From ‘Shiny Objects’ to the ‘WIIFM Question’ — Amanda McGuckin Hager Shared Inbound Marketing Secrets at Capital Factory
I gasped out loud when Amanda McGuckin Hager clicked on her PowerPoint presentation and displayed her company’s sales funnel on the screen at the Austin Lean Startup Meeting at Capital Factory in June.
It was a thing of beauty.
The funnel included color-coded spheres that descended from larger at the top to smaller at the bottom, each labeled for its stage in the sales process. Along the right-hand side was listed the questions that had to be answered at each stage as prospects moved through the funnel.
It should come as no surprise that Amanda had created such a stellar funnel. “Sales funnels are the foundation of my life,” she said. Her 20-year career has been focused on inbound lead generation, building scalable and repeatable lead gen engines that drive revenue.
“It’s fantastic to look at a multi-million dollar pipeline and be able to say, ‘Yeah, I brought all of those leads into the company.’”
Her first job “working under the hood” of a company’s lead engine was at Solar Winds. “I strategically worked with the hiring manager for one year to get that job, because Solar Winds was viewed as a leader of inbound marketing by Wall Street and Silicon Valley. I wanted to know how they created something so special, including what levers were pulled and buttons pushed in its sales funnel, and how all of the moving parts worked together.”
Today she is a Strategic Marketing Executive at PeopleAdmin. She’s worked at nearly a dozen other tech companies in Austin, including Dell and InfoChimps. She also mentors startups at Capital Factory and speaks around the country.
Inbound Marketing Overview — Attract. Engage. Convert. Repeat.
At this presentation, she described her views of and experiences with inbound marketing.
“The first goal is to attract your target audience with what I call a ‘shiny object.’ In other words, something of value that people want, like white paper, piece of collateral, or how-to document.
For example, at InfoChimps, she created a document called, “How to Do a Big Data Project.” “The idea was that if they can do it themselves, then more power to them. If not, we’re here to do it for them,” she explained. “It was valuable.”
This stage also requires a significant call-to-action. “That’s the gateway that you want everyone to come to you through. It’s how they’ll connect with you first. So you have to put it in everything. In your emails, your press release boiler plates, and every piece of collateral.”
Once you’ve attracted a prospect with a shiny object, you have to deliver. “If they pick up the shiny object and find it’s just a gum wrapper, they will be pretty disappointed. You really want to deliver on what you promise.”
Also, it must address the WIIFM question — What’s In It For Me? “Your shiny object must fill a real need for your target audience,” said Amanda.
The content must also pass the LCD test — the Lowest Common Denominator in terms of readability. “I typically write for the eight to tenth grade level, sometimes even fifth grade if it’s a really technical piece.
“I often pass content through an English Gradability Scale, because people don’t typically read at higher levels. Even Time magazine is written at the eight to tenth grade level.”
She shared a story about a corporate executive who wrote a press release to announce a new technology. “When I ran it through the gradability scale it was ranked at a 20th grade level, which is post doctorate. This was for reporters, most of whom don’t have post doctorate degrees. So it was sure to fail the audience.
“It’s important to appeal to the exact audience you are going after and make it easy for them to read and understand.”
“I’m not an expert on conversion,” noted Amanda, “but there is plenty of great information available on the art and science of it. And it is an art and a science. If it’s your job you should learn as much as you can.”
“Once you’ve completed these steps, you do it all again.”
To hear Amanda’s entire talk on inbound marketing, watch the video here.