Tech Partners Podcast: Interview with Lauren Sweeney

Our CEO and Founder Lauren Sweeney spoke about what she brings as “Something Extra” to this podcast from our friends at Technology Partners. Host Lisa Nichols – and Technology Partners CEO – interviews to share their stories and show us what it takes to influence, encourage, and be a true leader in our daily lives.

Listen here.

Optimize your marketing efforts and watch your ROI increase

Every successful company focuses on attracting new customers or deepening relationships with its existing customers. One critical way to do that is with effective marketing – of your product, your service or your people.

But are you spending enough time and energy analyzing your data? Your aim is to determine if you’re getting the best return on your marketing spend. We see it time and time again: Marketing teams think it’s easy to pluck that out of a sea of data, but they jump in without knowing what they truly need to look for.

Here’s why 83% of marketing leaders at top companies say it’s hard: The information you need to gauge marketing efficacy often requires culling a combination of data points and, perhaps, their interrelationships. For example, you might see overall stagnant sales, but a deeper dive might reveal an uptick with a new product or in a geographic region. You need to peel back another layer to understand what’s driving those gains and assess how you might apply learnings to replicate that performance in another product line or market.

A results-oriented business recognizes that marketing drives the company toward immediate and stretch goals. But your leaders need to look beyond why marketing is important to how it plays a part across your enterprise. From the initial business strategy to onboarding a new client, you find a marketing expectation – and opportunity.

marketing across the sales journey

Connected data points point you in the right direction

Integrating and understanding the impact of your marketing efforts across your organization creates levers that you can push and pull to make meaningful change. That’s because you now are analyzing the data to know precisely what’s working – and, even more importantly, what’s not, because that is wasting marketing dollars, which nearly 40% of companies today have reported experiencing.

With these new insights in hands:

1. Understand your consumer’s journey.

Our previous post spoke about the importance of a research-based consumer journey, which helps you set up different marketing tactics that support every stage of that buying experience. Research-based insights provide a solid foundation for future decision-making.

2. Create paths that drive sales.

You must dig into that data to ensure you’re capturing the right information that can point you to the right actions. Make sure you understand the impact of your marketing activity across earned, paid and owned across the various stages: awareness, interest, consideration and purchase.

3. Calculate ROI by mapping conversions.

You’re looking for the bottom line on your marketing efforts. Weigh how much you spend against the volume of business growth to determine how much each new customer costs you. The better you tell your company’s brand story and promote your product, the higher your return on your marketing investment. Of course, other factors come into play – the uniqueness and demand for your product and the caliber of your sales team, just to name a couple – but conducting these simple exercises on a set frequency will help you map trends over time.

When you break down your sales processes into what your prospect experiences at each moment, you can develop tailored marketing that serves up exactly what they need to take the next step forward. You also can then go back to your performance data to break down what tactics are working and where you can make your limited marketing dollars work more for you. 

Many of the clients we serve are growing in midmarket status, with burgeoning full-spectrum marketing programs in step with their organization’s growth. The more you grow, the more pressure they face to improve your ROI. With larger marketing budgets come large risks – and rewards, which is where we prefer to focus. With every new creative campaign, we return to the analytics, as we help businesses align your customer’s journey and marketing touchpoints to quickly close gaps and seize opportunities to maximize your spend. 

Image credit: Jamie Street 

How the right teams help you reach your marketing growth goals faster

By Lauren Sweeney

Emerging companies often focus on developing a silver-bullet marketing approach or a proprietary process or product to help sell – important elements in the scaling journey of a business. But many of those companies fail to invest energy or resources into where ideation starts.

An effective marketing formula draws in both art and science. Creating engaging ideas that grab attention or educate customers about your offer begins with expertise before you even start thinking about those concepts. Many different disciplines come together to create this magic formula.

When you partner with an agency, you’re not partnering with a business: You’re partnering with talent who possesses refined, specific skills. This talent, when built for the right team and challenge at hand, is poised to deliver great creativity, which, in turn, generates results. And the best agencies hire top talent, which is a core ingredient of their success.

