering Your Essential Value Proposition with Simple A/B Tests

Pivot Your Value Proposition: 6 ways brands, entrepreneurs and marketers are responding to COVID-19’s economic fallout

Free Template to Help You Win Approval for Proposed Projects, Campaigns and Ideas

If you are interested in entry-level marketing content, you might also like…

Marketing 101: What is PPC in marketing?

The Beginner’s Guide to Digital Marketing: 53 articles (and 1 video) to help with onboarding

Marketing 101: What are beneficial buttons?

Ask MarketingSherpa: Homepage value proposition

February 10th, 2021
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Ask MarketingSherpa: Homepage value proposition

We frequently receive questions from our email newsletter subscribers asking marketing advice. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one communication, we occasionally publish edited excerpts of some of these conversations here on the MarketingSherpa blog so they can help other readers as well. If you have any questions, let us know.

Dear MarketingSherpa: Hi Daniel. Hope you’re having a good week.

About 10 days ago I commented about a three-part study you posted on homepage redesigns on your Linkedin post.

I asked you for some extra resources, and you sent a few links that I reviewed.

If you don’t mind me asking a direct question, could you offer your two cents of feedback on this please?

Here’s the thing. My client is a SaaS Case Management platform, that wants a redesigned website. So we’ve started working, and at the outset, the deal is to make the homepage less techy and more business-oriented.

I’m working on the homepage value prop, and we discussed two options, both suggested by me:

Option 1: Manage Cases With Ease

Option 2: Manage More Cases With Less Stress.

The internal team is heavily leaning to Option 1 because it looks cleaner, and I’m pulling the other way because Option 2 identifies the wants and pains of the target audience better, and with more emotional impact.

I’d love to hear your two cents on the matter. When the homepage is competing with $50 million per year businesses, and the audience is the public sector and companies serving the public sector, how smart is the idea to use these more “emotions-oriented” taglines?

Igor Mateski
Founder/CEO
WebMaxFormance

Dear Reader: Hey Igor,

I can’t say which is the best value prop for the company. That takes a lot of work. If you haven’t already, I suggest conducting a value prop workshop with them. Here’s an example – B2B Value Proposition: How a tech startup used a value prop workshop to help prepare for a public offering (4 takeaways for your brand)

As to your question between the two options, your best bet is to test.

Personally, my off-the-cuff response (hope it doesn’t sound too harsh), they will both underperform because they have no credibility. I know you wouldn’t tell me “Manage Less Cases with More Stress” so why should I believe you if you told me “Manage More Cases with Less Stress?”

As for “emotions-oriented” – it can work. Remember, you’re not selling to companies or government agencies, you’re selling to people. If you’ve hit on the right emotion from them (and I don’t know them and can’t say if you have) it can be very effective, but again, it needs to be credible.

Hope that helps.

Dear MarketingSherpa: Hmm…interesting point, about credibility. I didn’t turn over that rock. Obviously.

We haven’t had any interviews/planning with the client. They just asked that we redesign the site, and the deadline is New Year’s. So we’re cutting corners in plenty of places in order to make the deadline.

That being said, what do you suggest as a quick and easy way to add credibility to the value prop?

By the way, thank you for your comment. It’s quite helpful!

Dear Reader: Glad I could help, Igor. Quick and easy? That’s tough. I’d suggest get them on the phone, discuss the claim they like, and then you really have to challenge them. “OK, I believe you. But why should anyone else believe this? They’ll have three other tabs open with websites for your competitors. Why would they believe this line?”

Here are some specific elements that can help build credibility on the page – Credibility: 9 elements that help make your marketing claims more believable.

Dear MarketingSherpa: Thank you for the resources. I really appreciate this.

If there’s anything I can do for you, let me know.

You can follow Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.

You might also like…

MECLABS Institute Value Proposition Development on-demand certification course – Learn how to clearly communicate an effective value proposition based on a review of 1,100 academic articles and more than two decades of real-world experimentation

MarketingSherpa Quick Guide to Website Optimization PDF

Powerful Value Propositions: How to Optimize this Critical Marketing Element – and Lift Your Results (Value Proposition Archives)

Ask MarketingSherpa: Value proposition layers versus communicating the value prop concisely

August 1st, 2019
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We frequently receive questions from our email subscribers asking marketing advice. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one email communication, we occasionally publish edited excerpts of some of them here on the MarketingSherpa blog so they can help other readers as well. If you have any questions, let us know.

