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Making Your Message Meaningful to Your Prospects

How do you align marketing objectives with prospect priorities?

Sometimes your marketing priorities don’t always align with your prospect’s business priorities. There are objectives that you have when you come to think about your marketing. For instance, you may be thinking far down the road about strengthening your pipeline and increasing sales. But if you are using those motivations to drive your marketing strategy, you may completely ignore what your prospect really cares about.

In this episode of Expert Marketing Matters, Lauren McGaha (finally) has Holly Fong back on the podcast to discuss the challenge of lining up your marketing objectives with your prospects’ business priorities, so that they actually pay attention to what you have to say.

You can listen to the episode using the player embedded above, or you can read a full transcript below.

Episode Transcript

Lauren McGaha: Welcome to Expert Marketing Matters. I’m Lauren McGaha.

Holly Fong: And I’m Holly Fong.

Lauren McGaha: And Holly, I know this isn’t your first time on Expert Marketing Matters, but it’s been a little while.

Holly Fong: I know. I thought you guys were trying to get rid of me or something.

Lauren McGaha: We’re never going to have you back!
Some of you may have heard a number of our conversations on our sister podcast, Consider This, that we had for a while but just for those listeners who maybe were not familiar with that show, can you give us a little bit of an overview of your role here at Newfangled and your expertise so as we get into the subject for today people understand the perspective that you’re bringing?

Holly Fong: Yeah, definitely. I run the Demand Generation department here at Newfangled and what that means is that our team is really helping clients with once they’ve created the content on their site, getting the right people to that content in various ways. So a lot of times, it has to do with their outbound plan. The emails that they’re sending. But it also has to do with getting conversions on those pages, what to followup with, that sort of thing.
So as we talk about this topic in particular today, we’re going to have a lot of input about how the inbound and the outbound are working together and the things that we help clients with versus what you help clients with and how that interacts.

Lauren McGaha: Yeah. To oversimplify it, I would say that Holly and I, our worlds inside of Newfangled sort of overlap because I’m thinking about the inbound perspective from a content marketing side of things and Holly is, as she said, is coming at it from the demand gen side. But obviously, those two worlds collide in a lot of ways.
So, let’s get into the topic for today, which is making your message meaningful and making your digital marketing strategy meaningful to your prospects. How do you do that in a way that doesn’t feel too formulaic and doesn’t feel like you’ve got too much of a marketing agenda?
So one of the things that we see when we’re working with our firms is that sometimes your marketing priorities aren’t always going to align with your prospect’s business priorities. There are objections that you have when you come to think about your marketing. You’re thinking about, “Oh, we need more sales,” or, “We need a stronger pipeline,” and if you are using those motivations to drive the marketing strategy, you can go down a road that skips over what the prospect really cares about.

Holly Fong: Yeah. I think what you’re pointing out there is that a lot of people conflate and mix up marketing with sales and they think of marketing as essentially just like pre-sales, right? Sales before someone’s willing to talk to you sort of thing. What they’re skipping over is, and a lot of what we’re going to get into, but is the educational piece. So, educating that market before they start actually trying to sell them whatever they’re going to sell them.

Lauren McGaha: Yeah and doing that in a really authentic way because if your goal is to sell, it doesn’t matter how well you think you’re masking that goal, you’re not really hiding it. It’s going to come through the marketing. So the objective of the marketing as you’re saying it, the objective of the marketing really needs to be, how can I educate? How can I almost be of service in some ways and bring my expertise to bear in the market because I’m going to build up credibility for my firm, ultimately knowing that that will pay off in the longer term?

Holly Fong: Exactly.

Lauren McGaha: And so, how we think about this with our clients to strike the right balance between talking about your expertise, making sure people understand what insight you can bring and what value your firm can bring to the market, there is a place for that in your marketing but it needs to be balanced out with this really generous education. We refer to different stages of the buying cycle to help manage that balance of marketing activity.
Today, we want to get into the differences between two of the primary stages that we refer to inside of the marketing strategy that are critical, the researcher stage and the evaluation stage.

Holly Fong: Yeah and since we’re going to be referencing both of these stages a lot throughout this podcast, we should probably start with a quick definition of that and I will let Lauren do that.