Dotted Line takes this one step further because we’re in invested in your growth to drive our growth. Our model starts by having the right A-level talent engaged in a business problem up front to develop work that makes a measurable impact on your business.

But talent is only part of the equation. We also bring together the right “fit” of team members, who demonstrate positive energy and shared values. Then we give them the freedom to do what they’re great at: shine for our clients.

How effective are your marketing teams?

We believe you should start with your people and how they work together, peeling back the layers to understand what energy is going into your marketing efforts.  After all, consumers ultimately buy into stories and momentum above all else. Forming and nurturing high-performing teams with design, branding, and content experts – who care as much about the business impact as the creative output – is the first step.

But you need to keep digging, by asking yourself questions to analyze your marketing team’s performance:

  • Does your team understand the global picture of what you are working to accomplish? In simplest terms, do they get it?
  • Does your team buy into and work under the same shared values?
  • Do you see healthy working dynamics, such as collaboration and communication?
  • Is the development of your marketing pieces flowing seamlessly across the team? Or do things always seem to be coming off the rails at the handoffs?
  • Do your weekly, monthly, and quarterly reports show forward progress?

Partnering to hit shared goals

Our niche at Dotted Line is working with emerging companies, many of whom likely have growing in-house marketing teams. We come in as a partner to augment those internal capabilities, as we work together to reach your business goals more quickly.

To us, having high-performing teams both within our client and agency is the secret sauce that positions your brand to lead your business in growth.

How purposeful creative solutions turn attention into measurable growth

By Lauren Sweeney

My daughter just celebrated her 4th birthday. As a parent, I’m enjoying this time because many of the small moments we often look past as adults come as a big deal to her. Her latest fascination is staring at the night sky and counting stars. She points out the moon and draws lines in the sky with her finger. Amid the vast, dark evening sky, she loves to figure out what shapes she can create.

Her experience parallels DLA’s own story, as we looked at today’s complex and, frankly, messy media landscape and thought there had to be a better way. And there is. We step in with our clients to plot and unpack opportunities across a strategic path that delivers measurable growth for their business.

Everything starts with understanding your customer. If you’re not reaching them where they are and telling them what they need – not want – to hear, then you’re wasting what might look like great creativity and setting it loose in uncharted skies. Not convinced? Research shows that 26% of marketing spending fails to hit the mark.

No matter the state of the economy, companies say they have limited dollars to invest, but marketing is critical to building awareness and engaging with current and future customers. As they mature, their marketing needs evolve in lockstep. At DLA, we always start with strategy and wrap it with storytelling at every touchpoint in the customer journey.

Taking your marketing to that next level begins with asking yourself some critical questions.

1. How well do you understand your target consumer and their buying preferences and journey with your brand?

You’ve long heard the customer’s always right. When it comes to marketing, that’s never been truer. Understanding your customer’s expectations, objectives and interactions is essential to crafting a marketing strategy that hits those goals. DLA’s research team focuses on your business, of course, but we learn just as much by studying your key competitors.

We use those insights across the full buying experience because no single customer action occurs in a vacuum. Effective marketing transitions seamlessly with the customer through that journey. By defining your target persona, we help you step into that person’s shoes to consider their experience. 

2. Is your message telling a story?

Effective brand storytelling weaves together facts and emotions. For DLA, this is when we begin revving our creative juices. Armed with strategy and customer insights, we weigh how different messages and channels will best meet and connect with your audience. We believe in leading with emotion rather than a cut-and-dry sales pitch. The more you engage with your target, the deeper you build the relationship and the closer you advance to creating an advocate – not just another customer.

Tie in the story behind your brand. Help customers buy into why you’re here and why it matters.

3. Do you have clear key performance indicators for your marketing mix at each stage of the buying journey?

We recommend setting at least one key performance indicator at each stage. Align that to the message your customer needs to understand and takeaway from their interaction with your brand. If you aren’t tracking progress, you don’t know if you’re advancing or retreating from your goal.