 

Dear MarketingSherpa: Thanks for the great resources. I have been in touch in the hopes of getting some direct support around our value proposition.

We’ve taken insights from the Value Proposition course (and Flint’s new book) and redesigned our site (note, we haven’t yet implemented these new designs).

Is it common to present the value proposition in layers or should it be communicated more concisely? How early in the user journey should the value proposition be presented? Is it typically done on the homepage? Do you have examples of companies successfully implementing the value proposition in this way? How did they guide users through the value prop from the homepage?

Thanks so much for your insights!

 

Dear Reader: Thanks for your email, and glad to hear you’re working on getting some direct support.

I’m also glad to hear you’ve taken some insights from the value prop course and Marketer as Philosopher book for your site redesign. If you’d ever like to share some of that work publicly to help other marketers and product managers and get some recognition for you and your team, please let me know. Happy to consider it for a MarketingSherpa article. Here are some examples:

Read more…

Value Proposition: The right strategy beats a bigger budget

March 7th, 2019
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Marketers say they have money problems.

According to research from Conductor, lack of budget is the biggest internal challenge that could negatively impact online performance. Securing budget/investment is the most extreme challenge for marketing teams, according to KoMarketing research. And here at MarketingSherpa, you’ve told us the size of your marketing budget is a barrier to growth time, after time, after time.

Hey, I hear you, marketers. I want a bigger budget as well.

But if you can’t simply throw more money at the problem or outspend the competition, you can still beat them — with a better approach. In other words, a more effective value proposition.

I recently came across the perfect example when I talked to a marketer who likely has far fewer resources than you do.

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

A value proposition based on customer-first marketing

Dean Porter is the development director at Hunger Fight, a small local nonprofit organization here in Jacksonville that helps feed Title 1 elementary school students as well as seniors.

Dean and his wife founded their charity in the teeth of the Great Recession. And they quickly learned that organizations were not so keen on simply stroking a check to a charity, even when it was doing noble work like feeding the hungry.

They didn’t have a big marketing budget they could fall back on. They couldn’t just spend their way into more leads.

So they had to come up with a better idea – a value proposition aimed at giving to their ideal customers, not just taking from them.

They created a model with a value proposition that coupled corporate employee engagement with community involvement by holding meal packing events, which they describe as “two ½ hours of organized chaos to feed children and families.”

 

Read more…

What do you lead with? (MarketingSherpa Podcast Episode #4)

February 12th, 2019
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What is an impactful way to increase conversion?

Or …

How do you grab your customer’s attention?

See, I could have led with either statement. Both statements describe our conversation in the latest MarketingSherpa podcast. But my hypothesis was that the first statement would grab your attention more.

Customer attention is a scarce resource. There is only space for one headline in the print ad, only a set amount of characters in a paid search ad, only six seconds that will be the opening six seconds of your TV commercial. And yet, your product likely has many value attributes.

So what do you lead with? To elucidate (and other fancy words) yourself on this subject, you can listen to this episode below in whichever way is most convenient for you — or click the orange “Subscribe” button to get every episode.

 

 

Listen to the podcast audio: Episode 4 (Right mouse click to download)

More About Episode #4 — Value sequencing

The initial question of the podcast leads to a bigger topic — value sequencing.

What do customers need to know? And when do they need to know it during the buyer’s journey? In addition, which customers need to know which things about your product?

This is true for their entire macro-journey with your brand but equally important at the micro-level within each customer interaction. For a landing page or an email, what do they need to know in the beginning, middle and end?

These are topics Austin and I dove into. Here are the show notes from this episode:

Read more…

Value Proposition: Before you express the value, you have to deeply understand the value (MarketingSherpa Podcast Episode #3)

January 29th, 2019
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You think your product is great. Your service is top-notch. And personally, I have no reason to doubt you.

Your ideal customer, on the other hand … let’s face it, they don’t live in the four walls of your office. They aren’t thinking about your product every moment of every day like you are. They — and I hope this doesn’t sound harsh — really don’t care.

This disconnect is normal, of course. But here’s where you’ll get in trouble.

The next time you hire an advertising agency to create a campaign, when you redesign your website, when you launch a product — if you use that same insider thinking, you will undercut your marketing investments. Because those advertising and marketing creatives need to be armed with an essential reason why the ideal customer should buy your product.