Lauren McGaha: Sure. We’re going to talk a lot about the researcher stage today so I’ll get into that in a moment. But just to clarify, an evaluator, an evaluation stage is referring to a prospect who is pretty far along in their purchasing journey. They understand pretty deeply the nature of their business challenge and they’ve also come to the conclusion that they can’t solve it alone. That’s a critical distinction from a researcher. So, somebody who’s in the evaluation stage, they’ve made the decision to invest in partnering with somebody to solve this problem.
Now, we can contrast that with a researcher and the researcher we’ve found for our clients are often hardest to target and to market to because as we’re saying, a lot of our own marketing objectives get in the way here. But a researcher is somebody who’s really hungry for education about their business challenge but they’ve not yet come to the firm conclusion that they need to hire a firm like yours to help them solve it.

Holly Fong: Yeah, I think why the researcher’s also probably more difficult is there’s different stages of the researcher probably because there’s people who are completely unaware and those are very difficult to reach. And there’s some people who have an inkling of what their problem is but don’t know as much about what that problem is. They haven’t really defined it or totally figured out what that is. So there’s a lot more content that can be created because there’s a lot more nuance in how far someone is when it comes to being a researcher, but it’s also more difficult.

Lauren McGaha: Yeah. I mean, an unaware prospect is going to be a really hard person to target with a content marketing strategy because they’re not seeking information at all. They’re gloriously oblivious to the business challenge, right? So crafting some sort of messaging strategy to that person is probably not going to be as effective as some other more disruptive form of marketing, for sure. W
hen we think about why the researcher, even those who are aware of a business challenge though, why it’s so hard for marketers to target that person. Why do people get this wrong? What are you seeing from your side of things?

Holly Fong: We touched on this earlier but like I said, the thing that seems to get in the way most is that they’re thinking of marketing as pre-sales. They’re thinking of it as, “Okay, I need to sell my product or my service and I need to make people aware of my product or my service.” And they think about that prior to thinking about, “I need to educate people on the need for this product or this service.” So you know, the biggest thing is that they’re just skipping over that education piece and skipping over helping people understand the problem that they have in more depth. Is that what you’re seeing as well on your side of things?

Lauren McGaha: Yeah. I was just looking through my notes for this show, and I feel like what you’re hitting on is empathy. That’s one of the words I wrote down is that having a deep understanding of this person’s need for the service and that coming from a really genuine, authentic place, that’s required to effectively nurture a researcher. And if we are building a marketing strategy that’s focused just on our sales objectives, you’re going to skip right over that piece of things. So on the content marketing side, I definitely see that being one of the ways that people get this wrong, is that they just aren’t allowing themselves to have the empathy for the end user, or the person who’s going to benefit from the service.
And it’s not because they’re not empathetic people. They believe they’ve built great businesses and they believe that their service is going to help solve challenges in the market. It’s not that. It’s just that they’re blinded by their own business objectives.
Some other things that I see is that to effectively nurture a researcher, you’ve got to be generous with your expertise. You can’t feel like you need to hold cards close to the vest and that spooks a lot of marketers. And you’ve got to have true differentiated insight to share. This speaks to a positioning challenge in a lot of ways because if you’re frightened of positioning, it’s harder to put a true stake in the ground and have a real point of view because you’re talking in generalities to try and resinate with the highest volume of people possible.

Holly Fong: Yeah. You know what’s also interesting is it feels like those who start a firm and have a clear understanding of we built this service or we built this product to solve X, are going to be a lot better about writing to what that X is that they’re helping to solve than those who go into a business plan without having a clear understanding of what that problem is that they’re trying to solve if that makes sense. So the more empathy and the more understanding that they have for that problem, and this is why a lot of products that people created because they had a need of their own sell better. So the more they understand that problem essentially, the better they’re going to be at creating content for the researcher, in my opinion.

Lauren McGaha: I think that extends to the roles inside of the businesses as well. The principals, or the founders and the owners, these are the who were inspired by this gap in the market, knew that they could bring this service to bear and built this business to serve that need. And those individuals are really well poised to create insight that’s going to speak to the prospects that their business best serves. But if you’ve got say, a marketing manager on staff or you’ve got somebody who you’ve hired into the business who really wasn’t involved at that fundamental ground level, you may find that it’s harder to coach that person to think about the educational needs of the ultimate reader of the content or the person who’s going to be exposed to the content because they’ve been tasked with a business objective inside of your organization to fill the pipeline or to close sales or whatever. And that’s really what matters most to them because they didn’t come in on the same level as the founder or principal.