As an agency designed for emerging brands, we have built our business in helping our customers generate sustainable growth. We help our partners refine their internal brand and self-understanding, gather unprecedented levels of insights on their customers and markets, and pursue the appropriate-to-them marketing mix that aligns with corporate goals. We believe in rolling up our sleeves, digging into research, and then arming our creatives with a strategic plan that gets them thinking in the right way to deliver for our clients.

Stayed tuned for our next post, which will look at how we assemble A-level players to deliver creative that sizzles and delivers growth.

Grow Your B2C Audience With These 3 B2B Marketing Tools

Business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing often comes more naturally to marketers than business-to-business (B2B). It’s in our nature to relate to other people – to draw from our emotions, passions and other human tendencies – which is what B2C is all about. It feels less natural to appeal to whole organizations rather than the individuals within them – to rely on numbers and logic more than shared experience.

These differences have given B2B an unsexy reputation in the marketing world, distracting us from a surprising truth: B2B and B2C are more similar than most of us are willing to admit.

Though their end goals are seemingly different, running a successful B2B or B2C strategy means knowing your audience. And most audiences’ decisions are shaped by information they receive through multiple platforms –platforms customary to both B2B and B2C strategies. Adapting certain traditional B2B tactics to a B2C strategy can help to meet your audience at multiple points in their lives.

Consider using these three traditional B2B tools to fortify your B2C marketing strategy and up your chances of broader audience penetration.

  1. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great tool for both building trust in your organization and diversifying your social media audience, especially if you’re marketing to millennials.

Younger audiences are often mission driven in their behaviors. They’re looking for organizations whose beliefs reflect their own, and they want to see those beliefs put into action through products and advocacy. On LinkedIn, you can draw audiences with in-depth content that unpackages complex, mission-focused topics and helps build brand authenticity.

Further, while you’re more likely to reach women on channels like Instagram or Facebook, LinkedIn leans slightly toward men. If professional males are a segment of your audience that’s proven trickier to connect with, you’ll have better luck finding them on LinkedIn.

  1. Inbound Marketing

Inbound is typically a B2B tool because it’s great for marketing anything involving a high price point or long-term investment. Products such as business information software, machinery and consultation services have longer sales funnels, and leads spend more time weighing their options before they buy.

But prolonged sales cycles happen in B2C, too, with expensive products such as cars and homes – or long-term investments like meal kit subscriptions. Successfully marketing these consumer-facing products means nurturing leads through the awareness and consideration stages all the way to final decision.

Take our client GOGO Band, which specializes in tech-based solutions to childhood bedwetting. While our work with them is primarily B2C, their product includes complex electronic equipment and a recurring subscription model – a pricey, long-term investment. So we’re guiding prospects steadily through the sales funnel via email workflows, educational e-books and other lead-nurturing methods.

Remember that B2C inbound marketing should focus on anticipating your audience’s questions and answering them before they even ask. Rather than addressing these major questions in business-friendly formats like white papers and hours-long seminars, do it with bite-sized content like social media posts or newsletters.

  1. Longform Content

I know, I just said to keep things brief. But longform content lets your brand unpackage complex, often data-driven topics in a way that engages the consumer’s whole brain and helps them identify with your business objectives.

Our client Worksite Labs provides quick-turnaround PCR COVID-19 testing for business, travel, events, schools and other purposes. While testing is a high-demand product (especially during the recent Omicron surge), the inner workings of the test product – and the disease it addresses – are highly complex and scientific in nature.

By producing a three-part B2C blog series that explained COVID-19 immunity, preventive practices and treatments, our team helped Worksite Labs speak its audience’s language and educate them on a complicated, widely misunderstood topic. In turn, these blogs emphasized the importance of Worksite Labs’ product and concretized the company’s healthcare expertise.

Whether you use traditionally B2B or B2C tools, you can connect with your consumers if you take the time to understand them. Depending on your product and your goals, you can send different value props to different audiences or the same value prop across multiple platforms. Whatever you land on, be consistent. At the end of the day, it’s consistency that drives consumer decisions.

