The Importance of Competitive Intelligence

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Competitive intelligence is a key factor in developing your business and gaining customers. What is competitive intelligence? As John says, “It is the under-developed muscle of marketing.” It is taking marketing, sales and consumer data about our competitors and using it to make strategic decisions for your company. Rather than just the typical grouping it into corporate strategy, competitive intelligence needs to be woven throughout our marketing plans and the marketing plans of our customers.

This week, we welcome Margaret Dawson, CMO of RivalIQ to talk more about integrating competitive intelligence into all aspects of our marketing plan.

During the Breakthrough Training Series call, Margaret walked us through the 10 core steps to marketing competitive intelligence:

  1. Market opportunity
  2. Positioning & messaging
  3. Developing your voice
  4. Prioritizing marketing channels
  5. Content marketing
  6. Social media
  7. Packaging & pricing
  8. Influencer marketing
  9. Report on your successes and learnings
  10. Make CI a core competency!

We would love to have you as part of our team!  Interested in learning more about the bi-weekly training calls and the rest of the benefits of joining the Network?  Click here to sign up for our next Discovery Call.

Shape up your buyer persona profile – 3 reasons, tips & mistakes to avoid

Today’s guest post is from Alexandra Recasan– Enjoy!

BuyerPersona (1)
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How would you define success in marketing? Conversions galore? Skyrocketing ROI? Sprinkling  that with an attractive and efficient promotion and good interaction? That is a nice scenario we all want to share. But how do you start it all? By setting the right buyer persona.

Nowadays,  when consumers are allocating less attention to ads, we can undeniably say that we’re in the race for attention. In this context, unsurprisingly, we’re more inclined to take for granted opinions and advice from people we know, rather than the sponsored ads or email messages or you name it.

Given the situation, having a down to earth, true voiced and non-cliche buyer persona will make or break your business. It’s that simple. Let’s say that  if you were invited  to talk at a conference about coffee brewing, you wouldn’t share with your audience insights about pruning roses – unless there would be a secret link between coffee and roses.

In marketing, success arises from a deep understanding of “thy customers” – seeing through their eyes without having a magic customer scanning lens.  Let’s make a walkthrough the main benefits of developing the right profile, steps to achieve that and some piece of advice on how not to get sidetracked.

Why you should definitely develop that Buyer Persona?

  • Because your marketing  strategy, product development or brand message will turn out as good as your understanding of your audience. By setting a buyer persona  you can be more targeted  in a well-established context and thus become more relevant.
  • Because having  crafted your buyer persona will make the brand message building and tone of voice more true. Once that achieved the real conversation can begin.
  • Because a great buyer persona profile will guide you through finding  out what triggers activate your audience for long term engagement and eventually purchase.

Having settled that up, let’s get down to business and see what steps to consider when creating the buyer persona, besides the general known approach of gender, age and location.

Step 1: Check out on your existing customers

Which one of us would mind if someone asks us – How you’ve been lately? How are things going? Can I help? I for one wouldn’t mind at all. On the contrary. Same with your existing customers. Don’t overwhelm them with new promotions or giveaways announcements. Instead, open up and set up an online survey asking for their input on your products – how long have they been using it, how was the experience and what are they looking for when shopping for your products and services? That way you’ll get more than demographic data. You’ll get your buyer persona’s needs and expectations. Useful stuff right there.

Step 2: Discover the everyday journey of your customers

When designing it all you could well enough sit at your desk and imagine the journey of your customer, what a day in his lifetime looks like or… you could just get out there and be one of them.  Customer journey mapping allows you to step into the customers shoes and analyze customer experiences. That way new insights will surely pop out – valuable ones that could bring out that essential differentiator, that tone of addressing them without any corporate voice barrier. Your choice.

Step 3: Map their online behaviour

A good buyer persona profile is based on great insights from various mediums – and the online one is among the top. So, go ahead, start finding out what they are most likely to do online.  Are they consuming news, reading blogs, socializing, hunting promotions or giveaways? Afterwards track the time spent – how much of it is dedicated to reading, how much on socializing and so forth. Move on to discover their topic preferences – are they more into politics or education, sport or trend articles?  Knowing all that will further help you leave out generalities and shape a clear-cut profile. A recommended tool to start is Google Custom Audiences that offers  more flexibility in targeting users based on their interests.

