Daniel Burstein

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

February 12th, 2019

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:

2:16 – Journalism is an industry that does a great job of focusing on what to lead with. So before the polar vortex (which, incidentally enough was so bitterly cold, it forced Austin to reschedule an in-person team training about web optimization at a marketing agency in Milwaukee), I used this example of a headline I read in USA Today: “It’s so cold that you shouldn’t talk much — or breathe.” There were many elements in the story about the cold, but that headline did a good job of leading with an attention grabber that pulled readers in and told the story.

3:51 – Who they are (in other words, who is receiving the marketing message) has a huge impact on what you lead with. Different segments/personas/people will find different elements of your value appealing.

5:13 – Where your customer is in their thought sequence and customer journey also has a big impact on what you lead with.

7:34 – We discuss an experiment where the company tested leading with the primary value prop versus a process-level value proposition.

9:48 – Keep in mind, we’re discussing what you lead with, which doesn’t have to be the entire story. Sometimes we marketers can be like little kids who are so excited when our parents come home, we want to tell them everything at once. We have to determine what to lead with but also how we sequence that value to them over time — and in a way they can process and will care about it.

10:26 – An experiment where the company led with too much

10:46 – Austin says “whole lotta leads.” Reminded me of a Led Zeppelin song.

12:10 – Discussing lead quantity vs. lead quality

13:44 – Discussing that old canard about keeping the call-to-action above the fold

14:07 – “… this was an organization that was, uh … I don’t know how you describe it Dan, an organization …”

14:19 – Quick pause here while Austin took some time to remember the industry of a company that we ran the experiment with. I take the time to mention the value proposition development on-demand certification course where you can learn much more about value identification and communication

15:18 – Interesting test of long copy versus short copy on a landing page. Gets to that core element of “how much do you need to tell your customer at once before they act?” No one right answer here. It depends on how big of a decision is involved in the next action you expect customers to take, and also how much cost (including friction and anxiety) is required of customers to take that action.

17:38 – We talk about what to lead with in PPC advertising as well — for the headline and the whole ad — a place where you just have a few characters to get across value. We debate whether the entire conversion heuristic applies to a PPC ad, or whether only the process-level value proposition does. And if you listen to the podcast, you’ll see why we’re both right on some levels. In this context, we also discuss the article How to create winning ad copy using a scientific approach, in which Purna Virji of Microsoft applies the MECLABS Conversion Sequence Heuristic to PPC ads.

22:55 – Deciding what to lead with isn’t only a copy-focused activity. We discuss how savvy marketers decide what they’re going to lead with even in logos and other visual elements of branding.

26:07 – What a company should be is just a big ‘ol value creation machine. And it’s the marketers’ job to help focus that value creation then channel it in the most productive way to reach the right customer at the right time with the right product or service value.

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Daniel Burstein

About Daniel Burstein

Daniel Burstein, Senior Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS. Daniel oversees all content and marketing coming from the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa brands while helping to shape the editorial direction for MECLABS – digging for actionable information while serving as an advocate for the audience. Daniel is also a speaker and moderator at live events and on webinars. Previously, he was the main writer powering MarketingExperiments publishing engine – from Web clinics to Research Journals to the blog. Prior to joining the team, Daniel was Vice President of MindPulse Communications – a boutique communications consultancy specializing in IT clients such as IBM, VMware, and BEA Systems. Daniel has 18 years of experience in copywriting, editing, internal communications, sales enablement and field marketing communications.

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