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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Women in Sales Webinar sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales on May 28, 2021. It featured Digital Marketing Expert Lori Highby of Keystone Click.]
Register for the IES Women in Sales Leadership Forum here.
Find Lori on LinkedIn here.
LORI’S TIP FOR EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “To figure out the content to create, keep a list of the questions that people ask you. If you’re hesitant or not sure what to write about, the next question that either a client or prospective client asks you, it’s a great starting point for you to take that and turn it into a piece of content that you share it on LinkedIn, or write a blog post or something along those lines. It’s a great starting point. Another tip I would say is just go in your sent email. You’ve likely answered some of these questions in an email already. You’ve already got half of that post written then for you [laughs].
THE PODCAST BEGINS HERE
Gina Stracuzzi: Lori Highby, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your company? Then we’re going to get into our topic of having a research-based social media strategy, which I’m really excited to talk about.
Lori Highby: Absolutely. Thank you so much for inviting me to be on. I’ve been following what you and Fred have been doing for quite some time, and fantastic content. I’m honored to be a guest on the show today.
Gina Stracuzzi: Thank you.
Lori Highby: I am the CEO and founder of Keystone Click. We are a strategic digital marketing agency. We help our clients build brand awareness and generate leads online. We do that by conducting research, and then collecting these insights and data points to build a very focused and goal-driven strategy. Then we support the full implementation of that strategy.
I also host a podcast, which you’ve been a guest on, called Social Capital. I interview professionals globally on the topic of networking, and how networking has really helped them get to where they are today in their fields.
Gina Stracuzzi: Yeah. She asks some really great questions about networking. If you’ve not listened to her podcast, it is really worth a listen because there is some great, great stuff on that. You can find Lori on LinkedIn, and she posts some great stuff too.
If you’re not connected with her yet, make sure you do so. Lori, let’s start with why you find this so important, and then you can lead us through your discussion.
Lori Highby: Sure, absolutely. Research is really important in any activity that you’re doing, but when it comes to marketing and sales, it’s extremely vital because there are so many minutes in a day. We want to make sure that we’re making intelligent decisions on what it is that we’re doing to achieve our goals. I’ve got a quick story that’s going to help illustrate this. I’m going to share my screen actually, just to add some oomph to that story.
A few years back, my husband and I were in the market to get a new vacuum. Naturally, what’s the first thing that we do? We go to Google, and we type in what’s the best vacuum that’s available. We look at tons of different articles. This is mind blowing to me, because we had the same hand-me-down vacuum for like 15 years, and I didn’t realize how many different options were available.
There’s carpet, and there’s hardwood, and there’s dogs and ones that do it automatically. It was just mind blowing to me. I did my research, and also learned that this is quite an investment. You want to make an intelligent decision here. Started watching some videos to help educate me.
If this says it’s going to actually work on carpet, and hardwood and pick up dog hair, I want to see this before I actually make the investment in buying this product. Then what happened, and I’m sure we can all relate. My husband posted on Facebook, and these platforms have now actually made tools that help you find the solution, any recommendations out there.
This blew my mind. Within 24 hours, we had 42 comments on what vacuum we should move forward with. At the end of the day, we ended up buying a Shark. I love it. But why is this important? Well, at the end of the day here, what’s happening, and this is research conducted by Google.
This is the typical process now, and this is what’s really changed with regards to our research and buying decision. This is in the B2B space and the consumer space. We’ve trained ourselves as consumers to do this research with just high-level challenging question that we have, and that’s this stage right here.
What is that initial problem that we are experiencing? Then we’re weighing our options reading those types of articles, do I buy an android or do I buy an Apple? Seeing what the pros and cons are. We’re watching videos. Everyone knows video is so important, but this is B2B and B2C.
Videos help educate us on what type of decision to make. Then we’re reading reviews. Before things shut down, if you’re going to travel somewhere you’re going to look at what other people said about the restaurant or the hotel you’re going to stay at. What movie to watch.
You were reading the experiences that other people are having, and then we’re just asking our own network. The people that we know and already have established trust with before we decide to move forward in any sort of engagement, which is filling out that contact form, picking up the phone and calling them. It’s not actually buying.
This process is what’s happening with regards to just our general discovery and information gathering. What’s vital is that we do the research to understand how our ideal customer is touching, what types of things are they typing into Google? Who are they comparing us against? What videos are they watching to help educate them?