Without that core reason — that marketing creativity isn’t being put to its most effective use. Just like a painting without a viewpoint isn’t really art, it’s just nice colors on a canvas.

Without that core reason, all you get is “we’re the bestest, greatest, amazingest [product type] you’ve ever seen.” You can buy all the media you want and blast that message out into the world but really … c’mon … how many customers will truly believe it?

Your product needs a value proposition. In our latest podcast, Austin McCraw and I have a robust yet light-hearted conversation about pitfalls marketers can get into when crafting their value prop. You can listen to this episode below in whichever way is most convenient for you or click the orange “Subscribe” button to get every episode.

 

 

Listen to the podcast audio: Episode 3 (Right mouse click to download)

More about episode #3 — consider the competition

A value proposition created in a vacuum is no value proposition at all.

And this is what makes crafting a value prop so difficult. You’ve got to take a good, hard look at what other options your customers have. Even when it isn’t direct competition. For example, customers taking a short trip aren’t only considering which airline is best, they are considering if they should drive instead. Or take a train. Or perhaps not go at all.

Read more…

How to Structure a Story in a Presentation

September 12th, 2018
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A MECLABS Institute Research Partner was putting together a major presentation and recently reached out for thoughts on how to structure it. As with conversion and many other areas of marketing, MECLABS (the parent research organization of MarketingSherpa) has a specific framework for crafting engaging presentations.

Using a trusted framework can help, because public speaking — whether on webinars, in-person at conferences, to prospects on a sales call, or in an internal meeting — does not come naturally to many people. In fact, public speaking is often ranked as a more common fear than death in national surveys, prompting Jerry Seinfeld to remark, “In other words, at a funeral, the average person would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy.”

How morose. But it points out the need to support whoever in your company is speaking on behalf of your brand — sales reps, subject matter experts, C-level execs, even yourself — with a well-crafted presentation that helps them engage and convert the audience. You want to leverage the power of story and not rely on their speaking abilities alone.

The fundamental marketing challenge behind every presentation

Since presentations are communication and a representation of the brand, they are inherently a marketing challenge.

And like any marketing challenge, the goal is to make sure the value delivered outweighs the cost to the potential customer.

This is true for any call-to-action you have in the presentation, for example, moving to the next step in the sales process for a sales presentation or visiting a website for a presentation at a conference.

However, it’s even true for just getting your audience to pay attention to you. Let’s be real, it is very difficult to pay attention to anything for an extended time in 2018. If the value isn’t higher than the cost of avoiding email or putting down their phone or leaving the webinar or simply zoning out, you will lose them.

Read more…

Ask MarketingSherpa: How to get high-paying customers and clients

September 6th, 2018
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We frequently receive questions from our email subscribers asking marketing advice. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one email communication, we occasionally publish edited excerpts of some of them here on the MarketingSherpa blog so they can help other readers as well. If you have any questions, let us know.

Dear MarketingSherpa: I am so happy I came across your site. Just flipping through and reading this email alone convinced me I’ll learn a lot from you. I am also grateful for the high-value report, I have downloaded it and will schedule time to really consume it.

My current challenge in my business is how to package my services for high-profile clients and charge them the premium fees for what I am worth. My business suffers from [in]consistent cashflow and high-paying clients.

I appreciate your help in transforming my businesses to target the affluent.

Dear Reader: So glad you found it helpful. Here are a few pieces of advice to help you overcome your challenges. This is a very frustrating challenge I’ve heard expressed by business leaders and companies ranging from ecommerce sites to consulting firms.

To charge premium fees you must have a powerful and unique value proposition.

What you offer must be appealing, however, in your situation where you are able to sell the service but must sell it at a low price, the likely culprit is lack of exclusivity in your value proposition.

To illustrate the point, I worked with James White, Senior Designer, MECLABS Institute (parent research organization of MarketingSherpa), on the below visual. Let’s walk through it.

The letters in the equation-looking grouping in the upper right are from the MECLABS Net Value Force Heuristic, a thought tool based on almost 20 years of research to help you understand which elements to adjust to increase the force of a value proposition. As you can see, exclusivity isn’t the only element of a forceful value proposition.

To the left are products and services with a low level of value differentiation. And to the right are products with a high-level of value differentiation.

Read more…