Holly Fong: That’s a good point. Yeah, definitely.

Lauren McGaha: So when we think about how people get this wrong. We talked about why is it difficult to nurture the researcher. But when we think about the how, specifically are there common missteps that you’ve observed in your world that people are just totally getting it wrong?

Holly Fong: Yeah. From an outbound perspective, I’m sure everyone has been a victim of spam. What comes off as most spammy is when someone’s trying to sell something to you too fast. We talked about skipping over that education piece and this is really clear especially when it comes to an outbound plan. If the very first email that you’re receiving from someone is, “Hey, we have this product. We have this service. Go check it out.” That can come across very spammy for one, and it also comes across very self serving, right? They’re not looking to help you, the recipient of that message, but they’re looking to try to sell me something that will benefit them.

Lauren McGaha: And it’s interesting that you bring that up because I’ve talked to so many firms who think that it’s the polite thing to do. Like, oh well we purchased this list. We need to introduce ourselves to them before we just start sending them these random insights. We need to let them know who we are and what we’re about. It’s coming from a place of, well these are good manners.

Holly Fong: Yes. It is well intended, but it usually is not well received and you’ve probably been the recipient of messages like this where if you receive a message that speaks to something that you’re dealing with on a day-to-day basis and they have answers for you, you’re going to be interested in that. But if you receive a message where someone is just telling you that you should go check out a certain product or a certain service that you’re unfamiliar with, you’re not going to really care and you’re going to probably be more off put by the fact that they thought you would care.

Lauren McGaha: Right. Totally.

Holly Fong: So that’s one of the things that people are doing wrong but the second thing, and these usually go hand-in-hand and you usually notice the first when the second happens, which is that they sell too much. So they have some sort of campaign where they’re like hey, let’s go purchase a list and then let’s send them an email telling them all about our service and then let’s send them one every week for the next month or two and usually longer than that. Then if they open one of those, let’s send them another one, reminding them.

Lauren McGaha: And the nature of those communications are still sales oriented pieces?

Holly Fong: Correct.

Lauren McGaha: Or are they suddenly shifting into delivering insight of any kind? Or it’s really just hey-

Holly Fong: Just selling.

Lauren McGaha: … this is who we are.

Holly Fong: Yeah.

Lauren McGaha: Okay.

Holly Fong: And we’ll get into the ways to do it right, but even if you backtrack from that, so you start with selling and then you get into educating, you’re going to lose a lot more people by starting with selling than if you were to do it the other way around.

Lauren McGaha: I think it’s just a matter of taking a step back and again understanding how this is coming off to the recipient because it is well intended. It is coming from a place of they don’t know who we are. We had the nerve to purchase their email. The least we can do is introduce ourselves before we start hitting their inbox regularly with other related materials about our expertise. Let’s just really make sure they know who we are and what we do so they understand the context.
But from that person’s perspective, they didn’t ask for that context so the most important thing you could do is at that stage deliver them with something that is at least relevant to their world.

Holly Fong: Agreed. I think when you think about your own inbox and the things that you’re receiving on a regular basis, at least for myself, I know the way that I’m sorting it is I’m barely looking at who’s sending me these things, especially if I know that it is a marketing email, which is usually pretty obvious if I don’t recognize the name of the individual who’s sending it to me. So I really just sort it by what’s interesting to me and what’s not interesting to me.
I immediately delete anything that’s not interesting to me. I automatically see anything that someone’s trying to sell to me as not interesting to me because I’m not interested in buying anything at that moment. But anyone who is educating me on something that I am interested in or that I do on a daily basis, I will usually at least keep their email or click through. People are not paying enough attention to realize, “This is the first email I received from this person.”

Lauren McGaha: Yeah and I think that’s a really important point. Don’t be so precious about the emails that you’re sending to think that every recipient is cataloging them accordingly. That’s not happening.

Holly Fong: Correct, yeah.