The more that we can educate ourselves on what exactly our customer is doing, the better that we can make sure that we’re positioned in all these stages, while they’re doing that discovery so that they’re calling us by the time they’re ready to make that conversation.
Gina Stracuzzi: Interesting. Well, how do algorithms play into the research that people might get on us? I was thinking about this when you were talking about your experience with the vacuum cleaners. Once Google or Facebook or wherever you’re asking for recommendations, even if they’re from friends, knows that you’re looking, then they start feeding you all this stuff. That plays into your decision as well.
Lori Highby: Absolutely. There are so many variables, and really we’ve heard this. They got to know you, like you, trust you. That’s been around forever, but it’s taking that model, that very traditional sales philosophy and reincorporating in the digital space so that your brand becomes familiar.
If people aren’t familiar with you, and this is again B2B and B2C. If you’re providing value and educating, and that base root challenge that they search for. My initial pain was, I need a new vacuum. I didn’t put any information, no descriptors that said I have hardwood or I have pets or I have carpet, or stairs or whatever it was. I didn’t have any of those descriptors, I just was very basic in that initial search.
That’s how everyone starts their search. Once they realize that there’s a lot of variables involved, that’s when the search starts to evolve as well as consumers. Then that’s how the channels, Google and whatnot, start to understand your true intent that you have, and start to provide better results based on what your search query is.
It’s really getting inside the head of your ideal customer and figuring out, what is that root cause pain that they have so that you can follow them along that entire educational discovery journey that they’re doing before even making initial engagement with you?
Gina Stracuzzi: Interesting. I have a question of my own. If I’m hearing you right, as companies or if you’re selling to individuals, but as a company, you want to figure out what it is your client might be searching for and make sure that how you market yourself is going to come up in one of those search parameters. Is that correct?
Lori Highby: Yeah, absolutely. Everyone is googling things. If someone says they’re not on Google, something is not right there.
Gina Stracuzzi: They’re lying [laughs].
Lori Highby: It’s just a standard habit. I don’t know the answer, the first thing I do is go to Google. Your goal and objective is to be the one that shows up, providing the value and the knowledge and the expertise so that there’s a level of trust that is established.
So as they’re continuing to do their research, as long as you continue to show up as that resource, you’re starting to establish that trust and build confidence in them actually to move forward, and engage with you and buy from you. It’s not just writing a blog post. 100% I’m a huge advocate, probably one of the biggest advocates for creating blogs.
It’s being strategic with how you make sure that Google knows this blog post exists. There are so many different channels for that, and it’s understanding your customer again. When I go back to one of those items in the journey, they’re looking for their influencers to guide them.
What are other people saying about the experience with buying the vacuum, for example here? It’s not just the people in my network, but it’s the people that I have given credibility to. It’s podcasters, it’s journalists. It’s people putting out webinars, or just the thought leaders that I’m following in the industry.
Getting them on your good side too, or at least understanding who’s influencing that decision that your customer is making is extremely important, so that you can get yourself positioned in that space as well.
Gina Stracuzzi: Casey wants to know, what do we research to make sure that we’re going to come up in those searches?
Lori Highby: That’s a great question. The first thing that I would actually advocate for is interviewing your customer, and/or getting a third party involved in interviewing that customer, because oftentimes a third party is going to actually collect more information than if you just start asking the questions.
You want to start asking questions related to what is the specific pain that they have, or what is it that is frustrating to that client about your industry? It’s really important to pay attention to the words that they’re actually using, as opposed to what you think people are typing into Google.
Really paying attention to the language when your customer is talking. For example, I’ve worked with someone that does professional headshots. She does not like it when people talk about portraits, because they’re two totally different things. Doing a portrait versus a headshot.
She’s very clear, and is always using headshots whenever she’s marketing herself. But at times, someone may not know that that’s the right terminology so she still has to figure out a way to show up. There’s ways that you can do that. Create blogs that educate people on the difference between portraits and headshots. Again, that goes to having the versus and the weighing the different options component.
Gina Stracuzzi: Casey had a follow up question, but I think you just answered it. Should we then incorporate those pain points into our marketing?
Lori Highby: 100%. The majority of your messaging should be around the pain, not necessarily the benefit or the solution because most people are starting their search with the pain. How do I solve this problem, is the typical search that’s being entered in there.
Another way that you can find this is look at forums. There’s a gazillion forums out there, and look in your industry. You got Reddit, and there’s so many of them that are out there. Just see what are the types of questions that people are asking in your industry? More times than not, they’re also typing that into Google.