Are you looking to broaden your audience and meet prospects where they are? Our team of creative, content and brand strategy experts will develop a framework that can help your ambitious brand do more business. Click here to reach out.

Is Your 2022 Marketing Strategy on Target?

Here are 3 questions mid-size brands should ask themselves to find out.

Growing a middle-market brand is no small feat. You’re often competing in markets that are dominated by big players and saturated with energetic startups.

Many of our clients come to us looking to solve this challenge through marketing, trusting we’ll turn their promotional budget into maximum ROI. An iron-clad marketing strategy is key to keeping any organization afloat, but how do you ensure lasting impact over time?

By always understanding your audience.

If you don’t know what matters most to your key demographic, and how they learn and consume information, you will lose your relevance. Why should they keep you on their radar if you cannot empathize with (and solve) their problems?

My goal is to help our clients ask the right audience-first questions to keep their marketing strategy on track. So, let’s run through the three questions you should ask yourself when putting your own strategy under the microscope.

Are you driving value for your audience?

The entire purpose of a product is to solve the customer’s problems. If your customer-facing content doesn’t focus on how your product can ease their burdens, you will lose their attention, fast.

And that would be a simple charge if you served just one audience, but that’s often not the case. Organizations need to spend the time to understand each audience (their hopes, obstacles, and behaviors), understand their potential impact to your organization (lifetime value), and prioritize marketing spend accordingly.

Thankfully, if you’re already in business, you likely have ready access to your customer base. If you ask them to help improve your services, they’ll often be more than happy to oblige.

An in-person or online customer survey is perhaps the simplest branding “health check” you can conduct. Ask customers whether you’re meeting their needs and, if not, what you can do to fix it. (And it never hurts to offer participants a small incentive as a thank-you.)

Is your message relevant to your audience?

There are two types of relevance to consider: cultural relevance and industry relevance. As the speed of business and culture continues to quicken, it’s important to show customers that you’re in touch with what currently matters in a way that separates you from the competition.

Culturally relevant brands share their messages in a way that customers resonate with and understand. This extends beyond simply using keywords, phrases, and concepts your audience is familiar with; you should mirror their values as well.

A brand’s cultural involvement drives a whopping 25% of the average consumer’s purchase decision. If your brand gives back to the community, supports social issues, and otherwise conducts itself in a way that matters to customers, they will notice.

Brands should also maintain industry relevance by taking note of major changes, challenges, and opportunities in the marketplace. A brand that adapts its messaging to respond to its audience’s excitement or concerns about these changes will come off as trustworthy and well-adjusted. COVID-19 is a great example of this – brands that pivoted to meet their audience during this unique time earned brownie points in dividends.

Marketers can pursue both cultural and industry relevance by simply keeping a steady eye on conversations in the news and on social media. It also helps to study the discourse between your competitors and their audiences to determine what works and what misses the mark. Brands that want to stay in the know should consider regular assessments of competitors’ websites and social channels to gain a quick view of market conversations and untapped opportunities.

Are you using your audience’s chosen platforms?

Every brand has a customer base that interacts with the world in a unique way. We know millennial moms are oftentimes driven to the stimulating visuals of Instagram while their boomer parents tend toward more traditional social channels like Facebook. When you focus the bulk of your budget and energy on your audience’s chosen mediums, you can maximize your marketing impact.

Also ask whether your activity on those platforms is driving the actions you want in your business. Are your customers being led to your website? Does that, in turn, lead them to make a purchase or ask for a quote? Conduct quarterly and annual analyses to see whether your strategy is yielding the desired business outcomes, not just marketing outcomes.

An effective marketing strategy requires dedicated attention to many different aspects of your audience and brand. Asking yourself these three questions – on a daily basis, not just once or twice a year – is critical to identifying diverse strategies and creating holistic solutions that may be grounded in marketing but are revenue-generating – which is the ultimate goal for all middle-market brands.