Lauren McGaha: Can I say something that I’ve seen on the email front that’s bothered me about trying to force people to engage is this relatively recent trend in the subject line of just typing in it’s a reply. Like, “Re this subject,” and then put in the subject there, or forward.

Holly Fong: Or, “Sorry I missed you.”

Lauren McGaha: Yeah or, “Following up.” I hate that. What is that?

Holly Fong: They’re tricking you.

Lauren McGaha: It’s awful!

Holly Fong: Spam.

Lauren McGaha: Don’t do that!

Holly Fong: Yeah I am not a fan of that. Tricking people to open is not cool.

Lauren McGaha: Because even if it works, even if … When I first started seeing those, I thought oh gosh, I forgot to followup with someone or I forgot-

Holly Fong: I’m going to start sending you those emails.

Lauren McGaha: It’s shady and you’re manipulating people into engaging with your email so you’re inflating your open rate basically, but it’s not a good way to nurture somebody.

Holly Fong: Yeah and it usually backfires because getting more opens isn’t always a good thing, especially if you’re doing the wrong thing when you get that open because if you get more opens, you’re also giving people more opportunity to mark your content as spam. So if you open those emails-

Lauren McGaha: Oh, and I do.

Holly Fong: Yeah. You’re going to be more likely to mark them as spam. Not just unsubscribe, but say this is spam because you felt duped into opening it and that will only bring down deliverability in the future.

Speaker 1: You’re listening to Expert Marketing Matters, a podcast about generating ideal new by creating and nurturing digital marketing systems and habits that have a measurable impact on your bottom line.
This podcast is brought to you by Newfangled, a digital marketing consultancy focused on empowering experts to do better digital marketing. You can learn more about Newfangled’s digital marketing method at

Holly Fong: On your side of things, how are people getting it wrong from the content side?

Lauren McGaha: Yeah, so a few ways and they’re sneaky about it from the content marketing standpoint. One of the things that I see a lot is firm specific content that’s masked as expertise. So that can be something like conference cliff notes like, “We went to this conference and here’s all the stuff we did and here are pictures of our super expensive, awesome booth.” They think that writing about that conference is providing some sort of insight to the reader, but it’s really just talking about themselves. It’s navel gazing. I’ve seen that with anniversary campaigns. “Oh, we’re 10 years old. Let’s talk to you about everything we’ve learned over the last 10 years.” They are spinning it like it’s insight, but it’s really just an excuse to talk about themselves.
Social media is another way that firms get away with this. They will post only on their social media channels, really just use those channels for firm specific events because it’s just culture based stuff. So awards or accolades or birthdays or whatever. That sort of content I’ve seen firms tell themselves that, “Oh, we’re actually providing insight and expertise here,” but really it’s just an excuse to talk about themselves. That’s not a great way to nurture somebody who hasn’t made the decision that they need to partner with you yet and I think that’s critical.
When we’re talking about nurturing a researcher, they’re not looking for your firm and they’re not trying to understand your culture right now. They don’t even know you exist.

Holly Fong: Yeah I mean usually the only people who care about that information are people who are interested in working with you, at your company as an employee. And you know, there are people who have certain channels for that. So, they might have an Instagram account that they’re using primarily to show the culture of their office. And that’s fine if that’s your intention, but you’re also not going to get any business prospects through that as long as you’re aware of that and you’re okay with that.
I agree with you especially about the posting piece. That’s a waste of resources, especially when you’re like, “Hey, we don’t have time to create a blog post but we did have time to create this blog post about our booth.

Lauren McGaha: Precisely. Both of those things. One, I think for a lot of firms it’s just easier and content marketing is so hard that they’re thinking okay well we invested the time and money into going to this conference and we’re right there. It’s top of mind and it’s really easy to write about and we can check the “I wrote a blog post” box.
And with regard to allowing your marketing strategy to prioritize potential employees, it’s my perspective that you’ve just got no business doing that until you’ve effectively designed and executed a marketing strategy for your prospects. Your employees are going to respect your expertise. They’re going to want to work at a place that knows what they’re doing. And so yeah, I guess culture posts and letting people peek behind the curtain as a means of giving some level of insight into what it’s like to work with you has its place every once in a while but I don’t think that it should take the place of nurturing prospects in terms of priority in the marketing strategy.