Another recommendation real quick I have is just keep a list of the questions that people ask you when you are having a conversation with them. You’d be surprised, even over the course of one week, you’ll have so many different questions that are asked of you. You might identify some trends too, and that’s great starting point for content to create around showcasing your expertise online.
Gina Stracuzzi: Absolutely. I was going to add to your suggestion. Now with Clubhouse, you can jump in on conversations with industry leaders and their clients, and other people that are moving markets and just listen in to them. You can join the conversation too, but if you’ve got something you want to find out more about, there are so many ways to do it now that didn’t exist a little while ago.
Julie wants to know, when posting on LinkedIn and Facebook and even in paid campaigns on the platforms, what is a good rate of engagement? What language should be used to boost the rate of engagement?
Lori Highby: Well, great questions and the simple answer is it depends. There are so many variables. Every single channel, and what is important and this is where I’m going to really put the emphasis, is twofold. One, what is the goal that you’re trying to achieve?
Seeing that this is all about sales, I would imagine it’s related to sales, but really who is that customer that you’re trying to win? The better that you can get clear on your ideal customer and really understand their pain, your messaging should be focused heavily on the pain, not the solution.
Just really that you understand their pain, you understand their industry. And then give them some of that solution by first speaking to their pain, but using as much of their language as possible. Don’t speak your jargon, speak the language of that ideal customer because that’s what’s going to connect and resonate with them and pull them in, and attract them to you.
Gina Stracuzzi: Right. And that’s what every sales trainer will tell you now. You have to make your presentation about them. It’s not about you. That’s great advice, Lori.
Clareen says, “Hello. Question for Lori. Should blogs be posted on LinkedIn as posts with the hyperlinks to the ones on the website, or should it be repurposed as articles on LinkedIn?”
Lori Highby: That’s a great question. I’m a fan of repurposing them as articles, so try to keep as much of your original content on your site. You own that, you don’t own LinkedIn. If anything, use the article format to give a good teaser, and then say originally posted on, and then link back to your website. That will help a little bit with SEO efforts as well.
Gina Stracuzzi: Right. Honestly, I can vouch for Lori. She does such a fantastic job of this, so really follow her on LinkedIn. You’ll see perfect examples of what she’s talking about. She gives you just enough information to grab your interest, and then takes you back to her website. Once you get done with this podcast, go over and check her out.
Lori Highby: Thank you so much.
Gina Stracuzzi: You’re welcome. Well, and something else you said a few minutes ago is with one of the questions you get asked. You probably do this too for your podcast. When I’m talking to a potential guest about having them on and what we might discuss, I will talk to them about questions they get normally asked.
That’s what you want to answer when you’re having one of these discussions. What are the questions that your customers ask you? That’s going to help our listeners and drive more traffic to you as well. That’s really good advice.
Lori Highby: And it’s not just you, the salesperson. I mean go to the receptionist, go to your customer support team. Go to the delivery guy and ask them, “What questions are you getting asked?” Another tactic, if you look at all of the Ws, who, what, when, where, why, how, yes, no.
An exercise that we like to do with our clients is you just pick one specific offering that you have and ask yourself, what are all the who questions related to this offering? What are all the what questions? What are all the why questions?
You’d be surprised how many pieces of information you’re going to pull out. It’s just second nature to you, because you talk about it day in and day out, but the reality is your ideal customer wants to know the answer to these questions.
If you aren’t publishing this available online, because they’re likely typing this into Google or some search channel, you’re missing out on the opportunity to win a new ideal customer for yourself.
Gina Stracuzzi: That’s really great advice. I’m actually thinking to myself, “I need to use this more for the forum.” You forget, and I was actually trained in communication and journalism. I should know all these who, what, where, when, why kind of questions.
The more removed you get from things of that nature that when you used to do it all the time, the more you forget. These are really good pointers. Just go back to the basics. It’s like you and your husband, what did you need to know to make that decision?
These are great reminders. Let’s talk about the decision process and how it’s changed in B2B, and how that impacts researching and marketing to them.
Lori Highby: There’s definitely a lot of changes that have happened over the last close to a year and a half now, we’re reaching at the pandemic. That research that I shared, Google had conducted was pre pandemic. If anything, it’s been expedited with regards to business being conducted online, it has just grown significantly.
I saw some data not too long ago that said some organizations are comfortable spending up to like $50 million online. They don’t need to have the face-to-face conversation. It’s just they do their research and their willing to move forward based on that information.
