We had the opportunity to interview Matt Heinz, president at Heinz Marketing, a Seattle area marketing agency focused on sales acceleration. Matt has more than 15 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from organizations including Microsoft, Weber Shandwick, Boeing, The Seattle Mariners, Market Leader and Verdiem. A national speaker and author of five books that explore the new sales and marketing landscape, Matt’s most recent book is The Modern Marketer’s Field Guide.
If delivering measurable marketing results to produce greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty is the name of your game, then read on—Matt offers great insight in this one-on-one.
What’s your current role and what do you do day-to-day?
I’m president of Heinz Marketing. I’m incredibly lucky; I get to spend all day thinking about B2B sales and marketing—helping our clients and team accelerate the sales pipeline. Day-to-day, this includes working through strategy and new ideas with our team, working directly with clients to solve their challenges, plus speaking, writing and learning.
How can social and content nurture the sales process?
It’s really all about the content. Social is one of several channels through which that content can be delivered, but the channel (social, email, phone, etc.) is irrelevant if the message and content doesn’t resonate with the buyer. You have to be precise about getting the right content to the right prospect at the appropriate and accurate stage they’re in as part of their buying process. This isn’t easy but market-leading companies are doing it increasingly with the help of marketing automation software, predictive analytics and other technology tools.
Tell us about your position on what makes successful lead-generating content. I think this is a common pain point for in-house marketers. What are some best practices?
The better you understand your customer, the better your content will be. Not just who they are, but what problems they face in their jobs. What primary obstacles stand in their path to success? What topics are inherently leading indicators that a prospect is on the path toward needing a solution? The better you can answer questions like these, the more precise and engaging your content will be, which will lead to not only more active responding prospects but also a natural triage from those who most acutely have the problem your content covers.
In 200 words, how can companies find, engage and convert prospective customers before they even know they want the product or service?
Focus on the hole, not the drill. That’s only seven words, and I’m done! Seriously though, stop focusing on what you do, and start creating content instead that focuses on what the customer needs. Most of us are means to an ends. Focus on the ends. That’s what you customer is dreaming about. They have a pain or problem, and eventually start to envision the outcome. Only then can they possibly start considering solutions. Speak to the pain and outcome more regularly, and you’ll attract earlier stage prospects to you.
Share with us your four phases to maximize success and profitability based on the customer lifecycle?
Awareness, engagement, proof of concept and advocacy. If we’re talking the entire customer lifecycle from zero awareness to loyal customer, that’s about as tight as you can get. In this case then, awareness has to include both the fact that they know who you are, plus an element of credibility and preference that compels the prospect to engage. Engagement can span both the lead and opportunity stages, as well as the initial formal start to the relationship. Once you have a new customer, it’s critically important that you precisely focus their experience on what’s going to help them quickly see success, quickly experience that proof of concept moment that validates their decision. From there, it’s continual validation and advocacy/evangelist development. And if you’re doing that right, it not only leads to primary customer lifetime value growth but secondary contribution to the next set of customers entering the awareness phase.
is SEO and content marketing the same thing now? Why or why not?
It’s really always been the same, but historically marketers have been more able to manipulate on and off-page factors to increase their search rankings. With their latest algorithm changes, Google is doing content marketers a huge favor. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing and meta-tag management and other tricks. Increasingly now Google is looking for relevancy and user intent, which comes right back to great content.
Share with us some ways that companies can drive early customer success through content.
Let’s say your product has 40 features. Good for you. Which two to three features are most likely to drive immediate customer success? Which small set of actions will create an earlier “Aha!” moment for customers, so that they see the validation and proof point for their purchase decision? That’s where all of your content (in a variety of formats and channels) needs to focus with new customers.
What do you see on the horizon of content marketing?
More diversity of formats. More active use of video. More dynamic, customer-generated content. It’s going to be fun!
Anything we’ve missed that you’d like to share?
Just worth reiterating how important customer insight is to develop and execute not only a successful content strategy but overall B2B marketing programs. It’s not about you, it’s about them. It’s not about the drill, it’s about the hole.