Step 4: Nuance your buyer persona data

The more adapted to reality your buyer persona is, the better. And reality has a lot of aspects. Buying has a lot of prior stages. That’s why your customer profile shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all but well adapted to the typical marketing funnel – Awareness, Consideration, Decision. This allows you to understand how your buyers behave at each step of the process and to segment your communication strategy.

Mistakes to avoid when creating your first persona

Don’t rely your profile just on one individual – Maybe, who knows… Luck strikes and one day when you do your outdoor research you’ll meet that one customer that meets the quintessence of your desired buyer persona. It’s tempting to stop right there and draw conclusions but take a friendly advice – don’t yield  to that. A proper buyer persona profile is shaped of all your primary customers.

Let the “hunch” aside – Your customer’s age gender and location won’t tell you about their interests and needs. Conclude your research and let your customers speak up. Your buyer persona should be as real as possible and not a projection of your speculation.

Keep away from generic traits – Your persona shouldn’t be “between 30-45 years old.” It should have an exact age, specific interests  etc. Create several personas to represent different customer segments and make sure that each one represents one of your main groups of customers.

All things considered, keep in mind that the buyer persona is a perfectible tool which calls for a constant update in order to keep it clear-cut and meaningful.

Alexandra-RecasanAlexandra Recasan is a PR specialist with 123ContactForm, the form and survey builder that helps businesses streamline their feedback-gathering and other marketing processes. She works with small businesses and educational institutions on building their forms for data gathering, information management and more.

Understanding Consumer Behavior to Increase Revenue

Today’s guest post is from Clayton Wood – Enjoy!

Today’s consumers are becoming more perceptive when it comes to chasing value for every purchase. People across the globe have become more adept at determining which brand has the better offer or where to look when making a purchase. This mindset cements the significantly more customer-centric approach that more retailers are using.

Part of this shift in consumer behavior can be attributed to evolving online trends. With the changes in search processes, customers are better equipped for making more informed buying decisions. The rise of smartphone technology and mobile search also creates new paths for information sharing and a streamlined buying experience.

As online processes become more dynamic, customers are brought within reach of their favorite brands. This solidifies their need to buy and remain loyal to a particular brand—continuous interaction gives customers a reason to purchase and come back for more.

This poses the question: how can you increase revenue based on consumer behavior? To ensure your business is in the right position, let’s look at matters from a consumer’s perspective:

The Forces behind a Consumer’s Buying Decision

Contrary to popular belief, a consumer’s buying decision does not revolve around price alone. Different factors come into play before customers make up their minds on whether to buy now or leave the purchase for another day.

Here is a brief look at some of the factors that affect a consumer’s buying decision:

  • Cultural Elements (Culture, subculture, social class)

Culture influences values, habits, expectations, and preferences. Consumers are usually inclined to buy a product because it’s the norm or it’s what they are accustomed to do. The bandwagon effect is an example of how culture influences the customer mindset.

  • Social influences (Family, roles, reference groups)

Consumers make buying decisions based on social groups, roles, or status. A good example of this is how some customers are easily influenced by familial habits. As customers interact with other consumers, they become more prudent with purchases.

  • Personal preferences (Age, occupation, personality, lifestyle)

Consumer behavior complexity is evident in how easily customers change their minds, sometimes after mere seconds. As their habits, lifestyle, and values change, personal preferences become an important factor in making buying decisions.

  • Psychological factors (motivation, perception, experience, beliefs, attitudes)

Consumers are often motivated to buy due to different psychological factors. By recognizing the needs that come with these factors, it becomes easier to develop compelling strategies that prompt customers to buy a product or subscribe to a particular service.

The Black Box Model – the Secret to Understanding Consumer Behavior?

Before getting started on driving customers down the buying funnel, you need to further understand what makes them buy or turn to businesses for services. Philip Kotler, a renowned American marketing consultant and professor, applied the Black Box Model to consumer behavior.

The Black Box Model is a concept that pertains to how outside forces relate to actions and choices. Rather than focus on what goes on in a consumer’s mind, this concept emphasizes the input stimuli and the desired output. This concept comprises of three parts – environmental factors, the buyer’s black box, and buyer’s response.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors serve as the consumer’s stimuli for buying a product or getting a particular service. These fall under marketing and environmental stimuli:

Marketing Stimuli

These stimuli enter the “black box”, undergo the buyer’s decision process, and produce certain responses.