Holly Fong: Yeah I agree with that, especially for small firms. I think it’s probably different for a large company that has a recruitment team but for a small firm that is looking for we only have a few individuals who write content, it’s not worth their time.

Lauren McGaha: Well right because a larger firm like that probably has a team that can focus on true marketing content as well. They’re not choosing between the two. If you have to choose, prioritize your prospects and the employees will come.
The second thing that I see people getting this wrong in their content plans and it’s also sneaky is framing the content in a way that is really self aggrandizing. So that would look like inviting your favorite client onto your podcast for instance and then having that person just basically sing your praises the whole time. Or interviewing an industry expert or a peer in your industry and the conversation really just becomes about how great your firm is. So it’s like a bait and switch thing. That person might have notoriety in the industry or they might peek the interests of your prospects because that person has a similar role as your prospects and so they sign up for that piece of content or they listen to that podcast or whatever it is because they think they’re going to hear insight from that person and their reality but really, what they end up hearing is that person just … It’s like a case study essentially that’s not built as a case study. It’s sneaky. It’s not good researcher marketing.

Holly Fong: It’s definitely not researcher marketed. It’s probably debatable whether you could use that as evaluator marketing though.

Lauren McGaha: Totally! Yeah and that’s an important distinction. I think there are times when social proof is important to your marketing strategy. So yes, somebody else can sing your praises better than you can. That’s why on your case study pages on your website for example, we always recommend that you have a client testimonial rather than you saying, talk about the results.

Holly Fong: I’m awesome!

Lauren McGaha: Talk about the results, talk about how awesome you are, but then have somebody else say it for you as well. That definitely has its place inside the marketing strategy but for somebody who is just looking for education and they really wanted to hear from that person about that person’s experience, the bait and switch thing I don’t like.
And yeah, the third thing I had on my list we’ve kind of already touched on, which is writing more for your industry peers and employees than prospects. So we talked about the employees part of that, but a lot of firms are very interested in impressing other firms like theirs. It’s an ego thing.

Holly Fong: Competition.

Lauren McGaha: Yeah. And I would just say watch out for that because again, the people who are researching their business challenge are not really looking at the side show of who’s the best in this industry right now and who’s got the most credibility in terms of awards or swag or whatever. It’s not about that. It’s really about what do you know about what I’m facing right now? And so, focusing the messaging on that instead of focusing messaging on what your competition down the street is going to find most impressive is important.

Holly Fong: Yeah it’s interesting. When it comes to awards from an outbound perspective, I’ve had a lot of clients send that to their marketing list. I’m like, you’re marketing list really doesn’t care about that but your clients might. You know what I mean? It’s really great information to say to your clients, to say to your employees, but as far as your marketing prospects go, maybe if they’re really late stage prospect that might help validate but if they’re early stage they’re going to be like, “Who are you and what the heck is this award?”

Lauren McGaha: Yeah. If I’ve got a short list of three firms and then I find out that one firm is just winning awards left and right, that’s worth noting. That’s helpful context. But again, if I don’t really know that I even need to hire someone, I’m just trying to get smarter, are you helping me be smarter? I think that’s really a perspective we need to come to with this kind of messaging.
So we talked about what are specific ways people are getting it wrong. Let’s talk a little bit about how can we get this right. What are some of the things you should be doing if you want to effectively nurture and build a long-term credibility with prospects so that when they do have a need, you come to mind? How can you start building that credibility early in that purchasing journey?

Holly Fong: So the three things for really getting it right from an outbound perspective. The very first thing is you have to consider where that list came from that you got and who you’re sending to. What’s happening a lot of times, and we touched on this earlier, is if you’re getting a cold list of individuals and the first email that you’re sending them is, “Hey, we are this company and we do X, Y and Z, or we have this service, or we have this product,” that’s no good.
But, there are some scenarios where it might make sense. If you got a list from maybe a dual webinar that you did with another company where you’re featuring that product. That’s a scenario where I could see that evaluator content coming first. More often than not, you’re going to be getting a list from a conference and maybe not everyone at that conference knows who you are or you’re going to be getting that list from an account based marketing list where you’re saying we want to focus on accounts and people that fit X criteria. For those people, you need to educate before you sell.

Lauren McGaha: What about people who are opting in? People who are signing up on the website to receive information from you?

Holly Fong: If they’re signing up on the website to receive information from you, educate first still. They signed up for that education. If they wanted to contact you about one of your services, they would have filled out one of those forms. I’m sure you have one of those forms. Every firm has a contact form. Every firm has some sort of let’s talk form, or they should, on their service and case study pages. It’s very rare that someones like, “Oh, I accidentally filled out the subscribe form.” When they’re filling out that subscribe form, they’re not looking necessarily, especially with expert based firms, for anything other than your expertise. They’re not looking for you to sell them something.

Lauren McGaha: Yeah. It’s all about considering the intention behind the action.

Holly Fong: Exactly. So if someone signs up on your website for something or you get a list of names from various locations, the first thing you want to start with is just education. So sell the concept, sell why it’s important first. Why whatever you’re helping with is important or start with like you were saying, empathizing with the struggles that they have and how you can help them with those things.
And the last thing I have here for how to get it right is to make sure you’re doing more education than you are selling. So for most people on your marketing list, you should be making sure that you are doing as much education as possible and really trying to build that relationship rather than trying to make people buy whatever you’re selling. You’re going to build that relationship by providing that expertise, by being generous with that expertise rather than pushing your agenda on them.

Lauren McGaha: Yeah and that, I think the ratio changes the longer that you do this. So if you’re starting to market to a cold list, it’s not as if you send three educational emails and then you get to start sending every fourth email is a promotional one. I think starting off right off the bat, even with 25% of your messages being sales focused and promotional in nature is too high. You’ve got to do a lot of investing in this list, a lot of trust building and then every once in a while you can start to include more of those promotional emails.
Are there rules that we should talk about in terms of when it’s okay to start sending those more direct hitches or more direct service focused emails after you’ve started with education and insight?

Holly Fong: Yeah. There’s not really a hard and fast rule. What I would though is that the way in which you’re going to get the most engagement from those types of emails is not to think about, hey we need to send out a sales blast. What you want to do is, you want to be sending out emails that are promoting the newest content on your site with the newest educational material. And then, you would really ideally like to have automated programs that are setup that are going to help push that person to the next point and nurture them. Those automated programs are going to be looking for indicators that this person is interested in the services that you have and then providing them with an outlet to get in touch with you easily.
So you’re looking for people who have been to your site five times or more in the last two weeks or something like that-

Lauren McGaha: Couple of days, yeah.

Holly Fong: … and they have gone to your services pages. They’ve been hitting up your case studies, that sort of thing and just have a program running to say, “Hey, here’s what we helped X achieve. Are you interested in talking about this?” Or something along those lines.

Lauren McGaha: Right. This is where marketing automation becomes really useful because it’s a variety of behavioral factors on the site that are influencing what kind of campaign that person falls into. It’s not just about these single one off outbound blasts. It’s coupled with all of that other data to say all right, based on all of this context, this person’s probably ready for a more sales oriented approach here.

Holly Fong: And instead of you having to recreate that sales email each time, that’s why an automated program is great. That’s going to live forever and you can update it if you need to but it’s going to continue to send to people who fall into those categories. And they might … You’re getting lists and you’re getting new names at different points so those people might fall in at different points, depending on what they’ve done on your site or how long you’ve had their information and been emailing them.

Lauren McGaha: Okay, got it.

Holly Fong: And from your side, how do you get it right?

Lauren McGaha: From my perspective, there are a few things. I think it starts when you’re thinking about the messaging you’re going to write. When you’re targeting a researcher, it starts with the topic. If the topic is focused on your firm and focused on your services or if it’s any of the other examples I threw out there in terms of inviting an expert in to talk about your whatever, if the topic itself is wrong, you’re failing from the beginning.
One way to make sure the topic is right that I’ve advised a few clients to do is take note over a two week period of all the questions that your clients are asking you. What are all the problems you’re solving? Or if you’re not directly working with clients, what’s your staff dealing with? What are you hearing bubble up inside of your firm? Just jot down shorthand a bulleted list over a week or two and look at the themes. This will give you a sense. Put your finger on the pulse of what’s going on with your client base right now. Where are their headaches? What’s keeping them up at night? What is the thing that your firm is solving for them?
Start there with your topic development. Build a topic library that is only focused on those types of subjects and start flushing out content around those things. And don’t do it with the objective of this service are solves that problem or that service are solves this problem. Just write about the problem. Reframe it. Educate the market in a way that brings true education and brings true insight to that subject matter. So that’s the first thing is getting the topics right.
The second thing you can do is publish something that people might disagree with, which requires you to have a true point of view and a true perspective. So don’t play it safe with your content. I think a lot of firms fall into evaluation level messaging because it feels safer. It’s safer to write about how great you are or how much experience you have, what problems you can solve because no one’s going to dispute that. People aren’t going to write back and be like, “No you don’t!” And so I think taking a courageous step to put a point of view out there that is not about your firm but that is about a problem that you see running rampant in the industry and understand that somebody might disagree with it and that’s okay.
And the third thing I would say, and we could have a whole separate podcast about this. I won’t go on too long about it, but the third thing I would say is to be really generous and say what you know. So I encourage my clients to give away their secret sauce. I think that you probably can’t be too verbose when it comes to the insight that you have and the expertise that you have and the inclination to keep those cards close to the vest out of fear that someone’s going to replicate it or rip you off in some way is just unfounded. It just doesn’t happen. We just don’t see it happen.

Holly Fong: To add to that, too. The reason that people are hiring you is because of, quote unquote, that “secret sauce,” right? And by not putting it out there, then people aren’t finding you for that thing that they need to hire you for, if that makes sense. So no ones going to be able to do it better than you and a lot of times if someone’s reading about something they’re going to need your help implementing that thing. That’s why you shouldn’t really be afraid to necessarily say, “Here’s how you do it and here’s what we’re doing,” because a lot of times, they’ve had a problem with this for a long time and they’re usually not going to be able to implement it on their own.

Lauren McGaha: And if you’re worried about your competition ripping you off, if they’re at that stage where they’re reading your content to figure out how to solve these problems, they’re not really competition in the first place. They’re already followers. If you’re going to be a thought leader, you have to lead. Put it all out there and don’t be afraid to do it.

Holly Fong: Yeah. I have a few bonus tips.

Lauren McGaha: Whoa.

Holly Fong: You did not prepare bonus tips, did you? I win this podcast!

Lauren McGaha: I’m excited. Oh, bonus tips!

Holly Fong: This can probably apply to both, I would think.
The first is, be personable. This has to do with your emails. This has to do with the content that you’re creating. Talk like you’re talking to a person.

Lauren McGaha: Be real.

Holly Fong: Don’t sound like a machine.

Lauren McGaha: Yeah. Isn’t it funny how much a voice will change the second that it gets put into a format that’s intended for marketing purposes?

Holly Fong: Well I think it goes back too to people thinking that they need to be polite and then that goes to them thinking they need to be formal and then they stop sounding like a person who’s emailing another person or writing to another person. They start sounding really general. So be personal is one.
Keep it casual and simple. It doesn’t need to be some masterpiece that you’ve spent years creating. This gets to what you’ve talked about multiple times, about being too precious with things. You’re usually going to find it probably easier to create that content, easier to write those emails if you are keeping it casual and you are being simple rather than trying to turn it into some masterpiece.
Then the last thing is stay top of mind. The way that you’re staying top of mind is by continuing to create content that’s relevant, but you’re also continuing to market to the people that are on your list. And by market, I mean educate. We’re talking about staying top of mind, but by continuing to provide them with really helpful educational content.
So I think those three bonus tips could apply probably in both of our areas here.

Lauren McGaha: I like that last one a lot. The consistency of your marketing is key and to just figure out a way, whether you’re targeting researchers or evaluators, it doesn’t really matter at this point, but figure out a way to regularly infuse marketing into the way that you just do business from an inbound and an outbound perspective. If people come to rely on it and it just becomes this normal thing that they come to expect, that builds trust and credibility as well.

Holly Fong: Definitely.

Lauren McGaha: Well, thanks Holly. This has been fun and I’ll look forward to our next conversation.

Holly Fong: Thanks for finally having me back!