Again, understanding the intent behind the search. Understanding the pain that you’re solving, and being a resource at the end of the day is so important. You can’t just put it out there once and say, “Okay, I didn’t get any business from this.”
We know that – I’m assuming the majority of people watching are in the B2B space – that it’s a long sales process. It’s all about nurturing that relationship, but what it is now is all about adding value to that relationship. Educating them and helping them make an intelligent decision for their business, and have confidence in that decision.
It’s a consistent flow of being a resource and adding value, and publishing blogs and podcasts and educational content and putting it right in front of them. The other thing that’s really important is to make sure that you’re not speaking to the masses, that you are speaking to that one ideal customer.
Put a name on that person. When you’re writing that blog post or crafting that webinar, you’re writing it to that one specific person. You’re not writing it to the masses, it’s that ideal customer that you really understand and want more of that type of customer for you.
Gina Stracuzzi: Yeah, absolutely. Something comes to mind as you’re talking about this, because a lot of what you’re talking about really falls into the marketing area. That has to be a precursor to the sale almost. It’s part of sales enablement, really. What if you have a company that is hesitant?
They’re still not stepping into this space in a way that’s really going to help sales, or the salespeople. Let’s say you’re a salesperson listening to this and you think, “Gosh, I wish my company would do that.” What kind of advice do you have that you can give to them that they can take to the powers to be in that area?
Lori Highby: Sure. That’s a very common reservation that I get. I talk to a lot of salespeople that wish their company was on board with the marketing side of things. It’s an investment, and it’s time. That’s the biggest reservation is that they expect, oh, now we’re on LinkedIn and blogging, where are all the clients?
It takes time. However, one of my favorite stories to illustrate here, and this goes back to blogging. We have a blog post that’s been on our site since 2014, and it is still one of the most visited pages on our website. The content that you’re creating showcases your expertise and really provides value. It’s not a one-and-done situation.
This is stuff that’s going to have a really long shelf life as long as you’re being strategic about the type of content that is important to that ideal customer that you’re trying to attract. It takes time, but it can definitely reap rewards if it’s done right.
Gina Stracuzzi: Yeah. I would think if you’re somebody that’s willing to take the time to do it, and put it on your own profile. Then if it reaps some results, you can always share it with your company and see what we could do. I have a few more questions from the audience.
Julie would like to know, how often should you post on social media sites as an influencer or expert to gain traction without creating consumer fatigue?
Lori Highby: Well, I wouldn’t worry too much about consumer fatigue honestly. I think everyone has shiny objects coming from all directions. I’m going to go back to the it depends. It depends on the channel is going to be in alignment with where your audience is hanging out.
The frequency is really going to depend on your level of comfort, but I would lean towards more is better. For example, LinkedIn, I post once a day. I try to do it first thing in the morning so that I can engage with the activity as it happens throughout the day.
Then I try to engage with other people as well to be an advocate for them, as well as continue to show up. If there’s someone that I’m trying to nurture from a sales perspective engaging in their content, then my name shows up in their notifications that I liked or commented on their information. It’s not just providing information, it’s also being an advocate for others too.
Gina Stracuzzi: That is really good advice. One thing that I noticed that people sometimes forget to do is they’ll post. People will interact and they forget to go back and interact with those who are interacting with what they posted.
It may seem like a lot of work, but once you get a rhythm going, as you say, you post early. Maybe come back at lunchtime, engage with the people who have responded. Then maybe at the end of the day or something. Really it’s only a few minutes once you get into the rhythm.
We have another question. I just feel like I am going to butcher this poor woman’s name, so I’m not even going to try. I’m sorry. I’m going to call you A.P. because that’s her initials. She says, “Hi, Lori, is there any specific tips you can help for a preschool company for the sale on virtual learning for toddlers?”
Lori Highby: There’s so many additional questions that I would ask, but I would say first and foremost, I’m assuming the mom is really who you’re trying to get in front of. If you’re trying to do that, figure out where the mom is hanging out.
Really get clear on understanding the pain that you’re solving on behalf of the mother, or the parent. Let’s not just be supervised here, but what is the solution? What is the pain that they have? Then use your messaging to focus on that you understand the pain that the parent has. Then you lead them in and talk about the solution that you’re providing.
Facebook groups are really big with that right now. I know there’s a lot of mom Facebook groups, or even trying to get some exposure on blogs, guest blogging on other channels, or podcasts would be the top-of-mind ideas. But a million questions that go into deep to try to get real clear on that.