Buyer’s Black Box

This includes the buyer’s characteristics and thought process. As Kotler points out, the buyer’s characteristics are defined by the cultural elements, social influences, personal preferences, and psychological factors. The decision process will be triggered by the stimulus and its corresponding buyer characteristic:

The decision process involves the following steps:

  1. Problem or need recognition
  2. Information search
  3. Evaluation of alternatives
  4. Purchase decision
  5. Post-purchase decision

While what goes on inside the “black box” varies from one consumer to another, knowing the basics of decision processing can help you predict responses.

Black Box

Buyer’s Response

This outlines the consumer’s final purchase or decision points. As the stimulus touches particular buyer characteristics and undergoes the decision process, this may result in:

  1. Selection of product
  2. Selection of brand
  3. Selection of dealer
  4. Timing and price of purchase

The Journey Down the Buying Funnel: How to Increase Sales and Revenue

Now that we’re clear on how consumer behavior works, it’s time to develop that ROI-driven strategy that will draw customers in.

Here are some reminders to help you get started:

Don’t underestimate the power of market segmentation

Not all customers are the same—this is a thought that most businesses seem to overlook. By failing to segment your market, you can lose opportunities and reduce your competitive advantage. In turn, this creates a domino effect that can have a significant impact on your relationship with customers.

According to SEO Services Australia, market segmentation serves as one of the pillars of your strategy. As a rule, you must group customers, according to buyer characteristics:

  • Cultural clusters
  • Decision makers
  • Product usage
  • Location
  • Age and gender


Consumers taste and preferences change over time, so it’s important to update your market segment regularly. If there are shifts in consumer behaviors or trends, you might need to tweak your market segments to maintain strong value proposition.

Be the trigger—reinforce the need among customers

Customers come to your business for a reason, and it’s up to you to show them more reasons to stay. You need to maintain their interest to do business with you and keep them from turning to others. It’s all about tapping into the buying experience; engaging customers, adding value, providing solutions, but never to the point of overselling.

Make your marketing efforts more effective by providing a refresher for your sales collateral – product sheets, business brochures, a website, and other marketing materials. By continuing to provide updated information relevant to your market’s needs, you will have no trouble keeping those customers close and securing your revenue.

Customer interaction is never a one-time thing

If you think customer interaction ends after a purchase, think again. Customer interaction is the secret recipe to long-term brand loyalty. Neglecting customers will only give competitors free reign on your source of revenue.

Stay connected with customers by investing in an omnichannel strategy. This approach makes consumers the priority in everything you do. Through an omnichannel strategy, you can get a clear view of what customers need most—this allows you to synchronize the strategy into the buying experience.

Post-purchase interactions are also as important as initial queries. Customers think about your business even after finalizing the purchase. They often leave reviews or even make further inquiries, so it’s important to keep your lines open for any possible post-purchase interaction opportunities.

While it’s important to acquire new prospects, it’s also crucial to maintain a connection with existing customers. If you know how to take care of customers, you can expect them not to leave your business anytime soon.

Know Your Consumers, Get Closer to Success

Better familiarity with consumer behavior makes it easier to align revenue-driven strategies for business. With a thorough understanding of how customers make buying decisions, you can work on sales dynamics that will propel your business to greater heights.

ClaytonClayton Wood is the marketing director at He has spoken at several online marketing conventions, and is passionate about helping companies and entrepreneurs keep up with the latest best practices in digital marketing and SEO. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

How to setup the perfect adwords campaign and how it affects your landing page

Today’s guest post is from Richie Contartesi – Enjoy!

photo credit: Kinologik via photopin cc
photo credit: Kinologik via photopin cc

When you’re building up your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign, it’s important to properly structure your account within that PPC campaign. This will drive your landing strategy to be as well-executed as it can be, and make the creation of your landing pages a much easier, more seamless process. Make sure that you think ahead to your user’s experience when you build out your campaign, so you can develop the landing page properly and expertly.

First Things First

The first thing you should consider is your campaign level. Think about what you want your campaign to achieve: the campaign objectives. When you establish your PPC campaign, you’ll use the settings of that campaign to target geographic locations and languages, so your landing pages should be developed with the language and geographic location of your audience well in mind. If you are targeting a specific city or region, like Los Angeles or the Bay Area, for example, then your landing pages should mention the city or region within their content. Doing this makes the landing pages more relevant for the user!

Group Things Together

You’re going to want to build an ad group that is tightly themed, so think about all of the possible keywords in your ad group being directed to the same landing page. Does your message within your landing page mesh with those keywords? In an ideal setup, each ad group will have its own specific landing page, depending on your website’s structure and ability to create specific landing pages.

For example, it should be obvious that Ad Group 2 in the table below should be split into more relevant groups, such as Commercial, Local, and Home, so the ads would fit in with the themes of the keywords. The more relevant your keyword groupings are to one another, the more effective your PPC ad group will be. The same line of thinking applies to your landing pages; you want to have the keywords used within your landing pages be cohesive and relevant to one another.


Ad Group 1 Keywords Ad Group 2 Keywords
“home painter” “commercial painting”
“home painting” “local painter”
“painter for home” “home painter”
“painting for home” “home painting”


Tightly Focused

The keywords are what drive your search query, so they should be as tightly focused as possible. Keywords are the driving factor for developing a cohesive campaign and user experience, because someone searching will use those keywords in the query, see the keywords in your ad, and then expect to see those keywords on the landing page. For this reason, focus should be one of the key focus areas of your landing page strategy.

One thing to keep in mind is that different match types for keywords will give you more or less control over the PPC ad that shows up for a given search. For instance, an exact-match phrase will ensure that the user has typed in exactly the keyword you set up for the ad, so you should address that query as precisely as you can within your own landing page copy.

Broad-match keyword bids, on the other hand, make it more difficult to know ahead of time what the search phrase was. In these instances, your ads and landing pages won’t be able to have the same level of specificity that you would be able to achieve with an exact-match keyword.


By paying close attention to the factors you’ve already considered for your PPC ad campaign, you can strategically design your landing pages to closely match those ads. This ensures that the user experiences exactly what they were expecting to experience when they get to your landing page, seeing the informational content and products they were searching for.

r5Richie Contartesi is the owner of and 3 online startups. He is an online enthusiast with experience consulting business owners and other entrepreneurs in building a revenue generating online presence for businesses yielding a maximum return on time and investment.

5 Reasons to Hire a Marketing Consultant Even Though You Don’t Want To

photo credit: inneedofhelp08 via photopin cc

I’m a marketing consultant, so the title of this post may not appear too shocking, but let me start off with why not to hire a consultant.

Consultants aren’t magicians. Don’t go looking for someone to fix your marketing if your product doesn’t make sense. Don’t expect a consultant to swoop in and get you more clients if you don’t have a methodology that allows you to stand out. And finally, don’t hire a consultant so you can abdicate the all-important role of marketing to an “expert.”

A really good consultant won’t take your money unless they believe they can actually help you and, no matter what you believe your burning need is, you should hire a consultant to help you in the following five areas first and foremost.

You need a real strategy

A good consultant will demand that you spend time building a firm foundation based on strategy before proposing a series of tactics aimed at lifting traffic. Until you find a way to change the context of how your ideal customer views what you do and in effect render the competition irrelevant, you’ll find that your marketing efforts never seem to build momentum.

You need fewer objectives

A good consultant will help you determine your highest payoff work and your most pressing objectives based on where you want to be in a year, in three years, in five years – not next week. And, a good consultant will make sure that the number of priority objectives at any given time stays very, very small.

You have resource gaps

Sometimes in the “do it all yourself” world of small business it’s difficult to spot the areas that require outside help. You may be able to set up your newsletter, add plugins to WordPress and clumsily create header graphics for your social media profiles but is this work actually robbing you from focus on higher payoff work.

Sure, those things above might need to be attended to, but a good consultant will help you stop doing the things that are better handled by others. In fact, they might just help you become the CEO again!

You need to fix your conversion

This might be my favorite. Too many business owners, and sadly some consultants, focus on traffic and likes when the highest priority should be conversion. When you can figure out how to get visitors to your website and prospects that respond to your sales presentation to buy you can build a significant business.

Once you have conversion trending upwards you can buy traffic confident in the fact that you can bank on conversions.

You can’t stay focused

One of the dirty little secrets of consulting is that a part of you simply needs someone to hold you accountable – someone to help you document your goals and objectives and then whack you with some sort of a stick when you wander off into new ideas and social networks, because staying focused seems way too boring.

A part of this is accomplished through nagging and set appointments, but the greatest gains are achieved when your focus starts to produce results. A good consultant will demand metrics tied to objectives and help you process and understand to overarching value you’ll derive by hitting your goals.

Okay, now you can go and check email and play around on Facebook for a bit, but tomorrow it’s back to rocking your marketing plan.