Gina Stracuzzi: Well, definitely reach out to Lori on LinkedIn. I’m sure she’ll respond to you. It dawns on me that that’s the kind of situation too, where you would really want to stress the benefits and any research on it not being detrimental to a toddler to be in a virtual learning environment. I think that’s probably one of those scary things for parents, the pain points for sure.
Lori Highby: I want to jump and go back to something you said before about the reservations that some individuals may have, just even moving into this from a marketing to sales support standpoint. One of the content pieces that you should be publishing are those reservations.
Think about the hesitation that someone might have to move forward and actually buy. Using the preschool example, what might be some of those fears or reservations? And actually, creating content on that can expedite the sales process, because they’re not thinking about it.
You’ve already answered the question before they even got to you to answer it. Then again, you’re being a resource and you’re providing value, because you’re showcasing that you truly understand the pain and hesitation that they have.
Gina Stracuzzi: That’s brilliant. I think together, Lori, we could conquer the world. I love it.
Lori Highby: Let’s do it [laughs].
Gina Stracuzzi: I’ll think of questions, you just think of all the ways to fix it [laughs]. Well, thank you everyone for those questions. Let’s talk about goals, and understanding what you want to achieve as a business in the B2B space, let’s say, and the importance of knowing what you’re trying to achieve. That’s one area that we haven’t really gotten into, so what goals should people be using these areas?
Lori Highby: Again, with the focus on sales, first and foremost I would say lead gen is a vital component when it comes to the sales process. Getting really clear on what is it that you’re trying to achieve, and understanding, do I want 10 people filling out my contact form a month?
Just really getting clear, and then you reverse-engineer your whole marketing strategy that is focused on that specific goal. There are so many times and you brought up Clubhouse. It’s a great platform. To me, it’s a shiny object right now because I have a very clear plan of attack on what I want to do to achieve my sales goals.
You have to really evaluate every single tactic that you’re doing and say, here’s all the ways that I’m building brand awareness and generating leads. Then what are you doing in those tactics to really understand and qualify these opportunities?
Are you leveraging these specific tactics to help you put them through that sales process, or are you just doing stuff just to do this? Getting really clear on from a SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. Huge fan of SMART goals. It’s going to make it easier for you to implement and build out your strategy at the end of the day.
Gina Stracuzzi: Perfect. Let’s say that someone has not done any of this before. What’s the easiest and least painful way for people to get started in this space?
Lori Highby: We talked a lot about understanding your customer. I think it’s really important to get clear on who your customer is, and get really clear on what is the goal that you’re trying to achieve. Once you understand your customer, you understand the pain that you are able to solve for them, then you can just start creating content.
There are so many different ways to do that. If you have any fears or reservations around speaking or video or audio, then just start writing. Write a blog, and then chunk it up into social media content that drives people back to your site. Just really being a resource and providing value, speaking to that pain that your ideal customer has.
Gina Stracuzzi: Well, and I would think too, going to your potential clients or your existing clients’ websites or to their LinkedIn profiles, and seeing what they’re posting about. What they’re talking about, and what’s going on in their industries. Then backward planning, as you say, reverse engineering a little bit.
We are pretty much running out of time. I always like to ask our guests to leave us with one thing that people can put into place today. You gave us a little bit of that. Start with researching and figuring out what their pain points are. What other singular piece of advice would you give that somebody can finish up on this webcast and then sit right down at their desk and get after?
Lori Highby: I go back to keep a list of the questions that people ask you. If you’re hesitant or not sure what to write about, the next question that either a client or prospective client asks you, it’s a great starting point for you to take that and turn it into a piece of content that you share it on LinkedIn, or write a blog post or something along those lines. It’s a great starting point.
Gina Stracuzzi: Perfect. I would imagine if you have clients that you are really in with good, and they trust you and you trust them, and you have a great working relationship, you can probably ask them for some of these whys and hows, and get their answers. See how that might compare to the ones that you’re after.
Lori Highby: Yeah. Another tip I would say is just go in your sent email. You’ve likely answered some of these questions in an email already. You’ve already got half of that post written then for you [laughs].
Gina Stracuzzi: That is great advice. I like that. Well, Lori, thank you so very much for being with us today. You’ve given us a lot of great content. Everyone, if you reach out to Lori, I’m sure she’ll be happy to answer questions. You can get a sense of what she’s talking about just looking at her posts. Is there another way that they can get ahold of you?
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo